Chapter Nineteen - Anniston Army Depot
The local engineers were reluctant to call for outside help and
we had to push them unmercifully to get them to admit defeat and call in
outsiders. For awhile it seemed like the outside crew was very good as
they usually found the problem rather quickly and fixed it. We noticed
that we always had a series of nagging problems for a week or two after
the National crew left. We finally learned why the locals really hated
to call in the outside help. The outsiders were no better than the
locals but had a higher margin approval level. This meant they were
allowed to increase the power more than the locals and burn the system
out faster. The locals hated this because they knew they would be busy
for weeks replacing burned out components.
When we were using IBM equipment we had never known what even a
24 hour downtime was because the equipment had never been down for 24
hours at a time. It was not unusual at all for Control Data Corporation
equipment to be down three solid weeks and on two occasions it was down
for much longer periods. This was complicated by the fact that even when
the equipment was running perfect there was no way it could process one
day's input within twenty four hours. That meant we were on a constant
schedule of batching input and running a cycle every two or three days.
We were never current when we ran CDC equipment. When we were down for
three weeks it took weeks and weeks to catch up. We found that we could
run six cycles with two days input in each much faster than one cycle
with seven days input - or even four days input - because when the
volume reached a certain level the equipment sat there for days and did
From a personal standpoint, I had opposed selection of the CDC
equipment, even getting into print with a publication distributed to
every member of congress. There were demands at the time from all levels
that I be fired. I had no input into the selection process, I had no
input into the central programming, I had no authority to fire
contractor engineers, I had no input into any of the areas affecting the
entire process - yet I was the guy they blamed when the equipment would
not run and the functional people could not get their output. To compact
it further they were planning on selecting certain depots to have
computers and other depots being served by them via communication lines.
This meant that other depots were saying everything was great in an
effort to be selected as a central processing site. Headquarters Data
Processing people played one depot against another. When our commander
raised hell with headquarters about our computer problems they would
select a team from headquarters and other depot people and come in and
make us look like monkeys. Other depots were not getting their work done
on computer but were processing manually and playing politics.
Eventually we installed an Uninterruptible Power System costing
in excess of a million dollars. We replaced the buggy CDC memory with
memory from another company and replaced the disk drives with third
party equipment. We got to the point that we could sometimes run almost
a week without major problems. We were still not able to process a full
day's input in twenty four hours. Life was hard and miserable for a
long, long time.
I think most of my problems in Data Processing were caused by my
efforts to give my supervisors full control of their operations. I did
not like to hold a supervisor responsible for running his organization
and then impose my style of management on him. If the results of their
supervision were acceptable I did not want them to feel they had to
achieve those results the same way I would have.
I also did not want to make their personnel selections as I felt
they were responsible for the operation and entitled to select the
people they would have to perform the job. I felt that many selections
for promotions were not the best, certainly not the people I would
select, but I felt strongly that if they were observing Equal
Opportunity laws then they should make the selections. The only people I
selected were my secretary and my division chiefs. As a result, we got
programmers who could never program and analysts who could never
analyze. A lot of them were good old boys and fine fishing and hunting
buddies and nice drinking buddies but did not have much to offer in
terms of data processing.
One division chief appeared to take great delight in conforming
with regulations down to the minute letter of the law to prevent
accomplishment of many of my objectives. The man who took my place when
I left simply moved him off the job. I could never bring myself to do
that as I knew in his own way he was doing his job. I knew he was doing
it to make my job more difficult but he was still doing his job and I
could not bring myself to cause him heartache over that.
Another big problem was that I never had enough people to do the
job right. I had to take on many, many jobs myself because there was no
one else to do it and those jobs had to be done. The more of them I did,
the less time I had to properly manage the organization. The average
strength of my Directorate for Management Information Systems was
between 85 and 90 people. We had every job to do that other depot DMIS
organizations had to do, yet the average strength among all the depots
was 125 to 135 people. It is hard to compete when you have 40 to 50
fewer people. I spent an average of 14 to 16 hours per day at the depot,
for 25 years. I never drew a penny in overtime. I also took a brief case
full of work home with me and managed to work another two or three hours
per day on depot work at home.
I could never get much cooperation from other directors. I had
the only director's office on the depot that was not carpeted. The
Director for Services and Chief, Depot Facilities Division refused to
approve it. The entire office and conference room were carpeted two
weeks after I retired and the new director took over.
There were too many programs and projects that did not relate to
accomplishment of the mission. There were annual fund drives, savings
bond participation programs, suggestion programs, zero defects programs,
command performance parties, officer's club participation, Armed Forces
Management Association, direct deposit of paychecks, performance
standards, and on and on - and you were expected to approach one hundred
percent participation in all of them.
There were visiting dignitaries and you were required to sit in
at the briefings for them and attend the parties for them. There were
weekly staff meetings and at times daily staff meetings and you had to
be at all of them. I frequently found myself in a three day meeting when
I had what seemed like a million pressing problems. When it was over I
would find my in-basket overflowing and my division chiefs living in a
relaxed atmosphere with little concern over any problem outside their
own little world. Division chiefs would feud with one another and each
would expect me to take his side in the feud. It was lonely at the top.
I just wanted to mention some people I met while working for the
Anniston Army Depot. They are not listed alphabetically or in order of
importance or significance, or in any specific manner - intentionally.
John C. Stanton Chief of Internal Review
John gave me an opportunity when I badly needed it and I will
never forget him for it. John had a dry sense of humor and was often
heard to say, "It is an amusing thing to me." John was outstanding both
as an auditor and a supervisor. He insisted on compliance with high
standards of personal and professional conduct and on compliance with
generally accepted accounting standards. Thank you, John, for all you
Elsie Kilgore Supervisor in General Supply Division
Elsie recognized me for the rookie I was on my first audit at
Anniston Ordnance Depot. There I was trying to make sense out of a very
complicated system that I did not understand so I could write criticisms
against her. What does Elsie do? She gives me a crash course in the
whole supply system and tells me to check with her before I make a fool
of myself. I would check with Elsie and she would say, "We did this one
right, you just overlooked this, but you are right on these twelve - we
dropped the ball on all of them. If I had problems putting the finding
in the proper supply terminology, Elsie would suggest some better
wording. Elsie Kilgore was a true professional and more interested in
getting things done than in covering her rear.
I saw Elsie walking through Building 362 one day and her
bloomers fell down around her ankles. Elsie never missed a step, just
kicked the bloomers up with one foot and threw them across her
shoulders. I love you Kilgore. Thanks for all the kindnesses.
Mary Alice Hollingsworth Finance and Accounting Supervisor
Mary Alice had her office at the top of the steps leading down
to the rest rooms in Building 53. Alice told me, "I smell them all." She
was a grand lady trying to hide it. I was pushed for something to report
one day and Alice opened her desk drawer and gave me a folder of
documents and told me to check them. They all looked fine to me until
Alice gave me a course in governmental accounting in one short hour.
Every document represented a contract that had been released without
committing or obligating funds for it. The reason was that there was no
money to commit or obligate.
Alice was married to Buck Hollingsworth for many, many years and
they had no children and then suddenly she was pregnant. I asked her a
simple question, "Well how on earth did you do it?" Alice looked at me
with that wicked grin of hers and replied, "Dog style, the best we can
Thank you, Alice, for just being Alice.
Ed Melton Controller of Anniston Army Depot
Ed Melton was my boss when I became Chief of Internal Review. We
were very friendly enemies. I loved Ed but loved to needle him even
more. Ed had one large fault in that he could only talk dirty and could
only tell dirty jokes.
Ed and I would get in a peeing contest every now and then. One
started out with me underlining a word in a memo to him. His response
stated that you underlined words the recipient was too dumb to
understand. His response had four or five words underlined. I replied
with about twenty words underlined. His next reply had two full
paragraphs underlined. I replied one more time and had every word in a
two page response underlined. Ed then replied with just one sentence, no
underlines. It said, "I am still your boss and I think you are smart
enough to understand that."
I told Ed one time that I had a friend in Tuscaloosa who was a
dead ringer for him, that I could not tell them apart. He got real
excited and asked me what his name was. I told him, "I never did know
his real name, Ed. Everyone called him Hog Jaw."
Part of my job was to coordinate with Army Audit Agency when
they were on depot and Ed started doing this by having them come to his
office and not inviting me. I complained and he apologized but asked if
I minded having the meeting in his office. I told him that would be fine
and we set up a meeting for the next day with the team chief of the Army
Audit Agency team. I went to Ed's office at the appointed time and we
started discussing the audit. The problem was that Ed and the team chief
both spoke in Spanish and I did not know what in the hell they were
Ed accepted a job with NASA and went to Huntsville, then on to
Cape Canaveral as financial manager of the Cape. Ed took many, many
people with him, all getting promotions they richly deserved.
Fred Hollister Comptroller (Friendly Fred, Finagler of Federal Funds)
Fred Hollister, last of the big time spenders. Fred paid $75 for
a suit of underwear. Fred sometimes spent more than $300 for a dinner
for two. Fred knew how to live. Fred is dead and cremated and his ashes
spread over Benecia Arsenal in California.
Colonel Baler had decided to promote me to Comptroller at
Anniston Army Depot but had to wait to see if Fred wanted the job as
Benecia Arsenal in California was closing and Fred had transfer rights.
