Earl Price of Manila retired from Fed Ex the last of December and was surprised with a retirement party given by family and friends. It was not his first retirement as he spent 20 years in the Air Force. He served in the military from 1960 to 1980. He spent his last military years at Blytheville Air Force Base.
It was during this time (1976) he adopted Manila as his home and plans to enjoy his retirement years taking care of "honey do" jobs for his wife, Druscilla.
Price, a native of Memphis, Tenn., was stationed in Blytheville when he came to Manila to visit his aunt and uncle, Florine and Floyd Trantham. He lived with them for a while before purchasing his own home in Manila.
"I had visited Manila once or twice as a small child but it never occurred to me it would someday be my home," Price said.
After growing up in Boys Town in Memphis and traveling for 20 years in the Air Force, Price was ready to put down roots. He met and married the former Drusilla Meacham in 1990. Price said he got a wonderful family.
Before the age of 10, Price and his two younger brothers lived with their mother in Memphis.
"My mother was a hard worker and usually worked two jobs," Price said.
Price was young but his mother depended on him to take care of the younger boys getting them to school or taking them to the barber college for a hair cuts or to the doctor. "Memphis was a lot different in those days. We would go to the movies and sometimes I would spend my bus fare so I would put the boys on the bus and I would walk and meet them at the bus stop."
Prices' mother heard about Boys Town and met with the directors. She qualified for her sons to go and live there where they would have supervision and good care. She would pick the boys up on weekends and longer during our summer breaks from school.
Price said it was not a bad place to live; it was just different from one family living together in a home. The Price brothers were 10, 8, and 6, when they went to Boys Town.
"There were 50 boys from the first grade to college. There was always something to do," he said. "We went to public schools and the church of our choice. We slept in barrack-style rooms with other boys our own age. We had chores to do. We would help set the table for breakfast and wash the dishes before we went to school. We had doctors and dentists from Memphis who volunteered to take care of the boys' medical needs. The van would take us downtown to the movie theater and owners would let us in at no charge. We had a big swimming pool at Boys Town and a lot of space to play. We had Scout Troops and volunteer leaders come in for our meetings. We got to go to a big Scout Camp at Hardy. Our troop won a lot of trophies in the competition. We had enough boys to compete in all of the categories. Whatever we were good at, we competed in."
Price said he was one of the first boys to live in the new dormitory built at Boys Town.
"I was among the oldest boys and got to move to the new dorm where we had four boys in a room, 16 in all," he said. "It was nice. We had our own area. Some people may think it was a bad way to live but it was not. We lived in a bad part of town and Mom had to work. Boys Town gave us a structured way of life but we were treated well and our needs were met. We had chores, we had study time, we attended school, and we had our own cooks and enjoyed regular meals."
Price said Boys Town was the only life he knew.
Boys Town is not in Memphis anymore, the facility was moved to another town.
"I didn't know about sitting down at a dinner table with a family of four or five," he said. "We didn't celebrate holidays or birthdays like regular families do but I didn't really miss it because you can't miss something you've never had."
Price said he made very good friends while at Boys Town.
"One of the boys went on to be a well known movie star, another a well known newsman, and another one a college professor," Price said.
Price admits he was not doing his best in high school, so at the age of 18 he decided to enlist in the United States Air Force. He had been in the Marine Reserves during his high school years but chose the Air Force as a career. He completed his high school GED in the Air Force.
He wanted to be a photographer or a fire fighter but he got his third choice, working in aircraft sheet metal maintenance.
"I really didn't even know what a an aircraft sheet metal person did, but it turned out to be a very good thing for me and the Air Force Training qualified me for my next career with Fed Ex," Price said.
Price did not have problems adjusting to the military life as he grew up in such a structured environment. He did not marry during his years in the military so overseas duties were not hard on him.
"People don't realize how difficult a military life can be on families," Price said.
The Air Force gave Price the opportunity to travel. In addition to stateside bases, he was in Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand. He said he had a car when he was in Japan and in the Philippines and had the opportunity to see a lot of different sites.
"Some of the places I visited really made me appreciate the United States," Price said.
Price worked on aircraft from props to jets. The oldest aircraft he worked on was the C47 DC3 and the H19 Helicopter. One of the newest ones he worked on was a F106. When he went into the Air Force, he worked on the B52 and he was still working on them when he retired. The B47 and B58 are gone but the B52 were still there. One of the first jets he worked on was the T33.
He was working on B52's at the Blytheville Air Force Base and said during the duck season, they would need a lot of work from the bird strikes.
"The birds would not take down a plane, but the aircraft would need repair.
He retired from the Air Force at 20 years and was living in Manila. He was a charter member of Bethany Baptist Church. He worked at Razorback Aircraft at the Manila Airport for four years. He then worked for Lock Key traveling from base to base working on aircraft before going to work at Fed Ex in 1988. Price worked four days on and three days off and he would spend his working days at his mother's home in Memphis and return to Manila on his days off. He enjoyed working at Fed Ex and again, made many good friends.
He is ready to stay put in Manila in the country home he and Drusilla built in 1995. Mrs. Price's sons and daughters all helped build the home. Her children are Randy Meacham of Town Creek, Ala., Clint Meacham of Koscivsko, Miss., Laura Griffin and Mikey Ellis, both of Manila. They enjoy the children and grandchildren visiting.
Mr. and Mrs. Price are members of First Baptist Church in Manila.
"I try to keep my family and church my number one priority," Price said.
He said he is looking forward to retirement.
"It is nice to have a family to visit, friends, a good church, and a hometown," Price said.