One evening, while enjoying a grilled Spanish hamburger and chocolate milk at Tanke`s Drug Store, I was talking with Carole as she worked behind the counter. The conversation moved from topic to topic and the enjoyable small talk gave me enough courage to ask if she would want to go out for a drive sometime. She said that would be nice and I was so shocked I said ok great, paid my bill, walked out and didn`t even set a date!
I called her that weekend and we went for a ride and ended up at Jimmies` Dairy Bar for their great barbecue beef sandwiches and chocolate malts. I was even brazen enough to ask her for a drive in theater double date with some mutual friends next weekend. This was a great day!
We dated throughout the summer and as Autumn arrived I was getting ready for my Purdue trip and orientation. I had applied for a scholarship through the Navy`s NROTC ( Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps) program and received a grant scholarship with a 4 year active duty requirement attached. Upon graduation I would have the rank of Ensign and be assigned to the Sea Bees, a construction battalion that would give me some experience in my graduate area of civil engineering. A good match!
No cars for freshman on campus. Lots of walking to classes and town for movies and shopping. I had set up a job with the resident hall dining room prior to moving in and it began in the kitchen at 4am. I started in the dish washing area scrubbing the huge aluminum cook pots using steel wool until the surface shined.
The first thing I bought at the student center was a large umberella. Boy does it rain in West Lafayette. The next thing was an iron to keep the crease in my NROTC uniform shirts. I already had shoe polish and spit but I was always getting demerits for never mastering the high spit polish shine on my shoes. My Springfield rifle, on the other hand, always passed inspection thanks to Grandpa Barrett`s teaching me the proper way to clean my 22 rifle! NROTC class alternated between naval history-tactics bookwork and marching drill.
The campus map proved invaluable in finding my way to classes. Freshman classes were scattered from one end of campus to the other and of course the last class before lunch was the farthest away from the dorm!
My roommate was one of my high school classmates and that worked out great. I had made several other friends and we decided to join the football cheer block that was organized in the end zone seating. We even had rehearsals for holding up different colored cardboard squares to create logos and pictures during the games.
Carole and I would call each other from time to time. Being a long distance call I had to use the pay phone in the lobby. A stack of quarters was always at the ready for when the operator would break in and request a 25 cent deposit for another 10 minutes.
Thanksgiving break didn`t come any too soon! I was getting behind on my laundry chores and had the laundry bag full and ready to go when Mother and Dad came to pick me up.
The first thing when I got home was to jump in `old blue` and head to Carole`s! We went for a ride and stopped at Falls Park to talk and get caught up on our activities. Then we headed to my house for a very welcomed, home cooked meal.
Mother had kept herself busy finishing her landscape painting of the back field behind the Barn House!
Thanksgiving this year was a gathering of local family as the distant family members elected to wait for the Christmas holidays for their visit.
It had been a couple of years since Dad had bought the `58 Impala and my `51 Chevy, `Old Blue`, so he was on the hunt. In 1960, Chevrolet had introduced a new automobile to their lineup, the Corvair. It was an air-cooled, 6 cylinder rear engine compact car.
Never wanting to buy a first year model until the bugs had been worked out, he waited for the 1961, models to come out this fall. He picked out a Monza Coupe, white with red interior and a 4
speed transmission with the floor mounted shift! The `old` 1955, Nash Rambler Station Wagon was traded in, so we now had three cars–my `51 Chevy, the `58 Impala Convertible, which Mother would now drive to work and Dad`s new Corvair. Now the fact that this was the 17th car in 20 years was immaterial!
Grandma Wolff was still living on her own in a house in Park Place. She would take the bus to town if she wanted to visit the library or shop at the dime store. Her 76th birthday was on the 13th of December.
Mother, Carole and I were joining Dad upstairs in the Barn House for some hot toddies!
Dad just finished hooking up our first color TV. Very few programs were being broadcast in color and then only in prime time evening slots. OK a little TV history from various sources.
Despite the early successes with color programming, the adoption to color television was a slow one. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the public began buying color TVs in earnest and in the 1970s the American public finally started purchasing more color TV sets than black-and-white ones.
In 1950, there were two companies vying to be the first to create color TVs — CBS and RCA. When the FCC tested the two systems, the CBS system was approved, while the RCA system failed to pass because of low picture quality.
With the approval from the FCC on October 11, 1950, CBS hoped that manufacturers would start producing their new color TVs only to find nearly all of them resisting production. The more CBS pushed for production, the more hostile the manufacturers became.
On August 11, 1951, a month and a half after “The World Is Yours!” made its debut, CBS aired the first baseball game in color. The game was between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York.
The CBS system was disliked for three reasons. First, it was considered too expensive to make. Second, the image flickered. Third, since it was incompatible with black-and-white sets, it would make the eight million sets already owned by the public obsolete.
RCA, on the other hand, was working on a system that would be compatible with black-and-white sets, they just needed more time to perfect their rotating-disk technology.
It was RCA, however, that ultimately won the color TV war. On December 17, 1953, RCA had improved their system enough to gain FCC approval. This RCA system taped a program in three colors (red, green, and blue) and then these were broadcast to television sets. RCA also managed to minimize the bandwidth needed to broadcast color programming.
The first `national` color broadcast (the 1954 Tournament of Roses Parade) occurred on January 1, 1954, but during the next ten years most network broadcasts, and nearly all local programming, continued to be in black-and-white. Singing sensation Patti Page and her Big Record Show for CBS was the first television show broadcast in color for the entire 1957-1958 season. The live broadcast was staged in the now famous Ed Sullivan Theatre and production costs were greater than most movies were at the time not only because of all the stars featured on the hour-long extravaganza but the extreme high intensity lighting and electronics required for the new RCA TK-41 cameras. It was not until the mid-1960s that color sets started selling in large numbers, due in part to the color transition of 1965 in which it was announced that over half of all network prime-time programming would be broadcast in color that autumn. The first all-color prime-time season came just one year later.
By the end of 1957 only 150,000 color sets had been sold. Color sales were slow until the mid 1960s, when the reliability of sets improved, prices came down, and more color programming became available.
Starting in 1957 until the beginning of the 1962-63 TV season, every NBC color broadcast began with the colorful animated NBC Peacock which reminded viewers that “The Following Program is Brought to You In Living Color on NBC!” Keep in mind that NBC was owned by television set manufacturer RCA. No doubt the Peacock, which looked pretty drab on old-fashioned black and white TV’s, sold countless RCA color sets like the one shown here.
NBC was at the forefront of color programming because its parent company RCA manufactured the most successful line of color sets in the 1950s, and by 1959 RCA was the only remaining major manufacturer of color sets. CBS and ABC, which were not affiliated with set manufacturers and were not eager to promote their competitor’s product, dragged their feet into color. CBS broadcast color specials and sometimes aired its big weekly variety shows in color, but it offered no regularly scheduled color programming until the fall of 1965. At least one CBS show, The Lucy Show, was filmed in color beginning in 1963 but continued to be telecast in black and white through the end of the 1964–65 season. ABC delayed its first color programs until 1962, but these were initially only broadcasts of the cartoon shows The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Beany and Cecil.
In a display of foresight, Disney had filmed many of its earlier shows in color so they were able to be repeated on NBC, and since most of Disney’s feature-length films were also made in color, they could now also be telecast in that format. To emphasize the new feature, the series was re-dubbed Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, which premiered in September 1961, and retained that moniker until 1969.
The relatively small amount of network color programming, combined with the high cost of color television sets, meant that as late as 1964 only 3.1 percent of television households in the U.S. had a color set. But by the mid-1960s, the subject of color programming turned into a ratings war.
Carole had started working for an insurance company in downtown Anderson. It was located in the Union Building above the Fair Store on Meridian Street.
I was back at Purdue and this semester I had a surveying class as one of my civil engineering required courses. Ninety percent of the class time was spent outside with a transit, tripod, large tape measure and an elevation rod. A very nice freshman class for the winter!
There were metal markers in the ground all aver the Purdue campus and the straight line distances and elevation differences between them were all documented. Our three man crew was given several marker numbers and we had to survey the accurate distance, angle and elevation from marker to marker. The rain, snow and ice, like the mailmen, didn`t deter us from our appointed rounds!
Still working in the dining hall and occasionally now I was assigned to the entry area to verify residents` meal passes. I also advanced to the dirty food tray conveyor belt to sort and stack dirty dishes and glasses etc. Yahoo my big advancement!
