When he was 9, Boyd Hager converted a stepladder into a six-passenger go-kart. Thirty some years later, he built a grass runway behind his home for his single-engine Citabria Airplane. He once refused to ride an elected official in his convertible during a Veteran’s Day Parade because of the guy’s political affiliation. In the Army he made 60 parachute jumps. He got married in a VFW and is seen on occasion driving his Army M-37 Weapons Carrier around town.
“Eighty years ago, I was born in Memorial Hospital once located on 1st Street,” Hager said. “I lived on Thornburg Street with two brothers and a sister. I had a dog named Tippy who followed me to school when I started first grade and waited outside. When recess came, he walked me back home for lunch. Next day the school stopped my early lunch break, and Tippy got tired of waiting and went home alone.”
Hager was the top shooter at a Cammack marble tournament one year. When he went to defend his title at the YMCA, he misplaced his favorite aggie shooting marble and lost without it.
“I believe it was around 1950 when a bunch of us neighborhood kids presented a petition to Huntington’s City Council containing several hundred signatures in favor of building a city swimming pool,” Hager said. “We all believed we were the reason it opened a few years later.”
Hager managed to make it to high school despite injuries that occurred as a result of insufficient braking and improperly installed steering on a homemade go-kart. There were also some acts of sabotage committed during Halloween that may still be under investigation.
“We made chocolate ice cream using snow,” Hager said. “A little sugar and chocolate syrup is all you need. It was always a big hit during the holidays. Christmas had about the same packed house as Thanksgiving, mostly traditional food that everyone contributed. Best gift ever was a Firestone Bicycle.”
Before graduating Huntington High in 1958, Hager bought his first car, a 1940 Plymouth Sedan with a worn-out clutch, for $20. Once repairs were made, he was king of the road — until the old Plymouth died again. Returning the next day to analyze the problem, he discovered the car had been impounded by the city. The release fee was $54 that he didn’t have, and his travels returned to the Firestone Bicycle.
“After high school, I tried Marshall for a year,” Hager said. “Tried a few jobs and just decided to beat the draft and join the Army in 1962.”
After Hager completed boot camp, he attended paratrooper jump training school at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The food was so bad that he never understood why the line at the chow hall was always so long.
“I was assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where I was often sent TDY (temporary duty),” Hager said. “I stayed at Fort Campbell where I made 60 jumps before my discharge in 1965. I was discharged a few months early to enroll at Marshall.”
Hager’s second enrollment at Marshall had better results. He worked at ACF Industries during the day and attended Marshall classes at night. He graduated in 1968 with a degree in accounting. He worked for Texas Instrument in Dallas for three years before being hired by Vecta Contracts in Dallas, where he worked for eight years.
“I left Vecta and bought into a company making residential and commercial range hoods and filters,” Hager said. “I developed a special filter for seniors with breathing difficulties and intolerance to chemical insensitivities. At 65, I sold my interest and retired in 2005.”
A year later, Hager finally married the girl he took to the high school prom. The wedding was in VFW Post 9738 in Guyandotte. His wife, Nancy, has a home in Huntington, Boyd has a farm in Texas, and their arrangement of traveling between the two homes is working well.
“I’ve only had my pilot’s license for about 40 years now,” Hager said. “That was about the time I took my dad for his first plane ride. When we landed, I asked him how he liked flying, and he said that I bounced four times before we finally stayed on the ground. I’ve gotten lost a few times while flying. I’ve even landed just to ask directions, but I’ve always made it home. As long as you have gas, you’re not totally lost.”
Boyd and Nancy recently traveled to Spain, Morocco and Majorca Island.
Hager also likes working on old cars. He has a 1928 Durant Roadster, a 1940 Chevrolet, an old M-37 Weapons carrier and a 1968 Camaro Convertible that doesn’t carry Democrats in parades.
Clyde Beal seeks out interesting stories from folks around the Tri-State. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.