Bar Talk with Bill Parker, Part 1
Hi, I’m Brad Parker the attorney you want, but hope you never need and this is another edition of Bar Talk, the musings of attorneys, entrepreneurs and other interesting people. A podcast by people who don’t have to be famous, they just have to be interesting. Each episode will tackle topics big and small – and sometimes tiny – faced by attorneys entrepreneurs and other Fascinating People who know everyday you wake up It’s a good day but It takes a little more to make it a great one.
Brad Parker: Hello there. I’m Brad Parker this another edition of Bar Talk: the musings of lawyers, entrepreneurs and other interesting people. Today, we’ve got both an entrepreneur and a pretty interesting person – gave it away there. He happens to be my dad, Bill Parker. We’re going to sit down and share some stories and learn and about the Parker Clan of the Parker history a little bit. Won’t you say hi dad?
Bill Parker: Hi glad to be here.
Brad Parker: Well, I’m glad you’re here. We’ve been put in perspective you’re here for Thanksgiving and we’ve spent the last two or three days together, cooking and cleaning and having a cocktail one or two and…
Bill: Enjoying Brads hospitality!
Brad: Everything like that. And what I wanted to do is just kind of sit down for purposes of just recording it and there’s so many stories that I’ve heard over the years about the the clan where we came from and and just kind of family history and I wanted to kind of preserve that for the kids and grandkids. And so that someday they can sit down and hear a little bit more about where we came from and how we got here and learn a little bit about the family history. So in that regard, I just kind of want you to let everybody know that for the biggest part of my life. You were electrician you ran the Parker Electric Firm out Lubbock and you had worked with your dad. I guess he started it and you for the most part we’re living in Lubbock all your life. That’s correct, except for just a short period of time. I think that you moved Clint, but we’ll get to that in a minute. And I guess what I really want to know is just what’s your first memory? What’s your what what do you remember about growing up?
Bill: Dad informed to me at a young age that I wasn’t going to sleep late every morning from about age, probably 10 something like that. You’re going to get up go to work. And going to work meant clean out the shop, put things back up where they belong where the electrician’s left them and go out and learn the fundamentals of being an electrician. And he chose to put me with different men at different times. And now you keep in mind. I’m a kid that all my duties were to unload the truck and load the truck back up and roll up extension cords or unroll extension cords. And in that process I learned to be an electrician and watching the men wire houses, wire commercial buildings with conduit – the houses were wired when Romex and that was that was my beginning. Go back one step. I remember when I was in the second grade in Lubbock, they built a bunch and bunches of houses pier and beam which meant they were up off the ground a little bit. Well due to that we would run our circuits under the floor and so the electrician’s would drill a hole down through that plate come out under the floor then add poke a wire down through that you grab that wire move over to where the next plug was and shove it back up and then they would pull it up to the outlet box. Well, I was a little bitty squirt the second grade, they’d come pick me up at, dad would pick me up about whatever was 2:30 Carry Me Out to the job. They would have it already and now you get under there and get we’re going to go from here to over there to over here remember now you’re going to go here here here. We’re going to have wires poking down waiting for you. You carry them down to here and poke it up and I got paid a Coca-Cola in the afternoon or a piece of bubblegum. I was pretty we’re in pretty high cotton, but that was early a, but I remember at the second the second grade from Dupree school and Dupree is still there, by the way, but that’s that was my first really memory of working.
Brad: Well, I guess that must convince you that you didn’t want to be electrician.
Bill: Absolutely. Absolutely. It was messy. It was dirty and no I enjoyed it. I was a boy. I was with a big guy. I was one of them and enjoyed it. I enjoyed always hot and dirty and blah blah blah, but I was learning and I was taught by dad that you’re going to learn you’re going to you’re going to work you’re not gonna lay around and right and now we’re right. I mean that was he was he knew what he was doing. I may not have liked it at the time but he knew what he was doing.
Brad: Well when you went to school you graduate from Texas Tech in what year?
Brad: And you you left. You’ve got an animal husbandry degree I believe.
Bill: Exactly, correct.
Brad: And so what made you want to do something besides being an electrician?
Bill: I was from a family of cattle ranchers, sheep ranchers, some farmers and then I was a from a family of electrical contractors, electrical contractors and electrical contractors. And I always love cattle. Love the livestock. I love that type of work. And so I decided that maybe I might eventually go to veterinary school. Work towards that did that end but the thing of young marriage of not necessarily the highest grades in the class and needing a little money to get into to get through veterinary school. And had the fortune of landing a pretty good cattle job in January before I graduated in May. And so my ego took a little jump right there and I thought you know, I believe I’m just gonna take that job and I was a good electrician, but I want to run cattle or I want to work cattle. So I that’s what I did.
