Out Into The World - George Snively
Home ] Up ]


In the summer of 1950 I was an anthropologist pursuing graduate studies in mathematics while working as an electrical engineer for a chemist doing research in physics in The Ohio State University Research Foundation! One of my friends worked for the university placement office and each day we ate our "brown bag" lunches under the big trees on campus. One day in late July he told me that he had a problem. He had this guy coming in from GE to interview people and, with few people on campus for the summer, he had no one for him to talk to. He asked me if I would do him a favor and attend the GE interview. Since I had nothing better to do that afternoon, I agreed to do it.

That afternoon I met with Bob Canning, one of the world's great salesmen. He told me, that with my engineering background, I was just what they needed for their burgeoning electronics business. I had forgotten about the interview when several weeks later I received an offer to join the GE Business (the emphasis is mine) Training Course at Electronics Park in Syracuse, New York at a salary of $250 per month - the same as I was making at the University. Out of the 326 1/2 credit hours I had accumulated as an undergraduate, the closest I had been to the Commerce College was the one-half hour credit in a course called Economics for Engineers!!

My impression of GE at the time was of one big research laboratory and I thought that I would simply be moving off the bench into administration. I had no idea that it was a huge industrial complex and that I would be the low man on the "totem pole" in a complex management organization. Universities, at least Ohio State, were very lackadaisical about pay days. We were supposed to be paid on the first of the month but that was just the day you inquired at the business office to find out when the checks might be coming in. This month they were going to be late as the auditor was on vacation and couldn't sign them. When he did return we had to wait for the legislature to appropriate more funds. The project I was working on in the Research Foundation was going through the annual uncertainty about renewal of its funding and my GI Bill was running out. I decided that it was time to leave academe for the cold cruel world of Commerce and accepted GE's offer.

Thus, leaving my wife Jackie and daughter Suzanne with her parents in Coshocton, Ohio I packed my books in our 1937 Chevrolet and got ready to head for Syracuse where I was to report the day after Labor Day. Dr. Harris, who I worked for at the Research Foundation, said "They won't keep you in an office for very long and will soon have you back in the laboratory where you belong. Please say hello to Langmuir(2) for me when you get there".

I was in the personnel office in General Electric's Electronics Park in Syracuse, New York. I had been recruited for General Electric's Business Training Course (now called the Financial Management Training Program) and was being processed to be put on the payroll.

I was introduced to a Russ Stoll who had been recruited for the same program and was going through the same process. He was a slender person with a burr haircut, tan duck pants and Wellington boots. He lacked only the slide rule hanging from his belt to be a stereotype of the young engineers of that period. Which he was, having just graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. I told him that my undergraduate degree was in Anthropology and I got the impression that he had never heard of Anthropology and probably thought that I was "gay".

Russ and I, as the two oddballs in the program -- the others being either accounting or business majors -became good friends. We studied together, went on picnics together and our wives had babies together. We were always competing for number one or two in the classes, but I have to admit that he took more firsts than I did.

At the end of the three year program, Russ decided that he wanted to do something with his engineering degree so he resigned from GE and went to work as an engineer for the Porter Cable Company in Syracuse. They made hand power tools, etc.

He later went to work in Chicago for Daniel Woodhead Company, a maker of heavy-duty extension cords, mechanic's lights, switches, etc. where he rose to the position of Executive Vice President.

I would occasionally have dinner with him and his wife, Maurine, when my travels took me through Chicago. Some time in the mid -1970s I stopped in to see them. Maurine always had foreign exchange students living with them and boasted of having "sons" in a number of different countries. They had just returned from Mexico where they had visited two of their Mexican "sons".

The presidency of Daniel Woodhead had just become available and Russ had been offered the position. Over dinner, they discussed the merits of Russ taking the job or saying to heck with the rat race and retiring to Mexico(3). They ultimately decided to go to Mexico.


I hadn't heard from them for about seven year when I got a call from Russ telling me that they were in Phoenix and asking me if l could meet them for lunch. Except for a small goatee, Russ looked the same as when I had first met him with his burr haircut, duck pants and Wellington boots.

He had just returned from a 13 week dig in the Yucatan. He was now an ANTHROPOLOGIST. He had gotten his Master's Degree at the University of Puebla, Puebla, Mexico and was teaching there.


(1) As an undergraduate I had been a perpetual student. By the time I got to Ohio State, where I enrolled as an electrical engineering major, I had accumulated engineering credits from Texas A&M and the Illinois Institute of Technology plus two years of arts credits from Alma College. After a year in engineering at Ohio State I registered in both the engineering and arts colleges working for both degrees. After I had accumulated in excess of 300 credit hours I was called into the registrar's office and told that I was setting a record of which the University was not particularly proud. I said, "But you're the ones who put out this catalog with all the interesting courses." I lacked one EE course for an EE degree -- which wouldn't be offered for another year -- and two courses for an ME degree. After much study, it was determined that if I took nothing but anthropology my last semester I would have enough credits for a major in anthropology. Not easily thwarted, I then registered in the Graduate School of Mathematics. Since my undergraduate degree was in anthropology I had to take two semesters of math without credit -- even though I had more under graduate math than most of my fellow students.

(2) Shortly after I arrived in Syracuse I learned that Dr. Langmuir was many management levels above me in the research laboratory somewhere in far off Schenectady, New York.

(3)Russ had made some money when Daniel Woodhead had gone public and was in a position to retire comfortable.


Everyday we rescue items you see on these pages!
What do you have hiding in a closet or garage?
What could you add to the museum displays or the library?



DONATE! Click the Button Below!

Thank you very much!


Material SMECC 2007 or by other owners 

Contact Information for
Southwest Museum of Engineering,
Communications and Computation 

Talk to us!
Let us know what needs preserving!


Postal address 
smecc.org - Admin. 
Coury House / SMECC 
5802 W. Palmaire Ave 
Glendale, AZ 85301 

Electronic mail 
General Information: info@smecc.org