Alan Oberdeck Books



I was born on February 26, 1940 at Edgerton, Wisconsin. My parents Martin Henry Karl
Oberdeck and Leora Ann Oberdeck NE Dallman owned a small dairy farm four miles west of
Edgerton Wisconsin.
As a young child I was allowed to wander about and explore nature with my trusty
companion and protector Bingo, my dog. I heard that people used to ask my mom if she wasn’t
worried about all my wandering away from the house. I heard her answer was that whenever
she would look for me all she had to do was look for Bingo.
Some of early memories were going out into the fields with my father and grand fathers.
Dad had a John Deer Model A Tractor which had a platform in front of the driver’s seat
between the seat and the steering wheel where I could stand. I remember spending a lot of
time with dad on that tractor.
That tractor had a hand clutch on the right hand side of the platform. The leaver that activated
it was almost the same height as the steering wheel and about four inches to the right of it.
When you pushed on it the tractor would move. When you pushed hard enough the clutch
would go click and be set so you had to pull real hard to click it to release it. If you pulled back
hard enough that leaver would also act as a brake. Being a dairy farm we had cows and most of
the time, except in winter, they were in pasture surrounded by an electric fence. When you
would enter a pasture with the tractor you would have stop the tractor in front of the gate, get
off to open the gate, go back to the tractor, drive it through the gate, get off the tractor, go
back to close the gate and return to the tractor to continue. Cows are not dumb animals.
When they saw a tractor approach a gate they moved in mass toward that gate in a futile
attempt to escape as the driver went through the process of going through the gate. From the
earliest time I can remember my father took me along and It was my job to push the hand
clutch and move the tractor and load through the gate and stop the tractor so he could close
the gate. So I can say that I learned how to drive at a very early age.
When I was three I welcomed my sister Carol into the family, not that I really had much
say in the matter and anything to do about it. But those are memories for another story.
As I was growing up on the farm World War II was raging. I spent a lot of time with my
mother’s parents. Before the war they spoke English but also generally to each other they
spoke German. Until my mother was in first grade she spoke only German. When it became
time for her to enter first grade they took her to the meeting at the schoolhouse that spring
and she couldn’t understand a thing. Grandpa then hired the neighbor girls to come and play
with her that summer so by fall when school started she could speak and understand English.
German was still spoken in the house though.
That changed in 1940 when the war started. Grandpa and Grandma now spoke only
English! Unfortunately they used English words but their thought patterns were in German

grammar. Before my sister Carol was born, because of the war, there were no young men left
to work on the farms. If you were a young man and were not drafted you were working in a
critical industry. One of my grandfathers was working his farm and was not in great health.
The other one had moved off the farm to town because of poor health. This made it necessary
for mom to do most of the tractor work while dad worked with the horses and did the heavy
work. That left me in the care of Grandma Dallman a lot of the time. The result was that when
I was learning to talk I was learning Grandma’s speech pattern and speaking English words to
German grammar. I eventually grew out of doing that generally, but if I am very tired I revert
back to that. This was a common thing in Southern Wisconsin and the term for it is that
someone is talking “Milwaukee Talk”. Because of this, learning German in College was difficult.
I could speak it correctly, but when quizzed on the grammar I didn’t know what I was doing.
My farm work began when I was old enough to do menial jobs around the farm. I can
remember shelling corn off the cob and other things a child could do to help out around the
farm. Late in the summer of 1945 when I was five and one-half years old I was really needed.
The crop of oats was ready to harvest. The heads were heavy on the stems and the stems
needed to be cut before a storm could flatten them. The machine used to do this job was
called a grain binder. It used a sickle bar to cut the stems close to the ground, bunch and tie
them into a bundle and dropped the bundles in a pile on the ground. It was operated by a man
riding on it who raised and lowered the sickle bar to do the cutting and to drop the bundles in a
way that they could be gathered together into what were called shocks. The grain binder was
pulled by a tractor. This process required two men, one on the tractor and one on the grain
binder. Dad was in a bind. Neither grandpas were healthy enough to drive the tractor. Mom
was sick with something and was unable to help. Dad couldn’t run both machines by himself.
His answer was to teach me how to drive the tractor.
To do this dad loosened the clutch plates on the John Deer A so I could easily operate
the hand clutch. He took the tractor and binder to the field and made the first round cutting
the stems high and dropping the bundles all around the field. Then he shifted the tractor into
first gear, Idled the tractor engine, lined up the tractor and binder to make the next round,
mounted his seat on the binder and told me to go. I pushed in the clutch and we were slowly
moving forward. I was steering the tractor and dad was riding the binder yelling instructions.
Either I wasn’t taking a wide enough cut or I was running over grain. At the first corner we
were going slow enough that he was able to get off the binder, get on the tractor with me, help
me make the turn, get off the tractor and on to his seat in time to make the next cut. I learned
fast as if I remember by noon the tractor was going in first gear half throttle. Gradually we
were moving in second gear. I think about that now and wonder if any person that young could
be able to manage the modern tractors. The answer is no, but then that tractor was so simple
to operate and we were going so slow that I could do it. By the age of eleven I was able to
plough the fields. After I recovered from polio I was still able to help around the farm. The
spring when I was thirteen I was plowing in a field with high weeds where a year before dad
had dragged a tree stump. The left big wheel of the tractor climbed that stump rolling the
tractor over. The steering wheel pinned my pant leg to the ground and I was nearly crushed
beneath the weight of the tractor. Again God spared my life. I didn’t even get a scratch.

