Kenneth Munroe

Kenneth Munroe

Interviewed May, 1993

 

 

My mother was born at 66 West Rutland Square, Boston, Mass. This is a very poor section of Boston now, but was nice in 1895 when she was born. When she was pregnant with brother Billy and me, she was living in Auburn, Maine, but had to have us born in Boston.   When she started labor, she got on the train and went to Boston with me practically being born in the North Station.   I was instead born at the Boston Lying‑in Hospital January 24, 1926.       This is still a very nice hospital. Dr. Kellogg was the guy who delivered me. He was a well‑known doctor at the time. My mother breast fed me but had no milk. After a couple of days, Dr. Kellog noticed that I wasn’t gaining weight and ordered a breast pump. He found the problem and ordered Mellon Is Food “immediately.” This has always been a favorite story with my mother who would relate it to me in great detail and emotion. I would crawl into her bed when I was very young and ask her to relate this to me.

 

I went to Auburn schools, Lake Street, Webster Grammar, and E.L. High School. I was always treated as a “rich kid” and hated it. My father wasn’t rich, but my grandfather was at one time. This never left me, and to this day, I’m still a rich kid” among the French circles in A.L.

 

I was born with clubbed feet. My mother, in her over‑zealous attempt to do the corrective therapy recommended, overdid it, and now my feet pronate inwards. This has always been a small handicap when it came to athletics, but I think that I overcame it insofar as recreational sports are concerned.

 

I was raised in the Christian Science Church to a more or lesser degree. Rightfully, whenever I went to church, it was at the Christian Science. I have every respect for the tenants of this facet of Christianity. I think that more people would be better off if they thought less about their personal well‑being and had a more positive attitude about life in general. My mother read the textbook of Christian Science every night for years. Her book was so tattered that she had to hold it together with elastics and scotch tape. She was a very poor Christian Scientist, worrying over everything and fretting about everything that my brother and I ever did.   She used to tell us that she loved us “not too wisely, but well.” I guess that this meant that she loved us in her own way, and that is understandable. I did a lot of things when I was growing up, but they weren’t very risky. This now is my standard way of carrying on. It has served me well.

 

 

My father worked for his father for the Groveton, N.H. Paper Company.   My grandfather and his brother Horace, and a few other men, bought the company out of receivership with the State of New Hampshire. In other words, it was near bankruptcy, and they tried to turn it around. By 1940, it. was doing much better but the group fought among themselves, particularly Horace, who really wanted to keep my father from doing well there. Horace had a son who died of blood infection just before the advent of penicillin. It was a lousy family relationship, and the company was teetering, so they sold it to a Jewish man named Wheems who held on through the war and became one of the wealthiest men in the country before selling out to Vanity Fair. Prior to this, I spent many happy weeks at the lumber camps which were spotted throughout the timberlands that provided the paper business with wood. I loved to go through the mill with my grandfather, ride in the woods on horseback, and eat with the woodsmen. It was truly a storybook childhood. Once the company was sold, my father lost any semblance of desiring to work and retired early.     He was an alcoholic with all the trappings. We didn’t have a very good relationship. He died at the age of 56 in Auburn, really heartbroken. He did a lot for me, though, by getting me to do the things that he wouldn’t. His father entered him into Exeter, but he flunked out. This was a real shame and was due only to his propensity for playing and, perhaps, a drink or two. I know that it bothered his father until his death in the mid‑40’s.

 

One of my favorite memories of Groveton is the lumberjacks lifting me up on the back of a huge white draft horse named Riley.   They worked the horse while I sat on its back. The horse would pull logs out of the woods.

 

