URSA MINOR Biography of Edward J. McCallum Jr. Forward by
URSA MINOR Biography of Edward J. McCallum Jr. Forward by
URSA MINOR Biography of Edward J. McCallum Jr. Forward by Joseph W. Szarmach Jr. His Grandson Without question, a “cultural war” has broken out in the United States with the country sharply divided between conservative and liberal viewpoints, red and blue states. Many of these viewpoints were shaped by life experience, television, and even ignorance. For me, it was shaped by my Grandfather, Edward J. McCallum Jr. My Grandfather, or “Grindad” as we called him, was a living example for all who knew him, and as an Irish American who went through the great depression at a time when “Irish Need Not Apply,” he was a shining example of what self reliance and hard work could do. Rather than blame others who were “prejudiced” against him and using it as an excuse for failure, he pulled himself up by his bootstraps and got to work. Over his lifetime, he undoubtedly issued thousands of paychecks to his employees. Through him, I have come to learn that (excuses aside) personal responsibility, capitalism, entrepreneurialism, and hard work are what separate prosperity from poverty – and in turn our Country from the rest of the countries on the planet. But beyond his businesses, he was a charming Irishman who touched everyone he met. Usually every meeting, whether a stranger he met in line at the store, a friend, or family, was an opportunity for him to learn from you -- and most likely an opportunity for you to learn from him. To this day I meet people who met my Grandfather who say “your Grandfather was an incredible person.” As his Grandchild, I felt extremely privileged in so many ways and miss him dearly. Ursa Minor is his autobiography. I hope you enjoy it. URSA MINOR The Biography of Edward J. McCallum Jr. By David F. Turner I Polaris “Will the bailiff escort Edward McCallum Jr. to the bench.” A kindly man, in his 50’s, with gray hair took my hand and walked me towards the judge. I wasn’t frightened, but I did sense that something very important was going to happen. The courtroom was deserted except for the judge, the bailiff, the court reporter, my mother, my father and myself. Sitting on the witness stand, I could barely see over the rail that lined it. At five years old, I really didn’t understand how profound the effect would be of that afternoon in a Brooklyn Circuit Court. The courtroom struck me as a very serious place, though friendly and safe. The judge was flushed with the heat of that July day. Jowled, he appeared wise and knowing, high above the witness stand as he sat behind a great mahogany bench. He quietly surveyed the room, allowing the bailiff to return to his station and the court recorder to ready herself before he spoke. “Edward, do you know why we are here?” “No, sir”, I replied. The judge drew a deep breath and went on. “Your mother and father are here to help settle a matter they feel is very important but can’t resolve themselves: which church you will attend and in which religious faith you’ll be raised. Do you understand son?” I nodded, yes. Taking a linen handkerchief from the left sleeve of his judicial robe, he patted the perspiration from his forehead before he went on. “I understand you have attended Catholic Mass with your father and up until recently were allowed to attend Bible Study at your mother’s Protestant Church as well. Edward, would you please tell me in a voice everyone in the court can hear, how you feel about attending both churches?” I cleared my throat and spoke: “I like going to both churches. My dad’s church is a big beautiful place. I pray there and light candles and feel like it’s a magical place. I feel small sometimes when I’m there, smaller than I really am. The statues and altar make me feel like the people in my father’s church must be very wealthy to build something so grand. In my mother’s church I hear stories about God and Jesus and learn what I can do to be close to Jesus and to live the way God wants me to live. It’s not so pretty as my Dad’s, but I don’t feel small there. I learn things there. Both are good, but I don’t want to go back to my mother’s church if it makes my father so angry. The judge interrupted: “Why do you think it made your father angry?” “Because he came and pulled me out of Bible class last time I went. He was very mad and when I said I did not want to leave, he grabbed me by my hair and pulled me out of Bible class and even though I was walking as fast as I could, I couldn’t keep up with him. He led me all the way through the church basement, up the stairs and onto the sidewalk by my hair. I could tell he was very angry. After we began down the street in front of the church, I realized people were watching. I felt silly, so I tried to pull away and slipped and struck my face on a fire hydrant. A nice lady walking by got very angry at my father and I cried because I cut my lip and it was bleeding. He was still angry, but he was trying to explain to the lady he hadn’t hurt me on purpose. I just cried because I was hurt and felt silly and ashamed. He excused himself and took me home then, leading me by the hand. That lady called out after us, “You better not hurt that boy or I’ll call the authorities.” When we got home my mom and dad were very angry at one another. My dad said that when they got married they agreed to raise all the children Catholic, and that was an agreement that couldn’t be broken. He said it was an agreement that she made and he expected her to live up to it and that it was an agreement on which their marriage was based. I could tell my mom was mad but she stayed very quiet. She said that she didn’t want to stop me from going to the Catholic Church she just felt I could go to both churches and learn from both. My dad stayed mad. Finally, I think my mother lost her patience. She said that she had a right to teach her child what she felt was important too, and if she had to, she’d go to court because she felt it was that important. I didn’t know what court was. “I didn’t know what court was. “I guess that’s why we’re here, isn’t it.” I just smiled and looked up at both my parents nervously. My mother sat very straight with her hands folded at a table on the opposite side of the courtroom, her blue eyes looking straight ahead at the judge. She somehow seemed stronger and more determined than my dad. Looking once again down at me the judge smiled and said, “Yes, Edward, that’s why we’re here.” I just smiled and looked up at both my parents. My father was in his dark blue suit, fidgeting with a pencil nervously. My mother sat very straight, with her hands folded, at a table on the opposite side of the courtroom, her blue eyes looking straight ahead at the judge. The judge then asked my father and my mother both to speak. My father told him about the agreement he and my mother made prior to their marriage; an agreement mandated by the church, which was required when two Christians who are not both Catholics were being wed. It was an agreement that committed body and soul to the Catholic Church. The more my father spoke, the clearer it became he was hurt and frustrated. He didn’t really seem to understand the basis for their arguments, but he just felt deep down that he was right. As my mother spoke, it seemed she grew taller and stronger than her 5’4”, 110-pound frame. She spoke of rights and the right to self-determine the fact that she didn’t oppose my exposure to Catholicism and that she didn’t believe that any agreement made by two adults before birth could determine the faith or religious destiny of a child. Agreements like that could not bind a child or young adult as he grew and it was unfair and unreasonable to exclude a child from exposure to other religious viewpoints. I had never heard her speak so eloquently. The judge retired to his chambers, getting up, we all stood with him and I watched him leave the courtroom by a large door opposite the witness stand. The kindly bailiff led me back to sit next to my mother at the table. She smiled down at me and squeezed my hand. I looked across the aisle at my father who looked and smiled kindly at me but didn’t look up at my mother. After a few minutes, the judge came back and we all stood again. He sat down and we sat. I remember thinking how much fun it must be to have everyone stand every time you entered a room. He struck his gavel, though I didn’t know why, there wasn’t anyone making noise in the courtroom and there were only the five of us, and the judge himself. He spoke: “after careful consideration in reviewing the case of McCallum vs. McCallum it is the court’s considered opinion that Edward Joseph McCallum, Jr. cannot be limited in terms of the religion he chooses to practice or the sources of religious materials he chooses to review. Furthermore, no agreement made between parents regarding religion can prejudice the child’s own religious freedom. Therefore this court finds in favor of the plaintiff, Elizabeth Delano McCallum.” With that, he struck his gavel once. In the same instant, the bailiff once again asked the court to please rise and with the smallest, quickest smile, the judge looked at me and left the courtroom. My mother and father walked towards each other slowly, almost unaware of my being there. For a moment, they faced each other nervously in the center aisle of the courtroom. My father fidgeting, my mother was still erect and determined. Another moment elapsed in silence. Finally, my father stepped forward and swung the small gate that separated the court area from the gallery. He held it open for my mother who quietly walked through with me in tow. She quietly thanked my father without looking back. As an adult looking back on my parent’s upbringing and on their family’s histories, it is clear to me one might have predicted such a confrontation. My father, Edward McCallum, Sr., came to the United States in the 1890’s. He left an oppressed, poverty stricken, Ireland where, politically and financially, his father, an Irish Catholic, and his father’s father had been strong Catholics in the face of British and Protestant domination. America, at the turn of the century represented a place of hope, a place where religious freedom might be found. At first, a great many parts of the United States had proven no friendlier than the Ireland they left behind. However, progress was being made and it might have been true that at just that point that we met in that Brooklyn Courtroom, my father and his countrymen who had fled to the United States may have finally felt they may have reached that point of choice, the point where they could provide their children as Catholics, and as Irish Americans, the best of both worlds. At such a time, to have that opportunity snatched from his hands must have been almost unbearable for my father. Considering his background certainly helped to explain the strength of his opposition. My mother’s family, the Delano’s, had a history as deeply steeped in religious repression as the McCollum’s. Ironically, they were French Protestants who had suffered in Catholic dominated France. Perhaps it was this common sense of religious oppression that drew them together. In retrospect, it is also striking, that my maternal grandfather, Eugene Delano married an IrishCatholic woman, and was himself disowned by his family for that choice. He had disenfranchised my mother during this period because of her choice to marry my father, an Irish Catholic. Both families had overcome adversity and found their way to America. They had both come to practice their religious beliefs and express themselves freely. It should have been no surprise that people of such determination and deep religious conviction would choose to stand firm on these hard earned rights. It was a quiet drive home and though I’m sure they discussed it, no more was ever said in front of me regarding the judge’s decision. I continued to attend the Catholic Church on occasion but I was also free to attend my mother’s church and Bible study as well. As time went one, I came to love my Mother’s church more and more. The word of Christ as told in the New Testament, the wisdom and truth found within the Bible, the spirit of self reliance I found so prized in my mother’s church became my life’s reference point, my northern star. II Young Wayfarer I was born in 1909 in the Bay Ridge Section of Brooklyn. At that time, the entire section consisted of brownstone townhouses. Each was three or four stories high with gently curving entrance ways neatly built, row upon row; each very much like the next. Half dozen steps to the entranceways; each narrowing as you approach the arched entranceway, the stone tinged with a rosy hue, they would prove in time to be works of art. It remains a section of Brooklyn, which typifies the beauty of the era. My first recollection of a home was one we later occupied in the Fort Hamilton section of Brooklyn. At that time, there were still a few very small farms in the area. A great many streets had been cut through, but no houses were built and you could walk for a mile and not even see a house. It was all open pastured land. I used to enjoy wandering through these vast undeveloped tracts of land. Tracts green and treed, they extended for miles, small ponds, areas of marsh and quick running brooks crisscrossed that part of Brooklyn when I was a boy. It was there I created my first fortresses, fought imaginary British soldiers and learned the joy and freedom that comes with wide-open spaces. It was as potent a ground for discovery as a national park might be for an adult. It was there I began to learn about the simple creatures of the northeast. There I began gathering samples for my first rock collection; created my first children’s zoo gathered leaves in the fall for projects at school. I remember my first day of kindergarten. The school was large, imposing. The red brick large entrance made it seem all that much more frightening and foreign. I wasn’t quite sure why my mother brought me, but as she bid me farewell and pointed me toward the classroom where the kindergarten was about to meet, I knew I wasn’t going to be staying. As she turned her back and began to leave, I ducked in to an alcove out of view and waited for the class to begin. When I was fairly certain no one would notice, I snuck quietly out of the school’s side entrance; jumped the fence, and was on my way home. When my mother returned home, I was there waiting for her. I had already decided that school wasn’t for me. She brought me back, by the ear, to kindergarten that same morning. I remember a flush of embarrassment as my mother led me down the sidewalk in front of the school and up the steps, down the very hall in which I hid, into the class and then to the teacher’s desk. Trying to pull away, I simply amused my classmates more. I was beginning to regret leaving because now I had been introduced to my classmates “by the ear.” I was embarrassed. Though, as a result, I enjoyed immense notoriety. Perhaps, because of this introduction, my classmates began looking towards me for the unusual, and from that point on, I tried to oblige. Early on, I discovered, through school, that I had some promise as a storyteller. The schoolteacher in an effort to keep the kindergarten entertained suggested that we select a couple of old articles (one of which was a boot) and take turns creating some tale about each. Finally, I had the opportunity to get up and take my turn telling a story about the boot. Later, she asked me if I would go around and tell the same story to all the classes up to and including the fifth grade. Of course, I was very pleased to get out of the classroom. I really enjoyed embellishing and elaborating on the yarn as I retold it. I became the yarn teller of the family. It started there. I became a salesman at that point, or at least a storyteller. I recall that first school was red brick and sturdy, built like hundreds of public schools in the northeast in the late 1800’s with high ceilings and long windows. I recall how our kindergarten teacher had to use a very long pole with a hook attached at one end to open and close the windows. The coatroom in the back of the classroom was a magical place; a place to rush to as we entered class and as we prepared to go home; a place where we were beyond the watchful gaze of our teacher and where we often played pranks or teased one another before we had to exit to the classroom. The sturdy wooden desks with cast iron legs seemed to easily bear the force of the childish pranks we often played. The inkwells were filled and clumsy fountain pens were still commonly used. Space below the desktop seemed immense when one flipped it up to slip a notebook and our single text inside. It was always difficult to resist the temptation to drop the desktop as the teacher wrote on the blackboard because this always caused her to spin around and look frustrated uncertainty as to who the culprit had been. I recall the hardwood floors creaked so that if you weren’t very, very careful, it was impossible to quietly step from place to place in the classroom without the teacher becoming aware. It was a great challenge to tiptoe down the aisle the distance of several desks and tie the shoelaces together of an unsuspecting classmate or perhaps to pull the pigtails of a young girlfriend. My father, in these early years, worked in the printing business. He worked in Manhattan for a very large company. I remember him coming home stained with indigo blue ink; his work apron splattered, almost covered; his nails dirty; his wiry arms smudged with indelible ink. I remember the hideous smell of the ink used during those days. I often wondered how my father could tolerate working in a closed environment with the fumes. On hot summer days when the air was stagnant, he would sometimes complain to my mother about how lightheaded he’d become at work or of feeling nauseous. Although he had acquired some skill as a printer, I don’t think he was ever truly happy working for a large corporation, which allowed him little independence or individuality. Two of his brothers had purchased a taxi. As time went on they bought a second and a third. My father first began driving part time as a means of helping make ends meet. As our family continued to grow, but the income from the printing business failed to keep pace, the prospect of increased income; the luxury of determining his own hours; being his own boss quickly stimulated him to leave the printing business and go into partnership with his brothers driving on a full time basis. They had one of the earliest fleets in America. Cars were just coming into vogue at that time. Cars n those days weren’t very comfortable or reliable. The driver sat outside and only the back (passenger) compartment was enclosed. When I was seven, we then moved to Manhattan. That was where the taxi business was and my paternal grandparents lived at 28th Street and 1st Avenue. My father and uncles ran the taxi company for nearly ten years. No one ever really put his heart into it. My grandmother was the treasurer and managed the money. With four wayward sons, nobody paid enough attention to the work, though somehow the income sustained our family. One of my fondest childhood memories is of the day I rode with my father in his taxi and meeting General Black Pershing. General Pershing was a wiry, almost slender, man who walked with a rigid gait and when left to reflection seemed stern and preoccupied. I recall seeing him walk briskly from the hotel to the cab snapping his stride. His skin dark; his hair neatly groomed; his small handlebar mustache underscored his high, Indian-like cheekbones. Not until my father closed the door behind him and he took a moment to peer forward in the driver’s compartment did he notice me. At first I was frightened. The great warrior appeared angry, as if he had come ready to do battle. However, briefly, he lightened and smiled at me as I quickly slipped below the seat realizing he was aware of my presence. I wasn’t introduced to him but he rode in our cab that day from the Waldorf to the Battery. He was the biggest war hero of the time, the man who led the Allied Forces in World War I. It was an event that I’ll never forget. The garage where the taxis were stored was two blocks over from the apartment we rented. It was decaying old stone building with large wooden doors hung several inches from the ground, uneven, the left drooping and overlapping with the right. The dirt floor was washboard packed, and coated with oil. If you had the misfortune of slipping and falling, the floor proved to be every bit as hard as concrete. There was a small portion of the garage walled off with counter top and a telephone, with phone numbers scrawled on the beams of the walls and the counter top, itself. There was a small file and chair, weathered and torn from use. A pot-bellied stove sat squarely in the center of the garage and though never successful in warming the garage except in the mildest of weather, it served to take the chill out of the air enough to keep the cars from becoming so cold that they would fail to start. A half dozen taxis my father and uncles owned were scattered around the garage; the two or three that ran were closest to the door, the others in various stages of disrepair against the back wall near the large window with many missing panes that local hoodlums had broken for excitement. I went to the second and third grade in Manhattan in a school, which took up a square block and was four stories high. I remember being there when the armistice ending World War I was reported. The cold day early in November was gray and winter had come early. I was only nine at the time but the War had been going on for as long as I could remember. I came to understand, although not as an adult might, how all encompassing this had been. It literally spanned history, as I knew it my entire life. They shortened the school day sending us home early; the church bells rang; horns honked; steam whistles blew, both those at Grand Central Station and the factories along the East River. People greeted each other in the street with great fanfare. The children who were unexpectedly free to wander the street at midday celebrated their unexpected freedom adding to the bedlam. It was a glorious day. In New York, right across the street from where we lived, at that time was Gracie Mansion and Schultz’s Park. Schultz was one of the early German immigrants. They changed the name during World War I because we were fighting Germany, (and, of course, Schultz was a German name) and they changed it back again after the War. The park, at the time was a magical place; beautiful sculptured gardens; a gazebo and vendors dressed in their clean straw hats and red and white striped bests selling roasted nuts and cotton candy. The mansion seemed to hold the promise of better days and at the same time was a reminder of the past. We roller skated through the park chasing one another, skillfully swinging around the ninety degree turns in the sidewalk by latching onto one of the gas lamps as we sped dangerously by gentle ladies in their finery and what “would be” flappers in their vanguard fashions, as they walked through the parks with their husbands or boyfriends. We swam in the East River (the only wet place). At that time it was a thoroughfare for a great deal of local shipping. It was a means of safe passage for the smaller inland boats and barges through which they could quietly slip from Long Island Sound to the upper Hudson. Though protected, it was gray, often choppy and ran swiftly, down the East coast of Manhattan towards the sea. On calmer days, when the tide began to change and the water temporarily calmed, it often reeked of stagnant sewage and waste from the factories in the Bronx. Nevertheless, for city boys, it was our swimming hole, complete with piers, warehouses, barnacles, pigeon dung, and city rats. It was our Jones Beach. The “neighborhood” (82 nd Street) was wholesome and tight knit with a great many Irish, many of who spoke with a brogue difficult for me to understand. There were German and Italian neighborhoods nearby. Both seemed like different worlds. Though I hadn’t volunteered, it became quickly apparent that as an Irish boy I was a member of the Irish gang, which called 82nd Street home. I did my best to avoid confrontations, however, when one came there was little time for discussion, you fell in with your neighborhood friends or you stood between two groups that were equally hostile. Given such a state of affairs I became for a short time a rather significant member of the 82 nd Street “toughs”. By this time, near 96th a fireboat station was built and a spot created which had a ten-foot square patch of sand, which qualified as a beach and made the area the preferred “swimming hole.” I’d often swim from jetty to jetty or cling to the fireboat itself. One day while I was swimming, I had paddled all the way to the fireboat’s bow, which extended dangerously beyond the pier into the swift flowing current of the East River. Since I had been swimming on the leeward side, the force of the current only hit me as I rounded the bow. Before I realized why I was having so much difficulty making it to the port side of the boat I was fifty feet downstream and being driven towards Hellgate. Everybody there was worried to death about it. I wasn’t, I knew there was nothing to panic about; you could stay afloat easily enough but you couldn’t control where you wee going because the currents were so strong. I was only eight at the time. I swam with the current fairly close to shore where I hoped I could get a hold of some rocks or find spot where I could get up. As I traveled downstream, the handful of people who had first noticed me from Schultz’s Park grew in number as they ran south along the river. As I floated downstream I remember thinking what an odd lot had came together to see me drown. Though I didn’t believe for a minute I was in danger, I felt they must have simply come to watch since none made a move to save me. These people, I realized would be repulsed by each other’s company as soon as I was safe. Flappers, policemen, men from the fireboat, dockhands, ladies and their gentleman friends who had been walking in the park, vendors, cabbies, ruffians, painted ladies, storeowners, housewives and children. It seemed like there must have been two-dozen children in the large crowd as I rounded the point at 56th Street. Finally I became tired of watching them watching me and I noticed a collapsed pier extending out from Manhattan side of the river. The current, swelling nearby formed an eddy. I rode the current in towards the shore scraping my legs and my arms on the rock foundation of the pier, hidden just inches below the surface of the river. I crawled my way over sharp barnacles and splintered wood to the embankment along the shore. I was too short to get up the embankment so they had to send policemen over with a ladder to help me. He was a large strapping man with reddish hair and freckles extended a ladder down the side of the embankment and climbed down clumsily, his large belly sticking over his belt. Finally he steadied himself on the slippery rock and one hand still grasping the ladder, he reached down and grabbed me by the upper arm and lifting me with one hand, he placed me clumsily on the ladder, my back hand almost slipping through the rungs of the ladder to the point where I felt as though I was going to fall though and land on my head on the rocks below. With a tossing motion, he lifted me and caught me on his shoulder. I remember thinking that being saved was worse than drowning. He carried me up the ladder quickly. Over the crest of the embankment he handed me to one of the firemen from the fireboat. I was mobbed by a number of middle aged women in the crowd who tried to wipe me off, clean me up, dress my bruises and ask me dozen of questions about where I came from, who my parents were. I heard some of the firemen and policemen exchange curses as they picked up the ladder and headed back toward the boat. Schultz’s Park attracted youngsters from all the ethnic neighborhoods close by (Irish, Italian, Hungarian, German). It was often here than the gang fights would begin when two boys from a given neighborhood playing peacefully, most often, would be surprised by a half dozen boys of a different nationality, who feeling their oats and over confident in their superior numbers would mainly ridicule and intimidate the few, often extorting money, taking personal belongings or threatening them with violence. Of course, those threats would only work as long as their numbers were superior and only until those intimidated boys could work their way back to their own neighborhoods, tell their tale, and enlist the support of their own gangs. Then the back alleys that split the city streets, canyons between five story brownstones, narrow alleyways behind the six-foot high closed picket fences that protected the muddy back and tenements became the demilitarized zones. Crossing that line on the wrong day could begin a battle that might last half a summer. Fists were most often the weapons but a serious offense, created situations, in which stones, sticks or anything that might be handy in a trash bin close by would be used. In the lighter moments we fancied ourselves warriors, garbage lids serving as shields, sticks or pieces of tubing served as our swords. At the worst, the younger children had the sense to run when they were clearly out-manned or out-armed and seldom was anyone hurt although often frightened within an inch of their lives. It was much different with the older boys, though fortunately I left Manhattan before I had to learn those lessons firsthand. I had a large number of first cousins back in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. We visited them periodically and right near their home was an airstrip. The airstrip was really nothing more than a large cow pasture with an area of grass worn thin, rippled, weather beaten; a place for the landings and departures of the most primitive of aircrafts. At irregular intervals there were small kerosene lamps or tin containers of kerosene, which might be lit on foggy days or after nightfall. Their flames would burn orange-yellow their edges tinged with thick, black smoke would rise in thin whispers. On a still spring night, they could smell as bad as the factories along the East River. At one end of the airstrip there was a small shack. There the mailmen from the local post office would often await the arrival of the pilots who would be the first of the airmail carriers, warming themselves near a small coal burning Franklin stove. The shack was loosely boarded with a flimsy door and one window facing the airstrip. The dingy yellowed cloth curtain hung diagonally across the window. The stench of urine lingered in the corners of the shack. There the very early planes would land. I remember the first plane I ever saw was a twinengine bi-plane. The wings were covered with canvas. These pilots came and went causing a great deal of excitement. We would travel out to the airstrip to admire them. My cousins knew them by their first names. I never did ride with them, but my cousins rode with them often and I envied their opportunity to know these daring men well. These men were pioneers. The airstrip itself was just a long dirt path. Pilots often complained to one another about the cows that would wander across it, or pigs or horses belligerently standing astride the landing strip. I t wasn’t uncommon to see a pilot buzz the airstrip once or twice to drive the livestock off before he could land and at night livestock always posed an invisible danger to both the plane and the pilot. Coney Island in 1917 was heaven on earth. It was magic place. Large Ferris wheels, the boardwalk, the arcade, the games, the ring toss, then vendors, the crowded beaches, the roller coasters, the carousel. The carousel was my favorite. I could pretend to be Stonewall Jackson, or Wild Bill Hitchcock riding the finely built horses carved from rich hardwoods. As I stretched my legs in the stirrups around and around, I had the sense that I was closing in on the rider in front of me. Perhaps that is where my fascination with electricity and mechanics began; the ability to create great magic from metal and wires seemed wonderful. The possibility of affecting that kind of magic was captivating. I would often fantasize as I rode the carousel about having the magical power to make the wooden horses truly come to life like Pegasus, leaving the fairgrounds and flying high above the boardwalk, over ocean, across Manhattan and how grand it would be to be able to effect that kind of magic. In 1918, New York City became a terrible somber place. I remember then sense of waiting to die; a great sense of uncertainly pervaded everything and plagued everyone. I didn’t understand at the time that death literally touched everyone and though panic had not set in, a great sense of hopelessness and helplessness had. The city, itself, which had seemed so gay and later, during the war, so proud and vibrant in victory now that the character of an infirmed elder waiting to pass on, passive and distressed. No one seemed to understand why or how America was suffering so. At dusk one evening in late November, I recall walking home from the garage in the center of the street. The sky was steel blue, cold and crystal clear. I walked in the street rather than walking too close to any of the dozen pauper’s caskets I was forced to pass on my short walk home. The weather, on that day, was mercifully cold, retarding the spread of that peculiar stench of decaying flesh, which hung as a constant reminder of the fate, which threatened us all. The black dark pleated crepes were draped across every other building on the block, the pine caskets rested unevenly on the curbs in a position that