Well, it does have an effect of letting you go back. In fact, the island played great deal of importance when I was a kid anyway. My grandparents used to take us out there when I was so small I can barely remember it. I can recall looking at a calendar and I distinctly remember the year 1922. So I think that’s the first awareness I had as a kid, which would mean I had to be around seven years old. It seems to me I’m sure we went out there earlier. We used to leave Cape Elizabeth, that’s where we lived, and go by boat, a little 18‑foot inboard from Cape Elizabeth. That was a major sea journey. Some days it was pretty rough. I can remember all the porpoises and the other things that we would see on the trip. It was an exciting adventure and then we’d land on the island. It was like, you know, we had gone so far over so much time that we thought it was way out in the ocean, little suspecting that we getting closer to land all the time. We’d get to the island so we didn’t begin to think of the mainland, Falmouth Foreside, as mainland at all. We always thought of it as perhaps another island out beyond us and it was quite a shock to discover that it was mainland and we were closer to it than where we left.
I’d say it probably took two hours, two and one‑half hours [to get there] because it was a slow boat, you know, an old clunker. Sometimes it was three and four hours when the engine would break. We didn’t know if it might be weeks. A little side story ‑ my grandmother always wore a corset. I guess a lot of the elderly ladies did in those days. We found that her corset had just the right size spring in it that made the engine run. So we always made sure my grandmother had her corset. She was always there. Well, that’s enough of that. That connected me ‑ keeps me connected to the early days.
I was born in 1915. I was born right here in the city of Portland, and we quickly migrated out here to Cape Elizabeth. My grandparents had always been Cape Elizabethans. I was always a country kid at heart anyway. So we didn’t stay in the city very long. It wasn’t my element. My grandfather worked in Portland as a screen maker at a place called E.T. Burrows on Spring Street and he used to lobster sort of as a hobby, a supplementary income. Times were rough in those days. I think his biggest pay was $27.50 and… I guess that’s what he retired at per week. And some of the things that I remember in particular were storms we had. It would isolate our home for sometimes a week because the road we lived on was a dirt road, no telephones, no electricity. It would be like you are 50 miles up in the country, (here on the Cape) and not very far from where we are right now. So the transportation, we’d get to go into the city if we were lucky occasionally a farmer would go by with his hay rack and we’d hitchhike a ride up to the main road and sometimes the farmer would be going right into the city so we’d ride all the way in with him. We’d pick up two weeks worth of food. Once in a while we’d have an oil man come out and deliver kerosene for the lanterns and lamps we used.
My grandfather was never really a farmer. I can’t quite remember why he was out in Cape Elizabeth, except that I guess just to be close to the hobby of fishing, and his relatives were fishermen, some of them owned stores. When I began to become aware of my surroundings, I got to meet these various people, but I didn’t pay a lot of attention to what they did until later
years, after it was hard to get information about them. So that’s the early days I can recall. I must have been a lot younger than seven at that time and I spent more of my time with my grandparents than I did with my own parents. They lived close to each other. My father worked for the telephone company, an electrical company so he was away from home most all during the week. My mother spent most of her time with her mother, which was my grandmother, so that’s how we were the great connection with the grandparents.. Whenever it wasn’t weekends, we were with them.
My mother rarely went out to the island. For some reason she ‑ oh, I do know. She had a raspberry garden which developed so well she had to take good care of it because a lot of customers would buy the berries so she always rather stay home and tend that than she would go to the island. Once in a great while, she would go and, of course, I guess it gave she and my father an opportunity to be by themselves without squawking kids around. Also, I can remember one particular ice storm we had. It isolated the place for two weeks, the road was completely, just cutoff, by trees across it. Even the farmers couldn’t get up it with their sleds or anything and they finally had to hack their way down through it, cutting the trees down in order to get in
to open the place up. And the way we kids got out, we skated all the way from our house on the road and the ice was a good inch and a half to two inches thick on the road, to get up to the blacktop, where it was just like a sheet of glass and we skated ‑ we probably skated five or six miles around the Cape and back. We were dead when we got home, tired. There was one big hill that was about a half a mile long and we dared each other to start down over it coming back home. I remember I got going so fast I didn’t know what I’d do to stop. I was afraid I was going to fall and break my neck so my cousin kept yelling “sit down, sit down,” so I did and it ripped the bottom of my pants out. I finally got home with bare bottoms hanging out. Oh, we always got flack [for ripping our pants]. We always had a good patch job done. So that was that episode. Then the next big episode was the day that the, I think, the telephones came first. They ran a telephone line down. You could be on a 10‑party line if you wanted to sign up. You were lucky if you ever got a chance to get on the telephone, though. And then, I don’t know whether it was a year or more later came down the electricity. Of course, all that was expensive stuff for we poor people and we didn’t get to have a telephone for quite a while. I think my father put it in because he was with the telephone company. And then after a while we decided that maybe electricity would be a good idea so I had an uncle who was an electrician and he wired my grandfather’s house so we could have a light hanging from each ceiling. I don’t know how old I was at that time. Some time probably within this six ‑ seven year old era. I remember my first day going to school in first grade and I walked in and my mother left me. I felt that I was being left forever. [I went to school] where the present Thomas Memorial Library is in Cape Elizabeth and the boys would form in one line and the girls form in another and never the twain should meet. We had separate, you know ‑ the girls toilet was on one side of the basement and the boys on the other side and each morning the boys would go in their line and the girls would go in in their line and then we’d be seated in a unique situation. The first grade was a room all to itself because we all were little kids, but as we moved up the classes, I think they mixed and they perhaps had rooms split in half and it might be second grade on one side and the third grade on the other and two teachers and so on. And it was always ladies for teachers and my first introduction to male teachers was when I moved to South Portland and that was a terrific shock. We didn’t get away with any of the things that we could with lady teachers.
The Fourth of July was always something of great excitement. We usually went down ‑ we had a fort, Fort Williams which is still present, but it was active and we always had rip snorting celebrations there. Summers used to be fun because they would have activities there. It was a coast defense fort with an infantry battalion and my uncle was in the infantry band so he got us access to a lot of things that ordinarily you wouldn’t get to. The fort also had its own movie theater and we were always there. They always had the latest movies and we would have to walk through the woods at night when we’d go there. I can recall a Frankenstein movie they had and us having to walk back through the woods at night. Oh, boy, that was scary! [We went with] our cousins who lived next to us. We had a wealthy family living across the road from us, up on the hill, and they always took notice of us, if we needed a ride or anything, especially after those severe storms, they’d always send their chauffeur or maid or somebody over to see if there was anything we needed. They were very good about things like that and they had a son who was about a little younger than I am and we’d see him come over and look through the trees, want to come over and play with us, since he was in a higher state of the social family he wasn’t permitted to play with the plebeians. One day my cousin, who was very provocative, waved him over and said “Come on over. Come on over.” “I’m not allowed to.” “Come over or I’ll come over and get you.” The kid came over and we got acquainted and after that he was with us more than he was with his own friends, Cape Elizabeth was pretty well split down the middle. The wealthy people lived down along the water and the farmers and all the other ones went to common public schools while all the wealthy kids went to, you know, private schools like Wayneflete. So gradually we got acquainted with him and he was accepted. We’d visit and sometimes we’d go out and play with their friends and they had a tennis court so we were invited there, if it wasn’t too busy with the more important people. And then we discovered that they had weekly polo games down further away from the house and nearer the ocean so we were gradually invited to go to those and those were gala events, I’ll tell you. Oh, we were getting up there [in age]. My cousin lived next door to us so we always had plenty of fun. He was a hell‑raiser. We’d get this kid ‑ he would always have the best baseballs and stuff so we got him to organize ‑ no, we’d organize the baseball game and invite him so he’d bring the balls and all of the equipment and they had the best big field so we got them to agree to let us play baseball on their fields and then more and more we got integrated with them and learned their devious ways. It worked and we had a lot of fun and some of the kids we played with ‑ one of them was chief justice Gignoux who played in the sand box with us and other well‑known names around the city, Neily kids, they used to play with us. They were year round residents, lived on big estates, nothing smaller than 500
acres each. Gradually we got invited to go to the other kids’ homes and see how the other half lived. It got really interesting. I think it tended to give us an incentive to learn proper grammar and also we could intermix with these people without being called hicks. I’m sure my feeling was to see if I could improve myself to a point where we would be accepted and it worked out pretty well. My grandmother always was fussy about us using good language.
Her background, she must have been among some of those people who were wealthy in their day because she knew her way around and she had lived for some time in New York City before she was married. She was proud to announce that, “I even had Japanese servants in New York.” That was by a previous marriage, I think she was married to a fairly prominent prizefighter from those days and he got flattened and died as a result of being hit in the chest which damaged his lungs, so he died. The fighter would be my maternal grandfather so I
never did know what he looked like. Well, that’s that.