My formal schooling began when at age six I became a first grader at Miller School in
1946. My parents wanted to start me in school at the age of five, but my birthday was In
February and the cutoff date was December thirty-first so I was six when I began. My
memories at the beginning are mixed. It was a one room eight grade school. The teacher hired
there was using the progressive method of teaching. You memorized the individual words and
then you memorized the sentences. This was how you learned to read. This method just didn’t
work for me. So I had a lot of trouble reading, but that was not my only problem. When dad
and mom bought the farm in 1938 they had no idea that there was to be a war. Although the
farm was only about a mile away from the farm where he had grown up, the farm was in an
English Norwegian community school district and ethnically they didn’t fit in. They were
Germans! During the war there were a group of vigilantes that kept tabs on dad. During the
war Milton College, in Milton, Wisconsin had a choral union that sang the Handle’s Messiah
every year. They asked Dad to sing with them because he knew German. When they practiced
at night in the spring dad would drive there. He was always followed by his vigilantes. In 1946
the war was over. At home we were insulated from the atrocities that took place and names
associated with the enemies we were fighting. My Uncle Louis had been an officer in the Navy,
My Uncle Carl had been an airplane mechanic in the Navy and my uncle Frank had been an
Engineer at Pratt and Whitney manufacturing airplane engines. At school I found out that I was
a “HUN”, a Natzi, a Kraut and other things. During the fall of that year I didn’t have a coat that
hadn’t been ripped in a fight.
I wasn’t learning to read at Miller School so dad paid tuition to send me to town school
in Edgerton. They taught phonics, it made sense, and I learned to read. It was in the middle of
fifth grade when dad was elected to the Miller School Board and a new teacher was hired. I
went back to Miller School.
Growing up on the farm was boring for me. It wasn’t exciting! We did the same things
every day. If we didn’t milk the cows on time in the morning they became obnoxious. Then if
we didn’t milk them on schedule in the evening they repeated their behavior. In the winter
they were kept in the barn and we had to “clean the gutter” daily. We had to feed the silage at
night with the grist and in the morning we had to feed them hay. This was repetitive work. We
had to milk them in the morning and in the evening. To me this was drudgery, not the exciting
life I read about in books! I had plans. I wanted to hunt wild game like Daniel Boon. I wanted
to go fishing. I wanted to live free. I began making plans that included a motorcycle, a medium
sized Harley or an Indian. I was eleven and the age of emancipation in Wisconsin at the time
was sixteen. My plan was to turn sixteen, acquire a motorcycle and head for California. At the
age of eleven I wasn’t acquainted with reality. I was reading all of the magazines that had
articles about California and to the bored me that was the most exciting place I could think of.
It was Labor Day weekend, the weekend before school started, in 1952 that I was out in
the tobacco field topping tobacco when I didn’t feel well. I had a head ache and I felt weak.
Dad thought I was just “lazy”, but let me go out of the field and go to the house to rest. I got
weaker and had a hard time climbing the stairs to go to my bedroom that night. The next
morning, Labor Day, I got up and went to the bathroom. I sat on the commode and when I
went to get up found that I didn’t have the strength. I called for mom to come upstairs to get

