Life History of Ralph Julius Lauper

Chapter 3c

Unforgettable Characters in my Life

Jack Ricketts vs. Bill Paullman

A brief comparison of the lives of two athletes, whose lives began at roughly the same time as did mine. We all attended Oxnard High School. Jack was an underachiever, who could run faster than anyone else in the school. He was the most' gifted athlete there. Bill was an athlete of fair ability. He was an overachiever, who utilized every ounce of potential he possessed.

Jack and I were not close friends, but we talked to each other, and OH how I envied that boy's ability. Bill, on the other hand, was much quieter and not the particular envy of anyone. We weren't ever close friends but he was much easier to like than was Jack and so he and I did talk a lot. Jack was a sophomore when Bill and I came into school as freshmen. A brief comparison between these two characters is intended to instruct a hopefully interested posterity, concerning the "hows" and "how nots" of personal conduct.

Jack was small, homely and scrawny-looking. He didn't study and cut classes, one after the other. His dress and grooming were not at all acceptable, his speech, and manners less so. Ricketts played football only. His build was so fragile that his legs were perpetually banged up so that he couldn't run on the track team. He broke every training rule there was, and after forty yards of running, he would nearly collapse.

Despite all of this Jack Ricketts, who shouldn't have been there in the first place, was carefully shepherded through high school to graduate. Also, while at school, he became the big man on campus, and seemed to be just as big with all the girls. The rest of us guys envied him.

All of this came to Jack through the use of one little talent, with which he had been born. One talent only! By the time he was 16 years of age, it was the only talent he had left. Jack could run with a football. He could find a hole, a foot wide, through his opponent's line, and dash into open ground with blazing speed. On an end run it was the same thing. He was always good for 40 or 50 yards.

William Paullman was not big nor was he small. He was well-built and rather stocky. Bill was everything that Jack Ricketts wasn't, modest, quiet, good looking, neat in grooming, attractive appearing, and a very good student. Bill was pleasantly friendly but not at all pushy. His speech and manners were impeccable. You would think a guy like that would be every girls dream. The truth was the girls just didn't notice him. His social life was very limited and none of the boys saw anything in him to be envied. All Bill knew how to do was study, work hard and be a nice guy.

Bill went out for football and did nothing spectacular; he played fullback. In those days especially the fullbacks did nothing but block for the "glamour" backs. This position was made-to-order for Bill. He was content to carry the ball a couple or three times per game and played the game the same way he studied -- Hard!

Paullman grew some and continued to work hard at his position. By the end of his football career in high school that hard work had brought All-County honors to him for his unselfish blocking ability. When graduation time rolled around Bill had already several football scholarships offers to major universities from which to choose. For Bill, the selection process became ridiculously easy when Stanford University offered a free-ride Academic Scholarship.

Bill studied Petroleum Engineering at Stanford. Stanford was also at the height of its 'glory years' in football. Future Hall-of-Famers Frankie Albert, Bobby Grayson, Bill Corbus, Bob St. Clair and a host of others, made up the famous "Vow Boys" team of the mid-thirties, who vowed that they would never lose to USC. They didn't. Bill Paullman joined them in the middle of all of this. Bill inherited the starting fullback job in his senior year. Grayson had graduated. It was a fitting end to Bill's football career when, in a hard-fought game against So. Methodist University in the 1936 New Year's Day Rose Bowl Game, Frankie Albert handed the ball off to Paullman, who rarely carried the ball. The game was nearly over with the score nothing to nothing. Bill scored the only touchdown of the day!

How did these two boys end up?

Through the years I saw Bill's name crop up now and then, in connection with something big in the oil industry. A few years ago I read of the retirement of Wm Paullman, Executive Vice-President of some big oil conglomerate down in Lima, Peru.

Jack Ricketts? Well, as few as four or five years after I left Oxnard, I returned there and was unable to find a single person who knew where he was or what had become of him. Few even remembered who he was. The lesson is clear to all.

William Green -1928-1988

Bill was born of humble but good parents in a little Texas community. He grew up a Baptist and received strong parental training about moral values, in the true "Bible belt" tradition. With Bill, however, I always had the feeling that he would be the same kind of guy, no matter where he was born, or how he had been reared. Some men are like that.

Bill joined the Army right out of high school. He applied himself and soon had become specialized in two or three areas, one of which was in survival techniques. He was to use this training during the last part of his 20 years of army duty. He was assigned to work in the Astronaut Training Program while he was stationed at Stead Air Force Base, near Reno, Nevada. He worked with some of the first ones and mentioned such names as: Armstrong, Glenn, Carpenter, Schirra, Slayton, Aldrin, Cooper and Shepherd. He laughingly told of these guys being hauled out into the middle of the desert and being dumped out without anything to get by with, not even a compass. The only thing they carried was a small knife, but no matches. They had to make fire, caveman style. They were told to make their way back to the base. There was Bill, following along in his jeep, stocked with lots of good food--for him only.

They would be foraging under rocks for grubs, ants, bugs and mice, digging up roots and eating cactus to get enough food and moisture to sustain life. Bill would drive into their midst, park his jeep and sit eating good food and telling them, "Gentlemen, this ham sandwich, with lettuce and tomato is delicious, especially when you can wash it down with ice water." (He had milk, water and juices packed in dry ice.) They slept on bare ground under the bushes. Bill had a warm sleeping bag. This went on for days while they worked their way out.

Bill paid tribute to them, saying, "Those were all fine men, and gentlemen. Not one time did a single one try to cheat or ask me for a thing. They were a perfectly disciplined group. All were self-motivated and very diligent in preparing themselves for the unknown. It paid off."

Sgt. Green's last transfer was to the Camp Parks Barracks in Pleasanton, CA. While there he discovered a run down beauty shop in town, which he purchased and quickly converted into a profitable venture. He kept the shop until he retired and then disposed of it saying, "I never did know anything about hair and didn't care to learn." Bill, and his sweet wife Mary, had developed an affinity for the East Bay and decided to settle here with their four children. They bought a home in San Lorenzo where we had also settled upon our return to the Bay Area.

I was running the M.I.A. (which was the Youth program) in the ward. I needed a secretary very badly. The voluminous quarterly report must soon be submitted to Salt Lake and I had been pressuring the Bishopric to sustain another secretary. All my nominations had been rejected for one reason or another. I finally threw up my hands and told them to pick one. They did one week before the report was due. I figured that I'd make out that report and maybe the new man could learn how to do the next one without too may errors. I wasn't optimistic about even that when they told me that the Elders had found and baptized this guy and his family a couple of months previous and they had just moved into the ward.

The Bishop presented the name William Green to the congregation that night and he was sustained. I had never met him. When Bill presented himself to me after the meeting was over, I was certainly not prepared for what I got! Here was an incredibly bright young man with an I.Q. you would just have to realize was way up, upstairs or somewhere. Bill was sharp, very articulate and possessed of a Texas drawl which he wrapped around a delightful sense of humor. He was a very funny man. His handsome face always wore a half smile. One of that kind. My first question when I met him was, "Do you believe this church is true?"

"Yup, I wouldn't have joined up if I didn't believe it."

"Do you know anything about it really?"

"Sure do. Study and prayer always does the trick in such matters."

"Then you feel that Joseph Smith was a true prophet?"

"Of course, he had to be."

"Well Brother Green, I've got an assignment for you that'll tax your testimony. Let's get together Wednesday night and work on this report". He agreed to that and asked if he might take the books home and look at them.

On Tuesday night he phoned and informed me, "This stuff was in an awful mess but I finally got it straightened out and the report is done. It's all ready for your signature." And it was, without even a single error! Only good clerks and secretaries who have knowledge of how shoddy and careless too many of the other kind there are, can fully appreciate what this man, a new convert, had done!

