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Adventures with Bill

(adventures)

Personal adventure story #1:

At the time, Bill is living in Munich, West Germany. With his 21st birthday approaching, he feels like creating a special event to celebrate his own coming of age. He devises a do-it-yourself ceremony. The best place for such a ceremony would be the top of a mountain in Austria.

The fact that it is winter does not faze Bill. He takes a train to Reutte, Austria, where he spends the night in a guest house before setting out on the following morning to climb a nearby mountain. The slopes are covered with snow.

It takes Bill all morning and half of the afternoon to trudge up the slopes toward the summit of the mountain. Almost there, he considers making a dangerous ascent up a cliff to the right but then decides it is not worth risking his life to reach the top. As luck would have it, he finds a path on the other side that leads to the summit.

The air is warm, the scene is still. Bill removes his clothes and performs the ceremony. After savoring the moment, he then heads back down the mountain, not yet out of danger. It grows dark. As evening approaches, he reaches a road back to town. Bill picks up his belongings at the guest house and manages to catch the last train back to Munich. By coincidence, Bill’s adventure happened on the same day in February 1962 that astronaut John Glenn first orbited the earth.

This is the first in a series of Bill McGaughey’s personal adventure stories. Bill, a college-prepared idealist, is also someone ready to act upon his ideas even if some of them are unrealistic. In this case, Bill is seeking to find a sign of God through the personal experience of climbing a mountain and conducting a self-initiation ceremony.

 

Personal adventure story #2:

As a native of Detroit who now resides in downtown St. Paul, Bill joins the Young Republican League of Minnesota, wanting to help Michigan’s governor, George Romney, should Romney run for President in 1968. The head of the local club becomes a candidate for state legislature. Bill takes his place when this man resigns from the club.

Bill is a dreamer. While riding on a Greyhound bus, Bill has the idea of organizing a group of relay runners who run a long distance on the highways to promote a particular cause. He thinks this idea might apply to a political campaign. He mentions this idea to the candidate’s wife, who enthusiastically supports it, as does the man’s campaign manager.

One thing leads to another. Harold Le Vander becomes the Republican Party’s candidate for Governor. Bill gains support for his idea from Hap LeVander, the candidate’s son, while on a fundraising cruise on Lake Minnetonka. He volunteers to run one of the legs. Gerald Olson, the campaign manager for Harold LeVander, also endorses the idea.

Since it is Bill’s idea, the Roadrunner scheme becomes his project. He presents the idea to the Congressional District organization of the Young Republican League and receives tentative support. He makes the rounds of local Young Republican clubs, signing up runners. Bill also contacts the College Republicans organization. He receives the list of persons who have given their names at the Republican booth at the Minnesota State Fair. Letters are written to them.

The proposal calls for runners, each taking a half-mile segment, to run from the north end of Duluth down highway I-35 to St. Paul and Minneapolis and eventually reach Fort Snelling where a ceremony involving gubernatorial candidate Le Vander would take place. The relay runners would carry a hollow baton carrying a message written on a scroll. Olson signs off an all aspects of this plan although he wants to know more about the message to be carried in the baton.

Bill composes a statement that portrays the Republicans as a party of honest government and the Democrats as a party that uses trickery and pitches its message to a variety of special interests expecting government to help them. The message begins by observes that the Europeans who first visited Minnesota were looking for the Northwest Passage to Asia rather than being persons interested in settling there. The Northwest Passage proved an empty promise but Minnesota is still a good place to live.

Bill delivers his proposed message to Jerry Olson. Several days later, he receives a message asking that the Roadrunner project be cancelled. The stated reason is that the Democrats have lately become involved in an insurance scandal. Republican Party leaders do not want to draw attention away from that event or risk that their own ventures might fail. Bill dutifully announces cancellation of the Roadrunner project.

Sure enough, the insurance scandal does carry the Republicans to victory in November 1966. Harold LeVander is elected Governor of Minnesota and Jerry Olson becomes his trusted aide. The Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate, also elected, features a bicycle marathon in his campaign.

A year later, George Romney is running for President. His chief rival for the Republican nomination is Richard Nixon. Jerry Olson is hired as Romney’s organizer in the Upper Midwest. Bill decides to approach Olson once again about organizing a relay of runners to promote the Romney candidacy.

Bill has several appointment with Olson to discuss the project but they are each cancelled. He is again scheduled to meet with Olson on Saturday, March 3, 1968, but Romney withdrew from the presidential race on the previous Wednesday.

