Friday, June 6, 2008

A Short Biography of Richard (Dick) Latteier

for UPT Class 68E Reunion, August 2008

I should begin by saying I was almost in class 67D. Unlike many of our classmates, my ROTC experience (Navy) lasted only one semester. I had no time for it. During my senior year, however, it became apparent that I would not escape the military. I applied for and was accepted to both Air Force and Navy OTS/OCS followed by pilot training (class 67D for the Air Force.) I wanted to fly F-104s or Navy F-8s. When I told my parents, my dad thought it was a really dumb idea. I was half way through a two year MBA program when my draft board informed me that a college deferment did not extend to graduate school. I hurried down to my Air Force recruiter and, after another physical exam, received new orders to OTS and UPT Class 68E. My life would probably have been quite different if I had started flying a year earlier.

I got my first choice of assignments out of UPT, A-37s. While it was great fun, it was probably not the wisest career choice. Following survival school and training, I arrived PCS at Bien Hoa AB, Vietnam, in July of 1968, about four months after the big Tet Offensive. I flew 264 “combat” missions in the A-37 and another six or eight in the F-100 and OV-10. I even flew one Navy “COD” mission, as copilot, and logged a carrier landing and takeoff. The A-37 was like a jeep with a V-8 engine, not very sophisticated but easy and fun to fly. At the time, it was also the only fighter, other than the A-1, that could safely work in close proximity (10 meters) to friendly ground forces. I used to laugh at people talking about “close air support” B-52 missions. Unfortunately, I didn’t laugh long because I got a B-52 assignment upon completing my year in Vietnam.

B-52 training at Castle AFB was quite a dismal occasion. Most of the trainees were former Century Series fighter pilots who didn’t want to be there any more than I did. My student AC, a senior major, had more flight time in F-104s than anyone else in the Air Force. Even my squadron commander, a former F-105 pilot, was just biding his time to retire. However, I did have two good things happen while at Castle. We had one all-student flight (no SAC people aboard) that was a blast. The last event of our four-hour mission was to fly as a target for Washington ANG interceptors (F-102s.) To make a long story short, a light B-52 can easily out turn a F-102 at 47,000 feet! The Deuce pilots couldn't believe it. The second good thing was Miss Hoa. She worked part-time for my squadron in Vietnam and I decided she would be a good “souvenir of the war.” We were married on Valentine’s Day of 1970 and, 38+ years and six children later, we are still doing fine.

I did not enjoy SAC and eventually escaped by taking a ground job (intelligence officer) at the 1st Special Operations Wing, Hurlbert Field, Florida. While there, I met Stan Erstad for the last time. We were training for a Special Ops. mission that eventually was canceled. My last active duty assignment was as an intelligence debriefer of Hanoi POWs in Operation Homecoming. Just in time, I got an “early out” and went back to the University of Michigan to finish my MBA before all my credits expired. I stayed in the Reserves as an intelligence officer.

After graduate school, I worked for the First National Bank of Chicago in their International Banking Department. Eventually, I was assigned to their Hong Kong branch and, the following year, to their office in Sydney, Australia, where we lived for three years. I later worked in Private Banking for Bank of America in Los Angeles. Between those jobs we lived in Spokane, WA, where I worked in accounting and finance. One interesting job was as CFO for the Coeur d' Alene Indian Tribe in northern Idaho, but that’s another story. So is the story of our family trip to Vietnam in 2005. All of our children and two spouses went with us.

For the past 23 years we have lived in Fullerton, CA, which is in Orange County about five miles north of Disneyland. I am semi-retired, still doing accounting/finance work. Hoa does child day-care in our home, which is a good business if you can stand crying children and dirty diapers. Every year we get graduation and wedding announcements from former day-care children. That’s fun. Our own children range in age from 36 to 25. One son, an orthopedic surgeon in the Air Force, is now serving in Afghanistan. Another is an Army dentist who leaves active duty for private practice in June ‘08. Our third son is an engineer in San Diego and the fourth is in training to be an airline pilot at Utah State Univ. One daughter is a paralegal and the other a CPA. Our two youngest sons are still not married. We have nine grandchildren and, like money, always want more. We plan to retire in a few years and serve a mission for our church. Then we plan to move to Carlsbad, CA, near the beach in northern San Diego County, just south of Camp Pendleton. Not very exciting, but nice.

We look forward to seeing all the “old boys” this August at the reunion. Thanks, Maury & Harry!

Monday, March 31, 2008

And Always Remember Him, Ward Conference Talk, March 16, 2008

After completing this talk, I read it and noticed that it seemed to jump around a lot. (It was also too long.) After re-reading it several times, I decided that was OK. The point of the talk is that we need to remember who we are, why we are here on Earth, and what we need to do to get back “home” to our Heavenly Father. The scriptures, the Church, and the entire Gospel are all about that. They all point to Christ, who is the way (John 14: 6). So, even though it jumps around, it all points to Christ.

As Elder David A. Bednar said in our December 2007 stake conference, take out your paper & pencils, but don’t bother to write down what I have to say. Instead, write down: 1.) Scriptures & quotes that particularly touch you and 2.) Things the still small voice (the Holy Ghost) whispers to your mind or heart. Then, after you leave church today, go and do what the Holy Ghost suggested to you.

