Self Reflection

Following is a highly abridged article by Steve Kalas, from the LV Review Journal. –

“Couplehood provides the missing pieces and psychic injuries we sustain in our upbringing. Our parents are imperfect and we bring with us into any relationship the gifts and wounds of childhood. Our intimacy brings to the fore the dramas of injustice, insecurity, egos and fears still unresolved from our past. Intimate couplehood is designed to do this, the provocation is built-in to marriage. Marriage is “a people growing thing” a good thing, though sometimes decidedly uncomfortable. Most of the time the discomfort is not evidence that your marriage isn’t working but precisely that it is. Marriage confronts us with the work of selfhood, sometimes hard work.”

So it was with Marge and I, and in these posts, I try to express our hard work in sustaining our 55 years.

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July 2017, Movie Nights

Movie night, what does that mean to you?  Well to me, it brings up Sunday late afternoons and evening here at my house watching films on TV with Janet.

Our church has a book club and they were reading “A man called Ove” It is about a Swedish man who was forced into retirement.  the book was popular and a film made from it. His wife had died and the movie started with him putting flowers on his wife’s grave in winter.   Sweden has plenty of winter weather.  On the surface, he seems like a grumpy old man, but with flashbacks, we see how the many good things he had done in his life.  He is trying to hang himself in his apartment different times but was interrupted.  On the last try, the rope breaks and he returns it to store for his money back, as it was advertised as good for all applications.

Janet is first generation Swedish-American on both sides of her family.  So was my dad; we both have Swedish genes and memories and the film seems realistic. Janet has cable but no streaming and asked me if I could find the film, which I did on Amazon.I have no cable, just WI-FI.  So a Sunday afternoon in early July she came over about 3:30, we had cocktails and then watched the movie.  We could relate the film to members of our own families and enjoyed it exceedingly.

By then we a bit hungry, but not exceedingly so we went to a nearby Applebees and ordered a dinner for two.  Marinara sauce and ziti pasta, salad, etc.  Quite good really and Janet even had some left over to take home.

A friend of Janet recommended the film “New in town” about a young female executive in Miami being designated as the president of a low performing factory in the fictitious town of New Ulm, Minnesota.  There is a culture shock to the woman as well as a climate shock, so she definitely wants to do the job assigned and go back to Miami.  Then a relationship develops between her and a man in the factory, a good guy with a teen daughter.  As you might expect, love conquers all and she saves the plant and the town.  I won’t spoil the film by telling how, but it is a pleasant romantic comedy. I did serve Kroger’s finest microwave popcorn, a bit sweet, but went pretty well with the movie.

We recently went to a new Italian restaurant near Janet’s.  It specializes in family style food.  We ordered a medium ziti and salad – feed3 –  naturally, some left over.  So naturally, some to take home.  I augmented the sauce and made a tossed salad for dinner on Sunday turned out pretty good.  Can’t say so much about my choice of wine. I really don’t know a lot about wine and it showed.  Whiskey is another matter, but it didn’t seem the thing to go with second-hand pasta.  Janet was very good about my poor choice and we went to the next feature movie. May be a short ad which I believe you can delete.

This was the first episode of the European version of the Dragon Trilogy 1.5 hours in length.  I think much better than the shortened American version even  in Swedish.”

With that, some Islay Scotch on the rocks for a good-night drink and movie night is over for this week.  I don’t have the book and Janet can’t find hers, so I lent her our 6 CD talking book version and possibly she can catch up with that.  Will see on the 13th.  Only 8 more episodes to go and I think movie night has legs, as they say for more Sunday afternoons.  Keep you posted.

This time we had Pizza and beer.  Janet brought the beer and I ordered a Pizza.  I tried ordering it from the new Amazon restaurant app.  It was a terrible experience.  Many of the restaurants yesterday were not available on Sunday.  I went through an agonizing ritual from one that was available and when I got to sign out, was notified it was not available.  So I ordered a Supreme from Pizza Hut and that worked reasonably well and I will never go near the Amazon site anymore.  My experience; BAD.

Janet had not seen Fargo from 1996 so I got that from Amazon.  Kind of grim in quite a few places, but had been decades since I saw it and Janet, never.

Slowly tanking up on Pizza and beer we finished watching episode two of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I think the Swedish title is something like “Men who hate Women”

I could be wrong though, but something close to that.

This is getting to be a pleasant practice.  We can each share something for both of us to experience.  Next week Janet has some activity already on Sunday so that is out. Next one is the day Lousie and Jim will be here, shortly, for their trip home from Colorado taking Carina to college.

Movie night is off to a good start, perhaps go even further.  We are both octogenarians, we have our own activities and interests but sharing together is nice.  A few drinks, munchies and a couple of movies to watch. Not death defying daring by any means, but at this stage of life who knows about that?  Time will tell as the trite old phrase goes.

 

Posted in Summer vacations, Vegas 2010 -? | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Furniture fun

As most readers know, I have back pain due to dislocated discs.  I have scheduled a second diagnostic test on the end of the month.  If this turns out favorable the insurance company will likely approve the treatment called RFA. Briefly, this short circuits the nerve with a jolt of radio energy stopping the pain signals.

This is only backup information which I have shared with some, not all. A main result of the back pain is that I am now limited to what I can physically do.  Moving/relocating furniture is a task that is very difficult and painful.

A few weeks ago I went shopping the day prior to my first diagnostic test to get that out-of-the-way.  I noticed a nice looking patio set at a Smith’s super market but it would be too much physically for me and I would need a truck to take a set home.  Fortunately for me, Tom, my neighbor, had a rental truck while his car was being repaired from an accident.  He took me to the surgery center for my first test and I asked if he could help the next day with the patio set and he said he could, it was the last day he would have the truck.

Since I did like the set, this was my last chance to buy, so I bought two sets.  One was the display model and one in the warehouse, no more after that. I bought both with a bit of a discount for the display model.

We had our yard landscaped at least 10 years ago and the patio was the largest expense.  They knocked out a small concrete patio and replaced and enlarged it with sandstone flagstones. It did look nice but was hardly ever used.  we did have a used table about 5′ round and some Target chairs.  We used it so rarely that the table had to have a thorough cleaning first prior to use due to the dust, and the chairs were not so comfortable.  I put them out on trash day for the scavengers to pick up as I put a FREE sign on them.  This worked.

Tom and I (mostly Tom as he is in good shape) brought the boxed set home and put it in the garage.  Another trip and we hauled the display set and put it on the patio. Here is the finished result. The chairs are a bit close, but I need some room to walk.  I put a low-wattage LED bulb in the light and that works well enough to see, but is not intrusive. I have had breakfast on the patio a few times, and even with temps about 95, but low humidity it is very comfortable in the evening with only moonlight.  If we only had something like this when we put the patio in. Oh well, what the hell.

My landscaper very quickly unpacked and assembled the other set.  I had opened the box and checked with the parts invoice, but assembly was too much.  My landscaper had some power tools and was able to assemble in very short order.  He is very good, an all around handyman.

Another furniture project was to remove a dining room bureau that we bought at a closeout of a store in Allentown maybe 1970.  It has been very useful to us when we had a family, and after Marge’s death, my children and some of her nieces took quite a bit of dinnerware, silver, etc. I went through it again and moved what remained into some empty shelves in what was Marge’s dresser.  I just wanted to get rid of the bureau to free the space and did not want to hassle for nickels and dimes from a Craigslist sale.  I asked the landscaper if he knew of a need for it and one of his helpers did, but they couldn’t take it that day, so we set a time.

As you can see it is in pretty good condition but probably outdated in style today, so the helper got something he could use, and I got some freed space. Win-win.

Next to go were two mismatched lamps, one having a bad switch.  A FREE sign on trash day did the job.  Next to go were two sets of Laz-Z-Boy recliners. The first set we bought in 1989 after Marge’s mom’s funeral.  She had one of these and Marge really liked it, so we bought a set and put them in what was then our TV room in our first house here.  They wore very well but were somewhat dated now. The other set above we got at Marge’s request in about 2009.  They were nice and as Marge’s cancer worsened, they were a living space for her. The cats scratched them a bit and I did use one, but it was heavy and not really needed.  I decided to slide them outside and put a FREE ad on Craigslist as well as a local service, very similar. My ad said no phone calls, first come gets what he wants and they will be curbside at my house.  That worked very well and I hope they did find a new home with someone who could use the chairs. I think so.

My next task was to position the furniture in our front room. This took a couple of tries but I think I got it now.  Almost all of the pictures and photos had to be repositioned also.  I framed and mounted two photos of mine as well to fill some awkward empty space.

Most of the wall art has at least a touch of blue to pick up the furniture color.  The large autumn landscape has been with us since about 1966. We bought the house in Vestal in 1965 with mostly hand-me-down furniture from our wedding in 1960. We got some 60-ish furniture from Sears and wanted a picture over our couch.  Binghamton had a consignment art store and we thought this one was the right size and was very representative of the area in fall.  I bought and assembled the etagere lamp in the middle of the window. It has 3 shelves under the light and I put an arrangement of blue ceramic ware of Marge’s that was in different places.  It took a few days to get things done the way I thought best but worth the time.

The library is adjacent to this room, and since the shelving is built-in, not much room for change.  I did reposition Marge’s grandfather’s bentwood chair with a dimmable lamp next to it. Leaning back in it is quite comfortable.

living room2

Finally the living room above.  Juan, My landscaper came when we agreed but had no helper, so one of Juan’s sons helped.  They also helped move out the living room furniture in my now empty living room.  Originally, we bought two sets of furniture from a friend of Marge who was part owner of a family furniture store.  This was about 1972, I had good reviews and salary increases and we bought a new home in Jan 1970.

Beverley Hills Pa House in 2016 - 3

Beverley Hills Home looking up at the dining room bay window

Our plan was to keep them till our girls grew up, give the LR sets to them, and get new for ourselves. Ingrid was willing to do this, not Louise but she did take an oak dining table and its chairs. That has worked fine.

The furniture is what was then called “Early American” it has been reupholstered many times, the last about 3 years ago. Not now in vogue, though the wood does go with the end tables and shelving I made. The walnut coffee table Marge’s Dad made for us in 1960. The antique oak “library table”  I spent untold hours refinishing perhaps in 1962. I think the mirror is the same vintage.  These were from Marge’s Mom after we married. All in all, everything is functional, easy to handle and both couches can easily be made into cots for guests if needed.

This has been fun for me. Removing furniture that is no longer useable to me at this time and replacing with family heirlooms and Smith’s finest furniture has been satisfying.  I have made and/or refinished much of furniture I own and with them, good memories of my past.

 

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My Stay In the E. R.

So, what’s this about? I have decided to post some more of my life in these posts. Why?  (1) I don’t do social media (2) and am going to stop doing posts for my film classes.  This was an experiment in going green with my classes.  However, most of the classes were not comfortable with the result which was time-consuming for me  to prepare. So, some time now to talk about my favorite subject, i.e. Myself.

The entire West had a horrible heat wave a month ago.  Searing heat up to 115F was common.  We don’t sweat here.  Cuts down on deodorant but I and many others were not aware of being dehydrated, bad news for anyone.  I thought I was prudent carrying water, most of the time and grabbing a soda from the refrigerator at school.

A walk in the park? Not for me and I tried to get errands done in the morning as the evil rays beat me down, so… nap time in the afternoon. Why indeed? I did some Googling on health and hot weather and thought, Eureka, I found it. Not the town in CA, the answer.  Heat exhaustion explained many of my symptoms.  I called a buddy who used to work construction in CA across the border.  He said, sure sounds like it. The guys who tie one on over the weekend have a really tough time on Monday regardless of bottled water at work. My boozing days, such as they were, are long gone but I felt some vampire was sucking something out of me, though water helped. This lasted so-so for a week but I had a tough time at church on Father’s Day could not sing, barely stand silently.  No water bottle with me, that explained it, so I though. I went home drank a lot of water and accepted a dinner invitation from a very gracious couple I know. No problem.

Monday I felt really crapped out, crude description but apt. I was nauseous and unsteady in spite of my attempts to deal with it.  I ate some generic something for lunch, kept it down but getting worse.  I called Louise in CA and told her I was going to call 911, she readily concurred, and shortly a crew from the Fire Dept came.  They did a basic interview, checked b.p. , temp, pulse, etc.  Nothing obvious and told me I could tough it out or take an ambulance to the ER room at Summerlin Hospital which is near me.summerlin 1

So a lumpy ride on the road to nowhere to be dumped off, not just literally at the ER of Summerlin Hospital.  On the way  my right arm gets a mighty jab with a really big needle.  To hydrate me, so I was told.  Perhaps for mysterious experiments. Other electrodes taped here , there, no who knows where on my dehydrated upper body.

I was carried on a commercial ER ambulance not the Fire Dept one. Summerlin ambulance Fire is much better, they were here first, but I got the commercial ambulance which I have never liked very much caring for Marge.  Fortunately a short drive.

Have you spent much time in any ER?  Avoid it if you can, but if so take an ambulance for quicker service. Hopefully you have insurance for this. Trust me on that one.

So I got dumped off the ER bed to one of two beds in the ER room.Summerlin c The process went smoothly and I was left with a few mental cases and others suffering unknown maladies.

The ambulance tags get ripped off me so I can have still more from the ER.  I looked like Frankenstein’s monster on a good day.   Where is Igor when I need him?  To be fair, the charge nurse was pleasant, closed the bead curtain and gave me a bottle to pee in.  It was a liter flask and I doubted I could pass the first test here.            Continue reading

Posted in Coopersburg PA, Hospital, ER, drugs, Vegas 2010 -? | 8 Comments

A Tale of Two Obituaries

Marge’s Obituary

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Our life together, of course.  We were better as boyfriend/girlfriend than as man/wife, at least first, and sometimes later.  We brought along baggage from our lives with our parents, much of it useless. Marge was temperamental, she could be extremely very passionate and creative, also occasionally so cool that I got frostbite.  She was very smart, tall, and attractive.

She liked excitement and change but was easily upset, enjoying novelty but disliking ambiguity.  She had an oddball sense of humor,  perhaps that was the reason I married her. She was very curious, easily bored and would act and talk at the spur of the moment. She was well-read, well-educated, had a tremendous vocabulary, and was very expressive.

We survived early married life, as well as the empty nest.  Not easily of course. Many married couples experience this. Sure, we had misunderstandings, who doesn’t; but the good, better, and best times really outnumbered them.  We had some great times together and had times when we didn’t like each other, but really did love each other.

I have lived in Las Vegas since 1980 and until 2006, Marge and I owned a summer log cabin in UT.

Log cabin in UT

I spent a good part of the summers in the cabin doing maintenance, chopping wood, and reading.  Marge would often come up and  I did not live full-time in UT. This was a great time for both of us.  We could relax in a different zone of time and space. Our privacy often led to times of very prolonged romantic love, body and soul.

In her later years, Marge was operated on twice for colon cancer.  Five years went by and we thought she had it licked. Bad luck struck in 2010 when her cancer metastasized to stage four, terminal. I waited on her, pushed her around in her wheelchair, cooked, etc. She worked at her job until September when she was fired, for taking so much sick leave actually. She died at home in October 2012.  We really were meant for each other. We did love each other.  I miss her greatly but don’t grieve as much anymore.

MARGE DRAWING BY DAVE

Nichols Plot, Hancock, Frantzen

Riverview Cemetery, Hancock, NY

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Who was Joanne L Beardsley? Joanne was my childhood friend from age 3 through elementary school. Please forgive my sloppy work with the screen shots and this software.  It’s the first time I have tried it, more of my comments later on.

Screen Shot Joanne 1

Rochester obituary

Plattsburg obituary page 1

Plattsburg obituary page 2

Joanne LaPierre-Beardsley Condolences PDF

Joanne and I knew each other as neighbors since we were three years old in 1939. As time passed following elementary school, we drifted away on our separate paths through the transitions of life.  Prior to that we went to school together and played together as children during the rest of the Great Depression and throughout WWII.

Morrisonville NY – my old home

 We lived in the hamlet of Morrisonville, NY, not far south of the Canadian border. Classic small town America and our parents were lower middle class. Reflecting back, that was a good time and place to grow up, playing in the hills, in our yards and homes, and on the riverside. No supervision, just children having a good time growing up.  We both loved animals, cats especially.  That life formed a bond that lasted throughout our lives.

Joanne Beardsley 1997, Prince Edward Isle

For some unknown reason that I don’t fathom now, probably never will, was with both of us approaching Medicare age, we felt a wish to find out where our childhood friend was now.

Beardsley 3

Joanne Beardsley

Beardsley 1

Joanne Beardsley

Five decades had passed and in 1997 we both independently began wondering about our old childhood chum. Joanne lived in the central NY village of Honeoye Fall, not too far from Rochester, NY.   We were both retired at that time

Indirectly through connecting with Joanne’s brother and mother, we obtained mutual mail addresses. Separately and independently, we composed long letters about our lives over the decades.  These letters crossed in the mail, both of us receiving the other’s within a day of each other.  How likely is that?  VERY unlikely.

My friend and former college roommate Roy and I made a trip to upstate NY in 1998, making one stop in Morrisonville.  We met the LaPierres, stayed overnight and continued our trip.  Joanne and I were then senior citizens, not school children; we had both aged and showed it.

Joanne and I were friends, just that,  we were not romantically connected though we were very close friends. We continued to call and write to each other. This might imply that we were in love and couldn’t stand separation.  I don’t think so, though we felt emotionally close and enjoyed jointly recalling details of our life long ago as well as the present.  They were pleasant times, and I have no-one else to exchange these memories, and I think the same for Joanne. Joanne’s letters were warm and exuberant, she called me sensitive,  humorous. and many other glowing adjectives.   The distant every-flowing spring of support, perhaps even a little love, was what I thirsted for then.  I still do.

I quote myself, “Not that childhood was an idyl of happiness. We did have differences and quarrels from time to time. But more important was that we learned to “Kiss and make up”  The grace to share, to forgive is a treasure indeed.  Because of this, you are a part of me, not the least of which are the memories of our times together……I too was and am, blest by your friendship and I am trying to understand this completely”

Our relationship was not a secret one.  I did tell Marges about our getting re-acquainted and my hope to spend a few days with her.  Things were frosty for an hour or so but no more than that.  I was sure that Marge has or had external relationships as well which I accepted.

However, time passed and we had an explosive session with our family therapist.  In anger, I tore up my ticket for a flight to see Joanne.  Moving to the present, I have learned that women regard emotional infidelity more serious than physical infidelity.  Men the opposite.  However, Joanne satisfied emotional needs for me, needs which Marge did not, at least in that time.

A portion of Joanne lived in the fantasy world

Kim Anderson Art

 She loved Kim Anderson art, sort of kitsch for me, but symbolic.  She sent me a very similar card with the following commentary”Do you believe the photo on this card. Such are the pure, simple joys of childhood- dressing up and admiring the love of flowers (on the actual card) with a friend. Ah if life today were only that simple and pure.  When you come in the Spring we must”dress up” and admire the early Spring flowers together.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to recapture the delight of such simple pleasures, the wonders of discovery?”

I think I have said enough about the bond of childhood between Jo and I.  I did visit NY different times and always made a point of spending time with Joanne somewhere, not at her home.

She lived in a large stone house in Honeoye Falls, full of cats and just plain stuff.  Joanne would browse the thrift shops and buy anything that caught her fancy.  No need for photos, but the house was of this, that, and the other thing whatever it was. To me, it seemed she would rather read, watch a film on TV than be a neat decorator or even housekeeper.  She slept in the day and waked at night.   She was never on time for anything. For a 6:30 dinner date I would wait at the bar until about 8.  There she came verbally showering me with the reasons she couldn’t make it.  I learned to expect this, so OK.

Another part of the fantasy world was New Mexico the “Land of enchantment” She even asked me to see a house she wanted to buy in Lincoln, NM. I visited Larry and his girlfriend and we did go for a camping trip.  I added a day and went to Lincoln, the home of Billy The Kid. The house there was beautiful, two wings with a glass enclosure connecting them.  She eventually made, with a lawyer,  arrangement where the owner could still live in the house, she would send him monthly payments to cover the down payment.  Later, the man died, the money was not in an escrow account, he had spent it. She lost considerably and told me about it too late to contest the estate.

It became obvious to me that Joanne would never leave Honeoye falls, regardless of her so-called plans for New Mexico. Once it appeared that Marge and I might separate, but that didn’t happen.  JoAnne didn’t like Las Vegas, and I didn’t care to leave Marge, and move back to central NY and deal with the weather. Even if, I couldn’t live with Jo but could have a house in the village and we would get together now and then. Jo would have grandiose plans, that never materialized.

I was back in NY in 7/28/07, just after her birthday.  I dated her at a local restaurant/bar in Honeoye as a somewhat belated birthday dinner.  She gave me a lovely cat book and signed it “Love, your Dear, Dear Buddy, Joanne”.  We were dear friends, just of opposite gender.  Marge had difficulty understand and adjusting to this.  The last I saw Joanne was in the summer of 2009 when I made another trip East.  Joanne treated me to lunch at a special little privately owned sandwich shop. Of course, she was late, but I expected that. A goodbye kiss and that was the ending of the active part of a long renewed very caring friendship.

A cross-country relationship is hard to maintain over the 20+ years.  No goodbyes, just no calls or mail.  Marge’s cancer metastasized into terminal stage 4 for in 2010.   Any other relationships at all were out of the question. She died in 2012.

In 2014 two years had passed, my therapist aided me in my bereavement and I tried calling Joanne’s number.  I got a robotic answering machine message that told nothing.  With some difficulty, I was able to connect with her sister Judi.  She told me that Joanne was showing signs of dementia and would be moved to Plattsburgh.  She died in 2016.

Who am I? Robert (Bobby to Jo) Frantzen;

Western Bob 2015

Here is a 2015 photo of me.

I retired from what was then Nevada Power Co in 1993.  I have an AB and a BE from Syracuse University.  I met Marge there a couple years behind me. I have an MS from Binghamton University and a Professional Engineer license from PA.

Even as a child I was interested in making things, taking things apart to see how they worked, etc.  A good skill set for an engineer and statistician, not so good for social finesse.

I am thorough and cautious, I like to plan ahead seeing all the possible outcomes I could imagine.  So, impetuous, not devil-may-care and perhaps that has, and does limit me. I soak up facts and history like a sponge.  This has led to the professional lifestyle that suited me and also a satisfying comfortable retirement.

Marge and I had communication problems.  At different times she would try to explain something about herself to me.  I  would nod my head, say yes, but be clueless.  Obviously, this didn’t help our life together.  I didn’t have this problem with Joanne.  I believed, felt that she really understood me and I could be open, trusting, ever perhaps loving and she understood me.  Perhaps this was due to our growing up together, that’s my theory.

Now the two women who meant most to me in my life are dead.  They were both a bit younger than I; they age no longer.  I miss them both; together and individually.   Marge and I were truly together for 55 years.  Joanne and I were together as children, re-emerging as caring adults, best friends forever now as man and woman, bonded by childhood but not romantically inclined in our Senior years.

I am alone now with no real female interests.  Some occasional dates, but nothing serious.  The future might bring a big surprise, who knows. Who knows?

Posted in Relationships, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The falling leaves-1976

I have been negligent in posting.  This time I am going to try both reprising the past, and commenting on my present life.

Fall had indeed fallen and was upon us.  School had started, and both the girls were moving ahead a grade.  Marge and I were proud of them, they are growing up to be very fine ladies, a year at a time. Ingrid is now in High School and went to that building, another life transition. Louise had to change schools also since the district pupil load had to be re-balanced.  We didn’t care for this but it did seem to be working OK, although for Louise this meant leaving friends and acclimatizing to a new environment.

August saw a lot of camping, maybe too much for me.  One event was a trip to the Adirondacks, which of course, is where I grew up. That was pleasant, but a long trip from eastern PA.  While we were there we decided to visit my Mom in Plattsburg.  Dad died in the spring of acute Leukemia.  I miss him more now that he has gone, as my therapist helped me gain perspective on his life and my relationship with him as a father.   I was born in the depression, a bad time for America and the world really.  That segued into WWII with rationing and hardship at home, as well as cousins being in the Service.  Dad was quiet and reserved which I took to be emotionally remote.  He had a secure steady job and was a good provider.  Perhaps if I spent the majority of my working life in a maximum security prison, I would be a different person, and not in a positive way.  Marge was able to stay with him, I am sure I mentioned this earlier and told me she grew to appreciate Dad more in the way he accepted his coming death with a quiet dignity.

Dad was a Chevrolet man, no Ford or Plymouth for us.  His last Chevvy was a 1971 Impala, which by today’s standards is a land barge. Mom could drive but didn’t want to so we had to do something about the car.  We decided that Marge and I could both drive home and take the Chevrolet home.  Of course, my sister Karen had a legitimate interest in the car as well, and we sorted that out later.  This meant that we now had four cars and the trailer in our garage and driveway.  It was excessive of course, but the girls were getting to be of driving age soon and would probably want a car of their own.  That was our justification, and it did make sense, we had room for all, one of my cars was a company one, the others we owned outright and the operating cost was acceptable.  The American way I think.  More is better.

I was working on the Mustang myself and made the repairs that I could.  We arranged with a body shop to repair the rust damage and repaint the car.  Slowly it is being restored and will be a beautiful car when that work is finished.

blue-mustang

1967 Blue Mustang

Marge will look great at the wheel, I am sure of that.  Marge also wanted to sign up for a basic course in auto repair and was hesitant about going alone.  We both signed up, teamwork you know, as my knowledge of cars was spotty, I could do some things, but not others.  This made sense with so many vehicles to keep up.  Marge also signed up for a conversational Spanish course at the YWCA.  She was very smart and good with words.  I don’t think she actually wanted to speak Spanish, just learn how the language was structured, and what the differences were to English.  All sorts of knowledge that we didn’t get in college.

I did pass my radio operators exam and received a license from the Government.   The next thing was obtaining equipment.  If I bought anything, I would have to drive to Philadelphia since the Allentown area had no outlets for amateur radios.  I could always build what I want, that might well be fun in itself.  I passed a correspondence course in radio and TV repair and servicing in 1974.  I took the course as (1) I still had some veterans schooling dollars coming to me and (2) I was always interested in electricity and radios, even as a boy. Electronics has come a long way in 40 years; the days of amateur hobbyists has passed into history.

We went to a Christian retreat in the Poconos.  This was something Marge wanted to do and the site had room for some trailers. we were in this life together as partners and we made the trip, though I began to have flu symptoms.  Marge drove me home and drove back to the conference herself. She hitched up the trailer herself and came home on Sunday when the retreat ended.  she even backed the trailer up from the front road into our space for it.  Backing up can be difficult and not intuitive.  I was proud of her; she could do anything she set her mind to.

My bout with the flu/cold was over and then the rest of our family came down with the illness, whatever it was.  Then PP&L sent me to an industry conference dealing with labor relations. The conference was OK but rather remote from my day-to-day responsibilities. Coming home, I stopped at a store that specializes in sheepskins and bought Marge a beautiful sheepskin rug for her side of our bed.  I don’t know whatever happened to it as it is long gone now.

Not far from our home in PA there was a private small fishing lake stocked with trout. trout_imageEarlier, I promised Louise to take her fishing on our vacation but for some reason did not. To make up for this we went to this trout pond and after about half an hour, she did catch a fish. this was fun, I really enjoyed doing things with my daughters.  We went home and I gutted and cleaned the fish.  I think Louise watched, but am not certain of that.  Marge started to cook the fish but I finished cooking.  Marge never liked fish at all in any way, shape or manner. That was fine with me, this was really a father/daughter outing with Louise and we shared the fish for lunch.  That was a very satisfying day, I still remember it.

Now for the time machine, odds and ends from my present (2017) life:

I have had hearing problems as long as I can remember.  I  got a VA card about 20 years ago but never used it. Last year I began actually using the VA health benefits that I qualify for from my Air Force service. Neither Medicare of my supplement covers hearing aids.The VA does and   I am very pleased with the audiology department at the VA hospital here.  I had the most complete exam I have ever had from a resident who is finishing up his requirements for his doctor’s degree. Very nice guy and as I said, very thorough. My hearing problem is with consonants and understanding the high-frequency components. I have had this problem for decades, maybe all my life as I remember seeing a doctor when I was a kid due to earache. My first exam was about 45 years ago and the ear nose throat MD said the nerves were dead and there was nothing he could do. So, I have lived with it and the loss is getting slowly worse. The aids work great, do not amplify ambient sound like the ones I got maybe 13 years ago. I asked the D Aud in training about phone calls as I often use the ear buds for that to free up my hands. He said that there is a Bluetooth dongle that I could get so I can hear the phone conversation in my aids. We will talk about that in May.

 I found out that I don’t own the aids, they are on a very long loan, and I can also get free batteries from the VA. this is much more than I expected and I think the cost if I had to buy it from a civilian audiologist would be at least $5000 and my insurance doesn’t cover that.  Good move I think for me.

Phantom Frantzen cat had to have radioactive iodine treatment for a growth in her thyroid. This was an expensive vet bill, $1400, and of course, no insurance for that. The cats are my family, perhaps Phantom is my favorite so I want her to live as long as possible.

I am taking two film classes this term and will be a presenter at our OLLI Film Festival in May. I have sent a proposal for a 10-week course in the summer in the early films of K. Hepburn, and a later 5-week course in the Western genre. I have learned that there is not much actual teaching required since for the most part, the OLLI members like to watch movies and maybe have a short discussion period. So, it comes down to me doing some background research for about a 10-minute talk, answer questions and then just roll the movie. This gets me out of the house and I actually enjoy doing this.

I hope to take a trip taking the girls to Canada to visit Karen and Joe, the nieces, husbands/boyfriend and their kids. Louise is coming up in May and we are going to the AAA to work out at least a preliminary plan as each of our homes are in different locations, customs considerations, etc. I know I am deteriorating a bit and while I am still in fairly good shape do wish to visit my extended family in Canada, probably early September.

I had a very pleasant trip to Sacramento to see Ingrid over her birthday week.

McCarran airport Las Vegas

Double nickel now.  How did that happen? She had tickets for us to a local Chris Botti concert. It was pleasant and different for me as I know little about jazz.  We went to a nature preserve park near Carmichael, CA not too far from her home.  It was a beautiful day and not crowded at all, we both enjoyed the trip. We also went to an art exhibition in Sacramento college.  Snacks as well as pics.Very nice.

IMG_0978

Nature park

IMG_0975

Sacramento college

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Ingrid on park bench

IMG_0974

Sacramento college

Marge and I had some problems communicating, but we shared many activities that I cherish still. Yes, we both could have done better, but really No Regrets for all the years together.  My word count is almost 2000 so time to say goodbye for now.

Posted in 1970-1980, Binghamton, Coopersburg PA, Summer vacations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Summer Solstice Soliloquies

 Below, the first two and last stanzas of a poem by Derek Walcott, “Black August”

“Black August”

So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky
of this black August. My sister, the sun,
broods in her yellow room and won’t come out.

Everything goes to hell; the mountains fume
like a kettle, rivers overrun; still,
she will not rise and turn off the rain.

I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones,
The black rain, the white hills, when once
I loved only my happiness and you.

I don’t know if I understand all the poem, but I do deeply, desperately understand black days and bright days.  Perhaps you do too, the black, the white; the drought and the rain.

My Dad died in May ’76, a few days short of his 76th birthday.  My family and I had gone for a short vacation and came back, I think the end of April. Sister Karen had been trying to reach me on the phone in Coopersburg, of course in vain back in the ’76 days; land line only.

Here is a scan of the Frantzen Family in about 1908.  My Grandfather is at extreme left, my father in the middle, blond hair already darkening.  The tall teenage young man is my uncle Carl.  I had not looked at this photo in years and first thought it was me.  The beautiful young lady next to him is my aunt Martha and the handsome middle-aged woman is my grandmother.  So, that’s my immediate heritage. Below is my SU yearbook picture.  See the resemblance? Then right below a little more family in these snapshots, left my cousin Larry, son of Aunt Martha, and Dad and I about 1938.

Frantzen family

Frantzen Family ca 1908

 

Bob's yearbook foto

Bob’s yearbook foto

 

Karen did reach us, I recall dimly now as the years, the water of life drift, dawdle, and diverge slowly by. Dad was in a hospital in Plattsburg, not expected to live long. What a surprise, I didn’t know he was even ill. So, we made hurried arrangements. Marge’s mother, Dorothy, agreed to drive up and look after the girls.  Marge and I drove to Plattsburgh, spent some time with Mom who filled us in.  Dad was diagnosed with a virulent form of leukemia, not expected to live.  We spent a bit of time together, Marge stayed with Mom and Karen, and I drove back home. I had a job to do, and there was no such thing as compassionate leave then, just the way society was.  Dad hung on for a week or two, then went into the whirlpool spinning spiral of death.  Another long trip for me, Dad had a transfusion which provided short-term relief.  His greeting to me was “how was the trip, and how is your car running?” Really, thinking back, that was good, a practical, pragmatic rational question.  No sloppy saccharine sentimentality just a rational reasonable question. Marge later said that during her time at the hospital, seeing how Dad faced his death, she a much fuller concept of him as a person.

