Saturday, February 18, 2017

Eugene Gochenour's Memoirs: Jokesters Join the Lab

Dad wrote about "New Blood" as the Air Conditioning Lab expanded in the 1980s, including two jokesters who loosened up the lab. These stories became legend in our family. 


Eugene Gochenour at work in the 1980s
"As the demand for air conditioners in automobiles increased, it became necessary to increase the size of our lab. The lab had always been serene, orderly, and fairly quiet (boring), but that was soon to change. One day two new mechanics transferred from another lab to ours.

Their names were Jim C. and Jay F. They were noisy and boisterous and not too respectful of us older mechanics. At first I resented their presence because they were so disruptive. Also, they were always thinking of ways to annoy me.

At lunch time I often took a nap since we had a 45 minute lunch break. Once when I awoke after the nap and tried to walk I tripped because they had tied my shoelaces together! If I removed my shoes while I slept they would hide them and when I awoke I had to walk around in my socks trying to find them.

Once when I was standing on my bench putting in a new light bub in a ceiling fixture and could not drop my hands, they loosened my belt and pulled my pants down. So, there I was, standing on my bench in my under drawers until I could finish what I was doing and pull my pants back up.

On the top of my bench was a small cabinet with drawers. It had many nuts, bolts, washers, and other small parts. Sometimes when they were both by my bench and I was talking to one of them the other would be dumping the drawers full of parts onto my bench. of course when I saw what they did, I chased the one who dumped the parts, but they both just laughed.

In the 1980s we got another new addition to our lab. Diana C. was an Electrical Engineer. She had graduated from the University of Michigan and was very sharp. Well, one of the mechanics had a small wooden statue of a naked man wearing a barrel that was hung from his shoulders by suspenders. it stood about six inches high and with his bare feet looked like some poor hillbilly. Some people would be inquisitive and lift the barrel, and when they did a huge penis wold pop out. We all got many laughs when that happened. But we decided to improve him. We drilled a hole in the penis and hooked up a hose and a water supply to it.
Jim C. and Dad in the lab
When Diana came into the lab one day we showed her the little wooden man and when she lifted the barrel we turned on the water and she got squirted. She was surprised and we all howled with laughter. Diana could have really raised hell for us, but she was a good sport, and never complained to our bosses. She learned fast what she was in for when she worked out in our lab.

One day a huge horsefly flew into our lab Jim C. chased it around until he caught it. He sprayed it with something from an aerosol can which knocked it out, then he came over to me and pulled a hair from my head. He put Crazy Glue on the hair and attached it to the back of the fly. He must have thought about this before because he had a small, quarter inch by three inch piece of toilet paper with the words "Eat at ARA" printed on it. The sign was attached to the other end of the hair on the fly. The ARA was of course the company that ran the Chrysler cafeteria.

Well, there happened to be a meeting going on at a conference room next to our lab with about ten people including our lab supervisor and some engineers and designers. When the fly revived, Jim opened the conference room door and set the fly loose.

So here's this fly cruising through the room advertising ARA with everyone watching and after a few trips around it land on the nose of Fred McC. who was looking up toward the ceiling. When Jim released the fly into the room it became quiet but soon after there was a roar of laughter. No one was ever reprimanded for this, but I think they knew who was responsible.

Setting on a cabinet by my bench was a small toy slot machine. Occasionally someone would come by and pull on the lever. The toy was at about face level and when the lever was pulled a little round funny head would pop up and squirt the person who had pulled the lever. There was always someone new to pull the lever so we got many laughs from it.

Even though we had a good time at work, everyone was a good worker and our lab accomplished much.

Jim C. was a hunter and he and I planned to take a weekend and go to my brother-in-law Don Ramer's cottage near Grayling, MI. I had spent a week helping Don and his wife Marie build the floor, walls, and roof panels of the cottage a few years before. Don had ten acres and his twin brother Dave had ten acres net to his. It was all heavily wooded.

After work on Friday, Jim and I loaded up the car with our guns and hunting equipment and headed north. When we were north of Bay City it was very dark. Parked at the side of the road was a van and as we approached we saw a man waving to us. So we stopped to see what he wanted.

The man told us they had hit a deer and heir van was disabled. He said the deer had a broken back and was lying by the road behind their van. He asked if we had a gun so we could stop the deer from suffering, and we said we did. Jim had brought along a pistol and he went and shot the deer. Then the man asked if we could run him into the next town for a tow truck. We, of course, said we would. There was another man and a woman in the van and they took down our names and our license plate number before we left. On the way to town the man said they had a load of apples in the van.

The first garage that we stopped at in the next town did not have a tow truck but they would take the deer. He said they lived on deer Up North. The next garage did have a tow truck, so we left the man there and continued on our way.

I don't know if it is legal to shoot an injured animal but we could not see it suffer.

On another trip, my son Tom, Jim C, and I stayed at Don's cabin to hunt.
Tom Gochenour and Jim C. at Uncle Don's cabin