In June of 1897, Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about the British Empire which, at that time, was at its peak. The poem expresses pride in the British Empire, but also an underlying sadness that the Empire will surely go the way of all previous empires of the Earth. Kipling recognizes that it is all in vain in the light of God's dominion over all the world. Following are the first three verses of Recessional:

God of our fathers, known of old--

Lord of our far-flung battle line

Beneath whose awful hand we hold

Dominion over palm and pine--

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget - lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;

The captains and the kings depart:

Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,

An humble and a contrite heart.

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget - lest we forget!

Far-call'd our navies melt away--

On dune and headland sinks the fire--

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,

Lest we forget, lest we forget!

In General Conference, Oct. 2003, Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley said, “It was said that at one time the sun never set on the British Empire. That empire has . . . diminished. But, [now] it is true that the sun never sets on this work of the Lord . . . across the [whole] earth. And this is only the beginning. . . . That is my faith. That is my belief. That is my testimony.”

Two hundred years ago, Joseph Smith was a two-year-old toddler in New England - and the kingdom of God was not to be found upon the face of the Earth. Now, the sun never set on the kingdom of God and, as Pres. Hinckley said, that is only the beginning.

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget - lest we forget!

With this great progress the Church is making, is there something the Lord would have us not forget? Yes, yes, yes! In fact, our lives, individually and as a church, depends upon us not forgetting. Forgetting what? Forgetting the Lord, of course - and the Plan, the Plan of Salvation, and our covenants. Just a few minutes ago during the Sacrament, we had the opportunity to renew our covenant to “always remember Him” (D&C 20:77,79). Always! In fact we had that opportunity twice, with the bread and with the water.

The Book of Mormon makes it crystal clear how quickly and how easy it is to forget. And it very graphically tells of the dire consequences of forgetting. Talking about “the flattering words of Amalickiah” Alma said, “Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one.” (Alma 46:8) Helaman’s son, Nephi, wrote “And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.” (Helaman 12:3) So, exactly what is it that we need to remember?

The theme for our conference is 3 Nehpi 20: 26, 29. After his resurrection, Christ visited America and told the surviving Nephites his purpose in visiting them - “The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant— And I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people;”

Before the world was created we all made covenants with our Heavenly Father. To a large extent, those covenants, and the way we honored them, influenced our being born in a time and place in history where the Church has been restored and temples dot the land. (President Spencer W. Kimball) If we have been baptized, or received the Priesthood, or gone to the Temple - then we have made additional important covenants. The Lord remembers His covenants with us. Do we remember that we have made covenants with Him? Do we remember what those covenants are, what we promised to do? We must, or we may lose them. If we don’t remember Heavenly Father’s Plan for us, and if we don’t remember our parts in that Plan, the things we have covenanted to do, then how can we Choose the Right, as they say in Primary?

Twenty some years ago, Pres. Ezra Taft Benson was talking about missionaries in General Conference. He said that occasionally some missionaries forget why they are on a mission. He said, “We call missionaries like that tourists.” (Have any of you had a missionary companion who was a tourist?) If you send a son or a daughter on a mission for the Church, do you want them to be tourists - or to be hard-working and effective missionaries? What do you think Heavenly Father wants of us? According to the Plan of Salvation and to our premortal covenants, we were not sent to Earth to be tourists! Especially those of us who are here - those who have made covenants to do more. We have much important work to do while we are here, and the time is short. We have a mission to accomplish, not an open sightseeing itinerary. Therefore, we must make choices wisely.

Fifteen years ago, Elder Maxwell said, “If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.” He went on to say “We will never know the Keeper of the celestial gate’s welcoming embrace if we now embrace, instead, the things of the world!” (Neal A. Maxwell, ‘I Will Arise and Go to My Father’, Ensign, Sept. 1993.) Pres. Kimball wrote about The False Gods We Worship (Ensign, June 1976). Now, instead of idols made of metal, stone, or wood, we have: sports, movie & rock stars, cars, boats, travel, business, careers, money, fame, self indulgence, status, cultural activities, and on and on. If you tell me what you spend most of your time doing, he said, I will tell you who or what you worship. Nephi, the son of Helaman, in The Book of Mormon wrote, “O, how could you have forgotten your God in the very day that he has delivered you? But behold, it is to get gain, to be praised of men, yea, and that ye might get gold and silver. And ye have set your hearts upon the riches and the vain things of this world” (Helaman 7:20-21). In the Old Testament, Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Can we say the same thing?

Some years ago there was a cute “good news, bad news joke”: The driver of a car said to the passengers, “The good news is that we are making great time. The bad news is that we are going the wrong direction.” Are any of us going in the wrong direction? Do any of us have problems or difficulties in your lives? I suspect that we all do. Dealing with those challenges requires that we exercise our agency and make choices. Last October [2007] in General Conference, Elder Oaks said that making good choices is not enough. Often, instead of something good, we need to choose something better. Frequently, in fact, we need to make the best choice, not simply a good or a better choice. How do we make these choices? It is not hard for most of us to choose between good and bad. However, how can we tell better from good and best from better? Lehi had the Liahona to show him the way. Most of us have something better - the Gift of the Holy Ghost (which is actually the best, not just better.) Are we enjoying that gift? In visions, Lehi and Nephi were shown how to move in the right direction when engulfed in worldly darkness - hold fast to the iron rod. Again as we learn in Primary, the iron rod is the word of God . . . (Hymn 274). The scriptures, the teachings of the prophets and apostles, the Church magazines, yes - and even our talks and lessons on Sundays. All of these give us the information we need to make better and best choices. Our baptismal gift will help us with the specifics of the choices, “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). To deal correctly with all the trials of our time, we need to remember who we are, remember why we are here, remember the covenants we have made, know where to look for help in choosing the right, and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost in all that we do. “If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.”

Let me give you some more examples:

1. Next Sunday is Easter. Christ has risen. He has atoned for all of our sins, sorrows, burdens, and woes. Come to Sacrament next week in a state of repentance, prepared to offer your broken heart and contrite spirit to the Lord and ask his forgiveness. “Drop your burden at His feet and bear a song away” (Hymn 125).

2. Also next Sunday in Relief Society and Priesthood meetings the Teachings for Our Times lesson will be based on Julie B. Beck’s Oct. 2007 General Conference talk entitled, “Mothers Who Know. Her talk is a resource for getting information that you will need to make better and best choices. Sisters, it is not intended to depress you or make you feel inadequate. On the contrary, it is intended as a standard, an ensign, a beacon to help you move in the right direction. It is a reminder of the eternal covenants that Heavenly Father’s daughters made with Him long before the world was. Brethren, all of you have a mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, or niece who needs this information. As priesthood holders and heads of households, you need to encourage the sisters to move toward Sis. Beck’s beacon. In many cases, you will need to do more than simply encourage. Together, you will have to make the difficult “better and best” choices, and do what needs to be done, to make embracing these eternal standards possible. “High on the mountain top a banner is unfurled. Ye nations, now look up; it waves to all the world.” (Hymn 5) “E’en in the darkest night, as in the morning bright, be thou my beacon light, guide me to thee.” (Hymn 101)

3. Alma, in The Book of Mormon, talked of true conversion to the Gospel, “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality and incorruption? I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?” (Alma 5:14-16) Sometime later, Alma talked to his son, “O remember, remember, my son Helaman, how strict are the commandments of God. . . . O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.” (Alma 37:13,35)

4. Have you ever wondered what it will be like at “judgment day?” All of us will stand before Christ and be judged of Him. What things do you think will be most important to Him? A lawyer asked Jesus a question like that. Although his question was not sincere, he received a very significant answer. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:35-40). Do we remember to love our God? Do we remember to love our neighbors? Do we always remember to love our spouses? Have we learned to always feel unconditional, Christ-like love? Can we be like Jesus and our Heavenly Father without it?

5. In the latter days, the Lord told Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer that the Gospel is not all work and no fun. He told them that, if they honored their covenants and did the work they were given, they could have something even better than fun, they could have great joy, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D&C 18:15-16) This revelation was given to three individuals in the context of missionary work. However, it applies to all of us and to all areas of the Gospel. We can all find great joy: if we bring someone back into church activity, if we do temple ordinances for those who can no longer do them for themselves, if we “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. . .” (Mosiah 18:8-9) If we bring children into mortality and raise them in the Gospel as did the Ammonite mothers of Helaman’s time. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him(Alma 53:21). And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:48). Concerning children, Christ’s beloved apostle, John, wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4). For all of us, how great will be our joy no matter how or how many souls we bring unto the Lord.

As Pres. Faust used to say at the end of a talk, “So what! What is the point of all this? The point, brothers and sisters, is that we need to remember, remember the essence of the Gospel. We need to remember who we are. We need to remember that we have made covenants with Heavenly Father and what we promised to do in those covenants. We need to remember why we are here. We are not tourists but have an important mission. We need to remember not to worship false gods. We need to remember that if we do not choose the kingdom of God first, it will, in the end, make no difference what we chose instead. We need to remember where to find help making better and best choices and how we may know the truth of all things. We need to become truly converted to the Gospel, and come unto our Heavenly Father, and help as many as we can come with us. We need to know that, through Christ’s atonement, “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can not heal(Hymn 115). And, we need to know that great joy, in this world and the next, is the reward for doing these things. “And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me! (D&C 18:15-16)

O, Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget - lest we forget!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Paris-London, draft 1


(VN Bldg 24) On the banks of the River Seine Saigon is the city of Saigon, “Paris of the Orient” as it was called by westerners in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. (VN Bldg 19)(VN Bldg 20)(VN Bldg 22) With its tree lined boulevards, large parks, French buildings, French carriages and cars, and French people; (VN Bldg 17) (VN Bldg 1)(VN Bldg ND2)(VN Bldg Car)(VN Bldg 18) it must have looked like Paris’ tropical little sister. Although Vietnam was under French control, or at least French influence, until 1954, the Saigon where mom was born and raised was in decline. She and her mother worked for the French on occasion and sometimes lived in their homes. To mom, the French were strange and exotic people, tall, with white skin, long noses, “round” eyes, and (some) with light brown or blond hair. When mom was 10 years old the French started leaving Saigon. As they and their culture faded way, in a sense they became more of a curiosity. When they were there, she was too young to fully understand why. When she was old enough to understand, they were, for the most part, gone. This is a long way of saying that mom has always wanted to see France, particularly Paris. In a vicarious way, it is part of her childhood. Like our trip to Vietnam in 2005, our trip to Paris and London in 2008 is something that we “needed” to do.

