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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

THE FEUD

Dennis never spoke or looked my way after he got up and went back to his job. We silently worked as partners the rest of the day. I'm sure he felt my actions were not necessary, and I felt they not only were necessary, but long overdue. In fact, we worked together for the next week, never speaking, or so much as saying goodmorning at the start of the shift or good-bye at the end of the shift. The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
I don't know who made the arrangements, whether it was the Union or Management, or both, or someone else. All I know is they told me I had been bumped to night shift bolting down front seats only on the small car line instead of the big car line. I was on a special job that only people that held my classification could bump me. A man named Chester bumped me and oddly enough he was a dedicated night shifter. I felt I had been set up so they could seperate us,and Dennis had more seniority. I was to report to nights that next Monday. And report to nights I did.
I know I shouldn't have slugged out Dennis, but I had endured his constant picking and torment for as long as I could. And I came to a point where I just snapped! I don't think even with my actions that I deserved to be pulled from my job and placed on night shift on another line.
I was very upset. I hated night shift. After working it for one week and stewing over being moved, I gave the supervisor my weeks notice. When I went on first break, I walked up to him again and told him I was all done. When my break is over he'd better have someone there to cover the job because "I quit." I walked down to the front offices and officialy quit. I carried over my health insurance because my wife was pregnant and due in about a month.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TIME CLOCKS & BOSSES

Time marched on. Everyday was repeat of the day before. Get up at 5:30 a.m., drive to work, punch in at the time clock, go to my job, my partner, Dennis, and the rest of the gang. A day didn't pass that the boys didn't spend tormenting me; especially Dennis. Even my one supervisor joined in on the fun. Fortunately, the two of them switched shifts every other month.
On December27,1971 my wife gave birth to another daughter, She was born so close to Christmas we decided to name her Holly. She was beautiful.
I was still working for my father-in-law during most of my spare time. The furnace business slowed down in the Spring and I was able to help my Dad and brother get the crops planted. In the summer I helped install a few furnaces and set pumps for my well drilling friends. By Fall the furnace service calls picked up. I'd be out servicing furnaces until late hours and had to be up by 5:30 a.m.
One day I went to work feeling totally exhausted. I told Dennis,"Don't mess with me today. I'm beat and I'm not up to any of your horse play."
Dennis left me alone for a little while, and then he came with one of his sneak attacks. He grabbed my leg while growling like a mad dog. I jumped, but this time, without any thought or notice, I swung aroung and slugged him in the face as hard as I could. He stumbled backwards into a grey, metal cabinet and slid down it. I don't know as I knocked him out, but I certainly knocked him senseless! Blood was rushing out his nose. People were stepping over him as an extra man jumped on his side of the car body to keep the line going. As I mentioned before, Dennis was a very muscular character. His arms were bigger around than my legs. I figured as soon as he got his senses about him, he'd no doubt jump up and beat me half to death. Then I saw the Supervisor walking up the line toward me. I thought to myself, "Well...I'm fired!"
Thank God it was Charlie and not the other one. He walked straight up to me, smiled and said,"Roger, I've been waiting for you to do that for the longest time!" He smiled again, tapped me on the shoulder and walked away.
Dennis started coming around. He shook his head back and forth, reached up on the work bench behind him and grabbed a blue work rag, and began wiping the blood from his nose and face. He sat there, on the floor, for a while, and then got up and walked straight across the line to his job.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Our House

