The Orphan completes his engineering education, accepts a job, graduates, takes a wife, says goodbye to his family and emigrates from Tennessee to lifelong slavery at The Mighty Boeing Company
The Little Orphan Granny began his senior year in the fall of 1956 with three quarters to go and only $175.00 in his pocket – enough to pay the first quarter tuition cost of $52.00 and a month’s room rent of $ 20.00 -- with $100.00 left for food for a month.
The Orphan was poor and often broke but had several windfalls of good luck (good luck always came when you worked really hard).
In the summer of 1956, UT, in the form of Knowledgeable Newton (The Orphan’s Freshman Engineering Drawing Professor), had offered The Orphan a position as an Instructor to teach one class -- the first quarter of a Freshman Engineering Drawing class -- for $3.15 an hour (only a 180% increase over Pidgeon-Thomas’s hourly
rate!). The class was deemed to take 10 hours a week so paid $31.50 a week – but paychecks only came monthly.
Some of the Professors who approved of the overachieving Orphan got him a job in The Hermitage Room, the faculty dining room, loading dishes in the largest belt-driven dishwasher in the world in exchange for free meals. Since he was an Instructor, The Orphan was also actually allowed to eat in the dining room –
occasionally sitting with some of his professors!
Pidgeon-Thomas Iron Works had made it clear that The Orphan could work part-time whenever he was in town on breaks from school, and was also courting The Orphan as a permanent employee after graduation (The Orphan was complimented – but did not relish working for a company where all of the bosses had the same last name and
where each first name had both a Senior and a Junior.)
The wonderful Mother of The Orphan, sensing victory in her plan for her favorite, scraped together every penny she could find and sent money to The Orphan weekly (sometimes weakly). An envelope with a $20 was great – but one with only $5 was sometimes the difference between making it or not.
So the savings, the Instructor’s salary, all of the cash The Orphan’s mother could scrape up, washing dishes in the faculty dining room for meals, and working at Pidgeon-Thomas Iron Works during all holidays and all breaks kept The Orphan going.
Probably because The Orphan was stubborn about repaying Wonderful Wade the $250.00 loan for the Pi Kappa Alpha initiation loan, The Orphan did finally have to get a student loan of $250.00 from UT during his final senior quarter. The $250.00 loan was interest free and was repayable in six years. The Orphan repaid the loan
at the end of the six years.
The work “ethnics” of The Orphan were of great value when he was later captured in a slave raid and subsequently strapped to the oars of the slave galley named The Mighty Boeing – particularly when a supervisor (like
Miss Mauzy back at Central High) said,
“…brace yourself, Granny, your Captain wants to water ski…”
As a part of the new world of staying at the university all year for classes and being a senior, The Orphan, along with two of his friends – J.J. Jackson (an ex-navy sailor) and Bobby Goodwin (a somewhat spoiled youngster from Jackson, Tennessee, whose parents paid for everything) rented a house about a mile from the
campus. Walking was never a problem at UT.
The rent was the same as at Tough Thomas’s -- still $20.00 per month per person – but without a house for The Orphan to paint to defray expenses. The house, though, was big, bright and cheerful rather than a basement dungeon with no windows. Dark had a new meaning when the lights were out in Tough Thomas’s basement! The
Orphan lived with his two roommates in the house until graduation.
J.J. was the oldest by a few months, The Orphan was the one farthest along in school and Bobby was the youngest. J.J. could be a “navy” jerk sometimes because he was always doing a ”white glove” inspection and even wanted the brass fixtures polished. The house was always clean, though. J.J. liked and admired The Orphan and
was his friend.
Bobby could be a snob sometimes because he was unable to understand why The Orphan worked all the time and did not take advantage of college to advance his social skills. He did not see the hurry that The Orphan was in or why – but Bobby thought The Orphan to be sort of a role model – role models being in short supply in
J.J. liked to drink beer on Saturdays. The Orphan tried to learn to emulate J.J.'s prowess by chugging 24-ounce Schlitz “Tall Boys.” In a tavern once, after successfully downing a Tall Boy – including all of the carbonation -- in one continuous swallow, The Orphan let out a huge belch and all of the beer re-emerged and
filled the tabletop from rim to rim. (When The Real Granville awakened from his temporary exile the next morning – fortunately a Sunday with no classes -- you can imagine the self-righteous bullshit The Orphan had to endure!)
