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I hope you will join in my adventures here in Humboldt County and elsewhere as I explore nature & people.



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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Looking back at the beginning of a career

By the time I got out of the Army my first wife and I had one child with another on the way. We moved from Monterey were I was stationed to San Francisco so I could attend S.F.State University and major in Biology. I got a job working in Walgreens Drugstore on Powell st. in downtown S.F.. After a year I was offered a job as Manager of the Golden Gate Riding Academy in Golden Gate park. It was a job that required dealing with many different personalities of people who rented a stall for their horse at the stables. I also had the opportunity to teach children and adults Western Equitation.
Although I had riden horses as a young man and was confident, I had never taught people how to ride previously. So I went to the library and studied books about Equitation and within a week became an "Expert". Not really but I think the majority of the folks that I taught didn't know the difference. After two years I left the Riding Academy and got my first job in the Biology department working in the stockroom handing out equipment as well as other duties. Since it was only a part time job I found other "moonlighting" jobs as well including working for a Caterer as a Bartender and in the U.C.Medical School Vivarium cleaning Rat cages. Some of my other moonlighting jobs included working for a Commericial photographer processing film in the darkroom; Worked the midnight shift at a large Bank as a Guard; For a brief time I was a Caretaker for Robert Bowman's captive Galoapagos Finches and on one occasion I was hired as a security person for a Rock Concert which was held at the Palace of Fine Arts in S.F. It was during these times that I met new friends who were also majoring in Biology. After graduating with a degree in Biology I took advanced studies. During this phase of my education I remember well getting a call one day from Dr. Hensil who was chairman of the department. He asked me if I would be interested in teaching for Joe Hall as Lab. instructor for a class in Natural History of Vertebrates. Frankly, I was blown away and scared at the same time. After all I had dropped out of a speech class one year because my first assignment was to give a speech. Go figure. In looking back I had always had a fear of getting up in front of people, but then I reminded myself that I did alright teaching Equitation because I had prepared myself. I had taken the class that I would be teaching and earned an A. I knew the subject so I said "yes of course I would be honored to be an Instructor in Biology Dr. Hensil". The experience definitely helped build my confidence and strengthen my knowledge of the subject. I taught another class the following year in Medical Entomology for Joel Gustafson. It was that class that led to my first real job as a Biologist working in the Parisitology section of the George Williams Hooper Foundation with Dr. Frank Radovsky.
It was interesting work which included field collections of parasites and their hosts as well as laboratory preparation of the specimens for identification under a microscope. I learned much about Mites, Ticks, Fleas and parasitic flys.
The job included two field excursions to Baja, Mexico collecting rodents and in search of the Tungid flea, (Tunga monositis). Eventually this job ran out of grant money and I was again looking for a job. A person named Joe Spinelli who I met while at the Riding Academy and later became the head of the UC Medical School Vivarium told me of a job opening.
While Joe was a Veterinary student at Davis he lived in the same neighborhood as Dr. Murray Fowler. He had received a notice that Fowler was looking for someone with my background to assist him in developing a new program in Zoological Medicine in the school's curriculum. I recall meeting with Dr.Fowler and immediately felt comfortable talking to him about the job and what he expected. He called me a couple days later in S.F. and offered me the job. I don't know for sure but I think the fact that I had Eagle Scout on my resume helped me get the job. Dr. Fowler was a Scoutmaster and very involved in the Scouting program in his church. I know that I was very fortunate and blessed with a career doing something I loved. More on that later.

4 comments:

Gella said...

You write very well.

delia said...

Love your blog, I'm looking for the "old" Golden Gate Riding Acadamy(torn down to make a Safeway) it was outside one block from the Golden Gate Park approximately 9th Ave. The place you mentioned in your blog looks like the barn by the Polo Fields and Mounted Police Stable, also places I spend a great deal of time in the 1950's
I would like to find a Photo or information of the place I'm looking for(GGRA)would you know if there are any?
I also like your besfriends(cats) and was happy to see that the Fox you showed was the same thing I have in my backyard(thinking it was a Coyote cause of the grey color) so I learned something from your blog.

Owlman said...

Thank you Gella and delia for your comments. I remember hearing stories about the stables near 9th ave. when I was manager of the GGRA (1960-61). Yes we were behind the Polo Field stadium seats and just east of the Police stables. I am not aware of any photos of the old GGRA.

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