Tom McElligott

I will try to make this as simple as possible. I was not the best student in MHS and if Francis Carter (My English Teacher) had not taken pity on me I probably would not have graduated until 1960.

My original graduating class was 1958. This may be why a few of the 1959 class do not remember me very well. I went to school the last half of my sophomore year and the first half of my junior year in Flemington New Jersey. I went up to run a poultry farm and take care of my grandparents until a couple of my uncles could return and take over the farm.

I returned to Midland and MHS the last half of my junior year. I later found out my senior year that certain credits would not apply for me to graduate with my 1958 class, 5 credits short, no way to make up in summer school. I decided since I had several friends in the 1959 class to just graduate with the 59 class. This way I could coast and take Distributive Education and make up the credits and work. Besides I had a girlfriend in the 1960 class. Now down to the Nitty Gritty.

I got married in November of 1958 (yes before I graduated) and still managed to finish school and work. I married a classmate (Class 1960) Diane Bailey. We were married approximately 10 years before going our separate ways in 1968. There were several couples of us that got married before graduating. If memory serves me right there was Mike Morse & Jan Kimberlin, Lanny Smith & Judy Gay Briscoe, Tommy Brown & Jody Bussamus & Larry Howell & Dorothy Landamire, I hope I spelled all the last names right. Larry & Dorothy are still together and deserve to be congratulated. Diane and I had two children, both girls, together. I consider this my greatest accomplishment. Our oldest Jodi Lynn was born August 3, 1961 and Jill Bailey was – born November 28, 1963. (This was the year that Kennedy was assassinated and there were two Thanksgivings that year). Both girls are graduates of The University of Texas and both went on to get their Masters Degree

.

Jodi received her Masters in Special Education from Texas A&M in Commerce, TX and now teaches in Midland at Abel Middle School Special Ed Classes. Jill received her Masters in Speech Communications from Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO and now teaches at Newton Middle School in Littleton, CO. Jodi has a little boy Daniel (Syrs) in preschool at Saint Ann Catholic School. Jill has a boy Connor (15yrs) and a girl Carson (13yrs). Connor is on the golf team and a freshman in High School and Carson is on the Swimming Team in Junior High. Both attended the school where their mother teaches.

Before Diane and I divorced I attended Odessa Junior College, San Angelo Junior College and Baylor University. I did not finish my senior year at Baylor. The next years I refer to 19AD (after divorce) I left Waco and Baylor behind and moved to Dallas, TX where I broke out my sheet metal tools and went to work to support myself and pay my child support. Work was slow in the Sheet Metal Business and I found a job working for Merchants Motor Lines busting freight. This was a perfect job because in the summer I could bid for the midnight to 8 AM shift and I could sleep on my air mattress in the swimming pool and meet all the airline stewardesses during the day before my roommate and the other guys got home. We had a lot of Delta Stewardesses in our complex. After a few years of Drinking Beer and chasing the girls my brother called and offered me a partnership in a liquor store in El Paso. TX.

Moved to El Paso on July 26th 1972 (my birthday) to take my brother up on his offer. I didn’t particular like the Liquor Store Business, too confining and the hours were not to my liking. While at the liquor store, I met a Jockey and became friends with him. He asked me to be his agent. I didn’t know what the hell a Jockey agent did. Well he trained me and showed me the ropes so I left the liquor store to become a jockey agent and travel the race tracks and make my living for the next 7 years.

It was during this time I met my wife (Lora) on top of her roof in El Paso, TX. Her father was one of my Horse Trainer Clients and I volunteered to help him fix his daughter’s roof, using my experience from my sheet metal worker days in both Midland and Dallas. We dated 3 almost 4 years and married April 10, 1976. Sadly, she passed in 2019. Read here:

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/ruidosonews/name/lora-mcelligott-obituary?id=8786633

I can probably count the number of arguments we had on one hand and give a few fingers back. Lora was a school teacher coach in the El Paso School District. Both of my girls thought the world of her and even my ex Diane and Lora were friends. Diane and I have made peace and enjoy our grandchildren together on several family outings that we all take together.

In 1980 I made another change in my working life. I became production manager for a Chile Pepper Dehydrating Company (Baltimore Spice Co.). The Parent Company was located in Maryland and was famous for their Old Bay Crab Seasoning. I was production manager until September 1984 when the National Sales Manager for the Chile Products wanted to leave his wife and run off with my secretary and recommended me as his replacement. The rest was a great ride. Being national sales manager, I traveled the US working with the individual sales representatives’ calling on the major food accounts that used Industrial Spices and Seasonings.

I built a good reputation with most of the purchasing agents at the major food companies (Kraft, Nabisco, Standard Meets, Tony’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, Jack in the Box and Bush Brother Beans to name a few.). Two of my major successes were Jack in the Box — I helped develop their Taco Seasoning that is still in use today, and one of the Bush Brothers Bean Seasoning. I am one of the people besides the dog that knows the secret formula and I am not talking. In 1998 due to mergers and buyouts in my industry, I made the decision to form my own brokerage and do for myself what I was doing for others. This meant that I did not have to go to sales meetings, travel as much and not have to prepare sales reports. It became a piece of cake. I still had my customer base because they trusted me and I made money while I was asleep. To this day I still dabble in the Industrial Spice business.

Not too exciting of a life but I have enjoyed it and I am still enjoying. If anybody wants to come by and visit and have a drink or enjoy a steak please do.

Tom McElligott

Class 1959

One thought on “Tom McElligott

  1. John December 21, 2021 / 5:42 am

    Well it’s about time. Trust me you left out the most fun times Baylor. Write our party days at the Ethyl Street House. O’Neil, Howard and those girls we snuck out of the Dorm. Title of your next will be “ When I became a Dorm Daddy”. End it with the Dallas days and how Delta Airlines Stew’s loved us guys so much !! Come on Tom you can do it. Brother John

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