The Flywheel

Next Meeting: Friday, February 25

RI Ambassadorial Scholar Addresses Global Trade

Maritime Academy ship

Seoin Moon, RI Ambassadorial Scholar from South Korea and student at the California Maritime Academy, shares insights into global trade.


Meeting of Friday, February 18

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Prez Alan Baer began the meeting ringing the bell and asking Future District Governor Laura Day to lead the Club in the Pledge of Allegiance. Stony Stonework lead us in a moment of silence for Justice, Freedom and Peace around the world.

Visiting Rotarians

Prez Alan again introduced Laura Day noting she will be DG in 2012-13, the same year Jim Young will by Richmond Rotary President.

Rotarians with Guests

Prez Alan then introduced Edgar DeLeon as his guest today. Edgar is a Sales Consultant at CBeyound a business communication company in Walnut Creek. Edgar is also a 2nd Lieutenant in the Civil Ari Patrol – US Air Force Auxiliary in Concord.

Sunshine Report

Bill ‘Mr. Sunshine’ Koziol was happy to report that EJ Shalaby’s wife Jeannine is doing OK post accident and post delivery of their new son and daughter, the as yet unnamed twins. The twins are small at 4 lbs each and will remain in the hospital to gain weight but are otherwise OK. Jeannine remains at UC Medical Center where the post delivery effort is focusing on repairing her fractured hip.

Bill also noted it was good to see John Nicol back at the club as he had been under the weather the last couple of meetings.


  • Treasurer David Brown on behalf of his namesake Erle announced the ‘special deal’ Rotary Foundation Two for One event in which Paul Harris contributions made ON-LINE by Feb. 23rd will be doubled by the Foundation. We hope you already contributed because it takes 24 hours (at least) to sign up if you are not yet on–line with the Foundation and well, it will be too late if you start after reading this.

  • Josh Surowitz announced that March 4th after Rotary the Club will be participating in the the Perez Read Aloud Program and will then past out the Rotary Dictionaries to every 3rd and 4th grader in the school. Please consider participating after coming to the Friday meeting and hearing the Counsel General of Indonesia.

  • Sign-up for Poker Night at Alan Baer’s home on March 11th. Besides the camaraderie and chance to slim down your wallet, the evening will feature ‘Santa’s ribs’ as a dinner treat. All are invited to dinner. Proceeds from the evening will go to Warner’s Fund.

  • Tickets for the 2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day corn beef and cabbage dinner at Hs Lordship’s, hosted by the Berkeley Club are now available at $40 each. St. Pat’s Day & dinner is March 17th . Prez Alan says the Berkeley Club assures everyone that there will be ‘two bars upstairs’ this year.

  • Nick Despota reminded the members to take the on-line club survey which will help the Board of Directors and leadership better plan for the club’s future. Also, bring a guest and prospective member anytime.


  • Joe bagleyVisiting Rotarian Laura Day donated a buck (Happy? Sad? Or just incredulous?) to have this picture she made of Bagley at last year's Christmas party posted here. Yep.
    Joey ‘Baggs’ Bagley took the podium to take up time needed by our guest speaker:

  • First Joe recognized regular member and participant but seldom seen Norm Foley for his 43rd club anniversary. You have probably noticed ‘Norm’s Nonsense’ in the Flywheel and have Norm Foley to thank for it. Joey mentioned that Norm actually printed the ‘old’ Flywheel every week when he ran Crabtree Graphics.

  • Jerry Faegley was then recognized for his 4th anniversary with the club and John Nicole reminded us that it is Jerry’s second 4th anniversary with the club. Jerry also assured the membership that he would get his ‘blue badge’ this year.

  • Joey then asked, “What do Jan Brown, Josh Genser & Mark Howe have in common?” After much muttering and questionable commentary Joey told us they all joined the club on February 15th, which appears to be accurate and the only thing they have in common, except Rotary of course. The trio are celebrating their 9th anniversaries with the club.

  • Funny thing, Joey ‘Joseph Bagley’ Baggs, himself joined Rotary on February 15th, but 20 years ago in 1991. Joey’s eyes got a little misty as he remembered the dark and stormy night he stumbled, cold and thirsty into the Hotel Mac ending his long journey to Richmond from Chicago. Who should befriend him at the bar but none other than Ralph Hill, who refreshed his spirits and probably his glass with tales of Joe’s new promised land, Richmond. Joe acknowledged Ralph Hill as his “Godfather”, and we know that has real meaning for a person from Chicago. To make the point Joey brought in a likeness of the ‘God Father of Soul’, a James Brown doll, who Feel’s Good.

Happy and Sad Dollars

Joey, ignoring the high signs from the Head Table to cut it short so we could get on with our Speaker, then launched into Happy & Sad Dollars:

  • Jon and ErleGreetings from Puerto Vallarta Your Rotary Foundation dollars at work!
    FDG Laura Day, thinking of Erle Brown in Mexico had Happy$$ for the picture on her I-phone of Jon Lawlis and Erle on the beach in Mexico with the, “Whitest legs ever...”. Laura could not find the picture and we are all better off for that. (She did later. But Jon's ears must have been ringing. Wanting to get out ahead of the story, a day later he sent us the unsolicited image and caption on the right.)
  • Leslie Levy had Happy $$ for her son’s recent successful negotiation and avoidance of a $375 parking ticket from the City of San Francisco. Leslie also informed the club that after ‘umpty ump’ years in Richmond she will be relocating her law practice to Solano Ave. in Berkeley.

  • Hank Covell had happy $$. Not sure why. As John Nicol says, ‘Speak up Hank”.
  • Ralph Hill had Happy $$ because John Nicol was back telling everyone to ‘speak up’.

