Tag Archives: Career

The Contractor~Part 2

13 Jan

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill Cross Plane

That program was conducted from Launch Complex 25C/D on the Cape Canaveral AFS and ended in 1979 when I was laid off with most of the rest of the test organization. It was during this time that I had taken and passed the General Contractors test and received my license. Once I obtained my license, I began working part-time with my contractor friend on some of his new house projects.   Luckily, it wasn’t long after Lockheed had laid me off that MacDonald Douglas Aircraft Co. (MDAC) found an opening for my talents, on the night shift, supporting their Delta II program. At that time the Delta II program was being used by NASA and the U. S. military to place their satellites into Earth orbit from Launch Complex 17A/B located on the Cape Canaveral AFS. The night shift job with MDAC allowed me to start a small contracting business of my own, making for some pretty long days.

1

My part-time construction company was a family affair. I was President and the main go-fer; DiVoran was Vice-President and the company’s new house interior decorator; while DiVoran’s father and mother, Ivan and Dora, acted as the company bank. We all worked very well together at this little construction business.

2

We would buy one residential building lot at a time. Then, using sub-contractors, we would clear the lot and build a 1500 sq. ft. 3-bedroom, 2-bath, concrete block home with a 2-car garage on speculation. The housing market was good and if the house sold before we finished it (which sometimes happened) the buyers could choose their finish trim, paint colors, carpets, cabinet styles and appliances. Prospective buyers had an allowance for these items, and if they wanted more expensive items, they would pay for any added expense over the allowance.

Typical Cross Section of Concrete Block Construction

3

 

We could complete a house in approximately 3 months, which allowed us to (theoretically) turn our investment over with a 10% profit with the sale of each home. In spite of the long hours, I loved this job and was gearing up to do it full-time as soon as my job with MDAC was over. In addition to “Spec” houses, as word got around that our homes were well built and available, we began receiving orders for custom houses that we would build on the owner’s property. Those contracts turned out to be the most troublesome, as it was fairly common for the owners to change their minds about certain aspects of the building process at some of the most inopportune times.

4

A typical day during this time was; up at 7:00 am, breakfast with DiVoran and the kids, then I was on my way to the current job site. I would put in as many hours as I could on a job site coordinating sub-contractor activities or meeting with potential home owners and bank Loan Officers. Then there were always the multiple runs to the local lumber yard to pick up that extra box of nails, another sheet of plywood or another dozen 2”x4” studs to keep the job moving forward.

5

 

Depending on the weather and the progress of the job, the sub-contractors would usually shut down their work day around 3:00 in the afternoon. This allowed me to make it to Launch Complex 17 on the Cape by 4:00 to start my 8-hour shift. After surveying the work schedule and any work related items, and if things in the office was not too busy, I could sometimes get in a phone call or two before it got too late. Good thing I was young and indestructible, as this routine didn’t allow a lot of time for sleeping. Luckily, by the time I got home at 12:30 am, I was really tired and had no trouble going right to sleep. This routine was also very hard on the family life. Breakfast time with DiVoran and the kids before they went to school, and occasionally (if I could manage it) for a short time after they got home from school, was about all the family saw of me, except for weekends.

6

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

I was a 12 Year Old Businessman-Part 1

23 Jan

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

 

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.

bsby boy

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.

plane

That interest was carried from small wood models, thru the years, to large gas-powered u-controlled flying models.

remote plane

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.

old mower

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.

gasmower

 

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.

bag boy

stocker

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.

165cc

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.

2

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.

sportster

 

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.

young beloved

 

Senior picture

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.

 

3

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.

4

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.

salon

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.

baby girl

bsby boy

As soon as I graduating from college in 1965, we moved to Titusville, FL with North American Aviation, on the Apollo Manned Space Program.

Colossians 3:23

                                    —-To Be Continued—-

%d bloggers like this: