Monday, January 17, 2011

Remembering Pearl Harbor

December 1966
  Last week’s 25th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day brought back memories to most people living during that period of history.. But for “Cap” Capogna, owner of Cap’s Tele-Tec, the day was especially vivid. He was serving with a coastal defense battery on a tiny island off Pearl Harbor on that infamous Sunday morning.
  “It sure doesn’t seem like 25 years ago,” Cap told me as he recalled the day. Cap’s unit was one of the few on the island that had live ammunition. “Fortunately, we had an officer on duty that day who knew what he was doing and he ordered that we open fire immediately.”
  As a result, his battery shot down two Jap planes and perhaps damaged a few others. They were credited with firing the first U.S. shots of World War II.
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  SO FAR THIS YEAR, Rochester schools have been called off twice because of bad weather. And it isn’t even officially winter yet. There are many years when it is not necessary to close down schools even one day. So this school year may set a record.
  There was considerable discussion at last week’s board of education meeting about closing down schools. Trustee Martin McMurray said he received a few complaints from parents who thought it wasn’t necessary to call off school that Monday morning of the ice storm. So who decides to close down?
  It works like this: Since 75 per cent of the students in Rochester’s public and parochial schools are transported by bus, the question of whether or not there will be school depends mainly on whether the buses can get through. Asst. Supt. Dick Huizenga is directly responsible for the bus program. When he hears a questionable weather forecast the night before, “I just don’t sleep,” he reported. Around 3 or 4 a.m. he is up checking on conditions. He checks them in the north part of the district while transportation director Dick Overturf checks the southern half. If they feel that conditions aren’t good, they call up Supt. Douglas Lund. Since the first buses start to roll around 7 a.m., a decision must be made before that time.
  Supt. Lund walked outside onto the street early last Monday morning and decided they could not ask drivers to take the responsibility of 60 lives on a bus under such conditions. So phone calls were made to area radio stations for their newscasts. Rochester joined a long list of schools canceling classes. Some schools did not cancel at first, then found out too late that many of their buses were not making it through.
  Holding classes for just those who walk to school, Supt. Lund pointed out, is almost useless if only 25 percent show up. The state says there must be at least 180 days of school a year but there can be fewer if classes are dismissed “through an act of God.” Apparently if there are more missed days, the school board will give serious thought to some make-up days if they feel that education of students is being impaired.
  So far, we haven’t heard of any of the 7,000 students complaining.
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  THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: The only thing more disturbing than a neighbor with a noisy old car is one with a quiet new one.