Well let's see - All 8 pounds no ounces of me started life on this earth at 5:00 AM August 29, 1934 in Longview, Texas - Gregg County
You might notice, there were no ounces in my weight and no minutes in the time. Your GranPa always liked dealing in round numbers and never likes writing a bank check with any cents in the amount. so, just maybe??
At the time of my birth, my Father was an Oil Drilling Superintendent for Ray Oil Company and he and my Mother were living in a rented house in the city of Longview. In those days Oil Companies provided housing for all their employees in a what was called "Oil Camps" because all the employee's houses were built together in one location out in the oil field.
Since he died at age 62 on June 20, 1962, None of you Grand Kids had the chance to meet your Great Grand Father Smyth - Whereas your Great GranMa Smyth has lived into her 90s so, consider yourself lucky to have all known "Granny" which she choose to be called soon as the 1st of you were born.
When my mom and dad arrived in Longview, Ray Oil Company was in the process of building an Oil Camp near Overton, Texas but, the house they were to live in was not ready so they rented a house in Longview for 2 months and it was in this rented house that your GranPa, Everett Ray Smyth was born and delivered by a Dr. Cook.
The rented house in Longview was a two bedroom brick house with an inside bathroom.
Then in November of 1934 When I was 2 months old, mother and daddy moved to the 4 room house in the Oil Camp which had a living room, kitchen, and 2 bedrooms but, NO Bathroom. However, they did have electricity.
Outside in the back yard was a bath house and a clothes washing house.
The bath house was actually an enclosed tower with a water tank on top which provided water to the house.
A ladder went up the side of the wash house tower to the water tank and when your GranPa was about 18 months old he decided to climb the tower. Luckily when he was about half way up, a neighbor noticed him and went over and coached him down while his Mother got all upset.
By May of 1936 when GranPa was 1 year and 9 months old, Ray Oil Companies activities in the great East Texas Oil Boom had slowed and my Dad was moved back to being a Pumper and we moved back to an Oil Lease near Wichita Falls, Texas.
8 Months later, In January of 1937 when I was 2 years and 5 months old, Mother and Daddy moved to a new Oil Lease 3 miles East of Lueders, Texas which was in the Post Oak Community near the Bluff Creek Ranch in Shackelford County.
Daddy was sent to the new Oil Lease still under development because the previous Lease Pumper had been killed.
The oil leases of the time had a centralized power house and all the Wells were pumped by this one engine through the use of rod lines running to each pump jack located at the Oil Wells.
These type engines had big bull wheels on each side which were used to crank the engine.
The cranking was done by standing up on the spokes of the bull wheel to get the engine to turn over and apparently on the firing stroke the pumper had gotten caught in the wheel and he was killed when the engine fired and started running.
To see one of these type oil lease operations, Click:.. HERE
On the trip from Wichita Falls to Lueders the weather was very cold with sleet and snow. My Mother has told me she had to hold matches near the wind shield to keep it from icing over so my Daddy could see the road. In those days cars did not have heaters or defrosters.
This trip is the first remembrances of GranPa's life because he recalls riding in the back seat of the 1936 Plymouth sitting behind an old upright battery powered radio which was hauled standing up between the front and back seat.
My sisters, Ellen and Eileen also occupied the back seat which only left the spot behind the radio for GranPa. At the time GranPa was low man on the totem pole in seniority because, Ellen was born on August 4, 1924 which made her 10 years and 24 days older then GranPa. Eileen was born on January 24, 1926 which made her 8 years and 7 months older then GranPa.
My sisters were older than I because their mother which was my father's first wife had died from tuberculosis but, that's another story.
I also remember my sister Ellen being sick and we stopped at a place called "9 Mile Hill" which was 9 miles west of Albany, Texas to get her some medicine.
The J. P. Vickers lease house was a 4 room box house and like the lease house in Longview it had a living room, kitchen and 2 bedrooms. And again no bath room but, now also NO Electricity and NO hot water.
Note: A "Box House" has no studs in the walls and is built from 1 X 12s butted together and over lapped with 1 X 4s. Some Historians give credit to the box house construction method for helping open up the west.
Same as Longview, in the back yard was an enclosed tower with a water tank on top which provided water to the kitchen sink.
In the summer time, the enclosed tower with a concrete floor also served as a bath house for taking a shower.
