Schools I’ve Attended – Metropolitan State University

St. Paul, Minnesota – 1984-1986

My Life
Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor

Working full time to support a family necessitated my finding a college that supported working adults. Metropolitan State University (Metro State) did that and more. Besides offering courses in the evenings and Saturdays, it allowed students to design their degree plan. I had the desire to become an attorney. As such, I thought I should follow a pre-law type of curriculum, so I designed a degree plan heavy in political science, speaking, and writing.

Particularly Interesting Classes

Chaminade University in Hawaii had proven to be a fantastic place to take Marine Biology and Oceanography. I needed another science course for my degree plan so took meteorology at Metro State. Few places have more diverse weather than Minnesota, so it was great learning about the weather there. Another enjoyable class was “Acting for Non-actors.” I learned how hard it is for me to memorize lines, but I had lots of energy.

Sometimes there is a class that will completely change your life and that class was “Non-fiction Writing.” I’ll never forget that class nor its instructor, Dana Noonan.

The premise of the class was simple enough; students needed to write several magazine quality articles during the class. The difficulty with that was that Ms. Noonan required her students to write then rewrite, and rewrite again, and again until the quality was magazine quality. My papers came back with red “Awk” (awkward) and circles of problems, which require a rewrite.  It was a grueling task in the days of typewriters and I couldn’t keep up with the work. It was one of the most challenging classes I ever had. To keep up with the rewrites, I purchased my first computer, a Commodore 64, word processing software and a printer. With it, instead of retyping the entire article and introducing new typos, I was able just to update the work I did previously and resubmit my significantly improved article. The computer revolutionized my work processes.  I found I could use it to do a host of things. Soon, I upgraded to an IBM computer before long and used the computer for everything I could.

Commodore 64 – Photo by the NerdPatrol via Flickr. (CC 2.0)

When my work office decided to purchase personal computers for office automation, I became a computer “helper.” At that time, I worked as a Quality Assurance Engineering Technician. My job required reviewing change requests then approving or disproving those waivers and deviations as appropriate for the Navy at the Navy Plant Representative Office (NAVPRO) in Fridley, MN. In the back room, we had a Wang 2200 minicomputer. In my work, I needed a program which would track those changes. The existing staff didn’t have time to program the computer for me, so I asked for access to the computer to develop a program that would track those changes.  Because I was already a computer helper person, they gave me the appropriate access. I developed a simple program that worked for me. Then was asked by some other folks if I could put something together for them, which I did. My programs, although simple, always worked. I also took a couple of computer science classes at Metro State to help me understand more about computers. A few months later I was asked if I would be interested in moving over to the Computer Team full time. Being a “can do” kind of person, I said, “Same pay? Sure, why not.” I was happy to work wherever they could use me the best.

I never returned to Quality Assurance, but rather continued as a Computer Specialist then on to Information Technology Specialist.

I received my bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University in December 1986. My personally designed degree was in “Governmental Policy and Decision-Making Processes” as a subset of Political Science.

I doubt I ever would have made the shift from Quality Assurance to Computer Support and Information Technology if it weren’t for Metropolitan State University, “Non-fiction Writing,” Dana Noonan, and that first computer I owned, a Commodore 64.

 

Halloween 2018

Caith “My Halloween Kitty”

Halloween or Samhain is said to be the day where the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. As such, it is an important time to remember those who have passed. Although I try to remember all my ancestors who have passed, this Samhain I want to remember three people who were not ancestors but had a profound effect on my life. Their passing touched me deeply.

First, is my first close friend to die. Steve Plowman was a close friend while I lived in North Minneapolis. He lived about a block away – down the hill to the corner then left a half a block to his house on 24th that adjoined the alleyway between Aldrich and Bryant avenues. On Tuesday, November 24th, 1964, Steve and a mutual friend, Gary Dorf, were crossing Lyndale Avenue in North Minneapolis while a bus was stopped. Gary stopped walking while in front of the bus,  but Steve ran out trying to beat a car that was coming. Steve was hit by the car and died before getting to the hospital. He was the first close friend I had to die, and one of only a few I’ve known that have died due to a car accident. Steve was only 15 when he died. To this day, I am ultra-careful when walking past a bus into traffic and cringe when I see someone step past a bus without using super-great caution.

Sadly, I was in Minnesota a few weeks ago and at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery, where Steve is buried, and didn’t realize he was there. So, visiting his grave will be on my list of things to do during my next visit to Minnesota.

Marker – Alvina B Kirks – photo by Don Taylor

Next, is my best friend’s mother, Alvina Kirks. She was a really nice woman. Hers was the first, and only, funeral where I was a pallbearer. It was difficult for me to say anything that would help my friend or the rest of his family. I recall making a conscious decision to do my absolute best to fulfill the honor my friend and his father bestowed upon me asking that I be a pallbearer, at only 16-years of age. Alvina was only 47 when she passed. From her, I learned that even when cancer is taking your life, you can be strong and dignified during the process. She was. I was able to visit her burial site at Fort Snelling National Cemetery when I was last in Minnesota. She is buried next to her husband, Charles N. Kirks.

