Tenneco Retiree Club Newsletter

Volume XXX, No. 1, February 2009

Change Is In The Air Everywhere – Including Our Luncheon!

When’s the last time you visited Vargo’s Restaurant?  Here’s your chance to return to that wonderful setting by their private lake.  Our luncheon date is Wednesday, March 4th beginning at 11 AM for our social hour.  Lunch will be served at noon.  Vargo’s address is 2401 Fondren Road in Houston.  It’s easy to find - just 3/10ths of a mile north of Westheimer.  The restaurant is on the right (east) side of Fondren.  (Landmark:  Rosewood Medical Center is nearby on the corner of Westheimer and Fondren.)

Please complete your reservation form (to be found elsewhere in this newsletter – or download and print it if you are receiving your newsletter via the internet) and mail it with your check to be received no later than Wednesday, February 25th.  Please remember, registration is a must and it’s due in advance – not at the door - no exceptions!

Mark your calendars now and make plans to attend – and bring a guest or a prospective member!

2009 March Luncheon Detail 

Guest Speaker – Joseph W. Ashy, Four Star General, U. S. Air Force (Retired)

Date:      Wednesday, March 4th 

Place:    Vargo’s Restaurant, 2401 Fondren Road Houston

Time:     11:00 a.m. - Social Hour - There will be a cash bar. Prices: Beer $4; Wine $5; Mix drinks $6.  (There will be no drink tickets.) 

               Noon - Luncheon:

Vargo’s is offering three entrée selections.  Please make your choice on your reservation form:  Chicken Marsala, Grilled Salmon or Grilled Pork Loin.  Included will be a green salad, chef’s selection of vegetables, and choice of 2 deserts plus iced tea and coffee.  You will need to indicate your choice of entrée on your reservation form in the space provided.

Cost:      Members:     $27.00 per person

               Guests:         $30.00 per person              

We will have a private area of the restaurant set aside for our luncheon and speaker.  Valet parking will be available for those who so desire.

Your reservations and your advance payment must be received by Wednesday, February 25th. 

Elsewhere in this newsletter you will find a reservation form to complete and mail in with your check.  Be sure and complete your reservation form and mail it in before the deadline.

Important Note:  Please mail your reservations to Jeff Stagg at his address shown on the reservation form.  This is the only address you should use for reservations.

Getting To Know Our March Luncheon Speaker

Joseph W. Ashy, Four Star General
U. S. Air Force (Retired)

Four Star General Joe Ashy graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in mechanical engineering. After commissioning, he attended flying school at Reese AFB, Texas, and gunnery school at Luke AFB, Arizona. His first assignment was to the 494th Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England. He flew 289 combat missions in Southeast Asia with the 3rd Tactical Wing. Other aircraft he has flown operationally include the A-7, F-4, F-5 and F-16. He served in various staff positions: at HQ USAF as a division chief in the deputate of plans and operations; as executive officer to the Air Force Chief of Staff; and, at Tactical Air command (TAC) Headquarters as IG, chief of staff, director of plans, director of operations, and later as the vice commander. He was the operations officer of an F-4 squadron in Korea, commanded an F-4 fighter squadron, two fighter wings (the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing "Wild Weasels" and the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing at Nellis AFB), the USAF Fighter Weapons Center, 16th Air force, two Air Force major commands (Air Training Command and Air Force Space Command), a theater component command (NATO's AIRSOUTH), and two combined/joint commands (NORAD and U.S. Space Command). Before assuming command of the latter, he commanded NATO air forces in the Mediterranean theater and directed the combat air operations over the Balkans/Bosnia. Before his retirement in October 1996, he was "triple hatted" as CINCNORAD, CINCUSSPACECOM and COMAFSPC. He is a command pilot with over 3500 hours in fighter and attack aircraft. Decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster.

    Currently, he is President of Ashy & Associates, L.L.C. and is a consultant for several aerospace firms. Besides being a senior fellow for CAPSTONE, he serves in the Independent Strategic Assessment Group (ISAG) process for the commanders of NORTHCOM/NORAD and Air Force Space Command. He also participates in other ongoing analyses projects including reviews of missile defense, space launch, global positioning services, and joint command and control integration.

The theme of General Ashy’s presentation is good citizenship and our vital United States interests. Please plan to attend our March 4th luncheon and hear this American patriot’s inspiring story 

Retiree Club Christmas Luncheon Held At the Junior League - by Gilmer Abel

Just over 160 retirees including a large number of spouses plus a sprinkling of guests attended our annual Christmas Luncheon held in the Ballroom of the Junior League on Monday, December 1st.  At noontime when we were all seated the Junior League staff, as always, outdid themselves.  Their graceful and attentive personnel prepared and served our meals promptly.  Of course, it was nice to top off everything again this year with one of their scrumptious pecan balls!  We were entertained by Rob Landis a native Houstonian widely known as a pianist, organist, arranger, conductor, and a published composer.  Rob played a medley of popular Christmas songs including White Christmas, Jingle Bells, Rudolph and several others. He also took us on an enjoyable and nostalgic memory lane trip with some very interesting stories behind many of the songs

Kay Laycock, Claire Sinclair, Bill Hancock & Jim Brogdon Enjoying Our Christmas Luncheon

Mary Ramos donated a collage of Employee photo Identification Badges for the company’s first system group located on the 610 Loop in the mid 70’s.  We all had fun trying to identify some of those very young looking employees.  Thank you, Mary.   

 As always, this special event was enjoyed by everyone and many folks lingered after the luncheon to capture just a few more reminiscing memories. That’s one of the many nice things about this – and all our other get-togethers throughout each year – to visit with people you just don’t see on a day-to-day basis anymore.  As always, it’s a very pleasant way to kick off the Christmas season!  Be sure and check our website for a number of pictures taken during both the social hour and the luncheon.