Now let’s start us off on a new path. Of course Christmas was so‑so when you don’t have any money and you don’t have much more than a Christmas tree and whatever you can make to put on it and you’re pretty well sure that Santa Claus isn’t going to be coming down your chimney. I can recall briefly thinking maybe there was one (a Santa Claus]. It didn’t take me long to come to a conclusion that it was all a fake. Particularly, how could he get down a chimney and not be all soot? How could a fat man like that get down a little skinny chimney, and some of it didn’t add up. I didn’t buy a lot of that tripe that was being cast around. I really formed my beliefs religiously I think, too, on those lines. I couldn’t buy a lot of the stuff. My grandmother was always trying to sell us malarky that didn’t seem to make much sense. I don’t know what [religion] she represented. I think she was a Catholic but some Sundays she might have been a Presbyterian and another one a home Baptist or she could be anything. However, there was a common thread. She always believed in God. [My parents] hadn’t talked much about (religion] ‑ whatever my grandparents believed they just took for granted as a fact and let it go at that so we never made it much of an issue. I went to church a few times ‑ not regularly. My grandmother made a good effort trying to get us to go to church, become civilized, and we’d go reluctantly, sneak out when we found a good opportunity, and it never was any kind of a thing that was I curious enough to know any more about. I don’t know (why]. You’re young and you don’t really care. You don’t want to worry about dying so who cares. Secondly, living in the country, you got to see things like they really were and you weren’t easily sold on things you couldn’t put your finger on. Proof, you know. What somebody can’t say with certainty didn’t hold much water. That’s about it. I’m still in that same state I guess. More skeptical. Let’s see, what other holidays were there? Halloween was always good in the country, pumpkins and things. When this rich kid came over one night with an electric light in his pumpkin. Wow, there was something real different. Well we scouted up and got my father to get some lightbulbs and batteries for us so we were the first kids in the whole area that had electric pumpkins. [Battery run] with a light inside and a switch on the back. It was neat. You didn’t have to burn your fingers trying to fool around with candles, if you’ve ever dealt with candle operated pumpkins, they melt, they soften and shrivel up. If you use them once, they’re pretty well pooped by the time you get home with them. Oh, sure [we’d take the pumpkins out with us]. That was our light. This kid’s mother was always afraid of fire so that’s why they did it. We would always go out walking through the woods with him and she was afraid somebody would drop it with a candle in it and set the woods afraid. A very likely possibility. [When we were walking in the woods] we were looking for ghosts or something. I don’t know what we were looking for ‑ hoping that we would see something and hoping we wouldn’t at the same time. We never heard of [trick or treating]. That never came into vogue until I was way in my teens in South Portland, before I ever heard of that. It (Halloween) was ghostly stories, ducking for apples, games and stuff like that. We’d get invited to this big house and there would be a great big tub filled with apples and we’d duck for them and the one who could get the most of them by grabbing them with your mouth would win a prize. It was kind of fun. And once in a while, we’d have costume parties. Most of the time we didn’t have money enough to buy a costume so we had to reluctantly decline to attend with some phoney excuse.
[Chores] were a regular. That was a given for any kid in the country. Water came from the springs and we had to carry that. I remember being small enough so that it took my brother and I together to carry a 10‑quart pail of water. Once my brother was leaning over the edge of the well and fell head‑ first down into the well. When he turned up missing, we were all looking for
him. Then my Uncle Frank, finally thought of checking the spring. We found him in the water, which wasn’t very deep, head‑first, his arms had given out from trying to hold himself up out of the water. We got him out of the well and rolled him over a barrel to get the water out. He came to, and in order to warm him, we put him in the oven. He made it through. I mention this story to describe how we took care of emergencies back then.
The spring was our refrigerator so we would suspend the milk and butter with a bar across and put it down in the pool of water, particularly in the summer. We would walk to a nearby farm for milk and chopped wood and see that the kindling box was full. Since my grandfather would go out before sunrise and come back after sunset, it was our job to see to it. On the weekends, he’d cut the big stuff. We used to have a fellow who’d come out once every couple of weeks to pick up junk and rags and stuff like that and we were always notified by my grandmother that he had a big black bag and a whip. If we didn’t behave ourselves, she could very easily give us to him, so we thought! We were very good on the day before. He looked just as green as she made him out to be. Yet under it all, he was a pretty good guy. Then we used to have fruit peddlers who would come every once in awhile with a wagon of bananas and stuff like that. They always came by horse and carts. My cousin always used to have plans. They had this weight anchor that they dropped down on a leather strap that would keep the horse from moving when they came in to visit each house and my cousin would always lift the weight up and put it in the wagon and let the horse wander up the street and that’s when he’d get his free bananas. It didn’t take the peddler long to discover that one and he’d bring the horse and wagon right into the path so he could keep an eye on it.
I have only one brother. Then we had ‑ I think this was a very rare occasion ‑ an ice cream wagon with ice cream sandwiches. I guess it was ice that kept it. I don’t know how they kept it hard. If we could ever scare up a nickel, we could have some ice cream. And they used to make it over at that big estate every once in a while, the boy’s mother would call us to crank the machine and we’d take turns cranking the ice cream machine. That was the most delicious ice cream that you ever put your teeth into. You had no choice [of flavor] ‑ depended if it was strawberry season, we’d have strawberry ice cream. Vanilla ice cream and chocolate. It had a texture that was, oh, it was just ‑ it wasn’t hard. It was like a thick pudding, cold. And then they used to get an extract that was put out by the H.H. Hayes Drug Store, which was on the corner of Congress and Free Street now in Portland. That would be the druggist of the day and this extract they called Hayes Five Fruit Flavors. They’d mix that stuff up by the gallons. We always were there to crank that machine and mix it with the ice. We were there when the goodies were passed out. My cousin could sense it. In fact, I think he spent 50 percent of his time spying on them. He had a high tree that he could get up in and notify us of who was coming and who was going, whether there was going to be a party or not. We always kept ourselves occupied.
My grandfather used to ‑ his work place was close to a downtown Shaw’s Market so he’d ‑ he had lots of friends that were fishermen so we ate a lot of fish. He’d bring home fish and bring home meat sometimes. Rarely have meat, mostly fish and staple foods. Oatmeal was daily, every morning was oatmeal. Potatoes at least once a day. It never failed. And my grandfather used to have a special favorite that we weren’t overly crazy about. Salt, fish, and pork scraps. It was a greasy mess. No, [not like finan haddie) finan haddie was terrific. Every once in a while we’d have that. That was our favorite. Creamed finan haddie. But this salt, fish, and pork scraps ‑ yuk. It was so salty, it would pickle your tongue. And we found out after a while that if you fried it hard enough and got brown and crisp enough, some of the saltiness got out of it. Gradually we got to enjoy it. It took a long while. And then donut day. Oh, boy that was some occasion. My grandfather would announce that tomorrow was going to be donut day, make donuts. They fried this dough in some kind of like big thick pancakes. Oh, no, the donuts did (have a hole) but these other things, things they called fried dough didn’t. I don’t know what they were called. Those were some of the favorites. Yeah, like that (fried dough at the Cumberland Fair]. Probably an inch thick and brown. We split them and put butter in them, berries. That was another thing. Lots of berries around in the summertime. There used to be some berry picking missions. We lived only a mile from the ocean so after we got old enough that they trusted us, they let us go fishing and we’d bring home some fish. There were fish they called cunner which is like perch, an ocean perch, red and scaly and probably anywhere from half a pound to a pound, pound and a half, and they were fun to catch and plentiful. Just walk out on the big ledges, cast your line out there, clam bait or whatever kind of stuff you used for bait. You’d usually come home with a dozen. Today you can’t even find them, no matter where you go fishing. They’re just agone. And haddock then were plentiful. You could just go off shore maybe a mile and catch all kinds of haddock and cod and big stuff, which today is rare. Only the draggers get them and they go way out. So there has been a very great change in the sea. Lobster was more valuable to sell than to eat and we used to catch the lobster and sell them, or my grandfather did. I never really cared a great deal for lobster. Crabmeat we always used to like and of course, in those days, clams were ‑ you’d scrape your hands through the mud and come up with enough to make a meal. It only took a minute or two to get all the clams you could ever want to eat on that island. They have practically disappeared. Out in front of Art’s place, it was just black and blue with mussels. There was no mud. You could walk on top of the mussels and they’re gone practically. So it’s either
the pollution, maybe the water temperature has increased. The water used to be crystal clear. At night it would be starry, light right up like you had a light bulb under water from the phosphorescence. I can see the deterioration of the sea quality over the years. That’s going around in a circle and a long ways away from Cape Elizabeth, 70 years plus.
