(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and the video at the end of the post and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
Late last year, I decided to honor my Dad (and Mom) as Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter. The first post told about their courtship and marriage in New York City in the 1940’s and the start of a family in Long Island.
This was followed in the second post by some details about moving to Philadelphia when I was one and subsequently to Madeira Ohio – a burb of Cincinnati on my fourth birthday. We lived there for eight years until we moved to Oregon in 1960.
As I mentioned in the third installment, I grew up as a typical skinny, middle-class kid with an older sister and two younger brothers who were blessed with great parents.
Other than getting raw sewage in our house when there was a substantial downpour and my one-time adventure in which I ill-advisedly “explored” the sanitary sewer with my wonderful best friend, Nelson “Nuthin” Kennedy in fifth grade – my life in Ohio was ideal.
As I mentioned in my last post, Nelson was a West Point grad – Class of ’70 and a key factor in my late brother, Garry, becoming a USMA grad in 1972. Nelson went on to have a great 27-year career at Procter and Gamble – first as a production manager and then in quality assurance. (If you have questions, you can ask him about Pampers, Luvs, Tide, Cheer, Bold, Era and Gain….)
And Nelson never was a person to sit idly by, so when he retired in 2002, he first started driving a school bus and then advanced to 18-wheelers for eight years until 2019. Then “as a lark” he was hired part-time in a local Kroger store in the meat department – as I expected, he loves interacting with customers.
(It also and brings back memories of his Senior Year at the Academy where he told the Plebes that they were “raw meat” – especially during Beast Barracks).
Rudy Rousseau and the Central Intelligence Agency
I digress for a bit, but I had another good friend who lived two houses away from us in Madeira – a very interesting story. Rudy was two years older than I (a classmate of my sister, Lynne) and a big kid. We used to play baseball and were in a neighborhood chess club.
We lost touch when I moved to Oregon although Nelson remembers him as a very good high school athlete – excelling in baseball and football. (“He didn’t have good eyesight and his glasses always steamed up under his helmet”….)
(* External Photo Attribution at end of Post)
I didn’t think about Rudy until over forty years later – in 2004 while working at the Schwabe Williamson law firm in Portland. Attorney, Fred Hitz, a Harvard Law grad, had managed the firm’s two-person Washington DC office. He would periodically fly to Portland – most notably for firm retreats.
Before assuming that position, he worked two stints at the Central Intelligence Agency – the second one as Deputy Chief of Operations for Europe. In between, he served with distinction in the Departments of State, Defense and Energy.
After he left the firm, he was appointed in 1990 as the first statutory Inspector General for the CIA by President Bush. He left that post in 1998 and began a teaching career at the prestigious Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law.
In 2004, he wrote a fascinating book entitled The Great Game – The Myths and Reality of Espionage:
“In this fascinating analysis, Frederick Hitz…contrasts the writings of well-known authors of spy novels—classic and popular—with real-life espionage cases. Drawing on personal experience both as a participant in ‘the Great Game’ and as Inspector General, Hitz shows the remarkable degree to which truth is stranger than fiction.” (Amazon)
He also wrote another book in 2008 entitled Why Spy – Espionage in an Age of Uncertainty.
I had read his book and heard that Fred was coming to Portland and talked him into giving a presentation to the City Club of Portland. I was privileged to introduce him and the crowd loved his narrative.
Afterwards, we were having a beer and for some reason I can’t recall – whether it was talking about Ohio or I had heard that Rudy might be working at the CIA – I asked Fred if he knew Rudy. His response was:
“Absolutely, I worked with him at the Agency and he is now the chief CIA Liaison to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has had a great career at the Agency since 1982.”
I got Rudy’s contact information from Fred (can you imagine calling the CIA and just asking to speak to an agent……?) I then called Rudy and we planned to get together for a beer when I went to Washington DC on a forthcoming business trip.
Over the phone, we reminisced a bit about growing up in Madeira. Unfortunately, his job took him out of town when I was there. (He would have told me where he was traveling, but then he would have had to kill me…..)
In researching this post, I found out some more about my childhood neighbor and friend. Unfortunately, it included the fact that he passed away in 2018 at the age of 71. But it’s worth noting his story. Like Nelson, Rudy had an impressive educational and career resume:
Education: Graduated from Ohio University’s Honors College (Ohio Fellow). After an internship in the Secretary of State’s office in Washington, he studied at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, spending a summer researching his master’s thesis in Ibadan, Nigeria.
He returned to Washington as a Congressional Fellow, completed his doctorate at the Fletcher School, and worked for Senator James Pearson of Kansas, drafting the Amateur Athletic Act.
Career: From 1974 to 1981 he worked for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, handling foreign economic aid and traveling extensively in Asia, Africa, and Central America. In 1982, he accepted a position at the Central Intelligence Agency.
After 9/11, he served in the Counterterrorism Center, preparing the Agency’s response to the 9/11 Commission. Retiring from CIA in 2006, he taught in Georgetown University’s International Security Studies Program.
While searching for the 9/11 Commission testimony, I was fascinated to find a video on C-SPAN from the hearing in which Rudy, with five other CIA/FBI agents/execs, are grilled by the Commission on why their agencies had not been more proactive in anticipating this terrorist attack.
(His testimony comes at 2 hour, 3.5 minutes in.) The images below are from that hearing https://www.c-span.org/person/?1010552/RudolphRousseau.
