David Seitz Interview
This is file #42, cycle 3. Today’s date is July 9, 2018. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing David Seitz who grew up in Lakeville. He is going to talk about growing up here, schools that he attend, sports that he played, and his military experiences. We’ll start with…
JM:What is your name?
JM:You grew up here in town, didn’t you David?
DS:Yes, I did.
JM:Where did you go to school?
DS:Salisbury Central. (On Lincoln City Road, Lakeville, Ct.)
JM:Was it a good experience?
DS:Awesome, yes it was.
JM:When did you graduate from Salisbury Central School?
JM:Then you went to what school?
DS:Oliver Wolcott Technical School in Torrington, Ct.
JM:You graduated from there in 1976?
JM:What was the trade that you took up?
DS:That is what my father was. He was an electrician.
JM:Did you ever play at the Grove?
DS:Yeah we played at the Grove. We fished and we played and we swam.
JM:Who was running the Grove at that time?
JM:Was Fred Romeo working there then?
JM:Any memories particularly of the Grove?
DS:One day we got out of school and we went to go fishing at the kiddy pond (Factory Pond). We were about 8 years old. They had just stocked it. So we had 5 fish in about 5 seconds Boom, boom, and boom. It was awesome. I caught a 4 pound bass off the jig. Those are the 2 awesome fishing memories that I had there.
JM:Talking about fishing, you were telling me about a salmon stream?
DS:Yes the stream that goes by Herrington’s. It was full of lake salmon bank to bank going back to where they were spawned, wall to wall fish.
JM:When you were fishing at the kiddie pond at the Grove, what other kinds of fish were you catching?
DS:Rock bass, sun fish, pumpkin seeds, and definitely trout.
JM:Do you remember who taught you to swim?
DS:Art Wilkinson who was Director of Recreation at that time and Janet Pierson.
JM:You had a group of friends that you played with both neighborhood kids and school kids : Richard Alto, the Campbell twins Steve and Philip, the Palmer Twins, Bruce and Brad, Mike Minnich, Mark Barry (See file # 93, Mark Barry), Billy and Bob Thurston.
JM:Did you play baseball?
DS:Yes, I played Baby Ruth and Little League.
JM:Let’s start with Little League. Who was the Director then?
DS:Mr. Hemmerly was the Recreation Director then.
JM:Your dad coached, didn’t he?
DS:Yes he did.
JM:Was he coaching because you were playing or was he coaching because it was something he liked to do?
DS:I think it was a combination of both. He had three boys playing, me and my two younger brothers as they were following and coming up in the game. He definitely had an interest baseball and he wanted to help in the community.
JM:Did you ever get coached by Frank McArthur Sr.
DS:No, I did not but I was the bat boy for Tri State Men’s Baseball Team.3.
JM:Who were the two teams for the championship?
DS:Amenia and Lakeville.
JM:When you played Babe Ruth, who was the coach of that?
DS:It was Art Wilkinson.
JM:What positions did you play?
DS:Left field, shortstop, and pitching
JM:Did you have a good arm?
DS:Yes, it was fast, but I had not real teaching so it was unfocused.
JM:What are barn rules?
DS:That was basketball. I worked at the Belters for Hank and Willie in the barn. They had a basketball hoop up at the end of the hay mow. So when the hay was gone, we played basketball up there. We had barn rules, so if you fouled, you didn’t complain. You could foul or get fouled. Some rules were no dribbling, no official rules, just barn rules.
JM:How long did you work for the Belters?
DS:All through high school and when I came back on leave from the Navy, I would go down there and work too.
JM:They were dairy farms.
DS:Yes, Holsteins, about 80 cows. They had milking machines but they hand stripped them.
JM:What kind of sports did you play in the winter?
JM:Where is Muck Alley? We call it Farnam Road, but it was Muck Alley.
DS:Muck Alley is down Farnam Road past Community Service (Herrington’s) down to Cleaveland Street. There was a muck hole there on the right hand side, it was a swamp. That would freeze over and we played hockey there. We did not have pucks, we used beer cans. Just guys of the neighborhood played there.
JM:Did you do any skiing?
DS:Near Community Service they had a big pile where Jamas used to live. That is where Rip Torn lives, but right there was a huge pile of snow.
JM:You had a paper route.
DS:I was a back- up for the Palmers and for Larry Burcroft. Larry and Eric had a route so we were back-up to them. The route was for Waterbury Republican.
JM:Why did you carry ammonia?
DS:Dogs! We would spray it to keep the dogs away. You are not close enough to hurt them. They hated the smell and trotted off.
JM:Did you ride your bicycle for this?
DS:Yes, but on rainy days dad would drive us.
JM:How much did a Sunday paper cost back then?
DS:I think the Sunday paper was more than 25 cents, maybe one dollar.
JM:Did you have a specific route or did you just fill in for anybody who was missing?
DS:I was back up. When Eric was gone, he did Walton Street, Pettee Street, Lakeview Avenue and up by the school. We did go as far as Woodland Drive. We went up and down Perry Street and Cleaveland Street.
JM:That is a big area. How long would it take you to do an ordinary route?
DS:On a Monday when the papers were thin, we could do it in kid time about an hour, but on Sundays we would fill the bag and then go back to the post office to refill it again.
JM:Did you get paid?
DS:I did, but I don’t remember how much. We also had to go around and collect, too. That wasn’t any fun.
JM:When did you go into the service?
DS:My father was in the navy in World War II on a mine sweeper.5.
JM:How long were you in the service?
DS:8 years, from September, 1976 to June 1984
JM:Did you enjoy it?
DS:Immensely, except for getting sea sick! That was the part I did not like, but being in the Navy I would have been a lifer, but Dad was dying of cancer and I had to come home to take care of mom.
JM:What was your rank?
DS:I finished as a2nd class electrician.
JM:So you used the training you received at Oliver Wolcott in the Navy.
DS:Some of it, but there was a huge difference. One of my ships the Sunbird was DC (direct current) because you get more torque from DC current than you do from AC. It had huge castings on it and big winches so you needed DC in order to get that torque.
JM:Tell me a little bit about the La Salle. What kind of a ship was that?
DS:It was a converted LVD which used to carry Marines on it, but what it mainly did was just a spy ship. We would go around in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean picking up signals, crossing signals, whatever it did.
JM:Was that the ship that was painted white?
JM:You were also in Saudi Arabia?
JM:Where else were you located?
DS:The home port in Saudi Arabic was the LaSalle. The home port for the Sunbird was Groton, Ct.
JM:When did you transfer from the LaSalle to the Sunbird?
JM:What kind of a ship was the Sunbird?
DS: That was a submarine rescue ship.
JM:Were both ships diesel operated?
JM:The Sunbird was an ASR 15 but what does that mean?
DS:Auxiliary Submarine Rescue,
JM:Did you ever rescue any submarines?
DS:No, but we practiced. The practice is a 4 point more.
JM:What does that mean?
DS:I’ll demonstrate it. This is the Sunbird and there are 4 points in 4 directions. If there was a submarine submerged and couldn’t come up, the diving bell would be thrown over the side. It would go down and in theory land on the top hatch.
JM:You said that the LaSalle was an AGF 3. What does that mean?
DS:Auxiliary Flag Ship because it was the flag ship for the 7th fleet. That had an Admiral on it.
JM:Would you like to tell me anything else about the military?
DS:Like when we cross the Equator? Before you cross the Equator, you are known as a “Pollywog” and then after you have crossed the Equator, you become a “Royal Shell-back”. There is a 24 hour initiation, but now it is called hazing. They don’t do it now. For 24 hours the Shell backs that had already crossed the Equator can hassle or pick on the “Pollywogs”. I learned early when I got on a ship, if you were a decent guy, they didn’t treat you too badly. It went harder of those who were not decent. In the LaSalle in the bottom of the ship, it would take on water, and then a gate would go down. They had small boats in there like you would see in “Saving Private Ryan”. For crossing the Equator we started on our hands and knees in the bottom of the ship and you crawled on your hands and knees all the way up to the flight deck. All along the way the guys are beating you with shillalas. A shillalas is piece of fire hose, braided canvas and they are whacking on you. You get sprayed down with salt water. On the flight deck there are black chutes full of garbage and other disgusting substances, you have to crawl through this horrible mess in the chutes until you get to the end. I learned early that the more you fight the more they work you over. I did not fight just endured the test. You would keep crawling until you came to “King Neptune” who was the biggest guy on the ship. There was a grease covered object to retrieve from him. Then it is all over. Then after that ordeal is all over, they have a big picnic.
JM:I think you probably watched what was going on and figured out the easiest way to get through it.
JM:That was very sensible. Thank you very much. This has been fascinating. I appreciate your time and your information which you gave me.