Category Archives: History

Thunderstorms

This is another Father’s Day tribute to Bob (aka Dad).

From Welcome to the Future …

Despite the fact that my parents love for me caused them to be overly protective, my dad did something equally amazing for me. I have always loved thunderstorms. I love the lightning and I love the thunder. I think that thunderstorms are one of the most exhilarating of all natural phenomenon. There is a reason for this. My dad grew up in an orphanage. It was not uncommon at the time for single mothers who could not care for their children to abandon them at an orphanage. Summertime in Florida produces severe afternoon thunderstorms. The nuns at the orphanage were afraid that lightening would hit the building and set fire to it. Rather than face the possibility of an orphanage full of trapped children burning to the ground, whenever a thunderstorm approached, the nuns would make the children go outside and lie facedown in the grass until the storm passed. Needless to say, my dad was terrified of thunderstorms; shaking, vomiting, fetal position terrified of thunderstorms. Dad swore to himself that I was never going to be afraid of lightning and thunder like he was. From my earliest days my dad would pick me up and bounce me on his knee during storms. “See the lightning,” he would say, “now wait, here it comes … BADDA BOOM.” I would giggle and laugh. He showed no fear, why should I. Of course, I remember none of this. I was too young. But I do know that I love lightning and thunder. Whenever my dad told this story he would add one more thing … by making sure that I was never afraid of thunderstorms he had cured his own fear too.

  
Trying to proof-read the above is difficult through tear filled eyes. If there are typos, cut me some slack.

 Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there and to their children!

Bob

Robert Francis (Bob) Bergman 

Circa mid 1970s

[Click the images to zoom to full size]


YOKS (Ye Olde Kid Sister) posted the photo above of our Dad to Facebook today.

I took that photo during my “Black & White” photography period. My camera bag is prominently visible in the foreground. This is a classic Bob photo – beer in hand. Note the old school disposable “pop top” beer can and Bob’s signature white cowboy hat.

Below is another picture I took on a different fishing trip. This is actually a cropped digital image of a framed picture I have hanging on my staircase. It is my favorite photo of Dad.


 

Bob loved to fish and I frequently went along with him always getting on the road before sunrise. I was heavily into photography in the 70s and would go “fishing” with him just to get out and away from everything and to spend time alone with him. I am not sure exactly when these pictures were taken – I could probably find the negatives and give you the exact dates, but that would be irrelevant – mid 1970s is close enough. 

I put “fishing” in quotes because I mostly went for the solitude, sandwiches, beer, and photography. Fishing was very “zen” for Bob. Peace, quiet, solitude … and beer. Bob loved beer. Fishing wasn’t so much about catching fish as it was the entire experience. Sure he loved actually catching fish, but not catching fish was OK too. How does that old saying go … “the worst day fishing is better than the best day of work.”

Our “worst day of fishing” was the time we were out in Florida Keys in a rented boat and sheared the propeller shear pin on a sand shoal – with no extra shear pins. After several hours of trying to row back to shore with the single oar we had – including realizing we had snagged the line of a lobster/crab pot on the outboard motor, thus going nowhere – Bob decided to fashion a shear pin out of a heavy gauge fish hook. That did the trick and we limped back to the marina. Speaking of “lobsters” I was wearing shorts, no shirt, and no hat. Although by some miracle I did not blister, I was “cooked lobster red” for many days afterwards. Still better than “the best day of work.”

Bob would have loved this song …

Bob is no longer with us. Time may heal all wounds, but we still miss him.

Bob, wherever you are, this one’s for you …


 

Happy Father’s Day

CRS-11 Falcon 9 Landing

Yet another Falcon 9 landing (from yesterday June 3rd) at LZ-1. Note the arrival of the sonic boom just before landing. Starting to get routine (as it should). This was also the first re-use of a Dragon capsule (Woo Hoo). 

For more info on LZ-1 see:

For more on the CRS-11 mission see:

Feels like the 60s again.

Bergen Park Dreams

[ I began writing this about the time that iOS 10.3.2 Trashed My iPhone … just now getting back to it ]

In a previous post I told you briefly of my time living at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory a mile or so west of Bergen Park Colorado in the mountains west of Denver. 

I lived at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory in Bergen Park from 1976 to 1981 with my newlywed bride, two dogs, and (very briefly) a cat. They were perhaps the happiest days of my life and I still have what I have come to call “Bergen Park Dreams”.