I have to admit that while the topic before the Commission was very serious and the questions grueling, I had to laugh at times remembering my youngest brother Rick’s early attempts to pronounce my buddy’s name. Rick would say, “Is Wudy Wooso coming over today?”
Rudy, like Fred Hitz and Nelson Kennedy, all served their County well and I’m proud to know these patriots.
The Road Trip of a Lifetime!
It may be more interesting to consider one of my grade school friend’s career as a “spook” so to speak, but let’s get back to the primary topic – my Dad. Both of my parents always tried to enhance our education with books
They gave us this set of the Great Books of the Western World – now in my home office (to the right of the VW Bus and clock and computer monitor in the photo below) when we were in high school. (I still plan to read all fifty-four volumes although I have to admit that I’m struggling even trying to attempt Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War which is only in volume 6…..) And I’ve already mentioned my art school debacle at the Cincinnati Art Museum, as just two examples.
And FDW was always a guy with big ideas so in the spring of 1959, he and Mom called a family meeting. They revealed plans to go on a “camping” trip that summer using a new Nimrod tent trailer pulled by our VW Bus (with the airline seat belts Dad had installed before they were standard issue in cars).
This was not going to be just a casual road trip, but one of ten + weeks, which would ultimately take two adults and four kids (and about 30 what was known then as AAA Trip-tiks and Travel Guides) from Cincinnati, Ohio to Ames, Iowa – where Dad was born – over the Continental Divide with multiple-say stops in Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone National Parks.
We then journeyed on to the Pacific Northwest where we’d visit Seattle and Portland – one of the most meaningful stops on the escapade. Then down through the Redwoods to San Francisco and the Southwest to Mesa Verde and Grand Canyon National Parks, across the Central Plains and ultimately back to Cincinnati.
And this trip lasted from mid-July until the end of September. You can imagine how long it took us to climb to the summit of the highway through the Rockies in a 36-horse power micro-bus with a six-person family and gear for the entire trip stowed in the tent trailer.
The family didn’t just roll through – we thoroughly explored the National Parks, for example a week at Rocky National Park and there were stops at virtually every “Hysterical” Marker” (as we named them midway through the trip) along the way.
We kids would go to every Park Ranger briefing or campfire and pick-up brochures on which we would be quizzed by Frannie during the long and boring stretches of highway (and there was no screen time in that era)! And FDW, who loved geology, would explain the formations and notable geological events which shaped the landscape.
In the next post, I will give some more details from the trip – like living through the Great Yellowstone Earthquake (7.3 magnitude), but whether it was enduring a tour of the Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska, going on an all-day horseback ride on Specimen Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park or walking through the barren volcanic ash of Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho where my sister, Lynne, lost her lunch in a lava tube, we shared those adventures as a family.
Note: Volcanic ash consists of fragments of rock, mineral crystals, and volcanic glass, created during volcanic eruptions and measuring less than 2 mm. One wonders if some geologist three-hundred years from now will find miniscule fragments of her crystallized taco vomit and wonder how and from what creature it emanated…… Lynne has kept her promise never to return to Craters of the Moon.
And none of us forgot riding the monorail at Disneyland, being enthralled with the grandeur of the Grand Canyon or the rich history of Mesa Verde National Park or traveling through the plains of Kansas on the way home. We did all of that on that ten-week journey.
You might ask, “If you didn’t get back until the end of September, what about school?” Well, that was the result of another family meeting which I will tell you about in the next FDW post. Needless to say, there were some negotiations with the Madeira School District.
External Photo Attribution
*2 C-Span (https://www.c-span.org/person/?42877/FrederickPHitz)
*3 Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RS3J6300_(6839437296).jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: Miller Center – 13 Febuary 2007
*4 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons: (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seal_of_the_Central_Intelligence_Agency.svg) This image is a work of a Central Intelligence Agency employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a Work of the United States Government, this image or media is in the public domain in the United States. Author: US Federal Government
*5 C-Span: https://www.c-span.org/person/?1010552/RudolphRousseau
*6 Crytome: http://cryptome.info/csp/spy004/spy004.htm
*7 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kombi_(4300860191).jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: Diogo Rodrigues Gonçalves from São Bernardo do Campo, Brasil – 24 January, 2010.
*8 Wikimedia Commons – (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Family_camping_and_picnicking_at_John_Pennekamp_Coral_Reef_State_Park_(4876969528).jpg.) This work is from the Florida Memory Project hosted at the State Archive of Florida, and is released to the public domain
*10 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cratersofthemoon2.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Author: Marc Heiden – 8/08.
*11 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Symptoms-vomiting.jpg) This image is a work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, taken or made as part of an employee’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.
Funny that you have family ties to Ohio and Iowa… my mom grew up in Dayton and my dad is from Iowa. Lots of fun memories to reminisce upon here for you, and I enjoyed reading them.
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And what makes it more interesting, is that you were born In Oregon -where I live now…..
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Nice that you have these old photos of friends, Don. All I have are memories but photos make them easier to picture, no pun intended.
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Going through the trunk of old photos has been a wonderful look backward. My dad also has about fifty Carousel projector trays with Kodak slides in them that I haven’t begun to touch.
I’m impressed with your story. 😉
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Don, your writing style is so interesting, entertaining, and informative even without a beer! So cool to include Rudy’s story, particularly to see the video of his testimony before the Senate 911 Committee.
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Thanks Mike. Nice to hear from you. Yes, I was glad I could tell people about Rudy’s contributions.