Tales from a Grandfather

Front Cover
Dog Ear Publishing, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages
Bill Ball was born in Oakland, California on June 21st, 1915, but since his parents moved to Wheatland before he was a year old, he always considered that small farming community his hometown. Wheatland, population 500, forty miles north of Sacramento, was an ideal place to grow up. With fields, pastures, woods, and the Bear River close by, plenty of adventures could feed the imagination of a young boy. A deserted cabin discovered in the woods became a castle for Bill and his 11-year-old pals. They learned to swim in the river, drying off on the warm sand bar, then seeking shade under the willows. Chores included lawn mowing, hedge trimming, wood gathering, or helping in the machine shop and gas station. Attending high school during the Great Depression, Bill saw first hand how Wheatland residents struggled to maintain a decent living. Graduating in 1933 with a class of fourteen ended what had been an idyllic adventure and it was off to the big city, Sacramento, to study engineering. College opened up a brand new world as he studied descriptive geometry, calculus, land surveying, and mechanical design. Bill's talent for music found expression in a dance band, where he played saxophone and clarinet. After completing the program in Sacramento, Bill moved on to Berkeley to attend the University of California, furthering his engineering studies and still playing the sax. Spending summers working survey parties and having part-time design jobs prepared Bill for his first post-college career assignment. Going to work for the Henry J. Kaiser company in 1938, he took a giant step, relocating to Mason City, Washington where Grand Coulee Dam was being constructed. Leaving a fiance behind in Oakland was tough, but the starting salary was persuasive and the opportunity priceless. Thus began a forty-year engineering career that took him all across the United States and around the world. The war years found Bill back in California working for Kaiser in the Richmond shipyards where more than 400 ships were built in 4 years. He married Helen Hederman in 1940, and their two daughters were born in those lean but exciting years. With civil and mechanical professional engineering licenses in hand, Bill embraced every new challenging assignment from dams to dredging, from automobile plants to aluminum smelters, from water reservoirs to rapid transit systems. He started as a junior engineer and was Vice President and Chief Engineer with Kaiser Engineers and Constructors when he retired in 1979. In Tales from a Grandfather, dedicated to his two granddaughters and their grandmother, Bill relates stories of his boyhood, college years that were filled with learning about engineering, a joyous career that took him around the world, and the love he and his wife shared during 64 years of marriage. Bill still lives in Oakland near one daughter and granddaughter, meets regularly with colleagues from Kaiser, and is currently working on developing several short stories and a novel."
 

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Contents

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