THE WAY I REMEMBER IT
And so it came to pass that there I was with a wife of less than a year—and no job. But we were back in Texas from our Sheaffer Pen adventure in Youngstown . My resume was still rather short, so people were not exactly scrambling for my services. Although we were staying with Helen’s folks in Austin , I really had no contacts that were of much help here.
Brother Arnold, from his experience at the Temple Chamber of Commerce , gave me the names of several people that I might contact. My approach was not to ask for a job, but to ask if they knew anyone who might use someone with my education and “experience.” It finally worked, and I had a call from Mr. Gresham of Gresham’s, who were in the office supplies and printing business. Obviously it was my job to sell what they had to offer. After not too long a time, both Mr. Gresham and I knew that this was not exactly my calling. Through his help and Helen’s contact with Mr. Yarborough, an accountant for whom she did some work, I made a segue into the field of organization management. I became the Manager of the Cen-Tex Fair, Rodeo & Livestock Show.
I had two interesting years at the livestock show. It didn’t pay a whole lot, but then there were the Wheaties. You see, the Temple professional baseball club had their diamond on the fair grounds, and the General Manager, Bob Conwell, and myself shared a small building for an office. When you walked into the door, his desk was up against the wall to the left, mine to the right. There was barely space enough to walk between our chairs. But down that little aisle was a door to the store-room—full of Wheaties.
When anyone hit a home run during a home game, the announcer would blast out that the batter would get a case of Wheaties. Since Bob wasn’t giving out too many cases of Wheaties, he and Martha, Helen and I ate a lot of Wheaties—for breakfast, for lunch, for supper, and for snacks. We still laugh about it, some fifty years later, when we see Bob and Martha.
A contact made during the Cen-Tex Fair led to an offer of another job that paid more, and sounded like fun. I became the Director of Information for the (hold on) Texas Association of Soil Conservation District Supervisors. It was quite interesting, and, as part of my duties, I was to increase the subscriptions to their magazine. Soil and Water. It was a good publication, and I figured out a way to sell it wholesale rather that one at a time. The circulation jumped from 7,000 to 21,000. They liked that because they could get much bigger bucks for their advertising. I had also developed some teaching units that had been accepted by the Texas Education Agency—and was in Austin one summer day to do some work on this when, well, I wound up working for the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
Somewhere during this time in Temple we also bought and operated a Weber’s Root Beer drive in franchise. Not a wise decision. I think the guy that sold it to us “failed to disclose” that construction on I-35 past the place was about to start. Thankfully, we didn’t last long. I’m not sure what happened to Weber’s Root Beer either. Maybe somebody bought it out or maybe it just lost its fizzle and went away.
Vic Mathias – July 20, 2005