Deade - My Years From 18 - 28

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Deade

Called of God
Dec 17, 2017
5,021
2,568
113
72
#1
Chapter 3 – Years 18 to 28

They had a layoff at that plant that winter, for they were moving some production to another nearby plant in Bell Gardens. They told me they can’t transfer anyone because they would have to pay them to move the 35 miles. There were about three of us that they told to go over there and would probably get hired. Of course, they were right. I never missed a lick and worked there for 11 years. I was making good money and was tired of driving old junkers, so I went with friend to L.A. Auto Auction to pick out another. He worked at Langendorf with me but his brother was a dealer. I had talked my mother into co-signing for me at her bank. I picked out a three year old Ford and paid only $1250.00 for it. He filled out the temporary registration for me and I had the bank send him a draft. I was riding high. The people liked me so much at the draft board they gave me an occupational deferment because I worked in food services.

I dated two different girls during my 18th year. I really wanted to get married so I could move out of Watts. I had been going with one since I was 17, but I broke off with her and started seeing another gal. The second gal had a very pushy family and were talking marriage before we even got to know each other. Then the family started making up a bunch of gossip on my first girlfriend. I didn’t think that was right, so I cut my losses and went back to the old girlfriend. At least I knew her. We ended up getting married soon after I went back to her. We then got an apartment in Bell Gardens where I was working.

Our daughter was born in August 1965, just as they were in the process of reclassifying all of the typical deferments. I had until August 20th to postmark my questionnaire about any changes in my life. She was born on the 19th. Her birth kept me out of Vietnam. The Watts riots were going on right when she got home from the hospital. My mother wanted to see her, but we weren’t going to take any chances taking her in there. We took the baby to my in-laws at Dominguez Hills South of Watts. I borrowed a .45 Auto pistol from my father-in-law to go get her. It was legal at that time for an open carry without a loaded gun. So I kept the clip in my shirt pocket and laid the gun on the seat beside me. I could quickly put it into battery. They said anyone in the area with a gun would be arrested by the National Guard. I said I would rather deal with them than the rioters. I picked my mother up and took her back without incident. When stopped at a couple of red-lights, groups would start looking at me and then see the gun on the seat. That was enough for them. They didn’t seem to want that kind of trouble.

In the next year, while my daughter was young I had discovered my wife had cheated on me. I guess I felt she was capable, then I as much as caught her. I don’t wish to give details except for the fact that I told myself I would leave as soon as the child was of age. This decision would later affect my life. My mother had put the auto loan in both our names, so I had very good credit at 20 years old. I bought a brand new Ford in 1966 and it turned out to be a lemon. It had been towed so many times before I even got 2000 miles on it. The transmission drops out at 6000 miles. They fix that, but it still was using oil and running badly. I was even afraid to make a trip in it. I tried to trade it back to Ford, but they didn’t want it. They had the service record.

I had it at the dealer for the 1-year 12,000 miles service, when I went across the street in Downey California to the Plymouth-Chrysler dealer. I test drove a 1967 Plymouth, and told them I wanted to trade in the Ford. When service was done I take the car across the street, and they look it over. They said okay, but I would have to have a little more cash. They gave me a couple of days to secure a loan. I went to where my wife worked to pick her up. She was looking at the temporary license tag and told her coworker “someone just bought a new car.” She started to walk by it and I honked at her and waved out the window. Then she said “I guess we bought a new car.” She was pleased we got rid of the lemon.

We moved around L.A. area quite a bit. In the summer of 1967, we had a man at the bakery that filled out the plant reconciliation sheet, that accounted for all the product through the plant, go on vacation. We had just gotten a new Shipping Superintendent and he was catching flak for having nobody to work on the sheet. It had to be somebody from the shipping department so as to know if something didn’t jive. The guy that was working on it was complaining of too much work and I had already started doing payroll for him a couple of months back. I was working midnight to 8 am shift as a checker. I did the payroll on overtime, which I liked. John, the Superintendent, knew I was a wiz with numbers. After about three days, he stops we going home after doing the payroll. He then tells me that he was caught off guard and doesn’t know how the sheet actually works, but he thinks I can figure it out. He give me a key to the office and tells me work as hard on it as I can and not worry about my regular job. He said overtime was not a problem, work as long as I could to catch up.

I worked with the baking dept. Superintendent to glean what he knows of the sheet. A week later, I am catching up much to everyone’s delight. By the time that other fellow comes back for his job, it isn’t there for him. I had the sheet filled out in about four and a half hours work, and even improved it. I could also do other paperwork for the shipping dept. I realized we were trying to account for bread we had never even produced. They used a pan counter to determine how much bread they baked. I would go look at some of the pans missing loaves. I talked them into installing an electric eye counter right after the bread was baked and de-panned. They were taking a paper loss and were even think about closing the plant.

I was told by the plant manager that if I would finish high-school that I had a big promotion waiting for me. I took the GED and passed, but only veterans were getting equivalency diplomas. The test made up for a year of credits, but I had to attend classes for two years. I started at Gardena High and finished at Norwalk High in June 1969 with a 3.8 grade average. They made good their promise at work and made me assistant Superintendent. They left we in the Union but paid me foreman’s pay with unworked overtime. I was getting antsy at the desk job so I asked John to get me off. I then trained a transport driver that had his license revoked by a heart attack for the reconciliation sheet.

I was in charge of even the foremen. They made two of us assistants. One in the daytime and I was at night. We also were in charge of the transport drivers. On double-days I could hold over evening drivers to cover any overloads. I got very good at having all the foremen count depot dollies to spot an overload ahead of time. After a few months, we seldom held up a depot for product. Some of the bigger depots like Santa Ana and Pomona had around 50 route drivers that would run overtime if we got product out there late. One transport driver’s overtime was nothing. John and I thought a lot alike, so I would sometimes make decisions that foremen would call him up about. I just guessed how he would have handled it and made the decision for him. He liked that I let him sleep and he always backed up my decisions, even if he had to adjust my thinking a little. The longer we did this, the more in sync we would become. I was only 23 in 1969, but my inside men respected my abilities. The foremen did also, but some of the older transport drivers seem to resent my age. That’s okay, they still did what they were told.

The summer of 1969 we took a vacation and decided to go to Nashville to Opryland. We also planned to visit my relatives and some of my wife’s in Texas and Oklahoma. We drove to El Paso where I had an aunt and uncle. We went and saw Cuidad Juarez and a dog race. We stopped at Mt. Pleasant, Texas to visit my wife’s aunt, uncle and cousin. Then went on to Opryland, Tennessee. We stopped by Kansas, Oklahoma to visit my wife’s Grandma and Grandpa. I told my wife that I always dreamed about living in a small town. She wanted no part of it. I took up expensive hobbies, raised live eating tropical fish. Dirt bike riding, and buying three motorcycles. Two expensive derailleur bicycles. My wife got pregnant again and we lost a boy full-term stillborn in September 1972. We were living in Hawthorne, California so we buried him in Gardena.

My wife took it very hard and she was visiting the grave nearly every day. I knew I needed to get her away from that grave. John at work had gotten another offer and moved on, so they brought in a Superintendent from another plant to replace him. All he wanted to do is chew everybody out, all the time. Moral was really dropping and I started getting sick, from the stress, I guessed. By winter of ’73, I called in sick once too often and the boss tried to fire me. I called the Union and they got my job back, only as a checker. I was happy. As messed up as things were, overtime was plentiful. He hires an outside man to replace me, and the guy actually comes to me for advice. I said, no way, I would just get you into trouble unless I held you hand through everything. I figured I would be blamed for any bad. I went to Oklahoma that winter and interviewed a place where my wife’s cousin worked. He was trying to get me on as a truck driver. I drove the transport trucks around the bakery but not on the road. The manager interviewed me and got the word of the cousin that he would train me. He said come in the Spring and he would put me on. I was 27 when we moved to Oklahoma in late March of ’74. After a short stint of training, I was hauling dry bulk cement in a tanker. I worked there 5 years. :cool:
 
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loverofjesus27

Guest
#2
Wow that is an awesome part of your life of yours. A lot of work you did too.
 

oldethennew

Senior Member
Feb 28, 2016
8,098
873
113
#3
Thanks so much for such an intimate share, Deade -
I really enjoyed reading about this part of your life...
I lived in the 'valley' during the 'watts-riots', it was
truly scary...
could relate in some ways...hugs...
 

slave

Senior Member
Mar 20, 2015
6,304
1,041
113
#4
Wonderful - Thank you for your transparency and your writing skills. I'm reading this between classes, but I noticed your daughter is 3 years younger than me. What a beautiful thing to receive as a gift from God and to be able to avoid Vietnam. My Brother had a similar experience in that regard; where he was able to stave off Vietnam by his enrollment to the Air-Force Academy hours before he got drafted to go to Vietnam. By the grace of God - they voided Vietnam and he went and served in Greenland and Munich Germany. Thx again Deade, this is a great way to get to know you.
 

tourist

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2014
24,494
2,937
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Florida
#5
This was quite an installment of your life. When I was in the army I was stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY for my entire enlistment and went to Nashville many times as it was less that an hours drive away. Been to Opryland too. Later, I lived in Orlando for over 20 years and about an hour drive to Walt Disney World. Been there many times. After those experiences, looking back, I thought that Opryland was rather lame. Disney theme parks and attractions tend to spoil you in how you view other attractions not connected with Disney. I believe that Opryland closed its doors quite a few years ago. Say John Denver at the Ryman Auditorium, I believe that it was in 1982. Had excellent seats and saw him clearly. He played and sang all of his tunes. He was one cool dude. RIP.
 

Mel85

Daughter of the True King
Mar 28, 2018
6,055
2,584
113
#6
Lovely piece D, and I’m sorry about your stillborn ❤️ Looking forward to reading the next :)