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Littlebuppie today (March, 2001)
I was born "Richard (nmn) Nolin" in Dracut, MA on October 12, 1938. It was the real reason that Columbus Day became a national holiday in the U.S. of A. I was the youngest of three brothers, as well as being the best looking, smartest, and everybody's favorite.
My family moved from Dracut to Ballardvale, MA sometime in 1940. My family at the time was made up of Mother-Amy Virginia Dickson Nolin, Father-Edouard Raymond Nolin, Brothers Raymond Edward Nolin and Robert (nmn) Nolin and me. It seems that our parents had expended considerable effort in coming up with acceptable first names, in that only Ray got a middle name, even including Sister Lois (nmn) Nolin, who came along in 1947.(<----Photo of Ma when she was a young girl)
I'm a poor family tree/ancestry recorder, perhaps older brother Ray will review and correct my errors along these lines, but our paternal grandparents were John P. and Loretta Wagner Nolin. Our maternal grandmother was Edyth Philbrick Dickson whom we kids never got to meet. She had died back sometime around 1918, about the time our mother's half sister, Edith was born, and who lives in Lawrence, MA about 1/2 mile from my current home on Prospect Hill.
Our mother also had a brother, Harper P. Dickson. Uncle Dick, whom we remember mostly for his war service in the US Army and being in on the Battle of the Bulge in Europe, bringing home several souvenirs (guns, etc.,), died in 1969 in his early or mid 50s. Ten years later, Ma died of cancer in May 1979. I suppose it's the same with many people, but when Ma died, the world almost stopped for me. I was truly astounded when I saw the people who came to her funeral service. She was the closest thing to being a saintly and devoted Christian who would much rather do for someone else than herself over her entire lifetime, which was way, way too short for somebody's mother. I still cry when I think of her and about how she didn't get to enjoy enough years with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But on the other hand, she did get to enjoy several grandchildren and they were fortunate enough to know her. The rest of the world will have to do with getting the scoop from us who knew her best.
Ma worked for all of her adult life with short breaks to have kids. The earliest that I remember was that she worked in the textile mills in the Lawrence area for some years, probably through most of the 1940s. When I was about eleven or twelve years old, some kind of machine for working wool punched a few of it's several inch long steel comb teeth through her hand and after she recovered from that accident, which left a needle pointed tooth inside her hand for the rest of her life, she became a house cleaner for several well-to-do families in Andover until she stopped working when she became ill.
(Pa some years ago ------>)
Our father had brothers Bill and Ted, and sisters Doris and Frances. Bill (who spelled his name 'Nolan') passed away a long time ago, back in the 60s I think. Pa, Doris and Ted died in the past few years, leaving Frannie the only sibling remaining. Frannie is just about 75 years old now. Pa died in 1995 at the age of (almost) 80. I guess that his way of checking out would be preferred by many people, just having your heart stop as you are enjoying a morning coffee and a muffin; although he too could have gone on for a few more years if we had our druthers.
Pa had been a truck driver in his younger years, driving for a couple of companies and he also worked at Watson Park Chemical Company down the end of River Street until he went into the Navy in WWII. He may have been a driver for Watson Park also, but after he was discharged from the US Navy after the war, he went to work for the Town of Andover Fire Department and that was his real career until he retired in the late 1970s after about thirty years. He was well suited for working in a fire department in a small town, where you mostly sat around watching tv for 12 or 14 hour shifts and when you weren't working, you could get together with your buddies and drive out to the woods and drink beer. Pa wasn't the type to get a second job to feather his nest. But he was a well liked good guy when he wasn't giving Ma a bunch of grief or smacking us little bastards around for our transgressions (some real, some imagined, some 'just in case you're thinking about it').
I apologize having my story start out in such a "bad news" way, but I must acknowledge that the worst year in my life (I'm pretty sure) was 1995. Our little sister Lois passed away from cancer that year at the age of 48. I think it's pretty much like you expect you'd feel if one of your own kids died before you. Lois was such fun. She would probably have contended with Ma for "Saint" honors had she lived a few years more. She had the most infectious laugh and we would go on with our Peter Seller's (Inspector Jacques Cleuseau) impressions from any of his various Pink Panther movies. So many times we got to laughing among Lois, her husband Dave and me, that I thought I would pull a muscle in my gut. It was like a two hour tummy crunch workout. "Monsieur, does your dog bite?"; "Monsieur, do you have a room?"; "Do you have zee license?"! If you don't know these quotes, go rent a couple of Pink Panther videos. Lois was an accomplished water color artist too. I tried to paint for a while and still do, but her work puts mine down a peg for sure. In her shortened life, she was a terrific daughter, sister, wife and mother.