Paulette Powell passed the gavel to our incoming President, Gilmer Abel.  In addition, Tony Allison, Mary McClanahan, and Jeff Stagg were introduced as your 2009 Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer respectively.  New to the board this year are Fred Boecker, LeRoy Laycock, and John Watson.  Returning for the second year of their 2-year terms are David Biles, Mike Kees, and Wanda Schaffner. We said goodbye to outgoing board members Harold Jones, Norma Roady, and Jim Spencer along with a great big thanks for all their good work.  

Door Prize Winners

The following attendees were door prize winners based on the drawings held at the luncheon’s conclusion.  Each of these folks will receive a free meal at our March Luncheon to be held at Vargo’s Restaurant on Wednesday, March 4th.

Brenda Johnson                   Earline Griesedieck                  Tracy Park


Having Fun at the Christmas Luncheon are Cheryl & Bill Ledbetter

Website News - by Mike Kees

You may reach our webmaster, Rodger Garrison, at rodgergarrison@sbcglobal.net.  As always, please direct any inquires regarding our website via the link on our homepage at www.tennecoretiree.com.  If you don’t have a password to our website, just go to the site’s homepage and follow the simple instructions.  Be sure and log on frequently and view the updates that are regularly posted.  Generally, day trip reports are available (along with photos) a week to 10 days after each event.  Also, information about future trips, upcoming meetings, and upcoming luncheons is listed for your convenience as well as reports and photos from completed meetings.

Also, we will now be posting our newsletters not only as you’ve been seeing them all along but also in a PDF format.  Just look at our website under the “Newsletters” tab then click on “PDF Newsletters” to view.  Your computer must have Adobe Acrobat in order for this function to work.  For those who do not have this program, it is available free via the Internet.  Note:  We have not gone back and placed all archived newsletters under this format, just a selected few.  We plan, however, to have each edition going forward in both formats, beginning with this issue.

Your Club continues to strongly solicit your stories and your profiles to add to our site.  Please consider stepping up to the plate and get your news online!  And if you’ve submitted a profile that needs updating or you have an additional story to add, please don’t hesitate to do so.  There’s no limit!  Just send your submissions to Mike Kees at mrk1807@comcast.net or to 1807 Rustic Oak Lane, Seabrook, Texas 77586.

Welcome New Members! - by Paulette Powell & Mike Kees

Seems like I keep making typos!  Sorry about that Suzanne Hogue.  (In the last newsletter, I used the wrong last name.)  Not only that, she worked for Philadelphia Life, not Tenneco Inc.  That’s double bad!  Please accept my apology!

Now to our newest members!  We’re pleased to welcome Fred Bankston, whose member wife Pauline, worked for TOC E&P; George & Christie Gentry (Tenneco Gas); Betty Gregory whose member husband Jack, worked for TOC; Joe Gutierrez whose member wife Dianne, worked for TOC; Vicky Harrison whose husband Josh, worked for TEN; Richard Lorenz (TOC); Edward “Ed” Marsch (TGP); Exie Minton whose husband Allen, worked for Tenneco Gas; Tommy & Mildred Wells (TOC); Kenneth Schorre (TOC P&M/ Tenneco Gas); Michael & Susan Catt (MGT & TGT); and Carolyn Hannah whose member husband Jim, worked for TOC.  Finally, we’d like to welcome back some members who are renewing after a short time away.  They include:  Wylace (TGP) & Margaret Vincent; James J. (TGP) & Barbara McCoy and Mercedes Demaret (TEN).  We hope to see each of you at all our upcoming luncheons and day trips!

We sure hope that we’ve gotten each and every name accurately.  If we failed, please let us know the correct spelling via an email to our webmaster at www.tennecoretiree.com or a call to any board member.  Thanks!

As you know, your Club has an ongoing effort to reach out to all former Tenneco employees to encourage their participation in our organization.  Please keep your eyes and ears open for any former associates and invite them to join our group!  Remember, anyone - and their spouse - who worked for any Tenneco company for just one year (or more), is eligible to join our ranks!  Help us get the word out to any and all potential members.  You know there are quite a few candidates out there!

As of January 24th we have received 568 membership renewals for 2009.  Several renewals are still outstanding and, of course, we’re hoping for even more new members!  Contact information for all members is contained on our website (www.tennecoretiree.com).  We look forward to seeing everyone at our March Luncheon at Vargo’s and, of course, at all of our future events, including our monthly day trips!

Inquiries regarding membership in the Retiree Club should be referred to Paulette Powell at 281-496-2160 or at papowell@sbcglobal.net or visit the Club’s website at www.tennecoretiree.com for a downloadable application form.

Directory & Newsletter News - by Mike Kees

This is the year we publish a new printed membership directory for all current Club members.  Only those whose membership is current will receive this bi-annual publication.  After updating, formatting, printing and mailing, the directory should be ready to go to the Post Office in April.  If you elect to access the directory online (a different format but with the same information), it will save your Club the cost of printing and mailing.   

You also have the option of receiving your newsletter online.  If you do, you’ll have the additional bonus of receiving your copy of the newsletter much earlier than those sent by postal mail.  You’ll also get to enjoy all the various pictures in full color!  Remember there is absolutely no cost to anyone to make this election!  If you’re not already doing so and you would like to receive your newsletter copy electronically, please send a note to our Webmaster at webmaster@tennecoretiree.com or contact any board member stating your preference.  Feel free to print out a copy on your home PC or simply view it online - your choice.  Of course, you are free to revert back to a printed copy at any time. 

Bonus!  For those of you who have been asking for a PDF version of our newsletter, one is now available beginning with this issue.  Just go to our website and, under the “Newsletters” tab click on “PDF Newsletters” to view in this format.  For those who would like to utilize PDF, you will need to have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer.  It’s free and easily available at http://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/.  

Those who elect the online option will receive an email from our Webmaster announcing the newsletter’s availability.  That message includes two clickable links.  Click on one to download the current newsletter; click on the other to download the associated luncheon or barbeque meeting reservation form (which you will need to print out, complete, and mail in for your meal reservation).

Important:  If you elect to receive your newsletter electronically, you will need to print out the associated meal reservation page in order to mail it in with your check to reserve your place at our upcoming Vargo’s luncheon.