Before the barmaid discovered this mess, J.J. and Bobby had supported The Orphan and led him off the premises. However, the barmaid remembered and later threatened The Orphan’s manhood if there was ever a recurrence. At that time, The Real Granville– who had been in exile during the event and had no real data – muttered,
“…Orphan, see why you are an Orphan. Because of things that happen when you exile me you may never procreate – which might be a GOOD thing for the world…”
But The Orphan made better grades than either of the two roommates and learned more than both of them put together!
So, in the fall of 1956, The Orphan was a senior Mechanical Engineering student with 18 credit hours, a handful of jobs, a new place to live and a classroom full of freshman engineering students. The Orphan was very busy and very happy. Though dim, The Orphan was beginning to see a light at the end of his Early Adventures
The Orphan attended the orientation for all of the freshman Engineering Drawing Classes, sat with the other teachers, was introduced and then given the names of his students.
The Orphan then met with his own class of freshmen and started to teach. He got to know each student and what his (at this time there were no hers) strengths and weaknesses were. The Orphan was young and naïve because he could not imagine a student failing.
Everything in the class became routine until a Kentucky Girl joined the class after Thanksgiving to do some “make-up” work. This Kentucky Girl began to approach The Orphan Instructor’s desk quite often with questions, which were breathed into The Orphan’s ear from a distance of about two inches.
The innocent Orphan did not understand (as did apparently the whole class from their “guffaws’” and sniggers) why he would become flushed, assume the room temperature was too high and crack a window.
The Orphan survived, though, and all of his students were nurtured and passed.
When the fall teaching quarter was finished and The Orphan was in the winter quarter of his senior year, The Orphan did not see the Kentucky Girl except for an occasional encounter and “hello” on campus going to and fro, up and down and around to various classes.
None of the story inserted below was known by The innocent Orphan at the time of his senior year second quarter so The Orphan and The Kentucky girl began dating. The Real Granville was strangely quiet – there was little or no data in the team’s file about such a relationship when a female was always around and was
apparently becoming serious.
The following insertion is out of sequence but is the best way to explain what eventually happened – and is best told by the words of The Kentucky Girl – written many years later when she was the Kentucky Woman and divorced wife of The Orphan’s after 21 years of marriage and three children. Her words were:
“…I remember walking (lost, scared-to-death and hungry) into the meeting of all new students and teachers in the UT Mechanical Drawing classes. As I entered the door … I saw a flash of light … a very thin Roman-like figure in a v-necked
"pink" sweater vest…
(ed: when he was young, The Orphan was much smaller but he used the same Roman nose, and also the sweater color was “heliotrope” - The Orphan did not wear “pink”)
"Several months went by, in which time I did not see the Roman again. Thanksgiving came and the Kentucky Girl was left alone in her dormitory because almost all the other students had gone home but the Kentucky Girl was alienated from her home and did not go there. Consequently, her stomach began to hurt. She went to the
University Hospital to seek a Doctor, who, needing healthy species for his Medical Students to practice on, put her in the hospital and began surgeries on her. There had been nothing wrong with her stomach, not until the good students cut it open; nevertheless, what is done is done. Had this not happened though, the Kentucky Girl would not have ended up in the Roman's
Drawing Class to do make-up work and would not have ended up making his acquaintance.
“After Christmas the Roman again disappeared and the Kentucky Girl did not know where he was or think about it too much because she had not pinned together this strange sequence of events because they had not all happened yet.
“One spring day the Kentucky Girl was walking across campus and who should be coming towards her on the path but the Roman. They exchanged friendly greetings and went on.
“A short time later, there was to be a concert in the great University Auditorium and the Kentucky Girl decided not to attend the concert. She lay down on her bed in the dormitory to rest, but suddenly found herself running across campus toward the Auditorium. Arriving late, the only seats available were on the very top
row. She ran up the stairs and opened one of the doors leading inside. It was completely dark. The show was going on, way down on the stage. She stumbled into an empty seat. Within a few moments she realized that she was sitting next to "guess who?" The Roman…
“He took her hand and held it for several years! 21 to be exact, even when the two of them were not being friendly, he would hold her hand…”
The last two quarters of the senior year were a blur of classes and work and dating and the class trip and interviews and intense electives.
