Paul's Memory Book Overview

God gave us memories that we might have roses in December. ~J.M. Barrie



It has been an amazing ride, being raised in the late 1940's and 1950's, high school and college in the 1960's, marriage and family in the 1970's and 1980's, restarting my life in the late 1980's, and growing old in the 2000's! I have fortunate enough to see the best of times!

Growing Up

Growing up in the 1950s was a unique experience which I hope to share with my children and grandchildren and now, great-grandchildren!

It is probably boring as heck right now but one day you too will look back and wonder what happened.  You will wonder what life was like four your grandfather and grandmother... just like we do now!

The 1951 Freshman Handbook reiterated the concerns regarding dress for women students. College freshman were advised that “practical casual comfort dictates what the Iowa State coed wears both on dates and in the classroom.

Women were encouraged to “include a few full skirts, because on the day you’re hurrying to classes across campus, you’ll find the narrow ones too confining.”

Popular shoes in the 1950s included “saddles or loafers,” and during the winter months, women wore crepe-soled shoes because “they make the probability of getting to class over icy sidewalks a better risk than almost any other kind of footwear.”

In the dorms, students wore wool robes and snug pajamas with comfortable slippers that did not click like heels did on the hardwood floors. On the weekends, women wore dressy skirt and sweater combinations, casual wool jerseys or corduroy-type dresses, and a special dress when attending teas, dinners and informal dances.

Today the girls in general look like a collection of poor hookers....
It's a shame the mothers and fathers don't kick them in the butts

My Parents

Paul William Liles

My father grew up in the early 1900's in White County, Arkansas. He had no electric, gas, nor running water, no radio, TV was a science fiction dream, no cars, no movies... only his imagination and good friends and hard work to pass the time!  How would you survive without these things?

Dad had a mild case of polio growing up and his best friend, Otis Tucker, used to pull him around in an old wagon! Dad completed the 8th grade and at the ripe age of 17 left home in search of a career.

He ended up in the dime store business from warehouse man, to window dresser, to store manager to VP of a small chain of stores now known as the 99 Cent Store.

Georgia Agalina Lewis

Mom grew up in Oklahoma and was the oldest of five providing guidance and love to the others.  She had three younger brothers and a sister. She married Paul in Oklahoma and moved away to Louisiana where Dad had a job.

The Lewis family moved from Oklahoma to California in search of work right before the war and moved close to Mom and Dad's home in Los Angeles.

Mom worked as a "soda-jerk" for a while and then during the war she worked for Douglas delivering parts to the assembly line on roller skates! (Imagine that today?)

Mom was, let's say eclectic, and had a sense of art that was quite amazing. Her most fun thing to do was "going junking"... Her and her sisters would go to pawn shops, second-hand stores, and other such places and bring home "stuff" which Mom would turn into magical things.... More about that later

She also grew up without all the amazing wonders we had in the 1950's and nothing like today's children.


Dad finished the 9th grade and mom finished the 11th grade before having to go out into the world to make a living. Their words to me were "GO TO SCHOOL and make something our of yourself!". Pretty amazing words for two wonderful people who already had made someone great out of themselves

I went to school in west Los Angeles graduating from Hamilton High School in 1962. I was definitely not interested in school and although I could make any grade I wanted, I was too busy with things like girls, ham radio, and working.

I got serious in the final year and made good grades but not enough to go to USCL or USC so I went to Los Angeles City College where I became Student Body President in my third semester. This was enough to get me into USC where I graduate with a degree in history (yeah, I wanted to be a teacher). I was always a technology buff so the job at North American Aviation came natural and the rest his history.


I was married twice.  My first wife was a good mother and had many good points but her view of the world and mine did not turn out to be compatible. She was jealous of any interaction with my family and could not stand my parents, my aunts or uncles, and even most of my friends. I was brought up with family being important and visiting with them essential so it was not a match. We divorced after 19 years! It would have been earlier but I waited until the kids were in High School.

