Holiday Season 1978


My reflections on and comments about the past. The text was written wrote long ago to communicate with friends and distant family.  The italized text is commentary now about the events of long ago.

We drove up to Syracuse to visit Pat and Adam and their family for Thanksgiving.  we did run into a bit of snow both going and coming but nothing serious to speak of.  We have not had snow in Allentown yet but expect it soon.  We have had a very pleasant fall here this year and hope that winter will follow suit.

wedding photo

Marge at Pat’s wedding

Thanksgiving is now over and  we are again getting into the Christmas season with things hoped for but not yet done.  Marge has not been too well this month and our activities have been a bit curtailed. She pinched a nerve in her back and then got a cold which has brought with it quite a cough.  We were concerned that it might turn into be pneumonia and are watching it.  Louise also has a persistent cough and is slowly getting over it. Ingrid did have a bad cough and sore throat so quit taking voice lessons for a while.  We hope she will resume  now that she is feeling better. I have been in pretty good shape so far, a bad day now or then, but nothing serious.  Winter colds are common and it seemed like that was our experience.

I do remember the Syracuse visit somewhat.  During the time when Pat was married to her first husband Paul we often visited each other’s home over Thanksgiving. Now remarried we are not quite so close. Pleasant memories of family get-together times.  Our children  were roughly in the same age group and got along well.  Families were, and are important to us and I have pleasant memories of personally keeping in touch.  In 1964, we  moved from Syracuse, NY  to Binghamton, NY and then to Allentown, PA.  For anybody not from the area, we were then about 210 miles away.  Keeping in touch is getting more difficult but mobility is a way of life for many and, in retrospect, we were fortunate in being able to move as opportunities presented themselves.

Well, I am officially an engineer now.  I received my notification since I last wrote that I passed my Professional Engineer’s exam and am now duly licensed.  It is more symbolic than practical. Nevertheless it was an accomplishment that I Had set out to achieve. I was very pleased that it came about, though I did not have any doubts in my mind about the outcome of the exam.

The company I worked for, PP&L had an unwritten understanding that an engineer did not even rise to become Senior Engineer without a license.  Much less so to a management position.  I was hired ten years after graduation and came in sort of by way of a side door.  The other managers in the department I worked in were all licensed and I felt I was at least equal to them.  Studying for this exam for a year was the path to prepare myself for the exam 20 years after graduation.  I was proud of myself in this accomplishment.  .  .I still am and the Certificate of Registration is framed and hangs in my office at home.  I can still see it as I type. I still feel pride.

I had a trip to Dearborn, Michigan in October.  I was attending a seminar on the subject of maintenance management in electric utilities.  I was not a speaker this year but served as a facilitator and moderator for a session. It was a pretty good seminar with about 150 in attendance.

We were almost across the street from the Ford Museum and Dearborn Village. If I had travelled all this way to visit the museum I would probably have been disappointed.   The automobile and train exhibits are good but the rest was mediocre in my opinion.  I guess a lot of it was being remodeled judging from what we were told at the entrance.  It still took the morning and into the afternoon  to see what we could and by that time I was tiring.  I also had a short (1 hr.) tour of a Ford Mustang assembly line. That was informative and interesting but I was glad I don’t have to work there.

Back home finds us putting money into the truck as part of getting it ready  as a tow vehicle.  We had a trailer hitch installed. Fortunately we could use our old brake controller and transmission cooler so we didn’t have to get all new parts.  We got new brakes, battery, and tailpipe and at inspection time I have been changing filters and doing tune-up work. After some body repair work is done we should have a vehicle we will be in shape for a trip later next year. The problem with do-it-yourself maintenance is that I can’t get it done in my garage do to the truck’s size and it is getting cold outside.  So, I hope for relatively warm weekends.

For me working on the cars was another source of pride.  This time pride in being able to do hands-on work as well as being a licensed engineer.  I never wanted to get involved in automotive work as a hobby, but I wanted to  understand the fundamentals of keeping the vehicle looking and running well. 

