Memories of Dad on his 100th Birthday

April 28, 2022 at 11:55 pm | Posted in Arendall, Hulsey, MARY B ARENDALL, THOMAS J HULSEY | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This post is to honor and remember my father, Bob T. H. Hulsey, who would have been 100 years old today.  I had planned to share some personal stories, but there are just too many.  So we’ll hit the high points with a couple of photos for now.

My Dad was born Tom Hollis Hulsey on April 28th, 1922 in Abilene, Taylor Co, Texas. The fourth child of Thomas Jefferson Hulsey (1868-1952) and Mary Bird Arendall (1876-1954), he was certainly unplanned, but much loved by his teenage sisters and college-age brother. I grew up hearing stories from them about young Bob. He had a pet goat that went with him everywhere. Whenever the family wanted to find Bob, they would look for which house had the goat tied up in the yard.

Young Bob Hulsey

Bob attended the public schools in Abilene. As a teen, he was in the Science club and wrote for the school newspaper. I found some notices in the local newspaper that Bob had won some awards for journalistic writing at regional competitions.

For his college education, Bob attended the University of Texas at Austin from 1940-1944, and studied Petroleum Engineering. The newspaper in Abilene had a mention that he had been sighted on campus, reading and studying while his peers were out partying. He was in the AIME engineering club and was an officer in the Pi Epsilon fraternity for Petroleum Engineers.

In 1944, right after Dad graduated with a BS in Petroleum Engineering, he enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. On his 1942 registration card his physical description is height – 6ft 2 and 3/4 inches; weight – 160 lbs; complexion – light; eyes – brown; hair – black; distinguishing feature – scar in palm of right hand. About that scar – Bob was left-handed. When he was a young child, he accidentally shot himself in the hand with a gun that belonged to his sister, Pauline’s first husband. Now, my brother and I first heard this story from Dad when we were teenagers. Both of us said “What? Pauline had a first husband?” We didn’t know. But that wound bothered him his entire life. It affected his grip on a golf club or a baseball bat. In his last years, he was getting cortizone injections to keep the scar tissue pliable. Oh, one more thing about Dad that caused him to enlist in the Army, rather than the Navy. He had red-green color blindness. Apparently there was color coding in the ships. At least, that was the story we were told. It’s the type of thing we didn’t notice much as kids. I do remember a few times he did ask what color something was.

Bob was in the infantry in France. He complained the beds were too short. Like most men of his generation, he did not talk much about any military action he saw. He came back with a bad startle response.

Private Tom H Hulsey

After the war, Bob is listed in a directory of Midland, TX working for Standard Oil as an engineer. He said he had spent his summers in college in the oil fields, and acquired a dark tan. When we were kids, though, he was so sun-sensitive he wore long sleeves and pants to the beach.

By 1950 Bob had a job in the Petroleum Department of Chase National Bank in Manhattan, New York. His career was in advising the financial stakeholders about whether to invest in specific exploration and drilling projects. He got to rub elbows with most of the major players in the industry, and travelled around the world, including the Middle East, and once, quietly, behind the Iron Curtain. He took some courses at the Harvard Business School, but did not get a degree there.

The Chase Bank was also where Mom was working as an Executive Secretary. She said some of the other young ladies tried to guess what the T. H. in his name stood for. One was “The Honorable.” Another was “Texas Honey.” She said he was mostly shy around women, but they had a comfortable relationship, and married July 8th, 1950 in New York City. They went to Canada for their honeymoon. Niagara Falls and Montreal. It was July. Dad played a round of golf in short pants and sunburned the back of his knees… on his honeymoon!

As was expected back then, Mom left her job at the bank. They lived in an apartment in Queens. About five years and two kids later, they moved to a house in Bernardsville, New Jersey. Three more children, including yours truly, came along. Dad often rode the train into New York City. When he went on trips, his flight usually departed from Newark.

One cold January day, on a weekend, an electric spark caused a fire under the living room sofa. My sister alerted Dad, who started grabbing up us smallest kids and shoving us out the door into the snow. Mom followed with coats for us. Dad kept going back into the house to make sure we were all outside and safe. When the fire department showed up, they saw a tall guy in a ladies short fur coat, standing in the snow, laughing with relief. If the fire had happened at night, with all of us asleep in our beds, we would not have all gotten out!