I loved our home even though it was only a one bedroom. Within a year with Heather growing, we had outgrown it. Some how I had managed to put a new furnace in it during my spare time and redo the livingroom walls. I had only paid $6000.00 for it and sold it a year later for $8500.00. That was a good return in 1969 to 1970.Plus, with the down payment my loan only started at $4000.00 and with 6% interest, I was able to pay it down considerably within a year.
We listed our house with a Realtor and began shopping for a bigger home. It didn't take long to sell ours to a retired couple and it didn't take us long to find the perfect home for us. It was a big, square house with a screened in, enclosed porch that went down one side and across the back. It had all hardwood floors, ten foot ceilings, and a working fireplace in the Livingroom. It had two big bedrooms downstairs and a large apartment upstairs that had the same older lady that had lived there for 11 years. And best of all, her rent paid 2/3 of the house payment. It also had a two car garage, but the tenant laid claim to that. It also had a big, open front porch.
Mom and Dad had to come to the closing with us to sell our house and sign papers because we were under age. After paying the Realtors and all, we ended up with nearly $5000.00. We were in shock when Mom said the money was hers because it was their house and they had invested the $2000.00 when it was purchased. My wife and I well remembered when my parents gave us that money for all the help I had been on the farm. I guess because I was unable to remain being their farm boy, they were taking back their gift. We sure didn't need that kind of help!!
I told my parents that if they took all the money, we wouldn't be able to buy the square house. After much pleading, they agreed to give us $3000 for the downpayment. Once again, we were still under the age of 21, so my parents had to sign with us on the land contract. And they were able to recover most of the original $2000.00 they gave us a year before.
We bought the big, square house for $15000.00 with $3000.00 down on a land contract.

STRESSED

I hated my job on the assembly line, and quickly learned to dispise most of my fellow employees. With all the pressures and stress in my life it soon became unbearable. It seemed the only way I could hold on to my sanity while working was to daydream. My mind escaped back to those beautiful summer days swimming with my Texas Girl. I heard she had married and had a baby. And Louise was deeply involved in a relationship. I heard she was engaged.
I was so very proud of my beautiful, baby girl, Heather. I usually got home just as her Mom had her in the highchair feeding her. I'd go up to her and say, "Hi Heather!"
I remember how shocked, happy, and surprised the first time she responded with, "Hi Dad!"
Usually, I'd grab a quick sandwich and head out to the job wherever my Father-in-law was working. I hated my life, and didn't have enough sense to realize I was the only one that could change it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Working it Out

I was a teenager living in what I thought was an adult world. Most of the men I worked on the assembly line with seemed to have a strange transition come over them the minute they entered the factory. These were men in their thirties, forties, and fifties, and yet they became childlike on the assembly line. I was married, had a wife and baby daughter, owned my home, and had bought a new car. As far as the men I worked with,I was a teenager; not yet grown up, and their sole daily purpose was to make my working life a living Hell. And my work partner, Dennis, was the ring leader!
Dennis was supposed to be very religious, but you couldn't prove it to me. He was in his late twenties with a very muscular build, and could act goofy as a cookoo clock! Dennis and a couple other guys seemed to delight in tormenting me. I was usually very tired and sore. My Father-in-law would keep me out working on furnaces in the evenings and when he'd quit for the night, he'd head for the nearest bar and drink beers until closing. I wasn't old enough to drink beer so I'd sip on a cola. Often, we wouldn't get home until 2:00 or 2:30 a.m. in the morning and I had to be on the assembly line by 6:30 a.m.
My body ached from flopping over the seats while looking under them and bolting them to the car floor. My partner, Dennis, would run off when we managed to work up the line, and he'd return as the air hoses stretched to the max that ran our air tools. Or, he'd sneak around to my side and take me by surprise, grabbing my leg and growling like a dog biting. I'd jump and more often then not I'd bang my head on the dashes mounting brackets. Then Dennis would do his crazy laugh as he pranced and hopped back to his side of the car. I quickly learned to hate this torment while trying to do my job.
My Dad became very upset with me when I spent most of my spare time working for my wife's Dad when my own Father needed me on the farm and had to hire the neighbor boys. I did manage to help him on occassion, but my wife's Dad was very persistant. My parents resented me for my actions and as soon as my younger brother was old enough, they handed the management of the farm over to him.

