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Attic of Gallimaufry

Listen to 1947

1947 & New Mexico A&M

Dateline: October 27, 2020

What is the Silent Generation, and how did it get its name?

The Cold War crackles behind the post-war experience. Hisory dot com explains.

Pop Culture in 1947

1947 was the year Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. But he wasn't the story in 1947, because it wasn't announced until 1948.

The GI Bill was widely used in 1947 and colleges raced to meet demand. We're still discovering, and debating, how this massive extension of education tranformed society.

The volume of returning veterans to college campuses caused a flurry of temporary housing accommodations. Military barracks were pressed into service on many campuses. Some recall the experience, but New Mexico A&M, now NM State Univeristy, has largely forgotten it.

The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan were intended to avoid the errors made after WW I. History has affirmed the wisdom of its architects.

In 1947 Hawkshaw Hawkins recorded the Big Slim (Harry C. McAuliffe) song, "When They Found the Atomic Power." It's on Youtube, above, with the lyrics. It's out of style these days, with its "Lord…mighty hand," and end of war stuff, but if you want to find 1947, pay attention to it. These were people with serious experiences just behind them, and serious unknowns just ahead. If we can check our 21st century smugness and pay attention..No..Really...we can almost see that time.

At the tag end of the Silent Generation came the children of WW II. Their first memories formed as the elders of their little-noted cohort joined the youngest of the Greatest Generation in the class of 1947.

1947 NM A&M campus, The Rodeo Association and, elsewhere, a classroom of pioneering students. The picture links to some notables around campus that year.

The Cold War ended, but the threat remains.

In 1947 the World Wars rattled off in the pickup truck of history, and the Cold War fell off the tailgate.

Ever-accelerating self destruction produced a brick-in-the-face glimpse of total annihilation. Our stumble-about experiments with the limits of war have been called the atomic age, and the space age, and the digital age, but it's all just the post-Enola Gay age, and we're still groping for a way off that cliff.

1947 was the longest year. This picture was a cliche of doomsday worry.

Most Americans in that longest of years shared a fear of a world-ending mushroom cloud. Let's reimagine what those mortally alert people thought they were doing.

The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan were 1947 policies meant to forestall war.

For example, it is not true every conscious action in that time was frightened out of us with thoughts of nuclear incineration. Americans accommodated the unusual stresses of the Cold War as best they could, and filled the days with the usual struggles, plans, goals and recreations.

The 1947 Yearbook was a special challenge.

The New Mexico State University yearbook for 1947 is the lens of our backward glance, and we follow a few of the post-war students into subsequent decades, and develop social context with descriptions of other events. This is a glance, not a study, so let's be brief, and full of pictures (thereby saving tens of thousands of words).

The great waves of history aside, when we look at an old yearbook we wonder, "What became of these people?" Indeed. Let's follow some individuals from a tiny portion of a tiny outpost on America's frontier when our modern selves took breath. (Click each picture for a brief sketch.)

Let's start with the class officers. Who were they and where did they go?

Bud Wilburn was voted Greatest Aggie in 1947

Jerry Nuzum was Bud's teammate, and maybe the better football player.

Paul Rader was in Who's Who, and part of numerous campus activities.

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The Silent Generation

Ernie Stech gives us a remarkably cogent, for a PhD, discussion of the Silents.
The Silent Generation comes in for its share of silly jabber. Here's some.
This treatment by the University of Missouri seems to agree with me. Smart folks, those Missourians. Except for that "seen but not heard stuff." That's interpolated nonsense from the fifteenth century.
Alan Charles Kors is a "Silent" delegate who seems little effected by Tail Gunner Joe, or his backlash. Hear him talk about a popular topic in an unusual way.

The Silent Generation (born between 1925 and 1945) is the name usually assigned to the American cohort between the Greatest Generation, winners of WW II, and the Baby Boomers, their children. It is sometimes called "The Traditionalists," but it was declared silent in a 1951 Time Magazine article that seems to have been a political gesture aimed at Joe McCarthy, bête noir of anti-anti-communist legions during the Cold War. Time's thesis, amplified and endorsed by others, was that the youth of the day had gone silent fearing retaliation for self-expression. Popular personalities, and others, were being blacklisted and hounded into silence under suspicion of being Communist fellow travelers. The youth had noticed, according to popular wisdom, and feared saying anything that would draw attention from the mob.

It was a favorite theme and echoed all through the 1950s. The local newspaper editor, commenting on the graduating class of 1960, pressed some stilted argument about the underwhelming achievement and voice of that generation. They had passed through the school, according to him, with neither distinction nor accomplishment, and would likely never amount to much. I was puzzled at the time, but now realize it was nothing personal, just the clatter of the political zeitgeist, the same group think that declared Ike a hopeless nincompoop. I often wondered if the editor was happier in the late 60s when the voice of the Boomers was booming.

