Home in Freeny, MS, teaching school, farming and flying helicopters offshore in the Gulf of Mexico - 1966-1974
We returned to Mississippi in July 1966 and moved into the house Sue's grandfather built in 1908. I got a job teaching Math and Science at Ethel High School, a commute of 35 miles one way, and Sue went to work at the local Sears catalog store. I rejoined my old Helicopter reserve unit at NAS New Orleans, flying Sikorsky SH3A, anti submarine helicopters. In summer, when school was out I attended extra drills with the reserve unit and signed up for all the extra training and special schools I could get. As a result I made $3400 my first year as a school teacher and twice that much from the reserves. I bought 100 acres of pasture land in the Pearl River swamp and leased 92 acres of land from Sue's brother, James D Freeny, and bought 50 cows with calves. I was in the cow business! For the next few years all my spare time was spent fixing fence, chasing cows, cutting, raking and baling hay and all the other things that go with being a cattle farmer. The next year I taught Biology at Kosciusko High School and cut my commute to 27 miles each way. The third year I got a job at Carthage High School, just 5 miles away, but I wasn't learning to like dealing with obnoxious kids. When the school year ended in 1969, I got a job with Petroleum Helicopters, Inc in Lafayette, LA, flying helicopters in the offshore oil fields of the Gulf of Mexico. We continued to live in Freeny, MS because my work schedule was 7 days on and 7 days off, so I drove 300+ miles to work one week and back home the next week. My first job, out of training, was with Gulf Pipeline Co. in Venice, LA. I arrived just in time for hurricane Camille, the worst hurricane to hit the LA and MS coasts in history. I was flying a Bell G4, with a top speed of 80MPH. As we were evacuating the helicopters, we were flying into 50MPH winds so all the highway traffic was passing us. We ended our flight in Monroe, LA where we watched on TV as the winds and tides carried SE LA out to sea. For the next few months I was flying around what was left of Venice, while they worked to rebuild the pumping stations and other facilities which had, literally, been washed out to sea.
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