3102 Metz Drive
Midland, TX 79705
Biography of Jerry Hyde, May 2009
Midland High School class of 1959
Texas Technological College class of 1964
U S Army class of 1968
A few classes of hard knocks and many soft ones
I’m lazy. I do not intend to ever do another biography. I start at birth. If you are only interested in the years after MHS 1959, please skip ahead. Also, since so much of my life has been influenced by Midland, I have included a table of history below.
I was born in Midland Texas, Western Clinic, in October, 1940. Western Clinic is now the Patio office building full of lawyers 2 blocks north of the courthouse. My dad was a “Cowboy”, mother was a “Housewife” per my birth certificate. Too bad dad was punching someone else’s cows instead of being a rancher sitting on oil land. His dad was an alcoholic, so as oldest son, he quit school after fifth grade to work and help support his mother and 5 siblings. He was well read, could do math faster in his head than anyone I knew, and supported me and my little brother in many endeavors including college. Mom provided (and still does) more than standard love, support, and training. Midland was a town of9,367 people in 1940. Although I was able to read, write, and count at birth, the population figure is courtesy of the U S Census Bureau. All that did not mean much to me, living the country life with run of the ranch and my own horse.
When I started to school in 1947, I rode the Cotton Flat route bus to South Elementary. South had a new building in addition to the old two story red brick one that had FANT AS TIC slide fire escapes on each end. These were OFF LIMITS and the cause of more than one Principal’ s Office visit for some of the more adventurous (not ME). Life was good with no homework, lots of time and other kids to wrestle. Don Boyce was primary opponent, friend, and competition for the school ground affections of Linda Stracener and Julie McIntosh. My poor mother had to sew on new buttons or reinforce buttonholes on my shirt nearly daily.
In 1950, new schools were open and the bus students were sent to Crocket, more new friends. The late Don Wallace was my new best bud. At Crockett, I was introduced to organized group wrestling, football. I was big for my age, used to rough and tumble life and fell right in. This was probably the high point in my football career. It was during this time that a new student showed up on the bus and did not agree that I was the toughest on the bus. Tommy (forget his last name) was a graduate of reform school, some older but about my size. Apparently in reform school they fist fight rather than wrestle. It did not take me long to figure I needed to change tactics and managed a mutually agreed draw. But, we both got thrown off the bus, had to walk home and, my dad (Never one to spare the rod) convinced me my fighting days were over. This was the start of the drought of the 1950’s. Most of the livestock was sold and moved to wetter climes. A tough time for Cowboys. Dad tried Insurance and probably other things unknown to me.
In 1952 more new schools and bus students were sent to Lamar, more new friends. Lanny Smith was my primary competition for top football geek. The family moved to town early in 1953 and I finished 6th grade in South elementary, some old and some new friends. Midland was growing and school space was tight, so, we also had 7th grade at South. Note to the girls at South that year, “You sure did get pretty that summer”. Note to the rest of the world, “There is not a man alive I am afraid of and not a woman that does not make me shake with fear”. That was true in 7th grade and is still nearly true.
Ed Ward was the coach and Texas History teacher and was especially tough on his football players. I remember our first semester special assignment was to plan a road trip around Texas, and write a Travelogue as ifwe made the trip. It was due the first day back after Christmas. Mine was not complete and I convinced my parents I was sick so I could stay home and finish the assignment. I learned two things from that assignment, not to procrastinate and that it is possible to make yourself sick. By the time I finished the report, I was sick: shakes; fever; upset stomach; headache. I went to school the next morning to turn in the report and was sent back home sick. Undefeated in football. In 1954 the seventh grade from South was promoted to the 8th grade at Cowden. More new friends (and more pretty girls). This was two years of being BMOC. We won all but one football game (lost one to some Odessa school in 9th grade). But I had peaked in size, ability, or desire and was moving to less prominent positions.
1956 and promoted to MHS. No longer BMOC. Times were still good and got better with years. Friends became lifetime friends Midland was still growing but oil patch was in for rough times. Joanne Davis’ family had moved to Midland one summer. Don Boyce (friend since 1st grade) had palpitations of the heart over her (for at least three days). A group of boys including Don and me were riding around town and saw Joanne going into Walgreens. We (except Don) quickly decided to shout at Joanne, to embarrass Don. We did, it did, and also made him mad. I do not remember what ‘Ye shouted but, it probably was not off color but was juvenile. I thought I had lost a long time friend. The next morning I was at our walk to school meeting corner early and apologized to Don. It was a long silent walk to school, but we are still friends. Life lesson learned, “it is easier to not make a stupid mistake than apologize for it later”.
After MHS 1959
In 1959 (to plagiarize Mac Davis), “Happiness was Midland, Texas” in my rear view mirror. I enrolled at Texas Technological College and signed up for mechanical engineering. I managed to cram that 4 year program into 5 years and a summer and graduated in May of 1964. In addition to the book learning, to supplement my summer earnings, I got a lot of useless experience working the ice cream vault at Borden’s (we locked our trucks at night because several of the drivers had “wet” routes and bootlegged), furniture stripping, cotton ginning (the Nasty Jobs guy on TV needs to report on this), and line driver at the airport. My one vice during that time was poker. I was probably the best poker player at Tech at that time. They never had a game that I was not invited.
When I graduated in 1964, the oil industry was still down but hiring a few grads. I accepted a job with Sinclair in Houston, borrowed 100% on a Chevy SS, loaded my clothes, stereo, and records and headed to Houston to conquer the world. I flunked the physical. No eye chart, no pee in the bottle, just 12 x-rays of my back. Onex-ray showed I was sway backed beyond their insurance limit. I told them the Hydes had been sway backed since they got out of caves and tried to sign a waiver. Nothing doing, I was on the street with my diploma, a car payment, school loans, and no job. I set a new land speed record for the Houston to Midland drive.
