"Work Hard" An interview with Jim McConnell

Recorded May 27, 2019 Archived May 27, 2019 39:02 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: APP640707


The life of Jim McConnell and those of the people whose lives he’s been a part of.


  • James McConnell

Interview By



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00:01 Okay, so I hear we have Jim McConnell or as I call him Grandpa. How you doing? I'm fine. I'll write happy Memorial Day. Happy Memorial day since it's Memorial Day. I you wanted to talk about your father. My great grandpa. Do you want to ask her like, talk about it? And I kind of think my dad was born in Turner, Kansas.

00:31 August 1st.

00:34 I think it was 1899.

00:39 And a he married that great-grandma on October 15th.

00:46 1930.

00:50 I was born, October 27th.

00:55 1939. Okay.

00:59 My dad was 40 years old. When I was born. My grandmother was.

01:11 30.

01:19 3434 years old.

01:23 Okay, cuz she was 6 years behind him. Yeah, so he served in World War one, right? He was an infantryman and World War. He landed in Lahore France.

01:42 On a 16th birthday. Okay, and when he enlisted in the Army, he was 14 or 15. Wow. Yeah. So what was what was his role?

01:59 Well, he was a an infantryman. He he used a Springfield single-shot rifle, okay?

02:13 And it had a bayonet on it. All right.

02:21 He came home.

02:24 From World War 1, a little bit early because of the fact that while he was in the Army and in the war is father died, and they needed someone at home to help, take care of his mother and his youngest brother. OK. Google Joe.

02:50 Before he came home.

02:53 He was in a transfer automobile with general of the army, John J Pershing. The Germans had a grenade of some sort, but it it blew the car on its side and I don't know if it caught fire or what, but they all got out of the car and ran and ran into a ditch and took cover and General Pershing. Forgot his

03:33 Gas mask and they were lobbying. The Germans were lobbying and mustard gas over toward them. Okay, my my dad.

03:46 I gave up his mask and gave it to General Pershing. Okay, as a result, my dad gradually lost all of his sense of smell and taste from the effects of the mustard gas.

04:10 The Story Goes that General Pershing wanted to give my father a Commendation Medal.

04:17 And dad said he didn't need it. It would just get lost.

04:25 Meanwhile, General Pershing found out that all my dad wanted to do was when he got home was to go to college and get an education. Okay? And The Story Goes that General Pershing.

04:44 Made arrangements for my dad to go free of charge tuition, free books, free room and board. Free at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden Colorado. Wow, Golden Colorado. Today is the home of the Coors Brewery. Okay. I know that doesn't make sense to you or me. So dad went to the Colorado School of Mines. He studied petroleum engineering, okay.

05:24 And he went to work in Tulsa.

05:28 For the

05:30 Dax Sunray oil company.

05:35 They made motor oil and gasoline. Okay, call types of oil of the heavy oil division. Okay, and

05:54 He worked at a work for 30 years over and he work for 32 years. Total by the time he died. He was he was he was employed there for 32 years. And where were you? Born in all day?

06:13 I was born at St. John's Hospital, okay.

06:20 Was that the hospital is still open? Still doing business on October 27th? 1939, is that, that was in Tulsa? Oklahoma said that was while he was still working for that company. Okay. Okay. Oh cool. And so,

06:43 Two weeks before he died. He had been working with a neighbor of ours. Who later became almost a billionaire.

06:57 He was working with several.

07:01 Types of mud products.

07:05 To wear just a just a mud wood would wood service lubricants for the oil drill? Okay, because they were finding that the Shale and a lot of the stuff down there in deep in the oil drilling shaft.

07:33 That at

07:36 Pittsburgh up or down, or down the drill bits. A big, big, big, drill bits. So the various viscosities of mud would serve to lubricate the drill shaft as it made its way down down the Earth.

07:57 And the deeper it got the harder things became. Yeah, and he used different different. Viscosities of mud to force down into the bit, the drill, the drilling hole.

08:15 And he was about ready to quit. Resigned his job at the Dax Sunray Refinery. And he passed away about two weeks before he was going to give him notice at my dad lived. He probably would have been a multi-millionaire. What did, what did he pass away of

08:41 My dad had arthro sclerosis and high blood pressure. Okay, and he on the morning of April 5th in 1952. He took me to a doctor's office, a doctor Underwood, Fleming Underwood, for a camp physical. I was going to go to summer camp for the very first time. Okay. I need developed a horrible headache.

09:12 Call.

09:13 A bad headache on the ride down in the cab. Okay. He didn't feel like driving cuz he didn't know if he would make it.

09:24 When we got to his office, he suffered what?