Our Trip

Special thanks to Cindy for “pushing” us into going on this trip. Who in their right mind would go to Europe in mid-winter? Rain, fog, dreary, bone chilling cold weather - I was really not very excited about going. In fact, I was looking for excuses for not going. However, we had none of that bad weather! The weather on the entire trip was sunny and relatively warm with highs in the upper 50’s and low 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Not once did we use our umbrellas, rain gear, or long underwear.

We left home on Wednesday afternoon, with too much luggage and late again as usual, and drove mom’s van to LAX. We planned to leave the van at LAX where Cindy and Bryan would later pick it up. Since Bryan had a late class on Wednesday evenings, we parked in the long-term “B” lot. While waiting for the shuttle bus, we called Cindy to tell her where in Lot B the van was parked. They would pick it up on Thursday. The shuttle bus soon arrived but was crowded. Mom was unable to lift her big suitcase into the bus and I was determined to let her struggle since she refused, again, to take only what she could carry. Fortunately, someone else helped her. We had a long ride to the terminal since there was an accident on Century Blvd. and we had to go north and come back on Sepulveda - and we were already late! Fortunately, we departed from Terminal 2 instead of the Bradley international terminal, which is always crowded. Terminal 2 was not crowded so we were able to check-in quite quickly. In the parking lot, mom reminded me to put my little knife away so we even got through the metal detectors quickly and easily. Good thing, too, because the flight was already boarding. Following a quick restroom stop, we boarded.

I thought the Air France plane was an Airbus but it turned out to be a Boeing 777, which was OK. There were two aisles with 3-3-3 seating. (747’s have 3-4-3 seating.) The plane was about 65-75% full so we had three seats for the two of us. The legroom was OK, certainly better than the China Air flights we took to and from Vietnam a few years ago. Also, we each had a personal “entertainment center” in the seat back in front of us. There was a screen (about 6”), a controller in the armrest, and about 20 different choices of news, movies, cartoons, music, etc. The earphones were free! We also got too full meals, one an hour or so after takeoff and another an hour or so before landing. The flight had another nice passenger amenity that we, unfortunately, did not discover until the flight home – self-serve food courts. They had small sandwiches, soft drinks, water, snacks, and Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars. Too bad we did not notice this on the way over. The reason, I guess, is because we left LAX at about 10:00 PM and were tired. We both slept much of the way over. Coming home, we departed Paris just before 5:00 PM (4:00 PM London time) and neither of us slept much. Anyway, it was pretty good for a long (10 hour) flight. Listening to the crew, some of whom had pretty strong French accents, was also good entertainment.

The flight went from Los Angeles to central Utah and turned east northeast toward Boston. We flew near Boston and on up the coast to Nova Scotia and St. John’s, Newfoundland. From there it was across the Atlantic, south of Ireland and England to Paris. I had thought we might take a more northern route but that, I found out, happens only on the westbound flights – probably having to do with the jet stream.


We stayed in the Hotel Kyriad Paris-Bercy Village. It is a small hotel and our room was about the size of the computer room with a bathroom and closet added on. Nevertheless, it was clean, smelled good, and had a friendly staff. Bercy Village is an area in southeast Paris, just northeast of the Seine, which used to have lots of wine storage warehouses and a large park. Oddly enough, it is on the road that leads southeast to Disneyland Europe! The cross road, running northeast by southwest, leads to China Town (which is largely Vietnamese now) about a mile and one half away. The old warehouses are gone and a village of trendy shops, bars/restaurants, and movie theaters has replaced them. According to the guidebook, it has recently become quite a “happening” place for young Parisians. (Check it out on the internet.) From our hotel it was a two or three block walk, past Parc de Bercy, to the Seine River and two blocks to the Metro (subway station.) In the other direction, there were typical (I think) urban residential areas with shops on the street level and flats above. Most of the buildings in the older parts of Paris were five to seven stories high and quite long (they would often extend an entire block, or more.) The top floors usually had rooms with dormer windows that stuck out of the skirt of the roof. While Bercy Village is not in a tourist location, it was only 10-15 minutes away from Tuileries Garden and the Louvre.

