By Eve W. Engle

The dogs rule in our house. They are fed first, allowed in our bed, have their own bed in the guest room and sneak up onto the sofas when we aren't looking. Maxie, short for Maximus, is a Golden Retriever/Great Pyrenes mix, Sammy is a Black Lab/Border Collie mix. His full name is Samuel L. Jackson after one of my favorite actors. Both were abused and rescued from their former owners. They get cookies every morning.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Indiana Farm Boy at 100: life after conflict

In more ways than one this specific article picks up the theme of life after conflict. My last post was a while ago. It was my intention when I began to write about my dad on the "eve" of his one hundredth birthday that I would try to post at least two articles a week. Then reality intervened. First, my laptop began misbehaving . . . badly. It decided to take on a life of its own. Writing became an exercise in frustration to see if I could get an entire sentence typed before the cursor decided to move to a location of its choice, or to open new windows, close other windows, and dance around the screen like a whirling dervish. Aside from the insanity of the laptop, things changed with my job. A major position opened up that I just couldn't ignore. After several weeks of intense interviewing I faced a room full of interrogators via Skype. Nice interrogators, but I still felt like someone who was facing the Nuremberg trial lawyers. I made it to the semifinals, but then wasn't chosen as a finalist. Still, it was a great experience in professional interviewing, and I learned a lot. Then my middle son left for China, and my job took a turn I couldn't accept. I resigned when it became evident that I needed to make a major change in my life, and that I was truly needed at home. THE family home. Windy Hill. Where there was no computer that worked well enough for me to do my work. So I took off for Best Buy with my mother to purchase a computer for the two of us to use. We bought a new desktop computer, and I delivered my old laptop to the "Geek Squad". After a week of messing around and trying to get things to work, the outcome has been another new computer to replace the first new computer, which was broken, a working (but not great) laptop with a mouse now attached to confuse the track pad into behaving, and no ethernet, so I am still using the public library's WiFi. Thank God for public libraries! But I have plenty of time to write since I have no job. I am not retired, just repositioned. That is my life after conflict.

Which brings me back on track, and to this article. Life after a major conflict can be confusing, a little frightening, and very frustrating. But it can also open the door for new opportunity. After WW2 began my dad had a job with Lockheed, but when the war ended he was left like everyone else, wondering what was to come next? Time to examine his options. Living in Los Angeles provided opportunities he wouldn't have had anywhere else. His degree was in studio art with a concentration in sculpture and ceramics. It was time for Frank to put his talent to more appropriate use. He opened Frank Engle Studios in L.A., and then eventually relocated to Evansville, Indiana to be closer to family. In the meantime though, his designs captured the attention of the prop departments at the major Hollywood studios, magazines such as "House Beautiful", and the marketing departments of major retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.

Frank Engle Studios produced decorative ceramics and was recognized for it's unique glazing as well as its designs. Many of the products were horses or animal pairs, but the factories produced everything from tiles to ashtrays (definitely a sign of those times) to wall sconces and flower vases. By 1949 everything business wise was going well, but then tragedy struck. Frank began to have health issues. He was diagnosed with lead poisoning. Eventually he ended up selling the factory and all his moulds and left Evansville to become a professor of art at the University of Alabama.

But the commissions kept coming. He produced the decorations for the new Shamrock Hotel, which opened in Houston, Texas in 1949. At the time it was the largest hotel in the United States and a major feather in Frank's cap. And there was also Ford Motor Company. The first revision of the Ford emblem after World War 2 was a big deal. Ford wanted something that reflected the new economic boom in America, intrinsically patriotic, and that reflected American strength. Frank created the red, white, and blue crest with chevrons and rampant lions. So life after the war was different, full of success and change, but not without conflict of its own.

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