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Transcript of interview with Dennis Ortwein by Claytee White, May 6, 2009


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Dennis Ortwein arrived in Las Vegas in 1956. He shares many details about growing up in Montana, his parents and siblings, his education, and the moment in time when he was offered an opportunity to work in Las Vegas. He also lays out the path his singing career took, starting with school plays, duets with his sister, and high school quartets. Once in Las Vegas, Dennis taught for a while, served as principal, and was involved in creating programs that helped integrate schools. He also talks about his church choir work, entertainment in early Las Vegas, above-ground testing at the Nevada Test Site, and anti-nuclear protests. Dennis served as lab school and student teaching coordinator in Nigeria. He offers several anecdotes and stories about the time he and his family spent there. After retiring early (age 53), Dennis acted as consultant to the Esmeralda County school board, executive director for the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and wrote a book. He is currently enjoying his singing career by appearing at conventions, in musicals, and at weddings and memorials.

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[Transcript of interview with Dennis Ortwein by Claytee White, May 6, 2009]. Ortwein, Dennis Interview, 2009 May 6. OH-01416. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Interview with Dennis Ortwein An Oral History Conducted by Claytee D. White The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas An Interview with Dennis Ortwein An Oral History Conducted by Claytee D. White The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ©The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2007 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV - University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Editors: Barbara Tabach and Gloria Homol Transcribers: Kristin Hicks and Laurie Boetcher Interviewers and Project Assistants: Barbara Tabach and Claytee D. White ii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Harold Boyer and the Library Advisory Committee. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank the university for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader's understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases, photographic sources (housed separately) accompany the collection as slides or black and white photographs. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project. Additional transcripts may be found under that series title. Claytee D. White, Project Director Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University Nevada, Las Vegas iii List of Contents Annotated Table of Contents List of Illustrations Preface Interview Appendix Remembrances email to Rick Watson Las Vegas Sun article: A student's principal, Ronnow's Ortwein retires after 30 years in Las Vegas (May 18, 1986) Experiences Outside of the Box, a book by Dennis Ortwein v vi vii 1-42 Table of Contents Arrived Las Vegas 1956; short history of Moulin Rouge; background on family and growing up in Montana; stories about singing solo and with sister Noreen; forming a quartet in high school; car wrecks put college and football on hold; attended Eastern Montana College; working as orderly at St. Vincent's Hospital; active in Future Teachers of America; went to NEA Convention and sang for different state groups; interviewed with J. Harold Brinley from Clark County; short description of Las Vegas in 1956; taught at Lincoln Elementary near Nellis Air Force Base 1-15 Mention of R. Guild Gray, first superintendent of schools; active in PTA; moved to Jim Bridger Junior High; details on social life in Las Vegas; anecdote about Paul Anderson and dinner comps; mention of friends Ronnie Simone, Louise and Leo Camera, and Howard Agster; reference to Follies Begere at the Tropicana; details on Young Audiences, where Strip musicians would go into the schools and play for students; singing with Antonio Morelli and the Community Chorus; church choir work as soloist and song leader for 35 years (Our Lady of Las Vegas); observing above ground atomic tests held at Test Site; anti-nuclear protests led by Louie Vitale and Father Ben Franzanelli; mention of John Birch Society in Las Vegas 16-24 Discussion of riots and unrest around school integration; principal of Tom Williams School for four years; meeting with Dr. Ploghoft and others which led to lab school coordinator position in Nigeria; details and anecdotes concerning two years in Nigeria; back to Las Vegas as principal at Joe Mackey; mention of superintendent James Mason and working with Mabel Hoggard and Edythe Katz on school integration plan; details on court-ordered sixth grade centers 25-35 Anecdote about son Matthew in Nigeria; general comments on Don Kemp, Oscar Goodman's 25th anniversary bash held at the Desert Inn, and wife's career; mention of Teacher Corps program; comments on discrimination against women as principals; appointed by Governors Bryan and Miller to serve on Board of Psychological Examiners, Holocaust Education Committee, and Martin Luther King Jr. Commission; opinions on cuts to education versus raising taxes; changes seen in school district since 1956; closing comments on Teacher Corps, retiring early, serving as consultant in Esmeralda County and executive director for the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and expanding singing career 36-43 List of Illustrations Following Page: From the Family Album, siblings, Class of 1951 (Harlowton, MT): 10 Dennis Ortwein: educator career 14 Nigeria and Advanced Teachers College experience 27 Dennis the singer and Philippines group exchange (1997) 42 vi Preface Dennis Ortwein arrived in Las Vegas in 1956. He shares many details about growing up in Montana, his parents and siblings, his education, and the moment in time when he was offered an opportunity to work in Las Vegas. He also lays out the path his singing career took, starting with school plays, duets with his sister, and high school quartets. Once in Las Vegas, Dennis taught for a while, served as principal, and was involved in creating programs that helped integrate schools. He also talks about his church choir work, entertainment in early Las Vegas, above-ground testing at the Nevada Test Site, and anti-nuclear protests. Dennis served as lab school and student teaching coordinator in Nigeria. He offers several anecdotes and stories about the time he and his family spent there. After retiring early (age 53), Dennis acted as consultant to the Esmeralda County school board, executive director for the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and wrote a book. He is currently enjoying his singing career by appearing at conventions, in musicals, and at weddings and memorials. vii ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH CENTER AT UNLV LIBRARIES Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Name of Narrator: Name of Interviewer: We, the above named, give to di/Oi&l History Research Center of UNLV, the recorded interview(s) initiated on J V) /,/CO? as an unrestricted gift, to be used for such scholarly and educational purposes as snail be determined, and transfer to die University of Nevada Las Vegas, legal tide and all literary property rights including copyright. This gift does not preclude die nglit of die interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use die recordings and related materials for scholarly pursuits. There will be no compensation for any interviews. s 0 Hft\n-j~uj <gfiA IT— 06-Q 9 Signature of Narrator Date ^ Use Agreement 7). Jmre LIBRARY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-7010 (702) 895-2222 IB This is Claytee White. And today is May 6th, 2009. And I'm here in Summerlin in the home of Dennis. Dennis, would you please give me your last name, pronounce it the way it should be pronounced and spell it for me? Yes. Dennis Ortwein, O-R-T-W-E-I-N. Thank you so much. How are you doing today? Just another lovely day in the neighborhood. Isn't it wonderful? It is. Except for the Moulin Rouge Hotel burning. Yes. Go ahead and talk about that because you came here in 1956 and the hotel was built in 1955. Yes. So tell me a little about that. Well, as we know, this was a Jim Crow town. I came down from Montana and was in a school with all white teachers and all white students. And if a black person ever came through town, they thought, well, they must be domestics working there, because they certainly wouldn't be able to buy a house. Somehow if a black person tried to buy a house, there was always some reason they got turned down. But anyway, the Moulin Rouge hotel was built. And it was built to really serve the black population. But also when it got underway, it was probably almost a 50-50 of the population that went there. People had a wonderful time there. But it was only open for a short while. And I don't know the exact number of months. May to November. Joe Lewis was, of course, associated with it. And then when that didn't work, he later was I believe a greeter at Caesars Palace. But he was one of my heroes. It was already closed when you got here. Had it reopened by the time that you arrived in '56? I didn't ever go. I think it was open just shortly. I think I was so poor then I couldn't go anywhere. Tell me about growing up in Montana. Where in Montana are you from? 1 Well, I grew up in a little town that was about 2,000 people ~ now it's 1,000 — near the geographical center of Montana called Harlowton, H-A-R-L-O-W-T-O-N. My parents were childhood ~ well, high school sweethearts. My dad graduated a year ahead of my mother in high school and went to work for the flourmill. She was president of her senior class. She was really brilliant, the world's fastest typist I'm sure. And Dad became superintendent of the flour mill, but still didn't ever make $10,000 a year. But that just makes you take a look at what inflation is like. They had seven children. I'm the second oldest. My oldest sister — do you want me to say who they are? Yes, please. Well, my oldest sister, Rosalie, is a nurse. She's married and living on a ranch in Judith Gap, Montana, where she had six children. Incidentally, the superintendent called my mother over and says I want to talk to you about your children's IQs. And my older sister had the highest IQ ever recorded in that town — or in that school. Well, of course, then I came next. But after me, a sister Noreen, who became a teacher with a master's. She's in Missoula, Montana. She married a Czech. That's okay. And my brother Bob, the next one, is three years younger than me with the same birthday. He was an outstanding athlete. In fact, both he and I were all-conference running backs in high school, and I was the leading scorer on the basketball team for three successive years. But when it comes to football, why, he was easily the king of the family and