Fred called on the afternoon of the last day he had rights and accepted
Fred arrived and it turned out he stuttered very badly, but it
was soon apparent he was the best Comptroller in the Army and I was
really proud our depot got him. As Chief of Internal Review, Fred was my
boss and he was a good one. He let me run my operation my way and he
supported me fully. I loved Fred. I was sad when he died of cancer.
Fred was playing golf with Woody Strange when Woody had a heart
attack and died instantly. He was asked how it was at the next staff
meeting and Fred said, "It was terrible. Hit the ball and drag Woody.
Hit the ball and drag Woody. I thought I would never make it to the
Fred was really crazy about his wife's Mother, who lived with
them. There were six of us as pall bearers at her funeral, including me
and Fred. Fred said, "They should have eight pall bearers instead of six
and after the funeral we would have two foursomes for golf."
Fred was one of my few friends but was always a true friend. I
trusted Fred completely to do anything he said he would do. I miss you,
Fred, old buddy.
Paul Crockett Chief, Production Control, Directorate for Maintenance
No one was impartial toward Paul Crockett. You either hated him
or you loved him. I loved Paul Crockett.
Paul was not just Chief of Production Control at Anniston Army
Depot; Paul was Mr Production Control in the Depot System. He was the
very best and he knew the job and how to produce the highest quality
products at the absolute lowest cost better than anyone in the Army.
Paul was a real talker but he also got results.
There were plans to model production control on computer under
Project SPEEDEX after the system at Sacramento Army Depot as Sacramento
had the project. Paul and I made several trips to Sacramento to fight
for the Anniston system. Paul made it clear that they were modeling
after an operation that rebuilt radio equipment and when projects
changed in midstream the radios could be thrown in a corner or swept
under a rug. He made the point that you do not sweep 250 tanks under a
rug or pile them in a corner. He won a lot of points for Ordnance
depots, with little support from the other depots.
Paul and I had some time to kill in the San Francisco airport
while waiting on our flight and he took me in tow and we visited every
ticket counter. Paul would ask if CORE or NAACP had left tickets for
Crockett or Bowerman. He would explain that we were professional pickets
and ready to go to the next demonstration. He would then say that maybe
the demonstration is here in town and we would visit every automobile
rental booth and he would ask the same thing.
We were eating dinner in a restaurant and Paul started telling
the waitress how pretty she was and then how far he was from home and
how lonely his room was. He finally told the girl that he just needed it
bad but no one cared about his needs. The waitress left and in about ten
minutes she came back with her coat on and told him she was ready to go.
Paul asked her where she wanted to go and she told him they were going
to his room. He asked her why they would do that and she said for sex
and hurry up. Paul gave her his innocent look and told her he was
married and could not do that. She asked him why he had asked her if he
did not want to do it and Paul told her his wife let him talk about it
but she wouldn't let him do it. She was really angry and told him she
had to beg hard to get off work and she was ready to do it and she would
find someone else to do it with. She left in a huff and Paul grinned at
me and said he bet he did somebody a real favor.
We were going through the airport in Atlanta and there were a
lot of Black people carrying strike signs. Paul had to stop and ask this
one Black guy what he was doing. The guy said he was striking and Paul
asked him what he was striking for. The guy said he was striking for
more money. Paul told him that if he had a guy working for him and he
started just walking around carrying a sign he would not pay him
anything, much less more. The guy told him he did not understand, that
he would quit carrying the sign when he got more money. Paul told him
that it sounded more like blackmail than striking and they got in a
heated argument. I had to drag Paul away before he got mobbed.
Paul had a heart attack and passed away. The depot was never the
same without him and I always missed him. Paul will have Heaven on
schedule long before the rest of you get there.
Bill Purdy Finance and Accounting Officer
I take full responsibility for my actions in hiring Bill Purdy
when I was Chief of Internal Review. No, seriously, Bill was tops. He
made a good Finance and Accounting Officer. I told Fred to make him
Chief of Internal Review when I left for Data Processing and Fred did
it. Bill did a good job.
I can only remember one thing that disappointed me with Bill. We
had been boss and employee and friends a long time and then when Bill
went to Finance and Accounting we were associates and friends. I got in
a real financial bind and someone I owed threatened to report me to the
depot and that is the worst news you can get after AIDS. I had been
paying on a thousand dollar bond by the payroll deduction method and the
bond had passed maturity date. I knew that $750 would put me in good
shape and it was scheduled to be mailed the next week. I asked
Disbursing to let me have it over the counter and they said it took too
much time to find it. I knew it would take under a minute but they
refused. I went to Bill and told him I had never asked for a favor but I
was really in a bind and asked him to get my bond for me. Bill refused
and I could never bring myself to forgive him. I had to go to a finance
company and make a short term loan to pay my debt. I still love you
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