The Contractor~Part 3

20 Jan

A Slice of Life 

Bill Lites


They say, “All good things must come to an end.” Well, things moved along very well for our little construction business, for a couple of years, until 1981. By that time, our little construction company had expanded into building mostly custom homes and duplexes. We had just finished a new “Spec” home and were in the middle of one of those duplex projects. Wouldn’t you know it, that was the year when the Prime Interest Rate rose to an all-time high of 21% and people couldn’t afford the loans to buy a new home.


The rise in interest rates happened so fast that we got caught with that one unsold home. In addition to that, the person who had contracted with us to buy the duplex we were building defaulted on his contract with us, and then sued us when we refused to give him his deposit back. This law-suit action unnerved Ivan and Dora and they closed the “Company Bank” on any further building projects. We finally sold the one remaining home, but it took a full year to settle the law-suit over the duplex contract. After the law-suit was settled (in our favor) we were able to sell the duplex, so we didn’t lose any money on either of these projects. But, the days of our little construction company were numbered.


I continued to work with my contractor friend part-time on a few of his projects until 1984, when LMSC called me back to work on their improved Trident II submarine missile flat pad development program. This job required my full attention on the day shift, with additional hours of over-time, which pretty much curtailed any building contracting work. The Trident II program operated from the brand new Launch Complex 46 facility on the Cape Canaveral AFS. The four-year development program went very fast and ended for me in 1989.


This time, LMSC offered me a transfer to the Lockheed Space Operations Co. (LSOC), a subsidiary created to operate the Space Shuttle processing program at the KSC, or be laid off with most of the rest of the test organization. Since I didn’t have any prospects for a job with any of the other aerospace companies I had worked for, I chose the transfer. I ended up working on Launch Complex 39 A/B for an ex-Douglas engineer, and friend, who I had interfaced with on the Apollo/ Saturn V moon rocket, way back in 1965, when I was working for North American Aviation. I finished out my 35-year Aerospace career with LSOC helping process Space Shuttle launches and many of its California landing recoveries until 1996 when I retired.


I had kept my Contractors licenses current, all these years, with the hopes that I could go back to building houses after I retired. However, now land values had gone sky high and availability was almost non-existent. Someone has said that you have to let something you love go before you can get it back. My dream of being “The Contractor” was great but short lived, and it took me many years to get over that desire. But, I finally had to let it go, as the violent ups and downs of the new home market never gave me a decent opportunity to get that dream back. I now had to look for other challenges, such as hobbies, travel and writing, to occupy my retirement time. I’ve done that, and after 20 years, I am still enjoying every minute of my retirement life. I can defiantly recommend retirement. Try it as early as you can. I think you will like it.




—–The End—–


One Response to “The Contractor~Part 3”

  1. Old Things R New January 20, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

    I don’t think my children believe me when I talk about the high interest rates. They were devastating. Even in the hardest of times, God provided, even though it meant learning a new way. I have enjoyed this series.


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