Well, unfortunately in those days, ethnicity was definitely kicked around a lot and the Jewish people usually took the brunt of it. And I guess mainly it was jealousy because they always seemed to be the ones with the business and always had the money, and always were going to be lawyers and always aspired to the higher things that the commoner couldn’t seem to touch with a ten‑foot pole. So I think it was jealousy more than anything else that brought that around. And of course, when I was a kid, the Italians were held in low esteem. They were always the laborers. We were considered to be one step above them, that was about it. The truth being I guess we weren’t even on a level with them. We heard it kicked around among the elders. We got a good opportunity to deal with the black people because there was a family who lived just a short distance from us as kids and we intermixed with those people. We never thought of them as black, we saw them as neighbors and they were kindly and nice people and I think they were Jamaicans, I believe. And the elder was a cook on the tug boats in Portland and the boys were enrolled at the school we were, good athletes. Nice, well, you know and not, how will I put it? They weren’t barbarians and ruffians. They were gentlemen, nice people, respectful. They didn’t take any flack from anybody and they didn’t have to. So there was equality then. There was just this one [family], but it gave, you know, the opportunity to not get biased. There was no feeling
about it, nothing. I mean, hey, they were equals. We never thought about it one way or the other. We didn’t [identify ourselves with any group]. I never knew what we were. I think probably we were if anything more related to Scots than anything else. Now, the Irish were onto themselves pretty much in those days. They had been the underdogs but they were now getting a leg up. They were into politics so they wound up either being commissioners of police, and chiefs and you know they had their thing and you didn’t break into that. If your name wasn’t O’Rourke, you never could be a cop. If you weren’t O’Malley or something, forget it as far as running for public office. That’s the way it was in those days. Boston was like that for years, still is, I guess. So, there definitely were these ethnic struggles and you were aware of them. I guess from real early in life I was not discriminatory type. I accepted them for what they were. If they treated me right and not barbarians, why I didn’t mind associating with them. If we ran into any friction at school, we settled it with a few well‑placed jabs. Any bullies we used to have to equalize them. One in school I remember, I was telling my wife about it the other day. This kid pounded and taunted us and pestered us. I don’t know [why], he was just plain mean, always aggravating, insulting you. If there was anything that you did that he could find that he could make fun of, he would do it. And I had a girl in the school that I kind of liked and he got wind of that, of course. He was trying to mess me up there. So this particular day he said something about her and I never thought twice about it, left him flat and put him on the ground and I was so surprised because I figured if he ever got up he’d mop the floor with me. Well, he didn’t get up. He just stayed down there, bawled. By God, I felt 10 feet high after that. It was such a shock to think that ‑ first, I never even thought twice about it. He made me so mad I just let him have it and it must have connected at the right spot. My hand hurt for two days after and I didn’t win the girl. She didn’t think it was very nice for me to strike him. I wouldn’t know [if he was interested in her also]. I had dinner with that girl last night ‑ my wife and I and her husband. In fact that girl’s boy married one of my daughters. Isn’t that strange, coming around like that? Well, I’ve always lived around here. Then my mother died when I was 13 and that blew the whole ‑ blew your youth right into the stratosphere. Everything changed from that time on and it was just fortunate for us that my grandparents were so close to us. Mainly (things changed) in the home and a mother and all these nice things are there forever and then suddenly she gets sick and she goes to the hospital. Kids never figured anything serious. She was only 35 years old anyway. So comes a Saturday morning and the telephone rings and my father comes out and says “your mother is gone.” I couldn’t grasp it. Gradually we realized life was all over, when we were young, nothing was going to be the same anymore. And my brother, of course, was a little young and couldn’t quite grasp it. It hit me. It hit me mainly, I think my defense was pity for my father, I felt so bad for him. And we, my brother and I did everything we could to ease the burden for him. You know, we’d do all the things to try to see that the house was spotless. We had gotten a week of it because she had been away in the hospital so we had gotten ourselves fairly well trained, but from now on that was permanent. Well, we couldn’t be counted on because he would go away for a week and we weren’t capable of handling the house by ourselves. So we moved down with my grandparents and our house became just like yesterday. We never felt like going near it again. Just didn’t want to bring back any of the pain of it. So that’s how we got started going permanently to the island. That’s ‑ that was later in my life, too, come to think about it. So occasionally we would go to the island when I was in the seven era. We went for the summer from June through September for a number of years after my mother died because we lived almost permanently with my grandparents. So that was that situation.
He [my father] was on the road for the telephone company. He’d go from one city to another depending on what work they had to do, during the depression years. I did that work myself back when I first went to work in 1937 and I was on the road all the time until I decided to get married. I tried to get a fixed job in one place, which is what he did after a while.
And I can never forget the letdown feeling when he introduced us to the woman who was to be our stepmother. I had pitied him up to this point and resented it right from that point on. My brother and I never had any real good relationship with her. Then we had to move to South Portland. She didn’t like the country at all.
I entered the South Portland High School as a freshman. Cape Elizabeth schools only went to the ninth grade and so we had to really hop to get with the program in South Portland. And of course I felt like I was someone from hicksville going in there. The kids in South Portland would never let you forget it. Here I had to overcome all of that, which made it difficult. So I was pretty self‑conscious. It was a traumatic experience. Home life was always a hassle. Amateur radio was my favorite hobby. I was just beginning to get into it at Cape Elizabeth and I was allowed to set up something in the basement of this house in South Portland. My stepmother wasn’t crazy about having wires dangling around the outside. We were always at odds on that and I naturally made a lot of noise down in the cellar which happened to be right under their bedroom. I wasn’t ‑ didn’t have much freedom. At any rate, the first year of high school was a little rough, but then I began to get acquainted with other kids, had some good friends. My brother discovered this fellow who lived right across the street from us who had a fantastic radio shop. These were right in the recession days, just after them. Let’s see, this would be right around ’33, ’32, you know, ’30, ’31, somewhere around there. So anyway, I spent more time in that guy’s basement in his shop. He was a real fatherly type. I learned a lot of good things from him. My father never could seem to get close enough to us to talk about, we ‑ I found it very easy to discuss with this guy, and he had a son just about my age, but he was in another city. He was in the state capitol, living up there with his grandmother at the time. This fellow had had a divorce and he was living by himself in the place across from us. So he taught me how to fix radios, supplemented what I had already picked up and he didn’t have any interest in amateur radio until I got him stirred up in that. We each were teaching each other various aspects of the game. We would get into [discussions with this man] about the matter of sex, that kids that age need to learn a few things.
He put the fear of God in us on a number of things. Very rarely [did he talk with my brother]. My brother wasn’t interested in radio at all, but I don’t know how he happened to find out about this fellow and the set up, but he had his friends. My brother never had any trouble with friends. From the first day he arrived there, he was right in the thick of things. So that gets me now through the first year of high school. The second year I was doing okay and his son then came to live with him and so we became inseparable. And when he didn’t study, neither did I. We discovered his father suddenly had discovered some gal, I guess, that he liked to go out with a bit. He’d disappear on a Friday night and never see him again until Sunday. And she apparently must have had a car because he never took his car and always left it home. Well, his son was pretty daring. He discovered how to wire the car up, never had a driver’s license or anything else. We took that ‑ we went all over the city in that car. The only thing we had to remember was to
disconnect the speedometer when we’d start out, connect it back up again when we’d come back and see that the gas level was always where it was before and make sure it was clean and looked like it did when we left. So we used to be very popular. We had quite a few girls and we’d travel 30 or 40 miles up to Sanford and all kinds of things. Finally, his father one day nailed me, he said, “You know I think my car is being used when I’m away on weekends” and he dropped it. He didn’t pointblank ask me and I didn’t answer. Another week later, he says, “You know, those tires are wearing out pretty fast for that car that doesn’t go anywhere” and said no more. And I conveyed the message to the son. Finally the son says we’ve either got to confess or cut it out. He says he’s smarter than we are giving him credit for. He says there’s no other way out. We gotta confess. What a psychologist this guy was. So we both got together and decided when the time was right. We watched him to see what kind of a mood he was in this Saturday morning. On this weekend he didn’t go away. We wanted to know if he was going because we wanted to know whether we were going to be able to carouse that weekend or not. So he says ‑ the son says “Not going anywhere this weekend, hey, Dad?” “No, too bad you won’t be able to use the car.” “Well, we were going to tell you about that today. We figured that we might as well confess. He says “You don’t think I’m stupid do you?” I laughed. I couldn’t help but laugh. He says “I can tell you one thing, your buddy didn’t squeal on you.” He says “You guys just played it too much. If you had done it just once or twice, I never would have noticed it.” But he says, “Those tires didn’t wear out sitting on that garage floor.” So he made us both work our tails off for about a week, fixing radios for nothing. And we were getting ‑ I think he was giving us 25 cents an hour before ‑ we got nothing. Gave us all the dirty work, you know, to find out what the trouble was ‑ make us dig out the condensers and redrill things and fix them up. So we’d get them all working. We got ourselves a raise up to 50 cents an hour after that. He was busy through the dullest of times, too [through the depression]. What he had done, is a company in Portland had handled what they called Griggsby Grunow Radios, which were excellent radios in those days, pretty console‑like things, you know, dials on the front. And it had gone bankrupt and he bought the stock at a way, you know, distressed price and they let him keep them in their warehouse until the bankruptcy court settled everything and then we would have to get them out and his goal was to sell them before they had to take them out because he had no place to put them. Man, he was right out there pushing and he was selling. But the darn things had a lot of troubles. They had problems with capacitors and things, but he’d guarantee them. That kept us kids busy. He’d get a good price which ‑ and he was smart. He’d sell a service contract. The guy made money. He knew his way around. I learned a lot of tricks from him. It just made me itch to get into business, it really did. I made my mind up that I would only work as a technical worker for somebody else just long enough to get money so I could do something. Well, in the meantime, my father told me to go ‑ No, we had decided Portland wasn’t big enough. We decided to go down to the big city of Boston and see what it was like. We met a girl from Watertown, Massachusetts who invited us to come down if we wanted to put our feet in the water in Boston. We could stay, this other guy and I, could stay at her house for three or four days. Her mother had agreed it would be all right. So we did. Well, we went scouting for a job and of course, it was tough times. Jobs were scarce. I went into a place called the Berman Radio Company and asked if they were hiring anybody. No, we’re not hiring anybody. Then I said “Do you repair radios?” “Yes, but we don’t have a man for doing that.” I said “What do you do when they bring radios in to be fixed?” “We send them to some place.” “Why don’t I come each week and repair your radios that they bring to you and you give me so much a radio?” “Great!” So I had myself a job, well, I could fix all the radios they had in two days so I thought “Hey, all I got to do now is go around to the other stores and I’ll have a full weeks’ work,” so I went to two other stores. I got it so I was working Saturdays, which I didn’t want to do. I wanted to go home Friday, but they insisted I’d have to come in and do the work on Saturday in this particular one. I had more money then than I knew what to do with. I never thought of saving any. So I decided it was car time ‑ I had to get a car. So I bought a heap and found out right then your pockets are always empty after you have a car. You never could make money enough to support a car. So I had to work Saturdays from then on. I remember all of a sudden one day I came home, I came home on a Saturday afternoon and my father said “Monday morning, go into the telephone office at 6 Bowden Square in Boston and I think you can get hired.” Boy, that looked like a big job working for the telephone company. I forgot all about wanting to be in business. I figured big dough! Big Dough! all the big things about telephone business. So I went in there and they put me through this test and could I do this and that and I showed them I could solder and knew various things and they hired me right there. I said, “Well, can I come back in a week because I want to finish up what I was doing.” “No, we want you tomorrow.” I said “But I got a business”. “Never mind.” Well, I just had time to go around and tell these various stores that “It’s all over fellas.” I got a job. They were having a fit. You won’t make anywhere near as much money.” They tried to talk me out of it. They were right. I didn’t make anywhere near as much money. I was making $32.50 a week at the telephone company. Well, it was starvationsville so I went to the guy that hired me and said, “You know. I always thought I wanted to work for the telephone company. You don’t give us any money.” He says “You’re making the biggest money. God, do you realize the people that haven’t got any job?” I says, “I had a job. I was making three times as much as you’re paying.” “What did you come here for?” I said “I don’t know right now.” He says, “Well, what do you want us to do about it?” I says “Well, get me out of Boston. As long as I’m in Boston, I understand that this is my base. I don’t get any expense money. I have to pay my own expenses out of my paycheck, which isn’t anything at all.” I says “They’re going to take my car away from me.” Well, he says, “All right. We’ll send you to Lowell and put you on an expense account.” But he says, “Don’t get greedy.” I says “What do you mean by that?” He says “You’ll find out.” So I go up and report to Lowell to my superintendent. The first thing he says is “We make the swindle sheets out on Thursday.” I says “What do you mean by that,” and he says, “You’ll find out.” So we all go in a room on Thursday morning and we all try to figure out how much money we can make on the expense account, put in these fairy tales, you know on what we had eaten. God, we made money on our expense account like crazy and they ‑ I was afraid I thought I was cheating and they said “Come on. Don’t spoil it for everybody else.” Of course, you ate a dollar and a half lunch.” In those days, if you ate a dollar and a half lunch, man, you were really living. “Where are you staying?” I says “I’m staying in a room.” “Oh, no you’re not. You’re staying in a hotel.” I said “But what if they find out.” “Oh, they never check.” Golly, my paycheck was free and clear every week so we lived off the expense account and that made it much more palatable. And then the job began to get interesting because we did all kinds of things. We worked just long enough to set up a system, put in a dial telephone office, for instance, and test it, see it working, and then “where are we headed next?” God knows where they’d send us. Finally, I was transferred next trip to New Hampshire. Well, it sounded like I was going way the hell up in the sticks, in the mountains.
