RMCI folds

RMCI folds

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

The time I spent working for RMCI was some of the greatest years of my working and personal life. I was happy with my work, I was making enough money that I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay my bills, my home life was happy and I was getting along with my children.

Then things started going downhill.

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Meeting Anke

Meeting Anke

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

It was while working in Dallas, Texas at the Redbird Airport project that I met Anke. She was working in the airport restaurant when I came in for coffee. I would sit there reading my book and drinking coffee. I guess she got curious about me and asked me out. Since I was getting a divorce, I saw no harm in it.

We were together for about ten years. More about our time together later.

— Eric H

Inspecting FAA facilities

Inspecting FAA facilities

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

I went to work for ATC Environmental the day after I finished working with Linn. When I walked in the door, Dan Beneke hired me on the spot, because he was familiar with Linn and I, knew the quality work we had done in the past. I worked as a field project manager for a couple of years and then they sent me to Chicago to train for Polarized Light Microscopy. I went to work in the asbestos laboratory as an analyst. I was later chosen to train for the new Transmission Electron Microscopy laboratory that ATC was opening. At about this time, Jenny Meyer over at Research Management Consultants, Inc. offered me a job. I had just started in the TEM lab and wanted to give the company at least a year considering the investment they had just made to train me. I worked in the TEM lab for a little over a year, when I finally moved on to RMCI.

Working at RMCI was the most fun I think I ever had working for somebody else. Remember, I was and still am in love with anything that has to do with flying. They hired me to inspect buildings and do building materials surveys at Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facilities all across the country. I started out working on the Air Traffic Control tower inspection program. I would go out with a partner for five days to a different facility every day. For example, one week started at the Minot, North Dakota tower, the second day at Grand Forks, on to a radar facility north of Fargo, then to the Fargo tower on Thursday; and finishing up with the Bismarck ATCT on Friday.

We would spend a full day surveying a facility. A small tower might take only four hours to inspect. A large facility might take longer than the eight hours allotted. I remember one trip to Oklahoma City, where any partner and I spent ten hours per day at a facility and almost missed our Friday evening flight because we were working so long. I spent the next three or more weeks producing the inspection reports.

The smallest building I ever looked at was a radio building at the end of the runway at Valdez, Alaska. The largest building was Hangar#8 at the Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. One was a twenty-minute inspection; the other took almost 60 hours to complete the physical inspection.

One of my friends at RMCI was Chuck Mumey. He was a fellow inspector and a pilot. He owned his own airplane and had about every rating there was except ATP. At lunch time we would go for walks and talk about all kinds of stuff, but would always wind up talking about flying. Chuck wanted to teach me to fly, but my wife, JoAnn, was afraid that I would get killed. So I didn’t get to learn to fly from Chuck.

One Saturday morning Chuck called me to see if I would be interested in going for a flight. Chuck also asked Rhonda Bliss, a mutual friend, to come along. I was also able to take my son Joel along for the ride. We flew from Denver to Pueblo and had a pizza lunch. Then we flew back. Once again a beautiful flying experience. The whole time, my wife JoAnn was sitting at home afraid that we were going to crash and die.

We didn’t.

When we completed the tower inspection program, we started working with the Raytheon Company to produce specifications from our inspection reports for the Fire and Life Safety Program. This started another round of inspections.

This time I was in Washington DC for an extended period and then out in the field at towers again collecting lead paint samples. Once these inspections and specifications were completed, they assigned us Environmental Oversight Supervisors to the individual construction projects. These projects could take months to complete.  They expected us to be on the job site the entire time. I would be gone for ten days straight, come home for a weekend and then back to work on Monday.

I remember being in Nantucket, Massachusetts for several weeks in the fall of one year. I would leave work to catch a flight home at 3:30 PM and not get home until after midnight. I would be so exhausted that I would sleep until noon Saturday and then have to be back at the airport by noon Sunday to fly back to work. I was gone so much that I wound up getting divorced, as did one or two others I worked with.

— Eric H

Spelunking with Joel

Spelunking with Joel

Eric writes:

I was interested in caving for many years of my life. My favorite cave in Colorado was Fulford Cave near Eagle, Colorado. One of the best visits was when Joel was about eight years old. He was in Cub Scouts and was going to go caving with me for the first time. This was a public access cave that a person/group could spend from four to eight hours to see. We drove up to Fulford campground the day before and camped with friends that were going caving with us the following day.

Joel - Then and now

Joel – 1995 and 2007

The hike up to the cave entrance was about a mile up the mountain. Joel and I were getting more excited with each step. When we got to the entrance we all sat for a pre-caving photo. It was a busy cave that day. Some other group was climbing up the ladder, as we were ready to climb down. The entrance consists of a metal culvert dug into the ground at about a 50-degree angle with a metal ladder welded to the inside for climbing down into the cave. When it was our turn, Joel started down in front of me. As we went down the ladder, Joel started to have second thoughts and a little claustrophobia.

He said he wanted to go back up and not do the cave. I kept encouraging him to go on down to the bottom of the ladder because there were people above me on the way down. We had to go to the bottom before he could go back up. When we got to the bottom, I told Joel that he should let me show him around a little before he went back to the surface. We walked around in a couple large chambers for a few minutes as I explained about the rock formations. When I asked Joel if he still wanted to go back without doing the cave, he said he would like to continue for a while. The farther we went into the cave, the more fun we had. We spent the day in the cave. This was a wonderful bonding experience for Joel and me.

I will never forget sharing this wonderful time with him.

— Eric H

College and a good job

College and a good job

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

We moved back to Denver. and moved into JoAnn’s parents’ basement while I looked for work. For a period of time, I did furniture repair work for JC Penney Company and Krause’s Sofa Factory. Eventually, I went to work with my brother. Linn.

This was around 1988. Linn wanted me to go back to college. He felt it was important for me to have an advanced education. He was right. So I started working toward an associate degree at From Range Community College. Then Linn convinced me that I would be better off going to the University of Colorado instead of wasting my time at a community college. So I went to UCD for a couple of years. Eventually, I figured out that in this case Linn was wrong. So I went back to FRCC and finished my Associate Degree and have never regretted it.

I worked with Linn for three years as an office manager/industrial hygiene technician and Phase Contrast Microscopy microscopist. I had experience running a small business, and he had the Certified Industrial Hygienist certification. Together, we put together a pretty good shop. At our peak there were six of us working in the office. We got to the point that we needed to expand and hire more people or cut back on the work we were taking on. I felt, as did Tom, a fellow in the shop, that we should expand. Linn decided to cut back. In fact, within a year he shut down the place and sold out to a laboratory that we used.

We all went our separate ways.

— Eric H

First jobs and disappointments

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

After graduation from High School and getting back from California, I went to work for the Denver Public Library as a custodian. I worked as a floater for a while until a position opened for a full time custodian at the Bear Valley Branch Library. I did that for four years. While working there I learned to juggle and ride a unicycle. Since I was not going to college, my mother decided I needed to learn a trade and taught me to do furniture upholstery.

In 1979, I moved back to Jamestown, North Dakota, where I was born. I went to work for the North Dakota Farmers Union as a custodian and started my own business as an upholsterer. Eventually, I quit working at the NDFU to devote my full time to the upholstery business. I also became a volunteer fire fighter for the Jamestown Fire Department. That was a lot of fun.

When the economy went bad in North Dakota, I had to quit my business and went to work for Dodgson Furniture and Appliance as a deliveryman and did some upholstery work there. I was also still with the fire department. Eventually, I got laid off and we moved to Helena, Montana because there was no work to be found in Jamestown. I am really glad I was able to take care of Grandma Fanny for her last years.

I applied and tested for a position with the Helena Fire Department. I placed 4th out of 150 applicants. The first three were hired. I was promised the next position that came open. In the mean time, I got a job working for Montana State Prison as an Industries Shop Supervisor. There, I taught inmates furniture manufacturing and upholstery. I also became a volunteer fire fighter for the East Helena Volunteer Fire Department. I also started doing community service work at that time. I became an Advanced First Aid and CPR instructor for the Red Cross.

We stayed in Helena for two years. A position never did open up at the Fire Department. The stress finally got to me at the prison so I had to quit.

— Eric H

California Sunburn

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

After graduation from High School, Rick White and I took a two-week trip to the west coast to visit his family in Huntington Beach. That was quite the trip.

On the night of graduation, JoAnn and I and all our friends stayed out all night. We went up to Lookout Point Park to watch the sun come up. JoAnn and I talked all night about what we wanted to do with our lives now that we had graduated. We had no clue.

After taking JoAnn home, I went home. Rick came by and picked me up in his 1967 Camaro Rally Sport for our drive to California. It was a fun car. But every time I drove it, the engine would just quit after about an hour. Then Rick would take over and it would be fine. Strange.

It was a 24-hour drive to LA. Taking turns sleeping and driving, we did a straight through drive. When we got to the house, I was introduced to all Rick’s brothers and sisters (10 kids in the family). I was then given the car keys and Rick’s sister had a shopping list. We were off to the grocery store.

I was informed that there are “no guests here, everyone has a job” and I was assigned mine, too.

One morning I felt like going for a walk. I was gone for an hour or two just walking around. When I got back everyone else had gone to the beach. So I went out to the pool in the back yard and was enjoying swimming alone. I guess Rick’s Mom felt sorry for me. So she called a girl on the next block and asked if she would take me to the beach.

It turned out she was a girl that Rick’s brother had been trying to get a date with for quite some time. (She was VERY good looking). We went to the beach and swam and talked for a couple hours. I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I also got the worst sunburn of my life.

That night we all packed up and drove to Disney Land to play. I wore blue jeans and it almost killed me. For the next few days. Rick’s little sister would sneak up behind me and slap me where I was burned. I don’t know if she liked seeing me in pain or what. But it hurt plenty.

— Eric H

Making Sausage

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

My first real job when I was in High School was working at Temptee Brand Steak Company in Arvada, Colorado. My job was to mix spices for the meats, prepare whole beef livers for thin slicing and cleaning of the plant after the days’ operations. I did that for almost three years. It was a pretty good job. My school schedule was pretty free because I would take summer school classes to get ahead. So, my senior year, I only had classes until noon. Then I would go to work in the afternoon and get home by six in the evening. Those were the days. I had lots of money to spend and no responsibilities other than school.

When I was in High School, I would never get my school homework done in the evening. So I would wake up at 5:00 AM. My mom would give me a ride to school. I would get there at six o’clock just as the outside doors were being unlocked. I would go up to the library and turn on the lights. I would sit there and study until class started about 8:00 AM. Seems like a strange study habit, but it worked for me. I got almost straight A’s in high school.

— Eric H

The Girls at the Village Inn

JoAnn and Eric wedding

JoAnn and Eric’s wedding

Eric writes:

The Village Inn Restaurant was the local hang out for all my friends and me. My brother Linn and I were having coffee one night and our waitress was Wendy. Linn bet me five bucks that he could get a date with her and sure enough, he did.

They became friends. As it turned out Wendy and JoAnn were best friends. Wendy introduced me to JoAnn. Our first date May 16 was to go see the movie, “The Towering Inferno”. JoAnn was into theatre at the time and liked to pick a character in the movie and pretend to play her part. Unfortunately, she picked a cute young blonde that died a fiery death and fell from the 80th floor of the burning building.

She was so upset that she had to go sit in the theatre lobby while I watched the movie. It was a lousy first date, although we did become fast fiends and were together for twenty years. We were married for 14 of those years. JoAnn and I had two beautiful children. I still love her to this day, even though I would not want to be married to her again.

— Eric H

Learning to Drink

Eric writes:

Here is another drinking story. The last day of school in the tenth grade, I brought a backpack with me with all my camping gear. John Labriola, Rick Barnes and Mark Ryan were going backpacking on Mount Evans for three days as soon as school got out. We drove up to Camp Rock, which is on the east side of Mount Evans in the Elk Management area. There are lots of backpacking trails there. We hiked up to Beaver Meadows and set up camp. We spent the afternoon playing around on the rocks climbing and swimming in the beaver ponds. Wow, was that ever cold. I didn’t know a penis could shrink so small!

John brought along a quart bottle of Vodka that his neighbor bought for him. We all drank until the bottle was gone. Mark and I drank the most. We were so plastered that we wandered off into the meadows and fell down. We were so drunk that we couldn’t even stand up to pee. We would just roll over and get up on our knees and pee, than fall down again. We lay there and laughed and talked for a while. John and Rick finally found us and dragged us back to camp.

During the night, Mark got sick and threw up a couple of times. I spent a lot of the next few years backpacking up on Mount Evans. I never drank that much up there again though. I look back on it all now and think that I had a problem with alcohol.

— Eric H

Mt Evans
Mount Evans and Summit Lake

Photo by Boilerinbtown (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons