Chapter XXXIX

“Time to Get Real”
Yes, I had my year of working and just a summer of fun but it was now the time in my life when I had to make a decision as to what I was going to do with the rest of my life. What would David Newman do now? I had a few choices to make. Choice number one would be to continue to work and wait to be drafted. I didn’t like that choice. Choice number two would be to enlist into one of the services. I didn’t like choice number two anymore than I did choice number one. Choice number three was to enroll in college. Choice number three was really better than the other options. Even as much as I didn’t like school, it was still a better fit for me. I didn’t have a real plan before giving serious thought to going to college. I now had to give some serious consideration as to what I want from life. Exactly what could I study in college to make me happy and give me a reason to put forth the effort to succeed? My first thought after several months reading the courses offered at Grayson County College was Sociology. That was my first choice. I read a lot about the possibilities after college and I thought I wanted a career in Sociology. I wanted to be some sort of Social Worker. I didn’t arrive at that choice on a whim. I gave it a lot of thought. I also talked to several of my friends about my decision. That was a bad idea. I got no support from them. In fact, I got no support from anyone about my career choice. My Mother was a nurse and she had devoted her life to the nursing career. Mother worked most of her career in different Veteran’s Hospitals. When we lived in Temple, Texas, she worked at the V.A. Hospital there. When we moved back to Trenton, she worked at the V.A. Hospital in McKinney. When it closed, she worked for Sherman Community Hospital in Sherman until she found an opening at the V.A. Hospital in Bonham. Mother worked there until she retired. Her retirement lasted just a few months until she was doing part time work for a Nursing Home in Trenton. She just checked in on the patients two or three times a week. It was part time for a few months then it was full time. When the Nursing Home in Trenton closed, the patients and my Mother transferred to Whitewright. The same Doctor as the one in Trenton owned it. She worked there until her death in 1971. I told all of that because my Mother spent her life helping people and I thought a career in Sociology would be a way for me to do as she had done for so many years. In the sixties, there were no male nurses. There were some young men working in hospitals changing bedpans and doing cleanup stuff like that but that is not what I wanted. I wanted a career not a job! I wanted to be able to help people and try to give something to the community

as my Mother had done for so many years. Unfortunately or fortunately for me I did not follow my dream. I instead enrolled in Auto Mechanics. I did enjoy working on old cars. I also had many hours of experience working on them. It seemed like a good fit. Besides that, I had a friend, A.L. Bullock, who had just graduated from Trenton High School and he was enrolling in the same class. I would at least know someone in my classes. We also formed a car pool with several others that helped saving gas money. The first thing I remember any of my instructors saying in one of my classes was about education. Mr. Chad Morrison had the opinion education was not having everything in your head but knowing where to find the information when you needed it. I had always had problems with math in high school. College math was different. I learned in one semester what I didn’t learn in high school. That is not completely true. I did learn some math while in high school but I didn’t learn how to apply what I had learned. While in high school when I asked a question as to how to apply the math to everyday life, I couldn’t get an answer. Well, not one that satisfied me. I did manage to learn something about Sociology my first semester at Grayson County Junior College. There were different classes of students; there was one group who took their classes on the “Hill” and the ones that were taking “Trade” classes. The “Trade” class was the future auto mechanics who might someday work on their expensive cars. The welding shop where future welders might have welded their expensive cars was across from the Auto Shop. The students who were on the “Hill” really didn’t consider us a part of the college. Of course, there were a few exceptions as there are in any situation. My brother Jimmie and my best friend John Washburn were students on the “Hill.” I remember a few times John and Jimmie were given “The Look” while we were in the Student Union Building. The SUB was where we would meet between classes, grab a snack and just hang out for a few minutes together. Neither Jimmie nor John were bothered by what anyone else thought. We were all friends and there weren’t enough “Looks” to change that fact. I also learned another fact during my first semester in college. There is a difference in High School Teachers and College Instructors. Teachers teach the material from the books while college Instructors instruct from experience. Most of my Instructors would apply the math I learned in high school to everyday life. The Pythagorean Theorem suddenly sprang to life. It now had meaning. I remembered some of it from school but I now could apply it to something real. Thanks to my math instructor, Mr. Chad Morrison. Mr. Morrison had a way with explaining geometry so everyone could understand. I used the Pythagorean Theorem many years later to teach my co-workers at Fisher Controls how to make sure the walls were square while we were building offices. There were many times when I would take a piece of cardboard and draw it out and I would have three or four

around me watching and listening as I explained it to them. One or two of them still use my method today. Now for the Auto Repair course, I was driving a Chevy Station Wagon my first semester of college. It was not what I wanted but due to having little money and in need of a car, I bought it. My former employer, Herman Jinkins was good friends with a used car dealer in Carrollton, Texas. After work one day, we went by the car lot to look around. I had looked at some other cars on the lot but I was staying clear of the Chevy Wagon. Herman and the dealer said for the money, the wagon was the best car for me. At eighteen years old who was I to argue with my girlfriends Father/Employer and the dealer. I drove off the lot in a pale blue early sixties model Chevy wagon. I found a 1957 Chevy two door body I could afford and my first major overhaul was soon to begin. She was gold and I couldn’t wait to get it running and rid myself of that Chevy wagon. I had plenty of help with the overhaul. It seems everyone in the class wanted to help get that 1957 Chevy on the road again. Grayson County College had completely stocked the shop with everything needed to do a complete overhaul. I learned to use every piece of equipment in there. We pulled the 287 engine out of the wagon and began to rip apart the engine. A.L. Bullock, Johnny Taylor, Jr. Tucker and Bobby Demit were my helpers. Together we overhauled and installed the engine in the ’57 Chevy. I gave the station wagon to another guy in the class who really wanted it. He wanted it as much as I wanted to rid myself of the thing. We both were pleased. He did pitch in and help with my overhaul so it wasn’t exactly a gift. He had sweat equity invested. My only mistake I made my first year of college was one I have regretted for most of my life. The first week, when I was going over my classes, one class didn’t fit into my plans. There was a four-hour long afternoon drafting class. That meant I would not get home until around five every Tuesday and Thursday. I decided to drop that class and I planned to take the class in the summer to make it up. You can guess what happened. I never took the class as I planned. After my two years at Grayson County Junior College, I was three hours short of receiving my Associates Degree. I have thought many times about taking some classes to get my degree but that is not going to happen. I did manage to get a good job and use some of my college education in the process. On several occasions a co-worker, who had a degree, confronted me. He was always bragging about having a degree. After hearing about it for what I felt should be the final time I asked him how much he made per hour with his degree. He did not answer the question. I told him how much he was making with his degree and added that I was three hours short of having my degree and then asked him how much I was making per hour.

“That’s funny”, I said. “There you are with your degree and you are making $21.33 per hour and here I am three hours short and I am making the same as you!” I never heard about it again. I have made it fine without the degree from college but it would have been nice to have. Anyway, back to my story. The rejuvenated ‘57 Chevy was now on the road and I was a very happy camper. There was only one problem with a 1957 Chevy; it didn’t come with air conditioning. That meant at times it would be a very hot ride. I had been so excited about getting the car running I didn’t consider I was giving up my air conditioner as well. I needed another plan. I tried to use some spray on tar under-coating to stop some of the heat from entering from the floorboard. That helped a little but not enough. The days were hot and the nights were not much better. I had a friend, Pat Stanbaugh, who had a used air conditioner he wanted to sell. I got together the money and bought the unit. Pat helped me install it that night. If it had been during the school semester, I would have done it at school. Instead, we worked on it in Pat’s driveway. We installed the compressor and a new belt, the condenser unit in front of the radiator, and finally the lines through the hole to the blower unit under the dashboard. I knew I needed to have the unit charged with Freon before it would work, that would cost money. Money I didn’t have at the time. I had to wait until I could make some money hauling hay at night with Pat and his wife, Judy, before I could get the Freon. On a hot summer night for some unknown reason, while riding around town in the “heat of the night”, I reached over and turned the air conditioner on. I was just going to let the fan blow some air. Surely, that couldn’t hurt! I must have turned something or pushed something because after about two minutes there was a very loud screeching noise coming from under the hood. I recognized the sound immediately. It was the sound of my fan belt, which ran the air conditioner. I had accidently turned on the compressor. This was not a good thing! Not only did I need Freon for the comfort of air conditioning, I would now need another compressor. Just great, I couldn’t afford the Freon and I sure couldn’t afford another compressor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take Automotive Air Conditioning 101 until my next semester and by then it would be fall and the temperature would begin to cool. I would just have to sweat it out until cooler weather. It turned out to be a long hot summer. The blower mounted under the dashboard would blow some cool air in the fall. As I write this, I am reminded of a story an old man once told me. It was the difference between a rich man and a poor man. The difference is according to him is; A rich man gets his air conditioning in the summer. The poor man gets his in the winter. It wasn’t difficult to see where I fit. I just used the four forty air conditioning method. I rolled down all four windows and drove forty miles per hour. At times when needed, I upgraded to four sixty!

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