could have played football almost anywhere. He went to a small college in Helena, Montana, which incidentally the last five or six years has won the NAIA National Championship in football. But he was an all-conference - little all-American halfback — and then went to medical school at Creighton. Now, the college is Carroll College in Helena, Montana. As a kind of side issue on Bob, his football coach became quite a national figure. You may remember that back in the 60s, I believe, Raymond Hunthausen, the Catholic Archbishop of Seattle, ran into a number of issues with the Catholic Church and was having considerable dialogue with the Vatican. He was really a wonderful, wonderful man. But it's interesting that my brother's football coach was a priest in the diocese of Helena at the time. In fact, I just was reading a book about that issue and others called People of God. 2 Then the next was my brother Terrence or Terry, who is a playwright and professor. He went to Dartmouth. And, you know, a poor family with seven kids, how does somebody get to Dartmouth? Well, there was a man named Buck Jones who was a rancher there, and he had married a lady from Montana. Anyway, he came out to run this big ranch. And my brother Terry was such an outstanding student and a scholar and an athlete and so forth that Buck Jones said he'd like to propose him to go to Dartmouth. Of course, my family said no way could we pay for any of that. So Terry drove out to the ranch on a Saturday. And they went into Buck Jones' library. They looked at the volumes. They talked about books. They talked about all kinds of things. So Terry says, gee, it's going to be getting dark; when are we going to have the interview? Buck said we've been having it. So anyway, he had this top scholarship to Dartmouth. Of course, we always claimed that he had a little belt on the back of his — you know how the Ivy League, you know, the little belt on the back of his pants? We always claimed that he must have now grown one on the back of his head because he never — except for family reunions and so forth like that, he never really did return. And then he taught at Hanover High School, which is at Hanover, New Hampshire where Dartmouth is, for one year. And the dean of men went to Wabash College in Indiana to be the president and took Terry there to revive their theater and music program. It was interesting because a couple years ago, I just clicked on Wabash College and theater, and Terrence Ortwein had a whole raft of the musicals and plays and so forth that he directed. So he then went to the Choate Academy in Wallingford, Connecticut. What is the name of the academy? Choate, C-H-O-A-T-E. That's one of those blueblood, high-falutin' finishing schools. Like when I came back from Nigeria, which I'll tell you about, I went up to his place and we were sitting on his back porch. At Choate, they give you a house if you're on the faculty, which is nice. So we were looking out on the athletic field, and there was a ladies' softball game going on. He said I don't mean to be a name-dropper, but the shortstop is Arthur Miller's granddaughter and the second baseman is Omar Sharif s daughter. So I told him he certainly was a name-dropper. But anyway, he was there for quite a few years. He'd be an interesting one for you to interview, by the way. Did he ever live in Las Vegas? 3 No. Afraid not. We couldn't claim him. But he unfortunately came down with Parkinson's and he has Parkinson s now. He s struggling with it. It's a tough one. So is he the baby? No, no, no. No. There are seven. Okay. Then the next one, brother John, was just the most wonderful if you ever met somebody that you say is truly a holy person, he was. But he had the greatest sense of humor. If there's anybody who should have been a priest, it should have been him. Anyway, John did a number of things. He taught school. He was a radio announcer in Helena. While he was teaching school, he'd go and put together the weather and news and sports and go back. He called me one day and said sit down, Dennis. He said this is important. So I sat down. He said this isn't probably going to ever happen again. And I said, well, what is it? He said we're both in double figures. Well, I was 55 and he was 44. He then got a call from the bishops—there are two bishops of the Catholic Church—bishop of Helena and bishop of Great Falls in Montana. Oh, he then had gone to work for Montana Power. He was the chief executive in eastern Montana, so he had this really, really good job. But he was so into the church and into what he felt the work of the church should be and all that; he was invited to apply for an opening as the executive director of the Montana—oh, gosh, I'm trying to think of what it was called—the Montana Catholic Conference, which is like the chairman or the executive director of the laity of the people. He was a liaison between the two dioceses and tried to keep the bishops off each other's backs. He did a lot of speaking and singing. And he was sort of the lead wedding and funeral singer in Helena, at which time I was in Las Vegas. But, unfortunately, he died at the age of 48. My sister-in-law in Wisconsin, married to my brother who's a pediatrician, called me and said, well, Dennis, I have bad news. And I thought why is she calling me? She said John has died. Well, one of my best friends here was John Ahem. Have you seen Ahem Rental? Yes. Well, he was like my best friend here. Of course, he was up in years and he had been ill. And right