Today, fully retired in Palm Desert, California, I receive my pension check from the Boeing Aircraft Corporation. When I left Douglas, I did not go to work for Boeing but, in the long haul, Boeing consumed the McDonnell Douglas Corporation and assumed my retirement responsibilities. It could have been the other way around but, as described in the story, the few opportunities were lost. I am sure there is alot of meaning in this story and if it were to be relived, things could have been different; of course, that is everyones story. My hardest decision that had the greatest ramification on my life, so it seemed, was to leave Douglas at age fifty-five. But like Barbara has said, if I stayed, would I have survived.
Production of MD products are dwindling, the MD-90 being the last of the DC-9 stretches; the MD-11 shortly to become history. The only new aircraft coming out of Long Beach, the Boeing 717(MD-95), has presently only two purchasers, AirTran and Trans World Airline. This is the aircraft that I needed in Australia in 1983 - 110 passengers, advanced Rolls Royce engine, and improved wing and cockpit.
After retirement and at the request of a friend, I wrote a paper, Attachment (1991), describing the need for the 100-passenger aircraft. This is essentially what became the Boeing 717, an excellent aircraft, if it is not too late.
The impact of travel on my family can only be explained by them. My goal was to stay in domestic marketing which provided travel during the week when needed, and I was always home on weekends. When I was home during the week, I was home by five-thirty, a respectable time for a career salesman.
The hardest time, and I think Barbara would back me up on this, was during the Braniff campaign, 1968-1970. It was intense and it consumed every week during this two-year time period. The hardest part was the empty feeling from not getting Braniff to move ahead on the DC-10 program and then to miss on the DC-8 because the tooling was gone, after all the effort and time away from the family.
In addition to just being gone, there were times that being home would have provided support when needed. Receiving a call at the airport just prior to departing for Hawaii, to be told your son has stuck a metal pipe into his throat, or prior to a meeting at Northwest Airlines getting a similar call, saying your son had severed his Achilles Tendon, bicycling to the beach with surfboard in hand. Each time telling my wife that it would do me no good to come home as I was not licensed to practice medicine. It was the correct answer, but it did seem rather ruthless at the time. My son survived both incidences.
Animals were not a success story in our family, at least when I was traveling. Carrie and Craig each had a hampster which was normal for children of their age. They kept them in a cage which the hampsters seemed to enjoy. One day they went to the movies with their mother and left the cage in the shade in the back yard. They returned later to find two dead hampsters. They were in the shade when they left, but they soon had to endure the noon day sun. Hampsters in their fur coats do not do well in full summer sun. Barbara and the kids buried the little animals in the back yard with full honors and tears only to have our dog Can Can, a French poodle, dig them up each time. This left a lasting affect on everybody and today makes a sad story, humorous.
Sad to say, Can Can was killed when Carrie inadvertently left the door from the house to the garage open. The garage door was also open. Can Can ran into the street and was hit by a Cadillac. Needless to say, when dad returned from his travels, he was confronted with sad tales of woe.
Barbara endured the Sylmar earthquake of 1971 in bed. She had recently had a hysterectomy and was home recovering when the quake hit. I was in Dallas. Luckily I was able to get a call through, as I had placed a call to Barbara almost at the same time the quake occurred. This took a lot of pressure off as Barbara responded positively, but it did shake her. Having her parents staying with us at the time was of great assurance.
The best part of all was being able to include Barbara in my travels. This was frowned upon by many of my supervisors, but we did it anyway. We were able to see many places that would not be available to many people. Barbara was a plus wherever she went and the airline people took to her when we entertained. She never put Douglas Aircraft in a compromising position. It made my doing business a lot easier. I never understood why companies did not let more wives travel. At least, in my case, Barbara was an advantage; with other salesmen it may not have been a positive.
When I moved into International Sales in 1983, our kids were grown up and we both were willing to move onto another direction, knowing how static the Domestic market had become. With frequent travel miles, opportunities to travel to some of the South Pacific and Asia countries would become available. I did not realize how challenging and frustrating it was to deal with such a variety of countries, people, and politics.
It may seem like I was unsuccessful in my two-year stint, but I look at it as one of the most exhilarating experiences, and I shook the tree as hard as I could. The roots were too long, and I would have had to have been there a lot sooner to shape the tree.
The Pacific and Asia area was the most pleasant time that I spent at Douglas Aircraft other than my times with Hawaiian and North Central. You are on your own, and you have to make most of the decisions. Unmarried and twenty-five would be the way to take over this territory and spend the rest of your life working it, only if the company stands behind you.
Nothing lasts forever, starting with carriers like West Coast, melted into Airwest that included Bonanza and Pacific Airlines, consumed by Republic that was made up of North Central and Southern Airlines, eaten by Northwest. Frontier faded into history when purchased at the doorstep of bankruptcy. Braniff drained Boeing and Pratt and Whitney of their relief fund, then sank into history and closed the door. Air California, pride of Orange County, California, is now a speck in the American Airlines system. Trans Texas to Texas International is now a part of Continental Airlines.
Hawaiian still flies the flag in the Island along with Aloha. Jack Magoon got into the coffee business after losing the airline, brought on by a financial crisis, that everyone in the airline business was having. He became quite successful at the coffee growing business. I understand he has retired from this venture. Jack did what he wanted to do, and that was to give the Magoon name a serious presence in the Islands. Though the Magoon name was a part of Hawaii, being the owner of the airline gave him the stature, at least while he was Owner and President. I have the deepest respect for Jack, not for being the greatest airline genius, but for being a class act, always thinking of the Islands and the Hawaiian tradition. Jack read me the riot act many a time over some of the things Douglas was doing and each time I would offer Jack my job and he would back off. I would enjoy having lunch with him again at the Pacific Club, anytime. Jack deserved more than having the airline taken away from him.
Here, I must relate a funny story that includes Jack. Early in my sales effort at Hawaiian and my learning to play golf, Jack took me to play at the famous Wailea golf club of which Jack was a member. He had given me some Hawaiian Airline golf balls. In my early stages of golf, I had a slice that challenged a boomerang. I was smart enough not to use the Hawaiian Airline golf balls; Jack did not know this. I stood at the tee and swung mightily and drove the ball on an arc that led into the condominiums, $450,000 and up (1972 dollars); Jack let out a grunt. A second shot, like radar the ball went through the same air the first one had gone, a grunt. At this point, I informed Jack that I was not using Hawaiian golf balls, a sigh of relief.
The end was bitter and frustrating. No one knew what had transpired to make me walk from a position that had been my life for 22 successful years. No one asked and it seemed that no one cared, so it was done. That is when I etched in stone the title of this book "Nothing is Forever."