I didn’t know my grandfather very well. It was my father’s decision that the rest of his family live in Maine while he worked either in Groveton or Boston. The Groveton Papers Company (my father liked to accentuate the plural ‘papers’) had a Boston office at 24 Federal Street. It was always a real thrill to go to Boston and visit my father. He had a secretary named Houlie. I never knew her whole name; she was a Boston Irish woman and very capable. She was quite fat and had very dark black hair. The office was rather small but had a nice view of the Customs House Building Tower, the tallest building in Boston at the time. Now, of course, it is dwarfed by many other buildings. It was tall enough for me. I can remember looking at it for many long periods of time and wondering what it would be like to go up in it. We stayed at the Hotel Tourraine at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets, then the heart of downtown Boston.     It is right across from the Boston Commons where we would walk on nice days. We had connecting rooms; my brother and I slept in one room and Mother and Dad in the other. Another view that I’ll never forget was out of my hotel window. Seemingly right near us, close enough to touch, were two monstrous smoke stacks of the Boston Edison Power Company. They billowed smoke and steam all day long.   I used to imagine that they created animals since the smoke often curled into various shapes that resembled all kinds of creatures. Maybe this is where I got some creative aspect to my character.   I don’t know what my brother was doing while I stared at these monster‑producing funnels. He wasn’t as attracted to them as I was. Maybe it was because he was two years older than me. He and I did like to run up and down the wide corridors of the Hotel Tourraine. A hotel today couldn’t be made like this hotel was, so wasting of space. Corridors now are very narrow, but those at the Tourraine were wide and fun to run in.

 

The trip back and forth to Boston tired me quite a bit,, especially when I sat in the back seat. The cars in the early 30’s didn’t allow for much viewing from the back seats. The windows were small and quite high. I used to get car sick, and it would make my father mad. Mother would take me in front with her, and that made him mad. I couldn’t understand his reactions to me quite often. I really exasperated him. My brother could do more things to please my father, and he tried harder also.   Except when Dad got real mad and hollered real loud, I didn’t pay too much attention to his preferences. He and my brother did a lot of things together that each liked to do. I didn’t like a lot of those things, like woodworking. My mother and I sort of hung together when we walked the streets of Boston, and my brother and father walked together. I didn’t feel neglected, we all preferred it that way.

 

At least once in the summers, my brother, my mother, and I would go down to Cape Cod to visit with my Great Grandmother, Minna. This was always a thrill because she was very old and quite mysterious to me. The house was old, and so was everything in it. I loved to play her little church organ. The hymn book contained all the oldies, and I loved to pull out all the stops and play as loud as I could. I would often sing, too, “Rock of ages, cleft for me;” wow, what memories!

These were memories that most boys wouldn’t have. I knew more about antiques than most grown‑ups. My mother had a sister, Ursel, who lived all summer with Minna at the Cape. The four of us, Ursel, Mother, my brother and I would go antique shopping. I thought that this was the thing to do, never knowing anything else, and I loved it. I wish I had bought some of the antiques that passed by my eyes in those days. My Aunt Ursel collected a cheap glassware called Thousand Eye. It is not a prized collector’s item, even today, but she was determined to assemble the largest collection she could. At one time, she had the largest collection in New England, perhaps, in the world. She was sort of famous at this. People would call her from far away and sell her pieces. It gave her some prestige. I never talked antiques with my friends for obvious reasons.

 

The trip to Cape Cod was very long for me, but I enjoyed it after leaving Boston. I sat in the “rumble” seat, a little coop‑type seat outside and in the back. This was fun being right outside hollering at people as we drove along. When it rained, we would all cram into the front seat of the Model A Ford. All these memories are very good, and once in awhile, I still drift back into that rumble seat and watch the Cape Cod Canal come into view. I was impressed with the Cape Cod Canal bridge. It was huge, built by the Army Corps of Engineers. It clear‑spanned the wide canal. This was always the highlight of the trip, much anticipated all the way. I’m sure that few of my contemporaries ever had such an experience.

 

I have only one bad memory of my many years at Cape Cod. That was the day I was walking back to Minna’s.   I had to cross Route 28, a very busy trans Cape road, two‑lane, of course. I didn’t look too carefully, and I started across. Halfway, saw a car coming directly at me. I couldn’t stop, rather frozen, it ran over both my toes. Another foot farther, and I would probably have been killed or injured very seriously. It was directly in front of Minna’s house, and my mother saw it all. I can still hear her screams to this day. They all came running out of the house. I walked to the other side, but my feet were killing me. The driver stopped and was very nice. Nothing could be done, and all ended well. I had sore feet for the rest of the trip.

 

My folks had a nice cottage on Taylor Pond in Auburn. We had eleven summers there from approximately 1931 to 1942. I had a pony named Popeye, and my brother had a colt named Dolly. my father had a grown saddle horse. I shared all this with my many friends out at the lake.     There was always a crowd hanging around.

 

 

It has been my experience that family life is best, and I certainly had lots of it when my father was with us, either on weekends or when we went up to Groveton to stay for a few weeks while he worked at the Mill. These were very happy times, and the ones that I care to hold. Mixed into this was, of course, the many years at Taylor Pond. I was there from an infant to about twelve years of age. There I learned to swim and did all the things that well‑supervised kids do in the summer.   Catching fire lies at night was a lot of fun. The mosquitoes nearly carried us off, but if we managed to trap a few fireflies in a jar, it was well worth the scratching that followed. We know that they were flashing for mates. I didn’t know which one was the male or the female. It is true, I think, that only one does the flashing. I would guess that it’s the male. We would grab a fly from the jar and squash his tail on something and see the steady glow of the phosphorous it produced. It seems that the fly opens and closes a little trap door under his tail letting the light come out. It’s always on, but he regulates the flashing. They were lovely hot summer nights.       These were wonderful times.

 

My mother had a live‑in maid named Lucy that I grew to love as much as my mother, perhaps, more. She married when I was about 15 to a really bad person. She named her son Kenneth. She committed suicide in 1946 having killed her son first. Her husband told her that he was going to divorce her and take the child. How she must have suffered. It was rough on me. She is buried at the cemetery out by the Masonic Lodge in Auburn. Her grave marker says Lucy Varner; although I haven’t been there for years. It could also have her married name, Cray, on it. She is buried with her son.

 

One memory that stays with me was the time when we all went in the summer to a function that brought us back long after dark. The sky was crusted with stars. Standing there on the front lawn at Taylor Pond, I looked up and said, “I’m glad we came home at twinkle time.” My mother used to tell this story a lot.

 

I used to ski a lot at a place called “Bran’s Hill.” It is on Park Avenue in Auburn. It’s a little mole hill by today’s standards, but in my day, it was a real big place to ski. Everybody went there. We’d put our skis on at the bottom of the hill and side‑step up to the top. There was no tow, of course, and to carry the skis to the top would be very difficult because the snow was several feet deep, and one would go right up to the waist with every step. It is true, we did have a lot more snow back in the 30’s than we have now.

 

Once on top, we’d just hang around and talk because the trip down was fast and the return was slow and tedious. Going down to the bottom was just a straight line, because we hadn’t learned to do all the fancy turns. Besides, and much more important, we didn’t have the equipment that would let us twist around like today. The binding was just a tightened strap that went from the toe of the crude boot around the heel and back. One could wiggle the foot all around.     The only turn that was used was the Telemark, something that is coming back now. That was hard to do because the snow wasn’t packed,, and the ski wouldn’t turn very well unless one was a real expert. Anyway, one or two telemarks, and you were at the bottom. There was plenty of exercise and fresh air! The real fun was making ski jumps. We had these abrupt piles of snow all over the place. We’d build these short ramps half‑way down any hill, and then go over it. Again, we had little control of the ski and managed as often as not to have a real spectacular nose dive into the landing. Many bloody noses scored our incompetence. But it was fun, and the supply of blood seemed replenishable. The biggest jump we made was at the “foot” of Linden Street. The hill was very steep, and it provided a lot of fun and surprises. I never had the courage to go over the big wood and steel jumps, and that’s just as well. Very few of my friends did, and those who did had a few broken bones to prove it. I skated as much as I skied in those days. It was a lot simpler, and I was better at it. I was on the high school skating team. We raced, not figure skated. I garnered a few valuable points for the team and won my letter. This was a very satisfactory achievement.

 

 

In January, 1943, my father took me out of my senior year of high school saying that I wasn’t getting anywhere academically. He enrolled me into Chauncy Hall School, then at Copley Square, Boston. It has since moved to the outskirts. It was a very tough prep school for MIT, almost exclusively. It was a cram school in every sense of the word. I lived with five other students in a boarding home in Brookline, St. Paul Street to be exact. It damned near killed me, the late hours, etc. I got boils over a good part of my face and body, but   I did get “smart” in a hurry, and looking back, it was one of the best things that I ever did. Education has always been my edge in everything I have done since.   Every chance I had, I went to school. I have never regretted the hard work. My dad knew, having been in the Navy during WWI as a sailor stationed in Portsmouth, N.H. , that education gets one the best billets, Officer’s school, etc. I went back to E.L. in June and graduated with my class, but returned to C.H. to finish the term. I managed to get a Third Alternate to the Naval Academy and was deferred from the draft. Again, I am indebted to my dad who got me into Bates College where I lived at Roger Williams Hall. Most of the eligible men were in the service, so I was with a group of men physically unable to meet the requirements of the service. Quite a bunch. There were a couple of Japanese who were displaced from the West Coast. They were deemed security risks by the United States. They were both named Henry, one Fukui, and the Enouye.

 

While at Bates, I took the exam for the Naval Academy again through Senator Wallace H. White, Jr. I earned the Second Alternate appointment.   This means that there are two guys ahead of me and only one can make it. It was best for me to go into the service, because everybody was in. I joined the Navy on October 16, 1944. I was inducted at the Armory near Deering. I was shipped to Bainbridge, Md. leaving that night with only the clothes on my back. I had been admitted to the

Naval Academy Prep School which, took over Tome School in Bainbridge.   It is a nice private prep school on the Susquahanna River near Port Deposit, Md. I arrived there starved to death about 3:00 A.M., cold as hell. A couple of Navy Shore Police who check the R.R. stations at every train arrival, picked me up and put me in the back of their pick‑up truck. They took me to a barrack on the Bainbridge Naval Station for the night. I was awakened at 5:00 A.M. and was put through all the stuff ‑ shots, three in one arm and two in the other, a vaccination, complete physical, etc. I hadn’t eaten, was very dizzy from all the shots, scared to death. I finally ate with one million other regular boots. Then I got the officials to realize that I was to go to N.A.P.S., Naval Academy Prepatory School. This school was at the other end of the very large base.   It was a lovely place, nice views, etc.

 

Going directly from civilian life into the Naval Academy Prep School at Bainbridge was truly a unique experience. Most inductees go to boot camp first where they get all their shots and have a rather miserable time marching, general running around with all the physical training. I went straight into a school where all were already in the service, some combat Marines and naval war veterans. We all had one thing in common and nobody was singled out as being green, etc.         In fact I fitted right in and made friends all around. Some friends were Marines and many were Navy. NAPS, as it was called, was very easy for me since I had so much prior schooling.   I was there three days, and I was on the honor roll with all the privileges. The biggest break was that I didn’t have to march down to the school after supper and study for two hours. I could hang out on my bunk and do what I wished. The work was mostly high school stuff, and hence, a real easy trip. I was sort of looked up to as few had that privilege. I could go on liberty leaving the base on weekends.

 

On the sailor’s cuffs were, in those days, one, two, or three white stripes. One is for Apprentice Seaman, as all “boots” were. They got the second stripe as Seaman Second Class when they finished boots which was about 13 weeks, a real hell camp.   All boots got their hair completely shaved off, and they worked mess duty at all hours of the day and night. I missed all that. I even bought a “tailor‑made” uniform from a local uniform store and asked that three white stripes be

put on the sleeves.   I didn’t want to look like a greenhorn visiting the bars of New York and Philadelphia or Washington. Nobody questioned my “rank, and I told nobody. Of course, it meant a real punishment if I was caught, but I never was.

 

All the base people hated us, because we had such a good deal. We had to march to the base’s mess halls for meals. We marched very well being led by a bunch of marines. The rest of the “lower” swabbies would holler, “NAPS eat shit”, at us. we gave them the finger or some other wise remark. We were dressed just like the other Navy guys, so we could walk around the base alone without getting killed. It was a great year. I had so much education that I was tops in my class. Education was paying off again.

 

Concerning the Naval Academy, the guy ahead of me made it, but they wanted more in the entering class, so I was accepted. I went down to Annapolis, stopping off in Baltimore for the night before.   Had a good time, showed up at Annapolis and proceeded to flunk the eye examination by just ½ diopter. At that time, one’s eyes had to be a perfect 20/20. Senator White was on my visit list, and I went to D.C. to see him. He said that he couldn’t get me in because of the law, but he would change it. He also promised me his Principal Appointment for the next year. I was sent back to Bainbridge after spending a couple of great weeks on the Annapolis station ship, Reina Mercedes. It was a Spanish American War prize captured by the U.S. Navy. A very famous old ship, the USNA used it for show and to hold crew. When they found out that I was holding down jobs requiring much higher rank than I was, they were some pissed off. Learning that I had never even been to boot camp where all Navy guys have to go, I was ordered back to Bainbridge to boot camp!

