Monday, March 23, 2009

Skip Powell part two

Preparing to be an Airline Man

I sprung from my mothers arms into (join the Army and see the woods of both Texas and Louisiana) a 3-year Army hitch in the 24th Combat Engineers (bridges, roads, land mines, dozers, pick and shovel) of General Patton's old 4th Armored Division (Sherman tanks). GI time was followed by a year on the Family Chicken Farm. A fun year for a 21 year old buck and moon light drives in a red pickup truck. During daylight it was grain farming, eggs, chickens and shoveling. A really nice life, but a bleak future.

Following another day on the tractor seat, reading the local Beaver Falls, PA Tribune, I spotted and responded to an advertisement to become an 'Airline Man.' I signed up to attend Central Technical Institute (CTI) in Kansas City, MO. The tuition was paid (just like the Daddy of Loretta Lynn, the coal miner's daughter) by selling fresh pork products; the result of the four hogs I raised, skinned and butchered one 1958 wintry day. For sure, my farm boy days were made clear; a 'hog and bacon' commitment, versus 'chicken and egg' participation.

On a dark, stormy, thunder boomer night while loose barges were roaming the over flood stage Ohio River, I was driven to the Pittsburgh Airport. I boarded a TWA Super Constellation (un-pressurized) while it danced thru lightning bolts and thunder, headed for Chicago (Midway) and onto a 2nd 'Connie' to Kansas City. There, at daylight, we landed. The runway approach was over the stockyards, several stories beneath the top of nearby high rise apartments - there folks could be seen scurrying to start a new day.

The mission of CTI was, for a fee, to train idiots to become airline employees. Their admission criteria were two; able to tie your own shoe laces and able to pay their fee. My hogs handled most expenses, but weekend house cleaning and 'cold-calling' to sell 'dining out' books from a dimly lighted room, was needed to settle the balance and provide poker funds. Actually they did a good job insuring we learned each airline operating region and its cities (codes) and such aberrations as ZZV = Zanesville, Ohio.

There, one fine spring day, an important VIP, John J. O'Keefe of NC appeared on a 'hiring' mission. He chose several warm bodies to administer the 'very difficult' Wonderlic and Minnesota Clerical Tests. Once test results were tallied, he cherry-picked for future glories, several potential airline Station Agents (SA), the first be taken from the class.

Asked if I wanted ORD (Chicago O'Hare) work or ATY (Watertown, SD) - dah? Another 'chosen-one' was Larry Philippon, who went to ORD, where later he became it's SM and later, another GO (General Office) 'expert' working for the Ground Operation Chief, Ken Hubertus who had replaced retired R.H. Baker. We both quickly vacated Mrs. Zimmerman's boarding house and headed for the 'real' World of real airplanes, 'crushed hat' pilots, charming stewardesses and the mostly amicable air traveling public.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peder I'm hooked can't wait for the next installment.