Who’s Where Doing What? – by Larry Loyd

All you need to do is visit with fellow former Tenneco co-workers, or read about them in the newsletter to realize that we are truly a caring and sharing bunch of folks.  That’s one of the things that made Tenneco such a good company to work for, isn’t it?  Here’s an example of one of the many volunteer activities our members are involved in.

Pete and Lee Peterson are very much involved with Houston Ground Angels and Pilots.  This organization volunteers autos, planes, gasoline, and time to transport incoming and outgoing patients to and from their homes and Houston’s Medical Center Hospitals and housing.  In 2006, they performed 550 volunteer missions, and in 2007 it was 905.  In 2008 there will be nearly 1200 missions donated.  Pete reports that it keeps them very busy (and out of mischief, mostly), and is very rewarding.  The following is an excerpt from the group’s website, www.houstongroundangels.org.

January 2008 - Thanks!

Our daughter, Sara Grace Young was diagnosed with craniosynostosis. Her surgery at the Texas Medical Center on January 18 in Houston resulted in an ear to ear incision across the top of her head. While receiving further treatment, one of the nurses recommended that we contact Pete Peterson, Houston Ground Angels/Pilots to provide transportation from our home in Monroe, La. to Houston for continuing orthotics treatment. Mr. Peterson then contacted Philip Thomas, President, Pilots for Patients in Monroe, Louisiana who flew us to Houston for our next appointment.

Mr. Thomas provided us with a memorable experience in flying us to Houston where we were met by Mr. Peterson and our two Ground Angels, Susanne Bailey and Jane Jacobi. These two precious ladies took us to our appointment and treated us to lunch before returning us to David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport for our return flight to Monroe with Mr. Thomas. God has showered us with many blessings in less than two months and we are most grateful. We have already scheduled our next appointment and Houston Ground Angels/Pilots and Pilots for Patients are there for us again. They are at the top of our list. We feel so fortunate to have this service provided free of charge for medical transportation needs. Many thanks from the bottom of our hearts.

Sincerely, Susan Young, Monroe, Louisiana

Congratulations to Pete and Lee for the great work you are doing, and for the difference you are making in people’s lives!

Here’s a wonderful recap of Tenneco experienced from Diana Prosperi.  “When I began working for TGT in 1961 in the Banking Division under Ben Campbell as a young 17 year old, they took great joy in breaking me in to the banking world.  One afternoon, I was told to locate our Department’s “Check Stretcher”.  I looked everywhere, asking everyone and could not locate it, only to find out there was no such thing.  I was young, green, and naive.  It was a good laugh for me and for the entire department.  Jim Watkins was my boss and both of these gentlemen would enjoy this story.  My name then was Dinah Warnken, from Schulenburg, Texas.  It was truly a fun experience.  In today’s volatile economy, don’t we all wish there was such a thing as a “Check Stretcher”?  Dinah is retired from full time work, lives in Spring, Texas, and works part time at Eden Brook of the Woodlands assisted living home, which she thoroughly enjoys.

Do you have a fun experience you remember about your work at Tenneco?  If so, let us know about it so others can enjoy it.  Does anybody remember any of Warren Williamson’s tall tales?  Let us hear about it, and we might even have a contest as to who remembers the funniest or the most outlandish. 

Thanks to all who have contributed to the information we share here.  We all like to hear what our fellow Tenneco folks are doing, what activities you’re involved in, what trips you have taken, the volunteer work you’re doing, and simply what’s going on in your life.  Keep those cards and letters coming!  You can just jot down information on the back of your Luncheon reservation, or send information to me at LARMARLOYD@AOL.COM, or Larry L. Loyd at 5518 Judalon, Houston, Texas 77056.

2009 Club Membership Renewals

If you haven’t already done so, please mail in your 2009 renewal and dues payment.  Please note that if your contact information has not changed, there is no need for you to complete that portion of the form – only the member name is required.

·      2009 annual membership fee for the “Tenneco” person in the household = $10
(This includes single members and surviving spouses.)

·      2009 annual membership fee for all others = $7.50
(This includes member spouses, etc.)

Please note that only with your renewal will you continue to receive our newsletter, Club directory, access to our website and preferred pricing to all our various luncheon events – plus the opportunity to participate in our monthly day trips!  Also, please note that our membership rates are unchanged from 2008.  Just go to our website (www.tennecoretiree.com) for more details or mail your payment directly to Jeff Stagg, Treasurer, 17011 North Bear Creek Drive, Houston, Texas 77084-3325.  Checks should be made payable to “Tenneco Retiree Club.”

2009 Club Directory News - by Mike Kees

As most of you know, we currently publish a new hard copy membership directory every other year (we did so in 2007) and send a supplemental hard copy of any subsequent changes out in all other years (as we did in 2008).  Earlier we solicited your decision on whether or not you would like to continue to receive the hard copies of these documents or would you opt to simply access all our membership information online.  Several of you have said yes to this online option.  When we mail new directories later this year, if you have elected to view the directory online, you will not receive a mailing.  Our website is continually being updated as changes occur so it is always the most current and accurate source of information about our membership.  The format you see on the printed version varies from what is online but the information is identical.  As always, you may opt to use the online directory in lieu of the printed one at any time by simply notifying our new Membership Chairman, Paulette Powell at (281) 496-2160 or at papowell@sbcglobal.net or you may opt to return to receiving a hard copy in the same manner.  By electing to view our directory online you save your Club the associated cost of printing, collating and mailing.

Please Contribute Your Military Experiences!

Here's a great chance for some of our members to contribute to our newsletter!  If you have any personal stories regarding your experiences during World War II, please consider sharing them.  We're asking you to contribute your memories so that others may know of your sacrifices and insights as a member of The Greatest Generation.  Just jot down your story in any way that works for you.  You can then just email or postal mail your remembrances to Mike Kees, (mrk1807@comcast.net) or 1807 Rustic Oak Lane, Seabrook, Texas 77586).  We'll be more than happy to help you with a little editing if you so desire.  And if you've got Korean War or Vietnam War experiences - or simply the military in general, please feel free to send in your stories too!  Once these stories are submitted and published in our newsletter they will also be made available online under the Retiree’s Profile tab on our website. .

Here’s our latest contribution from Retiree Russ Hankins.

Navy Life Memories - by Russ Hankins

(Editor’s Note:  Russ Hankins, a Tenneco Oil Retiree, only recently joined our Club.  We are pleased to publish his recollections of his life in the U. S. Navy in his own words.)

This is Russ Hankins.  I met Mike Kees at the Bear Creek Park barbeque in October 2008.  We had an interesting conversation during which I offered to write a history of my military experience.  I told him it would be different, and it is 

To understand, you need to know I grew up in Tomball, then labeled “Oil Town, U.S.A.”.  Coronet Magazine, then a favorite, had a lengthy special article, pictures and all, about life in the red neck oil patch.  Humble Oil (now ExxonMobil) was the major player in the area and provided free water and free gas to everyone living in the town site.  The entire area was lit by flare gas.

From age 12 on, I always worked after school and during weekends.  Junior High summers, I walked pipeline looking for leaks.  This was the Magnolia products line from Conroe to Sealy.  You can still see the storage tank farm from I-10.  For small leaks, we dug a bell hole, put on a cone and strapped it to the pipe.  Old line pipeliners know what I am talking about.

Remember this is World War II time.  Employees were hard to find.  The summer of my junior year in high school, Williams Brothers was the contractor on the first Tennessee Gas main line spread.  I worked for the contractor that summer after which the Spread Boss asked if I would forego my senior year, go to Wooster (now Baytown) and be the office clerk for what was to be Station A on the Texas Eastern Pipeline system.  There I worked in an oversized “dog house”, did the payroll, received material, but mainly watched and learned as the station was built.

At 17, I joined the Navy and was dispatched to San Diego for boot camp and indoctrination.  I liked the Navy and the Navy liked me.  After boot camp, I was put on “hold” which I did not understand.  Four of us were given a truck, canisters, and ample supply of D.D.T. which we sprayed in all mess halls, galleys, and adjoining areas.  This gained us almost anything we wanted in food and goodies.  Weekends, whenever we could find transportation, we headed for the Hollywood Palladium.  This was the height of the Big Band era at Hollywood and Vine.  It was not bad duty.

The day came.  I was assigned to the first class of the Naval Academy’s Annapolis of the West located at Stanford University.  We were housed in Toyan Hall, adjacent to the Hoover Institute Tower.

Here I was, a kid from the oil patch who did not complete this senior year of high school, overawed by Stanford University, its traditions, faculty, and stimulating students who wanted to learn.  What a challenge. In addition to the Naval Science requirements, I faced Stanford’s world class study of History of Western Civilization, English literature, advanced math and science, and played second base on Stanford’s baseball team.  I was busy, but inspired.  I still remember a senior psychology major who loved to hypnotize me.  I spent many nights studying under hypnosis where you could amass a mountain amount of information.  Of course, you forgot most of it three days later.  Would I have been a good Naval Officer? Sure.

I am very proud of my military history.  I was a young, studious kid, with a positive work ethic, adventuresome and curious, but lack of maturity to experience fear or feelings.  Later, I found the Navy screened thousands of its forces to select 300 for the initial program.

No, I did not encounter enemy fire.  I was not involved in combat, but I was part of a massive effort by top Navy Brass to find out, “What does a young Naval Officer need to know and be prepared to do to provide effective leadership?”  The top echelon was determined the Annapolis of the West had to be different.  Navy losses in the Pacific were staggering.  The Navy encountered obstacles far greater than ever expected.  Old school methods were not working.  Today’s Navy is facing a similar situation.  We keep hearing the Navy is determined to keep its portion of military spending.  Navy strategy and requests are not the same; it must find a way to keep abreast.

The summer of 1946, again needs changed.  Cadets were given the choice of a regular Navy career or discharge.  All but 30 chose to leave and the program disbanded.  I came back to Texas, graduated in two years at S.M.U. and then worked eighteen years at Tenneco.  The G.I. bill provided funds for both B.B.A. and M.B.A degrees.

My purpose in writing this, describing a record far different from most, is to show a feature of the military experience many people do not recognize.  There is much more involved than just getting troops out.  We need to think carefully about what we are doing.  I hope you find half as much pleasure reading this and I did writing it.

/s/ Russ Hankins

Financial Predators On The Prowl:  What Retirees And Near Retirees Should Know About Recognizing And Avoiding Fraud – from the El Paso Credit Union

In a volatile economy consumers are susceptible to losing money. But one of the largest and fastest growing segments of society, the retirees, are being jeopardized by another risk—financial scams.

“Desperate to recover from market losses might compel investors to turn to alternative options. Retirees, in particular, are often lured by rogue investments or fraudulent scams,” says Brent Neiser, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and director with the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®).

 “Avoidance of fraud by retirement-age Americans and their families is an essential part of retirement planning and management,” says Neiser, who is working on NEFE initiatives helping middle-income retirees protect their assets and make wise decisions about retirement. “Fraud can undo the best retirement plan and wipe out years of accumulated savings, assets and future investment returns to the point where they cannot be fully recovered.”

Defense against fraud comes with being able to identify the many different types of financial schemes that exist. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the following investment scams are commonly used to target Americans:

High-return or “risk-free” investments: Some unscrupulous brokers and investment advisers recommend unsuitable products that don’t meet the investment objectives or financial situations of investors. Inappropriate recommendations might occur when a broker sells speculative, high-risk investments such as options, futures or penny stocks to individuals who are near retirement or are retired and have a low-risk tolerance.

Pyramid schemes: In this classic scheme, fraudsters promise sky-high returns in a short period of time for doing nothing other than handing over money and getting others to do the same. Despite their claims to have legitimate products or services to sell, these deceivers spend much of the money on themselves and simply use money coming in from new recruits to pay off early stage investors. At some point the schemes get too big, the promoter cannot raise enough money from new investors to pay earlier investors and many people lose their money.

