Should anyone want to know where Howard Pruett, 68, has been almost every Monday through Friday for the past 44 years, he can answer in two words -- Tape Craft.
Pruett works on looms at Tape Craft in Oxford and has done it so long, he feels that sometimes he could do it with his eyes closed.
“I work on the machines and keep them up so that we can keep up the quality of the product,” said Pruett. “It’s a challenge to work on the looms, but after you’ve done it a lot of years, most of it is just repeating what you’ve done. But sometimes you run into something you haven’t fixed in a while and you have to remember it all over again.”
It was at Tape Craft that Pruett met his wife, Debbie. They met on Valentine’s Day 2001 and were married the next year.
Pruett spent 25 years in the National Guard. He came close to having to being deploy to Iraq before he retired in 1990.
“Right before I retired, we got mobilized to go to Iraq,” said Pruett. “There were five of us there in the unit getting on up in age. We had already put in for retirement, but we got mobilized before we could actually retire. I was processing to go to Iraq when a 1st sergeant and people from Montgomery came in and told me I didn’t have to go.”
Pruett attended Gadsden High School. He studied air conditioning and refrigeration repair at Gadsden State Community College, but never pursued that career.
“I was making more money at the time at Tape Craft,” said Pruett. “I would have had to take an apprentice job and learn on the job training.”
Pruett has three daughters. Jennifer Roberson an her husband, Brian, live in Gary Ind. They have two sons, Brian Jr., and Christopher. Joanna Capes and her husband Jeff live in Hokes Bluff. They have a son, Chase. Jessica Pruett lives in Gadsden.
Pruett said he liked to hunt and fish until he had five bypasses in 2011.
“I’ve had to ease off of a lot of things since then,” he said. “I get tired if I do too much.”
Pruett said doctors initially thought he would have to have four bypasses. Tests showed that there was another blockage behind his heart.
“I felt a lot better after I had it done,” he said. “It just depends on how much I do. I can tell if I do too much and have to slow down a little.”
Pruett learned two years ago that he has rheumatoid arthritis.
“I’ve got it under control now,” he said. “I take shots and medicine for it. You just get to where you can’t get up and down, and your joints swell. Debbie gives me my shots.”
Pruett said he’s thought about retiring, but he’s not quite ready.
“There are a few things I’d like to get out of the way,” he said. “I want my truck paid off. The work I do is not that strenuous on me. I’ve done it so long I can get it done and kind of take it easy. But I still have to stay at it.”