“Bergen Park Dreams” are essentially what they sound like, dreams about living in Bergen Park … but they have evolved subtly over the years. Initially they were simple reminiscences of actual events at the time, but as time passed they became stranger and stranger. This maybe due to the fact that I had revisited Bergen Park in the mid-90s and more recently in 2015 – boy had things changed.

My first drive to Bergen Park and the Observatory was in 1975. It was little more than a crossroads with a Conoco station, a mini mart, liquor store, bowling alley, and a few restaurants. Depending on which road out of Bergen Park you chose, you would be on your way to the more populous Evergreen to the south, or on the road to Squaw Mountain and Mount Evans to the southwest, or heading west back to connect to I-70 via Colorado 65. 

The area west of Bergen Park on Colorado 65 was pristine. It was a Colorado mountain paradise. The Observatory was just off of 65 to the north up a dirt road. Back then, as I said, it was truly a pristine paradise. Elk would graze within a stone’s throw of the upper balcony. Little did I know that it would all change in just a few short years with the development of the Soda Creek community on the south side of 65 and it’s million dollar mini-ranchettes. From 1976 to 1981 I lived in a Colorado paradise worth millions of dollars because I could not afford to live anywhere else.

In the summer of 1976 the future Mrs flew out to visit me for a week during the summer. We had been dating since 1973 when we had met in fencing class at Broward Junior College near Davie, Florida west of Fort Lauderdale where I lived with my folks. Ok I actually lived in Wilton Manors, an island bounded by natural rivers and man-made canals within Fort Lauderdale, but whatever. 

I met my wife-to-be in Junior College while attending a fencing class. She was my partner during field camp for the “barbed-wire stretching” section. We had five miles of barbed-wire to stretch along a section of canal that bordered the Everglades. She cut her hand and I cleaned and bandaged it tenderly with love and care. So gentle were my attentions that she soon fell under the spell of my gentle but manly manner and soon we were lying under the shade of a mangrove tree making sweet, sweet …

Oh wait that was last night’s dream … It was fencing class as in touché, sabers, etc. …

My wife-to-be in fencing class:

20130831-171620.jpg

Ok not my wife … and besides in 1973 the world had not yet been introduced to light-sabers. We used foils, épées, old-school sabers. Her sweet smile and school girl laugh pierced my heart as did the unshielded tip of her épée. When I finally got out of the hospital … OK that was lie. It was fencing class nothing more. But it was the beginning of a 40 year love affair.

For a picture of my wife-to-be back in 1973, click HERE.

Where was I? Oh yes, 1976, so this was the first time I had not gone home over summer break and had moved into the Observatory full-time only a few months before in order to establish in-state residency. My wife-to-be was flying out from Miami to visit me. I had gone to the former Stapleton International airport in Denver to pick her up only to find out that her flight was “delayed”. I was unable to get any information regarding the delay. I began thinking … what if the plane had crashed? Would the Arrival Display calmly announce “Hull Loss” or “Plane Crashed”? Of course not. It would announce FLIGHT DELAYED. I finally gave up and drove back to Bergen Park with the weight of uncertainty heavily upon me. Later that night she called from the hotel in which the airline had put them up in Dallas due to engine trouble. She arrived the next day telling me the story of the woman dressed in her wedding gown flying to her wedding which she obviously missed. Not like you could call someone on your cell phone to explain the situation back then – THEY DIDN’T EXIST.

My wife-to-be spent the week with me in Bergen Park the summer of 1976. It was a wonderful week. I asked her to marry me and, fool that she was, she accepted.  We set the date for December 30th, 1976 when I planned to be home for Christmas break. We chose December 30th because we did not want to be driving anywhere on New Year’s Eve. Before and after her visit and until we were married, life was pretty lonely in Bergen Park. I could drive the old International Harvester back and forth to Golden and stop at any points along the way, but I was broke and spent most of my time studying. Since no mail was delivered to the Observatory (I didn’t even know the address at that time), I had gotten a post office box in Golden that served as my official address. There was also a land line to the Observatory, but I tried to keep the long distance calls to a minimum. My wife-to-be was in nursing school in Miami and was quite busy herself.

