As a young man living in rural Kansas in the 1940s, Charles Novak took a job with the federal government—not because he liked the work but because he heard it paid well. That job shaped his life in ways he could never have imagined. As a surveyor for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, Charles was tasked with measuring the unmapped American landscape. Over the years this would take him from being eaten up by mosquitoes in Alaska, to eating steak and lobster on oil rigs in Louisiana. His career became even more adventurous when his family later hit the road with him, making their home in a caravan of trailers as the survey team traversed the nation. The measurements taken by Charles and the team eventually helped build today’s GPS technology. But such a contribution was the furthest thing from the minds of Charles and his family as they experienced life on the road during a time of astounding change in American life. From segregated trains, to Cold War military bases, and back to Kansas, Charles’s family found that home is more than a place on a map.
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About the Author
Charles L. Novak was born in Haddam, Kansas in 1929. During his time on the road with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, Charles met his wife, Jean, and they had three children. He retired from the Survey in 1985 but continued work in a position with the U.S. Boundary Commission. He now lives permanently in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Table of Contents
Foreword David Novak ix
Haddam, Kansas, U.S.A. 7
Odd Jobs and Extracurriculars 25
On the Road with the Coast and Geodetic Survey 43
A Whirlwind Romance 61
Small-Town Life 73
Separations and Far-Flung Places 91
Bugs, Snakes, and Other Scary Experiences 111
Family Values 127
Kansas City, Here We Come 145
About the Author 165