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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

James H. Madden - Fair Oaks

Picture with Gemini Astronauts
There are no books for the rest of my Dad's story, but life certainly didn't stop in 1958 when the family left China Lake and traveled north to Rancho Cordova, just out side Sacramento.  There he took a job with Aerojet General Corp as a reliability engineer.  Over the next twelve years he worked on various propulsion projects for missiles and rockets including the Gemini program.
Aerojet - Rocketdyne Company History
Aerojet - Wikipedi

After a few months in Rancho Cordova the family moved to Fair Oaks, settling on four acres including an almond orchard and a one acre iris garden.  Now, if you didn't grow up on a farm you probably don't know how much work it can be for everyone in the family.  The iris need to be weeded, separated dug for customers and trimmed down before winter.  Almonds need to be knocked, picked up, hulled and sometimes shelled.  A lot of work, but a wonderful place to grow up.

With long hours at work, and some chores only he could do there was no more time for vacations in the Madden household for quite some time.  After some time the Iris were sold off and a neighbor grew vegetables on part of the land. The family quit hulling nuts and workers were hired for the majority of the knocking.  Dad did find time for his great love, autos.  He took up auto-crossing, and many a weekend was spent at a fairground, race track, parking lot and on at least one occasion a hospital, as he pursued the hobby.  When he wasn't racing he was often fixing the cars.  I remember many a broken U-joint along with other lesser problems.  Most of the family ran the other way as he worked on the cars as he wasn't the most patient mechanic.  But I often stuck around and as a result learned a bit about servicing cars and a bit more about the words one probably should say.

Mirella from Rio de Janiero
Life was never dull in the Madden household, there was always something going on. The family took in an exchange student from France and then one from Brazil and then an unwed mother who needed a place to stay. Dad an Mom were active in the Christian Family Organization at St. Mel's Church (or sometimes in spite of the church as the pastor was not fond of the group...or for that matter any of his associates).  They would go off on retreat weekends leaving various daughters in charge.  The whole family seemed to pick up guitars and you'd often hear strumming from one end the house or another sometimes accompanied by Dad's great voice, or whistle.

The family grew changed again.  Two of us married in winter 70-71 and Aeroject moved their propulsion program to Florida.  Dad transferred to the Surface Effect Ship program and in June 1971 the family was off to Washington State leaving two daughters in California and one half way between on Oregon.

 Jim and Colleen - Jan 1971

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It's Christmas Time....

Merry Christmas 

To all my family and fellow Madden research enthusiasts!

"For a faithful picture of past history you need a time exposure." anon

Or perhaps an triple exposure....Here you have an interesting glimpse of the Madden Family Christmas circa 1946.

China Lake 1956

Fair Oaks 1967

South Bend 1949
And A few other family shots over the years.  
Gig Harbor 1979

Wishing you all a fabulous 2015!   
And a little free time to check out your family history here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

James H. Madden - China Lake

Burke Rd. 1958
In 1952, my Dad scooped up his growing family and transported them to the barren lands of China Lake Naval Ordinance Test Station.  Located in the middle of the Mohave Desert the nearest town of Ridgecrest had a population around 2500 in 1952.  It was incorporated as a city in 1963.

Out in the middle of nowhere the family enjoyed the privileges of the officers club...often traversing the short distance from home in a vintage Ford Model A.

Today the house we lived in on Burke Road no longer exists....we think!  Google maps show a vacant street.  No buildings exist.  Is that true?

I arrived in China Lake about the same time as the rest of the family, so this volume of Dad's Story takes on additional voices.... Maura's, mine, and even an apostrophe from Sean who was just a year when we moved on to the next adventure.

Unfortunately, this is as far as we got with Dad's Story, the next chapters will not have his voice, but perhaps his spirit !!

Dad's Story - China Lake.

Mediterranean - Suez Crisis 

China Lake - Official Site
China Lake Museum
A Photographic history of NOTS
The Sidewinder Story
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis 1956
The Suez Crisis - Oxford University
Historical Weather - London Dec 1956

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

James H. Madden - Notre Dame

Some thirty years ago, Dad contacted Notre Dame asking for verification of the fact that he had been an instructor there.  They responded that they had no official documentation of the fact.  I was therefore very pleased when I found a notice in the school newspaper announcing his appointment as a part-time instructor.  How could a University lose the documentation.  Did they ask the archives?  There must be class lists that show the instructors.  

I'm guessing Dad was not a really "popular" instructor.  He firmly believed that if you wanted an "A" you needed to earn it.  None of this grading on the curve where 50% right might earn an "A."  He felt that the students coming on after the war veterans didn't know how to work.  

I remember hearing this many many times as I grew up. It definitely served as an impetus to achieve that "A", without either Dad or Mom stressing that we needed to.  Imagine my surprise when I found my Dad's report cards one day and found more C's than A's.  

Struggling to feed his growing family, Dad not only earned his Master's in Aeronautical Engineering and taught part-time, he also drove a taxi and occasionally played a game of golf with a bit of a bet!  The family struggled a bit but thrived.

Here is the 3rd installment of Dad's Story - The Notre Dame Years.  This volume is heavily annotated by my Mom, Jean Ann English, as it is also her story.  Here my sisters Maura and Colleen first appear in the family story and I am there "almost", arriving less than a month into the next adventure.

The Notre Dame Years

Notre Dame Archives- Vetville
Vetville Revisited
University of Notre Dame Archives on Facebook
Hesburg: A Biography

White Sands - 1950 Missile Launch
White Sands - Missile Range History
US Navy at White Sands

Bendix Corporation - Wikipedia
Center for History - Bendix