The Flywheel

Program for September 28th

Virginia Squier, of Speakeasy

This week's speaker, Virginia Squier, has had a long career in helping others develop their speaking skills.

Speakeasy is a firm that presents communication seminars, helping people learn how to talk so others will listen.


MEETING OF September 21st, 2007

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

President Pam Jones rang the bell and called the meeting to order. Rafael Cartagena led the pledge of allegiance. David Brown, in perfect Hebrew (I think?), had a prayer for peace. Henry’s thought for the day was that Yom Kippur was beginning at sundown that day.

Rotarians with Guests

Judy Morgan introduced her guests, Barbara Obele, a 25-year employee of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and also Chris Phipps, Membership Director at the Chamber.

Sunshine Report

David K’s sunshine report had the following info.

  • Werner Schwarz confirmed that Elof Granberg escaped from the care facility and is resting comfortably at home.
  • Don Hardison is also resting comfortably at home following successful surgery on Tuesday as a pacemaker recipient.
  • Joe Bagley chimed in that Don Beaver’s doing ok and should soon be back at Rotary meetings.


  • Liliane Koziol reported that team selection is moving along well for the month-long April-2008 Rotary trip to Madagascar.
  • Herb Cole reported that seven Club members have signed on for the upcoming trip to Monterrey, Mexico. San Pablo Rotary Club President, Bradley Ward, and his wife may be going as well.
  • Judy Morgan encouraged everyone to look in Friday’s West County Times newspaper for the 16-page pull-out section about the Home Front Festival which is only a week away (September 29-30).
  • Rich Brandes reported that a full slate of volunteers have signed up for Rotary-run boat boarding and snack sales at the Harbormaster Building in the Richmond marina area.
  • A number of voices were heard reminding people to sign up for the fabulous $80-per-person dinner and special-bottle celebration at the Hotel Mac on October 2.
  • Many also talked about the good times and camaraderie at the dinner-plus-Masquers-Playhouse event on Thursday evening, September 20. Someone mentioned that Elof bought, somewhat unknowingly it seems, a not inexpensive bottle of wine for something north of $70. But it was really good!
  • Erle Brown made note that, for the October 6 Rotary gathering at Six Flags/Discovery Kingdom, special arrangements have been made for Rotarians not interested to pay full park admission just to hear past Rotary International President, Sabbu(sp?), deliver his inspirational speech entitled “Bread Out of Stones”. Those interested to attend just for the speech should sign up with Erle.
  • David Brown announced that the Club Board voted $750 for Adams Middle School Escape Club, $1000 to Shelter Box USA (disaster aid in single-box packages), and $500 to GRIP. Both David Brown and Jon Lawlis matched the $500 donation to GRIP with personal contributions.
  • Jim Young points out that it’s not too early to make plans to attend the Rotary International Convention in Los Angeles, June 15-18, 2008. On the web site you’ll see the early-bird pricing deadline is December 15. Having grown up in LA with at least three of the other Valley Boys in the Club, Jim assures everyone that it IS a great place to visit! Richmond Rotary will definitely want to have a major presence at this Convention.
  • You know that roast worth a “thousand bonfires” that’s coming up on Nov 2? Well, don’t miss it.

Special Events

Erle Brown made the following announcements about the Rotary Foundation Paul Harris awards.

  • Richmond Rotary is already # 1 in the District with eleven Paul Harris Society members (those who commit and contribute $1000 to Rotary Foundation during one fiscal year, July 1 to June 30). And now Rafael Cartagena is committed to be the twelfth.
  • Tom Bennett was recognized for his first Paul Harris ($1000 to Rotary Foundation) and he’s on his way to his second.
  • Herb Cole was recognized for his fourth Paul Harris.


Margaret Morkowski deftly handled other recognitions.

