When I was a little boy, I thought I’d like to be a baseball player when I “grew up”. Poor vision leading me to wear glasses changed my mind. I discovered music and thought I’d like to be a Disc Jockey. I was even a staff announcer in High School. Then I grew up a bit and thought that teaching was in my future. I took “college prep” classes until I realized that I had no money and no family and probably wouldn’t be going to college, so I took Mechanical Drawing thinking I would be a draftsman. I got a job after high school as a “template maker” for the Elwell Parker company, a Cleveland based manufacturer.
My drawing table was positioned just outside the office of the company mechanical engineer, a gruff older man named Richard who slowly became my friend. We were both positioned on a machine shop floor. There were very old machines that ran on pulleys ran by craftsmen who created custom parts. I read blueprints for new orders and drew parts that would eventually be welded together and become a fork lift truck. At lunch I became acquainted with my very first food truck. After making my selections, I’d play pinochle with the workers until the whistle blew to go back to work.
I was proud of my efforts. I was lucky enough to not be the cause of a lot of scrap metal. My drawing days ended when I got drafted into the Army. I sought refuge in the Air Force recruiting office and took tests to determine how I might spend the next four years of my life. Turns out my mechanical aptitude was my worst score. The good news? I was very good at most everything else.
So began my four years in Air Force Intelligence and the end of my drafting aspirations. That assignment led me to another aptitude test – created by IBM for programming. I aced the test and that coupled with the fact that I took an IBM Basic Assembly class before I got out of the Air Force, got a job with Honeywell as a programming trainee. Oh did I forget to mention that I took that course (got a B) when I was stationed at the National Security Agency in Ft. Meade Maryland. Is that the same NSA you ask? Why yes… yes it is. My career path had been determined. I entered into the fairly new world of data processing. I couldn’t have guessed how much of an impact computers would have on our lives. I must admit, I still find it a bit bizarre.