Sometimes the truth is hard to accept, but once you see it staring you back in the face, it is hard to deny. The child welfare supervisor that interviewed me in 1970 and subsequently recommended to his boss that I be employed, sent me a kind note yesterday. Actually, after my job interview and before I started to work, the supervisor took a promotion and moved to El Paso as the Regional Director for the Texas Department of Public Welfare in that region. By the time I reported to work, he was long gone and a newly assigned supervisor was in his place.
The red tape associated with getting an official “report to work” offer letter was not a quick or timely process. The Program Director for the San Angelo Region was located in Odessa. He told me: “Go ahead and get moved. The letter giving you the details of reporting to work will arrive in a few days”. Guess what? The letter didn’t arrive and instead of an offer letter the newly appointed supervisor in San Angelo called me in for an interview. Her boss, the program director from Odessa was also present. She began by telling me about the position they were interviewing to fill. There was something about the way she expressed it, that left me more than a little concerned.
I took the Colombo approach. I didn’t actually scratch my head and look down at the ground, but I did express concern and confusion. I was upfront. I don’t remember the exact words. After all it has been almost 47 years. I expressed confusion: “Can you help me understand what’s going on here? I have just rented a house and moved to San Angelo anticipating an offer letter. If the selection of my employment is not a certainty, I really need to know it immediately”. The program director from Odessa did some back peddling and told me not to worry. Fortunately, I apparently made a favorable impression on the new supervisor. Otherwise, she’d have never hired me. She was the ultimate child welfare professional and she taught me a lot. After I got to know her, I realized had I not been her pick, she wouldn’t have signed the offer letter. Interestingly, she and I are still good friends after all these years.
Getting back to the first supervisor that interviewed me, I had the privilege of working under his leadership after I went to work for the childcare licensing branch in Austin. I actually was on board as the standards and policy specialist for residential childcare licensing before the first supervisor was appointed to the position of Director of Licensing. He remembered me and I remembered him.
At any rate, at this point in our pilgrimage, Clif and I can both say figuratively that we have been life-long friends. I had a head full of dark hair and he had hair. All of that has subsequently changed. In the email I received from Clif yesterday, he mentioned that he was in the process of going through things he’d stored in out-of-way places. I bet the guy retired fifteen years ago. It may have been longer than that. What did he mean he was just getting around to going through things? Reportedly, he now has identified ten boxes of information that he needs to shred.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The picture he shared was from long ago speaks volumes. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the picture was made. Timeline? I can’t remember, but it had to be 1976 or 1977. Like I said, I had lots of dark hair and Clif had hair. Today, we look like that might have been a thousand years ago.
Ours is a small world. Over the course of the past fifteen to twenty years, I discovered that one of my best friends in Henly had a connection to Clif through one of his best friends who was also a pilot for Continental. If I remember the story correctly, Clif taught the Continental pilot to fly crop-duster planes in Plainview back when he was very young. I could have the story confused. After all, I’m old; Clif shared a picture to prove it.
The picture he shared was from the late 1970s. At that time in Texas, childcare licensing and protection of children in Texas was in the limelight and Legislative concern. I guess you could say not much has changed since that time. Child welfare reform is still a driving concern and is a priority in this year’s legislative agenda.
At any rate, the era was action packed and very busy. As a governmental entity we hosted pubic hearings related to licensing standards in many places across the state. As luck would have it, the Department of Public Welfare had it’s own plane. If I’m not mistaken, it was a King Air. Back in those days, if my work required travel, I drove unless my boss and the Deputy Commissioner were also going. Then we had the luxury of the King Air. In a perfect world, I’d never drive again unless it was on a race track. Did I mention we don’t live in a perfect world?
I remember one week well. We had public hearings scheduled somewhere different every day. Consequently, we had the good fortune for use of the Department plane. The Department had two pilots. Both flew together whenever the plane was in use. Who knows, maybe it was a requirement. I remember thinking they had to have a boring job. After all, who could sit and wait all day for us to complete this or that before flying out to a different venue. I would either be bored or I would be well read.
Anyway, that was all a very long time ago. Much of that came back to memory for me week before last. If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have been surprised because Clif and Wayman, my friend in Henly, have become good golfing buddies (Note: The adjective “good” refers to buddies and not the golfing) across the years. I guess when you are retired you have to fill you day with something. They both opt for golf. Reportedly the other two golfers in their foursome are the two pilots that flew for the Department of Public Welfare.
The funeral service for Wayman’s mother took place in Henly Tuesday-before-last. Both Clif and his wife Susan were there. It had been way too long since we last visited. For that matter, both of the pilots that flew the State’s plane were also at the funeral service. It probably has been 37 years since I’ve seen either of them. They asked if I’d still fly with them today? I responded: “You bet!” They both are in their mid-to-late 80s. Wow! Would I really do it? “You bet”.
All My Best!