The story of the Senior Trip is another memory of The Orphan’s wonderful mother and why he loved her so much. It was to Tullahoma, Tennessee, (where parts of The Arnold (read “Hap”) Engineering Development Center contained structural steel parts designed by The Orphan while at Pidgeon-Thomas Iron Works) and to Birmingham,
Alabama, where a mighty iron statue of Vulcan stood on a hill looking down at the city.
The Senior Trip cost $20.00 and The Orphan had less than $5.00. The Orphan called his mother and later a letter came with a $20.00 bill in it. Even later, The Orphan learned that his Mother had approached The Forbidding Giant for $20.00 – but he did not have $20.00 either. The Forbidding Giant said,
“…Well Mavis, the boy will just have to miss this one…”
The Mother replied,
“…Not while I am alive…” and the mother of The Orphan boarded a streetcar, rode to her brother Leyland (he with the ears on the shoulder) and borrowed the $20.00. Bless her sweet stubborn heart.
Later, The Orphan asked The Dean of Mechanical Engineering. Pete Pasqua, what would have happened if The Orphan had not come up with the $20.00. The Dean said,
“…I just would have taken it out of petty cash but I knew you would find a way…” (look down from heaven, Gramma, and see the tears in my eyes).
As The Orphan was approaching the end of his engineering studies, he interviewed about 50 recruiters from as many companies and made applications to 15. The Orphan received over 100 offers. The Real Granville was a quiet observer – who, The Orphan suspected, was waiting to use hindsight.
Because two Professors in the UT Mechanical Engineering Department, Harry Joe Wilkerson and Mancill Milligan, had been summer interns at The Mighty Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington (before it was renamed “The State of Taxes”), these two professors thought The Orphan to be a major prize for The Mighty Boeing.
They prevailed on the Mighty Boeing Personnel Department to send a recruiter to Knoxville to capture The Orphan. (The Mighty Boeing Company did not normally recruit at such local universities as UT – but -- because of the glowing reports from the two professors, sent a slave raider to Knoxville to capture The Orphan.)
The two professors also “worked” directly on The Orphan to teach him that there was more than Pidgeon-Thomas Iron Works. They told him of The Mighty Boeing (they did not tell The Orphan of the giant swings of Boeing from Mighty to Mite and back), as well as Douglas, North American, Curtis, Northrop, Lockheed and all of the
other aerospace companies that they predicted would be the wave of the future of The Orphan’s career. They told him Boeing was the best – and The Orphan’s mind was poisoned.
In order of attractiveness, the best three offers to The Orphan were from:
1. The Mighty Boeing ($525.00 per month – to join their 707 Power Plant Staff in the fledgling Transport Division in Renton, Washington – starting June 17, 1957),
2. General Electric ($471.00 – to join their management training program starting in Lynn, Massachusetts) and
3. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, operated jointly by NASA and Caltech ($500.00 -- to work and attend graduate classes at the California Institute of Technology).
The Orphan chose Boeing.
JPL called and flew The Orphan to Washington, D.C., for a one-on-one interview. But The Orphan was tired of school and was not yet ready to attend graduate school so again declined. (It was a nice trip in a DC-3, though).
The Orphan still had to take some non-engineering electives so intense that, even today – a lifetime later – The Orphan still has recurring nightmares that he did not make it and awakens wet with sweat!
Senior engineering students – apparently to add some liberal arts education -- were required to take three non-technical non-engineering electives – a situation fraught with danger since all non-engineering teachers were jealous of the elite and delighted in ambushes.
So The Orphan was to learn HOW to take a course rather than to learn the material. The Orphan took a non-technical elective class that included Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, Beowulf and such stories. The Professor was Mrs. Dr. Cooley, the wife of Dr. Cooley, head of the Engineering Math Department – who,
along with Dr. Eaves – The Orphan’s favorite math Professor -- looked on The Orphan with approval as one of their major triumphs.
