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Sunday, August 30, 2015

To All Radio Hams , 73 from Mac

I am the son of Dugald Stewart McDougall, 1916-2007, W9CVQ, briefly W2VKQ (while living for a time in New York immediately after WWII), then W9IV, continuously licensed and on-air from age 13 until  only months before his death.

One of my New Trier High School classmates, Lynn David Newton, happened to mention in Facebook this week that he had been a member of the NT Amateur Radio Club back in our years there (1957-1961).  Reading his comment reminded me af a story that my dad (known as "Mac" to all his ham radio friends) once told me about the role played in his (and my) life by his hobby.  The story seemed a bit lengthy for posting in Facebook, so I decided to share it here.

Mac grew up in Indianapolis, the son of a railroad freight agent and a high school math teacher.  He was a precocious lad, and in those days such kids were encouraged to advance as rapidly as their abilities allowed.  Hence, Mac started as a freshman at the University of Chicago when he was 15.  There he met my mother, Carol Brueggeman of Chicago, who was starting in the same year, 1931, at 16.  Carol graduated with a degree in English in 1935.  Mac entered a six-year program which resulted in his graduating in 1937 with both a BA from the liberal arts college, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School.  They were soon married, and Mac started to work at a law firm in Chicago.

Then came Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.

Two other life-changing events occurred that month for Mac and Carol.  Carol discovered she was pregnant (with my older brother), and Mac enlisted in the U. S. Navy.

After going through the Navy's Officer Candidate School, Mac attended the Communications School.  Commissioned as an Ensign and a communications officer, he got wind of an upcoming entrance examination for a new and top-secret program called The Radar School.  Mac asked his commanding officer if he might take its entrance exam.  He was told, "Sorry, Ensign McDougall, but that school is reserved for electrical and electronic engineers, and you are a lawyer with a history degree."

"Well, Sir" Mac said, "As it happens, I have been a ham radio operator since 1929, and have built all of my own radios.  I believe that I understand the theory."

His commander relented, handed Mac a book, and said, "Very well, I shall put your name on the list.  The exam is tomorrow at 08:00."

The Radar School was taught at Harvard and MIT, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Having passed the entrance exam, Mac succeeded in the Radar School, served six months as radar officer on a subchaser, escorting convoys from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where they would be joined by the larger destroyers (DDs) and destroyer escorts (DEs) for the voyage to England, while the subchasers would return to Boston, or to their other home ports on the East Coast, to escort the next convoy.

Mac's next post was as commanding officer of the Radar Repair Squadron at Charlestown Naval Shipyard (now the home port of USS CONSTITUTION, "Old Ironsides" of War of 1812 fame).

At some point in 1943, Mac was ordered back to The Radar School as an instructor, and that is why my birth address was 18 Mellen Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  I was born on August 25, 1943, at the Chelsea Naval Hospital, just a few miles from MIT.

So, classmates Keith Bellairs and Lynn Newton, that is the story I wanted to tell you.  May God bless us all, and may God rest Mac, and may God save the United States of America, and human freedom on Earth.

I can almost hear my Dad signing off: "73s, Old Man! William Niner, Charlie, Victor, Queen, signing off and shutting down!"

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Birthday Boy Says, "Thanks to All!"

It has been a heartwarming birthday.

I spent a lot of today on Facebook, trying to acknowledge the many warm greetings I received from friends in several parts of Europe, in India, and here in America.

Then there were five birthday calls which came in by telephone:

Son Jesse called from Vermont, and
Son Jamie called from Florida.

Daughter Piper was in touch on Facebook.

Brother Bob sent an E-Card.

And there were many, many more wonderful wishes sent my way today.

All in all, I felt a lot of affection today.  

Thank you, my dear friends, and beloved family!

You have warmed my heart, and encouraged me to face the years to come.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

71 is Prime

In three days I shall turn 72.  I am not at all sorry to do so.  In fact, given my general good health, I must express my gratitude to God for keeping me around for six dozen years.  (Given my many risky pastimes, it has been far from a sure thing!)

But I shall always look back on my year at 71 as a special one, for which I am especially grateful.

In the fall of 2014 I taught my final course in International business in the MBA Program at Plymouth State University.  It went very well.  Then, in December, our grandson Angus was born over in Vermont to our daughter-in-law Cally (ne Wheeler) and  son Jesse McDougall.  Also in December, I flew to Cluj-Napoca to spend the Holidays in Romania, visiting many dear friends there, and staying in the home of the Family Bogdan, generously opened to me by friend Lucian and his parents.  My visit in Romania lasted until 3 January, including calls on friends in Oradea, Ocna Sugatag, Suceava, Iasi, and Vatra Dornei, as well as in Cluj.

On 2 January, while still in Romania, I received my final paycheck from Plymouth State, meaning that my retirement from my full professorship was at last final.

On 3 January I flew from Bucharest to London, and back over the Balkans to India, landing on the 4th in Bangalore.

From 5 January to 24 February I co-taught International Business to the Class of 2015 at XIME, a distinguished graduate school of business in Electronics City in Bangalore.

While in India, I served for three busy days as chairperson of an ACBSP Site Visit team at a business school in Vadodara, in northwestern India.

Returning to Boston late in February, I made it a point to drive to Florida to see Killian James McDougall, another new grandson, born to Amy, Jamie's wife, on 16 February.  Shirl was not up to this trip, so I drove the 3,000 mile round trip, solo.  On that visit, I was also able to see my eldest son Brian for a lunch in Delray Beach, stopping in to visit my friends the Starrs in Port St. Lucie .

The next month, I flew on Southwest, again by myself, out to see my daughters Piper and Christal, and to see my granddaughter Hannah Lehmen perform in a community theater production of Victor/Victoria, in Boulder.  Piper was still in Aspen at this time, giving me a chance also to visit my niece Talya (my brother Bob's daughter) and her newborn daughter, my grandniece Eden, in Breckenridge.

In May, Shirl and I drove together back to Florida, to introduce her to Killian, and to see Jamie, Amy and Brynn, our two year-old granddaughter,  Our main mission on this visit was to look into the possibility of finding a rental property or second home in Florida.  (After spending one of the coldest winters on record in New Hampshire without me there to stoke the fire, Shirl declared her intention of becoming a "snowbird," wintering hereafter in Florida.)

Our next excursion was last month, when we visited Colorado in the company of Andrei Lukacs, our 15 year-old guest from Oradea, Romania.  This time we all drove west together, as described in an earlier post.

So, I have lived my seventy-second year fully, at age 71.  I am happy.  I expect my next year to be less hectic.  There is something calming about 72, with its lots of even factors.

Monday, August 17, 2015

My 2010 Speech at the 50th Anniversary of Fulbright-Romania

Here is the talk I had intended to give at the ceremony in Bucharest on 3 June 2010.  As it happened, I lost the printout in my briefcase, and ad-libbed my part of the program. (I am told that the gist came through.)

Professor Duncan McDougall:

It was an unexpected honor that, on my six week holiday in Europe, which I am taking in recognition of my semi-retirement from Plymouth State University, I would be invited to speak in this distinguished company.  I am humbled. I will attempt to relate a little of my sense of the importance of Fulbright in my life. My tone will have a personal touch, like that which I heard from the minister of higher education earlier this morning.

I was in Florida in the summer of 2007 attending to my 91-year-old father, who was in his last months, when I received a telephone call from my University asking me to apply for a Fulbright scholarship to teach in Romania. When I told my dad about it, his words were: “Oh my God, son, Romania! Isn’t that wonderful?” So, my Fulbright experience began blessed, and it has, indeed, been blessed.

I knew very little about this country when I applied for the Fulbright. I knew that Romania had suffered under 40 years of communism, I knew that it was still, by reputation, among the poorer of the European nations, and I knew that it had recently become part of the European Union. That’s pretty much all I knew. I also was aware of a cooperative agreement between Plymouth State University, where I teach in New Hampshire, and Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj. And, some of the professors who had come back from visits to Babes-Bolyai had spoken of Cluj as a very beautiful city. So when I was asked by my vice-provost to apply for this Fulbright, I did so willingly.

Now, I’m going to bring my perceptions into the present.

One of the things I learned in Cluj was that my Romanian students (contrary to the conventional wisdom that they would expect their professor only to lecture, and would not want to speak in class) responded with enthusiasm to my method of teaching, which is based on my multiple years as a student at Harvard Business School.  My teaching is heavily case-based, wherein the students read case studies of real business situations, do their independent analyses of those situations, and in class discuss the cases. In this pedagogy, participation and dialogue between professor and the students, and among the students, is absolutely essential. I learned in my first class as I read a short case, in segments, from the podium, that the students were eager to participate, and that they enjoyed doing so.

During my Fulbright year, I also did a bit of touring around Romania, and in the process learned a good deal more about your country.  To illustrate, let me ask you, how many of you have accounts on Facebook?  As I thought, there are a good number of hands in the air. On Facebook, how many of you are aware of the “Let’s Improve Romania’s Image” cause? [Only two or three hands are raised.]  Well, shame on the rest of you!  There is such a cause, it is run by a gentleman in Brasov named MORARESCU Claudiu. On that cause’s page I recently read a post by one Vincent Kuiper recommending that Romania emphasize its “beautiful girls and cheap beer” to attract student visitors to the country, whom he feels may one day become investors.  In response, I posted the following message:

“Vincent Kuiper may have more marketing insight than I, but as a 66 year-old American who spent the 2008–2009 academic year teaching in Cluj-Napoca, and travelling throughout Romania, I have another perspective.

The Romanians are hospitable. The Romanians are diverse. The Romanian countryside is spectacularly beautiful. Romania is rich in both culture, and cultures, having had in its history influences of the Greeks, the Romans, the Mongolians, the Turks, the French, the Germans, the Russians, the Serbs, the Austrians, the Hungarians and God only knows how many others. Rural Romania, especially in the North and Southeast is characterized by family farms still being farmed with human and animal muscle. The haystacks and stork’s nests are models for the illustrations I saw as a child as my mother read to me from Grimm’s Fairytales. Romanian education is excellent. My university seniors, in the English line at Babes-Bolyai University were well-read in the classics, competent in mathematics, and a delight to work with. If Romania has a long term problem, it is that the country’s business community is not yet large enough to employ all of the qualified graduates of its many fine universities. Talent-seeking foreign companies would do well to invest in such a country.

Romanian culture is colored by the religious traditions of the Romanian Orthodox Church as well as by the Roman Catholic Church, and this fact has lent a strong sense of values to the majority of Romanians. The 40-year nightmare of communism was unable to kill the Romanian spiritual core, hence Romanians appreciate their freedom, perhaps more than do we who grew up taking for granted freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free elections and freedom of religion. Romania still has its share of problems, of course, but in my view it is about to soar into prominence as a productive and culturally advanced member of the European Union in which old Europe’s charm and work ethic still prevail.

Yes, Vincent, the Romanian women are self-assured, confident, and many of them are very lovely. And yes, a bottle of Ursus Dark is only one dollar in a pub.  But those facts are but surface decorations on this emerging jewel of a nation.”

(Delivered in Bucharest, Romania, 3 June 2010)

A Facebook Post that Got me Record "Likes" (plus some pictures)

My wife, my family, my friends, my profession, my travels, my sports, my laughs! All these and more flood my mind as I contemplate having but ten days till I shall celebrate having breathed Earth's air for years three-score-and-twelve. I have not deserved such a life, but I shall be eternally grateful to God for it. Shirley, you deserve very special thanks. I do not know how you have put up with me. Let this message be your sincere and public thanks from your husband. I love you.
Shirl, in Florida on our spring break trip with Valer Șuteu

My youngest son alex, 30. (Photo by Erin Paul.)

A  Baby Grandchild (Is this Brynnie?)
Holding Angus along with son Jesse, 36.

Valer and Shirl on that beach in Florida.

Cally and Angus

On a visit with Joe McCloskey, 90+. in Evanston, Illinois.
My beloved Shirl on Jamie's pond-side lawn.

And a few pictures taken in Romania!

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Patriotic Weekend

Needless to say, I am an American.  Yesterday morning, I watched "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" on TV.  It is a movie about the Doolittle Raid of April, 1942.  (If you do not know this story, I suggest Googling "Doolittle Raid.")  The movie was made in 1944, while World War II was still raging, in both Europe and in the Pacific.  It starred Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson.  I had not seen it in many decades, if indeed I had ever watched it in full before.  I found myself sitting there, in my living room, weeping uncontrollably.  I must have cried for at least ten minutes.

I was born one year before that movie was made, in a U.S. Naval hospital.  My Dad was a Lieutenant in the Navy. Last year, Shirl and Alex and I traced her father Basil Kimball's path from Normandy on D-Day to Merseburg, south of Berlin, where he was on VE Day in 1945.  The movie made me realize what our country and her Allies went through in that great and horrible war.  I wept for them, and for the postwar fate of the Chinese, who rescued many of the crewmen of Doolitte's Raiders.  I wept for the changes in the ideals of Americans,  I wept, I guess, the tears of an aging patriot.

A bit later yesterday, my U.S. Marine veteran friend Merlin Bianco posted the video below on Facebook, and I shared it, with these comments:
"My country 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring!"
We all knew that song, and "God Bless America."
How many of our school kids could sing "God Bless America" today?
Is it even legal to teach it in school?

(Please click this link: