FOREST J. McCOMB

 

                                                Published in the Sunday Journal Gazette 

 

                        BUILDER IN RETIREMENT BUSY WITH TYPEWRITER

 

                              By Kenneth B. Keller, Sunday Magazine Editor

 

Writing is like framing a house, FOREST J. McCOMB might say;  he has done both.

 

Plenty of nails in the right places – like verbs and adjectives that impart movement and color to the written page.

 

But he did say “you can put too many nails in a house, you know!”

 

Always an avid reader, Mr. McComb became increasingly impatient with the way thoughts were carelessly wandering into words.  Forty years ago, he confessed, he developed a desire to “write things that didn’t wind around and end up no place.”  But he was too busy then with a family of which he’s mighty proud.

 

So when men normally retire, McComb bought a typewriter and taught his fingers to wander across the keyboard.  A little skittish now, he bolstered his spirit with a correspondence course in rhetoric.  The school was most complimentary about his typing.

 

Then the rejection slips that came to the family mailbox two miles northwest of Huntertown were discouraging to a man who could drive a nail with such sure, swift strokes.  But suddenly the frame of his words was done;  he sold a story to a slick and respected outdoor magazine and joined the ranks of professional writers.  He has been a contributor, too, to the Journal Gazette Sunday Magazine.

 

He’ll keep right on driving nails.

 

                                                People And Events Always Of Interest

 

Always a man interested in people and happenings, he is most intrigued by the tastes of magazine editors.  The piece that made a leading spread in a current issue of Outdoor World  was rejected by one editor along with two others which have reached public print.

 

Too modest to admit it, Mr. McComb, adventuring with words at 72, has a gift for transcribing life into words.  His goal is to write things people relish and hold onto – something as fresh as the harvest. 

 

Originally devoted to agriculture, McComb is a gentle man of strong convictions.  After his marriage to CLARA B. GUMP on December 31, 1918, he set up partnership farming on the home place of his parents, JOHN S. and AMELIA N. McCOMB, eight miles north of Fort Wayne on U.S. Highway 27.  It was from that rural area that he drew a recent story about the old church picnics that attracted attendance from all over the countryside. 

 

These were major social events of rural America in the horse-and-buggy days and they still linger in nostalgic memory.  Much ingenious effort went into preparations for them, but the social reward was great.   

 

“We’ll just have to admit that the more automation placed at our disposal, the less time we have for social and other things,”  McComb commented.

 

Mechanical aptitudes took McComb away from the farm.  In 1926-27 he was engaged in winding automobile generator armatures for a brother, HUBERT J. McCOMB, proprietor of the McComb Ignition Co., then located at Main Street and Maiden Lane.

 

For two other years he sat behind the wheel in heavy transport, driving for the Fort Wayne and Howard Sober Drive-a-Way companies which delivered trucks to the East and Midwest for the International Harvester Co.  That experience was in 1935 and 1936.

 

He was employed as a rotor coil winder in the motor-generator department of the General Electric Co. here from 1940 through World War II until 1946.

 

                                                Pearl Harbor Attack Brings Memories

 

The attack upon Pearl Harbor brings to mind an interesting experience at General Electric.  Equipment was hurriedly set up to produce a special set of coils needed for a repair job at Pearl Harbor.  The production day fell on a Sunday when no veteran winders were available to work.  The task fell upon McComb and the late WILLIAM BUNYAN.

 

“We were the youngest workers in the shop in point of service,” McComb chuckled, “but we were drafted for the special job.  We worked all day winding the set of eight coils;  they were ‘baked out’ and tested on Monday and on Tuesday they were flown to Pearl Harbor.”

 

Significantly, McComb said, Fort Wayne was the nearest production point to the Hawaiian Islands.  The only other plant equipped to manufacture them was General Electric in Schenectady, N. Y. 

 

In 1943, the McCombs purchased their present home, a 143-acre farm northwest of Huntertown on the McComb Road.  The McCombs have five sons, all of them building contractors.  There are 20 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

 

The two oldest sons, RICHARD and HAROLD, had experience in carpentry and concrete work and it was Richard who started the McComb Construction Co., when he came home from the Navy in 1946.  Through Richard’s influence, his father and brothers soon were drawn into the business.

 

“The boys were very young at the time, but they deserve all the credit,” the father commented.  “They just wanted me along for advice and help in customer relations – besides having the benefit of my mechanical ability.  They also thought the appearance of an older man would balance off their youth,” he laughed.

 

Now, RICHARD, HAROLD, KEITH, BRUCE and JACK head their own building corporations and come to each other’s aid when the need arises.  It is not unusual for two or more of the companies to work together on big jobs.

 

Five of the grandchildren now work with their fathers, and the companies also employ outside help.

 

Until there is more mileage on Dad’s typewriter, the family is best known in Allen County and the area for millions of dollars worth of new construction and remodeling.  They have done business in Fort Wayne, Auburn, Garrett, New Haven, Churubusco and the lake counties.

 

McComb does not regard it as unusual that five brothers have been associated in business for so many years without a hitch – that is a part of the family confidence he cherishes.  However, it is an unusual association in the annals of business. 

 

The father retired from carpentry in 1961, but still is happy to grab up his apron and help out when needed.  Besides, framing a pattern of words presents its own peculiar headaches and the diversion is good.

 

Mr. McComb is well aware of what is meant by “sweating over a typewriter.”

 

“It’s funny, but most people think the best carpenters are required for the finishing work on a job.  Actually, the best carpentry is needed for the framing;  when the frame of a building is right, the finishing work goes easily,” McComb laughed.

 

Mr. McComb has launched a new career with an old philosophy:  “A reputation is something you can’t buy;  it has to be earned.”  His concern will be solid subjects that convey something to readers.

 

The McCombs already are making plans to mark their golden wedding anniversary, December 31st.  A reception and celebration will be planned by the family for all relatives and friends – the details will be formally announced later.

 

But already he has written a prelude to this – pertaining to the golden years and how wonderful the companionship of a woman can be.

 

The author confessed that his story was framed around Mrs. McComb

____________________________________________________________________________

 

A later notice printed about the anniversary is as follows:

 

Mr. and Mrs. Forest J. McComb have been married 50 years today.  They will celebrate on Saturday with an open house at the Fraternal Order of Police Hall,  Fort Wayne.  The family is planning a reception for relatives and friends to begin at 5 p.m.

 

The McCombs have five sons, Richard, Harold, Keith, Bruce, and Jack, all living in the Fort Wayne – Huntertown area.  They have 20 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. 

_________________________________________________________________________

 

                        Forest J. McComb

                        Born October 2, 1896

                        Died August 8, 1978

 

                        Clara B. Gump

                        Born February 10, 1902

                        Died April 1, 1973