We arrived at about 8:00 PM because neither we nor our cab driver knew where we were going. (Everyone we asked directions from gave us a map but I never did find anyone in Paris who could read a map.) After we settled in our hotel room and looked at the tourist information we decided to take a walk. We walked the several blocks through Bercy Village to the river. Had I read up on Bercy Village before visiting it instead of after, I would have paid more attention to it and visited the park. Apparently, it is quite a success story in urban renewal. When we reached the River Seine, we crossed the bridge to the “left bank” and then went down the stairs to the riverbank, which is paved with cobblestone on both sides of the river. We walked down stream about ½ mile and saw several interesting looking boats that were converted to restaurants and small nightclubs. We took some pictures but most of them did not turn out well because it was too dark. We then came to a footbridge and walked back across the river. It was a multilevel affair, very artistic, you know. On the right bank we saw an old square-rigger that looked like a pirate ship. It was also a small restaurant, I think, and a woman kept peeking out the door or window at us. I think people live on most of the boats there. A number of cars were parked along the river here (I don’t know why) and one of them was a restored old Citroen, the type they had in Saigon in the 60’s. There was also an original Mini Cooper. We walked back up river to the bridge we had originally crossed and back up the stairs to the street level. I knew it was the right place because the tour boats all turned around there. There is quite a lively trade in dinner cruises on the Seine. A glassed-in restaurant/tour boat came by every four or five minutes. At “our” bridge they did a U-turn and went back down stream. I guess there was nothing else to see farther up the river. We walked north on Rue de Kessel, which is called Rue de Tolbiac south of the river and turns into Rue de Dijon just a block before of our hotel. On the way, we stopped in several little shops. By little, I mean little. No wheelchair friendly codes here. You have to walk sideways to get down some of the aisles. Mom bought some chocolate candy in one of them and took some flower pictures in others. There were a lot of flower shops around. The last place was a little “hole in the wall” restaurant run by Moroccans, probably. Like flower shops, there also seemed to be a lot of Moroccans around. We had not eaten since we had dinner on the airplane so we decided to stop. Mom noticed that they had crepes, which Cindy told her we must try in Paris. So, we both ordered a Nutella crepe, € 3.00 each or about $5.00. But, they were large, about 12”-14” in diameter, and hot off the grill. Pretty good! Returning to our hotel, we saw another “different” car, our first Smart car. Like most Smart cars we saw, it was not “parked” but was crowded into small space between the marked parking spaces on the street and a bicycle parking area. Bicycle riding was quite popular in Paris.

Our tour for the next day departed from central Paris, not locally. The desk clerks gave each of us a tourist map in English but could neither show us were we were on the map nor where we needed to go in the morning. However, they flipped the map over to a diagram of the subway system and showed us where to get on and which station to get off. The Cour St. Emilion Metro station was about two blocks away in Bercy Village. The Bercy Metro station was closer to town but farther from our hotel. We found it in the morning and took the Metro to the Pyramides station, another € 3.00. Upon leaving the subway, there was a large tourist map on the street corner. Unfortunately, there was no “you are here” arrow and we couldn’t find any street signs. After walking around for a while, we saw that the street signs were on the sides of buildings, not on signposts. With that information, we went back to the big tourist map and discovered that it was only several hundred feet (in the other direction) from Rue des Pyramides, where we wanted to go. It is another short street that runs from Ave. de l’Opera, where we were, south to the river where it ends. It is the street that separates the Louvre from Tuileries Gardens, which runs along the right bank of the Seine. At the other (west) end of the gardens is Place de La Concorde, a large square where the guillotine stood during the French Revolution. A 2,500-year-old Egyptian “Obelisque” now stands there. (On the other side of the square is the east end of Ave. des Champs Elysées. Its west end is at the Arc de Triomphe.) The name, Pyramides street, probably has something to do with the obelisk. In keeping with the Egyptian theme, a 2-3 story high glass pyramid was recently built in the courtyard just outside the Louvre. It now serves as the entrance and exit to the museum. Any way, we were to meet our bus at the Cityrama tourist office on Rue des Pyramides, just across the street from the Louvre and in front of the gold Joan of Arch statue in the middle of the intersection. Fortunately, we left the hotel early so we were still on time in spite of our walking around trying to find the tourist office and the bus.

Our tour bus was a relatively new two-level Setra (brand name) bus (coach.) All of us, except for the tour guide, sat on the upper level for a better view. We drove around the block and went by the local McDonalds, which was fairly busy. We then went west to Place de La Concorde and drove around the large square while the guide talked about the French Revolution, the guillotine, the obelisk, etc. From there, we continued west along the Champs Elysées. When first built, the avenue was on the outskirts of Paris and not a particularly safe place to go after dark. Now it is a fashionable and cosmopolitan shopping, business, and residential street. A number of well-known buildings were pointed out, none of which I can now remember except for the Grand Palais. It is located between two cross streets: Avenue Winston Churchill and Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt. A little further west Avenue George V (king of the UK from 1910-1936) crosses the Champs Elysées and turns into Rue Washington on the north side of the street. At the west end of Avenue des Champs Elysées is another large square, Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly and more commonly known as Place de l'Étoile (Star Square.) 12 avenues radiate out from the square. In the middle of the square is the Arc de Triomphe. The arch was built in the early 1800’s as a memorial to the soldiers of Napoléon. It is now a war memorial for all French wars and is the location of France’s tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A large structure (h-165 ft, w-148 ft, and d-72 ft,) Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport fighter plane through the arch in 1919, shortly after the end of World War I. The Arc is the west end of L'Axe historique (historic axis), a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route which goes from the courtyard of the Louvre Palace to what used to be the outskirts of Paris. Leaving the square, we continued west along Avenue Foch, a very wide residential boulevard and perhaps the most prestigious and expensive address in Paris. Foch was the Field Marshal of France and Allied Supreme Commander near the end of World War I. Number 84 Avenue Foch was a building in Paris used by the Gestapo for imprisonment and interrogation of foreign agents captured in France during the German occupation of Paris in World War II. Avenue Foch terminates at Bois de Boulogne, a large park located along the western edge of Paris, near the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. It has an area of 3.26 sq. miles (2.5 times larger than Central Park in New York.) At nighttime the area is a different scene, becoming one of Paris' most prominent red-light districts. The northern part of the Bois is occupied by the Jardin d'Acclimatation, a kind of amusement park with a menagerie and other attractions.

