Meet Larry Noble
By Patty Nelson
Larry Noble was my first Faith friend. My first time attending worship at Faith Lutheran was an outdoor service in the summer of 2012. I slipped in and out of worship without being noticed. The next Sunday, Larry was the greeter. He spied a stranger in the midst of the flock and immediately collared me and faithfully ‘mugged’ me after service. We have been friends ever since. I am so blessed to tell you a little more about this kind, funny, quietly serving Christian.
What was it like for you growing up?
Well, as you know, I come from a small town. Arenzville, five hundred of us counting dogs and cats. I had a high school class of 17. It felt very safe. Back then you didn’t hear about the shootings and the stabbings and the drugs. Once in a while, we’d get ornery and swipe a cigarette and smoke a cigarette behind the barn and come out lookin’ green…thinking we’d really done something. I lacked the education in some ways that some of the bigger schools had, like welding and different things that I would have liked to have been able to do. I did get that education after I enlisted in the service.
What branch of the service were you in?
I was in the Army. I graduated in ‘55 and I went in about the middle of July which was before my 18th birthday. I was in 3 years and spent 2 1/2 years in France/Europe. I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed sightseeing. I loved Paris. There was so much to see and to learn their ways and a little bit of their language. We didn’t have to learn a whole lot because everyone around the Army post knew how to speak English better than we did. If you go to a restaurant, you could read off the menu which was in French or you could tell them‘I’d like a steak.’ You’d get better results by telling them what you want. I learned some of the basic language.
We flew over to London. It was cold and rainy and I caught a heck of a cold. We got on a plane and flew to Ireland, then caught a train from Dublin down to County Cork. We stayed with a buddy’s cousins there. I was so sick that I couldn’t get out to see the Blarney Stone. (Side note: I told Larry that I wasn’t sure he didn’t get to the Blarney Stone because he seems to have a bit of the Blarney in him. He laughed and admitted maybe so)
I loved sight seeing. That carried clear through to today. I love going to different states to see the ocean or the mountains or whatever. I’ve been to Yellowstone three times and a lot of other places a time or two or three.
Where was your favorite place to go?
Well, southern Utah and the valleys and Arches National Park and several national parks down there are just beautiful. Eileen and I together would fly out to the state of Washington to visit Eileen’s sister. She would take us different places to sight see. One year, before Eileen got sick, I said I’d love to drive to see what’s in between here and there. And I didn’t ever want to go back to flying after that. As long as Eileen could manage the ride we went to neighboring states and saw Mt. Washington, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainer and Mt. St. Helens.
When Mt. St. Helens erupted, it covered Moses Lake where Eileen’s sister lived. The ash covered her garden several inches. I always turned over her garden for her when I was there. I turned that garden over and I was afraid it might ruin the garden.
How did you meet Eileen?
All of Arenzville is about 500 and it takes 4 or 5 minutes to walk from one end of town to the other. You know everybody and their business. Well, I had a paper route when I was in the 3rd grade. I delivered the paper to her folks. Eileen had 2 sisters. Eileen was the oldest and I thought she was pretty good lookin. I was keepin’an eye on her, but we were too young to be dating. When we got in high school, we started dating. She was a year behind me. I told her I was going in the service. Her dad wanted her to go to college at Western to be a school teacher. I flew home from France for a 30 day leave,I’d been over there 11 months. We got married and then I flew back. Naturally, she wanted to go with me, but her dad wanted her to finish school. So she went back to Western. It was hard to leave. It was hard on both of us to be apart.
Then where did you live?
We started out looking for a house in Arenzville. I had machinist schooling in the service and I was trying to find a machinist job. Jobs were hard to find at that time. I tried to find a job in Arenzville because that was home, but there wasn’t an empty house to be found. We lived in a house outside of Concord that was a converted from a one room school house and lived there about 7 or 8 months. Then we found a big old house in Arenzville about 80 years old. The house had 9 1/2 foot ceilings and 2 1/2 story and cost a young fortune to heat. Of course, there was no such thing as an air conditioner. We lived there for 10 years.
Eileen wanted to move to Jacksonville. She got a job at the book bindery out by Nichols Park. It was kinda unhandy, because our hours were different. We could take one car but somebody had to wait an hour on each end. So we started driving two cars. Well, that got into what we thought was money. Gas was 30 cents or something. So we started looking over here and the first place we found was this place. We bought it in ‘68 and we’ve been here every since. We liked the house and I’ve always been handy doing woodworking or whatever. I rearranged things to make the house more user friendly – the way we wanted it. Then once we got it the way we wanted it, the kids started moving out.
Tell me about your career.
My first job was with Anderson Clayton. I worked for 5 years before a machinist job opened up. As it turned out, I was the only one qualified to do a machinist job, so I got the job. I worked there over 25 years. I done a lot of design work (I’m just handy, I guess). I built packaging machinery that would handle the Chiffon tubs. I’d make them run faster or more convenient. I’d make a machine for here, then I’d make another one and take it to Sherman, Texas or Fresno, California. I installed machines at those two plants. Then I got to thinking that I’m wasting my talents. They should be paying me for building and designing. So then, I got kinda greedy thinking they should pay me more money. But because of the union, they couldn’t do that. So I started looking and found a job at Havana at the power plant doing machine work. Everything was bigger. Pay and retirement was better. We looked into moving to Havana, but nobody liked Havana, so I just drove back and forth.