Joe McCarthy is given a lot more credit for the popular image of the 1950s than he deserves. I've always believed my generation was more shaped by the Great Depression than anything else. Its elders were about ten in 1935, when unemployment was 20%, and when the last of the cohort reached school their parents were survivors of that horrible, grotesquely extended debacle. If there is a common identity among them it undoubtedly springs from the lessons of hopeless poverty and fear of its return. Indeed, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the fear of another depression was common talk among all adults. No one quite comprehended what had caused it, why it had lasted so long despite the genius of FDR, and what might be done to forestall its return. The silent generation grew up with the slogan, "make it last or do without."

How silent were we, and who were these people of the Silent Generation? Here are a few.

Is there a pattern here? I wonder what my old local newspaper editor would have made of this list. Oh well. We're all captive to our times, and his time included a loathing for Joe McCarthy, a man who bragged about being part of the Greatest Generation, which no real member of that cohort ever did.

PFC John L. Rose, the silent member of the Silent Generation, 1925-1945.
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Breaking the Sound Barrier

Chuck Yeager and Jack Ridley beside one incarnaiton of "Glamorous Glennmis" at China Lake, 1947. The link is to the HistoryNet recounting of the story, kept secret until 1948.
Here's the exciting news of 1947 about speed records, and the hero was Major Marion Carl.

If you were watching the news in 1947 you might have noticed repeated speed records being set in the sky over Muroc Army Airfield in California. "Breaking the sound barrier," was the newsworthy aspiration, and the comic book challenge.

In August a former Marine pilot, Major Marion Carl, flew the Navy's experimental Skystreak jet to a new record of 652.642 miles per hour, just below the speed of sound.

Major Carl broke the record set a few days earlier, and that remained the fastest human speed through the end of the year. Except, it didn't.

Two months later, on October 14, 1947, Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager flew the same craft at 662 miles per hour, achieving supersonic speed for the first time in history. The public wasn't told about it until 1948, because of Cold War security concerns.

Yeager's story has been retold as often as the exploits of Achilles, and with the same range of artistic talent and license. Tom Wolfe's, "The Right Stuff," in both book and movie form, is the most entertaining.

Marion Carl's story has a bitter ending. The man who'd survived defending freedom from the Nazis was murdered in 1998, aged 82, defending his wife from a burglar in their home.

Carl's assailant was caught, convicted, and sentenced to death. Eventually the sentence morphed into life without possibility of parole. The criminal remains in prison. This is either a story of justice or justice denied, as it is conventionally told, but in any telling it's a sad coda to the Sound Barrier Suite.

Marion Carl is his own story, with a tragic ending.
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Bob Carroll

Bob Carroll in his Junior year at New Mexico A&M just before induction. The picture links to a news article about him in 1948.
Colonel Sutherland graduated West Point in 1919, saw action in both wars, and is buried at Arlington (Sec: 4, Site: 2719-G). The link is to a passage in Robert Baumer's "Aachen" recounting Colonel Sutherland's leadership at that WW II battle.

Bob Carroll, 1947 senor class president, was born 18 July, 1922 in El Paso, Texas, to Arthur Bruce Carroll, and Frances Lylah Shaw. In August, after graduating with a degree in agriculture, he married Nancy Gates Sutherland, in Las Cruces, and took a job in Hawaii with the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association.

Bob started at NM A&M in 1941, a few months before Pearl Harbor. He registered for the draft in June of 1942, was inducted into the Army 17 April, 1943. He was a glider-infrantry sergeant in the European theatre when captured by the Germans' around 19 October 1944. He was held at Stalag 3C Alt Drewitz Brandenburg, Prussia, until liberated by the Red Army on 27 February 1946. His time of capture suggests he was captured during Operation Market Garden in September, 1944. This failed operation was the source of the first American prisoners at Stalag 3C. He returned to New Mexico A&M and completed his interrupted degree in 1947.

His bride, Nancy Gates Sutherland, was the daughter of Colonel Edwin Malcolm Sutherland of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Colonel Sutherland was a 1919 West Point graduate and a veteran of both world wars. Notably, he commanded the 119th Infantry Regiment during the battle of Aachen in October 1944. Colonel Sutherland remained on active duty after the war and was named Chief of the 2nd Army's Pennsylvania Military District in November, 1951. As a military child Nancy was educated in China and Alaska. She was living with her mother in Las Cruces at the time she married Bob Carroll.

After their wedding in 1947, Mr. Carroll took a job with the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, and the couple lived in Ookala, Hawaii. Bob worked as the cultivation supervisor, and Nancy was the editor of the Ka Leo O Ookala, the company newspaper for the Kawiki Sugar Company. In early 1952 they returned to the mainland, Hawaii was not a state at that time, and the local paper said Bob intended to "go into diversified ranching on his own in either California or Texas".

Few records are found of the couple after that. They seem to have settled in the Ventura, California area. No records of children have been found, but there was a Bob Carroll in the Forest Service at that time. Bob passed away in 1987, and Nancy in 2003. She may have remarried to Edward David Eagle, since there are records of Nancy Carroll also going by the name of Nancy Eagle.

Bob Carroll was liberated from a POW camp by the Red Army.

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Lois Slingerland

Lois Louise Anderson and Robert Slingerland were married 3 August 1946.
This picture of Bob Slingerland was taken in 1947. It links to a picture of him in 1942. The page is to him, perhaps by Louise Simms, also pictured.

