Growing Up

I am the 6th and youngest child of Frances and Isaac Barr. I was born December 1, 1969; and was six months old when we moved to Kansas Street a mile east of Osceola. It was 15 acres, five acres katty-corner off the 10 acres that we lived on. It might have been farm land but we didn't farm it. We had chickens and livestock, the most at any one time was six milk cows. They were Angus/Holstein which we had artificially inseminated by Ron Fouche. The Angus was a little hardier, and the Holstein was the milking side of the match. A pure-bred Holstein is very large —I've seen one that was six-feet at the shoulders. The Angus brought them down in size to about four feet in the shoulders. They were much better for us, as we milked by hand. Usually we would get a cow, rarely would we get a bull. If we got a Holstein/Angus cow, we usually sold it after a year. If we got a bull, we sent it to the locker to be butchered. In those days there were a lot of lockers — at Osceola, Woodburn, and Weldon. Not now. One at Corydon is all I know of.

During the summer, we ran the cattle to the other five acres to graze off that grass, and bring them back up to milk them. We separated the cream and sold it. That got Mom a little bit of money. Harry and I were the youngest, and when we were still at home, Mom figured out what we got for the cream did not make up for the corn and hay she had to buy. There was no profit in it. We had extra skim milk. We had one old cow that would put out six gallons of milk at one time, and that's a lot of milk. We put it out in barrels and let it curd. (To this day I do not like cottage cheese. I can still smell the soured milk.) The chickens gave us eggs, and we fed them the curds. The whey was left for drey, which Lester Gray took to feed to his hogs. He gave Mom a little bit of money, and occasionally we got piglets from him. We raised and butchered them, which provided meat for the winter.

My schooling was in Osceola. I attended kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades at East Elementary, 4th and 5th at West Ward, 6th grade at the old high school, which was on Main Street — North Ward. It is now an apartment complex. Junior high, 7th and 8th, now called Middle School, was where it is now, an addition to the high school. High school was where it is now. I went all through school with the graduating class of 1978, but due to my inattentiveness, I didn't pass enough classes, so I stayed an extra semester. My diploma says I graduated in 1979.

After graduation, I worked at EON Foundry located in the Industrial Park where Bud Jones' Construction is now. They did machine work, foundry work, and repair work to the rendering machines. They ground up entire carcases of dead cows, cooked the concoction, and I don't know the final use. We repaired their machines.

Military Service

In 1983, I joined the Navy. There was no draft at the time, so I needn't have gone, but the biggest motivation was the economy. There was a recession. Nobody was hiring. There was no one pushing unless it was Mom and Dad to get me out of the house. There was a recruiter's office in Des Moines on University or Grand, and the fellow I saw was BT1 (Boiler Technician 1st class) Jones, There were two fellows beside myself who reported the same day. For some reason, I was put in charge of them and given a packet of orders containing our enlistment information including our physicals and all that was needed to start our military process.

We were flown to O'Hare Airport in Chicago, then caught a bus to Great Lakes, Illinois, which is actually North Chicago. We were at that base from April 11 to mid-June, when I went on to "A" school for specific job training. The instrument I was trained on there did mechanical calibration, which is the process of taking an instrument that is of unknown accuracy and comparing it to an instrument of higher accuracy. It is pretty complicated, but attempting to define it simply, it is comparing an unknown to that of a known, and bring it within certain parameters. We worked on pressure gauges, torque wrenches, temperature gauges and thermometers. We also did explosive meters.

The very specific part was dimensional calibration, in which we did micrometers —inside, outside, depth, and dial indicators — anything for measuring something in your hand, We were being trained on the techniques of how to do it. For every instrument we calibrated, there was a written procedure. We read those step by step and followed the procedure step by step. If need be we annotated the outcome of each step before we went on to the next step, which we then recorded, noting what might be wrong with the test instrument at that point, adjusted it and went back and repeated the procedure step by step until it came within the parameters that were required within that instrument.

Frankly, it is an extremely boring exercise. It truly is. I knew I had to get through the school but instead of reading about it, I wanted to do it, which made it very difficult. But I did get through it. Even though I had to graduate within a certain time-frame, this was a self-paced school. I planned it so that I could graduate on December 16, 1983, when the base was shutting down for the Christmas vacation to allow all the instructors and staff to be with their families for Christmas. I took two weeks leave, and was home for Christmas. I had to leave before New Years, but so it goes. I was required to report in by January 3, 1984. I reported January 2.

I have the paper that was read at my retirement ceremony 22 years later, and it summarizes this portion of my service: "ATC (SW) GARY P. BARR: A native of Osceola, Ia he entered the Navy in Des Moines Ia on 11 April 83. Attended Basic Training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Il. June, 83 Reported to Instrumentman "A" School at Service School Command, Great Lakes Il."

After my leave, when I reported to the USS Fulton, it was in a private shipyard going through an overhaul, which had started before I was on board and ended while I was there. I believe the name of the shipyard was Electric Boat Shipyard. We were in a branch of the shipyard, which was actually in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. When we were through there, and left the yards, we went to our home port and moored at New London, Connecticut. We did work on submarines and made sure our ship was able to stand the trip across the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean. We left on January 15, 1985, for the Med (Mediterranean) cruise.

We went to LaMaddena, Italy to relieve the USS Orion of their submarine-tending duties so they could go through a refit to get themselves updated and repaired. While in port, our main job in the calibration shop was what I'd been trained to do in "A" school. Along with being in port, we stood watches, Nuclear Weapons Security Guard and all that. We each had a duty day every six days, which meant being sure the ship was safe-guarded so the rest of the crew could go home. So 1/6 of the ship's personnel was on duty, with the other 5/6 were on liberty. When we were underway, we were not qualified to stand any underway watches. Our main job was in port. The Navy actually didn't recommend doing calibration while we were underway. We could if an emergency arose but for the sake of accuracy, we were not encouraged to do that.

I came back from Med Cruise in May 1985. We were in New London resuming our duties as submarine tender. From February to April 1986, as reported above, there was the Physical Measurement and Calibration Course at Lowry AFB (Air Force Base), in Denver, Colorado. That was more in-depth training on the techniques of calibrating. They showed us ways to get more accuracy in what we were doing.

The retirement paper summarizes: "01 January, 84. Reported aboard the USS Fulton (AS-II) in New London, Ct. Qualified Messenger of the Watch, Petty Officer of the Watch and Nuclear Weapons Security Guard. Made a Med Cruise in the winter of 1985. February to April of 1986, attended the Physical Measurement and Calibration Course at Lowry AFB, Denver, Co. Attained the rank of Petty Officer Second Class (1M 2)."

The next big thing to happen was on 6 September, 1988, when I reported aboard Naval EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), which was shore duty. This is very important, especially in Iraq now, so they can defuse the bombs. The Navy side of the EOD does the underwater explosives. In order for that to happen, they must have scuba equipment, which needs to be cleaned. That was part of what I did when I was stationed in Maryland — not the actual cleaning but certifying that it was clean. I was also calibrating their gauges.

At Correy Station in Florida was more calibration training. The optical course in Florida was a bit different. Until now we've done mostly physical measurements, but now we had optical, which involves the transits used by surveyors. The transits are also calibrated. In that course they taught me how to do optical calibration. I was there for 30 days.

06 September, 88. Reported aboard Naval EOD Technology Center, Indian Head, Md. Qualified Junior Officer of the Day and Officer of the Day. 21 to 30 September, 88, attended the Oxygen Equipment Cleaning and Calibration Course at Lowry AFB, Denver Co. Attained the rank of Petty Officer First Class (IM 1). 05 August, 92. Reported aboard NTTC Corry Station, Pensacola, Fl for Precision Optical Measurement Course.

On 11 September, 1992, I reported aboard the USS L.Y. Spear (AS-36 — Auxiliary Submarine) in Norfolk in which assignment I was appointed as Calibration Shop Supervisor and Divisional Career Counselor. I was an E-6 at this point, I had more seniority. I had been in ten years, and I knew a little more about the Navy than the junior people just coming in, so I was assigned as their counselor in regard to what they would need to do to quicken their advancement.

We always told the sailors there were two things that affected them — time off and money. The more time off they get, the happier they are, and the same is true with more money. With this advice hopefully they would make faster advancement, which would result in more time off and money.

11 September, 92. Reported aboard the USS L. Y. Spear (AS-36) in Norfolk Va. Calibration Shop Supervisor, Divisional Career Counselor.

