Be-No Baker

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Facility management had a strange structure in those days (ZJX in the ’60s). There were three areas when I started—Low East, Low West, and High Altitude. Flight Data was a separate area insofar as supervision was concerned, but not really an ATC operational area. Although there was a shift supervisor for each area, in reality there wasn’t much for them to do other than watch for traffic situations requiring someone to be paged back from the café. Decisions as to sector combination (or decombination) and spot leave approval were routed to the Watch Supervisor.

I don’t remember when that changed—I don’t think I ever saw exactly that concentrated an authority at ZAU , and I think it had been relaxed before I left ZJX. In any event, the really strange part was if you were a shift supervisor in, say, Low West and one of your troops wanted an hour or two of spot leave (charged to one’s Annual Leave or vacation leave account, consequently referred to as annual or A/L), you had to consult with the Watch Supervisor before it could be approved.

One of the Watch Supervisors (Earl Baker), in an incident before I got there had, in an apparent fit of pique, blurted out once that, “there will be no annual,” on that shift. Forever after, Earl was known as BeNo.

I got to know Earl fairly well later on and he was a pretty nice guy. But he could rule a shift with an iron fist and for no particular reason that I could discern. I think the culture of absolute authority in the military carried over into a lot of these guys’ performance of their supervisory duties, which led to considerable antagonism over the years. There was really no need for it. Some of it is still there decades later.

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