Monday, July 7, 2014

My parents

I had my oil changed the other day.  Another customer's behavior reminded me of my father.
Then, as I seem to do, my mind began to wander.  Sometimes I wander a little bit - sometimes I wander way over the hill.  Not having either of my parents at hand to ask - I started thinking about what my folks did when I was just a lad.   I could not get the chronological order in place.
1.  I was born in Tecumseh, Okla before WWII.  You can visit the town and see my statue on main street.  My mom [Sara LeAnna Smith Metze ] was the band director in Tecumseh, Okla. when I was born.  I was born at home with my two older brothers looking on.   
       Somewhere there is a photo of my oldest brother Clyde Marshall Metze III (about 4 years old) standing in a cut down band uniform with a baton under his arm.  In those days it was popular for a band to have a little kid mascot - and, since mom was the director, it only followed.  I do not know what my father was doing at this time.  No clue.
2.  During WWII my father [Clyde Marshall Metze, Jr. ] taught ground school to future pilots at Tinker Air Force Base (I think) near OK City.  He was the only one of his family (4 boys) who did not serve in the Air Force flying planes or other stuffs.  I believe it was my Uncle Bob (Robert) who crashed a B-29 into an Arizona mountain and changed his career to being a Lawyer - provost Marshall seems somewhat familiar.
3.  I know that at one time (and times were hard) my father toured the southwestern part of Oklahoma teaching bands in many schools - he was a music man - selling the instruments and band uniforms.  I do know that he started the band in Altus, Okla at that time.
4.  Another of his adventures was to go to different towns in the evening - set up a large screen - and show movies (16mm w/ sound) in the town square.  I am not sure how he made a profit doing this, but I bet he did.
5.  My father had a math degree (math, I am sure) from Cameron College in Lawton, Ok.  Lawton was a few miles from Temple, Ok where he was raised.  He met my mom at college - I am guessing she was getting an elementary teaching degree - not sure though.  They were very good friends with the President of the college at that time - a name that will come to me later...just did:  John Coffey, I think, it was.  Anyway, I believe he protected them somewhat in that time.   My father was all-conference center on the Cameron football team.  
     Keep  in mind this was in the late 20s and early 30s.  Football players had no real protection from injuries.  Sometimes in my teen years, I would theorize that my father must have had a brain injury playing football.   He came through the system too early to "Sue" his college for brain injuries.  No, my mom was not a cheerleader, but she did play violin.
     I don't know if it happened in their Freshman or Sophomore years - kids were stupid even back then.  They just upped and got married - no income - nothing - just going to school.  Again, this is probably where John Coffey helped them.  It is safe to assume they graduated from college.  I don't have the slightest idea how long it took.
    I do know that in the early years of their marriage, they took in my father's 3 younger brothers and raised them through college and the war.   Considering one of them was a lawyer, another became a VET, and the third an Electrical Engineer - seems to me, my parents did a good job. My grandfather was somewhat of a lush - a very intelligent lush, but a lush.  Getting the boys out of that house was probably a good thing.  
6.  I believe mom was the band director in Stroud, Ok when Marshall was born in 1936.  She did a lot of band directing in the early years.   One of her favorite stories - and, yes, she had several - was that she would win marching contests by having her twirlers do cartwheels in front of the judges stand.  This wouldn't work today.  Judges see skin everywhere:  at the mall, at the beach, at school - you get the idea.  Back in the 30s and 40s, girls didn't flaunt their girliness as much.  Now a twirler, different story perhaps.
7.  I just don't know how or when, but around 1946 or so, we were in Kansas.  My father worked as a logger for a seismograph crew in Kansas looking for oil.  He ran the logging truck which recorded the explosions under the ground giving a picture of the rocks beneath.  We boys went out with him a couple of times to the drilling place, but it was truly boring...and hot.
      Pop worked for Standard Oil of Indiana - which eventually became Amoco (and other names) and today is owned by BP.  So you might say that BP put me through college.
     We lived in several towns in southern Kansas:  Dodge City (2 x), Meade, Syracuse - my younger brother Pat was born in Fowler, KS while we were in Syracuse - 1949 it was.  He actually was born in a hospital - pampered, I'd say.  We had a brand new black 1948 Hudson.  What a car!!! Those are two stones we can save for later.  Over time, Dad was transferred to Crete, Nebraska -about 30 miles from Lincoln.  I spent my 4th grade in Crete.  Lincoln had a television station.  We had a small screen TV - that would have been around 1950 or so.
      I couldn't say why, but the next transfer was to Odessa, TX where he worked in the oil field. The North Cowden plant was the name of the area.   I spent my 5th grade in that town.   My only real remembrance of his working in Odessa was something about him being knocked off an oil tank railroad car by a hose which wasn't attached properly.  I seem to remember several days of tense worrying.  They were tougher in those days.
8.   His final transfer was to Levelland, TX to the Levelland Gasoline Plant where he was the head roustabout.  Over the years they gave him different titles such as Head Electrician and so forth.  At one point he was the guy in the field running the oil pipelines ( field foreman ) - except in Levelland a lot of the stuff they did had to do with Propane gas.  Natural gas is thick around Levelland.  For the first few years, we lived at the "Plant Camp" - they had 5 houses out there for the bosses.   I felt special...Indoor plumbing and all that.
9.  I will close with the thought that at each town - each place we lived, my mom was a teacher, usually an elementary teacher.   When we lived in Dodge City she taught kindergarten.  Dodge had half day classes for 5 year olds.   To save money my mom:
     A.   Changed my birthday on my birth certificate from November 4 to November 2nd.  She used clorox to delete the old number and wrote in the new.  
     B.   Consequently, I started school one year early.   I had a half day kindergarten class with some lady - then, mom would get me, and I would have a half day kindergarten class with her in a different school building.
      I thought it was normal - I remember 2 things about kindergarten.  One was mom's class was on the 2nd floor - one of those big square brick buildings.  The second was my rug.  Each student brought a rug to school  We laid down on them and took a short nap.  My guess is this was the only way the teacher had a break all day.  Mine was a multicolored rug - row after row of different colored heavy yarn woven into a mat.  I still see these around at times.  Someday, I will buy one just to have and leave to my children to sell in a garage sale after I'm gone.
10.  My father continued to work until he was 62.  He retired and died of leukemia soon after.  My mom continued to teach elementary until retirement.  In her later teaching years, she worked with kids in the English-as-a-2nd-language area.  I have no idea when she learned to speak Spanish.  There is so much I just failed to ask.  Too Late now.
In the near future, I have a BLUGGY to write about the man in the oil change place.  That should keep you on edge waiting.

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