The bath house also had visitors because the first time my Mother (Your Great GranMa we call Granny) used the bath house, a big Texas Rattle Snake was there to take a bath with her.
The wash house was approximately a 8 X 10 foot tin shed and had a Maytag Washing Machine powered by a one cylinder Maytag gasoline engine.
Two tubs were used to rinse the clothes out and a roller wringer on the Maytag squeezed out the water so the clothes could be hung on a line to dry.
To see a photo of a Maytag Washer with the Wringers, Click:.. HERE
To see a photo of the Wash House as it was in 2003, Click:.. HERE
The Wash House moved into Lueders with the Lease House and you have the story of GranPa's Childhood Homes.
GranPa liked living in the country and on the oil lease because of the pure freedom of romping all over the big wide open space and there are other stories to tell but, let's get on to how GranPa got from "There to Here" and how you Grand Kids all ended up being born in Florida.
But, before you go or when you have time, you can read some history and see pictures where GranPa went to the 1st grade and lived on the J. P. Vickers Oil Lease in The Post Oak Community by Clicking:.. HERE
By The Way, while living on the lease, GranPa got himself a little sister who was born in the Vickers Lease House on November 20, 1937 when GranPa was 3 years and 3 months old. My little sister was delivered by Dr. Bailey who at the time was a Lueders Doctor. Two neighbors Sue Mims and Daisy Vickers helped Dr. Bailey with the delivery.
AND, when GranPa was 7 years and 10 months old, he got himself a little brother named Donald Ralph who was born June 17, 1942. I suppose the world was getting fancy because little brother was born in the hospital in Stamford, Texas and delivered by Dr. Metz. The hospital was called "Stamford Sanitarium" and Granpa has a story about the hospital which can be read by Clicking:.. HERE
We lived in the Post Oak Community until August of 1943 when my mom and dad purchased a house in the town of Lueders, Texas
GranPa attended the first two grades of school at the Post Oak School. Actually, attended three years because he took the 2nd grade twice. The first time GranPa took the 2nd grade he missed too many days of school to pass. This was because of the childhood diseases of the time which was measles, mumps and the like and then my mother's father, Grand Pa Cobb died and we had to go to Burkburnett, Texas to attend the funeral.
This put me a year later then most kids so, GranPa was exactly 9 years old when he started the 3rd grade in the Lueders Grade School.
During my school years, I was proud to be a Boy Scout and an Explorer Scout. In the summer of 1950 when I was going to be 15 years old that August I was fortunate to attend the Boy Scout Jamboree of 1950 when 47,000 Boy Scouts camped out in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania for a week.
GranPa has wrote of his scouting adventures and those stories are:.. HERE
After participating in all school sports, GranPa graduated from Lueders High School in May of 1953 at age 18 years and 9 months.
GranPa attended Ranger Junior College 1 semester and then left college in January 1954 to conquer the world. Stupid decision but, then teenagers do stupid things. Not because they're dumb but, because they have not "Been There - Done That". If teenagers would but use the vigor of their youth and the wisdom of their parents they would get further down the road of life a lot safer, quicker and cheaper.
After leaving college at age 19 and 5 months GranPa worked as a roustabout for Roeser and Pendleton Oil Company in Albany, Texas for a few months and then went to Sweetwater, Texas and became a roughneck on a large rotary drilling rig.
To can see a photo of GranPa on the drilling rig at Sweetwater, Click:.. HERE
Working on rotary drilling rigs is never dull and is a fun job but, very hard physical work. However, your GranPa was always kind of fond of hard work and real challenges of a job well done.
A draw back to working on the rigs is that like construction work, they have lots of down time and you are constantly going from one company to another and then back again as the contracts for drilling the oil wells are obtained. So, this means you are on the move a lot.
After a few months in Sweetwater, GranPa ended up in Abilene, Texas working for Travis Drilling Company and by this time I was a full fledged roughneck working derricks which meant I was the guy up in the derrick (tower) of the drilling rig.
In November of 1954 Travis moved the rig to Sequin, Texas which is about 40 miles east of San Antonio, Texas and I went with them at the age of 20 years and 3 months. Abilene and Sweetwater were close to were I was raised in Lueders and moving to Seguin and half way across Texas alone as a young man was a wonderful adventure but, also hazards when a dumb kid of only 20.