“Ponzi” schemes: These are a type of illegal pyramid scheme named for Charles Ponzi, who fooled thousands of New England residents into investing in a postage stamp speculation scheme back in the 1920s. Ponzi thought he could take advantage of differences between U.S. and foreign currencies used to buy and sell international mail coupons. He told investors he could provide a 40 percent return in just 90 days compared with 5 percent for bank savings accounts. Ponzi was deluged with funds from investors, taking in $1 million during one three-hour period. Though a few early investors were paid off to make the scheme look legitimate, an investigation found that Ponzi had only purchased about $30 worth of the international mail coupons. Today, the Ponzi scheme continues to work on the “rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul” principle, as money from new investors is used to pay off earlier investors until the whole scheme collapses.

Promissory notes: A promissory note is a type of debt that is similar to a loan or IOU and is used by a company to raise money. Typically, an investor agrees to loan money to the company for a set period of time. In exchange, the company promises to pay the investor a fixed return on the investment, typically principal plus annual interest. While promissory notes can be legitimate investments, those that are marketed broadly to individual investors often turn out to be nothing more than worthless paper. Most established companies have borrowing relationships with financial institutions, therefore this type of transaction among individuals is rare. Individual investors should exercise extreme caution with this type of investment.

Internet investment fraud: Internet investment fraud is similar to other fraud perpetrated over the phone or through the mail. Fraudsters use a variety of Internet tools, including bulletin boards, online newsletters, spam or chat rooms to spread false information. The Internet has made off-shore scams very easy to implement and difficult to police because the perpetrators often reside outside of the U.S.

Affinity fraud: This fraud refers to investment scams that prey upon members of certain groups, such as religious or ethnic communities, the elderly or professional groups. Deceivers who promote affinity scams frequently are—or pretend to be—members of the group. They enlist respected community or religious leaders from within the group to spread the word about the scheme, by convincing people that a fraudulent investment is legitimate and worthwhile. Often, the leaders themselves become unwitting victims of the fraudster’s scheme.

What follows are eight tips NEFE offers to help protect yourself from financial scams:

  • Thoroughly research any person, organization or company that provides you with financial planning or investment advice, or sells products or services. Work with only those who have reputable credentials. Get a second or third objective opinion on every important decision you make regarding your retirement investments and savings.
  • Prevent identity theft by paying close attention to your credit report and checking for inaccuracies. You can order a detailed summary from the three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. However, it is wise to stagger ordering reports from each agency every few months.
  • Never give out your personal information—especially social security number, bank account or other private data—to any person or organization you don’t know. Even a financial institution that you work with will not contact you asking for this information.
  • Put your name on the “do not call” list, and discontinue any conversation where you are pressured or threatened about an investment, financial service or product.
  • Stop junk mail and credit card offers from being delivered to your home. You can stop most solicitations by calling 1 (888) 5OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688), or online at www.optoutprescreen.com. Have a shredder on hand so you can destroy any credit card offers or other material that could be used by someone pretending to be you.
  • Don’t give someone money in exchange for a promise to get money. Never spend money to become eligible to win something.
  • Assume that any get-rich-quick opportunity is fraudulent.
  • Know your specific risk tolerance—what you can and cannot afford to lose. Discuss your goals with any planner or advisor you work with and get all expectations in writing.

For more information about recognizing and avoiding fraud, visit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission at www.sec.gov.

For more tips on avoiding scams and protecting your assets, visit www.smartaboutmoney.org. NEFE is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to helping all Americans acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to take control of their financial destiny. To learn more, visit www.nefe.org.

Houston Marathon News - by Jay Harrington & Mike Kees 

The Tenneco Retirees began working at the George R. Brown Convention Center on January 18 around 5 AM. I delivered 500 assorted pastries donated by Mrs. Baird's Bakeries. All other pastries were supplied by others and the Marathon Office. Two coffee makers were already set up by others upon our arrival, with cups, sugar, creamers, stirrers, etc., supplied by Community Coffee.

Our early bird crew included: Martin Grady, Joe Keen, Harold Jones and yours truly. This worthy crew applied good ol' Tenneco vigor and knowhow to make adequate coffee with just one working coffee maker and then used the other one to just keep coffee hot. Bottled water was also supplied. 

Other Tenneco Retirees arriving later included Gloria McLeod, Earl & Sunshine Sturgeon, Jim & Rita Spencer, Rodger Garrison and Elsie Pecena. With our full crew, we kept our "clients" supplied with good food and drinks until quitting time.

 From around 9:40 AM until after noon, an almost endless supply of Schlotzsky's Deli sandwiches with chips and a cookie were served in individual bags. Bagels with cream cheese arrived after noon and were served until we quit around 2PM. 

Three races were run simultaneously; a full marathon (26+ miles), a half marathon and a 5K run. Wheelchair races were also included.

There were record times set in the full Marathon.  In the Men’s run - 2 hrs, 7 min, 52 sec by Deriba Merga, of Ethiopia and in the Women’s run - 2 hrs, 14 min, 18 sec by Teyba Erkesso also of Ethiopia.

Over 23,000 runners registered for this annual event. 

Special Note:  You will recall back in our October 2008 issue, we included a story about Club member Tony Allison and his quest to run marathons on all 7 continents.  For those who may have missed it, Tony’s story was featured in the Houston Chronicle on January 15, 2009.  Sports columnist Richard Justice did an in depth account on Tony and his marathon legacy.  If you would like to read this article online, it may be found at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/justice/6212044.html.  Tony, of course, is our current Retiree Club Vice President!

Tenneco History Project by Gary Cheatham

As most of you know by now we are promoting the preparation of a two volume history of Tenneco.  The first volume covers the time interval from the early 1930s, when the original Tennessee Gas pipeline concept originated, through the mid-1970s.  It depicts the saga of a Nashville promoter who finally "teams up" with a very competent Corpus Christi businessman who had the resources, management skills and financial wherewithal to complete that first wartime gas pipeline.  This volume is approximately forty percent complete and the final draft is expected to be sent to the publisher during the last quarter of this year.  It will include an epilogue summarizing volume two which will follow shortly thereafter.   