Over the summer of 1976 I had a lot of time to myself. I hiked around the 75 acres of Coors land that the Observatory sat on. I walked or drove into Bergen Park for groceries. I read a lot. I changed and developed the seismic records every night and once a week drive them down to Golden. Life was peaceful and idyllic, when not outright boring. I caught wolf spiders in jars and kept them as pets feeding them moths. OK – that was creepy, but I was desperate for companionship. Introvert that I was – and still am – I treasure my alone time, but there is alone and then there is lonely. I would talk out loud to the spiders, the walls, myself just to hear a voice.

There was a well on the property that provided all of the water (via an electric downhole pump) and two drain fields. The well was located just to the east of the building and the sanitary septic tank and drain field was located on the other side to the west. There was also a secondary drain field in the front of the building (to the south) near the dirt road up from the main road. This was for the photographic chemicals and rinse water. I had to be careful not to use too much rinse water during the development process or when cleaning the tanks or I would get a spring that ran down the dirt road. Not a problem in the summer, but it would form an ice slick in the winter … which my wife discovered when she slid under her car while getting into it to head to work one frozen morning. It was several minutes before I noticed her screaming for me … an event she tells others to this day.

I didn’t trust the well, so I would fill jugs of water up from a water spigot at the back of the Green Center building back at the School of Mines in Golden and lug them up to Bergen Park. Cecil H. Green (founder of Texas Instruments) was quite the philanthropist and many buildings are in his (and his wife’s) name. Eventually I had the well water tested and it came back with coliform bacteria at “TNTC” (Too Numerous To Count). My fears were justified. Contaminated ground water had gotten into the well. I would fix this. I found the well head and opened it up. Then I ran a hose from the spigot into the well and turned on the water. Finally came the chlorine bleach, I forget how many jugs of bleach. I let the water circulate – I forget for how long – but long enough to circulate the bleach to every part of the system. Then I let it sit and soak. Then circulate. Then soak. Finally I let the water run and flushed out the bleach until I could smell chlorine no more. Then waited to let the well recharge and flushed it again. Eventually I had the water tested again and it was safe to drink. But for how long? I think I waited a month to get the well water tested again before I felt safe to drink it. With the second test passed, I could stop lugging water. The well water at Bergen Park was perhaps the best water I have ever had. It was delicious … and had the bizarre ability to keep our teeth free of plaque. To this day, only Ozarka Spring Water comes close.

Anyway, not long after moving to Houston with my first employer out of college I began to have the “Bergen Park Dreams”.  As I said above, they were originally just remembrances of the past, but slowly began to morph into something stranger, an alternate reality. I am back in Bergen Park present day and move back into the Observatory for no apparent reason. Sometimes the Mrs is with me, sometimes not. We are usually our younger selves. Often the area around the Observatory is highly built up, even more than in reality. The dreams are often quite vivid and colorful. Sometimes I also dream about an alternate reality version of Golden and the School of Mines, usually an ultra high-tech version, with many new ultra modern buildings. 

Dreams are curious things. Mine are often quite interesting. Some folks have the occasional nightmare (scary dreams), me not so much. I tend to think of dreams as the “screen saver” our brain provides while it “defrags.” Sleep is the time our brain sorts and stores our daily memories and our nervous system is flushed of toxins. Sleep is when our muscles are repaired from the damage incurred during our daily workouts. Sleep is also when youngsters grow – and why adequate sleep is so critical for the young. So between nervous system and muscle repair, body growth, and memory fixation we learn that adequate sleep is very, very important to the human condition.

My occasional “Bergen Park Dreams” are just another aspect of my sleep.

 
Links in this post:
https://contrafactual.com/2017/05/24/ios-10-3-2-trashed-my-iphone/
https://contrafactual.com/2017/05/22/olde-time-radio/
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergen_Park
https://contrafactual.com/2013/08/31/convoy/
https://contrafactual.com/2013/09/28/hot-chick/
http://greencenter.mines.edu
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Howard_Green
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coliform_bacteria
https://www.ozarkawater.com
https://contrafactual.com/2014/05/27/sleep/

1980 Damascus Titan missile explosion

Watching the PBS documentary Command and Control on NETFLIX as I type. 

This is truly scary.  If the Hydrogen Bomb warhead had detonated all of Little Rock would have been incinerated and millions of additional people downwind would have died from the fallout.

WATCH THIS DOCUMENTARY (Full YouTube version below)

https://www.netflix.com/title/80107656

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/command-and-control/

http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2543

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Damascus_Titan_missile_explosion

 

Thankfully an incident similar to this could never* happen today …

  

* where is that sarcasm tag

Olde Time Radio

Note: please click on the highlighted links included in the text for more information.