Before too long, two guys that I worked with at Anderson Clayton, welders, asked if I could get them a job, so I went to the boss and got them on. So we rode back and forth for awhile. The only thing was, they liked to drink a beer and I didn’t. So every once in awhile, they’d say “I sure am getting thirsty.” So they’d take they’re car and I’d take mine.
I took early retirement because Eileen was getting sick. They said they needed people to go to different plants for three or four weeks and do overhauls, but I didn’t want to leave Eileen. I really hated to do it, because I enjoyed the work, but I needed to take care of Eileen. She had ovarian cancer and had lots of problems. I put about 80,000 miles on my old blue truck taking her back and for to treatment for 3 years. She died from the ovarian cancer. We buried her the 1st of May. Three weeks later, I went into the hospital with colon cancer and they removed the colon. That was 8 years ago. It takes some getting used to, but I got both hands and I can count to ten. If I need to go higher, I can take my shoes off. I’ve been pretty good about learning to deal with what was dealt to me.
Tell me about your kids and then tell me which one is most like you.
Oh, I hate to run any of them down:-) Rick is the oldest. He was born in ‘59 and is very smart. Must have got it from his mother. He went to pharmacy school and he’s a pharmacist. He went back to pharmacy school and he’s now a nuclear pharmacist. When he got to be a nuclear pharmacist, I didn’t really know what it amounted to. We were talking on the phone and I said, “Now, Rick, if you’re working with this nuclear medicine, are we going to be a big white cloud over there?” He said, “No, Dad!”
Then, Janet, she’s a year younger, born in ‘60. She was a stay-at-home mother until about 5 years ago when her husband lost his job due to downsizing. They were making excellent money. He had access to the company Lear jet and he would fly out to Washington D.C. for work. They spent a good while not knowing what to do. They opened up their own business-they had to learn the business first. Janet said they have about 15 people working for them now. They make countertops. They’ve got the whole family in the business. They’ve got two kids, a boy and a girl. The boy works in the shop, the son-in-law is in sales and Janet is the secretary.
Next is Michelle. She was a ‘Johnny-come-lately.’ Michelle was 13 years later and believe it or not, we planned it. We went a long time and it looked like the kids were going to be leaving the house before long and we were going to be in the empty nest. So we decided to have another kid. We had a lot of ribbing about it, but I don’t know what we’d do without her. Michelle comes and takes care of me, makes sure I have everything I need. If I go to the doctor or hospital, she’s right there listening to what the doctor’s say. She lives in Mahoney and drives 80 miles one way to work. She never was accused of being smart either:-). I said that about me because I was driving 50 miles one way.
What brought you to Faith Lutheran?
We were living in Arenzville when we got married. Eileen belonged to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. I was raised a Methodist. I went to the Methodist church in town. I wasn’t as religious minded as she was. I went to church more like when there was nothing else to do. If we decided to go squirrel hunting or fishing, that came first. When we got married, she wanted me to switch to Lutheran, so I became a Lutheran there at St. Peter’s. I took my schooling there.
Then when we decide to move to Jacksonville, this was in ‘68. The original building was the brick part and you came in from the west. There was probably 15-20 active members at this time. This was before Michelle was born, so it was Eileen and I and the two older kids. The Pastor was Peterson, real nice guy. I didn’t care for the pastor at Arenzville – his sermons could put you to sleep pretty fast. Anyway, this pastor (Peterson) had good sermons. I blame him for making me a good Lutheran. We had some bad ones after he left…we had a couple of really bad ones. That was before Pastor John came. But I survived through it. We had the church upstairs and the Sunday School was in the basement. We had one sump pump, but it was in the wrong part of the basement. So every night that it rained, I’d get a call (me and two or three other people) that we needed to squeegee the floor so we could have Sunday School. So that was one of my favorite past times. It got me going to PA meetings. I’m the only one left of the original ones that were doing the squeegeeing. We finally got more sump pumps in and we didn’t have to squeegee all the time There’s been one change and then another. It’s been interesting to see all the changes.
I’ve been a member here since October of ‘68. They made me president of the congregation one year. I’ve been on the council 4 or 5 times. I usually didn’t want to be on the Council because I was driving to Havana and it was hard to get to the meetings. So, I didn’t go to the meetings, but if something needed done, I’d come in and do it on my own time. For a short while, I was on Parish Outreach. I was leader of that for a couple of years. One year, I was chairman of that and chairman of PA committee at the same time. I said, “Hey, let’s back up here.”
What got you interested in woodworking?
I was interested in woodworking when I was in Arenzville, but all I could afford was a handsaw. I built each of the kids a desk for their room. Later, I built a chest of drawers for Michelle when she came around. Nickels started to come in a little quicker, so I bought some saws and woodworking tools. So I made some magazine racks, picture frames, end tables Larry’s work is beautiful). Eileen wanted a clock for the kitchen, so I made her a school house clock, but she said “That’s too nice for the kitchen!”
Larry then gave me a tour of his handiwork. Besides furniture and clocks, he has cabinets filled with his carvings. He has given many carvings as gifts and donated carvings to the Soup Luncheon sale. He has carved everything from praying hands to fiddle players. His style is unique and each piece is exquisite.