Brad: and that job was in Clint.
Bill: Clint, Texas. Yes. This is just outside of El Paso. That’s right back down the valley going east about 20, 30 mile, 20 miles.
Brad: So you were married at the time.
Bill: That’s correct.
Brad: And I guess you had a young son on the way not too long after you got there.
Bill: Correct. The young son was born in El Paso. I think the angel spoke that day and I am very proud of him and I’m very proud of it the fact that he was born in El Paso. Got up the next morning after he was delivered open the shade in the hospital room where my wife was had been transferred and I’ll be darned if it snowed like crazy did that evening and you don’t ordinarily here snow in El Paso, Texas, but it did that night.
Brad: And the young son happened to be me.
Bill: That’s correct. He was William Bradley Parker. That’s correct.
Brad: Well the tell me… let’s jump back even further. What where were your parents from a little bit of history.
Bill: My dad was raised in Central Texas. I say Central, Texas around Clyde, Baird, Robert Lee down through that back back in that Abilene area. And he grew up typical wild kid. I guess not me not me while like trouble but he he had a good life. He had a good life and his mother lived there and my mother was born and raised on Farmland Ranch land up in the Texas Panhandle and her father was a reasonably successful Cattlemen Sheep man. And later, they moved from the Panhandle to Cochran County, Texas. And that’s down on the that’s on the west Texas, eastern New Mexico state line and his Ranch Holdings. I never did know if he had 10 acres or billion Acres or what but that would the ranch was located on the Texas side, but bordering apparently the New Mexico line and a line fact long in there you take a right turn and you’re in New Mexico.
Brad: Did you ever have any memories of going to that ranch?
Bill: Never did, never did it the economic things at the time, my mother had my mother my grandmother had three I had four boys and four girls and as they were coming up she realized she wanted those kids to have a education. The closest thing she knew about for a good education was in Lubbock. So she convinced my Grandad that we’re going to move to Lubbock and take all these kids so they can grow up in a school system that twas the reason for moving to Lubbock. And then there were all kinds of stories about that Granddad by put they call him pop, ran the ranch from Lubbock and eventually sold the ranch and that’s how that evolved. But mother went to Texas Tech graduates from Tech and start teaching school as when she was still a single young lady.
Brad: Yeah, you know we were talking about that last night that’s pretty incredible in and of itself because I guess that would have been in the 30s, but she…
Bill: Mother mother finished tech tech was started by thinking about 1924, 1925 somewhere along there, but mother mother I think got out of tech. I don’t know if she was in the first graduating class or not, but she wound up with a teaching degree and a teaching certificate whatever that was back then and she taught school at Amherst Texas. She taught school at Post, Texas, which is a south of Lubbock Amherst is kind of northeast of Lubbock, Northwest of Lubbock, excuse me, and she taught school until she married my dad.
Brad: Now Lucille, your mom, was a Strickle. Their name was Srickles.
Bill: She was the oldest girl of a family of four girls and four boys.
Brad: And was she the oldest child ?
Bill: No she was like, she was like a number two or three in the in the chain there something like that.
Brad: Now did all those kids go to college to Tech or no?
Bill: No. No, they the all three of those four girls went to Tech and graduated. One brother went to Tech and became a CPA and was a very successful CPA in his career. One brother became an attorney and at that time TB was very prominent and he succumbed to TB. I mean he caught you being back. Then there was a little bit of a debate about what the cure was at. The cure was go to where it’s dry and high dry, So to speak. And the other other another brother wound up. He was an old cowboy all his life.
Brad: And which one was that, Lynn?
Bill: Lynn. Yeah, he was he was the youngest brother. He was the youngest youngest brother and the baby of the family they always laughed at him because they always said Mom sure did take care of that baby all his life.
Brad: Well, I remember growing up and Lucille and her sisters. Excuse me. I guess there was Lucille, Lynn or Lita. and Lorraine,
Bill: Lorraine. Yeah,
Brad: And they were all redheads.
Bill: Yes, correct and all their names begin with a L including the boys and the boys all the boys were Lynn, Leo Louis and Lester
Brad: Now there was a story that I guess pops you call you Pops would be your grandmother or your your mother’s dad Lucille’s dad’s crap got a little trouble when I always thought that’s why they came to Lubbock.
Bill: No, no, no. He’s sold the Ranch and had moved because Mom apparently just insisted that those kids weren’t going to grow up poor ranch kids. I didn’t mean that derogatorily. She wanted those kids to have an education and out there and we let ranch land they weren’t going to get what she thought they ought to have.
