Watkins, Inc. - Manager of System Design.
Wichita, KS. Sept/1989-Jan/1990.
Here I devised software for a company business system based on multiple
personal computers. Our primary project was an order entry system written in Microsoft COBOL. I managed myself
and 2 other programmers during this period, after a brief introduction
to the physical system for filling orders.
featured a logo over its steel yard with a
Rising Sun image in orange,
written around the rim of the rising orb, like an omen of the Big Energy
pioneered by James Watt,
the father of the steam engine,
which was first mass-produced in 1776.
It reminded me of the popular ballad
House of the
Rising Sun, which made me laugh sometimes to think about it,
because it was a family-owned business relying on a middle manager named "Hawkins"
to manage employee relations. So there was this comic atmosphere of a family-owned,
Southern-oriented firm that liked to entertain us with "Sadie Hawkins Day" symbolism
I associate with Al Capp and the comic strip
Perhaps Sadie Hawkins Day would be celebrated with "Damn Yankees!" enthusiasm as a memorable dismissal.
Actually, Watkins seemed to be a
school for young optimists in
something that would turn us out after a time like
graduates from its halls.
In "school" a class does not go on forever. Things may have to heat up before one can join kin,
and (Haw) most student workers keep their cool, avoiding small shops, careful to show up in pants,
rather than in skirts. This was not an uncommon idea:
my manager at Telos Federal Systems described Telos as another
whistle stop on my
I guess you could say that a career in
engineering at the time
could involve a lot of transition (like Trick or Treat at Halloween)
and was quite reminiscent of a career in staged politics,
as well as of a career as an expert as usually concieved of by students.
Watkins was a
steel hardware shop that
supported the kind of
we associate with
and had been in business to develop or support the development of similar installations.
It had a very impressive inventory of
tools for machining steel
and metals for sale, and of gear for
constructing steel buildings,
including a steel yard
with an impressive crane
that ran out into a materials yard on a rail,
as shown in top right photo. At first the management put me back into the
so that I could get a feel for how filling orders for materials went,
and a feel for where everything was located, and just how everything was done.
I put parts into bags from drawers in back before I was made a
Manager of Software Development
to prepare a new order entry system in COBOL
as the leader of a
small software development team.
Thus I was a genuine Rising Son of the place. Perhaps they honored me with this assignment because
they had read my resume Profile and wished to encourage me
before sending me on my way with a proud story
and much improved prospects for success in the world of business.
After developing the COBOL order-entry system, which worked very well and was a good show,
I was assigned to familiarize myself with a new IBM computer system
that we were going to bring in to replace the old hardware:
The IBM AS 400 System.
I had enough time to line up all the manuals for the
on the shelf behind the desk in my office before I was required to leave.
I think they were going to look and see if I claimed to be an expert with the
AS 400 System from '
on my resume after my dismissal, because managers were interested in how we present things,
and wanted to determine by experiment if we were merely blowhards with inflated tales.
I decided to come forward as a manager of software development for what I had been doing in
with the other fellows, and declined to mention the AS 400 System at all,
leaving it to the next generation of students to pass through
The House of the Rising Sun.
I was sure that if I claimed to be expert in the AS 400 after merely lining its manuals up behind my desk
that I would be exposed as a fraud and a fool.
Telos Federal Systems subsequently restored my old salary at
Honeywell Defense Communications, and I was a Systems Engineer again
in an outfit where I might hope to use the talents I had cultivated over the years as a technology specialist.
I had passed the test of The House of the Rising Sun, going on to another assignment
at my old wages in engineering, and feeling as if I had been launched again in my engineering profession.
On the other hand, my experience as a Manager of Software Development for business systems in COBOL
was a more common job in Wichita at the time,
a job a man might reasonably train for in that environment.
I had studied COBOL at WSU earlier to be taking a Summer course that might have some value
to me in business after working as a computer operator at Computer, Inc.,
a story I have never told on my resume. That was a shop for business systems in COBOL.
While I was working there on 2nd shift IN 1974 or 1975 I read an article in a journal about
and decided to enroll in a course in microprocessors at WSU,
changing over to a career in electronic and computer engineering.
But after an extensive career involving hardware and software development emphasizing microprocessor-controlled
subsystems with digital and analog electronics, about all I could find one year was a business-systems job
working up some code in COBOL, an opportunity I was grateful to find that was interesting and
gave me some more experience in managing staff and taught me how a supply company may operate internally.
Watkins, Inc. was a fine school and a recovery center for me, although its
House of the Rising Sun theme in the background was a pretty good warning about
long-term prospects there and seemed funny at the time.
James A. Green, March/2003
 "Come see what I have done........|
and its been the ruin of many a poor boy,
and Lord, I know that I'm one."
- Selection from
The House of
the Rising Sun.
"There is a house in New Orleans
They call The Rising Sun,
And its been the ruin of many a poor boy,
And Lord, I know that I'm one..."
"...Come see what I have done....
and its been the ruin of many a poor boy,
and Lord, I know that I'm one..."
Today the old building is abandoned, and the business will reopen elsewhere, with a new name.|
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