The second volume will describe the further growth and operation of the Tenneco conglomerate and will recap those events leading to its eventual dismemberment in the mid-1990s.  Both volumes will be university press quality publications and will be available for purchase by the general public. 

Our current funding base appears to be adequate to compensate the professional writer of the first volume through September, 2009. 

Tenneco Retiree Club Day Trip Reports

by Earl Sturgeon

Ship Channel Boat Tour – November 18, 2008 

When we arrived at the Mall parking area to board our bus we found two ladies all ready on board who were strangers to us.  We asked them if they were on the correct bus and they assured us they were.  After further discussion we convinced them their bus must be somewhere else.  They were with a group of AAU Women making a day trip.  Several more ladies attempted to board but we needed all of the room for our people.  We had a group of exactly forty, thirty-five on the bus and five driving separately.  We were pleased to have first time traveler’s Audrey Cook, Russ Hankins, Barney & Earline Griesedieck and Bill & Joyce Wells with us. 

It was a beautiful fall day and our main event was to ride the Port of Houston Authority’s M/V Sam Houston on a tour of Houston’s port facilities.  The Sam Houston docks at Gate 8 off Clinton Ave. right in the middle of the port’s turning basin.  The ship is exactly 50 years old even though it does not look like it.  It is 95 ft. long with a 24 ft beam.  It can carry 100 passengers and features air-conditioned lounge seating and standing room on the front and rear decks.  The ship is driven by two 525 HP diesel engines.  The wood trim is in excellent condition.  We were very comfortable on the boat.  The only time you felt cold was while standing on the front deck when the boat was moving at full speed. 

We left the turning basin and traveled downstream for several miles.  We were given a narrative description of all of the port’s activities for the entire 90 minute trip.  It was amazing to see all the different kinds and sizes of vessels that were in the port from all over the world.  The Port of Houston is the largest foreign import & export tonnage port in the United States.  In addition to seeing the cargo ships it was interesting to see all the industry that is located on both sides of the channel taking up nearly all the available space.  More and more product is being shipped in closed containers that require huge cranes for loading and unloading.  With the recent opening of the new Bayport Container Terminal located a few miles further south, Houston is now the eighth largest container port in the world.  The new Bayport Cruise Terminal should also open soon.

Of course all of the activity made us, you guessed it, hungry.  When you think of eating places along the ship channel the name of Monument Inn should come up.  We crossed the ship channel on the 610 East bridge and headed south arriving at the Inn a little before noon.  The place was packed but they had reserved exactly 40 seats for us in the middle of the restaurant.  Our very accommodating driver, Hubert Jackson, had advised us that delicious bread would be brought to our table and for us not to eat too much bread while waiting for our food to be served.  We didn’t listen.  It was amazing how efficient the staff was with a full house in taking our orders and in serving our food.  They obviously are used to doing it.  The food was very good so we ate most of our meal in addition to the bread.  There were, however, several doggie bags taken to the bus.  It is a small world - at the restaurant we ran into Don & Nelda Napp who were in the area visiting friends.

One of 2 Tables of Explorers Having Lunch at the Monument Inn

We did not have far to go for our next stop at the San Jacinto Battlegrounds and Monument.  We first rode by and took a look at the Battleship Texas.  Then we made our way over to the Monument and took a group picture on the steps before entering.  On the first floor is a historical museum that covers the San Jacinto period of history.  In addition there are three special attractions to be seen.  Due to time constraints it was suggested we split up and take in the one attraction of our choice.  The three options were: 

            1.)  View a 35 min. film on the Texas Revolution and the Battle of San Jacinto.

            2.)  View a display by Photographer Cecil Thomson of Houston photos from the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s  era.

            3.)  Take an elevator ride to view the surroundings from the top of the monument. 

Everyone seemed pleased with their particular attraction as it took awhile to round everyone up.top the 570 ft. monument. 

It was now time to load and return to our parking area.  The trip that was mainly along the I-10 corridor did not take long.  Once again the Explorers thoroughly enjoyed a very interesting day.  It was time well spent.   

Trip To Santa’s Wonderland – College Station – December 16, 2008

 Everyone arrived on time for our trip to College Station and that is always a good sign.  We were all in a holiday mood and ready for a good time.  It was LaZelle Bradley’s birthday so we had something to celebrate.  Our driver, Robert Exinicious, who has driven for us several times, announced that this was one of his last trips and he would be retiring.  Since we know a little about retirement ourselves, we added that to our celebration list.

The only thing that was not going our way was the weather.  It was cold, it was drizzling, and it was foggy.  We’ve had far more good travel days than bad for our many trips but every time we have gone to College Station in December the weather has been extremely cold.  I know December can have some mild days but we don’t seem to catch them.  It was difficult to keep the temperature in the bus at the correct level; it was either too hot or too cold.  And the windshield had to be wiped several times so the driver could see the road.  The drizzle lasted all of the way up and nearly all of the way back.

 We arrived at Fish Daddy’s Grill House in College Station right on time and were warmly greeted by Retiree Club members Jim & Betty Burson and Sandel & Mary Harris.  Now we could start our celebration again.  We ate at this restaurant a year ago when it was new and were very favorably impressed with its décor, food quality and reasonable pricing.  In fact we rated it as one of our best all time dining experiences.  We, of course, wondered what we would find one year later.  We were not disappointed at all - this visit was every bit as enjoyable as our previous one.  The same menus are still being used.  Since the outside weather was so undesirable, it was decided to take our usual group photo inside the restaurant.  We selected the lobby as the best spot but the limited space resulted in a few Explorers not being in the picture.