I remember, recall somewhat dimly being in a room with Marge, Mom, Karen and the doctor.  His message, Dad did not have long to live and he died shortly after. The Walker Funeral home, as then referred to, took care of the details.  We had a viewing with an open casket as was the custom at the time.  Marge and I left the next day for home.  I think I did have a benefit of funeral leave and had pushed that a bit.

I didn’t have any grief, as such that I recognized, neither then nor 4 decades later. Just tired from the trips, Mom’s grief, the ritual of death.

 My father was not demonstrative neither in life nor approaching the end of it.  He could, at least to me, become unreasonably angry at the most trivial of events. His evening nightcap was a spoon of mineral oil.  It was not until Marge’s death when I was discussing family that I developed a mature understanding of Dad and my relationship. I now appreciate my father for what he was, a good stable provider, not projecting on him my idealized image that he failed to live up to. I have failed as well; I accept my failures, I accept my once buried grief for Dad.

Yes, love the black days like the bright days. Difficult, demanding, dark; just do it.

We did take a trailer trip with a group to the Pocono Mountains for Memorial Day.  It was a good change then,  a good time.  Very nice.

June busted out all over; yes it did.  We went out for a few weekends in the trailer but the Trip of the Month was to Lake Placid.  PP&L had authorized a stay for a conference at the Whiteface Inn on Lake Placid.

whiteface-inn

Whiteface Lodge, once Whiteface Inn – Google

 

kate-smith

Kate – Google image

In the ’50s our Whiteface neighbor was Kate Smith, a famous singer in the 30s and 40s.  The village of Lake Placid, of Olympic fame, is actually on Lake Clear. One would think that a clear lake would be placid, and vice-versa.  Both charming mountain lakes,  refulgent blue waters glistening glittering in the sun from dawn to dusk.

lake-nebagamon

Mountain Lake similar to Lake Clear – Google images

 

 

June is the time in our hemisphere of the solstice, our earthly apogee.  We look forward to the fertile fecundity of the ground supporting us with the fruits of planting in spring. On a human level, assuming an average age of 85, our physical and personal growth reaches our personal apogee in mid-forties. Our fecundity past us, now in our own black August of decay leading to death, new generations repeating the cycle.   Finality, natural, normal, despite the various mythological, superstitious trust in dogma and doctrine, clinging to hope of an eternity. To me, we in the dusk of life can appreciate the birthdays before us, not the past ones.

I worked in the Whiteface Inn for two summers almost 20 years before this conference.  Surprisingly, I did meet a few people I knew in the old days and we chatted about then and now.  Marge and the girls came with me and I requested rooms in the hotel.  Due to some misunderstanding,  we were instead given a “cottage” a cabin outlying the hotel.  Ours had two bedrooms and a splendid sitting room with a fireplace.  A treat for us all.  the conference had arranged local activities for the families and a special ice skating exhibition in Lake Placid, the village.  It was a mini-vacation for Marge and the girls. The conference was interesting though not a good fit for PP&L.  There was a hitch in the billing as we were billed full price for the cottage.  I showed the clerk a receipt for the down payment to hold a hotel room and the matter was resolved amicably in a civilized manner.

Aristocrat - 3

Aristocrat trailer – Google image

I have not seen a travel trailer on the road for decades, RV or recreational vehicles do still sell them, as well as 6 figure motor homes, driven by old men straining to see the road.  For us, trailer travel was a way to go places, do things as a family unit. We owned two over a period of ten years.  The girls had grown up, Ingrid married, and the terrain here in and around Vegas does not lend itself to short trips for a weekend outing.  We did in ’76 belong to a club, working class people, not complex. They were very fundamentalist but not in your face with “Have you accepted Christ, etc. etc.”  So, a way to socialize with very good people in a safe environment for a few days a month or slightly longer.

Comes the fourth. Of July, the day prior to Louise’s birthday.  I think sometime that month we did again go to the 1972 movie “1776” We spent the holiday on a camping trip. there was a parade in the little village nearby which we attended. Some of the campers really were in the spirit and made floats, while we observed.  Small town Americana, as it was then, it may be so today.  At the end of the month, we went to Ocean City  NJ  again.

boardwalkoceancity

Ocean City NJ boardwalk – Google images

We took two cars since I did not have enough vacation time to stay.  The trip is only 3 hours long, so not difficult and I came back for another short stay.  I managed to get too many rays, the sun came out of its yellow room with a vengeance and I was sunburned, yet again.  I still pay the price for that today with regular trips to my dermatologists.  Ah well. Perhaps next year we will go elsewhere, we have seen everything of interest near Ocean City at least, and it became boring.

House painting, a room at a time was my divertissement all summer. As did Sisyphus, I finished one room only to be tasked with doing it again.  OK, another room yes, but the spirit is the same, and I like the Greek God who persisted, pressed on and persevered.

I have been studying for an amateur Radio license.  I enjoy technology and also learning,  per se, well, just things; who knows when they may be useful.  I passed the code exam previously, took the theory test in July and dutifully wait for the FCC to grant me the license.  I was, in my own way, waiting for Godot, a.k.a the FCC.

My college roommate throughout the Syracuse years remains my friend still.  He and his second wife visited us for dinner one day.  He lives in the Washington DC area, about 4 hours away.  His first marriage to Marina ended in divorce and he remarried.  I hadn’t seen him in years and it was very pleasant to see him again, and his new wife for the first time.

Louise had been asking for a microscope.  I told her that was a good idea, I would pay at least half of the cost if she could pay some.  We bought her a decent student microscope at a now long gone store dealing in home electronics, and scientific toys.  Louise did use it a bit.  Once we went and obtained a sample of stagnant water from a very slow stream nearby. The experience of viewing the hitherto invisible animal life thriving on the microscopic plant life in a drop of water. Wow!!  I was a kid again, secretly I believe I was more enthralled than Louise.

Late summer brought with it an unwelcome guest from about mid-May to mid-June.  Hay fever,  my nemesis from the plant world.  Ingrid also was so affected. July found me feeling weak and sick to my stomach one day.  I did go to work at PP&L, shuffled papers, dictated that which was necessary but not taxing. I left early and the next day felt fine.

School starts shortly, Ingrid will start High School, another mile marker in the convoluted complex confusing road of her life.

The clicking timepiece of life and death quietly stayed in the background of our lives.  Dad died and for years I was superstitious about my at least reaching the 76-year-old mark.  Ridiculous.  Divorce and remarriage of my old friend, Ingrid now in High School. Transitions perhaps not clearly recognized then as they are now.

I started with a fragment of a poem so I will end with one by Robert Frost. I think I did and am traveling on the correct one for me.  Quoting Piaf again “I shall have no regrets.”

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

 

Posted in 1970-1980, Coopersburg PA, Relationships, Summer vacations | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

ides and calends of March ’76

onion sets -Google Image

onion sets -Google Image

Not the ideas of March silly, the ides.  Dictionary opened, I checked the definition and it means mid-month.  Calends, I found are the first days of the months.  A time for settling accounts, at least in Roman times. For us, variable, vexing weather.  Why so?  The first day of Spring was exceeding mild, around 70. Earlier, we chilled out with 20-degree snowy weather.  Called onion snow. Onion snow was a curious colloquial term, something new to me. The locals educated me; it was snow that came after the onion sets were planted, then melted and vanished, soon silently soaking the garden.  Just as above.  Makes sense.

In the interregnum of snow, I dug up the ground for our little garden.  You see, Spring brings to Marge Spring fever, known to me as Spring planting fever. Medically acknowledged? Not that I know of, but after the plants have sprouted, the evil weeds overtake them.  Marge is miraculously cured and is not infected with weeding fever. Now the horticultural future is left to plant destiny, Darwin determines the survival of the fittest.  All this, just our little rite of horticultural tradition. Rites of Spring.

For us and Marge’s Mustang, a time to give it a tune-up, then drive around town, top down. Three cheers for the seasonal solstice.

Remember the old song about Friendship? I think it went like this “Friendship, Friendship, what a perfect blendship.” An old Cole Porter song. Dated yes, but having friends and reciprocating is important to the lives of most of us.  Friends from Binghamton visited us during a weekend in March.  Can’t remember whom, basically Marge’s friends on a trip south whom she invited here for a weekend.  For us, we have stayed close to home.  Marge is going to Cornwall later and we are taking the trailer out at the end of the month,

Regardless of the April Showers, we are taking the trailer to Virginia,  historical Williamburgsburg VA

Williamsburg google image

Williamsburg –  Google image

as well as Charlottesville, where we have made advance reservations.  should be a good trip, not to far South, but enough to get a real touch of spring, and visit some historical towns.  We are going again to NJ in July and have reservations in Ocean City where we stayed last year.  No pool, but they are close to the Ocean.

A few people near us do have above ground plastic pools of which, I am not fond. One retired couple, older than we have an enclosed pool attached to their house.  I think they use is all year.  Really nice, but we are on a hill and it would be expensive to dig and make the necessary grading. Then too, who knows how long we are going to be here? We did join a public pool in Coopersburg, primarily for the girls.  Not my thing.  Too many people for my taste.

PP&L Allentown - Google

PP&L Allentown – Google image

Grumblings are heard about a strike at PP&L. I hope they get resolved peacefully.  If so, we are going to New Hampshire the last week in August to visit friends who were once neighbors here.  So much for vacation plans.

I have always loved my children from the day they were born, as a young man to the present, an old man; for them, “silver threads among the gold”  I have always encouraged them to follow their own path, their interests, and do help sometimes, but not assume more than that.  I still do help on occasion, and now I call on them for helpful suggestions, etc. as to direction and purpose in my time left.  Done now? Yes?

Back to ’76.Louise and I went for a walk, a search, along a little stream near the area of our house.  It is similar to this image, but not so wooded, Her art teacher has expressed an interest to some of her class to make some home-made beads for the younger classes. Louise wanted to be part of this planned project herself.

pa-stream

PA stream Google

 The little stream, for some reason of geography, unknown to me, has a considerable amount of clay along the slow-moving stream bounded by its meadow stream bank. We each took a plastic bag with us, gently gathering about seven pounds each of the raw clay.

The clay has a considerable amount of organic, and inorganic material which we did our best to clean out.  Louise made a small clay pinch pot which had now dried, ready to be fired in the small kiln given us by her grandmother Sutherland. I was very interested, truly excited a little about this experiment in an ancient craft.

Back to the future, the future of Mustang technology.

67 Mustang convertible

67 Mustang convertible – Google image

The upgrading and updating of the worn and tired vehicle progress quite well. I had some transmission repairs completed; seals, new fluid and band adjustments.  That accomplished, I ordered the rear springs re-sprung.  The old girl was sagging in her butt, as it were.  Now back to factory specs. No sag left. Regretfully, not so simple with humans.

Future goals for future months include: In April, body work to smooth a crease and repair that plague of the east, body cancer.  In May a new paint job reflecting Marge’s advice in the car.

1967 Blue Mustang

1967 Blue Mustang – much like ours except for the wheels – Google

 It will be beautiful when complete.As of the present, the now, the interior is pretty decent, it starts readily and, following a complete tune-up, runs well for a car of 75,000 miles. The planned trip to Cornwall should give us a sound base of its productive gas mileage and oil consumption. This done, completed, finished and analyzed will help us estimate the life left in the once tired old lady with the ugly green complexion.

Marge loves the car as it has power everything, and her voice determined its color and exterior ornamentation.  It will be great, her own car as she so wishes.  The early Mustangs are admired, particularly those in good shape.   It may even appreciate in value, though this is not our goal.  Wouldn’t hurt though, would it?

The Moravian Church we attend sponsored a square dance recently. They were very popular in my youth in Dannemora, NY.  Marge, Ingrid and I went to this dance. The caller took the time to explain the steps and assumed we knew nothing, no doubt true about square dancing. We got into the swing of this dance style and had a very enjoyable time of it.  Pleasant old village entertainments.

So much for fun and games, now for the tough stuff of life.  Salary review at PP&L was one of reduced raises compared to the last year.  Disappointed; sure we were, but at least we still had a job in the troubled times then. In Bethlehem, the steel company had salary reductions.  Doubtlessly there were layoffs in other industries, even engineers, and professional people.  The oil shocks of the 70’s hit all of us very hard.  The economy had gone south, per the saying, and we had to adjust.  Some of the businesses actually did move south to obtain workers who would settle for less than in PA.

We are pretty healthy, can’t really buy that.  I had the flu again with headaches and stiffness on all my upper body.This did improve with time though, thank whomever you wish for that.  Ingrid wears only retainers now, not the brace devices so, of course, she is pleased with that.

The interior of the house needs painting.  I did paint the dining room when we got new furniture, but no more than that.  I really hate painting, it is both boring and exacting simultaneously.  More than that, I hate the thought of paying anybody to paint and do not have to rely on anyone, feeling I can do anything by myself.  Self-delusion of course, but I felt that way.

What is a house, what is a home?  The notorious madam Polly Adler,  of years past wrote a book “A house is not a home” Her reference was to her bordello but I believe the saying goes beyond that meaning. I have lived in Las Vegas almost 40 years, yet do not consider it home, just a place of residence. The house that came closest to being a home was the PA one, Beverley Hills.

  Yes very homelike, but company politics and economics called for a change. We moved to Vegas.  So, I am not houseless, but, possibly homeless.  Possibly. There is a German phrase which, approximately translated, is  “home is where the heart lies” home is a feeling, a psychological state, perhaps a religious one, but is internal, neither brick nor mortar. Understanding that, I do feel that PA could have been home, not necessarily though.

Enough for now. Where does your heart lie?   Think about that.

 

Posted in 1970-1980, Coopersburg PA, Pennsylvania | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Presidents Day ’76

 February brought winter weather, flu, car concerns, health, radio code course, and more…

Washington's birthday

Washington’s Birthday

Remember when we celebrated Washington’s birthday?

Per Wikipedia on this: Washington’s Birthday is a United States Federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born on February 22, 1732. It can occur on the 15th through the 21st of February inclusive.

President's day?

President’s Day?

Colloquially, the day is also now widely known as Presidents’ Day and is often an occasion to remember all the presidents, not just George Washington. Lincoln’s birthday was never a federal holiday, though treated as a holiday by many states. Confusing eh?

We now in 2017 have M. L. King Day showering acclimation and accolades to the memory of a fallen leader of the civil rights movement. All 50 states finally accepted the holiday in 2000.  MLK was a powerful orator and leader.  Had he not been assassinated, eliminated from the battle and fray, the conflict and clash of racial differences would he be solemnized by a Federal National holiday?  Had he aged gracefully, led a full life and died, as most of us do, from the infirmities of old age, would we still have a  day of observance, festival, and fête?  At any rate, a day off in January, perhaps that is the answer.

Las Vegas had, probably still has, some racial biases.  The last major race riot was in 1992, the year before I retired.  African/American performers were welcome on the stage, not in the casinos.  Personally, I think this was, to a significant extent, motivated by concerns for business.  Whatever the law was, many tourists did not believe in racial mixing and may have gone elsewhere to avoid it. Not good for business. Times change slowly and attitudes change.  I do know that the removal of the name of our founding president angered many in Nevada.  Eventually, MLK day was accepted by the state and the Power company, though there was grudging acceptance three decades ago as well as of the commonplace term, Presidents Day.  All these factoids of data are somewhat related to the month.  I have no background in sociology or racial issues to comment on, not my field.

As for me,  I would have welcomed a day off from shoveling snow would.  The 1976 snow came and stayed, like a guest overstaying his/her welcome.  It has been colder than usual and we look forward to spring.  Personally, I had a relapse from the flu, yet again. Not too bad though.  I qualified, as a manager, for an executive physical which is very thorough and I advantaged myself of this benefit. This was a two-day session at a clinic in Bethlehem and I passed with an A+. A few very minor concerns, not to worry about, and I was pleased to have this detailed report.

Marge, on the other side of the health ledger, is slowly recovering and we have gone to church a few times. She tires easily, though with some caution, gets through the day fairly well.  Last month, we did go to dinner at a nice restaurant to celebrate her birthday in December.  Although a month late, the evening was pleasant, pleasurable, and, delightful.

This month was, for us, one of much automotive activity.  I had the 1970-ford-wagonFord wagon painted and discovered that, yes still more problems; the accident blew out the plumbing in the air shocks. Of course, that was set aright and, oh yes, the body shop forgot to re-install the extra transmission cooler we had originally installed to handle the load from towing the trailer.  Isn’t this exciting?  Well no, but necessary and the body shop gladly remedied their oversight. Now, I truly believe, all the damage from the accident is repaired. Ready to roll again.

I am pleased and proud to announce the addition to our automotive fleet of a more or less, gently used 1967 Mustang convertible. I had a company car, we had the Ford wagon for various uses, and the IH Scout was Marge’s.  1970-scoutIn reality, this was a small truck with a right hand drive, as we bought used from the Post Office.  The weather let up a bit, I cleaned the truck up best as I could and put a for sale sign on it.  This I placed significantly and strategically next to our mailbox.  Sure enough, the mailman took the bait and we settled on a price $200 less than I paid 2 years ago.  Seemed fair, as it suited him, and really did not work for us.

And so, Out out brief Scout, to borrow from Shakespeare.  Onward to the Mustang.  I have digressed.

67 Mustang convertible

67 Mustang convertible

 The Mustang was owned by an engineer in my department and we settled on a fair price for it.  It was sound mechanically, but the body had some scratches and little dings. The paint was the ugly pea-soup green that Ford once uses. This image if from a google search and is the make, model, and color as the one we bought.    I don’t think our car had ever seen polish. Otherwise, in other respects, the car had power everything, just right for Marge and I promised to fix it up according to her wants and wishes.

Why not get a new car, we could afford it?  I, and I believe, yes I do that Marge and I were brought up in the old school, end of depression and beginning of WWII.  Then one often went without new stuff, as none was available, rationed, and fixed up whenever possible.  this quasi-minimalist mind set is still with me. Why send objects to the dump if they can still be made serviceable?  It is behavior I do not believe in.  Neither do I believe in going into debt to “keep up with the Jones’s.” Advertising means little to me other than the means of sustaining a decent standard of living.  I used to do income taxes as a retirement pastime/hobby.  Living on, or past the edge of poverty due to conspicuous consumption was not uncommon.

Also, I enjoyed making things, and if not acquiring the knowledge to get repairs done properly at the right price to all concerned. The Mustang fit into this category.  Pleasurable, yes seeing it turn into exactly what Marge and I both wanted for a car that suited her.  Not off the shelf.

These additions, deletions, coverage claims, etc. were calmly, politely, and very satisfactorily dealt with by our insurance company.  I have, had then, the same insurer that I had for my first car.  AMICA, great company, no regrets.

I like, and liked learning for its own sake.  In 1976 I was taking an amateur radio code course and using up the last of my VA school benefits on a correspondence radio/TV course.  Obsolete knowledge in 2017, but the satisfaction of mastering the technology of the time (1976) remains with me.

Beckoning all of us, over the calendar of time, is VACATION!!! Our Easter goal will be Virginia. First to Charlottesville, then to historic Williamsburg, ending in Jamestown, historical also, finally back home in Pennsylvania.  President’s Day offers the opportunity for a long weekend.  Marge’s health permitting we will do some local traveling.

These drips and drops of remembrances, do they have any meaning? I think, and yes hope, that they are a verbal window into everyday mid-American values, aspirations, and inspirations of 40 years ago.  The fabric of then mid-decade suburban life.

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November News – 1975

November 1975: Good news, bad news; Thanksgiving, car crash, music, Illness & health, Avengers.  You name it, we experienced it.

It was a dark and stormy month, so are they all, all Allentown Novembers. That’s trite and extreme, but at least gray, overcast, and wet.  This might be an excessive remark, but Novembers in Allentown and area were often just that.  Better than snow storms?  I guess so, just suck it up as everyone else did.

Do you remember the British series, “The Avengers?” It ran during the 60s and starred Patrick Mcnee and Diana Rigg. Mcnee played the starring role as Mr. Steed, as I recall. Diana played his frequent companion, Emma Peel.    His attire was a three-piece suit, umbrella, and bowler hat. Here’s some pics from Google Images.

Mr. Steed of the Avengers

Mr. Steed of the Avengers

Three-piece suits were the uniform for managers, and of course, I wore them, I think I looked good in a vest. The rain was almost always a constant threat so I carried a furled umbrella as a matter of course.  Being follicular challenged, I wore a hat also, to keep dry, and warmer, at least somewhat. Sometimes in fantasy, I wonder if I could morph into the Mr. Steed role.  Probably not, as my only acting experience was high school plays, though I enjoyed that.

Marge started college stating her preference as acting.  This lasted only one semester as she did not like the major when she got into a course or two.  Who knows what you want to learn as an entering freshman? Continue reading

Posted in 1970-1980, Allentown, Coopersburg PA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

September Song -1975

Do you remember this oldie, the “September Song?”

Read more: Frank Sinatra – September Song Lyrics | MetroLyrics second stanza goes like this:

“September, November
And these few precious days I’ll spend with you
These precious days I’ll spend with you”

Particularly in 2017 at age 80, all days are precious to me, so here goes spending distant, precious days with you;  remote September days, via this post.

August was very hot, humid, very unusual, ha-ha! of course, since that is the norm here, much different from the Vestal, NY area where we came from.

Front view of house and foliage

Front view of Vestal, NY house, and foliage

Our house here features cherished,  central air conditioning; walking out the door feels almost like stumbling into a wall.  This too comes to an end and how I value not having to sit out on the stoop of a row house for some, more or less, fresh air. This is not uncommon for many in the triple cities area and Philadelphia, even closer to the ocean.

We went on our monthly trailer camping trip with the club to which we belong. These monthly trips are at area locations with campsites.  100 degrees and sticky, sweaty, humid air.  Of course, no  A/C on our trailer, so we rough it.  I had difficulty in parking the trailer and punched a small hole in the side. When home I patched it with fiberglass and did my best matching the paint.  Too bad, reduces resale value, but, oh, well, all part of the hobby.

Marge’s sister Pat, divorced now, is moving to Syracuse to restart her life and get a new degree at Syracuse University.  Marge drove up and picked up her children, giving her time to get pack up and get the Penn Yan house ready to sell.  I left in the middle of the week both to help with the packing and helping with the real move.  Pat hired movers to take the large items and she and I  finished packing smaller items, renting a mid-sized U-Haul truck and traveling to Syracuse.

pontiac-station-wagon

Pontiac Station wagon

She drove her well-traveled Pontiac Station wagon and I drove the truck.  It had power nothing – no A/C, power steering, brakes, or auto transmission.  A bit of a challenge, but actually I did enjoy that part, brought back old skills.

We did get the truck to Syracuse, unloaded the boxes, and collapsed from exhaustion. Not really, but the work tired us.  We got something to eat which helped. The Pontiac made the journey, but then, once there, would not restart.  Changing a starter is not brain science, but to do it safely one should have a car jack and jack stands to safely hold the car up while changing out the old for a new starter. We had neither parts nor tools.  So we decided not to try this, as time was running out; our priority was finishing the move.  I believe she had AAA or some similar service come and change the starter. So, tritely phrased, “all’s well that ends well.”  Pat had two air mattresses which we used to sleep on, though, as I think back, I believe hers had a leak and she ended up on the floor.

u-haul-truck

U-Haul truck

I returned the U-Haul, picked up my car and drove to Coopersburg. Marge drove to Syracuse with her nieces and nephew.  The totality, to a great extent, was much activity for all, having driven back and forth several times. Family and a sense of unity were important to us all and we succeeded.

“Woodsman, Woodsman, spare that tree” Ecologically sound; however, any electric power company must trim the branches from those trees.  These are then ground into wood chips so I asked for some of these chips from the trimming supervisor as part of my home improvement projects. Previously, I planted shrubs in the front, allowing sufficient space for future growth.  Alas, the grass filled in the spaces, which I covered with plenty of the wood chip mulch.  Good use for a waste product, as well as looking better already, and promoting future shrub growth.  I enjoy completing hands-on projects such as this.  I enjoy a sense of having some skills besides engineering and management, therefore showing to myself, perhaps others, that I am more than a desk jockey person.

I tripped, not the light fantastic, but a heavy Boeing passenger plane headed to Los Angeles to visit Southern California Edison.  I,  one of my engineers, and a field supervisor went to observe their construction methods.  We came back with many good ideas and the journey was productive.

California having been reached, and business satisfactorily finished, what next; possibly, perchance, with some trials and tribulations a visit to the village of St. Francis, a.k.a. San Francisco.  But no, I head to Sacramento where my Father-in-law, Col. Sutherland picks me up for a short trip to Vacaville (cow town). He and his wife Margaret own a home in an age restricted development there. I have always admired the Col. and looked forward to meeting him again.  Fortuitously, just by coincidence, my other sister-in-law Anne ( on Marge’s side) and her husband Lee were also there.  I don’t get to see them very often, so this was a mini-reunion, entirely unplanned and unexpected.  It was a pleasant ending to my journey across the country.

August ended with some wonderful weather, following a rainy Friday.  This was an opportunity not to be missed, spending time outdoors in gorgeous weather and adding more mulch to the shrubs in the front yard.  Both girls are in school now in September, Ingrid is the editor of the eighth-grade yearbook, and both Louise and Ingrid are taking piano lessons again. Marge and Louise are fighting off colds, and, fingers crossed, I have managed to avoid this. Marge volunteers at our small local library and socializes with her friends in the area.

Summer ends on a fine note, in this review of our activities,  rather unsophisticated, though our lifestyle suits us, we have activities we can all participate in, we enjoy our home, our family, (immediate and extended), our friends, and the Moravian Church we have been attending.

So, as I have recalled the cool cares and pleasant pleasures of a perhaps, insipid suburban life,  I think it is appropriate to end with a few stanzas of a song. The style, now dated in  2017, suits the text, so farewell with some more help from Frank Sinatra:

“The falling leaves

Drift by the window

The autumn leaves

Of red and gold

Since you went away

The days grow long

And soon I’ll hear

Old winter’s song

But I miss you most of all

My darling
When autumn leaves

Start to fall”

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May the 4th (of July 75) be with you!

The home of the brave… in??? of course, now I remember,  the land of the free, in our case Northeastern PA. I hope, and of course sincerely wish, that your July 4th was one of nostalgic remembrance of our national struggles, in the past, in the present, probably in the future; which of course, we shall overcome, or did someone else use that? No matter, I think he stole it from an old Southern song.The point of this, if it is such, I enjoyed one day off, did remember why, and hope you did the same, or even better.

What did we do on that memorable day in our national calendar, somber reflection, watch a village parade, or add a day to our vacation time?  Knowing us, as I am sure you do by now, your razor-sharp perception quickly honed in on the correct answer, we took a day of vacation in addition to my week off, due me as an employee benefit.

 That being said, we could have visited many of the artifacts from the beginning of our country now residing in Philadelphia, but we didn’t, perhaps on some more propitious occasion.  But no, we migrated to that land of sea and shore, to say nothing of the boardwalk, which is, of course, Ocean City, New Jersey.

Our choice of place and time was close to being great, but not, unfortunately in our case; we stiffened our upper lip, accepted the finality and infidelity of weather, and dealt with a cold and windy day.  Fortunately, it was not a dark and stormy night,  I just had to say that. Forgive my addiction to clichés, it is a weakness I admit. Our last day at the campsite bombarded us with rain in the morning; however the God of weather gave us an armistice in the afternoon and the clouds left us, at least partly.  Old Sol did favor us most of the week and we did soak up some rays on the beach.

This year, we departed from our traditional norm and stayed at a different trailer campsite. Our site was impossible, perhaps even impregnable to set our trailer into. Fortunately, our situation was not unique.

Aristocrat - 2

Aristocrat Trailer

 The owner, the stout chap that he was; owned a backhoe with a trailer hitch mounted in the front of the vehicle. With this configuration, spotting our trailer was child’s play, assuming one with an adequate training in the use of this vehicle, to set us on our site upon our arrival and out as we departed the sunny shores and tempting boardwalk of Ocean City for our journey to home sweet home, a.k.a. Coopersburg.

How is your German today?  If so, here is  a couplet for you; “Regnen Tropften, auf mein fenstern cloptfen.” or in English “Raindrops dropping on my window.” That they did, however, the rainbow, if you looked for it in a symbolic sense was, with time at my disposal, and being restless caused by the inclement weather, decided to fix, repair, and improve our trailer anticipating another trip in late August.

While in NJ, we took a side trip and visited the Somers Pt. Atlantic County Historical Society.  We enjoy little outings such as this with some personal surprises for me at this one. We were talking with the volunteer who was showing us around, finding that she was of Swedish ancestry as am I.  More than that, she had visited Bornholm Island, Denmark, the home of my Danish ancestors, and she thought very highly of it. Her companion in the museum was also of Nordic descent, sort of old home week. We learned that many of the residents in this area are also of Scandinavian descent.  Small world indeed.

The forthcoming trip at the end of the next month will be a joint venture in traveling, this time with friends of Marge, whom I had never met. Upon our return to normal life in Coopersburg, we were very angered to find obscenities scrawled on our driveway. This nasty greeting was perpetrated before, last time done in paint.

 

Beverley Hills Pa House in 2016 - 2

Beverly Hills Road home

 

Our neighbor, who was a slum landlord in Allentown has children somewhat older than ours, and teenage boys often gather there. Naturally, I suspect one or more of these delinquents as the desecrators of our drive, but alas, can prove nothing. White Trash all in my opinion and, naturally, I reported the latest incident to our one local police officer, also notifying him of the dates of our next absence, not that I believe this will do much good, just stating something for the record; at least I hope this is duly documented in writing. We had no further incidents, so perhaps the local police had a little talk with the likely offenders.

Margery as our head (and only) cook and menu planner, has for some time now, wanted to buy a home freezer to aid her in having more diversity in her familial role. Of course, I want to please her but did wonder about the additional cost of purchasing a freezer and the added electricity it would need to run. We have been partners in our life together for about 15 years and to tell the truth, I should be more responsive to reasonable requests; so we bought our first freezer.  I believe that my concern for cost as a first priority is a value I picked up from Dad.  It isn’t a bad value at all, but in a marriage, sharing is more important and I can improve in this dimension of our life together.

Summer will soon be ending, and with it, more fresh fruits and vegetables;  I am certain that Marge can use the freezer to take advantage of this summer seasonality. All of us enjoy eating beef, Western beef of course, as that is popular in the East, and vice versa for reasons unknown to me. With the freezer, we can buy larger quarters of beef, maybe even a small half.  Costly? Sure at the butcher shop, but worth the cost with the variety of cuts readily available and already paid for.  Marge had a good idea, I am glad we got this freezer.  It lasted at least 30 years though it was not self-defrosting, which was messy and a lot of trouble particularly as we aged.  We bought a new one, and the Power Company took the old one away for recycling and gave us a check for $50.

After Marge died, I kept the freezer for a while, but it no longer made sense since I cook very simply, and having a freezer was only a temptation to stock up on food that would be frozen much too long to taste good.  It is now gone to freezer heaven via the Power Company, and I do fine with the one that is part of my refrigerator.

After we married, I signed up for a woodworking class in Syracuse.  It was poorly equipped and poorly taught. As I mentioned before, I signed up for an excellent course in Allentown and enjoyed working with wood until we moved to the present house, where there is no room for my tools, though now I have a lot of time.  But, back to July past; I refinished some of our wooden chairs and they look really fine.

Suburban living in a brick ranch-style house suited us, though the 1/2 acre lot required lawn mowing in the summer and the rain this month stimulates growth, but inhibits mowing. So, I could not make hay while the sun shone, as the proverb goes, but I did cut grass in the sun when available. In the photo above of the house and present owner, you can sense the uneven character of the lawn. Were it not for the downturn in the economy, and my perception of being in a dead-end job, I would like to live there still.  At this stage in life,  I would have to rely on help to mow grass in the warm weather and remove snow in winter; so with that perspective, the move to Las Vegas was a good decision.

Louise enjoyed an extended birthday this year. birthday-greetingIt was so extended that it crossed the border into New Jersey.  Marge and I, and Ingrid brought some presents to present to her on her actual birthday.  We also went out for birthday dinner at a nice restaurant in Ocean City. Upon our arrival home, she did have some presents waiting for her from family members.  Louise had a small party with some of her school friends later in the week which completed her birthday for this year.

The oil shock of last year has slowed the economy in our area, as it has in most of the country; resulting in much reductions in new customers for PP&L.  Attrition is now the word of the day, no new positions, and no replacements for retirements, death, etc. The only good news is that there have been no layoffs and/or forced retirements.

Another month gone by, not exceptional but pleasant.  Our children are growing and learning, we shared vacation time together, bought a new major appliance and continued to enjoy our life in Pennsylvania.

P.S. Above images from Google Images

 

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May Memories – 1975,Holiday, Wallenpaupack, Trailering Home improvements

Have you ever been to Lake Wallenpaupack?

