BEEN THERE – DONE THAT
Here We Are!
Everyone in the family now seems to have a Blog. So, why not me? Mine may not be exciting with current events, due to the fact I’m retired, but I have a wealth of life that I believe is worth sharing. I’ve done many things, or have been many places very few can match. That’s why the “I’m in a league of few” Tagline has been implemented. As I previously stated, there probably will be few current events. But, I’ve done so many things from Jeeping, snowmobiling, backpacking, Etc., that I have many things to tell. I just hope as this Blog evolves, it will be interesting enough to be checked every so often.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand
The “All American Man” within Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Warbler Singing Competition in Singapore
Snowmobile Races – Eagle River, Wisconsin
Great Wall, China
The fact that this Blog is sort of an autobiography, I will need to start somewhere. I guess chronological order would be the best to understand, and for me to write the next entry. Initial posting May 26, 2018.
I was born in a western suburb of Chicago. It wasn’t the greatest of times. The Japanese were occupying the majority of Southeast Asia, and Nazi Germany was killing thousands – especially Jews. But, the better news is that Bing Crosby recorded “White Christmas,” the greatest selling record to date. Also, Walt Disney’s animated movie, “Bambi,” was released.
There’s a bit more trivia that’s good for the year in which I was born: Little Golden Books for children began publishing; A bill authorizing the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WACs) was enacted; U.S. and British governments announced the establishment of the United Nations.
I know I have a “Baby Book” somewhere in my house, but I cannot put my hands on it. All you would get is another nude “bubble-butt” baby photo. They all look so similar, that I don’t feel it is worth my time to try and find it. There are more important things to reveal about my life than an XX-Photo. I’ll show a photo about 2 years later.
I had a great upbringing! Although at times I retaliated, in the long run, I was very lucky. During my first several years, I was sick quite often. I cannot speculate as to the causes, but I think my older sisters brought viruses home from school, that I had not been previously exposed to (I’m not blaming them for something they couldn’t control.)
Me with sisters
Other than a few non-consequential remembrances, having a sable/white collie pup put into my “sick-bed” was a mark that I will not forget. I can only share with you a couple photos made at a later date.
Me and Rex
Due to the love for the dog, after my first marriage, I tried to recapture the joy by getting a similar pet. It was another sable/white collie, and already had ribbons having been shown. It was a very nice obedient dog, but unfortunately died from an accident.
I guess following in my parents footsteps, I bought a tri-color collie for my son. It also was a very nice dog, and brightened our life for many years.
Robbie with Collie pup Bronson
Before attending school, I was at the age of being more aware of my surroundings. About 2/3 of my family’s property was covered with weeds (Illinois Prairie). I spent hours looking at the plants and bugs that encompassed this small piece of my world. To the side of the property, was a swamp. The evening calling of the “peepers” and other creatures, eventually led me to collect and breed Herps.
Although I didn’t recognize the wealth of the opportunity at hand, I did rebel. I guess no child feels quite right in their own skin, envying those around them. As I look back, there were several wonderful moments that I now cherish.
>My family made sure that I had a proper upbringing, educationally and spiritually. All year, I looked forward to the two weeks put aside each Summer for a vacation trip. The car excursions went though many states, and a mandatory visit to each State’s Capitol, and its capitol building.
Bismark, N. Dakota Capitol
In June of 1959, I was in Chicago at Lake Michigan, to witness the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II. It was in celebration of the Queen, and President Dwight Eisenhower officially opening the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Chicago arrival of Queen Elizabeth II
There are just too many stories to tell, including those during my teen years.
Graduation – (Notice right foot)
Besides the yearly vacation trips, there were fishing trips, and long bicycle rides.
Fish variety – Bemidji, Minnesota
Due to my passion for cycling, I did it at any opportunity –
It eventually led to motorcycles.
This story may become a bit lengthy. But, I need to start somewhere, so you get the whole picture of how I ended up at a zoo.
My first wife had her best friend living in Iowa. So she convinced me to move the family, leaving my 18 year job, then covering Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. I was able to secure a staff position at Iowa State Univ., in Ames, IA, close to her friend. When I moved to begin my new acquired job, she decided not to follow me later on, with my kids, as the proposed plan.
