Writing My Life

Now and Then

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Week 3 of G.E.’s Retirement

UNbeLIEVable! I have NEVER gone so long without posting! What happened to the summer? What happened to me? Summer flew by and I apparently flew the coop! And I have SO many happenings to share with those who drop by this site to see what’s up with RBS.

I need to describe  some great and some not-so-great occasions that occurred over the last 3 months, but right now, I think I’ll just let you know the biggest change in the lives of G.E. and me has happened. My husband of 43 years turned 65 on the last day of August – the very day he retired from his job. This is HUGE, I tell you. ALL kinds of implications here. But he is EXcitED, and so am I – even though I am still punching the clock for at least another year, and maybe longer.

When asked, “What’re you going to do?”, his answer is “Whatever I want!” Isn’t that cool?

NO MORE Suits and Ties!

Yesterday we celebrated G.E.’s retirement with most of our family at my favorite Wines Park in Lehi – it has LOTS of big, shady trees. Ahhh. Anyway, between eating and visiting, volleyball and lawn darts, swings and slides, I shared my husband’s work history. I had been thinking about it a lot, AND I realized there were lessons to be learned. So here it is – more or less.

  • 9 Years-Old: Fuller Brush PRE-salesman. Went door to door with is his older sister giving away Fuller Brush gifts – like potato scrubbers – in an attempt to line up appointments for his dad.
  • 11: Corn-Thinner on LDS Church Welfare Farm in Elberta. Now that was a blast! NOT!
  • 11 or 12: Sweeper at Fisher Drugstore. Job expanded from sweeping out a neighborhood drug store to caring for the owner’s yard
  • 14: Golf course grounds keeper at Willow Creek Golf Course. G.E. also claimed the maintenance shed for his home at one time when he ran away for a couple of days!
  • 15-going-on-16: Builder. Spent a summer building the Scout Camp up at Bear Lake. Woke up to rattle snakes, had to kill one, and so he skinned it and mounted the epidermis on a wooden plaque we had for years! Also, worked without a shirt next to the lake and suffered a 3rd degree SUN BURN. G.E. still has remains of that summer scarred on his left arm. Crazy kid!
  • 16: Bag-boy the new Albertson’s Grocer Store only to be laid off after the grand opening. Management kept his buddy Jim, but “pink-slipped” G.E. (That still ticks him off.)
  • 16-19: Part-time ware-houseman.  Unloaded boxcars where he froze in the winters and sweltered in the summers. Pretty good pay for a teenager during the 60s but it was hard and dirty work. Eventually became an order-picker, a step above unloading boxcars. Greatly disliked this job and swore NEVER to work there again.
  • 17: Horse-breaker. After being kicked out of the LDS Seminary (classes of religious study for secondary school students), his teacher agreed to pass him if he and his trouble-making buddy would help break his Appaloosa horses. Now THAT was fun!
  • 19-21: LDS missionary. Worked for the Lord in Virginia and North Carolina.
  • 21-22: Ware-houseman again. Back to the warehouse while attending college and providing for me, his new wife!
  • 22: Parts Manager at Telemation, a job that only lasted during the summer of 1969 because G.E. was DRAFTED! To reduce the chances of being sent to Vietnam, G.E. enlisted so he’d have a few more choices.
  • 22-24: Soldier – worked for Uncle Sam in the U.S. Army in Frankfurt, Germany. The gamble paid off. We felt so fortunate in being sent to Europe vs. Vietnam!
  • 22-23: Weapons-Cleaner. While serving as supply sergeant, G.E. cleaned M14s and M16s for GIs who didn’t want to care for their own weapons. For $4 a month from each participating soldier, he kept them “inspection-ready” – guaranteed!
  • 24:  Ware-houseman. Back again to supplement our income from G.I. Bill because now there was a wife AND baby to support.
  • 25-29: Army Reservist and member of the ROTC – Yep, G.E. decided to join the ROTC as a back-up plan in case he couldn’t find a job after graduation, but he was assigned a position in artillery; so said, “No thanks,” and resigned. Which he could do because he’d already served his time.
  • 25: Data Miner. The firm with no name. We can’t remember the company.. One day I called him at work to ask him something and was told my husband no longer worked there! He was laid off but didn’t want to tell me because I was expecting number 2, and he didn’t want to worry me. Guess where he found a job ….
  • 26-28: Ware-houseman. See a pattern here?
  • 28-29: Manager at Minit Mart, a  gas station and little grocery store owned by my cousin.
  • 29-31: Assistant, assistant, assistant manager-in-training. Recruited out of college for the management program at Sav-on Drug store which meant a move to San Jose, CA. LONG, LONG hours and LITTLE pay. Started at $11,000. And baby #3 was en-route.
  • 31-32: Area manager at Imperial Valet. Oversaw the maintenance of Mervyn’s Department Stores throughout northern California. A difficult job because if the cleaning crews didn’t show up in the middle of the night, G.E. had to find out why, arrange substitutes OR go clean the store himself!!!!
  • 32-42: General foreman, supervisor, trainer at National Semi-Conductor in CA and UT: Best job he’d had up until then. Opportunity to grow and eventually provided the experience in management that he needed to progress.
  • 42-46: Lawn caretaker, custodian at A&K Railroad, Yellow Pages deliveryman. WHAT HAPPENED? Laid off from National, and while looking for a job, G.E. started his own lawn service company and worked at any other job he could find. Our growing boys helped him, and also helped me. I had returned to college, and G.E. didn’t want me to quit. I applied for every grant, scholarship, and loan I could find and he and my sons helped me graduate! I still cry when I think about it. I LOVE YOU GUYS!
  • 42-44: Human Resource Manager and  then Sr. VP of Benefits at First Security Bank. After four and a half months, G.E. found this position. Grateful for the work, we had to stretch an income that was just over a third of what he’d been earning at National Semi-Conductor. So he and the boys kept up the lawn jobs, and I kept going to school.
  • 44-46: Human Resource Manager at RC Willey Furniture Store. Wells Fargo was in the process of taking over First Security, and G.E. was unemployed again until he was able to hire on at the largest chain of furniture stores in Utah.
  • 46-47: HR Manager at Health Rider. Seeing little future at RCW, G.E. took a chance and joined a new and upcoming company. Not a great decision. He was laid off once more when the “growing” company sold out to a “grown” company.
  • 47-65: HR Manager, HR Director, Business Analyst at LDS Church. The best career G.E. ever had. Even though this experience centered on the secular side of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he still felt a part of something important in helping the kingdom grow. His work in Human Resources enabled him to help others in a multitude of ways. He had opportunities to rub shoulders with so many fine men and women, to travel and work in areas of the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean. It was a tremendous blessing in our lives.

Reflecting upon my husband’s work history helped me appreciate him even more than I already do. I always realized that he would do whatever needed to take care of his family. We had decided that I would work at being a stay-at-home mom, especially when the boys were young. No matter how rough it was,  my sweet husband never pressured me to abandon that decision.

I remember when G.E. was out of work, a neighbor invited him to leave his lawn care service and janitorial work to sell Amway. When G.E. turned him down, the man was flabbergasted, and he said he would never do manual work like my husband did. It’s not that G.E. had anything against selling Amway, he just knew we needed the income that moment, and we couldn’t wait for him to build a clientele or depend upon the uncertainty of commissions.

At one point we realized that a lay-off was in National Semi-conductor’s future that would affect us. The boys were older and reaching mission and college ages. We knew it was time for me to finish my education so that I could help with these heavy expenses as a school teacher. I will forever appreciate the sacrifice he and our sons made to not only keep food on the table but to keep Mom in school. I love you, Gary Eugene. And I always will. 


… what I COULD have been …

I don’t know which came first – the “calling” or the blackboard. Early in my growing-up years, my sister and I received a small blackboard – probably for Christmas. For years it hung on the wall of  the “play room” down in our basement, and it was one of my favorite “toys.” I don’t know if Mom and Dad or Santa gave it to me because I loved to play school or if I loved to play school because I owned a blackboard.  Either way, I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.

My favorite student was my sister Connie, but sometimes I corralled my friends into sitting in  my classroom, too. I think spelling and arithmetic were the two main subjects taught because I remember filling the blackboard with addition problems and spelling words. I LOVED being in charge, bossing around my inattentive students, and WRITING ON THE BOARD! Interestingly, the learning sessions never lasted long, and if I sent the “kids” out for recess, they didn’t come back.

Occasionally, I reconsidered my answer to the proverbial question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” After being introduced to Nancy Drew books, for example, I dreamed of being a detective. I spent more than one summer sleuthing for clues to concocted mysteries. When I found large footprints in the flower beds, I told Connie and my friends Leah and Diane that I was certain a window-peeker or a robber was lurking about the neighborhood.  (The fact that my father may have created them while removing the storm windows was totally irrelevant. ) And if I couldn’t find additional supporting clues, I created and then discovered them: mysterious and threatening notes written in disguised handwriting or  anonymous phone calls that disconnected after being answered, a prank easier to pull off in the days before caller ID.

Connie may have been a little nervous the first time I tried to convince her that we might be in mortal danger, but after “crying wolf” 3 or more times, she brushed off her older sister’s claims as another indicator of an over-active imagination.


Another career consideration, kind of linked to my detective dreams, was becoming a lawyer. Not the kind of attorney who defends divorce clients or tax evaders, but rather the lawyer who takes on innocent victims, wrongly accused. The criminal attorney who battles against the arrogant prosecuting attorney and the incompetent police detective; the articulate courtroom lawyer who can pull a witness-chair confession from the real murderer minutes before the case goes to the jury! Yes! I wanted to be PERRY MASON!

I knew I’d be good at that profession because I represented myself in traffic court at age 16 and WON! I had been ticketed for pulling into the path of an oncoming car as I navigated a 1949 DeSoto from its parked position against the curb. Using my training as a high school debater and orator, I wowed the judge as I recreated the events of that winter morning. By moving around the plastic cards on the magnetic board, I showed the court how I had to swing out  the nose of my grandpa’s old car before I could pull into traffic. Because the emergency brake did not work, I was thus forced to keep the front tire turned into the curb to stop the car from rolling down hill. (If this is confusing, don’t worry because the clinching evidence is yet to come.)

I claimed that my neighbor had zoomed down our street at a slightly accelerated speed and did not see the DeSoto’s front end poking away from the curb because her car WINDOWS WERE ALL FROSTED OVER except for a TINY circle  that she had scraped away! Upon impact, I pulled my foot off the clutch, the engine died, and I coasted across the street until the opposite curb stopped OLD BLUE.. Based upon the location of my car, I understood how the police could deduce that I might have  pulled out into the path of the oncoming car, but I HAD NOT! Why even the damage to my vehicle was on the left SIDE fender near the headlight, and if I had pulled out into HER path, wouldn’t the CRUNCH be found on the left FRONT of my car, maybe even smashing in the headlight?

“Therefore, your honor, I ask that all charges against me be dropped, and I rest my case!”

After a few questions and a short deliberation as the judge looked over the citation and accident report, an INNOCENT verdict was rendered. I did NOT have to go to jail; I did NOT have to pay $200; and I did NOT have my driving privileges revoked by the court OR my parents! YaY!


The final occupational option – which I did not seriously consider, but thought  about just the other day – was a career in radio. I can’t really remember listening to any female disc jockeys or news casters back in the 1950s or 60s, but I actually worked as one for a few weeks when I was a junior at Highland High in Pocatello, Idaho. KWIK radio station, which was the station kids did NOT listen to, featured a Saturday morning high school wrap-up, and I was hired for NO money to remind listeners about upcoming school events and report how our HHS Rams fared in sporting competitions, debate tournaments, award recognitions, etc. I had to write the stories and report them LIVE. The gig didn’t last long, not sure why not, but it did give me a taste of writing and reporting.

I hadn’t thought about this experience for years, but a little over a week ago KSL radio interviewed me about a story that ran in Education Week. The story was about teachers reading aloud to teens, and since I had posted a blog on the same subject, my boss referred Mary Richards, KSL reporter to me.

After interviewing me for about 25-30 minutes, Mary shared a 10-second story and used a 2-second soundbite from our interview. My voice sounded TERRIBLE. Very nasal. But when I went online to read her entire report and listen to an extended recording of her story, I was even more mortified. I seriously sounded like Patty or Thelma, Marge Simpson’s sisters – you know the two chain-smokers who would be very dead now if they weren’t  cartoon characters. Now I am NOT nor have I EVER been a smoker – except that time in 8th grade when I thought I’d give it a try. My gravelled voice resulted from the onset of a coughing, hacking cold that still lingers!

The point is that my first choice of a profession was and still is the right one. I struggled to earn my teaching degree and my masters. I have always and still LOVE working in education with students AND teachers. I am sad that my school district is in such bad financial condition, but I won’t turn to detective work, go to law school, or audition for KSL UNTIL I’m kicked out of the profession. (And let’s hope the legislature doesn’t bring that possibility to fruition!)