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PCLinuxOS Forum & Friends Spotlight: The Chief

by TheChief

TheChief at an Airshow 2022
Me at an airshow in 2022

How old are you?
I'm 83, as of June 2023.

What is your marital status?
Widowed, as of November 2019.

Do you have any children or grandchildren? If so, how many of each?
2 daughters (ages 54, 62), 5 grandchildren (by youngest daughter: 16yo girl, 23yo boy, 27yo girl, 2 grandchildren (by oldest daughter: 30yo boy and 32yo girl), and 2 great grandchildren, by oldest granddaughter (5yo boy, and 8 month old girl)

Do you have pets, what is your favorite?
Sorry - no. It's hard enough taking care of me without having to worry about someone else.

TheChief in 2023
Me, in 2023

Are you retired or working, and for how long and at what?
Retired (3 times, actually) 23 years Aviation Fire Control Technician, U. S. Navy, 19 years Software Engineer, Loral/Lockheed-Martin/L3 Communications (all at same desk), then again at 26 years, same job, same company.

TheChief in bootcamp in 1958
In bootcamp in 1958

Where do you call home? What is it like? IE: weather, scenery
I was born and raised in Georgia, various places around Atlanta. I'm currently living in Villa Rica, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb, on the west side — actually closer to Alabama than downtown Atlanta. Check it out here

Where did you go to school and what is your education level?
I attended many elementary schools, but only two high schools: Joe E. Brown High School in the West End section of Atlanta, and Jonesboro High School in Jonesboro, Georgia. I spent two years at Auburn University, majoring in Aerospace Engineering, and one year at Georgia State University in Software Engineering. I never had the patience to actually graduate from any of them. I just wanted to get on with life.

I was born in Atlanta, at the Georgia Baptist Hospital. During the early years of my life, we lived in and around Atlanta, many places I cannot remember, but I do remember an old farm house in Red Oak, Georgia, where we have been told by both our parents that my wife and I first met and played together at age 3 or 4. Neither of us remember it. For a while we lived in Kenwood, Georgia in an old house that sat on top of a high bank above the highway. My mother was always terrified that I would roll down the bank onto the highway.

I also remember living somewhere in East Atlanta when I first started school. This is where I broke my leg one afternoon, wrestling after school. Not knowing any better, I just got on my bike and rode the 7 or 8 blocks home. I ended up in a cast from my toes to my hip, and the older boys had to carry me up and down the stairs at school for a month or two. I also remember a house on Cascade Road and an apartment on Lucille Avenue, both in the West End suburb of Atlanta. There was a small grocery store across the street (Lucille Avenue), and they had the absolute best chocolate chip cookies I ever ate!

My formative years, from about age 8 to age 16, we lived in a one room house my dad built in Riverdale, Georgia. It was more of a shack than a house, as it had no insulation, no coverings on the interior wall (just bare studs), no indoor plumbing or running water, and only after a couple of years did we have electricity. Riverdale was nothing like what it is today. There was only one paved road, Georgia Highway 85, a two lane blacktop, and only one traffic light. Everything else was dirt.

But about age 9, I managed to acquire a little .22 rifle (paid some kid $2 as I remember it). We were so isolated I could sit on the back steps and shoot squirrels, and no one cared. A box of 50 cartridges was a quarter. And there were hundreds of acres of woods behind the house for me and my buddies to play in. There was a creek with a wide swimming hole almost directly underneath the Georgia Power cable crossing, where we would dive off to swim. Sometimes we would have to scramble out of the water as a water moccasin asserted his right of passage down the creek.

When I was 14 (1954), I got my first car — a 1946 Chevy sedan. It cost my dad $50. It lasted two days before I wrapped it around a big oak tree. They tell me I was unconscious for nearly a half hour. The next summer, I found an old beat up 1940 Ford sedan for $25. I had to pay for this one myself, and drove that until it just died beyond repair. Then I found a 1935 Ford rumble seat coupe for $30, and drove that for a couple of years. It had mechanical brakes — a steel rod going out to each wheel to operate the brake shoes. Might as well just drag a foot. But I would dearly love to still own it. All this time, I had no drivers license, no insurance and only whatever tags came on the car. No one seemed to care back in those days.

When I failed the 10th grade even though I had shown up for all the tests and aced them (they were ticked about “participation” and homework), I dropped out of school. I worked various jobs for a year — farm work, harvesting, making hay, etc., then well digging, auto body shop, sheet metal assembly. Finally realized I was going nowhere, and that was when I joined the U.S. Navy, in November of 1957.

Shortly after I finished boot camp (March 1958), my future wife ran into my mother at Church, and my mother asked her to write to me. She did, we met, we dated, and on Thanksgiving Day, 1959, we eloped — sort of. We went to the Preachers house in College Park, Georgia and were married in his living room. A couple of days later, we placed all our earthly possessions in a single suitcase and boarded a train for Virginia Beach, where I was stationed.

We had no place to live, and very little money. We managed a hotel room that first night — thank goodness tourist season was over! The next day we found a little furnished three room garage apartment for $50 a month and the landlord let us move in with no cash changing hands. It even included some dishes, silverware, pots and pans, gas and water. We scrimped and ate beans and rice, collected empty coke bottles to buy bread and bologna, and generally had a wonderful time.

