Parker County Today April 2017 - Page 60

another poor day.’ And there he was offering me a dollar-ninety! I thought I could work there a week, get my money, and go on to Montana. Then Bob said the killer thing: ‘Pat, you won’t believe all the good-looking girls out there!’ I worked there all summer. Worked 96 hours the first week — man, I’d never seen so much money!” And that’s how Pat came to be in North Central Texas and not Montana. For $2.50 an hour he followed his brother to General Dynamics, ultimately working on the flight line as an aircraft electrician, five years in all before getting the boot in 1971. The GD workforce went from some 32,000 to 12,000, Pat said, “and the jobs in Fort Worth were just gone.” He did what he could to keep body and soul together, a little of this and a little of that, carpentry, electrical work. Then, he landed a job build- ing a shopping center in Hurst that kept him in groceries for a while. The planner behind the shopping center liked Pat’s work and asked him to be GM on another one he wanted built in Dallas. Pat didn’t think he had the chops for a GM position and soon took employment with the old sporting goods chain Cullum and Boren, which Oshman’s bought out about 2000. “I told them I knew guns and that’s where they put me. I was department head, then assistant manager at the Northeast Mall store in Hurst; then when they opened the brand new store on Camp Bowie I went over there as store manager.” He opened the store, got it up and running and stayed awhile, but op- portunity came knocking again. “My best friend Lonnie’s dad had just died and after the funeral he called me up and suggested we go have a beer,” Pat remembered. “It was a Sunday afternoon and we went over on Berry Street and got some of those really good little ol’ steaks about that big (his thumb and forefinger parted about three-eighths of an inch), those old cafe steaks, you know. That’s all we could afford anyway.” Lonnie, who’d been laid off at the same time as Pat, made his friend a business proposition. His father-in- law had a little machine shop that 58 King Boy Down by the Water (Pat Potts) Lonnie thought he and Pat could take over. “There I was on the fast track with Cullum and Boren, making pret- ty good money, and I went home and told my wife, and by then we had a little ol’ baby boy … she about died. I took a 50-percent pay cut to do that,” said Pat. “But it was the best decision I ever made. We were blessed, but we worked hard, and overall business has been good. I’m still at it 44 years later. I went to work this morning, for a little while.” He called the current business a “highfalutin’ machine shop.” “We make dies and tooling for the forging industry,” he explained. “Air- craft dies, oil field dies, military dies. I think it was ’86 that we decided to go to computerized machining. It had never been done in our industry, the die business. Everybody told us how crazy we were, we couldn’t do it, it can’t be done, not gonna hap- pen. They were almost right, it almost couldn’t be done — the learning curve dang near broke us. But we did it, and we were the first die shop in the United States to go CNC (Com- puter Numerical Control).” In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Pat and his wife started buying and turning houses. They’d live in one for a while; then sell for a better one. In 1996, they built a stone house on Highway 1886 five miles west of Highway 199 and Lakeside. “I welded every weld and set every post,” he said looking out over the 10-acre property and its improvements. It’s a nice spot with gently rolling terrain and a small tank and stately oaks. Some of it he cleared for grass and construction sites. Now 69, Pat enjoys sitting on his back porch of an evening surveying the fruits of his labors, and watching Cinco, Twister and Concho (The Boys) munch grass. Longhorns are a passion for Pat who has raised them since 1984. At times, he maintained larger herds on a ranch he had out Barton Chapel way in Jack County. He sold out completely but couldn’t do without the critters and bought them back in, in a small way. “What’s the big to-do about these cattle, Pat?” I put it to him, seeking a rise. “They’re just bovines.” “No! Noooo! Longhorns are