away I thought that was the John. So finally I said John who? Your brother John. Aneurysm. So that was—at his wake and funeral in Helena there were about as many people outside as there were inside. Well, that's John. 4 Then when I was 16 years old I had been in the summer working on a ranch and I came home and we had a new gift, number seven, Lorree, L-O-R-R-E-E, named after my mother. So I was 16. So that was the spread of the seven. She was a lovely young girl. I was more like an uncle to her than a brother. Actually, she and John both went to Carroll College in Helena, as did my brother Bob as I mentioned and also my sister Rosalie, the nurse. She's the oldest. The oldest. Now, the one just younger than me, I'll have to say something about her. I will when I get to the singing part because she and I were quite a duo around central Montana. Wonderful. Tell me more about—so before coming here were you growing up when you were singing as a teenager? Well, when I was in the first grade we had a Christmas play. Now, just probably almost everybody—except they don't do them anymore; but you probably were in one too called Christmas Around the World or something. So you have the Christmas program, the Christmas carols. This is Christmas Around the World. The little Dutch girls get up and go clippity-clop around in their wooden shoes. And the little Mexican boys do kind of a Christmas version of "La Cucaracha" and have their little beaded hats. I was a little Chinese boy. And our mothers dyed our hair — dyed some silk stockings and slanted our eyes and took some flower sacks and made our kimonos or whatever. And we sang a song, three of us. It was a trio. I don't think we were in harmony. It's a short song, if I can ~ Oh, yes, go ahead, please. It would probably be politically incorrect today. But then we didn't know any better. "Runny downy cellular. Catchy lots of mice. Makey chop suey. Vely, vely nice." Ooh, my god. Oh. That was the whole song. Who wrote that? Well, whoever wrote that play. Wow. So somehow the little Chinese boys thought, well, gee, we're probably going to be a big hit. But somehow we were never called upon again to perform. Surprise, surprise. But four years later, time for Christmas Around the World again. It was a time of great 5 turmoil in the world. It was just a little bit after Pearl Harbor. Many of the boys from the National Guard had gone over to fight in the war in the South Pacific. And I had two uncles that were lost in the war, one brother of my dad and one of my mother. So this kind of kicked off my singing career. It was the same kind of thing — all the usual different countries did their little thing. At the very end a little fairy godmother came up and she tapped this little red-headed fourth grader on the shoulder with her wand. And he went up to the edge of the stage, looking down at those bright lights, stage lights for the first time and sang a brand-new song, "I'll Be Home for Christmas." You know, I'm sorry. Every time I tell this story I can't help it because it was—but I was a boy soprano and it really soared. So there's a prolonged standing ovation. And I thought, you know, I kind of like this a lot. After that, I was called upon to sing a great deal. But, you know, in a small town if you're pretty good at several things, you don't have to be a world-beater at anything. You can be pretty good at singing and pretty good at athletics and pretty good at this and that and you're going to be doing it all. But it turns out to be a wonderful education. In high school, of course, I did quite a bit of singing in the groups and was also a soloist. My sister Noreen, one year younger than me, had all the personality in the world and she just could—beautiful soprano. We sang duets quite often. And we would try to dress to fit certain circumstances. And if I can relate one episode... Please. We were invited to sing for the Saturday night banquet of the state Moose Lodge convention in the hometown. We thought, well, hey, this is a big deal, so she borrowed a dress from her boyfriend's mother that was turn of the century. It was a beautiful velvet black dress. And she had this dark raven hair and beautiful blue eyes. And I was dressed in a little cutaway coat and vest. And I had a derby. And we did several songs from Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, vintage. Have you ever heard of them? Uh-huh. Nelson Eddy, yes. Well, he's a great baritone. Like "The Indian Love Call" and—I can't think of the others. But anyway, all these people at the convention were in the bar before coming into the dinner. They were pretty well oiled by the time they came in. And we got up there and did our songs. We had a very good accompanist, Mrs. Taylor, one of the schoolteachers, playing for us. And we were playing off of each other and doing this lovely harmony. And pretty soon we realized we were 6 just singing to each other because they couldn't have cared less. You know, they were on a big toot. So afterwards, we said, well, that didn't go so well, did it? No. Well, then we should have just sung things like "Roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun," and had them all join in. Yes. So at that time I kind of struck upon something, a little formula that if you're ever going to sing or speak, first you need to analyze your audience: Who's going to be there? What's happening in the world at that time? How to introduce it? So after that I could usually figure out what I ought to do at a given time. But