A Slice of Life
I was born in Dallas, Texas in 1938. I lived in the big “D” with my parents until 1945, when we moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The trip from Dallas to Albuquerque was on an American Airlines DC-3, and I was hooked on aviation at age seven. As it happened, there were two large U.S. Air Force bases left over from WWII in Albuquerque. So, it was no wonder that one of my main lifelong interests, was airplanes.
That interest was carried from small wood models, thru the years, to large gas-powered u-controlled flying models.
I started cutting the grass at our house and the neighbor’s, during the summers, around the age of 10. My parents helped by taking me to jobs outside our neighborhood.
By the time I was 12, I had saved enough money to by a Sears self-propelled gas powered mower. During the next few years, I put so many miles on that mower, that I had to rebuild the mower engine more than once.
My grass cutting business thrived so well that, by the time I was 14, I was able to obtain my unrestricted driver’s license and buy my first motorcycle.
At that time, New Mexico allowed a person to qualify for a driver’s license at age 14 because so many of the farmer’s children needed to drive to support their family farm needs.
I kept cutting grass until I was 16, when I got a part-time job in the local Furr’s supermarket. I started out unloading trucks and mopping floors – then to bag boy and stocking shelves –and finally working my way up to cashier.
This allowed me to be able to sell my first motorcycle and buy a new 1954 Harley Davidson 165cc motorcycle for more reliable transportation to work and school.
When I was 17, I bought a used 1940 Chevrolet coupe to customize, and ended up rebuilding the engine and repainting it. I met DiVoran’s brother, David, at Furr’s supermarket, where I was still working, and she told me later that he was awed by a guy my age who owned a car and a motorcycle. She said she decided right then and there she wanted to meet that boy.
In 1955 I traded in my 165 cc motorcycle in on a new 1955 Harley Davidson Sportster. This motorcycle would end up serving me faithfully for years to come.
At 18, while I was still in my senior year of high school, I joined the local NROTC and began my short career with the U.S. Navy. I met DiVoran that year in typing class, and by the time we graduated, we were engaged.
Not long after that, I shipped out on my first U.S. Navy shipboard cruise. That 10-month cruise first took me to the many ports around the Mediterranean, back to the U.S. and then to stops on both sides of South America and at Panama, and finally to Bremerton, Washing ton. We wrote to each other every day while I was gone, and just knew we were meant to spend the rest of our lives together by the time I was transferred to my next duty assignment.
DiVoran and I were married when we were 19, and lived in San Diego during the 6-month stateside assignment to my next ship. When I shipped out on my 8-month cruise to Hawaii, Japan and Hong Kong, DiVoran returned to Albuquerque to live with her parents and attend Beauty school.
After I was released from active duty with the Navy at age 20, DiVoran and I moved to Los Angeles for me to attend Northrop University. I started my engineering career in the aerospace field while still in college, first with Douglas Aircraft Company and then with North American Aviation. We ended up staying in Los Angeles eight years because after my first two years in college, I went to work full-time while continuing my college classes at night, and I couldn’t always get the classes I needed.
At first, DiVoran worked full-time as a beautician to help with our living expenses. Then after our children were born, she stopped working to be a stayed-at-home mom.
As soon as I graduating from college in 1965, we moved to Titusville, FL with North American Aviation, on the Apollo Manned Space Program.
—-To Be Continued—-