Archive for November 2017

1962~1963 A Year Of Change

November 5, 2017

My beautiful picture

So much happened this year looking back on it.   I mustered out of the Navy, worked in a sawmill, worked in a plywood plant, moved houses, met Patty, got married and joined the Air Force.  All that and more. 

As 1962 starts I’m in the Navy returning to Long Beach, California aboard the USS Mispillion.  I’m a Radarman 2nd class (a rating that doesn’t exist anymore, they’re called Operations Specialists OS now) and we’re due to spend time at home port doing maintenance and catching up on leave.  A lot of the sailors are taking leave and spending time with their families but I don’t have anyone so I spend my days chipping paint and going to downtown Long Beach to get in trouble.  We’ve got the Saratoga Bar, the New Yorker Bar, the Pike amusement park among others.  My Buddy Jim Driver, a Signalman 3rd Class, met a statuesque blond who worked as a barmaid at the New Yorker and married her on the spot.  Another friend, Huey P. Dugas, another Signalman 3rd Class, not to be outdone, proposed to the barmaid at the Saratoga and set her up in an apartment near the Pike.  Dugas had used up all his leave so he shipped-over to get more so now he’s looking at four more years in the Navy and having second, third and fourth thoughts.  A few weeks after he got engaged, he went on liberty to see his honey and caught her with another sailor in his apartment.   Meanwhile, I just turned 21 and to celebrate caught the Red Train to Hollywood and spent my birthday at the Hollywood Burlesque watching a very talented young lady doing interesting things with tassels. 

About this time, I got a call from the Red Cross that my Dad had a stroke and was in the hospital.  I asked for leave but was denied without going through some paperwork and getting the Red Cross to declare it an emergency.  I was incensed!  I had the leave saved up but the ship decided since I hadn’t scheduled it, I needed the Red Cross to authorize it.  So, I put in for discharge.  Since I was on an involuntary extension I could do that.  Dad survived the stroke but was in bad shape.   About a month later my separation came through.

I drew my pay and had about $800 saved up so I went to downtown LA and bought a car, a ’55 Ford Custom, and drove home.  This is about May or June.  When I got home I found Dad living with my sister Millie and Mom dividing her time between their home at Waldport and Eugene.  Bob offered me a job helping him move houses and Don offered me a job at Georgia Pacific. I decided to go with Bob since the prospect of working in a mill was what drove me to the Navy. 

It was interesting work and the only thing I didn’t like about it was crawling under houses where you had very little room and there were spiders and snakes.  My job, once we had the house loaded out on dollies, was to ride the roof and lift telephone wires and power lines over the house.  I’d tie off a rope to the girder on one side of the house and loop it over the house and tie it off on the other side.  Then I’d climb up the rope and use it to gain access and move the lines.  

Moody House Moving 2

One of the jobs we had was to move some old farmhouses so they could build Fall Creek Dam.  These houses we bought very cheap since the government had already condemned them and paid off the homeowners.  We had some property in Jasper that we were to move them to and place on new foundations.  One farmhouse was built on blocks and very close to the ground so we had to dig our way under the house to set our jacks.  There was a lot of dry rot and snakes and spiders, the stuff of nightmares.  Anyway, we got it in the air and loaded out.  It wasn’t pretty but should be a pretty easy move down Big Fall Creek Road to Jasper.  We were making pretty good time until we came to a bridge over the creek.  The road split on the other side of the bridge into Big Fall Creek Road and Little Fall Creek Road.  We got hung up on the bridge with our girders not clearing the stanchions of the bridge.  As we were standing around trying to figure out what to do, Bob Steele of the Oregon State Patrol came screaming up to us wanting to get to the other side because he was on to a poacher on Little Fall Creek Road and wanted to catch him in the act.  Bob was sweating bullets because we had expired PUC tags on the rig that was pulling the house and if Steele noticed that it would have been a big fine.  Bob Steele was so mad he didn’t notice the tags and Bob quickly got a chainsaw and cut us loose and Steele was on his way. 

