Newsletter 043 – July 28, 2023
Disclaimer: This newsletter and the seven that will follow it were written in advance. This was done to allow me to focus on tasks I have to complete before I can publish my next books (Flood and Fire and Jagged Man).
In the previous newsletter (#42) I set aside talking about the many jobs I’ve held over the years to tell you about something that consumed much of my time for over a month (we *do* have new faucets now, by the way, and the fence rebuild is scheduled to happen a few days after you get this). In the newsletter before that, I ran down most of the jobs I had in high school and college (in the mid-to-late-1960’s), noting that two of those jobs ended up in one of my potential novels (The Lives of Franklin Roosevelt Jones), and a couple of others helped establish a few characters in If a Butterfly. Let’s move on to the 1970’s and see what happened then.
In 1970, I moved to Houston, still a few hours short of my college degree. I came to Houston to be with my college girlfriend for the summer. She dumped me before the summer was over. I deserved it. She went back to college in Deep Springs and I stayed in Houston, continuing with my summer job selling insurance door to door. I also got married on the rebound to someone who worked for the insurance agency. Big mistake. A few years later, my wife told me at breakfast one morning that she didn’t think she ever really loved me. I moved out and we divorced. For several years (during the marriage and afterward), I worked at a number of jobs that made it difficult to finish my education. I worked for an employment agency, finding jobs for other people; I sold encyclopedias door to door; I managed a custom shirt shop and a flower shop (that’s two separate jobs); I sold shoes in a retail store; and I managed a movie theater, but I also found time to do a little stage acting in local theaters. In 1973 I wrote and acted in skits for a variety program called The Show on KTRK, a local TV station. I was doing all right, but I wasn’t terribly happy. I decided I needed to go back to college and finish my degree.
I got a job at a local grocery store as a stocker on the graveyard shift, which allowed me to survive financially and attend the University of Houston during the day. They didn’t accept all of my credits from Stockman University so I had to retake a few courses. I couldn’t take too many classes each semester and still work and sleep, so it took me a year-and-a-half to finish. I graduated from U of H in 1976 with a minor in Secondary Education and a double-major in Drama and English.
One of my final education courses was student teaching (working in an area high school as a teacher’s assistant, and teaching a few classes). I had a bit of luck there. The drama teacher I was working with was pregnant, and wanted to take a leave of absence when she gave birth. She recommended me to the principal, and they hired me as a permanent sub to teach her classes for the rest of the school year (about three months), and to direct the one-act play. I found I enjoyed teaching and working with students, so that summer I applied for a position teaching drama in the Houston Independent School District, only to find out that drama teachers rarely left their jobs. Most schools only had one drama teacher and there weren’t any openings then. I fell back on my standby of grocery stores. Before long I was promoted to the position of front-end manager at a store and was suddenly making a sizable salary. What did I do? Stick with the higher pay or teach?
In the next newsletter I’ll tackle a couple of decades beginning in the late-1970’s.
See you then,
[“Thought is the labor of the intellect,
reverie is its pleasure.”
Les Miserables, Saint Denis, 1862.]
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