This is not my life’s story…I write this for me to simply recall some of my life’s experiences and accomplishments. I’ve done nothing that is that noteworthy to make it into the history books or Wikipedia. I have reached the age of 80 as I write this and as a youngster, I wondered if I would make it into the 2000’s – it seemed so distant. Now that I’m here, my goal is to reach the age of 160…
I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have had Judy by my side for most of my life and although some of the experiences I’ve had in the past were on my own, Judy was there for most of those exciting and rewarding times. When I lived some of what I am about to recall, if Judy wasn’t by my side, she was supporting me and encouraging me to get it done.
Having grown up in the once-small town of Leesburg, Virginia as one of 8 children, I never felt embarrassed that we were poor because my parents worked very hard at providing what we needed to be a happy family.
Today, I am wealthy to the extreme, not monetarily, but filled with life’s experiences that I never dreamed possible.
Not in any chronological order, these are the simple things that have made me rich:
My parents taught me honesty, appreciation and humility. The military service gave me structure, respect and planning. An accomplishment – I learned to send and receive international Morse Code in the USAF service. Later in life, that experience allowed me to venture into amateur radio. I was always fascinated with the ability to communicate wirelessly with someone in a different location. Communication has been a major part of my life.
The military afforded me the opportunity for fulfilling a strong desire – travel. Although it wasn’t my choice, I was stationed in Turkey for 18 months. Had they not sent me there, I would not have had that experience. While there, I was able to watch Francis Gary Powers depart in his U2 spy plane on a mission over Russia. History tells about that mission. But the fact, that I had that experience is in my memory bank now forever.
The military then sent me to New Mexico, a life-changing experience. There, I met Judy – history.
New Mexico – Kirtland AFB – Hopping a ride in a B52 bomber – Hopping a ride in a B47 bomber – getting a backseat ride in an F104 Starfighter, zooming to 51,000 feet and going twice the speed of sound (mach2) over The White Sands Missile Range – certainly others have done these things, but to know I’ve experienced those still takes my breath away!!
Albuquerque – 1960’s – The accomplishment of successfully applying and receiving employment at Sandia Corporation (subcontractor Atomic Energy Commission). Prior to that job, the experience of selling men’s clothing at Montgomery Wards and selling shoes at J.C.Penneys made me know I wanted more. Even while working at Sandia Corporation, I experienced the “need” to work a second job at a 7-11 convenience store. I needed to work harder. Progression at Sandia Corporation included the experience and accomplishment of completing an Electronic’s Technician apprenticeship.
1968 – Who has dreams of a career only to see it slipping away as years pass? That was me. Aviation was a fascination. The Federal Aviation Administration had rejected my application in 1962 when I left the Air Force. In 1968 the FAA decided they needed more air traffic controllers and opened up the hiring process. Though it had been 6 years, I still hoped for that career. As I write this, I can tell you I was successful in applying, hiring, and completing 27 years of FAA service. Maybe not the greatest accomplishment and experience in my life, but right at the top! Okay, yes it was my greatest experience!! I loved the job!!
During those FAA years, I had the wonderful experience ( a gift from Judy) of taking flying lessons. I accomplished the requirements for my Private Pilot License. The feeling of euphoria when you’re solo in a small single-engine aircraft cruising over the landscape is not something you can just talk about – it needs to be experienced. I earned several “safe-pilot” wings. As related earlier, I was able to experience flight in bombers and fighters. Add to that list, piloting small aircraft, doing loops and rolls in the back seat of an American Champion Citabria aircraft and floating 1000 feet above terrain in a hot air balloon. Flying experiences!!
I mentioned travel earlier – The experience of owning a motor home is so gratifying. Although it wasn’t all in the motor home, Judy and I have had the wonderful experience of visiting EVERY state except Alaska. So many road trips are memorable.
Our other travels have been a 3 week trip to New Zealand and a FABULOUS tour of Italy. When in New Zealand, I piloted a small aircraft over Lake Taupo and snow-capped Mount Ruapehu. Judy snapped photos as we flew over that beautiful land. Also, later, we chartered a “yacht” and fished Lake Taupo. Judy caught a beautiful rainbow lake trout which we took to a local restaurant and they prepared it for us for a wonderful dinner serving us and the other 2 couples whom had shared the charter…an experience never to be forgotten!! …another experience in New Zealand – got a back-seat 30-minute ride in a World War 1 Sopwith Camel – open-air cockpit, flight suit, goggles and all…!!!
Italy, a bucket-list accomplishment. With photos, we relive that wonderful experience.
Judy and I hiked to the top of Sandia Peak Mountain in Albuquerque. We were proud of accomplishing that feat. I hiked down to the bottom of The Grand Canyon, stayed overnight and hiked back up the next morning. Accomplishment/Experience.
As I said, this is not in any chronological order – it’s whatever comes to mind.
I basically taught myself how to play golf. When I reached the age of 70, my goal was to score lower than my age. I accomplished that many times over the years. Now that I’ve reached the age of 80, it is rare, but I have managed to shoot a score of 79 or lower on a few occasions. We’ll see how it goes when I approach 90 and I approach the green.
Animals, pets – yes, we’ve had numerous pets. Loved every one of them. The heart break of losing them is a numbing experience, but the dedication they display is also such a warm experience.
Parenting is by far an experience that only you can rate in your life. Top of the list for Judy and me. We feel as if we provided the tools needed for our children to succeed in life and we have not been disappointed. The accomplishments made by them have made us proud. Sadly no parent wants to experience the loss of a child as we have.
Did you ever cross-country ski? Friends took Judy and me on an outing to do that. It wasn’t something we took to very easily and only tried it that one time. Hated it. But, we can say we experienced cross-country skiing!! Also tried down-hill skiing and almost killed myself – bad experience!!
I was in the high school senior play – experienced acting better left to those that have that talent.
Pall-bearer for classmate – traumatic experience.
Made the mistake of buying a time-share condominium. Although, to be honest, we did manage to trade for some nice vacation spots, the experience of attempting to get out of the contract was stressful, but, we successfully accomplished the sale, never to do that again!!
Judy got a hole-in-one on the golf course (before I did) and I accomplished that 4 months later (my one and only so far).
Dreamed of “striking it rich” in some way, but never accomplished that; however, I am wealthy beyond measure for all the experiences, accomplishments, love, family, support, friends and still here after 80 years and counting…