Julie's Boring Life History
The infant years
I was born in Mt.Clemens, MI, two weeks before Pearl Harbor. My dad was in the Army Air Corps, and was promptly sent overseas. My mom took me to live in her old sorority at the University of Illinois and went back to law school. After the war, my brother Bill was born. He's an attorney's head hunter and lives in Aurora, Illinois. I was raised in Gibson City, IL, where my parents and grandparents were lawyers. Their firm was Middleton, Middleton, Middleton and Middleton. Guess what my maiden name is?
I ran away from home in high school with the first love of my life. We made it all the way from Illinois to California, where we were dragged back, and I was shipped out of town to Shimer College, where I was accepted at the age of 15 as an 'early entrant'. There I majored in philosopy and social life. I met and later married Dick Govan, an intelligent and spoiled rich boy from the south who made very nice babies but didn't do many other things well.
The Pregnant Years
I was basically pregnant from 1961 to 1971, producing six great kids. I lived during this time in Illinois, then New Jersey, then New Mexico. Because of my great belly at this time, I never got the hang of doing the twist.
At a very low point in my life, about 1972, I was tending bar in Moriarty NM, trying to support six kids on the little bit of pay I got after my husbands tab was subtracted from my paycheck each week. My best customers one week were highway department surveyors. They suggested I apply for a job with the state highway department. I did, and became a surveyor on the statewide location crew. I LOVED surveying. It mainly involved walking all over New Mexico, wherever there was a state road, dragging a chain and pounding stakes. At this time in my life, I became a hippie, and lived in a commune, New Buffalo. This is outside of Taos, near a place called Arroyo Hondo. Those were happy times.
Then I went to work for the Bureau of Reclamation in Farmington NM, doing essentially the same thing, but it involved walking all over the Navajo Reservation instead of the state roads. Some of my bosses who made the big bucks were dumber than rocks, but they possessed the magic engineering degree. I decided I wanted one. So I started going to school nights at San Juan Community College in Farmington, and when I had all the classes there that applied towards a civil engineering degree, I had to move to Las Cruces to finish up. About this time, I left Dick Govan for the fourth and last time. I met the third and last love of my life, David Owens. He took me on with six kids and did a great job of raising them.
I got my BSCE from New Mexico State University in 1976.
I went to work for Phillips Petroleum Company in Borger TX . After they blew my house up I transferred to Casper WY.
The Casper Years
In order to move up in the corporate heirarchy, I would have had to move to Bartlesville Oklahoma. We loved Wyoming, so I quit Phillips and went to work for a private surveying and engineering firm in Casper. I still loved surveying and engineering design, but eventually the oil boom in Casper busted, and I found myself running the Girls Club in Casper. I had just started there as a volunteer computer teacher for the kids, but pretty soon I was running the place. I eventually had a disagreement with the board of directors - I was teaching the girls auto mechanics and computer programming and they wanted me to teach manners, makeup and modelling. I got fired, which devastated me, but not for long.
I was one of the original beta testers for America Online, back in those days it was called Applelink. I was heavily into genealogy, quilting and model railroading. I had registered at Job Service for a job, when the Burlington Northern Railroad was looking for brakemen. The pay wasn't a whole lot different than engineering, so I went for it. That was in 1988.
The railroad years
I eventually became a conductor and then an engineer, running freight trains. Dave worked for Amoco during the Casper years. When the refinery in Casper closed down, he transferred to Evanston, WY. Meantime the railroad was forcing me all over, from Alliance, Nebraska to Gillette, Wyoming, to Greybull, Wyoming. Greybull is a neat little town, and we love it. Dave took an early retirement from Amoco when the hours of driving to be together got insufferable. We bought a house in Greybull. I run trains from here to Casper or Laurel, MT. Dave hunts and fishes and trains our two yellow labs.
The fabric shop years
In 1996, the BNSF railroad decided that I knew enough about computers to go around the country training other engineers how to use computers. They sent me from San Bernadino to Birmingham, from Seattle to Aurora, Illinois. I couldn't seem to stay out of quilt shops, and I knew I was spending WAY too much money on fabric. So, starting Jan 1 of 1997, I kept every single receipt for fabric, thread, and anything else. That year I sold my first quilt, for $300. At tax time, I had spent about $8000 to make that $300, and my accountant said I could set up as a business if I got a tax number and a business plan. So I did. The 'net loss' resulted in a $3000 tax refund, from my railroad earnings. Whoopee! My girlfriend called and said she'd heard of a lady in Bridger Montana who was selling Hoffman and Kaufman fabrics at wholesale prices, did I want to go? With a $3000 tax refund in my pocket, which Dave didn't know about, I went. I came home with a car full of fabric - 50 bolts!
Dave took one look at the car, when I asked him to help me unload it, and told me I was out of my mind. He promptly gave me several pieces of HIS mind. I blythly told him "I'm going to sell it on the internet." He said I was nuts, that no one would buy fabric over the internet. A year later our daughter heard him telling his mother on the phone "Julie and I thought the internet was the way to go, it's the wave of the future." In March of 1998, we started selling on the internet, and by fall we had too much fabric for our little spare bedroom, so I opened a store in Greybull in November 1998. For a few months I continued to run trains when I absolutely couldn't get out of it. Finally in February, 1999 I quit the railroad. This was a big step, giving up security and paid medical insurance for a dream, but I was working about 100 hours a week, and it wasn't enough! A year later, Sept, 1999, we moved to a nicer store on the main business block. In June, 2000, we bought the new store, and the bigger one next door, so now our store is three stores wide. I have great people working for me now, so I don't have to work so hard. Life is good!