In a time long ago, a baby boy was almost born in Pine Island, Texas. A young couple named Wheeler and Lucille, lived in a small house on the edge of Pine Island, near the Waller County Fair Grounds. On March 30, 1928 they moved to a house in Hempstead. The next day, March 31, 1928, their new son was born.
When Wheeler came home from work the next day, Lucille informed him that she had named the son Wheeler Neil Junior. Wheeler quickly informed her that he had promised his employer, Johnny McDade that the new son would be named John after him. So I became John Wheeler Neil and just missed being a junior.
In a place far away, about the same time, on May 2, 1928 a cartoonist named Scancarell introduced a new character to his popular comic strip, "Gasoline Alley." The new character, named Corky, was the first child and son of Walt and Phyllis Wallet, the stars of the strip at that time. They did already have an adopted son named Skeezix he was left on their doorstep in a basket in February of 1921.
Baby Corky's most recognizable features were a long gown that covered his feet and a cowlick in the front of his hair. On the spur of the moment, one morning, mother decided that we should drive down to Pine Island to visit her mother. When she carried me into the house in my long gown with my cowlick sticking up, my uncle "Buster" looked up and said, "That's Corky." From that day on, I have been know as and called Corky by almost everyone in Pine Island.
We moved to Houston when I was a year old. I was raised in Houston's old near east end, across the street from the Settegast Park. The park was between Harrisburg Blvd. and Canal St. about 2 miles from Main St.. I went to Lubbock Elementry, Stonewall Jackson Junior and the old Sam Houston High School downtown.
I worked for Shuddie Brothers Hat Factory, the U.S. Post Office and the City of Houston Parking Meter Division and last , the Solid Waste Department.
I went into the US Army in April of 1952, during the Korean War. I was assigned to a SCARWAF unit for basic training, engineer training and served until discharge on March 31, 1954 (Happy Birthday). SCARWAF was Special Catagory Army With Air Force. After basic and MOS training we were attached to the Air Force to do their construction work until my discharge.
I retired as Superintendent of the Department Of Solid Waste Management for the City Of Houston in 1980. After retiring, I operated a small small engine repair and saw sharping shop in a building on our proptery, a short walk from our back door. I retired the second time, 5 years later at 67 years old.
Four years after retiring the second time, at 71 years old and after 42 years in the same place, we moved, both us and the house, up to Pine Island near Hempstead. Now I piddle around, taking care of a couple of acres, 2 houses, creating Web Sites and do a little writing for fun. I have been writing a bi-weekly newspaper column about growing up during "The Big Ones" (the depression and WW II) for a group of small town newspapers for the last 5 years . I am also the Secretary For Hempstead Masonic Lodge and the Junior Warden for Waller Masonic Lodge.
Of course I saved the best part for last. I met Nellie in the fall of 1948 and we were married July 23, 1949. We had 2 boys and 2 girls over the years. And, we are still best friends, lovers and mates after 54 years(in 2003). We lived on the northern edge of Houston and in the Humble area until we moved to our 20 acres in the country.
I figure if you look at the picture of Nellie, on the right, that was taken shortly before we married, you will understand why I didn't ever look any further. The only bad fault she has is telling people that she married Audie Murphy and ended up with Wilford Brimley
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