(<-----------Young Bob 1938?) Back to my story; we lived @ 17 River Street in Ballardvale, which is a small village in the south of Andover. We were just little kids during the second world war and the big wartime historical events (including the war itself) are the earliest of my lifetime memories. For a few pages short story on my recollections of WWII, click here. You will need to use your browser's 'back' button to return here, else you might get trapped and suckered into reading several more of my short stories.(Ray in the early 1940s ---------->) Most significant of these are when Pa joined the Navy and went away to Iceland; and the end of the war in Europe when we kids all ran around banging pots and pans and went to the local mill building and rang their huge bell in the tower by the millpond and of course the Japanese surrender which brought the war in the Pacific to a close.
We played in the dirt front yard which we had set up for conducting our own version of the war, we played stickball in the street. My father used to hit wicked high fly balls for us to chase and catch out on River Street between cars, which were occasional interruptions back then. We played baseball in the cinder-based railroad yard when we didn't have permission to play at the ball field up on the hill near Woburn Street. The most 'organized' our baseball got was when we had a town church(es) team. I was a control (read, slow) pitcher and shortstop. Frankie White used to rotate pitching chores with me and when I was pitching, he played second base. To read a short story on kids and baseball in Ballardvale, click here. You will need to use your browser's 'back' button to return here, else you might get trapped and suckered into reading several more of my short stories.
Old print of a view of Ballardvale circa 1900
My first school was Bradlee Elementary School in Ballardvale, MA where I walked to and from each school day for grades 1 through 6. I was a pretty smart kid and as I recall, never got any grade but 'A', except for something less in penmanship because before going to school, I had learned how to write a "Parochial/Catholic School" type small r and refused (?) to learn the Bradlee School, I think Reinhart penmanship, style. The walk to school was about a mile and contrary to common belief, it was not uphill both ways, in fact the only real hill was just at the school up above the street. I do remember one time when I was asked to lead our little walking group down to the town center and as usual, I had to clown around, so I was walking backwards watching over the smaller kids and don't I walk straight into a telephone pole, whacking the back of my head? I got a laugh out of the rest of the kids that day. For a short story on my recollections of Ballardvale in the '40s, click here. You will need to use your browser's's 'back' button to return here, else you might get trapped and suckered into reading several more of my short stories.
At Bradlee School, first grade had a room, second and third grade shared a room and one teacher. Miss Collins ran grade 4 in a single room and grades 5 & 6 were in the same room where our Miss Helen Loux from Pocatello, Idaho gave lessons. In the rear of the school yard, we played a game of "no rules" basketball, kick ball, hit somebody in the ring, and others.
(Lois in the early 1950s ----------->) For grades 7 through 9 during the 1950 era, we attended junior high school on one end of the big combined junior/senior high school on Bartlett Street across from the big Andover town common. I did have a bit more difficulty in grade 8 when I seemed to suffer from girls. That is to say, I spent too much time trying to figure out the social and sexual basis of teenage life.
I had the customary first and second girlfriends in 7th and 8th grade. I won't name them here out of respect for them and also to try to keep from embarrassing myself. However, I'm sure that my decrease in attention/energy to scholastic stuff and subsequent decline in grades in a couple of subjects in grade 8 was in part due to this social development cycle, not that I would have it any different.
After the 8th grade blues in which I scored my first ever failing grade in Mr. Dimlich's science class and an incomplete grade in one term in English and after which Miss DeAngelo detained me after school for several days while making up the undone work, I managed to shine in grade 9. Also, I scored good grades through high school although I didn't challenge myself in course selections. Owing to some bad judgement with little guidance, I had decided to schedule a 'business' course program with the idea of going into accounting as a possible career. After two years in this course of study, I had totally had it with bookkeeping and business math. Since it seemed impractical to switch over to tougher, college preparatory classes in Junior year, I decided to follow a 'general' program course. This meant that for Junior and Senior years, I almost could not even go to school and still get passing grades. It was quite pathetic, but very easy. To see a short story on recollections of teenagers in Ballardvale, click here. You will need to use your browser's's 'back' button to return here, else you might get trapped and suckered into reading several more of my short stories.
A couple of my friends and I used to go over to Central Catholic High School on Tuesday evenings to attend a weekly dance. I don't know who would have been the sponsors, being held in the gymnasium of a Catholic school, but it was a big attraction for a couple of years. Rick Doucette and I (and maybe a couple other guys) used to stop at a local Lawrence store and someone would bootleg a few quarts of beer for us. We swilled a half quart of beer in the parking lot before heading into the dance; presumably to bolster our confidence so that we might actually ask a girl to dance. This happened for sure, but less frequently than we would have hoped.
I had a couple of girlfriends while I was in high school but didn't have one of those 'high school' romances that went on for a long time, mostly a few months was as long as a girl could stand being my g/f. My friends and I would oftentimes go out carousing in someone's car and flirt with girls on the streets of Lawrence, or we would go to a favorite drive-in restaurant hangout called McGovern's, in South Lawrence. For the most part, we were pretty harmless and stayed out of trouble most of the time.
In 1953, our older brother Ray joined the US Air Force for a four year enlistment and in 1955, brother Bob joined the US Navy, this for a three year+ enlistment because he would be due for discharge at his 21st birthday. Bob remained with the Navy for a career spanning over 22 years.
(<-------------- Me and Bob in 1955 out on River Street) During the last year of high school at Punchard H.S., I determined to enlist in the U.S. Air Force under a special law which Massachusetts had put on the books which allowed for a high school senior to join the armed forces shortly after mid-year exams providing that he was passing all required classes and still graduate with his class. I provoked a scare (by my own stupid borderline misbehavior) when I got hit with a suspension by Mr. March, PHS Headmaster, after he observed me smoking (he thought) as I was walking off the school grounds heading for my afterschool part time job. I was not actually smoking, but I had a pipe clamped in my teeth and being that it was November or December, my breath was visible and Mr. March ascertained that I was smoking.
When I got home and told my folks that I was suspended for two weeks, but really wasn't guilty of smoking on school grounds, my mother took me over to the Andover School Superintendents office, a Mr. Ericson I seem to recall, to plead my case. Fortunately for me, Mr. Ericson allowed me benefit of doubt and requested that Mr. March reinstate me after three days. I had tried to use the argument that I needed to be in school and studying so that I might pass mid-year exams and hold my eligibility for service enlistment after the new year. I guess the argument was helpful because when I returned to school, Mr. March called me into his office to explain that he understood that I was planning on joining the armed forces soon and he would do what he could to help me get what I wanted. Hmmmm, what do you make of that?
On February 6, 1956, I was enlisted into the USAF and headed out for basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas. The day that I went over to the Lawrence recruiter's office, two of my high school friends went along for the ride and by the time the official enlistment date arrived, Rick Doucette and Paul Decker both had decided to go along with me. Beginning from the day we were sworn in and reported for duty in Boston on the way to Texas, we three were together for about six weeks. What a ripoff! We didn't make any deals with the Air Force, but did think that we'd be together for at least a little while. Well, after six weeks of introductory basic training, Rick went off to Air Police training, Paul went off to somewhere else and I remained at Keesler to complete a full 13 week basic training program before reporting to Kelly Field (also in San Antonio), for introduction to language training. I couldn't seem to hack learning the Russian language and a couple of months later, I was reassigned to electronics training in Mississippi. For a few pages of fun in my early months in the USAF, click here. You will need to use your browser's's 'back' button to return here, else you might get trapped and suckered into reading several more of my short stories.
Four years to the day were spent as an enlisted Airman during which I saw duty in Texas, Mississippi, Texas again, Ohio, Turkey and Mississippi again, where I completed my hitch as a technical instructor in Biloxi teaching basic electronics. For a few pages of fun in my tech school year in the USAF, click here. You will need to use your browser's's 'back' button to return here, else you might get trapped and suckered into reading several more of my short stories. The year or so that I spent at Brooks AFB in San Antonio and Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio were mostly fun working and playing and chasing local chicks. Also, while at Wright-Pat, my electronics intelligence team were among the first Americans to listen to the Sputnik, The Soviet Union's first orbiting satellite which went up in October, 1957 I think. Sputnik wasn't sputting out any good data, it was just an interrupted audible tone (beep-----beep-----beep). The year (1958) in Turkey at a remote mobile radio squadron was probably the most exciting. We got to listen in on Russian radio, radars and telemetry signals over the early years of IRBM, ICBM and space rocket launches. For a few pages of fun in my Turkey year in the USAF, click here. You will need to use your browser's's 'back' button to return here, else you might get trapped and suckered into reading several more of my short stories.