Noreen and I both also I was in a quartet. I can say now that I think that—I'd be surprised if they ever had a quartet like that in that town. So describe it to me. Well, you know the lead. I'm a freshman. I'm about a five-foot-eight-inch freshman, bright red hair. And here are three seniors. The top voice is the tenor or tenor number one. Do you ever sing? No. Okay. But you know what it is? Yes. And his name was Phil Smart. He came from a family of 13 from a ranch and he was the youngest son. Well, he went into the service and came back after several years to finish high school, which turned out to be a little bit of a problem. We sort of had to protect our music teacher who was about his age and had just come out of college, a very cute little thing. But anyway, that's another thing. Her name was Ms. Matilla. He had the most gorgeous soaring tenor voice. You know, you've heard The Three Tenors. Oh, yes. But here this is a Montana ranch kid, never had a music lesson. And, of course, he could bring it down to that soft pianissimo and still be in the upper register. So that was Phil Smart. And then Frank Robertson was the baritone. He was not a solo singer or anything, but he could do very well on the harmony. But the one that you usually don't have, like these 3,000-student schools in Las Vegas, would be hard to come up with the kind of a bass he was, just a wonderful bass. And then I was the lead. Mostly I sang the melody and they did the harmony. But we were invited to go 7 and sing in other towns. And it was a wonderful, wonderful experience. Of course, they all graduated and then there I was. After that there was always a quartet, but it was never quite the same. Give me your parents' names. My father's name was Orton Orvis Ortwein. That's O-R-T-O-N, O-R-V-I-S, and Ortwein. And, in fact, my first name is really Orton. I go by Dennis. But the reason I guess that I'm called Dennis today that was my middle name; after my very lovely, vivacious Irish grandmother, Anna Loretta Dennis. And my mother was Lorree May Story, like tell a story. Now, earlier you were about to say something about your IQs. The school ™ About what? Your sister's IQ. Oh, yeah. Okay. And you were about to tell a story, but you stopped. The school had called your mother. But you never finished that. Well, she called. I mean the superintendent called her over. And in those days, you know, the IQ was sort of like it was—nobody's supposed to know what their IQ is and not know what any other one's IQ is. And, of course, we're talking about a written test. It wasn't done by a psychologist. Anyway, they gave the test. My mother said the superintendent called her over. He says, I want to talk to you about your kids' IQs. And she thought to herself y'all must be a bunch of idiots. It turned out it wasn't quite like that. But anyway, she did have the highest IQ that had been recorded at that time. And I guess the rest of us weren't too bad. At any rate, all of the seven went on and did very well in college and did relatively well in life as well. Now, where did you attend college? Well, in this book there's a letter inviting me to play football at the University of Montana. I got into a car wreck after high school and got pretty well broken up. And I would have gotten broken up in college football, anyway, except I would have preferred that. So I went to University of Montana briefly. And on the way back home for a little vacation there were a couple of veterans who had gone back to college. They lived in my hometown. I guess there were six of us in the car. We came up over a hill and there was a farmer's truck across on a two-lane road. And we 8 went down and skidded right down into it. And I was in the death seat, you know, the third person. Here's the driver and then the middle seat. The front seat passenger. I was so, well, cut up, broken nose. My nose was almost a half circle. They put a white sheet over me on the side of the road, called my parents. It was just out of—going from Missoula to Helena to Harlowton, my hometown, there's a little town called Townsend. And so this would have been about eight miles out of Townsend, Montana. Luckily they had a hospital. And so I was taken to that hospital. I was there for I guess over a month. Fractured skull and so forth. Nose really almost off. So they must have had a great plastic surgeon. Well, it's interesting the way things happen because that wasn't my only wreck that year. But when I came back home it was interesting that—well, going back to the hospital now, so I was not—I really was not all with it mentally. So hopefully I got better. The doctor would come in— well, I had a radio. I'd find a ballgame on the radio. I'd think, well, gee, we ought to be able to go to the game. I'd say call the doctor. He'd say, look, you can't go now, but I'm sure we'll get it on sometime. And I'd say fine and listen to the game on the radio. But then I'd also want to sing. And they'd say, now, you can't sing because we have all these people and people are sleeping and so forth. So I would go down—I'd get up at night and I'd go down to a restroom and I'd go in there and sit on the toilet and sing. Well, of course, then they would—and I'd hold onto the knob and put my feet against—I'd be on the toilet and put my feet against the wall. And I'd hold onto that. Even then I was pretty strong. So finally when they'd get it pulled open, there'd be about four people pulling to explain to me, no, you can't sing; sing tomorrow. Well, then, of