undoubtedly left the deceased with his feet in the street and torso on the sidewalk. Often the wood used was so green that the pine tar dripped like blood from the caskets, which were made in such great numbers that seasoned wood could not be found. The winter of 1919 was a long frightening one. As soon as spring broke, the opportunity presented itself to leave the city to visit relatives. I remember the ride to the countryside of New Jersey on that bright date in late April. It was balmy, this year spring had come early and it seemed as it life itself was being renewed in the New Jersey countryside. The influenza hadn’t appeared to touch the farmlands of New Jersey in anywhere near the same proportions that it had victimized New York City. The cows were fat; the woodland was green; the children happy; flowers were in bloom and we had driven an astonishing distance of nearly twenty miles since passing our last casket. It was very, very hard to believe and understand that only forty miles from our home one’s life style could be so different and apparently so much safer. It was my first exposure to the real country and I was fascinated. The hills, the deep forest, the tall pines, the pastures without curbs, the stone walls which had been created in colonial times all fascinated me. I was very excited about the visit and the opportunity to explore this wilderness. The trip home was stressful although I didn’t understand why at the time. Our brief time away from New York City was the first period of relaxed enjoyment we had known in months. We had not been aware of alternatives till that day. I was the only child still awake when I overheard my parents discussing the wisdom of returning to the city. They wondered whether or not they had the right to expose their children once again to the influenza. My mother and father agreed they hadn’t felt at peace the way they had during the country visit in more than the year that it had been since the influenza had broken out in the city. As late afternoon settled on that long drive, I dozed off like my brothers and sisters. Sometime thereafter, we were all jolted awake as my father jammed on the brakes. We awoke to find both mother and father bolting out of the car to inspect a large farmhouse and its outbuildings. They were both very excited; why wasn’t totally clear until I spotted the sign hung from the post along the roadside. The farm and the land were for lease with an option to buy. My parents (who later I would find were prone to the impulsive purchases of farms) had already made up their minds. Before sunset that evening, we had leased the farmhouse, 80 acres, adopted 200 chickens, a horse, a half dozen pigs and several cows. My father signed the lease on the spot. All that was left was to return that evening to the city, hire a truck and river and move the next morning to begin our new lives as a farming family. That next day the drive, though only forty miles, took many hours. The truck we had hired was old and often required stops to allow the engine to cool. Its owner was a big strapping man who seemed to sweat a great deal and very easily. He was unshaven but not dirty and his arms were as big as most men’s legs. He wore a white sleeveless T-shirt and a cap, even though the day was still quite cool. He chewed on a cigar, which was more often than not, unlit. It was well after dusk when we arrived at the farm and the driver was clearly anxious to get home. He lifted large pieces of furniture on his back and carried them into the house. Time and time again he would drop a piece of furniture just inside the doorway and reposition it and start out for another. The large overstuffed sofa was the last piece he carried into the front room. He set it down and collapsed onto it. As darkness fell over the room, my mother lit a kerosene lantern so the business of the day could be concluded. The driver collected his money and with one hand on the door shook my father’s hand and bid the family goodbye. He smiled for the first time that day and I noticed that he had not teeth and wondered how he managed to hold on to the now absent cigar he had so firmly held in his mouth. There was a great deal of work in tidying the house and the excitement of settling in. Collapsing after several hours of additional work, the children, my mother and father all had clearly spent their energy. In the wee hours of our first night on the farm, I awoke choking and gagging on smoke. I yelled to my father and mother for help. During the excitement, my father ran to the children’s room and forced all of us out onto the roof of the small front porch. He was able to make his way downstairs to find not a fire but a smoldering couch and the truck driver’s lit cigar. As the oldest son, I had to learn a great deal about farm life and learn quickly. Early on this created tension between my parents and proved anxiety provoking for me. Not having grown up in a farm community, my early experiences with animal husbandry and sexuality were shockingly graphic and proved to be rude awakenings, much to my mother’s chagrin and my father’s quiet amusement. I recall the day that my father asked me to take five dollars and our cow to a neighbor’s farm to be come acquainted with our neighbor’s bull. After paying the neighbor and putting the cow in with the bull, I waited as my father instructed, for what I wasn’t sure, but as inaction gave way to action, I was mortified. I stayed, as much as out of concern for the safety of our livestock as anything else. I was too frightened and small to interfere. I certainly saw more than I bargained for that day. When I got back home, it was after dark and my whole family was sitting at the table eating. I was still stunned from my experience. My father asked, “Edward, how did the cow take it”? My mother kicked him in the shins under the table. That was the last of the conversation. The one room schoolhouse we went to while on the farm, much to my surprise didn’t have steam heat like the New York City school or the one in Brooklyn. It was not bigger than twenty feet square, painted red, and sat nestled in a grove of maples and oaks. The blackboard and a very rough table served as my teacher’s only props. The small student body of fifteen sat on benches. Small tables, an American flag at the right corner of the room and a globe were its only resources beyond the textbooks and the map of the United States on the wall. As winter settled in, the schoolteacher had to build a fire anew each day. So each morning we were asked to help her start a fire by going out and gathering wood around the schoolhouse and in the woods nearby. I went home and told my Dad that I had to go out and get wood so we could get the fire started in the big pot-bellied stove in the back of the classroom. He said, “You don’t have to do that. After all we pay the Board of Education our taxes so you don’t have to do it.” So the next day I promptly told the teacher that I wasn’t going out to get the wood. She said, “Edward, you don’t have to go, you can sit in your seat.” Because I was one of the worst students, she had me in the front of that particular row of the third grade and there I sat while all the other kids went out and got wood. Finally they got a blazing fire going in the pot-bellied stove and all students brought their chairs and benches to the back of the classroom to sit there nice and cozy around the pot-bellied stove. I think it was still around forty degrees up in the front of the class where I sat. A few days later when more wood was needed I didn’t flaunt my rights. I went out and helped gather without complaint. A few of the boys in my school had trapping lines and it sounded like such fun, I coaxed my father to buy a few traps and I set out a trap line for muskrats and skunks myself. I had a good trap line and I went to check it every morning before school. I had over a dozen traps in all; they stretched in a wide arc in the forest nearby my home following the streambed through a glen as it meandered throughout a marshy bog and re-gathered itself near a small duck pond. I placed my traps carefully in the briars, aloud stonewalls, at the base of large trees, anywhere a rabbit or a deer run was evidenced in the undergrowth. Placement, as I would come to find through trial and error, was key to the success of trapping. Creatures weren’t likely to change their habits to come find my traps. I had to anticipate where they, in the course of their daily circle of activities, were most likely to wander. Checking the traps regularly proved essential. If I didn’t check it every day and an animal got caught it would eat its foot off, if you left him there too long rather than drown or suffer too much. They would actually eat the foot off and leave you the foot. So I would go every morning, winter mornings through snow and ice, and follow my trap line. It ran under haystacks and logs, anyplace where the skunks and other animals were likely to frequent. I caught muskrats more than anything else. I’d carry them home and then go onto school. The skunks somehow or other always seemed to get caught by their hind leg. They’d be inside their burrow or under a log or in a haystack and when you pulled them out, they’d strike at you with their stinging stinking venom. You often had to face a healthy back end first for a few seconds before you could club them on the head to kill them. One of these mornings this one skunk really nailed me (almost blinding me). If you’re the one sprayed, you smell it for a while, but then you don’t smell it at all anymore. So after I got my nice big skunk home, I went off to school. I ran the last quarter mile to school knowing once again I was going to be seriously disciplined for being so late. Bursting in the classroom I expected a reaction but I was anticipating punishment as opposed to repulsion. As the teacher turned to admonish me, her look of anger turned to one of nausea. She backed herself against the far wall, turning her head against it towards the window, she said, “Edward, what have you been doing?” Before I could answer, my classmates parted like the Red Sea, each, the group to my left and right, leaving his desk and scurrying towards the front of the classroom in the teacher’s safety, many holding their noses, others moaning loudly, a few gagging and gasping. Then it hit me that there wasn’t likely to be any punishment today, nor any school. For a brief period anyway, I held the cards necessary to control the situation. I toyed with the teacher’s interest offering to explain the whole situation in detail as I walked towards her promising that I would get right to work and stay late if necessary to compensate for what I had missed. It was difficult to suppress my smile knowing full well I had just given myself the day off. It became very clear that the teacher simply wanted me out – there would be consequences but not today. If she had any hope of teaching anyone in that classroom anything, I needed to leave immediately. She needed to open the windows, air out the classroom and teach for the next hour or so on the school grounds. This happened about six times, but I didn’t get discouraged. I kept my trap line going. Eventually with the money I made on my trap line, I bought my first pair of long trousers. I remember the trousers well. They were gray with buttons up the front and buttons across the belt. They had no pockets but ankle cuff-lets that buttoned giving the appearance of pantaloons and much more dignified than the knickers that most young boys were forced to wear. Up to that time, I had only had knickers (knee length trousers) myself. I was very proud of my long trousers, my hard work and my skinning. By this time (the first winter on the farm), I failed the third grade. I remember the feeling of failure and embarrassment. Having my sister, who was a year younger than I catch up with me in school; the discomfort of having to face my parents, my siblings and return to school, to repeat the material from the preceding year. I didn’t prize what was taught in school; the view of it being failure was difficult to accept. Being “held back” was precisely what it felt like. I was angry. I had no doubt that I had failed to learn what I was required to know by the standards of the school, however, I felt much more like I was being punished than helped and, as a result, never repented nor chose to commit an honest effort to learning what it was the school teacher though I should know. My sister was a diligent student, sometime unwillingly, but invariable she did her homework and mine and because of this I was able to pass the third grade the second time around and as long as I “kept pace” with her I enjoyed the only period in my life of “academic success”. After that, she did my homework as well as hers and I managed to keep up with my class. During that first winter, my mother decided we needed more chickens. So she ordered 500 baby chicks from Sears Roebuck. When they arrived, it was too early in the spring to put them outside. So she decided should set up a room inside upstairs for them. There were only 500 little tiny chicks, but later on it seemed like there were 2000. We raised the chickens till they were old enough and the weather got mild enough to put them outside. That proved to be a total disaster. After they were put outside, they considered the house their home. They came in through the doors; they came in through the windows and they flew up to the second floor. They’d lay eggs in the bureaus, the closets and anywhere else that was flat enough to support their offerings. I have never since seen such a mess as our house was then. It turned out that it was their coop first and our home second. They we so used to it we never could keep the chickens out. We all had to slaughter chickens from time to time. My dad was away a lot and I was promoted to chief chicken killer. Now, killing a chicken is very unpleasant. To watch them hop around without their head is a very strange. They would run around for a full five minutes without a head. They’d jump sideways and all around, still walking and still moving. It’s repulsive to watch it, blood splashing all over the place. So my mother used to say to me, “Edward, you kill the chicken and I’ll hold him,” and I’d say: “No Ma, I’ll hold it, you kill it.” She was such a bad shot she’d close her eyes and would always miss the chicken. One time, in particular, everybody was sick including my father; I’ll never forget it. My mother and I were the only ones who weren’t terribly sick. Everyone else was in bed, so I went out and got the rooster and, with my mother, I took it down in to the cellar. My mother laid his head on the chopping block and I shut my eyes and swung the axe and without looking back, we both ran upstairs. (We didn’t want blood all over us and we didn’t want to see the chicken hop around with his head cut off). After five minutes had passed (by that time they were generally dead), we went back downstairs and looked all over but couldn’t find the chicken; no head; no chicken; no nothing. We hunted and hunted, we called, we looked under the pile of wood; we looked everywhere, the chicken was gone. My mother said, “Well Edward, you’ll have to go out and get another chicken.” I said, “Nope, I’m not going to get another. That was enough. We killed one and I’m not going to kill another one.” About a day later, we heard a rooster crowing down in the cellar. We had missed him altogether. One day the following fall, evening settled in while I was in town buying grain and groceries. It was three miles to home, a long ride by carriage and coming back I could hardly see the road. The night was particularly foggy. The road ran narrow and uneven. The border on my right was an eerie marsh, which was hung in shaped of deep green and earthen brown by trees that suffered from a lack of sunlight and held the stench of stagnant water. On my left there was a dense pine forest, which permitted no light beneath the boughs, which hung unevenly several feet above the ground. Two more ominous alternatives were hard for a young a boy to imagine. Black forest, eerie swamp you wouldn’t ever dare watch the one too long, for as soon as you began to examine one, you would begin to reconsider the other as the most likely source of demons. Often the wobbly wheels of the carriage would slip off the clay crest of the country road towards one of the ruts on the other side. The jar would often cause the horse to stop having incorrectly interpreted it as a pull on his reins. I’d quietly curse the horse for being so dense, so willing to pause in the face of such imagined dangers. Finally I pulled up in front of the house and my mother said to me, “Edward, do you hear noises?” It was getting dark and the days were getting shorter. She said, “Well, I hear voices and they are all around us.” I listened a while and I said, “Yeah, I think I hear voices too.” She said, “Edward, you know what I think, that there’s somebody out there or the woods are haunted by ghosts.” She said, “Edward, just take the groceries, don’t un-harness the horse. Just get him in the barn and close the door. Don’t even put him in the stall just rush back. I think the voices are getting closer and closer.” As I listened, I began to think I heard them too. So I rushed the horse into the barn and ran into the house and locked all the doors and listened. We still heard the mumbling but we never discovered what it was. The same fall, my dad said, “ You know we only have one horse and we need two horses to pull a hay rake, so to save the cost of hiring someone to hay the fields I’ll hook the hay rake to the taxi.” When he was ready to begin he said, “Edward, you sit on the spare tire and watch the tines to make sure they don’t get caught up. I’ll drive the taxi, and Sis, you sit in the back seat and look out the back window and tell me how things are going.” I was sitting about five feet off the ground and from there you had to kick the tines every so often to keep the hay from binding. We went merrily around in the back pasture and were doing pretty well. It was quite wet in some areas, but we were managing, when all of a sudden, the shaft fell off and tuck in the ground. Meanwhile my father, who couldn’t tell this had happened, was still driving on. I catapulted over the back and into the tines where were still rolling. They were rolling the hay and I for several seconds before my sister got around to telling my father that I was in danger. When he stopped to allow me to get to safety, he couldn’t get the taxi started again and we had to pay $20.00 to get a team of horse to pull the taxi out. The whole hay field could have been cut for half the amount. The second summer on the farm, my cousins, Fran, Jack and Eli McGee all came to visit. One day we roamed away from our place, through the neighboring farms and we finally happened across a great patch of watermelons. The patch covered thirty acres; watermelons extended as far as one could see. Large sloppy leaves covered many as we walked. Turning the leaves and vines aside we discovered dozens hidden from view like large eggs hidden under protective hens. First we tore at the vines, sometimes separating entire section from their root system. Then we jug among the melons discovering that the melons changed dramatically in character as they grew. We paused to argue to as to whether all of these watermelons were watermelons at all. We performed a number of quick autopsies and concluded that, in fact, watermelons they were. It was a very hot day. I don’t know what we were thinking. There were so many watermelons perhaps we figured a few wouldn’t be missed. We sampled a few, but they weren’t ripe. So we broke up a few more and sampled them. After we found about three apiece, which were ripe, we gathered them up in our arms along with a chain, which for some reason, we decided to take as well. As we walked toward home, the larger melons grew heavier and heavier. We ate some and then dropped some more and we finally got home but we left a trail all the way. The next day the farmer discovered that his watermelon patch had been wrecked and he followed the watermelon seeds, the rinds and the broken watermelons right to our farm and, on the front porch of our farmhouse, he found his chain. My father and mother weren’t home at the time. I was there and so were my three cousins. He had a lieutenant in the Civil War; and older man I’ll never forget. He was a tall slender man, wiry with a mustache. He reminded me of General Pershing, though he really didn’t look like him. I wondered if this was the look of the true soldier, the hardened face of a man who had seen combat and death. His horse was jet black and there was froth on his hindquarters and around his bit. It was clear that he driven him hard. He had a big long whip, which stood up in a little holder. He flipped that whip at us as he spoke and we stood there frozen and frightened. He said, “You should be horse whipped for all you did.” He wanted to know when our parents would be there. Well, their parents weren’t there and weren’t going to be. My mother and dad came home after he had gone and later they had to pay $45.00 for the damage we had done. Today that would be like $450.00. We must have wrecked that entire patch because back then a good ripe watermelon wasn’t worth more than fifty cents. That second summer on the farm, we found a watering hole to swim in. It was a man-made lake only about three hundred feet across and six to seven hundred feet long. A stream that ran through the valley nearby was dammed. The small lake that was created only ran twelve or thirteen feet at the center. Along the embankment by the weeping willows we’d often swing low across the water and, depending upon the strength of the branch or how much it gave, either catapult in a somersault into the lake or slowly sink in as we skimmed along the surface. It was part of a retreat community, called a Fellowship Farm. No one wore clothes when we went swimming. We varied in age from my age (ten or eleven) down to my younger sister who was five or six. My brothers and sisters and I all swam together. With all the kids from the other local farms, there must have been thirty or forty of us there at the same time and not a stitch of clothing among us. Nobody thought too much about it; you were swimming. When my cousins came, however, being city slickers, there were shocked. I recall how odd everyone thought it was that city boys who were hesitant to swim but, nonetheless, the gang stripped down and dove in. In a very few minutes it seemed that the city boys who were so modest and slow to undress were the peculiar ones. The next fall, in my class I met a fellow named Johnny Mango. He was a Hungarian boy whose father owned a farm close by. I remember I could tell he was nearby with my eyes closed, because he never washed his feet and I could smell his feet from my seat. Every once in a while I would see a little bug run down his neck and back up into his hair. He had lice. Once in a while you could see white eggs there too. He was a nice kid, however, and we had a lot of fun together. He stole one of my traps and took animals out of a number of them. Once, when he was raiding one of my traps, I caught him in the act. I came upon him at the far side of the marsh. I heard a noise behind the thicket. As I approached it, I thought perhaps I had inadvertently trapped something large; the way the bushes were rustling, for a moment, I thought a deer or perhaps a dog which I often saw running wild through the woods. As I rounded the bend, I saw Johnny prying a trap apart releasing the dead carcass of a muskrat. He was startled when he saw me. He started to mumble something and stopped, realizing that there was very little to explain. I asked him how long he had been tampering with my traps because it was not the first time that I found them snapped and empty. He appeared to be sorry at first, quickly. However he lapsed into defensiveness and belligerence and he began to deny and argue as if I was insulting his integrity. Word led to word and after his trying to leave with the muskrat, blow led to blow. It was wintertime (trapping was the best in the winter). We were fist fighting out on the ice of the little pond. After a brief exchange of punches, Johnny, who was a smaller heavier boy, decided that it was to his advantage to make it a wrestling match. He lowered his head and ran straight at me. I stepped aside. He tumbled to his knees and his elbows. Quickly he stood up and threw himself at me again. This time he connected his shoulder into my midsection – knocking the wind out of me as we tumbled to the ground. Rolling further, I ended up on top. Just then a car stopped nearby and a gentleman with a along woolen overcoat, half closed, with a white cotton scarf, stepped out of his car and yelled down to us on the pond to stop fighting. After wading nearly 500 feet in the snow, he separated us and asked us what the problem was. When I told him what Johnny had done, he drove away and decided to let us fight it out. Those years on the farm had been difficult, the drive into the city was long one and it became more and more impractical for my father to continue on in the taxi business. The chickens had proved more trouble than they were worth. The cash that we received for the eggs and the small money we received for our crops and the chickens, themselves was not enough to make ends meet. So, my father decided to move back to town. During those six years, we left the farm only to go to school. The town at that time was a strange and foreign place. As odd as the farm had seemed to me when we arrived there six years before from Manhattan, I’d spent my formative years in the country. Moving to a town, even a small town, seemed odd. My family and a few friends in the immediate area of the farm were all the people I knew and, except for those I met in school or on our rare trips to local towns, I’d learned to find satisfaction and pleasure in the country; in the Bible and in the company of my family. Being surrounded by so many people; so much activity, proved to be a bit of a shock to my system. Nonetheless we moved to Picataway, a small town in central New Jersey. It was a farming community not much more than a crossroads at the time. (Local school and local churches, general store, a gas station, barber shop a post office, and a small movie house.) By the time I arrived there, I’d grown into an awkward adolescent and, though confused and somewhat uncomfortable with myself, I had the good fortune of being one of the larger children in my class, both by virtue of an early growth spurt and by the dubious distinction of being nearly sixteen in the eighth grade. One of my classmates had joined the local Boy Scouts and was a second-class scout, at the time, encouraged me to attend a scouting meeting. I recall it was a night in early October. He and I hurried down South Main Street toward the church in whose basement the meeting was to be held. It was a cool, crisp autumn evening. The meeting proved to be a great deal of fun. The scouts were beginning a project for their annual Halloween costume party. I made a great many good friends in scouting. One quiet young boy named Anderson I had a particular fondness for. Eventually I became one of the scout troop leaders. I loved to travel, hike, and camp. On one such outing, Anderson asked me to walk with him down to the beach. I really wanted to go but I realized that, as a scout leader, it was my responsibility to help the younger scouts secure the tents and, though I could have done them perhaps just as well after the walk, for some reason I didn’t go. A few minutes later storm clouds gathered and the storm’s first bolt of lightening struck, killing Anderson. He was buried in a little in a little cemetery back in Piscataway. The preacher who presided over the service was from the same church in which we held our troop meetings. I played Taps as the whole troop stood silently at attention. After grade school, I went to trade school. Fortunately trade school proved more rewarding and certainly more interesting than any other type of school I had ever attended. I studied the basic core requirements and delighted in the few technical periods of the day in which I would study the basics of electricity, wiring and mechanics. Impatient and perhaps a bit dissatisfied with the academic requirements, I decided to quit and go to work as an electrician for E. R. Squibb and Company, the pharmaceutical house. One day, one of my buddies in the scouts came to work to visit me. In those days (1926), E.R. Squibb was making formaldehyde from sulfur drugs to fight venereal diseases and in the process they used alcohol to purify the sulfur and we then reused the alcohol. It wasn’t denatured and we had a still to purify it. It was during prohibition and a moon-faced Irish fellow named Chris Eialis asked about it. I said that it was alcohol. He said it looked very hot, and I said it came out around 140 degrees. He asked: “Is this drinking alcohol?” and I said “Yes” ( I didn’t know the difference). So he said “Well, I think I’ll have some.” The alcohol flowed through a hose and out like water would flow from a garden hose. He said, “Boy, this will be good.” He took the hose, put it in his mouth; took a few swallows and collapsed. He couldn’t breathe; he couldn’t catch his breath; he was suffocating from the alcohol and the end of the hose was continuing to pour alcohol on him. He gagged his arms were flailing. The hot flowing alcohol was darkening his pale green shirt across his chest and down his left arm pooling next to his shoulder and chin. For a moment, I thought I would have to call my superiors for an ambulance as he began to lose color. Finally, coughing furiously, he began to re-catch his breath. I thought that would cure him, though years later, I went to visit as a grown man and I was to find alcohol had only lost that battle but would eventually win the war. Of course my sisters were a lot brighter than I was in school, so they went on to high school. I decided that I would seek my fortune, as one of the Squibb chemists had suggested, in a good area that was growing and had a great future. He said he had studied regional growth patterns for twenty years and, if he were young, he would head to North Carolina. So we (my best friend Eddie Patrick and I) packed our bags and baggage and without much ado, bid my mother and father farewell. I kissed my mom goodbye and waved goodbye to my dad. We packed our football, baseball and hunting equipments, shotguns and our favorite dog, in our sevenpassenger Hut-mobile and headed for North Carolina. III Southern Sojourn The Hutmobile was a good solid car. It was a large, black sedan with an enclosed cab and spacious backseat, cadaverous by today’s standards. With an additional storage rack and a trunk area extending beyond the rear of the cab, in much the same way rumble seats often were engineered in the models of the day, we could have packed all our belongings. The huge rubber wheels were twenty-two inches in diameter with wooden rims. The Hutmobile’s solid rubber tires precluded a flat. We decided to travel through York, Pennsylvania so we could stop and see some friends we had met through scouting. We intended to visit for a few hours and ended up visiting for three days. That second evening, we went on a long ride in the country with two very pretty Dutch Mennonite girls. We lost our dog during the tour that evening. Where the dog went and why we didn’t notice he was gone would be the devil to explain. The girls were so beautiful it’s simplest to say we were completely absorbed by their charms. We simply forgot the little Collie mongrel and left him. We searched for him the next morning, but never did find him. We felt bad, but the open road beckoned, and we headed south once again. The roads were dirt in Virginia and the Carolinas. Even the main roads were washboard roads. They didn’t prepare them fully, just scraped them. They’d get little ripples in them and your tires would go over them like an old-fashioned washboard. That ripple would get your car bounding and chattering and then, of course, it made the ripples deeper with every car that went over. There were clouds of dust coming each way every time a car passed. You could see the cars coming for miles. Everything that moved was covered with a dusting of the red soil. When it got wet, it got very slippery because there was a great deal of clay in the earth there. The trip to the Shenandoah Valley was something that would leave an imprint on me that would remain with me for the rest of my life. From Winchester; through the Fancy Gap; the climb through the valley and the foothills and finally across the Blue Ridge Mountains was inspiring. Retracing the steps Jackson took in his Valley campaign, traveling through or near Winchester, Strassberg, New Market, Harrisonburg, Stanton, Roanoke and Lexington were profound experiences. The summer still hung heavy as did the air in the Shenandoah. The fields were awaiting the coming harvest; the coming moon would be the harvest moon and the valley was alive with preparation. The ascent into the Blue Ridge Mountains brought us to Fancy Gap; before us lay North Carolina. Mt. Airy lay several miles to the southeast beyond which one could see for a hundred miles; North Carolina as far as the eye could see. Four days later, we arrived in Winston-Salem. It was late September of 1927. We had brought our tent and camping equipment and we found an open lot, which looked suitable for camping. We asked a barbeque stand attendant nearby if we could camp there. He said, “yes”, so we put our tent up (there were another couple of tents nearby). Our rent was twenty-five cents a week. Shortly thereafter, we each found jobs in construction, at twenty-five cents per hour, twelve hours a day. We found that out of our fifteen dollars a