I have been keeping at my guitar playing and maybe improving a little bit. I hope I can take new lessons next year. Marge’s back has been bothering her so we have dropped out of dancing lessons but have gone out a few times in October. Colder weather has taken its toll on my exercise program.  I have not been getting out running every day and I can feel the difference. I do try, however to get at least a long walk on the weekends.

The Sunday School teaching project has been cancelled for me since our class has dwindled down to an attendance of about 3 on a good day and 1 on a bad day. This is, I hope, not a measure of the instruction but due to a small group in the first place.  Some of the children who came were from families whose parents did not attend this church,  or from divorced parents who  went to different churches and so we did not have as many as expected. So, the other person is doing the program as it is silly to have the teachers outnumber the students.

I put in storm windows in our dining room this year as a home improvement project.  The real test will be when we have a strong wind from the west, which is the prevailing breeze in the winter.  These would really blow cold air into the dining room.  I am glad we haven’t got any yet, but I would also like to see how well the windows do under stress.  I also went around all the windows and caulked all the visible cracks.  My other home improvement  project was to plant some Juniper in front of the house.  I had some holly which did all right until last year, at which time the rabbits or some other animal ate almost all the bark off. Some survivors did not look all that good. So, I replaced them with Juniper which grows well and won’t be eaten.

We had a quiet celebration of my birthday with some friends over for coffee and cake and a little picking and singing.  The next year will be something to look forward to, and that is ten years service at PP&L.  With that will come vesting of my pension rights and another week’s vacation, though this will not be until September.

The girls continue to do well in school.  Louise is in Middle Schoo now and they have a Gifted Program, but I do not think it will be as good as the elementary school program.Ingrid is taking a college level English course that is offered by the High School in conjunction with the local community college.  Enrollment is limited and of course we are glad for her achievement at being selected.  Right now she is agonizing over a term paper.

Marge on bedside

These newsletters were intended to communicate the experiences of our family but I recognize now that most of it has been about me.  I say this with regret as about the only time I spoke of Marge it has been commentary on her health, or lack of it.  She was very active as a volunteer at our small local library.  She loved books and words.  She took a book mending course and volunteered to repair people’s treasured books, especially bibles.  She took a course in stained glass art and made several pieces approximately the dimension of a human hand with fingers outstretched. I have these displayed on the windows of the dining nook in our kitchen. Marge was very involved in a home church movement which was active in this time period.  There is a technical term for this but I can’t remember it now.  We both attended the Coopersburg Moravian Church nearby and she also was involved in home church worship.  This was not for me though.  Though she was baptized already, she wanted to experience immersion baptism.  I recall being in a car with another couple driving to a location in Philadelphia were immersion baptisms were being conducted.  It was a very large venue in a building.  I am hyper vigilant and get vey anxious in any setting where I cannot easily exit. I was uncomfortable being in this strange location with a lot of people I didn’t know and an experience I was not familiar with.  I knew how important this baptism was for Marge and was with some breathing techniques was able to get through it OK as I wanted to be supportive.  

I think I already mentioned that I bought a 1967 Ford Mustang convertible for Marge. It had a color that looked sort of like peas soup green. I had it repainted a beautiful metallic blue and also replaced the top including the plastic rear window. The photo below is one I found on the internet which looks just like ours.  A beautiful car for a beautiful lady.


1967 Mustang






About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
This entry was posted in 1970-1980, Allentown, Coopersburg PA, Relationships, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Holiday Season 1978

  1. ingridmg2014 says:

    I don’t think I was ever aware that you studied and prepared for an exam to earn an official engineer’s license and/or certificate. It made me smile to read the part about how you were proud of your accomplishment–still are–but that you also had no doubt as to the outcome of the exam. It certainly always feel good to work towards a goal and then achieve it. Yay, Dad! 🙂

  2. ALLAN M TUCKER says:

    So cool

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