me to a standing position. I stayed in bed all day Monday and got weaker. On Tuesday I was
able to get dressed but was not strong enough to stand without help. Dad had to carry me I
down the stairs to the car to go to the Doctor’s office. From there I went to St. Mary’s Hospital
in Janesville, Wisconsin. At that time I could still prop myself up on my arms.
I remember a time at St. Mary’s that I could only really use my left arm. I could move
my right arm, but was not strong enough to do anything. That lasted for a day or two and then
I got some of my strength back. During that time I was being treated by what was called “a
bone Doctor” who was measuring me for metal braces. His theory was that if I were in metal
braces my bones wouldn’t shrink.
There was at the time In Janesville Wisconsin a representative of the society that raised
money for the treatment of polio and supported the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis, MN.
She knew my father through the work they did together in the 4-H Club in rock County
Wisconsin. She met with dad and convinced him to send me to the Sister Kenny Institute for
treatment. The local Doctors didn’t recognize that treatment program and reluctantly signed
the papers that were needed for me to begin treatment there. I was taken by ambulance for a
three hundred-twenty mile ride from Janesville, WI to Minneapolis, MN and admitted to the
hospital. I was treated there for six months and when released I was walking with sawed off
crutches which were called “Kenny Sticks”. I was treated as an outpatient for another two
years .
Having polio changed a lot of things. I didn’t know it at the time but I had what then
was called Spinal Polio which affected the muscles that affected the skeleton and also Bulbar
Polio which affective the breathing. If one had been available I would have been placed in what
at that time was called an “Iron Lung”. It was the Bulbar Polio that killed people.
I am a Lutheran Christian and have no memory of when I wasn’t aware of my faith.
After I had polio three things changed. First I realized my dream of escaping the farm at age
sixteen could never happen. If I tipped my Harley I wouldn’t be strong enough to lift it back up.
Even if I stayed on the farm I would never be strong enough to do the physical work necessary
to be successful. I realized that I had Polio and didn’t die. I was thankful to God and decided to
become a Lutheran Minister. I hadn’t liked school and did just enough to get along. Now if I
wanted to become a minister I had to bring up my grades so I began to take my schooling
seriously and my grades were good. In my three years studying in Edgerton Public high school I
was one class short of having enough classes to graduate. Somehow I was able to convince my
father to send me to Concordia College high school, a boarding school in Milwaukee, WI.
In those days boys who wanted to become Lutheran Ministers went to Concordia
College high school as high school freshmen and graduated high school there. Then they
continued there for their next two years of college after which they went to seminary.
I graduated high school at Concordia Milwaukee. I completed my freshman college year
also at Concordia, but I had problems with my Greek, my Latin, and my German. All of my
classmates had had their Latin and German through their high school years. I, during my senior
high school year had to take tutor German in the morning before school started and tutor Latin

after the classes ended. When I started my freshman college year I was still taking regular
classes in German and Latin plus beginning Greek. The Greek was the one that got me. I was
offered the option of spending a year just studying the three languages. My counselor and I
discussed these and his recommendation was for me to take a year off.
In June of 1959 I joined the workforce. I got a job at Allis Chalmers in the machine shop
making parts for tractors. I was bored so that fall I enrolled in an auto mechanics course at
Milwaukee Institute of Technology. In December Allis Chalmers had manufactured enough
tractors to last two years and the tractor shop was closed. In the spring of 1960 I enrolled at
Milwaukee School of Engineering in the metallurgical program. Eighteen months later I
graduated with an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Metallurgy.
After graduation I was a tech at a foundry. I think the health issues I had related to my
lungs were the results of having had polio. I then became a lab tech for a company making
rectifiers and capacitors. The cheaper capacitors from Japan put us out of business and again I
was laid off. While working there I got married. This goes back to my earlier days at Concordia.
While at Concordia College I dated girls from the nursing programs at Lutheran Hospital
and Milwaukee Lutheran Hospital. During the time I was working before returning to school I
dated girls I had met attending the Lutheran students group called Gamma Delta. Those girls
attending the Gamma Delta meetings came from the nursing programs and the other colleges
in the Milwaukee area. During my days at MSOE (Milwaukee School of Engineering) I dated a
number of girls from Milwaukee Hospital School of Nursing. One of the girls I met became my
wife on June 23, 1962. She graduated nursing school as Mrs. Oberdeck. She passed her boards
and became an RN.(We are celebrating our fifty-ninth anniversary this year. 2021)
Now back to my work history as my being married plays a part in it. After the closure of
the rectifier/capacitor department I had a number of Mechanical Drafting jobs. We had bought
a house and lived in Libertyville, IL. Because of my Degree in Metallurgy I was hired by a
company manufacturing cutting tools as a tool engineer. I was settled designing cutting tools
with a good future with the company. Unfortunately the company used carbon-tetrachloride
as its degreasing fluid. The buildup of this deadly vapor in the engineering room had an effect
on me. My wife was first to notice the effects of the Carbon-tet on me and brought it to the
attention of one of the doctors at her work. I immediately got out of that environment and
went back to drafting. Once I “dried out” or stated another way got the effects of carbon-tet
out of my system I went back to college and in June of 1970 received my Bachelor of Arts
Degree from Carthage College Kenosha, Wisconsin. My concentration had been in marketing
and accounting.
During the time I lived in Libertyville and worked as a tool engineer I took up the game
of golf. I golfed left-handed which contributed to what happened to my face. It was Palm
Sunday 1965 and my parents were at the house for a visit. In the afternoon dad and my
brother and I went in the backyard to practice golf by hitting whiffel balls at the house. My dad
being right-handed stood across from me using my wife’s club so I could show him how to hold
it. My brother took the 9iron and placed a ball on the ground more or less behind me. I didn’t

