Active duty service in the Navy was over and so I flew home to Southern California. I still had vague thoughts about continuing my Navy career but they soon faded as I realized that I needed a job…now. So I went back to the places I knew and got a job with Bill’s Texaco as the night manager. That gave me a whopping $1.75 an hour. But I had the daytime free for the beach or anything else I wanted to do.
I had sold my car (1954 Austin Healey) before going to North Carolina and the first thing I needed was something to replace it. And with my wages, I wasn’t going to get much of a car. I ended up with a 1951 Chevy 2 door sedan…a thing of beauty…not!
All mixed in at this time in my life was a half hearted desire to gain a college degree and get on with my life. Somehow I took a leave of absence from the Texaco station and headed north to San Louis Obispo, Morro Bay and Cal-Poly University where I began a course in Mechanical Engineering. I soon found parties more to my liking than studies and within a semester I was out…and back to washing windshields.
To my credit, I continued to look for a career. A day job. And one day I spotted a Help Wanted ad for “Warehouse Clerk, Bonded Warehouse…must be able to obtain security clearance. Call xxx-xxxx at STL.” I knew of STL (Space Technology Laboratories); they had recently moved into Manhattan Beach and built a huge office complex on the eastern border of the city. I knew they were a leading player in the all new aerospace industry that was just forming. Perhaps that would be a place to start a career?