Daddy’s Work and Retirement

The following employment and residence information was taken from a bio that Daddy submitted to the National Rockhound and Lapidary Hall of Fame Board sometime between 1986 and 1994. He submitted this bio for consideration as an inductee into the National Rockhound and Lapidary Hall of Fame:

In 1938 before the war and before going into the Army, Daddy worked briefly for Humble Oil in Houston, Texas.

In 1939 he worked for National Oil Field Supply Company in Wichita Falls, Texas.

After the war, from 1946 to 1952, he was a construction engineer with United States Gypsum in Dallas, Texas.

From 1952 to 1973, he was a construction engineer with various contractors in the Dallas area.

Around 1975 they moved to Pottsville, Texas, where Daddy took his final job before he retired.

Daddy held many jobs, none of which he seemed to like. My sisters and I believe that most, if not all, of my father’s employers could not measure up to his high morals and code of ethics. One of his employers most certainly didn’t measure up. According to a Dallas Morning News article from August 1977, this particular employer was sent to prison in 1977 (long after Daddy left his employ) for illegally possessing a gun with a silencer with the intent to use it to kill a Highland Park businessman. He was arrested while he was on parole for a 1971 conviction in a New Mexico federal court for sending three pieces of pecan pie laced with strychnine to his father-in-law in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

At a Thanksgiving family gathering in the 1990s, Mother told an especially touching story about her and Daddy. She said that she and Daddy were in Houston in the late 1930s. It was Thanksgiving. He did not have a job, and the only money they had was pocket change. They were hungry and stopped to eat somewhere. When the waitress came to their table and asked for their order, Daddy laid the change on the table and said that’s all the money they had and they would have whatever it would buy. The waitress returned a short while later with two overflowing plates of a full-blown Thanksgiving meal. The whole room filled with our family had tears in our eyes as we listened to Mother tell about this most memorable Thanksgiving. I still get tears in my eyes just thinking about how they must have felt and how hard things must have been.

For a while (probably a short while), Daddy worked for Hughes Steel in Grand Prairie, Texas. I was about five or six years old at the time – too young to have a strong awareness of his work at this time, but I do remember a picnic outing involving the Hughes family. We were at a nearby lake with the Hughes family. (I think the lake was Garza Little Elm.) They had a daughter about my age, and she and I went off together to find a restroom. What we found was a rickety, old, smelly, bug-infested, wooden outhouse (typical for parks at the time). It had a wooden turn-latch on the outside of the door, and when I went in and closed the door, she locked me in from the outside. This was a terrible thing to happen to a little girl who was afraid of spiders and bugs. Even my skinny fingers were too big to fit between the splintery wooden boards. In my dark rickety prison, with wasps flying around my head, I found a stick that fit between the boards. I struggled but finally was able to raise the turn-latch to escape. I ran back to our picnic site crying, only to find that my “friend” had returned to our group without me, and it appeared that no one missed me or was even slightly worried about me. I must not have been gone very long, but it seemed like an eternity.

Daddy’s last job before retiring was with Hamilton Steel in Hamilton, Texas. This was around 1975. For a few weeks after he took the job in Hamilton and before he actually moved Mother down from Dallas, he lived alone in his camper trailer in a trailer park in Hamilton. Daddy wrote a letter to my sister Patsy while he was camped there:

I am camped out in Hamilton, Texas, five country blocks north of the city square and the county court house. It is a neat place for our mobile home. There are only three spaces on an open grassy lot. Ours will be the center one and all of them sit back a good ways from the front. I hope I can get the 14 X 60 [mobile home] I have picked out in Stephenville by next week or the 14 X 66 we have picked out in Dallas by another week. It will probably be more like three weeks.

I got bored and cramped from typing in this trailer a while ago. I wrapped up for a walk in the 20 degree weather. I stepped out into a hard soft snowstorm. It was beautiful. Not a creature was stirring as I clumped along the road at nine p.m., that is, not until a rooster started to crow. Can you imagine a rooster crowing at nine o’clock at night in a blinding snowstorm?

The snow covered everything. It was dry but it packed good under my boots. My boots were warm so the snow stuck good and built up until I was plodding along 7 feet tall. I guess that is what startled the big ole hound dog that came charging out of the night to greet me with a deep howling bark. He and I made a fox and rabbit circle in the snow as we looked each other over. Then each of us went off wagging our tails and all was forgiven. I made it back to the trailer looking like a walking snowman.

I believe the job will be great. This is real country. The people are real country. And we have been wanting to get back to the country for so long. This isn’t just the way we wanted it but I believe we really got our prayers answered, Patsy. The job so far is really more technical than I thought. It will take all I have. I hope I don’t flunk out.

I am anxious for you all to see it and we will have room. I hope to bring Mom down with me this weekend.

Love ya all, Dad

Mom and Dad bought their mobile home, but they did not end up parking it in the Hamilton trailer park. Instead, they bought a piece of very rugged country property in Pottsville, which is about twelve miles west of Hamilton, and they set their mobile home up there. I was working during this time, busy with family, and I didn’t take the time I should have to visit them often while they were there, but I do remember that it was wild country.

While living in Pottsville, Daddy kept a couple of beehives. He was swarmed by the bees once when he accidentally knocked one of the hives over. He said he doused himself with water from the water hose but was stung (as Mother put it) hundreds of times, if that’s possible to survive. He did not go to the hospital. Mother must have taken good care of him.

Daddy retired permanently after a short stint with Hamilton Steel. They remained in Pottsville until 1976, when they moved their mobile home to Sherwood Shores in Gordonville, Texas, on Lake Texoma. They remained in Sherwood Shores for ten years. I was closer to them in Sherwood Shores than I had been when they were in Pottsville. It was less than a two hour drive directly north from where we lived in Carrollton, Texas, so I was able to see them more often. Daddy had an old bicycle he liked to ride around the dirt roads near their home in Sherwood Shores. I rode it a couple of times. My oldest son Scott and I visited them often at Sherwood Shores. He fished from the shore a few times with his Grandpa Towner. When Scott was about six years old, he busted his chin open on a rusty chain wrapped around Daddy’s camper trailer. We had to take him across the lake to Oklahoma to have it stitched up. My younger children Chris and Carley were very young when Mother and Dad moved away from Sherwood Shores.

 

Mother and Dad celebrated 50 years of marriage in 1985 while living at Sherwood Shores. My sisters Nancy and Patsy and I got the family together to help them celebrate. The family’s gift to them was a small curio cabinet. The following year in 1986 they moved to Celeste, Texas, in East Texas, next to where my sister Nancy and her family lived. This place, too, was in the country, but it was not nearly as wild and isolated as their place in Hamilton was. Nancy’s husband Larry arranged to have a small wood-frame house moved onto a lot next to their property, and Mom and Dad stayed there next to my sister Nancy and her family until 1994, when they moved to Bonham, Texas, to be near the V. A. Hospital. They were 82 years old in 1994 when they bought a small house in Bonham on Oriental Ave. They stayed in that house until 2002 when they moved into a nursing home in Paris, Texas, which was near my sister Patsy and her family.

As far as I know, Daddy never held a job very long, but he told me once late in life that he wished he had picked a large company, such as Humble Oil or U.S. Gypsum, and stayed with them until he retired.