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Vocational training led to success for local businessman

Manley Christopher is famous around Cameron for his Dr. Pepper Jelly and Kowboy Kandy that he sells in Cameron Park each week to passersby.

Christopher feels it is important to speak on behalf of the students because vocational training had an impact on his journey.

As a three-year-old boy, his father was tragically taken from his family in a horrific event while his mother was giving birth to his little sister in the hospital. The three struggled to get by, and Christopher did without all his childhood.

He grew up in Houston before there was television and was intrigued with the inner workings of the radio. He lived next door to a gentleman who repaired radios, and he would give him old tubes and transformers, which he would take apart to investigate the inner workings.  He worked with a crystal radio set that could pick up stations by attaching wires to a crystal. 

Christopher met a neighbor who had an old lawn mower that didn’t work, and he asked if he could have it to mow lawns and earn money. The man said he would sell it to him for $20 if he could get it to work. After several failed attempts, it finally started. He mowed lawns for $1, paid for the lawnmower, and used it for four years until it was blowing smoke and eventually died.

He did not have the support he needed at home to succeed in life and having an opportunity to attend Houston Vocational Technical High School dramatically changed the trajectory of his life. He received training that provided quality of life that he would not have attained with a regular academic high school diploma. He studied radio and television throughout his high school years, knowing he would not have the opportunity to attend a university.  

The day after he graduated from high school, he was at the recruiter’s office and joined the Air Force. He presented his high school curriculum, which included the study of basic electricity, radio repair, and how to build transmitters. The Air Force tested him.   

Due to his advanced education and knowledge, he advanced directly into the field. Other recruits went into technical training schools. Manley spent four years in the Air Force serving in the ground to air communications, spending his fourth and final year in Vietnam. Upon completing his military service, he attained an excellent position with Xerox and spent 37 years as a senior technical representative. He lived and worked in the Austin area and even serviced Milam County. He remembers working on Xerox equipment in the basement of the courthouse in Cameron in the 60s, never imagining that he would live here one day.

As a result of his upbringing, the vocational school he attended was a godsend. Manley claims it was the “best move I ever made!”  He says the second-best move he ever made was joining the Air Force.

Christopher believes there are many jobs available in the area now that require technical training. Providing that education to the students at Yoe High School will allow them to step right into those positions upon graduation. He sees the possibility for the businesses to take part in the process to ensure that the students will have a place to work and hopefully stay in Cameron to work, play, and live.

He believes people need to have a vision and be open to possibilities. He wants everyone to consider being a part of the change that will lift the kids who have no hope into a brighter future. Not every child is college-bound and providing this opportunity at an early age will help them navigate a brighter future.   

The Cameron ISD bond election is set for May 7. For voting locations see the story on Page 1.

The Cameron Herald

The Cameron Herald
P.O. Box 1230
Cameron, Texas 76520

Phone: 254-697-6671
Fax: 254-697-4902