  • Having missed last week’s meeting, Bob Dabney was asked about his September 9 birthday. Bob shrugged his shoulders and said he doesn’t pay much attention to those B-day things anymore. (C’mon, Bob, you know it’s better than the alternative!)
  • Jim Young had a wedding anniversary on September 12 and a birthday on September 20. He was looking to make a contribution to Club coffers equal to the summation of anniversary years plus birthday years, but then, having forgotten his slide rule, he simply doubled his age and wrote a $122 check to the Club. Margaret complimented Jim on his very courteous son who answered the phone when she made the heads-up Rotary Recognitions call to Jim’s home a few days ago.
  • If I understood correctly, Erle Brown made mention that Margaret, who was born in the same year as Jim but later in the month of September, has already quietly turned in her Paul Harris birthday check (perhaps because she won’t be able to attend next week’s meeting?).

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Tom Butt had happy $$ for the Rosie the Riveter Trust Fundraiser Gala Dinner occurring on Friday evening, September 28. This dinner, the first public event to be held in the newly restored Ford Building Craneway, kicks off the Home Front Festival weekend. Sign up for the $150-per-person Gala dinner at
  • Herb Cole had mixed $$, some for his youngest son, a Special Forces soldier, who’s thrilled to be heading back to Iraq, and some for his oldest son, the concerned father of Herb’s 14-year-old granddaughter who’s about to go on her first date.
  • Joe Bagley was happy about his recent one-week vacation to Grand Canyon and surrounding area, not the usual Chicago vacation destination.
  • David K had “thinly” happy dollars for the 2-0 49er’s who will be playing the Steelers in Pittsburg.
  • Erle Brown had happy $$ in anticipation of next Thursday’s salubrious Contractors’ lunch.
  • Jon Lawlis offered happy $$ for last weekend’s 51st annual YMCA Pancake Breakfast, which was well attended and supported by Richmond Rotary.
  • Sid Chauvin had thinner-than-49er-thin hopeful dollars for the Raiders game against Cleveland.
  • Jim Young provided happy $$ for the successful Council of Industries Shoreline Tour and some positive comments he heard about Richmond from out-of-towners who were onboard.


Beth Hallbert

Bill Hodges on FDR's "Floating White House"

Jim Young introduced Bill Hodges from the Oakland-based Potomac Association, keeper of the USS Potomac, the “Floating White House” for US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). Bill’s been with the Potomac Association for ten years as docent, narrator, speaker, and crewman. He says he also cleans the heads (that’s latrine for Army types, outhouse for old-timers).

There’s a bunch of fascinating history involved with the 165-feet-long Potomac.

  • Built in 1934 as a Coast Guard vessel in Manitowoc, WI (not far from Green Bay, home of the 3-0 Packers), it became FDR’s presidential yacht in 1936.
  • Though it was never fitted for luxury, FDR apparently enjoyed fishing and cruises on Chesapeake Bay as well as the occasional trips up the Atlantic Coast to the Hudson River and his Hyde Park home 70 miles north of New York City.
  • After FDR’s death, President Truman sold the Potomac into the private market and it changed hands several times over the next three decades.
  • Elvis Presley was once an owner but then donated it to Danny Thomas for a St. Jude’s Hospital fundraiser.
  • It was in general decline for several years, was seized in a drug raid in San Francisco, then impounded and moored at Treasure Island, where a mishap led to its sinking alongside the dock.
  • US Customs salvaged it and put it up for auction, the Port of Oakland being the only bidder with a modest sum of $15,000.
  • FDR’s son, James, got involved and petitioned the Reagan Administration for a $2.0 million fixer-upper grant. By July 1988, the Potomac was put on a barge bound for Stockton and a 4-year complete restoration, including installation of new teak decking on the fantail, an accurate replica of the stainless steel bathtub in FDR’s stateroom, new engines, and an operational elevator in the false exhaust stack to replace the rope-and-pulleys contraption that enabled the polio-stricken FDR to move between decks.

Now fully restored and in operating condition, the Potomac’s current home is FDR Pier at the Port of Oakland, where it’s available for dockside tours and history education cruises. Check out the web site for more details.

Richmond Rotary will be in charge of ticket sales for boarding the Potomac while it’s tied up for dockside tours at the Richmond marina Harbormaster building on Sunday, September 30, during the Home Front Festival. All aboard!

- Rotating Scribe: Tom Waller