The Orphan believes that Mrs. Dr. Cooley was not an assassin!
The Orphan did not have time to read all of these at the time and would take a passage from a story and write an essay. An example was comparing Gawain’s morals with the seductress to the modern day morals of two people “getting it on“ in the back seat of a car. Such steamy descriptions got The Orphan an “A.” Later, when
he had more time, The Orphan read all of the stories. The Real Granville laughed himself into hiccoughs while saying,
“…Orphan, this time you are my kind of guy…”
Another non-technical elective was a religion course. After The Orphan’s experiences with the Methodist and Baptist Churches as a lad (see Chapter 13 of The Early Adventures), The Orphan thought this to be a “crip” course. Imagine the horror of The Orphan
when a Professor in an Episcopalian collar came in and introduced the class as a study of early Christian thinkers from Erasmus to Tertullian – and assigned a million books to read!
The Orphan had to pass this course. At the end The Orphan actually even knew who Saint Thomas Aquinas was. The Orphan scored again by comparing the morals of Aquinas when he refused the prostitute in his cell with the morals of a modern couple getting it on in the back seat of a car.
Somewhere around this time The Orphan was walking The Kentucky Girl from the Orphan’s rental home where they had had a steamy grab-ass session resulting in a religious experience. The Kentucky Girl said,
“…You are graduating and are going to be leaving me and I am sad because I love you…”
The Real Granville said,
“…Orphan, you are such a pitiful orphan. You better watch out…”
The Orphan suggested that The Kentucky Girl should ask her parents to let her relocate to Seattle, Washington, and attend school at The University of Washington. The Kentucky Girl replied,
“…Surely you jest…”
The Orphan said,
“…Maybe we should get married…”
The Kentucky Girl asked if that was a question and The Orphan breathlessly said,
“…I guess so…”
The Kentucky Girl said that her answer was yes and she would immediately write her Mother.
Her Mother, not clearly reading the pseudo-name of The Orphan, Granville Thomas Frazier, immediately wrote back from her Eastern Kentucky bastion of a redneck hillbilly feuding world to chastise The Kentucky Girl for even considering marrying a Thompson since all Thompsons were trash and their enemies!!!
Even this was straightened out and The Orphan was engaged. The arrogant Real Granville said,
“…Orphan, you are such an orphan. I knew I would pull you through. Now, you must know that this foible marriage thing is not to interfere with the real relationship that is between us…”
The final ploy to pass the religion course was to ask the religion professor to perform the marriage ceremony between The Orphan and The Kentucky Girl. Then, if The Orphan did not pass this course, he could not graduate and could not get married. The Orphan passed the course with a “C.” This was the second hardest class
The Orphan took at UT – even harder than sophomore physics!
Another elective course adventure was a major reason for The Orphan’s later nightmares.
Senior engineering students – apparently to also add some non-Mechanical Engineering education -- were also required to take three technical non-engineering electives – a situation still fraught with danger since any non-engineering teachers continued to be jealous of the elite and delighted in ambushes.
Since The Orphan had aced Math classes all through his UT time and was flattered by the tacit approval of his Professors – who thought The Orphan should stay at UT, teach and pursue advanced degrees – plus a degree of arrogance, The Orphan decided to take a first quarter graduate school math class – the first hardest class
The Orphan ever took.
The Orphan, failing a class for the first time in his life, learned that Mathematics for engineering students at UT were taught in the Engineering Department from texts selected to augment the engineering studies, and that mathematics taught by the Mathematics Department was an alien thing with no logic or dimensions.
The class was called Introduction to Mathematical Analysis by a sadist named Franklin. A pitiful, bumbling graduate student nicknamed Smedley taught this class. Smedley wore the same suit every day with a shiny, discolored pants seat. He appeared to have never bathed nor ever combed his hair.