09:29 Doctor Underwood called a massive cerebral hemorrhage that happened about 11.

09:38 And Mister Charles, nine of nine. Funeral home had an emergency ambulance service and they came up to the Medical Arts Building. My dad was on a stretcher and they took him to St. John's Hospital and at 3:35, Saturday afternoon, April 5th. 1952 my father passed away, okay?

10:08 All right, and my cousin, Millie and myself?

10:16 I had tickets to an exhibition baseball game or the Boston Red Sox are playing the Tulsa Oilers out at Texas League Park, and we went out to the ballgame.

10:30 And the game was over and we drove back in.

10:35 And my aunt Millie took me down into the hallway of their house.

10:41 And asked me if I was a big strong boy, and I said, well, I hope so. And she said, your daddy is gone. My cousin Millie was right beside me and her brother. My cousin Bob was on the other side and I just

10:59 I just went to my knees and I went down the bedroom and laid down on the bed and just sobbed. And that's about it. My dad, my dad loved the game of baseball. Okay, he

11:19 He was a heck of a good hitter. He would hit me flies and boy, they would just sell and we did an awful lot of stuff together. We fished we fished I built model airplanes and we went to fly on

11:37 And he he was wanting my dad was my idol.

11:45 Now but he was he was he was my he was all I had. My mom had developed a very bad habit of drinking. Okay, and she never really got over it. And I

12:06 Let's see.

12:08 My dad died in 1952 and my mom died in 1958 while I was at boot camp in the Navy in, San Diego, California.

12:19 So anyway, got me where on the Memorial Day, sort of topic, John, tell me about about your time in the Navy Team 58. My mother passed away on August 28th, 1958 allow. And I made it home just in time, to kind of hold her hand as she passed away. Okay?

12:51 Didn't wear you allowed too much time, like out outside. Or do you have to say? Okay, and then I went back.

13:04 Back, then it was about a seven or an eight hour flight from Tulsa to San Diego. Now it's done in about an hour and a half to be 5 minutes. Yeah, almost 2 hours. What's up? What? What? What was your, what was your job on the? Cuz I know what you were up to 12 weeks.

13:33 And,

13:35 I went home.

13:39 And I was, first of all, I went to

13:47 I went to what they call a school in San Diego and I was a dental technician. Okay, and so,

13:59 A school lasted about 8 weeks,

14:04 I had qualified for what they call.

14:08 O, c school. And that was, I was going to make Prosthetics Dentures, partial crown and bridge and then I went home for Christmas.

14:25 And,

14:30 RC.

14:32 I invited I invited three or four of my buddies from bootcamp and everything. And and we stayed at my cousin, Leo Brennan's house. And your aunt Moe Was, I Thinkin the sixth sixth or seventh grade? I'm not sure that and she just thought it was the neatest thing in the world to have a bunch of sailors in her house. And so anyway,

15:04 That was that could care of 1958 19:59. I reported to the dental clinic on the Navy base at Norfolk, Virginia and I was there and then

15:25 I was transferred to the Dental Laboratory where I made Dentures partials, and a little bit of crown and Bridge.

15:37 And I was there until we had learned that there was a brand new aircraft carrier being built.

15:46 And Camden, New Jersey. Okay, and it was called the USS Kitty Hawk.

15:53 Well, I didn't like sure do to your damn bed. And and so I I put in for Duty.

16:02 To be a part of the original crew of the USS, Kitty Hawk. And on April, and April of 1960. We went aboard. Okay. It was a very first time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, built in Camden, Camden, New Jersey.

16:31 Once you cut that, I've got turn it up there.

16:39 Okay, okay. We're back in there. Okay, so you I was just yelling in the Navy.

16:53 From the USS Kitty. Hawk on August 4th. 1962. Okay.

17:03 So were you serving during the Korean war? That was there anything even going on how ever in October of 1960 to the Cuban Missile Crisis, took place, where it was found at the blighted missiles.

17:31 An atomic Warheads to Cuba. And Cuba was only 90 Mi away from our Shores. Yeah, and I got a letter saying, make sure that tell your sea bag. Containing all of your Navy clothing is still good and still in shape and cared for you may need it. I'll just like you didn't kiss you were and they may be inactive reserves which meant I could be called up in case of any action. Okay.

18:15 And that only lasted from 1962 to 1964.

18:21 Alright, so cool. And then so and you kept using that the things you learn my kids about like dental care, that kind of thing on your job later, right? It was during that time and 1963. I was living at a place in San Francisco called the Civic Center Hotel. Okay, and I had a room one room. And it cost, dad that one room cost me $65 a month. Okay. Those were gasoline was $0.17 a gallon. Wow.