course, I guess I'd go back and go to bed. Well, then I went back home and I was—of course, my brother and sisters were either off to college—well, no, there was only one off to college at that time. All the rest were in school. So they'd get up and go to school. It got to where I would want to sleep till noon. My mother said, look, you can't just—life needs to go on. So, of course, everybody was waiting on me. And I thought, oh, gee, this is okay. Then she would have ladies come in to play bridge in the afternoon. I could bake pretty well, so she would give me assignments for doing things in the house and for serving the ladies. I thought, well, this shouldn't go on forever either. So I'd go downtown. And people had seen me. My younger sister, just younger than me that I sang with, Noreen, she'd be 9 kind of taking me along. So they had heard that I had done some kind of crazy things and they didn't know whether they could talk to me or not. Then I'd go ahead and act kind of goofy on purpose. Anyway, then the first time I went out of town my sister Rosalie had gone from Helena to Billings. She was in Carroll College in nurses' training, but then she was in practice, whatever, like practice teachers, practice nursing. She was still a student nurse in Billings. So we went back to get her for her birthday. My birthday is on January 28th. Hers is January 20th. So she is a year and eight days older than me. On the way back the three of us are in my dad's only car. And there s an S-curve. And it's January in Montana. And it's an S-curve. And we could see lights coming around the corner. I'm in the same seat as in the previous wreck. My sister Noreen, of course, is driving. Nurse sister Rosalie is in the middle. And as we go around here comes a big truck and she tries to correct. And it slips down and we hit the truck. So here I am. They had very minor—well, no. Noreen had a broken rib, the driver. Didn't have seat belts in those days. So I got thrown into the windshield again. But guess what? If you take your hand —take your hand right there. Feel that up there. See that, how that sits over the nose? Yes. Oh, yes. But this part right in here, the pliable part was like, as I mentioned before, sticking way out. And it almost straightened my nose. So they had been waiting to make sure that everything was okay on the fractured skull and so forth before they were going to re-break the nose. From that time on, I've gone through life bearing sort of a crooked nose, but it hasn't hurt me too much. No. You probably see it as crooked more than anyone else. Well, I haven't thought about it for quite awhile. So anyway, what happened then, of course, I'm laid up again for a while. So then my younger sister Noreen was going to go to Billings to Eastern Montana College, which is only like 90 miles from home. Missoula is like 250 the other way to the west, and this was to the east, south, southeast Montana. So I thought, well, I'll go there for maybe a year or two. But, of course, when I went there I got involved again in singing, got involved in student politics and was class representative of the student legislature. Also, we didn't have anybody paying for our college. Noreen worked in the hospital, St. Vincent's Hospital in Billings, which 10 1 From the Family Album Dennis and Betty Ortwein with their sons Mark, Matt and Jeff. Seven Ortwein siblings with their spouses. The Rosalie Ann Orion Dennis Noreen Adeline January 20, 1932 January 28, 1933 April 22, 1934 Orion Orvis Lome Mae Story March I S. 1910 junu 13.1911 Ro/rerl Keith January 28, 1936 Lome Kathleen July 25, 1947 John Lawrence June 14, 1944 Terra nee Arthur October 29. 1940 The Ortwein Family were all graduates of Harlowton High School (Montana) Dennis Ortwein (front row, third from the left) ~ 1948 photo was just a couple blocks from the college, as secretary to the nun in charge of the nursing, whatever the title is called. And I worked there in the hospital as an orderly. So if you spend several years as an orderly, you could probably write a book, too. But anyway, the nuns were very good to me. I had a little room where I could go and study. At night oftentimes things were quiet. But I did everything. I did catheterization and back rubs and fed the people and so forth. So how were you trained? Pardon me? How were you trained? To do that? Yes. Well, to be an orderly I think I showed up in white pants and white shirt. Then I had—it turned out that another fellow, who was actually student body president, was an orderly there. So I was like his assistant for a little while. We would go around and do these things, and, of course, the nurses would help you. I had very, very white skin. I'm about as close to being an albino as you can and very red hair. So it was easy for me to be embarrassed. The nurses, of course, liked to tell stories that would turn me red. But while I was—one day I'm sure I turned red—I went into the room and there was a lady in bed. I said, ma'am—you used to have those little porcelain bowls. Of course, you'd have the washcloth and towel and soap. Oh, you're talking about the bowl with the pitcher? Yeah. So I said, Ma'am, would you like to wash up for dinner? And she said, yes. So I turned around. You know, she had this little hospital gown on, she turned around and she was just stark naked. I said just your hands and face, ma'am. But it turned out to be a really good job. Then I saved money working for my dad in the flourmill. I went in the summer. When people went o