Seven Maternal Generations

Beginning with my great-great grandmother:

Johanna Deitlaff, b. about 1835 in Prussia



Bertha Gaulke, b. 1858 in Prussia


Ruby Bertha Schillo, b. 1896 in Utah



My mother, June Pearl Mack, b. 1925 in California



My sister, Wendie June Walker, b. in California



Deborah Helen, b. in California


Lauren Elise, b. in California



Super Mom

June Pearl Mack was born on June 13, 1925, in Riverside, CA.  She was third of four girls in her family (on the left in this photo).


She was a good student and enjoyed music growing up, learning to play the violin, and graduated from Riverside Poly High School.


In 1945 she met and married an Army Air Force officer, Charles Walker, who was stationed at nearby March Field.


Two children came quickly–Wendie in January 1947, and Barry in September 1948.  Charles’ Air Force career sent them to various locations across the country and in Europe.  Soon after her third child, Craig, was born in December 1951, she and the kids joined Charles in Germany, then England, before coming back to the states and living in Havre and Great Falls, MT.


Child number four, Sandra, was born in July 1955.


She became a temporary single mother for a year in 1959 when my dad was stationed at a remote site in Newfoundland.  Child number 5, Glade, was born in October of that year.


Child number six, Kevin, came in February 1964, followed by more single motherhood for 15 months in 1965-66 while my dad was stationed in Saudi Arabia.


My mother always had lots of energy.  Good thing, too, with six kids to keep up with.  There was never anything she wouldn’t do for her children.

I remember as a youth thinking I was lucky to have the greatest mother in the world.  I still think that.  And this Thanksgiving weekend this is something I can feel so thankful for.




I Might Never Have Been

My father grew up a simple country boy through the Great Depression in Texas.  As a teen he got interested in radios and electronics, and he joined the Army in January 1943 during WWII.


Due to his interest and aptitudes in radios and electronics, he was sent to military school to study radios.  He finished the course at the top of his class so, instead of going to gunnery school, he was assigned to instructors’ school and eventually became an Officer Candidate School graduate, leading to a commission as 2nd Lt. and a whopping $150 per month salary!


He continued getting top grades in his classes and was again assigned as an instructor in a radio fundamentals class.  Then was assigned as a radar countermeasures officer with flight status.  At that time even the word “radar”, a new emerging technology, was secret.  This led to more training.


In June 1945 he was assigned to March Field near Riverside, CA, to fly in B-24s equipped with radar countermeasures, and in preparation for deployment off the coast of Japan.  It was there he met and married my mother, June Mack.  The war ended in August and my dad was discharged from active duty in March, 1946.  He returned to active duty in May, 1951, during the Korean War and remained in the Air Force.


Except for WWII my dad might never have left Texas and met my mom.  If he hadn’t been so interested in radios and gotten top scores in military schools he might have gone off to war and never returned.  And I might never have been.  So, on this Thanksgiving weekend, I’m thankful for this.


Seven Generations

Here are photos of seven generations of my paternal Walker line.

James Walker, b. 1840 in Mississippi


William James Walker, b. 1872 in Texas



William James Walker, Jr., b. 1896 in Texas



Charles Gerald Walker, b. 1923 in Texas



Alan Craig Walker, b. 1951 in California



Blair Alan Walker, b. in Utah


Jonah Jordan Walker, b. in Washington





My dad served in the Air Force for 20 years.  It was exciting growing up and moving around to different parts of the country as he was transferred to different bases.  These moves took place as frequently as 7 months, or as long as 3 years apart.  As an infant we lived in Germany and England, then Havre and Great Falls, MT (first grade), then Riverside, CA (2nd grade), then Gulfport, MS (3rd grade), then Fallon, NV (3rd and 4th grade), then Riverside, CA (5th to 7th grade), then Mountain Home, ID (8th grade), and finally Riverside, CA (8th and 9th grade), where he retired from the Air Force.

Actually, a couple of those Riverside stays were where the family settled when my dad was stationed at remote sites overseas, and where families couldn’t come with him.  Riverside is my mother’s home town.

In 1959 my dad was stationed at Fox Harbor, Newfoundland, for a year when I was 8 years old.  We used to make him audio tapes on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, which was high tech at the time.  Here is my dad in Fox Harbor:



I do remember how exciting it was when he returned home after the year away, and we were so excited to have him take us to a Dodger baseball game.

The next remote assignment came in 1965-66, when he was stationed in Saudi Arabia for 15 months while I was in 8th and 9th grades.  He came home for a short visit in the middle of that assignment, flying standby on Air Force planes.  He finished his assignment just after the 6-day Arab-Israeli war, so things were a little dicey over there for him.  But we were excited that he retired from the Air Force, we had our dad back, and we could stay in Riverside permanently, where I attended high school.

I’m sure it was a hardship for our family having dad away those many months, especially for my mother, who was raising four and five children at the time.  Somehow we managed.  That’s just the way it was when you served in the military.