Our men`s residence hall, (we were not co-ed yet), sponsored a Valentine`s Dance with one of the women`s residence halls. It was a formal dinner dance and the hall`s social director even had to have a seminar on etiquette for all of us `hicks`!
Carole rode up with a friend and we doubled with one of my buddies. After the dance, I asked Carole if she would like to go steady. The answer was yes and I pinned her with my residence hall Excaliber Pin! The beginning of a great friendship.
Finishing up the winter months of this semester and looking forward to Spring Break and getting back home.
After completing the first year of engineering courses, I found myself questioning whether this was the direction I wanted my life`s career to head. I really enjoyed the hands on surveying class and the math but the outline of the civil engineering profession left few hands on opportunities for the engineer.
I spent the summer wondering about this feeling but decided to continue on next year and see how things went.
Carole was still working for the insurance company and I worked around the Barn House helping with projects and maintenance. I enjoyed working with my hands and learning how to do fix and repair things around the house and on my car.
Back to old Purdue for my sophomore year. My high school friend and roommate from last year decided to pledge a fraternity so I was assigned a new roommate for this year. We got along fine and became good friends.
I was still working in the residence hall kitchen but, not so much washing and cleaning this year. Seniority is great!
My NROTC unit held their Commandant`s Welcome Dinner Dance this fall.
After the dance we went to the Memorial Union and had a friend take this picture at the grand piano.
I had the 58` Chevy convertible on campus for this week and it was a pleasant balmy evening so we went to the Lover`s Cliff and put the top down. Under the spell of the moon and stars I began to discuss with Carole my career concerns for the future.
We also discussed the idea of getting engaged this December. Minutes turned to hours and soon the sunrise was beginning to show! The decision was made to put any decisions on hold until the end of the semester.
The family still had a very Merry Christmas despite the bombshell I dropped on the holiday. I had to inform my parents of my decision to drop out of school, find a job and get married in June. Also I needed to figure out just what kind of a career I really wanted, all the while trying to convince them that Carole was not the one wanting me to quit school.
After the storm settled down and Mother made the statement; “But Skip, you know we don`t believe in divorce.” we gathered our calm and I gave my misgivings about college and the fact that “No I did not know, at this time, what I wanted to be” but, I did know that I loved Carole and together we would figure it out.
Carole`s mother took it all in stride and said she was sure it would all work out for the best. She just had a wedding to plan, no big deal! Let`s have something to eat.
Mother wanted me to bring my NROTC uniform home for a picture. Little did she know,at the time, that this would be the last chance to do that.
The hardest part of dropping out of school when I returned was having to meet with the NROTC Commandant and justifying my intentions to forfeit my partial scholarship! In his gruff Marine Corps manner he proceeded to blitz me with questions. But, surprisingly after our discussion, he wished me well on my future endeavors and was certain all would be fine!
School over for now and my last paycheck in my pocket , I came home and started looking for work, any work. Dad had noticed an ad in the Indianapolis paper for United Parcel Service wanting help.
Soon I was working nights, loading semi trailers with packages to be shipped out the next morning. The pay, $2.50 an hour was good for that time and the working conditions were not bad!
Carole had changed jobs and was now working for American States Insurance company in Indianapolis. Mother and Dad were driving through Pendleton on their way to work and picking Carole up and dropping her off at her job on the way to drop Mother off at her work. With Carole and I saving all that we could toward our June wedding time flew by and spring was there before we knew it.
We decided to live in an efficiency apartment building on North Meridian street in Indianapolis, the Frontinaque. The first month`s rent was paid for June and our hide-a bed, maple rocker, end table and clothes were moved in.
June 3, 1962, a bright sunny day and all the plans and preparations for this wonderful wedding are coming together! The Pendleton First Methodist Church was the site. Family and friends were gathering. Carole was getting the finishing touches on her gown. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue makes all your wishes come true!
Fix that garter!
Everything just perfect!
The most beautiful sight I had ever seen!!
The first married kiss!
The reception line and Grandma Wolff!
We were very nice to each other!
Acknowledging the wedding gifts!
The happy couple and the stunned parents!
Old-fashioned rice in the eye!
We borrowed the Impala for our honeymoon trip to Motel 6-T-7!
Then Monday we were in our own apartment in Indianapolis and back to work. Carole could now take the bus straight down Meridian Street to work downtown. The world was our oyster!