week, it cost only three dollars for food between the two of us. We cooked all our own meals over the campfire. By November, the chill of the night air was becoming unbearable and we both realized we’d need find a more substantial place spend the winter. Close by, on a hillside, there was a mansion, which appeared deserted. I inquired and was told the railroad had bought it. It was an old plantation and the railroad was going to build a new line through the property and tear it down. I decided that I’d go to the railroad and ask the man if we could use the house rather than stay in the tent for the winter. I was told we could. We said to ourselves, “Boy this is grand,” only three months out and we had a mansion of our own. It was a beautiful home, although long since fallen into disrepair. As one entered through the large portico and crossed the large veranda, which extended almost entirely around the building, one entered the large foyer perhaps twenty feet wide and forty feet long running the entire center of the building. A large oaken stairway descended from the right of the foyer; a landing extending across the back of the building and another few steps angling back towards the front of the building ascending to the second floor. On the landing, an oaken window seat and three huge stained glass windows, which allowed the filtered light to pour a spectrum of colors into the foyer. Four rooms were on each floor, two on each side of the foyer, north and south, each with its own fireplace. The mansion must have been a showplace in its day. The kitchen and an outdoor stairway, which the servants (slaves, once) might ascend to their quarters above the kitchen and return, completed the twelve rooms. We bought cots, which seemed like quite a luxury rather than sleeping on the floor and we took the biggest room in the house with a fireplace and a winding staircase as our own. There was a well outside so we didn’t have to go far for water and two of the other campers a man and wife asked if they could move in with us. I struck a bargain with them; if she’d wash our clothes and iron and if he’d gather our firewood, then we’d let them have one of the rooms in the house. Now we had a live-in maid and manservant. Wood was plentiful because the house was coming down and, if we didn’t want to send our friends outside for wood, we just took boards from the stairway or a door frame. We stayed there the entire winter and we felt as if we were landed gentry. I enjoyed going to Protestant Church in the area. I also went to several Moravian Churches (one of the main Protestant faiths in that part of Carolina). There was also a Baptist Church in the center of town. I went there one Sunday morning and they had a gospel preacher. They announced that they were having a weeklong revival, beginning the following Sunday. I attended several of the evening tent meetings and late in the week the preacher said: “Whoever wanted to seek their salvation and testify that they loved Christ should stand up and come forward.” I walked up to the front of the Church. It was quite an emotional experience for me. They asked you if you were really seeking your salvation and if you truly wanted to be baptized and be born again. I said I did. They took you to the podium and you were given a time to meet with the Deacons the following night. Once again, you had to tell them how you felt, and what you knew about Christ; how you felt about salvation and how important it was to you. They then reached a collective decision as to your readiness. Fortunately, they accepted me to be baptized as a member of the church. The time had finally come and as the preacher stood by my side, he asked me before the whole congregation to declare my faith. I was about waist deep in water. I testified that I believed in Christ; that I would try to be a good Christian and follow the teachings of the Lord. He then asked me, “Do you understand that your salvation is something between you and the Lord, and that you have to be serious, you have to mean it; you have to follow it.” And I said that I did. Finally he asked, “Do you love Jesus and seek salvation through Him and through God’s love and will you make them your partners throughout your life?” I responded that I would. Then, in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, I was baptized, as was Christ in the River Jordan. I felt as if my feet didn’t touch the ground again for weeks. I had an inward feeling of contentment, happiness and warmth that I can’t explain. The depth of my sense of intimacy with God and Christ and my inner feelings of warmth were extraordinary. That experience has stayed with me all my life. I may have lost my sense of direction at times, but my salvation that night proclaimed has always served as the cornerstone of my life’s structure. I felt, from that moment forward, that with God’s help, I’d strive to live up to the ideals of Christianity. I felt like the Pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress, stepping from stone and always looking to Christ as a partner and a friend. That night, and since, I came to believe if you try, with God’s help, you can succeed no matter how difficult that climb may be or tough the battle. When God is with you, you can overcome. Now Eddie and I were “men of means” and accordingly decided to move into a boarding house. Of course, there was a girl involved; the owner’s daughter, who had become my girlfriend. Her name was Opal Orange. Her family had just recently come down from the mountains and moved to town and her father worked in the tobacco factory and rented out rooms. We would sit around in the evening with a guitar around the open fireplace that burned soft coal and talk and sing country songs; all the southern songs sung during the Civil War. We had many a fine night together. It was there that I first began to appreciate the impact of the War, between the States, as the Southerners preferred to call it, had had in the South. An entire culture had been eradicated; a great people with a sense of purpose equal to that of the North had been overpowered and forced to submit to a government they had years before chosen to abandon. A sense of having been violated; a sense of loss remained clear among the mountain people who had made their way into Winston-Salem to work in the factories. Though the war had been over nearly fiftyfive years, there were still a great number of older men and women who had been directly involved or who had lost brothers and sisters or parents. There were a great many families who had lost financial fortunes as well as their status; their homes; their lands; their influence. We, ourselves, had spent the winter in one of the many abandoned architectural treasures that could no longer be maintained by the defeated south. It’s not to paint a picture of an angry embittered people, however, the sense of loss and embitterment was real though subtle. For many of the families that I knew well, including Opal’s parents, it was a sense of cultural impoverishment that was linked to the war. They were simpler people, kind but primitive. In many ways they were just like the primitive mountain people who rallied to the side of South during the war. It was finally that similarity that would make it difficult for Opal and me to remain friends. Everybody in the family chewed tobacco including the Mother, much to my disappointment, though Opal was cute, she chewed tobacco, too. It wasn’t the same tobacco the men chewed, it was a milder snuff she’d put under her lip, but when I kissed her she tasted like tobacco juice to me. I told her how our love would end if she didn’t stop “chewing”. One day, coming home from work, as I came around the back of the house and as she was trying to get rid of her tobacco chew (so I wouldn’t know she had been chewing), she spit and hit me full in the face; wad, juice and all. This ended my love affair with my young girlfriend, Opal Orange. I was working in concrete construction during this time. There were four of us who routinely worked together for months carrying big pans called sections. These were laid in position and concrete would be poured over them and pull them out to mix it all up. There had always been four of us, Eddie and me and two Negro laborers. One day the two Negroes that were helping us went somewhere to get a drink of water and were gone so long Eddie and I decided to carry one by ourselves. We discovered it was no heavier lifting it without them. We had been carrying all the weight for all those months. On a construction job, there’s a lot of framework and nails scattered about and, one afternoon in early summer, I jumped off a scaffold and landed on a nail that went completely through my foot, boot and all. I was laid up for a week and bathed it in Epsom salts. I received a great deal of sympathy from Opal and her mother. I decided to take the opportunity to look around for another job. I found one at the Eveready Electric Company. I remember answering the ad in the local paper, finding the small shop in the South side of town. I entered the red brick building. It was on the outskirts of Moravian Salem and I found a gentleman there. I inquired as to whether the company was hiring apprentices. He responded they were and asked regarding my qualifications. I assured him I was experienced, though it would be my first electrical job and it was the first time I would have the opportunity to apply the trade I’d partially learned in trade school. The first fellow I worked for brought me back the second night and said he didn’t want me as a helper. He said I was too ignorant to do what I was trying to do. This was rather disappointing because I was really trying hard, but in my ignorance, I was doing everything wrong. The next day the boss switched me to serve as an apprentice to another journeyman. Fortunately, this fellow was kindly in a typical Southern manner. He wanted to be waited on hand and foot. He was a good mechanic and he and I hit it off right away. He had more patience than the other fellow and I was able to remain his assistant. His name was Eli Morgan; a very fine gentleman; kindly; and patient. He stood about five foot nine inches with graying, receding hair; leathered tanned face. He sometimes spoke with such a heavy Southern drawl I could scarcely understand a word he said. A wiry man; he had the peculiar talent of being able to hit a fly at a distance of fifteen feet with his chewing tobacco spittle. He wheeled it like a bullwhip. He was the fellow who really gave me my start in the electrical business. There was a new building going up in town; a big building. I was fortunate enough to get a job working on its construction crew. It was going to be twenty-three stories and it was to be the highest building in the state of North Carolina. I was the first apprentice hired and was never laid off. The building took over a year to complete. I finally left when a fellow worker who was older, married and who had two or three kids was about to be laid off before me. I sacrificed my seniority I didn’t want to see him deprived of a means of supporting his family while I was certain I could find another position. (The building was the main office of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.) Today R.J. Reynolds owns the Reynolds Aluminum Company, Piedmont Airlines, and Winston, Salem and Camel Cigarette Companies. I really enjoyed it. I had three men working under me. I did all leveling and they used a transom to level the pipes, to make sure they were all under the floor and level when the concrete was poured. Each office had outlets that came up through the floor (no partitions were put in until later but all the outlets had to be in the right place). I leveled it all up and took care of the electrical wiring and wired the elevators as well. As I would find out later, the Reynolds’ headquarters had become the prototype for a building that was going to be constructed shortly thereafter in New York City (though at the time I had now way of appreciating its implications). R.J. Reynolds’ headquarters in Winston Salem subsequently became known as the Empire State Building of the South. In form, architectural design and, to a great extent the technology utilized in the construction, it served as a prototype for the Empire State Building. The precise and very ornate art deco lobby, entranceway and elevators, to this day, give the building a palatial appearance. One hot summer morning on my way to work, I went to the Post Office to pick up my general delivery mail and lo and behold, there were my mother, father and five younger brothers and sisters with two of their friends just sitting on the Post Office steps. They had twenty cents left between them. They had no idea where I lived (because I got my mail at the Post Office – general delivery). I had just happened to come to the Post Office that day and there they were. All they took from their flat when they left New Jersey was a Singer sewing machine, a desk drawer with my father’s shaving outfit plus all the clothes they could dump in the back of their dilapidated car. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They had no bed; no place to go; no money and there they were. Before sundown, I had to find an apartment; get several second- hand mattresses and enough house-wares together so I could settle them. I rented a flat and, from that day forward, I became the father; as well as the big brother; as well as the provider. Nobody had a job and I was the only one earning any money at all. After several weeks, my Dad finally got a job at Sears Roebuck selling on a commission basis. My sister got a job with the telephone company; the rest of my brothers and sister were enrolled in school. I asked my mother how she could be in her right mind and come here out of the blue. She simply said she wanted to come down and see me. Unbelievable, but there they were. Shortly thereafter, we found a house and were all living together. My sisters and brothers went on to school and everything finally settled down. No one ever went back to New Jersey for the furniture; no one ever did anything about informing debtors; nothing. Finally, the authorities learned their whereabouts and we got a sheriff’s notice that they were selling the furniture for the back rent. I had been the man of the house (more or less), before I left New Jersey and now I was the chief provider. The $100.00 I had saved disappeared in three weeks. In the spring of ’29 my uncle wrote my mother from Connecticut, (my uncle, Will Delano). He said, “Dear Lizzy: I would like you to come up and live with me. My wife has left me and taken my only child and it’s very lonely here. I have a house with plenty of room on Quail Street, in Stratford.” Shortly after receiving the letter, my mother said to me “Edward, seeing that your construction job is finishing up, would you go up?” I said, “Well, I will if you want me too.” “He’s asked the whole family to move up,” she said, “You go up and see what you think.” With that, she handed me $1.00 (of my own money) for the trip. I put a pack on my back and I started hitchhiking north. I traveled through the Shenandoah Valley through the little town of Lovington. It was May and they had a little town fair going. The evening was alive with lights, the carousel and the midway sparkled and crowds gathered in their Sunday best outside the big top in anticipation of the evening’s performance. Midway between Lynchburg and Charlottesville, Lovington was nestled in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The evening seemed to be cradled in the coming of spring. The scent of apple blossoms hung heavy in the air. Every townsperson was courteous and kind and, although I was only passing through, I was made to feel at home. I met the townsfolk; spent a nickel on food and enjoyed the fair. I visited the homes of a couple of the young belles and sat on the porch for a while with each. I slept in the haystack nearby and started out again the next morning. The next day I rode with a fellow who had a revolver; a Colt 45. It was one of those with a very long barrel; the old fashioned kind. He said he was a revenuer looking for stills. He took me about 100 miles up through the valley and he told me quite a few tall tales about how he found the stills. That gun fascinated me though I didn’t like it sitting beside me on the seat. That night, I put up in a Salvation Army Post in a little town in the northern end of the valley; Martinsburg. It was a dark, depressed mill town by the standards of the upper valley. Damp and cool, the night furthered the contrast. The heavy mist lingered over the streets like a veil. I had a clear sense that I was passing into another culture and another season as I traveled north. I went through Washington and then traveling got much more difficult. It took me an entire day to travel two hundred and fifty miles from Washington to New York. Twenty-five hours without sleep, I watched the struggle through another cold, gray, damp, spring day. Cold, hungry and without any money, I arrived early in the morning of the fourteenth of May, 1929, at my aunt’s house in New Rochelle. My aunt Rose fed me; put me up in the evening; loaned me a dollar and told me how to get to Connecticut. It took me another entire day to get the short distance from New Rochelle to Stratford. Nobody would give me a ride. It was only sixty or seventy miles. I traveled on Route 1 hitchhiking until I got to Bridgeport. At this point, I had maybe fifty cents left and I had learned rather than try and hitchhike through cities that, once you get to the outskirts, just get on a trolley to the opposite end of town and then look for a ride. So I got on a trolley car and asked to be let off in Stratford. I rode and rode and rode; past factories, miles and miles of tenements backed by literally dozens of smoke stacks. I felt like a stranger in a strange land. I wondered what would draw and keep so many people in this dismal place. I went across a gray river; through a small expanse of open land; finally past an amusement park. Shortly after, we reached the end of the line. I asked the conductor if we had finally reached Stratford. He shook his head and smiled as he told me we passed Stratford over an hour ago. This was New Haven. So I rode all the way back. I finally arrived in Stratford at sunset and began walking up Nichols Avenue towards my Uncle Will’s home. May 15th it was, 1929. The evening chill was settling in. My mother had told me that my Uncle wrote in the letter that the key would be under the mat. As I walked, I said to myself, “I don’t think I like this place too much. It’s cold and strange and nobody seems friendly.” “I’m getting into another world altogether.” I arrived at the house. It was a simple cape, white and in need of repair. A small barn stood nearby. Both the house and the barn gave the appearance of being ill cared for; forlorn and depressed. I had met my uncle only once before. I barely recognized him when we finally met. He had sharp, blue eyes and a big dimple in his chin. (I was struck by the severity of the northern spring as I entered the house there was a fire in the kitchen stove.) The peach blossoms had come and gone in Carolina and the apple trees had blossomed in the Shenandoah and it had been spring down there for two months, and here’s a coal fire going in the stove. My uncle walked in and sat down. He finally looked up and said, “You know I’ve had a real hard time, Edward. I married an Irish Catholic girl. We were married for almost five years. When I met her, she was working as a maid at an estate. I married her in New Jersey and I moved up here because I wanted to get out of that area and I rented this little house. I don’t own it but I have an option on it. That’s my new Chevrolet out there. About six months ago, I told my wife I would like to have a choice as to having the baby raised Protestant or Catholic.” She insisted that the baby be baptized Catholic. (They apparently had gotten into a big argument over it.) His wife went down to see her parish priest, and he apparently told her if there’s that much of a problem, of course (and given you were married in Civil court) the best thing you can do is to leave and take the baby.” She brought all this up in the arguments and one day he came home and she was gone and he never saw her again. He said, “I have been looking for six months. I sent detectives out to where we used to live. I’ve looked everywhere and I do love my son,” and with tears running down his cheeks, he said, “I don’t think I’ll ever see him again.” I was kept awake into the wee hours that night by his quiet sobbing. The next day I met some of his co-workers at the Post Office. The postmen, after he left the room, took me aside and said, “You know your uncle is in pretty bad shape. He comes to work some mornings with tears streaming down his cheeks. He walks to work, just because he can’t sleep. He says it will be better when you all get up here to be with him.” That first full day, my uncle took me on a ride up Nichols Avenue and I found the little towns of Nichols and Huntington delightful. North of Quail Street, houses were few and far between; two miles beyond, we passed at least two farms in Stratford proper; farms where the northernmost of Uncle Will’s route took him. He casually pointed them out as we passed; the Russell place on the right; the Perry farm on the left. We traveled up into the small village of Nichols and further north into Huntington. Both were hamlets, really, and each had a distinctive New England quality. We were struck by the contrast of lifestyles; the rural residences of Huntington and Nichols relative to the squalor of the heavily industrialized areas of Bridgeport, barely six miles away. It was as I saw Nichols and Huntington that I came to believe perhaps a life could be made in this cold gray State of Connecticut. It was, in many ways, reminiscent of some other small towns, which ringed the hills around Winston-Salem and I began to feel more hopeful about what appeared to be the inevitability of moving the entire family north. Later that evening, he took me down to Stratford Center. During the following few days, I would often walk to the center and pass the high school. The kids were a little younger than I. The girls in the senior class, (who were nearly my age) all seemed so remote and distant. Perhaps I appeared to be a country bumpkin. I often went by the Post Office to check on my uncle and spent a great deal of my time walking; seeing the town. On my fourth evening, as was customary, we had dinner together and we talked more about his wife and about his son. As he fought back tears, he said, “Tomorrow morning, please take my car, and bring Lizzie and all the kids up here to Stratford and move right in. I need to be with people. I brought my whole family North to Quail Street, to Stratford. We left everything behind, once again; this time to come north to live with my uncle. We left a lot of dear friends behind. Tears were shed as we left. However, it was a new adventure and as always, a youth’s hope; a new horizon with it’s new challenges laid before us and though uncomfortable at times, I anticipated the newness of it all with great excitement and anticipation. IV Pilgrim’s Progress For the second time in less than two years, we were a family in a strange town; with no assets; no friends and not one of us with a job. Fortunately, the economy was booming. The past several years had been a period of unprecedented economic growth and opportunity in the United States. I had succeeded in North Carolina as the only member of the family steadily employed. I had had a wonderful job; a young man’s wish-come true. I would simply refer to my work record; (the work on the R.J. Reynolds building and at Eveready Electric). I was confident that the combination of the experience I had had and my letters of recommendation would be enough to secure a position. I was hired as Chief Electrician, shortly after beginning my search, at the Pleasure Beach Amusement Park. There, every day came several thousand people, most of them young and at least half of them girls. I would fix the roller coaster, the whip the tunnel of love, the merry-go-round and all the lesser rides on the midway. I felt no pain in having so many pretty girls roaming close by and while I’d call it more pleasure than work, I had a wonderful time working there that summer. I recall one incident with particular fondness. I had been ordered by the owner of the amusement park to replace a number of light bulbs at the east end of the pavilion. Not carefully having analyzed what was in fact housed in that end pavilion, I put off the task until after lunch and well into the busiest part of the day. After carefully preparing the equipment that I needed; setting the scaffolding and carrying the box of bulbs when I began working my way across the first of several long narrow windows, clearly placed more for ventilation than lighting. Much to my surprise, initially, perhaps shock and later, embarrassed fascination, I was working above the women’s public shower. And though my conscience would only allow me to linger a moment or two between bulbs, I found myself at the corner of the building all too soon. Of course, with the end of summer came the end of the season at Pleasure Beach and after securing the rides and equipment for the long northeastern winter, I was once again in search of work. The work at Pleasure Beach was seasonal. I was not overly concerned with the loss of my position because there was a great deal of construction going on in the Bridgeport area. I went on a number of interviews and finally settled on an offer made to me by Stanley Works (now Carpenter Steel) to work on a large steel plant that was being built in Bridgeport harbor. My father had found work (once again at Sears) and my sister was actively looking. The area was alive with prosperity. Member of my family and many of my co-workers enjoyed such a great sense of prosperity that they chose to invest their savings in stocks that they could buy for ten cents on the dollar. I recall, during the breaks on the construction site or at home around the dining room table, my co-workers and family members discussing investments in major corporations with such pride that I had to admit to being a little envious. Although I didn’t quite understand how men and women, who made as little or less than I, could afford the luxury of what seemed to be gambling. The frenzy of buying stocks continued throughout the summer and early Fall. Those who claimed to be on the verge of making a financial killing, or so they said until nearly Halloween. The stock market crash on October 29, Black Tuesday, wasn’t catastrophic (not in the most immediate sense). News from the business section of the major papers, to a young man working as an electrician in a steel mill, was uninteresting and up to that point at least, completely irrelevant. I knew some banks had failed. I knew that people were concerned about the money they had invested. Perhaps I even had some vague sense of how many were losing large portions, if not all, of what they had invested. However the international ramifications of what was happening were not clear. For weeks after the crash, through the late fall early and mid winter, work at the Stanley Works continued. I was as busy as I cared to be. Life in Stratford and life for my family continued to improve. I continued to gain confidence in my ability as an electrician and to learn more and more about engineering and about operating and maintaining heavy equipment. I had an opportunity to observe a great deal and pick up some sense of contracting design and construction. Still the principal breadwinner, I was the only member of the family with a car. I would often wait for my father at the bus stop at Bruce and Barnum. One cold night in March on my way home from the Stanley Works, as I stopped to pick up my dad, he came out of the bus depot inviting four teenage girls along for the ride. Among the four was Edna Perry. This was one of the relatively rare opportunities that busy winter I had to meet young ladies near my age. Despite this, I was tired and anxious to get home. Of the four, Edna was the only name I could recall after being introduced. She was a pretty, slender dark haired girl, dressed well with inviting eyes; charming smile. I often took an opportunity to turn and speak to my father about trivial issues that didn’t require a response so that I might glance at her; hoping that she would show some indication of equal interest. On an occasion or two, I felt I had caught her unaware, watching me. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to pursue the matter and I recall on the long ride home being a little frustrated and angry that my father put me in a position to drive two miles past Quail Street. It was a long bumpy ride on a cold dark night after a hard day’s work. It was months later, in late May, that I happened to bump into Edna again at a basketball game at Stratford high school. Edna had attended the game with another young man. Somewhere in the middle of the third quarter, after a brief introduction and a casual hello, I found myself engaged in a long conversation with Edna and unconcerned with the course of the game. Afterward; when the young man who had accompanied her found us still engrossed in conversation by the refreshment stand, Edna simply turned to him and matterof-factly told him that wouldn’t mind if she seen home by me. I remember being a bit dumbfounded that this girl would be so brassy as to switch escorts in the midst of a date. None-the-less I found myself taking the long drive up Nichols Ave. once again. As time went by that first full spring, my uncle decided with the six kids plus his sister, his brother-in-law and our friends (with whom we soon were acquainted), that the house was a little too overwhelming for him. Though he was still quite depressed about losing his wife and his child, he decided he wanted to move into a rooming house nearby. We protested, but his mind was made up. His depression worsened and a few months later he died. He was still a young man at the time of his death. He had worn himself down emotionally and physically. He was in the hospital where, finally, it was flu, which worsened into pneumonia that killed him. The same day the notice of his was printed in the paper, his wife appeared with his son and claimed all of his possessions as her inheritance. She was a hard, angry looking woman who showed no shame as she appeared at the doorstep. She had light brown hair tightly pulled in a bun with a pale clear complexion and gold wire rimmed glasses. She seemed stiff and sickly, though somehow hardened and powerful. A young boy freckled with a wisp of reddish hair, stood quietly, almost somber, at her side. He appeared almost as a tiny elderly man. Uncle Will’s widow remained only long enough to gather up a few valuables in the house; going about her work with the quiet detached cool of a thief; (which was precisely how we viewed her), she concluded her business. My mother didn’t contest her claim though she felt uncomfortable with it all, given that my uncle had virtually died of a broken heart. In the summer of 1930, with the depression worsening month by month, we found ourselves several months behind in the rent on our pleasant little house on Quail Street. Because of this, we were forced to make the first of several moves. We moved first to Wood Avenue, (Wood and Norman) in Bridgeport. We lived there a little less than a year in a tenement house. It was in the summer of 1930 that the depression began to have it’s impact on me, personally, at the same time my romance with Edna Perry began to blossom. It was ironic that things could be going so badly and so well at the same time. By June, I’d lost my position at the Stanley Works. The entire construction project ground to a halt. By mid-June, everyone in the family was out of work. We were unable to meet our rent or pay our bills. I was fortunate enough to be offered an opportunity to return to my position at Pleasure Beach that summer, although temporary, and relative to the Stanley Works, not a particularly high paying job but at a time, when jobs weren’t to be found it was a real blessing. I recall the week after Labor Day securing the equipment at the Amusement Park I had the sense that I was preparing the equipment for a long rest in deed. It was hard to describe; it was as if I was anticipating a winter season that would last ten years. It was a somber, sobering thought. Our tenement was part of a six family block; well maintained; painted a pale canary yellow with a wrap-around porch on the first floor with a small hedge lined front yard. The neighborhood was safe and its working class occupants were clean and pleasant enough. Our neighbors were friendly and did their best to make us feel welcome and supported. Our flat was on the third floor. It was near the center of town and we could walk most anywhere. My brothers and sister could walk to school and I to work, if I could find it. As fall gave way to winter, we realized that the exposure of being on the third floor and the northwest side of the building was going to make the winter of 1930 and 1931 long, cold and unpleasant. January of 1931 was one of the coldest on record. We had no money for heating oil or coal. It was not uncommon to spend the entire night awake and shivering. The extreme cold made sleep, at times, impossible for my parents, my sisters and my two younger brothers. They would end up bundling together. I slept alone, I should say, lay alone and often would nap a little more than an hour an evening. Exhausted, I would drop-off at four or five waking a few minutes later. After nearly six months of consistent effort, I came to the realization that there were no jobs to be found. I was willing to work