Or, further Friday night thoughts.
My parents swept us all over the country. We children were to see all 48 states before we graduated high school. For me, the oldest, that meant many states more than once.
My dad was an aeronautical engineer. I could not even estimate his annual earnings, but my parents were depression children, and made sure we knew the value of a dollar. We camped everywhere we went, and especially in the west, where camping was as basic as dad’s service days.
Dad was an Army man, from the day he turned sixteen. I think he was alternatively destined for truant’s confinement, but I blogged that to death long ago. He packed his radio equipment on mules. He learned all he could from every person he met and every book he encountered. He marveled he was born the same year the Wright brothers flew a plane, and lived to help put a man on the moon.
Reading a map while riding in the front seat made mom ill, so the job often fell to me. I wonder if she knew the gift she gave me. My dad was an encyclopaedia of natural history, geography, meteorology. Back in the days we drove this country from town to town (“66 goes right at this intersection, Dad.”), Eisenhower was president, and I listened for hours to “this man’s army” being able to move from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Canada to Mexico, on one unified highway system. To dad, the proposed Interstate Highway System was first and foremost to move troops.
Dad designed electrical systems for space capsules and flew around the country and the world to visit Lockheed engineers and Boeing engineers and army bases, but his heart and his discipline always were “this man’s army.”
Interestingly, my father-in-law was a civil engineer. He was after my dad’s depression era, had the benefit of a real education. My dad snatched three semesters at Tri-C college in Indiana, between the army and unemployment. My father-in-law graduated from Case Institute of Technology.
I wonder if my daughters remember how often I told them Grandpa Noragon was an engineer of State Route 2 along the top of Ohio, and becoming Interstate 90 into Pennsylvania and New York State. Probably as much as they remember Grandpa Lytle worked on both Project Mercury and Apollo Eleven. Grandpa Noragon went on to engineer infrastructure for Sun City, Arizona. I think they only returned to Ohio because their first grandchild was born.
I tried the civil engineering story out on Laura the other day. I drank up every syllable of my dad’s civil (military) engineering stories. I’m sure they were lost on my kids, and they surely were lost on Laura. Old news. Whenever you want to change the subject, Grandma. I know all this history isn’t lost on a new generation. They are learning it from a new source.
My dad, John Lytle, at a family picnic in the fifties. I wish I had a corresponding photo of my father-in-law, James Noragon.