notice. He swung and hit me in the right cheek with his follow through. A good doctor rebuilt
my face. I never played golf again which in the sales field probably cost me some sales
opprotunity. To this day my face hurts when I drive past a golf course.
I went to work for Speed Queen Div. of McGraw Edison, in Ripon Wisconsin. It was that
company that transferred us to Georgia. I became a District Salesman with a small territory
until changes to the economy caused the Speed Queen management to lay-off their direct sales
force and go with distributors.
My next sales territory was with Elgin Diamond Products Co. selling Industrial diamond
polishing compound and grinding wheels. For that I traveled Florida, Georgia, Alabama,
Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. I set up a distribution network in
those states. I also sold direct to the users. I was growing the territory.
My success weren’t unnoticed as I was recruited in 1977 for a position with Hankison
Corporation to set in place distribution in ten states. Then as sales progressed my territory
changed and my territory covered different states. I told them when I came aboard that if it
snowed in a state I didn’t want to go there. As the years went on they forgot that part. At one
point I covered seventeen states Including Minnesota and Wisconsin. When we had a contract
to supply product to a compressor manufacturer my responsibilities took me to all forty-eight
states, Canada and some parts of Mexico. Hankison became Hankison International which was
eventually bought by SPX Air Treatment. I was with them for twenty-eight years.
During my work in 1998 in Wisconsin I got run over in a restaurant by a waitress and
shattered the tibia plateau on my right leg. The doctor was a surgeon for the Green Bay
Packers. He put the knee joint back together with a plate and seven screws. He then
transferred my case to my orthopedic doctor in Snellville. This allowed me to continue to work
from home. In six weeks I went to his office, on crutches with my walking cast, to have him
check me out. I asked him if I could travel. He told me that would probably do me good. The
next week I took a three day trip to the Ford plant in Norfolk Virginia to solve a dryer problem.
At this time I was still using two crutches. I didn’t expect that any plant would let a person on
crutches into a working area. I was amazed that the maintenance department got a cart, and
me with my walking cast and crutches rode all of the way back to the compressor room to have
me look at the problem. I actually found the problem and got it fixed. I continued to travel and
my territory was doing well. That year for our company was a slow sales year and most of the
other sales territories were down. My boss asked me what the secret to my success this year
was. I suggested that he tell the other salesmen to “break a leg”. When I went to my doctor
for my six-month checkup he checked my X-rays and began to write a prescription for me to go
back to work. I reminded him that several months ago I had asked him if I could travel and he
said that it might do me some good. He threw up his hands and informed me that I had just
lost six-months of paid sick time. That year I was the only one who earned a year end bonus.
I retired in April of 2006 and in June moved into the house my wife, working as General
Contractor, built as out retirement home. Since then I have been involved civic activities here
in Putnam County Georgia, and writing books.

Jobs I have had in my life
Farm work
Machine operator in a manufacturing machine shop
Auto mechanic
Management trainee in a foundry
Lab tech in a manufacturing plant
Selling Life Insurance part time
Production scheduler in a manufacturing plant
Tool engineer
Managing a district selling Speed Queen washers and dryers
Selling furniture to furniture stores
Selling silver bullion – Johnson Mathey & Mallory silver bars
Selling Dictograph burglar alarms
Managing a territory selling industrial diamond products – Elgin Diamond Products
Sales Manager, Regional Manager, District Manager in territory Managing distributors selling
Capital Equipment into the Compressed Air Industry.
Planning and Zoning Commissioner on the board for Putnam County, Georgia

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