All of the Green family has pleasant singing voices. Mary was passing fair at the piano, as was Janet, the eldest daughter. John, the oldest child, played the guitar very well, younger brother Bill studied the piano and organ seriously, while little Nancy was singing solos at 6 years of age and was ward chorister by the time she was 12. Mary was also an excellent seamstress so Bill Sr. went out and bought himself an electric organ and taught himself to play it because, "I don't want to fall so far behind the rest of my family in the music department."

Bill decided to go to work. He made an appointment with the manager of the big Macy store in Hayward, relative to a job as a clerk there. The intention on the part of the manager was to replace an employee who was scheduled to be promoted. The store executive didn't reckon with Bill's personality. After a half-hour interview he made his decision. He left the other man in his old position and hired Bill to be the manager of the whole sports department. "You don't even play ball" I reminded him. "

Well," he replied. "Mr. Gates says the department needs shaping up so I'll shape it up, then go on to something else." He did and was soon given charge of the dry good department because "They keep fouling it up, and besides it pays more money". I knew that I couldn't keep a guy like Bill as a secretary very long, and I didn't. His assistant at work was having marital problems. Her husband was drinking to excess, their two teenage daughters were going to pot, they had nothing in common and divorce was imminent. Bill told her, "I've got something pretty good going for me and I'd like to come down to Fremont and tell y'all about it." Bill went, converted the whole family, the parents were sealed in the temple and all four became faithful, productive members.

Bill and Mary were also sealed in the temple, but long before they were, Mary was busy in the Young Women's program and he became Elders Quorum President. He really led his Quorum! One Sunday Bill stood before the body of the priesthood to seek out those who would help on a ward project. Many held up their hands in agreement with the call, some even volunteered. At the appointed time, however, the showing was almost nil. This type of thing would have crushed many, especially a relatively new convert, but not Bill. Here was a leader! The next Sunday arrived and Pres. Green again stood up and spoke to the priesthood in definite but fatherly tones.

"Brethren," he said, "When I make an assignment and someone says they won't do it I can accept that. I may not like it but I can accept it. But now Brethren, when I make an assignment and anyone of you says he'll be there I expect him to do exactly as he says he'll do. If he doesn't, then he'll have two people to contend with me and the Lord both. What I'm saying, and I want you to remember this, is when you have a priesthood duty to perform, Brethren, I want you to stand tall! They never did that to him again--ever! Whenever Bill would talk to me or write to me, he would always admonish me, and I him, to stand tall!

Bill and Mary liked the same things. They were perfectly matched and shared a love of travel. They traveled all over on a big comfortable 2-seater motorcycle whenever time would permit.

One day Bill told me that on one of their jaunts up into Oregon, they had fallen in love with Eugene and were going to move there, just like that. They sold out and did it. They converted from a city home to a 15-20 acre ranch with horses, cow, fruit trees and the whole works, including Funk and Wagnall (the two pigs).

Mary drove the school bus two or three mornings per week and Bill dabbled with the Chamber of Commerce. It was during this time that they gravitated into the Motorcycle Club of America and were able to fulfill the lifelong dream of travel and get paid for it.

Bill became an officer (salaried) in the Club and was also a Recruiter and Editor of their monthly bulletin. They each got a bike and would make all rally's and trips, both state and national, maintaining at the same time their testimony and missionary zeal.

The last time I saw Bill was when he dropped into my place of business for a chat. I asked him about lots of things, even about the welfare of his two pigs, Funk and Wagnall. His reply, in characteristic fashion was, "Oh they're fine! In fact delicious, we fed them for a long time and now they're feeding us." The last words he ever spoke to me were, "Stand Tall."

Bill and Mary Green were driving home from a camping trip. Mary was the apparent driver and may have gone to sleep at the wheel in the one-vehicle accident which occurred. Their camper left the road, overturned and this ideal couple who did everything together in life, very nearly matched that performance in death. Bill's beloved Mary was pronounced dead at the scene or on the way to the hospital in Portland. Bill, himself brain-dead and in a coma on life-support systems, survived a year or so until his great heart said, "Enough" and he died.

You often wonder about such things but, as far as I know, the full answer is yet to come.

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