Unbeknownst to me at the
time being a "whistle blower" was akin to childbirth, both sure hurt at
the time but both give birth to a new direction in life. It was apparently
time for me to move in a different direction and being fired was just the
LORD's way of nudging me in that direction. As they say, "one person's
loss is another person's gain" and so Aviation's loss became the Cat world's
I was on unemployment when my neighbors Jim and Susie Krueger suggested that I make and sell the cat toy I was always using on my two cats. Fishing poles had just switched from fiberglass to composites and I had taken the top half of one of the old fiberglass rods, put a handle on it and some fishing line and was using it to play with the cats. I said "why not" and applied for a patent and got it. With that little innocent suggestion the "Kitty Tease" cat toy was born. Many years later that cat toy was to receive the cat industries highest honor by being voted "The Best Cat Toy In The Last 30 Years" by the readers of the nation's top cat magazine.
I went to the library and found that there was an encyclopedia like set of books called "The Thomas Register" that was a huge listing of everybody that was anybody in manufacturing. I compiled a list of suppliers for handles, rods, line, etc. and began acquiring the needed materials to begin manufacturing. Since I was single and living in an unincorporated area I just turned my small home into a business.
Most of the companies were eager and willing to work with a new manufacture and with their help I refined the Kitty Tease and made it the very best I could. I found out that on any given weekend there were a dozen or more cat shows going on throughout the U.S. And so I started taking my cat toy to the cat shows and began making sales.
The shows took me all over the East Coast in the beginning. Being in Tennessee, I was centrally located to drive to most shows in just one day. Not only did I have show sales but I also began picking up pet store sales from the shop owners that were attending the shows. After that I ran a small ad in a cat magazine and began the mail-order portion of the business. It was all new, I was having fun, I could make my own hours, and so I put aviation behind me as I started my new career.
I married a local lady and she joined me on the cat show circuit for a while. We had a son and built a small building in the back yard to house the business. Because of family demands I had to adjust my show exposure to spend more time at home. About this time the knock-offs starting coming out but I could not fight them off. Because I would not give kickbacks 2 very lucrative deals fell through that would have made me rich. Having to stay home more now lessened my exposure, which effected my income.
About this time I added fiberglass pointers to my line and began manufacturing them. I was now having the Kitty Tease rods coated with a special bright yellow luminescent coating that made it look radioactive. I made a pointer kit that contained one long pointer, one short pointer and a special wall mount bracket for such. The O.J. Simpson pre-trial was just starting so I sent Judge Ito four of the very first prototype pointer kits. He loved them and retired his old wood pointer right on national TV. For the rest of the trial you only saw my pointers in use. A short while later I added black pointers to the line for use with all the new "white" chalkboards that were now on the market. I soon had them in a "test" program with Office Depot, via private label through a third company. After a half dozen orders we were ready to leave the "test" stage with Office Depot and go into "regional" and go into "test" with Staples when the company was bought out and everything fell through. There went a $100,000-$250,000 pointer kits order. Such is life.
As both the cat industry and pointer industry went through growth changes I found myself unable to adapt because of my financial limitations. That hurt because mentally I knew what needed to be done yet could not do it physically due to lack of funds. It hurt seeing all that opportunity pass by and not being able to do anything about it.
Since 1983 the Kitty Tease and my High-Vis pointers kept me going. It wasn't until recently that I realized that the slow down was just the LORD's way of telling me I had passed another of his "tests" and it was now time to move on to the next challenge. I guess getting these stories out was my next assignment because it sure is not something that is natural to me. I was terrible in English in High School and almost failed my senior year because of it. Something inside me though said "write" and so I did. The more I wrote the stronger the desire to do so became until now. My stories are now complete and it is time for me to rest before I go on to my next adventure or assignment or whatever you may call it.
Knowing how one person sees things can sometimes help another to break out of the cloud that all too often keeps us from seeing what really is before us. I should have died a half dozen times over yet I didn't. Was it because those experiences were needed for these stories, I don't know? I do feel though that these stories were meant for someone special out there. How many "someone specials" I do not know either because we all look at things a little differently.
My goal, to make it to 100 and go out with a great big smile on my face. I have learned to take time to smell the roses and do I ever enjoy doing so. I feel so very sorry for all the people out there that have the accumulation of wealth as their goal. Being poor for all these years, I feel, was a blessing in disguise for it meant that I could have an almost unlimited supply of time with my son. Believe me when I say that we have made good use of that time. There is now a bond that is like few others. That is what life is about as I see it.
"Thank You" for letting me enter your realm of thought and letting me share these stories with you. And if your a cat lover, school teacher, worried about dog bites or a first time inventor you best stop by my retail site and get em while they last because there just might not be any more very shortly. (http://www.kittytease.com)
Note: If you liked this read I hope you will take the time to also read my simplified version of the "Book of Revelation", which is found on my home page. It sure makes it simple to understand.
P.S. A special "Thanks" to Steve Matthews,
the 281st Web Master, and Marge Livesay, a sharing
member of the local computer club, for showing me how to do all of this.
I know I aggravated them both with my desire to take that very first step
in both writing and basic web page design. From the second step on
though they smiled at what they had help start.