From the Bois our bus turned back east and headed to the Eiffel Tower, a mile or two away. Rather than going to the tower, however, we stopped at Quai Branly, the docks along the “left bank” of the Seine at the foot of the tower. We boarded a river tour boat and started our River Seine tour. The tour lasted about an hour and was both good and bad. The good part was that you could see much of historic Paris from the river. Notre Dame cathedral, for example, is on Île de la Cité, an island in the river which is the cite of the oldest permanent settlement (Roman, about 52 B.C.) in the Paris area. Many splendid buildings border the river on both sides, the names of which I can’t remember. This is where the bad part of the river tour comes in. There were several hundred people of many nationalities on the boat. Rather than having multiple tour guides to explain the sights, they had hand held speakers at each seat that played recorded messages in a dozen of so different languages. As the boat reached certain points in the river, the crewman in charge pushed a button that started the recorded narration for that part of the river. Unfortunately, the crewman did not always push the button at the right time and, I suspect, did not always push the correct button. Sometimes the recorded narration was fine. At other times the narration talked about things that I could not see anywhere. Then there were times when I couldn’t tell which of several buildings the narration was talking about. Nevertheless, the view was great and well worthwhile. We cruised up river to a point about ½ mile short of Quai Bercy where we saw all the dinner cruises turn around the previous evening. On the way down stream we saw mostly the same scenery but had different recorded narrations. This time we sailed on the north side of Île de la Cité and got to see the other side of Notre Dame and the other buildings on the island. We did not go into the cathedral, or the Louvre for that matter. Had the weather been cold and rainy as we expected, we certainly would have done that. I would like to have compared Notre Dame with St. Paul’s and Westminster Abby in London. We should have taken the time to visit both but we did not. That will have to wait until “next time.”

At the conclusion of the cruise we docked again at Quai Branly and disembarked. From there it was a five-minute walk to the base of the Eiffel Tower, named after its architect and engineer, Gustave Eiffel (who also designed and built the central post office in Saigon.) The tower was built for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. From its completion in 1889 to 1930, the Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest structure. It replaced the Washington Monument, which previously was the world's tallest tower. In turn, New York City's Chrysler Building surpassed the Eiffel Tower’s height when it was finished in 1930. Not only is the tower high, it is also wide at the base. Like the Arc de Triomphe, it has attracted daredevil pilots to fly through it, the most recent of which was a Texan flying a Beechcraft Bonanza. Since that happened (20 some years ago) increased security has prevented further attempts and we did not see any light planes flying around it at all. The tower has three observation levels that can easily be seen. Our tour included elevator tickets to the second level, which is 686 steps and almost 500 ft. above the ground. Public access to the top level of the tower is by elevator only and is over 1,000 ft. high. After taking a number of pictures from the second level, mom and I decided to walk down the stairs instead of waiting for the lift (there was quite a line.) That turned out to be a little much for mom whose knees started to hurt. (My legs did not ache until the next day.) Nonetheless, we saw quite a few people walking up as we were walking down. However, I don’t believe any of them were much over 40 years old - perhaps less. After finishing the decent, we hobbled back to the bus. On the way, we encountered some peddlers (surprise, surprise.) They were French speaking African teenagers, perhaps Moroccan. We encountered many Moroccans in Paris. Because they were willing to bargain with mom, she bought several crystal Eiffel Towers and some key chains from them - at about 1/3 the original asking price. She wishes she had bought some more. We found the crystal Eiffel Towers on Ebay after we got home and, with shipping, they cost 8-10 time what mom paid for them.

With pictures and souvenirs in hand, we boarded our bus for the trip back to Cityrama. Some of the tour members stayed at the tower and, from there, went to dinner and their evening activities. We returned to Rue des Pyramides and walked back to the Metro station via the opera house, which was only a short detour. We boarded the Metro for the 10-15 minute ride to Cour St. Emilion Metro station in Bercy Village and, from there, walked home to the hotel. En-route we ended up stopping at the same little restaurant where we had the crepes the evening before. This time, we had something like a pita pocket sandwich. Perhaps we should have gone to a nice French restaurant for some “fine dining.” Cassi recommended Restaurant Georges and there were many little “in” restaurants in Bercy Village. However, the weak dollar made them all so expensive that we dined with the locals at this little hole-in-the-wall. While not fancy, it was good, reasonably priced, and something we don’t usually see in the US. Like Notre Dame and the Louvre, fine French dining will have to wait for “next time.”

to be continued

Monday, March 10, 2008

Advice to Philip and Mindy on mom’s birthday; 3/10/08

No one likes unsolicited advice so, in stead of that, let me just pass along three comments - two short and one long.

1. When mom ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.

2. Priesthood holders have a responsibility to lead their families. Wise priesthood holders usually lead their families in the direction their wives want to go.