 

I hated boot camp, mainly because my chief boss of the bunch hated NAPS guys, as I have aforementioned, and I was shit. The most important thing that I learned in the Navy was to keep my eyes open f or anything that led higher up and apply for it. Truman was President now; he dropped the A bomb on Hiroshima and the rest is history. Many got out of the service, but I didn’t have enough “points” and didn’t have any idea what to do anyway. So I stayed in, naturally, having a Principal Appointment. I heard that they were trying to get guys into the Naval Air Force, so I applied for it and got it. My boss at boot camp was some pissed off when I smilingly told him that I was going to Yale University (the V5 Program) and wished him well. I didn’t tell anyone that I had the Principal Appointment.

 

 

I loved Yale and managed to keep out of trouble but did have one traumatic experience that still haunts my dreams to this day. Although I was waiting to go to the N.A., I still could be “flunked” out of Yale and sent to hell knows where while I waited.   I could possibly be court‑marshalled and have the appointment taken away. I was in a psychology class (courses were Electrical Engineering, English, Mathematics, Chemistry, and my only elective, Psychology). I had altogether too much of a workload and just scraped by. One day the psych prof said that if there were any changes in anything concerning the course , he would post it on a bulletin board way the hell across the campus in an obscure place. Months went by, and one day, I showed up for class, just as I had dozens of times past, but nobody was there. I nearly died, missed the class, forgot where the bulletin board was anyway, said nothing and hoped that the Navy would never be told. Such was not the case. I was brought up to the Commanding Officer at Yale.

 

Was really scared. Threats were plentiful, and I was sent to my room to await their decisions as to what to do with me. One hell of a time. Well, they forgave me and let me stay on. Around the end of the Spring term, I told them of the Naval Academy stuff. I had now completed the sophomore year at Yale, Class of ‘47 and trundled off to Annapolis. I made it this time having the same eye level. I knew many of the class ahead of me because I had been with them at NAPS. It was fun knowing upperclassmen. Having such a good background in the school stuff, I breezed through and stood higher in my class at the end of Plebe year than I did for any of the following three years. I entered the N.A. on July 6th, 1946. It was rough as hell as I had learned to beat the system at every turn. It was really different here, I soon found out. I roomed with a six‑foot‑three Texan whom I never really liked. He hated northerners and anybody who seemed to have a nice background like I had. I graduated on June 2, 1950. It was a great four years, but I never really liked the Navy. When President Truman asked that West Point and Annapolis send 20% of each class (on a voluntary basis) into the new Air Force, I applied immediately. My brother was in the Air Force and said that I would like it a lot better than the Navy. Over

50% of my class also hated the Navy and tried to get into the A. F. This is a long story and deserves some treatment. Getting into the N.A. was the culmination of years of effort starting back when I was in the 9th grade. I met a guy who said that he was going to the N.A., and I decided that I was also. I don’t regret going because I don’t know what else I would have done. It sort of matured me and kept me “off the streets.” During Plebe year, I was the most active being on the rifle team and Ass’t Manager of the varsity football team. I won two letters. I could wear these on my bathrobe. This gave me distinction which helped. My roommate was a dud. I let him influence me in a lot of my activities. I signed up for Spanish, which he did. I don’t really regret this because I have enjoyed being able to speak it, but I should probably have signed up for   French. I knew French, and it would have got me with a different bunch and away from the Texan. Well, such is life. Third Class, Second Class and Senior, First Class years went quickly.     They said it would. Being so regimented, time goes fast.

 

We went on three summer cruises ‑ the first at the end of Plebe year to Norway, England, Portugal, and always to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for gunnery practice. It is very hot there. We drank a lot of beer, some getting very sick. My second cruise, at the end of Third Class year was on the Carrier, Coral Sea. I flew in TBM, torpedo bombers, and was scared to death. We went to the French Riveria, dropping anchor at Golf Juan just up from Cannes. This was the best time ever. Met a lot of people. Later I took my family back, in 1988.