“This is radio station WWV, Fort Collins, Colorado, broadcasting on internationally allocated standard carrier frequencies of 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 megahertz, providing time of day, standard time interval, and other related information. Inquires regarding these transmissions may be directed to the National Bureau of Standards, Time and Frequency Services Section, Boulder, Colorado 80524.”

At least this is how I remember it from over 40 years when I lived at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory in the mountains west of Denver just outside of Bergen Park. Compare this to the current version as shown in the previous post

From 1974 to 1981, I was enrolled at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden Colorado (home of the legendary Coors beer re: Smokey and the Bandit). I lived in the dorms from 1974 to 1976. In a move to establish in-state tuition and a SIGNIFICANT cost savings I needed to 1) have my parents stop claiming me on their income tax, 2) establish year-round residence in Colorado, and (most important) 3) fill out the forms and get in-state status (probably easier to do then than now). As luck would have it during my second year at Mines, my undergraduate advisor Maurice W. (Maury) Major needed someone to change the records at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory on the weekends. This provided me with some extra money. When I eventually told him of my desire to establish in-state tuition and that I needed a place to live over the summer, he suggested that I could live at the observatory and change the records every night as part of the deal … and what a deal it was. I got totally free accommodations on 75 acres of Colorado mountain land owned by Coors, continued to get paid a small stipend for changing the records, and the use of an old International Harvester to travel back and forth from Bergen Park to Golden. The Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory was part of the World Wide Standardized Seismograph Network, ostensibly set up to study the internal structure of the earth via earthquake signatures, but actually set up to monitor Soviet underground nuclear tests. For 82 pages of mind numbing detail be sure to read the World-Wide Standardized Seismograph Network: A Data Users Guide. The Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory was instrumental in proving that that the earthquakes Denver was experiencing during the 1960s were in fact caused by the pumping of chemical waste into a disposal well at the Rocky Moutain Arsenal just north of Denver.




  

Then (1989)

http://gis.utep.edu/subpages/states/documents/Colorado/bergen%20park%20ca.pdf

 
Now (2015)

I took the above photo in 2015 while in Denver attending the wedding of Jess and Brian (a story for another time). As near as I could tell, the land and structure had been sold and someone was converting it to an actual home. When I lived there the first floor contained the seismological recording equipment and the second floor (two-thirds the size of of the first floor) had room for a large “class room”, a small toilet/sink/shower room, and two small “offices” (one of which, next to the bathroom, I used as a bedroom). The other third of the upstairs area was a tar paper and gravel “sun deck” enclosed by a wooden railing.

Every evening I would go downstairs (note that the stairs were outside) and turn on the short wave radio tuned to WWV. It was part of the vertical cabinet pictured in the image below. The actual seismometers (the x-y-z pendulums), the triangular boxes, were located in a tunnel excavated into the hill behind and to the north of the building. The actual recording equipment … the drums (and galvanometers pictured below the drums) were located in room 103* as indicated in the schematic pictured above. Room 101* contained the radio and time coding equipment. Room 102*/ 102A* contained the photographic developing tanks and the drier.


https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2014/1218/pdf/ofr2014-1218.pdf

Since each seismogram was recorded by light bouncing off of a mirror attached to a galvanometer, I had to work “by touch” in total darkness to change the paper on the drum and develop the paper with the seismic recordings. While working I usually left the radio tuned to WWV as it told me how long to leave the photographic paper in each stage of the development process. Night after night after night after night I heard “This is radio station WWV, Fort Collins, Colorado, broadcasting on internationally allocated standard carrier frequencies of … ” yada, yada, yada until it was burned into my memory as surely has the lyrics to Happy Birthday to You or Back in the USSR

One night I even tried tuning into other stations specifically trying to locate Radio Moscow. I finally gave up trying after tuning into a station where a man and a woman with obvious mid-west accents were reading questions from that week’s “mailbag”. Imagine my surprise when they proceeded to answer the question “What is the weather like there in Moscow?”

I lived at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory in Bergen Park from 1976 to 1981 with my newlywed bride, two dogs, and (very briefly) a cat. They were perhaps the happiest days of my life and I still have what I have come to call “Bergen Park Dreams”.

Don’t forget to click on the highlighted links for more information.