Wallenpaupack map

Wallenpaupack map

 No, well we went there for a weekend.  My then employer, PP&L, then had a hydro plant on the lake and several acres of land with a rustic conference room and rustic cabins.  I was conducting a meeting in the conference center and arranged a weekend retreat for our family. The time was the first of May and when I awoke, the cabin was cold

wallenpaupack cabin

Wallenpaupack cabin

enough to justify a fire in our fireplace, which I accomplished quite briskly. That accomplished, the rain came.  Not unusual for this time of year, but still…….We did make a pre-Memorial day visit to Hancock visiting the cemetery where Marge’s family is interred.  Our time there will come later.nichols-lot

May is typically warm and rainy.  When we married in May, we had some rain every day, but that was years before.The lawn is growing well, responding to the fertilizer I put on as soon as the snow melted.

Beverley Hills Home

Beverley Hills Home

Last years shrubs have survived, as have the ivy, so the lawn is in good condition.

In June, we replaced the kitchen sink.  The original was merely an enameled sink which had chipped somewhat.  No doubt the builder bought the cheapest sink that could be installed.

red-sink

Kohler Red Sink

 

The new sink is a Kohler red cast iron sink which we chose when we remodeled our first home in Vestal.  Marge’s favorite.

 

Memorial Day changed this year and we took a trip to Plattsburgh to visit Mom and Dad.  The drive is 400 miles each way, so this made for much driving in a short time. We took our trailer and stayed at a campsite in Plattsburgh.  The water pressure was erratic, and the water was definitely sulfurous in taste,  not so good regarding that. The location was good and we didn’t plan on spending much time in the trailer, it was livable.

Surprise, Surprise, we had some auto trouble as twice the starter didn’t disengage from the engine. Hmmm, what caused that?? When we carefully got back home, one of the diodes in the alternator failed, running the battery down, but was quickly repaired.

The trailer did double duty as a truck coming back home.  We had previously ordered 6 dining room chairs from a one-man furniture shop a few miles south of Plattsburg.  These are constructed from Butternut wood, a common tree in the area. It was somewhat cramped inside, but we saved many $ in expenses.  The man’s prices have not changed in ten years, amazing.  I guess he is more a craftsman than a businessman.  The chairs, as well as the antique oak dining table I refinished, are still doing duty with my daughter in San Diego.

The middle school musical program was held the end of June and Ingrid did the piano accompaniment for three of the chorale pieces.  One selection was “Jesu joy of man’s desiring” by J. S. Bach.  the other pieces, not classical but still of equal technical difficulty. Ingrid did very well, we are proud of her.  the entire group did well, more professional than any similar program we have heard.  A small school district serving the needs of the suburban professionals is no doubt superior in many ways to bloated all-purpose urban districts.

We are very glad that the school has a teaching staff which can bring out the artistic as well as academic ability. This was followed up with an abbreviated program held in a local Moravian Church.  Ingrid sang a vocal solo for this, a piece that was done yesterday by another girl.

Many things accomplished as we segue into the summer season. It has been a good month for us all.

Posted in 1970-1980, Pennsylvania | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

April Fools – 1975

So Vacations over. It was enjoyable, more detail later.  I feel dragged out, hope I am not getting old, maybe just a bit of a cold. As usual, we take advantage of school spring break to go south, get a head start on Spring. This time to Florida.

We broke the trip into about thirds, only driving about 400 miles a day which is not too difficult.  As usual, minor problems, a water hose broke, the alternator belt was ragged and we replaced it. I noticed the hose problem at a rest stop, fortunately.  I got a piece of hose form another fellow trailer traveller and it held until I could get a Ford version.

When we reached Orlando the temps were around 90.

 Big change from PA. We went to Disney World, Cypress Gardens, and Weeki Watchie Springs to watch the merpersons swim underwater. Lucky manatee!!

How middle American at best! Contrived and artificial? Yes, but part of our great country nonetheless. Not trekking Tibet, but something we can all enjoy together.  Funny thing happened at Disney World.  We were all walking around taking in the sights and rides and we ran into another manager and his family from PP&L. He and I chatted a bit about what an attraction this was, then on our separate way.  Marge said something to me (not quietly) like “Everywhere we go, we run into some buddy of yours!!!” This did happen from time to time, I think it was just a joke of hers.  Hope so!!!!

Then on to St. Augustine for a few days. We went to Marineland to see the show and exhibits. We went thru the fort at St. Augustine and some smaller forts in the areas.

 I like visiting historical sites, not so sure about the girls. There were some teen age archeologists doing some actual restoration work. I think this counts as being educational   as we kept the girls from school for a few days. Good for the young scientists, I hope some become pros.Who knows? The images above are from Google Images. They are however, sights that I remember when on the trip, personal images on the Internet. We didn’t take a camera with us.

Did the sun burn? Of course and I did get some sunburn. I never learn. We were only a few minutes from the Ocean and that was convenient.  We did have reservations which was good as No Vacancy signs abounded. We were almost in Disney World, right on the beach later.  Though the warm weather was quite pleasant, Florida did not impress me, too flat and scrubby.  Of course the Ocean is excellent.

We left On Wednesday in a fog. Great!!!!! This turned to rain in a while and we got in a traffic jam about 1.5 miles long.  A semi had run into a station wagon killing all occupants. Very sad so who are we to complain?  Eventually in the general area of Atlanta, we found a KOA campground and a level spot. This was excellent as it was getting dark and setting up was easy. Then cold and windy as we started next day to Hendersonville, NC to visit Marge’s aunt and uncle. Smokey Mountain and Blue Ridge country.  Really great people.  We all had a fine lunch at his club.

I was born and raised in upstate NY but western NC has beautiful scenery, four seasons a year but not harsh winters. I could get used to that easily I think. The wind was really gaining speed and this is not good for trailering, Aristocrat - 3driving is difficult and sometimes dangerous, so we stayed another day. Weather let up the next day so we left and continued north. Going through Maryland, we saw one upturned travel trailer and a modular home unit completely turned over on the shoulder of the road.  Wise decision to wait a day. We hope nobody got hurt, at least badly.

We got back OK about 6 pm on Sunday. Talk about tired! There is a place not far from us that specializes in take-out Chinese food. We drove down, parked the trailer, turned on the furnace and had a decent meal without having to make a dinner when we were all tired from the trip. Not too classy, but very practical.

If I ever get another trailer to replace the Aristocrat, I am going to get one where the beds can be just that, not do double duty but that is not a big deal, we will see as time moves along.

It was a very nice vacation and we were glad we went.  We drove about 3300 miles in 15 days and I , for one, think I am not alone, now glad to stay put for a bit. More leisure would have been nice, but I had to go to work again, we took the girls out of school for a few extra days, so more time off was not practical. We’ll  go some place again, not so far away soon.

Posted in Coopersburg PA, Relationships, Summer vacations | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

March 1975, Health, Teen Age, Music, Spring

More memories from the past to share.  I rejoice having these letters and notes to refresh my mind.  March brought signs of spring.  I look forward, as usual, to our spring vacation. I had the car serviced for troubles I was aware of, and some items they found so I feel safe and OK there.  I went to the trailer show and didn’t see anything I really liked more than ours, though I hope to have bunk windows put in the rear. They should have been built in when designed as there is no ventilation and gets hot up there.  I want Louise, who sleeps there to be comfortable.

As always, our health is a concern of mine.  Not that we are unhealthy, but I want to do all I can to be sure we are all well.  Louise did have a second bout with the flu, but got over it. I was a bit tired last week and had a severe headache, so had the sense to leave  work early and now feel OK.

Our daughter Ingrid is 13, she is officially a teen-ager and another life transition takes place.  On Saturday after her birthday greetings, she and Marge went shopping as a mild celebration and we all went out to dinner at a local restaurant we like to patronize.  Her school was sponsoring a showing of the movie “1766” so we went to see that after dinner. 1776-posterWe had seen it before and we liked it and it was worth seeing again  Unfortunately, there weren’t too many people there. We hope that the student council, the sponsors, made at  least some money putting it on.

For me, guitar lessons are coming along well.

ga3-12string

12 string guitar

 The music store across from my Allentown office had a sale and I bought a 12 string guitar at a reduced sale price.  It seemed a good deal, and the 12 string has a richer tone, though a bit more difficult to master playing.

The guitar course is 8 weeks long and will soon be over.  They have an advanced course following this one, so I believe I will enroll in it.  I do enjoy music in any form and really enjoy the guitar.  I hope to improve both my understanding and technique.

I am getting to the end of refinishing the chairs I mentioned earlier.  I do like working with wood in many ways. I did have trouble with an earlier chair as the cellar is cold and I put on a second coat too soon to dry properly. The brush dragged and the end result was uneven.  I do believe that with considerable sanding and waxing it will look OK. Live and learn they say.  I learned that I will allow more time for the others to properly dry.  No big deal at all.

We had what is called an “onion snow” that lasted about a week and now has melted. For the uninitiated, that is a bit of snow coming after the onion sets are planted. Next we expect the considerable rain showers that are typical for this time of year.

March is a slow month.  It is too early to do Spring activities and we are tired of winter. Still, winter is not as severe as it was when we lived further north.orient-express We did see the film “Orient Express” with  Albert Finney and did enjoy that.  The quality of many movies, in my opinion is questionable, but this one was good.

So, little pleasures and little problems.  All part of the  rich fabric of life.  We move along, accept what comes and see what we can make of it for our needs and our pleasures.  That’s it for now.

 

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Feb. 1975, Flu, Florida, Family, Guitar, Electronics, Furniture

Lucky us, February has come and it’s been a mild winter. Some snow, but now melted and gone.  How about that! Keep it up, as OK with me.

I opened the door, and in flew Enza.  Heard that old one? Well it’s here and I’ve been sick about a week, but OK now, I stayed home, that’s what sick days are for, to get better and not spread the bad news around.  The company has a benighted culture of middle managers making a big deal about workers who never took sick time.  No doubt, potentially abused, not much I think.

The girls? Well they had colds, not too bad, didn’t want to stay home so off they went. At work everyone in my office was ill with symptoms some time in the last month or so. No snow, lots of sneezes.

We are going to sunny Florida next month.  We wanted to take the trailer to Disney World but we waited too long, all booked, so maybe another spring. We did go to Florida, Orlando and St. Augustine in particular and enjoyed some beach time. Impossible in Pennsylvania this time of year.

We hope to go to Hendersonville, NC  to visit Marge’s aunt and uncle there.  Sure, a couple hundred miles out of the direct route but family is important to us and the country is beautiful there.

I did some minor repair on our trailer, doors sticking but a few hours work and fine now, good as new actually. To me anyway.

I missed our first group guitar lesson, but Marge filled me in and I made the second one. We enjoy this, and when possible even practice a bit. We both have some musical background so not too hard for an entry course.  In fact, for me, I have looked around for a better quality guitar. Maybe. there’s a lot of potential here from simple bass/chord strumming to some very elaborate technique. Also, a lot easier to carry around than a piano.

I still have some remaining benefits from the VA. They finally did authorize them for my service when the National Guard was activated in 1961 and I went on  active duty.  I have always had an interest in electronics, so signed up for a mail order course in radio/TV repair. This’ll be a fine experience in both construction and repair at little cost to me, if any.

About ten years ago, we bought some furniture from a little one man shop in upstate NY. I think the wood is butternut. This is a species of walnut native to eastern US and southeast Canada. The nut makes a great cake too.  I am having the chairs stripped and will refinish them to match the table I refinished last year. Our kitchen chairs are on their last legs, wobbly ones at that. So we know where to go for new ones, the butternut man. We have a catalog, prices the same as 1967. What a bargain!!

The girls glazed some items in ceramics class and we fired them at home, after I fixed the plug on the kiln. Somewhat variable results as the temp control is not exactly correct. Still kind of fun though, making things with your hands, seeing them through to completion.

The not so good, to us, completion is the increasing development of our area. Individual homes, not look-alike tract homes at least. So, no more tossing yard waste next door but I have done all the planting that I want. Progress, sure in a way, but I’m not too happy and will watch carefully for possible encroachments, problems like that.

 

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Jan 1975, national economy, holidays, travel plans, new and old hobbies

A new year is upon us.  Unfortunately it doesn’t seem  better than last year. For us as a family the situation appears OK. Nationally is a different matter. One month we hear of a tax surcharge, than a tax rebate. Forecasting, especially economic forecasting is difficult, particularly about the future.

Our short-term house guest, Claudia has a job, or so I heard.  I did what I could, sheltered her for a few weeks and do not want to become involved to a further degree. If others do, fine, but it is no longer an immediate concern of mine. She might benefit from some relationship counselling but I am not going to propose this, as no doubt, then I would be involved.

Marge 1978

Marge 1978

Marge about 1982

Marge about 1982

I didn’t take any vacation at Christmas and we stayed home for the holiday.  There was a radio station in Wilmington Delaware that played Christmas music all day, uninterrupted and we used to have that as background through the home intercom.  Quite nice really. Neither did we go anywhere for New Year’s celebration.  One practical reason was that Marge was dieting again and pigging out for the holidays would be self-defeating.  Marge’s birthday was Dec. 29 and she is now 44.  I thought she still looked very appealing then, though having two children and 44 years did give her a slightly middle-aged look.  This was a personal image thing for her, so I was as supportive as I knew how, with my limited awareness. She really looked great and I was too dumb to tell her so. I regret this lack of my perception to this day.  I was a better father than a husband.

To me, the New Year celebrations have a barbaric undertone.  You know, The survival of the sun again over darkness, eating and drinking and, well… you know.  I think the Romans called this Saturnalia.  I don’t object to eating, drinking, and romancing, and I guess New Year’s Day is as good a way to enjoy all these all too human habits. Why not more often?

The weather outside is not frightful, as the song goes, but quite mild. A bit of snow lasting a day or so and then gone.  Not at all like Syracuse.

Disney World - Orlando

Disney World

 We made reservations to visit Disney World at Easter, travelling in our trailer.  It is up on blocks now, winterized and does seem in good shape for a trip South.  We all look forward to this.

kiln

Pottery kiln

Some years past, we acquired Marge’s mother’s pottery material and the girls were very interested for a while. I had trouble with the cord on the kiln burning out so I calculated the load and the current was 1.5 times the cord rating.  My next task on this is assembling a heavier cord and switching system.  WE do NOT want to risk a fire and the new assembly should remove the hazard from the kiln.

Marge and I are going to take lessons in folk guitar in a group training program, I think it was the YMCA, but not certain as I write.

beginners guitar

beginners guitar

 We are going to take the same class together and we expect this as educational and pleasant, since Marge does like to sing basic church songs and I enjoy music generally.

When we bought our house the area surrounding was not developed.  Of course that would not last for too long and we had some controversy with the developer about the lot lines.  I confronted him with out plot pins and our survey of the lot.  I called our surveyor who is still in business and he told me that he personally would back me up if necessary. With this information, the developer’s engineer agreed to accept our survey and plot plan.  We are watching the work carefully, as we have had similar trouble with the developer in the past.

A good month, we said goodbye to the last year and look forward to the present.  

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Mid Dec. ’74, New Home, Christmas, PP&L, Economy, Heathkit,

PROLOGUE: Louise visited PA in the fall and took some photos of the house we bought there in 1970.  She shared them with me, and I am including a gallery of those pictures, and early ones I have.

The man and his dog is the third owner/resident.  We bought the house in 1969 from the developer, sold it CASH to an older woman who wanted a single story house in 1981 and this man bought the house from her. For a house built almost 50 years ago, it has held up well. The foundation plantings are new, but I believe I planted the trees at the rear property line. The drive and front walk look as they did when I had them put in.  I am sure they were maintained different times over the years. The house has held up well and not decayed, I think of our family as its first curators of this house, and it has passed along with, I think, the same spirit.  If the local economy had not tanked in the late  1970 decade, I think I would still live there.  I liked the house and I think all of us did.

In December ’74 we began sending Christmas letters in lieu of cards.  I know Hallmark is disappointed but exchanging cards with people who sent us one did not really saw anything personal.  At one time, we did try linoleum block printing but that was quite time-consuming though somewhat creative.

One of the reasons we did not get around to card making was that we had a house guest for about 3 weeks.  We did not plan on this but through the home church movement that Marge belonged to she learned about this young woman who was having problems. Her name was Claudia, that’s all I remember. Claudia had found herself without a place to live and no money.  Marge wanted to help so she invited Claudia to stay with us until she got her act together. I don’t remember much about Claudia, though she smoked, and though I still did, not inside.  I do remember Claudia asked us to go bowling with her.  I had never bowled, but I took her to a nearby alley and did what I could to support. The stay was longer than we expected, but that month she did have a job offer.

We learned that she can get welfare help and won’t be totally penniless.  Also, another family who have internal problems of their own, agreed to let Claudia room with them. Claudia did have some behavioural issues, can’t remember what exactly now, and wrote nothing about them.  I did have some doubts, which I kept to myself, it was not my business and we did move her out of our home to the other family. I don’t know how that turned out, but we tried and I hope the situation resolved. We did what we could.

In Dec. ’74 we still did not have any snow, although the western part of the state had very much. PP&L did send some employees to aid West Penn Power as they did not have enough people to cope with all the snow problems, mostly downed overhead distribution.

Heathkit Logo

Heathkit Logo

Time is moving along and both my Heathkit stereo and my TV were not working properly so I took them to Heathkit in Philadelphia.

Heath Stereo

Heath Stereo

I can do basic trouble shooting, but I don’t have all the equipment to trouble-shoot.  At least I built them by myself.

Louise and her wart parted company, though it did take 2 trips to the doctor. He used some form of acid patch to remove it, but the patch slipped and did not remove everything.  Now that is over. Health-wise we are in good shape. Ingrid was sick for a few days, but nothing serious.

Christmas is coming so we went and picked out our Xmas tree.  A local farmer owns a meadow with a gully in it that is not good for farming. Trees grow wild and we buy one for $4.  The farmer tags it for us and when we want it, will chainsaw it down.  a good deal for both of us. He clears out these trees to start clearing the gully, and we get a fresh tree at a low-cost.

As the year comes to a close the work situation at PP&L is uncertain. Gas prices are going up and companies are going out of business. The economy was hit hard by the first oil shock and the company may have to cut staff again if things do not improve. Fortunately I feel secure, but what will the future hold for me?

 

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Nov. ’74 – Home Improvements, Music, Teeth Bands and Braces, PP&L

I started the month more or less anticipating my birthday.  Getting perilously close to 40, a few years to go.

The living room is in pretty good shape at this time.  The new furniture arrived, and also a rug from Sears. Not too surprisingly, it  was the wrong rug and we refused to accept it and re-ordered. Much better now.  I refinished some old round tables we inherited from Marge’s mother and we bought two Ginger Lamps for them. They worked well together. The next step was to haul out all our pictures, paintings, needlework, etc. and arranged them in a way that made a pleasant effect.  We didn’t have much in what you would term as art, mostly family memorabilia, memories on the wall.

That done, we also purchased new lamps for the bedroom and placed the former living room rug there. The result pleased us. Earlier in the year I planted at the front foundation some holly, globe arborvitae, and forsythia. As you can see, the front was visually barren and called for some planting.

102 Beverley Hills

102 Beverley Hills

Even now I can recall when my pick got stuck under a rock and I pulled a ligament in my back.  Ouch for sure.  No permanent damage though.

In September I spread some fertilizer on my lawn and the yard turned greener than my neighbors.  Of course, even in November it required mowing  again as it was getting long and I didn’t want to leave it that way for the winter.

The girls got me some Scott Joplin records for my birthday and I did enjoy them.  Scott Joplin received a new awareness as result of ragtime being played in the movie “The Sting.” In the summer I bought a collection of ragtime sheet music and did my best to learn them.  I could play the notes about OK, but getting the beat and phrasing correct was a bit beyond me, compared to the records. I did what I could, and enjoyed the records as well as long as I didn’t compare my skills to the record artist.

We were all in decent health, though Louise soon will have a wart on her foot removed and Ingrid is wearing bands as well as braces on her teeth. She has some pain after the adjustment so we try to schedule appointments for Saturdays, so she won’t have discomfort at school.

The local economy is deteriorating, some plants and stores closing and PP&L had to lay off some people due to the slowdown. In a way, this was good news for my group.  We work on projects in construction management to improve effectiveness and cut costs. This, a matter of the ill wind not being all bad, at least for us.

We looked for a nice quiet Thanksgiving at home. I plan on carrying some vacation time over into 1975 and perhaps going to Florida for a few weeks, if all goes well. 

 

 

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July 1974- union strikes, major flood, trailer camping

Summer ’74 is definitely with us now, and for me an unusual experience, working as a helper on a line crew.  A line crew installs and maintains the wiring from the electrical distribution system to the last customer.  Was this due to a reversal of fortune, being downgraded from a manager to a “grunt?” No indeed and the story follows.

PP&L, my employer, was unionized though this was not part of a national union, instead it was what is commonly called a company union.  That is, the union membership is restricted to employees of PP&L.

PP&L office building

PP&L office building

 The contract was up and negations were going on between union and management.  The one sticking point was that the union insisted on having a cost of living adjustment added to the base wage.  This was anathema to management and neither side budged so there was the strike, first in the company’s history I believe.  Personally, I did not think the union was being unreasonable, but nobody asked me and I didn’t offer my opinion.  Zooming forward to 1980 when I joined Nevada Power, that company did have a company wide cost of living adjustment and this was nothing new.  

So, resulting from the strike, PP&L assigned management employes to jobs formerly done by  union workers.  I joined a line crew composed mostly of foreman, perhaps an engineer here and there. I am not a scab. I had no qualms about this as I did not consider myself a strike breaker or anti-union. The power company provided a vital service to the community which I firmly believed in.  After a few days of physical work, it wasn’t too bad, though we worked 12 hour shifts.  The good thing about this was that our monthly salary was recalculated to an hourly basis, resulting in much more pay for the added hours. The crews did stop for a doughnut break, lunch and we paced ourselves.  After about a month of that, I went back into the main office where I was primarily a runner giving and getting information from the field to my manager.  Eventually the strike settled and things went on as before, though the union was now subsumed into a national union.

Louise’s birthday was the 5th and I don’t have any notes about how we celebrated.  I think, and emphasize think, that we all went to a matinée and followed that by going to an ice cream restaurant that sold sodas, banana splits, etc.  We did do things like that so it is likely, but I have nothing in writing about it.

I have no notes, just memories of our response to a storm “Agnes.”

Typical flood damage

Typical flood damage

I thought this flood was in 1974, but checking dates on Google I found that the storm and flooding of the Susquehanna river was in 1972. We had steady rain and storms from storm Agnes for at least a week and the Susquehanna river flooded many cities, including Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Someone in our area  asked for volunteers to join him in a school bus ride on Saturday to Wilkes-Barre to help in the cleanup.

 I volunteered to join the group and a few days later, Marge drove our station wagon to that area with food.  We did what we could and were very glad we did not live on the river bank, as we did in Vestal. Louise would become very disturbed when we had a heavy rain, and one day I asked her as tactfully as I could what was she afraid of.  We discussed this, and this led to her telling me she was afraid that our house was going to slide downhill.  For a child seeing all the pictures and TV coverage of Agnes, this was not unreasonable.  I gently told her that we were not near a river and didn’t have to fear the damage from rainstorms such as Agnes.

Aristocrat - 3

Aristocrat trailer

I mentioned the camping group we joined.  The name of the club was Christian Campers.  Eastern PA was home to a  bewildering number of denominations, mostly fundamentalists.  The club members were decent ordinary people and we got along with them and they offered, but did not make an issue of their own belief system.  Our first meeting with them turned out being a short-lived mini disaster.  Every camper would bring something for a pot luck which we would all share.  Marge made some simple casserole, franks and beans maybe. We put it in the refrigerator to hold it until we set up the trailer, thinking we would then take it out and warm it up in the oven.  However, our site was a bit uneven getting into and we did pitch a bit.  The refrigerator opened up and down came the casserole.  When we opened the door, Marge was heartbroken and cried copiously.  Fortunately the wife of the club leader came over to say hello about that time and consoled Marge and helped her to stop crying.  Her words were something like ” we always have more than we can eat, that could have happened to any of us, you did your best and do you need help in cleaning up?”  All became well again and we did enjoy ourselves and since the group didn’t try to convert us, we got along well.  

One sad thing that happened, I think around this time was that there was a severe wind storm in the area where the camp leader lived. This took down power lines in different places, one near his home.  Of course with no electricity you had no radio or TV unless you had a portable radio. John, the leader was rather type A and fidgeted because he had no power or information.  He asked his son, “Johnny” to go out and see if he could find anything out.  Unfortunately “Johnny” touched a downed line and was electrocuted.  He was a nice kid, only 15 then,  and would have been middle-aged now, but for that.  We went to the funeral, offered what support we could and at the next get-together, there was a pall but things soon moved on.

My Clock

Finished Clock

The extra money from strike pay came at a good time. It helped pay for the new drive construction, the Scout and finally, new furniture. We did have new furniture in the family room, but the living room stuff from our first house was showing its age. After much searching for material designs, etc, we decided to get a set that matched the family room but with a different patterns so the house would not look too monotonous. This would arrive in September. Marge and I thought that we would give the furniture to our children when they set up housekeeping.  This worked for Ingrid, but not Louise.  I still have one set in the rather small living room here.  I replaced the cushion foams  3 times, and the fabric at least 4.  I do have a few real antiques, as well as replicas I built mostly from kits and the “Early American”  furniture design, though dated, fits in with the antiques.  My grandfather clock project is almost finished. The case is complete and stained.  I was applying an oil finish then and would install the clock works when the finish has soaked in and dried.

Both girls went to the YMCA day camp this summer. They first went for a 2 week session and enjoyed it so much they went to a 1 week session as well. They both enjoy this and being with other children, play and swim and Marge and I were happy for them. Louise came down with the chicken pox and has a few cock marks but I think they will fade with time. I felt her resistance was down, as the last time we were camping she had a bit of a fever the following Monday.  Maybe this is related to her extreme fever at Easter, but who knows, just a guess.  She could not take too much activity and late nights.  Our sole recreation has made the Christian Campers meetings and going to a few movies all we did . 

The weather at the end of the month is in the 80s and very humid. Fortunately our house has central air conditioning which is fine, but when we go outdoors, the difference is quite marked.  New York summers were a bit cooler and we could get by with window fans. The grass is a bit brown, and we keep the garden and flowers watered.  Marge and the girls have been working to keep the weeds down.

As I write this, a dim memory is coming back, I think from around this time. Marge was not feeling well and for some reason I went to the Lancaster area to go to a local craft fair.  I hoped we could go as a family and Marge was not so sick that she required constant care, so I went by myself.  I don’t know now why this was so important to me, I guess I had planned on us all going beforehand so I left.  I bought some local trinkets there, and stopped at a shop of a local candy maker and bought some.  I believe it was some form of chocolate candy, something we could all enjoy.    

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Easter Vacation 1974

I think that a slight change in style is proper.  My sources, other than memories, are letters and notes from the time period in the blog title. I am trying to correctly represent that by writing in the past tense , perhaps adding a bit to it.

Spring finally came in mid April.  We did retrieve our trailer from it wintering place and brought it home.  The gasoline situation had improved and we decided to take the vacation which we had planned months before. We did leave on April 11 which was a bit late.  We did not as far as we wished the first day.  

We did get to Winston-Salem, NC on Friday and stayed at a small mobile home court that had some spaces for over night travellers. Salem itself has many restored buildings which was our goal for Saturday.

Louise was not feeling well and she and Marge did not go on the city tour but Ingrid and I did. I attended a service that night at the Home Moravian church  which was very pleasant. Louise became steadily worse, in fact fell from the sleeping area over us which was distressing to all.  There were no cell phones in those long ago days, but there was a public phone at the travel court. I was able to find a hospital and we took Louise to it. Fortunately the city is not too large, and with Marge’s help, I was able to follow directions to the hospital emergency room. In the wee hours of Sunday morning the ER had a few knife wounds, and other evidence of fights. Louise then had a temperature of over 104, but no other symptoms. An ER doctor examined her, gave her some medication and we all returned about 3:00 a.m.  This cancelled our plans for attending the Moravian Salem Easter service which we understood was very moving. The Moravian Church uses brass music often.  Many of the street corners had brass trios which we had wanted to hear, but we were all in for doing any sightseeing.

We went to Hendersonville, NC and stayed at the Alpine Trailer court which was quite nice and the owner was very obliging and helpful.  We visited Marge’s uncle Franklin Uhlig, and her aunt Louise.  We ate dinner with them and two of his sons and their families.  The meal was at Franklin’s country club with a pleasant view and delicious food.

Our Louise was still not entirely well and we did nothing much on Monday, and did some travelling on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Tuesday.

We left on Wednesday and Louise’s fever again spiked 104.  We made a daytime side trip to the ER at Whytheville, VA.  We filled a penicillin prescription and drove home the next day, cutting short the rest of the vacation. This symptom never recurred again and we have no idea what the cause was.  None of the rest of us had any symptoms. 

I went to work on Friday which was a nasty day for weather.  Saturday was pleasant and I rented a roto-tiller to dig up the garden.  Marge was enthusiastic about planting, but when the weeds came, her enthusiasm dropped considerably. 

The weather turned very warm at the end of the month. Our flowers and bushes were blooming and I had already mowed the grass at least twice.  Our contractor paved the driveway at the end of the month and it looked better than just a truckload of gravel spread over the drive area.  Some dirt was left over from the construction which we used to lessen the slope of the lawn in places and plant flowers there.  The rocks and junk we dumped into a vacant lot next to us.

In our vicinity, there is a natural formation of an acre or two with “ringing rocks” on the ground. Officially it is the Ringing Rocks County Park, a Bucks County park which we visited. When struck, the rocks did send a metallic tone quite like hitting an anvil with a hammer.  Different sized rocks provided different tones.

At the end of the month, our plan was to attend a trial trailer outing with a camping group. Their literature seemed a bit over organized, but we decided it was at least worth a trial outing.

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April 1974

March surely did go out like a lion this year.  We had about an inch of snow on March 31, but it didn’t last long.  The snow flakes were big and wet, came down hard for a few hours and then stopped.  I believe this was the last hurrah!! of winter. Good riddance I say.  After moving from to PA from NY, we learned that this snow is known locally as onion snow. This baffled me for a bit as the snow did not look a bit like onions.  I did learn that many people put in their onion sets in late March or April, and snow at this time gets that peculiar name.  It never lasts long, not quite spring and winter is not quite over.

Ever hear that old crack “I opened the door, and in flew Enza?” Anyhow somebody must have opened the door in March as we all dealt with it.  It took me about a month to really get over it.  Guess what else I had? Headaches and inner ear problems.  Bummer!!! Louise had it off and on but is getting better now.

Ingrid started that right of passage, the Orthodontist. The trauma of having separators put on her teeth made her more than a little out of sorts for the next day. She should be completely wired up in a day or two.  

I always enjoyed making things, taking them apart and hopefully putting them together again.  I used my sick time somewhat productively by working on my electronics correspondence course. I have built two of the nine kits on the TV sets so finishing it should be no problem whatsoever.

The gasoline shortage seems to be resolved now, though with higher prices. The stations are selling on Sunday and the lines, if any, are only a car or two long.  So, we decided to take a spring vacation after all. Here are some similar photos of a smaller trainer by the same manufacturer. 

  We plan on making another trip to North Carolina, visiting Marge’s relatives and doing some sightseeing. We have plenty of literature of literature and have a plan; we are all looking forward to this trip. It would be nice to see the coast again, but I don’t think we will have time to fit that in this time.

Freezing rain as well as snow make for a dismal month so we delayed getting our trailer ready for the trip.  Toward the end of April, the weather became quite nice and we were able to work on our lawn as well as work on the trailer at the parking site.  We are all looking forward to an early start on Spring with our trailer vacation.

Our poor old Rambler wagon is having its death throes I fear.

Rambler Wagon

Rambler Wagon

 It makes increasingly more unhappy noises.  The trouble is the starter itself and although replacing a starter is not rocket science, I will try to get rid of the car rather than spending any more time trying to repair it.  Enough is enough and the end of dear old Rambler is near, one way or the other.

Early March  brings the Shrine Circus to town.  I have not been to a circus in decades and we decide to take the family there for Ingrid’s birthday. This was a pleasant family adventure and a change in pace for us all.

This month was good for one thing.  That is sitting around the fireplace and listening to the wind blow.  Just the thing to heighten our expectations for our spring trip, even if spring only can mean lawn mowing, and our lot is quite steep.  Just a part of the joy of suburban living. 

 

 

 

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Marching Along – 1974

Spring is springing, a young man’s thoughts turn to Love, and a middle-aged man thinks about his trailer. March 74 certainly came in very lamb-like.  I was sick again in February with the flu, more severe in February than January.  I felt lousy and miserable most of the month.  Then, no surprise, the girls got the flu also. Louise more so than Ingrid, perhaps as she is younger and her immune system not as well-developed. The very good news was that Marge did not come down with it.  In general her health is more fragile than mine, but not this time thankfully, as there were more patients  to be taken care of.  By month’s end we are all well again and looking forward to a pleasant springtime and Easter.

It’s always something to go wrong when you own a home.  this time it is our 1962 vintage washing machine.  I can still, vaguely, remember buying it. Now the timer and control mechanism don’t function and I couldn’t repair it myself, nor find a replacement.  I guess it is obsolete.  Marge and I went to look at new washers again at Sears. We have had good luck with them and Whirlpool appliances.  We buy a new one that has all the features of the 1962 one and some new ones, and costs about the same amount.  that was a relief on the checkbook.

