The years between 1966 and 1976 were “my” years of growing up, experiencing some of the previously posted stories to many that I’ve either forgotten about or put away forever. Or, that I will talk about later…..
Everyone goes through this growing period whether it’s when going to college and finding your career, or falling in love and marrying at a later age, or through interactions with others. I seemed to have just learned life by going through it…. (life).
By 1976 I was in my 30’s, my children had hit their pre teen age years…. Time had simply passed by me, and all of a sudden I had reached the place in life where I was finally could just let it be….
The years at the rental store between ’71 & 76 were hard. I was at the rental store as they needed me to be. No one wanted to mess with an actual payroll, so my pay was a new freezer one year…. Once Dad took me down and bought me a new pair of cowboy boots once, and there were many different forms of payment thru the years…
Many days I just helped Dad at the front counter taking care of customers. Some days it was physical work, if a guy came in to rent a compressor and it was just him and his pickup, someone had to help load it. I unloaded, washed and cleaned up lawn mowers and tillers, and took care of truck and trailer rentals. If Dad wasn’t there, then the job was left to me. I probably did more damage to my back during those years than I realized….
Jim helped out when he could but he had a full time job and not a lot of spare time. With the kids being older there were school activities to attend and all of the normal running that parents of that age of child goes through. Our son was in sports, the girls were involved in many activities….there was always something….But it kept me going….
Following Mom’s death, I spent a good year in what I see now as an actual depression…That first set of holidays were tough… After we got through that I didn’t want to do anything other than what I had to…. My nature as usual was to find the strength to do what I had to do…. It just seemed that at age 33, I felt old….very old and tired.
Just a few months into that year, Dad sold the rental store and moved back to our home town where he retired and eventually married again.
Also, during that time the employees where Jim worked bought the shop from the owner… Jim had 7% of the business but it was run by the long term manager who owned the largest percentage of the business. Through the coming years through various guys moving on to other things, death, retirement, etc. our percentage of owernship eventually reached 25%. Jim continued on the big lathe, was in charge of ordering parts, dealing with customers, etc… For the first time we were making “enough” money, but with 3 kids entering high school there was never much left over.
We learned to snow ski during those years, participated as officers in our local Lions Club, took trips and were very involved with the kids. We could have been viewed as the typical American family….Jim turned 40 in 1980….. I threw him a surprise party and life was good… Things were going good at Jim’s shop and assumed that would be our retirement..
In 1978 I received a call from an acquaintance who ask if I would like to work as an office assistant at the business he was employed by a gas processing plant. There were 7 field guys all with CB radios’ that I had to relay messages to, I did all the reports from the plant, took care of whatever the boss needed, conducted safety programs, answered the phones… I was extremely busy but that’s what I needed.
Before we knew it – our son was starting college, the girls were both dating steady boyfriends. Life continued… all the usual up’s and down’s but with the love of family we went through it.
I remember 1982 well, as we bought our first “new” car…It was a Jeep Wagoneer… great for family trips. Being a business owner now helped a great deal in the expenses that were to come. The following year we had 3 kids in college, and both of the girls were married. Our son had completed two years at our local junior college and was on his way to an out of state college to get his Petroleum Engineering degree. The twin girls had both graduated high school and one chose to go to the local junior college for a business deg. and one chose to go in State for her 4 year nursing degree.
Things were going well at the shop – debt was low and the customer base was high…..
At times life becomes a blur, it was one of the fullest times of our lives… We also bought a used hitch camper, 8 ft. by 20 ft. Taking it to the mountains on weekends to get away and fish in the summer time with friends and family we enjoyed many wonderful trips with it and it was so much easier than a tent!
We did have two beautiful weddings….. the focus was on the wedding, not the reception….. It would have been laughed at by today’s standards…. Jane & Janet took the trip to Denver and chose a dress, I made hand made centerpieces, everything was wonderful….The first daughter was married in 1983 while she was in nursing college….. the second daughter was married in 1984 while in junior college, and the son was married in 1989 – working a ski lodge. You could not buy a job in petroleum engeneering at that time, the price of oil was going down, down, down……
This was a huge drop for us….. from 21 employees we went to the 3 original….. the shop just seemed to have shut down over night. No work was coming in all…… we took pay cuts one right after another……
I remember getting up one night and Jim was not in bed…. After looking for a while I wandered down to the basement and there he sit in the chair – by himself – just thinking, trying to come up with a way to save the shop….. money was very tight…..hardly enough to run on……It was a very sad time.
Throughout all of this we hung on to a goal…… that of having our own business where we could run it our own way and not depend on others….. If it failed it would be our fault and no one elses…
At the time we had sold our home and rented a different one. It was a 5 bedroom, nice house….. The idea came to me, why don’t we put our furniture in storage, and move into a little shack…… Every night after work, we would go out and put shingles on the roof to tighten it….. we worked on it for months…. We hooked into a temporary elect. box, hooked up some cable tv, skirted the trailer with hay bales, set it beside another old shack where we could keep our freezer and proceded to move into it….. Talk about organization! I knew where everything was and we had a place for everyting…..
Living in a 12 x 20 trailer was not easy but it worked. The first week got very hot, so we fashioned an air conditioner that run thru a vent out the side…..it circulated air tho and that’s what we needed….
Winter was hard – the following Christmas it dropped to 32 deg.. below zero as we drove to our daughters that night for Christmas eve….
As time went on, Spring arrived and thing begin to look up. We were asked to come over to the area we wanted to be in to take over the existing shop in this area….. the owner was off to another venture and we were left in charge…. Jim at the shop and me keeping the books…..
This wenton for about a year and a half….. then we approached him to buy….. because they were busy at the time, he would not sell….. It was time for us to do it on our own.
We contacted a dealer and leased a lathe – doing everything on a shoe string budget…. Nothing came easy…. We workd day and night – 24/7 just to pay the phone bill….. we were getting there tho…..
Sheer determination took us through it…..
Our son was working in Indonseia at the time and he hated being so far from home….. he begged to come back and join us and we did need help….. One year later our son in law was working in Nygeria and he also wanted to come home. Both of them did and it was the best thing that ever happened to us……..
We all worked very hard to make it a success…then finally after about 7 years we begin to see daylight….. The banker finally told us we needed to take a break and do a vacation. We had not been away from here all that time.
And then after many “in’s and out” through the years, we really did have an empty nest…. J Jim and I settled into a routine……. We worked in the shop together and loved every minute of it….. from early in the morning until late at night….. After getting permission to move out the little trailer and move in a bigger one, We lived in a 50 x 20 ft. traier….. happy as larks. In 2001, The man we had bought the property from carried a loan and we were able to put a house on the property…… Life was good again…..
After building the business up as far as we could, we decided in 2006 to turn the business over to the kids… they deserved it – they worked every bit as hard as we had and it was theirs as much as ours……
Since then things have been going well…… Jim and travel a lot and feel free to go off and know that it’s left in good hands…….
Our daughter the nurse eventually divorced her first husband and has since married a wonderful doctor….. We have 5 beautiful grandchildren to dote over….. ages 24 & 24, 21 & 21, and a 17 still in high school….. They’re all great kids with no problems…..
We now run two shifts with around 21 employees.... they're all good hard working men and do their job well.... we try to treat them good..... I believe that what comes around goes around....
It's been a wonderful ride - hitting that goal of ours..... finally we've reached it......
So that’s pretty much the life of “us”….. tarzan and sweet thang……. (Jim and Mary).