Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kids Growing Up

I worked part-time as a barber at Doug’s Barber Shop on Wilkinson Boulevard for awhile but discovered that standing on my feet was not doing me any good. It seemed that the times that I was hurting were the times that everyone wanted haircuts. I pushed myself to continue working but found that I just could not do it anymore. While I was still working at Doug’s Barber Shop, Hazel called me and said that I should rush home. She said that Glenn was cutting the grass and she had sent Mike out to pick up the sticks after Glenn had started mowing the grass. The lawnmower threw a rock and hit Mike in the eye. I rushed home and we took Mike to the eye doctor. The doctor looked into Mike’s eye and said that he had a blood clot in his eye and would have to stay in the hospital for a few days. He could not raise or turn his head until released from the hospital. After being in the hospital for a week we took him home but after a couple of weeks his eye started hurting again. Mike had to return to the hospital and this time with a detached retina. Dr. Kreashone tried to fix it but could not. This left Mike with only one good eye. Through our time in the hospital, Dr. Kreashone discovered what had recently happened to me with the fire department and he knew that we could not pay for all of this. He told us that he would only charge what the insurance would pay and we were once again very thankful. Michael did not remember any pain, but only bits and peices of the experience. Listen to me tell this story.

While living on Barringer Drive, Glenn Jr. who was only eleven years old, wanted to do his part to help the family and said that he would like to deliver the Charlotte News, an evening news paper at that time. He applied for the job and just as God works, the route that started at our house came open and he got the job. The first day he went to the pickup box and put all of the papers in the news bag and started down West Blvd to make his first deliveries. He left with a big bag of papers that was almost as big as he was, I followed him staying far enough behind for him not to be able to see me. I will have to confess that until he reads this in my blog, he did not know that I followed him all the way up Fordham Rd. to Kimberly Rd. then to Remount Rd. and back down West Blvd., Up Barringer Dr. to Brentwood Pl., down Remount Rd., and back down Barringer Dr. until he reached home. He continued being a paperboy for a very long time. He did such a good job that he was named the newspaper carrier for the year and was taken to Fayettville for a celebration and received some awards for his good work. I only followed him the first couple days until I knew that he knew what he was doing. 

Glenn did such a good job that his paper route was expanded and became too large for him to make the deliveries in a timely manner. He was forced to branch out and hired Pam, his sister, to take part of the route that started at our house and went up to Brentwood and lower part of Remount Dr. They both did a great job of helping out. Michael helped Glenn with the paper route too; he inserted the ads and comic sections as well as fold them so it would be easier to make the delivery. Listen to me tell this story.

Long about this time Pam wanted to get her ears pierced and we did not have the money to do that or have her hair cut so I persuaded her to let me cut her hair and the money that we would save would be enough to pay for having her ears pierced. I cut her hair so she would have some of the most beautiful bangs that you had ever saw. However, when she looked at them, she became really mad at me because she did not like them at all. The next day I took her to get her ears pierced but that still did not make her happy about the hair. Her hair eventually grew out but until it did it was a major issue with her.

One day in April, a baby squirrel fell from its nest and we found it in our front yard when it was discovered by a neighborhood cat. We took it in, named it Squeaky, and raised it in our house for the next several weeks. I built a cage for Squeaky, it was little over a foot square and about 3 feet high with a limb in it, so he could climb around. He would eat out of our hands and enjoyed climbing the curtains and sitting on top of them. He made a great pet and we all loved the squirrel. We kept it in the house and played with it until it grew up and we were convinced it would survive in the wild. When we let it outside, Squeaky stayed around for a few days and then disappeared.  Listen to me tell this story.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Workman's Compensation

Shortly after entering barber school I received a letter from the City of Charlotte Treasurer asking me to come to his office to discuss some issues. During the meeting, he shared that the City wanted me to repay them for the Workman's Compensation that I was paid while I worked for the City. I told him that I did not have any money and I could not foresee any time in the near future that I would have the money to repay them. He sent me to see the City Manager who also said that I would have to repay the money. In addition he said that I was to return all of the clothes that the fire department had given me while actively serving on the force. Pointing at my shoes, he stated that he even wanted that pair of two years old shoes and all of the used pants and shirts. He said that the City would work with me by just deducting $125.00 a month from my $250.00 disability retirement check. At this point I got mad and told him that I had a wife and three little children and he was taking away the only way that I had to feed them. I refused to leave and told him that I was going to stay in his office until he told me that he would not take the money from my paycheck. He sharply told me that he had ways to get me out of his office and back on the road. At that point I told him that I had called a reporter from the Charlotte News and shared that I might need him to come down to his office that afternoon. He finely said he would try to work something out but I still would have to return the clothes and shoes, I took off my shoes and placed them on his desk and walked the two blocks back to the barber school which had already closed for the day. On this day I was so glad that I did not have on a pair of Fire Department issued pants. Walking in public in bare feet is one thing, walking in bare feet and boxers is another!

After I left the City I could not keep my health insurance. The City wanted to sever all ties and free them with all other responsible of me. I tried to get some help from Chief Walter Black who I thought up until this time was a good man to help me but all that he said was that his hands were tied and that he could not take sides against the City. He said that their attorneys had taken care of all the legal stuff. He said that he had no say as to how I should be treated.

I called several lawyers and they told me that being retired on disabilities was a new thing for the fire department and that it would cost me more than I could afford. They advised me to take what the city offered and go on with my life. That is just what I did; I turned it all over to God and told him that it was His problem from that point forward. I never had to repay the Workman’s Compensation. Listen as I tell this story.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

New Career Opportunities

As time passed and I discovered that I was not going to be able to do the job with Norris Packing Company, Tom Worthy came by to see me about needing to make a change in his career. Tom told me that the job that he currently was doing was hurting his health and that he was going to have to make a change but he did not know what he should do about it. I told him if I were able to work and needed a job, I thought it would be a good thing to start a local delivery service. I knew that the company that John Rogers was working for would have enough overflow business that would get him started. Tom went to see John and he thought it to be a great idea since there was high demand for local delivery services in Charlotte. Neither of us had much money but each of us managed to put in $500 which bought an old truck. Tom was to be the driver with a salary, John was to provide us business, and I was to be the dispatcher. We named the company Jet Express Delivery. Listen as I tell this story.

The business had a slow start and Hazel ended up doing my job. I decided to revert to being a barber which I had done throughout the time I was in the Navy. I also cut hair for many of the firemen while working at the fire department. Doug Brewer, a barber that I had met while living at Morris Field, had a barber shop near the Park-N-Shop #1. He knew that I hadbeen cutting many of the
fireman's hair so he told me that a barber school had opened in Charlotte and if I could attend this school and get my license that he would rent me a chair in his barber shop and I could work anytime that I wanted too.

I went to the barber school and met Mr. Sparks the owner and told him my story and shared about my prior experiences with cutting hair. He said that he needed someone that could help him and that if I would enroll in the school I could help him with the other students and that would pay my way. He shared that anytime that my headaches started and I did not feel like working. I could lie down on a bed that was in the corner of his office.

Eight month later I got my NC Barber License and started to work at Doug's Barber Shop. I also was able to have the telephone line for Jet Express Delivery put in the shop so I could take calls for Jet Express Delivery and cut hair at the same time. This helped Hazel out a little but it was not long that the business grew to need a full time office worker. John and I decided that we would let Margaret, Tom's wife, go to work in that position. By that time we had three trucks, I was unable to work with the company, and John had gotten a promotion and could not work with the company. At this point we let Tom and Margaret take over the business and we remained best friends for life.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Recovery from the Operation

All went pretty well during the operation. I had to lay flat on my back for twenty-one days before I could get up and then for only a few minutes at a time. Before I go any farther I must tell you about the fourth day after the operation. One of the nurses gave me a big glass of something to drink and said that in a little while for me to call her and she would take care of me. As you can imagine, I had to go so quickly I called the nurse. She came in and got a stainless steel bed pan which I think she stored in the freezer and slid it under my warm bottom. I thought I would jump out of bed knowing that was not a possibility but quickly ended up doing something else. All went well the rest of the time. I insisted on keeping the pan under the covers with me from then on. The three weeks went well and on the twenty-first day Dr. Tracy came in and had me to stand up. I stood up with their help and I was doing so well that he could put the body cast on the next day and let me go home in a couple days if all went well and it did. I was told that I could only stand up or lay down for eight months. Listen to me tell this story.

At this time I had a little Rambler Station Wagon that had a front seat that would fold down which enabled me to get home without sitting up. It was about one month before I had to go back to see the doctor. He told me if I did good for the next month, I could get out and ride laying out in the car. He said that I could go to church if I would lie down rather than sitting so I would lie on a pew on the back row at Westover Baptist Church. Pam had started to play the piano in church and played with organist, Jo Ann Caulder.

During the time that I had my injury and being retired from the Charlotte Fire Department, I tried to return to work several times but there was no way that I could hold up more that a few hours; I looked as healthy as a horse but my back was as weak as water. After leaving the fire department I was able to get a job with Shelby, NC based Norris Packing Company. Mr. Bridges needed someone to work the Park-N-Shop store three days a week for and average of three hours a day. Charlie Reed, owner of Park-N-Shop told him about me and my need for a job to provide some additional income for my family. The company furnished me a car to drive and I went to work after one day of training. God took care of me, with the small retirement check that the city gave I could not afford a car and while working with the meat company, I could get all of the meat that we needed. Hazel learned to cook hot dogs, livermush, bacon, and bologna in every way imaginable for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Listen to me tell this story.

One day I was driving home from a visit to the doctor and passed a house that had an old bed headboard lying on the sidewalk as I drove by. I thought that the walnut wood would be good to make something. I went back to the house and asked if I could have it and the lady said that she had a dresser and chest of drawers to go with it but she just could not get them to the street for the garbage men to pick up. After looking at them I told her I would like to have them and she was delighted that someone could use the furniture. I called Tom Worthy who had just bought an old pickup truck, he picked up the bed room suit and delivered it to my side porch. I started to work on removing the old finish which took me about a year since I could not work but a few minutes at a time on it. I still have the very old bed room suit and it is still good as new. Pictured here is the bed with a Yo-yo quilt that Hazel made.

Times were so hard that I had to call Wayne Carriker, my oil man, to tell him that I could not pay for any more fuel and that I would heat my house with wood in my fireplace; his reply was that my oil tank would never run empty as long as he had an oil business. At the same time, I had to make a call Pam's piano teacher Mrs. Mildred Gaffney to tell her that Pam would have to drop her piano lessons because I could not pay for them and did not have the means to get Pam to her house; her reply was that as long as she could teach she would give Pam lessons and she would come by our home once a week to teach Pam at no charge. During this time Hazel was keeping young children and doing laundry for their families to help us make ends meet.

I kept having some tension and pain in my back. One morning when I got up, I felt sick so I only drank some tomato juice for breakfast and shortly afterwards I had a terrible headache and was sick on my stomach. This is the first time in my life that I had ever had a bad headache; it was so bad that I thought I was dying. I told Hazel that she should call in some of our close friends because I did not think I was going to make it through the day. Hazel called our closest friends, John and Sue Rogers and Tom and Margaret Worthy. They came and sat with us for the most of the day and things got a little better. These headaches came on at random and there was not anything that I could do to stop them. Later, the doctor told me that they were migraine and that there was not much that could be done to relieve the pain they caused. I took some pills but they did not seem to help. As time went on I learned to live with them; my doctor said that he never heard of anyone dying from a migraine headache. The kids quickly became accustomed to staying out of the den and walking quietly around the room when I was feeling bad since walking through the room caused vibrations that make my headaches much worse. Thankfully the headaches became less and less over the years.