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Mountains of Memories - Jerry Green

By Janie Ford Lank

momthepoet@yahoo.com

Jerry Green was born May 12, 1944 about a mile from Forest, Indiana to Frank and Reve Green.

“I was the youngest child,” Green said. “I had a brother and a sister.”

He attended school at Forest until they consolidated with Clinton Central, where he graduated in 1962.

“After graduation, I applied at Delco but did not pass the physical,” Green said. “I had high blood pressure at such a young age and I still do but hey, I am still here. I went to work at the National Cigar Factory in Frankfort and stayed for 53 years. I started in maintenance and worked my way up to vice-president/plant engineer.”

In eighth grade, Green won the American Legion Award for academics.

“I was credited for being smart, but I feel it was because I had a very good memory,” he said. “I was then invited to join the National Honor Society, and I accepted. At Clinton Central, I attended a convocation about engineering and science. During this presentation they fired up a DynaJet engine in the gymnasium. This was a small version of the German buzz bomb. This was very loud, and I was impressed. As soon as I got my first job, I bought one. The local Fire Marshall came to our house to investigate the noise. I was two-and-a-half miles out of Forest, but friends in Forest said they could hear my engine running.

“These kinds of engines have always remained in my life,” he added. “I now have a jet engine sitting in a Chevy van. I took it to the ‘Thunder on the Square,” and a commissioner came by and asked me to start the motor. I said, ‘It would take a higher authority than you for me to do that.’ A little later, here came Chris McBarnes, the mayor. He said, ‘Am I high enough to get you to start that engine?’ We had to wait on fire trucks to come, and then I fired it up. Anyone can go to the Chamber of Commerce website and see this.”

Green has always been a builder, and he built the 1901 car you can see in his photo.

“I built an airplane with wings and installed it around my swing when I was a child,” he said. “My Dad took me to work with him one day at the State Highway Department. I saw a blade in the trash. He told me it was a hack saw and when he said it could actually saw metal I was wowed. I could not wait to try it out.”

Self-described as very shy in school, Green says he did not date much.

“However, there was a neighbor girl, Sherry Saul, that chased me relentlessly,” he said. “I ran but she finally caught me, and I realized I liked being caught. We were married in 1964 and still enjoy our marriage. We raised two sons and stayed in Clinton County. Sherry was from a family that loved to fish. I gave it a good try but I was always thinking of something I would rather be doing. I thought, ‘When I get old and can’t do much else, I will take up fishing.’

“During my time at the cigar factory, I saw unions come and go with many different opinions of smoking,” Green continued. “My first boss was Mr. Vega, and he lived to be 100. He always had a cigar going. Another boss was Jim Pogue, who is 90 and still smoking cigars. However, my wife and I gave up all smoking two years ago. When the bill was passed for State Children Health Insurance, cigars were taxed at .40 cents each. We then lost 30 percent of our business, and it was downhill from there.”

Frank Turner, a maintenance manager, was Green’s mentor at the cigar factory.

“He was from England, and he taught me machining and mechanics,” Green said. “I also admire my brother, who taught me about everything a boy needs to know.”

Green says his philosophy is “If it doesn’t exist, build it yourself.”

“I have a website about jet engines,” he said. “It is called turbojer.com. Also, on YouTube it is called turbojer1. If you want to see things I built, look me up. I even built a car, that is often in parades. I have put a turbine engine on lawn mowers, boats and anything I could make move. Kokomo air show once wrote an article on me and my jet engines. I helped build a concept car, and it is displayed many places, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It is a dream car.”

Green retired three years ago.

“I was diagnosed with bladder cancer,” he said. “Mine turned out to be treatable, but that word sure scared me. During my cancer treatments, I needed something to keep my mind away from it. So, I built a scooter to run up and down the railroad tracks behind my house.

“Seven months ago, I came down with shingles on my leg, and it sure slowed me down a lot,” Green added. “So, finally, I have decided, ‘If it stops raining, I am going fishing.’ I wonder if I could put a turbine on a fishing pole.”