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Reunion of 3 From Rainbow Division

January 16, 1987|Amy Mednick

On a cold day in January, 1945, Army Col. Carlyle Woelfer and one of his men saved squad leader Adolfo Morales' life on a World War II battlefield in Alsace-Lorraine, France. Last week, Morales and his rescuers were reunited in Los Angeles.

It was a time to recall what had happened more than four decades ago: Morales and his squad had checked the enemy's position and were on the way back to their camp. They crossed an open field and came upon German troops, according to Sam Platamone of Temple City, who fought alongside them in the Rainbow Division.

Morales stayed behind and ordered his squad to withdraw one by one, and as he crossed the snow-laden field, he was shot 33 times. It took two hours for Woelfer and Jay Kriz, another member of the Rainbow Division, to rescue the critically wounded Morales, braving enemy fire as they carried a stretcher across the field to him, Morales said. Woelfer--who went on to become a career Army officer and now lives in Fayetteville, N.C.--suffered minor injuries himself, Morales added.

The two men had not seen each other since that day. "This is one of the most beautiful days of my life, " said Morales of Inglewood, who himself was credited with saving the lives of 20 comrades in battle. "I never expected to see him again but good fortune has brought us back together."

It was Platamone, a retired postal service worker, who arranged the reunion at his Temple City home. Also attending was Kriz of North Platte, Neb., who later became a bank statistician.

Morales was severely handicapped from his wounds, losing an arm, but has taught himself to walk after 21 operations. He retired from his job at the California Department of Employment two years ago.

"He has proven that if you believe in yourself, you can win out over any adversity," Woelfer said.

Art of a Blind Man

Another winner over adversity is sculptor Keith Johnson, who cuts slab forms into free form designs to produce the primitive and architectural style of his tall ceramic work.

Johnson, who lost his sight at age 14, has almost completed work for a master's degree in art at California State University, Los Angeles. He had his last series of sculptures displayed last month in the master's degree art show at the college's Fine Arts Gallery.

"In (the) last series I'd been working on I was trying to express my feelings about what contemporary modern man has done to the environment," Johnson said. "What we build is not blending into the landscape. Its detracting from what nature is giving us and makes it look ugly."

Johnson said in his youth, when he could see shades of light and dark, he would walk in the mountains above Fresno and hope society wouldn't destroy their beauty.

His interest in art began in his childhood when he could see enough to do line drawings. After he became blind, Johnson switched to modeling clay, later learned how to do simple pottery, and then in 1981 began doing sculptures.

Johnson, 44, is also a special education assistant at the Los Angeles Unified School District's Frances Blend School, a school for the visually handicapped.

He says he would eventually like to get a credential in special education. In teaching, Johnson would like to incorporate his knowledge of art into his classroom and use it as a learning tool.

"A lot of times art is used as a reward, my idea is to use art as an educational tool," he said.

One of Johnson's sculptures is on tour in "Art of the Eye," an exhibit made up work by visually handicapped artists.

Married to His Work

Screenwriter Lew Hunter is so attached to his monthly "writing block parties" for writers, students and producers that he and his wife Pamela had one of their four wedding ceremonies at one last year. As in the three other ceremonies, the couple dressed in kilts and said their vows to a background of bagpipe music, but this time a writer friend performed the marriage rites on the front porch of their home in Burbank.

The monthly gatherings on the first Friday of every month usually attract about 200 people to socialize, cultivate connections and discuss "scenes, people and life," said Hunter, a UCLA writing professor.

Hunter offered the use of his home in Burbank to his UCLA students seven years ago as a place to discuss scripts and ideas informally on a regular basis.

"It becomes a home away from home (for out-of-towners), one place that they're welcome to come to once a month," said Hunter.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1957, Hunter did all types of Hollywood jobs to establish himself. In 1969 he began writing professionally for programs like "Batman," "Bewitched," and "Peyton Place."

Old Flag-Waver

There may never have been a U.S. flag outside the tiny post office crammed into the corner of a 7-Eleven in Pensaquitos, Calif., but Lela Goff fought for and funded one in the northern San Diego County town of 30,000 people.

As a contracted office the postal service is not required to have a flag, but according to Goff's Texan grandson Dusty Dooley, his grandmother is "real patriotic."

For a time there was a flagpole, but no flag. Goff eventually bought one, which after a while became faded and torn, she said.

Now 70-year-old Goff, who is ill and is not able to maintain the flag, wants a young person in her community to take the responsibility for keeping a new flag flying.

When Dooley and the rest of the family came to visit this summer, they offered to buy Pensaquitos a new flag. Since then, others have offered flags, but no one has volunteered for flag duties.

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