It was my good luck to re-marry to a wonderful person who enjoyed me looking back and inquiring into my families past when we visited with them. I had met Sue fifteen years earlier (we met in the Avionics Development Lab in 1972) and always thought she was beautiful. Between 1974 and 1986 we had not seen each other until she came to work on the space station proposal where we worked together.

Sue was always interested in the older generation because they are, in essence, what we are today.  Our families got along very well and it es interesting to watch a high school dropout (Mom) interact with a college graduate (Rita). They were close making it so nice for Sue and I.

The values taught by Mom and Dad were passed on to me and I hope I represent them well. Sue and I have been married over a quarter of a century and I could be more happy to share our lives.


I was taught from the git-go that you should work hard, stay with one company and you will get out of it what you put into it! Mom and Dad has a great philosophy and work ethic.

Thanks to some assistance from my ex-wife's father, I got in at North America Aviation working on the Apollo Program while I was a Junior at USC. I was a technician and worked some crazy hours but within a few months, I found friends in the big "E", Engineering. They got my out of the union (which I hated) and I became an "ATP" or Advanced Technical Payroll" making $3.18/hour... Serious money!

You will ready more late but suffice to say I stayed with North American, Rockwell, and finally Boeing for 43 years and ended up in Executive Management working in Engineering on classified programs. In between those times, I worked on Apollo, Space Shuttle, GPS, Satellites in various management capacities.

Along the way I had great mentors such as George Jeffs, Charlie Helms, Ben Boykin, Sy Rubenstrin, Ed Smith and many others. I knew many of the astronauts on a first name basis and traveled all over the US and parts of Canada and the Orient on business!

Most important, I met by future bride there in 1974 twelve years before we got married

Retirement? Already?...

After 43 years with the company it had morphed from North American (a company that was engineering based, high morale, fun, challenging) to Boeing (a company too large, impersonal, tied up in administrative minutia, and not fun). It was 2006 and frankly I had had it with the nonsense raining down from above.

When Rockwell bought NAA, I was fifth in line for the presidency of the company but when I departed Boeing as an executive, I was seventh in line from the presidency. We were so big the right hand did not know what the left was doing and programs and policies seemed to be put together by strangers with ZERO understanding of the business we were in. Like socialism, centralized planning and control

Sue was eligible for early retirement and had been eligible for seven years... We pulled the plug and never looked back. I am sure it added years to our lives not to have to suffer through the poor leadership and rudderless ship that our beloved North American Aviation had become.

During our career we traveled via cruise ships extensively so there is nothing in the world left to see. We settled down with our grandchildren, doing gardening, dancing several nights a week, and spending quality time with friends... It's a good life.

Ready Or Not...

So, off we go into a set of random memories.  Random because I am getting old and I do not remember so this site on our web is being built kind of ad hoc...  I think of something and write about it!

On a serious note, when my parents passed, I knew precious little about them except what I could glean out of their relatives and friends so a lot was lost.  Why didn't I know more?  Because I was a kid whose world was wrapped around me! 

As I head down the path we will all take, I decided to write about the things I remember, people I knew, and perhaps sometime in the distant future, my kids or grandkids might be as interested in me as became about my parents.  Maybe yes, maybe no.  If yes, great... my memories will be here!  If no, great... I will have enjoyed retrieving (squeezing) old memories from the old gray matter.

Let's see where it leads.

Some Random Quotes Before We Begin...

The lazy days of summer

Do you remember those lazy summer days of the 1950's when all was right with the world...

Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us. ~Oscar Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest"

Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume. ~Jean de Boufflers

I have memories - but only a fool stores his past in the future. ~David Gerrold

It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. ~P.D. James

A happy childhood can't be cured. Mine'll hang around my neck like a rainbow, that's all, instead of a noose. ~Hortense Calisher, Queenie, 1971

Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door. ~Saul Bellow

Memory itself is an internal rumor. ~George Santayana, The Life of Reason

A childhood is what anyone wants to remember of it. It leaves behind no fossils, except perhaps in fiction. ~Carol Shields

It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us. A year impairs, a luster obliterates. There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are rekindled for a moment - but who can be sure that the Imagination is not the torch-bearer? ~Lord Byron