Thursday, February 03, 2011

Jim Cassady...A Success Story...

Jimmy Cassady and I became the best of friends when we met in the sixth grade at Giles Elementary School in Beaumont. Our friendship remained close from then till our graduation from South Park High School in 1953. We had a great relationship because our senses of humor ran so parallel. Also we had other interests in common such as fishing, girls and fireworks. And we were Greenies ’53.

Jim and I played practical jokes on each other at every opportunity. For example, one day we rode a Beaumont City bus from downtown to South Park. I did not have any money and the price was ten cents. Jim had told me that he was going to pay for me. But when he boarded the bus he paid for himself and went to sit down. I stood there staring at the driver. I told the driver that “my friend is going to pay for me.” Jim came back up front and told the driver, “I have never seen this person in my life, but if he needs some help, I’ll be glad to pay for him.” Then everyone stared at me as though I was an urchin off of the streets.

I had my opportunity for revenge at school. Jim was in the process of changing lockers, which meant he had all of his books and stuff with him. I happened to be just outside his classroom door when he came out into the hall. The books he was carrying were stacked up higher than his head. He barely could see where he was going. I don’t know what came over me but a little voice said, “trip him.” Jim could not see my foot as it gingerly eased between his feet. Yes, Jim came crashing to the floor. Books and things slid across the hall as Jim said, “Oof.”

One time Jim, his mother and I were in a Galveston restaurant eating lunch. Jim kept begging his mother for a dime so he could go play the slot machine (which was legal at the time). His mother kept refusing his requests. Finally though she said, “Ok here’s a dime. You can keep it or you can go lose it in that stupid machine.” Jim went over, inserted the dime and won $10.00.

So what happens with a young man like Jimmy Cassady growing up in Beaumont? Well in 1954, he went to work at Jefferson County Airport as an agent for Trans-Texas Airways and in 1956, was promoted to Chief Agent. Jim told me that the airline was not big on raises but were very generous with handing out titles. He said that there were several jokes about the old DC-3 aircraft that TTA was flying. They had been called Tree Top Airlines, Try Try Again, Teeny Tiny Airlines, Take Train Always, Terrible Trouble Aloft, Tickled To Arrive, Tinker Toy Airways, Teeter-Totter Airways and Texas Threat (to) Aviation. There was quite a list but the foregoing will give you the jest.

Later in 1967, Trans-Texas changed their name to Texas International. This was facilitated by their adding a flight from McAllen, Texas to Monterrey, Mexico. Jim was transferred to Houston and kept climbing the ladder eventually becoming Senior Vice-President of Sales & Services of T. I. in 1970 and SVP of Community Services for T. I. in 1973.

Texas International purchased Continental Airlines in 1983. They maintained the name, Continental, because it was better known. Jim completed his career with Continental as Manager of Employee Services. He retired from Continental in 2005 at the ripe young age of 70. What a fascinating career spanning 51 years.

Even better than beating the slot machine that day, Jim turned out to be a big winner in life.

Winston Hamby


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