We were allowed travel time by train so with a car, hell, you could stay home all day Monday because it would take all day Monday to travel from Portland to this place in New Hampshire by train so I didn’t bother to report until Tuesday morning. So when I got up there, the guy said “What the hell did you do? Go by dog sled?” I said, “Well, I had to travel by train.” “Oh, sure.” He says “You learned quick, kid.” So anyway, we went into this little town and I can remember that the office was on the second floor over a store. We’d work in there with I think five or six telephone operators at a switchboard and this man tells me, “Now, what you’ve got to do is go on the other side of that switchboard and take out the jacks and replace them” and he says “You’ll be looking those girls right in the eye.” And he tells me “Be God damn sure that you’re looking up here and not down there.” He says “if we get one report from one of those operators on any of you, you’re fired.” So I says “can we pick which operating board we are behind?” “You’ll go behind the ones I give you the list for.” Well, luckily I got behind one that was cute, so I pulled a jack out and looked through and I winked through the jack hole and she jumped up and threw the handle. She didn’t know where, and she threw the telephone set on the floor and ran out of the room. The chief operator comes back around and gives me hell “What did you do to that girl?” I didn’t do anything. I just pulled a jack board out and she saw me looking through there and she went into a fit. She sat down laughing her head off. Finally she says “Now I got to go out around the other side and looked serious.” She says “Now I’m going to give you hell, but I don’t mean it” So she’s raving away to me and winking at me at the same time. She goes around the other side and tells the girls “Well, I’ve straightened him out.” So we were there a week doing that. One job after another like that and sometimes we’d [the crew] arrive on the scene. We never knew who the hell we were going to be working with, but after a while we got to know them and there were probably 10 of us that were doing the job I was doing. You never knew who you were going to work for and hopefully you’d find out in advance which foreman you’d be working under. Some were slave drivers and other guys were just sheer fun. Well, one job I got sent to was with a man I had heard my father talk about that he had worked for and worked with and he was a pinchpenny. Oh, God. He was murder when it came to expense accounts because he’d stand right there and you’d have to prove that you had spent the money and receipts and everything. And they ruined the whole good thing while we were on his job. It was murder to work there. So I took a disliking to him, just to listen to my father talk about him, to meet him was even worse. So one day, he laid it on me so much about expense accounts that finally I just said to him, “Look, you’re the only man that I have worked for who makes a big noise about this expense account. Let me see what yours looks like.” He says, “You’re pretty impertinent.” I says, “I have a right to see your expense account.” He didn’t want to show it to me. I says “Why don’t you want to show it to me?” I says “You know what I think you’re doing?” I says “I think you are doing just like we all did, but you’re not treating me right.” He says, “You just aren’t supposed to talk like that to your supervisor.” I said “As long as I’m on the subject, my father said that you are a damn pinch penny.” I says “You’ve proved it to me” and I says “I want to get off your job. I want to go work for somebody else. I don’t want to work for some damn pinch penny.” I says “I’m going to complain. You’re starving me to death.” “Oh, well, well,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be quite as bad as that.” I says “well, let me see your expense account.” Finally he grinned from ear to ear and threw it out in front of me. The bastard had done everything that all the other guys were doing. I says “You are a hypocrite.” I says “when my father used to tell me about you, I thought you were, but you know I can’t imagine you’re all bad.” He says “stick around. Don’t go in and stir up a lot of trouble because we don’t have to have any problems” and from then on, we got along.
Then I met another man that my father said was a real prince on another job and he was great. They sent us to the farthest end of the earth ‑ Frenchville, Maine. If you went five more steps, you’d be in Canada, well on your way to the Artic Circle. We stayed up there through the worst winter weather that I have ever seen. Snow ‑ honest to God. We had to go out and
dig to find the telephone office in the morning. There was a little building like the thing at the island, the little shack, and we’d have to look at the telephone wires and see where they went in and guess where the front door was and then start digging and we’d come to the door and then we’d open it. That’s how much snow it had. If you had a pair of skis, you could ski along under the telephone wires and reach out and touch them and when it blew up‑ there, you could wind the windows of your car tight and still it would seep in with fine snow, blow right through any little crack. It was just plain brutal. I talked the supervisor into working continuously day and night, except for sleep and eating and get out early. He says, “The union would never put up with it.” I says, “The union will never come up here.” He says “I don’t know but you’re right” so I talked him into that and we got out two weeks earlier and two weeks off. He says “now what I want you to do” when we got into Portland, “You go somewhere and don’t you answer a telephone, don’t you talk to anybody that has anything to do with the telephone business. We are lost and still up there.” So we had to make arrangements for the chief operator up there to send our paychecks back down to us because they were still sending them up there. We got out two weeks early. I can’t remember now [what year this was]. It must have been somewhere in the ’40s.
One more episode ‑ I was working in one town and transferred to another. I telephoned to the telephone office that I was being assigned to there. Chief operators always knew the score, where you could stay and knew what all was going on, the kind of town it was, what was a good place to stay and where you could eat and one thing and another. So I called to talk to the chief operator and, oh, what a beautiful voice that woman had. Well, I got so enamored with that voice that I invited her to eat dinner with me when I arrived in town. I had never met her. So she gave me the address. I rang the doorbell and this woman come to the door and, so help me, God, if a human being had a cow’s face that was it. ‑ and that was her. Well, I had to play the role so we went to dinner. She was a nice person, but my God, what a face. It taught me to never get too caught up in what a voice sounds like. But she was a big help.
All right, now then. I’m transferred finally to a town called Plymouth, New Hampshire and we were to install a brand new telephone exchange in what formerly was a church, which the telephone company must have bought and taken the steeple off it. It just happened to be the right place in town for what they wanted, so that meant a pretty long job. When you come in and find the steel laying on the floor with all the switchboard and things that you have to put in. So the first thing you do is scout the town to see where you are going to eat and where you are going to stay and one thing and another and quite often, you’d hit a good looking restaurant and you can get the rest of the information you need right there. So we go in the restaurant, about four of us I guess there were in there. This woman came ‑ young woman came to wait on us and we got talking with her about the town and where would be a good place to stay and this and that and the other. Right now, I can’t remember where I stayed in that town. I can’t remember a thing about it. Any other of the towns I can remember right where I went, practically go there, but not that one. So anyway, we were well into the job probably two, three, four weeks and I got so I was eating quite regularly at that restaurant. It was always the same girl that served me. We got acquainted. My foreman one night says to me, “You know, you seem to be getting along pretty good with that
girl, that hostess of the place.” I said, “Yeah, I guess so.” He says “Well, I’ll tell you something. If you don’t make a move, one of the other boys here is kind of interested in that girl.” So I decided hey, I guess I’d be a gambler so I made a move. I went skiing with this gal and gradually got more and more acquainted with her. Turns out to be the girl that I married. So anyway, the job came to an end and at that point, I hadn’t even been thinking about marriage or, you know, I was having a good time, moving around, knew that that wasn’t the kind of a job anyone would want to be married with because you’d never be ‑ you couldn’t settle down and start a home anywhere. So it never crossed my mind to get married. So we ‑ this was a Thursday because I had Friday to travel. We met, went up to the ski area that we usually went to after work. I told her I was leaving and she didn’t say much of anything. She gave me a gift. I had mentioned about it that I was going to go, so she gave me a gift. I said goodbye and hit the road. I arrived at home and came by slow boat because I was poking my way along. I didn’t have anything particular to do and when I got home, there was this nice big Buick car in the yard. My God, it was my girlfriend. She decided to pack up and leave too. So I was thinking “Yeegods, what do I do now?” So I had to find her a place to stay, that was my stepmother’s home ‑ remember now ‑ and I hadn’t had the nerve to ask her to put her up, having had no acquaintance with her at all. So I found a place for her to stay. Let’s see that was a Saturday, I believe. And I saw her all day Sunday, and introduced her to my buddy, the one whose father had the radio shop. We all had meals together and etc., etc. And what I was trying to figure out, what was she going to do. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t have extra money I couldn’t afford to subsidize her so I asked her “Well how ‑ what ‑ how ‑ where are you going to live? What do we do about this?” I didn’t like to say the we. I didn’t want to quite get that close to the situation. Well, she says, “I got a job today.” “Where did you get a job today?” And she says “In the Eastland Hotel.” I says “what will you be doing?” And she says “a waitress.” So that was a relief. So of course, the next day, I’m off to Buffalo to work. So I’m gone a whole week. When I come back the end of the week, my other friend who worked in there as a bellhop advised me that if I was serious about her, I’d better get with it. I said, “What are you talking about?” And he says “they’re all after her.” Grrrrr! So then the other one starts on me, the two of them start bugging me. I said “I can’t get married. I haven’t got any money. I’ve got this job, I’m on the road all the time.” “If you want to lose her, go ahead.” Geez, I’m all wound up and twisted. I didn’t know what the hell to do, because I wasn’t prepared for marriage this soon, not having enough income and an itinerant job. This finally brought me to a decision
that I had never thought of before so I asked her to marry me. And it worked out. Geez, I wasn’t any more ready for it than nothing. [I was] 23 [years old], I guess. Before this, I could see a picture of me for at least another five years banging around doing nothing. I never would have thought of serious life. It took me a long time to get used to it. Oh, boy, did I start to mature in a hurry.
[Everything went along] like I expected married life to be. Half good and half a hassle. [She stayed], and once I got that straightened out, my grandparents gave me a piece of land right next door to them. We applied for a building loan, got that. I remember a house ‑ a nice little five‑room house, $3500 complete, ready to move in. I remember the first oil bill. 6.75 cents per gallon for fuel, electric light bill, $3.50 a month, and boy, it was hard to meet them all. But think of the difference those prices against today’s. A year and a half later, we had a little daughter and the next one was a boy. Our daughter was born on December 27, about 1941 I think. She got gypped out of Christmas, too close to Christmas. So that was that. Then ‑ dates I’m no good at. Probably two years [apart between the children]. About two years apart, something like that. [Our first child] was a girl, name of Carol, and then a son, Paul. I remember the doctor saying, “Well, this time you got a stem winder.” And then a girl and then another girl and a boy. [Second girl’s name was] Betty, then Patricia. Paul was a boy and Peter was the second son. So that accounts for the family. Quite a spread [between the first child and the last child]. In fact, a couple of years ago, we were talking about that, I said to Peter “You don’t seem to have much to do with your elder sister. How come?” He says, “I almost don’t think of her as a sister. She’s more like an aunt,” he says. “I was born so much ‑ so long after she had left home that I never got to know her.” I never thought about it until he said that. It accounted for the reason that they rarely had any communication with each other. Even today they don’t. She says “I can’t even think of him as a little brother. He’s more like he might be a nephew.”
Well, the dates I’m not prepared for. I can’t ‑ but there is a long time [between them]. He was a teenager ‑ wait a minute. She was out of the house when he was born. She was ‑ she had to be 17, 18 years old when he was born, so it was a long time. There was a long time with a lot of urging that we have a second child. I remember my wife’s sister bugging us “That child is going to be so lonely” and so on and so forth. So we wound up with another. Two [children] I felt was aplenty. Beyond that, your chances of educating the whole lot of them is pretty remote unless you have pretty good income. I wasn’t in that particular category at the time.
Well, came the war. That came I think just after I had the first daughter. Yeah, 1941. That kind of changed things pretty much. With working with the telephone company, I didn’t know if I would be drafted or whether I wouldn’t. I weighed whether to join up or not. Everywhere I looked there was too much uncertainty to join up. Didn’t know how, my wife and little kid could get along by themselves. A lot of things. Just sat and figured out and see which way the wind blows. The telephone company everytime I’d talk about it, they’d say forget it. We need you. So I’d get itchy and think everybody would figure I’m a fink, I didn’t join up and blah, blah, blah. The superintendent would say, “hey look, if you go in the service, you probably wind up cleaning latrines, doing some half‑baked job someplace. Here, you’re doing more than you’ll be doing if you go in the service. Be satisfied. When the time comes,” he says, “if we figure you’ve got to go, we’ll let you go.” So I felt okay. I’ll leave it like that. They kept moving me into different, better jobs all the time so I just sat on it. Then there was a period where they transferred me to Bangor and I hated it. That meant that I had to maintain two houses and that ate up my income pretty fast. And now when you take a maintenance job, which I was now on, fixed in one place, you don’t get any expense money, and you ‑ the work is repetitious and boring. Well, that’s the way I felt. Finally, I says “I don’t think that I’m doing enough in this job to really honestly, in my own mind, feel that I’m contributing anything. I’m going to quit.” “You’re crazy. What are you going to do?” “I think I’m going to go down to the shipyard where at least they’re building ships.” They said, “Nah, that’s a rotten job. You’d never get anywhere. When the war is over, they’ll just dump you.” I says, “Yeah, but I’ll have done something and I would have contributed to something.” And then my buddy’s father, who lived across the street, went into the Harvard Research Laboratory and he wrote me a letter. “Come down here, this is where you’re at. You’ll enjoy it,” he says. “The pay is good and you’re doing something,” he says, “we’re working on stuff
I can’t even tell you about.” How I itched to do it. So I went to the telephone superintendent and told him about it. He says “I’ll research it and I’ll tell you what it is because we can find out all about that stuff.” So when he came back to me about two or three days later, he says “that’s no
job.” He says “that just a” what did he call it “a back water. They’re not doing anything of any great importance down there.” He says “you stay right here. You’re doing far more than you’ll do there.” I says “you’re just saying that so I won’t go.” “No, no. I’m telling you like I was your
father.’ He says, “I’ll even have to agree that you’d be doing more if you went to the shipyard, but,” he says, ” that’s the worse thing you could do.” I says “I want to do it. I want to go to the shipyard.” He says, “Just think about it for another week.” So I did. My father was so mad at me, he wouldn’t even speak to me because I going to quit. He was madder than a hornet. He thought I was crazy. If I go to the shipyard, here are two things that will happen. I will not have to support two houses, I’ll be home with my wife and children. I’ll be working at something I think is right for the country at least. So he didn’t say anything more about it. “Do what you want.” So I did. The first day on the job I knew I had made a mistake. [The shipyard] were right down by Marine East ‑ no, not Marine East. You know, where those (in South Portland]. What point is it? Something Point? Spring Point where the marina is to the left. They were doing four and five ships at a time, building them, and my job was the electrical degousing department, they called it. We wired the ship with these big coils that went all around the hulls that kept the mines from being attracted to the ship because of it being steel. It had an opposite force to force the mines away so I went in to start with as part of the crew. Now I’m in a real tight union situation but no union. There’s no union, but it operated just like there was one. Boy, they had it under tight controls so you come in, you get a crap job to start with, you see. So pulling wire big bundles of them through these steel holes between the walls of the ship, you can imagine how much resistance there was in that cable when you probably had 400 or 500 feet of it and you’d have six or eight men heaving on that and pouring powder on it so it would skid, you know, and all day long, hauling those cursed wires into position. And I go to the foreman and I say, “Hey, the least I should be able to do is get into the wiring end of it. That’s my business. I’m not just going to be here for a bull labor.” Well, he says, “That’s what you’re going to be for another four months.” I says, “that’s what you think brother. I’m going to join up. To hell with this.” So I started out and he says “get back here. All right, we’ll put you on the wiring detail,” so I got to do that. And that was somewhat better. And I’d get working in a bulkhead, all the wires that would come in, you know, and you’d have to bring all the ends together to make sure that they were a continous coil and that you didn’t double wires up, you know what I mean? So they were in series. And I’d be working away then and all of a sudden, a riveter would start on the other side of the wall. Oh, then I got used to that by putting two mittens underneath my hat over my ears, then I could stand that. Now we can’t hear anything else. All of a sudden, I hear a hiss. My pants are afire. The guy welding burned a hole through the steel right through to my stern end. I’ll tell you ‑ it was ‑ and this was the year, it was 40 below zero some mornings. It was just brutal. Finally that job was completed and the next job I had was with welders who would put these threaded rods into the ceiling and the idea was to thread the rods. Well, they put up the rods and the threads would always get burred up or ruined and I had a tap ‑ die ‑ which have I got? I’ve got the die ‑ I’m to die the ends of them all day long up over head. And I was even threading icicles which were hanging down that looked like a rod. So finally we got that done. And I was just about ready to throw it all up and go into the recruiting office and say “I’ve had enough of this. Take me anywhere. I don’t care if you make me cook” and that was the end of it. It [the war] was all over. It seems like
40 years out there [working in the shipyard]. I don’t know how long it was [I worked there]. Let me see, I went for the telephone company in 1937, add eight years, that’s 1945.