 

 

Second Class cruise was back on battleships. Plebe year I was on the Wisconsin. This time I was on the Missouri. I always liked larger ships because they didn’t rock much with that much less seasickness.   The big ships had movies whereas on the little ones they hung on for dear life. Graduation was 2 June, 1950, and we who went A.F. got a two‑month vacation. The Navy guys went right to ships. That made them mad! The poor devils who had requested A.F. and didn’t make it were shipped to lousy places   God bless the service! I came home and played golf with my hometown girlfriend, Sally. I rented a sea plane and had Pret Bailey, Aunt Me’s chauffeur fly it around Maine fishing. What a wonderful time. Bill suggested this. I would otherwise never have thought of it.

 

Then to Connolly AFB in Waco, Texas. I didn’t want the flight program, but had to take it because of a lousy deal that the Navy forced on us. The Navy knew that it would screw a lot of us up as well as the A.F. The Navy was really shit. I resigned from the program much to the shock of the A.F. Many of us did, and the word got to the Pentagon who really gave the Navy hell.   It cost the A.F. a lot to screw around with us, and it made our lives miserable for a while until we got squared around. I hung around Connolly for a couple of months. My buddy, Bixby, who was also out of flying, and I did research on airplane crashes. We did it for the A. F. Then I was shipped to Lackland AFB in San Antonio. I became an Assistant Company Commander and trained basic inductees. Korea was in full swing and the government was drafting people like hell.   The kids all wanted to go into the A.F. to keep out of the Army. I worked day and night teaching recruits how to eat, march, sleep, and salute. We shipped them off to Korea like sheep. I suppose lots of them went crazy, some froze to death, or were otherwise killed. I did a good job and one day I found orders to report to Presque Isle Air Force Base, Maine. I about shit! My Commander was a nice guy. I went up there as Base Budget Officer. I loved every minute of it up there. The bunch of us, about seven officers and a few hundred enlisted men went up there to reactivate the old base. Nobody was there, and we had a lot of f un getting it going again since it was closed as a hospital receiving base during WW2. I had many jobs. I was the lowest ranking officer there. My superiors liked me and gave me great jobs. One job was to start a base baseball team. Luckily, one of the other officers was Jack Myers, a former Cincinnatti Reds player. We had the best baseball team in the Northeast. We flew all over hell with the base Colonel letting me f ly the old DC3 we used. What fun! Many stories. We’d circle my home in Auburn, etc., etc. Much fun! We hunted, fished, and worked like hell. I dated Sally, driving to Auburn every week‑end through the old Hainesville Woods, a real bitch of a ride. Sometimes, I got lost in blizzards, taking two days for the trip. I always stopped at Dow AFB, Bangor for a drink on the way down and back. I didn’t want Sally to see me with too much booze, so I saved my real capacity for the trip back. Actually, it was saying “hello” Saturday night and leaving Sunday afternoon. We couldn’t take Friday off. It was worth it, though. We were married on Flag Day, 14 June, 1952.

 

My brother was a Captain in the A.F. and then stationed at Bolling AFB, Washington, DC. He sent me a complete package of regulations, application blanks, etc. (the small base I was at wouldn’t have had such extensive files). The package was an application to graduate school at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio.   My Commanders were very impressed at my wonderful research and approved it. Off we went to Dayton for two years. I missed Presque Isle, but I was heading up, and that’s always the way to go. I was to get an equivalent Master’s Degree in Industrial Administration. The A.F. had a very small Grad School there, my class being only 20 officers. This was really the creme de la creme. This really turned my life along the path I really loved and the education, once again, carried me there. I graduated in 1954 and was assigned as a Procurement Officer at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.

 

 

During this time my mother was having nervous breakdowns. She actually came out to Ohio to live with us for a while. This was too much for us.   She was sent home to Auburn under the supervision of Uncle Frank. One day, I asked my boss if I could take some time off to help out, and he assigned me to Boston. This was one of the greatest breaks that I have ever had. I was the Monitor for the A.F. for the Ballistic Missile program, Boston District. Like everything else, when one looks back on things, he remembers only the good. This is the case with my service life. I had some wonderful times as an enlisted man in the Navy. I went to NYC many times for weekends, I had three New Year’s Eves in Times Square, but there were many times when I wondered where all this was leading. The Naval Academy was the same. They weren’t all joyous times. It was four years of hard work. The cruises were great, of course, but I always had the gnawing feeling that I was getting farther into something that I really didn’t want, the Navy. The A.F. was the breakout. Boston was great. We bought a nice little two‑bedroom cape in Bradley Park, Higham, Mass. We paid $15,900. The place probably saw it’s worth grow to over $100,000. we sold it for exactly what we paid for it. This was good at the time. Rusty and Kerry were born in Dayton, Ohio. Actually it was in Fairborn. They were born at the base facilities which were in Fairborn. This is on their birth certificates.