This bumbling fool would start class by turning his back and starting on the far left blackboard, would write a development of an equation that would finally cover that blackboard as well as the center one and the right-hand one – and when only a few minutes remained before the closing bell -- would say,
“…I must have made a mistake earlier because the answer is coming out wrong, but you get the idea…”
The Orphan learned the Jacobean Chain Rule, the development and proof that there was a the real number system, the right hand rule, the left hand rule and vector analysis dot products and cross products – but when The Orphan would ask Smedley what an answer meant – such as what are the dimensions -- Smedley would say,
“…You don’t get it. Real Math doesn’t have to mean anything – it just is…”
The Orphan was probably imprudent to respond,
“…Well, if real math doesn’t mean anything and is just a bunch of bullshit, why study it. How do you get a job and make a living – or is the only thing you can do with math is teach…”
Out of a possible 100, The Orphan collected some 38 points and, as said earlier, failed the class!
The Orphan was stubborn. The Orphan was focused. The Orphan signed up for the class again. The Real Granville only said,
“…Orphan, see why you are an Orphan. You forgot ‘The Orphan was stupid.’ This time you had better have a plan unless you want to spend the summer of 1957 in Sooty Knoxville…”
This time the class was taught by a senior professor and The Orphan made an even lower grade. Dr. Cooley, head of the Engineering Math Department, and Dr. Eaves, The Orphan’s favorite math professor, met with The Orphan and his Professor and asked The Orphan how such a sterling student could fall so flat on his ass. The
”…Guys, only engineering math makes sense. The Orphan then went on to give a lecture of the development and proof that there was a Real Number System (The Orphan did not have to prove there were real numbers since he used them all the time) and how
such puffery would never design a bridge and how the Jacobean Chain Rule was cute because it was an invented way like Calculus that was a shortcut…”
After an hour The Orphan finally summed up by suggesting that either graduate math should be taught by the Engineering Department or undergraduate engineers should be taught math by the mathematics department – thereby, of course, reducing the engineer’s skill.
The three professors looked at each other and said,
“…Frazier understands the class. Frazier, why were your test scores so low…”
The Orphan responded,
“…The tests make no sense. They are not related to the real world…”
The three professors went into a whispering conference and turned to The Orphan.
“…We have decided from the results of your oral exam that you learned the curriculum very well and have passed the course…”
The Orphan was stunned.
The professors then asked The Orphan if he had considered UT Graduate School. The Orphan said that graduate math was too hard for him – resulting in a laugh. The Orphan then told them he had accepted a job at The Mighty Boeing and invited them to his wedding. Dr. Eaves actually attended.
The Orphan’s starting salary at The Mighty Boeing was to be $525.00 per month, which was approximately $3.0288461 per hour or $6,300.00 per year – a veritable fortune in those days. The Mighty Boeing had also supplied two first class airline tickets for a June 7, 1957, flight departure to Seattle, Washington, approval to
rent a car, reservations at The Seattle New Hungerford Hotel, and a promise to pay all expenses for the journey.
At the time The Orphan had accepted the offer from The Mighty Boeing, he was still sweating passing all of his courses.
· On Wednesday, May 29, 1957, The Dean of the Mechanical Engineering Department assured The Orphan that he was graduating.
· On Saturday, June 1, 1957, The Orphan married The Kentucky Girl in the University Chapel. Righteous Ray was The Orphan’s Best Man. The couple honeymooned at Gatlinburg,
Tennessee, for one day using a borrowed car.
· On Monday, June 3, 1957, The Orphan graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee. The Mother and Father of The
Orphan had driven all the way to Knoxville to see their pride and joy’s triumph. (The Mother was like a bright light in the audience with an aura around her.)
· On Tuesday, June 4, 1957, The Orphan went back to Trimble Place to say goodbye to his family.
· On Friday, June 7, 1957, The Orphan and his wife of one week departed for a new life in Seattle, Washington.
· On Sunday, June 9, 1957, The Orphan woke up in the Seattle New Hungerford Hotel, having completed exactly 23 years since that day on Saturday, June 9, 1934, when
he was born on a 65-acre cotton farm located near a Hamlet called Walnut that was in a County called Tippah in a State called Mississippi in a Country named America.
Thus do graduating from UT (and other things) and emigrating to Washington State complete The Early Adventures of The Orphan and begin The Later Adventures of The
Orphan as well as The Adventures of The Little Orphan Granny and The Mighty Boeing.