Thanks to the electronics training that I got while in the USAF, I was able to get jobs in my early civilian career as an electronics technician, and a couple of these jobs entailed further technical schooling within the companies I was working for. Much of this schooling was specifically in the computer field. This early computer experience bears little similarity to the computers of today, but back then, 30 years ago, gave me the direction and field of my future career which specialized in computers and technology over much of my life. I suppose my service years were fairly ordinary; it's kind of interesting that you can mark each of four years like this: 1. basic and technical training, 2. Preparing for overseas special assignment, 3. Doing the overseas special assignment, 4. Teaching and training replacements. My last year in the USAF was spent back at Biloxi, MS, where I attended technical instructor school and then began teaching basic electronics to newbies plus a few retreads (older airmen who had re-enlisted and were taking change of career programs).
The first job after the USAF was as a computer technician at Remington Rand Univac where I trained on the Univac I computer. This behemoth (there were some 40 or so built and in service in 1960, I believe), was already about 10 years old. The transistorized Univac II was just coming off the production line at the time, but the old vacuum tube Univac I systems still were doing work for their companies and needed maintenance and repair. The computer system was about a million dollar investment and occupied about 1000 square feet of floor space, needed untold cooling and electricity and was capable of executing about 10,000 arithmetic computations per second. WOW!!
Shortly after joining Univac in May of 1960, I married Dorothy Ann Hoessler of North Andover, MA and after a very brief working assignment in Philadelphia and Delaware, we moved back to the local Lawrence, MA area. We rented an apartment for $65 per month on Main Street, North Andover and I went to work for Western Electric Company in North Andover first as a tester, then as a test technician working on telephone repeaters and other phone line electronics modules. Malcom Ross taught me how to get along in the big company building working in the test equipment repair lab.
With a little financial help from Max and Ann Hoessler, we bought a house at 30 Market Street, Lawrence while our first baby was incubating or is it gestating. I don't remember when we moved in exactly, but it was probably late 1960. It was a little five room ranch sitting between a couple of three family houses, on a quarter acre lot and cost $13,900. The following winter, about February or March, 1961, I went to work for Datamatic in Brighton, MA as a computer technician. Datamatic Corporation became Honeywell Electronic Data Processing when Raytheon sold out their interest.
My first job at Honeywell was as an electronics technician responsible for calibration, maintenance and repair of various test equipment used in quality testing of magnetic tapes which were the main data storage component in computers in the 1960s. Dave Sheppard and I used to have wheeled office chair races on Saturdays while earning time and a half waiting for tape testing equipment to break down and need repair. After a year or so, I moved into the computer systems test area where, after attending a few weeks of training, I tested, troubleshot and fixed H400 computer systems as they were coming out of production and before shipping to customers.
On March 25, 1961, we had a baby boy named Michael Robert. He was a big boy, weighing 9 pounds 5 ounces and had suffered some serious brain damage during the stress of birth and he subsequently died from complications due to this at only three days old. We were pretty devastated about this baby, but we were so young, we hardly knew what was happening. We were very lucky to have parents in the area because they sort of took over in taking care of things while we seemed to be in a fog.
(Eric around 1970 attended Franklin School in N.A. ------------->)Dot got pregnant again in 1961 and on April 12, 1962, John Eric was born. He was just 8 pounds. Nowadays (y2k), the kids all ask me what time of the day were they born, but I have no clue. I'm lucky to remember the date. We called John Eric, "Ricky"; sort of after me. I didn't like the idea of having a Junior, so this was a compromise. Shortly after Eric was born (we call him Eric since about 8th grade at his request), I played my first game of golf at Unicorn Golf Club in Stoneham, MA, on my drive home from work. Dot and Eric were still in the hospital, but I couldn't go to visit them till about 7:00pm, so I figured a game of golf at 4:00pm wouldn't hurt. I shot 56 for nine holes.
For a year or so after Eric was born, Dot wanted to go back to work, so we found a nice lady across town who took care of the baby on weekdays. During Eric's first and second year, Dot was wanting for us to buy a little mom and pop type business somewhere, so we started looking around at little general stores, small motels, etc,. In mid 1963, we found a little old "Tourist Home" in Elkins, New Hampshire. It was a summer-only place owned by some folk in New York, but we thought that with a heating system and skiing becoming a big thing, we could make a year 'round go of it (Big Mistake!). We sold our house in the fall of 1963 for about $15,000 and bought this place for $11,900 as I recall. Then, I spent every weekend of the fall/winter of 63/64 driving up to Elkins to work on the place, trying to prepare it for our opening in 1964. Meanwhile, while I continued to work at Datamatic/Honeywell EDP, we moved in with Dot's parents, Max and Ann in their little two bedroom house on Pleasant Street. This was just temporary, of course, but they were great for putting up with us over that winter I must tell you. Max had somewhat finished off some of his attic space and they moved up there into the cold, while Dot, Eric and I took over the downstairs. It was a good thing that this arrangement only had to go on for about five months or they would have been justified in turning us out.