This is the second in a series of Bill McGaughey’s personal adventure stories. Bill, a college-trained idealist, is someone ready to act on his ideas even if some of them are unrealistic. In this case, Bill is organizing a major campaign activity for the ultimately successful Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota but his far-fetched ideas undermine the project.

 

Personal adventure story #3:

Bill has written and published a book on world history titled Five Epochs of Civilization. The fifth epoch is today’s computer age. Bill coins a Latinized word “Quintepoch” to name the age. He wants to brand his theory of history with that name. This book is published at the turn of the millennium.

On December 31st there will be a special New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square that will attract world-wide media attention. What better occasion could there be for announcing a major advance in our understanding of world history? Therefore, Bill orders a clear plastic sign saying “Now comes the Quintepoch.”

His plan is to arrive in Times Square early and position himself somewhere on the periphery of the crowd. When midnight approaches and the festivities reach a peak, he will hold up this sign as the television cameras scan the scene. Millions of viewers will read the word “Quintepoch”. A new brand will be born.

As luck will have it, Bill wins the drawing for a new television set sponsored by a local flower shop. This ties him up for two hours in the morning of December 31st. Bill then drives from his parents’ house in Milford, Pennsylvania, to Jersey City, New Jersey, where he catches the PATH train to Manhattan.

There is a problem. Although Bill arrives near Times Square around 5:30 p.m., the streets are already filled with people for seven blocks up Broadway. Bill works his way forward from the back of the line but the closest he can come to Times Square is Broadway and 51st street. For the next six hours, he is stuck on the street in the middle of the crowd behind police barricades. No television cameras are in sight.

Bill watches and waits as an electronic sign on the Times Square tower reports the arrival of the new millennium in successive time zones from western Europe to points on this side of the Atlantic. A woman appearing in a fifth-story window of an adjoining apartment building bares her naked breast as the events-starved crowd cheers.

Bill shoots some photographs and takes in the camaraderie of young men and women standing nearby. When he starts to hoist his plastic sign, however, he is shouted down. Bill’s main concern while standing in the crowd for several hours is whether he can hold his bladder.

Midnight arrives in New York City. The crowd goes wild as balloons and confetti descend to the street. After the crowds have thinned, Bill finds his way to a subway station that connects with the PATH train to Jersey City.

Then comes the 80-mile drive back to Milford where, in the comfort of his parent’s home, Bill plops himself in front of a television set and watches reruns of the Times Square scene from five hours earlier.

This is the third in a series of Bill McGaughey’s personal adventure stories. Bill, a college-trained idealist, is someone ready to act on his ideas even if some of them are unrealistic. In this case, Bill is hoping to gain free publicity for a book by hoisting a sign in Times Square in the New Year’s Eve celebration ushering in a new millennium.

 

Personal adventure story #4:

Fresh from a respectable showing in a primary election for U.S. Senate, Bill decides that his next move will be to run for President. He will run as a Democrat.

Bill launches his campaign on June 20, 2003, because the Democratic state party chairs were gathering at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel in St. Paul, Minnesota, to meet the candidates for President. Bill is not invited to participate, of course. Instead, he stands at the entrance to the hotel carrying a picket sign which announces his “politics of two ends: (1) an end to class warfare, especially by the rich, and (2) and end to the politics of gender and race.”

Several hours pass without incident. Then Walter Mondale walks by. An attractive, glamorous-looking woman with a compact video camera asks Bill if this man was Mondale. Yes, it was. The woman runs after Mondale but soon returns. Seeing that Bill is a presidential candidate, she asks about his campaign. Does he have plans? Bill announces that he will campaign in Iowa. “Can I come with you?,” the woman asks. She introduces herself as Alexandra Pelosi, a documentary film maker with HBO who is covering the Democratic primaries.

Although Bill does not know it at the time, this is U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi’s daughter who had made a name for herself producing a documentary on George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000. She now wants to see Bill the campaigner in action.

Alexandra Pelosi finds a young man who is interested in abortion. Bill is asked to declare his position on this question. The man accuses him of encouraging black women to abort their fetuses to control the black population. Pelosi then approaches a middle-aged black woman who is suspicious of Bill’s call for an end to the politics of gender and race. She challenges Bill to give one example of a white male being disadvantaged. When Bill does this, the woman walks away in a huff. Pelosi next finds a young man who has a civil conversation with Bill and says he might vote for him.

Bill’s persuasion average is one out of three. Pelosi has meanwhile been taping his conversations with these prospective voters. Pelosi enters the hotel and comes back with Art Torres, chair of California’s Democratic party. He and Bill have a pointed but friendly conversation. Pelosi then gives Bill her personal email address, promising to stay in touch. She wants Bill to let her know when the details of his campaign activities in Iowa become available.

