Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chapter 95 When Momma Ain't Happy

Charlotte was not happy about my great purchase of the Aronica and after much discussion; I agreed to sell the plane in 1972. I sold the plane to my friend Smoky Weidner who liked the plane. Smoky also had a Stearman biplane, but it took a lot of fuel to fly it as well as high maintenance. The Aronica was economical to fly and very low maintenance. You would think that's the end of the story but, as they say on the TV commercial,” But wait, there's more.” 

A month or two after Smoky bought the plane; Charlotte and I were sitting on the back porch at the farm one afternoon late. Here comes my plane low over the house. It circles and lands in the west pasture next to the house. They taxi up to the house and get out. It was Smoky and a guy he was selling the plane to. They sat down and had a glass of tea with us. Charlotte was blessing Smoky out for flying so low right over the house. I had baled hay in the west pasture and plowed it as well and knew there were a lot of terraces running across the field. I told Smoky when he took off to go way over to the west fence line where there were no terraces to deal with. 

They climbed in and taxied to the end of the field and started taking off right in the middle of the field, just where I told him not to. He came barreling down the field, and about the time he would get the tail up, he would go over one of those terraces he would lose speed and the tail would drop down to the ground. This repeated all the way down the field until Smoky got to the fence at the north end of the field. I thought he was going to take out the fence but, just before he hit the fence, Smoky literally jumped the plane over the fence into the next pasture. He continued down the north pasture toward the lake and the big trees around it. At the last minute he pulled up and just cleared the trees and disappeared beyond them. After a second or two, he reappeared climbing out to the west. 

The prospective buyer never flew again!! Smoky later admitted it was about the closest call he ever had. This was a guy that flew all during WW II crashing twice and being shot down another time. He spent some time in prison camps but was released when the American troops came through Italy. It was during his time in the Air Force that Smokey got his nickname.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chapter 94 Well-Wheeled

In 1970 we had a small tornado come across the farm which did a lot of damage. We had graduated from travel trailers to a slide in camper for our pick up. The kids loved it because they could ride back there and enjoy the freedom of moving around and doing things they wanted to do while we were traveling down the road. When we were not using it, I removed it from the pickup and had it setting on four 55 gallon drums. The storm picked it up and rolled it all the way down to the lake. It was totaled, so we purchased a small motor home to replace it-a Huntsman Class C Motorhome.  For the next fourteen years it was the recreation
 vehicle we used. It was fully self-contained. We could stop in a Wilderness area and have a hot shower, cook supper and have our own bathroom. We went to the coast and camped on the beach, we went to Florida for a convention; we just went everywhere in it. We used it as a moving van when Sus and Bruce moved back from Albuquerque. The trip to Florida was during the gas shortage and I installed an additional 50 gal gas tank, which gave me a range of 1000 miles. I was not going to get miles from home and run out of gas. It was on a Dodge chassis and got 14 miles per gallon which was tops for a motor home.
Every year in May we attended our Telephone Company "campout." These started around 1967 and we met every year until 2005 with this great group of friends. We started out in a Nimrod camping trailer, moved up to our dandy Huntsman. In later years, the group graduated to motels.

My interest in antique autos continued, I wanted to have an early V-8 Ford and heard about an original Ford 1936 four door for sale in Fort Worth. I went over there and could not find it. I went up and down north main in Fort Worth, asking about the car at every used car lot, etc. No one had seen it until one place a man, who was wiping down the used cars, came over to me and said he had seen it and a man a few blocks away had it. He described the house but did not know the address. 
I went over there and at the third house I hit pay dirt. Mr. Harris said yes he had a 36 and he would sell it. We went down to the garage where he opened the door and there sat a perfect original 1936 4-door deluxe sedan. There was a metal sign on the back license that said "Remember Pearl Harbor”. He started it and it fired off right away and sounded great. Even the old tube radio worked fine. The body was without a dent. We went back upstairs and sat at their breakfast table and negotiated price and talked from about 11 AM until about 3 PM. We finally struck a deal. I paid him $85 for the car and he gave me the title. Charlotte drove me over the next day, and I drove my prize back home.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chapter 93 Foot Loose

It was in 1969 that my boss at SW Bell,  Rusty Dunlap, called me in his office and said I was being transferred to Wichita Falls as the District Traffic Superintendent. He told me not to say anything to anyone else yet because it had not been announced. I immediately got a list of all the offices in the Wichita Falls District and a list of all the management people. I started to research all I could on the side, regarding the condition of the District. I checked their service results for the past year, and decided which offices might need help. In other words, I was preparing myself as best as I could without tipping my hand. A week or so later, the Division head asked me if Rusty had told me about Wichita Falls and I said yes but had asked me to say nothing yet. 

About a month later the notice was published, and a friend of mine, Clark Munroe, was announced as the new man in Wichita Falls. Clark was a good man; he was my Assistant Superintendent that I had in Seguin and New Braunfels. I had given him excellent appraisals, but I was devastated and went into see Rusty. He said he was as shocked as I and had called St Louis. It had been changed up there in spite of the fact that my name had gone up with every signature in Texas approving my appointment. I could not blame my Texas guys but I was not a happy camper. My year was up three months later and I placed my second letter of resignation on Rusty’s desk. So that ended my 20 years with Ma Bell.

I think the Lord knew what He was doing. About eight months later, Clark was pressured into firing a Chief Operator, which he did. A month later St Louis told him to rehire her and dressed him down severely for taking the very action they had pressured him to do. Three months later Clark resigned and became President of one of the Frost Banks in San Antonio. The other reason I say this was the Lord's doing is that for the next 40 years Charlotte, and I had the most marvelous life experiences doing so many interesting things that we could never have done had we stayed and worked at the Telephone Company until retirement. 

Around Christmas 1969 my partner Bob Hudgins and his family went to New Mexico on vacation. They returned in January, sold their beautiful house in the Park Cities, pulled the kids out of school, and moved to Albuquerque. During the rest of the year, we liquidated all of the property we owned jointly. I still owned the Mini Warehouse and 24 rent houses as well as the 14 unit Apartment on Oram Street.