It might interest you to know, Sequin, Texas was named after a man who died in the battle of the Alamo and the Travis Drilling Company was located in Austin, Texas which is in Travis County Texas that got it's name from William B. Travis who also died at the Alamo and that is why the drilling company was named Travis.
I worked in Seguin, Texas until May of 1955 when your GranMa decided we would get married in August of 1955. Don't let her tell you any different it was her and we will tell you another story of how we met.
She was attending Denton State Teachers College in Denton, Texas and the plan became for me to quit my job and go by Denton to take her home to Stamford, Texas when she got out of school at the end of May 1955.
I was going to start roughnecking out of Stamford or Abilene and we would be married at the Baptist Church in Stamford on August 27, 1955 which was 2 days before I turned 21 years old on August 29th.
Typical of the unpredictability of the female mind as soon as I got your GranMa home to Stamford, she decided to go visit her sister Willette who was living in Odessa, Texas where her husband Roy Akin was also a roughneck.
I was planning on staying at home with Mother and Daddy and drive to either Stamford or Abilene depending on where the drilling crew I hooked up with was operating out of and get ready for our wedding.
However, a buddy of mine Lee Bledsoe had just gotten out of High School and he wanted to go to Odessa, Texas and start roughnecking. With your GranMa now in Odessa I reckon it wasn't too hard for Lee to convince me to go with him.
So, your GranPa and his friend Lee who also was to be the Best Man at our wedding headed for Odessa, Texas and the really big drilling rigs which at the time were drilling up to 18,000 feet.
After arriving in Odessa, GranPa went to work for Choya Drilling Company on a rig that was drilling an Oil Well to 13,100 feet out south east of Odessa, Texas.
Hiring out on drilling rigs wasn't much of a process. Most all the oil towns had a cafe where the roughnecks hung out and the cafe (we now call them restaurants) had a bulletin board or a black board to post your name, phone number and were you worked Lead Tongs, Backup Tongs or Derricks. If you worked Derricks that meant you could do all 3 positions of the rig. If you put down Backups it meant you could work Lead and Backup Tongs. If you put down Lead Tongs it meant you didn't have much experience and could even be a Worm. A Worm is somebody who wants to be a roughneck but, has no experience. It was also important to put down the model year of your car. Roughnecks had to serve their day of rotations of taking the crews out to the rig and the Drillers who were the ones doing hiring of the roughnecks always road in the front seat and the newer your car the more likely the Driller will call you first.
So, that's how you got a roughnecking job. Leave your name and phone number at the local roughneck's hangout and a Driller would come in, look over the names and give you a call and you went to work that very evening, night or next day depending on which shift the Driller was on.
Not being the richest folks in the world, Lee, GranMa and GranPa were all staying with Roy and Willette but, then GranMa left in a week or so and then Lee decided he didn't like roughnecking and he left. But, your GranPa worked most all the summer of 1955 in Odessa Texas, and then went back to Stamford just before his wedding to GranMa on August 27, 1955.
To see a photo of the Baptist Church where we were married, Click:.. HERE
After a 10 day honeymoon to Corpus Christi, Texas and Old Mexico, your GranPa and GranMa set up house keeping in a very small rented house in Stamford and GranPa went to roughnecking for Diamond Drilling Company, drilling 7,200 foot deep wells about 12 miles northwest of Stamford.
This was about as good as it gets when roughnecking, it took us about one month to drill the 7,200 foot oil wells and then we would skid the rig over to another location and drill another one. The 12 mile drive to work was considered a very short one and by 1955/56 drilling one well right after another in a proven oil field was rare.
Working Backup Tongs for Diamond Drilling Company I made $1.72 and hour. but, we worked 7 days a week which meant we got 2 days of overtime pay each week.
Derrickmen and Motormen always made 10 cents an hour more then the Lead and Backup Tong Guys. The Driller received considerable more per hour and it varied with no set amount above the roughnecks. The roughnecks pay scale also varied considerable from company to company and depending on the area and size of the drilling rig. But, usually ran in the range of $1.42 to $1.92 per hour for roughnecking.
GranPa and GranMa's 1st little house was located at 406 North Fergerson in Stamford, Texas It had a living room, kitchen, one bedroom and a bath. Probably not over 500 square feet of living space. It was furnished and rented for $45.00 a month.