 While working on those houses Bob and I decided to go fishing.  We left after a night of heavy drinking about 5AM so we could get an early start and made it as far as the bar in Jasper.  We decided this looked like a likely spot so we got our poles and were fishing the sinks on the other side of the bar and enjoying some beers.  Bob had the company checkbook open on the bar and we were having a good time on our fishing trip.  Well, as good a time as you can have when you’re hung-over from the night before.  Then Chet Rooks showed up.  Chet was Bob’s partner and he didn’t see the humor in our fishing trip.  Chet was upset about Bob’s having the company checkbook open on the bar and made a big deal of it.  Chet was a hothead and somewhat violent and was always angry about something.  Anyway, Bob bought him out and his brother, Buck Rooks, stayed with us.  My brother Pete joined us and we were very successful for awhile.  As long as Bob could stay focused on lining up jobs we were pretty busy. 

Bob was an alcoholic and couldn’t keep it together for very long.  House-moving is a boom and bust business and when the jobs started drying up Bob started hitting the bottle.  I could see that Bob wasn’t going to be able to make payroll with such a big crew so I quit and went to work for Georgia Pacific in their sawmill.  I was doing the same work as my future father-in-law was doing for Weyerhauser, stacking lumber in the drying shed and loading boxcars.   They kept getting after me to join the union but I was reluctant because it cost money and, in my experience, they would go out on strike at the most inopportune times.  Usually when it benefited the company like around Christmas or in the late summer when you couldn’t get in the woods because of fire danger.  They finally told me to either join or I was fired so I joined and they promptly went out on strike.    

About this time I met Patty.  Dave Wildt was a high school buddy of mine and we went into the Navy together he had gotten out sometime before me because he wasn’t involuntarily extended.  He was dating LaDonna Wyant and her best friend was Patty Lindsley.  Actually, Patty and Dave had dated first but there was no magic there, Patty said it was like dating her brother.  So Patty introduced her best friend to Dave and it worked.  Dave and Donna thought it would be a super idea to double date with Patty and I so they set up a blind date for me.  Actually, I think it was Dave’s idea and Donna had reservations.  However, my father died and I had to cancel so our blind date was postponed for a couple of weeks.   This is all covered in “How I Met Your Mother” in Chronospots.   Anyway, back to my story…

So, I’m out of work.  My brother-in-law got me a job in the plywood plant pulling off the chain and grading plywood.  I was working swing-shift and making $2.16 an hour and dreading coming back to work the next night.  It was repetitious, mind numbing work and I ended up with splinters in my stomach for months afterward.  Patty and I are married now and Patty was working at Sears and we were barely getting by.  We’d do our laundry at Millie’s and she’d slip some meat in our laundry which she said would just go bad because she took too much out of the freezer.  The Navy was looking pretty good now. 

I went down to the Navy recruiter and asked if I could get back in.  He said sure, at the same rate I was before.  But I didn’t want to be a Radarman anymore because the Seavay Rotation (time at sea versus shore duty) was 7:1.   I wanted Air Traffic Controller or Electronics Technician but he couldn’t offer me that.  So I went next door to the Air Force and spoke to Jim Peach the USAF recruiter.  He could offer me Ground Radio which was as close as he could get to ET but I’d have to take a reduction in grade of two paygrades to get it.  I took it and went to Portland to the Armed Forces Entrance and Examining Service center to enlist. 

They gave me travel pay ($300) to Keesler AFB, MS where I was to start my training.  I was going to leave Patty with Millie but Millie talked me out of it and Patty and I loaded our 1956 Dodge with everything we owned and hit the road.  Looking back on it, I’m surprised that Patty was going to let me get away with leaving her at Bob and Millie’s because she really wanted to go and I’m really glad that we went together.  I guess at that point Patty looked to me to be the adult and make decisions for both of us.  Boy, has that changed!

So, that’s the year of change I mentioned in the title and part of our life’s story.  Looking back there’s so many things that happened and so many ways it could have turned out completely different that it gives me chills to think about it.     

 

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