How We Bought Five Houses In Ten Years

Leadville, Colorado  1113 Mount Elbert Drive

In June, 1960, Karsten and I left Ann Arbor, Michigan with our newly minted degrees – MBA (Karsten), and M.A. in French, (Carol). We traveled to Leadville, Colorado, where Karsten was to use what he had learned about computers at Michigan to see what a computer could do for the Climax Molybdenum Company.

Houses were available in “West Park,” a newly built subdivision on the west side of Leadville. We paid $200, which was the closing cost and down payment. Although we had a mortgage to pay, we were not to receive title to the home until we had paid a certain amount toward the principal. Our monthly payment was around $80. We had a one car garage, a living room, three bedrooms, a bath and an eat-in kitchen. Out the back we saw the beautiful Mosquito Range, and out the front we had a stunning view of Mt. Elbert, the highest mountain in Colorado.

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Omaha, Nebraska:    7531 Spring Street

In 1962 Karsten had an offer to work in the Data Processing Department of Northern Natural Gas in Omaha. By now the births of Curtis and Carl had made us a family of four. We found a suitable home in a subdivision in western Omaha. We had money for a downpayment because the people who bought our house in Leadville gave us $5000 just to have the opportunity to continue to make payments until they had enough principal to take title to the Leadville house. In Omaha, we now we had three bedrooms, two baths, a living room, dining area, kitchen, and a basement which was half a two-car garage and half basement. 

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Jim Gilligan, Karsten’s boss in Omaha, left Northern Natural Gas to become the comptroller of the Automatic Sprinkler Corporation in Youngstown, Ohio. He asked Karsten to go with him to set up a data processing department at Automatic Sprinkler. 

We bought a new house on the south side of Youngstown. Now we had four bedrooms, two and a half baths, a living-dining room, a family room, a two car garage and a full basement. It was good we had so much room because Andrew came along, making us a family of five, and then Karsten’s cousin, Willi Gauch, came from Germany, got a job in Youngstown, and lived with us for about six months.  

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Hudson, Ohio:     46 Clairhaven Drive

The United Steel Workers, who at the time “owned” Youngstown, represented the workers in the Automatic Sprinkler factory, which was adjacent to the corporate offices of Automatic.  The workers went on strike and were partially successful in shutting down the corporate offices, so the decision was made to move the corporate offices to Cleveland without notifying the union. The move was made at night over the Thanksgiving weekend. The strikers, who stayed out of the cold in a trailer at night, were given generous booze as a Thanksgiving gift. Then later that night big semis came in the back way, and the contents of the corporate office were moved. Karsten was somewhat nervous when he saw his computer lifted up by a forklift. 

Once Karsten’s office was in Cleveland, it was time again to move. We found a home in Hudson, a village in what was historically the Connecticut Western Reserve. Hudson looked like a New England village. The nicest part of the house was the family room, which was quite large because it had originally been the garage. (A new garage was built behind the family room.) 

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Plantation, Florida    341 East Tropical Way

We were feeling at home in Hudson – Curtis in second grade and Carl in first grade – when one Sunday evening Karsten got a call from Jim Gilligan. “Karsten,” he said, “I have to cancel the meeting we planned for tomorrow morning. I have been fired.”  When you are the fair haired boy of someone who is fired, you know your time is limited and you had better find another job. So Karsten started looking for a job, and low and behold, he found an announcement about a job opportunity in Plantation, Florida. He called my brother, Tom Byrd, to ask if Tom knew anything about Systems Engineering Laboratory. Yes, said Tom, he had done some legal work for them. Karsten flew down to interview, and got the job. I wasn’t waiting around in Hudson until we found a home in Plantation, so after Christmas in Hudson, the whole family drove down to Fort Lauderdale, where we stayed with my mother until we bought the house in Plantation.

The Plantation house was on a large lot, and behind the house was the Plantation golf course. We had four bedrooms, three bathrooms, living room, dining room, family room, utility room, two car garage and a back porch large enough on which to build a 23 foot sailboat – which of course Karsten did. 

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The following ten years we did not buy a house. In fact we lived in the Plantation house for twelve years, before Karsten decided to buy a business in Dade County. Then we had to move and buy yet another house.