Part Two: Grandfather’s Story

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A corner of Dave’s current studio in Portland.

Before the war I was an avid hunter. An incident after I got home changed that.

I was standing pressed against a tree with my 30-30 rifle hanging from my right hand. It was fall and the first day of deer hunting season. It was my first hunt. It was a beautiful day. The fall sun was shining brightly, but it was a cool fall day. The leaves were turning in a kaleidoscopic array of colours. The birds and squirrels were scampering about getting ready for winter. A squirrel ran up the tree I was leaning against, inches from my nose, carrying a large acorn to ferret away somewhere. There was a chill and a slight breeze in the air. It was a very peaceful pleasant experience. I could see the river through the trees on the hillside. There was an occasional fish breaking the surface after a fly or a bug. There was a bald eagle circling slowly on high. One of those fish was going to be its dinner. It broke into a screaming dive and grabbed a large fish as it surfaced and flew away with the fish flapping in its claws. It shattered the tranquility in my mind.

And then I noticed some movement on the other side of the clearing. It was a small doe and then followed by several larger female deer. It was a very beautiful sight. I was down wind: they would not smell me. They would not notice me unless I moved. I remained motionless. One small doe came up to the tree I was standing behind and rubbed its back against the other side of the tree. I was inches away from it. It bounded away on stiff legs as deer are want to do when they play. All of the other deer joined in. Their hooves made a muted drumming sound as they hit the ground. It was like a Bambi tap dance with its own background music. I noticed another slight movement on the side of the clearing and then a rack of horns appeared. This was a buck with a large rack. This is what I was after. The buck walked cautiously in my direction. Then he began striding rapidly with his head high and nostrils flaring. He was intent upon selecting one of those does to mate. I slowly raised my rifle. I shielded from his view by the tree. When I slowly started raising the rifle along side the tree he noticed it. He had still not become aware of me. When I pointed my rifle at him he stood still. I was so nervous the rifle was shaking like a twig in the breeze. He stood for a moment as if to challenge me, and then quickly bounded off  when I tried to move my head from behind the tree to get him in my sights. His white tail was flashing. I could almost hear him laughing at me as he went. All the other deer bounded off with him. The massive array of white tails, brown butts and fallen leaves flying was like a surreal collage in the autumn’s soft pastel of hues and colours.

My father came by. It was lunch time. “I just saw a great big buck high tailing down the hill with a lot of does. Did you see him? How could you have missed him?” my father asked. I hung my head and said nothing. He cuffed me gently behind the head and said, “don’t worry Dave, there will always be a next time.”  I never hunted again.

After the war, I studied Physics, concentrating on orbital mechanics, optics  and photography. After graduation, I served as a scientist with the Air Force developing satellite cameras and digital techniques to map the world with photography recovered from cameras in orbit.  This was part of the effort to provide accurate targeting data for the nuclear missile standoff with Russia.  

This was the very exciting time of sputnik and the race to space with the Soviet Union. The competition was intense. The United States was concentrating on more sophisticated smaller missiles to get launch satellites. The Soviet Union built much larger, less sophisticated rockets. That resulted in the Soviet Union succeeding in being first in space.

The United States had many frustrating launch failures in the debugging of their systems-the Soviet Union did not. The first Soviet Sputnik was a shock to the United States and it was dramatic to me personally. I was driving home on the NYS Thruway on a Friday night.  Suddenly I was surrounded by police cars-lights flashing, sirens blaring. I stopped my car.  They pulled me out and put me in one their cars, pointing up to the sky as they did.  I knew what they meant-the Russian Sputnik was up there. No matter that it was a simple gadget. It was Russian and it was orbiting the earth. All of my associates were getting the same treatment all over New York. We were taken back to the Rome Air Development Center and spent the weekend being briefed and castigated on the situation. It was the same all over the United States. I later worked with the Research division of CBS to develop Spy in the Sky Satellite photography.

I traveled to Vietnam during the war to do research and photo journalism. The Vietnam War was the first to blend satellites into their operations. I was part of a team that sent messages via satellite back to the United States. During the final phases of the war Kissinger was in Paris negotiating an end to the war. The North Vietnamese were maintaining that we had bombed a hospital. A member of Kissinger’s staff called and asked for verification. A recon plane in the area was asked to get an aerial photo of the hospital. They did. It came back back, and was processed showing no damage to the hospital. It was then scanned and sent via satellite to Paris for the negotiations. Kissinger showed it to the North Vietnamese about an hour after he made the statement. End of flap!

After the Vietnam War I worked as a Fashion Photographer and published in a number of magazines: Vogue, Glamour, Playboy, Esquire, Mademoiselle.

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According to his son Jim, Dave opened a mom-and-pop advertising consulting business operating out of his apartment with his partner at that time, who was the editor of Vogue magazine. He met her after toppling out of a stool in a New York bar and things immediately clicked. Together, they brainstormed and created advertorial inserts for a range of prestigious fashion magazines.

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Dave has countless stories about his photography escapades- spending weeks or months on a single photography shoot. He recently recounted one episode where a gaggle of models, exhausted, sprawled on the powdery snowdrifts and made snow angels at Timberline Lodge at Mt.Hood.

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In addition I worked with The American Institute of Physics during the post cold war days.  One of their objectives was to help the physicists of USSR, who were many of the best in the world, regain their stature in the world.

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The images were originally taken by Dave Freda and then I snapped them again with an iPad and resized them in Photoshop, so they’re not the best quality in this form, apologies.

 I am currently writing my Memoirs and screenplays –The Ice Cream Cone and the AlligatorMen and Women at War based on some of my battles in Korea on Porkchop and Old Baldy, and Rosie the story of a young son of a sharecropper – who joined the Army the age of fifteen and was one of the first men of color to serve in Korea. Hopefully, I can get one on the screen.

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