doing manual labor; apply or attempt to apply my skills as an electrician or the modest skills I had amassed in engineering or construction. I was willing to do anything for the opportunity to earn a daily wage, as were my brothers, my sisters, my father and almost everyone in the neighborhood. By the spring of 1931 I realized that the willingness to work, my continual effort and willingness to do anything; anytime, didn’t distinguish me from tens of thousands of other young men and young women who were unemployed and who had no prospects; no savings and were soon about to run out of hope. In March of 1931 I surveyed my assets (the clothes on my back), and my skills (I was a pretty fair electrician) and my prospects for employment; none. I came to the conclusion that if I was going to succeed; if I was going to work at anything at all, that I would have to begin my own business and the only trade I had truly mastered was working as an electrician. It took $50.00 to get a license and, after paying and passing the examination, I became a Master Electrician. I had no money; no shop; and though there was virtually no work, I persevered. I worked out of the basement of our tenement building. We had almost frozen on Wood Avenue that past winter (1930-1931). I swore to myself that we were not going to starve and freeze another winter. (Next winter I’d only be willing to starve). So after careful research, the following summer we moved into a tenement house with a doctor’s office below us, and another next door. It was located at State and LaFayette Streets. It was not as well kept as our tenement on Wood Avenue, but it had heat of sorts I should say; heat radiated from both of the doctor’s offices and that radiating heat made all the difference in the long cold winters that proved to be much more severe than those in North Carolina. There seemed to be no jobs anywhere. I took whatever jobs I could get. If our customers didn’t have money, I sometimes got food. The food often came from grocery stores for which I put in fluorescent lights and refrigeration. With shoemakers, in exchange for services, I’d have our shoes fixed. Whatever money I got, I got maybe 24 cents or 50 cents a week, but eventually saved myself enough to buy a little fifteen-dollar Model A Ford convertible. It was my first car; first in terms of being really mine. It was beat-up, black, with a tattered convertible top and no side panels. It meant as much to me at twenty-one as my long trousers had at ten. I took great pride in that car. It symbolized my professional mobility, my personal freedom and was the cornerstone of the limited social life that I enjoyed; as well it served my brothers and sisters when we traveled together in large groups with our friends at outings. To this day I have such fond memories of driving with the top down; wind blowing through my hair; feeling the warm sun shining on my head and shoulders. It’s a memory that lingers and still brings me great joy. We had a great many good friends and we would often go ice skating, tobogganing and hiking near Lake Zoar and throughout the forests surrounding the frozen lake. Fun was had with real live things and not with things that were artificial or costly. There were maybe ten or twelve of us. We ranged in age from sixteen to twenty-two and went everywhere together. The policy was no booze and no carousing (with three pretty sisters, two who were pretty well grown by then); there were always plenty of boys visiting. Our group was a lot of fun and being the oldest, I was often in a position of leadership but luckily there wasn’t much policing necessary and I was most often free to enjoy Edna’s company at our outings. Knowing full well that the group in which we traveled was composed of well-mannered young men and women there were seldom problems. I had to set limits on my relationship with Edna because work consumed the vast majority of my time and energy. I made it very clear to her, through those early years, that I wasn’t willing to compromise beyond a certain point in terms of seeing her socially, not to the detriment of developing my business. I specified Wednesday and Saturday nights and Sunday at Church, if she chose, but beyond that I would not see her. I would not travel out to Stratford several times a week; exhaust my resources; my money and my energy when I felt the priority had to be in stabilizing and expanding the electrical business. My little business was growing and, finally, it grew to a point that I needed a shop. Anything bigger than the basement of our tenement would have been a step in the right direction. Finally, in 1932, after struggling, we managed to save the funds to rent a small storefront shop on Main and Gilbert. The storefront was on the Southeast corner of the intersection. It was the first floor of a red brick two-story building and had a glass storefront; a small display area which we really had no use for and the commercial space, itself, which we used for storage or equipment and tools. We setup a modest workspace toward the rear of the shop with a workbench and placed a desk close to the front door with a phone and a small file cabinet. We were in business. I recall the rent was $15.00 a month and, in tribute to the company, which gave me my start in North Carolina, the first sign I put up read Eveready Electric. Shortly thereafter, we got our first big job doing the electric work in one of the large public schools being built by the city of Bridgeport. We were on our way. As well as any other work I found, I would often work on the properties owned by my landlord. He would have me do electrical work in his dry cleaning shop (he had a large one with maybe tow or three dozen employees), in exchange for rent on our family’s apartment. During the early years on Main and Gilbert, I worked primarily by myself, occasionally my sisters would come down or my mother and stay in the shop while I went out on a job. Sometimes I’d have to close the shop to do a job. I had a telephone, of course; though the services were often shut off for lack of payment. Jobs were scarce, but we managed to hang on. Finally we got several breaks, a big job in the city sub-contracting on what was to become the Black Rock Library and a contract with Howard Johnson’s. At that time, one of the most popular services we provided was the installation of diesel generators. Diesel fuel at that time was sold for 4 cents a gallon wholesale and we were successful in convincing the Howard Johnson’s chain that they should buy diesel generators for experimental use in their Fairfield location (on Route 1). It supplied the lights and the waste heat from it, which would normally be used by the radiator, was also used for washing dishes and heating the building. So, either they got all their electricity free or all their hot water. I was very hopeful that this cost savings would prove an incentive for other restaurants to engage our services but for some reason, the concept never generated the enthusiasm I had hoped. Eveready also did work for Shell Oil, which was beginning operations in New England at that time. They were putting in a bulk plant and bringing in the oil by barge. We were contracted to put in the bulk terminal and all their pumps and all explosion proof wiring. My father had lost his job, so he was helping me look for work. The jobs kept coming, just enough of them to keep us from starving or losing our flat. In 1932, 1933, and 1934 I worked when I could and I looked for work when I had none. I saw Edna on Wednesday and Saturday nights and, though we had many arguments about the arrangement, it never changed. As the spring of 1935 dawned I realized I had progressed to the point where perhaps I could expand the business even further with a little bit of capital. Edna had been working at City Trust Bank for several years and I felt perhaps with my work history and her limited connections I had a chance of being granted a small business loan. Edna arranged the appointment personally so it was very clear to the bank officers, who she knew fairly well that it was “a family affair”, I was hopeful. I recall sitting before the banker in a beautiful big room. I felt like a mouse in the lion’s den with me in my working clothes. After I told him of my five years of experience and showed him my bank statements, he said, “Well, son the best you can do is to go out of business and work for somebody else.” That was the advice the City Trust Bank offered me. Well, I took that as a personal blow. Maybe he was right; but I was bull headed and strong willed and refused to believe that I wasn’t capable of success. I thanked him, but as I left I vowed never to go back to that bank again. It was back to Main and Gilbert. It was back to another year of hard work, of seeing Edna on Wednesdays and Saturday nights and, to her credit, with increasing frequency on Sunday mornings. Edna continued to work at City Trust. I came to believe more and more, as time went on, that with a bit of capital my business could be expanded further to meet a burgeoning demand. The fall, spring, and early summer of 1936 were a particularly difficult time for Edna and me. She had been patient; she’d been supportive; she’d been - understanding through five years. On one warm summer night in early June, on the porch of the Perry farm, Edna and I sat discussing our future. The sun had almost completely set. A few orange rays peeked from behind the house reflecting throughout the eastern sky, were half-dozen hues of red and violet. Our conversation Was a familiar one; one that we had had a couple of dozen times over the last several years; one that we seemed to be having more and more often during the preceding several months. The scenario was almost always the same. After a fine meal or a pleasant day together, Edna would often become quiet. She would withdraw and, after a period of silence, ask me what it was that I wanted from life or what it was I saw in our future. After a particularly substantial dinner, she asked such a question. I knew once again that I was in for a long Saturday night. By this time, I had come to appreciate how consistent a partner she had been. I’d had time to contemplate her strengths; appreciate her willingness to stand by me through years of difficulty. On some level, I guess, I had made a prior decision that the next time such a question was raised I’d answer. I was still resistant and slow to respond. However, on this night there was going to be no winning the argument. Somewhere between sunset and midnight we became engaged. Shortly thereafter, we set the date and began making plans for a September 14th wedding. The 14th was a glorious day. Preparations had been long and arduous but everyone contributed and the day finally had come. It was a bright sunny day with just a hint of coolness that was so common in New England in early September. The morning dawned with a bit of a chill but by the 10:30 am start of the wedding, the sun rose; the dew had burned off the fields and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Edna looked beautiful in her wedding dress and my family and friends had gathered from as far away as New Jersey to celebrate that fateful day. Some of the guests claimed that Eddie Snyder (my brother-in-law and best man) physically held me up as Edna came down the aisle. Perhaps he did. I was certainly nervous and overwhelmed by the profundity of the step I was about to take, although he proved far less supportive at the conclusion of the service. To repay a prank in kind he put a short circuiting device on our car so when I turned on the ignition as we attempted to leave the church, a roman candle like device was ignited. It howled and the sparks flew out from under our hood and then it made a loud boom. Mr. Perry had given us the choice of helping to pay for the wedding reception or cash. We chose the wedding reception and had a wonderful time. It lasted all day and half the night at the Perry Farm on Nichols Avenue. All my relatives from New York, New Jersey, and Westchester came. At 10:30 pm, Edna interrupted a conversation I was having with my cousin Jack McGee; pulled me aside and reminded me that I had not seen her for the two hours preceding, (nearly a quarter of our married life). It was made very clear that she wanted to leave early enough to enjoy a little time alone before we were too tired to leave at all. I, at least implied, that I would make preparations to leave. Relative led to relative and I made “relatively” little progress towards that end. A half hour or so later, Edna was prompting me again. My new wife told me if I didn’t decide to leave on the honeymoon then and there, she was going by herself. We finally managed to leave the reception about 11:30 pm. The car I was counting on for the trip had broken down a few days earlier so we took the panel truck I used for work on our honeymoon. We threw a mattress in the back and we were on our way to Florida. Our cash was limited, so in that way the panel truck was helpful. We brought along some camping equipment and cooked beside the road. That first night out, we got as far as Stamford and stayed in a little roadside cabin. The roadside cabins were simple, almost primitive, a small house with an office attached and an arch of single bedroom cabins immediately to the North side of Route 1, cabins set in a small grove of elms each cabin painted white with green shutters and window boxes; a neatly painted outhouse complete with a quarter moon was placed between each of the cabin pairs. The next day we managed to get to Maryland. During the mid 1930’s four-wheel brakes were just becoming popular. Our little panel truck had two-wheel brakes. We were traveling on one of the main roads, which was one lane each way and this big Pontiac, brand new, sped by me. All of a sudden, the driver jammed on his brakes and stopped short right in front of me because somebody waved to him from a nearby house. I wasn’t too far behind him and with his four-wheel brakes he could stop on a dime. I couldn’t. I had no choice but to swing out around him and coming toward me, in the other lane, was a State Trooper on a motorcycle. He had to drive off the road and into a ditch to avoid being hit. The fellow driving the Pontiac was the local doctor. The policeman knew him and we, of course, were total strangers. The trooper said we were driving recklessly and that we would have to appear before the local judge. Since it was Sunday we had to go to the judge’s home for our hearing. I went before the judge and told him what had happened. Edna, who was quite angry, interrupted and in an unpleasant manner told the judge what the doctor had done and what the judge should do. By the time Edna had finished, the judge had decided to fine us $11.00. That was more than a quarter of all we had for the entire trip. My wife, of course, objected and began to make a few choice remarks. She was nearly arrested for contempt of court. The judge threatened to put her in jail if she kept talking. We finally were dismissed and less than twenty miles down the road (minus our eleven dollars), we had to stop for gas. Edna went to the ladies room there and, after driving another twenty miles, she discovered she had taken off her wedding and engagement ring and left them both behind. She broke into tears and cried all the way back to the station. When we got back they were gone. She lost them both. She cried for the next fifty miles. Judging by the first twenty-four hours, married life was not going to be easy. When we got as far as North Carolina, we stopped in Winston-Salem and visited some of my old friends. My closed friend in the area, Jabronze Wheeler, had recently married. Seeing Jabronze again was wonderful. The town of Winston-Salem had changed considerable during the preceding seven years. The depression seemed to still be taking a terrible toil on the town and surrounding area. In the intervening years many of the finest homes on the east side of town had been torn down or had fallen into such disrepair that they were eventually condemned and used by the unemployed or underemployed as shelters or as sources of fire wood. The Wheelers had fared better than most coming from a family who had long lived in the area and who had owned land as well as their own home long before the depression. Jabronze and his new wife had no choice but to live with his mother. It was not uncommon for Southern families to share their homes, several generations occupying a single farmhouse. This was particularly true with families who were still actively farming, as were the Wheelers. While we were in Winston-Salem, Edna had the opportunity to meet Marian Southern who had been my girl before I left North Carolina. Marian had written me a great deal in Connecticut. In part, because I was seeing Edna, I didn’t answer her letters. We both saw Marian Southern at her cousin’s house, which was next to hers. We all sat together and talked about old times and what we had done. I think Marian was very uncomfortable and upset. Marian had three cousins (all girls) that I knew quite well, and they were very hospitable but Marian was visibly upset. Edna didn’t help matters much with her air of superiority. Marian was very much a lady; however it was a tense encounter and in retrospect, I guess I shouldn’t have brought Edna to visit Marian. As we were about to leave, Jabronze, with my covert support, decided he and his wife would come with us. Now, our honeymoon was complete. We were to have four in the panel truck. It had been pleasant visiting. Jabronze’s wife and mother were excellent cooks. His mother made a big basket of ribs and chicken to take along with us and we had plenty of food. We made good time out of Winston-Salem and we had good company. My new wife was none too pleased with two additional people coming along on our honeymoon. She had had no hand in inviting them but there they were. By this time, we had very little money, Jabronze and wife included. To stretch our meager funds, each night we would light a small fire; cook bacon, ham, fried potatoes and the next morning, over the embers, we would whip up something easy for breakfast. When we were passing through Southern Georgia on the road built up from the great swamps there, our good old faithful panel truck started to backfire. A little while later, it was just barely limping along and we had to pull off the road. There we were in the steaming heat of the great Georgian Savannah; a wilderness of hundreds of square miles of saltwater marsh; stranded. Just when it appeared we were going to be forced to spend the night, a logging truck happened to go by. It was one of those big logging trucks, which carry the uncut logs from the great pine wood forests of the southeast. Forlorn and battered by the heavy loads it carried, the tattered red cab, complete with dented doors and an illegible scrawl painted along its side, appeared as an answer to our prayers. The driver stopped and offered to take us to the nearest gas station. As we were towed, we tried and tried to the panel truck started. All it would do was backfire and pop. Shortly after we pulled into the gas station the fellow there said to me, “Well, I reckon you got a condenser that’s gone,” and, in ten minutes he put on a new condenser and we were on our way. To this day every time I see one of those lumber trucks in the Carolinas or Georgia I think of that driver who towed us. He towed us over forty miles through barren, mosquito-ridden swamp. Lord knows how we would have gotten out of there without him. Once again we were on our way and, finally, we arrived at our destination: St. Augustine. We really enjoyed the ocean. We went out to Fort Marian and through the Indian burial grounds. We went to see the sugar refinery but didn’t have enough money to get in so we just looked from a distance. We stayed just a couple of days. On the way back to Connecticut, we dropped Jabronze Wheeler and his dear wife off in WinstonSalem, and before leaving bid all my old friends, (except Marian Southern) goodbye. V Homeward Bound Driving back North we had a great many decisions to make; whether to move out on our own and, if so where. What could we afford? Edna felt that we could get a small two-bedroom place in Bridgeport. I argued that we might as well stay in the tenement with my family until business was more stable and we were on a better financial footing. We argued for quite a while and it became clear that, if nothing else, Edna felt strongly that we needed a place we could call our own. For my part, I wanted to find as modest a place as possible and invest as little as necessary in the day-to-day cost of living and, in that way free as much capital for reinvestment in the business as I could. When we got back to Bridgeport, we rented half an apartment from a schoolteacher on Layfayette Street. It was a steam-heated apartment in an apartment house. She gave us just the kitchen and one bedroom because that was all we could afford. I continued doing electrical work while Edna continued to work at City Trust Bank. Time went by and about a year and a half later we decided that living with that schoolteacher (she was an old maid) wasn’t in our best interests any longer. Shortly before we left there was an incident, which hastened our departure. We had not a refrigerator or even an icebox back in those days. We just bought our milk, a quart at a time, and kept it on the windowsill. We were fooling around one day in the kitchen and knocked the milk off the windowsill. It fell (from the second floor) and just missed the apartment’s manager. He had never been too friendly and now wasn’t friendly at all because he was convinced we threw the bottle at him. We found a new place to live on Park and Birchwood Avenues. It was the summer of 1937 and our modest apartment on Park Avenue was not much but it was a damned site better than the one and one-half rooms we had left behind. It wasn’t long after moving to Park and Birchwood that I got a call from another bank that had rejected an earlier loan application. They asked me if I wanted to buy a building. I said I didn’t think so. The banker persevered, “We have one for sale and all we need is $300.00 down” I told him I didn’t have $300.00. He said, “It’s part of an estate. You were in here for a loan some while back; well, we’ll loan you $300.00 and the rent is $50.00 a month rent.” (At that time I was only paying $25.00 at Main and Gilbert). He said, “This is a bigger place. Take a look at it. It’s at 805 Housatonic Avenue in Bridgeport.” It was the Handy Coal Company. I went to look and all it was, was a coal shed with a railroad siding coming in, a little office and the rest an open yard. After thinking it over I finally decided to buy it. At this time, all there was a wooden frame building with dirt floors. They had the coal yard inside and the wood shed inside, but the coal itself was gone; just the tracks came in. It had a little office and an outhouse. I decided to expand the business a little; into a gasoline pump and tank business; meaning we installed them for gas stations. In the meantime, Eveready was running along from hand0to-mouth, payroll-to-payroll but we were managing. We had several other important contracts, one with E & F Construction: one with the City of Bridgeport; (in the schools), and another with Hoffman Fuel who were now converting coal fired furnaces to oil. We were also doing gas station work. New gas stations were being built at a rapid rate as cars were becoming more plentiful. We were also doing construction contract work for the American Oil Company stations (Amoco). We put in their Amoco signs. We designed a special rig for a crane: the tripod type that would lift poles onto their bases. We put the signs in place and then we wired them. In 1938 we decided to move and take a larger apartment. Edna was pregnant and we knew that we would need more space when baby made three. We moved to Park and Norman. It was a three-family house and a big Irish man named Pat Crow was the landlord. We lived on the third floor. We froze in the winter and we roasted in the summer. I remember how peculiar the landlord was. He always wore long underwear summer and winter. It was very hot in the summer, up on the third floor right next to the roof and in the winter, we had us very little heat. It didn’t bother us too much (it was a relatively mild winter) but what did bother us was there was no lawn. There were people on the second floor and the owner of the building lived on the first floor. In turn, we were sort of the orphans up in the attic. Kathleen, our first child was born there. She preferred, like lots of kids do, not to wear any clothes. At this point she was still a toddler, perhaps a year and one-half when one day she and Edna were playing in the front yard when Edna took a moment to speak to the neighbor who lived on the second floor. When she turned around and looked for Kathleen, who was playing nearby, she found Kathleen was long gone though she had been thoughtful enough to leave all her clothes behind. Although Edna told the story with a great deal of anxiety, she found Kathleen, just a few doors up the street. In the spring of 1939 Mr. Perry gave us (Edna actually) a lot at 1245 Nichols Avenue, (part of the Perry Farm). It made Kathleen for a great deal of excitement; a great sense of anticipation; the idea of owning our own home. I hired an architect to find out what it would cost to build a small cape. I put it out for bid and we discovered it could be built for $4000.00, so build it we did. During late 1939 in the summer to the fall of 1940 we constructed the house as it stands today. The house itself only cost $1150.00. One coat of paint and the kitchen cabinets cost another $1600.00. The rest went to the heating, plumbing and electrical systems. We installed our own heating system. With my experience in construction and as an electrician we were able to complete the plumbing and wiring for little more than the cost of supplies. Corky was born shortly thereafter. Corky was a cute little girl, rather slim, not as roly-poly as Kathleen. I remember she wouldn’t crawl. She actually sat and propelled herself by extending her legs forward and using her two feet to pull herself forward. She bounced like a cork on the water when she tried this, and that’s how she earned her nickname, Corky. Kathleen, on the other hand, was quite a little lady. She was possessive; possessive of her father and her father’s attention. I remember one exchange between Kathleen and Edna when Kathleen was little more than two. She was in my arms and Edna came up behind me in the kitchen. She stood next to Kathleen and me. Kathleen, who was hardly able to talk, was sitting in my lap with one arm around my neck. As Edna touched me on the shoulder Kathleen spoke in a very loud, distinct, directive voice, “Mother, kitchen.” None had any right to touch her Daddy. She tended through most of her early years to be possessive as if I belonged to her alone and none of the other children. I was her man and no one was going to interfere, no even her mother. The war in Europe was escalating. There was a curtailment on fuel and on new motors; a curtailment on just about everything; all diverted toward the war effort. I was out on a service call at Thurland’s Bristols Restaurant in Milford. I’ll never forget the day it was December seventh. We had had this generator unit running there for some time. I was out there on a Sunday because it had broken down late the night before. Our service, after installation, included maintenance and while I was there, working the news came of Pearl Harbor. It was so stunning to think that the Japanese had bombed and destroyed our Navy installation at Pearl Harbor and all our airplanes. We were totally unprepared for the attack. It was so unbelievable; everybody was speechless in the restaurant. It just stunned us. What had happened to our Navy and the men who had died? The news came in hour after hour. All day it was all that was on the radio. The FDR made his famous “Day that will live in infamy” radio speech and Congress declared war on Japan. The Japanese boasted in response that they would be dictating the peace in Washington after they captured the West Coast. The war had a profound effect on the electrical business. At first there was a great frenzy of activity. There seemed to be a glut of supplies (as if everyone had dug down into their basements through their inventories to pull out every damaged and used motor and generator that could be found). During that period there was a great deal of work repairing and reconditioning equipment. It seemed as if the boom in demand for servicing and repairing of the motors was going to transition very readily into the generalized support of the war effort itself. It became clear, however that after a very few months, it was going to be a long and difficult transition for most and that those in the electrical business who didn’t affiliate themselves with to the government were not going to survive. After a brief period of selling and rebuilding motors, we couldn’t get any more. The government was appropriating all motors and supplies for the war effort. Shortly thereafter, we applied for and received a Navy contract to build ten generators for the Marine Corps. It wasn’t a big contract, but they came in and saw our premises: saw the few machines we had and they gave us the job. We called on a chap I knew, who knew electrical engineering and we laid out the jigs and fixtures. (They were interchangeable. Any one motor could be placed into any base). The concept was relatively new: the electrical engineer was a clever, creative man, an Englishman named Walter Meckleberg. He and I became fast friends. He was a “Brit” away from home during wartime and, as such, perhaps we became closer than would be typical if we both were active with our family lives. We did very well on the Marine contract and we began securing other government work. About that time, I went to Massachusetts with a business associate who was interested in buying some motors. We went to Massachusetts because no new equipment could be bought without a priority (a government endorsement). He needed me because I had a priority (because I had a government contract at that time). Even after my priority expired, people still came to me for motors. Well, I sold all I had very quickly. The only motors still available were those, which powered machinery, so I bought a couple of machines up in Massachusetts specifically to resell. I bought them for the price of the motor (a price I knew I could make a profit on). In a sense, the machines were really free. I paid $150.00 for each and I advertised them for sale in New York. There were turret lathes and I advertised them in the New York Times without a price. So, up comes a Jewish businessman, out of New York, with a velvet collar; quite knowledgeable about machinery; with a typical New York Jewish accent. I was going to ask $350.00 each for my $150.00 machines including the motor and the turret lathe. When we got to the bargaining he said, “Now look, I can’t pay much. I’m a dealer and I have to get a bargain. I’ll give you cash.” He pulled out a pocket full of money, more than I had ever seen before in my life. He said, “Now give me your best price.” I said, “I’d rather have your best price because I have had six calls on these machines and I intend to move them today.” “Well, don’t look for anybody else. I’ll buy if the price is right,” he said. I was afraid to ask for $350.00 because I knew he had to haul them back to New York and he would expect to make a profit as well. He said, “I’ll make you one offer. You either take it or leave it. I’ll leave the money here in cash if you’ll take it. I’ll give you $2500.00 for each machine.” That was the first time I saw any more than $500.00 in my life. I was stunned and I thought to myself: Where have I been? What have I been doing? And, why was I selling just motors and trying to do electric work? I decided from that moment on I was in the electrical and machinery business. The war ultimately helped the business though it created hardship, too. The draft came and my brother Dennis, who was working for me at the time, was drafted. They classified me 1B and it seemed I’d be among the next called up, but I imagine because I was reconditioning machine tools that were important to the war effort, I wasn’t taken. Everything (all work and products) went for the government contracts or sub-contracts and we handled a number of them and thus continued to work. I had mixed emotions about not serving in the armed forces. The prospect of war wasn’t particularly attractive to me though I felt a duty to be involved. The desire to more actively champion the cause of the Allies was not my only motivation. To be frank, I was somewhat self-conscious. With both my younger brothers in the service before the war’s end and most of the able-bodied men in the area either enlisting or being drafted I often wrestled with forcing the issue. Some would argue that the service knew where I was and had decided I could do the war effort more good by supporting the industrial needs of the war effort. I understood the argument but the issue never seemed quite resolved in my mind or heart. In 1941 I hired my first secretary, Stella Green. Shortly afterwards, our neighbors across the street from the shop complained that on winters nights they could see me making love to my secretary. They could look right in our windows and didn’t feel comfortable with what they were seeing. Well, I tried to investigate the matter. Who, on company time particularly, was making love to my secretary? I found out some three months later when my brother announced his engagement to my secretary. After Stella left, I put an ad in the paper and received several calls regarding the position. One of the applicants sounded like she took shorthand