43.

NO TIME FOR FAMILY

Schriever found a house for his family in a neighborhood in Santa Monica with the Roman Catholic schools that Dora wanted. There were three Schriever offspring now. Brett Arnold, their son and firstborn, was a fifteen-year-old high school student when his father took command of the Western Development Division on August 2, 1954. Their second child, Dodie Elizabeth, who had arrived in June 1941, in time to be bundled off to California on that earlier trip when Schriever had spent a year studying for his master’s degree in aeronautical engineering at Stanford University in Palo Alto, was a thirteen-year-old in junior high. Another daughter and the last of Dora and Bennie’s children, Barbara Alice, who had been born in June 1949, was just five.

The family had grown accustomed to seeing a great deal of Schriever while he was stationed at the Pentagon and they lived in Alexandria. Although he might work late, as he often did, he came home at night. On weekends, there was the Belle Haven Country Club, where he played golf, but Dora and the children had the pleasure of the swimming pool and tennis courts. And periodically he would take leave. Dora and the children would climb into the car, the luggage would go into the trunk, and with Bennie at the wheel they would set off for a visit with General and Mrs. Brett, who had retired to Winter Park, a suburb of Orlando in central Florida. All of this ended with the move to California and Bennie’s new responsibilities. When he was home he was preoccupied and he was away as much as he was at home, shuttling between Los Angeles and Washington and Baltimore or off on trips like the one to Patrick Air Force Base to start planning for the missile test range on Cape Canaveral.

As soon as the conference at Patrick was over, he left for a two-day tour of the Bahamas to try to get some idea of the tracking system they would need to establish in order to monitor the flight of the mock warheads over the Caribbean and into the South Atlantic after the missiles had been launched from the Cape. The islands were still a British colony then, but London had already given the Air Force permission to set up some tracking stations there for test firings of the Snark and earlier missiles. Although his relationship with Dora began to come under strain from his lack of attention to her and the family, Bennie was energized by this relentless quick-step regime of shuttlecock travel, decisions under pressure, and a workload that seemed to be forever expanding. This was the mission for which, it seemed, he had spent his life preparing himself, and now he was living it. He was ruthless at keeping himself organized and he prevented himself from becoming exhausted by a trick he had of suddenly putting aside whatever he was doing in an office or on a plane and going off on a catnap.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at admin@erenow.net. Thank you!