I didn’t feel [working in the shipyard] fully did [satisfy me]. It made me feel less guilty, I’ll put it that way, but I can’t say that I pined to get in the service either. I don’t want to be a hypocrite about that. I just didn’t relish the thought of getting in line having to shoot somebody anyway. I’m not that type of man, but you do things that you have to. So luckily I never had to have that to unlearn, so to speak. I could be the gentle person that I was without having to change myself in any way. Okay for me.
Now then, since the war is over, the shipyard days were numbered and I thought, well I could have gone back to the telephone company. I didn’t get particularly excited about it. I remembered the days of the old gentleman in his cellar doing his radio shop. I thought it was now time for that. So I thought that’s the thing to do [my own business]. If I want to live around here, have any kind of control over my life, that’s about the only thing I can do. So I’m out of the shipyard, right. So I make a contact with several of the well known radio ‑ of electrical houses in Portland who also sold radios at the time, during the war. The war, of course, was over but still the effect was still there, shortages of everything and one thing and another so I thought maybe these stores had a backlog of radios that people would like to get fixed and it turned out that was true. They had a load of them so I made an arrangement that they would pay so much a radio and furnish the parts because parts were almost impossible to get. They couldn’t fix them because they couldn’t find the technical people. I’d pick up a carload of the radios and take them out to my house where I had a little shop fixed up and we got rolling pretty good. We were doing a hundred radios a day. My wife would clean them out and take them apart so I could get into the innards to determine what ailed them. So we made some pretty good money for about three months, and then of course, back came the help that the stores needed so they didn’t need to farm their work out anymore. They put somebody to work and that closed that out. But in the meantime I had saved the money and decided this was the business I wanted to do. We found an old building that used to be an ice cream parlor in South Portland that had closed. And I was able to buy it but I had to move it. So now I had to go find a place that I could move it to. We scrounged around and there was a big old swamp right down where Shaw’s Millcreek Center is now. And across from it was the city dump. So I was able to buy a piece of land there quite reasonable and fill it and get the building moved over there. It was about a two year problem of moving it, getting all the ducks lined up, one thing and another. The place ‑ the building was cheap and we got a contractor reasonable to do the job so we got the whole thing put together and set it up as a little radio repair shop. Traffic was two‑way at that time on Ocean Street. So you’d get people on the way ‑ either way if they wanted to stop in there, they could. We seemed to hit it right off, right from the beginning. So it worked out. I remember the first day standing there wishing a customer would come in and wondering what I would do if he did. It started and you just automatically knew what to do and things went on. But I remember going to work in the morning and looking at the newspapers, trash blown up against my building, the mess that was blowing over from the dump, when the wind was blowing. It was so discouraging to see that mess, you know, and I’d have to clean it up before the day would begin. Then all of a sudden it was announced the city was going to make a park out of the dump. So they started building, filling, planting trees. Things began to happen all around me. Then all of a sudden a very strange character comes into my place, hangs around. He hung around two or three days and I finally asked him what I could do for him. He said “Did you ever think of selling?” “No, I don’t think so.” And he’d go. After a while, he came back. I says “I know you’re interested in buying this building. Who do you represent?” “Well, I can’t tell you that.” I says, “You might just as well not come back.” And he says, “Would you like to meet the man that I represent?” I said yes, so we went and met and found out it was the George C. Shaw Company. They made me an offer which I considered ridiculous. If I looked at the place, I didn’t wonder at their offer. I said I wanted to know more about what you are going to do before I make any kind of a commitment at all. So we then went down to Brockton, Massachusetts and showed me the whole super plan. They made me an offer that I would have a choice building, a choice of a store in the complex and not have to pay any rent, it would be heated and they’d pay the lighting and everything else, but they would have to take a percentage of my gross and that’s where I said “Nothing doing. I’m not interested.” He wanted to know what kind of a deal I would make. I said I don’t want any part of share. I don’t want any partners. I never wanted any kind of a deal like that. $25,000 and you can have it and I’m gone and they laughed at me and that was the end of our meeting. So they’re going on now developing around me, filling and everything. The next thing I know, they’re putting up this 10‑foot fence right around my whole property, which wouldn’t let me have the benefit of their parking lot and access to their customers. So I went to my attorney to see if it was legal and he says the fence legally is too high, but let them put it up, let them finish. So we took them to court and they had to reduce it to eight feet and then one morning I was reading my deed and I thought it looked pretty narrow as I looked at my building and I measured it. The fence was three feet in on my land. So I went over to the attorney to see what he thought about that. He said give them an ultimatum, remove the fence or they’d get sued. Well, they removed the fence ‑ no ‑ yes, I went down one morning at our usual eight o’clock and the fence was gone. The holes were all filled up and there wasn’t any fence. Well, we thought we’d had the end of it. A couple of weeks later, the fence was up but on their own line, after they had it surveyed So about that time, I had gotten discouraged and figured well, this isn’t going to work so I rented my place out to a guy who was in a donut business. It didn’t make any difference to him whether he had a fence up there or didn’t. He was doing right fine. Finally, he left and the Hodges Appliance Company, which is right there now, wanted to rent it so I rented it to them. After they were in there a couple of weeks, they were making fun of the fence. They had this big giraffe made, a big wooden giraffe looking up over the fence with a sign saying, “Just wanted to see what’s going on folks.” And you know, that got him more business. Every week, he’d have a little message on that giraffe, like “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could come over and visit us.” And it got him more business. He was smart and he’s still there to this day. Well, finally Shaw’s got fed up with it and they finally gave us the 25 grand and we ‑ they made arrangements with this Hodges, apparently, either sold to him or something. The fence came down and everything has been going ever since. So that was that.
The next child was born somewhere in all that hullabaloo That’s why I can’t remember things. So much going on ‑ so much turmoil in those years. Life was going on and I wasn’t aware of it half of the time. [My father] lived around ‑ he lived ‑ moved back to Cape Elizabeth and built a home and they lived there quite a while and finally moved to Florida. I can’t remember the years and all that. So anyway after that was sold out, the next move was what do we do for business. We’ve got to have some kind of an income. So I built a shop here at what presently is home and by this time, the two‑way radio business in taxi cabs was beginning to look viable around Portland. I made an arrangement with a couple of the big cab companies, set them up and maintained their equipment, took on fire departments, police departments and finally moved into Portland in a building there. I bought out another company who was a competitor. Gradually we expanded down on Commercial Street, and the tower business and bought a high hill out in Falmouth so that we could put radio transmitters out there to cover greater distances for the customers we had. That’s what I was doing when I finally retired. [I worked until] somewhere in the 70s. I was in my 70s. I think I was 76, 77 when I sold out the whole operation.
This home ‑ we moved into in 1953, we bought the land two years prior. And it was a case of ‑ it might be interesting, I don’t know. I came up here one day while I was selling televisions. Incidentally in those first days when we had our store down there, television didn’t have a station in Portland. The only station we could get was one in Boston. So we had some pretty sophisticated antenna systems to do it, so we were designing and building those. This man came in one day, who was a contractor and wanted us to come out to Cape Elizabeth and put in a television set for him. So we came out to this place and it was a little building way up in the woods, like a little cottage or a camp, and we put this antenna all up and set the television set
all up, and said, okay, now where do we plug it in? “Well, I don’t have any electricity.” So now, we tell him to go down and talk to his neighbor and see if he could plug in down there. He went down and luckily the neighbor let him plug in, so his television set was all okay. We had difficulty ‑ in fact, we never did collect our money and he went bankrupt that following week. We had to take all our equipment, and take our beating. Luckily we didn’t lose a cent. If he had taken possession, we couldn’t have gotten it back. So then the lady who was his landlady, we naturally would meet her because we were up there quite often trying to catch up with him and she says “you’re wasting your time because he owes money and the whole mess and we’ll never see him again.” So I asked her “Have you ever thought of selling this place?” “Oh, dear, no.” And so we kind of kept thinking, gee, we’d like to have it. We’d love to live out there and build a house there. So we kept coming by. The kids kind of liked her and we learned that she had been a teacher. She was a woman in her 80s and they were enamored with her old Chevrolet car which had tassels on it and curtains that you pulled down and she got to like the kids. And of course I told her our kids would love to get out in the country, out in the woods and see animals, and she says “oh, the poor little dears. You know, I might sell it.” So finally, she came up with a price. I nearly dropped dead when she told me. I expected it to be five figures. It was a figure we could reach so we bought it and got a construction loan to do that. We had two people waiting to jump into our house as soon as we moved and they were pushing us like the devil so we had only half finished this house before we had to get out of our other place and live in here. So we were living in it while we were constructing it. So in 1953 is when we officially moved in. Yeah, [we were putting in televisions] 1950 something was Boston channel 4. I don’t know when, I can’t remember when channel 6 came to Portland but it was the first one and after that, it became ‑ I think we were getting Boston television in the 40s, late 40s, I believe. We were always on the edge of discovery. Tinkering with this anywhere we could think, development was coming our way, we’d learn about it and gamble on it. I got to be quite a gambler after starting out in business, because that’s the only thing you can do. There is no way you can know what the future is going to bring anyway. So you have to fly by the seat of your pants and try to be two jumps ahead of the other guy. There was a Bartlett Radio Company that was pretty sharp, he knew his way around. And he was doing a lot of television antenna work. He manufactured complicated antenna systems for hotels and other such places. We learned more exotic type antenna systems ‑ Rhombics, which if anybody has a lot of land you can lay out a diamond pointed at Boston. It used to work like a bandit. We had a job putting one in for the Sprague Company ‑ Sprague people in Cape Elizabeth. He had a most beautiful place to put it aimed right southwest, right at Boston and we got four‑telephone poles and put up the dream antenna system. Oh, did that work. Man, it could pull those stations in. He’d have these television parties or the fights ‑ he’d always call me up and ask me if I wanted to come down and watch the fight. We had a lot of fun with that. So I don’t know what else I can lead into here. That’s about it.