Explorers Enjoying Dinner at Fish Daddy’s In College Station

As soon as it became good and dark we re-boarded our bus for the evening’s adventure.  We slowly drove through Krenek City Park that is extensively decorated with lights and several theme displays.  It was a good warm-up before going to Santa’s Wonderland located about six miles south on Hwy. 6 

Several of the “regular” Explorers elected not to make this trip to see the Wonderland because we have been several times. (Harold Jones stated the reason he came was to eat at Fish Daddy’s.)  Each time we have visited there have been some changes, usually more lights and displays added.  This year, unbeknown to us, there were major changes.  About the only things that were not changed were the road way, the lights outlining the road bed and some of the animated displays.  The major change was nearly all of the lights were replaced with newer LED lighting that gives a brighter and much richer color to the lights.  We were totally surprised as to how much different everything looked.  Many of the larger displays were reworked and new structures built.  The animated scenes, such as the deer jumping over the road and the alligator catching its prey, were still there but the brighter lights have been added.

 At the end of the light display is Santa’s Village.  Nearly everyone braved the elements and toured the village but some were able to see all they wanted a lot quicker than others.  Changes and additions were also made to the village.  The village is built in a rectangle with an open plaza in the center.  In the middle of the plaza is a large wood fire burning for both warmth and beauty.  Also snowflakes are falling.  Live entertainers, on an elevated stage, perform appropriate music.  There are shops galore selling merchandise and food items, a children’s petting zoo and, of course, Santa.  When we all got back to the bus the item most purchased was a marshmallow blower made out of plastic pipe.  They said it was for their grandchildren - but who knows.

 We made one last enjoyable drive through the light displays before we headed home.  The drizzling rain diminished as we traveled south and the drive was relatively quick with no problems.  We arrived at our Mall parking area at exactly 9:30 pm after having a very good time celebrating with our fellow retirees.       

Trip To Houston TranStar and Houston Libraries - January 15, 2009  


Group picture in lobby of TranStar Building on 1/15/2009

When we arrived at our Mall parking area to board our bus, it was not in the usual spot.  We saw a bus some distance away on the southeast corner of the Mall and found out it was ours.  The driver stated Mall Security had asked that he change his location to this spot.  It took a little effort to round up all of the Explorers but everyone made it on time. It was a beautiful sunshiny day and the temperature was not as cold as had been predicted.  We were soon on our way to our first stop, TranStar, located at 6922 Old Katy Road.

TranStar was created in 1996 to help solve traffic congestion problems caused by the area’s rapid growth in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  The four agencies involved are Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), The City of Houston, Harris County and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro).  In the past, these agencies worked separately to plan for or manage traffic problems.  At a later date it was realized that emergency management was a vital, necessary component of their services so it was added.  Now any emergency created by man or nature is handled by the partnership.  Houston was first in the nation to provide these services.  There are now four others in the country that have similar operations.

The heart of the operation is a room that looks like a larger version of NASA’s Mission Control.  In fact it was designed by the same firm that designed NASA‘s facility.  There are five rows of desks with computer consoles and communication equipment.  On the front wall are four huge screens and several smaller ones.  These screens are showing in real time views of traffic moving on our highways from their over 600 cameras mounted throughout the area. The focus and direction of these cameras can be controlled from these consoles.  All four agencies plus the media are in attendance on a 24/7 basis to operate the equipment.  All of the traffic pictures you see on TV originate from this location as do all of the message signs along the highways as well as radio advisories.

Another area of the building is designed to handle the emergencies.  They are all called “incidents” unless the federal government declares a “disaster”.  The area is not manned until the need arises.  Since Hurricane Ike was the most recent event, it was discussed.  The room was occupied for 33 days and, at times, there were around 400 people staying in the facility.  All of this happened with only one male and one female shower available.  Plans are being made now for another building to house adequate dormitory facilities.

Our tour guide, Pat Pilkington, did an excellent job.  This adds so much to the benefits received from a tour.

For lunch we went downtown to the City View Café for our second time with them.  You have a great view overlooking the Toyota Center, the Discovery Green Park and the George R. Brown Convention Center.  The food was good and we spent ample time reminiscing and visiting with each other.

In the afternoon we toured the downtown public libraries - both the old and the new.  The old one, built in 1926, is named after Julia Ideson, one of the city’s earliest librarians.  It is perhaps one of the finest architectural structures in Houston.  Of Spanish Renaissance design, it is a beauty to behold both inside and out.  Our tour guide described the various paintings and murals that cover the walls.  The building is now designated as a research library and is usually not very crowded.  Some of the Explorers became very interested in old photographs and maps that are on file.  We learned that families donate old personal photographs and they are filed away for posterity.  There are plans to renovate the building, add another wing and restore it to its 1926 grandeur. 

The new library, with no special name, opened in 1976.  It has recently been gutted and redesigned inside.  It, of course is now very modern and well lighted.  Our tour there was to learn more about what was in the building itself.  It has four floors and a basement level open to the public.  We learned what is on each floor and were intrigued by the fourth floor.  One part is for kids and the other is only for teenagers.  There seemed to be a lot of video games.  A city library card is only good for three years so several of our group had their cards renewed. 

I will have to confess that most of the Explorer’s legs were getting tired as we had been on our feet most of the day.  But it was a good trip and we thoroughly enjoyed what we had seen and what we had learned.  We were definitely fascinated by how intriguing the operation was at TranStar and how little most people know about it.      

Future trips in the works include the following:

·         Saturday, February 14, 2009 – Evening Trip to the Liberty Opry - (This event may be concluded by the time you read this, however because of our editing and printing deadlines, this trip’s report will not appear until our next newsletter.  It will, however, be posted on our website within a week or so of the trip.)

  • Thursday, March 19, 2009 - Tour Town of Elgin (includes brick & sausage plants)
  • Thursday, April 16, 2009 - Sights of Sealy (includes Clydesdale Horse Farm)
  • Thursday, May 7th - Tour Alpaca Ranch, Navasota
  • Thursday, June 25, 2009 - Asian Heritage Tour in Bellaire

Please place these dates on your calendar and contact Earl Sturgeon at 713-467-0063 (or at  earlstur@gmail.com) if you would like to be a part of one or more of the trips listed - or if you have ideas regarding potential future trips.  As always, trips fill up fast but there is always the chance of a cancellation so let Earl know if you have any interest!  Remember you, too, can be a part of this fun and very popular activity.  Give it a shot!  It’s a great way to spend a retirement day!  As was announced a few months back, we’re now reserving a minimum of 4 seats on each trip for any special guests you’d like to bring along.  Simply contact Earl and let him know whom you’ll be bringing! 