Brad: Well, it’s pretty commendable when you think about that is in the late or early 1900s and a woman going to college and getting a degree was probably not the real common. Especially in Lubbock Texas in the 20s.
Bill: And then a new University, a new college in Lubbock. Then it wasn’t a university was College. And that was a feather.
her, in Mom’s hat, about her kids. They, some of them went went to college and became successful because of their college education
Brad: Now, when did Pops pass away? How old were you?
Bill: I was probably 19, 18, 17, 18, 19 upper teens.
Brad: How old was he when he passed?
Bill: 84. 84.
Brad: Okay, so he had a long full life.
Bill: Oh, yeah. He was a he was a good guy, mean tough old rancher, but very good character guy and then mom lived to be, I believe 98.
Brad: And when you say mom, you’re not talking about your mom you’re talking about your grandma grandma.
Bill: That’s right. My pop and Mom were the parents of those they kids, but I know that she had a good life too. She enjoyed the her 98 years.
Brad: Now, you’re the only child.
Bill: That’s correct.
Brad: And with the sisters and brothers that Lucille had do they have kids? I mean, did you grow up with a bunch of cousins?
Bill: And I was an only child with a wildest bunch of durn cousins you ever saw and so we always were spending nights with each other. We will get in fights with each other. We loved each other so I never felt like an only child. They all I believe, I don’t believe there’s another only child in the bunch. There were two one of them had three. Well, I have one uncle and Aunt didn’t have any children at all. So but it was a good good family. We all grew up together.
Brad: Were you the youngest of the of the group or no?
Bill: No, I was about the middle. About somewhere in the middle.
Brad: Well, that’s that’s kind of where Lucille came from the Strickles. Where did Doug’s family come from? You say down around Baird and Coleman and that area?
Bill: They my grand dad Parker the way I heard it was that he came from Missouri or somewhere to Texas and somewhere along the way he met this girl in Mineral Wells, Texas. And so they whatever how they got together dating and whatever that’s that’s how they started but he was a Cattleman. Apparently all his life.
Brad: Now. I had the impression. I may be wrong that Doug’s Dad wasn’t around when he was growing up. Is that not right?
Bill: That’s correct the way way I got the story through the years and there were not there were seem to be one version of it that he left on a cattle drive somewhere – that family there were three or four girls and one boy and my grand dad Parker left on a cattle drive and they never saw him again. And there are conflicting stories as to what what happened. But my dad grew up in a, mom, in lady running the family and he never knew his dad. My grandmother was pregnant with this boy. And that boy was born after grand dad Parker left on that cattle drive.
Brad: Okay, so Doug was born after his father left.
Bill: That’s right. He never knew his he never knew his dad right always heard about him, but he never his dad never came back.
Brad: And Doug had two sisters?
Bill: Had actually three sisters that I knew about and then I heard through the through the years that grandmother Parker had lost two babies in birth and they wound up now that apparently my granddad had TB and they moved from Robert Lee, Texas to Capitan New Mexico. There’s a TB sanitarium out there in that vicinity somewhere. It’s a down they’re Ruidosa area on past Roswell and I never did sit down with my family and get this straight but I assumed through thinking that he must have gone out there to get cured of that TB and then somewhere along the way they moved back to Texas, to Robert Lee, and then somewhere along the way he left on that cattle drive. So the sequence of events if I’d have been thinking enough about it. I would have sat somebody down and gone through what we’re doing right now, but I did not get all the details about that and partly they didn’t talk about it a lot. So there must never did know what the reason was. I did just know that he he felt like he missed out on a few things in life, a bunch of things in life not having a father, but the story that I got that there are two Parker babies in the cemetery around Capitan, some somewhere there that they lost in birth. He had three sisters then: Mary, Annie and Zula.
Brad: I don’t think I’ve ever met Zula.
Bill: Zula left the nest. She was a self-sufficient artist and she wound up in New York. And in New York, she contact contracted some kind of disease. It may have been TB again. She contracted some kind of disease and passed away in New York. But we had some paintings that she had done and I did not know enough to hang on. Excuse me to hang on to them, but I knew they were in the family and where they are now. I don’t know who had we have a big family so I don’t Who has those paintings now?
Brad: But how did how did Doug and Lucille your mom and dad? How did they meet? How did that…
Bill: She lived in Lubbock. He wound up working for the Texas Power and Light. And he wound up in the in the office Managements if system of that living in Plainview, Texas, and apparently there was reason enough for him to conduct business from Plainview through Lubbock and back to Plainview. I just I don’t know what the deal was there. Right? But mother was a Lubbock girl who taught school at Post and taught school at Amherst. So she was passing through the book and I guess.
