In the summer of 1961, the family moved from Michigan to High Point, North Carolina. My dad quit his job at Woodard Furniture Company (he thought the brothers that owned it were "pricks") and took a job as vice-president and sales manager of Hatteras Yacht Company – a newly formed company building the world's first all-fiberglass hull yachts.
In his former position of sales manager for Century Boats, my father had established an extensive network of dealers in the industry, and earned a reputation as someone who could sell boats.
Also due to the fact that he especially liked attending the New York Boat Show, held annually in NYC, he was anxious to get back into the industry. Hatteras was looking for someone experience in sales, and being the consumate salesman, my dad fit the bill, got the job and helped launch the company towards success
But, what a transition for me. I was definitly the new kid down there! They hadn't seen too many Yankee boys down there in High Point.
My first year there was my sixth grade in school. My sixth grade teacher thought it was very inappropriate of me to not call her "ma'am" (in the same way that all male teachers expected to be called "sir".
Yes ma'am, yes sir – that's just the way they do it down there, and when a smart-assed young boy from the north can't remember to put the proper sign of respect after the words "yes" and "no," well that's just trouble, actually BIG trouble!
It was not so much that I was trying to be a smart-ass, I simply could not remember most of the time. I don't know how many times she made me sit in the corner. What a joke! She took it way too personally.
Another problem was understanding what the hell was being said when people would talk. Some of the southerners, I could understand without too much difficulity, but some of them . . . well, it was near impossible to comprehend. The African-Americans were the most difficult – usually I'd just smile and nod my head, like I understood.
I remember the first girl that I asked out on a date, Beth. She had a very strong southern accent, and I would find myself asking her, "what did you say" over and over trying to catch what it was she was talking about. It was not unusual for me to ask her three times to repeat what she had said! And even then, sometimes I'd still not understand, but give up and pretend I got it.