Monthly Archives: July 2011

Memories No. 8: Cactus Needles and A String of Pearls

It was in the summer of 1942 that I bought my very first record, a 10 inch, 78 rpm vinyl recording of Glenn Miller’s famous hit, “A String of Pearls.” I paid 73 cents, more than twice my hourly wage of 32 cents. That was my favorite song then and I love it still. It’s on my iPod.


I bought it at a record shop, the kind that had listening booths in which you could play a record before you bought it. The shop was somewhere near the Loews theatre in downtown Dayton, OH, the top theatre then. I think it has disappeared now. And there you could see a movie and a stage show on one admission. I remember movies like “DuBarry Was a Lady” with Lucille Ball, followed by a live stage show such as the band of Ozzie Nelson with his singer Harriet Hilliard (Ozzie’s wife who used her maiden name), the stars of the long-running TV series.

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Memories No. 7: “— But Its Bread and Butter to Us!”

In most large organizations, like GE, engineering managers may be put in charge of a variety of operations. Once you are promoted for the second time you find yourself managing some unfamiliar work. Your first promotion was to be manager of the group you worked in and helped build. You were, therefore, quite knowledgeable of the work and the people.

The next promotion would be to manage about seven such groups, almost always including the one you just ran. The other groups were doing work you were aware of but certainly not an expert in. You would have to learn each group’s work as best you could and, most importantly, determine the real technical leaders of the work, probably but not always, including the manager, and rely on their ideas and suggestions.

In the aerospace industry at GE our major customer was the US Government which often was a “moving target” in that they had uncertain/changeable budgets which sometimes had us in whiplash from stops, starts, sudden budget changes, etc. As a result many reorganizations occurred in our divisions resulting in layoffs and hiring, sometimes at the same time because a new contract may need “brain surgeons” while we had too many “plastic surgeons”.

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Who Said the Following, and When?

“The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should  be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance of foreign lands should be curtailed lest the Republic become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”

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