"So I washed myself out as a cadet pilot but remained a cadet and went into the B-29s and B-17s, the bombers. They put me on the B-17 as a gunner. I took two or three missions and decided that wasn't for me. They put you in position, and you don't get out of there until you get back. So I went on to the 29s as an instrument man. I would fly, but only in the states.
"I was working with the B-29s and B-17s and getting the boys grouped up, deciding who would go in what group to what plane. Everybody wanted to go with their buddies.
"I was in Amarillo, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Tampa. In Amarillo, Donald O'Connor was a good friend of mine. He was in the service there, too.
"I've got so many stories. In Sacramento, I wanted to go to L.A. to see Edna Salem. She used to live in Charleston beside the State Theater. I was thumbing from Sacramento to L.A. This man in a black Cadillac convertible passed me up. He drove about a mile and turned around and came back and stopped to pick me up.
"He said, 'Where are you going?' I said I was going to L.A. to see a friend from Charleston named Edna Salem. He said, 'That's where I'm going.'
"He knocked on her door and said, 'Edna, guess who I've got with me? Victor Asseff from Charleston. I picked him up thumbing on the highway.' Can you believe that?
"Poppa opened a bar and poolroom on Elizabeth Street, the Regent. Later, my younger brother and I owned it, and my older brother had the Regal downtown with George Simon. Lots of big-time football and basketball players came to the Regent. Rod Hundley was one of them. I used to loan him a lot of money, poor fellow.
"One day, George Brody brought in Luther Thomas, principal of Sharon Dawes School in Miami, and asked to bring him to my wedding so he could see an Orthodox wedding. He was marrying Sabe Howard's sister a week or two later. I said sure.
"Luther asked why I didn't go to college. I told him I had a good business going and lost out on the GI Bill. If you weren't registered for college or going to college by a certain date, you couldn't go on the GI Bill. They cut it off. Luther knew Pat McGovern who was in charge of the GI Bill. He said, 'If I get the GI Bill for you, will you go to college?'
"I told Poppa I was going to give my business to Phil or let Sheffek have it because I was going back to school. He said, 'Victor, you are too old to learn.' I was maybe 19 or 20. My cousin, Abe, was with him and told him to let me go.
"Pat McGovern sent a letter to Washington and got me four years of college and one year for my master's.
"I got my B.S. and M.A. from Morris Harvey and my master's from Marshall. I got a degree in administration, teaching 1-12 and counseling. From 1955 to the late 1960s, I was teaching at DuPont High School -- psychology and world and American history.
"Dave Acord was superintendent. He came to my office, said they needed a counselor at Roosevelt Junior High. I loved it. There's not a place I go that black people and white people, all the people I had in school, don't hug me and say, 'Oh, Mr. Asseff, there was never a teacher like you.'
"Roger Hicks, poor fellow, I had to give him clothes and shoes and he washed dishes in the cafeteria to eat. He worked at Stone and Thomas and would go to New York and Paris with the buyers. He left here and went to San Francisco. Today, the man is a millionaire. He calls me every day.
"When I gave a test, the good students had to take it. The poor students could look up the answers in the book. I never failed anybody. If they were failing, I let them do a project on some country or whatever, so I could give them a D or a D-minus.
"I retired in June of '83. I was in a little bit of real estate with my dad for a while. Then I got real active in the Masons, Scottish Rite and Shrine. This is my ring on the 14th Degree. From there, I went to the 32nd degree in the Scottish Rite.
"This is my father's house, the first house they built on this hill in 1953. He bought the whole street, from Bona Vista to Oakridge Drive.
"I drive the 1970 Electra 225 that belonged to my father. It has about 130 miles on it. Tony at Danny's up in Kanawha City keeps it up for me.
"I've done a lot things. I went to Cuba on my honeymoon. I've been to almost all the states, and I've met a lot of interesting people. The only thing I regret is, I would like to have been a fighter pilot."Reach Sandy Wells at san...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5173.