Charlie Courtois

Why I Fled Ohio & Went West

By:  Charlie Courtois  •   •  11 years ago  •  5 comments

Why I Fled Ohio & Went West


Part I of XII parts.

Several of you asked if I would write some more of what I started with my story about Who Charlie Courtois was? On the other place many of you hung out for a number of years I published 12 stories which some of you may have already read, but the chances are it was so long ago that you forgot.

There are no personal bits in those stories, and I think I will update them with a few of the characters and trying emotions I encountered in those many escapades.


Probably, the vast majority of the people who flee to California , do it for the same reason I did, the warm climate. Not the traffic and the smog which permeates the highways in greater Los Angeles. I think I was a typical, Go West, Young Man, Go West. Another reason I was ready to flee was the fact that I was put on academic probation, and my friends knew I had gone away to college ; so, I didnt want to have to admit my failure. It sounds pretty immature as I write it, but dems the facts as they say. Of course, I didnt believe I deserved an F but F it was! The first F I ever had in my life and it drove me to change direction, and the place where I would live.

Ohio became the place, I didnt like anymore. The weather didnt suit me, too much snow, slush, salt, slag (salt and sand). My parents were not getting along, they drank like fish, and it was time for me to beat feet, as they say. I had just been successful in landing a great job, after flunking English in my freshman year at college. Having answered an ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer , I was hired on the spot by the owner, Art Rimback, who had just invented and designed a : Waterless Air Conditioner, and he was seeking a commissioned, H.V.A.C. Estimator. In high-school I had had a very extensive mechanical drawing course from a teacher who also taught me Physics and I learned a great deal from him. The owner and I reviewed some blue prints, and at the time, I had no clue that that would get me hired on the spot. I landed my first job, made a good fat commission, and thought I had fallen in a bucket of you know what, and came out smelling like a rose. Home with my parents was no longer possible for me now after being away at school.


Home, the weather, and a lot of confusions at, Rimbach Waterless, set my sights on Altadena, California , where my wealthy Aunt with two daughters about my age lived. I decided not to tell her I was going to descend upon her right then; but, I did so upon arrival at the Los Angeles Greyhound bus terminal, crowded with every form of humanity known to man. This was the image I held in my mind, when I set my sights on going west. This was supposed to be paradise, you know! Movie stars, Hollywood, where opportunities abounded back in 1954.

Having been able to succeed at HVAC estimating I had no fear of not being able to be employed. Boy was I shocked to hear that you have to be certified, and have a four year degree to be an estimator. Bad news bears for the kid. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. I only wanted to take one suitcase, so I packed summer like clothes, and left all of the winter Ohio gear for the moths. I had about $ 200 s in my pocket and a lot of hope.

The telephone call to my Aunt Ruth upon my arrival in LA beggars all description. I had never experienced rejection like that ; but in closing she said, You can stay for a couple of days, and then youre out. That was clear, crystal clear; so, the only good news was that I could get to her house by bus, and I could get back downtown LA by bus to look for work.

After I said goodbye to my Aunt Ruth, that was the last time we ever spoke. I was told that I was not welcome, and I was admonished not to socialize with my cousins. Well, that door was definitely closed. My other Aunt, Medora, lived in West Covina, raised Scotties, and worked at the California Hospital in downtown LA. But, after the Aunt Ruth shock, I decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and that I would find an apartment, and a job before I called Aunt Medora. That proved to be the right decision.


During the two day+ bus trip hundreds of ideas were flying around in my head. To say I was having second thoughts and was fearful would be an understatement. I thought I had the job and the money thing would be under control, but when I hit the LA bus station I was struck with a slight panic attack. I had never seen so many people in one place even in NY , and the traffic in the city was bewildering, and frankly it was very intimidating, but I kept telling myself: I declared my independence to my parents, and come hell and high-water I was not going to admit that I had my doubts. Keep a stiff upper lip.

Little did I know that those very trepidations would become reality in less than an hour. My complete and utter rejection by my, so called Aunt Ruth, really shook my confidence, and hurt my feelings no end, but there was no turning back.

Shock number one was reading the newspaper, the LA Times, and seeing that nothing was like what I had imagined. I think I stayed at Ruth's house a day and a half. Made phone calls, and in short order I surveyed the job possibilities, but mostly I had to locate a place to live much sooner than I had planned, and my shekels were in short supply. I found an affordable one-room pull down bed apartment (Murphy Bed) with a bus stop right across the street.

Problem solved for being able to get to work. If my money would just hold out until I could get a paycheck. My first job prospect of being a HVAC estimator flew out the window while I read the want ads, because all of those jobs required college degrees, 1-2 years experience.

So, what to do? Get the first job, doing anything, I could find. On my first foray, I found the Cadillac Motor Car Division wanted a mail boy. They told me on the phone that they were on the bus line and I had struck pay dirt. I was hired on the spot...starting the very next day.

That was the good news! The bad news was that the salary was less than I estimated my bills right now would be. I only brought clothes that fit in suitcase. Not quite office attire, but that would have to do. By the second or third day the girls in the office were teasing me unmercifully about my only clothes which of course I would never tell that that was all I had to wear. Payday was 2 weeks away, and all of it was already accounted for. No clothes this time around, but I guess I can stand the jibes.

I breathed a short sigh of relief as I worried about trying to make ends meet. Now all I had to do was figure out how to make some money on the side. It was not easy, and I had to get scammed a few times before I figured out a short term fix. Amazingly, I got through those days with lots of time to lament and worry. The bus ride to downtown LA was like 30-40 minutes one-way so, the worry-monster took its toll on me. My eating was a can of tuna and crackers. That's it! But, I was over my first hump not thinking about the next one, but they sure came fast.

Part II , THE FIRST YEAR IN LOS ANGELES, a ride you wont believe, I guarantee it!


jrBlog - desc
Charlie Courtois
Freshman Silent
link   author  Charlie Courtois    11 years ago

Let it all hang out.

Tell me the truth about anything the story does or does not do for you. I need to learn how others view my writing before I get it printed in a book for my grandkids and other nieces and nephews.



Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Expert
link   Perrie Halpern R.A.    11 years ago

I like it! I think you had an interestingadventure. Keep going!

Sophomore Quiet
link   Dowser    11 years ago

WOW!! I'm glad you survived all that!

Long trip, from OH to CA, especially by bus!

Looking forward to the next installment! Smile.gif

retired military ex Republican
Freshman Silent
link   retired military ex Republican    11 years ago

A little scarry but truly a chance to get confidence in yourself. Looking forward to more.

Sophomore Quiet
link   Dowser    11 years ago

Charlie, keep on keeping on-- We all learn more as we write more-- I love you story! Smile.gif

So will your kids and grandkids, because it came from YOU!