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Chapter 7   College Days Employment


There was a need for me to earn some funds in part-timework on campus while at Austin College. This was done in the cafeteria and on telephone answering duty in the Baker Dormitory. These jobs paid 60 cents per hour.


Working in the kitchen at the Austin College Cafeteria in the serving line, as well as in the clean-up crew, after students had shown how messy they could leave the tables after dining, was a humbling experience.  It also gave me a realization about how I should be cognizant about conducting my life’s habits in manners that did not disgust people after my leaving a place.


International Business Machines, Inc. (IBM) announced plans for a new manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas in August 1956. Ground was broken and construction begun in May 1957. Production operations began in the partially completed plant on December 23, 1957. The company dedicated its 61,500-square foot manufacturing plant on October 23, 1958. It was located on a 238-acre plot near U.S. 75 at the southern edge of the city, and it produced punched cards for IBM's data processing machine users in the Southwest region of the United States.  My employment began in September.


The only product made at this plant was what was called IBM Punch Cards. Those of the thin cards measuring 7 3ŕ8 in _ 3 1ŕ4 in, that were put through key punch machines to record data by punching diagonal holes in the cards. Those holes translated into numbers and letters read by the early stages of computers. Computers in that day, for the most part, occupied whole rooms, just for the computer. The first computer on which I learned to work was the IBM RAMAC. It was the first commercial computer making use of a moving-head hard disk drive (magnetic disk storage) for secondary storage. It had only been announced in September 1956. This gave me an early entrance into the world of high tech that was to be a part of my subsequent life.


That part-time job developed into a full-time work during the summer of 1958. Since the college dorm was not opened in the summer, I rented a small furnished apartment in town, shared with another of the student IBM workers, Mr. Jeff Kelly, who also was a Drake Fraternity Brother of mine at Austin College. My father helped me purchase a 1953 Buick automobile for $375.00, to commute to work and to home. It was sold a year later for $300.00. Not a bad transportation ownership cost for a year!



This is a look-alike image I found of the 1953 Buick Special I had then.



Little did I realize that later, after college graduation, I would be employed again by IBM 1962-69.


As college academics became more challenging to me, the decision was made to discontinue the 20 hours per week work at IBM toward the end of the Spring semester in 1959, and go back to focusing more on studies. Some dormitory telephone answering work was done, as well as bus-boy work in the school cafeteria. Back to the $.60/hour rates!


Phone communication was not nearly as pervasive as it is later in our high-tech society. A call would come to the main switchboard at the dorm, which had something like four phone lines to serve the entire resident population of about 75 men students. When a caller wanted a boy in room 312, I would push a doorbell-like button that signaled a buzz in that room. One buzz for the boy whose bed was closest to the door and two buzzes for the boy closest to the window. Then, the called boy would go out into the hall to a centrally located single phone on that floor, pick it up and talk to the caller!  If a boy wanted to make a call outside, he’d go to the hall phone and dial nine for an outside line, if nobody else was using one of the four phones lines the dorm had. Each line could be used either for an incoming our outgoing call.  


That summer of 1959, I went home to my parents, which was then a different home. After I’d gone to college, my father took a call to be Pastor of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church, located in southeast San Antonio, TX. They moved from Dallas in 1958. That church does not exist today.


Searching for summer employment in 1959 landed me a job at a local grocery store chain known as Model Markets. This store was in northeast Antonio, on North New Braunfels Avenue, a public transportation bus ride of some seven miles for me each day, both coming and going. I did some grocery shelf stocking, but mainly I did what was enjoyable, that of being a cash register checker. Such work gave me the opportunity to develop the skill of making friends with customers, especially those who were regular customers.


One regular shopper who was friendly with me was Mrs. Berry. Her husband was called Granville, but I think it may have been a nick name. She invited me to their home on my day off from work to enjoy lunch and a swim in their pool, meeting their college-age son, Tony, and their high school-age daughter, Linda. As it turned out, Linda became my dating escort for the summer. Later when she went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, I visited her a few times. I tried in later years to re-connect with Linda or Tony, but were unsuccessful in locating any of their family.

The next two summers, 1960 and 1961, were spent employed at Camp Longhorn, a boys camp adjacent to a girls camp on Inks Lake, near Burnet, Texas. It is an athletic camp doing a variety of sports, but major on swimming and water sports. The founder and owner of the camp was Tex Robertson, and his lovely wife, Pat. Tex Robertson (Julian Robertson) was an Olympic bronze medalist for the 1932 US Water Polo team and former swimming coach for the University of Texas. He is best known for inventing the flip turn. Tex is also recognized as a founder of Camp Longhorn in Burnet, TX and for the creation of a flying disk game, which was like the Frisbee. Its location was on Inks Lake, a lake created as one of many in Texas along the Colorado River. 


It was a place where the kids received the utmost in encouragements to excel and be the best they could, not only in athletic endeavors, but in how people are recognized and treated as special in all regards.  As can be noted in the lower left corner of the collage of images above, Camp Long Horn is a place where “Everybody is somebody.” 


Some of Tex Robertson’s UT students coached were accomplished winners of international swimming contests:  Bill Johnson and Bob Tarlton were a couple of them. They ultimately become partners in the Camp Long experience that Tex initiated.


The course I taught more than any others was jumping on the trampoline. One of my summers was when George W. Bush was a camper, destined to be the 43rd President of the United States. I guess I taught George to jump!   President George W. Bush is a tenth cousin, eight times removed to the first President of the United States, George Washington, who is my 26th cousin, seven times removed. President Bush is a distant cousin of a distant cousin of mine!


The summer of 1959 was when I was a cabin counselor for the Navajos, which is the first-grade boys. A friend and contemporary of Tex Robertson was an old Texas historic figure, Hondo Crouch. Hondo was the head counselor in our Navajo’s Cabin, mentoring two of us younger cabin counselors. He was the "Clown Prince of Luckenbach," and entertainer of star quality who refused for years to make money from his comic gifts. He as rancher. A philosopher. A poet. A music man and inspiration for the hit song "Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas." Hondo Crouch was a Texas folk hero. When President Lyndon Johnson was in office, one of the national magazines published a lengthy article on various Texas characters who were identified as down home friends from the world of the President. In the article was a full-page photograph of Hondo Crouch in his cowboy rancher dudes and boots, leaning against an aging barn door with a country straw in his mouth, protruding out from under his ten-gallon hat!  It was marvelous!



Transferring to the University of Texas in Austin in the fall of 1960, my lodging was in the second floor of the two-story large home of Mrs. Victor Marcus Ehlers, Sr. (Edith) at 2626 Rio Grande Street.  Mrs. E. (as we called her) was a widow and the mother of my brother-in-law, Victor Marcus Ehlers, Jr.  Vic had married my sister, Martha de Noailles Sharpe.  Mrs. E. had four bedrooms upstairs and a bathroom.  She rented out three of the rooms to University students for $25/month each


My last couple of years at the University of Texas school years included only one part time job. Such was washing dishes at a widow woman’s boarding house!  She had three tables of 12 seats each. We had to set & serve these 36 places every 30 minutes from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM for the last serving. In the evenings, it was 5:00 to 6:30 PM. In the meantime, all the dirty dishes had to be brought into the kitchen for me to wash so they could be set out again.


She did not have enough dishes to have two sets. All the dishes were washed by hand in the sink. There was no such thing present as any dishwashing machine.  Served were eight meals a day for Mondays through Fridays.  Forty meals a week!  I wished dishes for twenty of the meals, in exchange for having all my forty meals each week free at the boarding house!  Someone else washed the other twenty meals. 




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