In 1942, the year that Phyllis and I got married, I was working at Lockheed Aircraft as a Group Supervisor. I had supervision of about 50 people. My section assembled the Inner wing of the B17 bomber. Our plant was turning out four B17s a day.
Boeing Aircraft and Douglas Aircraft were also building B17s, and
I presume, in about the same amount that Lockheed was. I was actually doing much more toward winning the war there, than I ever did after I was inducted into the Navy.
A new, to us, Inspector was transferred into my section. We had been told that he had the reputation of being difficult. My first and only, encounter with him was when he came to me extremely critical of something one of my men had done, and saying “You ought to send that man home to change his diaper.”
His remark irritated me. At age 23 I had not yet learned that to achieve a desired result; you should first determine what that result is and base your action on achieving that result. I more or less thought I should base my action on what I felt like right now. So I took off my glasses and laid them on the work stand. He said, “Oh, we’re taking off our glasses” in a very sarcastic voice.
If I hadn’t been quite ready to punch him before this remark, I was now. I threw a good right hand, right smack to his mouth. He staggered back into a container of aluminum scraps intended for recycle and was barely able to restrain himself from falling completely into it.
He came back at me furiously screaming and swinging. He was going to tear me apart (he thought). Right then a bunch of guys grabbed both of us and held us apart. That could have been the end of it if the guys had held us until we simmered down, but he was bleeding and had to be taken to the nurses station to get 5 stitches. This got the event on record.
The word spread like wildfire. In minutes everyone knew: “A group supervisor in Department 14 punched an inspector.” I was an instant celebrity! Even people who didn’t know me were talking about me.
Lockheed’s reaction to a fight was: Both guys get fired. But by the time the word got to my boss, he already had seven letters on his desk from other Group Supervisors telling him what an asshole this guy was.
So instead of getting fired, my punishment was: Three days off without pay. We had been working seven days a week, so some time off sounded pretty good to me. As a result of the seven day week, we had enough money to stand the loss of three days pay.
My bosses scheduled my punishment days off for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If I left things in good shape Thursday, my section would run OK Friday. Saturday and Sunday were days of limited operation, and
I would be back on Monday to pick up the loose ends.
This was the year that Phyllis and I got married. I don’t remember if this incident occurred before or after our wedding, but in either case it meant: “Three Phyllis days for me!”