very well and was a fast typist. She was also willing to work for the salary that I offered, which wasn’t particularly competitive. I met her at the corner of Fairfield Avenue and Water Street. She had walked over from Stratford Avenue and I took her up to the shop where she took a shorthand test and a typing test. Her name was Elsie Turner. I was struck after the brief interview by the sparkle in her eye and the confidence reflected in her responses to my questions. She seemed unusually mature and articulate, almost too confident. I recall thinking that if she was as capable as she suggested she was she would be a valuable asset to the company. She was twenty-one, and a little on the chubby side. She said she had recently married but her husband had left for overseas. She proved to be a pleasant, capable gal and willing to work the long hours the job required. She started and, with her ability to organize and keep things rolling, we did very well. She began to meet the other machinery dealers and she developed a good rapport with all of them. She seemed to be the biggest asset Eveready had. We began to advertise through direct mail and in national magazines and we grew and grew each year. As difficult as the war years were, nationally, and, as restrictive as they proved to many in the electrical business, the war years were, ironically, some of the best years of our lives. In the mid-forties, we began our traditional Easter egg hunts. Every Easter, the whole family including my brothers and sisters, would go to the church service at the Stratford Baptist Church (then on Broadbridge Avenue). Of course I was Santa Claus on Christmas. I remember one Christmas in particular, after getting the presents from the basement of the church all the kids were quietly awaiting their presents when Kathleen identified me. I was amazed; I had a good wig on; whiskers; full costume; only my eyes showed. Kathleen came up to the front of the room standing next to Edna who was quietly observing me from a distance and said in a loud voice, “Mommy, that isn’t Santa Claus, that’s Daddy” I had no idea how she recognized me; she didn’t see me put the outfit on and had no means of knowing I was going to be there. I was later to find out when Edna took her aside and asked her, “What makes you think, it’s Daddy?” Kathleen responded, “I can see the dirt under his nails.” I was amazed. Despite the difficulty they were good years. Everyone knew everybody in church. All the McCallum children were known, and, in turn knew all the children in the Sunday school classes. There were perhaps three-dozen families in the church at that time; it was as if we were all member of one extended family. Bub was born in 1944. He was a chubby little guy with a round face and, like all mothers Edna loved him as her pride and joy. He was very alert and bright and seemed very interested in a great many things. He had a difficult time because his two older sisters often were rough on him and made it a point of seeing to it that he always realized that he was the smallest and the least entitled. In those days, we had few opportunities to travel as a family. For several years, the best we could do was to rent a third-rate cottage in Florida. It was inexpensive running, $5 or $10 a night for an efficiency in which we would cook all our meals. On one trip to Florida we rented a room in someone’s house; all five of us sleeping in a single bedroom in the residence of a total stranger. Of course, we were at the beach most of the day, so it wasn’t too bad. It was on one of those trips to Florida that Bub got his nickname. Corky, who was four or five at the time couldn’t say brother; the best she could do was something that sounded a great deal like Bub, and it stuck. When the three were young I enjoyed traveling with them across the fields to see Grandad Perry and/or his cows. There were a great many cats around the farm. Dairy farms were particularly attractive to stray cats, the grain bins being equally attractive for field mice. There was a well right across Nichols Avenue from the Perry house and we used to draw water from it by hand on hot summer days. Further east there was a big swamp that was use as an ice pond in the winters. I recall the children watching with fascination the ice cutting there. Close by was Russell’s farm. Mr. Russell still had two or three-dozen cows, at that time. The entire area was still quite rural; there were no nearby schools. Every Easter I’d bring home either chickens or ducks, occasionally rabbits. Perhaps to the chagrin of the children; perhaps to my secret relief, the rabbits always ran away and the ducks and the chicks either disappeared or passed away by the end of each following summer. Halloween became the children’s favorite holiday. Through the mid and late forties, the Halloween parties became more and more elaborate. By the late forties we had developed an outstanding family tradition of Halloween parties often involving competitions for best costumes; rides; contests and elaborate pranks that the adults would play on the children and often on each other. Several stories worth retelling come to mind. A good friend of mine, at that time, was a gentleman by the name of Harry Buck. He was the comptroller for the Shick Razor Company. He only had one hand (his right hand had been caught in a industrial press when he was eighteen). We had happened to meet in night school several years before. Harry was successful and went on to engineering school while, once again, formal schooling proved too much for me. On this particular Halloween I decided we were going to “dismember” Harry Buck. We had made careful preparations. We got a kid glove, filled it with sand and placed it in the icebox hours before, we peeled grapes and cooked some spaghetti and put both in the refrigerator as well. We set up a screen with lighting behind it and had Harry lay down in preparation for our mock surgery. Harry would lie behind the screen on a table with a handful of tools and saws and I, to the horror of the children who watched, hacked out a rather gruesome surgical procedure. I pretended to pause at first as he made all sorts of sounds; reflecting his horror and pain. As he moaned and groaned I passed his eyes – (peeled grapes) around to all the kids. Then I pretended to saw off his good hand I had a piece of wood under one that I was pretending to saw so that the effect and the noise were real. Harry continued to moan. Then I passed the kid glove full of sand up to the children to examine in the darkened room. Harry’s kids, who were in the audience, really started to have some difficulty at that point. After pretending to open Harry up stem to stern and passing around the cold spaghetti and a piece of cold liver for his heart, his kids were so upset that we had to turn back on the lights and show them that Harry was, in fact, in one piece. That particular prank obviously had gone too far. Every child in the place was in tears and though it seems amusing, looking back, it had the effect of ending everyone’s Halloween on a somber note. The first Halloween hayride when we took the truck through Nichols and finally St. Michael’s Cemetery was the result of a momentous instant of insight. We developed the famed airplane ride as another prank. We’d select one child at a time and give them “The Airplane Ride” and allow them to remain in the room to enjoy the horror of the next participant. We’d blindfold the selected child before he came in the room (we used an ironing board). We began by turning the child around about fifteen times until he didn’t know quite where he was an then we pulled the ironing board out of the closet with the legs folded up and set it on the floor. We’d have the child step on the ironing board and tell him it was an airplane. He steps on the board and we’d tell him we were going to take it to the ceiling and when he reached that point he would have to jump. So we shook the board like it was being raised but actually we were lowering our bodies down lower and lower. It felt a great deal like the board was actually going up though we only had it about an inch off the floor. Then we would rock it more violently, the child holding on to our shoulders, who was experiencing a sense of ascending as our heads and shoulders were being lowered. After we had gotten into a squatting position, one of the adults would bring a book down on the child’s head and say, “Oh, you’ve hit the ceiling jump. Jump. Jump.” At that moment, we would rock the ironing board more violently. He, she would leap for his/her life and try to hold on to our necks and our heads because he/she thought he/she was going traveling to the floor. We’d tilt over the board so it was impossible for he/she to stay on it and they’d make a desperate leap for life itself and hit the ground and inch below him/her. It was a remarkable sensation and after each had earned his/her wings he/she got to stay in the room and observe the next child. Watching the other children go through it, after they had been through it themselves was always a great joy. Halloween, by that time though, wasn’t only an opportune holiday to victimize defenseless children. I had invested quite a bit of effort engaging my adult acquaintances in the spirit of the holiday. I recall one Halloween I had somehow come to possess an enormous bell. I believe it was a fire alarm bell and I had acquired the spotlight off the top of a destroyer and I happened to have several electric eyes. At that time Francis Perry (Edna’s brother) delivered milk to our house each morning. I rigged up an electric eye in the front of the house and at four o’clock in the morning as he delivered the milk, the bell rang; the siren blew and the light lit up. It was so intense he almost fell over backwards off the edge of the porch. It was a tremendous bell, siren and light. The following Halloween, I put an electric transformer (from an oil burner) on the front door button so everyone who pressed the button would get quite a jolt. It wasn’t lethal but it was certainly enough electricity to give you a good wallop. Another Halloween, I anticipated how few adults could resist the temptation to pocket a silver dollar if they were fortunate enough to find it lying unattended. I positioned a silver dollar so that anyone who happened to observe it on the front porch had to be standing on a certain piece of wood to pick it up. When they reached over and grasped the silver dollar they completed a circuit, which I had wired between the dollar and the metal framing of the wooden platform. Half dozen adults tried to pick it up. Each got a jolt they weren’t likely to forget. I would say at least half the growth of Eveready during these years was due to Elsie’s efforts. We learned together; she was bright and had good judgment and worked as if she owned the company herself. During those early days (1942-1948), it was only the two of us (Elsie and me) in the office. Of course, I was on the road two-thirds of the time buying machines and hauling them. In those very early days, my dad would also go out occasionally and help haul them. In 1943, during one of these trips up to Winchendon, Massachusetts, I saw a group of machines and later decided to send my father up to purchase them and bring them down to Connecticut. I gave my father $2500.00 to go up and buy them. My mother went with him; all but one of the kids (Eugene) having left home by this time. One day he called me (often being on the road for a week for a two day trip). I said, “You’ve been gone for days. Where are those machines I gave you the money to buy?” He said, “Come up to Winchendon. I want to show you something.” He said, “We made a buy. Come on up.” The buy was a farm. The farmhouse itself was a building that somewhere split the difference between handsome and homely. Perhaps if it had just a bit more attention paid to its floor design and building it could have been a showplace. It was set five or six miles from the small town center of Winchendon. The land, which surrounded was flat and recently lumbered. The chicken coops were in reasonably good repair. The large wooden framed home needed repair and repainting. The immensity of such a task and the complexity of it compounded by the fact that the house and the large barn were constructed as a single unit; a single story rear annex connecting the house proper with the large three level barn (as was common in New England in the late 1800’s). It made infinite sense for attending to the chores and retrieving firewood in the long, cold New England winters, which were often marked by extraordinarily heavy snows in that part of north central Massachusetts. I said to myself, “How did I ever let him do that?” My mother said to me, “Well, Edward, we know we need a farm because if Eugene farms here, he may not have to go in the service and protecting Eugene is more important than buying those machines.” In defense of my mother’s position, he was just at the age where he might have been considered for the draft. It was very difficult to believe that my parents, who had made a half hearted effort in New Jersey for six years and who never showed any real inclination to invest the energy necessary to make farming a profitable venture, would choose to buy another farm. But buy it they did and they weren’t simply interested in owning it they intended to work it. They bought cows, a thousand chickens and, before I knew it, I was in the chicken business again. They moved up there and there they stayed. I paid the mortgage. The only problem with their plan was they had never asked my brother, Eugene, what he wanted. Three months after we bought the farm, Eugene enlisted in the Air Force. V Total Eclipse In sharp contrast to the beginning of the war, its end was perhaps a bit anticlimactic. We, clearly, were winning. In the summer of ’44, the Allies had begun reversing the course of the war. I can’t really recall where I was, either on VE Day or VJ Day. Nor were the implications of the atomic blast clear. We were aware that some super bomb had been created; one that ended the war and saved tens of thousands of American lives which would have been lost in an invasion of Japan. Almost immediately, there was the excitement of the arrival home of troops. Day after day, word was received that a relative, friend or neighbor was due home. The first to arrive were the many troops, who were being transported across the Atlantic from Germany en route to Japan, when word was announced that Japan had surrendered. Elsie’s husband came home; them my brother Dennis; then Eugene. Welcome home banners lined neighborhoods, as had the back crepe of the great influenza epidemic. These, however, where banner of joy. Many of the men had changed. Most had hardened and matured. Some had cracked. Others were just not quite the same. Dennis and Eugene were quickly reabsorbed into Eveready as were a number of other returning veterans. Everyone in business anticipated a boom in the massive retooling that would be required to begin to provide the producers of a peacetime economy. The anticipated demand for products, many of which hadn’t been manufactured in quantity in nearly six years, was tremendous. So prepare for the boom we did with more advertising, overhauling all the equipment in stock and an intensification of our direct sales effort. We were ready and waiting. The anticipated post-war “boom” turned quickly into the post war recession and then a depression. Certainly, in the machine tool business, it reached depression proportions, though where the market was going was not immediately obvious. So we persevered. The post war depression worsened with each passing month. By the middle of 1947, Eveready was in deep, deep financial trouble. By May, I had laid off everyone but my brothers and Elsie. In July, I was forced to lay off Eugene. Worse still, in early September, I had no choice but to lay off Dennis, who by that time was struggling with family and home. I recall the day before Thanksgiving, when I decided I’d have to cut back Elsie to part-time. She and her husband had just bought their first home. The guilt and feeling of failure was tremendous. Shortly after the New Year of 1948 had dawned, it became obvious that for Eveready to make it, if it could make it, I’d have to temporarily lay off Elsie as well. I remember those weeks working alone vividly. I recall feeling as if I had accomplished nothing for 15 years of effort. I was worse off than I had been at the height of the great depression. My overhead was thirty times what it had been on Main and Gilbert. The only thing that sustained me during those black hours was my faith. In my darkest moments, I took refuge in the thought that God was always with me and that I never had or would walk alone. I had already flirted with and thought that I was facing the loss of all I could possibly have stripped from me by financial misfortune. A view would shortly prove overly optimistic. Just as I was able to bring Elsie back to work, disaster struck. During those bleak months, one of the very few sales I made was to a dentist who bought and sold machinery as an aside to his practice. I recall the transaction vividly. The gentleman decided to pay cash for the machine -$20,000.00. I had never seen that much cash in my life; it was perhaps double or even triple the money I had ever seen before. It made me quite nervous. After completing the transaction’s paper work, I put the money into my dilapidated, leather briefcase and headed for home. I recall the long drive; stopping at a diner for a bite to eat and feeling so anxious about the security of the money that I sat on my briefcase throughout the entire meal. It was a neighborhood diner in a working class town. How strange I must have looked to the waitress; the grizzled man behind the counter and the few working class patrons having pie and coffee at the counter. I sat in the booth nervously; ate quickly and struggled to pay the waitress at the register with one hand accessing the change and bills from my billfold clumsily rather than putting the briefcase down even for an instant. The drive home seemed like an eternity. I returned to Stratford but it was too late to deposit the funds in the bank. So, I slipped the briefcase between he mattress and the box spring. I spent an uneasy, uncomfortable night conscious of the fact that I was sleeping on a fortune and felt great relief the next day when I was able to deposit the funds. The IRS conducted an audit of the dentist’s records and found he had not reported the income from his machinery business. In the course of their investigation, they found out that he bought a machine from me. In their attempt to verify how much he had paid for it, they came to me. When they found that I didn’t have adequate records, they started investigating me as well. As I was to find out, I had made a number of mistakes in how I recorded my income. I hadn’t brought forward profit or losses from previous years and it made it appear like all the money I had made was made in one year, and that taxes hadn’t been paid. All I knew, at that time, about the Internal Revenue Service was that they took a deduction out of your check each week. I didn’t keep track of our inventory. I didn’t carry the inventory over from one year to the next. I just started out the new year as if it were unrelated to the last. I remember the gentleman’s first visit. He entered the office; stood stiffly at the outer door; wearing a dark gray suit and horn-rimmed glasses. He asked Elsie if I were available. He introduced himself as Mr. Greenberg. He was a small, slender, nervous man in his mid-forties, graying and balding slightly. He spoke quickly and as if he were angry, though attempting to disguise that anger as business like concern. He inquired as to my knowledge of and relationship with the dentist and explained to me that they were investigating his tax returns. I acknowledged that I had met the dentist on three occasions and had sold the single boring mill to him three months before. With that, Mr. Greenberg asked if he might see my books. I asked him to have a seat in the mail room and pulled from my files the few relevant papers that I had. As I lay a half-dozen loose sheets of papers before him, I offered him a cup of coffee. Incredulously he looked at me and said, “What’s this?” Misunderstanding on my part, I replied, “Coffee, would you like tea? He responded, “No, no: what are these papers?” I said, “My records.” He looked down at the sheets of paper that I had placed before him, took off his glasses and took the three little fingers of his left hand and rubbed the bridge of his nose and his brow. After a few seconds, he pinched the bridge of his nose a couple of times; put his glasses back on; looked up at me and asked once again for all my records. When I began to explain to him that, in fact those were all my records, he interrupted and said, “Thank you, Mr. McCallum. May I have a few minutes to take some notes, if you will excuse me.” I returned to my work making a few calls; answering correspondence; actually forgetting Mr. Greenberg was in the other room. I once again became totally immersed in the business of the day. Mr. Greenberg came out, perhaps 20 minutes later; thanked me; shook my hand and said in a rather dictorial fashion that, with my permission he would contact me again if necessary. I agreed and he left on what I thought were amiable terms. The following week, Mr. Greenberg came back a second time, and at this point, he asked to see additional records. Although it wasn’t really clear as to how they related to the dentist, I felt that if I could help the government in clearing up any confusion, I certainly would be happy to. They were, I imagined, at least indirectly relevant, because he was particularly interested in inventories from the preceding years; purchase dates of equipment, including the equipment that I had sold to the dentist and other background material. Most of what he wanted, I unfortunately didn’t have or wasn’t able to produce very quickly. He once again became impatient; curt and once again I let him work undisturbed and continued on with my daily business. As he left the office after the second visit he assertively said he would be seeing me soon. It was then that I first thought that this nervous, curt, rigid, little man might have somewhere along the line begun investigating me. I was not terribly concerned though, not having had anything to hide, I thought the little man’s vindictiveness would come to no end. So, two weeks later, when the obnoxious little man arrived for his third visit; an unpleasant interruption in the midst of a busy workday, I was not of a temper to submissively grant him free and unlimited access to my records. I asked Mr. Greenberg to leave and suggested that he make an appointment. He became quite insistent and I became much more direct and forceful in my refusal to grant him access to the records he sought. By this time, I had become clearly angry. I let him know that his Gestapo tactics were not going to work. Perhaps, because of the relationship between Judiasm and Nazi Germany, although the insinuation wasn’t intentional, Mr. Greenberg reacted strongly. Tipping his hand, he demanded to know what I had done with the money the doctor had given me. I had spent it (Sooner or later that is typically what I do with all my money.) I told him that. He demanded to go over all the files and books. With that the argument ensued I said to him “Listen, you are not Hitler. This is not the Spanish Inquistion. Your Gestapo types were the cause of the Spanish Inquistion and here you are trying to do this to me.” He said, “I’ve got the right” (to examine your books). I said, “You have no right. I’ve got the constitution on my side. You can’t set one foot in here without my permission.” And, I threw him out. I found out, shortly, that I was in the wrong. Without taking me to court, the IRS took all of our money out of the bank; had our safe deposit box opened and took everything. The IRS works on the basis of Napoleonic Law which, in essence, means you’re guilty until you’re proven innocent. After all was done, they claimed I owed the government $28,000.00. At that point, I knew I was in real danger. I knew I needed legal council. I hired an Irish fellow named Coyle. He was call Judge Coyle. Coyle was a man in his sixties; short; heavy; with light hair. He had an arrogance that I initially mistook for confidence. He assured me that he knew the system and he knew the town and that he had the legal capability and the political degree of “connectedness” required to move whatever forces needed to be moved; to see to it that I was treated fairly and he assured me that he meant that the suit would be resolved in my favor with little or no personal financial cost. Since I was convinced of my innocence, it didn’t occur tome that his representation might not be sincere. To find a judge who so clearly felt that I was in the right blinded me to the seriousness of the offense. As it turned out he was really a thief. He had some relatively insignificant appointment as a judge in a local court in Bridgeport. As it would turn out, he didn’t know anything about Internal Revenue Law. He wanted a $5,000.00 retainer, which I gave him. It was one third of all the money I had. (I had just sold an industrial lathe for $15,000.) This money represented all the funds at my disposal since the confiscation of all my liquid assets by the IRS the preceding month. Six months went by; during which time I was supposed to prove my innocence. I would call Judge Coyle faithfully, every two weeks, asking him how he was progressing; asking him if he needed additional information; asking him if I could help. During the first two or three months, he simply indicated that he had everything under control and there wasn’t going to be a problem; that he was making the necessary arrangements and contacts. After a number of these conversations, where I realized that Coyle wasn’t offering any specific nor was his speech yielding any substantial information, I became nervous. Over the last couple of months, every time I called, I pressed him further asking him what he was doing and what remained to be done. Our relationship began to deteriorate and, though I had never pushed him so far as to jeopardize our client-attorney relationship, I began to have this sinking feeling that perhaps he was not as interested in the case, as knowledgeable or as sincere about defending me as he had portrayed himself. Despite this, I thought it was too late to make a change. I had invested $5,000. in his representing me and by time I became discouraged, there were only a few weeks remaining before the trail. One day, he said to me, “I know a fellow in Washington. We can straighten this whole thing out but it will cost another $15,000.00 so I gave the fellow all I could ($10,000.00). This fellow in Washington didn’t do anything at all but pocket the $10,000.00 and divide it with Coyle. The morning of the trial, I recall vividly. I was anticipating the best. I got up early; ate a hearty breakfast; spent a few minutes talking to Edna; making it a point to spend a few minutes talking with Kathleen, Corky and Bub. After breakfast, I shaved, showered, and dressed with the intent of making as positive an impression as I could. Nervously trying to fight off this feeling, that was gaining in intensity, that I might not have been fairly served by Coyle, I selected my dark blue pin stripped suit with the wide lapels, in the hopes that whatever contributions that I could make by presenting myself well would somehow contribute to my defense. The drive to downtown Bridgeport was a long one. It was a rainy April; morning, still cold; gray. I recall thinking on the drive to the courthouse how spring would already have come and gone in the North Carolina of my youth; how in the Shenandoah, the apple blossoms would be blooming, and how that little town of Lovington was probably abuzz with anticipation of its annual town fair. After parking the car, Edna and I climbed the gray courthouse steps and entered through the large iron doors. It struck me as ironic that I had lived in this town for 20 years and never really paid much attention to this building, although passing it almost daily. In the lobby, we were met by my brother Dennis, my secretary Elsie and we discussed the business of the day; made small talk and all waited nervously for Judge Coyle to arrive. Finally, in the rear of the building, Judge Coyle emerged from the stairwell; flushed and breathing heavily; the stairs clearly not giving agreed with him. When he was close enough to speak, he motioned to me; asked me to speak with him in private. At that point, that he told me that he wasn’t licensed to practice in Federal Court and he couldn’t even go into the courtroom and speak on my behalf. He reassured me that he had resolved many of the outstanding charges; prepared an adequate defense and that he was simply asking a licensed, federal attorney to represent me on that day as a formality. I was stunned, although, to his credit, Judge Coyle made it all seem so plausible; so unimportant. We stood together talking and, as Coyle spoke, I saw Edna, Elsie and Dennis at the far end of the hall; waiting, talking among themselves. I noticed the fine stonework on the ceilings of the courthouse. My mind began to wonder. Perhaps I knew even then that Coyle was not to be listened to. From the drone of his speech, I heard his distinct words, “You’ll have to pay an extra lawyer because I can’t speak in the court.” This was a modest sum and, at that point, I was too concerned about the court case to argue about a few dollars, even though the principle of the thing bothered me. As we waited, Coyle told me to plead nolo contendere and promised me I’d get off with a $500.00 fine. He had me meet this fellow in the library of the courtroom. He motioned towards the door to our left, opened it and asked me to wait inside. I entered into what I was to find out was the court library. It was a moderate sized room with a wall full of tall windows and the remaining three book shelved floor to ceiling. Thousands of books journals and reference books lining the wall. The center of the room was taken up entirely by a single, long, oaken conference table. I wondered how such a table could be created. Though it must not have been it appeared to be a single piece of oak, five feet wide and twenty feet long. As I stood marveling at the table lost in thought about where and how such a table might have been constructed, a door opened, Coyle with a handsome finely dressed, younger man entered the room. The two men were a stark contrast. Coyle, disheveled, obese, his eyes bloodshot and the younger man, neat, erect and trim. Coyle introduced the younger man. He said this is your counsel for the procedure, Christopher Dodd. Coyle explained to me that he had been a lawyer at the recently completed Neurenberg War Crime Trial in Germany (several years later he was to become a senator from the state of Connecticut). Coyle seemed impressed with this young man’s ability as if somehow that would have a bearing on the “pre-resolved” case. He nodded at me knowingly. Then Dodd spoke he said, “Mac, Coyle here is telling you that he guarantees you’ll be off with a $500.00 fine. I’ve just been called on this case at the last minute. I’m getting $500.00 for my presence at the hearings and I can’t guarantee you anything. After meeting with Coyle and Dodd I returned to the large marbled lobby, spoke briefly to Edna, Dennis, Elsie and Jim Smith who I had just hired as a consulting accountant. We waited what seemed like hours, but only 15 or 20 minutes for the proceeding to begin. Finally the large doors to the courtroom itself were opened and we were summoned. Leaving Edna, Dennis and Elsie in the gallery, I proceeded up the aisle through the small swinging gate towards Dodd and judgment. As I swung the door open, which separated the gallery from the trial area my fingers lingered on the hardwood for a moment reflecting back on the day that I had spent in court nearly 35 years ago. I took my place next to Mr. Dodd, answered a few questions briefly and prepared to plead nolo contendere as Coyle had suggested. I was surprised to see several of the deacons and members of the Congregation of the First Baptist Church of Stratford in the gallery. Unbeknownst to me, they had gathered over a hundred signatures from the members of the congregation and neighbors attesting that I worked hard; that I had a nice family, and that I was of good moral character. The judge, looking at the petition said, “I know you have already paid a high price and suffered through great difficulties, do you want a jury trial?” I looked at Coyle who shook his head no. “No,” I answered, “thank you.” The Judge went on, “You realize you are charged with an offense which is serious and should you want to change your plea, this is your last opportunity.” Coyle turned to me and whispered to me: “No, we don’t want to change our plea, don’t worry; it’s all set.” So I pleaded nolo contendere and the next thing I knew I was sentenced to six months in Federal Penitentiary in Danbury. I was shocked. The judge brought down his gavel and we all stood and he left the courtroom. Coyle was already halfway through the gallery on his way to the rear of the courtroom before I realized that the procedure was over. Dodd said he was sorry and that he wished that he had been called earlier or been told more about the case. Perhaps he could have done more. All this seemed to be unreal; Dodd’s words; Coyle’s disappearing. I vaguely remember shaking Dodd’s hand and walking through the gallery gate; being met by Edna, Elsie and Dennis and the Deacons from the church. I was allowed thirty days to complete my business and to report back to the courthouse. The 30 days, which followed were the longest 30 days