Dave Spurck

Again harmonious procedures were shattered when Hank Thoms accepted a promotion to second level manager, but in Poughkeepsie.  How could he after all the loyalty (I) gave him? Some people are so unappreciative.

The new appointee was Dave Spurck, a part Cheyenne Indian. He not only portrayed the part, he lived it. His manner was never frivolous. When he spoke, it had meaning.   Dave became a very important part of my life and as meaningful a friend as Hank.

Over a period of time I learned there wasn't anything in this world that Dave couldn't do especially if it were mechanical.  He built a beautiful home on a part of thirteen acres and gave his children enough to build their homes. He converted a Motor Coach Bus to a traveling home. He built jigs and necessities for designing guitars. The guy is amazing.

Under Dave's leadership we started a new project, the 3174 Subsystem Control Unit.  There were at least 16 models available. Each model had its own library of possibly 20 manuals.

Endicott, New York was also manufacturing the 3174s. Somehow an agreement was made for Kingston to prepare Endicott's manuals. I met with the interface person numerous times, midway between the two cities.  We exchanged information and I returned to Kingston with additional information for their documents.   However, when we tried to print them, we found that Endicott used a different format than Kingston. Their manuals would not print properly.

This was one of the fallacies of IBM. Direct continuity between sites did not really exist.  Each facility was run as a separate company. This created an atmosphere of internal competition which I'm sure other name brand companies enjoyed.   The person who programmed our printing procedure said she would not change to satisfy Endicott. If she did, it would affect every writer in Kingston.

When a writer finds a problem he can not resolve, it becomes the manager's problem and so on up the ladder. I never heard anymore about Endicott. I guess the politicians fought it out. I continued writing for the Kingston versions of the 3174s.

Over the years I had lost contact with Ed Scharmer. Ed advanced in Engineering and traveled much of the time. Once in a great while we would get together for a drink, but the subject of work never entered our conversation. Toward the end of the project I was amazed to find that Scharmer was the project manager of all 3174 operations. His budget was 50,000,000 dollars with 500 people answering to him from Germany to Japan.

Flabbergasted? It was hardly the word for it. As I walked by his office one day, he was behind his desk. He waved me in.

"Ed", I said, "I'm certainly proud to have known you."

He reached into his desk and withdrew a plastic hand that he placed on the desk with the middle finger extended. A big grin was his answer.

Dave gave me the IBM 3270 Display system manual to update, dress up and enter the 3174 information. It was one of the classier manuals. The contents of the book was well accepted. However, the art department decided to design a new cover. It was colorful and everyone expressed approval until it hit the executive board room in New York.

One of the Executives pointed out the possibility of interpreting the design to be a Nazi Swastika.

Every manual was ordered to be destroyed. They were all destroyed except one.

I Have That Manual!

Personally, I think it was a very attractive design. A reader would have to twist his thinking or imagination to see a swastika. Just another example of IBM extravagance.

Evidently, Ed Scharmer's budget did not have to absorb the cost. His project was one of few that produced a profit.

I asked Ed later why he retired when he was capable of successful projects?  He said, "It took years to develop that team. When the job terminated the team was scattered to the winds. I don't want to go through it again."

Nothing remains fixed. Dave called me to the office and asked how I'd feel if Herman Koelmel became manager. Herm is a fellow who comes on very aggressively. His strategy proposes the best defense in any situation is a strong verbal attack.     I thought this might be a good time to retire.

Herm became one of the best of managers. I eventually found much humor in his aggressiveness. A difference of opinion was treated fairly provided I could justify my actions; no manager appreciates surprises, so we were careful not to let them happen.

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