Back to the closeout furniture store. Oh I now have the answer to the buffet; they were to deliver it but still hadn’t done so.

1974 buffet

1974 buffet

 Marge and I were somehow able to do it ourselves.  The store loaded it into the wagon and we carried it into the house by taking all the drawers out first and then carrying the main part out.  Whew!!!, but we got that done.  I still have the buffet, now with some bumps and scratches of accidents over the years.  I could not have ever done it without Marge, I didn’t think she was that strong!

I have also started a new home improvement project which is refinishing the oak table that we have. This is a Victorian antique that Mrs. Sutherland gave us. As of now (2016) this table is in my daughter Louise’s home, so it has a long history, and in my opinion still looks good.  Marge and I had in ’74 discussed buying a new table. But we liked the old one and as Marge liked to sew, it also serves well as a cutting table. I believe sewing was her equivalent of woodworking, auto maintenance that I enjoyed, a skill one that requires concentration as well as physical skills.  While in our first home in NY, she made a very well made mother/daughter outfit for her and Ingrid.  I have a photo somewhere  and it was very cute. 

Marge’s  dad had refinished the table top in the past but not the legs. We were both much alike. Those stout legs had been turned on a lathe in the fashion of the 19th century. Large and ornate.

Bumps and bruises, as well as lactic acid from spilled milk had stained the top.  Fortunately, there was a furniture stripper close to our home and I took the table to him.  He stripped the entire table chemically as it would have been impossible for me to do by hand.  He also showed me, in an antique furniture reference book that tables like mine were getting $100-$150.  That was in 1974 dollars, so worth the effort.  I chemically bleached the table to even out the color variations. The chemical was a poison and I bought it from a pharmacy and had to sign for it. I made little progress on the task while ill, but I should complete it  soon and it will be good for another 100 years. Now (2016) it is still in daily use so I think it will easily outlive me.

Marge left in late December, her birthday, to visit her mother. She took the Rambler, and on returning it developed move drive train howls. I think it is soon headed for its end, as it is getting close to 100,000 miles. We had it for 5 years and only paid a few hundred for it, so I guess we got our money’s worth from it.

We did buy a used International Harvester Scout from a Postal Service sale.IH Scout It is about the size of a Jeep, licensed as a 1/4 ton truck.  It was sanded and repainted and had about 19,000 miles on it.  We hope that it will be good for short local trips.  Ours was right hand drive since the postal service used it.  The photo is not ours, but the same model.

The gasoline situation gets worse almost daily. We are fortunate because I have a PP&L company car and can get gas from the company garages. We have some PP&L neighbors and I give them lifts when asked.    Marge has been able to get gas for our personal cars, but we have cut down on our driving.  Long waits at service station are the new norm. We are going to  plan our vacation different this year due to this problem. There are several places within a tanks worth of gas for us to visit.  We hate to give up our earlier plans for Easter, but we will do what we can.  We hope our elected leaders can resolve this problem, as it is beyond personal or local resolution.

I made a business trip  to North Carolina in February with my boss Mr. Seidler.  We were evaluating a construction process Duke Power uses as it might be applicable to PP&L.  The demonstrations at Duke Power convinced both of us.

I am progressing well on my correspondence course in electronics.  The benefits expire in May so I have to hustle.  Realistically, I don’t think I may exactly complete all the lessons and kits, but I have learned a lot whether I finish or not.  I have always enjoyed building things as well as taking them apart, hopefully correctly back together.

Ingrid has her 12th birthday in March and Louise is reading very well.  Time moves along, they are growing up, we are growing older and I think Marge and I are good and loving mates and good parents.  Not perfect of course, but pretty good.   

 

 

 

 

 

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Another New Year – 1974

Here we are again, now in 1974.  I didn’t get around to writing until the end of the month for some unknown reason now, probably the Christmas rush, celebrations, etc.  One of our Christmas day rituals was turning the house intercom to radio Wilmington.  They broadcast all day with proper music and no ads, so we looked forward to that again last month.

Another reason for not writing was that I had contracted a case of the flu, which was quite unpleasant for me.  I stayed home from work on Monday and Tuesday at the end of month.  This was for me  as I felt lousy, and why pass it along to others?  I was up but quite inert, fortunately I had some correspondence lessons to finish.  I sat in a comfortable chair with the lessons and did pass the time away, somewhat productively as I enjoyed the course and did make needed headway on it.  I enjoy the hands on part a bit more, but I enjoy the theory behind the nuts and bolts as well. 

Earlier in the month, I felt better and ambitious.  We have oak parquet floors and I waxed the floors in the family room and dining room.  They look so much better waxed and polished with a glow. The dining room is the one with the small bay window near the chimney.

102 Beverley Hills

102 Beverley Hills

 We had purchased for our dining room an Asian weave area rug from the Hess Department store in Allentown.  That done, we purchased some draperies for the dining room bay window that complemented the rug.  Both made much improvement and we were quite pleased with the look.  When we lived in New York, the children were younger and often spilled part of their meals on the rug, so we were in no hurry to decorate our PA dining room. They have more control now in their eating. 

I think we must have contracted buying fever and took advantage of a closing of a furniture store near my office in town.  We bought a buffet for the dining room, still with me now, four bedroom dressers and a desk.  I think that Ingrid has a few pieces now. At the time we had a ten-year old Rambler station wagon

Rambler Wagon

Rambler Wagon

and I loaded the dressers and desk into the rear.  The buffet is still heavy and I don’t know how I got it home, maybe a friend with a truck helped out.  Whoever it was, thanks a lot. We each took a new dresser and Louise got the desk.  We had used old painted dressers from Mrs. Sutherland and now finally got rid of them. I  refurbished  the oak desk Marge received from her Grandmother. Ingrid received that one replacing the second-hand desk she formerly used. So gradually the house is taking on more of our own wishes and personality.

I have mentioned how much I enjoy woodworking and have started on a 3/4 size grandfather clock, sometimes also named a grandmother clock. My Clock I am not making this from scratch as it is a kit clock, though with some cutting and joining required as well as assembling the lathe turned parts. Unfortunately, one minor part was missing and I sent to the factory requesting this part to complete the clock. The clock works were replaced once and the clock is still with us.  It is a constant reminder of how we loved our first and only brand new house, and the clock I built for it.

I was also working on a ladder back rush seat chart.  When completed, it will be for Louise as it should go well with her desk.  Weaving, if that is the word, the rushes into a seat is the time-consuming part of this task. I am not making another.

I worked on my taxes on Sat. the 26th.  All manual preparation then as computers have not evolved yet.  The interest and taxes on the house increased my deductions, so I should get a refund.  Marge is checking my figures.  She hates to do this, though she is really good with numbers, and usually finds a few more dollars to add to our refund.  Same this year, so I am going to send it in on Monday, and I want to use the refund to pay for paving our gravel driveway in spring.

We had a bit of a January thaw with Sunday the 28th hitting 66 degrees.  PA is a bit warmer than NY, I think because it is further south  and closer to the Atlantic.  We  had a lot a rainy and overcast days.  The plus side is that this weather is ideal for completing inside home improvements.

Based on our experience trailering last year, we plan on taking time off at Easter again this year. This will give us a head start on spring and gasoline appears available and priced in a stable way.  I checked on the trailer and it is holding up well in winter.  We had a bit of leakage from the large roof vent, but not too much, probably due to snow buildup on the roof.  Marge wants to visit her uncle in NC and perhaps tour the Smokies and that is exactly what we plan to do in our Easter vacation.  I like her uncle, he is OK.

The girls continue to do well in school.  Ingrid started her orthodonture, we are in good health and look forward to a fine 1974.  Same wish to you all. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Notes on November -1973

November ’73, I am now a year older, but still under the figure of 40, another decade in the odometer of life. And so far it has been a good life. For us, this was a month of trips.  The first gasoline crisis is with us and prices going up. Therefor November seemed a good time to make some family trips before gas $ gets too pricey.

I took the 12th off and made a trip to Dannemora, NY to see Mom & Dad. this made for a short, but pleasant visit and sort of birthday outing as well, since that was the 13th.

Clinton Prison, Dannemora, NY

Clinton Prison, Dannemora, NY

On the way back to Coopersburg we stopped at Albany, NY to see some old friends, the Tom Shaws. We have known them since college days and it made a nice break in the trip home.

The second trip was to Penn Yan , NY to see Marge’s sister Pat and her family. Family is very important to us.

 While there, Marge’s cousins, the Uhligs, came for a day and I got to meet some more of her extended family.  We were In Penn Yan for Thanksgiving Day through Sunday, the 25th. It was a pleasant trip with uneventful driving both ways.

Penn Yan, NY

Penn Yan, NY

So far, by the 29th of Nov., it was a mild fall. We have used somewhat less fuel so far than a year ago. Some due to economizing and then the milder weather in winter to date. We have electric heat, not oil, so we will be in good shape for our heating expenses. The oil shock is starting to hit our pocketbooks.  What next???

I have to deal with where to park our trailer this month.  According to zoning, we are not supposed to park it on the property.  I think this means full-time, but at the same time I did not want it in the drive impeding snow removal.  It is now in a trailer parking lot and we will see how this goes, but I think OK.  The trailer has been a fun purchase for us all.

I signed up for a mail order course in radio and  TV repair. I don’t want to get into this business, but I like to build electronics, and have some VA eligibility left, so why not enroll. At least I will get to build a few radios and a portable TV to put in the trailer.  Nothing to lose and building stuff has been a big interest all my life..  

My job at PP&L is progressing OK, though I could be doing a bit better. A goal for next year.

PP&L Headquarters Allentown, PA

PP&L Headquarters Allentown, PA

 Due to renovation at the PP&L headquarters, my department will move to the second floor of a building nearby. This  move will be completed by the end of the year.  It so happens that the second floor is now vacant, but the first floor is a theater that specializes in XXX rated films.  I suppose I will be the butt of some male jokes about that after we move in.

Concerning our health, we are all well and Ingrid is starting to see a orthodontist in Bethlehem next month. The girls are developing gapped front teeth, I think from Marge’s side.  I could have benefitted from orthodontery, but our little hamlet of Danemora was lucky to even have a dentist.  

Life moves on and it is a good life, I am glad we moved here and bought the trailer to enjoy as a family. 

 

 

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Remembering September – 1973

September…Fall will soon be on us, the heat and humidity of summer are over, school starts again and our lives follow the pattern of the seasons. The weather was warm at the beginning of the month but then the leaves began to fall and the month was a pleasant and productive one.

 We stayed home Labor Day and I did some yard work.  Day lilies grow wild in great profusion and I dug up and transplanted about 250 of them in our  yard to create a pleasant view looking toward the rear.  I find that physical work such as this is satisfying in a way that differs from that of being a manager.  Not better, just different and I feel more competent and self-reliant.

In our house, we bought some new furniture, Marge made curtains and I did some minor  needed repairs.   When we bought the house, the dining room was lit by a very cheap and cheesy looking light.  I bought a colonial style chandelier in kit form, assembled it, and installed it.  This made a big improvement and helped make the room more functional.

Upon our arrival at Coopersburg I attended an excellent course in woodworking and now have the tools at home to do basic cabinet making. I converted the fourth bedroom into a sewing center for Marge, and am well along on the electrical work and custom cabinets for her. These will soon be assembled and installed and I am, justifiably I think, proud of the result.  Slowly we are making the house our own as we put our own stamp on it.

Our trailer also needs some maintenance, nothing major.  I took it for an inspection and completion of some repairs by a local small trailer dealer. I did winterize the plumbing and heating to prepare for the winter.  I located a decent trailer park close to us that charged only $50 to park it for the off-season.  We can also use it then, though I doubt as we will, since I have winterized it. We would have to do without water, or refill the drain lines with antifreeze which seems more bother than it is worth.  But maybe.

Ingrid went to a retreat at Stroudsburg, PA and the rest of us stayed home. Marge wanted to attend, but is coming down with a cold and  Louise appears to be going to get it as well.  Fingers crossed, but I don’t think I will catch it.

Of course school started after Labor Day. Ingrid  is going to a different school this year and did have some “jitters” settling in but got over this phase quickly. Louise is attending school full-time now and the three of us are taking piano lessons.  We found a competent piano teacher who makes house calls so we worked out a schedule that allows all of us to take lessons.  Not Marge though.  She did study some piano and even organ in college, but is not now interested in playing.  She does sing in the church choir as she reads well and has a strong and pleasant Alto voice.

In summary, a pleasant and productive month as we head into Fall.

 

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Summer Time – 1973

The Date: August 15, 1973.  The Place: Coopersburg, PA.  August here is usually hot and muggy, this day being no exception.  Not like NY where we could get by with large window fans and we are so thankful this house has central air conditioning.  Going from the house to outdoors is almost like getting hit with a wave.  Summer will be over in about a month and the good news is that Marge is truly well not and has fully recovered from her operation and fever of last month.  Her back also feels better.  My opinion is that this is due to her not seeing Dr. Quack any more, though of course, I keep this opinion to myself, we are all thankful she is her old self again.

Earlier in the month we had company for a few days.  One of Marge’s friends who used to live in this area now lives near Pittsburg, PA.  I believe this was Joanne Herring and her two daughters; that sounds likely as the Herring family did move to that area and later moved back to the area near us.  Their daughters and ours got along well, so it was a pleasant time for all.

On the 4th of August we took the trailer down to Ocean View, New Jersey intending to leave it there for 15 days. Naturally, the weather was hot but we had no problems on the trip down.  I did have some difficulty backing the trailer into the space, but with the experience gained so far, and the help of Marge giving me signals, I got the trailer in place.

One good feature of this site, after we made it in, was that  we had nobody  in back of us, or on one side of us.  This camp was about 4 miles from the Atlantic at Sea Isle City which is about as close as you can get.

Fenced sandy path to beach at Island Beach State Park of NJ at Sunset

Fenced sandy path to beach at Island Beach State Park of NJ at Sunset

The city has a use fee for the beach, and fortunately for us, the people on the side of us were moving out.  They had a season pass which they kindly gave to us.  That was very neighborly and we appreciated this gift.

I took Monday off and went back to Coopersburg that night.  I also took Friday off and returned to NJ Thursday after work.  All in all, that worked out well, but we decided not to do it again; one week is enough and things can get a bit boring after that.

We did see some interesting local sights though.  We spent one day going to the restored village of Batsto.Batsto Their website gives this information:

Batsto Village, is a New Jersey historic site in the South Central Pinelands, which is administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Parks & Forestry. This site is nationally recognized for its historical significance and beauty. The roots of Batsto Village can be traced back to 1766. Two centuries of American history are available to visitors, with the Pinelands environment as a scenic backdrop.

The site included a Revolutionary iron forge which made  “bog iron” from iron deposits which lay on the bottom of the streams in the Pinelands. Wikipedia defines bog iron as: Bog iron is a form of impure iron deposit that develops in bogs or swamps by the chemical or biochemical oxidation of iron carried in solution.  This iron was very valuable in making cannon balls in the Revolutionary war.  

With the discovery of coal, the iron business folded, then the business turned to making glass, but that did not last for long and Batso became a ghost town. NJ State now owns the area and did a good job of restoration. I, and I think our whole family find it interesting to visit these places which abound in the East. These restoration do much to bring history to life, and a better understanding of the area in which we lived, and of course ourselves as well.

 Of course no vacation is problem free, this being no exception.  The trailer has a fitting that you fasten a hose to and the other end on the camp water supply.  This was plastic, it cracked and leaked. I was not able to fix it, and could not get a replacement in the area.  We did use the trailer water tank which had its own pump.  I returned to PA when Marge called and said the pump was erratic so I gave her some suggestions. I could have fixed it at home, and we did manage to limp along until I returned. The problem was simply that the trailer tank had emptied.  Oh well, all part of the fun.

August 29– I returned and was able to refill the tank and we finished our vacation as planned.  We learned that 15 days is more of the Jersey shore that we will do again. We ended up by spending time with the girls playing miniature golf, paddle boat rides, and the amusement rides at Ocean City during the last segment of the vacation.

Our trip back to PA was uneventful but exhausting. When I got home and we got the trailer unloaded, I felt sick and generally lousy and went to bed with a temperature of 102. I did feel better next morning, but not well so I stayed home. Several other people had similar symptoms as did the girls, but all had passed by the end of the week.

We did have company the following weekend as Marge’s sister Pat and family stopped in for the evening while going to NJ for a shore vacation.  Temperature and humidity both in 90s; typical August for us.  It was pleasant to get together and personally catch up.

The following week, Marge and the girls went to visit a friend of hers in Columbus, Ohio. so, I am living alone with the cat again, though he is good company.

Hammond Chord Organ

Hammond Chord Organ

 The Hammond Chord electric organ needed some tuning which was awkward  since you have to tune it from the rear with keys pressed down from the front. The good part was that nobody else was around to bother with the noise and I got it adjusted.  I played some for myself and Rajah, though he doesn’t seem to be a music lover. We were given this organ by my father-in-law when he built a larger one.  It is Hammonds first all electronic instrument.

At PP&L work is going well. A trial project my department has worked on is now completed with good acceptance with requests to set it up  company wide.  I had a job offer to an engineering graduate accepted.  He worked out well and I imagine he has now retired and on Social Security.  

School will be starting in September, with Louise going to elementary school full-time and Ingrid starting middle school.  Of course I expect them doing well and moving along in their lives.  In ’73 I am definitely in middle age and we are not going to have any more children.  

Summer is about over, we were now all well and looking forward to enjoying the rest of 1973.

 

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Independence Day – 1973

I had the day off since 4th is a holiday.  Louise’s birthday is the 6th so we all celebrated a day early.  Seven years old already, how did that happen? Of course, we had birthday cake and presents and altogether a pleasant day.

I worried greatly about Marge, she is still not well and runs a fever that increases during the day and falls back at night.  The next day repeats the same pattern and I don’t like it at all. She did make a return visit to the OB_GYN who operated.  He told us he couldn’t find anything wrong sith the procedure and gave her some antibiotics to take.  I really didn’t like him, the bed had more of a bedside manner than he did.

If antibiotics don’t do the trick, Marge is going to her internist who at least does lab work and some diagnostics before he comes up with an opinion. He is a partner in a small practice and I see him as well when I am ill.   At least Marge does not seem worsening. Finally she is not taking those shots in her spine.  I thought the procedure bogus as it did not seem to have any effect and I did not like the Dr.  His procedure was to have Marge strip and then lay down on a padded table for the shot.  I didn’t think it was necessary for her  to be as naked as the day she was born to have a shot in her spine.  I suspected, can’t prove that the Dr. liked to see women with attractive figures, especially their butts, and Marge fit that description, that I verify.  I always went with her and kept a sharp eye on Doc.

The girls and I go to Kutztown to see a folk festival in the afternoon.  We first moved in 1969 to a rental not far from Kutztown which is in the fringe of the PA Dutch culture. It was very interesting if you like that folksy sort of entertainment.

 Kutztown Birch Beer Still


Kutztown Birch Beer Still

 It was nicer to visit than to live there where we were definitely Uitlanders.  We went to the market to buy some accessories with a PA Dutch flair.  I recall getting some candy and what I considered an attractive piece of costume jewelry for Marge. 

The festival had a whole ox being roasted for ox sandwiches, a tinsmith, carver, etc. The girls were a bit bored as there were no activities to do, just food and stuff we probably wouldn’t look at again.  I think they did enjoy it in a low-key way. When we got home, Ingrid made and decorated the cake, I made supper, we got Louise a bicycle for her present.  All in all it was a pretty good birthday, but I did wish that Marge was well enough to join with us in the afternoon.

July 11, 1973: We were able to get an appointment with Marge’s osteopath, her primary doctor on that day, a Saturday.  He gave her some medication which really did the job on her infection.  It does seem the operation was a success but Marge had a little sinus trouble then and the stress of the operation knocked her resistance down. The sinus, just waiting for a chance, flared up again.  Things seem   under control, no thanks to the OB_GYN who performed the procedure on her.  This experience deepened my wish that I never have to depend on the medical profession for help.  So far, so good, other than minor office visits. 

We had a sad weekend.  Backing up a bit, an acquaintance of Marge, back in 1967, was moving and the place she was moving to didn’t allow pets.  She had two Siamese, a male and a female from the same litter. We never had pets but we took them. We named the male Rajah and the female Sascha.  We didn’t know then that Sascha is really a male name, but it didn’t seem to bother them.

The bad news is that Sascha experienced  a fit and started growling, spitting, and striking out at her brother.  We thought maybe he was playing too rough and kept them apart for a while and all was OK.  Then a few weeks later, she did the same thing with no provocation. This seemed strange as Rajah seemed quite confused by her behavior. I had called the vet the first time this happened, but he could offer nothing but to tell us to watch her, which of course we were already doing.

Again, a bit of history.  One day, maybe in 1971, I came home from work and Rajah was lying prostrate at the side of the road.  He had been hit, but was alive.  I carefully picked him up and told Marge what happened.  There was no vet in Coopersburg but we found one in Quakertown, about 12 miles south, who would attend as soon as we could bring Rajah down. We made him as comfortable as we could and rushed down.  The vet said his jaw had  broken, but he could wire it shut and gave us some animal antibiotics to ward off infection, as well as a shot to deal with the pain.  That worked, and we continued to see  the vet when necessary.  I am sure he was qualified, but his bedside manner was not so good. 

Back to 1973. Both cats had spent the day curled up together, which they often did.  This time Sascha had another cat fit, and this time it was for a longer time, getting worse, whatever the cause was. She calmed down Sunday  and let us hold her but growled and spit if her brother came near her. She would also growl and spit when we shut her in a  room to separate her from her brother. We made several attempts to let her out but any semblance of normal behavior failed. I decided to put her away as she was aging and I figured this affected her brain.

We talked about this and decided to do this ourselves to make her end as peaceful as possible instead of by a disinterested vet at a strange place.  I used car starting ether which then came in a spray can.  It didn’t have the additives which were necessary later as diesel cars did not exist in ’73.  This only took a short time but I felt terrible, even though we knew it was necessary. I never realized how much I liked her until she was gone.  We buried her in the back lawn, I came in and was so upset I went to bed and cried.  I will never do this again.  We all got in the car and went to the nearby town of Emmaus to see a children’s matinée.

Louise reminded me more detail of the movie and I am updating this post to include it. You mention that we all went out to a children’s matinee, but don’t mention that the movie was Charlotte’s Web, which is of course very sad about the spider Charlotte dying and of course the subtext of the piglets being fattened up to be eaten. I remember Mom telling this story afterwards that neither of you knew what the story was about when we went, but just wanted to get out of the house and get our minds off of the fact that you had just had to put Sascha to sleep and bury her in the back yard.

I did calm down but was sad and depressed the rest of the day. Rajah, the brother cat, how has no kitty companion and is insistent on sitting on or with somebody.  I really think animals can experience grief as well as humans. When vacations are over we will try to bring in a kitten in hopes he will accept it.

Lake-Wallenpaupack

Lake Wallenpaupack, PA

In ’73 my employer PP&L had a power plant on Lake Wallenpaupeck in the Pocono mtns. They controlled the land around it and owned a conference hall as well as several cottages.  I was fortunate enough to get a cottage for a week in July. We returned to Coopersburg on July 23.  

We returned from our vacation having had a very nice experience.  The cabins were rustic but very nice for a week and included a fireplace as well as a dock. The girls went down daily to swim and I did once in a while. The lake is artificial in that the creek was dammed for a power plant owned by PP&L.  The cottage was in the woods and was one in a group of four, but not at all crowded.  The geography of PA is quite different from NY, in it does not have a shoreline or glacial lakes. We were fortunate in getting this cabin, especially as Marge was slowly recovering from her ill-health earlier in the month.  I really loved Marge and her health was more fragile than mine. I felt so helpless when she was sick, but did all I could to aid and make her feel a bit more comfortable. 

 That week I grilled several things on the fireplace, nothing fancy, burgers or steak. Ingrid was a big help with dishes and I believe the trip was a real vacation for Marge also.  We took two side trips.

Fort Delaware, NY

Fort Delaware, NY

 One was to Narrowsburg, NY to see Fort Delaware, a reconstructed frontier fort complete with the firing of an actual ancient cannon, girls dipping candles, etc.  It was quite interesting for all of us.

Bushkill Falls, Niagra of PA

Bushkill Falls, Niagra of PA

 We also took a trip to Bushkill Falls and spent much time walking around the falls and streams in the area.  This was situated at the Delaware  Water Gap where the river cascades down on its way to the Atlantic. It was rather steep and a bit of a stress for Marge, but she made it quite OK. I was so thankful that she could get to enjoy this side trip as well.

So, back to civilization. I weeded my flowers and as usual found more trouble than was first clear.  Some of the Iris plants looked sickly and on inspection they were infested with Iris borers, so I dug up the bad ones and destroyed them.  The Iris bed needed trimming anyway so I accomplished two tasks at the same time.  Next year I will spray in the spring to help prevent this infestation.

All in all, a good month, especially as Marge now appears healthy again, I am so thankful.

 

    

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Springtime For Frantzens – 1973

No, not Springtime For Hitler, that’s been done, but about me and my loved ones.

I took a business trip to Oklahoma at the end of April.  A local vendor of construction equipment was having a show in Oklahoma City and I and one of my engineers went.  the purpose, of course was to drum up business for a new line in products they had taken on.   The company paid for our expenses  so we went.  Their equipment looked suited to the needs of PPP&L and I wrote up a positive trip report.  The company catered a  dinner and the different guys went out on the town after.  At least going to some stripper bars, and maybe more.  That was not my thing, so I joined a few of the reminding guys and we swapped stories.  All in all, a pleasant trip, though I had no desire to return to Oklahoma myself.  Nothing specific, the area was not appealing to me.

April showers came in May, as they did the year we married.  We even had tornado warnings and the land a few miles to the West had some serious damage. Just wind and rain for us. Heavy and continued rain would saturate the ground and our sump pump would kick into action.  When this happened in the night, I immediately awoke and went into the cellar to check on possible damage.  Marge wouldn’t hear this, but when one of the girls cried in the night, I would sleep through it and she would jump up.  I guess the subconscious would arouse us to act out our  family roles.   We enjoyed a pleasant visit with Mom Sutherland, though the weather prevented us having any real outdoor activities.

The weather cleared up in June so we went to the Jersey shore in our trailer.

Cape May NJ from the sea

Cape May NJ from the sea

 We learned travel skills  from out trip to Myrtle Beach and, with some difficulty we found a good campsite.  We stretched our legs at Cape May where we parked the trailer.  Then we all went to Ocean City for a seafood dinner.  It was a real treat having fresh fish to eat, with somebody else doing the cooking.  Marge doesn’t eat fish, though she likes lobster, shrimp and related seafood.  We drove 360 miles, but it was a worthwhile, enjoyable trip, enjoyed by all.

Summer came next with a let up in the rain and hot temperatures in the 80s and occasionally in the 90s.  This heat was often accompanied by high humidity and I was SO glad that our house had central air conditioning, a true blessing. I still remember going outside and the hot humid air was almost a physical entity that I had to fight my way through. 

Marge and I had gone to an informal bible study led by a professor at Muhlenberg college in Allentown. An older man than Marge and I then, maybe in late 50s.  Surprisingly for me I enjoyed this, even looked forward to it. It was not church related and there were many viewpoints expressed at any session. The study was not doctrinaire and we welcomed constructive questioning and critique.  

The study was held at the home of an older couple who owned a big farm nearby. It was a beautiful place with large oak and locust shade trees. The farm also featured a pool stocked with Bass and Bluegill. I don’t have a personal photo, but the one below is typical of a PA farm pond.  

PA farm pond

PA farm pond

 Nothing beats a dinner of freshly caught fish, far better than frozen ones in the market.  The farm also had a large indoor swimming pool, the first one I ever saw.  We all enjoyed time in the pool, especially the children. Marge and I were in our mid 30s then.  It took me by surprise at how good some of the gray-haired women looked in bathing suits.  Not that I was personally interested, of course, Marge and I were getting along pretty well then,  though I did hope that we could age as gracefully.

It was a pleasant old-fashioned day with an outdoor picnic on a hot Sunday afternoon which I did enjoy.  Doesn’t sound very sophisticated, and it wasn’t. So what!  I still fondly remember images of that day 40+ years later.

The third week in June we took the trailer down to Lancaster county to a site owned by PP&L on  property about a mile in from the Susquehanna river.  The river is dammed for the Holtwood Hydro plant. We packed up early and left on Friday after I returned from work.

Susquehanna river at Holtwood Pinnacle

Susquehanna river at Holtwood Pinnacle

 I don’t have a personal photo, but here is one showing the river from the Holtwood pinnacle in the fall.  Beautiful area, I miss the water and the green.

The sites had electricity, but no water so I filled the trailer water tank before leaving and checked the pump.  Somewhere, somehow the fuse  between my car battery and the trailer blew out and the trailer battery was low, so we couldn’t use the pump.  We do learn from experience and brought two emergency “Jerry” cans for water.

Park City Mall Lancaster PA

Park City Mall Lancaster PA

While there the rain came so we went to a beautiful mall in Lancaster and did some shopping, and between showers did some sightseeing.

Returning home the cable between car and trailer loosened, dragged on the road and I lost half the connections in the wiring.  Fortune did smile on us since the brakes still worked, and when I got home I spliced the breaks, everything good as new now. We were all grateful these incidents didn’t happen on our first big trip.

The weekend of June 23 was a quiet one. We missed the PP&L picnic since we went to a movie on Friday and slept in Saturday. Marge did not feel well and slept most of Saturday. It was good we didn’t go to the PP&L picnic, she would not want being left home alone, and would be miserable if she went.

Sunday was a nice day, Marge felt better and we did go to a picnic sponsored by the “house church” group she belonged to.  I, of course, made my prize-winning potato salad which I learned preparing, while working at the Lake Placid Club in NY. Things will come out all right in the end, and if they don’t, it isn’t the end.  The weekend did end very nicely.

Marge and I soon after had some long discussions about family size planning. At that time Marge was taking “the pill” and worried  about possible long-term effects from taking it continuously.  She was still having the doctor I mentioned previously inject some form of slurry into her spine. I mentioned that she continued this rather invasive procedure and what about its long-term effect. I recently asked my neurologist if he ever heard of this procedure and he didn’t, so I think I had reason to worry. Marge decided to quit both.   The upshot of this was Marge’s decision to have a Tubal Ligation.

Allentown Hospital

Allentown Hospital

The doctor told us this was minor outpatient surgery, so we elected to go that route.  This took place on a Wednesday and I picked her up after work.  She had the procedure in Allentown Hospital. It is  minor surgery for some women, but Marge’s health has never been too good so it took her some time to fully recover. 

The girls went to a YMCA day camp for a week and got a big kick out of it, figuratively, not literally.  Marge still not feeling well so I went to Parents Night with Louise.  I did my duty, but Marge is closer to the girls at school than I.

We did go take our trailer to the mountains for a week in July and the shore for two weeks in August, but that is getting ahead of myself as the last days of June were upon us.

Susquehanna river flooding

Susquehanna river flooding

 We did experience more rain on June 29 and a few rivers and streams  flooded. there were some deaths, at least half due to people rafting or boating in flooded water, a very dangerous activity.  The papers and news stations advised residents not to use the flood for recreational purposes.  Some people believe they are invincible, but sadly not true.

The flooding was very bad to the north of us, particularly the city of Wilkes Barre.

Wilkes Barre flood on Main Street

Wilkes Barre flood on Main Street

 One of the churches borrowed a school bus and asked for volunteers to aid in the cleanup.  I went with the group and it was something that had to be seen and smelled to be believed. I was glad that I helped a bit. Later on, Marge took our 70 Ford wagon up with food for residents.  With the back seat folded down, there was quite a bit of room to put cooked food it to help out.  We did what we could.

So, summer began with some changes and minor adventures with yet more to come.

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Great Expectations – Our First Trailer Trip

I am shameless in appropriating titles, though we did in fact have great expectations for our first trailer vacation.  The time was April 1973 just preceding Easter of that year. We made a trial trip to Lancaster PA to get an actual feel of pulling the trailer, setting it up, staying overnight, and reversing the process back to Coopersburg.  We stayed at a trailer parking place, I don’t remember the name now but it was OK, that I do remember.  The weather was overcast and quite chilly which was fine since we experienced using our heater and the interior was quite comfortable.  The trip was a very positive learning weekend.

We left on Good Friday, April 20,  and travelled as far as Petersburg, VA.  We stayed as a Holiday Inn park and left the next day for a similar park at Virginia Beach, our next destination.  Of course, no internet then so we would consult trailer travel guides, select a park and use a pay phone to reserve a spot.  We left the next day for a similar park at Virginia Beach, VA. It was a short drive and we did get some time to browse around the area and actually get a couple of hours on the beach itself.

The next day we went to Atlantic Beach NC. There was a tremendous rush of beach traffic, mostly going out and we were going in.  We found a trailer park a mile or so from Fort Macon, NC. Marge vaguely remembered the location from her childhood and we spent some time exploring the historic part of the fort. the next morning we all got up early and attended a sunrise service, April 22 at Fort Story.  Marge loved Easter sunrise services wherever they were held and this place was part of her childhood.