Gravesite: Mary E. (Raidt) Taylor – Photo by Don Taylor

Finally, is my first wife, Mary. She was an exceptionally good woman and mother to my first child. She was very tolerant and in so many ways amazing. I was married to her for over ten years and don’t rue a day of it. We were so young when we were married and tried very hard to make it work. But the separations of Navy life took their toll on our relationship. She passed away last spring (June). I was able to visit where her cremains are buried at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Minneapolis. I was saddened that there wasn’t a stone monument there. Cemetery records indicated where she was buried. She is resting with her grandparents, John & Marie (Hawley) Langford. Although she doesn’t have a stone marker at the cemetery, I did create a virtual monument for her on Find-a-Grave. May her life in heaven be more joyous than she ever imagined.

Schools I’ve Attended – Anoka-Ramsey Community College

1981-1982

My Life
Those Places Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.

I applied to and was accepted at Anoka-Ramsey Community College (ARCC). ARCC was close to home, only 3 miles away so it was easy to work days, come home and eat, then go off to school for evening classes and the occasional Saturday class. I also received a nice stipend from the government based upon my ½ time class load. All my classwork with Chapman College and Chaminade College transferred, so I was nearly a year ahead of the game.

I was able to take some fun classes at Anoka-Ramsey.  I needed another science course for my degree requirements and was able to take Meteorology at Anoka-Ramsey.  What could be better than taking Marine Biology and Oceanography in Hawaii, and Meteorology in Minnesota? It was cool. Freshman English Comp was a drain on my time and resources, but I got through it. I understand it was much more personalized at a Community College than it might be at many larger universities, something I am grateful for or I may never have gotten through.

Apple II – Photo by Rama & Musée Bolo [CeCILL or CC BY-SA 2.0 fr ], via Wikimedia Commons

Computers were relatively new in 1981-2; I had a Psychology professor that utilized the new technology to its greatest.  He gave his students all the questions and all the answers for his mid-term and the final. When we took the actual tests, the questions were a subset of what he gave us and the answers were jumbled up. The professor thought Psych 101 was all about learning and knowing the terms and his method helped assure that students knew them. It seemed strange at the time but makes a lot of sense now.

I wasn’t involved in any sports or extra-curricular activities at ARCC; I was too busy working and providing for my wife and my step-daughter. I was also involved with my community and a commissioner on the city’s Economic Development Commission. I had aspirations to run for City Council and took three courses in real estate at ARCC so I’d know more about the processes of Zoning, Planning, and Real Estate transactions.

Anoka-Ramsey Community College - 2017 Aspen Prize Top 10 Finalist
2017 Aspen Prize Top 10 Finalist

Since I attended, Anoka Ramsey has added another campus in Cambridge, Minnesota. It is a well-known and well-respected community college in the area. It was a top 10 finalist for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

I went Anoka-Ramsey (half-time) for nearly two years and received an Associate of Arts from them in December 1982.

World Beard Day

World Beard Day Logo1 September 2018
by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Today, in recognition of World Beard Day, I’m recognizing some of my ancestral beards. I’ve had a beard most of my life. I didn’t have a beard for the first few years in the Navy, but while Admiral Zumwalt was the Chief of Naval Operations and beards were allowed, I too had one. I grew a full beard again after I got out of the service.  I shaved it off for a short time while I ran for City Council in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, but promptly grew it back after I failed to win. My wife has never seen me without a beard except in photos and we’ve been together since 1991. She says shaving it off would be grounds for separation.

My Maternal Side – Mannin & Parsons

Photo of Enoch Mannin
Enoch Mannin

My 3rd great-grandfather, Enoch Mannin had the most amazing chin-curtains ever. I find chin-curtains to be beards without the benefit of not shaving. Chin-curtains require daily shaving of the face. Mustache area, cheeks, and chin are all shaved daily. Only the area under the jawline is left to grow. I find shaving under the jawline and shaving the neck to be the easiest part of shaving, so leaving that natural and shaving the more difficult areas seems odd to me.

Image of Chester Parsons
Chester Parsons

My 4th great-grandfather, Chester Parsons also had interesting chin-curtains as well. In The History of Washtenaw County, Michigan, Page 437, a drawing of Chester Parsons shows his chin-curtains were gray in the center under his chin and dark on the sides.

 

My Paternal Side –

Samuel Vaden Scott
Samuel Vaden Scott

Although he was clearly a working man, my 2nd great-grandfather, Samuel Vaden Scott, had a nice, well-groomed beard (at least when the photo was taken).

 

 

 

Photo of William Hunter Scott
William Hunter Scott

His father, my 3rd great-grandfather, William Hunter Scott had a full beard. The photo I have of him shows a beard much like mine was several years ago – white on the sides with salt & pepper on the chin and mustache. He had an interesting face.

