“I was born in Sanger, California, March 2, 1918, across the tracks from the Barr Packing Co. We moved to Fresno, and lived on a farm, 40 acres, on First Street between what is now Dayton Ave. and Ashlan Ave. I attended Scandinavian Grammar School when it was a real red brick school house, up to the 4th grade. I used to walk over two miles to and return from school. Bikes were too expensive. About the only thing I can remember about the period I went to Scandinavian was that I borrowed a friend’s (he was rich) bike and ran right into one of those great big trees and broke my leg.
We lost our farm, moved to Los Angeles for about two years where my folks ran a grocery store, got back on our feet, and moved right back to Fresno where we took over another grocery store on the corner of First and Ventura where we stayed 38 years and finally, not our competitors, but he Redevelopment group put us out of business. I attended Hawthorne, Jefferson and then Longfellow Jr. Hi School. There I got interested in Amateur Radio because of Mr. Erwin Martin. I went out for track and was on the relay team that set a city record. I then went to Fresno High School when it was such a snob and I really didn’t belong there at the time, but I did get good grades and graduated in 1936. I couldn’t afford college, so I went to work in the folk’s grocery store. I was very active in radio work as I built all of my equipment and talked all over the world. I was among the first to put a transmitter and receiver in my car so that I could drive and operate at the same time, and also have a radio station that could be moved to any spot for emergency work.
My hobby paid off when the War broke out. They were in need of radio operators and I volunteered in the Navy and got in as a RM2C. I was a charter member of the Radio Materiel School at Treasure Island, put in 8 months there, then assigned to the Fleet. I was stationed aboard the USS Monticello, a troop ship and stayed there 33 months. We went all over the world, taking over and bringing back troops. We were in the invasion of Africa, we brought back the first German troops from Africa to the US. We were the first big ship to dock at LeHarve, Marseilles after the invasion. We brought back the first batch of American troops to the US from France. I also sailed in the Pacific and to nearly all of the Islands. At this time I was in complete charge of the RADAR equipment on the ship. I being the only on aboard who know anything about it.
After the WAR, I went back to the grocery business, bought out my DAD and was on my own for 20 years. I got married during one of our visits to S.F. to Helen, who was teaching in Elk Grove. After I got out of the grocery business, I rested for three months and got a call to go to work in a wrecking yard as a trial. I liked it, bought into it and am running it.
My hobby paid off after the war too. When SSB (Single-Side-Band method of radio transmissions) was first introduced, I dug into it, and helped pioneer it with about 25 others. This is a new system of radio communications and is much more superior than the old method. I have talked to the Generals and other high mucky mucks when they were flying around the world trying out this new system of communications. All this started in 1952 and it took the Navy 8 years to get into it. Now, all overseas communications are SSB and it makes me feel good to know that I helped pioneer it. I built all of the complex equipment since there were no manufacturers building this equipment in the old days of SSB.
Ralph was a member of Las Palmas Masonic Lodge No. 366 and served as its Master in 1972.
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