3. Fast and pray about it. Then do what the Lord inspires you to do, even if it is not what either of you have in mind.

When Joseph Smith went into the woods to pray vocally, he probably had no idea that none of the churches were true. Also, it was not his intent to simply ask a curious question just for the sake of knowing. He fully intended to find out which church was true and then act upon that information. He intended to join the true church and follow its teachings, but was lead in a different direction.

In 1973, eight or nine months after Theresa was born, I got out of the Air Force and mom and I went looking for a place to live. I had predetermined that I wanted to live in the Great Northwest and, since mom knew almost nothing about the US, I didn’t consult her much about the decision. It turned out that we (I) liked Spokane the best of all the places we looked at. Upon graduating from the Univ. of Michigan the following spring. I looked for jobs in Washington and Oregon, particularly Spokane, but couldn’t find any. I finally got job offers in Portland, Seattle, and Chicago. Why would I want to live in Chicago? I wouldn’t, even though the job paid 2.4 times more than the Seattle job, almost twice as much as the Portland job, and I would be sent to an overseas branch, which I wanted. I prayed about it - whether to go to Portland or Seattle. A clear answer came - none of the above. It was the only time I have ever received an unmistakable stupor of thought in answer to a prayer. So, we moved to Chicago for six months, then to Hong Kong for three months, then to Australia for three years. It worked out very well for us, although Cindy still complains that we came back to the US four months too early.

Being somewhat stubborn and more naive than I thought, when we got back to the US I packed the family into our car and moved to Spokane. Grandma and Grandpa lived in Scottsdale, AZ at the time and wanted us to live there. They even wanted to help us buy a nice house. This time, however, I didn’t risk praying about it. We simply move to Spokane and lived there for seven years. I really liked it there. However, I never did find a decent job and, financially, it was a bust. After Mark was born the handwriting was on the wall. We were going to have to move to a bigger city where I could get a decent job. (Large corporations were the only employers who hired MBA’s at that time.) I spent six or eight months looking for jobs in Seattle, then Portland, with no luck. Finally, I lowered my standards and also looked in San Francisco. Still nothing. Salt Lake City was about the same size as Spokane then (and I didn’t want to live there) so that left only Phoenix and Los Angeles as large western cities where I might find work. I had lived near Gilbert, AZ (Williams AFB) for a year so I knew I didn’t want to live there and L.A. was the last place (well, almost the last place) on earth that I wanted to live. I didn’t even want to visit there! Smog, traffic, heat, and weirdoes. No way. Should we move back to Chicago or to New York? Ugh! Now, I was fasting and praying a lot about where to live.

Well, I got several good job offers in L.A. and you know the rest of the story. Even though I would still much rather live in Spokane, I must admit that living in Fullerton has worked out very well for us - except perhaps for Philip and my refusal to acknowledge myself as a Californian.

“So what?” as Pres. Faust used to say. Well, the point of the story is that Heavenly Father will help you out and take you where you should go if you will let Him. (I have often wondered why I went to pilot training at Williams Field. Out of nine pilot training bases at the time, it was almost everyone’s first choice and, by far, the most desirable base. It was also the only one located in a LDS community. How strange, I joined the Church while stationed there.) If you both fast and pray as Joseph Smith did - with real intent to follow His counsel, even if it is not what you wanted - you will go where He wants you to go and do what He wants you to do. The prophet Jonah prefer in stead to go his own direction and do what he want to do. We know what happened to Jonah. He went to Nineveh the longer harder way rather than the easy way. If we had moved to Fullerton seven years earlier, we would probably already have mom’s dream house rather than be looking for it now.

Well, sorry this is so long, but I hope it give you something to think about.

Love Dad

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Q - Who do you look like, your mom or dad? Describe
- My aunts and uncles have told me that I look like my father. Mom agrees and says that some of her Vietnamese friends also agree. (Maybe that is just a case of all Caucasians looking the same.) Mom says that my mouth looks like grandma’s when I am not smiling. I am about an inch or so taller than grandpa and have about the same build and shoe size. He was slimmer than me when he was young and a little bigger around the waist when he was older. Uncle Willard says we all have the Hahn “barrel chest” and short stature. Hahn is great grandma Freda’s family name. Grandpa and I both have blue eyes and gray hair after age 50-55. While younger, grandpa’s hair was darker than mine, dark brown, but we were both blond as children. Fortunately, neither of us lost our hair. Unlike me, he had a small mustache (cookie duster) most of his adult life. We were both snorers, as was grandma. Although I look more like grandpa, my temperament is more like grandma’s. Grandpa was more excitable and quicker to get upset, although not as much as mom.
Grandpa liked to make and fix things of all kinds. He also liked cars. Both of these characteristics he got from his dad and I got them from him. The interest in cars actually came from great great grandpa Kurber who owned and operated a taxi company in Germany around 1900. He had horse-drawn carriages and was one of the first in town to buy an automobile(s), which he also used as a taxi. He taught his stepson, great grandpa Latteier, to drive cars (and repair them), which is how great grandpa got a job as a chauffeur for President Joseph F. Smith around 1910 or 1912. Although grandpa didn’t like to mechanically work on cars, he did like to buy, drive, and take care of cars. He often washed his cars on weekends and at lease twice a year would clean and wax them. (Cars didn’t have clear coats then so waxing was more important to protect the finish.) So, Peter, you have a long heritage of car fanciers.