Thirty Years a Home

We moved into our house 30 years ago next month.  It was an exciting time in 1984 moving our family from Meridian, ID, to Beaverton, OR, and starting a new job at a start up company (Sequent Computer Systems).  We found an empty lot to build on and contracted with a builder, who helped us customize an existing plan.

Here is the lot we chose:84Jun_922

Construction progresses:84Aug_96184Aug_95384Aug_95184Aug_950

We moved in on our anniversary, Dec. 19, 1984.  Our new home was our anniversary and Christmas present that year.




Acceleration of Time

We’ve all heard about, and most have experienced, the sensation of acceleration of time as we age.

To a child, a year is an eternity.  To a senior citizen, time has flown by, and years continue to zoom past.  I recall waiting so impatiently for my 16th birthday so I could obtain my drivers license.  And at age 19 looking at the next two years serving a mission away from home and school, and thinking it would be forever.  And it nearly was.

But oh, how time has flown by since, and increasingly so.  It is hard to believe we have lived in Beaverton 30 years and all our kids have grown up.

What is the cause of this experience or perception?  I believe it is due to the relative comparison of incremental time versus the total time experience.  For example, to a five year old, one year represents 20% of his life, but only 2% to a 50 year old.  Does this mean time flies by 10 times faster to the 50 year old?  I believe it may be so.  And to get really abstract, what is the perception of time to a fruit fly, which might live but one week?  (I know, a more fundamental question might be whether the fruit fly has any perceptions at all.)  Perhaps one second to a fruit fly is like a day to us.

Another example of relative perception might be during travel on a long trip.  The first minute, then five minutes, then hour seem of similar significance to the entire middle 80% of a trip.  Again, the final and increasingly shorter distances to the destination also take on increased significance.

So, anyway, this is my post of deep and abstract thinking.  🙂


The Emperor of All Maladies

I recently read a book entitled “The Emperor of All Maladies:  A Biography of Cancer”, by Siddhartha Mukherjee.  While not a page turner, and certainly not an upbeat subject matter, I found the book to be incredibly interesting.  In our time and place it seems like cancer certainly is the “emperor” of diseases and misfortunes, as it has touched pretty much everyone in one way or another, and is a most feared and loathsome malady.

The book relates how few examples of cancer can be found in ancient literature, and even in recent centuries cancer has been overshadowed by much more prevalent diseases, such as tuberculosis, cholera, the plague, child birth, infections, and more.  Cancer afflicts the aged, and now that longevity has increased dramatically, so has the prevalence of cancer.

While science and medicine have made so many profound advances in understanding and treating so many illnesses that afflict us, cancer remains a tough nut to crack.  Surgeries, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy have been the tools most often used, and some cancers have seen dramatic improvements in cure rates the past few decades.  Lifestyle changes are also having a positive impact, with avoidance of cigarette smoking, for instance.  Screenings for early detection are also helpful.

Most recent research has focused on gene/DNA/chromosone theories for causes and treatments, and we remain near the starting line for effective cures for many cancers.

The book does relate some dramatic cases where individuals with terminal cases were miraculously cured during experimental trials of a new chemo or genetically engineered drug.  It also touches on the controversy about drug testing, controlled trials, and the scientific and ethical dilemmas about broadening the availability of experimental drugs to terminally sick patients clamoring for any possible cure.

Parts of the book talk about the extensive lab research and testing, especially during the search for effective drugs.  I couldn’t help but think I would have enjoyed a career in that side of the medical profession.  It also gives me a better appreciation for the research and development costs of drug companies, and why medicines are so expensive (and patents warranted).

While cancer avoidance, detection, treatments and cures are better now than ever, let’s hope for even more dramatic improvements for the next generation.

A Cold Too Common

I read that it is normal to suffer from a cold virus three or four times every year.  Well, it is certainly that time of year where many suffer from this malady.  As common as it is there are still mysteries about it in my mind.  Why is it severe one time, and mild the next?  Why might all family members but one catch it?  When are you most contagious, and how long does it take to show symptoms once contracted?  Does it do any good to overload on vitamin C or zinc tablets, or take Airborne tablets?

Daniel and Suzanne caught colds two and three weeks ago, so I had been thinking I had dodged this round.  For a few days I felt some very minor symptoms and wondered if it would flare up, and it finally did just the other day, with the usual sore throat and mild body aches.  I had really hoped since I had such a horrible cold virus in July from our Idaho trip that I might have immunity this time.  No such luck.  However, I came down with cold symptoms while visiting New York in June, but it subsided after a short day or two.

And that poses another question.  Why are we so vulnerable to colds and illness during travel and vacations?  I particularly noticed during college that I would often get sick just after finals and during semester breaks.  Some suggest these could be due to germs’ prevalence in airplanes, and the stress of finals followed by the body relaxing (and saying it is okay now to get sick).

Anyway, this round is feeling like a more mild case for me (knock on wood), unlike for my son Daniel, who has developed bronchitis and is still suffering three weeks into it.

