I absolutely hated working in the engineering department in a tiny room without even a window. Also, I was not having much interaction with other people, just working on engineering dial offices all day long. I would go out on the fire escape just to get fresh air and see the sky. I felt like I was in sort of prison up there on the ninetieth floor in downtown Dallas. After about a year I went in to see my boss, Mr. McDade, a very kind man, and told him I needed to get out of engineering. He said he would see what he could do. I managed to stick it out for almost one more year.
At this moment in time we had another very moving experience. We were attending Highland Park Presbyterian Church every Sunday. While Charlotte and I were trying to decide about leaving the Telephone Co. Dr. Elliott, our pastor, spoke one Sunday on, “where you spent your working life.” He spent the whole sermon emphasizing that one should not spend their life in a job that was not rewarding to them. Charlotte and I looked at one another several times during his sermon and wondered how he could know so many of our job frustrations he was describing.
On November 1, 1958, I laid my resignation letter on Mr. McDade’s desk. He tried to talk me out of it, but I had made my mind up after discussing it with Charlotte. Even though I was giving up all the health benefits and the guaranteed retirement, Charlotte and I had agreed that it was time to leave. I was surprised when they told me that no one in management had ever resigned from the Traffic Department and reminded me that I was giving up a lot. They even gave me a going away party with gifts, and letters of recommendation.
Charlotte had to be really committed to my happiness to agree with me to leave the company after ten years with three small children at home. In the last six months I was with the Telephone Co. I had started looking around and making inquiries as to job possibilities. I had offers from several insurance companies and Real Estate brokers but a small company that needed help intrigued me the most.
I went to work as Executive Vice President and COO of a company called Floor Service Company. We had about 6000 floor polishers in the drive-ins and grocery stores for people to rent. We had District men all around Texas that would go by the stores once a week, collect the money and give the stores their commission. We sold franchises in states other than Texas and they purchased their polishers, racks, record books, and supplies from us. We next established stores that had tools, equipment, camping trailers and hospital equipment for rent. We called these stores Retail Rental Stores. I set up a woodworking business to build racks for the 7-11 Stores. I hired my neighbor and my old boss at the telephone company to help me turn out the racks.
We branched out and opened a Retail Rental Store that had a complete line of rental products. Party supplies, medical equipment as well as all types of construction equipment. We also became dealers of Nimrod Camping Trailers. We sold and rented the trailers and did a brisk business in that line. We incorporated the company as Retail Rentals, Inc. We were pleased with the rate at which our business was growing.
Photo of Dallas skyline circa 1960 found here.
Photo of Highland Park Presbyterian Church sanctuary found here.