The Doors Opened ...
In the big city, he started learning the optician’s craft of grinding lenses and fitting glasses that would serve him for the next 65 years. Propelled by his lifelong assurance and a confidence that he was always right, he got better jobs in Colorado and then in California.
When Earl came to Portland after World War II, all the doctors were downtown and they didn’t sell glasses. Earl worked for another optician at first, then in 1955 went out on his own with partner Tom McGuire. By the late 1950’s, Earl ran the dispensary, and McGuire was out of the picture.
Earl had a complete lab and could do it all. At one point, he had three shops, sometimes doing 50 pairs a day.
He brushed off his shoes and straightened his tie before the doors opened. To customers he was a polite charmer. He was always ready to do a hot job for ranchers in town for the day, no extra charge. If a job was coded HOH and on a red tray, it meant “hell of a hurry”. Screws were tight, prescription doubled checked, ready to go out the door when the patient came in after lunch. There was never a charge to adjust frames. If the refraction wasn’t just right, Earl would remake it. If you couldn’t afford it, he wouldn’t charge anything.
He was as sweet as pie with Mrs. Nussbaum, but he became a different person when he went through the doors into the back room. He had language that would make a mechanic blush. He ripped employees up and down, and they walked on eggshells. Employees learned to do a good job, or get a tray hurled at them. They knew not to ask him for a raise. But he would teach them all he knew.1/25/1955