A rough-hewn man with rugged good looks, Grant Teats
was born in Sheridan, Oregon. He grew up the son of a school principal.
After graduating from high school, he went to Oregon State College,
where he was an outstanding student, football player, and middle
distance track star for Coach Grant "Doc" Swan's “cindermen.”
A member of Theta Chi fraternity, Teats graduated with a degree
in engineering in 1940. After college, he worked as a lumberjack.
Taking up flying at OSU, Teats left for Pensacola for training
as a naval aviator, eventually landing a spot with Waldron’s
Squadron 8. The biggest man in the outfit, he was first nicknamed
“Teatso.” Early on, the other men learned to never deliberately
mispronounce his name. Strong as a steer, he later acquired the
nickname, “Plywood,” after Commander Waldron chose him
to deliver a lecture to the squadron on any subject while the men
were waiting for the weather to clear before a practice mission.
Stepping to the lectern at the front of the ready room, he announced,
“Gentlemen, I have been informed that this organization is
ignorant of the fine art of manufacturing plywood.”
He then proceeded to spend an hour detailing the process from felling
the tree to the final product. An individualist, Teats was used
to running his own life, and didn’t like a lot of the navy
regulations on dress and behavior.