of my life. Reporting to the courthouse for transportation to Danbury was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was so distressed I somehow managed to arrive 2 ½ hours late. The prison was only 35 miles from the courthouse but, while being transported by a driver in a state vehicle, the ride seemed like an eternity. I was driven from the center of Bridgeport, down Fairfield Avenue, past Tunxis Hill; up the Black Rock Turnpike; onto Route 58 through Fairfield, Easton, Redding. Though the morning had been cold, the sun was now shining brightly; the azaleas were in bloom; the trees budding; the grass flushed with the first green of spring. The ride gave me an opportunity to think about a great many things; about how lovely the New England countryside was this time of year; about the six months in prison I was facing. It allowed me to wonder whether there would be a business to come back to at all. My thoughts were scattered as we passed through a small town I was later to find out was Bethel. We stopped at the towns only traffic light and I saw the young childred on their way to school, playing happily this first fine spring morning. In anticipation of the coming summer, they skipped and ran towards the large red brick grade school. By the Danbury Green, and north on Route 37 towards the penitentiary itself. I recall, after leaving Danbury, thinking how little time I had left before my freedom was lost. In retrospect, I guess it is true that from the moment of sentencing I had become the prisoner. We passed a few scattered farmhouses and rounded a large bend. The road veered to the right, a farmhouse and a barn appeared to stand in our path. As we passed the farm’s roadside stand I noticed an elderly woman in a calico dress sitting impassively within it. My first impulse was to wave and then I realized that her expressionless face was likely the result of her recognizing the car in which I was traveling and her understanding of the fact that I was to spend the next few months as one of her uninvited neighbors. As we drove by, I noticed her eyes neither anticipated nor followed the car. The entrance to the penitentiary was lined by two stonewalls. Fieldstone and concrete were the large stone pillars guarding the entrance. Ironically I had traveled to Danbury several years before to attend the dedication of the penitentiary. I had been invited as one of the local government contractors. Never having anticipated returning, I hadn’t committed to memory a great deal about the facility. In my current state, it was as if I was viewing it for the first time. The drive was long and a great deal of land had been cleared along the hillside on the right. A large open field extended for over a quarter of a mile. Up the hillside the sedan drove and it was then that I realized that the penitentiary itself was not visible from the roadside, that large swale in the green Connecticut hills. Finally, small turret-like corners of the building were visible. As the sedan cleared the crest of the hill, the three story concrete structure became visible. As I now remembered, it had a peculiar, rather modern art deco influence. As we drove the final 500 yards, it brought to mind the R. J. Reynolds building, its art deco construction and a time, many years ago, that was spent in North Carolina. The penitentiary was painted light brown, with the art deco symbols in relief painted a deep chocolate. Although I wasn’t thinking in terms of it being anything but a prison, at the time, I know realize it could have been much worse. The process of being admitted; catalogued; inspected; issued clothing and shown to my “room” took most of the afternoon. For the first two weeks, you’re confined to a cell, which was pretty depressing. During those two weeks, I lived for mail from home. Fortunately, a great deal arrived. Something came daily from either Edna, the children, Elsie or Dennis, concerned friends or church members. On good days, there might be a half-dozen pieces of mail. But I was very grateful that on each day something arrived. On the two Sundays I was confined, I reread the entire weeks mail; prayed; looked forward with some anxiety to gaining access to the prison yard and the prison’s resources. Once the two weeks in solitary had been complete, I was oriented to the prison complex and given the option to volunteer for a work detail. This I did gladly as it took my mind off my imprisonment and filled my days and tired me enough to pass my nights. I worked first as a laborer on the construction projects, which were still being completed as part of the prison expansion. I had had considerable experience performing similar work and was quickly recognized by the prison personnel as someone who might serve in a limited supervisory role. After that, I was made foreman on a gang that did construction work. I was outside working everyday from about 8:00 a.m. on. We had a movie once a week, library in the evening and classes. They had a rabbi and a couple of clergymen, they didn’t have a protestant minister, so I worked with the priest for a while on a number of projects. I got to know the rabbi quite well also. I went to the library and read a number of books, most influential among the: Pilgrim’s Progress. The reading of Pilgrim’s Progress had an incredible effect on me. I experienced a spiritual reawakening after reading it. I identified closely with its characters: closely with their struggle. I read it several times over those four months. It, as much as anything, sustained me. When I wasn’t reading or working I had the opportunity to play on the prison baseball team, most often as the pitcher. The business was without me for the first time. I didn’t really know whether or not it could survive. There were a great many things that I had left half done, never really anticipating a prison term. There were a great many contacts that were mine alone and a great deal of the business was done on their basis. There were no written policies or procedures on which Elsie, Dennis or anyone else could carry on. I had not entirely prepared my business associates for the worst; hoping for the best, I didn’t want to badly disrupt the business. Now the business faced my absence without a great deal of preparatory transitional work having been done. On the one hand, I worried most that the business would fail; one other occasions, I hoped that my absence would not be unnoticed. My brother Dennis, oversaw the manual labor force which took care of rigging. Elsie advised me about the business by writing me once or twice a week. In those letters, Elsie would update as to the nature of the sales inquiries; the movements of our laborers; the costs of doing business and the steps she was taking to try and maintain things as well as she could. To her credit, she did it well. While the business did not flourish, it clearly was surviving. During that time, Elsie learned a great deal more about the business and I learned a great deal more about Elsie. In many ways, next to the letters from Edna and my children, letters from Elsie were the most meaningful. After my family’s contact I looked most forward to news of my life’s work. Any my business “partnership” with Elsie, were topics, which helped sustain me. Edna and the three kids would come up by car to see me every Saturday. While these trips were the highlight of my week, I think, at times, they were very difficult for Edna and the children. They would arrive after a very long trip, patiently wait for me in the visitors area and be permitted only to stay an hour. I think Edna and the children were all frightened by the prison; by the inmates; frightened by what they imagined or feared the inmates had done. Kathleen was only ten at the time; Corky perhaps eight, Bub four and didn’t entirely understand what had led to my imprisonment. I worried about it, their reactions; their feelings at seeing their father in his prison uniform. I worried about it having some lasting impact on them. But, each week, they came and, each week, we had our visits together and opportunity to talk. Each week, there was a tearful goodbye; a hug and a kiss; each Sunday evening several hours of sadness. Fortunately each Monday morning, there was a full day of work. There were about forty other inmates who were in for tax evasion. Everyone seemed to smoke cigars. You were allowed $10.00 a month to buy yourself candy, fruit and whatever else you’d consume on a day-to-day basis. Many of the inmates would smoke up $10.00 worth of cigars in twelve days. Recognizing this and having no real needs of my own, I saw it as a opportunity. As was true in business and generally in life an entrepreneur recognizes and capitalizes on an opportunity. There was a social structure within the prison as predictable and as sophisticated as that beyond the prison walls. Cigars were the currency of exchange and the majority of inmates consumed them readily. My access to them was a significant factor in the definition of my prison identity. While at Danbury, I met a number of interesting characters. One was a pilot who had been smuggling Chinamen into the country from Mexico. He got $2,000.00 a head if he got them in. He was serving three to five years. He was a big man, nearly 6’2”, large framed, dark blond hair. His face was heavily lined and weathered; I presumed from the hours he spent as a young man in the open cockpits of the day. He was bright and appeared well educated and articulate. He had a calm, confident manner, which suggested he was still in control of his own destiny, and that the imprisonment was simply a temporary complicating factor. We talked casually from time to time. I think in an odd way, we respected each other though I didn’t entirely approve of his offense. He had the distant somewhat secretive manner, of a man who had been in the military. Despite this, we would often make small talk. Once during a visit he sketched a large drawing of Bub, a drawing I’ve kept to this day. I think, in another context perhaps, we might have been friends. One day the pilot said tome, “I hear you are from these parts.” You know, we’re thinking of escaping. Tell me how the roads run, and where are the railroad tracks?” I knew better than to map out the area in my own handwriting, so I just marked it in sand of the prison yard with the toe of my shoe. This particular day, there was another young fellow standing at his side. This other fellow I’ll never forget him or how he ate. He was a Swede. He would eat three loaves of white bread before his meal. I never saw a man eat like that. He must have been starved one time. Blond, anxious, he was a striking contrast to the pilot. He would only speak directly to the pilot. I wondered if he wasn’t, or hadn’t been, at some point, mentally ill. On the few occasions the three of us were together, he would speak to the pilot, when addressing questions to me, referring to me indirectly. He never made eye contact, nor was he ever able to participate in interaction. The Swede’s behavior was most peculiar at times. When the three of us were together, he would interject something directed at me, by speaking to the pilot and before an answer was issued or any clarification made, he would begin pacing in or circling the area in which we spoke. One Saturday in August, the pilot sought me out in the prison courtyard, and told me that they were going to make a break; an escape, that evening during the dinner hour. The remainder of the day I nervously anticipated the break. Why? I’m not quite sure. I hadn’t really contributed to it beyond providing some basic information but the anticipation of knowing it was going to occur was stressful. Perhaps I was a little concerned with the pilot’s safety. I recall I was sitting in the mess hall eating when the sirens went off. The inmates started to rush towards the windows to look out on the courtyard but the guards brandishing Billy clubs, who were in the dining room, quickly insisted they return to their seats. Reinforcements arrived in the dining room and the guards quickly restored order. It must have been peculiar. I was perhaps the only inmate in the mess hall who didn’t so much as stand up much less move toward a window. I was later to find out the pilot and the Swede had done exactly as they intended; tying sheets together and escaping through a second story window. The guard and wardens knew I was friendly with these fellows. They called me in for questioning. “What do you know about the escape?” I said, “I don’t know anything.” They said, “Aren’t you going to tell us anything?” I said, “There’s nothing to tell.” They said to me, “We can take your two months reduction in sentence away that you’re earning for good behavior.” I said, “You can do whatever you want.” There were four of them interrogating me. When they mentioned the cigars and asked why I was giving cigars away; I said, “If you fellows haven’t anything better to do than this, you should be fired; the whole gang of you. That, of course, didn’t set too well with them. They asked a few more questions, I continued to refuse to answer. After a couple of hours, they sent me back to my cell. One of the two escapees; the Swede got caught and transferred to a maximum-security prison. The pilot who was smart, streetwise and tough was never found. Although it had only been four months the day I was released from prison, I had almost as much anxiety about going back to Stratford as I did on the day of my commitment. Concerns about how I would be perceived; how I would be received by my friends; by members of my church congregation and how my business associates would react to me were all pressing concerns. VI The Phoenix Rises It was a blinding fall day, the trees were ablaze with colors; red, oranges, browns, greens, and yellows. On that second Tuesday in October I was met early in the morning by Edna, Kathleen, Corky and Bub. I recall hearing the security door shut behind me as I excited the security area of the prison and walked towards the lobby. Though God had been my constant companion and in his company I had been spared the agony of loss one might have expected, it was a great joy to be once again free, able to come and go as I pleased. The experience of being free was never quite the same; neither as secure nor as easily taken for granted after those four months of incarceration. In contrast to the drive to the prison, the drive home passed in a heartbeat. Being able to freely talk to and touch Edna; to play with the children; the anticipation of seeing my mother and father; friends and having a home cooked meal, made the miles fly by. Shortly after I arrived home; changed; walked around the yard; surveyed my lot in life, Kathleen and Corky came home and everything appeared right with the world. Many of my concerns were being laid quickly to rest. Neighbors stopped by to welcome me home. Friends or acquaintances that drove by would stop or honk and wave. My return to Eveready the following morning was joyous. The business had survived well enough to allow its continuation but not so well that my absence wasn’t felt. Dennis and Elsie and the laborers in the yard had a cake and a brief celebration welcoming me back. There was a great deal of information to be shared; a great many records to review; a great many contacts to be made. I also had to spend quite a bit of time, during those first few weeks, familiarizing myself with the new bookkeeping and accounting system, which had been put in place in my absence. The bookkeeping and accounting system was organized and being maintained by accountants (Joseph Smith & Co.) and tax consultants. I was very certain of one thing, I was not going to make the same mistake twice. Finally Sunday arrived and it was time to go to church and face the church members. Though many had supported me through petitions as character witnesses during my trial proceedings I wasn’t entirely sure how an ex-con would be received. It was a crisp, fall morning. We had spent the weekend breaking out our winter suits and storing our summer clothes. We drove to the small church on Broadridge Avenue; arrived late as usual and parked. I took a deep breath as we entered the church. I was relieved to find fellowship, which had attracted me to the Stratford Baptist Church still very much alive. I was welcomed by church members and elders alike. I thanked the congregation for all they tried to do and all they had done. I went on to offer my services to them. Although I didn’t know how, at the time I might help, I certainly wanted to make myself available. Perhaps it was this offer; perhaps it was simply my experience in construction and heavy rigging, which led to subsequent events. However several months later it was decided that a new church was going to be required and that I was going to be the builder. The church members have saved about $10,000.00 and then we bought an empty lot on Paradise Green in Stratford. Then the congregation asked me if I would gather a few estimates, (since I knew a bit about the construction business.) They were thinking originally of building a new church. It quickly became apparent the costs involved were going to be prohibitive. During that process, I found out that, in addition to other government surplus, there were surplus government chapels for sale. I found one in Goldsboro, North Carolina on an air force base. The congregation asked me to go down to North Carolina and take a look at it. By the time I got there, the grass had grown deep all around it. I parked my car along side the macadam road and waded through the waist high grass toward the church. The grass was thick and wet with dew. By the time I reached the steps my pants and shirtsleeves were wet and stained. I climbed the stairs to inspect the chapel. Though it had not been used in quite some time, it was structurally sound and in good repair. I came back to Stratford and made a report to the congregation. We, as a group, decided we would purchase and transport the chapel from North Carolina to Stratford. After making the decision, a number of members of the congregation expressed their mystification as to how such a thing could be done. Somewhere in the midst of my knowledgeable, if not articulate, explanation about how such a process would occur, I found myself in charge of it. Later, I sent my brother-in-law, Ed Snyder down to North Carolina with a rigging crew, and they took the building down in sections about 16 foot wide and 18 foot high. They sliced it like a loaf of bread in giant, 16 by 18 foot The Stratford Baptist Church on the Green as seen today. “slices”. They put the sections in three freight cars and brought them up to Stratford. We had the foundation ready before they brought them up and we re-assembled them. We only cracked one window throughout the entire process. The flooring and the wainscoting are original. Shortly after we re-assembled the church, we searched throughout New England and found a church comparable in size that was colonial and we changed the tower and the columns on the front to make it more appropriate architecturally. To this day, if you stand in back of the church and look down the left side, you’ll see a little wave in it; but you have to look real close. I guess I’m a little proud of the job we were able to do. Now Britian, Connecticut was a city committed heavily to industry and the war housing administration built a two hundred unit apartment complex to house workers there during the war. As a result of the efforts I had made researching the availability of government surplus, both in terms of looking for the chapel and in terms of some of the machine tool work I was doing at Eveready, I was, apparently, placed on every government mailing list that existed. Day after day, I received government junk mail offering to auction or sell my items ranging from K rations to PT Boats. Most often, after recognizing what I had received, I would simply toss it in the circular file. Periodically, there was a relevant release to the machine tool trade or industrial equipment and I’d review it and, occasionally pursue it. Over the latter part of 1949, I seemed to get more and more frequent releases from the government relating to the privatization of war administration housing. Although I hadn’t really reflected about it, during the war, a great increase in the population of industrialized areas had taken place; an increase that was somewhat artificial as the government wooed people from less industrialized areas to the city, in an effort to keep the war machinery going 24 hours a day. Now that the war was over and the factories were back to a single shift operation, a great many of the people, who had originally come to support the war effort and because of the great many opportunities, had little incentive to stay. For that reason a great many of the housing developments that were built by the government to house these wartime employees lay vacant. It was through privatization that the government hoped to recoup some of the costs and see to it that these housing developments were in fact used in the public interest. In the fall of 1949, I received word that a complex in New Britain was up for sale. It was close by and I often traveled through or near New Britain on business, so I decided to take a look. Two weeks later on one of my machine tool business trips I drove by the housing complex on Ellis and East Streets. I spent some time inspecting it. There were four apartment red brick buildings, each set individually. I looked at the quality of construction; the amount of land that had been allotted and the surrounding areas. I recall driving back toward Stratford and thinking that the venture into real estate might prove quite profitable. Besides, there had been quite a bit of publicity about this particular project because it was the first that the War Administration Housing Authority, itself, was offering for sale. They only want 10% down and a $25,000.00 goodwill deposit. I had never owned a piece of real estate other than the house I lived in and Eveready so I wasn’t much of a real estate expert. I figured it backwards, assuming the rents were going to be $45.00 a month, (which was about $20.00 lower than it should have been). I felt if these places would bring in enough to pay the mortgage; cover the operating expenses, pay me back the $100,000.00 down payment during the first five years; pay the interest on the mortgage and give me 10 percent profit; I would put in a bid. I was also somewhat impressed by the fact that it had won an award as the best architecturally laid out and landscaped complex the War Housing Administration had built the year it was built (1942). I put in a bid and, out of 200 bidders, I proved to be the high bidder. Being high bidder really put the fear of God into me. I didn’t mind bidding, but I didn’t really know what I was doing and I never expected to win. Then I was faced with raising an additional $75,000.00 within thirty days or I would lose the goodwill deposit of $25,000.00. I had no idea where I was going to raise it. I didn’t have that kind of credit. At the bid opening there were several major papers: The New York Times (their financial department), The Wall Street Journal and a television crew. They all questioned me as to what I was going to do. I didn’t know what I was doing; I just said it was a family investment and when they spoke, using their jargon from Wall Street, I got lost altogether and just repeated myself. That same day, at the bidding site, a little Jewish man waved his hand over his shoulder indicating he wanted me to come over and talk to him. When we were apart from everyone else, he said, “You know Abe (nodding toward his friend), and I came from Philadelphia. I’ll tell you what I told Abe, we should have raised our bid; we didn’t, we’re sorry. I’ll give you $50,000.00 above your costs right now if you turn the property over to me.” Well I began to breath a little easier because I was really stunned by the fact that I owed $75,000.00 that I didn’t have and I had to have it in thirty days. So the fellow over his shoulder waved and said, “I’ll tell you what; my name is Abe Ginsburg; I own property in New York and Philadelphia. I’ll tell you how we can make $350,000.00 each and I’ll go in fifty/fifty with you on this deal. He went on, “Subdivide and sell it off in individual units.” I had no idea if or how such a thing could be done so I said, “Well, we will have to discuss it later. I’ll bring my accountant along (as if I had an accountant at my beck and call all the time).” Several days later, I went to Philadelphia and he laid the whole thing out for me. It sounded pretty good. After looking into the mortgaging requirements, I found it was likely to be much more difficult to finance the units individually and I decided to drop the idea and try and raise the rest of the money myself. I took ninety-day loans and borrowed some from my cousins. I had to re-mortgage our house on Nichols Avenue and the rest I borrowed from two banks on short-term business loans. It was out of the New Britain investment that McCallum Enterprises was born. I was in a position, by chance and as a result of my impulsive adventurous nature, wherein I had to raise a great deal more money that I had any right to expect to be able to raise on the basis of my assets. Despite the ninety-day loans, the short-term business loan and the re-mortgaging of my house, I didn’t have enough to meet the debt I had incurred. Forming a corporation: McCallum Enterprises and selling stock to a select few friends and relatives seemed the most responsible and least painful way of resolving the problem. Eveready would remain separate; a machine tool business distinct from the real estate holdings. I, as principle stockholder, would be the president of McCallum Enterprises; the few relatives, friends, and employees of Eveready were the minority stockholders. We were now in the real estate business. A great deal of energy and effort had to be expended coming to an understanding of how we might maintain and run such a large apartment complex. I spent a great deal of the next several years traveling between Bridgeport and New Britain overseeing the machine tool business and trying my best, in person, through my sister Elizabeth and later Edna and finally through hired help, to keep both businesses up and running profitably. New Britain was a moneymaker. We were very fortunate that quite independent of any insight and good judgment, it began and remained a profitable venture. I’m sure that if a less profitable property, the initial investment vehicle, McCallum Enterprises, our ignorance and lack of experience, would have made the difference in what would have been our inability to maintain a marginal property. As things began to settle within McCallum Enterprises, the most private of McCallum Enterprises was also under way. Joyce arrived in 1953. Joyce was roly-poly, pretty little girl with black hair and big brown eyes. It was when Joyce was an infant that I was given the task of taking care of a baby for the first time. Up until that point I had only accepted my responsibility of fathering and fatherhood as it pertained to children over the age of three or infants when they were dry and clean. After Joyce was born, I was promoted to chief diaper changer. I recall my first few experiences vividly and thinking that perhaps Edna hadn’t had it so good after all. After the personal experience of changing Joyce between bites of breakfast; bites of lunch; bites of dinner; I came to realize that it took a particularly strong constitution and a great deal of patience to care for an infant. It was, at least in part, based on these experiences, that I came, relatively late, to have a much greater appreciation for the job that Edna had been doing. Joyce was born into a very active household by that time we had ducks, chickens, a pony, and the assorted odd cats or dogs. One of the chickens, a hen named Martha, used to accompany us everywhere we went. Later, when we purchased our first boat, Martha would often accompany us, and a select group of ducks and ducklings out on to the boat for the day trips. We had the ducklings and the chicks at such a young ages that they would imprint (attach themselves) to one of the children or Edna or me. Once this had occurred, the duck or the chick would follow the given person everywhere he or she went as if they were their parent. Each child developed a particular fondness for a given duck or chick and it became very difficult to separate child from pet. One duck particularly, Wilber, was everyone’s dear friend. On the day that a neighborhood dog killed him, there was a great deal of pain and a great many tears. The period of mourning went on for quite some time. Little Joyce was brave and adventurous. One of the most vivid memories that I have of her as a toddler is of her swimming along side the Shamrock I (our boat) at the age of two out in Long Island Sound. Of course she had on a life preserver but, nonetheless, there she was paddling away, smiling. We were in water thirty, forty or fifty feet deep. Occasionally a family would go by, on another boat, with horrified looks that such a tot was out swimming about. About that time, we received a pony from a family named Singer who lived down the street. When we purchased it, it seemed as if it were a gentle pony. The children, particularly Kathleen and Corky had been begging for a pony for quite some time and finally it seemed like there would be no denying them. One day, shortly after we brought the pony home, Edna called me at work very upset. She said that the pony was attacking everyone and cornered a number of the children on the front porch. I tried to encourage her to approach the pony and assert herself. She clearly was not satisfied with that solution. Nothing else would do but for me to return home. Apparently, before I arrived on the scene, two older neighborhood boys, seeing my wife and children and the pony, stopped the car and began to offer their assistance. They quickly found themselves back into their car and were kept at bay by the little pony until they finally drove away. When I arrived, Edna was in tears; standing on the front porch in a blue print dress; flushed and pale; she was too concerned to go in the house and too frightened to come off the front porch. After I parked the car, I walked up to the little pony; patted him and I led him into the barn. I walked into the house feeling quite like the hero. The summers in the mid 1950’s were a time of great contentment. All the children were still young and the business was doing fairly well. The 1950’s were a period of great prosperity. Many of the summer days, the family and many of our relatives and friends would spend aboard the Shamrock I. It was a single engine 23 foot Criss Craft Cabin Cruiser that allowed us to enjoy many a pleasant day trip. I loved the ocean; had ever since I was a young child and traveled to Cooney Island. As a teenager, my affection for it grew as I traveled to the Jersey shore with the scouts. First, we docked the Shamrock I in Kelly’s Boat Yard in Devon right beyond the Washington Street Bridge; later a Murphy’s Boat Yard in Shelton. On many a fine Saturday or Sunday we would take the little run about up to the Thimble Islands off the coast of Guilford or across the sound to Port Jeff. We made many an adventurous trip. As the number of people, family and friends and friends of the children grew in number we realized that the Shamrock I was too small of a boat for our purpose. Consequently, we bought the Shamrock II in a government sale in the fall of 1957. It was a bargain (a bargain is something that you can’t resist buying once you get it you don’t know what to do with it). The Shamrock II was a 45-foot Wheeler Playmate. It was a sturdier, better built, wooden boat that the Shamrock I. It was built during the war and was confiscated by the government. They had confiscated it from a private owner and now had it for sale. I bid on it (it was down in Maryland at Camp Meade) and mine was the highest bid. Ed Sullivan and his wife, Joe Sullivan and I went down after Christmas to get it ready for the journey north. That 45-footer was a lot of a boat. It was very costly to run. The government could maintain it but on the journey north I quickly realized I wasn’t the government. It had three forward bunks, a two-man mater’s cabin in the back and a center cabin in the front. So it would sleep ten. We almost lost her on our maiden voyage while crossing the Chesapeake Bay. The December night was bitter cold with a howling wind. We had to have heat so we started a coal fire in a little pot belly stove that was on board. I sent Joe Sullivan back to got it lit. On that day it had gotten bitter in the late afternoon and the seas had risen. When Joe went back to light the stove he put the coal in first and put the paper and wood on top. He tried without success to light this nonsensical arrangement three times. I finally went back there (I was piloting) and said, “Joe, there is something wrong with this fire. Three times you’ve tried and you haven’t got it lit yet and we’re freezing to death. Put the coal on last and the wood and the paper on the bottom.” (How things change in one generation not even knowing how to start a coal fire). Finally we got the fire going. We had a nice little fire going and we were getting along well and up came a storm. We didn’t hear the warning that the storm was brewing and the sea got very rough. I was piloting and, by then, the fire drew such a heavy draft it got the whole stove red-hot. There were five-foot waves, and though we had the stove wired to the floor I thought it would tip over. So I said, “Put out the fire.” So Joe reached over, while the boat is a rocking and a rolling, and got a pail of salt water; opened the door of the potbelly stove and poured it in. Smoke and steam and coal gas filled the air. We almost