Brad: Somewhere along the way they met?
Bill: Uh-huh. Yes.
Brad: How old were they when they married, you know?
Bill: I don’t know, I suspect they were approaching 30 ish. But now I have some pictures of them and other people of the family out at the ranch out in Cochran County during that time. So I mean dad was quite familiar with the ranch and they would as they were dating and then later as they marry a married. I have some have seen I’d have to go hunt and try to find them now but have some pictures of that ranch land and those kids so to speak coming from Lubbock going out to Ranch and going back to Lubbock.
Brad: Well, so was the ranch still in the family when you were a kid?
Bill: So Yes. Certainly. No, no by the time I was born in 1936, and the ranch was gone by then. Somewhere in the late 20s somewhere along that era is when he sold Ranch. I had a funny thing in my life. My granddad never had a job. Never worked and I wondered why doesn’t my grand dad get up and go to work? Well, he didn’t have to work. He sold that ranch and got cash for it. I’m quite sure and got the money and he was a retired Rancher. I don’t, maybe when I was very young and did not think about things like that. He may have worked somewhere but he didn’t Ranch any after that. He had a ranch- that ranch and then he had a farm at the Meadow Texas where they grew feed crops and things like that. They did not have good water out at the ranch on the New Mexico line to phrase farm products, mainly grain and you know for feed for sheep and cattle and so he bought this Farm down around Meadow and they had begun to find irrigation possibilities of water irrigation. So that’s where he grew a lot of his feed crops there and then hauled it back to the ranch. Yeah.
Brad: So when you were kid, the first thing you remember is your dad was actually had Parker electric up and running at that time?
Bill: No, I remember dad worked I had another Uncle who was an electrical contractor and Dad worked for the I think it was the west Texas Power and Light or something like that in the in the he wound up in an office position and learned or knew the electrical trade. I had an uncle which one’s my dad’s brother in law in Lubbock who was in the contracting business and dad went to work for this Uncle in his electric shop.
Brad: Who was that?
Bill: That was Gene. Gene White- that was Mary White’s husband who was Mary why it was my dad’s sister and dad went to work for him and learn the business of actually running a contracting business and then in about 1945-46 somewhere along there, dad opened up as Parker electric company, and that’s how that came about, but he and mother met had to meet somewhere in the vicinity and go from there. I think.
Brad: He died – Doug died a relatively young.
Bill: Very young a very young. He died at the age of 59, if he lived another month. I think he would hit his 60th birthday.
Brad: Oh, he was 59? I thought he was 62 or 63.
Bill: No. No, he was 59 and coming up on 60 and had a heart attack and Bam. He was gone.
Brad: Yeah, he was a heavy smoker.
Bill: Yeah. He had a lot of bad habits, and I don’t mean negatively but I don’t know unhealthy habits feels big and when he had a heart attack if they could have done then what they do now, he’d probably well. He wouldn’t still be here because he would be a hundred nine years old something like that, but they did all he could for him, but they just couldn’t swing him through to the due to the damage that he had had in his heart.
Brad: So he passes away you’ve been in the business for how long at that point in time?
Bill: A couple of years. He made me a situation to get out of my what I call my cattle experience and possibly make a little more cash and what a Cowboy is going to make at that time and I couldn’t turn it down. I had to economically think about my family that was in the future. I had to take it and so I did and he had told me if I’d come into the business, He would keep his name in the business and we could operate off of his license – that was sounded pretty good. I did not have a master’s electrical license at the time. Later on within a year. Whatever I decided I better get my Master’s license. I wasn’t anticipating him conking out and being gone, but and he hit me up one day. He was ticked. He said why are you studying to take that exam? He said I told you we would, you could operate off of his license which would have been legal. If he’d of owned one percent of business. His license was legal in in that business. I’ll tell him hey, I’ve got to do this for me. I want that. I want that license. I took the test passed the test and within about a year Bingo he passed away.
Bill: You talk about God guiding you in some experiences. I thank God was in that whole deal thereof, he had another job for Doug Parker to do in heaven and he guided me to…
Brad: Go get your license!
Bill: Get your book out start studying so you can pass that test. Yeah, that’s…
Brad: I didn’t know that part of the story. How long were you in Clint?
Bill: Less than four years, long enough to really get settled in and know what I was doing you’re taking responsibility for a lot of a lot of things and to this day, I feel guilty about having left Clint. I mean, I hate that I missed the experience with living down there but and learning what further about cattle but I was making them were pretty good hand and then bingo I up and left. I quit and money was the thing money was the thing that drew me away from the cowboy days to the electrical contracting.
