By Buddy Hazell
Special to The News
On January 15, 1952 I went to work for the Houston Fire Department as a Probationary Pipe and Ladder man. My salary was $100.00 a week. Six months later, my probationary time was over and I received a raise and my salary went to $150.00 a week. In all my life, I had never seen that much money at one time. I thought I had found a gold mine. I was still living at home, eating Mother’s groceries, letting her do the washing and ironing of my clothes and me just enjoying life.
But, on November 16, 1952, I married the girl of my dreams. We only dated three times in three weeks; however I knew she had to be mine. I was still making $300.00 every two weeks, and now I had rent to pay, utilities to pay, groceries to buy, a car to keep up and a wife to support. Where did my $300.00 go?
One day, Lulu said, “Buddy we are going to have a baby.” “WHAT?” I replied, “A BABY!” I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry; I may have done both. Then there were all the things babies need. Lulu supplied the baby’s milk, but there were diapers and countless other things. $300.00 just wouldn’t cover it all; what am I going to do? Pride kept me from asking my Mother for help, so I found a part-time job.
In the Fire Department, we worked days one week and nights the next week. I went to work for a company that made and installed insulation bats for oil-field boilers. When I was working nights at the fire station, I worked days insulating boilers.
As time went on, there came another baby and before I knew it there were two more, making four babies in all. What a litter! Even with me working two jobs, there was still not enough money. What to do, that was the question. Lulu couldn’t go to work; she had babies to take care of. I soon got a job as a night watchman, and when I was working days at the fire station, I worked from 9 PM until 5 AM five nights a week.
One day I got off early from the fire station and went home, as I got out of my pick-up, our dog bit me, and the kids said, “Mother, there’s a man here.” I walked in the house and hugged and kissed my wife and the kids all said, “Oh, Mama, I’m gonna tell Daddy.” I knew right then that money wasn’t that important, I had to be home more with my family. The next day, I gave notice that I was going to quit the night watching job and the oil field job. We couldn’t live on $300.00 every two weeks, so I had to do something. A few days later we had a hard rain, and our roof started leaking; something else to spend money on, and I had just quit my part-time jobs. I borrowed some money from the bank to buy shingles for the house and roofed it myself.
Now, I am back to just $300.00 every two weeks and along with our regular bills, we now owe the bank as well. What to do, what to do? A neighbor asked me if I would roof his house, and I did. Then word got around and I soon had more and more houses to roof. I started roofing and just worked three or four days a week and made more money than I had made working on three jobs.
Working never hurt anyone, but DON’T PUT IT BEFORE TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY!