A week after graduation in June, checked into Emory at Oxford(Oxford, GA) to enroll as freshman in pre-med, something my family wanted. After one year I could not see another 10+ years on that track and returned to Kinston. Dad advised me to decide a vocation to pursue as he wished me to finish college. Worked in Sutton’s store for about 18 months until I was about to be drafted(result of Korean Conflict).
Didn’t wish to be drafted into the Army, so I enlisted in the Air Force, a four-year hitch. Basic training, radar school at Keesler AFB(Biloxi, MS) on graduating I was assigned to a unit at Donaldson AFB(Greenville, SC). On arrival, a Monday, was advise I would be leaving for Germany on the following Friday by ship.
Arrived 12 days later in Bremerhaven, Germany after a pass by the White Cliffs of Dover in the English Channel. We were the first unit assigned by Truman to be stationed in Europe under NATO and there was a lot of fanfare on our arrival. We were the 433rd Troop Carrier Wing to be based just outside Frankfurt, Germany at Rhein Main AFB. Two years later,1953, we were re-assigned to Neubiberg AFB just south of Munich.
During my tour I put my feet down in about 14 different countries. Our Wing was outfitted with C119 aircraft frequently referred to as boxcars. We participated in training missions with the US Army, British and French, dropping paratroopers and equipment. Between missions we hauled a lot of freight in support of military based in Europe and Africa.
Off-time, of which there was ample, along with my service buddies, we made side trips throughout Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands and the U.K. Frauleins, mam’selles, lasses, WACs, and expats were about for companionship. Met a lot of nice girls wherever we were based and travelled. You know rule, “Known many like few, loved one, here’s to you”.
On a trip into Frankfurt with one of my buddies, we met Richard Dawson and George Wells from Kinston. They were in the National Guard which was activated and sent to Germany. Connected with them for a few side trips and a visit to the hospital in Wiesbaden to see Dan Moseley, he was doctor, not patient. This was in 1952.
Also, 1952, I met a WAC, we called her Tex, at a bar in Frankfurt who had just arrived from the States. That night I was with 3 other guys from our outfit. One, Dick Benner, took a liking to her and dated her for several months. Not too long after, our unit was transferred to the base in Bavaria. Goodbye Frankfurt. Hello, Munich. A few years ago I received a message via Facebook, “Hey Mickey”, I think I met you in 1952 in Frankfurt, Germany. Tex, now a widow, lives in Winston-Salem, NC. During a visit from a service pal from Connecticut, the two of us took a drive up to Winston for a brief reunion. She was still her old self, lights up any room she enters. We chat from time to time.
In 1953 I met a girl, Sally Tobias, from Detroit while on a visit to Paris, she was a summer student at the Sorbonne. We shared a few days together exploring the city. Weeks later she visited her sister in Füssen, Germany whose husband was in the Army. It was about an hour by train from Munich so we were back and forth a bit that summer. Her sister was expecting during that time. After baby arrived in August, she returned to the States, ending our connection. She later returned to Europe with the USO. Married a guy from Charlotte, NC. Didn't learn her married name, lost touch. Pleasant memories tho'.
Dated a girl, Ann Knauer, in Munich that I met in the dining car on a train into France, she worked for Radio Free Europe. Graduated from Brown. Spoke about 5 languages fluently. She grew up(teens) in Belgium, parents were in the U.S. Ambassadors office in Brussels. She knew all the great out of the way restaurants in Munich. Enjoyed our time together in 1953.
In early 1954 I received a note from B.C. West advising he and two other Duke med students were being sent to St. Bartholomews Hospital in London as interns. They would be there from late March to May. I took leave and flew over in early April for about 6 days. We did Edinburgh and London together(all 4 of us).
On a ride on the Underground to Piccadilly for dinner one evening we chanced to meet a young(about 16) girl who we learned was running away from home. Her name was Jill Bugler. She tagged along with us to a cafeteria. We had planned to take in a movie which she wanted to see with us. Movie over about 10:30, B.C. and other two headed for their flat. Here I was left with a runaway. There was a coffee house nearby so I went in and spoke to a waiter(owner it turned out to be). Advised him of the situation and he made a phone call. He came back with the address of a nearby B&B and that he had called me a cab. After a short ride we arrived at the B&B where a Mrs. Smith was waiting. She said she would put her up for the night but she would need money for the heater in the room, I obliged and told Mrs. Smith I would return the next morning. When I arrived, Jill was donned with an apron, serving breakfast to roomers. Mrs. Smith advised she would keep her for a few days to try and get her to return home. Jill had agreed to work for her keep. It was the following day B.C. and I caught a train to Edinburgh.
On our return I called Mrs. Smith to check on Jill. Turned out it was April 7th, Jill’s Birthday. We decided to take her to an Italian restaurant in the Soho. It was during that time she told us she hoped an aunt who worked at the Waldorf Astoria would sponsor her to the States. The next day I returned to Germany. Not long after B.C. and others returned to Duke. Last they knew, she was still at the B&B.
I contacted Mrs. Smith in late April who advised that Jill was accompanying several students staying with her to an afternoon movie. Apparently police spotted her and took her into custody. The students returned quite upset and confused. Mrs. Smith advised them to say nothing and that she was not reporting anything. That, I thought, was the end of story. Not true.
My 4-year tour of duty was over in May of 1954 and Staff Sargeant Sutton was scheduled for return to the States. At the time I was NCOIC of 16 radio operators and 16 radio and radar mechanics that serviced electronics on 16 C119 aircraft. My orders put me back in the States for discharge. Although I was about 2 months shy of my 4-year enlistment, they chose to discharge me at lower cost to Uncle Sam.
Back home I immediately made plans to enter NCSU in the Fall in search of an engineering degree. Was accepted and enrolled in August. Annie Edwards and I started dating that summer and by December we wanted to tie the knot. We did but not until Spring break in April of 1955.
Our daughter, Julie, was born in 1957 while we were living in Vetville. At the end of my junior year I opted to work as an undergrad electrical engineer for a company moving into Selma, NC. We moved to Goldsboro for that year. Then resumed studies at State with the understanding my employer, Shallcross Mfg. Company expected me to return. Annie stayed in Kinston with her parents.
B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering in hand, we settled in Smithfield deciding to build for lack of any decent rentals. This was early 1961 that we built and moved in with a 4-year old and a newborn.
In the early 60s we were in Kinston visiting family when I met with B.C. West at his parents home. Another visitor, a tobacconist, approached us. He had been on a flight to London and chanced to be seated by a young girl returning home to attend her father’s funeral. During their conversations, she learned he was from Kinston. She recalled her meet up with B.C. and me in 1954 and mentioned our names. At the time, he was familiar with West and Sutton as Kinston families, but had not met us.
Story was, Jill Bugler had been sponsored by an aunt who worked at the Waldorf Astoria to come to the States in about 1956. After arrival, she applied and became an airline stewardess for United Airlines and was based in New York City.
A year or so later, while attending a trade show at the Coliseum in NYC representing my employer, Shallcross Mfg. Company, I remembered the story. Sure enough, found her listed in the phone book and gave her a call. The girl who answered was her roommate. Jill was on a flight to the west coast, so I explained the reason for my call. She said that Jill had mentioned having met us and knew she would be pleased. Told her I would try again on a future visit.
A couple of years passed before I attended another trade show in the City. Gave Jill a call and connected. We arranged a meeting at her place in the upper sixties before lunch in a nearby restaurant. She had matured into a very attractive young lady and was a delight to visit with. There were additional opportunities to dine together over the following years.
Worked at Shallcross Mfg. Company from late 1960 until 1968. During that time I was component engineer for the company with responsibilities in engineering, quality and sales. Was project manager for wirewound resistor products supplied for the Minuteman lll Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Program. Travelled extensively throughout the US during that period and served on various industrial committees related to establishing documents for military contracts. It had been a family owned company until 1965 but was acquired by Cutler-Hammer. Things changed.
John Shallcross who had served as president and a major stockholder prior to the sale had left the company and decided to start a new corporation, Shallco Inc. He approached me with an offer to join-in. I began to assist him with the organization and setting up operations working nights and weekends before resigning from Cutler-Hammer. My responsibility was vice-President of Marketing and Engineering. We were a small group of about 15 in our beginning.
Into the 70s we grew our customer base and made several acquisitions of product lines from related industries. My responsibilities for Marketing and Sales required frequent trips around the country, customer visits, conventions, and meetings with industrial groups. Met a lot of interesting people and some became lasting friends.
There were the occasional business trip to NYC and one in particular in 1973 which included another evening with Jill Bugler. The morning I called, she had just returned from a flight from the west Coast and was headed to bed. She asked that I call her late afternoon about dinner. After the closing of the meeting with the Audio Engineering Society about 4:30, gave Jill a call. She asked if we could make it a foursome. Fine with me and she asked that I show up at her place, 50 Park Avenue, at 6:30.
On arrival she greeted me with towel about her head and asked that I greet others while she tidied up. Moments later the door to her apartment buzzed and I proceeded to answer. Opening the door the gent extended his hand as I grasped his. “Buzz” Aldrin(him), “Mickey” Sutton(me). Shocker? Somewhat, Jill had not mentioned names that would make up the foursome. When about that time a young lady arrived, Jean Nightingale , the fourth in our party. Jean too, was a stewardess for United Airlines. There was a flurry of conversation as we introduced ourselves and Jill appeared. Learned that Aldrin had been a passenger in 1st Class on the recent flight from LA to NYC hosted by Jill. He had called Jill after she and I planned dinner. Nightingale was invited to join us.
Jill hurried us out to catch a cab for our dinner reservation way downtown, the Beatrice Inn, a favored Italian restaurant. It was an interesting evening to say the least. Aldrin was in town to do an interview with “Good Housekeeping” magazine about his recently published book, “Return to Earth”. It was a casual, lengthy meal as we asked and he answered questions about the moon landing. We were the last customers to leave and Aldrin wanted us to adjourn to an uptown bar. Once there he began introducing his to some of his sports pals, including Joe Namath. Things got pretty wild and I had booth duty that morning, it was then about 1:00 AM. Jean had a flight out also. The two of us bailed, leaving Jill and “Buzz” Aldrin.
Over the years traveling around the country I met several celebrities, all brief encounters, but Aldrin was a highlight.
One other memorable event in NYC. As an advertiser with United Technical Publications, I was invited to an off Broadway stage show, “This Was Burlesque “ starring Ann Corio. Corio was second only to Gypsy Rose Lee as a “bump and grind” stripper. It was an entertaining Vaudeville type show, “end men” with their clever antics and jokes. There was no full nudity during the show. After the final curtain, an announcement was made that all guests of UTC should remain in their seats. Once all others had exited the theater, the curtains opened to reveal a 20-foot long smorgasbord of heavy hors d’ oeuvres and beverage across center stage. Lined up behind the display of food and drink was the cast of the show, about 15 still in costume. We were then invited to join everyone on stage. Really was a treat to mingle with cast as many were quite up in their years with decades of performances on Broadway. Ann Corio had an amazing figure and features for a gal in her 70s. She lived to be 90. Bernie Gittelman, of UTC was our host and a longtime friend who assisted us with our advertising.
Employment at Shallco over the years was up to a high of about 65. We relocated our plant from the old bathhouse location to a plant we built in an industrial park near Interstate-95. I served as President of the company from 1985 to 1994, the year I retired.
During the 70s, on into the mid-80s, I had operated a hobby/business in my spare time, The Village Forge. It was principally a “mail order” arrangement conducted evenings and weekends. My product was wrought iron lighting of colonial and/or Early American designs. Nationwide interest in the Bicentennial of the US piqued focus on 18th Century decor. Our lighting was widely popular. We shipped items all over the States. Had a lot of fun with the business, met lots of nice folks and much more profitable than golf. As interest in our lighting and sales declined, I eventually sold the business and equipment to others.
Over the years I took a couple of folk art classes at the John C. Campbell folk art school in Brasstown, NC(near Murphy). A course in blacksmithing and another in tinsmithing. These were one week classes and a couple of the best vacations ever taken. Really fun, great food, fellowship with a cross section of folks from everywhere, States and abroad.
Beginning retirement in 1994, I became interested in the introduction of Tim Berner-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web technology broadcasting information in both text and graphics over the Internet. Had been using computers since about 1971 and had performed minimal coding using Basic. Was familiar with the Apple computer introduced in the late 70s which were mostly text based. When Apple released the Macintosh computer with its graphical capabilities, I purchased a Mac Plus(about 1985). Began attending workshops in Raleigh related to evolving technology in software and hardware necessary to publish and broadcast information over the Internet. In the following 6 years I designed web sites for companies under the umbrella of Webspinners, Inc. Reaching the point I would need to hire others, I balked. Decided to reduce my involvement, dissolved Webspinners, passed work to others and provided consultation when needed. For the past eight years I have been more spectator than participant but continued operating a leased server to support personal Internet projects, among them graingerhigh.com
Am now in the process of shutdown. Am leaving a prepaid window open for about 3 years to host the few remaining projects which includes the Grainger High web site which I published in 2010. These few personal sites will be sub-domains of "mykulstuff.com". In 2 months I will reach age 91 and will not provide further support.
That’s a kinda thumbnail of my past 70 years. It’s been a fun trip, and met so many people who became lasting friends here and abroad. Have made numerous return trips to Europe since 1985 including an apartment rental in Paris for myself and daughters with their spouses in 2010. Limited travel these days.
Annie and I have been blessed to have shared so much together and children are all comfortably settled in their lives. Three grandchildren and two great grands.
A granddaughter asked me to jot down a bit of my past.
April 2018Dateline: Smithfield, NC