Written by John McElligott
My first summer job…. and my worst!
My summer work began when my mother became the Postmaster of Terminal Texas. My mother’s assistants were the Terminal Police Chief’s wife and Rosemary Roberson, who’s son, Don (MHS 64), became a decorated Army hero in Vietnam. So, my first job was putting up the American flag at the post office every morning.
I was assisted by both of my brothers, Bruce and Tom. Later, I became the “rock rake man”, since the new road came from Highway 80 direct to the Airport. No grass, just red dirt and rocks. I hated raking rocks with a passion, but got 25 cents a week. In 1958, I knew I wanted to expand my horizons, since rocks and dirt were not my idea of fun.
Bruce and I had bicycles and later moved up to motor scooters. Gene Clark offered me a paper route for the Forth Worth Star Telegram. I jumped on it, and won a free trip to Forth Worth to watch TCU play football. There I met Van Lipscomb. We were top paper boys. However, this barely lasted through the winter, since my motor scooter would not start in the cold. My bike was ok, but very cold, and walking was not an option I liked. My dad got me through the winter of 1958, and I retired at the age of 12 from the newspaper business.
Little League baseball was starting, and I was the catcher for the Macs in the Western League. I was ready. You can read about it on Charles Hall’s “Boys of Summer” (https://whatsinthewaterinmidlandtexas.com/category/hall-charles/). Suffice it to say, I was the only catcher who could catch Charles Hall’s curveball. It was almost not “hitable”. We had a team that you will recognize!
Anyway, I still had to work on weekends and washing cars was my calling. I made $1 dollar a car, and the Chevron Station at the airport just walking distance from the post office.
My next real job was digging septic tanks. That lasted one week in May of my 9 grade year.
Running away was not a job, but felt like one. See the 9th grade year when I ran away (https://whatsinthewaterinmidlandtexas.com/2020/02/02/my-runaway-from-midland-to-sergeantsville-nj-age-14-con-gigante-huevos/).
Returning from my runaway summer, I was just fixing to be a student at MHS- 10th grade. So, I just washed cars on Saturday and applied for my driver license since I lived at Terminal TX and needed to to drive a car. Well.. the DMV said no, but later the next year (Jan), I tried again. As long as Bruce, Tom, Gene , WG, and later Malinda, (all older with a license) were with me, I could drive with them supervising. Malinda was my favorite since she was a freshman at TT, and could kiss better that the others. She smoked, and that was a big hurdle for me to get over. However, I did until she went back to school at Texas Tech. The other good news was that things were cheap and and gas was 25 cents.
As 10th grade began, I was climbing trees beside the Youth Center and watching Jack Champion smoke and yell at his friends to join him in the trees. First up was WG, Gene and Bruce. During 10th grade, I never missed Typing Class since I was the only boy, and all the girls loved to watch me type. I accomplished 60 words/minute, and I’m even faster today… but still can’t spell!
Summer Jobs going forward were the same, Life Guarding and more Life Guarding. My last summer job was at the Midland Country Club as the Senior Life Guard under Coach Fogelsong , and assisted by Brenda Higdon and Don Goodson. Cleaning the pool every day was Bruce Carter. Bruce and the crew would meet early and raid the kitchen by the pool of any left over food and beer. Bruce taught us all how to do a flying leap. (Now, if you are one of my sons or daughters… as soon as you could swim you learned the Bruce Carter flying leap). So, if anyone knows where Bruce is tell him I said “Hi”!!!. This job lasted lasted until August when I actually hired one of the gang members from the southside to harass the youngest Aaron boy. The southside kid was given all he could eat and drink at the pool. Mr. Arron found out about it, and the manager of the club and golf course fired me. the second of 5 terminations in my 75 year career!
The sixth loss of a job was when I left Colorado City. Believe it or not, it was when I saw Bill Wood for the last time. I was at a friend’s house and Bill had married their daughter. In addition, I met all of John Duff’s relatives in Mitchell County since he was born there 75 years ago. When I was arrested by the State of Texas Medical Board for practicing medicine without a license (all because I was looking in to a child’s ear), the doctor’s, town’s people, and Judge came to my rescue. The Judge said that the case had no merit and that if there was going to be a trial it would have to be in Mitchell County. He would guarantee the State would loose. Following that summons before the State Medical Board, the law began to change and I had my picture in Texas Monthly!
I love Mitchell County since Charlie Clark and I (both PA’s at the time) delivered many children at Root Memorial Hospital and circumcised many more (no, I am not Jewish). I met one of the children at a gathering in Lubbock. He worked with one of my sons and he confirmed that Charlie did his pecker check for sure! Job soon overlapped into Sweetwater, TX since the surgeon there would circuit ride doing surgery and endoscopy. So I joined him for a loop or two while between jobs. He was a hoot and drove a four door Lincoln convertible. He always had his scope and a cooler of Coors Beer in the back seat. You noticed I said scope not scope(s). He scheduled a colonoscopy in Snyder, TX one day and I said, “We don’t have a colonoscope”. He said he would just use the upper endoscope, and that we would just wash it real good use the same scope we used for a esophageal or stomach scope. I drank another beer, and we did out scope without a problem.
The other neat thing about this surgeon was he built a 3000 square foot house by digging into the side of a large hill. He was an amazing guy. He loved West Texas. At one point, CBS news came to our area for the Rattle Snake Round Up. Just so happened, we had two of the 12 bites that Charlie attended to at that round up and we became famous. Of the twelve, we did not loose any. Now for all you animal lovers, we did not just kill the snakes. We dressed them out and had rattlesnake steaks!
Dr. John….that was a good read! Enjoyed every bit of it. Just seeing the names and remembering their faces of that time was a hoot. Amazing! Good job, and thanks for your great memories…of the times, the people and the events. Keeps us young!
Mike, you have been a great contributor. My brother Tom talks about you all the time. Hope to meet you when we kick off our WAG project with the Permian Basin Foudation. You will like it for sure. My cell # is 865- 548-7684.
Doc, another entertaining story in your continuing saga. Can you find a picture of you in the Texas Monthly?
Great memories. My first job was on Andrews Hwy near Holiday Hill (small individual apartments that were taken down many, many years ago) at a dog pound. I made $.25 A DAY cleaning dog cages. Later on I worked @ Furr’s (corner of Midkiff & Andrews Hwy) for $.35/hour–got up @ 4 a.m. as a “stock boy” working 2 hours before school…oh what fun!!