Others

Photo of Henry Conn
Henry Conn

Although not related directly to me Henry Conn, Sr., the 3rd great-grandfather of my nephews Mike & Luke, had wild hair, a full beard, and a twisted bar mustache. He was an Oregon pioneer.

———-

Some years ago, I worked for a military organization as a civilian. Some of the leadership there were active duty officers. When one of the majors came on board and was introduced to the employees. When he was introduced to me the first words he had for me weren’t, “Hello, nice to meet you” or anything similar. Rather his first words were, “When are you going to get a shave and a haircut?” A couple weeks later, I was in the cafeteria with a couple other bearded employees. I saw that Major A. was coming over to our table. Upon his arrival, I segued the conversation to beards. I asked the table if they knew how shaving became popular in Western Culture. When no one knew the answer, I said it came from “the Greeks, some of whom wanted to keep their boyish appearance for their men lovers.” Major A. never again suggested I shave.

Today, on World Beard Day, I remember all my ancestors who had beards.


 

Schools I’ve Attended – Chapman College & Chaminade

My Life
Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor

USS Kitty Hawk (Official Navy Photo)

Life aboard the Kitty Hawk didn’t support taking college courses very well. While at sea, my group typically worked 12 and 12. The birthing compartments really didn’t have anything that could be used as a study area. While in port, nobody wanted to do anything except get off the ship, so, it was typical to either be on duty and have a watch or be off the ship. After three and a half years on the Kitty Hawk, I think I only completed two or three courses. They were all part of the PACE – Program for Afloat College Education. The classes I had were sponsored by Chapman College, in Orange, California. Luckily, they all were transferable later on.

After my time aboard the Hawk, I went to a Navy School in Northwest, Virginia which is a tiny town in the southeast part of the state along the North Carolina border, just east of the Great Dismal Swamp. Nineteen weeks of school there prepared me for my next duty station, NAVCAMS EastPac. I arrived there shortly after Naval Communications Station, Honolulu was officially renamed Naval Communication Area Master Station, Eastern Pacific. There I worked in a funny little place we called the “Dinosaur Cage.”

NAVCAMS was a great duty station. It was located in the central valley of Oahu bordering the Eva Forest Reserve. After being on the housing waiting list for a few weeks, I was able to bring my wife and son to live with me in a Navy Housing community called “Camp Stover.” To get to Camp Stover you had to drive through the gate at Wheeler Air Force Base (Now Wheeler Army Air Field) then south through an Air Force housing area to the Naval Housing at Camp Stover. With the small navy base and housing, the larger Wheeler Air Force Base, and the huge Schofield Barracks across Kunia Road, there were many opportunities to take college courses. Chaminade University in Honolulu sponsored the classes and with a stable work environment, I was able to take quite a few courses, both lower and upper division. My lower division classes, such as Marine Biology and Oceanography, transferred to Anoka-Ramsey Community College. My upper division classes, such as Philosophy of Law, 430, later transferred to Metropolitan State University.

The most difficult class I had in college was through Chaminade. It was “American National Government.” For the final, the professor handed everyone two blue books to write our answers in and told us to let him know if we needed more. The test only had ten questions. I’ll remember that first question forever. “The office of the president of the United States consists of 12 major functions. Explain those functions and how they came to be either through law or tradition. Yes, the rest of the questions were like that too. I pretty much filled my two blue books and had to turn in my books when he called “Time.” I left feeling like I might have passed, but probably not. My hand was sore and cramping after two hours of writing when I left. Luckily, I did pass; I so didn’t want to have to retake that class.

After my three years in Hawaii, I decided to leave the Navy after 10 years/10 months active duty and return home to Minnesota. There I would make use of the GI Bill.

Today, the Kitty Hawk is decommissioned and destined to be scrapped. There is some activity to try to make it a museum ship. I would like to see that happen, but I doubt it will. The Kitty Hawk was the last of the aircraft carriers to run on oil and is one of the last two carriers that could be made into a museum. I understand that nuclear carriers are not candidates to become museums due to the destructive dismantling necessary to remove their reactors.

The Northwest, Virginia base has been renamed and is now the “Naval Support Activity Norfolk, Northwest Annex.” The equipment I was trained there to work on is long gone.

The base in Hawaii is repurposed and renamed. Google Earth shows that the equipment I worked on there is also long gone. (Although, it appeared some of it was still there in 2002 when I last visited Hawaii.)

Although I never took classes on the Chapman College campus, I look at it as the place I began my college education. Chapman College became Chapman University in 1991 and is highly ranked among master’s level universities in the west.[i]

I only one class on the Chaminade campus. There was a Marine Biology class that required lab work and labs for the class were on campus. The campus was only about 25 miles away from the base. All of the lectures were in Wahiawa. While I attended Chaminade it added graduate programs and changed its name from Chaminade College to Chaminade University.[ii]


ENDNOTES

[i] Wikipedia: Chapman University – Rankings and titles. History https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapman_University#Rankings_and_titles.

[ii] Wikipedia: Chaminade University of Honolulu History https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaminade_University_of_Honolulu#History.