Smoking

Late last summer I had to pick up a loaner car at the repair shop. (That’s another long and expensive story.) Everyone complains about the heat on a day like that one. Jeff pulled the car to the door as I completed the paper work, and he left it running with the A/C on to start cooling down the interior. I was in a hurry that afternoon, so I ran out, hopped in the car … and paused. Something smelled funny.

I waited a moment. Not that bad, I thought. Another moment. Wait a minute! That’s left over cigarette stench! No, it couldn’t be. There are “No Smoking” stickers right there on the dash board. I’ve got to get home soon! The smell’s not that bad, right?

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Flight Support

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

I went to work at Signature Flight Support right after getting back from my Dad’s funeral. Within a few weeks, my son Joel passed away as well. This was the start of a pretty deep depression for me. At the time I didn’t realize how much it affected my work. But now as I look back, I was in pretty bad shape.

I tried hard to make it at Signature. The job was to escort airplanes in and park them on the ramp, then provide whatever services were needed. We serviced everything from the smallest single seat trainer to 747’s. I was trained in proper fuel handling, how to fuel all the different aircraft that came into our facility and how to move airplanes safely. and worked in all kinds of weather. When it was 100 degrees outside or 40 degrees below zero, we worked. Nothing stopped us. The job only paid $10 per hour, but I really enjoyed it because I like being around airplanes.

Eventually, I was promoted to Safety Manager because of my background in Industrial Hygiene and Safety. When I went to St Paul for training, I was told by my instructor that I would be lucky to last six months in the job. He was right. The position was in name only. I was given lots of new duties, but was not given the time to get the work done or a budget to buy what I needed. I was just a line service tech with a different job title. I had no budget for providing training that I thought was needed.

We also didn’t have the equipment or the people we needed to do the job safely. Eventually, we had an accident and damaged an airplane. My friend, JW and I were reprimanded for the accident because we didn’t have the required three people to move the airplane, even though there were only two people on duty and we had no choice. A couple months later, on a very cold, windy and snowing night, there was another airplane movement accident. This time my supervisor and I decided that we needed the Customer Service Agent from the front desk to comply with the rules to have three people to move an airplane. This was Ashley, our boss’ daughter. She was not trained properly to move airplanes, but we did our best to get the job done.

As it turned out, she was clueless and caused us to damage the airplane. I was fired. I was denied unemployment insurance. When I appealed the unemployment decision, my supervisor testified on my behalf but I was still denied the unemployment and my supervisor was terminated also. I don’t know if it was because he stuck up for me or if they just came up with something else. But a year and a half later, Ashley is still there, and we are gone. I went seven months without a paycheck. I had to sell everything I had of any value just to pay my bills and buy gas for the car. Those were bad times.

— Eric H

Visiting Louie in Utah

Linn working at the library in 1972

Linn working at the library in 1972

Over the last year you’ve had a chance to read letters about Louie’s life. He wrote several dozen letters, the last one about when he married the girl of his dreams. There aren’t many stories about his married life with Grace. There’s a reason. It wasn’t an easy life. Louie spent many of his days deep in a bottle of whiskey.

Fortunately for me, my brothers, and all of our children, he came out of that stupor in the late eighties, in time to write his story and share in the joy of his grand children. We loved having Louie back with us. He loved us, enjoyed a good laugh, several stories, and we returned the love.

The decades in between were difficult. I mostly lost touch with him. Judy only met him once or twice, and the experiences left her wondering. My youngest brothers were too little to catch on to what was really happening, but Linn was seventeen when he decided to unwind the wondering. So this kid got on his motor cycle and rode to meet his father.

I’m in awe of my younger brother and his letter, written when he was only seventeen, is the best example of why. I can’t come up with anything more than to throw you into reading Linn’s thoughts from forty years ago.

Note: Spelling, grammar and punctuation errors are from the original.

Linn writes:

It was hot that day. The bugs had made it nearly impossible to see through the windshield on my motorcycle. I have spent most of the day dodging the dead rabbits splattered all over the Wyoming highway. Rock Springs was just a few miles ahead and I was very ready to find a motel and a long hot shower.

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NDCUL 1965 to 1973

Jim presenting to a credit union meeting.

Jim presenting to a credit union meeting..

In last week’s letter Jim had gone through the hard times of an unlikable job. It dragged him through the summer and finally, thankfully, ended in the fall. Then the North Dakota Credit Union League hired him. That turned out to be the best job of his life, and a significant influence on me.

Again, Jim traveled throughout the state, even making trips around the country to Credit Union National Association events. He made good friends, worked for hard-working, energetic people, and helped regular people who needed a financial lift. Compared to his life as a clerk in a Sears catalog store, becoming a full-time consultant was a stretch for him. Surrounded by good people, learning an entire new industry must have been a fascinating challenge.

I was in my prime high school learning years while Jim was at the League. He gave me the opportunity to work there and learn skills that have stuck with me since then … almost fifty years ago.

Fifty years. Really? Fifty?

Jim writes:

Over five weeks elapsed from the time I left the Employment Service until I landed another job. Luckily my recent experience there helped me secure a position with the North Dakota Credit Union League as a consultant or Field Representative. The League was the official organization of the 100 or so credit unions in North Dakota.

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Louie goes Rogue

Louie Havelick, US Army, 1952

Louie Havelick, US Army, 1952

Last week you read the last of the stories Louie wrote in 1991. Louie’s letters end with him meeting, marrying Grace, yielding their first son; me. Grace’s letters end with the same wedding. To the casual observer that may seem strange. To me, it’s not a surprise at all. That wedding may have been the high point of their relationship.

As a child, I was never close to my dad. He spent his time elsewhere. He came home from Korea when I was about three. Louie loved to tell me about his return, he came through the front door and asked “Where’s your Daddy?” I immediately ran to the bedroom and brought out his Army portrait. Touching, in a sad way.

He and I didn’t spend much time together. Somewhere in the mid-fifties Louie took me downtown to White Drug for a malt. White’s was a fabulous place, including the little restaurant coffee shop in the back, a full soda fountain with a counter and all the things you’d expect in a fifties soda shop. The drug store was more of a general store, selling everything from post cards to window fans and toasters. Think Walgreen’s with a coffee shop. That’s where I got a malt with my Dad, one of a handful of memories of good times with him.

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Starting Over

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

With Anke gone, I started dating again. Heather was one and Brenda was another girl I was dating.

Eventually, I made the wrong choice and let Brenda go and kept dating Heather. When we decided that we should move in together, she said she couldn’t live in my house because that was the house that Anke and I had. Then we couldn’t live in her place because that was where her and her husband had lived. So we sold both places and bought a farm up in Mazeppa.

The only way we could afford it was if we both pitched in to make the payments. Before long, I was making the payments by myself. Then Heather started buying horses before I could even get the fences done. Then she wanted stalls in the barn, a round pen, more fences, and on and on. I was going broke because of those horses. At one point we had seven horses. I was spending over $100 per week in hay alone.

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Television

Lucy at WDAY in Fargo ND

Lucy at WDAY

When someone mentions WDAY in Fargo, this picture comes to me immediately. After Judy and I finished our first big date, the Fargo South Prom, I took Judy to work at the station. She worked at the desk in the picture.

Every phone in the building connected to that switch board. You can see the lights and a plug for each phone. Even the dial (used to “dial” a telephone number) is obvious, right next to the coffee cup.

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