Things were really not as bad as that sounds. In those days, electricity was so cheap they billed you quarterly — and our typical bill was around $7. I mean, a few light bulbs, a small refrigerator and a clock radio — how much electricity could we use? I would hitchhike to work every morning and back home each evening. In those days it was easy — we were in a Navy town, so all I had to do was step outside in uniform and the next car would stop.

TheChief with his firstborn, Rebecca
Me with my first born, Rebecca

After my first tour of active duty, I left the Navy and went to work for IBM, here in Atlanta, as what they called a “Customer Engineer.” It really was just a glorified machinery repairman. During this time, our first daughter, Rebecca, was born, again at Georgia Baptist Hospital, which cost me a whopping $25 (IBM had some pretty good benefits).

Eventually, I became disenchanted with IBM, as they were worse about being in “uniform” than the Navy was. You had to wear a suit (non-matching jackets and trousers are not allowed) and they didn't mind a bit telling you when you needed a haircut or a shoeshine. Even though you were up to your elbows in greasy machines all day long, you had to wear a long sleeved shirt and it had to be white. They even had to approve the automobile you drove and the part of town you lived in.

I finally said enough, and went back to the Navy, who took me right back at the same pay grade and specialty as I left. There I stayed until October 1980, when I retired as a Senior Chief Petty officer (next to highest enlisted rank). They treated me well, especially after I became a Chief.

While I was in the Navy, our second daughter, Brendalyn, was born at the Villa Rica, Georgia hospital in 1969. My wife came home to have her, as I was deployed overseas at the time. Villa Rica is in Carroll County, and we have always kidded Brenda about being a "Carroll County Accident!"

TheChief in Rome in the 1970s
In Rome, in the 1970s

In 1977, my wife flew over to Italy and I took some leave from the ship. We had a glorious vacation. I met her in Naples, and we spent a few days on the Isle of Capri (in the bay of Naples), also visiting the famous Blue Grotto. We then took a train to Rome, touring the Vatican and the Colosseum, seeing the Trevi Fountain (of Three Coins in the Fountain fame) and the Spanish Steps and many, many, other landmarks. We then went to Florence for a few days and toured cathedrals, tombs and museums. Then back to Naples so she could catch her flight home and I could get back on the ship when it returned to Naples a couple of days later.

Upon retiring, we moved to Douglasville, Georgia because that's where my wife's parents were (mine were both buried). I found a job which I didn't care all that much for, but stuck it out until they really made me mad one day. So, I picked up the paper and found an ad. It said, “Electronic Technician” and gave a phone number. I called it, and it turned out to be a division of Loral Corporation, the company that made a lot of the equipment I had worked on in the Navy. Anyway, they hired me with a 25% pay increase and much better benefits. Within the first year, I was promoted from Electronic Technician to Software Engineer, and a good thing that was, as they pretty much dropped the technician category the next year. I worked there until I retired again in 1999, after working for Loral Corporation, Lockheed-Martin and then L3 Communications — all while sitting at the same desk, due to mergers and buyouts.

After 3 months or so, they began calling me and pleading for me to come back to work, and then kept offering more and more money, until I finally agreed. So I went back as an independent contractor, and worked in that capacity for about 3 and a half years. At excellent pay, I might add. Then corporate found out and raised a stink, as they had some rules about how long a contractor could work (a 6 month maximum).

So, as the Software Lead on a big project (an update to C-17 transport aircraft cockpit displays), they begged and pleaded until I reluctantly agreed to go back on the payroll to finish out the project (a little over a year), at which time I retired again (for good this time) in 2005. This turned out to be one of the smartest things I ever did (although accidentally), as they had revamped the way pensions were calculated while I was retired. The new system essentially doubled the pension for almost the same number of years of service. And to think, I almost didn't go back on the payroll.

TheChief shortly after Final Retirement
Me shortly after final retirement

In 2001 we bought a new home in Villa Rica, mainly to be closer to the grandchildren, and there we had planned to stay. I most likely will, as it is still close to my children and grandchildren. My wife passed away in 2019, after nearly 60 years of happy marriage. The pain is almost bearable now, as long as no unexpected reminders pop up.

What kind of things do you like doing? hobbies, travel, fishing, camping?
I used to love hunting and camping, but age has severely curtailed that activity. Now, I do a little photography, some target shooting, and piddling with the web site I maintain.

What caused you to try Linux and join this forum?
I got tired of Windows always interfering with whatever I needed to do. I had fooled around a bit with Linux on the job, stumbled onto PCLinuxOS, and I was hooked. I figured I would get better help from a PCLinuxOS specific place so I joined the forum.

What specific equipment do you currently use with PCLinuxOS?
Laptop: Dell M6800 laptop, Core I7-4810, Nvidia GK104 Desktop: homebrew Ryzen 5 3600, GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

Do you feel that your use of Linux influences the reactions you receive from your computer peers or family? If so, how?
They get upset when I answer their Windows questions by saying "Can't help you, it's been more than 16 years since I touched Windows." Other than that, they are very accepting, as I have always been a bit of an oddball.

What would you like to see happen within PCLinuxOS that would make it a better place. What are your feelings?
I would love for us all to occasionally get together for lunch or dinner somewhere. I know, not realistic, but still.

If you want send some pictures of you and area of interest.

TheChief and Georgia dating in 1959 TheChief Re-taking Vows in 1970s
Georgia and me dating in 1959 and Re-taking our vows in the early 1970s

TheChief he cockpit 1960
Me in the cockpit - 1960

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