The Flywheel

Next Meeting: August 5th

Character education in West County schools

Harlan Kerr, Director of Curriculum for the West Contra Costa School District, reports on the effects of the Peace Rug program in kindergarten and first grade classrooms. The Peace Rug program has been supported by Richmond Rotary for the last two years.

Mr. Kerr will address the broader topic of charactere education in WCCUSD.


Meeting of Friday, July 29th

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

X-Prez Alan Baer rang the bell in EJ's absence and launched the meeting with the pledge of allegiance. George Egan lead the club in a silent prayer for peace and freedom in the world. Henry Kelman’s  advice for today was, “Hold on tight! We’re going over the edge thanks to Republican extremists in Washington.”

Visiting Rotarians

Herb Cole introduced his guest visiting Rotarian Jon Lawlis (ha, ha, ha). Bill Boyd from the Santa Barbara Sunrise club introduced himself.  Mark Lengo was visiting from the Berkeley Club.

Rotarians with Guests

Edgar Deleon introduces his guests including Frank Opelski from the Civil Air Patrol.


  • A sign-up list is circulating for the Tailgate party and A’s game August 20th which ends with fireworks. The exact time for the tailgate party has been set, for 3:30 PM. All members are recommended to sign-up, get in the $25 cost and be ready to bring a grill as well as anything you want to eat grilled. See Alan Baer or Rafael Madrigal for more accurate details.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Edgar Deleon had sad$$ because Armor Lock was leaving Pt. Richmond and relocating to Pinole, but Edgar was happy he and his son will be able to help Alan move over the weekend.
  • David A. Brown Esq. had Happy $$ he was going to be in Maui this coming week.
  • Joan Davis had Happy $$ but  I’m sorry Joan, I missed why.
  • Erle Brown, no David Brown, maybe it was Joan Davis had a lot of Happy $$, $1,600 to be exact donated by remote member Dave Calfee, for the Rotary Foundation, for the club and for the scholarship fund. Rotary thanks you Dave and a hello to Betty!

Norm's Nonsense

"My father was a Democrat and my grandfather was a Democrat and that's why I am a Democrat."
"Well, that's no argument at all. If your father was a swindler and your grandfather was a swindler, would that make you a swindler also?"
"No, that would make me a Republican."


Japanese propaganda flyer stating that "Nippon is fighting for her Oriental brothers from Anglo-American exploitation."

Bombing of Manila by Japanese aircraft

U.S. hostages in Manila

Catholic nuns watching the Japanese occupiers.

U.S. retakes Manila, February 5, 1945.

Jim Young started the program introduction with a pitch for coming attractions: the Chevron Renewal Project (8/12), and two programs on eminent domain and the law (9/23 & 30). If he would have remembered it he would have also mentioned Joke Day (9/2).

Jim then introduced today’s speaker Harry Robinson, a survivor of the Japanese occupation of Manila, held hostage at the Santo Tomas Interment Camp (STIC) during World War II. Harry was a 14 year-old American kid, born and raised in the American Commonwealth of the Philippines, not a solider.

Harry's parents moved to Manila in 1912, when his dad got a job working for US Rubber Company, now Uniroyal. The world changed on December 8th, 1941—corresponding to December 7th on the other side of the International Date Line in Hawaii. Harry recounted his experience with pictures he gathered over the years. A few highlights:

  • Manila was a cosmopolitan city ‘Pearl of the Orient’ in the ‘30s and a great place to grow up.
  • With the beginning of the war in order to save the city from Japanese bombardment, McArthur moved all military personnel to the Bataan Peninsula and declared Manila an Open City. Good for the city bad for the American military.
  • As threats of war circulated in the city before it started, the US administration did not issue exit visas because they did not want the Philippinos to think they would be abandoned.
  • By Januarys 2nd, 1942, the Japanese were ‘knocking on door’, commandeering personal property and concentrating all ‘foreigners’ at Santo Tomas University, the oldest European based university in Asia.
  • The internment camp held a lot of people, many more bed bugs, and very little food. Inmates were allowed to grow gardens, but the food was taken by the Japanese military.
  • Because of the over-crowding at STIC, personal space was defined as the area of a rolled out sleeping bag.
  • People just survived until February 3rd, 1945, when Manila and STIC were liberated by the American 1st Cavalry, and ‘all hell broke loose’.  As the Americans advanced on the university, which made a great target because of its high tower, the Japanese, except for those who had decided to die fighting, withdrew, and the bombarded the university with artillery.
  • McArthur was part of the troops taking immediate control of the University, but he had to withdrawal as the artillery bombardment of the university continued.

Harry’s story ends here as we ran out of time.  We’ll see if we can’t get him back to complete the tale.

- Rotating Editor, Jim Young