To see photos of our 1st little house, Click:.. HERE
We had been given most of the stuff like pots and pans for house keeping at GranMa's Wedding Shower but, TV had come to the area in 1952/53 and so we had to have one of those. No color TVs existed only black and white but, we got a 21 inch GE floor model on credit at Weaver Meddling Tire Company in Stamford. GranMa got a TV and GranPa got a payment book.
After a few months, GranPa figured out that he could rent an unfurnished house cheaper and pay for some furniture with the difference and so he did and the house he found was just around the corner and it rented for $35.00 a month unfurnished. So GranPa and GranMa moved into their 2nd rental house at 313 East Davenport in January of 1956.
With the rent now $35.00 a month, GranPa could make a $10.00 payment each month for furniture without it costing any more then he was currently paying for a place to live.
Didn't quite work that way however, GranMa and GranPa purchased a brand new color matching GE stove and refrigerator for $500.00 from Weaver Medlin Tire company in Stamford. We also purchased from Weaver a used couch, chair and coffee table for $100.00 which was Weavers personal furniture he had just recently removed from his home. Weaver even added the $100.00 to the financing of the stove and refrigerator.
Payments on the $600.00 done used up all GranPa's $10.00 a month budget for payments so now what do we do.
Went down to Lueders and borrowed a bed off GranPa's folks.
Then for something to eat off of, we borrowed a chair, card table and dresser bench from GranMa's folks so we had a dinner table. GranMa sit on the dresser bench and GranPa got the chair.
Wasn't much but, we were in business with a $35.00 a month house and our own furniture. Your Great GranPa Smyth told me I was stupid, said I should get settled in a permanent place before I started lugging furniture here and there tearing it up.
Wonder why when some of your moms and dads started buying furniture before they were settled, I told them they were stupid.
Wasn't too long before we traded in the card table and dresser bench for a nice little breakfast table and 4 new chairs at Kinney Furniture Company in Stamford which I think cost $125.00 and of course another monthly payment for GranPa to make.
However, by this time your GranMa had started working part time at the Five and Dime Store in Stamford. It was called Five and Dime because most everything in the store either cost a nickel or a dime. We also called them "Variety Stores" because they sold a wide variety of merchandise. So, with GranMa's help we made our payments and started accumulating family things
To see photos of our 2nd house, Click:.. HERE
On August 3, 1956 or a little over 11 months after we got married one of your Moms came along and we named her Deborah Kay and called her Debbie.
About a month before Debbie was born GranPa had learned the well they were drilling on would be the last one and the rig was going to be stacked.
To "STACK" a drilling rig meant it was going to be put in storage for an undetermined length of time.
Now a laid off young man with a new baby and monthly payments can't fool around if he is responsible so, GranPa had previously made plans to move to Abilene, Texas were the opportunity for a steady job of roughnecking was more plentiful.
So, by the time Debbie was born GranPa was Roughnecking for J. E. (Jake) Miller Drilling Company in Abilene but, still lived in Stamford.
Then on August 26, 1956 which was 3 days before GranPa turned 22 he was promoted to Driller.
At the time, it was unheard of for anyone to be a Driller at age 21. At the time most all Drillers were past the age of 30.
As my father use to say, when drilling a well you could know what you were doing up to 6 feet deep because that's the depth you could make with a set of post hole diggers and see the bottom of the hole. Beyond that depth everything going on was a big guess by any Driller or Oil Man.
In other words it took lots and lots of experience and a lot of times of "Been There - Done That" to know what is going on at the bottom of a hole in the ground and that was the reason for Drillers being past age 30.
But, your GranPa always paid attention and learned fast. I always remember what my Driller, Buck Hainey told another roughneck back when we were working for Diamond Drilling Company in Stamford.
He had let me run the rig that day for the first time and I could run it. On the way home the Driller ask the Derrickman how he liked me running at him today. He said he didn't know because he couldn't tell much difference between me and Buck. The Lead Tong Man spoke up and said "well shoot he ought to be able to run it because all he every does while making a trip is watch you run the rig." Old Buck turned around were he was sitting in the front seat to where the Lead Tong man was in the back and said "J. T. some folks live and learn - Others just live" and turned back around. J. T. never said another word all the way home.
My lesson to you Grand Kids, "Live and Learn" and remember that GranPa always said 80 percent of the people in the world were pretty stupid. But, only because they are lazy and don't pay attention.
GranPa, GranMa and Debbie moved to the South side of Abilene in October of 1966 and into a rental house off of South 14th street with the address of 1258 Portland Avenue. Our rent was $75.00 per month. Abilene was a large town of about 90,000 people whereas Stamford was only 3,500 people so, rental houses cost more in Abilene.
To see photos of the 3rd place we lived, Click:.. HERE
The Miller Drilling Company had two drilling rigs and drilled shallow holes up to 4,000 feet deep. It never took us over a week or two to drill a well which could be as shallow as around 1,600 which was were the Bluff Creek Oil Sand was located in that area of the country.
Drilling the shallow wells meant we moved the rig a lot and were all over the area within a 100 mile radius of Abilene which meant we often times had to drive long distances to get to work.
The good part was the J. E. Miller Drilling Company stayed busy drilling one well right after another. AND a person could make a decent living by working 7 days a week.
However, there was still down times and in between those down times which might last 1 to 10 days, Your GranPa was always down at the Derrick Cafe in Abilene getting his name posted on the bulletin board as being available for work.
Your GranPa missed very few days working and often worked 16 and 24 hours a day by throwing what we called a double which meant you worked two 8 hour shifts of work back to back. AND, I have been known to throw the doubles back to back and one time didn't leave the job until after 72 hours of steady working.
When I worked the doubles I did not get Drillers pay I worked for the Driller in charge of that shift and received the roughnecks pay scale.
It didn't matter to GranPa because it was another dollar made for feeding hungry kids.
Working for J. E. Miller the Floor Hands made $1.62 per hour and the Derrickman made $1.72 and the Driller made $2.15
In the winter time and just before the end of the year we worked like crazy to drill as many wells as we could. We would even tear down and rig up at night which is usually done only in day light. But, the oil companies were wanting to spend up their drilling budget before years end so, they could write it off on that years taxes.
This was the way it was the last 3 months at the end of every year and we even worked on lots of Christmas days.
One year at tax time GranPa figured up he had worked over 400 days that year by throwing doubles and that same year had worked for 13 different companies. Worked for some only a day or 2 but, none the less 13 W-2 forms were submitted to the IRS. As was 12 the next year.
So, don't ever tell GranPa something is too hard, too long or your tired.
J. E. Miller Drilling Company was my home, my company and my rig and I always went back to work for them as soon as the rig started back up after being down for a period.
This was the nature of the drilling business and a way of life for all Texas Roughnecks and Drillers.
The Davenport street were we first lived in abilene was not paved and it was real dusty which meant inside the house stayed dusty. So, in August 1957 when Debbie was 1 year old, we moved to 1602 Shelton St. which was over on the north side of Abilene near Mockingbird Lane.
To see a photo of the 4th place we lived, Click:.. HERE
During the months we lived on Davenport GranPa bought a new bedroom suit from Kinney Furniture store in Stamford and returned the borrowed bed to his parents. The new bed later became Ray Jr's bed and then became his son, Ray III's bed. As of this writing the bed is still with Ray Jr.
While living on Davenport, I also bought GranMa a brand new Lady Kenmore Washing Machine to wash Debbie's diapers with. Before that GranMa had a wringer type washing machine except it was a miniature and about the size of a 5 gallon bucket. It was real cute and GranMa and I have always regretted getting rid of it.
After moving to Shelton we bought a 3 piece living room suit from Sears and Roebuck. (In those day it was not Sears but, Sears and Roebuck)
The Christmas of 1957 found your GranMa working at a Department Store just for the holidays. But, then after the holidays they wanted her to take over a department and work full time. I reckon that tells us your GranMa was a pretty good employee when it came to working.
GranPa had mixed emotion about her working but, we were wanting to buy our own home because both of us had the ambition to make a decent life for our family.
So, GranMa took the job with the department store and we hired a baby sitter to take care of Debbie in the day time.
After working for the department store a few months and deciding she didn't much like the job she applied and was accepted for employment at the Farmers Loan Association which was called "Production Credit"
So, GranMa was now a secretary and general office clerk as she and her boss ran the complete show out of a small office building on North Pine Street in downtown Abilene.
When you first start out drilling, your low man on the totem pole and have to work the midnight shift which in GranPa's case was 11 PM to 7 AM in the morning. In the oil field, We called this "Morning Tower"
So, GranMa was working days and GranPa was working nights at this time.
