1976 Pasadena, Texas. Three of us were renting from my former boss, Valdis, and driving to Channelview in my 69’ LTD five days a week. The band leader was Al Leone, and the drummer was Michael Craig Step. I was the management trainee and they were print boy and gopher on the 2.2 billion dollar chemical lobotomy we were building to drain into the San Jaciento River basin.
Valdis played the accordion, and I had a Marine Band harp that I blew enthusiastically but without a lick of classical training. It was my car, or almost my car...as the contract manager had co-signed my note to prevent me from hitchhiking from Houston to Channelview each day. Work started at seven.
We were an unlikely trio, but Valdis saw us every day...so he knew we were good for the rent. He was no longer my boss, as he had had a heart attack and was allowed to return to work in the drafting pool after being forced from his position as the massive project’s senior civil engineer.
I never thought it strange that I should become the youngest member of a small team of experts assembled to supervise the Channelview job, at eighteen. There were three others...all college graduates training on this team too. They were their own crew, and did not want to think much about that we were doing a lot of the same work, and me for far less pay.
There was just too much noise; too much noise for me to understand or even appreciate my position, how I had gotten it, or anything else. There is no noise now, four decades later. No noise and time to reimagine a past that made no sense, a past that I struggled with, a chronological jigsaw puzzle that just sat in a box too small to assemble.
Who put the sword in the stone, and why were our knights scarlet?
The college was first called King’s , where Valdis had worked as a refugee and earned his degree, from the same New Jersey university I would, three decades later after 1976 when I worked for him in Texas; three facts that I have not assembled until just this very moment, because, I have the quiet to hear and time for doing so.