On Monday, April 23, we got to Myrtle Beach, SC and again stayed at a Holiday Inn Travl-Park. this was largely due to their having a toll-free reservation service and we didn’t have to wast time looking around for a place to park. We again, enjoyed a pleasant stay, the park was very nice and only a few minutes walk from the ocean.  The girls went swimming.  I didn’t as it was a bit cool for me. I did get some rays lying on the beach. 

We had  an unpleasant  surprise one morning.  The sun was shining and I wanted to take a picture of our daughters.  I asked them to pose under a Palmetto tree.  They soon began to wiggle and then cry and Marge and I had no idea why.  We rushed into the nearest pharmacy, described the symptoms and asked what would relieve them.  The clerk told us that they sat on a fire ant nest and sold us some OTC local anesthetic  called Itchi-Cool.  Fire ants bite fiercely , and we had never heard of them.

We did some local sightseeing and saw some of the local attractions. The most notable was a plantation which once owned by the Huntington’s and now turned into a garden setting.  This held the sculptures of Mrs. Huntington and assorted American sculptors.  I wish I had a photo to show you. The garden was very attractive although most of the spring flowers were beyond their peak. We had good weather throughout. The rain did fall in the evening and we had a brief shower one afternoon. Later I learned that back home the weather was April showers, and then some.

We took two days to come back as we realized that is all the time you need. We could not be assured of a reservation until Monday.  We did have a few negative times along the way.  One time I drove up a road that was clearly marked closed.  However, there were many cars going in, so I assumed the sign was wrong and the locals knew that the road was open.

WRONG, the sign was correct.  The cars were coming in, but parking on the side and walking in.  The road had a side road about a 1/4 mile behind us, which was the only way to get out as our road had drainage gulleys on the sides. No place to get hung up.  I sweat blood trying to back up to that road.  I could NOT do it. Marge took the girls out as I was very stressed and the incoming cars were blowing their horns at me.  I could park the trailer but not drive backward.  Fortunately a Good Samaritan camper came and gave me the help I sorely needed.  I closely watched his technique driving backward to learn.  This one of the rare occasions when I could not figure out a solution.  A humbling, but learning experience.

I ran over a dog on the way back as it just ran into the road in front of me, and with a trailer behind one cannot just veer a bit. I was extremely sorry but could not have avoided it.

On reaching home we received a threatening letter from the school board for keeping the girls out for a few days.  I think the first hand learning  about our country was worth it and they didn’t suffer from the absence.  They both were, still are, very smart and could make up what they missed in class.

It was very nice to get a head start on Spring, something we would later do when we could.  Marge had some sort of bug and my bane, hay fever, was starting.  The girls had their annual art and music demonstration. Louise has shown some interest in piano  and was now taking piano lessons on an alternate basis with Ingrid and I.  We were fortunate to have a teacher that came to our house, instead of vice versa.

Our first real trailer travel adventure was very pleasant.  We met some unexpected trouble but overcame it and it was very nice coming back to PA where the spring flowers were starting to blossom. We had an extended Spring and a bit of family adventure.  Our great expectations were certainly met.

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On The Road…In PA

Apologies to Jack Kerouac but I couldn’t resist. Marge and I have discussed buying a travel trailer.  Really, it was my idea but of course it was a joint decision to make.  I have no idea why, it just seemed as though it would be fun.  We bought a used two-year old model, I can’t remember the make now.  It was a 22′ model, very well laid out and suitable for our entire family.  Marge would agree to camping if she had a double bed, bathroom, gas heater,  range and sink, which this one had in compact form.  Our 70 Ford station wagon needed some beefing up and then we got the trailer home, and I managed, for the first time, to back it into the spot for it in our drive. Hooray for me, a cinch. Or at least I thought so then. Live and learn.

When I was looking at trailers in the spring show, I got into conversation with a guy  seasoned in this hobby.  I still remember his remark about buying “If you can get a good night’s sleep in one, you can put up with anything, if you can’t, you can put up with nothing.” Very sage, so that evening we left the kids in the house and set up the double bed to  verify that.  The heater was comfortable as was the bed, though we didn’t spend the night sleeping.  A personal life mystery is why some times we could make love and it was excellent for both of us, other times just go through the motions, have a smoke roll over and go to sleep. The smoke bit is just a stale gag from “B” movies. Forget that.  I am sure other couples had similar experiences, we were not alone in that.  Still, it would have been more meaningful and satisfactory if we could have enjoyed the mysterious pleasure of physical union together more often.  

We had a mild winter in 72-73 though with some colds and minor aches from spring yard work, nothing serious.  March did bring a company car to live with us which was much appreciated by all.

This is much shorter than my usual posts but I will write about our first trip the next time as that deserves treatment of its own.

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Orphanage of Marge

I want to reprise a bit from the earlier long quote about the Charismatic Movement. It does still exist in different forms, but I don’t believe here (LV).  Marge had made some very bad decisions in our early life and was often very remote, and to me on occasion, explosively angry .  These eruptions were to me a mystery, but they were probably built up anger for expectations or actions of mine that I was completely unaware of and  did not fill her unexpressed inner needs. 

Her acceptance of her misery and her plea to Christ was transformative and I believe it was the beginning of recognition of a need to know the meaning of life personally, and intimately have some connection with the eternal. Marge’s confession accomplished that for her, she did become easier to live with and the movement provided her with an uncritical environment to express and enjoy this growth. This was positive for our life together.

Moving ahead for just a moment, I even tried going to a Pentecostal church when I first came here (LV) and when Marge and the children moved here, we both went, though did not join. Our joint consensus was that as a denomination this was not Charismatic but programmatic, just a different structure than Lutherans or Presbyterians. 

In psychology, this action is often called development of the psyche or soul. Marge’s particular crossing of this life threshold was not then, and is not now my own.  I have a sense of the eternal and I try to live a life that adds a little to the social good of the world, and grow, slowly perhaps, in my self-awareness.  Christianity is one of many approaches to this path. A belief in any religious system is  unnecessary to reach  a sense of soul.  To me, the concept of only one God, and his only son, Christ is quite limiting and only one of many ways to personal growth. This path may exactly suit another.  It is not my way to get boxed in by unquestioningly accepting someone elses   dogma and doctrine.

That then, is our wedded interpersonal relationship when we moved to PA. The background of our life.

I am reading background books as preparation for a course I plan on at least proposing to teach.  At present, I am reading the book: “Awakening The Heroes Within–12 archetypes to help us find ourselves and transform our world.” Carl Jung, the psychiatrist developed the concept of an archetype  which refers to common personality descriptors that appear throughout society and over a very long period of recorded time.

I read  all day and just finished  the chapter on the ORPHAN archetype which struck me as almost having Marge’s name on it. Hence the name of todays post.

I will start by quoting in an abbreviated fashion sections of this chapter that I believe apply:

Many Orphans live in what seem to be intact families, but the children are not cherished, nurtured or guided and do not feel emotionally safe.  The Orphan archetype in each of us is activated by all the experience in which the child in us feels abandoned, betrayed, victimized, neglected, or disillusioned…Unfortunately, we live in a society in which being hurt or vulnerable is not socially acceptable.  The result is that this child is not only wounded, but very lonely…The Orphan in each of us is activated by painful experiences, especially childhood ones, and many people are orphaned in intact families from very early ages…Orphans have been abandoned by whatever parental figure might rescue them and are left with a landscape inhabited by only two kinds of people: the weak, who are victims, and the strong who either ignore or victimize the weak.  Sometimes orphans feel like exiles. The fate of such orphans is to be shut out forever from Eden, the homeland, or heaven itself…Although Orphans seem to wish to be rescued and even believe they want to be rescued, they rarely let anyone help them…Developmentally, the Orphan stage is the time children turn away from reliance on parents, to the reliance on siblings or friends. Orphans to not think they can have a happy love life but at least try to find a partner who will not actively mistreat them.

In 1956 Marge wrote a 2 page memoir titled Alone  which I think relevant:

“They don’t know what it is to be alone.  They have their girl friends, and the telephone calls from their boy friends, and they have brothers and sisters, and a mother and father always there when they are needed…but you, you are alone now. In more ways than one.  Our mother is gone now, gone to take care of your sister who is sick and needs her.  Your father is in the Army.  You are proud of him, but you really don’t know him and he is gone now, too; he is overseas.  You get a letter from him now and then, but he doesn’t say much.  Your closest friend is your sister, and she is five years older than you, and is engaged.  Soon you will lose her too.

“Something in you is not right, You are smart in school, but when you are with a crowd, you are with them, but not OF them…For a while, about a year, maybe a little more, there was a boy.  At first he was just a boy but he grew and now is handsome and tall and if he worked at it a little smart. He liked you, but now you have lost him. You haven’t seen hin in almost 2 weeks, but you heard that he asked another girl to the prom.  You like the girl and hope she will have fun, but you wish, oh you wish with all your heart he still wanted you.  You long to ask him:  Why don’t you want me? but you know he would not answer.”

“You are alone in the big house now.  You will be alone for several more weeks to come.  It is quiet, and the silence you used to know and love as a friend is pressing in on you making you think the books from the library are there on the chair.  But you cannot lose your mind in another world now. You  think “loneliness is like frost, it starts in the easy places to reach and spreads and travels to the heart finally, and kills.”

“You like to think of yourself as a girl, tall and straight and slim, proud and unafraid. You know this because it has been wounded and deeply, you have great pride but you are not unafraid, you fear many things.  But the thing you fear most of all, unconsciously is your mind, and what it can make you do.. and not do, and you fear being alone.  They do not know what it is like to be alone.  I know.  And I wish I was like them…for I am alone.”

There are some similar memoirs, but in interest of brevity, I will quote from Marge’s biography sections that pertain to childhood.

“By the time I was in the third grade I was aware that my parents were not really happy, but it was just a sort of background, not anything in the forefront of my life or thoughts. Sometime later I remember a time when we were all in the dining room, and Daddy and Momma explained that Momma was going to  go back to New York, and we three girls had a choice of staying with Daddy or going with Momma.  We had to choose.  It was devastating.  I remember choosing to go with Mom, because I didn’t think Daddy could take care of me. Just putting this down now (1986) is causing my eyes to fill with tears and I feel again that terrible feeling.  I remember how little and helpless I felt, and how awful. I feel it again just remembering it”.

“It must have been during the previous years, when there was a lot of unhappiness, and tension, and no doubt lack of and mis-communication, that I picked up the attitude that Daddy; and by extension, men in general were the enemy.  Not to be trusted with your innermost being because you would get hurt.”

So Marge’s family was intact, but fractured.  She did not feel emotionally safe and was fearful of being alone.  Her limited experience with men was very unhappy. My conclusion is that the Orphan archetype was prominent within her.   

The book I quoted from above has a measuring tool to find one’s archetype score on a randomized set of 72 statements where one quickly rated oneself on a scale of from 1 to 5 about how much or how little you agreed with the statement.  I took it and the results were about that which I would define myself. FYI, my lowest score was as an Orphan and the highest as a Sage, about what seems reasonable, and I think it correct. Perhaps, if I were aware and more sensitive to where she was emotionally coming from, I could have been more compassionate and helpful. Ignorance is NOT bliss.

As a matter of disclosure, I will briefly relate an incident that was damaging to both of us. When we lived in Vestal we went to a Halloween party at a friend’s house in Binghamton.  We were among the first to arrive, and I confess that over a period I consumed way too much alcohol.  In fact I got so drunk I passed out cold. Imagine; drunken Presbyterians. This was  the first and only time this happened to me and that was once too many.  Somebody got me home and I guess Marge put me to bed, then returned to pick up our car.  Of course, I had embarrassed and humiliated her in front of her friends and worse, unintentionally left her alone. That dreaded word.

Marge was extremely vulnerable and  another  married guy at the party hit on her.  She fell for it.  This affair went on for a while, her behaviour was suspicious to me then, but I had no proof.  The guy was a little shrimp, a nonentity in a low-level job at the chemical plant where I held a senior technical position. He was truly a pussy whipped wimp with a shrew for a wife. They are together in Paradise now. Ca that is. Apparently he had done this before, his wife got wise, told him to quit the relationship, and Marge got dumped.  Left again.  Marge validated this, and some other suspicions in 1993 and things were pretty frosty for years.

Like the PA Dutch say “I get too soon old, and too late smart.” 

 

 

 

 

 

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PA 1972 – 1973

Back to the Pa. suburbs at Beverly Hills.  We did make a trip in December to spend time with Marge’s sister Pat and her family in Penn Yan, NY. The weather was cold for December, but reasonable for January though still in the teens.  We attended a pleasant New Year party with friends and I made my celebrated potato salad and that PA Dutch specialty, funnel cakes.  I  made these with pancake batter drizzled into hot fat using a funnel to obtain variety in shape.  Hot, greasy, and sugary, food heaven! 

In January, friends of ours were moving away and we had a light buffet at our house, including home-made ice cream.  A little cool for January but tasty. Ice cream was requested, and tastes better freshly made than with a lot of preservatives and artificial flavors.  Not too wild a party but very nice. 

I went to a class in November to refresh my skills in my areas of work.  I did well and things learned before came back quickly.  Slowly but surely, I made progress on my woodworking projects.  Marge had bought me a very nice radial arm saw as a present and by taking my time I could do a pretty good job at basic cabinet making.

We were in reasonable health in 72.  Marge was still taking injections in her back from a doctor I didn’t trust.  I can’t remember the name of it now, but it involves injecting some sort of finely ground slurry into her back somewhere.  I really didn’t think it was helping her and it might have adverse effects later, but at least she was only going once a month now. i can’t remember how this got started, probably some friend told her about this guy.

Work was doing well and I had finished a big work project on time and was satisfied with that accomplishment. February 73 provided a work related opportunity to take a trip to Los Angles . I was disappointed at the weather as it was wet and rainy.  A not so sunny CA, but I realize now that winters there are rainy in winter, at least for us as we get only a few inches total per year.  In fact January was mild in PA, no snow that lasted.

To recap a bit for myself, I had not darkened the interior of a church from the time I graduated from High school in 1954 until we had Ingrid baptized in 1962 when I came home from active duty. We did go to an old like Presbyterian church when we moved to Binghamton in 1964 and to a new young church when we bought the house in Vestal. We fit in better with the other suburbanites and I was even a church officer for a few years.  The pastor was new, recently graduated from seminary and didn’t exactly seem sure that this was his real calling.  Nice enough guy and his wife was also, they just didn’t seem really comfortable in this role.  His name was Walt, can’t remember the last name and after we moved to PA in 69, heard that he had left the ministry.

 When we moved to PA, we joined a nearby Lutheran church and that was a BIG mistake as the membership was very insular and the pastor rather cold. We quit a short while after joining and agreed not to join any church.  “Once burned, twice shy” as the saying goes. We did attend a very small church near us that was home to two congregations meeting on alternate Sundays. The Lutheran pastor was a full-time professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. He was Dutch or German as I recall. I actually felt I was learning worthwhile information from his sermons. Marge and I went to a Bible study group often, and I really thought it worthwhile, big surprise.

I finished my bedroom cabinet making with two bedside stands and we put up new drapes. So much for home improvements for a while. Too bad personal improvements were not so straight forward.  We sort of drifted along.  I was never very religious myself, had nothing against it, but really was not a true believer, and a deist more than a theist.  

Its pretty well accepted from the time of Albert Schweitzer’ monumental opus that there was a historical Jesus, and he certainly seemed  an exceptional and an enlightened being. Many religious institutions teach people to be good, but don’t help them to become self-aware.  When I grew up, we went shopping on Saturday and church on Sunday. That was just the pattern of life. Something you did, but really to me church had no special meaning, it was just another regular activity in life.

 What is “God”? Depends on who you ask. Even Christianity had to invent the Trinity to remotely try to explain what God meant. This did and does still, using terms that are not very helpful, as they also are not externally defined.  

Marge’s mother was, in her way spiritual, but not a believer in organized religion.  She was a follower of a man whose name was Browne Landone and she had boxes of his writings, and I still have two of them.  Her Dad, Col. Alex Sutherland was an atheist who said he had looked into religion and it was a bunch of “hooey.” Perhaps the atrocities of WWII were part of his conclusion.

My Mom went to the little Methodist  churches in the hamlets where we lived.  My Dad went as well, I think to support her in our family.  Methodists don’t celebrate communion as do the RC church, Lutheran and Episcopal, but Methodists have a monthly remembrance ceremony. I don’t remember whatever the Methodists named the service, but Dad would never go to church on those days. Obviously he was not Christian.

Moving along, in Vestal Marge had decided she had messed up her life and made a personal acceptance of Christ.  Prior to that, I think the reason she went to church was so she could sing in the choir, something she was good at, and welcomed for her singing ability. She became involved in what was then known as the Charismatic Christian movement.  I don’t think it exists in any form today. Through this though, Marge made friends in Binghamton and somehow through them met people with similar beliefs in Coopersburg, the village about 3 miles from us.  For her this was a growth experience.  She did become easier to live with and I told her so.

“Quoting from Marge’s biography “I became involved in a group that met in the new friends home. It was a house church, and after initial discomfort and on my part (no one ever does things exactly the way you are used to, in a new place.), I dived right in. I was still my basically conservative self; there is always a part of me that stands to one side looking on and sort of checking things out.  

I was developing my relationship with the Lord, but I still was struggling with lots of feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.  In some ways I was no doubt, arrogant, and not everyone saw me as I saw myself, as thoughtful and willing.  I had various personality conflicts with certain people in the group.

 One of the characteristics of that movement was an emphasis on worship, and worship was usually an audible expression of love and adoration poured out to Him, both in the group and when one was alone. This was very often in the form of singing.  The songs we sang were either choruses, or Bible verses set to music, sometimes old hymns or new songs we learned.

The other kind of singing we did was called singing in the Spirit, where the words and the melody were spontaneous.  sometimes the whole group would sing together, everyone singing their own song to the Lord.  You would think it would be just noise, but it blended together, and was incredibly lovely. Sometimes one person would sing alone.  I did that.

It was sort of like gathering up what everyone wanted to express to God, and pouring it out in one voice and song.  It is difficult to express what this meant to me, but you can understand that this was a very emotional thing, and in some ways very fulfilling.

 I have always been reluctant to express my emotions very freely, and yet I could do it there, almost publicly.  This gave a richness to my life that I had longed for and been frightened of for many years.”

In PA,  I worked for the power company as a manager. I enjoyed my work had good people in my department  working for a first-rate company. The company was  PA Power and Light.  It was not a state company, but regulated by the state. To me, Public Utility  companies are fulfilling a social need.  They were not turning out needless junk that would be obsolete in a year or two.

I liked our new home, and developed friends in the community. Marge had found a new faith and supportive friends.  The girls were doing well in school.  Time to bring this post to a close.

 

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R. F. & M. F. – End of Chapter

“MY GRANDFATHER’S CLOCK”

Words and Lyrics

Henry Clay Work

“My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopped short — never to go again —
When the old man died.”

“Ninety years without slumbering
(tick, tock, tick, tock),
His life’s seconds numbering,
(tick, tock, tick, tock),
It stopp’d short — never to go again —
When the old man died.”

My Clock

My Clock ca. 1974

The concluding element of Mind Prober is, if you haven’t guessed it from the above lyrics of the old song, ca. 1876, deals with that which makes each of us “tick.”  The idiom is common enough, you may have used it yourself, however what does it mean? In our lexicon, what concepts, beliefs; what principles do we find included, absorbed  in this idiom which, in our digital age, will probably fade away, much as the (tick, tock) in the 19th century song above.  The clock above is one I built over 40 years ago. Still running, still ticking,  still tocking.

The web site, freedictionary.com,  lists the following meanings of the idiom, somewhat here abbreviated to conserve space:

Something that motivates someone; something that makes someone behave in a certain way; if  you make sense of someones actions you understand the reasons for their behaviour and personality;  the reasons why someone behaves the way they do.

Without truculently trudging the trackless trip through the Dismal Swamp of personality theory, the idiom relates to an understanding of a person’s behavior and the motives underlying it.  With that definition as a tentative assumption, a premise; the rest of this post will dwell into the Mind Prober’s analysis of what makes Ms. M. F.  and Mr. R. F. “tick.”

 

MIND PROBER RESULTS – WHAT  MAKES  MR. R. F. TICK

BOB

“Mr. R. F. would secretly like to live in a world of beauty and tranquility, inhabited by gentle people.  In such a setting he could feel free to express himself without fear of criticism or exploitation.  In the meantime, he deals cautiously with others, testing their goodwill and intentions before allowing them to come close.  He sometimes feels the need for a protective shell.”

“Disorganization and chaos may bother Mr. R. F.  He can spend a lot of his time arranging things so his life is predictable and he is in control.  Mr. R. F. will want background information on any issue before he takes action.  If life gets a bit hectic, expect him to step back and take stock of what is going on around him.”   

MIND PROBER RESULTS – WHAT MAKES MS. M. F.  TICK

MARGE

“While Ms. M. F.  likes excitement and change, she is also sensitive to pressure and easily upset.  Consequently she often bites off more than she can chew.  This explains why she so often feels overwhelmed or loses her patience with others.  If she could keep her self from doing things she later regrets, her life and the lives of those around her would be a lot smoother.”

“Ms.  M. F. is the sort of person who experiences a good deal of discomfort when there is uncertainty in her life.  Disorganization may cause her to feel out of control.  While she prefers things that are new and different, she dislikes ambiguity.  Expect her to want definite knowledge on most everything she discovers.”

 

ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS

This time, I think Mind Prober has gone too far about me.  The fantasy world  paragraph one described, is reminiscent of old Walt Disney Movies such as Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, possibly Pinocchio; in the background the strains of Beethoven’s Pastorale Sonata, gently supplementing the visual image with musical symbolism of nature and countryside which I might enjoy visiting for a week or two, but not dwelling there. I welcome constructive criticism, as I certainly have been proven incorrect many times, how else does one grow without some challenge.

I am measurably more intelligent that probably most of the population, and Marge had me beat by a few points. So, what do I, chatting with Joe and Jane Average, have to talk about other than the superficial and shallow events of  the everyday world, unaware of the underlying currents  of causation leading to today, tomorrow, possibly the next day?

********************************************************************************

“Oh, Hi, haven’t seen you in a long time.  How about a coffee at Mickey D.’s, my treat.”

“Sure, but listen a minute, you’ve only got school smarts, how about street smarts?  You live near two tunnels each one-third of a mile long. Could you live in even one tunnel?”

Tunnels

Two Tunnels

 “No, I wouldn’t know where to start.  How would I get washed, how would I keep warm, where would I eat?

“You’re so smart, figure it out for yourself.  Joe and Jane do it, you’ve seen their mattress, the charcoal once stolen from Von’s, their art work sprayed on the tunnel walls.”

OK, OK, but don’t forget, I’ve got my pensions, my investments, Social security, my house without payments, my two cars. How about them apples, Eh?”

“Yeah, today but how about that tomorrow?  Suppose you get Cancer tomorrow, the BIG C; retail med and drug prices would wipe you out in a few months; maybe, you could hold on to Social Security. What then, Smart Guy?”

“Yeah, Social Security, I can count on that, other people do it, I could too.  Think you cornered me?  No not quite. I’ve got an escape hatch, you forgot that, Wise Guy.”

“Sure, Sure, but not where you live now.  The cars also have to go; use the bus, the Wi-Fi has to go, maybe enough left after expenses for a one bedroom walk up in a so-called racially mixed neighborhood. Maybe near the University; even a City Social Center nearby.   Learn about that in School?” 

“OK, you’re starting to paint a bleak picture, however unlikely it is.”

“Unlikely? who knows. You went to college, I am sure you know this saying, “forecasting is difficult, especially about the future.”  And another thing, while we are talking together, at least Joe has his Jane.  You saw that soggy double bed mattress in the tunnel, fit for two, in a way.  Who do you have now?  You did what you could for Marge, we both know that, but truth is, she is gone now.  You live by yourself, that one-room walk up could get awfully lonely.”

“Don’t rub it in, OK?  I know some women, I go out occasionally, I take care of myself, and am not exactly the hunchback of Notre Dame. There’s a lot of widows and divorcees out there, how about that, Mr. know it all?”

“Got a better deal for you.  I think you could well end up in the University area, you know where.  There’s a lot of laundromats there, get used to that.  I know a gal, might be just the one for you.  Nice really.  She’s about half your age, got 4 kids, all in school.  They could sleep on the floor, you and the gal in bed together.  She is full-figured, but what the Hell, keep you warm in winter, how about it?  She has food stamps. Stay single and share, maybe move up to a two BR flat.”  

“Nuff said, nuff said.  Good to see you again, can’t say much  about today’s chat, but I won’t forget it.  So long, take care!!!”

********************************************************************************

So, maybe I do need a protective shell,  maybe that shell is the paper on my office wall.  If I had to live by my wits, I would be lucky to last a day.  Degrees don’t count on the street.  Sort of humiliating to have a 30-year-old computer program point that out. 

Disorganization and chaos do bother me, I try to think ahead of the moment visualizing the various outcomes arising from a decision of mine.  I try to take countermeasures to the negative outcomes,  implementing the most promising course of action.  Some people thrive on chaos, I don’t, never have.  The second paragraph is a trifle excessive, not much though, and does display the careful cautious approach to life that has carried me through almost eight decades. No regrets, no; not anything at all. 

Marge can’t speak for herself, so I will quote from  the psychological test she took, and highlighted that relate to this wrap-up. Next, extracts from highlighted texts results:

“She is overly critical of self and others, likely to express negative views regarding her self and others, She is hostile, independent, impulsive and rebellious and a history of conflicts with social limits is common. She may express a great deal of anger toward men with impulsive, inappropriate expressions of sexual conflicts. She has difficulties expressing anger in a modulated, assertive way and becomes passive-aggresive and manipulative in heterosexual relationships, masochistically provoking men to “mistreat ” her. There is little concern about how others view her, and there are personal hostile aggressive impulses and decision-making tends to be indecisive”

 

“She feels overwhelmed and stressed from coping with everyday problems.  Excessive worry, depression, hopelessness and futility are often described. Stress is handled by withdrawing, daydreaming, fantasy and sometimes a wish for death.  Daily activities are seen as boring and unlikely to lead to better conditions.  She has a tendency to feel persecuted, misunderstood, and mistreated because there seems to be some difficulty understanding the motives and behaviours of others. Her social style is outspoken, talkative, impulsive, dominant and others may see her as bossy and aggressive, as well as argumentative; while also courageous and enthusiastic.” 

“She is lonely and misunderstood and feels more sensitive and high-strung than others.  Feelings seem more intense, and risky situations are sought out.”

I believe that these tests support and supplement each other, though at the same time, not reflecting Marge in her individuality and uniqueness. These trends and tendencies, while important are not all-inclusive and entirely conclusive. 

Margery did retreat into fantasy.  When we lived in Vestal, I would come home from my job that was dull and the house looked much the same as when I left in the morning.  The only change was  about 6 light mysteries such as Ms. Marple  which Marge had read evading boring household activities.

She would start things and not finish them; such as having a garden.  I would rent a rotary digger and clear a patch of the yard.  Marge would plant, weed a few times and then just leave it.  She was temperamental and would blow up for no known reason. She did have, as the test delicately phrases it, inappropriate expressions of sexual conflict.

I really wish Marge had shared this information with me, together with a professional interpreter, but that didn’t happen. She was secretive. This exercise has given me insights to myself, and our past, which in itself is very valuable.

We were not the celestial couple, neither were we the demonic couple.  The quoted tests were completed, I think 1985-1990, from other documents in her file. This was the empty nest period for us and a hard time adjusting to.  Marge did have all these somewhat negative personality qualities, but she had many more positive ones.

Marge could be very loving, in any and all definitions of the word.  I think the best time I remember was when we first came to Las Vegas to live.  We had a 30′ travel trailer and we loaded it up with stuff for me and took about 10 days to cross the country at the end of January 1980;  me doing the driving and Marge the navigating, looking for places to stop for a night.  It was a real partnership.  We shared all the tasks and made love some times along the way.  It was a great trip together toward a somewhat unknown future.

I have gone over all this material before with my therapist who gave a post-mortem opinion that Marge had low self-esteem. She felt that she was not well cared for by her father, and her few relationships with guys before me had not turned out well at all.  Marge was smart, had a great figure even into her 40s and when she wanted to, could be beautiful, and I know this is not just my belief.

Mermaid Marge - 1985

Mermaid Marge – 1985

I have 4 mechanical striking clocks in my house.  What makes them tick?  The spring, of course and if it isn’t wound weekly, the clock stops. How do you wind up the spring of love? Did I tell Marge how I loved her, and tell her how beautiful she was? I failed miserably on those all important tests.  I just didn’t know how, even my letters to her when I was on active duty are so dull and banal it’s a wonder she didn’t tell me to get lost when I came back to the US.

My Dad was not demonstrative at all; I’m not blaming him but my home culture, and  Scandinavian culture in general is bland.  Depression medications were also part of my detachment, as they flat-lined my emotions. Ultimately I failed to give Marge what I see now was what she wanted  most; being told she was loved and adored.  This does not show up in the personality tests.

This post is getting  tediously long, but this is the last of this series and I can’t quit without accepting my inadequacies in our relationship.  

Remember that book that was popular maybe 20 years ago “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”  I did try to relate better, I really did but maybe, yes even very likely,  I was speaking Martian and Marge Venusian.

Eventually we both cleared the hurdle of misunderstanding, each of us, as separate persons and together as a couple, made mistakes but they weren’t fatal.

Marge never gave up. She worked, she contributed to society, she did all she could, and was fired because she was not able to be to work as much as she once  was.  This, by an acting manager who did have the balls to confront her personally but did it by mail.  Marge died a Hero’s death.  She knew the Angel of Death had quit flying overhead and had settled down next to her. She knew that, but she had no fear. When she died, quit ticking,  like the clock in my lead paragraph,  she was never to tick again,  a part of me died also.   

 We stayed together until death parted us.  That’s a pretty fair record, I think.     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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Mind Probing Marge and Bob – Sex

Sex!! where would we be without it? Of course, you wouldn’t be at all, unless you were conceived miraculously. Christianity, Buddhism, aboriginal beliefs, and other religious systems have similar tales,  so that idea is part of our Jungian collective unconscious thereby explaining the mystery of birth and the divinity of the founder.

So, why sex?  Why don’t we just pollinate like plants? Really, I am serious.  We (and I speak for men) could perhaps just wiggle our ears, blow our noses, whatever, in the windy season and somewhere, someplace,  a receptive female receptor would snag one and start a nut, a bulb, whatever.  Does that sound like fun to you, it sure doesn’t to me, but then to some people’s disbelief, I am actually human.

In answer to the sex question, even the Judeo-Christian Bible implores us being fruitful, to multiply, to cleave to one’s wife.  If that doesn’t work, then try concubines who were, despite other chores, a form of sex slave. Said Bible does not say anything about polygamy, nor stoning men for visiting prostitutes, only women, the selfsame prostitutes driven to that trade because of sexist domination by men.  How unfair!  And birth control,  look up the story of Onan if you aren’t sure.  The so-called Old Testament has a lot of juicy stuff if you look long enough.

Speaking of enough, let’s get to a real answer.  HAVING FUN!!!.   Break the ancient rusting chains of arbitrary social constraints and so; Lovers of the world Unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains. Humans are not beholden to the Estrous Cycle so we can make love, have sex; almost when and where we wish. Truly a gift of the Gods, Cupid, Venus, Aphrodite, your choice from a few of many.  And what better place than Las Vegas where what happens here, stays here. Click on the link below for a sample of the old days:  

Spring Fever is not porno, if that worries some, but it was part of Las Vegas for a time.  Not a hot bed motel but a hot tub spa, check it out on the link below, and if interested,  when there, don’t open website but open associated categories. Nice pix, but no nudity, not sexist by todays standards where topless pools abound, perhaps even nude ones.  Spring Fever

By the way, the colloquial slang for Spring Fever was “Soak & Poke” blunt but descriptive.

Spring Fever is now long gone, here is the text from a short YOUTUBE video, and then the video:

Published on Nov 6, 2014
Only in Vegas. Catering to the “afternoon delight” crowd, Spring Fever was a business that rented out private spa rooms by the hour. Your own spa big enough for several people (although I don’t think they encouraged that), a small sauna and wooden shelf for sitting/laying/doing gymnastics. It was a very popular place, especially at lunch time which makes me suppose there were some illicit goings on there.

Hooper Productions produced this commercial for Spring Fever in 1985. It was the first TV commercial the spa had ever done even though they’d been around for a while. They really needed to advertise to a new generation.

I hope you watch the short video, but since Spring Fever is a common term, stop viewing when the video is finished or the video will continue to, I believe, a singing group of the same name.

I don’t think they were open much longer after this aired and the building was left to deteriorate and eventually burned to the ground.

But, what a great idea for lunch, huh?!
Category
People & Blogs
License
Standard YouTube License

So, you get a general idea of the place.  The corner of Sahara and Boulder Highway has deteriorated from what it was 30 years ago.  Spring Fever burned down with cause unknown.  There was an urban legend that there were two-way mirrors in each hot tub room and someone captured an Asian and friends frolicking on videos which were later copied and sold for next to nothing in China, or wherever there was a market.  Supposed Asian had friends here who torched the place in revenge.  Could be, however, each hot tub room had its own heater, and maintenance may have slipped; you must understand these tubs burned a lot of propane.  That alone could have caused an explosive fire.

Spring Fever did play a part in our own amorous adventures, with more of that later.  No pix though, and if I had them, the last place  they would be is on an unrestricted Internet website.  

  

MIND PROBER RESULTS -ATTITUDES TOWARDS SEX

MR. R.F. MOVES CAUTIOUSLY TOWARD A SERIOUS COMMITMENT

BOB

“Mr. R. F. will move slowly toward a sexual encounter, all the while giving subtle hints of his interest.  He will spend a great deal of time testing his prospective partner’s willingness and acceptability.

Once he has received sufficient assurance that the feelings are mutual, he is likely to show tenderness and commitment to his companion.  However, he would probably feel tremendously hurt by rejection or infidelity on the part of his lover.”

MARGE

Ms. M. F. ‘S MOOD INFLUENCES HER INTEREST IN SEX 

“You may find yourself unable to predict Ms. M. F. ‘S sexual interest on any given encounter.  She can be aloof and distant or warm and intimate,  She is changeable, preferring conventional lovemaking sometimes and new and different approaches at another.  Her mood is the key to her sexual behavior. Ms M. F, can easily be described as temperamental.  Her emotions have a greater impact on her sexuality than anything else”

Analysis and Commentary

Since I am cautious and deliberate in almost every aspect of my life, logic alone indicates that the sexual facet on the gemstone of my  love life should shine;  glowing gleaming , glimmering, not flaming up then burning out.  Perhaps I missed some exciting times, exciting women, at least for a while, but I am what I am and overall it suits me.

One short story about Marge and me:  Once early in the evening, Marge asked ” Have you heard about Spring Fever?” Of course I had, heard of, but not experienced being there. So, my reply was something like “Sure, what about it?” and her response “Let’s go there now.” I called ahead and assured that if I came now, they would hold a room for us, and so we went.

This was a first, but not a last visit to Spring Fever, and quite unlike Marge to start this encounter.  I hope you clicked the link and watched the short video. Neither really does justice.  The room was very clean, the water hot and bubbling, and as the text above said, there was a bench for sitting/laying/doing gymnastics.  And so we did all the above as well as enjoy the tub.  Once we had to hurry down without eating dinner, so we stopped at a Subway for some sandwiches and bottled water. A hot tub picnic, very nice really, such pleasant memories.

So much for the past for me, what about the present, possibly the future? In Las Vegas, I have gone out a few times with a very nice woman, about my age, and I have spent some time with her at her home.  I have attended a class, by chance sitting next to an attractive woman maybe in her 60s, who on her initiative, arranged for me to do volunteer work at her office.  So, I feel satisfied that despite my age, I still have something to offer and interest in a relationship.  

I’ll share the opinion of the AARP on the matter of sex, the following is a direct quote from their website: “Great sex minus intercourse involves the same leisurely, playful, whole-body caressing that sexuality authorities recommend to lovers of all ages. But with intercourse off the menu, it focuses instead on the many other ways couples can make love: hand massage, oral sex and toys — specifically dildos and vibrators for women, and penis sleeves for men.”  So, who knows, if the pharmacy no longer can help, look to the AARP.

Marge did leave some results of a test that referenced psychological standard terms and some observations touching on sex follow;  I find the writing quite passively voiced but here is what she left:

She may express a great deal of anger towards men.  Impulsive, inappropriate expression of sexual conflicts may be reported. The client has difficulties expressing anger in a modulated, assertive way and becomes passive-agressive and manipulative in heterosexual relationships, masochistically provoking men to “mistreat” her. The client does not appear to be attracted to one’s own sex, and is comfortable talking about sex.

The Mind Prober quite concisely dervied quite accurate descriptions of our individual and joint sexuality.  One issue not touched on hs her weight and appearance. The image of her below must be about 50 years old, and retouched as best I could, but I think it presents her well as a young woman.

Marge going to dance class

Marge going to dance class

Marge was almost 5’11”, tall and leggy. I think she weighed a bit over 150# then, which was right for her height and general figure. In my opinion, she looked like a LV showgirl, though that occupation would never have been her personal style.  She was temperamental but quite open to trying different approaches, often initiating them.  I never asked “Where did you learn that?” I just enjoyed her making love to me.  

I could have done a better job of assuring her, in terms that were meaningful to her, but I didn’t have her verbal aptitude.  Thinking back, I could have learned to express myself in ways that were more detailed, more descriptive and less trite.  I hope that my actions and attitude toward her were perceived as loving.  Maybe a bit, I think so.     

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Mind Probing Bob & Marge – Personal Interests

Time. Time and time again. What is time?  My dictionary first defines   time as a noun : the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole; when used differently time is a verb, a  linguistic shape shifter –   you ask “How can that be  because no matter how much I ponder your statement, that’s not the way I learned English.”

The answer lies, not deeply hidden, in its usage, such as in  planning, scheduling, or arranging when (something) should happen or be done such as ; “The the sapper  timed the bomb to explode in thirty minutes.”  Time also finds it way into wonderful, delightful delicious phrases such as: all the time, ahead of one’s time, being behind the times passing the time of day, time and tide wait for no man, even time exposure.  How can one be exposed to time, like sunshine, do we spread on a chemical to cut our exposure to time, if so,  how do I find it? 

Theologically, the Wisdom book of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for every purpose under heaven, a time to be born, and a time to die but my personal favorite phrase, vaguely theological, and I gladly share it with you is this: keeping time.  This simple phrase, for me, takes me back to High School more than 60  years ago while taking a course in music fundamentals  our class was discussing the difficulty in maintaining a desired beat, playing some music at the tempo written on the script, when someone asked our teacher  “Are you teaching us how to keep time?”  To which, and to wit, she replied “Only God keeps time, we merely mark time.” I still remember that,  dimly in details,  so clearly in deep-rooted memory.

Isn’t English wonderful? One can correctly write  the crudest sentence using the formula: subject, verb, object (also called complement). Maybe even throw in some adverbs and adjectives.  Or, in the style of centuries ago, you might write clauses after clauses, phrases in clauses, hidden in other clauses, finally culminating in a completed conclusion.

Why this lengthy introduction about time?  The answer lies, by implication, in our topic for this post; which is Personal Interests.  According to two dictionaries I referenced, personal is   an adjective about one’s private life, relationships, and emotions, instead of matters connected with one’s public life; interests is the plural of interest, the state of wanting to know or learn about something or someone; involving time requires action, either present or future, mental or physical. For example, finding time for your interest, making time, taking time off for it, etc.   

 

 

MIND PROBER RESULTS – PERSONAL INTERESTS

MR. R.F. REVEALS HIS INTERESTS TO ONLY A CHOSEN FEW

BOB

“Mr. R. F.  will work hard at perfecting his skills.  He may be reluctant to discuss his personal interests with any but his closest friend,  When he does talk about a project he is working on, it’s with a close friend or two in familiar Surroundings.  His interests tend to be middle of the road; not too spicy or exotic, but personally rewarding”. 

 

MARGE

PERSEVERANCE IS NOT TYPICAL OF MS.   M.  F.

 “Ms. M. F. ‘s involvement in hobbies or projects is much like a traffic light.  She is likely to be either all excitement and enthusiasm, or she is totally uninterested.  Regardless of her level of involvement, she tends to be cautious and unsure of herself.  she generally can be counted on to select the most difficult or unique aspect of any project.  However, the very challenge will unnerve her.  If a project becomes too demanding or draining, she will go on to something else.”

 

Analysis and Commentary

So, time to write some more. First of all, I have absolutely no interest in sports as I am not built for that.  When I graduated high school, I was about 6’2″ (have shrunk a bit since then) and weighed 150#, Therefore I was not suited for contact sports.  I  have and had an interest  in music, took a class in music fundamentals in high school, and played cornet in the band. Also so in science, particularly radio, and  I  built a few simple tube radios.  I had a few friends also interested in amateur radio as well.

At University, I hoped to continue in the band, but the Engineering course load left no time for hobbies.  After graduation and marriage, I took a course in woodworking, building several different pieces and making a sewing room for Marge, complete with cabinets with panelled doors, places for her materials, etc.  I also liked doing as much automotive maintenance as I could, and took some courses in this. I found satisfaction by working with my hands, neither with computers nor office work. Something tangible.

Of course, another form of Personal Interests is an interest in women.  Resort work some 50-60 years ago was an ideal venue to explore those interests, especially after buying a car since the kitchen and wait staff (mostly college age women) had close contact in the kitchen, and resorts were often quite remote from other resorts and towns.

Even now, I sit next to a very attractive and well dressed woman in one of my classes, we, sitting together and not apart, do the “getting to know you” dance verbally  wherever that may lead. Perhaps the dance, a minuet, ancient and stately, time-honored and understood.

Therefore, because now and in the forseeable future, I do find my personal interests rewarding, assuming that I am physically and mentally able. Thusly I grade Mind Prober an A on its process.

 

Margery presents another situation entirely.  Some of her hobbies were relatively short-lived, while others were lifetime activities.  Margery was a very intelligent person, scoring an IQ of 145 on a MENSA test, at the 97th percentile.  Her SAT scores in 1957 were 664 in verbal aptitude (extremely high) and 545 in math totaling 1209.  The 1957 averages were 473 and 496, totalling 969. Mine in 1954 was very close +- a few points, sadly now lost despite asking for a copy.

I say this, not as braggadocio, merely stating a fact leading to the conclusion that our interests were far from those of the proletariat, masses, populace, average people.  We, with the people, but not of the people.  This led both of us to a personal sense of loneliness reflected in many facets of our lives. Our interests, more intellectual, erudite, cerebral,  and enlightened than the average Jane or Joe. And so, set apart from the masses by our genes, not by conscious decision. 

Marge was verbally expert, experienced, accomplished, a  professional,  a teen master.  She won prizes for her composition and oratorical skills which you would expect with her high verbal aptitude score. Not the average Jane by any definition. 

Some of Marge’s personal interests were short-lived; such as learning to play the organ, bookbinding, stained glass and more.  Others were lifelong companions, singing, sewing, and needlepoint. She also had a fulfilling wish to help others.

 There is a sardonic Nazi phrase “Arbeit Macht Frei” translating to “Work makes you Free”  Ironically, work did make Marge free to fulfill her want, her  yearning,  eagerness, and enthusiasm to help others. She worked, almost to her death, not because she had to, because she wanted to help others as a mediator,  a tax preparer, and church officer.

Marge had a strong Alto voice, I could read and sing music in the Bass register and we often sang together in church choirs, or in a local Chorale society, singing the stirring sounds of dead Germans. Music was a lifelong interest for us individually, and together.

My evaluation of Mind Prober’s analysis of Marge is that is Incomplete because it is just that, only partially hitting the mark.

And finally, yes, we both had personal interests in the lives of others, but underneath it all, we did love each other, and did not break up.

 

Posted in Marge Writing, Marital difficulties, Relationships, Syracuse University | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mind Probing Bob & Marge – Stress

November 9, 2015,  77th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Seems a good time to write on stress. Kristallnacht unknown.? Google it. Kristallnacht,  a turning point in Nazi anti-Jewish policy culminating  in the Holocaust–the systematic, state-sponsored extermination  of the European Jews. A terrible day not to be forgotten. Imagine yourself there, synagogues burning, Jews rounded up, beaten, murdered, broken glass everywhere.

The dreaded knock on the door. Fright, fearfulness,  alarm, panic, agitation, consternation, dismay, foreboding.  The knock leading to terror, the terror perhaps to a horrible death.  Talk about stress!!!!!!!

Today’s Mind Prober Post, Coping with Stress.

Stress  is the brain’s response to a demand. Many things  trigger this response, including change. Changes can be positive or negative, as well as real or perceived. They may be recurring, short-term, or long-term.  Changes can be mild and relatively harmless; winning a race, watching a scary movie,  riding a rollercoaster. Some changes are major;  marriage or divorce, serious illness, or a car accident. Other changes are extreme, possibly leading to traumatic stress reactions.

Dealing with stress: the nerve chemicals and hormones released during  stressful times, prepares the person to face a threat……fight or flee.  If possible, yes. If not, headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger and irritability. Leading where? Depression and anger leading to violence. Violence leading to harm. Harm to death, personal, or to others.

 MIND PROBER RESULTS – COPING WITH STRESS

MR. R.F. CAN HAVE A TOUGH TIME WITH STRESS

BOB

“Pressures of everyday living probably weigh heavily on Mr. R.F,  He is likely to worry that a great number of things in life could and probably will, go wrong, Even everyday complications are seen as insurmountable problems.”

“If there is no let-up of pressure, he may resign himself to difficult situations with an attitude of helplessness.  During these times, you are likely to see him withdraw from others.  Although he needs support, he may be unable to ask directly for help.”

MARGE

STRESS MAKES  MS. M. F. ‘S  LIFE STORMY

“Pressures and disappointments are deeply felt by Ms. M. F. Expect to see her making her distress known to everyone around.  She is likely to respond with emotional outbursts that come on like  a storm, and dry up soon afterward.”

“After her emotional bluster is over, she’ll be back to her normal self.  But be prepared for a rerun next time she feels pressure.”

Analysis and Commentary

True confession time for R. F.  Strain from living leading to stress in life and curling to a fetal position? Hmmmmmmm… Somewhat true, neither fighting nor fleeing but worrying about a great number of things?  I think, rather wobbling and indecision  at times of uncertainty and unease caused by difficulties, both at home and work. I think Mind Prober is on the track but is not as severe as it seems.  Perhaps I am in denial, I don’t know.

Back in the 1980’s, I began having recurring chest pains, so something was going wrong, I knew not what. What would you do?  Likely, see a doctor.  Exactly!! I did that and the appointment led to a referral to a cardiologist. This led to me wearing a Holter heart monitor for a day.  This in turn leading to, a cardiac ultrasound exam.  All this data funnelled to the cardiologist.  Finally, an appointment with the cardiologist reviewing all this data.  The outcome? There was nothing physically wrong with me, and next a referral to a psychiatrist. I was pleased that I did not have a disease but uneasy about a psychiatrist.

This person, a woman in early 60s at least, diagnosed me as being depressed and prescribed Prozac, a new drug then.  I had a month’s supply and my reaction was terrifically terrible. I became very agitated,  upset, approaching a manic state.  So, naturally I quit taking Prozac. In retrospect, I should have tapered off, not quit cold turkey.   Something else had gone wrong; I had it with psychiatrists.

No problems are insurmountable, there are always alternatives.  My next alternative was daily consultations with my old friend Jack Daniels.  Jack and my new  large screen TV were very helpful companions.  Old friends…….best friends.  Nothing is forever and eventually I said “So Long” to Jack.  Probably best.

Enough, I don’t like stress, but don’t give in to it either.  Some people do like stress, stress charges their batteries.  Not me.  I like to feel in control, have a plan and follow it until it needs changing if new data emerges.  I do seek opinions and ideas from others whom I value and trust.  I am an engineer, and stress can and will lead to data gathering, analysis,  an action plan, finally ending in action.  Time consuming? Yes, but it works for me.

How about Marge?  Personally, I think there is much validity in the Mind Prober report.  I will be as objective and impartial as possible. Marge left in her files enough psychological reports to fill a notebook.  While not exactly aligned with the Mind Prober categories, there are similarities.

I quote from an unidentified  source document in her files with references to DSM-III.  The DSM-III circa 1980. I copy some useful information about this document.

“In a very short period of time, mental illnesses were transformed from broad, etiologically defined entities that were continuous with normality to symptom-based, categorical diseases. The third edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) was responsible for this change.”

Marge’s diagnosis included having a having a marital problem. The DSM code for a Marital Problem diagnosis include:

“a. Recurring arguments and conflict between two individuals which cause preoccupation and/or distract from activities of daily living.

b. Lack of communication and/or withdrawal between the individuals which results in frustration and/or anger.

c. Inappropriate kinds of communication between individuals which can include unrealistic expectations, withdrawal, or criticism.

d. Avoidance of the individual who is felt to be causing the stress. Individuals can spend too much time at school, work, or friends’ homes to avoid contact with the other person .

e. Stress related to threat of separation either by ‘running away’ (for a child), or marital separation (for adults).

f. Increased irritability, sleeplessness, depression, and/or social withdrawal.

g. A pattern of angry responses towards a third party, which appears to be displacement of the primary relational conflict.

h. Tearfulness, low energy, withdrawal related to concerns about the relationship.

i. Arguments which never resolve due to insufficient conflict resolution strategies.

j. Over-protection or over-involvement in another individual’s life activities secondary to a mental or medical condition of the affected individual.

k. Arguments with spouse that cause preoccupation and detract from work performance.”

Marge’s diagnosis included having an adjustment disorder.  The DSM diagnostic criteria are as follows:

“Emotional or behavioral symptoms develop in response to an identifiable stressor or stressors within 3 months of the onset of the stressor(s) plus either or both of

(1) marked distress that is out of proportion to the severity or intensity of the stressor, even when external context and cultural factors that might influence symptom severity and presentation are taken into account and/or

(2) significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.

The stress-related disturbance does not meet criteria for another mental disorder and is not merely an exacerbation of a preexisting mental disorder.”

This text includes much impartial psychiatric verbiage. I agree with both analyses about Marge. Stress was part of our lives for a long time. This condition was not all unabated, it was similar to background noise with random occurrences of noisy outbursts. We eventually got through it. 

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Mind Probing Bob & Marge – Work

WORK

Lyrics -Anna Louisa Walker Coghill

“Work through the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling,
Work ’mid springing flowers;
Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;

Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is done.
Work, for the night is coming,
Under the sunset skies;

While their bright tints are glowing,

Work, for daylight flies.
Work till the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more;
Work, while the night is darkening,
When man’s work is o’er.”

According to Judeo-Christian mythology, Genesis 3:17 & 19

“…cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.”

 “…you will return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return”

Gods curse, or cure for useless idleness? Pretty heavy; loosening up, author unknown… “Work is the curse of the drinking class”

My dictionary defines work as: “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.” Sound right to me.

 Mind Prober results— ATTITUDES TOWARDS WORK

BOB

Mr. R. F. seeks an organized, efficient work environment

“Mr. R. F. will work hard to master the difficult tasks which confront him in life.  While he can feel burdened by these things, expect him to expend the energy necessary to reach his goals.  For Mr. R. F. a job without challenges would be boring. “

NOW MARGE

DON’T EXPECT AVERAGE PERFORMANCE

“Ms. M.F. will be drawn to exciting tasks or to jobs that offer a great deal of variety and challenge.  Once she takes on an assignment, she will usually throw herself into work and forget about everything else. She will work persistently until she obtains first-rate results.

Trouble can arise if she “bites off more than she can chew.”  While this should not happen often, she may have a hard time estimating just how much she can handle.  When this occurs, you will likely notice her arguing with co-workers or even her boss.”

Analysis and Commentary

Organized….efficient?  That’s me no doubt. Since when?  Probably since grade school.  Even then, largely encouraged by Mom and Dad to study, and complete my homework. “Teacher’s Pet” maybe so, but I really liked school.

Studious, academic, thorough, meticulous, maybe intellectual.  My purpose?  Doing well, determined for college.   Syracuse University, degrees in Liberal Arts and Engineering in 5 years.  Freshman year, 19 credit hours a semester, plus labs.  Difficult and damnably strenuous, complex, and time-consuming.  On Dean’s list a few times, always maintaining at least a B- average .  Dead-on determined.  Many classmates fell behind, not me, meeting the challenges of University life….. stimulating and within reach.

Then, the real world of work.  For me, an entry-level position as an engineer in a steel mill.  The company – Crucible Steel.  The mill manager…….” Reinhold Schemp.”  A real German from the old country, “Rheiny” to his underlings.  Isn’t that great? Sounds like rhinitis, the master mucous of our mill,  The fourth Reich, as the other mills referred to ours, for good Reichish  reasons. My goal; working  long enough until time for Marge graduating, my work  a means to an end. Postponing  my pointless work, then leaving.

So what next, fate stepping in with a National Guard recall, also bringing the birth of our first child.  Active duty in the Air Force was similar to Crucible, something to passively put up with.  My job was clerical in the Comptroller’s office (base financial services).  The work was easy, our Captain, a good guy, as well as the Colonel in charge of the department.  Work was not challenging, also not boring; I lived off base with 4 other guys from our office. I possessed a personal life separate from my work life. Discharged in 1962, Marge graduated in fall 1963, I quit Crucible and we goto Binghamton in April 1964.

What’s in Binghamton?  GAF Chemical, formerly Ansco.  I began  the beguiling work of computer programing in 1965, intellectually interesting, stimulating, and challenging.  Best job ever, as for the work, but the company was going down the tubes so I quit and we move to Coopersburg, PA to work for PP&L.  A great company, I soon became a manager with new responsibilities and challenges.

All this I covered before, concluding with me now relating Mind Prober about work and me.

 Now for the hard part, Marge & work.

At S.U. Marge wanted to learn playing the organ.  Biting off a lot, definitely.  She could read music and sing but did not play piano.  This, a prerequisite to organ study. She took piano for a semester, then beginning organ after that.  She quickly learned and memorized 3 songs. She wanted to play some intermediate level Bach music, a significant challenge.  Were she still a single student, she might meet that level of play. No, being a new Mom, our moves, etc. were too much.  Even when our life stabilized, and we owned a piano, she never played again.  This, at least a partial validation of Mind Prober.

Marge did not have to work for  money as I made enough to live a good lifestyle.  In PA Marge had friends, volunteered, socialized, etc. This changed when we moved to Las Vegas in 1980.  Ingrid started college at UNLV, Louise was in middle school. Ingrid married in 1982 and so began the emptying of our nest.

Ingrid gone, Louise in High School, Marge with no social network.  She was alone, that dreadful disquieting  state  of mind.  One day, she surprised Louise and me by telling us she had gone to a nearby mall and began working at a department store.  Her hours allowed her to come home before Louise arrived.  She felt quite positive about herself and this lasted until a reorganization  eliminated her job.  The store  offered her a sales job, which she hated, at different hours.  She was indirectly fired, maneuvered out of her first real job, and devastated.

Community  college suited her, starting in the Legal Assistant program, grandly graduating in 1984.  Marge had a strong want to help, to aid, to serve others. This training matched skills to her goals. This role lasted  almost two decades when she became too old for hiring competing with younger assistants.

 She continued helping people  becoming a volunteer mediator/case manager with  Clark County Nevada Neighborhood Justice Center (NJC).  After proving her ability there, she accepted a paid position. She also took the H&R Block tax course and became a tax preparer.  Again,  assisting people, now coping with the IRS.

Marge learned her cancer had metastasized as stage four in 2010.  She continued to work for the County, also for some Block clients requesting her.  Becoming sicker and weaker, her long time NJC boss created a part-time job  which she could do at her desk.  I drove her everywhere and she worked even when  confined to a wheelchair.  She had a tremendous work ethic, persistently persevering, unrelenting and patient.

Her boss accepted a higher level job in the County. NJC assigned a temporary manager  from the full-time staff mediators,  The guy,   a manipulative jerk giving broad hints to Marge that it might be better for her to leave.  Marge told him she would never quit even when pigs flew and Hell freezes.

 She didn’t. In September 2012, she received a letter from this guy informing her that her services were no longer needed.    By mail yet, he didn’t have the balls to personally face her.  She was very ill, dying, sometimes I think she would have died at her desk had it been possible.

If  that isn’t persistence, I know not what is.  She died on October 28th at home, assisted by home hospice care.  A footnote to this story is this: the acting manager did not get the manager position; he did not meet minimum qualifications.  A pustulous pimple on the protruding posteriors of humanity.

I don’t know how Marge interacted with her fellow workers or boss, but I know that nobody should expect average performance from her.

For me, I am almost 79 years old.  I still take classes, study my manuals, read and study new materials. I do have increasing, but manageable health issues.  My clock of life is ticking louder.  Tennyson, in his poem In Memorium writes:

“And on the low dark verge of life, the twilight of eternal day”

Recalling my Poem:

”Work till the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more;
Work, while the night is darkening,
When man’s work is o’er.”

My night is darkening, and I, on that low dark verge of life, await the twilight of eternal day.  My life, my work, is not o,er……..yet.

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MIND PROBING Bob & Marge – Relationships

In a funk this morning.  Waking early sometime in the night. Very dark.  Very Thirsty, probably mouth breathing.   Then staggering to my bathroom for cold water. 

Up about 5:30 a.m. due to  Mochoa cat.  Meow, meow , meow – Paw, paw, paw.  Very effective…..for her.  Bathroom water still on a run into my sink.  How long…????????.   $$$ to the water company.  Damn!!!.  Off with the water, dress and then to my computer.  Eyes at half-staff,  sleep impossible, maybe later if lucky.

 

BOB MIND PROBER RESULTS – RELATIONSHIPS

MR. R. F. PREFERS A RELIABLE, ACCEPTING COMPANION

“At a first meeting, Mr. R. F. may seem wary of becoming involved with others.  He is likely to enter into a relationship only with someone who is willing to be a steady and kind partner.

It is best to meet him in a quiet, non-threatening situation. His natural tendency to move slowly is due to his secret fear of being rejected.  If the relationship encounters rough waters, he’s likely to blame himself.”

 

To the work at hand.    Now Marge’s Prober Results:

MARGE MIND PROBER RESULTS – RELATIONSHIPS

MRS. M. F.’S APPROACH TO RELATIONS MAY BE PUZZLING

“On a casual meeting, Mrs. M. F. may seem to be a likeable sort of person.  If you become further involved with her, you might find that she hides a fair amount of angry feelings.  She may seem to want a smooth satisfying relationship, but be pulled to do things to disrupt it.

You may wonder if someone took advantage of her in the past.  she can be friendly and then turn suddenly to being annoyed or irritated.  It may not be obvious as to why her feelings changed, with the exception that she is likely to attribute her occasional upset to others.”

 

Analysis and commentary:

WOW, AMAZING!!!!!!!!

A 30 year old DOS program.  $5.95 including manual.  Almost un-thinkable regarding accuracy. What a bargain.  Better than hours with PhD Psychiatrists. Only one-way though.  So what!!! A do-it-yourself project.  Meaning, what meaning?  Of course, the answer,  next closely examining the textual content.  

For myself, Mr. R. F., Bob to you of course.  Wham, bang, nail on the head! First paragraph 100% true, admittedly true…..    “Wary”, yes, also careful, alert, attentive, watchful, and observant. Guilty of the charge.

 Moving on,  ” a quiet non-threatening situation.” Better safe than sorry.  Where?  to a non-threatening location of course.  Starbucks maybe? Perhaps, likely.

But then;  Secret fear? Rejection? A dilemma of course.  A secret, unknown and or unseen.  Perhaps a secret unknown even to myself? Could be, perhaps, maybe so, at least a quandary, a perplexity, an uncertainty. Life itself.

Last sentence: Blaming myself? How often, with what probability? Perhaps the median, 50%.  Just a possibility.  The other 50% , the causation of the parting of ways? Logically,  next then a detailed examination, of the parting.  Good or bad? Hmmmm.  Analysis, sometimes to my rescue, sometimes to my downfall.  Here, me, asking for, looking for the sequence of events, assumptions, values, styles on each side of the failed relationship.   Hopefully, a learning experience. Maybe not.

Now Marge:  “may be puzzling.”  Indeed – extremely accurate.  My experience exactly. Experience of our marriage, though not dating. Curious, very curious. Puzzling even.  

So condensed, so true to life, this Mind Prober analysis. Marge, a psychological bomb, hidden angry feelings, ready to explode at any moment, unexpected.

Marge, “someone took advantage of her in the past”  yes.  At least once, probably more often.  Her secrets, her fears exactly.

 Attributing upset to others, blaming them? Yes, frequently blaming Mr. R. F., me, Bob, moi, etc. 

 

Conclusions

Seems obvious. Me, “preferring a reliable, accepting companion.”  Marge’s approach, puzzling indeed. One moment, friendly, the next “being very annoyed or irritated,” blaming others, disruptive. Then the hidden bomb.  BANG!!! BOOOM!!!……BIG surprise indeed.

So, ours often a troubled marital relationship.  Not always, when good, very good, when bad, very bad. Polar extremities. Get through it? Yes. Meant for each other? Yes, ………..eventually.  

Authors note:

I believe my past posts have become unnecessarily wordy and sometimes logically disconnected.  I am trying a new style of writing, constrained writing, to correct this.  A link to a site explaining this style follows: The train from nowhere.  If you are confused by this change, click the link.  Stay tuned, more to come. Relationships are only one, though an important one, of the many factors described in Mind Prober.

And now, for a change of pace,  my neighborhood at sunrise.

Sunrise over Durango

Sunrise over Durango

Sunrise over Durango

Sunrise over Durango

Sunrise over Durango

Sunrise over Durango

Sunrise over Durango

Sunrise over Durango

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MIND PROBING BOB AND MARGE

Have you ever had your mind probed when you, the Probee, had no idea who, or what the Prober was?  Really, I am serious.  Have no fear, extra terrestrials are not going to probe bodily orifices, just your mind.

 I am not talking about a Twilight Zone episode or something from an old Sci-Fi film.  Thirty years ago a company by the name of Human Edge Software designed a program, sold as a game named the Mind Prober. The theoretical basis of this was a concept, then popular, named “expert systems” The idea was to develop a data base of experts in different fields and statistically find the significant factors.  Then one could have a computer based PhD as your consultant for maybe $29.95

 Don’t worry about the math, it is valid.  Of course technology is evolving so quickly that knowledge quickly becomes obsolete so this concept went into the dust bin.  But, and here is the difference, human technology is not changing much, though culture is.

For a change of pace, I include some shots I took a week or so ago. First time I tried this. To see them full size click on one.  You can add a comment if you wish to any.  Click REBLOG to get back and click on the X on upper left to close this view.   

 I have mentioned this in two past posts so wont go into depth except to say it the copyright date was in 1984.  Marge accessed the program and printed the output and I have shared some with you.  I began to think that if I could find and take the same program, I could copy the results, one element at a time, and make some comment on that.

 After some Googling, I found a company that deals with old obscure games.  It will play on any DOS based computer, if you still have one, or a more modern PC up to Windows XP.

 So, and I am sure you are ahead of me, I found a company that for a very modest sum will allow you to download the program and the program manual.  I did this, acquiring  an assessment by the same program, in the same format as Marge did.  I even found a YouTube entry of this exact program and I enclose a link to it so you will know the work flow better than I can explain it.  Especially if DOS means nothing to you, you will catch on quickly. Remember this is technology of over 30 years ago, it may seem hung up on occasion, but it is just calculating as PC DOS, Apple II and Commodore 64 computers did long ago. Be patient.  

 

The Mind Prober explained: 

Now to the subject for today:  The first is a brief summary of each assessment.  Marge’s is as follows:

“Ms. M. F.’s curiosity leads her into many novel situations.  she easily becomes bored with routine activities and prefers to seek out some new job or diversion.  She has difficulty being patient and has a tendency to say or do things at the spur of the moment.”

Now for my summary:

“You won’t find this person at center stage.  Mr. R. F. can be a very private, cautions person.  He is highly sensitive to the ways in which others treat him and will withdraw at the slightest hint of their disapproval or criticism.” 

Commentary on the above:

I believe the assessment for Marge is on the mark.  Marge could be volatile and temperamental and could sometimes come across as very demanding when I don’t think she meant to present herself that way.  We did have occasions when she was dealing with someone else that in effect closed the relationship.  She would ask me “Did I come across too hard?”  I would answer something like ” You could have built up to what you were saying or asking before you said what you did.”

Regarding myself, I have to agree that I have been and still am private and cautious.  Much of this goes back to my childhood, spent in the backwoods of the most North-Eastern corner of the most North Eastern county in New York.

 I went to a tiny hamlet elementary school where the highest ambition of the boys was to reach the age of 16 when they could quit school and work on the roads, or other menial job. Usually about grade 6, as the school held non-performers back a grade back then, no social promotions.

 My parents urged me to aim for college and do my best in school.  So I agreed that was the way out of this dismal place and frankly, I was pretty smart. Still am.   Anyone doing well in class was usually recognized by the teacher, which made me a “Teacher’s Pet” earning rejection for not being “one of the guys.”  I did not care for most of them anyway, so what the Hell, I did not give a s__t. Let them dig ditches for the rest of their lives.

Consequently, in my formative years, as I just said, I did not give a s__t for others disapproval or criticism as I didn’t want to end up like them in any event.  I don’t think I was/am highly sensitive, but I was aware, so I avoided my contemporaries as we had mostly little or  nothing in common.  My aim, as encouraged by my parents, was to want a higher standard of living, not the challenging career of manual labor.  

To me, the Mind Prober uses the word “cautious” in what I regard as having an incomplete and negative connotation, that of fear and withdrawal.  I have looked caution up in a thesaurus stating nuances.  Some of these are, carefulness, attention, attentiveness, vigilance, and prudence, to mention a few. Viewed in that expanded context caution implies a careful analytical approach in any situation which may have very undue consequences. 

I was taught at Syracuse that in solving a problem, the answer is almost immaterial, it is the thought process leading to the answer that is critical.  Similarly in Philosophy a critical thought process is essential to separate a mere opinion from an in-depth analysis.  Even High School elementary geometry teaches the students how to solve a theorem by reasoning from elemental definitions.

Analysis requires informational data and possession of analytical tools to process the information.  This approach has enabled me to avoid many pitfalls in life.  Whether job related, financial, meeting the military requirements of my day, etc. After following my path, I have on occasion happened to later see an acquaintance or two who did not take the path that I did.  Their response was uniformly that I did the right thing in a given situation. They did not.

I summarize a recent example.  When employed by Nevada Power I retired in 1993 due to a reorganization. The company had provided a fixed benefit retirement program. I rejected outright a lump sum payment. I chose the option to maximize my retirement amount and ensured myself with a term policy to protect Margery. Unfortunately for her she died before I did.  

Twenty years later I received a glossy brochure from the now NV Energy offering me this once in a lifetime opportunity for a lump sum payment.  Interestingly, after 20 years of drawing a pension, the lump sum offered was greater than that offered in 1993.

 After some quick tax consequence calculations, and considering the unknown risk I would be undertaking, I set up a meeting with my bank investment VP.  She reviewed the offer, and interviewed me about my personal finances.  She then ended the interview by telling me that if she offered me a risk free investment for the same amount for the rest of my actuarial life, she could lose her license due to malpractice and misrepresentation. 

I have many more examples but this makes the point.  On the other hand, I may have missed exciting high risk ventures which might have had a great reward, but most likely  at least bankruptcy. I do not withdraw at a hint of disapproval or criticism, but analyze for potential outcomes and choose the one that looks best to me.   

This attitude has stayed with me all my life.  Caution has served me well and I don’t take it to extremes.  I owe nobody, I own my house,  and investments are worth well into the 6 figures.  My health is quite good for my age.  I have no regrets, as ” Edith Piaf” sang, but to some extent, I have emotionally shut myself off from the mass of humanity. So what?  Perhaps I am slightly into the range of the Autistic Syndrome, but then so were many engineers, physicists, mathematicians,scientists, etc.  Good company.

If you look again at Marge’s assessment you can sense the gulf.  She sought novelty and spur of the moment action.  I was, and am analytical, looking into what might happen, what might go wrong and how to plan on that possibility, etc.  So the groundwork was in place for major misunderstandings.  We were both measurably more intelligent than average and went to Syracuse University on full academic scholarships.  We had that in common, and common interests  in music, art, etc.

One specific example and then I will call it quits.  After moving to Allentown and working for PP&L I often went out for a morning with one of the general construction foremen to visit job sites and see what the crews were doing, their problems, etc.  On one such trip we visited an ongoing housing development project.  I thought it was well thought out, reasonably priced and generally a nice place to live when finished.  So, one day I said to Marge, “Lets go out to the XYZ development I visited early this week and look at the model homes.”  

This we did and my assessment was the same, it was a well thought out development.  Days pass, and Marge comes up and asks “When are we going to move in”  She enthused about possibly of moving in to a new house, who was going to sleep where, appliances, etc.  To me, the trip was just an afternoon’s outing to learn more about a place that intrigued me.  Some more info to file away in my mind for future reference.   Big difference in perception.

Marge thrilled about doing something new, and I, in my cautious way, was only gathering information. This was easily resolved, but I am certain many other not so obvious situations arose which were not resolved, at least completely.  

 That’s the first example of the personal application of the Mind Prober.  The program is capable of probing 8 people.  Marge was very secretive and never told me about this.  I would gladly have gone through the process myself.  I think an impartial understanding of our similarities, especially our differences, could have been very helpful. Stay tuned for more for at least a post-mortem review.     

Posted in 1970-1980, Allentown, Marital difficulties, Pennsylvania, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

WASP (Not the Insect)

The emotional rush of being in love and a couple, both figuratively and physically, ended about when the relationship texts proclaimed, that is, about 2 years after making our informal commitment to each other.  Sure enough, we responded to the ancient call of nature and had our first child in 1962.  Ingrid was of course welcomed, though not planned for.  Marge very much wanted a second child, and Louise, was born in 1967.    Our nuclear family was complete.

A decade has passed since our marriage, and we definitely were White Anglo Saxon and Protestant.  We had our new home in the upscale suburbs, I had a job with PP&L I liked and made enough money that Marge did not have to even consider working.  Marge made several friends in our area.  We accepted our roles and acted our parts without regrets.  However, the script was rather vague and called for much improvisation.  I am sure both of us did the best we could, but even after a decade there was an invisible wall of tension.

 This did not appear when we were dating, perhaps because we were still living separate lives in separate places.  I don’t think either of us were really ready then for being together all the time. In 1970 we passed the decade mark of marriage, that in itself is a point many marriages did not reach.  All in all, we were doing fairly well.  

Marge left a copy of a letter to one of her girl friends in the Charismatic movement that deals with this. The date is October 1970. I don’t think she will mind sharing the part relating to us. 

“Now, I have something important to talk about, and unless you have a bit of time and can think about this, read it later, OK?  It is this: do you recall that once or twice when we talked some about husband-wife relationships last summer? Well, I finally got to where I can admit to a fear, unreasonable as it is, which comes between me and Bob, and it is all on my part, which is scared to death to let Bob in.  It is like a private room, the last stronghold as it were of my private person, and I defend it against all intruders, which includes Bob who should not be classed as an intruder but is.  Yet to truly make love with him, the two of us should become one, in that mysterious way, and yet my fearful reserving of this part of myself I cannot become one with him.  I am afraid to let go of myself for fear I would be lost. Now, I am more free that I used to be which no doubt makes it easier for me to see this and to admit it, but I don’t know how to handle it now.”

Of course I was to some degree aware of this tension, but had no idea of what caused it or what I could do myself to ease it.  Maybe the marriage was a mistake, but now we had two children to care for and Marge, though very smart, had no job skills.  I had seriously thought of divorce long ago but didn’t go through with it.  So, stay together for the children and hope things work out with time.  We did that, though did not vocalize it, maybe we should have done so and come to a rational solution.  I do not believe we were unique in this behavior.  

There is a book that has sold a gazillion copies in one form or another “The Five Love Languages: by Gary Chapman.  My bereavement therapist suggested it to me and I read it.  It is pretty elementary. It assumes, as an example, the wife wants to hear words of affirmation as being a very loving gesture. Her husband is working on his computer or with his phone in his ear.  He gives her expensive presents, which to him express love, but disappoints her. They are both confused and unhappy.

Each cares for and loves the other and unconsciously assumes that what is a loving gesture to him/her is exactly what partner  wants.  Their relationship experiences difficulty despite the best intentions of each partner acting on a faulty premise. They didn’t have a common love language vocabulary. The cure then is to follow the process in the book, with help if possible, to better understand each other.   A process such as this might have been of some help to us in understanding each other decades ago.   

 That could work assuming words meant the same thing to each other and the process does not deal at all with,  as in our case, Marge’s fear of loss. I  do believe that marriage is a 50-50 partnership and Marge did not, perhaps could not, express her deep fears to me. From the letter above, and other sources I don’t believe she could.  If so she would become vulnerable to being hurt.   I was clueless, unaware of this fear, this dread, and did not have her ability to express myself to her in a way that was meaningful to her.  

We played our WASP parts in a unconscious way.  Marge sewed clothes, even when we were in college and made some cute things for the girls.  She had learned to cook well.  For my part I was the provider and took  care of watching the finances, taking care of house maintenance, etc.  Marge took care of the home and we were both good parents, I truly believe better parents than our own were. They did the best they could, we did the best we could. 

Moving ahead a bit to another section of the Mind Prober software on Marge coping with stress:

“Stress makes M.F.’s life stormy. Pressures and disappointments are deeply felt by Ms. M.F.  Expect to see her making her distress known to everyone around.  She is likely to respond with emotional outbursts that come on like a storm, and then dry up soon afterward.  After her emotional bluster is over, she’ll be back to her normal self.  But be prepared for a rerun next time she feels pressure.”

The above quote is a reasonable self-description of Marge.  The scenario above did occur, not every day but often enough that I was at a loss to understand what was the matter.  The stress seems  internal as described above in her letter to her friend about fear and loss but not knowing how to handle it.  

On occasion after the storm was over Marge would sometimes try to explain it to me, but I had nothing in my background to understand what she was saying. We had differing love languages, and then some. I tried and nodded that I understood, but in truth I was clueless.  We both wanted a better life together but there was a big chasm in our mutual misunderstandings.

I have done some more Google and YouTube research on this computer program copyrighted in 1984. It was sold as a game. I think this was to avoid any legal liability if it were misused as having therapeutic value. This was not a win/lose competitive game, just a tool for some self exploration and perhaps some fun with friends.

Upon re-reading this draft post, and earlier ones I now realize that I have given a one-sided description of Marge’s personality and style, but nothing about myself.  The reason is that Marge kept records and I didn’t.  I have found in searching for more info on the Mind Prober that the program very possibly  is now available using current computer technology and available as a download or streaming version.  If so, even at this date, taking the Mind Prober program myself could be a valuable exercise. 

This post is getting lengthy so I will end with the promise to take the Mind Prober test myself if possible.  Keep you posted.

 

Posted in 1970-1980, Allentown, Coopersburg PA, Marital difficulties, Pennsylvania, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

1970 – Pennsylvania

We have now moved down here and into the house on Beverley Hills.  It was heart-rending to leave Vestal as we had made several improvements to the house to personalize it into being our home.  Originally, we had planned on staying in the Binghamton area.  However, it had become plain to me that the company I worked for, GAF, was slowly going down the tubes and I didn’t want to go with it. Also, I received my MS from Binghamton University in June 1969 which added another credential to my resume.

For Marge, it meant leaving the family she had in the area as well as new friends she had made.  She  become seriously involved in the Christian Charismatic movement and developed friendships that were meaningful to her and it was difficult to leave them. I did not share her enthusiasm for this movement, but she  became much less withdrawn than she had once been and was easier to live with.  I was not against the Charismatics,  just not my way of doing things.  So, in that way her commitment was really beneficial to each of us, and also to our marriage.  We had a talk about this and I told her I could sense a difference in her, she was easier to live with, and that I recognized the change her decision and commitment had made. I tried to avoid upsetting her by moving from the house and area we had planned on living for some time. We did discuss the pros and cons of moving and what to look for after the move.  I don’t know what else I could have done.

Marge had a dread about both loss and being alone.  I didn’t realize to what degree this affected her until sorting out her papers after her death.  To some extent she did share with me her dislike of loss of any kind. She was the youngest of 3 sisters.  Sister Pat was 5 years older than Marge, and her oldest sister, Anne was maybe 8 years older.  Once in a while they would play marbles as a pasttime.  The last game Marge played with them the older sisters said they were playing “keepers.”  Marge did not understand the meaning of the word and when the game was over, Marge wanted her marbles back.  Her sisters told her no, that wasn’t the kind of game we decided to play so they got to keep what was her loss.  This was very distressing to Marge and this distress over loss of any kind stayed with her all her life.

 I do recall an event which happened later here in Las Vegas.  We had gone to a movie in what was the first multiplex here.  We were about to get in the car when she discovered one of her earrings was missing.  She started crying very hard about this and we went back to see if we could find the missing earring.  Perhaps the set had some special meaning to her, unknown to me, I have no idea.

Fortunately we got back in, I think I explained the problem as Marge was very distraught and crying.  We got back before the theater cleaner got to where we had sat and we found the missing earring.  To me the earrings were nothing special or costly, a set that one could buy in a department store for a few dollars.  Of course it made sense to try to find the missing one but Marge’s reaction seemed out of proportion to me.  I kept my opinion to myself naturally.

Loss and loneliness may be related.  Marge wrote a paper in high school, for herself, not as a work to be graded.  This combines relationship loss and being alone and not being understood.  As far as I know, I am the only male in her life that did not either abandon her, or recognize her feeling of need as a way to manipulate her.

The honeymoon was over when we moved into our first lodging, a one room apartment not far from the University.  I had to leave her as I left for work, so she was then alone until I returned.  All the old negative feelings and fears returned to her and she was entirely different from the girl I had dated.  I did not understand what had happened to her.

I suggested early on that we try seeing a therapist since she was still a student and we could use the student health facilities.  This did not work since Marge quit when the therapist starting to ask about her father.  Her father had divorced her mother when Marge was in High School.  He was an officer and served as such in WWII so was not home much.  Loss again.

In many ways, I was similar to her father.  I could not remedy her childhood feelings of loss and distrust of men in general.  I did my best to involve her in decision-making when we moved which is my reason for re-hashing former posts.  Marge’s old fears were not far from the surface.  I don’t know even now what I could have done differently, but I was dimly aware that this negativity existed, though did not understand it.

I don’t know if Marge knew how she appeared not just to me, but to others as well.  She left the output of a computerized personality test copyright 1984 and I think it is quite valid. The name of this is “Mind Prober.”  I Googled this and came up with the following comments:

“One of the many “psychoanalytical” programs released in mid-1980s, Mind Prober by Human Edge is an intriguing piece of software that tries to pinpoint your personality and gives advice based on your answers to questions, most of which consist of answering whether you agree or disagree with various adjectives used to describe you.

The program purports to help you understand yourself better as well as the minds if your friends, spouse, or anyone. Based on questions, the program gives you instant evaluation reports, from first impression to secret fantasies you may (gasp) harbor. The approach is quite scientific, and the results  are interesting.

For anyone who enjoys Alter Ego or Mind Mirror, Mind Prober is an early cut-to-the-chase self-analysis program that is well worth a look. The program also comes with a thick manual-plus-book that contains many chapters on how to better understand people around you. It’s also one of the first programs of its kind to ever come out for PC.”

 I will share parts of the report starting with the section that dealt with relationships.  This quote has nothing to do with me and describes quite well how Marge described herself using this program.   Living with her was not merely “may be puzzling” it was puzzling.

Ms M.F.’s approach to relationships may be puzzling”

“On a casual meeting, Ms. M.F. may seem to be a likeable sort of person.  If you become further involved with her, you might find she hides a fair amount of angry feelings.  She may seem to want a smooth satisfying relationship, but be pulled to do things to disrupt it.

You may wonder if someone took advantage of her in the past.  She can be friendly and then suddenly switch to being very annoyed or irritated.  It may not be obvious as to why her feelings changed, with the exception that she is likely to attribute her occasional upset to others.”

New Yard edited

102 Beverley Hills

I know I have written of our move to the Kutztown , PA area in a rental while we were house hunting.  Living there was hard on Marge as Ingrid had now started school,  and except for Louise who was a baby, Marge was isolated, had no friends, and the culture around us was on the fringe of the PA Dutch culture border.  Decent enough people, but English was almost a second language, and all our neighbors were farmers so we had nothing in common.  Marge held up pretty well, all considered, and we both looked forward to buying a house and settling in.

I have posted before about the house on Beverley Hills in some detail, and don’t need to repeat that.  Briefly, the house was a new 4 bedroom brick house on a half-acre lot in a new suburban development .  I had a good job with a solid first class company and had a good rapport with my boss who had hired me in 1969.  Ingrid had to change schools in mid year but handled the transition OK.  Marge had found a pre-school nearby for Louise so we were settling in to the middle class norm.  That was the environment we grew up in and we accepted it.  We had a lot of company, no radicals, hippies, etc. When I grew up, and my children also, it was reasonable for parents to expect them to enjoy a higher standard of living, but not for children growing up now.

We lived in PA for a decade.  In writing this post, I have found that chronology by itself is a logical approach, but too limiting.  Events and memories from the past affect the chronological present, and reflections from the chronological future add additional meaning and understanding.  I think so and will try that approach in the future.  Let’s try it and see.

Posted in 1970-1980, Allentown, Binghamton, Coopersburg PA, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

For Marge

At one time in the past, we used to subscribe to the local paper, the LV Review Journal.  The paper had a weekly column by Stephen Kalas. Marge saved one of his columns, which I found and used as the preface to each of my posts. He is a behavioral consultant and many of his columns concern marriage and similar relationship, and has written a book, as well as his weekly column.

I cancelled my subscription a year or so after Marge died since, for the most part, it was a waste of paper which  quickly found its way into the recycle bin.  Once in a while though, I find one left by mistake in my driveway. A week ago I found one there, but not my Wall Street Journal and I did not notice the difference until I sat down with some coffee to read it.  This was the day for Mr. Kalas’ column so I read that at least.  I think Marge would have enjoyed it, so I enclose at least the lead paragraph and follow-up lyrics from a song he quoted.  so, this one is for Marge.

“The lyrics of singer-songwriter Emily Saliers are, to me, often genius.  But not so much as the words to her song “Loves Recovery”:

“During the time of which I speak

It was hard to turn the other cheek

To the blows of insecurity

Feeding the cancer of my intellect

The blood of  love soon neglected

Lay dying in the strength of its impurity

Meanwhile our friends we thought were so together

‘They’ve all gone and left each other in search of  fairer weather

And we sit here in our storm and drink a toast

To the slim chance of love’s recovery

But nobody gets a lifetime rehearsal

As specs of dust we’re universal

To let this love survive would be the greatest gift we could give

Tell all the friends who think the’re so together

That these are ghosts and mirages, these thoughts of fairer weather

Though its storming out I feel safe

Within the arms of love’s discovery”

I did not know either the song or the artist.  I express the theme of this site as being together and the song expresses the difficulty it takes to make togetherness not merely a word, but a reality.  

What happened to love after “I do”? Were we really in love or was our experience simply an immature sensation that could not stand up to the force of reality?  We did seek for fairer weather when the storms and struggles of our life together raged about us. That came all too soon and our personal past lives were not of much utility in coping with our life together.

It has been almost 3 years since Marge died.  I am left with physical artifacts, some letters, pictures, personal notes and reflections, and of course, my memories.  This collection is what I have to work with. Of course they are incomplete and cover many decades.    

I started this site with the idea of chronologically restating the past about as it happened.  I have taken a flashback to posting some additional detail about our life together as students.I think it is time for me to keep these posts going in the general direction of following the passage of time in our lives. I realizing that I may not be correct but Marge can certainly not amend what I write.

 What I can do, is to accept that, particularly when things did not go too well with us, try to make these posts as balanced as I can.   Good, bad and merely so-so, our life was a 50-50 relationship.  I will make more of a conscious effort in conveying that, first to myself and then to whoever reads these posts as well.

Yes, at times we both sought fairer weather.  I live in NV with fair, if not very hot weather.  We welcome the occasional rain, and especially the snow when it comes about once in 5 years.  I would not want 12 months of July.

 Sure, we had cracks in our relationship and repaired them best we could.  The result, from the outside, I am sure appeared irregular and amateurish.  But in the end, it lasted a lifetime, not as poetic an expression as the song Mr. Karas quoted, though I think, says much the same.

I almost decided to quit these posts as I had and do have, more than a little difficulty in  both understanding and writing of our mature life.  I will never get it 100% correct, and the result will be irregular and amateurish as well.  But no. I’ll do what I can with what I have, so please don’t go away, and bear with me.   

 

Posted in Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Parting Words-May 1958

In Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet speaks the following famous words “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”  Of course, since we know the play, things do not turn out as she expected for either of them.

May was the last month of the second semester at Syracuse when Marge and I parted; going our separate ways for the summer. Early in this series of episodes, I wrote about our last time together in the park.  I am not certain of the day, but I believe probably Saturday May 17. We tried to discuss what our relationship to date meant to each other, and what the future might be.  I know that I was uncertain whether I was the right guy for her and tried to express this to her.  I liked her very much, cared for her, and enjoyed being with her very much.  But……

I think now that my unease was partially due to the different ways in which we used words.  I did not read  fiction at all unless required for a course.  By this, I mean the great literature of the ages, plays and poems.  I did enjoy non-fiction works, such as history, biography, writings on the social and hard sciences, etc.

 Marge was about a direct opposite from me in that she devoured works of fiction and very seldom read non-fiction unless it related to gaining information about a very specific situation.  She had a vast vocabulary and at times other people had difficulty comprehending what she was saying because of this.

With the benefit of hindsight, I believe that at a gut level, I thought we would have some problems relating after the bright glow of dating became very dim.

 This website is about both of us, written as honestly as I can.  Today, I am going to copy verbatim the last letter Marge wrote to me that semester.  The date of the letter is May 18, 1958, posted at noon on the 19th and I probably received it by the 21st at latest.  Final exams were the next week and I was studying for them the week of the 17th.

Marge’s letter

 This is the sort of letter that should not be sent. I wonder what I’ll do with it.

I want to say “thank you” for being strong. And I want to say “Forgive me” for making it so hard.I wanted you to stay, this evening, and last night too, but it would not have been good if you had.

Would you like to know something?I think the nicest thing you ever did was come to see me last night, when you could not stay, and should not have left your work at all. I can not explain what that meant to me, but it meant an awful lot.

I guess I’ll build some moral fibers.

Blessings be upon your dear little pin-pointed, unicornish head, and have a merry first week of final exams…….

me

Page 2

  • I love you,
  • Not only for what you are,
  • But for what I am with you.
  • I love you,
  • Not only for what
  • You have made of yourself,
  • But what you are making of me.
  • I love you for the part of me
  • That you bring out.
  • I love you
  • For putting your hand
  • Into my heaped up heart
  • And passing over all
  • The foolish, weak things
  • That you can’t help
  • Dimly seeing there,
  • And for drawing out
  • Into the light
  • All the beautiful belongings
  • That no one else had looked
  • Quite far enough to find.

I still cherish that letter and it means as much today as it did all those decades ago.

Posted in Pre Marriage life, Relationships, Syracuse, Syracuse University | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Wilson Cottage – Syracuse University

I have rambled  about myself with little concerning Marge. Now I try to remedy that as best I can. This is a copy of the cover letter Marge sent me after, what I thought, was a disastrous first real date, the disaster due entirely to me. She had stapled to it a hand typed copy of “DOWN WITH PIGEONS” written by a humorist, Robert Benchley. The letter is old and wrinkled, but then so is the author of this post.

Pigeon letter from Marge

Pigeon letter from Marge

Marge’s letter to me, was saying “Silly man, I really enjoyed going downtown on our date to see Cinerama.  Let’s get together again soon.”  I hadn’t blown it and I was not going to let her implied invitation go unanswered. Now I include my response, written in the same stiff formal prose as her  letter.

Pigeon Letter response by Bob

Pigeon Letter Response by Bob

Do these letters seem to you a strange way to begin a lasting relationship between a boy and a girl? They certainly do not read like typical love letters, but they were. It is certainly not the “Across the crowded room” and bingo!, nor the wham-bang-alakazam instant rush of recognition. Marge had a “quirky” sense of humor that I valued and enjoyed. We started to see each other often as well as call on the phone.

On April 21, I called her around 9:00 p.m. and we just chatted for a while and I said good-bye in about 5 minutes. Then, surprising me, in another 5 minutes Marge called me and said she wanted to see  and talk to me. Naturally, I drove the Plymouth around to pick her up. She had taken a 12:00 leave from the house-mother and we just drove around. We talked for a while, parked for a while and talked some more. I don’t remember the specifics, but like peeling an onion, we were throwing away the useless  outer layers.

Please don’t think that my memory is so precise as to exact times. I do remember the event very generally and I have a letter Marge wrote to her Mom about this. Since this site is about both of us, I think it will be OK to quote some of Marge’s April 21, 1958 letter to her Mom:

“Dear Mom,

Tonight – well tonight has been wonderful.  I can’t really say why, it certainly didn’t start out that way, but – tonight has been wonderful. …( I have been and, I quote “balled up” unquote.) I called Bob – I wanted to see him and talk to him. I thought he could un-ball me.

…I realize it doesn’t sound quite right; but Mom, I came in at 11:45; I was with him less than two hours; and I am full of peace;  We came to no momentous decisions; nothing was decided, and yet I am full of that lovely quiet peace!

I want to tell you how wonderful it is, and I cannot. I cannot tell you what happened – it is kind of like some wondrous secret that must be kept.

I can only tell you this – my eyes feel like they are glowing, and my mouth is in a small, quiet smile; and inside there is a very wonderful knowingness that everything is right.”

I cannot come anywhere close to Marge’s ability expressing herself in words, but I want to give you a spacial reference to the addresses shown.  I have already written plenty about the Infirmary, but nothing really about where Marge lived, Wilson Cottage on South Crouse Street. Here is a map showing the approximate relationships of our two residences. Marge lived right around the corner from me.

Map of Syracuse University in 1958

Map of Syracuse University in 1958

 I did access the S. U. Archives and did find a little information on the Cottages, as S.U. called them.  I include that below. The buildings are in the Victorian style,  once private residences. Probably for University teachers and staff people. I am thankful that the Archives have at least this much information, they have been helpful but I can’t specifically identify Wilson. The photo was originally a postcard taken in the early 20th century.  Time and copying has dimmed the contrast of this photo so I have warmed it up a bit with a sepia tint. Imagine any of the three houses as being Wilson, you might just be correct. 

Cottage Row, Syracuse University

Cottage Row, Syracuse University

I do have one photo of Marge and I at Wilson.  The occasion was the Engineers Ball dinner at the Brae Lock Inn in Cazenovia, NY, about 35 minutes away.   In February I was elected into the Alpha Pi Mu chapter of the Industrial Engineering honorary society, Pi Alpha Mu.  The Ball included recognition of new members.  Of course, I invited Marge to go with me. Marge had a Kodak Duraflex reflex camera and she had another girl take our photo. The photo’s date is May 10, 1958.  I am the guy looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

Marge and I on our way to the Engineer's Ball

Marge and I on our way to the Engineer’s Ball

Marge saved another photo from the same film roll.  I don’t know exactly where this photo was taken,  but I have so few photos from that time, I include it.

Marge at Syracuse Univ. May 21, 1958

Marge at Syracuse Univ. May 21, 1958

 

Marge had good reason being cautious.  Her parent’s marriage ended the prior year and, as I wrote before, at about her age of 10, she decided that no men were trustworthy based on her father. During High School and her Freshman year at Syracuse, boys and men had drifted in and then after a while, drifted out of her life. I knew extremely little about her past nor her resulting emotions.   Possibly, had I, I would have been more understanding of her temperamental moods.  

 I was not then, nor am I  now an expert on understanding women. I dated some, and had summer romances in the resorts where I worked. Those were pleasant experiences, but in no way special.

  I understood that I did not want to lose Marge, she was definitely special and I was not going to drift away.  We were falling in love, a new experience for both of us.  In our future we experienced ups, downs and in-betweens, misunderstandings, doubts, and  other negatives, as do many couples.

Through the decades of our couplehood,   we  really belonged together.

Riverview Cemetery, Hancock, NY

Riverview Cemetery, Hancock, NY

We still do.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Pre Marriage life, Relationships, Syracuse, Syracuse University | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Fish Tales

Most of us have seen a photo of the earth taken from a satellite, or space ship of some type.  The earth, from this vantage, appears as a blue globe against a black field of darkness. Water covers eighty percent of the earth’s surface providing the distinctive blue color of our planet when seen from a distance.  Interesting also, is that our own bodies are eighty percent water as well.  This coincidence goes further yet if we compare an embryonic fish and an embryonic human, as they are very similar in shape and appearance. Cousins maybe? In this blog, I  share some of my reminiscences about fish and fishing.

At this point, I must introduce my father, John Frantzen, as most, though not all, of my fishing memories involve him also.  Dad was born in the year 1900 in the western part of New York state.  He was a first generation American with a Swedish mother and a Danish father.  In the depth of the Depression, 1932, he took a NY Civil Service exam resulting in a job offer for a clerical position in the NY Corrections Department at Clinton Prison at Dannemora, NY. The prison was, and is a maximum security facility established in 1845.  This village is in the extreme northeast corner of the state in the Adirondack mountains.  The mountains in this area hold an iron ore that was of excellent quality, but very expensive to mine.  The town’s name is from an iron mining town in Sweden.

At that time in this country, any job was a good job so he accepted the offer.  I remember a conversation we had when I was 10 years old or thereabout Dad stating that his original intention was to take the job until the economy improved and then move out.  Love put a change in this plan when he married my mother in 1934 and I came along in 1936. Dad earned a promotion to become a warehouse foreman in the prison.  He stayed there until his retirement in 1967.

Clinton Prison & Dannemora composite by R.J.F.

Clinton Prison & Dannemora composite by R.J.F.

New York has many lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams resulting from glacial movement in the last Ice Age.  Fishing in all seasons was very possible and popular.  Fishing was a male hobby, I can’t recall ever seeing a woman or girl fishing.  I don’t know why, there certainly weren’t any rules, perhaps this was a present day version of the hunter-gather stage of development where the men hunted ( and fished) and the women gathered and cooked.  This is a surmise on my part, though my own observations themselves are true.

Many species of fish exist as do ways to catch them.  I decided to limit this blog to my memories of ice fishing, as I enjoyed this.  This is a style of fishing  practiced in Canada and the upper Northern states of our country. The time is the late 1940s to the mid 1950s when I graduated from high school and went to college.

The simplest form of ice fishing is on a lake frozen solid enough to safely hold your weight.  The first thing to consider is dressing warm enough to stand the temperatures without undue discomfort.  In that time period this need translated into wearing a lot of wool. Long wool underwear, wool shirts, wool coats, pants and wool hats.

 Of course, you have to make a hole big enough in the ice to fish through. At that time the NY law allowed each fisherman to open 5 holes. The  tool of choice was an ice “spud”.  The spud maker ground a  file about 1.5- 2 inches wide to a sharp bevel and welding that to a 5′ long pipe. Any garage could do it for you.  You used it by banging the tip on the ice to chip away the hole you wanted. Now you can buy manually and power operated ice augers which are more efficient.

Rather than try find words to describe an ice fishing tip-up, I enclose a Flickr photo of a current model.

Ice Fishing Tip-Up

Ice Fishing Tip-Up

As you can see, the tip-up rests over the hole in the ice. To use it, You bait the hook and drop it to the distance wished and then the cock the  little flag.  If a fish bites, the flag tips up and the fisherman takes in the line and removes his fish. Perch and often bass are caught this way.  On a good day, working 5 holes you could go home with a sizeable fish string.  On a not-so-good day the fisherman could find a place to sit, drink coffee in a Thermos, etc.

 On one such day, I became bored and wandered around the pond looking for something interesting.  There existed a small island about 8′ in diameter that I wandered over to. Snow had blown in around the edge of the island and I took a step into this.  SURPRISE, There   was no ice underneath and one leg went thru the snow into the water.  I was able to get out quickly with no harm done other than a soggy pants leg.  Dad and his friend, Harold Wrisley, came to my rescue, I removed my wet pants and they squeezed most of the water out of them.  That was the end to that fishing trip.  We picked up our gear and drove home.

Another variation of ice fishing was in a little building, called a hut, shack, shanty or something similar.  Here is one of many variations on this style.

Ice Fishing Hut - Flickr photo

Ice Fishing Hut – Flickr photo

The purpose of the hut was to give a more warm and comfortable space for, at most, two people to fish.  The downside of having a hut was that, once in place, it was there for the season. Dad rented a spot for his hut, as did  many others, on land until the ice became thick enough to support a small hamlet of  huts. An all male hamlet at that.  Even if a guy did no fishing, he could have a few beers, play cards with buddies, or otherwise get out of his house.

 When the ice froze solid,  a tractor towed the huts onto  the ice and set them in place.    The process reversed when the season was over. The name of this location was Gravelly Point, on the shore of Lake Champlain near Plattsburg, NY. A geological name would have been Gravelly Cove, as it was, in fact, a cove. The shoreline at that place consisted  entirely of small stones, many flat enough to skip on the water. This scene was ideal for ice fishing since the water was 100′ deep even at a short distance from shore.

Dad’s shanty was better looking than the one in the photo above.  It was about 6′ long and 4′ wide resting on wooden runners with a peaked roof above, like a little simple house.  The floorboard had four inset covers that, when removed, provided a spot to make the necessary hole in the ice.  We had a kerosene heater for warmth, and folding camp stools to sit and fish upon. The shanty even had a WWII calendar for 1942 featuring pin-up Betty Grable on the wall for art.  We fished  with small wooden “jigging” sticks that held the fish line with two hooks on the end.  We baited each stick and with one in each hand, lowered the hook to the desired depth. Then we sat and “jigged” the line in each hand until we felt a bite. Quickly setting the hook, we raised the line to remove our catch. Sometimes there was nothing, but often a fish.

I learned that in this deep water, different fish favored different depths.  At about 10 feet from the bottom, Smelt proliferated. The freshwater Smelt in Lake Champlain were about 8″ long and travelled in schools.  If we were lucky  being  above a school, we could easily catch a gallon or more to put in our fish pail.  Fishing done,  we would lock up, leave and return home.  There we cleaned the Smelt by removing the head and entrails, no scaling at all needed, and it became Mom’s turn.  She pan-fried the fish while making dinner.  Smelt, living in cold water are very fatty; we ate the fried fish whole, bones and all in about two bites.  Very tasty indeed, especially after a day outside in the winter.