19:03 I work at a brokerage house in San Francisco. It was Irving, lundborg and a, and company. And they were located at 310 Sansome Street in the financial district. Okay, and while I was there working, I worked in the mail room and I met a lovely young lady by the name is Donna, Blankenship. Okay, and in 1964, June 27th, we were married.

19:40 At a little Mission Church on Mission Street in, okay, and we have been married ever since and we have four children.

19:53 And 13 grandchildren.

19:58 And we are, we are presently expecting our second great-grandchild. Okay. So awesome. And here we are, and I have a grandson that's getting ready to go on a mission. If you got in your call yet. I know not yet this year. So let's see. We'll start with what are some of the most important lessons that you've learned in your life. And how did you learn them?

20:36 Well.

20:39 I think I've learned an awful lot from being married.

20:45 To Grandma.

20:47 I've learned a lot.

20:50 Termite for children.

20:53 And are 13 grandchildren. What are some of those Lessons Learned?

21:06 Well, they have a lot of compassion, especially my, oldest daughter's, three children, presently. We are preparing to send our 18 year old grandson. Our daughter Johnny's son on a mission for our church. He will be gone away for two years.

21:34 I don't know. We don't know. None of us know we're in the heat where he will be sent but we know that he is ready to go. He is a very mature young man. 488 our oldest granddaughter graduated about 2 weeks ago from nursing school at the University of Utah dumb and she is going to work. Who are these people that are crossing your yard? I don't know. What kind of clouds are there.

22:15 She has three children, the daughter 22s, on 18 and a daughter 12 presently. The 12 year old is with relatives and extended family in Hawaii. So you learn compassion, you know, we've been around the more than any of the others. I assume you probably learn some patience along the way to write with icing is learned a lot of a lot of patience and such to and from what I can tell me what my mom's phone. Yeah. I suppose I have I learned a lot from those three grandchildren, okay.

23:00 Let's see. What else we have here. What do you feel most grateful for in your life? My life? Yeah, okay, and my father, only lived to my 12th birthday. And my mother lived to my 18th birthday, so I'm grateful for my laundry to give Aditi. I'm grateful, most grateful and most lucky to have married. The girl that I did and

23:40 And have the family that we do and the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren will awesome.

23:50 Alright, let's see. You, can you describe one of your happiest memories?

24:02 The the birth of our first child.

24:07 Can you can you describe that Will Ferrell was born, August 4th 1966?

24:14 He weighed 8, lb in 7 oz. My oldest daughter, Jenise Johnny.

24:24 She was born July 5th. 1969. Our youngest son. Jason was born March, 17th.

24:38 1973 our youngest daughter, Jenny was born.

24:47 June 5th.

24:51 19.

24:54 79. Okay.

24:57 And I was that. So what what made those such happy moments?

25:04 Well, I was an only child. Okay, my wife, Donna was one of four children and we had four children and the joy of being a father.

25:18 It's only gotten better as I've gotten older. Okay, what else? Let's see.

25:31 What are you proud of stove and why does it make you feel proud?

25:36 I'm

25:39 I'm most proud of my children. They have grown up to be some very solid citizens.

25:48 And wonderful parents only our youngest daughter. Jennifer has not, it does not have any children. However, she has the part of the lives of

26:05 All of her nieces and nephews in particular, her older sister's three children. Okay. A wonderful boy Rob Andresen, and he was a, a veteran of the army. He served 15 months in Iraq and strictly a combat zone and a combat combat situation for 15 months.

26:40 So you thought you were talking about, Rob? So, sorry, we had a couple of interruptions here, Jenny and Rob getting robbed. She works. She works as the assistant to the chair.

27:02 Of the MBA School of Business at the University of Utah. She is a highly organized young lady and it's always been that way ever since you were a little, okay.

27:16 All right.

27:18 All right. Look, I will rest. Are we still have a couple? What is one of your greatest accomplishments in life?

27:29 Yeah.

27:32 Being a husband and father. Okay. Yeah, I get that from this conversation. Yeah, I think that's the most important thing to you is your dear family and very honorable.

27:47 How has your life been different than what you imagined when you were younger?

27:54 I think.

27:57 What I'm finding out.

28:01 Is.

28:03 When we were married.

28:07 I found her tattoo to be a lovely 23 year old but far more mature.

28:17 Then I was okay.

28:23 We are.

28:34 I think we were both ready for marriage.

28:39 Like I say she Donna through the years has acted and it's been quite mature and cut her respective ages. She is now 78 years old at the time of this recording and she is just as she is just as pretty and just as mature and just as wise as she always has been okay.