In October of 1958 GranPa and GranMa bought their first house located at 3189 South 20th St. in Abilene.
At the time GrandPa was 24 years and 2 months old, GranMa was 22 and 10 months old and Debbie was 2 years and 2 months old.
Our 1st home to own was only 2 bedrooms but, all the rooms were large and it was a real modern designed home. However, it lacked a garage and fenced yard which GranPa wanted so, a few months after moving in GranPa built a fence and a year or so later he built the garage.
The house had 1100 square feet and cost $11,000.00 so housing in those days cost about $10.00 a square foot and our 20 year loan at 4.5 percent interest plus annual taxes and insurance made the payments $88.00 each month.
To see a photo of our 5th house and the 1st your Grand Parents owned, Click:.. HERE
2 months after moving into the 1st home he owned GranPa purchased his first boat motor in Stamford at Christmas time with snow on the ground.
Never mind he had no boat but, he did have a motor and a big one too for the times because it was a 50 HP V-4 Johnson the first 4 cylinder outboard boat motor every built. Also the most horse power every in an outboard.
Ah, But to be young and stupid !! Nothing like it.
3 months after moving into the 1st home we owned E. Ray Smyth Jr. arrived at Hendricks Memorial Hospital in Abilene, Texas on January 16, 1959 and now Debbie had a little brother at age 2 years 6 months.
GranMa had resigned her job at Production Control and was not working when Ray Jr. was born.
GranPa continued to work for J. E. Miller Drilling Company and moved up to 2nd Shift Driller after a year and a half which would have been around February 1958. We called 2nd shift "Evening Tower"
A few months after Ray Jr. was born, GranMa went to work in the County Clerks office at the Taylor County Court House in Abilene.
Once again after another year and a half of being the 2nd shift Driller, GranPa was moved to 1st shift in August of 1959. 1st shift was called "Days" or "DayLights" and the Driller was referred to as "The Daylight Stud"
It was a meanless word but, I suppose he was called "Stud" because when the rig was moved all 3 crews reported to work on the day shift and the DayLight Stud called all the shots and the Evening Tower and Morning Tower Drillers did what he said.
So, now at age 26 your GranPa was "The DayLight Stud" in charge of moving the rig, running daylights and was also responsible for all the maintenance of the rig and the trucks to move it.
GranPa reported to a man called the "Tool Pusher" - The Tool Pusher was a neat job in the oil field because he never did any physical labor and was furnished a company car. He was also on duty 24 hours a day because he had total responsibility of the drilling rig and it's crews.
So, long as he had good crews the Tool Pusher had very little to do except see to it the next drilling location had the mud pits dug and was prepared to move the rig onto. Getting the moving permits from the state of Texas and things like that.
Miller Drilling Company had two rigs and GranPa always wanted one of the Tool Pusher Jobs. Then when a Pusher job came open and they consider me too young for a pusher job after I had been Drilling for 5 years for the company. I got mad and quit in July of 1961 when I was a month short of being 27 years old.
I reckon it was an OK decision because right after that the company sold the drilling rig I was working on and I would have been out of my Daylight Stud's job anyway.
Other forces also influenced my decision to quit. For over a year, the U. S. Air Force was in the process of installing the Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) in underground silos around Dyess Air Force Base at Abilene and lots of oil field workers had went to work for Brown and Root Construction who was doing the first stage of digging the silos and outfitting them with the Ground Support Equipment. Brown and Root had been hiring lots of people and paying top dollar for the Abilene area.
Your GranPa had not considered the silos because he knew it was a 3 or 4 year task to build the silos and then everybody was going to be out of a job.
However, when General Dynamics Astronautics (GDA) who built the Atlas Missile started running ads in the local paper and hiring people for the next phase which was the installation and checkout of the missile equipment and the rocket itself, some things fell into place.
First, after seeing an ad in the paper, your GranMa who had been making $200.00 a month working for the county decided to see what GDA had to offer. When GranPa came home from the drilling rig one day your GranMa showed me were she was offered a clerk typist job with GDA at $350.00 a month.
At that time and place, to almost double your monthly salary over night called for a celebration so, that night we got a baby sitter and went partying and then after taking the baby sitter home late that night on the way back home GranPa wrecked the family car. Nuff Said!! End of Celebration.