died. We were vomiting we couldn’t see a thing; time passed and damned if that fire didn’t re-ignite and the stove became red-hot again. We had to go through the whole thing over again, though this time we opened the doors and windows first. We finally got the fire out by putting three big pails of salt water on it. By this time, I was so sick I lost my sense of direction. It was so rough that the larger ships were going back to port instead of going to sea. Now, Ed took over because he had stayed out in the back deck and wasn’t sick. At that point, we didn’t even know where shore was. We had a compass but the compass was rolling and rocking so much you couldn’t read it. We had extra batteries loose on deck. There were swishing back and forth across the floor. You had to jump every time one came by and it was terrible. The waves were breaking over the bow with water coming in the front window. By this time Joe Sullivan was lying down. He was through. He couldn’t stand at all. I wasn’t much better but I had to return to the watch. I couldn’t see shore. The wind blew so fiercely and the storm grew so violent, I don’t know how Ed Sullivan, who was piloting at the last brought us in. Over the four years we owned the Shamrock II, we enjoyed many a trip. We went to Newport on several occasions; once to the International Cup Races; we went to New York; Port Jefferson and along the northern coast of Long Island. It was the second year that we owned the Shamrock II, in the summer of 1959, that McCallum Enterprises took its next big step. In fact, it was after one of our long weekends away on the Shamrock II that I returned to Eveready on a Tuesday morning in late July; opened my mail and found a government advertisement; a call for bids for a housing complex in Glens Falls, New York. As was true of most of my business adventures and all of my business misadventures, my interest in the Glens Falls project began as curiosity. It was July, and a fine July. The grass was emerald green and I thought that a drive through the Berkshires and the Adirondacks, perhaps to Lake George would be a business trip, which even if it didn’t lead to business, would be enjoyable and worthwhile on such a lovely summer day. As part of that process, if I happened to find an apartment complex, which was worthy of investment, I would be that much further ahead. The following week, I traveled to Glens Falls, New York. I hadn’t ever been to the town of Glens Falls before (located approximately sixty miles north of Albany) and I must admit to being charmed. The four-hour drive took six hours on backcountry roads. As I drove among the beautiful hill sides along the Hudson and Mohawk, I found myself thinking how cool and green and lush this part of the north woods was in contrast to the shoreline of Connecticut. I traveled up Route 9 to the Southern Glens Falls, to the red-bricked industrial area, passed the town center; and finally I arrived at the town green. I asked directions from a passer by. The apartment complex I was looking for was just a half-mile from downtown on the northwest corner of the city. Before I traveled to see the complex, I checked in at the local Queensbury Hotel a hotel that was soon to become one of my favorites. It was stately in appearance, simply decorated and had excellent service. After checking in, I took a few moments to walk the down town area and to stretch my legs after the long drive. While not consciously, I was also assessing the town itself. The townspeople its tempo and flavor the “mood” of the town. I was impressed by what I found. The people were friendly, the town seemed as if it had optimism, which, on some level was a selling point. I couldn’t decide whether the town itself reminded me of Norman Rockwell’s artwork or of my winters in North Carolina as a young man. There was a town quality to Glens Falls, which I had not encountered in quite some time. I spent that late afternoon walking the grounds of the apartment complex; a dozen large red brick buildings each with eight apartments. Its grounds were clean and the buildings generally in good repair. I walked the neighborhood. The complex was next to a grade school. The stores were within easy driving distance and a young adult in good health could easily transport his groceries, by hand if necessary. I observed the tenants in the complex and, by and large, they struck me as clean, hard working people and the neighborhood was safe and secure. Driving home, of the following afternoon, I had come to a decision as I crossed the Connecticut border. A bid of some type would be made. Though Glens Falls wasn’t the second complex McCallum Enterprises had pursued, it was the second on which we were the successful high bidder. We had put in a sealed bid of $280,000.00 and, for that price we bought the property in Glens Falls. The property became known as Sagamore. It was a much different process; much less stressful to purchase Sagamore as opposed to Sunvale Manor in New Britain. The New Britain property had continued to do well; returning a profit. We had built equity in the intervening ten years and the purchase of Glens Falls, for those reasons, really wasn’t terribly intimidating or a great risk. VII American Solstice In 1960, I took a trip to Europe. The group going to Europe included my daughters, Kathleen, 20 and Joyce, (who was only seven at the time) my son Edward, 12, and Kathleen’s husband Don McCloud. Corky was off in school at the University of Miami and chose not to go. Edna didn’t like traveling, so she went to Old Lyme and stayed in an Inn there. So we, (the kids and I) voted on where to go. One of the locations that Bub decided on (and talked his sisters into voting for) was Russia. It didn’t interest me. We first went Ireland and spent a week there and we had a wonderful time. We saw the land of my Irish forefathers: Donegal, Northern Ireland, Belfast and Londonderry. Of course, we all kissed the Blarney stone. From Ireland, we went to London and then to Paris. There I remained with Joyce and went to see a Woody Woodpecker movie complete with French dialogue, while the older children all went to see the Folies Bergere. Of course that experience was an eye opener for Bub. From France we went to Sweden for a few days and on to Finland. From Finland, we went to Russia; to what used to be called Petrograd and was then Leningrad, and finally to Moscow. I had read world history and the history of Russia. I knew the history of Lenin and his dreaded secret police; how sealed carloads of Communists from Germany were trying to infiltrate Russia and trigger the revolution while World War I was going on. Lenin succeeded in getting their navy to join the revolutionary forces and wrecked their ability to fight against the Germans who were almost entering the city of Moscow and Leningrad. So, when this girl (our guide), was telling me how bad Hitler was, I said to her, “Hitler and Stalin were allied and that’s how Germany succeeded in invading Poland.” “Oh, she said, “You’re an outright liar; there never was any such event. I am a graduate of Moscow University and I have studied the history of World War II. As a matter of fact, my father died in a defense of Leningrad.” I said, “You are mistaken;” “Oh,” she said, “No; your lying.” I recognized, then and there, that these people were so brainwashed there wasn’t a chance of discussing anything with them. The hotel management would call at three o’clock in the morning to see if I was there. When I’d answer they’d say they wanted to know if they had the right room for some other name. They did this every night to make sure you were in the room and not wandering around. It was amazing; every other corner had a policeman or a soldier with a machine gun on it and you were only allowed to go down certain streets. The more we talked about world history the more I realized that these people were never told about it and didn’t know the truth. You would see blonde young ladies digging in ditches twelve feet under ground (they had to bury their pipes way down deep because the frost is so great and in groups of two or three dozen, women would be doing heavy labor or in the fields using hand scythes to cut wheat. In Moscow, we discovered log cabins were all over the city, like you would see out West, and it appeared as if nothing new had been built since World War I. The railroad trains were a day and half late getting into cities; a day and half late traveling one thousand miles and the steam engines and locomotives were made at the turn of the century, an amazing state of affairs. The next guide we got was a plain, simple girl who we were able to sneak away from several times. We went to collective farms on our own. We also were able to get away and talk to the workers on a construction site. They were supposed to be building new apartment houses. What a sloppy bunch. The women did all the hard work, carrying the cement blocks and all the heavy work. The tradesman just laid the blocks. I discovered while I was there, that the war had wiped out about three fourths of all Russian males. So, men ran the red light district and the ladies paid for companionship. I must say, though I had four kids with me, I got solicited two or three times a day. The Hotel Ukraine (in Moscow, which was a brand new hotel), had elevators which didn’t work and virtually no hot water. It would come on sporadically maybe for an hour a day. At noontime they closed down the candy/news stand and they’d go out for lunch for an hour and a half. The elevator operators, without notice, would leave at midday. Everything was run by the government so nobody gave a damn about anything. The bathtub faucet fell off in my hand and the tile was falling off the wall. You’d think it was apprentices who built the whole place for a school project. The experience of seeing Russia was terrific; to see those people being enslaved by soldiers carrying machine guns. The Russian women, working bare headed in the wheat fields by the hundreds, outside of Moscow. The only enterprise that seemed to prosper there were the “private farms” those two acres of land behind each farmer’s collective single room house. There, he could raise his own garden products and sixty to eighty percent of all food he had to eat came from his own little backyard garden. When he had extra, he would be free to sell it at the only open market in all of Russia. The life style there was very regressive and the world didn’t realize how bad it was. We couldn’t even bring a Bible into the country. We could find only one Protestant church (it was Baptist) in all our travels; it had a broken down wooden steeple and was apparently in very poor repair. Before I went to Russia, I had heard that it was bad. I had heard the people were suffering, but I was like the average person: I thought there was nothing we could do about it. I had seen the countries in Eastern Europe go down the drain. By 1960, Russia had gobbled them up. I saw what they did to Manchuria, taking their equipment out and then enslaving the four hundred thousand Japanese soldiers they had captured. I saw what they did to the German soldiers captured alive around Leningrad. So, I knew their basic philosophy and seeing the hardship really stimulated me to become active in opposing Communism. I came back and I began to read more about Communism. I read J. Edgar Hoover’s book, Masters of Deceit. I read quite a few other books on Russian history since the Revolution. I also read books on the countries that had been subjugated by Russia. I found that, locally, there were groups of refugees from the Ukraine, Russia, and Czechoslovakia who were active in picketing the United Nations and circulating anti-communist literature. I met Fidel Castro’s sister who was a very active anticommunist. Christopher Dodd, the lawyer who had defended me, now Senator Dodd, who actively opposed Communism. Senator Dodd and our friend, now working in the Reagan One of his many floats with an antiWhite House, Tony Dolin, were active on our communist message. committee. We sponsored picnics, for many years, which were both picnics and really rallies with important guest speakers. From these early experiences, I decided to start the Citizens Anti-Communist Committee of Connecticut (C.A.C.C.) to help distribute anti communist literature. I brought films documenting the takeover of some of the Eastern European countries. Many Eastern European refugees joined. We also tried to show how the activity of some Americans who were sympathetic to Castro and Russia were actually helping the Communists. The business continued to grow. Industrial machines were in increasing demand. The domestic economy was strong and the war in Southeast Asia was intensifying and real estate opportunities continued to present themselves. In early 1962, nearly three years after the purchase of Glens Falls complex, we had another opportunity to purchase a complex. However, this time it was not so simple a process. It was a complex in Virginia Beach. We bid $180,000.00 and much to my surprise at the bid opening, which was attended by only three or four people, they said the bids weren’t high enough. Therefore, they opened it up to an auction right there and then. I had never heard of this happening before. There were two kids from Washington who had borrowed the $10,000.00 for the deposit required and, obviously, didn’t have a nickel in the world. There were driving the bidding up. Well, they forced the bidding up to about $250,000.00. Then they called a 15- minute adjournment. During that time they approached us and said they’d stop bidding for $5,000.00. We agreed, so they stopped bidding and we bought the place for $250,000.00. When we bought Ocean Lake, as it would become known, it was under about a foot of sand. There had been a storm at sea and it left sand covering the entire property. The complex had gone broke four or five times previously. Therefore, the government would no longer make loans on it. We had to find a source for the $25,000.00 in cash within ninety days. Once again, I had to act quickly and didn’t really know where to begin. I found a loan broker (a loan broker is a fellow who goes around and arranges loans for other people and receives a commission). He finally found our loan source (the Jefferson Insurance Company of North Carolina) and we were in business. My old and dear friend Walter Mickleberg, died later that same year (1963). Though he had always been in poor health, his death was still a surprise and difficult to accept. We had stayed good friends since World War II and occasionally worked together (bought and sold machines). I didn’t know it, when I went to the funeral, but I was about in inherit the son. He (Walter Jr.) suggested that we go into a partnership, separate from their family company, Mickelberg Machinery. Young Walter (who was about 40 at the time) was an honest man who understood the business. It seemed he just liked the idea of having a father figure, or someone else actively interested in the business, to discuss matters with. My reaction to the whole idea was, if he wanted it, I would do it, bit it was something I didn’t really have too much enthusiasm for, because I could do well enough on my own. However, if he liked it and wanted it, and since I knew he was honest, we would work at the agreement together. Late in 1963, the Industrial Machine Company was formed in Connecticut. I was the president and Walter Jr. was the vice president. We were in business, though it never amounted to anything more than he and I would, on occasion, buy certain machines together and share the profit when they were sold. Early in the next year (1964) another unexpected loss occurred; we lost a good portion of our Housatonic Avenue facility to eminent domain. The Thruway (Route 25) went through behind us at Eveready. As a result, we lost our back access street and back lot. Because of this, we went out to look for land. It was decided after looking at two or three parcels, that we would buy seventeen acres on River Road in Shelton. We put a deposit down and bought it and paid the rest over a period of two years. Within those two years, we sold three of the entire seventeen acres for more than we paid for the whole parcel originally. We started, shortly thereafter, on the project of securing, transporting, and reassembling the three warehouses that stand there today. They were purchased from the Southern Railway in North Carolina; they had been their passenger car repair shops. We bought the Shamrock III in 1965 because it was only a 30-footer; it was lighter and less expensive to run and maintain. It was an easier boat to handle. I bought it right in town, from the Stratford Marina. A private owner had it there and wanted to sell. He had bought it new and had only had it for about four years when he decided to sell it. We had many fine adventures on the Shamrock III. We traveled up the Hudson on it; up through the canal system; all the way up to Lake Champlain and the Canadian border. That was quite a trip; magnificent. On that trip, we stopped at Bannerman’s Island. We did the traveling mostly on weekends and returned to Bridgeport to work during the week. If we had a few extra days, we would take the extra time and travel a little further. We went up to the Canadian border on the Richelieu River and then turned about and headed home. The Shamrock III gave us some of our most pleasant and wonderful memories. I remember one night aboard her we got stranded in the middle of Long Island Sound on a return trip from Port Jefferson. A beautiful dark blue sailing ship (60 ft. or more) appeared out of the misty fog of middle ground. When it first approached, you couldn’t see the hull of the ship. All you could see were the sails. It was eerie. It was like seeing the Flying Dutchman come out of the night. The crew was British and in the midst an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. They towed us for several miles. We were able to get the engine started just a mile or so off Stratford Point. They then turned about and disappeared as mysteriously as they appeared. The C.A.C.C. continued to flourish; we would stage picket protests and display our floats in parades in Bridgeport, Washington, New York, and at Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut. We spoke at the three or four-dozen colleges that had students among our active members. As we became more active, we attracted speakers from all walks of life; from doctors to lawyers to field workers who had escaped from Cuba. In fact, the C.A.C.C. was involved in the raising of monies and support for those Cubans who were interested in invading Cuba; many of whom, eventually were active in the Bay of Pigs invasion. Some of the Cuban nationals we supported didn’t come back. Of course, we didn’t know exactly when or where the invasion was going to take place but we did know that it was planned and did help raise money for the support of some of its volunteers. The C.A.C.C. continued to attract members. As it grew, so did the strength of the opposition it drew. On a trip to Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1965, we found how violent “peace” demonstrations could be. Jack Duran and I took the C.A.C.C. float to DC. We went by the White House; down Pennsylvania Avenue and while there, on one of the little side streets, one of the peace movement people attacked us with a two by four. He swung it and caught me in the arm by surprise. I felt temporally paralyzed from the blow. He then started smashing the truck, wrecking part of the float. Later on the same day, towards evening, we stopped for a toll right outside of Washington and one of these “peace-nicks” pulled up and got out of his car and started ripping the whole float apart. Those years in the mid sixties were a terribly turbulent time. The Vietnam War was ripping the country apart; left against right; young against old. Racial strife and discontent were rampant. The anger of Black America was frightening and violence in the streets seemed to be the solution of choice to any and all social problems. As difficult as the times were, there were a great many things to be thankful for. By this time, I was a grandfather a half dozen times over; the business was doing well and we were comfortable and prosperous. Between the children and the grandchildren our menagerie continued to grow, if not always in number, certainly in tonnage. By that time we had several horses; my favorite horse named Lady. She was a good riding horse. She belonged to Kathleen although I enjoyed riding her often as well. Kathleen and I were among the few who could ride her. She was very fast and fairly high strung. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, she was the horse that I personally favored. The favorite for almost everyone else was a Tennessee Walker named Duke. He was a calm and gentle horse; even the inexperienced riders had the secure feeling of being in control while accompanying Kathleen or me on a ride. Our most infamous pet was a young filly named Doorflinger. Doorflinger was a big boned horse, got her name as she kicked the barn door off its hinges one day in a fit of temper. She was a bit of a Houdini. She could exit from the stall when she chose to. She had perfected a method of backing up and sitting on the cross bar then standing abruptly. The bar would kick out and free her to leave the stall. She got so good at this that she virtually came and went as she pleased. Corky had Honey, a gentle mare, which she loved very much. We also had a mean spirited Palomino who would dislodge her riders by using low branches. We never could break that horse of its dangerous habits. Subsequently, one of our neighbors died and left us two burros. Unfortunately, one was a male and one female. Shortly, there were a half dozen; neighing and hawing, they were a great deal of fun, but very noisy. By this time, the North End of Stratford had become quite suburban. We were surrounded by what were really city kids. My children and grandchildren, with horses and a built in pool, attracted a great many of their peers on a hot summer day. It wasn’t uncommon after school, to have twenty or thirty kids come by to ride or to swim. And, although there were a great deal of uncertainty about a great many things in the country at that time, it was a period of relative peace at home and happiness among the McCallum clan. In May of 1968, I was asked to speak at the University of Bridgeport. The speech and debate, which followed went very late into the night and the group cheering my opposition got very violent and loud. The University student body who were invited called me an: arch conservative a rightist and extremist, everything but a fascist. Eveready was severely damaged in a two-alarm fire the next night. The arsonists managed it very cleverly as I found out from a second attempt which failed. They place a large piece of cardboard partially under the overhead door; soaked it with gasoline and lit it. We lost the offices; their contents and our records; everything. We didn’t have to wait for the insurance company to make up their minds and fund our restoration. We went right ahead and rebuilt it ourselves. I felt very grateful and proud of the dozens of friends, relatives and members of the C.A.C.C. who arrived the next morning to help. With three days, we were back in the office with all the telephones working and back in business. We were ruffled, but not discouraged. However, the firebombing of Eveready only proved to be the beginning. Later that month, we were very disappointed to learn that special interest groups, which opposed us politically accused us of being neo-fascists and they had succeeded in blocking the inclusion of our float in the Bridgeport Memorial Day Parade. Later, that summer of 1968 I was assaulted again. I was picketing in Middletown at the ski area. There was a young man in a fast little car; with a beard and long hair, who stopped and got out of the car when he saw the picket sign. I thought he wanted to discuss something. He walked up to me and hit me so hard that he knocked me senseless without warning; not a word. That fall, a storage facility we leased on Nichols Avenue (where Route 8 now intersects Nichols Avenue) also burned down under suspicious circumstances. At that point, Edna was quite positive that something could happen to Joyce on the way to or from school. She got several nasty calls and she got to the point where she felt she couldn’t let Joyce go anywhere without her. I felt attacks on me personally or my business property, were one thing, but the mounting threat to my wife and children forced me to moderate my direct involvement. I decided to keep up an active role in direct mail and donate money to the C.A.C.C. organization. I continued to sponsor the floats but, to the extent of my continual presence, I lessened my direct involvement. VIII Constellation Revealed The late 1970’s and early 1980’s were a period of tremendous uncertainly. The illness and death of my wife, daughter-in-law and life long friend and business associate, Elsie Turner, all were terrible losses. Other family members faced devastating illnesses and accidents, but nonetheless ones, which required tremendous courage and perseverance to overcome. Throughout the late seventies, the machinery business once again slipped into a major depression. Depressions in the business were at that point, something I accepted; perhaps, at times, could even foresee. However, the great industrial depressions of the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s continued to evolve into something broader and more severe than I had ever seen in a single sector of the economy. It wasn’t until 1981 that I began to entertain the notion that perhaps the industrial age in the United States was over. The concept was staggering. At 72, I may have outlived an era in history, which had served as the bedrock of my career. The idea was very difficult to accept. It remained only a hypothesis, however, I could not reject it. It idea appeared substantiated as I continued the struggle with Eveready. The real estate holdings were a tremendous support but electricity and industrial machines, which were driven by electricity, had been my life. Since that day on the Coney Island carousel I had been fascinated by the magic of electricity, I was born and raised in the era when electricity itself came of age. Electricity powered the greatest industrial society in history and now that society appeared to be entering a post-industrial era. Had I simply lived too long? I was in my seventies and had worked nearly sixty years. All of my peers were retired; my wife and many friends gone. Was the inability to adapt to change the real basis for retirement for those of us who were not physically impaired by aging? I didn’t know, but I had the sense of needing to go on; of not being done, and on I went; where I was going I wasn’t quite sure. In early fall of 1981, on the return portion of a trip to inspect industrial machines, my grandsons Donny and Edward and I stopped at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He started talking about alternative energy mechanisms and I mentioned that the Federal Government had recently passed laws forcing the utility companies to buy the power that was generated by private enterprise. It happened that I had seen an old powerhouse close by in Stockbridge. We talked a bit more and decided to go down and take a look at it. It appeared as if people were working on it, at the time. Donny and Edward had to remind me repeatedly for over a month to find out who owned it. I finally called the Stockbridge Police and found out. We went to Stockbridge, a number of times, meeting with the woman who was overseeing the project. She was in her sixties. We attempted, unsuccessfully, to enter into a cooperative effort with her. Shortly afterward the Hull-Dye Printworks on the Housatonic in Derby went out of business. On one of the trips back from Stockbridge, I mentioned Holyoke to Donny and said, “Why don’t you (Donny and Edward) see if we can do something there?” At that time, we didn’t know anything about licensing or all of the legal work involved; all we knew was that old powerhouse was not generating. Donny was the prime mover of the concept through its early development. We started to investigate the matter and found out that Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) had a preliminary permit to build over the Shelton side. They were licensed, we were told, to use ninety percent of the water, but during the springtime, there was so much water that they couldn’t use that we decided to try to get the right to generate power from the smaller site on Derby side. We consulted two consultants and they told us it would cost about $15,000.00 to fill out the applications and they made it look like it had to be two inches thick. Donny, who had done a lot of work on his own up to this point, go a little nervous and began to shy away from the idea because he didn’t want to spend $15,000.00 when we might not get the license. We continued discussing it, but in a much discouraged manner. Northeast Utilities (N.U.) had in a mild, but very successful manner, also discouraged us. N.U. told us we couldn’t put it in, it wouldn’t make a profit and they said they were going to fill in the canal. Our hopes and plans for a little hydro project were after considerable effort and time (particularly Donny’s) dashed. Over the months, I had gotten gradually more involved. As Donny encouraged me to become active, I became more knowledgeable and interested. Time passed and one day in March, young Joe Sullivan called me and said, “You know Uncle Ed, I have a county edition of the Bridgeport Post here that reports Northeast Utilities has dropped there licensing on the Housatonic River.” I was shocked. Were they so confident that they thought they could control, unchallenged, the resources of our state? On some levels, it was almost an insult; to discourage us so and then to toss the entire site away. That got my Irish up; it was time to dig in. We filed a preliminary permit, immediately, to investigate the feasibility of the Housatonic River Plant. This permit gave us a seniority of sorts, which all other things being equal, would give us the right to site. Of course, we found out quickly all other things were not equal. Having determined the project would be feasible, we also found that a competitor could put a license over the top of ours (a final draft of a license) so we started working on our final draft right away, and within a three month period, we had our final draft to Washington. So we were the first to have filed the final draft. This was all after Northeast Utilities and CL&P had dropped their claims. All licensing of this type, including the one Donny, Edward and I had been working on, are awarded on a competitive basis. The Federal Government advertises for one hundred and twenty days and anybody else who wants to put in a competing license, or complaint or intent to compete had that privilege. So, they advertised in the local papers in the area, indicating that Eveready Machinery had applied for a preliminary permit. Then, they also advertised when someone made a final application and each time anybody can file a competing application. To give you an idea of how oppositional CL&P was when we went to them with the preliminary permit to ask them if they would help us to determine how many kilowatts we could produce and refer us to an engineer, they said they had already spent two years and $350,000.00 studying it and if we wanted their study, we would have to buy it. Of course, we didn’t have that kind of money. As we negotiated with Northeast Utilities, they began to suggest that they might sponsor somebody to compete with us for the site. Their attitude was: we don’t know whether we are going to work with you or if we’ll find somebody else we prefer and work with them. They gave us very little information. I think we were the first outfit that ever seriously challenged them. They had been used to running the show themselves for over half a century. Any private entrepreneurs, they encountered in the past, they simply failed to acknowledge and the (the entrepreneurs) disappeared. They were about to find out we didn’t discourage so easily. At one of the earliest meetings at their headquarters in Berlin, Connecticut, they repeated that they wanted $350,000.000 for the survey. We all sat at one big, long, mahogany table with twelve of their men. I said to them, “Why would we want to spend $350,000.00 getting your engineering information when I discovered, on the back of the envelope, that a 12 ½ megawatt generator would be much too big and impractical to put in the Derby-Shelton site.” Then I said, “Which one of you gentlemen was so foolish as to waste so much time and money on this unnecessary study?” Of course, I was the opposition. Feeling invulnerable, they proved both unfair and careless. We found they had limited our access to information compared to the information they were giving the partner, which they eventually took in with them to compete against us. We brought all this up before the Department of Public Utility Commission (DPUC), which is their (N.U.) governing agency. According to law, we have a right to petition the DPUC for a hearing when we are unfairly treated. We filed nineteen counts against Northeast Utilities and Connecticut Light and Power for unfair practices and delaying tactics. We wrote this petition ourselves, without lawyers or consultants, and the Connecticut Department of Public Utilities Commission said they would hear our case. Northeast Utilities brought in a bank of attorneys. Their vice president in charge of counsel and several other attorneys from their corporate headquarters were there and they stated that Eveready Machinery and McCallum Enterprises were not a utility companies