Editor’s Note: Arnold Snygg submitted his story on September 9, 2013 as part of the District’s Centennial year celebration. He passed away on July 29, 2015. Read Mr. Snygg’s obit.
I was born in Round Rock in 1924 but after the death of my father my mother took me and my younger sister, Bertha, to Sweden when I was just 4-years-old.
My family then returned to Texas in 1930 and I began school at Round Rock having never spoken English in my life.
After a hard beginning, I enjoyed running barefoot as a normal Texas kid. I recall the Carlson “boys” Carlo and Leon operated a Texaco station on what was then the main road from Austin to Dallas just north of what is now Main Street. In the back of the station, they maintained a menagerie of animals native to Central Texas. Once a customer offered Carlo a monkey. Carlo said “no thanks” because he didn’t have a cage for it. Well, the next morning there was the monkey tethered to the gas pump. Carlo and Leon built a cage for it. After this newcomer was all settled in I stopped by to see it. I was eating a banana and the monkey acted like it would like a taste. So I handed it to the monkey, closed end first. When he pulled it through the chicken wire the edible part slipped out and when the monkey opened his prize he found nothing. That monkey was so furious with me!
“I worked on Project Apollo and helped send a man to the moon. Neil Armstrong was a neighbor and friend of ours. This was a very interesting time.”
I graduated from Round Rock High School in 1942. I then worked on the family farm in West Texas and later at Stockbridge’s Grocery Store.
After the raid on Pearl Harbor, I joined the Navy. I went to San Diego for basic training and then onto fight the Japanese in the South Pacific. I served on the destroyer USS McCalla DD 488. The biggest action I participated in was the battle for Saipan. I watched in horrified dismay as Japanese civilians jumped to their deaths from the cliffs on the north end of the island. In December 1944, we encountered a storm with 150-mile per hour winds and 70-foot waves. I knew the sensation of being resigned to my fate. That debacle was later known as Halsey’s Folly.
I was a short timer in the Navy and came home to Texas in 1945. I then took advantage of the GI Bill and earned my engineering degree at The University of Texas at Austin. There I met and married Dorothy Kinate. We had three children, Cathy, John and Ann.
I began my career in aerospace engineering at Honeywell in Minnesota. There I worked to help develop an automated landing system for aircraft. Then I moved my family to Cape Canaveral, Fla. where I worked on the Minuteman missile project. In 1966, we moved once again, this time it was to the Nasa Bay area of Houston. Here I worked on Project Apollo and helped send a man to the moon. Neil Armstrong was a neighbor and friend of ours. This was a very interesting time.
After a short tour to the DC area where I worked on energy projects, Dorothy and I moved once again. This time it was to Long Beach, Calif. where I worked on software for the B-2 Stealth Bomber.
In 1987, I retired and we returned to Texas.