Saturday, May 9, 2009

Don Higgins and Doug Higgins

Hello everyone! Recently I received a nice email and history/photos from Doug Higgins, son of Don Higgins, who worked for North Central/Republic for 32 years. Here are their stories.

'Hello to all former North Central/Republic employees, and the fans of these great airlines. My name is Doug Higgins, and I'd like to share a brief history of my father, Don Higgins, who worked for NC/REP for 32 years. Sadly, he passed away in 2005, and I'm sure he would have enjoyed this site as much as I do. I could spend hours relaying stories, but for now, I'll tell you a brief history about his career.

In 1951, Dad hired on with Wisconsin Central Airlines in Madison, Wisconsin, as an A & E Mechanic. He then transferred to Chicago Midway around 1953, and became a Lead Mechanic, Inspector and Foreman. In 1960, O'Hare Field was opened and North Central had the brand new hangar to move into! In turn, Dad accepted his new position as Line Maintenance Superintendent until he retired in 1983.

I guess MY fascination with airplanes and aviation started in 1963 when my Dad told me that I was taking a 'day off' kindergarten to take an airplane ride! To this day, I remember every moment of that trip! (I'm 51 now). We flew to Milwaukee on a Convair 440 and returned to O'Hare on a DC-3! (I bought a/my toy P-47 and enjoyed the small Doublemint gum sticks!)

Throughout my school year holidays, and summer vacations, I would occasionally be treated to going to work with Dad. WHAT a thrill for me, since it seemed like the only thing I thought about back then was airplanes! I was fascinated by the experience of meeting all of his coworkers, including Mechanics, Ramp/Fleet Service personnel, Flight Crews, and how they performed their jobs. Just the atmosphere of the whole operation, including the smells of burning kerosene, the tire shop in the hangar, fresh brewed coffee in his office, even that great Convair cabin was another 'scent' I treasured!

At times, the hangar would be full of overnight (RON) airplanes, a combination of Convair 580's and DC-9's. I would enjoy going through the cabins before they taxied to the terminal. On many occasions, I had the joy of riding jump seat with 'the guys' on the taxi trips. I always had a great view of all the 'O'Hare Actions,' from Dad's office window too. I remember on a couple of occasions, he came home saying he had an ear ache due to a 720 or Caravelle that United was running up all day! (His office was above and behind United's old hangar.)

All of these great times led me to become an A&P Mechanic. I just accepted an early retirement package with American Airlines due to health reasons. I wish I could have stuck around a little longer! I had 31 years with Ozark, TWA and American (The old merger-mania.) I was stationed in ORD, STL, MSP and MCI.
In closing, thank you to every North Central employee I have met throughout the years, and being a major influence in my life and career. Doug Higgins

THANK YOU Doug for sharing these great memories with us! Along with his email, Doug sent a number of photos along for us to enjoy as well, most from ORD (O'Hare) Field. The number of photos was vast enough to warrant another posting shortly so be sure to check back. As always, simply 'click' on each photo to enlarge for viewing. Enjoy!


Arron blugoose said...

WOW!!!!! What a childhood, and I thought it was cool that my dad worked for the toy industry, but you got me beat 3 fold. Can't wait to see more and hear more stories.


Anonymous said...

Good job, Doug. (Who knew the brother could write??)

Dad also used to take my sister or I to work with him once in a while. While we never turned into airplane nuts, it was endlessly cool to hop on a DC-3, fly to Milwaukee for lunch and then fly back to O'Hare.

You know that "Take Your Daughter to Work" thing? We used to tease Dad that he must be a closet feminist because he was so ahead of his time on this issue!

Also cool was his secretary, Annemarie Schuetz - who is still around and living in FL. One big memory I have was when I got a very exciting acceptance letter that I had gotten into optometry school. NOBODY WAS HOME! Nobody to tell this remarkable news to! I called Dad's office and he wasn't there either, so Mrs. Schuetz was the first other person to hear. She got on the intercom she had on her desk - and right then while I was still on the phone announced it to the entire hangar (and to Dad who was somewhere down there.) LOL....

It was a very cool place and a cool place to hang out with Dad!

Donna Higgins

Anonymous said...

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