PROGRAM of February 11

Circumnavigating the Earth

Magellan's ship

Introduction of our guest speaker, who really needs no introduction, was briefly interrupted, when a massive amount of verbal abuse was heaped on Program Chair Jim Young about an unfortunate, originally parenthetical, comment and typo in the Flywheel that many took to mean that, ‘they’, not our illustrious speaker Ralph Hill, were going to get, “…2 glasses of wine provided by the Program Chair…”, at today’s meeting*.

Jim Young then introduced Ralph Hill who everyone in the room is already fortunate to know, but, who knew?, that in addition to his epic circumnavigations of Lake Merritt and the East Bay, Ralph Hill is an Officer and a Gentleman, so designated as a Merchant Marine by Kings Point US Merchant Marine Academy and had circumnavigated the Earth on the liberty ship Arthur P. Davis in the middle of World War II?

Ralph began this epic tale recounting his memory of December 7th, 1941, the Day of Infamy, when the naval forces of Imperial Japan launched a sneak attack on the US Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor Hawaii. The sunny, casual, carefree day of a new freshman at Cal. The radio news interruption; The disbelief of his parents and their admonition to, “…not say such things…”, War had begun. Ralph was a frat boy, and remembers a sign on the Sigma Mu House that said, “If you think we’re afraid, consider how our Tokyo chapter feels”.

“Things” began happening very quickly; ‘report for duty’ for all active military; air raid drills, block wardens and blacked out windows; and, the realization that nothing stood between the Imperial Japanese Navy and San Francisco but the high seas of the Pacific Ocean. Ralph was in Army ROTC and did not like the scratchy army uniforms. John Nejedly (future State Senator?) told him about the Merchant Marine so Ralph enlisted, got 6 weeks training at Coyote Point and was shipped off to Wilmington to join the crew of the Arthur P. Davis and begin a trip to the Port of Karachi in British Imperial India. The Arthur P. Davis was flying the “B” flag, a nautical reference to its explosive cargo of 500 pound bombs.

Up to now Ralph’s nautical experience had been limited to trips on the San Rafael Ferry. Now he was on a ‘big ship’ in a very big ocean, contemplating the value of his ‘abandon ship kit’ in the context of a cargo of 500 pound bombs. It would be unfair to say Ralph developed a streak of fatalism in this context but he did recount a rather blissful memory of the trip, until the Arthur P. Davis started to break apart in the Southern Ocean. They had to put into Hobart Tasmania for repairs where our Aussie allies made things ‘shipshape’ again. Ralph remembers Hobart to be a beautiful city and Australian-Tasman women were the most beautiful in the world.

Off to Karachi! Ralph again talked rather blissfully of the journey across the Indian Ocean. Maybe this is because so far they had not encountered any Japanese or German forces and so it went all the way to Karachi. Ralph wasn’t sure where the bombs went but figured they must have eventually gotten into the Chinese theater of war. With its now empty hold, the Arthur P. Davis was a floating opportunity for the War Effort. The hold was filled with railroad rails and they set sail for the Persian Gulf. After being in Karachi Ralph said the Anglo-Indian women were the most beautiful in the world.

The railroad track was delivered to an Iranian port with rail service to Russia. The rails were on their way to the Soviet Union to support the Red Army’s battle against the Nazis on the Eastern Front. The Persian Gulf was hot, dusty and full of flies. Ralph didn’t see any women so he didn’t comment on their beauty given his evolving world view. The Arthur P. Davis set sail again into the Indian Ocean for the Port of Durban South Africa. The Davis was empty save some sea water ballast and bounced around like a cork through the Straits of Madagascar. The crew was on full alert for this trip as they were on the lookout for German Raiders, armed ships camouflaged to look like freighters that would pull alongside and blow you out of the water. (Liliane Koziol told everyone that the reason there were active German naval operations so far away from Europe was because Hitler’s first plan for the Jews was to deport them to Madagascar.) The Davis reached Durban safely and took on a load of coal that was destined for Naples Italy. The Davis made the trip safely into the British controlled Red Sea and through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea. They were ordered to put into Augustus Sicily to pick up Polish soldiers. About the same time the cargo of coal caught fire which apparently was ignored while the ship sailed on to the Naples where the fiery coal was off loading with much difficulty. The Polish soldiers ended up at the Battle of Anzio.

The Arthur P. Davis and Ralph were then ordered to Tripoli Libya to do some spy work. They on-loaded a German Panzer Tank that had been captured in the North Africa campaign and was now bound for New York and a full inspection by military scientists. Ralph did not have fond memories of the Atlantic crossing. The Panzer broke loose in the hold in rough seas and “…damn near went through the side of the ship before it was re-secured.” The Arthur P; Davis, Ralph and the tank all arrived safely in New York where Ralph said he met the most beautiful girls in the world. Ralph went on to Kings Point, after this great adventure and became the ‘certified’ officer and gentleman we all know and love. While Ralph’s story does not end here, the Flywheel does, with a new appreciation for Ralph Hill, Seaman Extraordinaire.

- Rotating Editor, Scribe, etc., Jim Young

PS - After much thoughtful consideration, Program Chair Jim Young sees no reason why an editing fuax pas and lack of intent should preclude Rotary wine consumption. So, as soon as he can arrange a delivery of Ripon Red, Pixley Pink & Bakersfield Blanc de Blanc with Fabrezio, the Fresno turnip truck drive on his next run from Tulare, he will offer, ‘2 glasses of wine’, to all members and their guests at an as yet undesignated Rotary meeting or event. Until then Rotarians are encouraged to consider the phrase, ‘2 glasses of wine’ to have the same precise meaning Americans ascribe to the phrase, ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”.