Hot-Diggity Hot Rods

I graduated from high school at seventeen, ran off with my pregnant girlfriend, and became a father that summer; fifteen days after my eighteenth birthday. My first job was working on the hayfield I refer to in my stories, Kidnapped and Kidnapped (part 2). Not the best start a young man can get in life, but, I made it, I reckon.

I worked at several menial, low-paying, jobs, trying to discover my “calling”, so to speak then one day in early 1969, I caught a break. A friend of the family worked for El Paso Natural Gas Company, out at the pumping station near Arlington, Arizona. Arlington was only twenty miles from Buckeye—the pumping station a few miles further down the road—so it was convenient. Convenient in the sense we would still be close to home, and our friends.

I have to tell you the best part about the new job, was it was secure; once you got on with EPNG, you were set for life; if you wanted to be. Turns out, I didn’t want to be. It was a sedentary job, and I was too, eager to explore the world and make something of myself.

The real attraction the job held for me was the unbelievable starting pay and the promise of promotion to even higher pay in the near future. The job paid $3.27 an hour! Holy cow! Up until then, the most I’d been paid was $1.25 an hour! We were rich!

Not only was the pay out-of-this-world-awesome, but we would get to live in a company house, and the rent was only $25 a month, which included all utilities. Yes sir, we had hit the big time. The first thing I did was go out and buy a new car; first new car I’d ever owned.

It was a beauty, too; a 1969 Oldsmobile 442! Hot-diggity hot rods! I was the man, I tell ya! Nineteen years old, a high paying job, a nice house, and a brand new “hot” car! Get outta my way!

The car payment on the hot rod was a gut-clenching $93 a month, but I wasn’t worried; I was going to be bringing home more than $400 a month! With virtually no rent and no utility bills, $93 was chump change. Turns out it wasn’t quite as rosy as I thought.

I discovered the syndrome that seems to haunt us all; the one where we tend to spend according to what we bring in. Fortunately, I had no credit cards, and the practice of spending over what we bring in had not yet taken hold. I’d get to that one a few years later.

We did alright, though, and we lived pretty darn good back then. We didn’t have a lot of extra cash, and didn’t save any for a rainy day, but we didn’t want for much either. (Had an awesome car!)

Then, as I alluded to in the beginning of this story, I got bored; I was young and excited about life, and after two and a half years of  working at a meaningless, repetitive job, I decided to move on, in search of the elusive, yet so enticing, dream of success and fortune.

Once in awhile, I look back on that decision and regret it, but not really. My life has been one adventure after the other—some normal adventures, but some exciting ones, too—and if I’d stayed at that job with EPNG… well, who knows….

And… would I have as many stories to tell?

3 Comments »

  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    Ahh . . . young love, young life, and wonderful adventures all out in front of us.

  2. Gary Williams said

    Those were the good old days and you were the man!

    • haha. They sure were the good old days, Gary. I never thought of myself as “the man”, though.

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