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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

James H. Madden - Fair Oaks

Picture with Gemini Astronauts
There are no books for the rest of my Dad's story, but life certainly didn't stop in 1958 when the family left China Lake and traveled north to Rancho Cordova, just out side Sacramento.  There he took a job with Aerojet General Corp as a reliability engineer.  Over the next twelve years he worked on various propulsion projects for missiles and rockets including the Gemini program.
Aerojet - Rocketdyne Company History
Aerojet - Wikipedi

After a few months in Rancho Cordova the family moved to Fair Oaks, settling on four acres including an almond orchard and a one acre iris garden.  Now, if you didn't grow up on a farm you probably don't know how much work it can be for everyone in the family.  The iris need to be weeded, separated dug for customers and trimmed down before winter.  Almonds need to be knocked, picked up, hulled and sometimes shelled.  A lot of work, but a wonderful place to grow up.

With long hours at work, and some chores only he could do there was no more time for vacations in the Madden household for quite some time.  After some time the Iris were sold off and a neighbor grew vegetables on part of the land. The family quit hulling nuts and workers were hired for the majority of the knocking.  Dad did find time for his great love, autos.  He took up auto-crossing, and many a weekend was spent at a fairground, race track, parking lot and on at least one occasion a hospital, as he pursued the hobby.  When he wasn't racing he was often fixing the cars.  I remember many a broken U-joint along with other lesser problems.  Most of the family ran the other way as he worked on the cars as he wasn't the most patient mechanic.  But I often stuck around and as a result learned a bit about servicing cars and a bit more about the words one probably should say.

Mirella from Rio de Janiero
Life was never dull in the Madden household, there was always something going on. The family took in an exchange student from France and then one from Brazil and then an unwed mother who needed a place to stay. Dad an Mom were active in the Christian Family Organization at St. Mel's Church (or sometimes in spite of the church as the pastor was not fond of the group...or for that matter any of his associates).  They would go off on retreat weekends leaving various daughters in charge.  The whole family seemed to pick up guitars and you'd often hear strumming from one end the house or another sometimes accompanied by Dad's great voice, or whistle.

The family grew changed again.  Two of us married in winter 70-71 and Aeroject moved their propulsion program to Florida.  Dad transferred to the Surface Effect Ship program and in June 1971 the family was off to Washington State leaving two daughters in California and one half way between on Oregon.

 Jim and Colleen - Jan 1971

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