USAA's Centennial Celebration is over now, but a special memory of it will live in me forever. For some, the highlight was the concerts. For others, it was all about the food. For many, it was the chance to see teammates for the first time in more than two years. For me, however, it was the 1976 time capsule.
Like many others, I tried to take in all I could on that day. On my way back from the OneRepublic concert, I stopped at the time capsule contents that had just been put on display. I was especially interested in seeing any group pictures because my grandfather, Don R., retired Army from WWII, worked at USAA until he retired in 1984.
I was chatting with someone and happened to mention that my grandfather was probably there that day that time capsule was buried. It just so happens that Michael C., our USAA historian who was overseeing the time capsule work, heard me and said, “Maybe he signed that scroll over there.”
Michael pointed me over to more than 17 columns of paper stretching from above my head all the way to the floor across the windows of E-Courtyard. The papers showed the signatures of thousands of former employees.
As a 36-year employee, I was surprised how many names I recognized, then it hit me that this was only 10 years before I started. I kept looking through the signatures, thinking of the fact that my grandfather was not a real celebratory or outspoken person, and he may have just gone back to his office to continue his work on that day.
I kept looking, and then on the sixth column, right below Gerry G's message hoping “the Lexitron machines would work much faster in the future,” there it was.
“C.D. R. - Good Luck.”
Simple, to the point, a message that hit me with a great deal of emotion as I thought of how exciting, challenging and chaotic that time would have been for him moving a subrogation unit and all of its papers, contents, etc., to the new home office, which opened in 1976.
I remember driving to my grandparents’ house in the mid-1970s driving and passing by cranes building this huge building. My parents would tell me, “That’s where Papa’s new office will be.”
My grandfather and I didn’t have long conversations much in the first few years I worked at USAA, but in his final years before he passed in 2003, I would often talk about USAA and what I was doing, and he would share the history of his time at the company.
We would discuss things like the freezer-sized fax machine he used in the 1960s and the fact that I was seeing everyone get computers on their desks that were a fraction of that size but much more capable. Or that I didn’t have to wear ties anymore and he not only had to wear ties, but the dress shirts had to be white. But we both always agreed how great of a company this is to work for.