Q - Who do you look like, your mom or dad? Describe

A - My aunts and uncles have told me that I look like my father. Mom agrees and says that some of her Vietnamese friends also agree. (Maybe that is just a case of all Caucasians looking the same.) Mom says that my mouth looks like grandma’s when I am not smiling. I am about an inch or so taller than grandpa and have about the same build and shoe size. He was slimmer than me when he was young and a little bigger around the waist when he was older. Uncle Willard says we all have the Hahn “barrel chest” and short stature. Hahn is great grandma Freda’s family name. Grandpa and I both have blue eyes and gray hair after age 50-55. While younger, grandpa’s hair was darker than mine, dark brown, but we were both blond as children. Fortunately, neither of us lost our hair. Unlike me, he had a small mustache (cookie duster) most of his adult life. We were both snorers, as was grandma. Although I look more like grandpa, my temperament is more like grandma’s. Grandpa was more excitable and quicker to get upset, although not as much as mom.
Grandpa liked to make and fix things of all kinds. He also liked cars. Both of these characteristics he got from his dad and I got them from him. The interest in cars actually came from great great grandpa Kurber who owned and operated a taxi company in Germany around 1900. He had horse-drawn carriages and was one of the first in town to buy an automobile(s), which he also used as a taxi. He taught his stepson, great grandpa Latteier, to drive cars (and repair them), which is how great grandpa got a job as a chauffeur for President Joseph F. Smith around 1910 or 1912. Although grandpa didn’t like to mechanically work on cars, he did like to buy, drive, and take care of cars. He often washed his cars on weekends and at lease twice a year would clean and wax them. (Cars didn’t have clear coats then so waxing was more important to protect the finish.) So, Peter, you have a long heritage of car fanciers.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Personal History Q & A

Q - Think of a place where your family used to go where great memories were made.

A - 1/4/08 - Nice question! Aunt Nancy called me today to wish me a happy birthday and we talked about that. The answer, of course, is “the cottage” as we used to call it. It was a red and white, three bedroom, two story lake front house in Puce, Ontario, Canada. Although there were three bedrooms upstairs, one of them was quite large - the size of the other two put together. There was plenty of room for four beds, so all of us kids slept in the same room. Grandma & grandpa had one bedroom and, as we got older, perhaps Aunts Nancy and Suzanne shared the third bedroom. I can’t recall. On the ground floor was a dinning room, kitchen, living room (the same size as the big bedroom upstairs), utility room where the washing machine, bathroom, and storage area was, and a screened-in porch with a picnic table where we usually ate. Since we used the cottage only in the summer, the dinning room was used more for playing board games than for eating. (The house was not air conditioned and got warm inside.) Later, we added on a family room, across the front of the house, with a full view of the lake.

Although grandma had a washing machine (with a wringer,) she did not have a dryer. Therefore, she had to hang all the laundry on the clothesline that ran from the house to the two car garage where grandpa kept his 1929 Buick, the boats, and lawn mowers, etc. Like the house, the garage was also “barn red” with white trim. Grandpa also built two dressing rooms in the garage where we could change to and from our swimming suits without having to track sand into the house. The garage and house were at the end of a gravel driveway that was probably about 50 yards long. (It was long enough that I could drive the Buick down the driveway and have time to shift into second gear.) It was similar to our driveway in Spokane except straight rather than curved. We had three long narrow lots (about 60’x300’+ each) totaling over an acre with the house on the center lot. It was another 150 feet or so from the house to the beach. Except for a small vegetable garden, the entire area was lawn, so I got lots of practice cutting the grass. Fortunately, grandpa bought a riding lawn mower. However, it was a “reel” lawn mower, not the rotary type we have now. That means the blades got stuck every time I ran over a stick much larger than a pencil in diameter. Since we had dozens of large trees, there were always lots of stick to rake up before I could cut the grass.

I could go on and on describing the cottage, but what Aunt Nancy and I talked about today was the memories. A year or two ago, after Helen was born, Philip told me that he now understood why “we didn’t go anywhere” when you were children. That is also the reason grandpa bought the cottage. (He also thought it would be a good investment but, unfortunately, that did not work out for him.) During the summers from 1951 through the late 60’s, we went to the cottage. The commute to and from work for grandpa was about the same as to our house in Detroit/Birmingham. We would just “move” during school summer vacations. We would come home for a two or three every other week to collect the mail, cut the grass, and make sure everything was OK. Then we would go back. There were a few other kids our age there but not too many. Also, since Puce was a tiny little village, there were no stores to speak of, no malls, no theaters, nothing. Also, we did not have a TV and the telephone was a very primitive hand crank model! As a consequence, we were pretty much responsible for our own entertainment - and there were always chores to do. Day time was mainly spent out of doors - in, on, or near the water (Lake St. Clair, between Lakes Huron and Erie.) In the evenings, we would play “flashlight tag” in the yard, or play a board or card game in the house, or read, or listen to the radio. We would usually go to bed early (what else was there to do?) and get up early. Spending time together as a family, playing together, and working together was really the best part of the cottage, although we did not realize it then. It is very apparent now that it was a lot better and cheaper than going on trips or amusement parks (the few there were then.)