At a water level above that favored by Smelt the Cisco fish lived their lives.  An adult Cisco was about a foot long and weighed from 1 to 2 pounds.  They were a whitefish and if we were not lucky fishing for Smelt, it was worth trying for Cisco as they were a good table fish and three or four was a decent catch.  I can remember on occasion catching and eating them when we got home, if Smelt weren’t biting

An ice fishing tale would not be complete without a Ling episode.  Lings are known by different names in different locations but at Gravelly they are Ling.  I believe they are a member of the Cod family, but not positive. Unlike most fish, Ling are active in winter, and almost inactive in summer.  That is why so many anglers have never seen or caught a Ling. They can easily weigh 2 or 3 pounds each. Neither Dad or I had caught anything one Saturday and the afternoon was getting late.  I said “Why don’t we try to catch a Ling, I never saw one.” Dad said he would go out and ask around and see if anybody else was catching them. He came back with the news that others were catching them and at about what depth.  We baited our hooks and dropped the lines in.  In about 15 minutes I got a bite and pulled in about a 2 pound Ling. What a thrill I had!

We put fresh water in our fish pail and placed the Ling in it.  It was dark when we got home, too late to find the best way to cook the fish, so we saved it until next day.  Our home, like all Northern homes had a cellar, and in our cellar was a special barrel for fish. It had a hole drilled about 6″ from the top with an L shaped piece of pipe as a drain to the little gutter around the base of the cellar.  We would trickle cold water in to keep it fresh. We put the Ling in it as soon as we could. Next day, Mom had found a recipe that looked good and we went down to clean the Ling. Bad News. Mr. Ling had died in the night and was no good for eating.  I’ll never forget catching it though.

Several of Dad’s friends and co-workers had been  sport fishermen as well.  Sometimes he went fishing by himself, sometimes with a companion and many times he took me along.  We would fish on the shore of a stream or a pond, or rent a boat and troll for fish.  On the rare occasions when I did get a bite, it was exciting in that it broke the boredom I was feeling.  I usually resented these outings due to this boredom, though I never complained.   I wanted to do more active things, play with friends, ride my bike somewhere, things like that. I did like ice fishing in the shanty though.

 It was not until after Marge’s death and my sessions with my bereavement counsellor, Christine, that I came to grips with this resentment.  We had reached the point where I was getting though the extreme grieving for the loss of Marge, when we talked of other deaths in my family.

I commented about my feelings for my Dad, his distant personality, and his want to spend his time off in lakes, woods, and streams.  Christine  shared with me that my Dad’s behaviour was very similar to that of policemen, and military men on active duty.  While working, they always were constantly  aware of possible serious trouble.  In Dad’s case, in his workday a fortress-like prison with high concrete walls surrounded him.  Naturally, when possible he enjoyed being able to relax his guard, and enjoy just existing within nature with no concrete walls. Christine’s explanation really opened doors of understanding for me.

I had no idea as a child what the stress of his work life produced and how he reacted to that.  He was also doing his best to share with me his only sports activity, that of fishing. He was slowly introducing me to men’s world and helping me grow up, but I didn’t realize it then. It has taken me forty years to fully appreciate my father, how in his quiet way he was nurturing me,  and to rid myself of resentment that had long been hidden.

My family and I moved to Coopersburg, PA in 1970.  About a mile from our house was a pond of water covering maybe 2 acres.  It featured a little hut with a sign advertising Sure-Fire Fishing. Farm raised trout stocked the pond and the entrance fee covered the charge for a pole and some bait.  The fee guaranteed one fish or your money back and a nominal charge for more than one.  One nice Saturday, I asked my daughter Louise, about 8 then, if she wanted to go down and try fishing. She thought that was a good idea so down we went, got the fishing equipment, I baited the hook and showed her how to cast it into the pond.  Sure enough, in about 10 minutes she caught a 10″ trout.  She was delighted in her childish way and I was very happy for her.

We took the fish home to show Marge and younger sister Louise what Ingrid had accomplished.  I agreed to clean the fish (Louise did now want to learn that) if Marge would fry it and we could each have a bite or two.  This was a big concession for Marge, as she hated the look, smell, and taste of anything at all fishy.  We had a trout dinner that evening and made a fuss over Ingrid’s accomplishment.

Thanks Dad, for taking me fishing with you.

 

Posted in Dannemora, NY, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Flee Flu

An old gag goes like this “I opened the door… and in flew Enza.” In 1957 an influenza pandemic struck. It flew in with a vengeance.  A description follows from the web site WWW.Flu.gov.

“In February 1957, a new flu virus was identified in the Far East. Immunity to this strain was rare in people younger than 65. A pandemic was predicted. To prepare, health officials closely monitored flu outbreaks. Vaccine production began in late May 1957 and was available in limited supply by August 1957.

In the summer of 1957, the virus came to the United States quietly with a series of small outbreaks. When children returned to school in the fall, they spread the disease in classrooms and brought it home to their families. Infection rates peaked among school children, young adults, and pregnant women in October 1957. By December 1957, the worst seemed over.

However, another wave of illness came in January and February of 1958. This is an example of the potential “second wave” of infections that can happen during a pandemic.”

The flu came to Syracuse U. in the late fall of 1957.  It was a  very nasty disease and the Infirmary was full, almost overflowing.

infirmary

Syracuse University Infirmary

Some cases that developed complications such as pneumonia or called for more complete  care transferred to the Hospital of the Good Shepherd  behind the Infirmary. I was in it myself maybe 2 times for X-rays, no treatment. The building appears severe and grim, the Gothic Revival style popular in mid 19th Century. I, and many others were re-assured that a good hospital was so close the University. The photo and data are from the Syracuse University Archives. 

Good Shepherd Hospital - Syracuse U.

Good Shepherd Hospital – Syracuse U.

Constructed: 1875
Cost: $20,000
Acquired: 1915
Materials:: Wood, with brick and stone additions
Renovated and Expanded: 1916 and 1918
Location: Marshall Street at University Avenue
Renamed: 1964 

Margery contracted the flu in Mid December after I had met her.  We were not dating but did know each other.  Look carefully at the Infirmary and you will notice a covered walkway to the right of the admitting building.  The building to the far right is the women’s wing of the infirmary.   The women’s wing was full at the time of which I write, with beds located in the walkway as a temporary measure. Marge occupied one of these beds.

I don’t remember how I learned that Marge contracted the flu.   Perhaps someone who knew both of us passed this on to me.  Men  not part of the medical staff weren’t  permitted in the women’s wing for obvious reasons.  However, one of the nurses on duty allowed me to come in and spend a few minutes with Marge.  I was thankful for the nurse bending the rules and told her so.  

Marge did not look good at all, very ill really. She was one wan woman. The Angel of Death was not hovering, but the Angel of Feeling Really Bad was there.  I blathered on about how sorry I was for her, hoped she got well soon, etc.   When Marge got well enough for discharge she was physically exhausted. She was in no shape to attend classes, especially in December.  I believe she went home for a week to recuperate.  I thought I had a letter to her mom about this, but I can’t find it. However, this absence did not harm her grades for the semester. That was the good news.

My part of this story requires you to take the way-back machine to 1946.  My parents rented a home on Main Street, Morrisonville, NY in 1939 just after its construction finished. The owner planned to move in himself when he retired in a few years.  Mom and Dad knew this and the owner decided to retire in 1946.  Dad then rented half of an older duplex on Church Street.  How did it get that name?  Because the Roman Catholic church was in the middle of it. The street ended about two lots down  from us with a T intersection at Maple Street.  

A teen-aged girl lived with her parents on the second house around the corner on Maple Street. Her name was Anne, though I can’t remember her last name at all. St. Anne is venerated by  both the Orthodox and Catholic faiths. I am neither, though I do respect their theology.  Since upper NY in the 30s was perhaps 85% Catholic, I believe Anne’s namesake may well have been St. Anne. Our parents used Anne as a baby sitter occasionally until we bought our own house in Dannemora, NY and moved there in 1949.

 A new nurse came to work in the Infirmary in the middle of the 1957 semester. An other nurse introduced me to her informing me her name was Anne. Anne was now married, had two children, and credentials as a nurse.  We didn’t recognize each other right away.  You know how it is; you see someone who looks vaguely familiar but you can’t place him/her.  It was like that with Anne and I.  It was very pleasant re-connecting with someone from an earlier stage in life.  We would chat briefly from time to time about what we were doing now, gossip from the old hometown, etc.

OK, that’s the back story. Now to my flu episode.

By January 1958 the flu had peaked and I did not contract it.  I attributed this to working in the Infirmary with the place full of flu patients and figured this boosted my immunity to it. WRONG! I came down with the flu and it was truly horrible.  I suffered from these symptoms: fever and chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle and body aches, and headaches. The fever, body and muscle aches, and headaches were the worst. 

 I cannot remember feeling so miserable even when I had pneumonia twice as a child. Penicillin was gradually available to civilians after the end of WWII. I would not have lived until my 10th birthday otherwise since I was very ill with pneumonia in the fall of 1946.  Flu can develop into pneumonia and I was quite worried about this possibility.

  Since I already lived in the Infirmary, the staff did not have to find room for me.  The flu was viral and treatment was to rest, drink a lot of water, and regularly take the all-purpose APC pills for some pain relief. I lived in my bed in a sickly haze, staggering to the bathroom, and lurching back to my bed of pain. Poor me.

About half-way through my bout with the flu, unknown to me, Anne came on duty and asked where I was.  One of the other nurses told her I had the flu and  Anne could go up to see me if she wanted.  I was in my bed, hurting and feeling sorry for myself and in comes Anne.  A pleasant surprise.  she said “Bobby, I heard you too came down with the flu.  Turn down your sheet and I”ll give you an alcohol rub.  It will make you feel better for a while.” (I hate the diminutive of Robert “Bobby” but anyone who knew me when I wore short pants knew me as that regardless of my age, and I accepted it.”)

I was only wearing my shorts, no hospital gown, so it was easy to pull the sheet down for the rub. It was wonderful!!! “Pack up my cares and woes” as the song goes. I had those in abundance and wished for them to disappear. Anne’s Tender Loving Care yielded results almost immediately. My bodily aches and pains were greatly reduced and the evaporating alcohol reduced my fever.  My cares and woes were gone, I knew I would be OK in a day or so and I knew I was not coming down with pneumonia, which I feared.   The total sensation was better than sex.  Not of course that sex would be even a remote possibility.  As I reminisce about that time, here was a woman who had looked after me when I was a child, had now taken the time to look after me again, albeit shortly, as I was an almost adult.  That meant a lot emotionally.  The  alcohol evaporating and cooling me, the feel of a woman’s hands massaging my back, was soothing and sensual.  Professional while still being caring.  I treasure that memory yet, after almost 60 years. 

I recovered enough to get dressed and walk around in a few days.  I knew Anne’s back rub had a definite healing effect.  We were having a thaw then, and I got dressed in a sport shirt, sweater and my corduroy suit.  Yes, they were in fashion in 1957-58 for a casual but a bit dressy look. Mine was a very dark green color.  I walked around the block, checked my car to find out if it still started and was OK, and returned to my room.  This did tire me, so I rested, though I think went to one class in the afternoon.  

After that,  my schedule returned to the normal routine.  I believe Marge’s did as well when she came back from her rest at home.  We both survived the flu pandemic, started dating in February, and moved along in our life together for a very long time. 

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Pre Marriage life, Relationships, Syracuse, Syracuse University | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Simple But Not Plain

Once, particularly in the heyday of automobiles in this country, “America’s love affair with the car.” was a common phrase. Yes, an advertising cliché, but with some merit. Can you, can I, be in love with a car? I am not  anthropomorphic when I write about having an affair with a car. A car is more than two tons of metal.

 The whole gamut of human emotions is intrinsic to owning that vehicle. Like an awkward teenager fumbling in the back seat of Dad’s Ford with a date, I began to understand about the  emotions of owning a car.  Have to start somewhere. Your start was different. Maybe granddad bought you on your 16th birthday that cute convertible you adored. Maybe you scraped up enough from serving food to buy a beater. But it was yours.  Then, what’s next? Join me, let’s see what we find. 

The lovely girl drives her convertible into the High School lot, top down naturally. Outwardly she looks for a parking place, inwardly, she wishes to be looked at.  The guy with the beater, let’s say one of those 8 cylinder torpedo body Pontiacs with a back seat vast enough to set up housekeeping. He looks for a buddies car, pulls in next to it and gets out.  His mind is on the Friday night date with his girlfriend.  He revels in the potential possibilities of all that space in his Pontiac, the largest ever built.  

October 1957, the baseball World  Series is over (remember when that was a big deal?). The leaves are gone, the sky is gray, and I am  into my 4th year of college. Did you go to college?  I hope so.  A time to segue from childhood into adulthood. Not all learning is from classes and books , much knowledge comes from life experiences.  

My short-lived fling with the Buick is over, did this teach me anything?  It taught me that events often do not go as planned.  I did not have the levers of destiny in my hands.  I did learn how much I valued the freedom of movement an automobile provides, as well as the privacy of this movement. 

Please join me in a visual diversion.  Up until 1950, most auto makes produced a model called a coupé.  There were two versions of this , the business coupé, and the club coupé.  Both were two door vehicles, but shorter than a two door sedan.  The business coupé featured a very large trunk area. Its purpose was to hold sample cases, orders to deliver, etc.  The car’s market was to travelling salesmen. Roy’s father owned one as a second car to drive to work.  He would allow us to drive around it, maybe to get us out of the house for a while.  

The coupé was a popular body style.  In 1932 Ford produced a coupé (Model B) that was available with a V8 engine.  This was very  popular and was later THE car to alter into a hot rod.  The coupé was a feature in many Film Noir movies as it was ideal for closeup shots.  High Sierra and the Big Sleep are two such examples.  Chevrolet even made a coupé with a rumble seat available as an option.  I have only seen one in my life and here is a YOU TUBE video of one. The style continued into the early 1950s until the fin era came to us.

The club coupé had a small rear seat and a  somewhat reduced trunk area.   I enclose a YOU TUBE video of a 1948 Plymouth Special Deluxe Club coupé.

A classmate of mine, Paul P. A. Kumm owned a 48 Plymouth Club Coupe.  He wanted to sell it for $100. The car was in good condition and I bought it from him.  As the video illustrates, simple but not plain, providing the privacy and freedom of movement that I craved.  I truly believe, that in its way, it too qualifies as a classic.  The car was in good condition and the price reasonable.  Multiply it by 10 for a price in today’s terms.  The budget buster was car insurance.  NY state assigned uninsured men under 25 to  a carrier from a state pool.   

I had the bad luck to draw the Allstate card.  That cost $200 for one year. Allstate was the worst insurance company I ever dealt with. I loathed, hated and despised them. Getting plates was easy and I was ready to roll.  WOW!

The Plymouth was easy to drive, and the small back seat came in handy many times.  One adult could easily sit in the rear,  two as well for a short distance.  On occasion, Roy and I took our girlfriends out for lunch or dinner such as to the New Smile restaurant.  Though far from being spacious, Roy and I could pull our seats forward to give the girls some room.  Enjoying an outing together more than made up for the limited space.  

November came and I was anxious to get my driver’s license.  Syracuse is sometimes named the Salt City due to the saline wells that produced salt long before incursion by settlers.  In winter it turned into Slush City.  Calcium chloride was a by-product of a local chemical company and was used copiously for snow removal on streets.  My first driving test was on such streets.  The test evaluator (brownies as we called them, due to their uniforms) flunked me for improper parallel parking.  I practiced this, re-took the test and passed.

The next step was to make a long trip.  My home town, Dannemora, NY is about 240 miles from Syracuse.  There were no interstates to make this trip in 1957 so it was at least a 6 hour trip.  I invited my roommate, Roy and a resident across from us, Benjamin Dizon, to come and spend Thanksgiving with me and my family.  We could share driving, it was nice to have company, and should trouble occur, there was help at hand.

There was reasonable weather then and Thanksgiving was a very pleasant experience for all. Returning to Syracuse, we did run into snow.  The wipers of cars in that vintage were vacuum operated.  When going uphill, the vacuum would drop and the wipers barely worked.  This did slow us down, but we drove carefully and returned with no real problems.

December arrives and the semester is coming to a close.  I pay no tuition because I have a scholarship.  I  have no room  charges in exchange for doing some light chores.  I do have to eat, and my parents help some there.  I now have a car, and by participating in paid drug experiments, have tax-free money for dates and gas. And, as a student, I get a draft deferment.  Life truly was sweet.  Maybe I should have become a professional student, what do you think?  

Finally, a personal retrospective, and a play on the words of the blog title today.  First we play a round of “compare and contrast.” You probably learned the concept in high school. I was born and educated in NY state,  earning two Bachelor degrees and one MS. I also have an Engineer’s license from PA where I lived for a decade.  Most of my professional life was as a manager in the electric utility industry.  I retired in 1993 and continue to live in Nevada. I enclose a photo of me taken earlier this year, and of my house where I have lived since 2000.

Bob 2015

Bob 2015

305 vista glen

Bob’s Home

Now for the other Bob, Robert Redford. We are both men born in the same year. There the similarities end.  By choice, I spent most of my working life in the utility industry.  Electricity is vital to our way of living.  During my work life, utilities, even publicly owned companies,  were state regulated. I valued my contributions in working for the public good.  Utilities were a necessity, but  not exciting.

So, I had a middle class education, worked in a middle class industry at middle class jobs.  I am now comfortably retired, and live in  a middle class development.  I have no regrets.

The other Robert (Redford)  has had a long career as an actor.  As such he is a famous person.  The movie industry itself is quite glamourous and dynamic, much more than the electric power industry.  I never even thought of being an actor, and I doubt Mr. Redford ever considered engineering as a career.  

In conclusion, my Plymouth truly was simple but not plain, and I am plain, but not simple. 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

Posted in Syracuse, Syracuse University | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Experimenting With Drugs

I experimented with drugs while at Syracuse University. Yes, and I am proud of this.   This activity was an added benefit of working at the Infirmary.

infirmary

Syracuse University Infirmary, Waverly Avenue.

The Norwich Pharmaceutical Company started in 1887 in Norwich, NY and  exists today as a Pharma company  in Syracuse.  The medical Director of the Infirmary was associated with Norwich as part of their clinical trial drug development program.  I don’t know his exact title, though I do believe he was fairly high up in the medical hierarchy.  In 1957 he was middle-aged, about 45 or so, and likely held a Senior Scientist or similar position with Norwich.

Norwich developed a variety of pharma products. At some time in the development cycle, the drugs were evaluated with clinical observations from human volunteers.  What better place to find volunteers than at a large university?  

At the time I resided at the Infirmary, Norwich was doing much research on time release drugs.  I participated in many of these trials.  I will explain in some detail how this program worked, and then mention some of the other ongoing trials.  

The first step in the trial was to draw about 10 cc of blood from a volunteer, shortly before 8 am.  That established a base.  Then the volunteer swallowed a pill that contained the time release chemical including a tracer. Three additional blood draws were made at hourly intervals. These blood draws were analyzed to learn  how much of the tracer was released over time.   The infirmary was so close to the University that these draws could be made in the interval between classes.  This completed, each volunteer  received $10 for participating. Please note, tax-free money.

Then, gasoline cost $.25 a gallon, a movie ticket was $.75, and a good dinner went for $2.50 and a large sausage pizza $1.50.  I could have a dinner and movie date with a girlfriend and still have money left over.

 We residents made a point being on good terms with the staff to know the trial schedule. We referred to our compensation as “blood money.” We could easily count on one trial a week. Trials took no time or effort, just a little inconvenience and was better than slaving  away at a minimum wage job. I believe the hourly minimum wage then was $1.00. 

Some trials had undesired side effects.  I recall one trial that involved getting a shot in a butt cheek to check the carrier for a proposed drug. For this, we got $30.  Richard Novotnoy, another infirmary resident, and I went in for our shot and had breakfast after.

We were walking down Marshall Street and WHAM, I felt like somebody had hit my butt with a baseball bat as hard as could be.  It was a painful effort even to walk and driving was very difficult.  The car had manual transmission which was the norm for that time.  Shifting gears called for some fancy footwork with my right foot.  We limped our way home and reported what happened to us.  The Director was there and told us that every participant had the same reaction.  Some women were in such pain that they were sedated.  

The carrier was intended for use later with a real drug to be used for kidney disease.  Typical patients would be older citizens with renal disease.  If the carrier alone caused so much pain to young college students, it certainly would not be practical for real patients.  The trial stopped. In a day, I was uncomfortable but not distressed as I was the first day.  Was it worth it?  I think so and in a small way, I regarded this as my contribution to the common good.

Roy participated in some trials that I was not involved in.  One involved a study to decide the effect of UV on the skin after taking a genuine but trial drug.  Roy was fair-skinned and the study involved masking his thigh with the exception of a strip of plastic on the thigh.  This strip had  6 square holes, about the size of a postage stamp. The strip was covered in the beginning.   A research assistant would uncover the holes at predetermined intervals while Roy was irradiated by a sun lamp or similar source of UV radiation.  When the test was completed, his leg was uncovered and Roy had 6 small sunburned squares on his thigh.  The first square had the longest exposure and was severely sunburned.  The 6th was just pink.

I hope this had provided some insight into how the system worked.  I did trials until I finished school.  I volunteered for the NY Air National Guard in April 1959. I was given a cursory medical exam by an Air Force doctor.  By this time, my right arm was extremely pockmarked from all the blood draws I had undergone.  Doc took a long look at the scarring, then looked at me, but did not ask any question, so I said nothing.  I passed the physical of course.

So, I had given blood to aid developing new drugs.  For this I received a nominal monetary compensation.  It was a good deal all around and I am pleased that I took part.    

 

 

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The Meaning of a Classic

Early Fall had arrived to Syracuse in September 1957.  Roy and I had settled in to our room at the Infirmary, and were walking  on a Friday evening. We had left the infirmary on  Waverly, walked east and turned south on Walnut Ave, toward the University campus.  While walking, I noticed a For Sale sign on a car in a parking lot at University Place and Walnut.  A fraternity house was located on that corner, I don’t recall the name as I didn’t pay attention to fraternities.

 I was attracted to the car and said to Roy ” Lets go over and take a look.”    The car was a 1938 Buick Special 46c Phaeton.The color was dark red, maroon as was the common name for this color long ago.  I searched for a photo to show you and this is what I came up with.  It is from an ad by a convertible top company, Topsonline.com. Personally, I think the car shown below is a 1939 model, not 1938 as the ad states, but they were very close in appearance.

Buick_special_46C_phaeton_convertible_37_38

1939 Buick Special model 46c Phaeton convertible

I fell in love with the car.  This model was seldom seen and the owner, George Rodormer was asking $200 for it. Quite reasonable.  I asked if he would take a check and he agreed so I went back to the Infirmary and wrote a check and gave it to George.  I told him I wanted to drive it off and asked if he would leave his plates on for me until I could get the paperwork done for insurance and new plates.  He was agreeable to this,  though it was not a very legal arrangement.

I had a NY Learner’s permit then but no driver’s license.  Roy had a license so we got in and I drove it to his home in Port Byron, NY.

So, what was the meaning of this transaction?  For that matter, what is the meaning of anything.  For example, a $10 bill is just a piece of paper with words  and an engraving of Hamilton on it.  It has no intrinsic value, unlike gold which does.  It is a medium of exchange, and the holder can exchange it for $10 worth of goods and/or services.  Pretty dry stuff isn’t it?

Let’s take this a bit further.  What is the psychological meaning, or feeling that having this $10 means?  Of course, this varies immensely depending on the situation and the person.   If you were broke, the $10 could mean food to eat, clothing to replace worn out rags and enjoying an improved sense of well-being.  In 1957 $10 could also mean the ability to take a girl out, have a nice dinner, see a movie, and possibly some romance to top the evening off.

How about the car? That’s the point of all this.  Like many young men, I had an interest in cars since an early age.  I prided myself in being able to name the year, make, model, etc. of any car I saw.  Now I was the proud owner of a fairly rare car that was beautiful to me.  So, I felt pride of ownership, and a feeling of personal freedom, not having to rely on public transit.

 I could also fantasize a chase scene in a Noir film.  I would be at the wheel with pedal to the metal, engine roaring and tires screaming.  Edward G. Robinson types would be leaning out windows with revolvers blazing, and other gangsters after us similarly occupied.  Two buddies blazing away with 45s.  Deafening noise.  Then…the sound of a crash, and a glance in the rear view mirror shows our adversaries crashing over an embankment.  “Good shot Eddie, time to really move along.”  Sure.

Saturday I drove around with Roy and some of his buddies.  Great fun and with gas at about $.25 a gallon not too expensive.   I looked at YOU TUBE now and did find a short video of a 38 Buick 4 door convertible being driven off a car lot in 2012.  This is definitely a 1938 as can be differentiated by the grill.  Also the headlights were not faired in to the front end as they are in the image above.  I hope this video and the photo give some idea of the car I briefly owned.

Briefly?  Why so?  It’s like this:  After a pleasant afternoon of driving around country roads, we took Roy’s buddies home and drove back to his house.  Nice dinner and time with his family.  I really felt at home there.  Sunday though we had to hurry back to the Infirmary as we had chores to do before it opened on Monday.

 I still wanted to drive around a little and by dusk, had invited another friend with a license to drive around the Syracuse area.  That was fun and we were getting hungry.  It was nearly 8:00 p.m. We saw a Howard Johnson’s in the DeWitt area and pulled in.  We had a decent meal, probably the day’s special.  Then, back to the Buick for a drive home.

Then, Oh, Oh, you probably saw this coming.  The Buick would NOT start, no way.  I went back in to the restaurant, talked with the manager and told him my problem.  I said I would be back next day to take care of it in the daylight.  He agreed, but told me if I didn’t, he was having it towed.  Then, with a couple of bus changes, we got back to the University.  What a day!

Next morning, Roy and I took the bus route back to the restaurant with the dead Buick.  With the help from somebody, I think it was the manager who wanted to be sure we left, we able to get a push start and away we went.

When we arrived at the University, I drove back to the fraternity, parked the car about where we found it and asked for George.  Fortunately he was in at that time. I told him, politely but firmly, that the car did not run properly and I wanted to back out of the deal.  George was very reasonable.  We went outside and he checked the Buick over for damage. There was none, just maybe 100 more miles on the odometer. I returned his keys, George got in and tried to start.  DOA again. George returned my check as he had not deposited it yet.  He was more than decent about all this, though my backup plan was to go to my bank and put a stop order on my check, my Plan B.

I think, though I’ll never know, that the starter failed.  Starter relays were not universal yet, and the starter was engaged manually by pressing a large spring loaded pedal above the accelerator which engaged the starter gear with the flywheel. With the ignition on,  the starter would turn and the car would start. You had to quickly take your foot off the starter pedal as the next step. The spring would pull the starter away from the flywheel and that was it. A simple but reliable mechanical solution in design.

So, obviously not a failed relay, there wasn’t one. It had to be the starter.  It is not difficult to change a starter.  You detach the wires, unbolt the old one, remove the starter and bolt a new one on, tighten up and back in business. However, I had no tools, no place to work, and I knew next to nothing about car repair mechanics.

Sic transit gloria, For a brief period, I owned a great classic car.  Really, I would like to have it back today.  But I have no place to put it and the cost would be in 6 figures for a nicely restored car, or the cost to restore a car almost as old as I am.  I do own a very nice 1967 Mustang coupé, get compliments and comments from complete strangers. Still, of all the cars I have owned, I really liked the Buick best. The feature I liked best was the spares with their metal covers in the front fender wheel wells.

I am an engineer, not a writer, and certainly not a poet.  During a chance event, I noticed the Buick and that it was available.  I immediately bought it, and it was mine for a few days.  This action was unusual for me, no analysis, internal debate, considering alternatives etc. I just reacted.

 We had some adventures, good times, and even fantasies. It soon became clear that this was not meant to be a long-term relationship.  We had to go our own ways and now only memories remain. As my life moved along, I realized that  events, this time with people, could be very similar.

The Buick meant a lot to me, more than I can articulate. I will subtitle this post “My love affair with a Buick.”

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Infirmary Blues (?) Syracuse Style

Have you heard of the S.U. Infirmary? Recapping a bit, Roy and I roomed together at Watson in years 54-55.  I lived in G. Cleveland 55-56 and Roy took a year off.  We roomed again in G. Cleveland 56-57.  We lived in the Infirmary for school years 1957-58 and at least part of 58-59.  Here is a link to it.

http://archives.syr.edu/buildings/infirmary.html

I think it will be helpful to show you the Infirmary, and return  into how we got  there.

infirmary

Syracuse Infirmary & Student Health Service

 

“Constructed: Prior to 1904
Purchased by SU: 1926
Location: 109, 111 and 113 Waverly Avenue
Cost: $45,000 for all 3 buildings
Materials: Wood frame
Demolished: 1971″
Notes:

“The three neighboring structures served as the office of the Student Health Service, the Men’s and Women’s Infirmaries and housing for the Resident Physician or Nurse. Henry Health Center was constructed on the buildings’ former sites.

Sure looks inviting doesn’t it? We lived there about a decade after the photo was taken and it had been repainted when we lived there. The Infirmary mostly treated colds, sore throats, and minor cuts, bruises, and abrasions.  The usual treatment was giving  the patient a supply of APC tablets with instructions to take as directed. Come back in a week if necessary.  That did OK really, and the University Hospital was to our rear, facing Marshall Street.  They could handle more complex problems and procedures.

The car in the foreground is a 1947 Packard Clipper sedan, so the photo is from 1947 or a few years after. For you car lovers, here is a YOU TUBE video of such a model, fully restored. Personally, I preferred the look of the 4 door Clipper.  The somewhat larger and costly Packard model was bulbous by comparison.

When Roy and I lived there, our address was 111 Waverly Avenue, which is the center building with the sign over the entrance.  I do not recall there being a Resident Physician of Nurse. There was a director, an M.D. and a Head nurse during normal hours. The first floor was the admission office and waiting room, exam rooms, and offices and a small kitchen in the rear. 

On the second floor there was one large room facing the street, a hall to a communal bath down the center, and a smaller room on each side of the hall.  The large room housed two medical students who did work-ups and served as after hours emergency health providers, if necessary.  The other two rooms were decent sized and housed two students each.  Roy and I were in one, and different occupants in the other.  We got free board for duties such as floor polishing, snow shovelling, etc.  Not bad really, as it was close to the campus, and there were no RA types to watch us.  Of course we were expected to keep our area cleaned up and to respect each other as we were a small group living close together.  It was not unheard of for one of us (not me) to invite a girlfriend up to enjoy garret life in all its glorious fullness.  

It was ideal for Roy and I.  We were good friends,  got free lodgings, and in general were quite satisfied.  Occasionally we would swap Infirmary duties, double up etc. so the other person could have a weekend away.  We were both independent personalities, and did not feel the need to buddy up with someone just because we joined a group, such as a fraternity.  Ours was GDI and I think you can work that out by yourself.  For us at least, less was more.  Our first dorm, Watson was much like a barracks.  Grover Cleveland was an old apartment building and that was like teaming up with some buddies and renting an apartment which was OK, but had seen better days.  The Infirmary was more like living in your favorite old aunt’s Victorian home and sharing space with cousins you got along with, but didn’t see too often.  

How did we get the offer to come to the Infirmary?  I do not know, and have no written record.  The best that Roy and I can come up with is that it was through Al Peaslee as an intermediary.  Al lived in the Grover Cleveland apartment that I did in 55-56.  He shared the common room with the guy with the eyelid trouble.  Al was enrolled in the NYS Forestry College.  As a State school, the tuition was modest at best and many of the courses in the first two years were the same ones taught by Syracuse U.  There were a few Freshman forestry courses but by the time of the Junior year, almost all the advanced undergraduate Forestry courses were taught in the Forestry college, also on the Syracuse U. campus.

I think Al had some sort of job, I don’t know where, when he lived in Grover Cleveland.  He also did at the infirmary when we were there. I don’t know doing what then, but it might have been washing dishes or something like that.  I know I didn’t get asked by the SU Student Employment office due to my well known belligerence.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that is not still recorded somewhere. Another question is why did both Roy and I got an offer at the same time?  It is very likely due to someone who at least know both of us.

I can vaguely remember getting a ride to and from Syracuse in a summer, I don’t know what year, with the Dannemora, NY Methodist pastor.  I think, for me, it involved going to the infirmary for an interview, but am not positive.  The pastor had a meeting related to his church duties.  We had made arrangements for him to meet me and we would drive back to Dannemora. Even if this factual, and no way to verify this after 60 years, who would have invited me for my interview?  

For me, this is one of the great unanswered questions of life ranking with : Is there a God, What is the nature of Good and Evil, etc., etc.  However it happened, by chance or by the beneficence of the Great Unknown, we continued to room together. This time it was in the rickety assemblage of Victorian houses seen in the photo.  Perhaps our contribution to civilization was to polish floors on Friday and shovel as required.  Mindless tasks that led to meditation on Great Thoughts.  At least the undergraduate version of that. 

So, not so blue at all. Time marched along for at least 3 semesters.  What was life like there? What did we do?  More later. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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