Jobs ListEvery job I've had that lasted more than a month
Driving Range and Dolphin Show Attendant(1965 to ‘67, age 10, 11) My father built and operated a golf driving range in the mid 1960’s in Hampton, Virginia. As a ten-year-old-child I wasn’t a big help during the construction but I was there every day moving as much dirt and driving as many nails as I could for 25 cents an hour. We built a pool on the property and operated a dolphin show for two summers and sometimes I joined the show holding fish the leaping dolphins would snatch from me. The feed fish were smelt and it was amazing how the dolphin could leap ten or more feet high and just touch my lips with theirs as they took the fish that I held by their tail in my teeth. Once or twice I received a mild punch and bruised lip but usually, if I didn’t move, they would take the fish and not touch me or give me a gentle kiss.
Steam Heat Plant Maintenance Mechanic(1971, age 15) Dad’s plan was to convert two coal and oil burning steam heat plants in west Philadelphia to garbage incinerators, an idea that wasn’t quite ahead of its time in 1971 but on the leading edge. My brother David and I spent that summer grinding and painting tanks, packing valves and generally preparing the plant for the next heating season. David and I worked in two different plants and before we started Dad warned us about how we we would be treated as the boss's sons. Dad said our fellow workers and the foremen would either suck-up to us or resent us. David's supervisor was a suck-up and mine was not only resentful, he abused me. For example my first job was to remove the rust from the inside of a 5000 gallon tank and the only tool that he gave me to do it was a file. He was kind enough to grind down the end to make it something that was a little more effective than a chisel but it was not the right tool for the job. I discovered that to be a fact when he gave me a large angle grinder with an abrasive wheel to remove the rust from the inside of a 20,000 gallon tank. He also had me shovel the soot out of the smoke stack, something that hadn't been done in many years, if ever, and he didn't warn me that the bank of dust and debris beneath the huge furnace duct was burning. It took two weeks to get all that sulfur and coal dust out, one bucket at a time, and another week before I stopped blowing it out of my nose.
Fiberglass Fabricator(1973, age 17) My good friend Ron Snyder and I were both hired at nearly the same time to fabricate duct and pipe out of woven and non-woven glass and polyester resin in the same way boats are built. It was interesting work and I enjoyed making the pipe and duct and machining the attachment flanges but the glass fibers and catalyzed resin was irritating, even injurious. Eventually I had chemical burns, itched all the time and my breath smelled like resin so I had to quit.
Casual Laborer(1974, age 18) General Foods had a distribution hub in Newark, Delaware. I worked there one or two nights a week unloading trailers and rail cars of their loads of Tang, pudding, cereal and dog food while I attended the University of Delaware. My roommate worked there with me and he and I sometimes did silly things to each other with the products. One hot summer night as I was unloading a freight car Roy jumped me from behind with bags of pudding. The first bag he hurled at me as I turned to face him hit my forehead and burst open. As I wiped the powder from my eyes he continued to pelt me with pudding packages until my sweat soaked body was covered. It was so funny I nearly wet myself, which would have been the final, perhaps hard to identify ingredient for a very weird recipe.
Nude Model(1974, age 18) Originally, I enrolled in college in Civil Engineering but I switched to Fine Arts in my sophomore year which led to the job of modeling for the figure drawing class. When I first got the job I thought it would be pretty easy and would help in my artistic pursuits but as the time approached to actually do it I got very nervous. I didn’t like the first class at all and I wasn’t the only one who was uncomfortable. Most of the people in the class had very little experience concentrating on naked strangers. After a couple weeks I relaxed and although I never really enjoyed doing it I did eventually stop being embarrassed.
Fitness Instructor(1975, age 20) At the European Health Spa on the Kirkwood Highway near Delaware Park. I liked setting people up with exercise programs. One customer, an elderly man who had been very suddenly stricken with severe arthritis was so grateful for what exercising at the club had done for him he wept as he thanked me for how I’d helped.
Welder(1977, age 22) I worked at two different shops; Vet’s Welding, which was a miscellaneous metals shop (stairs, walkways, ladders and rails) and Hellmark Steel which fabricated structural steel.
Door to Door Sales, Painter(1977, age 22)
Mason Tender(1978, age 22) Two other young men and I mixed “mud” and helped Italian stone masons in other ways as they maintained the brick, block, mortar and stone structures and statues on the very large AI DuPont estate in the country just north of Wilmington, Delaware. Two of the three masons in the crew were Italian Americans but John, whose advise on women included, “Rob, everya now and againa you gatta hit ‘em”, was from Italy.
Assistant Helicopter Production Manager(1985, age 29) After the Cyclocrane project I went to work briefly for Robinson Helicopter in Torrance, California. Their only product then was the R22, a two place helicopter used mostly as a trainer.
Back to ballooning! In September of 2006 Judi and our son, Patrick and Pat's girlfriend and I went on vacation together to Oregon. While there I met with Larry Schaible, a former Pan Am employee who was on the Sea Based Aerostat Program with me in the '80s. Larry was the curator at the Tillamook Air Museum at the time which was in the hanger where we built the Cyclocrane. Larry told me that Lockheed Martin had a program that used a system nearly identical to the one that we'd worked on before. They were setting up systems in Iraq in Afghanistan. That night at dinner we talked about it and from then on it was inevitable that I'd apply for the job and since I was very qualified I got it.
book about my experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Before I finished it a crisis in a friend's life occurred and he asked for help. He needed me to take over his business so I went back to commercial building restoration, this time as the boss.