Brad: Now you got married to Mom, Nancy. How old were you when you got married?
Bill: I was in my early 20s and she was a late teenager some somewhere along there.
Brad: So really young.
Bill: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Brad: How did y’all meet?
Bill: School, high school?
Brad: Okay was that Lubbock high?
Bill: Yes, Lubbock high. And in fact when we met she was in junior high and I was in high school and things developed from that and that’s our weary. That’s how that came about.
Brad: Had she graduated from high school when y’all got married?
Bill: She was a senior in high school when we got married. And I’m sure we caused lots of tongues to wag and these kids are just stupid for getting married like this at the, but it worked. Yeah.
Brad: Well it worked for a little while.
Bill: It worked for ah, A few years. Quite a few years three great kids later why it began to crumble.
Brad: So you find yourselves you go to college you get your animal husbandry degree you have decided that you want to try to do some cowboying. And yeah, and you move down to Clint Texas. What was it? Like, I mean head your dad and mom thought you would go into the business with your dad and was that tough?
Bill: I was a I was a good little electrician coming through high school. And I think ultimately they thought he’s not going to get a job want to run cattle sheep or whatever I was going to do. He’s going to come back and electrical business and bingo I landed that job after my first interview. God was looking after me then too. I think, but I got that job in January, but I can’t go down until I graduate. We kind of came to be a company joke down there that you’ve hired somebody he can’t even going to work yet. You know that kind of thing, but that that’s the way it worked.
Brad: But was Doug disappointed that you were leaving or did he kind of see it coming?
Bill: Ultimately no, I think he was I think he was counting on his son taking over that business. And so after a few years he began to, he and Mom would come down and stay a couple of nights and then go back to looking somewhere along the way he got me aside and planted the seed. I don’t know. I’m not going to do that. Hey, I got too many things going here in Clint. I mean, I’m I’m part of this community of this or This company. Yeah, and so he was trying to twist my arm, politely and I began to think about you know, what how much I’m making down here, which was I have making a good salary – my wife and I had I had a savings account. We’d never had a savings account in her life and that can’t we weren’t getting wealthy, but we were comfortable and I just made the economic decision that my future back in the electrical business is going to be a little higher up this pay scale than me staying down there, which was a good job, and I was proud to have it but I believe I Can Do Better economically going back so.
Brad: We’ll jump back this one more time. Do you know how the Strickles got over here into you know where how we’re with their history was?
Bill: I have no idea. My grandmother was a Grantham and she was apparently would be raised or no. No, she was she came from She may have come from Back East somewhere how I don’t know but she wound up in Mineral Wells, Texas, and then my grand dad wound up in Mineral Wells Texas from somewhere they met and so that’s all I know. That’s all I know.
Brad: Well after you move back to Lubbock and you’re running your business y’all ultimately got divorced and the three of us kids move with Mom over to the Dallas area.
Bill: Yes. Yes.
Brad: And so how did that change your life or how did that I mean, what would you do?
Bill: Emotionally it wrecked me. I was losing my kids until I got over the shock and then I realized those kids will never lose their daddy and that being me and so we commuted back and forth between Dallas and Lubbock and hey Dad, my class is going to have program next Thursday night and I’m in it. Could you come you bet your bippy I’ll come and I’ll be there and so that’s the way that went on. You graduate from high school and one of the things I remember you told me the night you graduated from high school is dad you better get in that truck and head to Lubbock because I’ll beat you back to Lubbock. So I know you was want to come to Lubbock. Get back to Lubbock.
Brad: Well, you know what I remember from those times was every summer we’d come to Lubbock and hang with you during the summer months and then during the school year We have a couple of trips or something like that, but for the most part it was Summers.
Bill: And I would like for everyone to know that I was as hard on you and your brother and Maybe maybe sister As dad was on me about working. We weren’t going to come to Lubbock and lay around eat watermelon all day and drink soda pops. I had a business where I could put you in with some electricians and you’re going to learn to be electrician. I’m not going to kill you if you don’t learn to be an electrician, but I’m going to push you so that you will so that you have a occupation to fall back on well and you did it.
Brad: I did I got my Journeyman’s Electricians license.
Bill: I was very proud of you.
Brad: I was 17 or 18 years old while…
Bill: That’s right. That’s right. And I learned from dad that I am not a teacher. I can push your but I would have you work with various journeyman electrician and I am quite sure I told you many times that learn their good points and observe their bad points try to separate them out and become a good electrician and it worked. It worked.