Friday, November 30, 2012

Chapter 75 Work Hard for the Money

Two of the guys at Floor Service wanted to open a service station on the side and I backed them. I had no intention of working at the gas station but the two of them sort of quit or at least would not work at making the venture a success and I had to step in and help. I never worked so hard for so little in my life.

It took me about two years to discover the owner of Retail Rental was not handling the money as he should. I didn’t want to have any part of that so I resigned. Another learning experience: not doing my due diligence. I had a dilemma. I had resigned from two jobs in the last three years and that was not a good thing to have on your resume. I applied at several firms but no luck. I did have offers from Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. and New York Life. Both offered a draw against commissions but I had a wife and three kids to support and I really was not sure about my ability to sell. I finally decided to go with Connecticut Mutual.
However, about the middle of March in 1961 the Vice President for Texas for the Telephone Company called and asked if I would like to return to the Telephone Company. I said yes, if it was not in Engineering. He said it was not and on March 20, 1961, I was re-hired as the Traffic Results Supervisor. The company had a group called Service Observers who monitored the service and measured it. They would stay on the line until the customer answered and then drop off, not listening to any customer conversation. We had these observers in Dallas, Ft Worth, Wichita Falls, Lubbock and Amarillo. This was the group I was to supervise. I had two managers to assist me and a Chief in each office. This was more like it, though I still wanted to get back to District work. I tried to be the best Traffic Results Supervisor they ever had and did fairly well. I received several nice raises and letters of commendation. They called me to St Louis (Southwestern Bell’s five state headquarters) to assist in training other Observing offices.
We still had the “Casa View Sinclair Service” business and Ernie and Jerry had continued to let it run down. Being the “silent” partner I had to spend more and more time there. I would get up and drive across town to the East side of Dallas and open the station at 6AM. I would get to the office by 8AM. At seven in the evening I would return to the station and close at ten or eleven. I finally told those two they would have to shape up or I was going to sell the station. That was okay with them because they had very little money invested in the deal. I sold it as quick as I could, at a loss of course. I had learned my lesson-several, in fact:
1. Never invest in a new enterprise you do not run yourself.

2. Never be 90% of the money in any deal where you are not running the show.

3. Never trust anyone to be willing to work at a deal as hard as you do.
4. Never get into any business that you know nothing about!

Sinclair logo found here.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chapter 74 Risk and Rewards

I absolutely hated working in the engineering department in a tiny room without even a window. Also, I was not having much interaction with other people, just working on engineering dial offices all day long. I would go out on the fire escape just to get fresh air and see the sky. I felt like I was in sort of prison up there on the ninetieth floor in downtown Dallas. After about a year I went in to see my boss, Mr. McDade, a very kind man, and told him I needed to get out of engineering. He said he would see what he could do.  I managed to stick it out for almost one more year.

At this moment in time we had another very moving experience. We were attending Highland Park Presbyterian Church every Sunday. While Charlotte and I were trying to decide about leaving the Telephone Co. Dr.Elliott, our pastor, spoke one Sunday on, “where you spent your working life.” He spent the whole sermon emphasizing that one should not spend their life in a job that was not rewarding to them. Charlotte and I looked at one another several times during his sermon and wondered how he could know so many of our job frustrations he was describing.

On November 1, 1958, I laid my resignation letter on Mr. McDade’s desk. He tried to talk me out of it, but I had made my mind up after discussing it with Charlotte. Even though I was giving up all the health benefits and the guaranteed retirement, Charlotte and I had agreed that it was time to leave. I was surprised when they told me that no one in management had ever resigned from the Traffic Department and reminded me that I was giving up a lot. They even gave me a going away party with gifts, and letters of recommendation.

Charlotte had to be really committed to my happiness to agree with me to leave the company after ten years with three small children at home. In the last six months I was with the Telephone Co. I had started looking around and making inquiries as to job possibilities. I had offers from several insurance companies and Real Estate brokers but a small company that needed help intrigued me the most.

I went to work as Executive Vice President and COO of a company called Floor Service Company. We had about 6000 floor polishers in the drive-ins and grocery stores for people to rent. We had District men all around Texas that would go by the stores once a week, and collect the money and give the stores their commission. We sold franchises in states other than Texas and they purchased their polishers, racks, record books, and supplies from us. We next established stores that had tools, equipment, camping trailers and hospital equipment for rent. We called these stores Retail Rental Stores. I set up a woodworking business to build racks for the 7-11 Stores. I hired my neighbor and my old boss at the telephone company to help me turn out the racks.

We branched out and opened a Retail Rental Store that had a complete line of rental products. Party supplies, medical equipment as well as all types of construction equipment. We also became dealers of Nimrod Camping Trailers. We sold and rented the trailers and did a brisk business in that line. We incorporated the company as Retail Rentals, Inc. We were pleased with the rate at which our business was growing.

Photo of Dallas skyline circa 1960 found here
Photo of Highland Park Presbyterian Church sanctuary found here.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Chapter 73 The One Who Heals

In January, 1960 Charlotte stopped in at the grocery store at one of those portable x-ray units. About two weeks later we got a post card with the results; all it said was for her to check with her doctor. We immediately went in; they did a lot more x-rays and we soon had the result. Charlotte had a tumor in her left lung. We were both devastated. Her surgery was scheduled at Baylor with the best surgeon in town. Charlotte’s brother Bill who was a doctor in San Antonio recommended him. Both Bill and her brother Bob came to Dallas to be with Charlotte. Bill was to be in the operating room with Charlotte.

White Rock Lake
The afternoon before the operation, Charlotte and I went to White Rock Lake and sat on a park bench there and had a long talk. The bench was on the Southeast side of the lake just a little north of the present Dallas Arboretum.  We also had a long prayer together. Neither of us knew what to expect, but we knew it was really serious because the way they insisted she be operated on immediately. The doctor had given us very little information and Bill was worried, so he had rushed to Dallas to be with her.

We checked her into Baylor, and she was soon on her way to pre-op. I cannot convey the emotion we felt as I kissed her just before they wheeled her through the doors and away from me. The surgeon came out after they had wheeled her in and sat down with me. He was very serious. He said he would do his very best but they would possibly have to remove the left lung and she would be in the operating room for as long as six hours. I cannot tell you how frantic I was and how helpless I felt. She was away from me and I could not do anything to help her. As the doctor turned to go, I immediately went downstairs to the Chapel there in Baylor. I don’t mind telling you I was crying. I had not cried in twenty years. I got on my knees in that Chapel and prayed like I had never prayed before. Over and over I pleaded with God to intervene and help Charlotte as well as the doctors.

 I guess I was there about an hour and I finally went back upstairs to the waiting room. I had not been there another hour when Bill came out and he was shaking his head. I almost died on the spot. He came over and sat down and said that when they got into the operation they found the tumor, and it was attached to the back of the left lung by a small muscle like a stem. The tumor was about the size of an apricot and they just snipped the stem and that was it. Bill said that they all agreed that it was obviously benign.
Chapel at Baylor Hospital

There is no way for anyone to ever convince me that this was a not a MIRACLE performed by GOD. We had experienced a miraculous act by an awesome God and it was an incredible experience for us.  After Charlotte was in recovery Bill, Bob and I decided to go out for a little something to eat. I insisted that we all go to the Chapel first and thank God for His miracle. They reluctantly followed me there and after giving our thanks we did go eat. A week or so later we got the report that the tumor in fact was benign and we had nothing further to worry about.
Photo of White Rock Lake found here
Photo of Baylor Hospital Chapel here.