I am told that everyone who was an adult at the time can tell you what they were doing, where they were, when they heard The News. As is, perhaps, the case in other respects, I am the exception.
Well, partly so, anyway. I was at work - must have been as it was 10:30 California time Friday the 22nd November. I do think I recall, vaguely, someone saying this had happened and my not really believing it.
It was not many months before I not only believed it, but felt it.
I am the least political person I know (sometime I must tell the story about Edna's and my, with Harry Frank and ... Roberta? - fleeing Berkeley during the Cuban Missile Crisis), so I am only passing on what I heard. Lyndon Johnson became president - and de-emphasised space, and re-emphasised social welfare. This is what I have heard as the explanation for what happened.
What happened in the space industry in Los Angeles is that government contracts - what? were cancelled? not renewed? Can even the government just 'cancel' a contract? I don't know, but thousands of men - mostly men, I think - were out of jobs.
Some of the horror stories I have heard included suicides - the boss walking into a room full of engineers bent over drawing boards and announcing that they need not come back after lunch - that sort of thing. Some of these men - like my friend Phil Sollow - were pretty deeply in debt. After all, everything was booming. Salaries were rising regularly. Jobs went begging. Prices were rising. Buy now, with borrowed money. Houses will never be cheaper.
Space-General was very good to me. I was a very junior employee. They kept me on until February, 1964. Then - sorry, John, but we can do nothing else. Here is a month's salary - I think they only owed me two weeks as severance - as separation money.
In Oroville our telephone number was 1552-J (I think; Peter may correct me on this). Our telephone didn't have a dial on it. To call us - or to call any other number in Oroville - you lifted up the telephone (it was, at least, powered from the Exchange; you didn't have to crank a hand-generator to signal the operator). The operator said "Number, please!" You gave her (it was always 'her') the number, and I suppose she plugged in your line to someone else's line - or perhaps she dialled a number. Anyway, you were connected.
In 1963, in El Monte, we had a dial telephone - for local calls. Toll calls? Dial '0' and - guess what! - a lady asked "Number, please!"
Edna became a telephone operator - night shift, I think, or 'swing shift' - switching long-distance calls. She could tell us more about the job, I am sure.
And I started job-hunting.
Early 1964 in Los Angeles in the space industry was not a good place for a very junior techie, with two and a bit years' University education, to be looking for a job. There were thousands of more-qualified men doing the same.
I do not remember how the suggestion came about that - don't laugh! - I might successfully become a farmer. I presume I wrote to my father - perhaps even spent what would have seemed extravagant money at the time - on a toll call to him (or maybe I called collect :-)). Perhaps I suggested it to him, or he to me. In any case, in May we packed most of our belongings - not, perhaps, a great deal compared to now, but enough to be a significant undertaking - and flew to Honolulu (leaving Judy the Jaguarundi in the good graces of Pan American Airways - and to her doom), transplaned to Hilo, where we were picked up by my family, and taken to the house they rented mauka (away from the sea - as opposed to makai - seaward - the two most important directions in Hawai'i) from Pa'auilo. There we were to learn the ways of farming in the Big Island.