Lois Anderson Slingerland was born Lois Louise Anderson (20 February 1926 to 21 May 2019) in El Paso, Texas. Her father, Elmer E. Anderson, worked at New Mexico A&M, later New Mexico State University, as a poultry and dairy specialist, and Lois excelled there, receiving her degree in Home Economics in 1948 (with honors), even though she was the vice-president of the senior class the year before.

She married Bob Slingerland, whose father also worked at the college, in 1946. Bob graduated with highest honors from the New Mexico School of Mines in Socorro, New Mexico in 1950, becoming a geologist in the oil business. They lived in Dallas, Midland, Lafayette, Louisiana, and Dallas again.

Bob Slingerland was a Navy pilot (Lt. jg) in the Pacific during the war, joining in mid-1942. After pilot training Bob was assigned to the carrier USS Franklin. He was cited for bravery during an operation in the Bonin Island Group in which he protected his downed section leader until he could be rescued.

After returning from WW II and earning his degree, Bob made a career of oil exploration and was named executive vice president for exploration at Texas Pacific Oil Company in Dallas in 1979, after being with the company since 1956. He joined Aubrey C. Black in 1981 to direct oil and gas exploration.

Bob retired from the oil exploration business and passed away in 2008. Lois moved into the C C Young assisted living home in Dallas before moving to Mansfield, Texas, where she passed away in 2019. Lois and Bob had four children, Robert Earl (who predeceased her), Donna (Cagle), Marcy (Hoffpuir), and Phil. She was active throughout her life, and a long-time volunteer at various places.

Lois was remembered by her family in this obituary.
Bob Slingerland's family remembered him with this tribute in 2008.
Lois was in Who's Who in American Colleges in 1947.
Bob Slingerland's entry in Find a Grave. The picture was taken in 2014, prior to Lois's death.
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Gordon Kennedy

Gordon Kennedy volunteered for Naval flight training in April 1941, five months before Pearl Harbor. This picture, from his Junior year, links to a synopsis of his record.
This image of Gordon Leslie Kennedy's headstone links to a summary of his life as found in Ancestry dot com.

Gordon Leslie Kennedy (27 May 1919- 17 August 2012) was born on his parents' ranch in Sunshine Valley, Taos, New Mexico. He lived in Colorado much of his life, and retired to Phoenix, Arizona, where he passed away.

Like many 1947 grads, Gordon left New Mexico A&M, also called State College at that time, to go into the service. Gordon joined the Navy in April 1941, volunteering for Naval Air Corps cadet training. By September 1941 he was taking advanced flight training in Florida and Texas. He was commissioned in March of 1942, and became a Navy pilot. In April of 1943, when his mother died, he was in the "southwest Pacific" with the Navy. He was on the USS Indiana as a Lt. JG in July 1943, home in New Mexico on a brief leave in September of that year, and transferred to the USS Wake Island in December 1943.

In November 1943, Gordon was awarded the Air Medal for "meritorious achievement as a pilot of a torpedo bomber during the aerial action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands." In all he received five Air Medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Navy Presidential Unit Citation. His call sign was, "Powder River." He was discharged from active duty in January 1945, remaining in the Naval Reserve after the war. He was promoted to Commander in 1955, and retired at that rank in December 1967.

One of his citations resulted from action around the Bonin Island Group when his section leader was shot down. "Powder River" disregarded personal safety, so the citation read, to guard his downed section leader until a rescue could be completed.

Gordon graduated from New Mexico A&M in 1947 with a BS in Agriculture. He stayed on to earn a Masters Degree.

Gordon took a job with Prudential Insurance Company in Denver after college and married a girl from Grand Junction, Gloria M. Kochevar, in 1954. He and Gloria lived in Grand Junction most of their lives, and raised a family there. Gordon remained with Prudential as an appraiser. By 1986 he had retired to Lake Havasu city, Arizona.

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Bud Wilborn

Bud Wilborn starred in football at NM A&M in the 1940s. His picture links to the Ancestry dot Com summary of his life.
Bud's teammate Jerry Nuzum went into the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 1948 he was falsely charged with murder. Picture links to the story.
Bud was a popular Aggie news item in 1946 and 1947.

Buddy Wilborn, born John Gillis Wilborn, 29 January 1923 in Alamogordo, NM, was a star football player for the NM A&M Aggies in the early 1940s in his freshman and sophomore years. He joined the Coast Guard after Pearl Harbor and starred on their Berkely California team during the war. While in the service he met a young nurse from Colorado, Susan Townsend, and married her on 16 November 1944.

Bud rejoined the Aggies in the spring of 1946 and again starred with their football team during the 1946 and 1947 seasons. Susan had been attending college in Grand Junction, Colorado, and now transferred to NM A&M. She earned her degree in July 1948, and Bud finished his BS in education at the end of that year. They then moved to Grand Junction where Bud earned his MS in education in 1950. Their son, Mike was born in 1949 in Colorado.

