Letter From Teddy Lane, High School Friend

Good Morning Julian, I enjoyed reading your book. You are gifted with your writing abilities. I was raised in WV, but not actually in the city of St. Albans. We grew up on Teays’ Hill and our neighbors were generally poor white people and black people. Growing up we played with our white and black friends, but we did wonder why black kids couldn’t attend our school. As a baby my Mother had a black lady friend who had a baby around my age. Our Mother’s would baby set for each other and I would sometimes nurse from the black lady and her baby would sometimes nurse from my Mom. I may be part black. Mother raised around 50 homeless babies, both black and white, until they were adopted or placed with suitable families. All of the babies were loved during their stay at our home. Charlie Dickinson and I were among the first to attend West Virginia State. We were not among the smartest students going to college. Most of the professors at that time had Doctor’s Degrees and we really enjoyed our time at WV State. I only attended WV State for one semester and joined the AF. I went to work with the FAA in 1962, the same time you entered the Peace Corps. While working at Lindbergh Tower in San Diego, I finally completed my AA degree in 1962 and later while working a a controller at Guam, if received my BS degree. Finishing college was one of my goals, but not really required for my job as an air traffic controller. While a controller at San Diego, I was the original PATCO union representative at Lindbergh Tower. I attended meeting with various PATCO officials including F. Lee Bailey and I thought their plans were solid. I was later promoted into management, so I was no longer a member of PATCO. The PATCO planners in 1981 were not really very smart when planning the controller strike. All the FAA need to do was to place a large group of controllers in staff positions, which removed them from union activity. When the strike occurred, the staff employees again became air traffic controllers. Before the strike occurred, I warned my controller friends that the strike would not succeed and was against the law. All the strike accomplished was the loss of experienced controllers, numerous divorces, several suicides and some the Washington leaders of PATCO became rich or were hired to work at union headquarters. In WV, I believe the unions that helped the coal miners was great, but when your a government employee, sometimes earning almost $100,000 a year, it’s a rip-off of the taxpayers. I still work as a Air Traffic Controller/Manager at the control Tower in Gainesville, FL. I am blessed with great health, so I am still able to pass my second class flight physical. I still have fun at work and if I have two bad days in a row, I may retire. Thanks for writing your book – you made me proud. Glad my shotgun blast while rabbit hunting left you standing. Best Regard, Ted

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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