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March 5, 1958…National Potash Company, Carlsbad, NM

Posted by Pete | Posted in News | Posted on 05-03-2018


I left Alabama in late February, 1958 on my way back to Walker AFB, NM to reup for another 4 years of military service. Good jobs were very hard to find back then. We decided to spend a few days with my wife’s sister in Carlsbad, NM. While there, I learned of a job opening at the lab at National Potash Co.  It helped that the chemist at National was a friend of by brother-in-law, long story short, a few days later I was learning all about Potash, how it was mined and refined, it’s uses, but mainly I was learning the importance of quality control, ie, screen sizes of the product, grade of the product and many other things. March 5, 1958 all of that started……I spent the next ten years there, first in the lab and then later as the shipping clerk, handling the rail shipments, both domestic and exports and some truck shipments. That was the start of my interest in transportation, where I spent the next fifty years of my life. Except for a brief stay at General Dynamics, Fort Worth, my life revolved around products moving from shipper to customer….and a vast number of products, from agricultural products, road building materials, sands for fracking oil wells, acids, anhydrous ammonia, propane and butane, gasoline and diesel, jet fuels, and numerous other products. Looking back, that was a fast fifty years….and fun…I kind of wish I had another fifty…But if I did, I might choose another industry….which one?…Well,  I’m still thinking. But I would not trade he first fifty….


Comments (6)

I never knew that you ever considered continuing in the AF, but you were in a line organization that was an integral part of the AF mission. Contrarily, I worked with people at Kirtland who were a dying breed in organizations doing work that was an outgrowth of the wartime Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb. They were all veterans of that project, and they were just waiting in the wings for retirement and riding off into the sunset of their lives. Sure enough! Change did come. Kirtland survived, but the organizations and the work in which I was familiar did not. The base moved into research on space and lazar weapons and the bomb and radiation was swept out of the Monsanto Mountains. The base even struggled to keep its certification to maintain and service the nuclear weapons on hand, and even lost certification for a time. Today I seriously doubt if there is anyone with the knowledge and skill to maintain and make combat ready weapons that are older than the people maintaining them. I wondered that when President Trump was in a verbal war with the dictator of North Korea claiming he had bigger bombs. Yes, he had bigger bombs, but did he have the people who knew how to fire them? At any rate, I got out. There were simply too many changes on the horizon. But on the outside it turned out to be worse. The Environmental Protection Agency came into being in 1970. About 15 years were required for it to get organized and to get up and running. At this point, about 50% of chemistry was banned, and it turned out to be the main chemistry that I knew. The chemistry of the halogens, bromine, chlorine, polychlorinated biphenyls, and chlorinated as well as brominated pesticides and herbicides were banned as too effective for their intended use. The country didn’t need products that worked too well. Even my favorite herbicide, Ravage, the herbicide that had the potential of beating out all herbicides, never saw the light of day because it fell victim of the newly formed EPA. Ravage worked so good that, in a time before mass spectroscopy, we couldn’t even detect it at a level in which it was safe. Therefore, it wasn’t much better on the outside unless one became a government regulator and a dead end bureaucrat. The chemical industry was either dead, dying, or headed for foreign shores. Now, I am in the place of the Manhattan Project holdovers of the Fifties and Sixties working as a state bureaucrat waiting to retire and to ride into the sunset of life. What has it accomplished? It may have been better just to have stayed in Coal Fire, where it all began and taken up my Dad’s life of farming and sawmilling; but, then, no occupation has been changed more by the EPA than farming and sawmilling. My Dad’s saw mill operation would never pass muster under the modern EPA regulations. Too much waste! Too much pollution, and simply too much hard work.

I was looking for work anywhere I could get it. After all, I did have a family to feed…..It worked out for me.

Your next to the last statement in your posting is very interesting. “I kind of wish I had another fifty.” I remember hearing my Dad make the exact statement a few years before he died. In his latter years, although he never indicated it to me, I believe Dad led a very frustrated life, especially after WWII. I know that before the war he went down to Troy State College with a football scholarship. He was unable to stay because he was too broke, and he had no clothes to wear (to date the girls, he said). So he returned to Pickens County before his first term began to make money wherever he could in Pickens County, and he evidently did until the outbreak of WWII. When he was drafted in 1943, and he went off to war everything changed. When he returned, he found that everything had changed. There was no longer the wide open opportunity in his chosen field in the county that there was before the war. I know he was frustrated, but I doubt if he ever mentioned his frustration to anyone, certainly not to us kids and not even to mother, although she probably knew. The early twentieth century and probably the entire century was a time that tried many a man’s soul. It brought many changes in opportunities as well as changes in one’s ability to cope. I think that Dad, near the end of his life, realized that he needed the education that he could have gotten at Troy State to cope with those changes, but it just wasn’t to be at the time. So, Pete, you are like my Dad in a way. If you could wish upon a star, you would wish for another fifty, as he did. Wouldn’t we all?

I think that we all would wish for another fifty…and most of us might consider a small change in life, but probably not as much as some might think. All in all, life has been very good to us and God has been most kind.

You are right about that. God has been kind and life has been very good. I probably wouldn’t have thought that before 1975, when I met the best lady in the world who was born and raised on the opposite side of the earth and who consented to marry me in 1980. For that reason, I can not say many bad things about immigrants, but I do wish that all of them would do, as my wife’s family did, and come to America legally with skills to contribute to America. Her older brother was amazing to me when he bargained with his Dad, that if he would send him to college in engineering, he would contribute the salary that he earned as an engineer to his Dad to be used to send his younger siblings to college. If it wasn’t for this brother, Marina would not have been able to go to nursing school, as nursing school, like medical school, in the Philippines is very expensive. He kept this bargain with his Dad until the youngest sibling made it through college. I guess Americans have too much opportunity, too many choices in life, and are too spoiled to even think of doing such a thing. It never crossed my mind. I guess I was too spoiled too although I did offer to send Alan to college, but he was too lazy in high school to get the necessary grades. I did send him to trade school in Tuscaloosa which enabled him to get a job with General Motors to make more than I made as a chemist, at least initially, and much better benefits. The scheme does not work very well, though, unless the sibling gives the money to the parents to disperse to the younger siblings for educational purposes. Otherwise, the younger siblings only ends up wasting the money in high living and dropping out of school. Marina’s older brother was so wise to funnel his money back through the parents. That way the money spoiled none of them, and all of them, except the two oldest sisters, were able to get college educations; and the other siblings eventually helped the siblings of those two to get a college education.

That was a very nice thing for her brother to do. I feel sure God will bless him for his generosity. Sounds like a swell guy.

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