Grandpa and Grandma were still gardening like crazy and Grandma Wolff was still renting a house in Park Place.
One happy blissful weekend we were going to have a couple over for lunch and some cards. I was still in bed with my clothes scattered all over the efficiency apartment as time was approaching for our guests to arrive. Carole warned me for the last time to get up and put my clothes away or she would start taking pictures and show them to my mother! Yeah right!!
OK, OK I`m Up! Geese!
We had finally paid off the wedding rings, the Corvair we bought from Dad and our hide-a-bed. So now it was decided we better get a dresser and chest of drawers to have a place to put our clothes so this wouldn`t happen again. (Like that really solved the problem.)
I had been working for UPS for eight months now and there was no sign that a day shift position would open up anytime soon. A friend told me about his new job at a finance company as a manager trainee and he said they were still hiring and some college background would be beneficial. The pay was a little better than I was making at UPS and it would be a day job.
I went for an interview and was hired as a manager trainee and I would be working out of one of their downtown branches. Little did I realize that the phrase “working out of”, was a literal translation! I started as a glorified bill collector in one of the worst sections of Indianapolis.
Carole and I were doing fine and decided to move “uptown” to the newly renovated Meadows Apartments and a three room apartment. I was working ten hour days and usually Saturdays and was the top “collection agent” at the branch. I was being trained to be a skip tracer, which I found to be interesting because it followed the line of being a detective.
This winter Carole began having stomach problems and nausea and her boss was really giving her a hard time. Our family doctor was still the one in Anderson so, we were making trips there for doctor appointments which meant some missed work.
Now, my boss was complaining, even though my workload was always finished before I left for the doctors appointment. We were informed by the doctor, at one such appointment, that Carole was pregnant! This of course was no excuse for absenteeism. We discussed Carole`s stress at work and I adamantly told her to tell her boss to stick it and quit!
As fate would have it, within a couple of weeks, I was fired the day after returning from a doctor`s appointment. Well, Hell, this wasn`t going the way we planned!
Carole`s Mother offered her front room to us until we got back on our feet. No jobs, no money and a child on the way. Things can certainly take a different path than the one chosen! We graciously accepted her offer and we set about making a new game plan.
I did a pre-interview at Guide Lamp Division of General Motors for an apprenticeship. I was put on a callback list for the apprenticeship test to be given in late January.
We made do in the crowded four room house. There was a laundry room on the back of the house which really helped out.
We got our first good break when Guide called and asked me if I would want to start work on production while waiting on the test date. Wow did I ever! I started that week in the die cast molding and trim department. The foreman told me that I was probably hired because Delco Remy was also looking for apprentices and Guide was afraid I might go there and apply. I didn`t care. I had a job!
Our future was looking a little brighter for Christmas as Grandma Wolff came for a visit.
Our first Christmas! Not in our own place but, we were together and things were looking up!
A week after taking the two hour apprenticeship test, I was offered an apprenticeship at Guide. I could choose among training for a millwright, electrician, pipe fitter or tool and die maker. The experience I received at my grandfather`s machine shop with the hands on work helped me decide on the tool and die trade.
My class would go to the Anderson Apprentice School two or three nights a week for four years. While doing this we would work and learn along side journeymen machinists, tool makers and die makers. We also were required to serve some time in the tool design department, which was a salaried classification.
One of the journeyman grinders that I was working with happened to have a small four room house for rent in Huntsville and made me a great offer to rent it.
We just moved in, whew!
One full, action packed, journey defining, glorious year and we made it! Our life hadn`t gone as planned but the new plan would define our future life together.
Esther co-signed on a Sears Account so that we could buy a new stove and clothes washer. We had a clothes line hung up in the back yard for now. Before long, August, we would need both for the many baby diapers to be laundered!
Dad traded the 58` Chevy convertible in on a 1963 Chevy Impala convertible at Puckett Chevrolet in Pendleton. When I found out, I went to Mr. Puckett and asked if there was any way I could get a loan to buy the 58 Chevy. Since Dad was such a good customer and Mr. Puckett wanted to keep the family customer base, he let me make payments directly to the dealership.
We had several false runs to the hospital with early labor pains! We were so excited to have this baby and find out if we had a beautiful girl or a wonderful boy!
The Wolff`s Den adventures continue with kids and houses. Stay tuned for more!