In the spring of 64, we took out a loan in addition to the mortgage to pay for putting in a heating system. We were too stupid to realize that a heating system in that house; without storm windows nor insulation, would be like trying to heat the town of New London.
(Linda early in 1970s also went to Franklin School ----------->)Two years after Eric was born, Linda Jean came along; February 11, 1964. Linda weighed 8 pounds and 6 ounces, or so. In early spring of 64, we moved the family up to "Knoll Inn" and in a few weeks, opened up our first/last/only year of operation as a "full serve" hotel complete with dining and a couple of shared baths for eight or nine renting rooms. A few friends came up and stayed as guests, a few more people came as a result of advertising and our best (most busy) nights were when the local girls camp was hosting a group of boys from a distant boys camp at an annual dance and because of a threat of inclement weather, the lady running the show called to ask if we could put up some 60 boys! Obviously, we could not provide beds for 60 boys in such a small inn, but the lady suggested that if we just had floor or even porch space, the boys could wrap up in their sleeping bags for the night. After checking with our other guests, the project was a go and I had to hang the 'NO VACANCY' sign out front for the first (and maybe only) time in Knoll Inn's career. To read a few pages of the story of Knoll Inn, click here. You will need to use your browser's's 'back' button to return here, else you might get trapped and suckered into reading several more of my short stories.
We did have another few nights of busy ness that summer, such as when an out of town builder had a construction crew spend a period of time there so that they wouldn't have to commute 50 or 60 miles to their jobs.
Despite my attempting to supplement our income by doing some radio/tv repair work and despite the kitchen cupboard subsidy offered from our parents, the fun Knoll Inn experience was doomed from the getgo. We didn't know anything about running a "hotel" (or any other business for that matter), and when the snow was supposed to fall and support the ski areas and us along with them, no snow came. That was fortuitous actually because our heating system couldn't keep the old place much above freezing. There was little choice, the Knoll Inn project was failing fast, and in dire need of some sort of income to support the family, we returned to Massachusetts where my old employer was one of only a few companies hiring in 1965. By 1964 years end, we packed it in and headed back, got a job and had another baby; (<-----------Laurie in the early 70s hated Franklin School)Laurel Lee, on March 29, 1965. I went back to work for Honeywell in the computer engineering division in Newton and we moved into an apartment on High Street in Methuen for several months. Laurie weighed about 7 pounds 8 ounces at birth.
In 1965, shortly after Laurie was born, Dot and I took our first overnight trip away from the kids. I think we went down to Cape Cod for a three day weekend. That started us onto a Cape and eventually Nantucket vacation family over the next fifteen years or so. Sometime early in 1966, we took a drive down to the cape to scope out a little cottage in East Falmouth for possible vacation visits. We began renting the place, first for a week and subsequently for two weeks early in the summer season every year from about 1966 to 1972, when Stanley Podielsky, the owner died and his daughter decided to keep the place for her own family. This caused us some consternation, but we took a fall weekend trip to Nantucket and found a cottage over there that we could rent for a week vacation the following year. I believe that we rented a cottage from Mrs. Cahoon out on Smith Point in Madaket in 73, 74, and 75, when we decided to buy a time share in a town house out at Tristram's Landing, also in Madaket. This was our vacation place for the next several years, going over sometimes for one week in April and two weeks in September. Now at the turn of the new millennium Eric, Joan and Erin come down to visit me for a week of my two week stay on the island, and Dot, Laurie, Linda and Candice go down and rent a cottage in the area for a week. The ladies go to shop, Eric and I go to golf, watch court tv and loaf.
(Grandma did a lot of sitting with our kids in 60s and 70s ------------>)
When I went back to work at Honeywell EDP as a logic design engineer I designed my first computer communications controller. It was on a big project for Northwest Bell Telephone Company in Omaha, Nebraska. Ricky broke his leg during Laurie's infancy. He was running around the hardwood floors in his stockinged feet and slipped under a dresser or bureau. Maybe he wanted some of the attention that was being given to Laurie and Linda, but that's a tough way to get it. He was miserable for a couple of weeks with a fifteen pound cast on his left leg. In the fall, we bought a little starter Cape which was also in Methuen, where we lived for a couple of years including the year of the great Northeast blackout power failure of November, 1965.
