No More Pizza Please

5 Sep


A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

My parents had many hopes and dreams for my sister and me, and tried to give us every advantage they could, so we could realize those dreams.  One way they tried to help me, was to set aside a small scholarship fund when I was born, to help pay for my college education (their dream for me).

I had always wanted to be a mechanic.  My plan was to send money home to my wife every month while I was in the Navy so we would have enough saved to last until she and I were able to find jobs after I got out.  She was a licensed beautician in New Mexico and I planned to work part-time while I went to school.

After I got out of the Navy, my wife and I moved to Inglewood, California for me to go to Aviation Mechanic School.  The problem was, I didn’t really know how the job market worked, so, when I talked to the  school registrar, he convinced me that I didn’t really want to be a mechanic, but an engineer.  Looking back on it, I’m sure he got extra points for every person he signed up for the three-year engineering course over the one-year mechanics course.

When I insisted I wanted to be a mechanic, he said, “Well, okay, we have the perfect course for you, it will give you a Mechanical Engineering degree and an Aviation Mechanics license”. I think I bought into that mainly because he told me how much more money I would be making as an engineer and, it would also make my parents happy,

All of that was great, but the next class startup for that course was two months away, so we started looking for work.  That’s when we discovered that my wife’s New Mexico license wouldn’t be accepted in California and she would have to take the California State test.  We lived it up while the money lasted, but then things started getting really tight.  We had to stop driving the car and go everywhere we could on my 1955 Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Finally, in desperation, a friend got us both a job packing Christmas cards, which barely paid for our rent and gas.  We were too proud to ask our parents for help, because I guess we wanted to prove to them that we were adults and could make it on our own.  There was one week during that time we were lucky the motorcycle had a full tank of gas and we didn’t have to buy any food, because I walked around all week with just one nickel in my pocket until we were paid.

At  Halloween we were told the neighborhood kids did bad “tricks” to houses and cars if they didn’t  get lots of “treats”.  We didn’t have money to buy any treats, so we rolled my motorcycle into the living room of the tiny apartment we were renting, and took the car to the drive-in movie.  Of course, we didn’t have enough money for both of us, so my wife got in the trunk.  Boy, what kids will sometimes do to avoid confrontation.

Well, somehow our parents realized we were in bad financial straits, and each family sent us a “Care Package” consisting of four boxes of Appian Way Pizza.  Those packages got to us just in the nick of time, as we had just celebrated Thanksgiving with a plate of pinto beans, no seasoning of any kind except salt.  We really enjoyed that pizza for the first week or so (two or three times a day) but then it started getting really tiresome.  We still have the “Special Offer” pizza pan that we got with all those Appian Way Pizza box tops.

Somehow, we survived until my wife’s California Beautician’s license came through, and she got a job. After that, our immediate problems were over, but that’s not to say we didn’t have a lot more life changing encounters over the eight years we spent in Inglewood, California.

Scripture: Philippians 4:19 (The Message)


3 Responses to “No More Pizza Please”

  1. Linda Lewis October 18, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Thanks for sharing this, Bill. My husband and I had similar times. Sometimes I think that getting through tough situations is a bonding experience for couples, making your union even stronger. We don’t want to repeat them, but sometimes we enjoy remembering them.


  2. DiVoran Lites September 5, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    ah yes, I remember it well


  3. fuonlyknew September 5, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    Thanks for sharing this. I have been there. I separated from my husband shortly after our son was born(not my choice) and had to move immediately. With only part-time work and sporadic child support, I survived on mac&cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches for months. Some wonderful neighbors found out about my struggles and brought me a care package of diapers,formula and such. This allowed me to use my meager paycheck to stock up on food. It was a difficult and scary time, but I eventually found a great job and look back at those times as a test. I don’t want to take another one!


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