Things seemed to be going along real well and in the spring of 1954, word went around the company that the Electrical Department had been declared low bidder on a job at the Missile Base at Cape Canaveral, Florida. I paid little attention to that, because I was no longer involved with the Overhead Line Work. Some time prior to this, the Boss had purchased a Twin Beech airplane and an elaborate Lodge just to the North of Orlando, Florida. These two factors made it much easier for them to catch me in the trap that they were about to spring.
One day the Vice President told me that he and the Boss, and two or three of the other fellows were going to spend a week-end in Florida, and would I like to ride along? Well naturally, I said that I would and I did. We left Three Rivers on a Thursday evening and sometime during the flight to Florida, I found out that the purpose of the trip was to attend a pre-construction conference, for the job at the Missile Base. I paid very little attention, because at that point, I didn’t even know what sort of a job it was. I guess that I must have thought that I was being entertained.
The next morning we went over to the Patrich Air Force Base, on Cocoa Beach, and met with the officials of the Army Corps of Engineers. We were driven over the job site and everything was explained, all of which went right over my head, because, as far as I knew, I was still the Superintendent of Underground Construction in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
After the inspection trip, we went back to the Air Base for the pre-construction conference. At some point during the conference, I heard the Colonel of the Air Force, who was conducting the meeting, ask our Vice President who would be our Project Superintendent, and then I heard our Vice President say that it would be Mr. Beck. It was right there that I figured out why it was that I was being treated to a week-end at the Boss’s Lodge, in Florida, with all expenses paid.
First I felt like telling him to “take his job and shove it”, but by the time that the conference was over and I had time to cool down, I decided that if it was alright with the family and the company would furnish us a house, I would take it.
The work consisted of the installation of the overhead and the underground Electrical Distribution System for the first phase of the Man-in Space, Missile Assembly and Launch Facility. There were a lot of strange things that went on, out there in those Boondocks. The scuttlebut, at the time, was that they were going to shoot one of those things up and it was going to stay up there. Of course, no one believed such trash as that. What goes up must come down. Right?
As it turned out, the job was not a great money maker, but it did furnish the wheels with an excuse to spend week ends, with free loaders, at the Manana Place, (Mr. Clifton’s Lodge at Longwood) and charge the cost of the outing to the job.