 Here’s A Little History of the Land Under that Building at 1010 Milam Street

by Mike Kees

Audrey Cook was an employee of Tenneco Oil Company from 1956 thru 1968.  She worked for Charles Lingo and Ed Ross most of her career but also worked in the Mortgage Loan Department with Curtis Smith.  From that experience comes this story.

During her time in Mortgage Loans, Audrey had occasion – actually many, many occasions – to type the words “Out of the Obedience Smith Survey”.  This innocuous looking phrase intrigued her and made her curious.  Who was Obedience Smith?  She (Obedience Fort, prior to marriage) was born in North Carolina in 1771.  Her grandfather was a member of the House of Burgesses which predates the American Revolution.  In 1791 her father led a group of 100 people over a newly opened road into the Cumberland Territory.  Near what is now the Tennessee Kentucky border they founded the Red River Baptist Church.  She married Major David Smith, a veteran of the Revolutionary War.  He also was engaged in several campaigns against the Creeks and British alongside Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812.  She bore 11 children in this wild, untamed territory.

This wasn’t enough, apparently, for she moved to yet another frontier near what is now Jackson, Mississippi shortly after the Choctaw Indians ceded the area.  Here she continued rearing her children along with, by now, several grandchildren.  After being widowed, she moved yet again – this time to Texas – very early Texas – even before independence was declared on March 2, 1836.  She lived in what is now Harris County for almost 12 years, passing away in 1847 (which was only the second year of Texas statehood).  She last resided on a parcel of land that is now known as Tranquility Park in downtown Houston. 

Many of her 32 grandchildren eventually inherited much of her Republic of Texas land grant that consisted of 3,368 acres in what is mostly now downtown Houston.  One Mississippi County bears the name of her husband and three Texas counties bear the names of other family members.  One descendent, Col. Benjamin Fort Smith, was a hero at the Battle of San Jacinto.  He was also among the founders of Houston. 

On the notorious side, she even had a grandson who rode with the Jesse James gang.  At the other end of the spectrum was a great-granddaughter who was a founding member of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

Now for those of you who have not identified the address used in the heading of this article, it was, of course, the street address of the Tenneco Building, now known as the El Paso Corp. building.

Audrey has done years and years of research centered on Obedience Smith and her family.  She’s recently published a book on the subject entitled Obedience Smith (1771 – 1847) Pioneer of Three American Frontiers – Her Ancestors and Descendants.  You can learn more about this fascinating history at Audrey’s website, http://www.obediencesmith.com.  I’ll bet she’ll even take your call! 


Audrey tells a little side story also.  Put yourself back in 1966 to see how much things have changed.  In that year Audrey was eligible for her 10 year service award.  The list she was given showed only a lapel pin (worth about $5) available for the 3 women on that year’s list.  The men had a selection of cuff links and other items (worth about $15).  After saying “that’s not fair!” she was allowed to select a pair of cuff links.  She promptly had them made into a sweater guard, a popular item at the time.  Times, they do change.


The following deaths were reported since the publication of our last newsletter:


Passed Away On

Clyde Wilson

November 1

Jeanne Dean

November 19

David Cornell

Cliff Britt

Clayton Sheaffer

Sam Higginbotham

Wester Marvin Smith

Alva “Pappy” Brewer

Thelma Hollowell

Bill Zarnow

Malcolm Hood, Jr.

November 29

December 23

January 2

January 5

January 6

January 16

January 19

January 22

January 23

We offer our sincere condolences to the surviving families of each of these members of our Tenneco family.



Changes of postal mailing addresses or telephone numbers should to be given to Paulette Powell by calling 281-496-2160, by email to papowell@sbcglobal.net, or by postal mail as follows:  Attn: Tenneco Retiree Club, 12214 Burgoyne Drive, Houston, Texas 77077-5926.  When you provide Paulette with a change of address, please be sure that you include your new telephone number and email address, if applicable.


News of the death or serious illness of a member should be provided directly to Mary McClanahan at 713-466-7874 - or her cell – 281-287-9726 or to Wanda Schaffner  at 713-266-6244 as soon as possible and include as many details as possible. 


Please send any e-mail address changes directly to our Tenneco Retiree Club Webmaster at webmaster@tennecoretiree.com or, if you so choose, directly to either Paulette Powell at papowell@sbcglobal.net or Mike Kees at mrk1807@comcast.net.  This will allow you to be placed on our emailing list so that you may quickly receive important messages regarding member deaths and other events of note.

EMAIL REMINDER - just in case

Please double check to make sure the email address we have on file for you is current.  If you have not been receiving email notifications about various events, milestones, etc., we may have an incorrect address for you.  Just go to our website (www.tennecoretiree.com) and look up your own record.  If there is any difference whatsoever (spaces, underlining, extra letters, etc.) please let us know by sending a correction as described in the paragraph above.  Although the numbers have decreased dramatically, we continue to have a few email messages returned to us as undeliverable from time to time.  We certainly don’t want you to be ‘out of the loop’ because of some simple typo.  Also, if you change email addresses for any reason, please send us an update!  

A Chuckle For You 

One day recently these two older women were sitting on their front porch reminiscing when one said to the other, “You know, I’m getting so old that all my friends in heaven will think I didn’t make it!”


News items for the newsletter or corrections should be referred to Mike Kees at mrk1807@comcast.net or 281-474-1225.  Postal mail should be directed to Mike at 1807 Rustic Oak Lane, Seabrook, Texas 77586.  Your input is strongly solicited!

 (This newsletter is compiled and edited by Mike Kees.  It is formatted for printing by Rodger Garrison.  It is assembled, collated and mailed under the direction of David Biles and a host of volunteers.)