The Liberty Gazette
December 3, 2013Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: The boy filled his glass jar with gasoline, hopped back on his bike, lawn mower in tow, and peddled out in search of tall grassy yards. Gas was 25 cents a gallon and for an enterprising young man, money could be made if he was willing to look and work for it.
The filling station owner had taken notice of the youngster and offered him a job. Jim had long admired the men who stood at the station’s pump island with their pressed uniforms, tire gauges in their shirt pockets and smiles on their faces, and accepted the job, thinking of the respect he would earn when he quickly serviced cars belonging to ladies like his mother, who often stopped in for gas.
Fast-forward six months, Jim proudly wearing his crisp uniform at the pump island. He’s worked his way up from cleaning hub-caps, vacuuming floors, washing windows, and stands like a sentinel surveying his domain one Sunday morning when his grandfather drives past on his way home from church.
An Austrian prisoner of war captured during WWI, his grandfather had been held in Crosby, Texas. After the war he saw opportunities here not available in Austria and declined the free trip back to Europe, eventually becoming a U.S. citizen.
Grandfather glanced at the boy sternly, driving on without waving back. Later that evening young Jim would begin to learn an important life lesson.
Grandfather: "What were you doing, and why were you not in church this morning?"
Jim: "Well, that’s my shift."
No matter what the image he thought he’d built for himself, Jim was encouraged to do better – by God’s standards.
"Come to my shop and you can work every day after school and not miss church on Sunday," offered his grandfather.
Although the new job didn’t seem to have the same prestige, this place full of machines was fascinating. Jim started at the bottom, pushing a broom; soon the other men working there began showing him how to run the machines, entrusting him with work, but the customers weren’t convinced yet of the kid’s abilities.
When the men left on vacation or hunting trips and customer orders began to stack up, Jim decided he would fill them on his own. This meant he had to teach himself to type so he could create invoices as though he had turned the work over to the machinists. The customers never knew differently and Jim kept quiet and before long was a journeyman machinist.
Mike: Our friend learned to fly at a young age, the son of a flight instructor/airplane mechanic. His mom would drop him off at the airport after school and he’d climb the fence, pull a friend’s Piper Cub out of a hangar and go flying, then fill it back up and push it back in the hangar.
Jim Kubik was called to duty to serve our country as a medic, earning the right to be awarded credentials as a Physician’s Assistant, but he couldn’t wait to get back to the shop and the craftsmanship of making something out of a lump of steel. A humble man who probably wouldn’t want us to say how impressed we are with Baytown Ace Industrial, the business he’s built with faith and hard work, was that same young man who listened to his grandfather and set his priorities straight. He’s the one who holds court during Saturday morning breakfast gatherings of aviators in Baytown, and with his somewhat low-key exterior entertains us all with his many funny stories.