Newly Weds

My Mom and Dad stopped by shortly after my marriage. They said they didn't like us renting and Dad said I had done so much for them on the farm over the years that they wanted to give me a couple thousand dollars to use for a down payment on a house. My wife and I were so impressed at their generosity! It didn't take us long to find a cute little house for sale on a land contract. Mom and Dad had to sign with us because we were under age.
My younger brother was only thirteen. He was too young to be much help on the farm. I didn't realize it at the time, but by my parents helping me buy a house, they were making me feel committed to continue working like a boy on the farm.
My new Father-in-law had three daughters and no sons. He had his own Heating and Air-Conditioning Business and I had married his oldest daughter. He intended for me to help with the business. Plus, friends of mine were starting a well drilling business and wanted me to go with their Dad on weekends, following behind them setting pumps. I was being pulled in all directions. And to add insult to injury, my job at GMC was nearly killing me. I was on the assembly line in the Body Plant on the Big Car Line. My job was to bolt down front seats. I worked the driver's side. After the seat was dropped in the car, my partner who worked the passenger side and I would pull the seat forward, tip it back, so I could hook up the wires for the power seats. After that, we would lower the seat, line up everything, lay over the seat and look under it so we could bolt it to the floor. And then go around to the back and bolt it down. It was also my job to stock the headrest which three men were building up on a table at the side of the line. In those days they could work us over nine hours per shift and most Saturdays. I would be so exhausted and just before quitting time the supervisor would come walking the line hollering,"Nine/four!"

Saturday, May 12, 2012

November 1968

Life felt very empty to me in November of 68. I got a job in a factory. The work was boring, long and tedius. I didn't work there long because one of the girls that hired in with me got her hand in a press and lost all her fingers. After they carried her out, they moved my Dad onto her press to finish the order. Management didn't even wipe all the blood off the press.
Everyday several of us boys went to a restaurant called, "The Copper Lantern," and had lunch. It was there that I got to know my first wife. Things moved very fast. By mid November we were dating, by late November we were living together with a married couple that were friends of ours. By January of 1969 she was pregnant. Soon we were engaged, and married by April. Then in October of 69 she gave birth to a beautiful, nine lb. seven oz. baby girl.
We met as two eighteen year olds that thought we were all grown up. We had a lot to learn about life. In reality at 18 we were all grown up. Sure there were plenty of things in life we had yet to experience and learn, but overall we knew all the necessary things. It was the older people that looked down on us and thought we needed to learn so much. And it seemed as if the generation prior to ours delighted in finding faults with us.
We moved into a small, one bedroom apartment. I had originally went to work in a small factory, but it had no insurance. I went to work for General Motors in June of 69 and my insurance paid for the baby being born.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

FALL OF 1968

It was the Fall of 1968 and it seemed like the Army Recruiting Officer was stalking me all over town. Louise was now going steady with her new boyfriend, and I had heard he was staying at her house most of the time. It wasn't long before I heard they were engaged. My Texas Girl also had a steady boyfriend.
The Army was looking better and better to me. I enlisted in early November of 1968 with the agreement I didn't have to report to get on the bus at the VFW Post until January 2, 1969. I did have to go to Fort Wayne, Detroit for my Army physical and Swearing In. We spent the night in an old hotel. My Mother was completely against my enlisting and went to the Draft Board and my Recruiting officer with all my medical records. They looked like a Sears Roebuck Catalog!! My Recruiting Officer came up to me at a restaurant one afternoon and told me I'd be receiving new orders in the mail, and I did. I was reclassified 1y(not suited for military service). I guess the fact I had severe Migraine headaches was one of the main reasons. At any rate, I was rejected.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

GUESS ALL'S FARE IN LOVE AND WAR

I didn't think of Louise much after she stood me up. My feelings were crushed, so I put her out of my mind. I met another girl that summer after graduation and we started going together. Once again, she was underage and her father took me aside and warned me about statutory rape and prison. When she tried and failed, she went out with what I had thought was one of my good friends and he deflowered her. Then she came back wanting to go with me. I was not impressed.
Soon after that I met up with Louise again and we began going out together. All seemed to be going well. One night I went to a friend of mines party and who should come driving up to it, but one of my best friends with his date and in the backseat was a guy I had considered a good friend until then. They were double dating and Louise was all cuddled up with him in the backseat. I heard he had been bragging,"Guess who I'm going out with? Roger's girl friend!"
I was furious!!! As I ran toward the car, they spun the tires and sped away.