1946

August 1946, I married by high school sweetheart Phyllis Eileen Ralston. I had gone with Phyllis since she was a Freshman and I was a Sophomore in 1941. She was a very pretty and sweet blonde girl about 5 ft. 5 inches tall. We were married at the United Presbyterian Church in Neoga with a reception in the Church after the late afternoon wedding. John Tolch was best man and Rowena Elson was Phyllis's bridesmaid. As we left for our honeymoon in St. Louis, we found that someone had heavily decorated our car, jacked it up and stuffed a potato in the exhaust pipe thus causing a little delay in starting and leaving.

Although I had just recently purchased Uncle Bob Clark's 1936 Plymouth sedan with 30,000 miles on the big speedometer for $750, the folks let us take the 1941 Chevrolet Sedan for our honey moon. We spent a few days at a big hotel in downtown St. Louis, went to the zoo and to a Browns baseball game. The view from all seats in the Browns old stadium was more or less by the many wooden columns that supported the roof. As I recall it was very hot and humid in St. Louis. When we returned home, we soon left with the folks and Philip for a fishing vacation at Pine Point Lodge in Ely, Minnesota. I do not recall too much about the fishing except to remember that we took a portage trip with Gus to Bald Eagle Lake and caught many walleye and northern. As usual, Mom cooked up a storm for us fisherman but this time with the help of Phyllis.

Even though it was the middle of August and I was married, I still had not settled on employment. Phyllis still had her job at the map company in Mattoon and for a little while I drove her to work in the morning and brought her home from work in the afternoon. I worked on the recently purchased Phymouth and did some odd farm jobs for Dad and the neighbors. In July, Fenn college of Cleveland Ohio had contacted me about a teaching position in their engineering school at a very marginal salary, one or two industries had contacted me about an engineering job.

I had considered going into high school teaching. But to be legal for that I needed some college education credits so to cover that possibility I applied for admission to Eastern Illinois College at Charleston. As a part of my application, I needed a reference from my University program. So I listed Professor Burgess Jennings, Head of Mechanical Engineering, at Northwestern University as a reference. As I served as President of the engineering honorary society Tau Beta Pi at Northwestern, I had gotten to know Professor Jennings well so he gave me a good reference for Eastern and at the same time called me to encourage me to come back to graduate school in mechanical engineering at Northwestern. His department planned to emphasize graduate education and they needed good graduate students and part time faculty for the expected big undergraduate enrollment as the war veterans returned.

In late July, I visited Northwestern to talk with Professors Jennings and Obert about graduate school. They explained the academic program and offered me a teaching assistantship for half time teaching at a salary of 100 dollars per month plus tuition. I told them I would go home and think it over before responding. During this trip, I stayed with a friend of Mom who had a nice house in west Evanston.

While we were in Ely, Professor Jennings called to ask if I had made up my mind and suggested that I come see them again for they needed an answer soon to complete their fall quarter plans. So Phyllis and I took a night sleeper train from Ely to Chicago, visited Northwestern, accepted the assistantship and returned to Mattoon by train. Also at that time Phyllis accepted a job at 125 dollars per month in a Navy sponsored Aerial Measurements Laboratory at the Tech Institute. The lab was manually developing fire control tables for programming a computer that they were developing. The idea was that soon the computer could rapidly calculate such tables and later be an integral part of the ship's fIre control system. In addition to manually calculating the fire control tables, they were also building a computer consisting of many vacuum tubes and relays. Later such a system was developed with a computer using solid state devices in place of vacuum tubes.

In mid September, Phyllis and I loaded our few belongings in the Plymouth and left for Evanston. I do not recall where we initially stayed in Evanston but one of the fIrst orders of business was to fmd a place to live. The whole area was crowded with the veterans who were returning to school. The University housing including the quonset huts for veterans were not available to us because we did not have a family. With the assistance of the Universiity housing office, we learned that a room was available in a house in Northbrook. We went to see it and met the Macfarlanes who had a big house built just before the war in Northbrook. Mrs. Macfarlane was a very nice lady, Mr. Macfarlane commuted daily to a bank in downtown Chicago.

Through his banking work, he knew people in the Neoga bank and he soon learned that my family was highly regarded in Neoga. The Macfarlanes had a daughter now married to one of the Navy pilots that had been assigned to Glenview Naval Air Station during the war. They also had a teen age son, Sandy, living with them. He was somewhat of a problem, stayed out late and was not a good student. Mr. Macfarlane noticed how much I studied and frequently expressed the wish that his son would be equally faithful in his studies. I felt that Mrs. Macfarlane missed her daughter greatly and the many Navy people who visited them during the war. The room was quite nice and even though the location was over 10 miles from the University, we took it and moved in.
We had a hot plate and could have breakfast in our room although we frequently had breakfast with the Macfarlanes. She had to leave fairly early each morning to take Mr. Macfarlane to this commuter train. Sandy left in his own car for highschool and Phyllis and I left about 7:30 for the University. We normally travelled on Willow Road, then on the very busy Skokie Highway, then on Central Street in North Evanston to the University.
Phyllis worked on the fourth floor of the Northwestern Technological Institute and my office was with Professor Obert in the basement of the Institute. For my assistantship, I spent 12 hours per week teaching heat power labs. We ran calorimetric experiments, tests on steam engines, steam turbimes, gasoline engines (Ford flathead V-8 and Chevy 6), diesel engines, CFR engines for octane determination, refrigeration apparatus and exhaust gas analysis. Quite a varied job and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The lab had been designed by Professor Obert and we wrote detailed instructions for all of the tests.

We ran full-throttle tests on the Ford V-8, opening the throttle to full while controlling the engine speed by changing the settings on the electric generator dynamometer. The dynamometer was also used to start the engine by reversing the contoIs to make the load generator act like an electric motor. If during the full throttle test, the student controlling the load made a mistake, the load could have been removed suddenly with the possibility of engine overspeed and possible explosion. At least that is what the students and I believed so we were very careful. Later I learned that the engine distributor had a centrifIgul governor in it which would have killed the
engine prior to the overspeed disaster.

I was taking three graduate courses, heat transfer under I. T. Wetzel, himself a doctoral candidate, thermodynamics from the book by Keenan from Prof. E. F. Obert and an applied math course from Elliott Buell who also worked on the Project Phyllis was working on. I recall Phyllis explaining to me how Dr. Buell had laughed then carefully explained to them what to do when their math calculations resulted in a zero divided by zero answer.


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