Property of Chet Nowlen

Most the pictures and sketches shown on this BLOG are the property of Chet Nowlen. Prints are available for $10 each. Please note that your purchased prints will not have the wording "Property of Chet Nowlen". Accepted payment for local or Nashville, Tennessee areas is cash. For all others we only accept PayPal.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

My Story

by Chet Nowlen

Many years ago I worked for Chicago Mill & Lumber Company in Greenville, Mississippi. I started June 16, 1969 as a detailed draftsman in the Order Department. I drew all the productions drawings for four different manufacturing plants. The responsibility of production scheduling was later added to me and eventually I was promoted to the Manager of the Order department.

I was hired by the Sales Manager Bill Nye.  Jerry Hillis was my supervisor as Manager of the Order Department.  Ralph Byers was the Director of Sales and was my mentor and source of encouragement.  I was only twenty years old when I was hired, but Mr. Byers took me under his wing and was instrumental in my success in this career.

Here are  a few of the names of people that I remember from the Chicago Mill days:
  • Jim Wiseman - General Manager
  • Warren McKay - Plant Manager
  • Bob Gray - Assistant Plant Manager and later became Plant Manager
  • Ralph Byers - Director of Sales
  • Bill Nye - Sales Manager and Director of Sales
  • Bill Glascock - Sales Manager
  • Joe Love - Assistant Plant Manager and Greenville Plant Manager -
  • Bob Rich - Talulah, LA Plant Manager 
  • Charles Miles - Helena, AR Plant Manager
  • Jerry Hillis - Manager of the Order Department -
  • Chet Nowlen - Detail Draftsman, Purchasing, Production Scheduling, and Manager of the Order Department
  • Charles Jackson - Inside Sales
  • Herby Kaye - Inside Sales -
  • George Black - Inside Sales -
  • Dick Bailey - Traffic Manager -
  • Mary Ann Bennett (Jim Wiseman's daughter) - Traffic Assistant and Traffic Manager
  • Jack Sallis - Traffic Manager
  • Bill Hunt - Estimator and temporary acting Manager of the Order Department when Jerry Hillis passed.
  • Frank Mascagni - Lab Manager -
  • Mickey Vaughn - Manager of the Order Department - Outside Sales
  • Bill Engel - Outside Sales
  • Mike Hodson - Outside Sales
  • Joe Russo - Outside Sales
  • Everett Weeks - Outside Sales
  • David Scales - Outside Sales
  • Jack Hanna - Outside Sales
  • David Azar - Assistant to Chet Nowlen in the Order Department
  • Steve Sorrells - Assistant to Chet Nowlen in the Order Department -
  • Judy Katawar - Receptionist
  • Clarice Harrington - Secretary to the Director of Sales
  • Walter Massey - Accounting
  • Dick Fox - Accounting
Please feel free to contact me if you remember any employee names from 1969 to 1987.


  1. I googled Chicago Mill to look for some pictures and came across your blog. My name is Kristina Bennett, Mary Ann Wiseman Bennett's daughter. I love seeing this history of my mother, grandfather and many names I've heard often.

  2. I was searching Chicago Mill pictures and came across your blog. My name is Kristina Bennett, I am Mary Ann Wiseman Bennett's daughter. I love seeing this history of my mother and grandfather and many names I've heard often.

  3. Hi Krissy, thank you so much for your comment. Your parents were my next door neighbors in Greenville at one time. I enjoyed working with your Mom and I had a lot of respect for Mr. Wiseman as he was all business, but a pleasure to have a conversation with. I would love to hear more about you, your parents and your Grandfather.

  4. Chet, i found this fascinating, thanks. My father is Jerry Hillis and I worked at the mill one summer in the box shop. Lots of old names and memories popping up, but did not see the name Warren McKay, who I thought was the plant manager of the Greenville facility. Because of my fathers association with CML I was fortunate to enjoy the fall and winter hunting at Catfish Point Hunting Club. Anyway this was a fabulous walk done memory lane. Thanks Again.

    John D. Hillis

  5. Hi John, Yes, Warren McKay was the plant manager when I started with CM&L back in 1969. I apologize I failed to mention his name. After he passed away Bob Gray became the plant manager. I may have met you before I'm not sure. I worked directly under you Dad until He passed. I enjoyed knowing both your Mom and Dad. I too enjoyed hunting at Catfish Point. I worked for CM&L for 18-years and I truly miss those fabulous days at CM&L.