Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sometime in the early winter of 1968, we were working on a job for Ann, when a nail ricocheted off a wall and put out my right eye. This was the beginning of eye problems that have plagued me ever since. Shortly after this accident I developed glaucoma in my left eye. It finally became uncontrollable with medication. In May 1992, I went to a specialist in Indy who put in a pop off valve. This keeps my pressure down but I developed a cataract soon after and was legally blind until July 1993 when I had the cataract removed and a new lens put in. I can now see to read, write, and drive in the daytime. It is like being let out of jail. Every time we needed anything we had to ask family or neighbors to take us.

Everyone knew our position and would say, "If you need anything, just let us know!"

I don't remember anyone ever saying, "I'm going to a certain place...would you like to go along?"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alan Short was managing Ermal's Lumber and building business at the time. He asked me if I would like to work for them. I was glad to get a job with a paycheck every week. At the same time, I turned the houses over to Bill Bailey who was in the real estate business and was selling Ermal's houses. During the next thirty days, Bill had sold both my houses. I started out working for Ermal on a crew that was finishing the Hillcrest Christian Church parsonage. When this job was finished I was given a crew of my own. We, two other crews and Mike, built several in the New Edgewood Addition, several in the Oak Manor and the Bill Quigg home east of the golf course. This Quigg house is a story in itself, putting down ranch plank floors, then staining them so black the walnut plugs in the oak floor couldn't be seen and finishing a large family room with old barn wood without losing any of the moss or vines that clung to it.

While we were working at Oak Manor, Ermal died. This created quite a mess. His daughter, Ann, by his first marriage and his wife Dorothy, who was a likeable person but Ann was a horses' behind, were at each other's throats over what he left. I suspect the lawyers got most of it. Dorothy did have a lot in her own name that Ann couldn't touch, so it came out pretty good. We were working our last day on a house in Oak Manor, a Friday when in the middle of the afternoon Kermit Williams came by and asked if we would work for him, that the crew he had was unsatisfactory and he had let them go. This must have been the spring of 1969. Ermal had died in '68 and Ann was overseeing his building business.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In 1961-62, I was doing the heating, plumbing and electrical work on the new parsonage at the Southland Church of Christ. I just had a few days left on this job when I was at Leonord Pavey's lumber yard buying materials when Leonard asked if I would like to work for him when I had the parsonage job done. I told him I would. I worked for him for a year or two, until he decided to retire from the lumber and building business. He talked me into going into the building business on my own. He knew a party in Mitchell, IN who would let me build on their lots and pay them for the lot after I sold the house. And Ermal Fultz agreed to furnish building materials the same way.

I had the first house about three fourths done when a couple looked at it and decided to take it. They were getting some kind of VA and FHA loan. The house had to pass both VA and FHA inspections. Their inspectors nearly ran me crazy. One would come in and say this had to be done, then a different one would come in and say something different had to be done. The last one that came in I told him for him and all the others to get their heads together and let me know what they wanted that I was tired of fooling with them and was ready to sell to someone else. I never heard anymore of them. I think they were just keeping each other in a job. After this, if anyone mentioned getting a government loan, I would tell them I was not interested. Selling this house before it was finished gave me high spirits and I poured the foundations for two more. I finished one and had the second almost done and had not had a good solid bite on either one. Although I had paid off all my bills when I sold the first house and the landowners were satisfied, Ermal began wanting to be paid. He never said anything to me but would make remarks to my son Richard, who was working for him at the time. I went to the bank and got a 6 month loan and paid off all my bills. With two unsold houses and a bank loan, I was afraid to start another one. I did not know at the time I could have renewed the loan by adding the interest to the loan and then add the interest to the price of the houses. If I had known that at the time, I could have filled the whole addition with homes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Business kept falling off and in 1960, Frank sold the Buick Agency to Bruce Land who had a Pontiac Agency at 5Th and Lincoln, and Frank took over the Chevrolet Agency on 5Th Street. I went to work for Bruce because Buicks were my trade. I jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. Bruce had Pat, a huckster wagon salesman (one who sells groceries throughout the country), as service manager. He spent most of his time writing incomplete work orders and hiding. I was still working on commission and again low man on the totem pole. Business had fallen off to the point I was only working three hours a day. After sitting on the bench most all day at the garage, I would go home, eat a quick supper, and then go to work installing appliances for Sears or Montgomery Ward. I soon decided it was foolish to sit on the bench all day then work until midnight. I quit the garage and started working for myself still doing Sears and Wards work along with some remodeling, painting, etc. I picked up work on my own and referrals from people I had worked for.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I went back to Clark & Rile and stayed until 1952, when I went into business buying wrecked autos, rebuilding them and selling them at auction. I was working alone one night when fire broke out on the paint bench. By the time the Fire Department got there, almost everything was gone. What the fire didn't destroy the firemen did walking on top of hot cars. I then went to work for Noel McIntosh who was then a good friend. Noel had a Shell gas station and Pontiac dealership. He said his health would not allow him to work the garage and he could not find anyone in Orleans that was qualified and dependable. If I didn't help him out he would have to give up the repair business. He would pay me $50.00 a week plus 50% of all I took in above a $100.00 a week. I worked two weeks and was paid no bonus. I asked him about it and he said he would pay it monthly at the end of the month. He said he had been too busy to figure it up. I would get it next month. The end of that month, his wife who was his book keeper was sick and hadn't gotten to figuring it up. After the third month, I asked him if he had any intention of paying my bonus. He said he thought he would average it up over a year and pay me then.

I said, "No you don't. You either pay me as we agreed or I'm gone."

He asked what I thought he owed me and I told him I had kept record of all I did and showed him what my bonus was.

He wrote me a check for a little over a hundred dollars.

He handed it to me and said, "I think this evens it up."

I looked at it and it was just a token of what he owed. I handed it back and said, "Mac, you need this worse than I do."

After this lesson in human honesty, I went back home to Clark & Rile, where I stayed until they sold out to Paul Chase. At the time they sold out in 1960, I had advanced from wash boy in 1939 to service manager. We moved from I St. to J St., where Paul had a Plymouth Agency. The two were combined and turned over to his boy, Frank, who didn't know @#*! from apple butter. Don Jackson was his service manager and with no need for two service managers, I was hired on as a mechanic. We were working straight commission, which I like, if given the work. Don gave his old men jobs first and I got what was left. I still made more than anyone in the shop because I had air operated tools and could put out a job in half the time, and I generally got Buicks, which I knew inside and out, to work on. My speed caused hard feelings between me, Don and Frank on one occasion. A tourist came in just before lunch with a Buick that was pulling from one side to the other. Don asked me if I knew what was causing it. I said I knew exactly what it was. He then said the man was in a hurry and asked if I would work on it through the lunch hour. I told Don what parts were needed and started tearing it down. Everything went as it should have and in little over an hour, I had him ready to go, which should have made him happy. But he complained about the labor cost on his bill. That I had only been on it an hour. Our shop and most others in town worked on a "flat rate". We had a book that told the time each job should take. If we beat the book we made a little more. If we didn't do it in the time the book said, we lost. Don came to me and said he was complaining about the labor cost.

I said, "You have a book to go by. The charge would have been the same if it had taken me all day."

Don said, "We have to keep our customers happy. I'm going to cut the labor in half."

I told him if he wanted to give something away to give him some parts, or a discount on them. Or if he had to give away labor to give away Frank's half. I was working for 50% of the labor I took in. Frank didn't go for that so I ended up working through my lunch hour for nothing.