In January 1996, I reported about the USS Frank Cable in Charleston, South Carolina. Again I had the same titles and duties as on the USS L.Y. Spear. The USS Frank Cable was going to Guam to replace the ship that was there. On this trip, we went through the Panama Canal. What makes this canal unique is that the design of moving ships through originally is still the same as is being used today. There has been no basic change in how they move the ships through, except that they have gone from using live mules on the banks with ropes tied to the ship. The mules would pull them through the locks. They now use "electric mules" {trains) to pull the ships through the locks.

When they were designing it, they tried to decide if they wanted to cut the mountain range that goes all the way through Panama. That is the Great Divide that comes up through the United States. Their decision involved cutting all the way down to the ocean level, and they decided not to. The Lake of America, which is the lake we sailed into before going through the canal, feeds the locks. There are no electric pumps that pump water into the locks. It is all done by gravity. They flow water out of the lake into the locks to raise the ship to the next level and the ship goes through. They raise it to the next level, etc. Water flows downhill, not pumped. They simply open valves.

We crossed the equator, which was an experience. Anyone who crosses and goes through the ceremony, is a Shellback. Those who have not crossed, are pollywogs. Those who cross the equator at the International Date Line, and go through the ceremony, are Golden Shellbacks, and those who cross at the Greenwich Mean Time, become Diamond Shellbacks.

We went to Guam which is now a territory of the United States. It is a tropical island, smaller than Rhode Island. It is possible to drive around it in approximately three hours even during rush hour. It is developed, and therefore similar to being in the United States. There are cars, gas stations, hotels, and motels. They use United States currency. People from Japan vacation on Guam, like people from the United States vacationing in the Caribbean.

01 January, 96. Reported aboard the USS Frank Cable (AS-40) in Charleston, Sc. Took the ship through the Panama Canal. Became a Golden Shellback. Arrived in Guam in April 96. Calibration Shop Supervisor, Divisional Career Counselor. Qualified Officer of the Deck (in port). Qualified Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist.

In 1997, 18 October, I returned to the States at Los Angeles, and reported aboard the Trident Refit Facility. This was shore duty in Bangor, Washington. I was there a year, at the same base, but under a new name. This gets into the politics of the Department of Defense, their base realignment and their defense spending budget. I was involved in the shutting down of the calibration shop as part of phasing out of the instruments I had been trained for and gotten all the schooling for. All the calibration was to be done primarily by civilians at the IMF (Intermediate Maintenance Facility).

18 October, 97. Reported aboard Trident Refit Facility, Bangor, Wa. Qualified Officer of the Day and Command Duty Officer. Selected and initiated as Instrumentman Chief Petty Officer.

01 October, 98. TRF Bangor became the Naval Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Pacific Northwest. Shut down the Calibration Shop for the Navy at the IMF. Transferred all assets to the Calibration Facility run by Lockheed Martin and the Bremerton Naval Shipyard.

As of 12 August, 1999, I am ATC(SW) (Aviation Electronics Technician, Surface Warfare) Barr. This affects my title as Navy Chief. On 11 February 2000, I reported aboard the USS Nimitz in Newport News, Virginia, and took the ship around South America to San Diego. In the retirement reading there are many acronyms that stand for the rank of Chief Petty Office, the LCPO means Leading Chief Petty Officer. Branch CPO — Branch Chief Petty Officer. The IM-3 is the division designation. AIMD — Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department, and D3MA, Departmental 3 M assistant. That gets into the Navy jargon.

II February, 00. Reported aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in Newport News, Va. Assigned as the Cal Lab Branch CPO, IM-3 LCPO, Branch CPO for each of the shops in IM-3 at one time or another and finally as A, EtID is D3MA. Took the ship around South America to San Diego, Ca.

03 March 03. Reported aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in Newport News, Va. Assigned as IM-3 Production CPO, D3MA, and Quality Assurance Supervisor. 30 June. Transferring to the Fleet Reserves after 22 and some odd years of Naval Service. Returning to his home town of Osceola Ia and attending college.

The Navy gets quite precise about our service time. I was in 22 years, two months, and 23 days. I returned to Osceola but I have not gone to college. I do have the Montgomery GI bill, which is an incentive for the military to attend college, which I need to do because there is a shelf-life often years after I retire. I have been retired now for almost three of them. I took almost a year off cleaning up the acreage, which I call 'The Ranch." Obviously it's not but it is more land than lots of people have. And I needed time to relax. Being on board ship all that time, I got wound a little tight.