Shortly after GranMa went to work for GDA they had another ad in the paper wanting something called a "Preventive Maintenance Analyst" (PMA) and said "Must have experience in Diesel Engines, Water System, and Power Generation", which pretty well described the equipment GranPa had been around and working with in the Oil Field most all his 27 years.
So, Granpa decided to go down to GDA's local employment office and look into this PMA job. Suffice it for now to say, GranPa did get a job and went to work for GDA at Dyess Air Force Base.
There is also a story of how GranPa went from Oil Field Bum to Rocket Scientist in 90 days and you can read it by Clicking:.. HERE
So, after cutting my teeth on the oil fields of Texas and knowing nothing but, oil field work for 27 years, GranPa now had a most exciting and challenging job of learning about and working with rockets.
Sadly, for GranPa the job only lasted from September of 1961 to November 1962 or what was 15 months.
After turning over all the missile silos to the Air Force, in November of 1962 both GranMa and Granpa were laid off by GDA.
So, it was major decision time and with 2 kids you couldn't fool around forever making up your mind.
Of course, I really only had two choices and one of them was go back to the oil field or follow the missile construction of the time.
The oil field at the time was in a terrible slump and other jobs you might have gotten around Abilene were few and far between because all the employees who had been working on the silos were now also laid off and looking for work.
I had lost my father to prostrate cancer on June 20, 1962 and so the world was changing around me and I decided it was time to look for a future with more possibilities then going back to the oil field.
So, I decided to follow the missile business and see where it might lead me. At the time there were several locations you could consider but, I choose to narrow it down to 3 places I would travel too and seek employment.
The Boeing Company was building the first stage (S1C) of the Saturn Moon Rocket in a plant at New Orleans, Louisiana - They were also installing the Minuteman ICBM in silos in Wyoming and The Martin Company was installing the Titan II ICBM in silos at Little Rock, Arkansas
My first choice was to visit Little Rock and seek an interview with the Martin Company.
Debbie had just started her 1st year of grammar school so, GranMa had to stay home and keep her in school.
The Readers Digest version of this story was, I went to Little Rock and got a job as a Maintenance and Operations Supervisor with the Martin Company and reported to work the week of Thanksgiving in November 1962.
I always thought it neat to work 3 days and get a paid holiday. In addition to being off Thursday I ask and got off Friday so, I could go back to Abilene and make arrangements to rent our house and get ready to move our furniture which the company was paying for.
In the middle of December 1962, we all moved to a rented house at 524 North Dorothy Street in North Little Rock, Arkansas and GranPa commenced his M & O Supervisor job on the Titan II ICBM Silo at Beeville, Arkansas.
To see photos of the 6th place we lived, Click:.. HERE
The next big event in GranPa's life was Cynthia Rebecca being born on February 27, 1963. Debbie and Ray Jr. now had a little sister. Debbie was 6 years and 7 monthhs old and Ray Jr. was 4 years and 1 month of age AND GranPa now had five mouths to feed when he was 28 years and 6 months old.
The Installation and checkout of the Titan II Missile Silos was pretty uneventful and we completed the task and GranPa was once again laid off in late January of 1964 which equated to another 15 month construction job.
By this time, GDA was back at work on the Atlas Silos doing modifications and what was called the Atlas Update Program and GranPa made an effort to get back to Dyess Air Force Base and Abilene. But, GranPa's previous boss, Earl Coon had gone to Walker Air Force Base at Roswell, New Mexico and he offered me a job at Roswell so, we ended up moving to 1111 West Demming Street in Roswell in February of 1964.
To see photos of the 7th place we lived, Click:.. HERE
The Atlas UpDate Program was suppose to last a year. However, it was a contract requirement that just prior to turning a Silo over to GDA to do the Updates the Air Force was to run a simulated countdown and launch of the missile and then after the updates were completed, GDA was to run another to simulated countdown and launch before turning the silos back over to the Air Force. This was to prove the integrity of the launch complex systems before each change of who was responsible for the Launch Complex Silo.
During these simulated countdown and launch test the rocket is loaded with liquid oxygen and raised to the firing position. On 3 of theses simulated countdown and launch test the Air Force ran into problems and the end results was they blew up 3 of the launch complexes.
Loosing the 3 silos meant a considerable shortened Update Program and therefore Granpa was laid off and out of a job in July 1964 when he was one month short of being 30 years old.
By this time most of us were referring to ourselves as being Missile Gypsies, but in this case it was the nature of beast of how we had chosen to make a living but, GranPa had begin to wonder if this road he had chosen was going to work out in the best interest of his family.
Thanks to GDA, when the layoffs were eminent they invited the Boeing Company to come right into their offices at Walker Air Force Base and interview the GDA employees for possible employment at the Michoud Manufacture Plant in New Orleans, Louisiana where the first stage of the moon rocket was being built.
GranPa went in for an interview and in the end, Boeing hired 145 of the GDA employees at Roswell to go to New Orleans in July of 1964.
Once again the Moving Van showed up and we moved to a small 2 bedroom duplex at 2327 Jacob Drive in Chalmette, Louisiana and GranPa went to work as an Engineering Aide in the Sub-System Test Department of the Boeing Company.
To see photos of the 8th place we lived, Click:.. HERE
This meant that GranPa was running all kinds of test on missile and ground support equipment to verify they worked as designed before they were installed on the rocket or at the launch pad as the case might be.
The duplex on Jacob Street was a might small for us but, at the time decent rentals were very very scarce and it took us over a year to find another place. But, we finally found a 3 bed room house at 822 Pine Street in Slidell, Louisiana and moved there in August of 1965.
To see photos of the 9th place we lived, Click:.. HERE
Slidell was about 20 miles from the Michoud Plant but, GranPa car pooled to work each day.
GranPa never liked living in the New Orleans area very much because at the time, the metropolitan area of New Orleans stood at 600,000 souls and GranPa has too much country in him to live amongst that much congestion.
Fortunately, The Bendix Corporation's Launch Support Division came to New Orleans and advertised for employment at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Now after working in missiles for close to 4 years and always taking the testing to the point of just milliseconds before lift off, GranPa thought it time to go shoot himself one of theses rockets.
So, GranPa went down for an interview with the Bendix Launch Support at KSC and that is how me and your GranMa came to move to a brand new but, rented house at 4322 Baker Avenue in Titusville, Florida in November of 1965 when GranPa was 31 years and 3 months old.
To see photos of the 10th place we lived, Click:.. HERE
GranPa reported to his 1st day of work for Bendix Launch Support at Kennedy Space Center on November 8, 1965.
GranPa had a pretty responsible job as a General Foreman in the High Pressure Gas Department. When he first went to KSC he worked in the large Vertical Assemble Building (VAB) were the huge Saturn V Moon Rocket was assembled for launch.
The VAB has four bays to assemble four rockets at a time and these bay as is all the laboratories and test labs in the building supplied nitrogen and helium gas through 3 inch piping running through out the building.
It was this network of valves, regulators and piping that GranPa was responsible for.
After about 6 months the Mobile Gas Section of the High Pressure Gas Department had some technical problems and GranPa was placed in charge of the Mobile Gas Section to straighten it out and that is where he stayed all through out the moon landings.
The Mobile Gas Section had 115 pieces of high pressure gas equipment all mounted on wheels. Of this equipment there were 67 tube banks moved with 6 different tractors or what you grand children would call an 18 wheeler.
We also had several huge truck driven, trailer mounted oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen converters and trailer mounted helium compressors which pumped gas pressures up to 15,000 p.s.i.
When the moon rocket took off it was using the propellants and gases provided by your GranPa's crew.
The fuel cells and propellant tanks of the Apollo and Lunar Module Spacecraft sitting on top of the rocket was loaded with gas and liquids provided by GranPa's crew and even when the astronauts were out walking on the moon the backpacks keeping them alive had been loaded with the breathing oxygen provided by your GranPa.
When we first arrived in Titusville, we had leased the house on Baker Street for 6 months and at the end of our lease the builder wanted to sell the house so, we moved to another rented house at 111 Anna Drive in Titusville.
To see photos of the 11th place we lived, Click:.. HERE
In August of 1966 GranPa and GranMa purchased a nearly new house located at 2764 Hillcrest Avenue in the Forrest Hills Sub-division in Titusville, Florida. Granpa was 32 years old in August of 1966.
To see photos of the home we purchased, Click:.. HERE
After living in 5 different states in 3 years we were finally settled and GranPa's decision to follow his instinct begin to look acceptable.
At this writing in March of 2005, we are in our fortieth year of living in Titusville, Florida and our thirty ninth year in the same house at 2764 Hillcrest Avenue.