I can say one thing here about the city of Portland in itself. It was a booming city, street cars you’d see lined up Temple Street all the way up to High Street at 5 o’clock at night. Throngs of people during the week, and sales days the streets were just crawling with people. It took the mall to shoot that down and now I go through Portland and look at it and can’t believe it. It’s like a ghost city compared to what it had been. It had 60‑odd taxi cabs during the wartime, all going, you couldn’t flag down a cab‑ a taxi cab, you couldn’t get one on a bet on a Saturday night. Busy, busy, busy. When we put the radios in for them, that sped the whole thing up. That made the taxi business even more efficient. So I guess that pretty much wraps up what I did. Trying to get the chronology correct is going to be the trick. I guess maybe I didn’t put this little piece in where the loop closes, it’s rather unique. When I was in Cape Elizabeth first, second, or third ‑ I believe it was about third grade, there was a blond girl that I seemed to fall crazily about and I had her name carved on every tree. And who is my second daughter married to but her son so we now go to dinner together sometimes ‑ myself and my wife and she and her husband and she dares me to keep my mouth shut and not tell that story to anybody again. Last night, a friend, Mrs. Jordan, we met, I thought she knew this other woman whose name also was Jordan and so we were all sitting together and she said “I’m so and so.” I said “I thought you knew her. You’re pulling my leg.” “No, we’ve never met.” And this woman that used to be this girl I was telling you about said “Don’t you dare tell her that story.” You know, about my old flame in the tree business. So it shows you that things do come around full loop.
The worst of it is when I was in the business. I was paying so much attention to it I really should have spent more time at home. I pretty well dropped it all into Doris’ lap, which is kind of mean as I see it now. At that time, you just had a choice of either push like heck or you didn’t have any income. Which was the greater evil? Having no money to keep your home going or to get out there and scratch. Sort of abuse ‑ not abuse but abandon, not exactly abandon ‑ not paying the attention you should to the family unit. So it’s a marvel that I didn’t have a divorce. It’s a marvel that she didn’t just throw her hands up and say, “Hey, he’s a poor choice,” and walk off.
Once in a while [I went to my children’s sporting events]. I never did get much excited about sports because my father and my brother were into it a degree where they drove you nuts. So it kind of turned me off. The only thing that excited me was the world series. The only time I was excited about that was because that was the time my father would have the best radio. So I
used to get to help him choose the radio he was going to buy for the world series. He always had about the best one he could find. We had to put it together. He’d buy the kit, we’d put it together. That was fun. That was the period of time when I think I was the closest to my father during those years. I must have been eight or nine, I don’t remember. It was nice during those years [before my mother died]. There were about three nice years we lived in the house that he built. He built it with his own hands from scrap lumber. Big house, too. He and my grandfather all by themselves whammed that thing together. They did a great job on it.
Well, when I began to [pay attention to the children] ‑ the oldest daughter needed a lot of attention when she was around 11 or 12 years old so I used to spend quite a bit of time doing what I thought helped her through school, but those were years when they pretty darn well did what they pleased. Any input you could give wasn’t of much value. I would help her dig in with her ‑ studies or whatever she was working on. Get into the encyclopedias and dig out the information. Since I was in the amateur radio, I would be in touch with so many countries that she would be discussing in class and get stuff together that I could get and sometimes she’d talk to the people in those countries and be able to show and that kind of stuff. And then the next thing, we had a cottage on the lake which I didn’t get to be with them hardly at all. And I would be away most of the week and they’d be up to camp, I’d be back in Portland working, get up there in the evening probably late. So I really didn’t have a lot of close relationships with the other kids. We’d go on outings together, went hiking with the young one more than I had a chance to do with anybody else. And the boy, Paul, the oldest boy, he was always interested in mechanical things. He had a shop over in my shop whenever anything would come up I could let him do, he did. As he got older, we just put him to work, worked with him and he learned the business pretty much and he ‑ as I look back, he was pretty talented in some of the things he did.
Then along came the college years. He went to college for about two years and then he was faced with it, ‑ shall I go in the service or wait to be drafted? ‑ and only recently I had a talk with him, two or three weeks ago about that, how strongly he felt about actually going in and doing it so he signed up with the Air Force. He said “I had the choice of going to college and spend four years there and I looked around me and see most everybody around me was in there to duck the service” so he decided to sign up for the Air Force, which he did. I always, in discussing that with him, told him I was mighty proud that he went to do what I didn’t and I think if he told me what he really in his mind, I think he did it as sort of picking up the burden I didn’t ‑ to do what I didn’t. He never said it but I can almost read it, feel it. Now, I might have been super sensitive about it, if it was important to him so I was quite pleased to get that out of him. [The service] wasn’t anything he wanted any part of permanently. He hated guns. He opted at every opportunity he could to get out of the shooting part of it. He was a technical maintenance of bombers. He didn’t want to get into it where he had to take somebody’s life and he was certainly willing to do his part. I hadn’t had much chance to discuss any of that with him when he was a kid or anything that led up to it. But it was very interesting to see ‑ very rarely do you get the chance to see through somebody else’s eyes what he thought about what he did, to get his
line of reasoning. He and I have gotten closer than any of the kids. He and I, I think are much closer than any of them. Well, he went mainly because he felt duty bound to do it. He didn’t have any feeling of I got to go out and shoot those you‑know‑whats. And he didn’t take any position of USA right or wrong or any of that. It was just it was expected that you go in the service. You either sign up or wait to be drafted. He says “I didn’t want to be a draftee. I wanted to be an enlistee.” That’s why he did it. It’s a matter of pride, that’s all. [The work we both did end up doing] was very similar. Well, he was supposed to ‑ if the war had continued, he probably would have gotten ‑ I don’t know what he would have done. He was in Thailand. He was practically on the front anyway. I always feared the worst. They were right out on the shooting edge. I guess the only place he could get any closer was if they sent him out to maintain a plane that had gone down and they wanted to get it back. So they used to come in with unbelievable conditions some of those planes when they’d get back. Wing pieces hanging down off them, engines out of order. So they’d come flap those things in, whomp them down on the ground and fix them. [We’ve been talking] In the last two or three weeks, [while] we’ve been doing some work. It’s interesting we’d come around to it. He’s gotten a few jobs that have to do with antenna systems and he’s not trained in that direction, and I am, so we cooperated on it. So that gave us quite a bit of time to sit down and talk about lots of things. I don’t know how that came up but we got onto it. A lot of things that absolutely seem unrelated but they pop up and we discuss them and it doesn’t seem like a son you’re talking to. It seems more like you’re talking ‑ I think of him anyway, lots of times I think of him and call him by my brother’s name. I try to keep ‑ there’s a feeling of brotherhood to him. I don’t know what it is. He’s a, you know, he’s an individual you’re proud of
as your son but you think of him even closer. I don’t know how you can do it but it’s a strange feeling. It’s a warm feeling and I know he’d walk on hot embers for me and I’d do the same for him.
[I noticed this closeness] more as a result of common interests and therefore spending more time with him. That’s the sad part of it. A father should spend a lot of time with each child, how the hell he would do it with five you see, that’s the problem. It’s very apparent that you should spend far more time with your kids, you want to be really close to them. Good thing about getting to this age is you have the time to do it where a lot of poor guys never get the chance, but I recommend it highly. But of course I have a lot of ground that I should have covered when I was young and didn’t. There would be no way to cover it now. It’s too late. I suspect, though, I sort of did lay down a moral code and a general standard of what was right and wrong. We always discussed all that at the table. (Those conversations occured) most of the time [because] I was spouting them off whether they wanted them or not. I felt that it would be timely to take up some subject and I’d take it up and give them a speech. Every once in a while my second daughter would remind me that “That reminds me of the time you were saying something at the supper table” so she’d heard it, see. It sunk in. My youngest daughter, who is now in the banking business, I never thought she was listening, she told me that she was impressed by the fact that we never seemed to be too deep in debt, and we seemed to be able to pay our bills, things like that. She says “my friends are always having trouble with parents fighting over money and one thing and another and I never heard you and Mama fighting.” I says “Well, that was one of the reasons you didn’t see me around too much, too. I suppose you feel I let you down on that.” “Well, I’m a girl. You’re a man. I probably wouldn’t have listened to what you had to say.” Any of the children I think if you can get a few minutes with them it takes more than a few minutes. You’ve got to like give them ‑ take a half a day with them. Most of them are too busy to bother, see. I mean, they’re busy. They can’t be bothered blabbing about yesterday. Now I’ve got number two daughter. She’s got this little place they go to up in Rangely. I can see the opportunity now to have a day with her all to myself. I’ll go up there with her some weekend. We went up,
she invited us and some of the grandchildren to go back in the earlier part of the summer. It was kind of a fun trip. We went up to take the kids fishing. So she says, “Why don’t you sometime come up with us” so I’m going. I just like the idea to go up. She’ll be my cook, just talk to her about things we never did talk about. Most of the time I’ve been highly critical of her because she was the world’s worst person when it comes to money. She would just throw it and waste it. Then when I’d call her on it, she would point to some of the dumb things I’ve done, so what have I got to say. So I will have to completely stay away from those subjects. That will open up the door‑for
maybe some other things. God knows what. You can’t tell what they’ll be. So that’s that.