With about 2 years at ISU, I decided to move back to Maryland, because of my kids. I found a product manager’s job with a company selling research laboratory instrumentation, based in Rockville, MD. Returning to Maryland, I rented a log cabin on Saddleback Mountain. The property was interesting, having an Olympic size swimming pool, and three other cabins. Water was piped by gravity, to a large holding tank, from a natural spring about 2 miles up hill from the cabins. The rocky 1 mile steep drive to the cabin had about a 30% grade. Supposedly, an Army Colonel originally owned the property, and did Jeep prototype testing there in the 1940’s. It’s only a stone’s throw from Camp David.
Noticing strange noises, from below, at the mountain’s base, I discovered that there was a privately owned zoo (Catoctin Zoo). Upon my very first visit, I was asked if I could help carry an alligator out of the Zoo, to an enclosure, on a pick-up truck. With that experience, I became good friends with the owners. On occasion, they would ask for my help to move animals, and didn’t charge me an entrance fee.
After nearly 2 years at the instrument company in Rockville, I was let go. I found a similar instrument company based in Florida, needing a sales rep in Maryland and New Jersey. My problem was that the pay was commission only, so there wouldn’t be pay checks rolling in immediately, and then only intermittently. I had to give up the log cabin, but my zoo friends said I could live on their property for free, if I found a trailer. I bought a 24′ travel trailer, and parked it in a little patch of woods, just behind the lion’s enclosure. I’d go out to peddle my wares during the week, returning to the zoo at week’s end. On the weekends, I did whatever I could to help out on the zoo property, including assistance with the animals. The zoo was open only during the warmer months, so one winter, the zoo owners went on a two week vacation. I was left in total charge, for animal care and feeding, being quite a chore from dawn ’til dusk – everyday. Speaking of care, I had to daily inject an antibiotic into the arm of an ailing female Gibbon – no, not tame. I cannot count the number of animals, well over a hundred, from big cats to bears, to include many primates and birds. They even had a camel, eland, bison, and a large reptile house with both common and venomous species. It should be noted there were no other helpers at this time, being an undertaking that was the obligation of one person – ME.
The wife of the zoo owning couple, was originally from the UK. That resulted in the husband and I traveling to the UK. Luckily we spent New Years with relatives in Coventry. It should be obvious that we visited several zoos during that trip, like Chester, and John Aspinall’s Howlett Zoo Park, after having met with him. The latter being very famous for its gorillas.
We also ran into “Nyoka”, an animal trainer, and owner of the Knaresborough Zoo, in North Yorkshire. A deal was struck, to send a Dingo pup to the USA.
My travel trailer served me well. After almost 3 years at the zoo, I moved to NC for a couple of years. I even dragged it to Florida, using it as a trade-in on a car, no longer having the luxury of a company auto.
Travel Trailer Home, with Kiko, an Akita, guarding
I’m retired, currently living in Florida, and divorced for the second time.
Worked in the Chemistry Lab of Ovaltine Foods.
Experimental batch processing
Spent two years in the US Army.
My radio truck
Never involved in physical sports, I joined a Sports Car Rallye team, competing in the Chicago area.
Rallye Addict’s Team event
Triumph GT6 and Rallye trophy
Team Car Badge
I've always had a passion for motor vehicles
Fording Colorado stream with 1965 Corvair Corsa
1200 Suzuki MC
League Bowled, and also shot some Billiards.
Autographed Cue Ball
Was on the Iowa State University Staff for electronic repair.
Gilman Hall, ISU
Had a forty-five year career in sales/service of bio-technical equipment. –( fewer than 100 world-wide have my specific nuclear expertise )–
A breeder of Cockatiels, and Congo African Grey parrots.
Young African Greys
Lived in a Zoological Park for almost three years.
Me with young Bengal Tiger
Previously lived in Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington State, and The District of Columbia.
Been in all the United States, to include Puerto Rico, but one (Alaska). Have had the opportunity to visit seventeen different countries ( Belgium; China; Finland; Japan; South Korea; Etc. ).