In early 1965, we moved from New Jersey to Houston, Texas. Dad went into a petroleum consulting business with his brother-in-law, Arlo Hatfield. Uncle Arlo was a geologist, who had worked for Gulf Oil. They had an office downtown. Dad designed a unique H-shaped house just off Memorial Drive in the Spring Branch School District, where we lived for a couple of years.

In the summer of 1968 Dad took a job at King Resources in Denver, Colorado. We lived in a sprawling ranch-style house outside Littleton. We took a lot of day trips into the mountains. Unfortunately, Mr. King got into some sort of financial trouble, and Dad had to testify in Federal Court. After that, we moved back to Houston, where Dad had his own petroleum consulting business.

Our home this time was three connecting apartment units in a complex, again just off Memorial Drive, still in Spring Branch schools, but much farther west. Mom and Dad looked for houses in that area, with no success. They hired an architect and built a large two-story house in a country-club neighborhood on the northwest side of town in the Aldine School District. While we lived there, Dad moved his office to a building next to the Northwest Mall. He could go home for lunch every day. This was during the gas shortage of the 1970’s. His business dropped off, so he started looking around for a steady job.

He found that job at the First National Bank of Mobile, Alabama. He was the Vice President of their new Petroleum Department, primarily advising on the newly discovered natural gas fields in Citronelle. We moved one last time, the summer of 1975. By then my sister was married and living outside New Orleans. One of my brothers was enrolled at the University of Houston, and opted to stay in Houston, as did our older brother. That left me, a high school senior, and my younger brother, a freshman, to move to Alabama with our parents. They bought a 3 bedroom townhouse-like condo unit a few miles from the University. Because of integration, instead of going to the newer high school down the hill, we went to the old high school almost downtown. This meant that most mornings, Dad would drop us off at school on his way to work. As much as I hated moving away from my friends in Houston, I’m very glad I got to spend these last couple of years with Dad.

June 16, 1977. That was the day Dad died in a car accident just south of Fairhope, Alabama. He was on his way to a Petroleum convention at Gulf Shores. He was in a new car with a standard shift. He failed to stop at an intersection and collided with the side of a station wagon. We don’t know if he missed a gear, had a health event, or just didn’t see the intersection. The car came to rest next to a service station across the road. He had a fractured skull from where the roof of the car caved in on impact. He was gone almost instantly. He was 55 years old.

Dad had always said he would be fine to be buried in any veterans cemetery.  A few weeks before his death, Mom went with me to the county animal shelter, which was right next to the cemetery.  She was not impressed.  It was not a difficult decision to have him buried in Abilene near his parents and sister, Claribel.  That whole experience was so surreal, it would make it’s own post, but I won’t subject you to that.  I did feel his presence the whole time.

It’s so hard to believe Dad’s been gone almost 45 years.  It’s also odd to be older now than he got a chance to be.  So what are a few things I can say about him that tell you who he was?  He was a better cook than Mom.  I really miss his barbeque steak.  He made the meals on weekends and wasn’t afraid to experiment a little.  He didn’t appreciate criticism, though.  He was honest to a fault.  I learned not to ask his opinion on new clothes.  “How do I look” was a dicey question to ask.  Mostly it was his engineer’s eye.  He wanted things to look symmetrical, whether it was decorating a Christmas tree or lining up the windows on the house no matter where they fell on the floor plan.  Our last house in Houston had a window in the shower!  Dad was a sports fan and watched any live event that was on tv.  He had season tickets to Oilers and Broncos pro football as well as Denver Spurs pro hockey.  He took us to Astros baseball games, Texas Motor Speedway races, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and horse races at the Columbine track in Littleton.  Dad liked John Wayne movies and mystery and spy novels.  He liked a good joke and had a high “haw haw haw” laugh.  He was a fun dad when we were little, but I think we baffled him as non-compliant teens.  I think if he had been around, he might have kept me from making some life mistakes.  I also wonder what he would think about current events.  Suddenly 100 years doesn’t seem that long a time.  Happy Birthday, Dad.

Bob T H Hulsey ca 1975

04/29/2022 – edited to fix typos and poor wording.

04/30/2022 – edited to add more personal interests. -Barb

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: