Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Week 43 of 2012 - Soda Fountains and Local Restaurants

When we moved to Imlay City in 1967, we moved into town and now loved just a couple of doors off of the downtown business district on Almont Avenue.  Imlay City was a cute little farm town actually.  When we first moved there my Dad was looking at the local department store.  He was thinking that he might buy it.  It was called “Brownites”, as I recall.   Imlay City had  two hardware stores, a dime store, a grocery, two Drug stores , a shoe store, a liquor store, a bakery, a florist, a Masonic Lodge, a farm supply store and a couple of banks.  It had it all and we were a few steps from each of them.

In Romeo, we had lived in the country so our “ town” was a car ride away on Saturday and Sunday only.  Now that we lived in town, a whole new world of adventures opened up for us. Our new drug stores came equipped with their own soda fountains!  Each had a counter with stools which spun around and the best part of it was that they were within walking distance from our house!  NOT one but two to pick from!  The closest one was called Dean's Drug store and the other was called Ray's Drug store.  Both were on Third Street and a half a block away from each other. You could have a flavored soda, ice cream, a sundae or a milk shake not food, just sweet treats.  Dean’s was where I had my first Vanilla Coke. They had a long row of syrups of different flavor behind the counter on a shelf. The lady behind the counter would get you one of those plastic cup holders with the paper cup in it.  You know the kind that looked like an upside down tee pee and she would add one squirt of syrup to your coke.   Oh I thought that this was the greatest and wondered why every town did not have one.  My favorites were Vanilla and Cherry cokes. We did not drink soda regularly until we moved to Imlay City. I do not remember how much they cost, maybe a quarter or 30 cents.  I remember getting change from my parent to go get a coke as often as they would let me. 
Imlay city had an A&W Drive In which had the best root beer and a local restaurant called Tietz's Drive In. The waitresses at both locations,  wore roller skates and brought your order out to you.  You rolled your window down part ways and hung a tray on the window.  You ordered your meal from the order station at each parking spot. You pressed a button on a call box next to your car and waited for the voice on the other end to answer you!  You placed your order by talking into the box and telling the person what you wanted...this was certainly the precursor to the drive up windows of today!

Week 41 of 2012 - Work and other adventures...

Working for StorageTek in Phoenix was a great adventure for me.  I was a field service technician. I repaired peripheral computer equipment for major corporations like Greyhound, UHaul, State Farm, ASU, American Express, ATT and GTE.  Many large corporations had headquarters in Phoenix which had very large data centers.  Computer rooms were the size of large gymnasiums and several were the size of football fields.  I had never seen anything like it.

STC Phoenix employees 1982 summer picnic

When I started work for Willard, he proudly told me that I was the 26th woman Field Engineer in the country out of an FE work force of 3000 men and women. Needless to say, I worked with a lot of men.  The week after I started, another woman called Willard from the Los Angles office and told him she would be transferring  to Phoenix.  She was the 13th woman Field Engineer and her name was Ivy Anderson.  She boldly told Willard that she was marrying a guy from Phoenix and had put in for a transfer.

Willard responded, "But I just hired a lady!"
Ivy said, "  Well, I guess now you will have two. How does that sound, two woman FE's in Phoenix.  I'll bet that is a first!"

And it was.  From the first moment that I met her, I loved her.   I walked into the office on her first day and instantly we both reacted with a large grin!

"You must be Jan,"  she said.
"You must be Ivy"  I said in stereo!

Inseparable friends - 1985

And for the next ten years, we were inseparable. My first few weeks in Phoenix I worked along side the rest of the guys.  They showed me the ropes and I began to really like what I did.  It was not easy work but I liked it.  After about 6 weeks, I was sent to Boulder for basic tape school for three weeks of training which would then be followed by a two week disk training course.  5 Weeks in Boulder Colorado!  My instructor for Basic Tape was Alan Braggins, a coworker from Phoenix.  He was the Sr. FE at "The Arizona Bank", TAB, and was thinking about becoming an instructor.   It was a great experience for me to have someone I knew for my first class.  

Coworkers Alan Braggins and Chap Troutman - 1982

Getting to Boulder would be require the second plane ride of my life but this time Alan would be taking the same flight so I did not seem quite so alone.  From Phoenix to Denver it took about an hour to fly and then a shuttle ride up to the training facility in Boulder.  It was in Boulder at school where I first realized that not everyone like working with a woman.  Actually, I was trying so hard to learn what I needed for my job, that I did not realize that some of the guys resented the fact that I was there...  I was way too busy for that!  One afternoon when I was taking a timed lab exercise, I began to get frustrated, very stressed and even a bit frightened.  I totally did not understand what was happening around me.  I would put down a tool and it would disappear. Then the pages of my book would be test equipment settings were changed.... and tools would be moved.  About half way through my lab, I thought I was losing my mind.  Alan came over to me and stopped my test.  I protested but he said to me, "Jan, I want to go have a smoke."  I told him I did not need one, I needed to finish my lab.  He looked me in the eyes and said, "Jan, go have a smoke, use the rest room and come back in 15 minutes."   So I did.