There is no such campaign. Bill is forced to invent something to sustain her interest. He decides to stage a conversation about race near a river in downtown Des Moines, Iowa’s capitol city. Bill imagines American and Russian soldiers meeting at the Elbe river during World War II. What if the different races similarly met near the banks of the Des Moines river?

For the next month, Bill works more or less full time on the project. He buys a stepladder painted in red, white, and blue as a podium for delivering speeches. Bill drives down to Des Moines to scout the territory. Bill obtains permission to hold his event instead at the Civil War monument near the Iowa state capitol.

When word gets out about this event, a friend of Bill’s named Ed, an African American man, volunteers to accompany him to Des Moines to help make sure there is a balanced discussion in case only white people attend. He would be representing the black point of view. A white man named Randy also offers to go.

A few days before the planned trip, Bill receives this email from Alexandra Pelosi: “I am so sorry to tell you this but it turns out that I will not be in Des Moines next Saturday. I hope that doesn’t screw up everything for you. ” It’s too late now to cancel the event.

The temperature is in the mid 90s when the trio arrives in Des Moines. The parking lot near the Civil War monument has one space left. Bill parks the car in that spot.

It’s time for the debate. Bill goes first. He climbs the flag-themed stepladder and talks mostly about economic issues. A three-minute speech does the trick. Now it is Ed’s turn to speak from the “podium”. He agrees with Bill on most points. Randy then says a few words. Then, wisely, the three “debaters” scrap the rest of the event and walk over to the Iowa state capitol to take advantage of its air-conditioning system.

Under the capitol rotunda, Ed introduces Bill to a young man who wants to talk about politics. The three Minnesotans treat themselves to pop from a vending machine. Though preposterous, the event is now complete. Bill, Ed, and Randy drive back to Minneapolis at a leisurely pace, stopping for a light supper along the way.

This is the fourth in a series of Bill McGaughey’s personal adventure stories. Bill, a college-trained idealist, is someone ready to act on his ideas even if some of them are unrealistic. In this case, Bill is hoping to sponsor a discussion of race in Des Moines as part of his campaign to win the Democratic nomination for President which would be included in an HBO documentary.

 

Personal adventure story #5:

Bill is a member of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations (ISCSC). This organization’s annual conference in 2009 is held at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Bill and a fellow member of the Society drive to Kalamazoo from St. Paul, Minnesota, to attend the conference.

The three-day conference features papers presented from civilization scholars around the world. Bill himself chairs a session. He tries to explain the mechanism for the decay of civilizations in terms of what he calls “self-conscious” thinking. He also befriends an artist from Boston who believes that prehistoric cave drawings were an early form of writing.

In this otherwise staid academic gathering, Bill notices two good-looking, well-dressed women taping the sessions with a video camera. It turns out that they are from a teacher’s institute in Siberia. Bill attends their session which is about moral instruction in Russian schools. The current government of Russia is trying to revive studies in Russian Orthodox Christianity as a means of strengthening Russian identity.

The dormitory arrangements are a problem at this conference. The two sexes have to be lodged in the same building. Because more men than women are attending the conference, some of the male participants, including Bill, have to be placed in the “women’s wing” of the building. The bathroom immediately across the hall is designated as a woman’s bathroom even though it has a urinal while the bathroom in the other wing of the building does not.

Bill is worried about having frequently to use the bathroom at night. The official “men’s” bathroom, which seems more suitable for women, is in the other wing of the building while the one across the hall is officially off limits to men. After someone tells Bill it is all right to use the bathroom across the hall, he uses it without incident for the rest of the conference and even takes showers.

Bill’s friend from St. Paul tells him that some women have been complaining about men using their bathrooms. Bill thinks he is talking about someone else. Then, on the final evening of the conference, Bill again enters the bathroom across the hall. When he looks up, he sees one of the Russian women looking back at him. She seems to be smiling. Bill beats a hasty retreat.

Now the conference is over. Bill and his friend drive back to Minnesota, a distance of five hundred miles. Twenty miles south of Tomah, Wisconsin, there is a loud screeching noise. The car scrapes the pavement for several hundred feet and then comes to a halt in the passing lane next to a concrete construction barrier.

It is a dangerous situation. The friend tries to flag approaching traffic while Bill walks toward a road sign so he can read their location. Eventually, a truck stops to help. The driver attaches a rope from the car’s front bumper to the back of the truck and hauls the car across the highway to the shoulder on the other side as another truck blocks traffic.

When the state trooper does arrive, the friend arranges for a tow truck to move the disabled car to a repair shop in Tomah. There is a further problem: The friend has to be at work at 6:00 a.m. on the following day. Bill borrows the cell phone and calls a friend in Minneapolis. The friend agrees to drive the 160 miles between Minneapolis and Tomah to pick up Bill and his friend.

On the way back to Minnesota, Bill excitedly tells his friend from Minneapolis about the conference. He then realizes that this has been quite an adventure. Not only was he exposed to interesting ideas about civilization but also to the “human” aspect of attending academic conferences.

This is the fifth in a series of Bill McGaughey’s personal adventure stories. Bill, a college-prepared idealist, is someone ready to act on his ideas even if some of them are unrealistic. In this case, Bill encounters personal drama at a conference intended to discuss themes of world history.

 

Personal adventure story #6:

Bill and his wife were considering divorce. When his wife grabbed Bill’s check book and started asking questions, Bill grabbed it back. His wife bit him on the wrist. Bill lifted his arm to get free and may have injured his wife in the mouth. The wife called 911. When the police came, they put Bill in handcuffs and led him to squad car without asking any questions. The police report said that Bill had punched his wife in the face three or four times in a deliberate attempt to inflict physical injury.

Bill’s stay in the county jail was not unpleasant. A friend bailed him out just before midnight as he lay in bed in a group cell. However, the judge had signed an order forbidding him to return to his home or have any contact, direct or through a a third party, presumably until the case was resolved. The temperature was hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit when he was released on the street. Fortunately, the jail gave him a thick overcoat to wear.

Bill stayed at the friend’s house in a Minneapolis suburb for a full month until the date of sentencing. Bill had intended to plead innocent and insist on a trial. Then he heard from his wife’s attorney - she had meanwhile filed for divorce - that his wife was vomiting every day. Bill offered to settle the divorce with a $25,000 cash offer. The attorney said it was not enough. Bill also offered to accompany his wife to China where she had previously received treatment for cancer. To get the case behind him quickly, he pled “guilty - continuance”, which meant that all charges would be dropped if no similar offense were committed within a year.

Bill’s wife showed up at the sentencing hearing to request that the no-contact order be lifted and Bill be allowed to return home. Despite prior assurances, however, Bill was placed on probation for a year. As a condition of his release, he was ordered to attend anger-management classes for up to half a year. Bill’s wife confirmed that much of what was written in the police report was false although she insisted that she had been injured. In any event, Bill was now “in the system”. Allegedly, he had committed an offense against the state and would pay.

 

Personal adventure story #7:

Bill and his wife were considering divorce. When his wife grabbed Bill’s check book and started asking questions, Bill grabbed it back. His wife bit him on the wrist. Bill lifted his arm to get free and may have injured his wife in the mouth. The wife called 911. When the police came, they put Bill in handcuffs and led him to squad car without asking any questions. The police report said that Bill had punched his wife in the face three or four times in a deliberate attempt to inflict physical injury.

Bill’s stay in the county jail was not unpleasant. A friend bailed him out just before midnight as he lay in bed in a group cell. However, the judge had signed an order forbidding him to return to his home or have any contact, direct or through a a third party, presumably until the case was resolved. The temperature was hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit when he was released on the street. Fortunately, the jail gave him a thick overcoat to wear.

Bill stayed at the friend’s house in a Minneapolis suburb for a full month until the date of sentencing. Bill had intended to plead innocent and insist on a trial. Then he heard from his wife’s attorney - she had meanwhile filed for divorce - that his wife was vomiting every day. Bill offered to settle the divorce with a $25,000 cash offer. The attorney said it was not enough. Bill also offered to accompany his wife to China where she had previously received treatment for cancer. To get the case behind him quickly, he pled “guilty - continuance”, which meant that all charges would be dropped if no similar offense were committed within a year.

Bill’s wife showed up at the sentencing hearing to request that the no-contact order be lifted and Bill be allowed to return home. Despite prior assurances, however, Bill was placed on probation for a year. As a condition of his release, he was ordered to attend anger-management classes for up to half a year. Bill’s wife confirmed that much of what was written in the police report was false although she insisted that she had been injured. In any event, Bill was now “in the system”. He had committed an offense against the state.

The consequence of this became clear in January of the following year when Bill was again arrested for domestic assault on totally false charges. Because the arrest involved a violation of the terms of probation, Bill was facing a gross misdemeanor charge which carried up to a year in prison, if convicted. This time Bill pled not guilty, asking for a trial. He also decided to represent himself rather than hire an attorney. A week before the trial, the city attorney dismissed the charges.

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