I called back the companies whose offers I had rejected and took a Boeing offer in Wichita Kansas. BIG EYED BOY AT THE FAIR On the plant tour, first day, they were machining 2″ x 12′ x 100′ slabs of aluminum down to ½” thick with integral ribs, tees, and ells. These were rolled into circles and welded into liquid oxygen tanks for the Saturn moon flight booster rocket. Conveyor belts on each side of slab with 8 guys with push brooms pushing chips onto the belts to recycle chips. In 5 months I discovered beer and beer-maids and gained 30 pounds. Life was great. In December, I was transferred to Huntsville, AL to a terrible paperwork job.
It took me a year to find a job I liked with a small company, Vitro Services, running a flow and level meter R&D laboratory. This was FUN. I was working with the national Bureau of Standards, directing a lab crew in triple redundant proof of meter accuracy. I was drafting a Paper for the Instrument Society of America Journal (later published by my old boss). A letter shattered this Nirvana. Uncle Sam decided it was time for me to do my duty. My perfect life was interrupted. My “ideal” career path was interrupted. Fortunately, companies had to make a slot for Army returnees when they completed their duty. Maybe the same slot would be open in two years. In May of ‘ 64, at 25 years and 7 months, after my last car and loan payment I reported to Fort Polk, LA.
In 2 months, I sweated off the 30 pounds of beer I had carried since Wichita. Fort Polk is the only place I’ve been where you can take a shower, put on clean clothes, stand outside in the shade at 6 AM and have sweat run down your back and legs. Fort Polk had “Tigerland”, advanced training for Nam. To my surprise, I got no advanced training. My first assignment was to an engineering slot at White Sands, NM. I wasted the rest of 2 work years there filling a slot of a GS-12 civilian engineer who retired so that Command would not lose a slot. I was probably the oldest Private in the army.
One thing that was positive was in my personal life. I met and married my love, Roberta. She is smart, pretty, fun, funny and the least scary woman I have met. We share 42 years, 4 kids, and 7 grand kids and are looking forward to eventual retirement, more travel and fun. A great reward for two years in Olive Drab. We love to travel and have been to Europe twice, Hawaii twice, and Mexico 5 times; Bahamas; Bermuda; Puerto Rico once, and have bought a small motorhome that we have spent 8 weeks exploring western US and Canada. Two months in eastern US and Canada planned this fall.
After two years, I contacted Vitro Services about my old job. The only contract they had was maintenance at Guantanamo Base, Cuba. Major life lesson, “don’t worry about lost possibilities, just make the best of what you have now”. Time for a resume update. I accepted a job at the NASA Test Facility outside of Las Cruces NM. This was a fun, hands on type job testing moon flight hardware. However, engineers were the nomads of the 20th century.
Back In Midland
After two years, with three kids and another on the way, the contract expired. I was desperate enough to be looking in the LA Times for a job openings. The OrtloffCorp. of Midland was looking for engineers with cryogenic experience. That sounded better than L A. So in September of 1970 I wasback in Midland. So it was goodbye to the aerospace industry and hello Oil and Gas construction. I have used the background to tell anyone who said “It’s not rocket science”, “That’s OK, I am a rocket scientist”. My folks were still here and Roberta’s parents moved to Midland soon, after they retired in El Paso. Midland and the oil business had been nearly stagnant for the years I was gone. However, business started to boom in the early 70’s
We joined St. Luke’s Methodist church and got very involved, teaching, Admin Board, elementary and youth co-coordinators, printer, and eventually Roberta joined the staff for several years. I joined the Jaycees. Roberta joined Jaycettes and became very active, Finally President locally and nearly a state office. We finally sold our El Paso house and invested in rental property in Midland. Ortloff grew from 30 to 200 employees by 1976. The company was becoming too big for me, and I started my next career, Sales.
Since 1976, I have had 5 different jobs in sales or management. I quit several to keep from being transferred to Houston, Tulsa, or Dallas. (Midland REALLY IS a good place to raise a family.) I made progress during the booms to store manager of 20 employee engine, pump, and compressor distributor. I had branched into equipment rental to drilling industry before the bust of 82. After the fall-out, the company sold, I lost my job and equipment but kept all my body parts. So, back on the sales road.
I have been with the same company for 20 years in sales or management. I helped it grow from one store with 12 employees to 4 stores with 75 employees, through Chapter 11, paid off debts, remerged as one store and 14 employees today. We have been through several boom/bust cycles of the oil patch and I am back as a territory salesman. The job has changed from SWAG (scientific wild assed guess) estimate basis to data loggers and computer analysis of requirements and has stayed fun. However, we are in another down cycle of the oil industry, and it may be less fun after the commission checks shrink. Maybe it is time for another career. I have been around the “oil bidness” for years. I may try it next.
About a month ago, I visited my only living Hyde Uncle. I reviewed his life and it made me think about mine. I have had a few upsets but most of the limiting events were my (with Roberta, our) own choices. I’m a Christian. I love my wife, kids, and grandkids. They seem to love me. We are all blessed with good health. Neither my kids nor I have suffered through a divorce. I have not raked up a big pile of money, but I have enjoyed spending what is spent. I look forward to spending the small raked up pile.
If I had it to do over, I would make some changes. But all things considered, I don’t think I would change places with any other person my age.