I packed up my belongings and in early January 1952 left Cochran County for good except for reunions and short visits to family. This new chapter was taking me to an adventure that would determine my professional life. I moved in with George and Zylphia and their two boys Andy and Clifford Dale.
I started working almost immediately at the Ector Theater. I soon enrolled for the spring semester at Odessa College. I was able to get my basics out by taking morning classes. The Ector Theater had matinees and I was required to run the projectors starting at about 12:30. My brother George, who got me the job was able to relieve me for about an hour in the evening. I depended on George to give me transportation until I acquired an automobile. I had no drivers license and he let me use his car to take my drivers test. Shortly after that I bought an old used Oldsmobile coup. It used more oil than gas but was good initial transportation.
One thing about being a projectionist, there was some lag time between changing machines. This gave time for me to do my class study and write papers. I started making a new group of friends. John Kaiser was an unlikely friend. He worked in the oil field and had a night job but was very persistent in his studies. Johnette Fulton was John’s girlfriend and we were buddies and had a lot of fun together. I was able to get a lot of classes done in summer school to catch up with the group so I could graduate in the summer of 1953. I also had to start taking lab courses in the afternoon so I had to find a new job. Fortunately for me there was company putting in a twin drive-in theater in Odessa about the time I needed to start my Sophomore year. A God thing?
There was some time for outside activity as shown in the pictures above. Me and John Kaisner trying to lift a boulder. John’s girlfriend, Johnette Fulton in her Sunday dress, me poising with Johnette, Johnette’s mother and siblings and me making a fool out of my self climbing a water tank. Other pictures which will be included in the next chapter show us visiting in Ruidoso at my parents house.
I was fairly active in church and the Bible Chair activities. In fact I was able to obtain about 6 credit hours in Bible. This was before all this PC stuff. Johnette is shown leaning on one of the speaker connections at the new drive-in theater.
Yesterday’s blog erroneously indicated that Johnnie worked in the cafeteria at Cathcart. I knew better but for some reason I did not put the real name in the blog, which should have been Pattie Cobb Cafeteria. In fact she stayed her semester in Pattie Cobb Dorm. If you want to check out more about Pattie Cobb you might go to Liz Harrell’s blog of March 26, 2015 that describes some spooky things about Pattie Cobb. Perhaps that is why I did not get the name right in the first place (https://elizabeth-harrell.com).
My daughter, Dorcas (also a graduate of Harding), pointed out to me that I should have told one of her mother’s favorite stories about mixing the eggs for breakfast. Johnnie would tell the story of having a rather large pot that she was to fill with fresh eggs just cracked and dropped in the pot. How to fish out one of those eggs that did not look so good among the other 50 eggs or so? You didn’t. Just go ahead and process the bunch. The heat would kill the bacteria hopefully. Does anybody know how to solve that problem?
Johnnie was a very disappointed young lady when she had to return to West Texas State College to finish her college education. She just loved her roommate who was from Japan. She had fallen deeply in love with Harding. So much so that she insisted our children go to Harding or pay their own way somewhere else. This strong advise has also applied to our grandchildren and it looks like our great grandchildren might get this same strong advise.
The Lord apparently directed that all of this happen because I had been praying since I was 16 that God send me the perfect mate. I was home from the Korean War and not yet discharged when Steve Eckstein took me to Harding to look the place over. That was in the summer of 1951. Everything seemed ok but too restrictive for me. Also the GI bill for the Korean War Veterans had not been passed yet because the war was still going on when I was rotated out. I had to work my way through Junior College in Odessa where I could work as a Theater Projectionist and go to school at the same time.
My professor at Odessa College, Leonard Pack, suggested that I get my BS degree at West Texas State because Professor Whaley was the best in getting his students into medical school. Go somewhere else and the professors might not be interested enough in his/her students to give them that extra push to get the medical school entrance exam score high enough to get admitted.
Fast forward to September 1953 when I arrived in Canyon, Texas and could not find a job as a theater projectionist due to the union situation. I had to take up a job driving a taxi in Amarillo at night in order to enroll. Still no GI Bill.
I met Johnnie briefly in the Bible Chair during an introductory session where the Bible Professor had us all sitting in a circle. I had just taken a memory course at Texas Tech and this helped a lot because the game was for the first in the circle to say their name. The second one was to say the first person’s name and then their name. You get the picture. I was pretty close to the end of the line because I did not know what was going on. By the time it got to me I was able to say the name of the 20 or so in front of me and my name as well. I was surprised at that time that I remembered my name. Johnnie told me years later that under her breath she asked someone “who is that old smarty”?
Unfortunately I could not make enough money driving the taxi and could not study well enough to keep my grades up so I left school and went back to Odessa and drove a truck for the Western Company. They sent us out on jobs that took 36 hours to perform pumping acid down into the oil and gas wells (fracking). During that time the government did get the GI Bill approved for the Korean War Veterans and I was able to return to West Texas State.
Stay tuned for the third installment.
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