Bud seems to have returned to Las Cruces at that point. It appears Susan remained in Grand Junction. Her obituary indicates she lived in Grand Junction from 1950 until she married her second husband in 1961. Bud's obituary indicates he and Frances Hargrove moved from Las Cruces to Artesia in 1951, and were married there in 1956. Bud's son, Mike, seems to have lived with Bud and Frances, and attended high school in Artesia.

News accounts from the early 1950s mention Bud as the coach for the junior high in Artesia. He seems to have coached all major sports there. His son, Mike, appears in the Artesia high school yearbooks in the late 1960s, graduating in 1969.

Interestingly, there was a John Welborn, sometimes identified as John Wilborn, coaching football at the Artesia high school in the late 1960s while Mike Wilborn was a student there. This John Welborn appears to have been another person, and moved on to become head football coach at other southwestern high schools in the 1970s. Our Bud Wilborn apparently spent his career at the Artesia Junior High.

A teammate of Bud's, Jerry Nuzun, was as well known as Bud during their college days. Jerry went into the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers and played several seasons. He was involved in an infamous New Mexico case of prosecutorial misconduct when he was accused of murder.

He was eventually acquitted, a verdict directed by the judge, and his accusers convicted and jailed. They had also, in those pre-Warren Court days, attempted to force a confession from another local resident with physical torture. The whole sorry mess was revealed by an enterprising reporter in El Paso.

Read the story linked at left or the one linked from the main site.

Bud passed away in 1997.
Susan Townsend Wilborn Theos passed away in 1975.
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Jerry Nuzum

If you want the real lowdown on the Cricket Coogler case, read Paula Moore's book about it.

From the El Paso Times 18 April 2015

Trish Long: The railroading of Jerry Nuzum - NFL player faced trial by fury after murder of Las Cruces waitress

This article first appeared in the Dec. 13, 2010, edition of the El Paso Times. It was part of "Hidden El Paso," an occasional series by former Metro Editor Milan Simonich.

Long before O.J. Simpson and Rae Carruth, another professional football player stood trial for murder. His name was Jerry Nuzum, a star halfback at New Mexico A&M (now NMSU) before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1948.

Nuzum, in the words of one Steelers' employee, "had a face that looked like a monument." His chiseled features and his size — he stood 6 feet 1 inch and weighed 205 pounds — made him easy to remember.

He became New Mexico's most publicized suspect, linked by the Doña Ana County sheriff to a murder that shook Las Cruces.

The victim was Ovida Coogler, an 18-year-old waitress. Everybody called her "Cricket." She vanished during the early morning hours of March 31, 1949, not long after witnesses saw her in a bar with Nuzum and another man.

Rabbit hunters found Coogler's body 16 days later on a plateau near Mesquite. The killer or killers dug a shallow grave and threw a few shovels of dirt on her corpse.

Sheriff A.L. "Happy" Apodaca said Coogler had been raped and murdered. But forensic science and common sense were absent in the Coogler case. Apodaca refused to authorize an autopsy.

This cast doubt on how thorough the sheriff cared to be, and it prevented any meaningful investigation from gaining momentum.

Then Apodaca arrested Nuzum and tried to obtain a confession using any means he could, fair or unfair. The sheriff told Nuzum he would be charged with murder if he tried to hire a lawyer.

Nuzum's arrest remained secret for three days.

Nuzum, then 26, caught a break when El Paso Herald-Post reporter Walt Finley looked into the case. Finley had no car, so he rode the bus to Las Cruces to follow up on tips that something odd was afoot in the Coogler investigation.

Finley did some digging, found Nuzum in jail and interviewed him. Nuzum said he was innocent but feared he would be railroaded to satisfy the public's demand for a conviction.

A black man, Wesley Byrd, said he also had been targeted in the Coogler case. Byrd, then 27, told Finley the sheriff kept him in jail for 10 days without allowing him to notify anybody.

Byrd dropped another bombshell. He said members of the sheriff's staff and the state police took him to the desert, then tried to elicit a confession from him by squeezing his testicles with a bicycle lock.

The stories Finley wrote shed light and heat on the law-enforcement machinery of New Mexico. The sheriff freed Nuzum after 12 days.

Then the district attorney issued a statement saying: "Jerry Nuzum has definitely been cleared of in any way being at fault or having any guilty knowledge of the death of Ovida Coogler."

Nuzum's nightmare was only beginning, though.

Edwin L. Mechem, a Republican who ran for governor of New Mexico in 1950, made solving Coogler's murder a centerpiece of his campaign. He called it "the Nuzum case." Mechem won the election, and Nuzum once more was a suspect.

Police arrested him in April 1951 at his home in suburban Pittsburgh. Two years had passed since he had been "cleared" by T.K. Campbell, the Doña Ana district attorney.

Steelers owner Art Rooney and head coach John Michelosen stood by Nuzum.

"I can't imagine such a thing as the Cricket Coogler deal. Jerry has always been a well-behaved boy," Michelosen said.

Nuzum went on trial that summer in Las Cruces, then a town of 13,000. Attorneys Charles B. Owen of El Paso and W.A. Sutherland of Las Cruces defended him. They knew the prosecution's case was circumstantial but explosive.

Four witnesses said they saw Nuzum with Coogler the night she vanished. She had been talking to a trucker at the Del Rio Bar when Nuzum walked in. Her attentions shifted to Nuzum, a married man with two children. But her interest in Nuzum faded as quickly as it began.

One witness testified: "Jerry wanted to take Cricket home. Cricket said she didn't want to go with him."

Perhaps the most damaging testimony came from a witness who said he stopped Nuzum as the football player tried to force Coogler into his car, which was new and maroon.

Nuzum said he drove away, alone. He arrived home at 2:55 a.m., according to his wife and landlady. The trucker also left the bar alone.

A Las Cruces policeman offered a detailed story that seemed to help Nuzum. He said he and his partner saw Coogler get into a cream-colored 1941 Chevrolet coupe at 3:05 a.m.

These accounts and Nuzum's alibi were known to prosecutors two years before. The state had nothing new, but Nuzum's lawyers did.

They called a witness named Mary Foy. She told a startling story, saying she had watched two state police officers chase and beat Coogler before putting her into their car.

Her vantage, Foy said, was a seat on a parked bus bound for White Sands Proving Grounds. Foy testified that she had gone to Sheriff Apodaca with her story. For its part, the prosecution said it found no corroboration for her account.

Even so, the case against Nuzum was damaged so much that it never made it to the jury.

Judge Charles Fowler ruled that the prosecution had failed to meet its burden of proof. He gave Nuzum that rarest of courtroom decisions, a directed verdict of acquittal.

"There is a complete lack of evidence to connect Nuzum with the death as charged," Fowler said.

Spectators in the courtroom applauded. Nuzum's wife, Mary, wept. He leaned over to comfort her, then broke down himself.

Nuzum was free at last, but his life would not be easy. His career with the Steelers ended after the 1951 season. He stayed in the Pittsburgh area, where he worked for and eventually owned car dealerships.

Few people in Western Pennsylvania seemed to focus on his murder trial in Las Cruces.

Still, Nuzum said, the case haunted him. He told the Herald-Post in 1983 that it took him 20 years to pay off his legal bills. The stigma of being a murder suspect remained.

"It was so embarrassing to be accused of a crime like that," Nuzum said. "You can't ever live it down. It's a shame that people sometimes hear my name and they don't say anything about my being a car dealer or playing four years for the Steelers. They say, 'He was the one in that case.' "

Nuzum died in 1997 at age 73.

A federal court jury in September 1950 convicted Sheriff Apodaca and New Mexico State Police Chief Hubert Beasley of violating Wesley Byrd's civil rights by torturing him. Each served a year in prison. President Harry Truman later pardoned them.

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Paul Russell Rader

Fare thee well, Mr. Rader.
Rosalie Rader: Mesilla personality.
Paul's sister, Sharon Douglas, passed away in 2015.

Paul Rader (11 July 1923 - 31 December 1985) was a junior in 1947, a local boy with interesting family ties, and a member of Who's Who in American Colleges (see citation here ). His sister Rhodanelle, better known as actress Sharon Douglas, was living with her first husband, film producer Edward Nassour (married in August 1946).

Hedda helped Sharon, and Sharon's husband worked with Paul.

Sharon went to Hollywood in 1938, and her mother Lydia went with her, becoming a member of the screen mothers organization. Sharon was befriended by Hedda Hopper, and appeared on several of Miss Hopper's radio broadcasts. Sharon's mother lived in Hollywood the rest of her life, passing away in 1986.

Paul transferred to UCLA in 1948, took his BS degree and went to New York. He earned a masters degree at Columbia, and began publishing short stories. In 1950 he went to Hollywood and San Francisco as a movie writer and editor, working with his sister's husband, Edward Nassour, on multiple projects.

Paul's first book received some gentle reviews.

Paul returned to the southwest in 1952 as writer and producer for KROD TV in El Paso. He moved on to WGBH TV in Boston in 1954. At some point he was hired by New York University as the director of public relations, and director of developmental planning, which is translated as fund raising.

During these years he wrote novels, short stories and scripts (movie and TV). He published at least five novels, some of which are still available. His book, "The Fraud," has been republished at least once, and the movie rights purchased. Another, "Dr. Wilmess Must Die," caused a stir at NMSU when published during his stint there in the 1960s (see review here ).

In 1967 Paul returned to Las Cruces as the Vice President of development for the University of NM A&M, by then called New Mexico State University. He is credited with naming the school's new multi-purpose activity center "The Pan American Center." He left in the early 1970s and was appointed to the New Mexico Highway Commission. Political conflicts led to a high profile imbroglio in the press and he resigned in 1979. He went on living in Messilla and passed away in 1985 of Lou Gherig's disease.

Paul was married to Rosalie Veitch, also a person of considerable interest. Her passion was music and she sang with the Dessoff Choir in New York City, singing Carmina Burana at Carnegie Hall. She became Mayor of Mesilla after she and Paul returned to New Mexico and was a force in local civic life. The Rader's had one son, who died at an early age.

Rosalie's great-grandfather was Albert J. Fountain, a local Mesilla legend, the victim of a famous unsolved murder(see more here ). She collaborated with Dr. Gordon R. Owen, NMSU professor emeritus, on his treatment of the Fountain murders.

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1947 was the Longest Year

The bus my grandparents drove to Missouri, the Plymouth my parents drove, and some 1947 ambience. Click to enlarge.
Rangely was uptown as this 1946 post office attests. Picture links to the Rangely Museum. George De Mohrenschildt probably got his mail here.
This is Raven #1, the deep well drilled in 1933 and capped until 1944, that started the Rangely boom. It links to some more old Rangely memories.

A few weeks before 1947 started, my parents packed my brother and I into a 1935 Plymouth, and drove across the Sierra Nevada Mountains, across the Continental divide, and all the way, almost, to the Mississippi river. It was a great adventure. My father had worked at the Standard Oil Refinery in Richmond, California, and the trip was his way of escaping the air pollution that threatened his lungs, scarred by the 1918 flu.

My Great-Grandfather started a family pattern in 1854.

For my mother, a native of Missouri, the trip was a generational echo of a trip her great-grandfather had made from Missouri to California and back in the 1850s. She was following her father in his own slow-motion echo of his grandfather's trip. He'd moved from Missouri to Nebraska to California over a twenty-year period, and had just returned to take up farming in his birth state a few months before us.

We stopped off in Rangely, Colorado to visit my dad's parents, Joe and Glenn Trachta, who were building a house there after a lifetime of wildcat drilling across the northern states.

Joe Trachta driving into Rangely in 1912.

Rangely was a boomtown. A deep well through the Mancos Shale in the 1930s had turned it into a liquid gold-rush by the 40s. The town was shacks, tents, mud, deep ruts, and wildly disparate, some desperate, people from all over the world. My grandfather was among them. He and George Eldred, had drilled the first cable-tool well in Rangely back in 1902, but failed to get through the Mancos Shale.

He'd recently retired, but there were plenty of active drillers, roustabouts, managers, executives, vagabonds, main-chancers, and con men crunching through the frozen streets. I was four years old, and have never seen anything like it in the seven decades since.

This is Rangely, 1946. Add a little snow, and it's the sight my Dad saw in his rearview mirror when he left in early 1947.

I've recently learned the multifarious gaggle watching the Rangely Christmas Parade that year probably included George De Mohrenschildt, professional spook, and subject of a staff report by the Warren Commission (see here or his testimony here). He went to Rangely in 1946 on a mission of hazy purpose, married his second wife, reportedly took a side trip to Haiti in 1947, and moved to Denver in 1950. He went to Haiti again five months before John Kennedy died.

First class accommodations in 1947 Rangely.

It was an event-filled visit to an exotic location, and at the end we rang in the New Year, 1947. It was my first awareness of time measure. It seemed like a very big deal, almost as big as Christmas, perhaps because of my Trachta grandparents, who'd lost a son in the closing months of the war, my Uncle Eldy (see here ), and may have been eager start a new chapter.

We went on across Kansas and most of Missouri, and lived for a while with my other Grandparents, the Staseys. They'd just completed my Grandpa Stasey's generational echo in a Chevy school bus adapted as an early-days mobile home. I'm guessing he followed his grandfather's route from California, by then called the Lincoln Highway. My grandmother was a loving, patient woman, much consumed in starting up a long neglected farm, but she paid a lot of attention to her young grandsons.

My Grandma Stasey was a patient woman.

I was proud of my knew chrono-knowledge, and asked frequently, "What year is it now?" Everyone but my grandmother exhausted themselves trying to explain how long a year is. She just patiently replied, "It's still 1947." I didn't know the day of the week or the hour of the day, but I knew the year, and I was flummoxed that it never changed. It had changed once before in my memory, and I didn't want to miss the next one. Nevertheless, her answer was always the same. "No honey, it's still 1947."

1947 went on forever.

The 1947 Stasey Farm was a little north of Hagar's Grove. They sold out about a year later, and went into the restaurant business (see here ). It was hard work, and a long year.

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The Swastika was so named in 1907

Browse the 1947 Yearbook.
The Swastika Staff claimed only one page of the yearbook, and didn't include a full-staff picture.

This key to yearbook symbols was included to redefine the swastika.

The first challenge for the 1947 yearbook was its name, "The Swastika," a Native American good-luck symbol chosen in 1907.

Neither the name nor the symbol appeared on the cover from Germany's invasion of Poland, until the post-war issue in 1946 when the name reappeared without the symbol.

Gwynne Guthrie had a long association with NMSU.

The 1947 staff, probably influenced by sponsors Gwynne Guthrie and Lionel Haight, rescued the innocence of the misused swastika. The 1947 students included ex-POW's held in NAZI camps, veterans mortally threatened, and sometimes wounded, by soldiers under this banner. Their willingness to snatch the abused symbol from the maw of nihility is admirable. Its ever-misunderstood use went on for decades. Generations of students and observers were calmly educated.

Swastika Explanation

Eventually, lamentably, NMSU gave in and renamed its yearbook, "Phoenix." The enlightenment of modern semantics notwithstanding, distinguishing the "name" from the "thing" became a lost cause. Perhaps in the long scope of history the swastika will recover, but NMSU has now abandoned its yearbook altogether, thus removing itself from the battle.