Here is an amusing clip about the “man cold”:

For what it’s worth, here is some info I pulled off the internet:
Facts about the Common Cold Incubation Period
By Patsy Hamilton

The typical common cold incubation period is from two to five days, but symptoms can appear in as little as ten hours after the virus first enters the nose. The range of the common cold incubation period may be explained by the number of different viruses that can cause common cold symptoms. It is known that some viruses produce symptoms of disease more quickly than others and several hundred different viruses have been associated with the common cold. Another explanation for the wide range in the common cold incubation period is that some people never develop symptoms, even though an infection is present. This makes it hard for scientists to determine an exact common cold incubation period, but in most diseases, there is only a range, not an exact figure.
In clinical trials rhinoviruses were introduced directly into the nasal passages of volunteers and 95% of them became infected. But, only 75% of those who become infected developed any common cold symptoms. The scientific community cannot explain this mystery, at this time. Some believe that those people with a well functioning immune system do not develop symptoms. While others point out that common cold symptoms are brought on by immune system functions. Sneezing and coughing are the body’s natural efforts to eject the viruses. Fever reduces the virus’ ability to reproduce inside the nose. It does seem to be likely that in those people who only experience symptoms for a few days, the immune system is functioning well.
Influenza type A & B viruses cause common cold symptoms in some people, while others develop more serious infections from these viruses. While common cold symptoms are typically confined to the nose and throat, the lungs, stomach and intestines may be affected by influenza viruses. Fever is typically higher and comes on more quickly in flu infections than in common cold infections, but again this varies. The very young and the elderly often have more severe flu symptoms than those who are in good health and between the ages of 4 and 64.
Corona viruses are believed to cause a substantial number of common cold cases. Three or four different types of corona viruses infect humans, but they are difficult to grow in a laboratory setting and therefore difficult to study. Estimates vary on the number of colds that are caused by rhinoviruses and corona viruses from 30-50 percent of all adult colds. Testing for different viruses is difficult and usually considered unnecessary, when it is known that the symptoms are caused by a virus and that treating symptoms is all that is possible. Unless the cold is accompanied by a bacterial infection of the sinuses, ears or throat, antibiotics are ineffective.
Other viruses that can cause common cold symptoms in adults are adenoviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, paramyxoviruses, respiratory syncytial virus and enteroviruses. Any of these viruses can cause more serious illness in children and others. And, then there are a number of viruses that have remained unidentified.
Experts do not believe that getting chilled or overheated can shorten the common cold incubation period, worsen symptoms or increase the likelihood of developing a cold. Opinions about preventing colds by taking vitamin C or zinc supplements vary, but many studies suggest that these and other immune system boosters are worthwhile.

International Tennis

The past couple of years I have been in a bit of a tennis funk.  I’ve felt like my game has tailed off some (particularly my singles game, which I rarely play now), I haven’t had a good, consistent doubles partner, I’ve been losing regularly in league play, haven’t even bothered to enter tournaments, and my teams haven’t done as well.

This past summer, though, I got asked by a friend to join his 7.0 mixed doubles team for league play.  I did and , wow, it became obvious immediately we had a very strong team.  I also enjoyed not being captain for a change, while someone else expended all the energy to organize practice play and match lineups.  We ended up winning our division and going on to win the Northern Oregon playoffs.  At Sectionals playoffs in Sunriver we lost one match and ended up tied for first place in our group, but didn’t advance based on tiebreak criteria.  Still it was an immensely successful and enjoyable team.  The whole experience injected new enthusiasm into my tennis playing.

At Sunset Athletic Club (our home club) in the tennis center there is one wall where photos are hung of all the teams that have won Northern Oregon championships over the years.

IMG_1581If you look closely you will notice all the photos are of women’s teams . . .  except one.

IMG_1582This is our team photo from Sunriver sectionals (including insets of three who couldn’t make it to Sunriver).  I often joke to observers that our team broke the gender barrier by finally putting some men on the wall.  Even though it took a mixed doubles team to do it!

One other significant note about this team/photo.  It is a reflection of the international flavor of tennis players at the club, and in our community.  Of the 13 players on our roster, more than half are natives of foreign countries.  Each still has some detectable accent.  They represent 7 countries:  Vietnam, China, Russia, Malaysia, India, Korea, and Bulgaria.

Another exciting thing happened this fall.  New tennis ratings came out and I was dropped back to 3.5 from 4.0.  This was due to my generally poor league results the past couple of years, and particularly two bad losses at singles when, as captain, I put myself at singles since our normal players weren’t available and to avoid a default–called a sacrifice and taking a bullet for the team.  Some people might be discouraged getting bumped down but I’m ecstatic.  I feel like a top dog player again in my new level, and it has even injected new confidence and enthusiasm into my game.  I plan to enter tournaments again, where I feel I can be more competitive than I have been.

Here is a slide show from team photos I took at Sunriver.