After about a year, and the type of person I am, I had to be doing something. I cannot do nothing. I slowly realized I was sleeping later and later. After 22 years of having reveille, I needed a reason to get up. Bottom line: I needed a job. I applied at the Osceola Water Department. I wasn't accepted for that and when I saw an ad for personnel at the Osceola Water Plant, T applied for it. They didn't take me there, either, and it worked out that when I applied at Farm and Home for a small engine mechanic, the person whose place I was taking there (Donny White) was the person that was hired on at the Water Plant.

My mom told in the family's story that I was married to Pamela Fuller. When I met her, she was already divorced. She had two children by previous marriages — Dawn Slazer, and Thomas Jones. The marriage failed, and I am sony because I enjoyed being married. I know I might have been, and wish I had been a little more patient, but in accord with the saying, "hind sight is 20/20." I am wiser for that experience, I know myself a little better having gone through some heartbreak and hardship.

So, that is about it as far as my Navy military career goes. I don't know how much anyone cares about it. The one who has questioned me most is Allen, Harry's oldest child. I presume it is just because he is a boy.

One of my disappointments was in January 1994, when it became obvious my marriage had failed, at which time no one is in the highest of spirits. I called Mom to tell her what happened, and it brought to mind an additional disappointment. Its foundation was many years prior to that, even when I was in high school. Every week Mom would get the Sunday Des Moines paper in which they had a series of 3 inch square printing of house plans. Mom always wanted a new ranch house because she was tired of climbing the stairs. She looked at those prints every week. She would get out her magnifying glass, because they were printed very small, and she finally found one that had a floor plan she liked. She cut it out and it gave the address of where to send it. It cost $75 for the prints. She saved that and tried and tried to get enough money to send for it but with having six kids, she never had the money. Every year she entered the publishers clearing house contest to win that big money. Of course, she never did win.

Early in my career in the Navy, I called one time for her birthday and said, "I can't think of anything to get you, but take the money out of my account and send off for the prints. That will be your birthday present" Since it had been so long since that ad first appeared, the cost was now $150. I called maybe a month later to ask if she had gotten the prints. "No, the prints are $150." I said, "That's fine, get them." So she did and had the blue prints.

Back to '94 or '95, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I had about 10 years in the Navy, so I told her, "I'll move back home and built that house for you." She managed to keep it under her hat for about six months and then word was out. Dad knew I was going to build the house, all the relatives knew I was going to build the house, but nobody would loan me the money to build the house on somebody else's property even though it belonged to my parents. Military pay isn't good enough to take care of that kind of expenditure. I couldn't just write a check.

Dad, knowing that his son was going to build a new house, let the maintenance go down on the present one. It is in bad shape. So it is a big disappointment to me that I didn't get the house build for my morn before she passed away. In her memory I would like to get it done. There's work involved! It is frustrating because I obviously have to take down the old house. The county will not let me put up a another house while the other house is existing. I don't really want to, either. I tell people I am cleaning up after at least four generations of pack rats. There was my grandmother, Anna Barr, my dad, Isaac, would be two generations, and my mom would be another generation because Mom and Dad collected two different things. Dad collected his tools and equipment and Mom collected her sewing stuff and anything we kids collected.

When I announced that I wanted to build a house, the folks transferred the property to my name as life estate, so I inherited the 10 acres. Harry admitted that he was disappointed that Morn did not include him on the life estate because that was the only place he knew. That was home to him, also. We talked about it but Mom wanted things the way she wanted them. Both our parents spent their last days in the nursing home, Dad having a bad hip, Morn having diabetes. There are legalities in having them both in the nursing home, and the state of Iowa paying for it under the Title 19 plan. My having title to the property and intending to build Mom's dream house prevents the state from taking it.

This is the report of the Barr family now: Janice is the oldest and she lives in Madrid, Iowa, working in the Hospital in Woodward. George is in Nebraska working with power poles for Osmoses Wood Preserving Company. Frank whose full name is Francis Lee, whom lots of people know as Lee, is presently working in Osceola at Mueller Company. He is married to Eileen, and they have three kids. Robert is with a company called Ship-it in Albany, New York. He's been with them ever since he completed college. Both Robert and Frank were in the Army. Robert did seven years, I think Frank did four. Harry lives just east of Weldon. He worked at Bart's Automotive in New Virginia, I don't know if he is still there.


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