29:11 How about, how about your life? How is that been different than? Like? What? What did you think you'd be when you were when you were a kid? I wanted to go to dental school. Okay, so I was always something you would I, I, I I developed a friendship with a gentleman doctor, Paul Ziegler. When I was in the Navy, I worked with him. I made I made a surgical

29:44 Surgical plates. So he could do some bone grafting and things of this sort. And I I assisted him chairside.

29:59 And for 4 hours in the morning and then 4 hours in the afternoon. Okay, I did I worked in the laboratory. What's the black thing? There's 15 minutes left. OK, Google CVS on the Kitty Hawk with you was on the kitty. I kept a friendship with both families. He was quite a, a pillar of knowledge to our oldest son. Okay, I'm done. Dr. Ziegler passed away in the year. 2013 in July and today, I still miss. Yeah, okay.

30:50 Let's see. How would you like be remembered?

31:03 Well, I see.

31:14 Hey, you better turn out. Okay, nothing that I might be remembered. Is that I

31:22 Encourage my children.

31:26 To be anything. They wanted to be, come into work like crazy to become that. All right.

31:37 I,

31:40 I know that we assisted all four of my children.

31:48 Well, our children, I think Donna and I have assisted our children financially emotionally.

31:58 Spiritually, yeah, I know just talking to to Jason and my mom at least they'd attribute. A lot of that to you guys. Is that Spirit of hard work and things like that? I think so. No dust that Grill on.

32:19 Grandmas in my feet. I think that's what I guess. What Jason says is, like what he admires most about you is that you, you worked your hardest, and

32:32 Grandma, and I both worked our asses off really.

32:39 You know, well, then you are a great example of that. I think.

32:46 And you three children are you know where we're so lucky?

32:53 Knobs to be in real. Good contact with the three of you. We don't have this closeness to all. I think I think the only other one that really

33:05 Loves both grandma and myself and shows. It is Jamie.

33:12 Yeah, Jamie's prequel.

33:17 Okay, okay.

33:19 They were that we were the first ones that they told at the page, was going to have a little baby. Okay, and they're going to name him James Farrell V,. Did you know that? I didn't know which end was. What are you now? What are you junior? Junior? Okay. Alright. Well, let's see if we have any more questions here.

33:45 What's one of your of your most difficult memories?

33:55 The day, my father died. I imagine you and the day my mother died. Yeah. Okay. Can you tell me about one of the people has been kind of Stew. You and your life?

34:13 Well, other than Donna.

34:16 My wife, it would be my cousin.

34:19 Millie Mildred Lewis Frey,. Okay, and she married gentleman by the name of Al if it's okay. Well today would be his 91st birthday, lol. And she's, she's at least two or three years older than ours and I have been, I don't know cuz she took me to my first movie in the movie was Song of the South. It was a Walt Disney movie looking and

35:04 And it was it was showing at the Ritz Theater in Tulsa and you could look up at the ceiling in the Ritz Theater and you could see stars. I really not real clusters of them. But just some, some stars and is a beautiful movie theater. Okay, and so I've got a lot of memories of her. Okay, and and you you were telling me while we were on the break. She was one of the first people to hold you, as a baby. I was 14 days old. Okay, and she came out to the house.

35:43 And Rhoda she was only fourteen years old and she rode her bicycle out to the house cuz she wanted to see her little baby cousin. Yeah, and they were in the, they were in the house and

36:03 Mom brought her in my mother brought me in and handed. It handed me to her mom, and she was a very first one out of the family and the next one, was my father's mother my Aunt Margaret and know my grandmother Margaret and

36:28 So we've been close throughout the years and thank God she's still alive. Yeah, she has five children, but I don't know how many grandchildren but she's got. She's got a great, great grandchild. Yeah. All right at what? What do you see in your future?

36:59 Dying between now and then wondering what are you promised you?

37:08 That I would live to see you return. Okay, and and I hope to still be here when you go to the temple, to be to be married. Well, I hope so too. Yeah, I there is there any message you'd like to give to like posterity or anything like that? And you advise her hard work hard. BB be faithful to those who you love.

37:42 Get the education that you want to do for yourself and succeed in, being educated with gun and shoot for the moon night, but never never give up. You are going to have obstacles in your life. Married life education, life working life. Stay with it. Alright, stay with it.

38:16 I'm I'm extremely proud of your mother being the wife and mother. She is. So you have a nice Heritage to follow both of your mother, your mother and dad.

38:32 Well-dressed.

38:35 Be sweet to your grandmother. Like you always have been. Alright. Okay, cool. Cool. I'm super on that note. I think Wanda. Okay. Well, thank you for dropping a little bowl. That was nice.