Today is my husband Jack’s 79th birthday. This picture was taken at his 76th birthday party, and he still looks the same. He has a few health problems and has slowed down some, but he’s still just as fun-loving as ever with a fantastic sense of humor.
Sometimes he remembers things from the distant past more readily than current events. We spend a lot of time just sitting on the front porch talking. He enjoys telling stories of favorite things that have happened in his life.
He was the highest paid engineer in his graduating class from Texas A&M—by $1.67 a month. In 1960, he made a whopping $551.67 per month! He had interviewed with three companies and been offered a job by all of them. He chose Frigidaire Division of General Motors in Dayton, Ohio.
On one occasion, his crew was supposed to make the sides and backs of a particular model of refrigerator. After the whole job was finished, the quality control engineer, who had approved the line setup, discovered that they made the wrong model. Jack’s boss told him to discard the wrong ones since all the refrigerators for that model year had been made. However, Jack couldn’t stand to throw something away when it might be used. (He’s still that way, making him something of a hoarder.) He had his forklift operator move a bunch of material in the storage area out, put the sides and backs at the very back of the storage area, then put the other material in front of them. A couple of weeks later, an order came through to make sides and backs for the Canadian manufacturing plant—the same model that had been made in error! Jack had the forklift operator move the parts from the storage area to the train siding, then called his boss and said, “We’ve finished that order. What do you want us to do for the rest of the shift?” That fast turnaround gave his department the highest efficiency rating in all of General Motors—all because he couldn’t stand to let something go to waste!
Jack also earned another distinction at General Motors—he was responsible for the firing of the only union employee to be fired in a long period of time. The employee accosted Jack one day complaining about something, and in their encounter, the employee grabbed Jack’s tie and pulled Jack toward him. Although management was hesitant to take on the union to fire one of its members, everyone agreed that was an assault that couldn’t be tolerated. Jack went through the lengthy process, until finally one day, three burly armed security guards showed up at the assembly line and escorted the employee outside the plant with orders never to return.
Although he really liked his job and his bosses really liked him, Jack finally decided that “you can take the boy out of Texas, but you can’t the Texas out of the boy.” He took a job at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio and moved back to Texas.
A couple of years after Jack went to work at Kelly, I got a summer job in his office. Jack often says—and I agree completely—that divine intervention led him to move from Ohio to Texas!
Another fond memory Jack loves to talk about is his proposal, if you can call it that. We were sitting on the couch in his living room (in the house we still live in today), and I was telling him of my future plans for my last year of college and after graduation. He looked at me and said, “When are you going to marry me?” I responded, “When are you going to ask me?” He said, “I’m asking,” and, obviously, I answered, “Yes!”
At first, my father didn’t approve. Jack was nearly fourteen years older than I was, and he had been divorced. Worst of all, he was a city slicker, and my father was convinced he was going to take advantage of this little country hick. However, it didn’t take long for Daddy to come to love Jack like a son. Mama had loved him from the first time she met him.
I returned to Georgetown, Texas for my final year at Southwestern University. Because of advanced placement in several courses and taking 20 hours per semester, I lacked only one course to graduate after three years. We were married on May 31, 1967, a few days after I finished school. That summer I attended a local community college and took the first and second semesters of American history simultaneously, but I had to wait until the following spring to graduate as Southwestern had only one graduation each year.
We’ve been married for more than 44 years and are more in love than ever.
Happy birthday, Jack!