Sunday, March 7, 2010

From LA to the Gorge

So how did we get from LA to here?

Jules received his degree in nuclear engineering and came to California to work for a company that hoped to compete with GE and Westinghouse in designing and building of nuclear reactors.   Unfortunately, the nation was losing interest in nuclear energy and the company’s design was not very good.  Along with many others, he lost his job.

He sent out resumes, took courses in accounting thinking a change in careers might be in order and he went to City Hall.  Not to complain but to look for any civil service job for which he might be qualified.  For thirteen years he had lived with the constant threat of layoff and he was tired of it.  He had a wife, two children and a house and he wanted security.

One of the jobs he applied for was listed as “switchboard operator trainee” with the Department of Water and Power.  What was this?  He didn’t know but the only requirement was a high school science course.  He certainly had that.

He was called to take the test and passed with flying colors.  Then he entered into training and found out what he would be doing.  He would be telling electrons where to go.  The job entailed monitoring a part of the electrical grid and opening and closing switches.  It sounds easy until you realize that if you make a mistake someone could die.  If the power goes out the operator is part of a team that must figure out why and how to fix it.

During his training he toured one of the small hydro electric plants that LA had in the LA area.  It was then that he was told that there were also plants in the Owens Valley, just a few miles from the mountains we both loved, and switchboard operators could bid on hydro-operator jobs.  From that time on he bid on every Owens Valley hydro job that came up.  Eventually he got one.  In 1977 we moved to the Owens Gorge and stayed there until he retired in 1992.

To some it may have seemed like a disaster, to go from a professional to a blue collar job that paid half as much.  For us it was a dream come true.

13 comments:

Ebie said...

Hi Ms Z, I always love to read posts like this. Thank you for sharing this part of your life. I too, had my share of job hunting. I did not have local experience (CA) and my first job was as a nanny in Beverly Hills.
And I am happy where I am now, doing what I love to do, numbers.

Paulie said...

Very interesting! I am not sure I could have done that. . . BUT I did something similar. When I wasn't getting hired full time as a teacher, I worked for Hewlett Packard building printers on an assembly line for two years. I was up for a promotion as a full time employee of Hewlett Packard and not the temp agency when I got my first full time teaching job and quit. But I will never forget the experience building printers.

Paulie said...

PS You asked about my walk to east Vancouver Lake. I took a bus less than a mile and then walked. I walked for three hours going and coming and then boarded the bus again to take me closer to home. Only a short part of the trail was paved.

Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

Amazing. It's so great to know about great people who suffer and then overcome every hindrance! Hats off to him and obviously to you and your 2 children for supporting him throughout.

I loved to read through, really!!

Wednesday Wallpaper

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Years ago I was operations manager for a natural gas gathering system here in OK. Many of the field guys working for me had college degrees some even master's degrees but they liked working with their hands outdoors in an area they liked.

Diane AZ said...

Amazing how a set back can be turned into an opportunity. After my neighbor lost her engineering job, she went back to college and now loves her new career as a special ed teacher.

Noelle said...

Isn't it wonderful how a change that you are sometimes forced into turns out to be the best thing that could have happened to you?

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Martha, this is a wonderful post. It tells so much about your character (both of you) and in such a few words tells a complete and, to our way of thinking as well as yours, a joyful one.

I just loved this!

happily retired gal said...

I'm glad you continued the story of your marriage and move to the lovely area where you live now ... your post is a marvelous reminder of how our priorities shape our lives.
Hugs and blessings,

ρομπερτ said...

Isn't it wonderful who life seems to "switch" all right buttons ! Much respect upon this entry of yours. May the Tuesday be nice for you all.

Stine in Ontario said...

It's interesting how something seemingly negative to others can actually be a positive happening.

Wolynski said...

We all have to do what we have to do. Some of these high paying white collar jobs are so poisoned with office politics, the stress will kill you. Myself, I'd rather take less money for a do-able job.
Nice post.

Barb said...

I liked hearing more of your history, Martha. I'm catching up with you after a week off the computer - I just got a new Mac.