Navy provided a lifetime of world travel for Grant resident


As a young man, A.B. Amis served in the Navy.

Photo courtesy of A.B. Amis

“Join the Navy to see the world” goes the old recruitment slogan. For Grant resident A.B. Amis, the Navy did indeed provide the impetus for a lifetime of world travel, but the trips took place long after he left the service. 

“I signed up for a two-year hitch in the Navy right out of high school in 1946 to avoid the draft, which was still hanging over my head, even though WWII had ended the previous August,” Amis said.

“At the time, the Navy was very short of electronic technicians, so I was able to take a test guaranteeing that I would spend most of my two years receiving electronics training.” 

As it turned out, between boot camp, 12 months in training schools and a couple of weeks off for shore leave, it was 14 months before Amis first was assigned to a destroyer … and then the Navy ran out of money and discharged him two months before his enlistment was to end.

Amis’ military service was not long, but the eight months he served as electronic technician’s mate second class were to serve him well later in life.

“It doubtless helped shape my life positively, as well as launched me on an electronics career path, thanks to the training I’d received and then later the GI Bill.”

With the help of the GI Bill, a working wife and college credits for some of the Navy training, Amis finished Georgia Tech in three years. After what he calls a “one-year misadventure up in Yankee land,” the Mississippi native moved to Florida to work for tiny startup Radiation, the precursor of today’s Harris Corporation.

“The entire population of Melbourne at the time we moved here was probably less than 3,000,” he said.

“Being a part of a team of outstanding and dedicated engineers, and having a part in helping little Radiation win job after job against big company competitors have been the real highlights of my working career.”

A.B. Amis makes award-winning gourds at his home in Grant. | PHOTO COURTESY OF A.B. AMISSandwiched in between 33 years with Radiation and Harris, Amis owned a motorhome rental venture at the very inauspicious time of the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973. Let’s just say the venture did not go well.

Amis’ corporate jobs entailed plenty of travel, exciting at first, but soon a drudgery that lasted until he retired as director of market development for Harris Controls in 1989. 

“It tended to become more and more just a grind of long airplane flights, having to go through tedious security and customs at the airport, a cab ride through slums to your hotel, another cab ride through more slums to wherever you were to do business, and then a repeat until you were back home again with a suitcase full of wrinkled clothes and a few more pages stamped in your international travel visa,” he said.

He estimates that work duties took him to 20 different foreign countries.

“Of those 20, Greece would have been the most scenic and the most fun, and Yugoslavia and Peru would probably tie for the most depressing and least fun,” he said.

“What with travel and security conditions today, I certainly am glad that I’m not having to travel anymore!”

Give him an RV anytime over a plane.

“RV-ing became a near obsession following retirement, taking us on wonderful adventures spanning all 48 (contiguous) states over the years and introducing us to a “gourding” hobby that both my wife and I could share in until her death from Alzheimer’s in 2009, just days short of our 60th wedding anniversary,” he said.

Amis’ art gourds, night and day from the simple birdhouses many associate with the craft, are intricately carved and beautifully finished with textures that resemble the sensual feel of fine leather. 

Amis subsequently remarried a very long-time friend and still dabbles in gourding but, at age 89, he is mostly content trying to keep his five-acre spread in Grant and sharing memories of “the good old days.”