Two Rooms With a View

The Old Giants Stadium, Next to the New MetLife Stadium. Both Sharing the Same Parking Lot With My Motel.

The Old Giants Stadium, Next to the New MetLife Stadium. Both Sharing the Same Parking Lot With My Motel.

I asked the secretary to book me a motel room at government Per Diem rates if possible. This was a nearly impossible task in the region of New Jersey where I was visiting a government contractor. She was able to accomplish this task — in fact, she got me a room with a view.

A very unusual view.

It was in the 1970’s and I flew from San Diego, California, where the Naval Ocean Systems Center was located, to the Newark Airport in New Jersey, and picked up my rental car. Asking for directions at the rental counter, they pointed me to the Meadowlands Sports Complex and said the motel was nearby.

I found the Meadowlands Sports Complex and the motel seemed to be at the edge of the parking lot to the Giants Stadium. I asked at the entrance kiosk if I needed to pay to get to the motel. The attendant said no and gave me instructions for reaching it on a perimeter road.

The parking spots in front of all the rooms were deserted, but there was a car by the side of the office and I entered the office, telling the clerk that I had reservations. Giving me a strange look, he called to the back saying some guy claimed that he had reservations. The answer came from the back office with a chuckle that some woman had called last week asking for a reservation and to give me the room.

Checking into the room I picked up the phone to call my wife with the government authorized safe-arrival-telephone-call. The phone was dead so I headed back to the front office get it connected. On the way out I noticed a film projector on the nightstand pointed at the ceiling. The ceiling was painted a smooth white that made a perfect projection screen. In the office, I noticed a selection of pornographic films on a shelf. Asked if I wanted to rent any, I found out I could rent a double feature for about the same price I was paying for the motel room. I declined and changed my four-day reservation to just the one night.

When I left the next morning, the motel seemed more than half full. A couple of cars were in front of rooms, but mostly 18-wheel trucks parked in a large lot behind the motel. I also noticed a break in the fence that allowed easy access to and from the stadium parking lot.

Later I found out from locals that the motel did a thriving business during sporting events at the Giant’s Stadium. Wives thought their husbands were attending a sporting event, while the husbands were holding their own sporting event with their mistresses in the motel rooms.

This was my first, but not last room with a view this trip.

I attended contractor meetings that day and then went looking for another motel.

This proved more difficult than I thought. Every room in every reasonably priced chain motel/hotel was book solid — all at much more than the government Per Diem rate.

Finally, on being turned away at the sixth hotel I tried, I pleaded with the desk clerk for anything they had, even a cot in a utility closet. Someone in the back office overheard me and came out to the front desk. He said he could let me have a room, but it had no television. I said that was no problem and I booked it for three nights.

The room had a rather cloying pink decor and a four-poster king-size bed in the center of the room with a scattering of heart shape pillows. It wasn’t until I went to bed that I noticed I had another room with a view. A mirror, the size of the bed, was  supported by the four-poster canopy,  The bed was lit by spot lights which provided an interesting view in the overhead mirror.

For two more nights I did without television, but I did have a room with a view.






My Last Rock Climb

The Frightful Variation of the Trough, Tahquitz Rock, Idllywild, California

The Frightful Variation of the Trough, Tahquitz Rock, Idllywild, California. Can you spot the climber?

The Call to the Sheriff

Saturday midnight, summer 1979, Dolores called the Riverside Sheriff substation servicing Idyllwild, California and reported her husband, Jerrold Foutz, and son, David Foutz, missing. They left San Diego early Saturday morning for a technical rock climb of Tahquitz Rock in Idyllwild and were expected home for dinner. It was supposed to be an easy climb, The Trough. Both were experienced climbers. Dolores gave a description of the climbers, Jerrold 47 years old, David 16 years old, and the license number and description of their car, a 1973 green Renault LeCar.

The dispatcher said they would send a deputy to check the parking lot used by the climbers and call back with what they found.

About an hour later the deputy called back and said they found the car in the parking lot but no sign of the climbers. There was no need to call search and rescue before daylight because there was little they could do in the dark. He would keep checking the parking lot and let her know if they showed up. Continue reading

A Recorder in the Wilderness

My friends in the Sierra Club could have warned me. But they wanted the satisfaction of hearing the reaction of an innocent to the culture of the Hundred Peaks Section of the of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club.

It was early in the 1960’s and I was was working as a Research Engineer at the Autonetics Division of North American Aviation. I had joined the Orange County Chapter of the Sierra Club and had gone on several day hikes, but this was to be my first overnight backpack with the Sierra Club. There were many more Sierra Club outings in my future, but this one is still one of the most memorable after 50 plus years. Partially because before this outing I would have never imagined what some people do in the wilderness.
Continue reading

Rocket Scientist

Jerrold Foutz - Engineer of the Year

Jerrold Foutz – Publicity photo when selected from 3,000 Engineers and Scientists as AISD Engineer of the Year in 1988

I really never thought about it until I retired, but I guess I can claim to be a rocket scientist. My degree is in Physics and I worked from 1959 through 1994 (35 years) on guidance and control systems for rockets — with a couple of spacecraft thrown in. I worked on the proposal team for the Cassini project but we lost the competition for the actual contract.

My last assignment was working on the exoatmospheric kill vehicle, a little basket ball that sits in space and when a rocket comes up from earth that it doesn’t like, it throws itself at it with tremendous speed and kinetic energy. The kill mechanism is not an explosive, but a piece of depleted uranium (denser than lead) the size and shape of a pencil (actually, there are several pencils). By firing that pencil from a rail gun on earth to simulate the speed it would have in space, it penetrated the best 12 inch thick armor plating made. Twelve plates lined up in a row with about 12 inch separation between plates. As they say, speed kills.
Continue reading

Hollwood Canteen

Vera Jean Foutz

Six years older, my sister, Vera Jean Foutz, was a hostess at the Hollywood Canteen while I only delivered their newspaper

If you are “getting your kicks on Route 66” then traveling eastward you will find the route remarkably well preserved in the Los Angeles area. About 11 miles from the terminus at the Pacific Ocean you will enter Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd and then intersect Cahuenga Blvd. Turning north and just before you reach Sunset Blvd you will see the high-rise CNN Building on the southwest corner and a multilevel parking structure adjacent to the south. This is the location of two past landmarks, one famous and one less famous.

The less famous landmark  is the livery stable that kept the horses needed for the silent-era and then later, the “talking” western movies filmed by the myriad of small film studios around Sunset Blvd and Gower Street, six blocks to the east. This intersection is known as “Gower’s Gulch”.  At Gower’s Gulch, cowboy extras gathered dressed in their Stetson hats, cowboy boots, and cowboy chaps hoping to earn $5 a day hired as extras in a saloon scene or riding horses from the livery stable. The livery stable then became a nightclub for a time, the Old Barn.

That livery-stable/Old-Barn was later converted to a more famous landmark, the Hollywood Canteen.
Continue reading