You have to weigh a balance. Sometimes you have to decide priorities when you are weighing time that you spend making a living against time you spend with your family and you try to balance it the best you know how, but you know the priority has got to be make the living. That comes first because you can’t do anything if you don’t have a living. Secondly I like to have as much independence as I can get in freedom of action. So in a business you worked to try to get a reserve, enough reserve so that if your business went to pot you could get by for at least two to three months while you’re looking for the next move. Always try to avoid getting backed into a corner, that’s always been my worry and philosophy, to try to avoid that. Try to always have a loophole to dive out of if things are getting bad and have enough money to be able to still keep afloat. Keep floating while you’re doing it. So that was my business life versus home life. Philosophy in balance. You assume people would have understood. I found out very few people had much sympathy for that philosophy. Most of the time I put people in the position of being critical of what I do and made it a point to let me know that I pretty much weighed,
My family gave my life meaning. Doris took the responsibility of the family and sometimes my responsibility as well. This provided me the opportunity to be concerned primarily with having the wherewithal to keep a roof over my head, number one, which is part of a home. Be able to put roots down and be there and be able to stay put and that meant you’d better get out there and push. Well, I can’t deny the fact that the business I was in was a hell of a lot of fun.
It was exciting. It was the cutting edge of something that always fascinated me from day one and we were able to exploit the exciting features that came along. I realized when I was with the telephone company that they seemed to be drifting, not developing and they seemed to be staying behind the times and I wanted to get in on some of this new stuff that was going on and not wait 10 years for it to develop. But what I discovered all this time I thought that they weren’t doing anything, they were getting ready. It just wasn’t financially propitious for them to modernize at the time because it meant that they couldn’t get the maximum return out of their investment that they had already made. And they had a time schedule where development would come when they got good and ready to let it come and circumstances came about in the marketplace that didn’t give them time to play that game. They were forced to change by federal order, which brought them competition.
Well, the only thing I can tell you about retirement is you’re fully aware of the brief time you have left and the possibility of, you know, losing acuity and your abilities and all that and that can be snatched at a moment’s notice so you constantly gear your time to be very valuable and you don’t waste it on things that you don’t want to do. If you feel like you don’t want to do something, you just don’t, and you don’t make any excuses, period. It is important to have enough income so you can do some of these things you want to do. We’ve been fortunate in some of the things we did back during the business which gave us acquaintances in places where we can develop an income over and above Social Security and what we can save. When we sold out the business, it sounded like a lot of money when I was at 70‑odd years, if I live five years, I’ll be very fortunate so this money will really take good care of us. Boy, I could have blown that so quickly. The five years have gone and I’m looking now in terms of another five and you don’t stop and think about “Well, tomorrow, I won’t do it because tomorrow I’ll be dead.” I won’t think that way because if I did, I just won’t do anything. You’ll sit there and pine away and eventually you’ll get just where you expected you were going, down the rat hole. So, each day you line up a bunch of stuff that you want to accomplish. You might do one thing out of 10 but if you can scratch that off the list, hey, that’s one thing you got done that you didn’t do yesterday.
And the island is one of my enjoyments and it also has a certain feeling of going back to childhood and doing things that you couldn’t do when you were a kid because, you know, “If I only had the money, I’d like to…” Well, today you’ve got enough money so you can do it so you go and do it. And you think of the effect, I think oftentimes “Wouldn’t this be something if my
grandmother could have only seen this.” Or “What would she think if she saw this,” and I can almost hear her in my mind. Then you could go to these places that you stood at six and seven years old and look for marks that you made on a rock to tie it all together and you remember graphically of where you put this toy and the thunderstorm that made you drop everything and run. It’s a strange way to bring yourself back around to have a fulfillment feeling. So retirement is just, as far as I’m concerned, filling in the time you’ve got left and doing as much as you can that you like to do. Now a lot of people like to travel. My feeling is I haven’t seen anywhere near what I want to see right here. The little things. They don’t have to be big. They don’t have to be important things. There are a lot of things I didn’t pay attention to but now I can. And one of them is this with the kids business. There’s an entertainment I wasn’t able to pay attention to. I can spend some time now with Paul, for instance, and it’s great to be able to have him see that there is something that I can do that is useful in his field. Well, the grandchildren, we don’t really have a lot of contact with, except my younger son’s children are right next door so we get a chance to involve ourselves in their lives, but it’s ‑ by this time, we have so many grandchildren that, my God, it’s impossible to look at them all individually. It just can’t be done. I shudder to think of what people who may‑ have more children than I have how they handle it. It’s unbelievable. Well, essentially retirement is a period where a lot people think in terms perhaps of collecting a lot of things. I’m reaching the point where the things I have collected seem to anticipate something like the island. I find I have this inventory and if I need something, I have it. I can go find the piece that I need for my design and throw the other junk out. But I find it pretty hard to throw away anything. Who can describe retirement except a period to get as much pleasure out of life as you can. It’s an unhurried period. You get up when you feel like it and yet you don’t linger around because there is too much that should be done and you realize if you don’t get it done today, you might not get a chance to do it tomorrow. And then you weigh all that so if you didn’t do it tomorrow, so what. Who cares? So it turns out time is the most valuable feature of retirement. I talked to a lot of my friends who say, “Well, we took a bus ride down to Elvis Presley’s place.” Who cares about Elvis Presley? The television. It’s to me a waste of time watching what happened yesterday. I want to ‑ what’s going on for tomorrow is my interest. And national public radio seems to fulfill that. You get the news. You don’t have to listen to a
whole lot of gibberish about advertising and what you get is you know, rounded out and you hear full discussions of matters. It’s a great medium.
(The kinds of things I think about…] I guess I’m shallower than that. What ‑ things that have gone behind me, I don’t look much at. If it has a value or possible value of something I might do in the future, I’ll keep it in mind, but just reminiscing for reminiscing sake, I don’t get much out of it. If you’ve made mistakes, well, you’ve made them. So what? You’re too old now to do anything about it. If you had it to do over again, would I or wouldn’t I? I don’t know. Who cares? You know you’re not going to go back over it anyway. So that’s the way I treat that. Sometimes you speculate on if I had taken this course instead of that course, I wonder where it may lead ‑ then you chase it down the road a little bit. It gets pretty fuzzy and nasty. How much farther can you take it? Then you drop it. I think one of the worst things about retirement is the dreams that you have. You get back into some of the situations you’ve been in in the past and they’re frustrating and you wake up and all of a sudden you discover, boy you don’t have to face it. Thank God for that. You can replay some of the things that you did when you wake up. It takes a while to become aware of the fact that you aren’t back there doing that. And a lot of times, I’ll dream and wind up just before I wake up with a whole new outlook on something I want to do for next week.
You look at something totally different than the way you have seen it and the new approach to something turns out to be so simple, you wonder “why didn’t I think of it before.” I hit on one of those at the island, some stupid thing, I don’t know what it was I was doing. I put it off and put it off and put it off because it was too big a job and it would require probably two or three men to do it. Well, this particular day I awoke, jumped right out of bed with a thought of how to do it. Put it to the test and in two hours it was done. Thanks to the tractor. I had never thought about doing it that way before. It was done. That’s an environment out there to force creativity. There is just enough out there, it’s new. I mean, there’s a thing that what you do you know is going to carry on whether you’re around or not. So whatever you do to improve it, is headed in a new direction. I don’t know what to do around here [home at Cape Elizabeth) to improve it because I know what’s going to happen. When I’m out of the picture this place is going to be bulldozed right out of existence and it’s probably going to get developed. Why be bothered trying to do anything about it. This is yesterday, down there is tomorrow. That’s the way I look at it, so there is where the excitement is. Here, it’s comfortable, you’ve got all you need, but‑ I don’t see any urgent need of developing anything. If I didn’t have that place, I probably would be
inclined toward trying to build another house. That’s a question I can’t answer ‑ for what. Because anybody comes along behind is just going to change it. At the island, they may change something, but they aren’t going to change it all because I think some of the ideas I’ve gotten for that place down there are good enough for anybody. I like the outside stuff to be done now. I’d like to figure some way to be able to get a cable thing that runs down to the water on that side where you could bring a boat up and unload onto this cable basket or whatever, and then when you get up there, you just push a button and a motor wheels it up to you. No, no, I don’t even want to bother with that. Bring the boat up to the float and on the end here you’ve got this cable with this basket that is hanging down like a pulley and you load all your junk into it and then go on up to the house. When you get up there you push a button and up comes the basket and you take and unload all the junk and there it is. When you’re going the other way, throw it all in the basket and run it down the other end. Now, I can do that. I suppose some of these brainstorms qualify me for the cuckoo’s nest. The question is do I have to get a permit. I’m not even going to ask. I’m going to do it. I got some old antenna tower and I think with three bolts keyed into one of those ledges out there and run it up 20 feet, it’ll be up above the water level, put a pulley on the end of it and, you know, a continuous loop like you’d have for a ski tow, and there it is. If you can make it strong enough, you can even hop in the basket yourself and push a button and go right up. That isn’t a dock.
That hasn’t any effect on the ecology and you can knock three bolts off if the big wheels come down and say you can’t do that. After they leave, you put the three bolts back. I had that thing all thought out last week. Boy. I’d like to get going.