 

In Boston, I had to oversee Top Secret Missile work going on at MIT, Boston University, Avco, Arthur D. Little, Pratt & Whitney in CT. and many other small subcontractors. I was important, and this was a top military job at the time. I reported to my California headquarters. Sally and I went out there but, somehow, I never wanted the life of the service. I had the top job that I could ever have expected, but I didn’t like the overriding fear of being at someone’s beck and call and at any moment in time. I tendered my resignation in October, 1957. I couldn’t have chosen a worse time. The economy went into a very bad recession in 1958. I was out of work and Sally was pregnant with Lisa. We had two little kids to boot and no income. It was really rough. We lived in one of my mother’s apartments at 111 Lake Street. We paid her $65/month rent, and it was a struggle. Part of the apartment was unheated. We made it. I was unemployed for a few months at the start and made a few frantic trips back to Boston trying to get my ” friends ” to help. I soon found out that I was liked in Boston as long as I had the uniform and a few million to spend.

 

 

My first job was with Gorham Laboratories, a two‑man outfit of two PHD’s in Chemistry who were trying to get chemical research contracts. This was a dead end and I left. I dubbed around quite a bit. I had absolutely no idea how things were done on the outside. Things were terrible, anyway. I got a job with the Maine Department of Education doing T.V. research. We worked on the Gorham campus of what is now USM. My boss was a nice guy, Maurice Whitten. He was a science professor and very low key. We worked as the science team; there was also a math team. Our T.V. studio was WCSH and the math’s was WGAN. There were four teachers on each team. We were funded by a U.S. grant to establish methods to teach advanced subjects to gifted high school students over T.V. This was a great new opening, and I was damned glad to have the job. I was the only non‑teacher involved. This was done purposefully by Mrs. Margaret Arbor, a very well‑known top executive of the Department of Education, Augusta. I owe her a lot. It was a two‑year project, and I was glad of this, too. I learned a lot about Maine and started to find myself. I was able to do some teaching on T.V. and became somewhat of a celebrity. I had a different demeanor than my teacher friends, and this showed. One day, during the second year, I was stopped on the street, which happened a lot in Portland, and a guy asked me if I would do some P.R. for him. I never followed up. When the program was over, I taught for three months at Lewiston High School. I hated it.

 

I got a job with the State Department of Economic Development. I was glad to be out of teaching. I liked working with companies and did well.   I got number one on the state‑wide examination beating out the “favorite” guy, unbeknownst to me. I was told by my boss that he would fire me in six months because he wanted the other guy. He had to keep me on for that time Hoping that I would either quit or do something that would get me fired. He fired me without prejudice which is state law and set up for just this purpose. I was brokenhearted because I had done a wonderful job helping companies and promoting others to come into the state. So be it. Fired, I came home. Getting fired is one lousy feeling, and I vowed that it would never happen to me again. Now I had all the tools put together. One day I was talking with an old friend at WCSH, and he told me of a man, a professor at UNH, who had a science program and I should go see him. The professor’s name was Jonathan Karas and quite a flamboyant guy. He had managed to get some technical companies to hire him to work on advertising their technical products. I went to see him and immediately saw it all come together. He was not threatened by me, having some of the largest companies in the U.S. as his clients. He asked me if I wanted to help him on a job that he was doing for U.S. Steel at the Colliseum in NYC. He needed someone to help him with scientific demonstrations. We worked with liquid nitrogen and things like that. I jumped at the chance, and my life was on track. He didn’t want to hire me because he wanted to be alone but said that I could do the same thing. Hence, my company Adverscience began. I started out making brochures for technical companies and my business grew every year since. I eventually got into demonstration work, and coincidentally, got a job with U.S. Steel. One of the officials remembered me. Karas was getting too expensive. He called me and asked if I was still in the business. I was in Pittsburgh the next day for one of the most thrilling jobs I ever had. I had one of the largest companies in the U.S. as my client. A few other companies came along, too.       Here is where I made my first major mistake. I should have taken all my income, then about $5,000, and made a sales film of my work with U.S. Steel. I had arranged for a film company to do it and all was in place. They would have come to NYC, filmed me, and I would have had the best possible sales tool. I canceled at the last minute because I thought that I needed the money. This taught me a lot. I regretted this very much. When you’re on a roll, nothing is more important than keeping the roll going; spend like hell to keep it going. I had a major career going, but I returned to Maine and built Adverscience with many, many small Maine companies, mostly machine shops and technically‑ oriented companies. I did very well and was the best in the business. I was truly happy and secure. I took five tough years to get things going. At times, I really didn’t know what was going to happen to me.

