Albert B. Dawkins
December 13, 2012
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|THE BEGINNING OF MILITARY SERVICE FOR ALBERT B. DAWKINS
Albert B. Dawkins served in the United States Military from June 9th,1941 until his discharge on October 31st, 1945. His enlistment was quite
by accident. He was in a group of five boy hood friends strolling along l6th Street in Denver when they encountered the United States Marine Corps recruiting station in the old custom house office building. The recruiting sign or poster on the front of the building invited young men to enlist in the Marine Corps. Out of curiosity they entered the building. A young sergeant greeted them warmly and answered their question, "How old do you have to be to join?" He replied, "You must be at least 17 years of age." The boys were soon ushered into the inner offices. A doctor was on hand to evaluate the health of each boy. It all went very quickly and the boys waited in the front office for the results. Soon the sergeant announced, "Albert Dawkins is the only one out of you five who has passed the physical and the others are rejected." He was given a form for his sister Delzorah Dawkins to sign consenting to his enlistment and was told to bring it back the next day. Albert's pals were dejected as they left the recruiting station, but although Albert was elated, he kept his thoughts to himself. Later that evening when his sister returned home from work he related his good fortune of being accepted for enlistment in the Marine Corps. Albert and his sister had been living in a small apartment on Logan Street in the shadow of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral for a year. For the seven years before getting the apartment they had lived in a foster home. Albert had grown up on the streets of Denver, selling newspapers on street corners after school and worked at various odd jobs including making deliveries for a meat market and a drug store on his bicycle.So when the opportunity to enlist in the Marine Corps presented itself he thought it was time to leave home and be on his own.
Besides, the pay was 21 dollars per month. Life long friends Jack Wilcox and Milford Douthit were thrilled with Albert's news, but insisted that he couldn't join without them, although they were only 16 and 15 years old. Jack and Albert left for the Marine Base in San Diego, California together on the California Zephyr of the Santa Fe Rail Road from Union Station and the train made stops to pick up other new recruits along the way. They traveled all that night, the next day and the day after arrived in San Diego. When they arrived at the front gate of the Marine Base by bus a grizzled old sergeant greeted them.
Life moved along quickly with four weeks of daily close order drill, three weeks on the rifle range and back to the Recruit Depot for a final week of drill. Albert was sent to the Field Telephone School on the Marine Base and went to school for six weeks. Not a week after graduation he was boarding the U.S.S. Wharton, a troopship at the Broadway and Pacific Boulevard Pier in San Diego bound for Hawaii. The first evening at sea he manned the rail, but was never sea sick again. The next morning Milford Douthit showed up on deck and they spent the next four days together until the ship tied up in Pearl Harbor on a bright and sunny morning. Albert remembered being amazed at the beautiful green hills sloping up to the tops of the mountain peak called the "Pali." A military convoy took them to the Marine Barracks at Pearl Harbor. Two weeks later they were on their way to Wake Island (10 privates and a group of civilian contractors) on board the U. S. S. Curtis, a sea plane tender. There was no place to land the ship so they laid off the island for ten days unloading day and night supplies to the island. The Marine Commanding Officer of the island, Major Devereau came on board and told the troop that they would be working hard when they came ashore to fortify the island against an imminent attack by the Japanese in the immediate future. He pointed out the Japanese submarine that was circling the island. Fortunately, Private Dawkins' orders were changed and he was sent with the other marine privates to Midway Island,only about 12 days before Pearl Harbor was attacked.Those days before were spent going to school on the disassembling and assembling of the 30 caliber, water cooled machine gun.