In the period of 1965 through about 1977 (give or take), the whole family would pile into the car on Sunday and take a ride out into the country. We might go to the coast over at Rockport, or up to the mountains in NH, or out to the NH/Vermont countryside, but we went almost every week to do a bit of sightseeing. We usually packed a picnic lunch to eat at a roadside table. After a few small mountain hikes with the kids, I started hiking the White Mountain 4,000 foot mountains as a kind of project. There are 46 of these mountains, I think. If you want to read about the fun of these, take a look at the short story Click Here ; use the back button on your browser to return here, else you might get stuck reading several of my other short stories.
Dot returned to the workforce again that year and we hired private folks to come over to the house to care for the kids.
In 1967 we bought a house in North Andover on Turnpike Street (Rte. 114). We put an addition on this house a couple of years later which added a bedroom (to three), and a den/tv room. We also put a swimming pool in the back yard in 1970. Dot still lives in this house after 33 years. Amazingly, the swimming pool is still on its original vinyl liner and it is on only the second pump and filter.
Shortly after moving to North Andover, we brought Dot's father (then retired) over to care for the kids. Max was "Poppy" to the kids and was our last kidwatcher as the kids began their formal education at The Franklin School. Max and Ann Hoessler lived in Dot's childhood home on Pleasant Street in North Andover. My parents lived about five or six miles away in Ballardvale, in my childhood home known by locals as 'the block'.
I worked in communications engineering until 1967 when I took my leave of Honeywell (again) and went to work at RCA Aerospace on an computerized airborne command post system for the USAF.
We finished the AABNCP (I think that's what we called it) the following year and being somewhat disenchanted working on government contracts and at the same time being solicited by Honeywell to return, I resumed my twice interrupted Honeywell career in late 1968. From 1968 until 1990, I remained at Honeywell/Honeywell Bull/Bull Worldwide Info Systems in various capacities in design engineering. Wow, that one stretch was 22 years.
(<-------------- Our kids and Bob's kids on a rare visit)Designing, building, testing and going into production on computer logic subsystems (1965-1976 or so)was the most fun job I had, although I did spend a few years in Engineering Management (1976-1990). I worked on peripheral subsystems, communications controllers, remote terminals, etc.,.
In 1979, my mother died and I totally hated it. I may have said it before but don't mind to repeat myself, she was a particularly good and saintly person and even though I don't believe in god nor heaven, a place was probably made just for her. She was 64 years old when she found out that she had cancer and several months later at 65, she passed away at home with our old man caring for her in a way that was hard to describe. Suffice it to say that he tried his best to make up to her for his shortcomings over the 40 prior years and which were in no short supply.
About a year later, Max Hoessler died and left behind a similar set of feelings especially for my wife Dot. She was an only child and the apple of Max's eye. I think his nickname for her was "Cookie" or some such sweet. Max had spent his entire adult life with Ann in North Andover. He was about 72 or 73 when he passed away I think.
Ann passed away this past summer, 2001. She made it to about 90 years, living her whole life in North Andover after marrying Max.
1981 was a particularly stressful time, when Dot and I parted company. Things just seemed to unravel between us and there was no way out; I moved in with my father in the old homestead for 'a few months' to get my bearings. Two year and a half years later (1984), I bought a townhouse in Tewksbury, MA and invited Pa to come live with me for a while. In 1986, I sold the townhouse and bought a little cape in Bedford, MA. Pa moved right along with me to Bedford until it became apparent that in 1990 or so, I would be putting the house on the market to unload my mortgage payment burden since I was unsure what my financial situation would evolve to after Honeywell/Bull and I severed our relationship. Pa moved back to Andover into their elderly housing and lived there till he died in 1995.
The manager jobs were still fun while I got to know dozens of fine people in the company and continue friendships with several of them to this day. But, the managing jobs were in a time when the company was struggling, especially financially, and over the period of 1985-1990, we entered into some sort of annual "musical funding chairs" game. Reorganizations, project prioritization, competitive pressures and technological advances elsewhere resulted in annual (in some years more frequently) downsizings.
When the winter of 1990/1991 downsizing was imminent, I approached my boss, George Bekampis and told him that if we needed to reduce some people in my department, that the department manager's name could go on the list. I think George was surprised, but not devastated. The sad part was that my department still needed to contribute more than one head to the headcount reduction and I still had to nominate a couple of other guys. When you have to put hard working people doing a good job on a layoff list, it is much more difficult than having to dump some loafer who doesn't know or care about doing a job. Our situation had come to the point of having to let people go who were doing their jobs. The end of my Honeywell time had come at last, as I was put on layoff in early 1991; having 27 years and a few months of service to my credit.
Our kids meanwhile had grown and graduated (whoooo-hoooo!) North Andover High School. Eric and his band (Shining Light, Roxx, The Core, New Romance, Cut 299, etc.,) had dropped their plans for hitting the big time and dissolved. (Eric with his Afro shows off his 'vette title ----->)
He got a job, had a kid with Nancy, got married to Karen, moved down south, got divorced, got married again (this time to Joanie), got another kid and has finally settled down for a quiet life as a successful businessman drinking beer and farting a lot in his spare time. I will leave it to him to write his story because there are probably a few thousand details that I don't know about which would make it more interesting. Suffice it to say for this story, he is a fine young man approaching middle-age and his kids Janie and Erin are wonderful grandkids of course. Also, I have put him on notice that Joanie is welcome anywhere, regardless of whether she dumps him or no. Eric, Joan and Erin moved to Illinois in May, 2001 when he went to work for Fedders Air Conditioners, after about 15 years with Homelite/John Deere Corp. Laurie says that Eric now makes way more money than Dad ever did!
Linda went to college for a two year degree, got married, had a kid and now lives with her mom in the old North Andover homestead with Candice, the prettiest, smartest and overall best current 8 (oops, now 9) year old on the planet. We don't often talk about Linda's husband; personally held in some low esteem by most reasonable people. Linda teaches and cares for infants and toddlers in a local Child Care faciltity known as Kinder Care. Candice seems to love to go there and actually be the youngest unpaid teacher's assistant in history.
Laurie went to college for a year or so, didn't like it and bailed to get a job. She has been a working wonder for Cortron-Amkey for fifteen years by now. She has been in almost every position that a small company can have and will probably be the last employee the company ever really needs. Laurie got married several years ago, and lives with Bill Flanagan in North Andover. Laurie and Billy probably won't have kids; they're parents of three cats and that seems to be enough for them. Billy is now owning and operating a one truck delivery service company.
Sometime about 1978 after a vacation trip to Hawaii and a subsequent visit to Nantucket, I couldn't shake loose of the question; "Why can I not draw or sketch or paint a picture?". I was intrigued by the charcoal pencil sketches that were offered for sale at tourist place shops everywhere. One day, when in a local discount store, I bought a little instructional book entitled (I think) "How to draw". A couple of charcoal pencils, a gum eraser, a sketch pad were included in the purchase and I proceeded to try to learn 'how to draw'. As I progressed, I decided that it was indeed possible and began sketching most every night for a short while as I tried to follow the instructions in the book.
It seemed a quite natural progression then, to ask another question; "Why couldn't I apply paint and color to these sketches and make a colored picture?". The answer was that I could, although I struggled to try to learn how to handle watercolors on paper, eventually I determined that for me, acrylic on canvas or canvas board was way better. I began painting, framing, hanging and would you believe even SELLING a few of these pictures. There is a secret to selling paintings; price them cheap! Not that I could have made a living even at the starving artist level doing it professionally, but it proved to be great therapy and gave you a feeling of accomplishment when someone parted with $30, $40, even $100 of their hard cash to own one of your works. Landscapes were my main thing because it's hard to 'go wrong' on them. If you'd like to have a look at some of my paintings, both famous artist copies and several originals, visit my painting/gallery website by clicking this link:
Painting is now very much in the background for me because I spend so much time on my computer, but I still paint a couple of pictures on Nantucket vacation each year.
(<---------- me in early 80s on vaca) Back to me! After I was laid off at the old company, I loafed for a couple of months before deciding to put my 25 year old real estate broker's license to work. From 1991 until the present (2000), I sold real estate in the Acton/Concord, Massachusetts area and made almost enough money to live on. Thankfully, beginning in 1994, I was able to get a little pension action out of the old company career and now have comfort in knowing that I can get along as long as I don't do anything.
While I was working in Acton and then Maynard in the local Prudential Real Estate office, life was really excellent. I was making just enough money in the real estate sales to support my five or so vacation trips down south to play golf and visit Eric and Joan. Usually, I was able to combine trips to Rock Hill, SC with meeting my Virginia golfing buddies (brother-in-law Dave's group) for a long weekend in Fayetteville, Myrtle Beach or some other golf happy place. My pension paid for my rent and ordinary living expenses and I blew all my commission income on road trips, including of course two weeks at my Nantucket townhouse timeshare every September.
In 1999, I finally had had enough of driving an extra hundred twenty miles a week driving from Concord to North Andover to visit Linda and play with Candice. I figured that I can sell real estate in the Greater Lawrence area just as well as in Acton/Concord/Maynard. So, I bought myself a two family house in Lawrence, complete with tenant in the downstairs apartment. This move has proved to be good because now I can visit and play with Candice at the drop of a hat in ten minutes and am available on short notice if needed for any emergencies. Also, I'm a bit closer to brother Ray and most of his family. The only problem is that I fell into a bad habit of laziness where I'm still going down to the Maynard office a day each week and I'm not hooked up with any local area real estate office to hang my hat in. This procrastination has been going on for almost a year now and I'm starting to feel the budget pinch. I really must get out there and earn a few bucks for funding my playtime.
(Looking upriver, The Merrimack from I495 bridge---->)
(March 2001)A local real estate office, Prudential Broadway Real Estate in Methuen has been kind enough to provide me with a desk and phone and place to hang my Realtor shingle. Although I have been there for about 7 months now, I've not been very productive. The real estate business takes a bit of time to get things going and I'm still in the startup phase locally, but I am hopeful.
I do have another little fun-enterprise going on with Eric down in South Carolina at this writing. We have partnered in the purchase of a couple of small single family residential properties which (after Eric and Joan cleaned them up, painted and refinished) we rent out. I am just a silent partner (heh) who put in some money with hopes of seeing a nice little return. So far, Eric tells me that we are doing well. That's about all I get. We did recently use a couple thousand to buy a piece of a neighbors lot to combine with a piece of one of ours and make an extra building lot for future expansion.
Now; about GOLF! The remaining love of my life at least at present. I play once, sometimes twice a week for the past twenty years. My handicap gets down to about 12, when I can play more, but now is bouncing between 14 and 15 (2001). I have three holes-in-one; scoring them in 1992 at Stow Acres, MA South course, 1994 at Miacomet Golf Course, Nantucket, MA, and recently at St. Elmo Golf Club in St. Elmo, IL while visiting Eric, Joan and Erin this past summer (2001). My souvenir golf balls from these episodes are exhibited in display holders in the rear window shelf of my car. Take a look and check them out; it's a thrill!
For the past couple of years, I have been writing short stories about various episodes or experiences in my life. Several of these stories are linked herein to amplify on some significant parts of my story. A few of the briefly described episodes of real life growing up in the Vale in the 40s, years in service and later points in my life are treated in a bit more detail. These stories are published at the 'library' of my prodigy website. At the present time, there are about twenty two, each a mere four pages or so in length. You can click on this link to visit the library. I hope you enjoy reading them.
1938-------------------------born in Dracut, MA
1939-1956-------------------growing up in Ballardvale, MA
1956-1960-------------------US Air force in Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, Turkey
1960-------------------------Univac tech training in Philadelphia, PA
1960-1963-------------------W/E & Honeywell electronics/computer tech Lawrence, MA
1964-------------------------Knoll Inn, Elkins, NH
1965-1967-------------------Honeywell computer engineer Methuen, MA
1968-1981-------------------RCA & Honeywell computer engineer North Andover, MA
1982-1986-------------------Honeywell computer engineer/manager Andover & Tewksbury, MA
1987-1991-------------------Honeywell-Bull computer engineer/manager Bedford, MA
1991-2001-------------------real estate broker Concord & Lawrence, MA
Addresses that I remember in order:
17 River Street Ballardvale, MA
c/o USAF Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, Turkey
30 Venango Street Philadelphia, PA
943 Chelten Avenue Philadelphia, PA
65 Main Street North Andover, MA
30 Market Street Lawrence, MA
rte. 11 Elkins, NH
31 High Street Methuen, MA
19 Evergreen Avenue Methuen, MA
187 Turnpike Street North Andover, MA
17 River Street Ballardvale, MA
1275 Main Street Tewksbury, MA
120 Page Road Bedford, MA
268 Commonwealth Avenue, Concord, MA
1 Highlawn Avenue Lawrence, MA
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June 23, 2000
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