Northrup Nortronics – 1968 Home
After my graduation from the U. of Illinois in January of 68 I had three job offers. One was from Western Electric in Chicago where my roommate Bruce had gone to work a couple years earlier. One was from the military on Pearl Harbor which I was hesitant to take after burning my draft card on national TV in front of the Pentagon at the anti-Vietnam protest in Oct. 67. The Japanese attack in 41 was not that long ago and I feared the offer was a setup to deal with the draft protester. If they could kill a President that could surely get rid of me. The third was from Northrup, which was a contractor for military airplanes based in LA.
The recruiter from Northrup was Elman Schwartz, a likeable fellow who after our interview had taken me to see Peter Sellers in “The Party” which was hilarious. I accepted Northrup's offer and I was to report to work on Feb 5th, 1968. Elman was going to be out of town when I arrived in LA, so he said I could stay at his house on the beach that weekend until I got an apartment.
In late January I left for LA with three other friends who decided they wanted to go with me. They were all friends I had met through Vic, my college roommate from 65-67. One was Ron Epple who was a teacher in the English department. One was Jim Kornibe who I had went to the 67 demonstration at the Pentagon with and the other was a very talented artist who was famous on the campus for his psychedelic posters whose name I can't remember.
We stopped in Las Vegas where I used the knowledge I had gained reading 'Beat the Dealer' to win $150. However right before I left I wanted to see what would happen if I just came in cold and sat at the opposite end of the table suggested in the book and placed a large bet to see if the dealer would cheat. I went to three tables and played one hand at each for $50. All three dealers dealt themselves a blackjack. I had my answer.
Ron and the artist went their own way in LA and Jim and I stayed the weekend on the beach at Elman's house. I had failed to ask Elman if I could bring a friend while staying the weekend at his house and Jim had eaten some food out of his refrigerator which I heard about from Elman when he got back.
I got an apartment on Manhattan Beach and went to work the next Monday. I met a fellow worker named Phil McCorkle who didn't have a college degree and seemed to be envious of me. We became buddies and went to a titty bar one night. I got a little high and I was driving home at about 2 am doing 80 mph when I got to within a mile of Manhattan Beach. A cop car passed me going the other way and I could see him hit the breaks and start to turn around and I floored it and when I got into town I took a right and headed for the beach which was a couple blocks away. I turned off my lights and drove over the curb all the way down to the water and turned off the car. A few minutes later I saw the cop car drive by on the street. I just stayed there for about a half-hour before getting out of there. My apartment was on the main drag and I normally parked on the street, but that night I parked on a back street so the cop wouldn't see my car.
The first month there my desk was next to another fellow who would call his wife often and talk like he was talking to a kitten or a new born baby. Cute little kitty. Cuchee Cuchee Coo. It was sickening and really distracting.
The young secretary in our section asked me to go to a rodeo with her and I agreed. I had never been to a rodeo before so it was interesting but I knew I wasn't interested in doing it again. We went back to her house and she sat down on her bed and asked me to sit down which I did. She waited for some action but since nobody had ever taught me how to fuck till I was 19 I was a little shy and just sat there with my finger up my ass. She never asked me out again.
One of my fellow workers started befriending me and started talking politics and he was sounding like a radical leftist. He asked me if I wanted to go to a play about Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project. I was afraid he was a snitch trying to feel me out as to my political beliefs so I declined.
Another older Northrup engineer named Ralph who was in our break group asked me if I wanted to go fishing. That wasn't something I had done a lot of and I was susceptible to getting seasick so I wasn't enthusiastic about it, but he had been friendly to me so I said 'OK.' He picked me up on Saturday morning and took me by an apartment where there was a young man my age who was busy trying out a new scientific calculator he had just bought. We were only there a minute so he either had to pick something up or was showing me off to his friend who looked like he couldn't care less.
Next he stopped by his house and introduced me to his wife who I remember as a good looking blond woman. Then we headed for the boat. I spent the next 6 hours in total hell bent over the side wretching my guts out. I didn't catch any fish.
Several weeks later I was distracted from my work by Ralph laughing loudly while telling a story to three other workers. As I listened I realized he was talking about a story that had come back from Vietnam about how several 'gooks' had been blown up by some booby trap device made by Lockheed or maybe Northrup. They really thought it was funny. Maybe I would have thought so too if I had heard the story but it didn't sit well with me.
A couple months after I got there they put me on second shift and I would come in at 4:00pm and be alone in the building. I had a set amount of microchips to graph over different temperature ranges and once I was finished I could leave, so I was usually out of there by 8:00 pm, but I was still paid for eight hours plus I didn't have to listen to the disgusting baby talk from the desk next to me.
A friend of my older brother Jack (Bob Molvoldi) who used to caddy at Pekin Country Club and hang out at the caddy shack by my home was working at TRW and got me an interview for a job there. I took the interview during which the man asked me to resolve some integral which I was able to do and I received an offer for more money than I was making at Northrup. However I had already decided to quit because of the war so I didn't take the offer.
I regretted leaving my drinking buddy Phil over the years and when I was in prison in 2004 at Butner NC, I had a young dumb ass bank robber in one of my classes named McCorkle who kind of looked like Phil. I told him I had worked in LA with a Phil McCorkle in 68 and asked him if he had any relatives from LA. He said he had an uncle from California. I wondered if it could be my old drinking buddy.
Concerning bank robbers I have to say he was young so maybe that explains his dumbness. The other bank robbers I met there were the coolest guys there. They thought the druggies were the dumb asses.