After 15 minutes, I came back.  He told me to take a deep breath and restart my lab.  I did and finished it successfully well within the time frame allotted for the lab. Later that day, I learned that some of the younger guys in the class were purposefully messing with me during my lab.  I was concentrating so hard on what I was doing, I did not realize it. They were changing the pages in my books, taking my tools and changing the settings on the Oscilloscope.  Alan escorted them from the school and put them on a plane bound for home.  I am sure that they had a lot of explaining to do to their boss.   By the end of my first class, the remaining men in the class respected me and I respected them. 

I missed my family and my husband but for about 6 months I was able to concentrate most days on learning alot in a very short time. 

Week 40 of 2012 - Leaving Michigan headed for Phoenix

This is my second draft of leaving home. While writing the first draft, I realized that my true leaving home occurred later than I first thought.  My first leaving home was as a 16 year old and I spoke of it in a previous blog. I have had several opportunities to leave home and today I will talk about the second one. My second leaving home was a leap of faith much like the first leaving was but I think I was more frightened.  It was when I took my job with Storage Technology in Phoenix.  From the time we decided that the position in Phoenix was the right move for our family a whirl wind of events occurred.  First we had to tell our parents about the decision we had made.  My parents were a bit apprehensive but supportive.  I would be their first daughter to move away and I was not just moving a state or two away.  I was moving across the country and a three hour airplane ride away.   At that time, I did not know anyone who had done such a thing.   Gary’s parents were not very happy with me.  They thought this whole this was a stupid plan and I should just grow up.  They thought that I should find a job in Michigan and that Gary should not be encouraging me.  They felt that he should not leave his job and that he should just force the issue with me.  They gave Gary a raise and said, “Tell Jan to go home and take care of her babies and stop all this nonsense.”  She can come and work at the restaurant like the rest of the Tietz’s.   I became the enemy who was taking their son away from them and the family business.  The more they tried to exert their control over us, the more Gary and I fought it.  

Christmas 1981 - our last Christmas in Michigan
 We began to tell our friends and before we knew it, a “going away bash “ was planned with all our friends. The party was at Mike and Laurie Dodge’s on Ginger Drive.  It was a close knit group of friends and I was sad to leave them but excited for my new adventure.  Most could not believe I was actually going and truthfully I do not think that any of them thought it was a permanent move. That night Gary got into the whiskey down stairs with the guys, He never drank whiskey and in 45 minutes he was drunk.  The kind of drunk that you do not remember what you even did.  I realized on the drive home that he was much more nervous about our decision than I had thought.  As he threw up in the side yard, I went into the house to get the baby sitter and took her home.  She was surprised that we came home after only being gone an hour or so…and so was I!  She noticed Gary in the side yard as we backed out of the drive, “Is he alright?” she asked.  “Yes”  I told her, “ he had too much to drink! He’ll be passed out when I get home and won’t remember it in the morning” So much for “my going away” party. 

We put the house on the market with the hope that it would sell in a hurry so Gary and the kids could join me sooner rather than later.   I was concerned about Gary being left behind and the influence that his parents might have on our decision. The real estate market was less than stellar and interest rates were high so the house did not sell quickly as we had hoped.  I saw an attorney and gave Gary power of attorney for me so if it sold after I left, I would not need to come home to sign papers. I bought my one way plane ticket to Phoenix set to fly out there the 28th of January.   I started to pack up my things.  I went through my clothes and took things that I knew I would use in Phoenix.  I had to buy some suits for work.  I donated clothes that I no longer needed knowing that I would not be back home to help Gary pack our house up.

I did my best to explain to my children what was happening.  I told them that their mother would be starting a job in a town that was far away.  I told them that for now you will stay with your Dad and your Grandparents until we could sell the house or when Shawn get out of school for the summer, which ever came first.  After that, we will be together again.  They seemed to understand but I could not be sure.  It was a lot to take in for an 8 year old and a 4 year old. I explained it over and over again that it was temporary…Mommy is not leaving you.  Mommy is going ahead of you to start a job and get a place for us to live and soon you will come to live where Mommy is.  But to a small child, when Mommy gets on an airplane without you, she’s leaving you.

January 28th came and I got on my plane bound for Phoenix. The tears flowed freely as I sat on the plane realizing that I did not know when I would see my kids or my husband again.  I was scared, sad, excited, thrilled and full of heighten anticipation of what this new adventure would bring. I would not allow myself to think that it could go wrong!  It was going to work out and I was certain of it!  It was my first plane ride and I was all alone.  I would be met at the airport by my new boss.  He had made temporary living arrangement for me with the mother-in-law of one of his employees.  I would rent a room from her and an extra car for a few weeks until I had time to make arrangement for myself.

My new roommate, Jan Synder
 I would room with another Jan, her name was Jan Snyder. This is a story for another time.  I started work on the following Monday reporting promptly at 8 AM to the office on Bethany Home Road and the I-17 frontage road.