 

 

I was glad to be building a nice family. My most important thing was to work and enjoy my family. We did and have done that ever since. That is me:   my family, enjoy it to the hilt. Work hard, find your niche, and let ‘er roll! I worked at Adverscience for about 15 years. Competition got very tough as times were getting better. I didn’t expand into other fields and started falling behind and I knew it. By now, Sally had a good, but small, interior design business going. I thought that if I could help her sell, we could make much more money than I could make selling a service. Selling products can be much more lucrative, so we joined up. we read one day that women had done some curtains for the new ships being built at the Bath Iron Works and decided to look into it‑ for ourselves. Thus began the period in our lives when we started to make large sums of money. The sums were large for us, certainly a lot more than we had earned in the past and it came a lot easier.

 

In my life, I have had three professional personality tests given to me. The first was through the University of Dayton, Ohio which I did while stationed at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton. I was curious of what deep interests lie within me. The result of this two‑day, intensive exam, including interview, was that I belonged in the persuasive arts with advertising as the recommended profession. I scoffed at this and went on in the service for four more years. The second exam was while I was stationed in Boston, still in the A.F. I knew that I didn’t belong in the A.F., but what troubled me was what I was “cut out” to be. This exam was through the University of Boston, B.U. The same type as at Dayton, with almost exactly the same results. By now, I had a real fear of flying which I now see to be my desire to get out of the A.F. I was never hurt by the service, but I now see that it was my extreme desire to be in charge of my own way of life. I see, now, that we cannot be totally free of outside influences, but we can choose the major thread that is woven through it.

 

My final test was while I was in the real estate business as a civilian. I had applied for a job selling commercial real estate, and the company gave all of us applicants an extensive written exam. It was very unflattering of me and was promptly thrown away, but it did say that I was not an aggressive martyr‑to‑the‑cause type guy. It was correct, and I wasn’t hired. I’m glad I wasn’t. I did okay at real estate sales but did much better joining up with Sally and selling her interior design, developing products, and doing many ships for the Bath Iron Works. These were the most productive years. We made good money and were the best. It was fun to be at the top where we deserved to be. It was bid work and destined to end. We were out‑bid on a six‑ship contract and bowed out. The company that underbid us didn’t know what it was doing and, subsequently, went bankrupt. It was two years later and all our structure was dismantled. We couldn’t return to the work. Too much water had gone under the dam. Budgets were lower as the Navy underwent an austerity program leaving very little to scrap over. It remains the same today with very little work to be done on the ships outside that which is done‑‑‑ by Bath Iron Works. We saved some money during this period which is much needed in retirement.

 

Now, just a funny story about Jennifer. After Sally had three children, she figured that if we had any more, it’d have to be me who did the birth giving. So Sally sent me to Dr. Anderson for a vasectomy. I was scared. I sat in the office for a time and left. We were camped out with the three kids on Prince Edward Island, all tucked in our sleeping bags, and Sally said with a very weak and trembling voice, “I’m pregnant!” I refused to believe it and threatened her with all the bad things I could think of, but it was true. Jennifer was born 15 April, 1966. It was the nicest thing that could possibly have happened. We all pitched in with the family work.   We were all in the “Little Diner Club” with Jennifer as permanent President.

 

All went too quickly and soon Jennifer was graduating from Ithaca College. I promised her that I would cry like hell at her graduation, and I kept my word. We used to camp out at the Buttermilk Falls State tenting area just outside of Ithaca‑, every fall when we took her back to college. The happiness that we derived from being a real family can never be fully expressed.

 

Advertisements