so, therefore, they had no right to petition the Utility Commission for a hearing. They were trying to get us on a technicality. When that failed, they said that since we didn’t have a power plant going, we weren’t a private utility either and, therefore, we were totally ineligible to petition them for a hearing. The DPUC overruled both the objections and we were on our way. Then N.U. charged that we had filed the petition incorrectly. We had filed it against Northeast Utilities, which is a Massachusetts Corporation, and they said the local Connecticut Department of Public Utility Commission did not have any jurisdiction over it and therefore our petition request for a hearing should be denied. The judge overruled that motion, after long debate, as well. N.U. went on: they said that Connecticut Light and Power did not own the premises and therefore the petition was unwarranted against Connecticut Light and Power because the site of the Derby and Shelton Dam was owned by the Shelton Canal Company who had no bearing upon Northeast Utilities or Connecticut Light and Power. The judge, (there were normally three judges sitting on the commission, but that day there was only one available) requested that Northeast Utilities; not make decisions for the court. He pointed out that it was his prerogative alone. Northeast could bring up their objections at a later date but not to carry on further because this was only a preliminary hearing. That request didn’t even slow down the chief attorney for Northeast Utilities; he just kept going on and on and on. I could see the judge getting a little annoyed with him. So, finally, the judge called the hearing to a close. He brought down his gavel and, tow days later, we got a notice that we had won all nineteen counts and they would be accepted subject to the hearing. That really set Northeast Utilities back a notch or two. We had been sending information to some forty-two newspapers around the State and in Massachusetts each time we had a problem with them, informing the public how they wouldn’t negotiate in good faith and these, of course, were published. The Bridgeport Post had an editorial about N.U., asking why they wouldn’t consider a private entrepreneur, especially since they had already abandoned the site. There were editorials and articles in the Hartford Courant, one of the oldest and most respected papers in America. The controversy generated interest from all over the State and we were invited to co-host a two-hour radio talk show on WELI. The show turned out to be a two-hour listener litany of what was wrong with Northeast Utilities. Propaganda proved to be one of our greatest weapons. The power of the press, where N.U. and CL&P already had a bad public image (secondary to their high rates) proved considerable. This all added to the heat felt by the folks at Northeast Utilities. We criticized them, implicitly, by reminding them that they had had the last three or four years to put in a hydro electric plant and they didn’t; that they hadn’t allowed or encouraged any private party to put one in. The public wanted to know why. They wanted to know why the State of Connecticut didn’t have more hydroelectric sites. Finally the Governor (O’Neill) gave them a deadline by which time he wanted an answer. By this time, Northeast Utilities had sponsored two groups to oppose us. The Hydro Development Group and their own the Shelton Canal Company. The nineteen counts hung over their heads, and I let them swing lower and lower like a guillotine. So, presumably because of this constant pressure, Northeast Utilities had their puppet outfit, (the Hydro Development Group) call us and ask if we would pay them a certain sum if they dropped their competing application on the Housatonic; we would be expected, the, in turn, to drop competing application on the Connecticut River. That was a cue for us to go back to Northeast Utilities and ask them for a rate. We were not going to deal. We believed, at that point, we’d win anyhow and we didn’t need to pay them. We knew we could sell the power bank and transfer the energy to concerns in some other part of the country. Somewhere between setting a firm rate with Northeast Utilities and the coming of Halley’s Comet I’d found renewed purpose. The mid 1980’s were and continued to be a period of great discovery and renewed challenge. In ’83, ’84 and ’85, I worked with ever increasing levels of intensity toward resolving what would become known as the Shelton Canal Project. Hurdle by hurdle; lawyer by lawyer; million by million; I found myself more and more invested, perhaps obsessed by the concept of generating electricity. In collaboration with my grandsons, Donny and Edward, we researched and scoured the Northeast for suitable sites and equipment. Despite a modest degree of success, we soon found that the Shelton project was the most viable alternative and a mistress, which would demand our complete fidelity and constant attention. Donny, Edward and I worked long and hard hours filing the appropriate permits and licenses and trying to satisfy each of various complex requirements. To succeed in such a project, it meant many hours in the cold, drafty warehouse adjoining Eveready in his own modest machine shop designing and crafting small turbines. The experience gained there would prove invaluable in time. It became absolutely clear as the budget unfolded, that in order to succeed with the Hydro project, nearly everything that Eveready and McCallum Enterprises had acquired would have to be used as collateral. Millions of dollars, fourteen to be precise, would be required to succeed in the project, which was proving to be my grandest adventure. Negotiations with family; my son, daughters and grandchildren, as to what to include as collateral, the complexes which I’d so recently divested myself of. Eventually all members of the family reached an agreement. Somewhere between 1983 and 1986, I found myself a postindustrial age entrepreneur. The product was still electricity but now, rather than installing and servicing the machinery of the industry it had once driven, I had become a producer, producing the product itself for the consuming public. The Shelton Canal project became an obsession. I often jokingly referred to my condition as water on the brain. Kidding aside, I found myself wandering up to the bluffs over the Housatonic on every sunny afternoon I had free. I would stand on the embankment and gaze down on the dam and on the old blockhouse and canals envisioning the day when a fully functioning power station would be in place there. Impatiently, I awaited resolution of the details I had complete confidence I could work out with time. In the spring of 1986, in the course of conversation with friends, somehow I agreed to run as an Independent for the United States Senate. I was sincere insofar as representing my views to the public went. However, I had little interest in campaigning and, as such, spoke infrequently. How and why I consented to run is still a bit of a mystery. However, lukewarm I may have been at the beginning of the campaign, I shortly cooled even further to the idea. Though intent upon honoring my commitment to run, I found my attention constantly wandering towards the hydroelectric project and the Shelton Canal. Ironically, I opposed Christopher Dodd, Jr. and the Republican Roger W. Eddy of Newington. It was Christopher Dodd’s father, Christopher Dodd, Sr. who defended me in 1947 as a young, recently discharged, Nuremburg armed services barrister. To call the defeat decisive would be an understatement. However, I enjoyed the limited opportunity to express myself to the people of Connecticut and saw it as a challenge and as a life experience. McCallum Enterprises and for all practical purposes, Eveready has become McCallum Hydroelectric. The process of realizing the Shelton Canal project goes on. Before this goes to press, the small hydroelectric site in Derby, which is currently operational, will be on line and generating power. The larger project is slated for completion by December this year (1988). Eveready is in the process of being sold. The properties in North Stonington and Shelton are for sale. The topography of my personal and familial business holdings is changing radically. At a point when most adults are retiring, trying to secure a stable life style and reflecting on what they have accomplished in life, I am facing my greatest challenge and looking forward to the future. I trust that the reader of my story will tolerate a rather ambiguous ending for, at this point, I’ve not completely written my story. Epilogue By Joseph W. Szarmach Jr. His Grandson In late 1988, the main hydro-electric generating plant on the Shelton side of the dam was still under construction. During the initial design and specifications, test borings were gathered to determine the content of the soil and rock surrounding the proposed hydroelectric plant. Unfortunately, the sample borings were too few and far between. Neither Granddad nor the contractor knew for sure the extent of the work involved in clearing the area adjacent to the dam for the proposed building. There was considerably more rock in the area surrounding the proposed main building than anyone had imagined. With all of his life’s assets on the line, construction costs spiraled out of control while construction deadlines were extended and the rock was painstakingly removed. Perhaps Northeast Utilities and Connecticut Light and Power were right; the hydroelectric plant could not cover its costs. Granddad had worked hard all of his life on his various businesses. They were his life’s work and a great source of pride and joy. The new hydroelectric business was the culmination of his life’s work – and with the exception of his family, stood to be his finest work. He was now in jeopardy of losing it all. To make matters worse, he had gifted the majority of his life’s assets to his children, Elizabeth (Corky), Kathleen and Edward. He taught his children a great sense of responsibility and the need to “take care of the goose that lays the golden egg” (a phrase I’d hear him say a thousand times in his lifetime). His children worked at their respective businesses, took their responsibilities seriously (some more than others), and in time became dependent on them for their income; the very bread on their table. With a sense of responsibility and indebtedness to their father, the children agreed to mortgage “their” respective properties to help build the hydroelectric business. To say that the looming financial difficulties strained the relationship between Granddad and his children is an understatement. In a strange way, at times I wonder if he enjoyed taunting his children by telling them they were about to lose their inheritance – punishment for his children living a relatively easy life thanks to his hard work. But the reality was, he knew he had to do whatever it took to preserve his life’s work and his legacy to his children and grandchildren. As he did so many times in his life, he put his faith in God and Jesus Christ and with the great sense of self reliance he learned from his faith, he set out to succeed. The building on 805 Housatonic Avenue in Bridgeport which had served as his main office for 50 years was sold. Granddad was a “buy and keep” type of a person. The fact that he would sell his office was an indication as to the depth of his financial situation. The sale of his beloved “Eveready” I’m sure was very tough. The River Road warehouse was also listed for sale, but due to environmental contamination, the property did not sell. One of my Grandfather’s greatest skills was the gift of gab. Those who were lucky enough to cross paths with him were more likely than not to remember their meeting. To this day I still come across people (businessmen and women) who say “Oh, you’re Ed McCallum’s grandson! I met your grandfather once and I remember etc...” They would always conclude “he was a special and unique man.” A member of the Stratford Baptist Church told me that as a girl, she thought it was the greatest thing that “the mayor” went to her church. She just assumed he was the mayor because when he walked in (15 minutes late of course), heads would turn as he walked down the aisle shaking hands and winking as he went. He had a tremendous presence and was infectiously charming; undoubtedly a result of his Irish charm and the strength he drew from his faith. With his charm, his trademark smile and wink, he could probably sell cow manure to a dairy farmer. And sell he did. To keep the hydroelectric project, as well as the collateral assets, he had to convince his banker to extend an additional line of credit despite not having any additional assets for collateral. Fortunately, this meeting would go better than his first meeting with a banker (Edna’s boss) some 50 years prior. The story goes something like this: he got on an elevator with the banker, and by the time they reached their floor, the banker agreed to give him a “bridge loan” of $2 million interest free. This was an incredible feat, especially considering you can’t get a $500 credit card without a double digit interest rate. The interest free loan was certainly a godsend, but was by no means a cure-all. With the additional financing secured, the construction of the main hydroelectric plant was finished and went online generating electricity in February 1989. But even with the interest free loan, paying the debt with the projected income would be difficult at best. Someone once said that Granddad could “step in dog excrement and find gold with his Irish luck.” Though the hydroelectric plant was designed to output 5 Megawatts of power (about enough to provide electricity for 2000 homes), the plant actually generated nearly 6 Megawatts of power much of the time. Extra electricity meant extra income. As he had done with his apartment complexes 30 years prior, he buckled down and put nearly every penny back toward paying the debt. The unanticipated income helped tremendously. Slowly but surely over the next decade, the debt declined and the hydroelectric business, as well as the other family businesses used as collateral, were all out from under the constant threat of foreclosure. The long and difficult ride created tremendous strain on family relationships. At one time in his life, his wife and children, and later in the 1970’s and early 80’s, his 13 grandchildren were his number one after-work activity. His wife, my Grandmother, died in 1985 due to complications from emphysema. By the 1990’s, most of his grandchildren had either moved away or had become busy in their own adult lives. Throughout 90’s however, he remained close to two grandchildren: Edward & Donnie. Though he fired and re-hired them every other week, they were his constant companions. After the sale of his beloved Housatonic Avenue office, he rented a small office at 2874 Main Street in Stratford where he managed his hydroelectric business. He even continued to buy and sell machine tools – his mainstay in his earlier years – though it had become more of a hobby rather than a genuine money generating business. Donny and Edward worked as plant operators. He continued to be active and his heath remained good throughout the early 1990’s despite his age of 80 plus. He continued to travel everywhere by car. Though he was no longer welcomed at his apartment complexes (one of his favorite destinations), he found new destinations for his long drives, and continued to visit old ones; miscellaneous hydroelectric facilities, the Shenandoah Mountains, the Smokey Mountains, the Adirondacks, Florida. It was not unusual for him to put several hundred thousand miles on his automobiles – his preferred mode of transportation. He continued to be an active Christian. He attended services at the Stratford Baptist Church and became active in the Gideon Society. For those unfamiliar, the Gideon Society are the folks who place bibles in hotel room night-stands. Granddad’s mission in these years was to spread the word of God and Jesus Christ with the help of his friends in the Gideon Society. Years later, I would find a plastic shopping bag full of small copies of the New Testament in his closets and desk. He must have been handing the small bibles out somewhere in public, just like he had done with his anti-communist literature decades earlier. He also volunteered to serve as a mentor and counselor to prison inmates as well. In 1994, he was admitted to Bridgeport Hospital with a bout of diverticulitis. After treatment, the doctors decided to release him the next day. That evening, the nurse on duty failed to place the railing in the up position on his hospital bed. Sometime in the middle of the night, without the railing firmly in place, he fell out of his bed breaking his hip. Despite this nearly tragic event, he survived subsequent surgery to pin the hip fracture, and he continued to travel and manage his hydroelectric business. The accident slowed him down however, both mentally and physically. By the mid 1990s, the hydro business was on a better financial footing, though not yet out of the woods. For the first time, Granddad decided to buy a new car. Previously, he had always bought a used Cadillac and would not part with the car until it had several hundred thousand miles on it, or it was ready for the junk yard. Some would say his cars were ready for the junk yard the day they were purchased. He bought a brand-new white Ford Mustang convertible. Needless to say, he looked stylish flying down the road at 85 years old in a new convertible Mustang. He was the envy of every 21 year old kid. Granddad had always been a cavalier driver (one could argue reckless). In retrospect, perhaps it was not a good idea for him to have a sports car while he was physically and mental slowed, though ever so slightly, due to his recent surgery. While on one of his jaunts, he pulled into traffic without looking, unaware of the pickup truck bearing down on his car. The pickup hit the Mustang in the driver’s side door and Granddad was seriously injured. He was airlifted to Hartford Hospital in critical condition. He had received a traumatic brain injury and his brain was swelling which threatened his very life. To alleviate the pressure, the doctors opened a hole in his skull and he was heavily medicated. Day after day, week after week, he continued to improve and eventually, he was released to rehabilitation hospital, though he never really regained full consciousness or alertness. He remained heavily medicated. The family was completely distraught. Not only because of the accident, but also because he was the sole manager of the hydroelectric business – a business co-owned by his children. Prior to the accident, his children were content sitting in the back seat while he steered them on a wild, unsettling financial journey. After all, he was “Dad” and the one who gave his children everything, so they had no right to complain. He also served as an impartial middleman, managing the business to the benefit of no one family. On occasion, over the years Granddad would send out a letter to his children and grandchildren asking for volunteers to help run the business. He would chastise everyone for not taking an interest. What we all realized was that he didn’t want or need help. He could never share the reigns. He was content to run the business himself, despite his letters to the contrary. Without him at the helm after the accident, it was an uneasy time. With Granddad in the hospital and completely incapacitated, Corky, Kathleen and Bub (Edward III) met at the family attorney’s in New Haven to map out a course of action. Greg Pepe was the company attorney and Granddad’s good friend. Greg was fresh out of law school at the time when Granddad was battling Northeast Utilities over the licensing of the hydro-electric project. Granddad took Greg under his wing and tried to give him enough work to keep him in business as an independent attorney. When Greg subsequently went to work for a large firm, Granddad was instrumental in convincing Greg to go back to being on his own. Greg subsequently cofounded the law firm of Neubert, Pepe and Monteith PC, with Granddad still feeding him a steady stream of work as his law firm grew. With the help of Greg, everyone was convinced they could take the reins without the fear Granddad had so readily instilled in everyone over the years. Now his children collectively held the steering wheel firmly in their hands, content on “taking care of the goose that lays the golden egg.” From that moment, the stress and uncertainty began to dissipate. The first order of business was to find a highly qualified person to run the hydroelectric business. After much consideration, it was decided to hire a man named Ray Cunningham. Ray had been in the hydroelectric business and agreed to take the helm as general manager. Finally after months in rehab the doctors in conjunction with his healthcare advocate -- family friend, and son of Elsie Turner (his executive assistant) Dr. David Turner -- decided to take Granddad off the various medications he had been on since the accident. Miraculously, it was like turning on a light switch. To the shear amazement and delight of everyone, he awoke from his near coma and his consciousness came right back. A week earlier, he could not recognize family or friends standing 5 feet in front of him. Off the medication however, he was alert and responsive – nearly 80% his old self. It was nothing short of a miracle. After weeks of additional rehab, Granddad went home. Within weeks he was driving again and wanting to run the hydroelectric business. By then however, Ray had settled in and was running the day to day operations and the family felt more secure by having Ray in place. The fear of having no one at the helm, as well as the uncertainty it created still lingered in everyone’s mind. Ray continued on as the manager at the family’s insistence and for a time, Ray and Granddad tried to worked side by side. Finally, not willing to share the reins, Granddad quit in a fit of anger and moved his office furniture to his home. For a time he worked with a new secretary out of his home, without much on which to work. He continued to drive and travel the country. Before his accident, his children and grandchildren were angry and distraught with the wild roller financial coaster ride he had taken them on. Now he had reason to be angry at them as well. Family relationships were at their worst. I’m sure Granddad was certain it was pure, unadulterated greed that caused his children to take the reins. At the time however, the hydroelectric business was still buried in a mountain of debt and in reality there was no money to speak of. In addition, Granddad had not been responsive to the requirements of the federal license under which the hydroelectric project operated. This resulted in increased scrutiny from federal regulatory agencies. Despite attempts to convince him it was about “peace of mind” as well as the family’s desire to “take care of the goose that lays the golden egg,” he was not convinced. The family felt incredibly guilty at the time, and probably always will. But the reality was the hydroelectric business with all of its associated responsibilities including the federal regulations, a huge dam, generator sets & associated switch gear, and millions in debt, created a need for managerial continuity. His children understood the seriousness of the business. While working out of his house, he developed a bad case of the “shingles” – which is an adult form of the chicken pox. It was very painful. He was also diagnosed with prostate cancer, but at that age, cancer tends to spread slowly. In retrospect, his body’s inability to fight the chicken pox virus may have been masking the severity of cancer. The cancer was spreading in his bones (hip). Soon, he was not comfortable without pain medication. He needed more and more medication to block the pain in his lower back. It was the fall of 1998 and he was 88 years old. As we had learned after his car accident, the pain medication was like a light switch, and once again the switch was turned off – though not quite as much. He had his good and bad days, but according to his wishes, he stayed at home with visiting nurses at his side. Without his senses, his motility suffered and his physical fitness soon followed. By the summer of 1999, the pain medications were adjusted, and he regained some of his old self, though he was unable to walk on his own. Donny and Edward took him on the drives through the country he so loved. In July, it was decided he was well enough to have a family reunion on his 89th birthday at his home, the site of many joyous summer celebrations in the past. He was surrounded by dozens and dozens of friends and family. He continued to have good and bad days. Family and friends visited him at home, and he enjoyed the warm summer days in a wheel chair in the apple orchard in the back yard. If he was not well enough for the wheel chair, he would spend time on the sun porch in his portable hospital-type bed. This summer also saw the last of the Perry Farm on Nichols Avenue. Granddad purchased the remnants of the farm decades earlier from Edna’s father, Nelson Perry. The homestead became the source of a lot of fun, some of which are chronicled in this book. The homestead offered horses, donkeys, hay rides, Halloween fun, and was a general overall magnet for all of the neighborhood children. The last remaining 8 acres were given to Edward III (his son who lived in Key West Florida) in the early 1990s, and with no need for land 1000 miles away, Edward III sold the land to a developer. The new street was named after our Great Grandfather, Nelson Perry (Perry Lane). From his bed on the sun porch, Granddad saw the construction equipment roll up his driveway. Though I can’t say he saw the entire destruction of the family legacy, he knew it was happening but was powerless to do anything about it. That opportunity slipped away 8 years earlier when the land was given to his son. On the evening of Thursday, October 21, 1999, his daughter Kathleen visited to share some pumpkin pie for desert. It was the fall, and Granddad always enjoyed all things that came along with it. He ate his pumpkin pie with the help of his daughter and nurse. It would be the last time a family member would share time with him. At 9 AM on Friday morning October 22, 1999 after a nursing shift change, Edward J. McCallum Jr. passed away in his bedroom on the first floor of his 2245 Nichols Avenue home with a nurse at his side. He was 89. He was buried on Thursday October 28, 1999 alongside his wife Edna in the Perry family plot in Winsted Connecticut. As if he used his charm and uncanny ability to pull strings, on the day he was laid to rest the sky couldn’t have been bluer and the trees could not have been more colorful. It was the perfect fall day, a fitting end to a wondrous life. In his death, he had managed to bring the entire family and his friends together for another family reunion, something he loved to do in life. The years after his death became a very difficult time for his family. His Grandson’s (and constant companions) Donny and Edward became like a ship without a rudder, wandering aimlessly with no purpose. The death of Granddad has left a huge hole in everyone’s life. Perhaps also due to the sense of entitlement we had growing up which had now turned into cold harsh reality, some chose to “self medicate” or indulge in excesses. For many of his descendents, this will be a lifelong battle that not everyone would win. On Friday, February 9, 2001, Edward J. McCallum IV, his grandson and name sake, died of an overdose at the age of 33. Edward IV was a wonderful person, sharing his Grandfather’s charm, handsome looks, and piercing blue eyes. For many of the same reasons, his death has also left a huge void in everyone’s life. Five years later, the tragedy was repeated when Donald Szarmach was found dead in the Hull Dye industrial building – the building that housed the Derby hydroelectric generators – on August 5th 2006. Donald, or Donny as we called him, had a life-long addition to alcohol and drugs. Without our Grandfather to give him direction and a purpose, Donald also suffered. He had somehow gotten a hold of methadone and had taken a prescription tranquilizer which had turned out to be a deadly combination. Granddad profoundly changed those who knew him and is sorely missed. But his love is like the wind. You can’t see it or touch it, but you can feel it. His tremendous spirit, faith and love are always with us. As appeared in the Connecticut Post: (10/26/99) McCALLUM Edward J. McCallum, Jr. passed away peacefully Friday, October 22, 1999 in his home on Nichols Avenue in Stratford. Mr. McCallum was born in Brooklyn, New York and spent his early childhood on Manhattan’s East Side before moving to a farm in Metuchen, New Jersey at the age of ten. In 1926, on a journey throughout the south, he found both his salvation in Jesus Christ and his lifelong vocation when during a stay in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he was baptized and served as an apprentice electrician during the construction of RJ Reynolds Corporate Tower, the tallest building in the south at the time and a prototype for New York's Empire State Building, In 1927 he settled in Stratford, Conn. bringing his parents and five siblings to reside off Nichols Ave. During that year he founded his first of a number of successful businesses; The Eveready Electric Company. Shortly thereafter he met and subsequently married his wife of 50 years, Edna Perry McCallum, who predeceased him in 1985. Mr. McCallum successfully managed his business during the difficult years of the Great Depression, expanding it to include the repair and resale of industrial machinery. As a consequence, during the war years to follow, he played an important role in reconditioning machinery for the war effort. During the post-war years he expanded his business interests to include the purchase and management of a number of large apartment complexes in Connecticut, New York and Virginia. In 1949, through the expertise he acquired in the purchase and movement of heavy machinery, he assumed the responsibility for the disassembly, movement via rail and reconstruction of the Stratford Baptist Church on Paradise Green in Stratford from its former site on a military base in North Carolina. Throughout the 1950as Ed McCallum served as an "honorary uncle" to many children in the north Stratford area sponsoring annual picnics on the 4th of July, Halloween Parties, hayrides, cruises on Long Island Sound, trips to Broadway plays and the Barnum Bailey Circus in Madison Square Garden. Over the decades of the 1950's, 60's, 70's and 80's through the kindness of his heart and his generosity, hundreds of children were treated to these outings. After traveling with his children to Russia in 1962 Mr. McCallum returned a staunch anti-Communist and founded and served as president of the citizens AntiCommunist Committee of Connecticut. With his own resources he funded the construction of dozens of floats, which participated in local and regional parades. He held anti-Communist rallies inviting such dignitaries to speak as Juanita Castro (Fidel Castro's sister). His convictions and strong patriotic feelings withstood death threats directed at him and his family and the fire bombing of his place of business. In the late 1970as he began another career establishing a hydroelectric company on the Housatonic River. He oversaw the planning, construction and operation of the Derby Dam Hydroelectric Project which began producing electricity in 1986. Later that same year, topping off a life of political activity and support of Christian causes, Ed McCallum was asked to run for U.S. Senator by the Independent Party. He accepted with enthusiasm knowing that his chances for winning were slim because he welcomed the opportunity to champion the conservative and Christian causes in which he believed so strongly. A lifelong history buff, he was among the few people who could claim a thorough knowledge of American Revolutionary and Civil War history and of having an opportunity to meet personally with veterans from both the Union and Confederate armies at one of their final reunions in 1930as at Gettysburg. Mr. McCallum was first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ. He was also a devoted family man. Beyond that he was a consummate entrepreneur who on the back of an envelope and with limited education could, and often did, outthink the best of corporate minds. He is survived by his four children, Kathleen Szarmach, Elizabeth Greene, Edward McCallum, III and Joyce Moyher; two brothers; a sister; 15 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and the hundreds of residents of Stratford and surrounding areas who were touched by his life. Visiting hours for Mr. McCallum will be at the Spear, Dennis & D'Arcy Funeral Home, 2611 Main Street, Stratford on Wednesday, October 27, 1999 from 4-8 p.m. The final viewing will coincide with the beginning of a Memorial Service at the Stratford Baptist Church at 7:30 on the same evening. A light menu will be served and a social hour to remember Ed McCallum will follow in the church basement immediately after the memorial service. The next morning, Thursday, October 28, 1999 a funeral service will be held at the Stratford Baptist Church at 10 a.m. followed by a procession which will then travel to Winsted, Connecticut for burial at Forest View Cemetery. The procession will then proceed to the Olde Newtown Tavern, Newtown for a final gathering and luncheon. Family, friends and members of the church are cordially invited to attend. Donations in memory of Mr. McCallum may be made to either the Connecticut Hospice, 680 Bridgeport Ave., Shelton, CT 06484 or to the Stratford Baptist Church, 155 Huntington Rd., Stratford, CT 06614.