December 7th, l941, Private Dawkins was awakened by the first sergeant, yelling, "General Quarters!", "General Quarters." Every one jumped up, dressed, put on their packs, helmets and picked up their rifles and ran out the door. Since Private Dawkins had no assigned position he took his time, showered and walked out to the battalion command post. Everyone who had nothing to do were sitting under an Australian iron wood tree talking about the news from Pearl Harbor. He recalled that they weren't a bit concerned about the prospect of war and just spent the day waiting for orders. Later that evening they went to sleep under the iron wood tree, but were suddenly awakened out of sound sleep by loud noises and flashes like thunder. The sky was clear as a bell. It wasn't thunder or lightning, it was naval gunfire. Soon the shells could be heard coming over. In a lull in the firing Private Dawkins got up and looked out to the sea and a cruiser and a destroyer were clearly in view just off the reef around the island. Instinctively, he ran for cover to the command post a short distance away and just as he got inside there was a loud thump on the overhead of the bunker and sand drifted down through the boards holding up the sand. The command post filled up with people and the commanding officer, Colonel Shannon came from the adjoining room and said,"You young gentlemen will have to move outside, we can't do business with all of you in here." Where upon the Colonel put his helmet on and walked outside with the Sergeant Major and the young men all followed. The firing continued but the Colonel and the Sergeant Major just stood in the open commenting on the accuracyof the fire from the two ships. After a time the Gunnery Sergeant came out of the command post and yelled,"Fall in, we're going to go to the beach and repel landing parties." With that, hand grenades were passed out and fixed to their ammunition belts. Before they could leave, some one came out of the command post and said, "The Japanese destroyer and the cruiser have been driven off by our five inch guns and are sailing away. Private Dawkins and the other new recruits were dismissed and that was the end of their first day of the war. The next morning it was discovered that the cause of the thump on the overhead in the command post was an unexploded eight inch armor piercing shell. Soon, Dawkins was assigned to standing watch four hours on and four hours off on the battalion switch board of the 6th Defense Battalion. He didn't get a full nights sleep for the next eight months and was constantly tired.
Wooden dugouts were constructed that were covered with sand with triple deck bunks. The doors had a door frame on hinges covered with a blanket as protection against a gas attack. The first Sunday after Pearl Harbor a Japanese submarine surfaced off our reef and started firing
shells from its deck gun on to the island. This went on every Sunday at 6:00 P. M. until a few days before the Battle of Midway. The subs never got
very many shells off because the coastal batteries would force them to submerge or face destruction. Dawkins noticed that the firing from the subs sounded just like the gas door on the dugout when it was slammed shut. So out of boredom he slammed the gas door shut two or three times on a few occasions.The people in the dugout would immediately stop their continual black jack games and call the command post to see if it was general quarters. He never got caught, so it was a small source of amusement for him, a teenager in the beginning of WW ll.
Albert Dawkins was enabled to go to law school at the University of Denver by virtue of the G.I. Bill of Rights which paid for six years of his education. His freshman year started in January, 1946. Mona McGrew and Albert Dawkins met at the University of Denver in l946 in a political science class. She sat in front of him and he couldn't help but notice her beautiful blond hair. He asked her to go to a dance with him when some of his pals asked him to get a date and go out with them. She readily accepted and their courtship began. They were married in her Presbyterian Church in Denver some six months later all the while continuing to go to school at the University of Denver. Mona Dawkins graduated and began teaching. Albert Dawkins graduated from law school in June, 1950 and passed the bar on September 11, 1950.
STARTING OUT IN THE PRACTICE OF LAW
When he started practicing law on his own he had to accept the cases and clients that were offered. He found an office of a lawyer, Phil Rouse who was being called up for18 months by the Air Force for the war in Korea. Dawkins started out with about $800.00 in the bank, a wife and a year
old baby boy. By December he was down to 13 dollars in the bank. So he stopped by a loan company office on his way to the court house and asked for the president of the company. He told him, "I either needed a job or a client." The loan company happened to be looking for a lawyer to represent 15 loan offices and the big boss would be in that evening from Chicago. Dawkins met with this man and was hired on the spot, paid a 450 dollar retainer and was invited to the Christmas party.
Dawkins did not study negotiable instruments in law school but got a detailed education from his lawyer opponents who raised all of the defenses known to negotiable instruments. He had these trials just about every week in the Justice Court which was the forerunner of the County Court.
Most of the judges later went on to become District Judges in state and federal courts. One might say that they all grew up together on a diet of little cases on many factual subjects and applications of the law. In addition to collections, he represented many defendants in criminal cases both state and federal and in this way learned how to try cases to juries. In his first jury case he was to assist an experienced attorney who happened to be suffering from a hangover, so Dawkins had to pick the jury with the seasoned attorney as his assistant. Starting out on his own practicing law Dawkins learned to specialize in what his client needed.
