Monday, May 28, 2012

A Pattern Emerges

If you read the first post about my enlisting in the army, you might remember how I never seemed to get what I wanted. The recruiter signed me up to be a veterinary assistant. But, after all the tests at the processing center, they sent me to school to be a construction equipment repairman. Then, at the engineer maintenance platoon, they learned I could type, so they had me replace the parts clerk. But, that wasn't the end of it by any means. When the company clerk departed, I ended up behind his desk.





Back home and after working in the service station for 4 or 5 months, I met some guy who wanted to share an apartment in North Hollywood. I jumped at the chance to truly get out on my own. The complex was a bachelor's dream with most of the apartments occupied by Stews from TWA, Pan Am, American, and others.
I realized that being a grease monkey was not what I wanted to spend my life doing. I was told that National Cash Register Company was hiring technicians to repair their equipment – and they would train you.

 

Those were the days when I owned a suit and tie so I dressed up and headed downtown to the NCR office. I filled out an application and they gave me a test right away. Being very good at taking tests, I was not surprised when the interviewer told me I'd aced it – no misses. He then gave me another test very much like the aptitude test the army gave me when I first enlisted. Again, the results came back very positive and I was offered a position where they would send me to Akron, Ohio to learn to repair their cash registers – and banking machines.
Oops! There was one little hitch. It would be several months before the classes would start. However … If I was interested, there was an opening in their parts department. I could work there, gain seniority, and learn a lot before going back to Ohio.
Why not? It was better than pumping gas and cleaning windshields.
I signed the contract and reported by my new job the following Monday. Earning a lot more than in the service station.
Even after all these years I can see the guy who ran the parts room. His name was Ed and he'd worked for NCR since the turn of the century. He told me he'd worked on the first cash register with an electric motor. The guy knew where every nut, screw, bolt, and pin in the large parts room was located. A tech would come in, show him the part, and he instantly knew where to find it. He could even tell the year and model of the machine it belonged to!
I don't know why, but it turned out to be an easy job for me. I, of course, had to follow the various manuals and lists Ed had on hand but I quickly learned where most of the stuff was and how to check stuff in and out.
And then Ed dropped the bombshell on me – he was planning on retiring and had selected ME to be his replacement. Oh goody. At 21 years of age I could look forward to spending the next 44 years or so stuck in a room full of parts and a service counter.
Security. Good retirement package. A company that would be around for years to come. What more could I possibly ask for?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Life Changes

I returned home to Southern California after 34 months in the Army. I encountered changes. Lots of changes.

At least, unlike a lot of the guys and gals coming home today from Afghanistan, I had jobs waiting for me. Not exactly what I wanted, however. I went around to a lot of construction companies to try to get a job repairing construction equipment - what I'd learned at the Army's Engineer School in Virginia. But, because I didn't have a lot of hands-on time, they weren't interested. In the end, I got a job working in a service station.

Back in the 60's, Service Stations were just that. You drove in and asked for gasoline. While that was going into your vehicle, the attendant lifted the hood and checked your oil, water, belts, and hoses. Some of us even checked your tire pressure. Sometimes - not very often - we even got a tip.

I don't remember much about the owner but he put me on the late shift where I think I closed up about 9 p.m. The day shift mechanic went home about 5 p.m. so that left it up to me in the event someone drove in with a problem. I wasn't the greatest mechanic in the world but always managed to get the vehicle back on the road - while attending to the pumps at the same time.

I had moved in with Nana Duple as there was nowhere else for me to go. I had the same room I'd grown up in. I either rode the infrequent city bus - Olympic Boulevard to Western and north to Sunset Boulevard - or a bicycle I bought - I was in very good shape back then.

After six months, I'd saved up and Nana Duple co-signed for me as I bought my very first car - a beauty.

1957 FORD FAIRLANE IN ZIMMERMAN, MINNESOTA [Mine had gold trim and a big 500 cubic inch V8]

That gave me the mobility to visit some of my old haunts - and old friends. That's when the changes really hit me. My guy friends were either all married or about to be so. The "other" friends were the same - except for one who ended up finding me. Things between us were never meant to be.

So, when I read of our veterans returning home in these days, I can sympathize with what they face. Not only be removed from a "family" closer than one's blood kin, but facing those who've gone their own ways. And, I don't know how they deal with being unemployed and facing the despair of not knowing how to live or support one's family.

So, may God bless all of them and I pray things will turn around before too long so they have a chance to enjoy the dreams and plenty this wonderful country once had - dreams they laid their lives on the line for.

Photo Montage

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sorry for the Inactivity

Been very busy doing a variety of things.

First of all, just finished, The Mission Bloom, Book Four of Father Serra's Legacy. Even did the first automated spell/grammar check, so all I have to do is line edit it before sending it to my publisher.

Finishing it showed me I've still got some more to tell about the founding of the California missions. But, I'll leave that for you who have found and are following my other blog; Father Serra's Legacy @ http//:msgdaleday.blogspot.com  I hope you'll stop by and check it out.

As for my posts here, please bear with me as I plan on posting some more in the near future.

Thanks for your patience.

MSgt Day