I said No

IBM Interview Routing Sheet

IBM Interview Routing Sheet

There weren’t any jobs. Nobody came to NDSU in early 1972 looking for engineering graduates. Well, the CIA was looking, and I talked to them, but they decided I wasn’t cut out for that business. I had a brand new degree in electrical engineering and nobody wanted me. The lack of job opportunities drove me to one of the best decisions of my life. I applied for and received a scholarship to go on to graduate school. It wasn’t much of a decision: unemployment or a full ride to graduate school.

The job market totally turned around in the next year. By the spring of 1973 there were dozens of companies interviewing on campus, looking for freshly minted electrical engineers. I was a candidate for a Master’s of Electrical Engineering, and had a good GPA, which made getting interviews and site visits relatively easy.

Many of the companies I talked to don’t exist any more. Who remembers Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa? They didn’t make me an offer, which was probably a good thing. A company in Boston did make an intriguing offer. The Route 128 area was rich with dozens of startup companies. But it was too far from home, and the cost of living was far higher than the Midwest jobs I was looking at. Let’s stay in the Midwest, eh?

I’d been on several interview trips by the time the Texas Instruments people called me down. I’d already pretty much made up my mind where to go, but this opportunity was quite the plum. Some real possibilities. The clincher came when I figured out a way to visit my family in Denver on their ticket. I signed up and started making plans. Two things worked in my favor. I knew a young lady who worked in a travel agency, and all the airplane tickets were paper. Continue reading

Why do I do this?

1973 Masters Thesis

One of the treasures from the attic

Sometime earlier this year someone pulled up a page from my blog and read it. Not that unusual. A few of my friends and family members do look at the blog now and then. If I were into marketing and paying attention, it could have been a big day for me. On that special day WordPress served up the 10,000th page view for GrandPa Guy’s Stories.

On most days I’d brush off a number like that, saying it doesn’t matter. I don’t check the statistics all that often, so I was several hundred page views late in seeing the milestone pass. Several more days passed before I actually thought about what that meant. Last month a friend sent an email thanking me for a post that struck a chord with her. That morning I made a difference.

You don’t suppose that’s happened other days, too? Out of those 10,000 page views, maybe a few other of my musings have given a friend pause, let them think a thought out of their daily trance? One day in church a friend whom I hadn’t seen in about a year (We’re both C&Es at this church.) stopped me to thank me for my blog posts. I had no idea she was reading them, so was pleased to hear that they were good for her. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that my two month break in writing would start within the week.

When I started writing the blog two years ago I wanted to make it easier for my family to remember some of the stories from our shared past. The real reason has become clear as I continue to write these old stories. Part of writing old stories involves digging around in the boxes from the attic. You know those boxes. They moved into your house years ago and you haven’t opened them since.

I opened them. Treasure! Continue reading

53 Bison Court

NDSU Bison Court after a major blizzard

NDSU Bison Court after a major blizzard

You may recall that we got married in June of 1971. Our first apartment was the upstairs of an old four-square house on the near North Side of Fargo. It was a nice old place, much like the house we live in today. When school started that fall we moved to the campus of North Dakota State University (NDSU) into a little place called Bison Court.

In 1971 Bison Court was the newer student housing. The previous year the university had torn down the old Quonset buildings that had housed veterans coming back from WWII. That neighborhood had a lot of mature trees and some landscaping, but the buildings were ancient by 1971. Metal Quonset buildings were not designed for longevity. Bison court was bleak by comparison. While we were living in Bison Court they built some modern (70’s modern) apartments further northeast of Bison Court.

We loved living at Bison Court for several reasons, mostly that it was within easy walking distance of the engineering department, so there was no need for a second car. There were reasons to not like the place, too. Cinder blocks. Lots of them. The walls were concrete block. All of the walls were block.

Continue reading

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

Fishing in Flin Flon

The year in graduate school was one of the best years of my young life. Judy and I celebrated two years of marriage, I had a full ride scholarship, which meant I didn’t have to work at all, just go to classes. There weren’t even any teaching assistant duties. The guys I was going to school with were a lot of fun, too. One of the professors, Dan K, had an idea for us the week after school was out in June of 1973.

Ready to head north. Fred, Jerry, Keith.

Ready to head north. Fred, Jerry, Keith.

A dozen of us piled into two old vans along with several canoes, twelve pounds of coffee and several pints of whiskey. We headed north for seven hundred miles to Flin Flon, Manitoba. That’s the farthest north I’ve ever been. Then we continued north for more miles to get to the lake. It’s hard to remember now where we ended up, there aren’t a lot of roads there even today. After parking the vans we paddled for several hours and a couple of portages. This was wilderness. More wild, and more remote than the Boundary Waters. We set up camp on a point, high above the lake. The view was fantastic and there was room for all the tents and a large fire pit. Down by the lake there was a place to clean the fish and pull in the canoes. We settled in for a week of fishing, eating, telling stories and canoeing around the lake. Continue reading