Robert Ascott

Profile Updated: November 13, 2017
Class Year: 1964
Residing In: Austin, TX USA
Spouse/Partner: Virginia Hauser
Occupation: Management-Technologist
Children: Sharon (1976)
Brian (1978)
Elizabeth (1980)
David (1985-2009)
Grandson - Quentin (2011)
Granddaughter More…- Lauralin (2013)
Yes! Attending Reunion
Comments:

Looking forward to attending 100th Gala. Arriving Friday, leaving Monday. Any other activities going on that weekend?

Comments section includes:
bio
start of anecdotes

Anecdotes continued in "School Story" section

School: UWM, UW-Madison BSEE 68, MIT MSEE 69; currently Phd candidate Univ Texas Austin.
Family: Married '72, 4 children; divorced 94; married 2005.
Career: Started IBM 1969, Designed computers, found 'Peter-Principle' executive management, Left 1992; retired. Small software company in Chicago 93-95; Dell in Austin, Tx 95. Management and technology consulting specializing in Lotus Notes 97-present.
Nomadic behavior: Madison, WI, Cambridge, MA; Yorktown Hts., Carmel, Kingston, NY; Charlotte, NC; Boulder, CO; While Plains, NY; Chicago, IL; Austin, TX

Activities: Handball, Softball, Accordion, Amateur Radio, Volunteer church work, Networking groups.


Why would I travel 1000 miles to spend an evening in a town I have not seen in years and with very large group of people who I either haven't seen in 45 years or have not have met at all?

I'm sure there are many answers to this question, but for me it has a lot to do with connecting with myself. The years of 7th through12th grade were some of the most influential years of my life. Coincidently they were enjoyable for me. Sure, I learned a lot more academic and life experiences later, but these years formed my outlook on life, relationships, and my environment.

Some people are able to connect with their formative years through siblings and other relatives. Others still live in their original communities. As an only child whose parents both passed 20+ years ago, and with no ties to Milwaukee; functions involving reuniting with my high school years are important to me.

No, my goal is not to relive "those thrilling days of yester-year." However, I hope to connect with a group of people who shared some similar life experiences and to see how they have dealt with both the common challenges and opportunities along with some special experiences that have molded each of us.

The following is a set of anecdotes that I recalled one afternoon while thinking about the100th anniversary celebration.

I do remember the 50th anniversary of WHS. I was a 'green' incoming sophomore in 1961 when I read about the grand celebration. Since I could barely find my way around this new school, the significance of this even was totally lost on me; just like this 100th anniversary would be lost on the sophomores of 2011.


Some of my fondest memories during my 3 years at WHS occurred in room 111-A, the audio visual room. As leader of the AV team during my senior year, I was able to have 111-A as my homeroom and general WHS hangout. I developed the habit of arriving early at school and often stayed very late. We set up equipment, fixed stuff, and supported the school's productions. In stereotypical fashion, there was a guy and gal from each year. The ladies were identified as 'secretaries' and were responsible for the administration. The guys were responsible for the operations. Our equipment was vacuum tube amplifiers, reel-to-reel tape recorders and an actual record cutter where we would make records of WHS performances for selected individuals. The faculty advisor was Mr. F. Edward Angelbeck who taught machine shop classes and who gave us free reign of the operations.

I remember taking a typing class at WHS. In the 60's there still was significant gender based job identification. I recall being one of very few males in this class, as secretarial skills were associated with females. Our typewriters were the old manual contraptions, with some having all blank keys. This skill served me very well through college years, and made me much more effective in using computers as I am doing right now preparing this document.

One of the special experiences at WHS during the early 60's was swim class. Everyone had to take gym and one of the semesters swim class was assigned. The men's pool was adjacent to the locker rooms and had to be about the size of a handball court - 20 feet by 40 feet. (Ya, feet - this was an oversized bath tub). There was a deck on the back and right side and straight walls on the left and back end. It was 5 feet deep at one end and 3 feet at the other which made water polo games interesting at best. Perhaps the most interesting point of this class was the bathing attire. Picture about 30 young men standing by the side of the pool all wearing the single piece of clothing that was allowed/required for WHS swim class: a little rubber bathing cap to keep the greasy kid stuff from our hair out of the pool water!

On a more serious note, I recall Mr. Archie Hecht who taught our swim class. In addition to teaching us how to use a towel to properly dry out backs (which later helped in dancing the Twist), Mr. Hecht talked about how it was not only important to exercise at our young age, but that keeping up an exercise program in our older years (like 30's) was also important. I took that advice and though I did not participate in high school sports, today a good week is softball league on Sunday and then handball games on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I picked up handball in grad school and can play with the young members of the UT handball team where I am the oldest on the court by a factor of 3; or with some of my peers where at times I am the youngest player on the court. The best thing is that most all of these games are competitive and great exercise.

I remember Mr. John Bruggink's chemistry lab. Most importantly I remember November 22, 1963 while we were creating some micro analysis chemical mess when the announcement came over the PA system that President John F Kennedy had died.

Miss Louise Braun's senior English class was an experience. I learned how to do a term paper with a level of discipline which I do not believe I ever applied to another project. I reused the topic in a college history paper and have written many papers since and look back on the training I received. If there was a miss-spelled word or a sentence fragment, the paper was automatically graded an "F." As bright whiny college bound students were apt to do, some of us complain that these standards would affect our college entrance capability. I clearly remember her response: "I'm not worried about you getting INTO college, I'm worried about you STAYING in college." With a fair amount of college experiences, I now certainly understand her comments.

I was the type of kid who built radios and audio gadgets even in elementary school, so I loved the science and math aspects of WHS. Ms. Ellen Mannix taught me that advanced math can be not only interesting but fun. Now computer skills including programming and some design I expect is common in a high school education. However in the 60s this was an abnormal interest. I was encouraged to participate in the1963 Milwaukee Science Fair, and created an exhibit titled "Components of Computers." In consisted of a single "Eccles-Jordon Bi-stable Multivibrator" which sounded impressive, but is now commonly called a flip flop and the computer on which I am typing probably has over 1 million of them. The other components were the explanation of a multiple switch light as an exclusive-or gate and finally a simple analog computer multiplier. This now trivial exhibition achieved 2nd place in the Math category. Mr. Suchy explained physics in a manner for me to commit to career in electrical engineering.

School Story:

This is a continuation of the comments section where I started a series of anecdotes:


As a techy in high school and later an engineer, my appreciation of fine arts might have some room for improvement. However as a member of the AV team, we participated in all the rehearsals for the Tonia Toppers programs, and I can still recall the musicals presented in the 1961 show. Ms. Georgia Ganos led this group, and I was amazed at the talents of my fellow classmates. I learned and enjoyed these Broadway musicals which still ranks very high on my music preferences. Also, WHS had a real live pipe organ in the auditorium. Mr. Erdman played at pep rallies and shows and I developed an appreciation for organ music which I still hold today. Restaurants in Milwaukee often had organ music, and several had pipe organs. I recall visiting in the 70's where 4 places were serving pizza and pipe organ. I plan on this visit to see the Organ Piper Pizza restaurant on the south side to hear the 30 rank pipe organ on Friday and or Sunday nights.

Hiking to school was a part of the daily routine. I lived just outside the WHS area, 2 blocks north of Capitol Drive. The walk was 2 miles each way and was a great way to start and end the day. A friend and I walked together in the morning each day for the three years. I recall that if the temperature was below -15 schools would be closed, and that did occur a few times. But snow or rain didn't bother us as we were into the scouting/backpacking experience and were participating in the macho experience. On the serious side, I believe those days of walking has a lot to do with the great health I am experiencing at age 65.

My first semester at WHS found me taking a Woodshop class. There I learned the safe way to operate some very dangerous machines, and expect that is how I have maintained the integrity of my body with the same set of machines around my house. The cutting board, magazine rack, and coffee table are still in daily use in my house in Austin.

Oh ya, the German club. I started playing the accordion in a very early age; gave it up, and the started again in Jr. High school. I recall bringing the contraption in for some German club event. Back in Milwaukee, learning the accordion at an early age wasn't all that odd. Today when I play, I do get a lot strange looks, and hang with mostly older folk, but it is something I enjoy and will continue.

Diversity is a topic that all people must deal with and having experiences early in life help future years. In my class we had almost no racial diversity which might have offered challenges for me in later years. However WHS was blessed with religious diversity where a significant portion of the student body were Jewish. With any differences, there were opportunities to discriminate and also opportunities to learn and enjoy each other. I developed friendships, understanding, and respect for fellow students as I had the opportunity to share ideas and compete in academic pursuits, and for this I am truly thankful.

For me, high school years combine both Junior and Senior high schools. Jr. High school had an even closer touch with the faculty and I would be remiss in not recognizing Miss Martha Ross and Mr. Willard Schultz for their contributions to my life. The only sadness is that I did not take the opportunity to express these thaksx directly. Willard Schultz made science fun, and developed in me the passion for learning. He taught taking notes and applications of science that made even some college courses more understandable. Miss Ross had that stern motherly approach to guide young minds. I clearly remember noon time dance lessons for us clumsy boys which formed my total training in dance until having to learn the Texas two-step a few years ago.

Although I did not participate in high school sports, the sport environment of Milwaukee was a key part of my life. Milwaukee was the recipient of the first franchise move of a major sports team when the Boston Braves arrived in 1953. Following the Braves became a passion of mine and all most of my friends. The success of the Braves set the stage for the series of moves of professional teams throughout the years. I recall trips with the kids and mothers in the neighborhood where we would take the bus, and street car to the stadium for a upper deck seat at County Stadium. Baseball excitement was falling during my high school years, so they moved to Atlanta. By the way, the old Milwaukee Hawks basketball team also ended up in Atlanta after their stay in St. Louis. Finally during my high school years the Green Bay Packers started on the winning streak that became a passion of my college years. I still follow both the GBP and my alumni UW teams.

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