The Swastika story illustrates the germinal tension of 1947. After the collision of ancient tribal impulses with twentieth century technology, 1947 was the first step back from annihilation. The jury is still out on all that, and it remains the dawn of our current day.

The history of an Ancient Human Symbol, by the Collectors Guide.

There used to be a town in New Mexico called Swastika.

Alburquerque has courageously held on to its Navajo Good Luck symbol.

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Some notables around campus in 1947

Punch Jones

American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.

Ben Billups

White Sands Missile Range Hall of Fame.

James B Williams

Doctor, Tuskegee Airman, Medal of Honor recipient.

Dan Sosa Jr

State Supreme Court Justice.

Leon Wagley

Head of Agriculture and Extension Education Department, NMSU.

Russell Gray

head of the Engineering Department of Las Cruces/El Paso Electric.

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Pop Cuture in 1947

Harry Truman tossed from both sides

Here he is tossing out the first pitch at a Senator's game.

Here's the lowdown

What you might have noticed in 1947.

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Babe Ruth had his day at Yankee Stadium.

And went over the hill in 1948.

Hey Kids! What Time is it?

Buffalo Bob, and Side Kick.

No! Seriously!

What time is it?

It's Howdy Doody Time!

Beats looking at a test pattern.

Top Radio in 1947

It's how Americans were entertained.

Hopes and Dreams in Advertising

From Ben Franklin's All-American Magazine.

Is This Tomorrow?

The Comics warned about Communism.

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How Reader's Digest saw things at the end of 1947.
"Life in These United States" was the lead article each month, and it drew approving nods from its readers. The cover links to an excerpt.
"Life in These United States" was the lead article each month, and it drew approving nods from its readers. The cover links to an excerpt.
"Life in These United States" was the lead article each month, and it drew approving nods from its readers. The cover links to an excerpt.
"Life in These United States" was the lead article each month, and it drew approving nods from its readers. The cover links to an excerpt.

Lost Boundaries

The December issue featured an article by roving editor William L. White, son of famed editor William Allen White. William Allen was a Teddy Roosevelt Progressive, and the widely influential editor of the Emporia Gazette. William L. was an editor, author and war correspondent. This issue excerpted his look at race relations called "Lost Boundaries." It was made into a movie in 1949 (see here ). Exploring its Internet presence will give you an idea of where things stood then.

Gelett Burgess (see here ) gave readers some pointers on polite conversation: 1) Don't gossip, 2) Don't monopolize, 3) Don't Contradict, 4) Don't Interrupt, 5) Don't abruptly change subject, 6) Show interest, 7) Return to subject after diversion, 8) Don't be dogmatic, 9) Speak distinctly, 10) Avoid destructive talk. Hmm. Should we mention Gelett was best known for his nonsense verse?

Newsweek's number on Ike for President was an understated bit of campaigning, probably aimed at pushing Eisenhower's intentions into the open. Ike brushed questions aside by saying no one had asked him to run.

Aramco was building a thousand mile pipeline across Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean Coast, and the cold war petro-map was being drawn. Gordon Gaskill summarized things for American Magazine.

Stanley High (see here ) told us the thing our schools need more than money is our help in setting a moral purpose in youngsters.

David Redstone, mystery writer, gave readers an introduction to the science of lie detection.

Pete Martin recounted the accomplishements of an unusual phenomenon for 1947, an outstanding female athlete (see here ).

A foundational antitrust case involving glass blowing had played out in the early 1940s and was summarized by Stuart Chase (see here )

Noel F. Busch (see here ) took time off from serious history to give us his "Who's Who of English Ghost."

William E. Barrett (see here ) offered a story about Alice Pedley, who overcame immense personal tragedy with faith and resilience.

Paul Gallico (see here ) in "This Man's World" gives us a disconsolate look at the day's youth (actually the moral failing of their parents), a sour look at Hollywood, and a souciant glance out the window at two youngsters playing catch, and imagining they're in the world series.

Paul S. Willis (see here ), President of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, writes about the cost, and therefore the price of food. He's careful not to blame anyone for high prices.

Jan Juta of South Africa, and most notably D. H. Lawrence's Illustrator, gave some instruction on surviving an encounter with an Ostrich.

Donald Culross Peattie offered some inspiring biography of John Marshall, a man famous for justice and prudence.

What Makes Stanley Tiller Tick-- The ticking clock was the go-to metaphor for two popular intellectual conceits of the day, psychology and motivation. Frank J. Taylor applied it to Stanley Hiller (see here ), a man of some fame at the time.

A Lesson From a Dotted Line of Blood-- Paul W. Kearney added a vignette from the Texas City explosion a few months earlier. He explains how well-conceived fire drills saved some youngsters in Danforth School.

The Case of the Moving Jaws-- Don Wharton noted that Europeans think of American's as gum chewers primarily because of overseas GIs. Ten percent of Americans chew 75% of the gum sold, he tells us, along with some gum genesis stuff.

Our Most Dangerous Lobby-- Congressman Forest Harness (see here ) warns against a group of civil servants using government time to gin up ways of pressuring Congress to improve their fringe benefits.

You Can't Sell That-- Roger William Riis offers some assurance that someone is watching for false medical claims in patent medicines.

Unnecessary Operations-- Albert Deutsch (see here )gave readers a five point plan for avoiding an over eager surgeon.

G. J. Shows that East and West Can Meet-- Blake Clark wrote an article about Gobindram J. Watumull (see here ), Indian philanthropist living in Hawaii.

The Most Unforgettable Family I've Met-- Paul Schubert writes about spending Christmas with a Czechoslovakian family in the early thirties, while he was writing a book on limited budget.

Wanted: A Miracle in Greece-- Paul A. Porter, FDR's Emissary to Greece, wrote about the desperate need for food in the cradle of civilization.

Strange New Uses for Silent Sound-- Harland Manchester lists some uses for ultrasonic sound, including materials inspection, milk homogenization, food sterilization, autosonic machine controls, fog clearing, laundering, increased seed yield, psychological manipulation (impending doom), liquor ageing, and brain surgery (?).

Irving Berlin-- George Frazier sends some personal admiration down the decades to us.

Big Time Smugglers Are at It Again-- Frederic Sondern, Jr. collects some stray anecdotes about the things people try to sneak through customs.

These Letters Bring Priceless Gifts-- Paul W. Kearney told readers about two sisters who stacked letters to Santa Clause beside the register of their gift shop. Customers responded with gifts to indigent children.

Bus Stop in Waco-- condensed from "Menagerie in F Sharp" H. W. Heinsheimer tells about coming to America and starting a symphony orchestra in Waco, Texas. Is this a great country, or what?

Where God's Children Haven't Got Shoes Max Eastman relates a trip to Haiti, a very unhappy place even then.

Ride with Machtless Sam-- Frederic Sondern Jr. writes about Salvatore Cascavilla, known as Singing Sam, a famously happy bus driver in Harlem.

He Opens Nature's Gateways-- Temple Fielding writes about John Ripley Forbes' (see here ) innovation of museums for children. He started his project at age 14.

Where to Find Buried Treasure-- C. Lester Walker discloses the existence of "treasure trove file" at the U. S. Treasury, full of letters disclosing the existence of lost treasure.

A Report to the American People-- William C. Bullitt Gives Americans the lowdown on what was going on in China. It wasn't good.

Pigs and Cabbages Reform Bad Boys-- Karl Detzer reports success with juvenile delinquents at Chicago's Cook County jail after Warden Frank Sain reformed things and added a farm.

The Hidden Red Ink in TVA's Books-- John T. Flynn finds the TVA's books don't balance, and considers it a disgrace.

After they paused for a quick picture, these and many others dashed off into their uniquely personal unknowns. There was a lot going on in 1947, and that context shaped their trajectories. Here's a quick look.

The war was over but the wind-down was in high gear. There was a housing shortage. The GI bill sent thousands to college and strained the resources of every college in America.

The cold war alerted everyone that a new enemy had been selected.

Pictures of Einstein's famous equation of energy and mass inside a mushroom cloud warned of apocalypse.

Space aliens were everywhere in grainy photos of flying saucers.

A navy pilot almost broke what was called the sound barrier. Actually, a different pilot did achieve supersonic speed, but we didn't hear about it until 1948.

Polio was the silent, mysterious fear that became real for thousands of Americans, and spawned a famous fund driver.

Winston Churchill died. Winston Churchill lived (see here ).

Secretary of State George C. Marshall came up with a plan for rebuilding Europe, and ex-president Hoover reprised his WW I role as aid-relief champion.

Ike began his transition from war hero to politician.

Jazz ascended into the intellectual towers of American culture(see here ).

Everyone started noticing juvenile delinquents.

American racial divisions receded, with plenty of obstacles (see here ).

Baseball resumed its role as America's game(see here ). By the way, Stan Musial had appendicitis and tonsillitis all year, and still hit .312.

Radio continued its dominance of American entertainment, but TV was its exotic challenger (see here ).

Blizzards dominated the winter of 1947, and Texas City exploded (see here ).

India gained its independence from Britain.

Israel was recognized as a separate state by the brand new Untied Nations.

The UN was becoming a dominant force in International politics.

There was widespread fear of another economic depression, and great anticipation of an economic boom (see here ).

Thankfully, Project 1947 is looking into all this.

Levittown was one of many solutions to the housing shortage.

Here's a journalist's take on the cold war in 1947.

70 years ago Einstein offered advice on how to avoid nuclear annihilation.

Major Marion Carl set a speed record at Muroc in 1947.

In 1946 DDT was used to prevent polio in San Antonio.

Herbert Hoover was called on to assist European recovery.

General Eisenhower became President of Columbia University, and people began wondering about his politics.

Baseball became even more American in 1947.

India slipped away from Great Britain in 1947.

Reader's Digest was the soft breeze of American Culture in 1947. See how the wind was blowing at the end of the longest year..


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Who in the world cares about the longest year?