Chapter J: Post Air Force Years
After my discharge from the Force, I lounged around for a period of time before pursuing a career in technology. Continued trips to Gotham and jaunts to North Philly, overlapped with my posture to be a good-time Charlie in West Philly. As I realized that a stable lifestyle is not built on carousing around, I decided to buckle down by getting married and seeking a job. As is written in this chapter, I transitioned into a more civilized way of life, which resulted in my betterment for years to come. In the meantime, sitting around the house watching TV and getting high every night was becoming a drag; plus, the little savings I accrued while in the Air Force had dried up. My parents also reminded me of the former hit tune by the Silhouettes—Get a Job.
My first move was to apply for a job I saw posted in the newspaper. The position involved operating centrifugal air conditioning compressors for the new Society Hill Towers. The towers were part of a new affluent neighborhood development in center city consisting of three 31 story condominium developments. My qualifications for the position should have been substantial.
By completing the ICS (International Correspondence Schools) course in the Air Force, I was able to obtain a Stationary Building Engineers grade “A” license, by passing the Philadelphia exam. In addition, the hands-on experience I obtained in the Air Force should have been more than sufficient. Nevertheless, I was turned down. Needless to say, this hiring manager must have had some corrupt agenda to fulfill.
However, with the encroaching changes that came because of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, things were about to change. It was around this time that Dr. King met with President Lyndon B. Johnson and Malcolm X. Later that year (1964), three civil rights workers—one black and two white—were killed on a trip through Philadelphia, Mississippi. Ironically, another city with a name implying brotherly love.
The IUOE (International Union Of Operating Engineers) is a labor union within the AFL-CIO, representing primarily construction workers who work as heavy equipment operators, mechanics, surveyors, and stationary engineers. Members of this union have been under suspicion for corruption and connections with organized crime. Needless to say, this influence by underworld crime figures may be the prime reason why I wasn’t selected for the job.
After my failure to obtain that stationary engineers job at Society Hill, job opportunities were beginning to open up for qualified blacks, due to the progress of the Civil Rights Movement and the influences of other social campaigns. Although many major companies had already hired blacks, the low percentages were seen as signs of tokenism and guilt. Likewise, many companies increased their quotas and escalated their hiring to meet those quotas, as a consequence of political pressures caused by widespread social upheavals. This historical movement influenced the quality of life for me and all black citizens for decades to come.