O’Connor Woods resident John Allen was born on January 24, 1921. He was born in Modesto and has lived in Stockton since 1952. He graduated Modesto High in 1938.
During World War II, he started flying as a navigator for the Air Force in the Pacific for about five years. As a navigator, he needed to figure out the route the pilots would take, without any modern technology. He visited Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and Guam as part of his service.
“In those days, there was no GPS, not even very good radio, no radar,” Allen said. “I had to look, mostly, at the stars and plot them on chart and look from there.”
After the war, he worked for the Bank of America. He married and had a small family during this time.
In search of something different, John took a job in Stockton with Earl W. Thompson Flooring Company, which became the largest flooring company in the western United States. John would later become owner of Earl W. Thompson along with one of his close friends as his partner.
Owning a company taught John much about life, particularly in how to manage both his and other people’s time.
“You have to open to learning all the new things being brought into the industry, and it’s constantly changing. You have to join organizations and attend seminars,” Allen said. “You have to be moderately aware of the political situation so you don’t step on the wrong toes.”
Later in life, he was elected president of a large national floor association, allowing him to go to conventions in Washington D.C.. At several of his trips, he personally met with members of Congress and even President Jimmy Carter.
“They’re actually just like everybody else once you meet them,” Allen said. “There’s a build-up when you know who they are and what they’ve been and where they’ve come from, but when you get down to one-on-one, it’s just two people.”
For the most part, John likes how the world has changed since his youth; technology is leaps and bounds beyond what it used to be.
However, he feels Stockton has changed in its growth. When John was young, everyone had a more personal relationship with their mayor and council people.
“They knew you and that they were gonna have to answer to you,” said Allen. “Today, it’s strictly impersonal. And it’s had an effect on how they think about laws and everything else.”
Nowadays, John Allen takes yearly trips to Hawaii with his family.