Albert B. Dawkins in his own words: When my career started in the law in 1950 our Supreme Court had just adopted the "Rules of Civil Procedure." These rules in their original form were simple and easy to follow. Before that time we had "Code Pleading" which were complicated rules based upon the common law. Now with the passage of more than 50 years we lawyers and judges have created a new procedural monster based on the Rules of Civil Procedure. Now, the procedure is so complicated that the work load has become unbelievable. Only the rich can afford access to the courts today. The attorney fees are based upon lots of useless paper are enormous. When I started practicing we had a Complaint, an Answer, some times a Counter Claim and a Reply. We had trial by ambush as the present day lawyers call it. Today we have numerous motions, briefs and discovery using written interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admission and depositions. This has created volumes of paper that have to be carried into court on dollies by the lawyers. Most of these papers are never read by the judges or are only superficially inspected. All of this has extended the time between the filing of a complaint and the trial of the case. We used to be able to get to trial in less than a year but now it takes years to get to trial. The hall mark of this present day procedure is OBFUSCATION. The truth is avoided at all costs and cases presented in the most complicated fashion. What we need is a re-vamping and simplification of the Rules of Civil Procedure, quick trials and resolution of legal questions. It takes genius to make any thing simple, but any fool can make simple problems complicated.
SHAPING THE CAREER OF ALBERT B. DAWKINS
In 1958 Dawkins represented a share holder in the Central City Development Company in a proxy battle and won. This action fired the former president, George Ramstetter who was also Mayor of Central City, but kept him on the Board of Directors. The Mayor asked Dawkins if he would like to be the City Attorney for Central City, to which Dawkins replied, "Why would you want to hire me when I just fired you as president of the Central City Development Company?" He answered, "Because I want you on my side." This was the beginning of sixteen years as City Attorney. During that time Dawkins attended council meetings every month and represented the city in numerous cases including every thing a city does as water law litigation for example. William C. Russell,Jr. became a client and Dawkins represented him in many cases involving his real property ownership in Gilpin
County and Central City. In 1965 he retained Dawkins to upset school bonds that were approved at a special election for erection of a new High School in mid Gilpin county. Dawkins lost the case in the trial court, but won it on appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. The case was reversed for a new trial, but the proponents of the school bond issue, namely the residents of the northern half of Gilpin County seceded from the Gilpin County RE-1 School District and joined the Boulder Valley School District.
During the years after 1958 real property cases were a constant part of Dawkins' business involving contested and non-contested quiet title actions, as well as the prosecution and defense of many right of way cases and contested easements. It was a period of growth and expansion every where in Colorado and especially in the mountains.
THE FAMILY OF ALBERT B. DAWKINS
Son, Bruce was born three years after Mona and Albert were married in 1946. Mona taught school for two years while Albert finished law school. After his graduation in 1950 the family moved to a small three room apartment with a bath in East Denver by City Park. When Albert began practicing law that fall, Mona quit teaching to raise their son. In l953 the Dawkins purchased their first house in South East Denver. Their daughter, Mary Elizabeth was born in l956. In 1961 the family moved to Littleton.In l973 they moved to a cabin in Apex Valley on upper North Clear Creek and started building a house on to it that fall. Mary graduated from Clear Creek High School in the Spring of l974 and left the day afterwards to begin her life as an adult. Bruce had already been gone since l972 having graduated from Metro State College in Denver.
In his own words: All in all I always paid the bills and raised my children by the practice of law.The best part of my marriage to Mona was the birth and raising of our children. I am very proud of them and I think they are wonderful people. I retired July 2nd,l991 after 41 years practicing law.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
His own words: I was shaving about a quarter of seven in the morning listening to the news on the radio when it was
announced that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers. I finished and went down stairs and turned on
the television and watched horrified and fascinated while the next Trade Center Tower was hit by a second airplane. After
that terrorism became the only topic for the day especially in Washington where Congress passed the Patriot Act, Homeland
Security and other emergency legislation. Then late in 2002 the propaganda to start the War in Iraq began and the Resolution
giving the President the sole discretion at his will to wage war was passed by Congress. After that it was in the first part
of 2003 that the President invaded Iraq. Here we are over three years later (2006)and there is no end in sight in Iraq.
Having survived three years in the Pacific in World War ll in the Marine Corp, lived through three years with Korea, then
eight years of Viet Nam and now Iraq it all seems like the same old story over and over again. I guess we never learn in the
United States we just keep repeating the same old mistake over and over again. Also our two parties are always in on the
quick decisions to go to war. Why is this? From my point of view I think Americans associate prosperity with war and the
casualties are not that important to us. Besides, who cares about teenagers, besides their parents?