September 15th, was my father's birthday. Had he lived, he'd be 107. He missed it by 43 years.
I was out in my shop yesterday putting away some tools I'd been using while trying to complete the installation of a new opener in our attached one-car garage. When I opened the lid on the large toolbox, I saw the instruments my dad used in his job as a machinist — turret lathe operator to be specific — and the sight brought memories of him, of the times I sat at the dining room table watching and listening while he sketched an image of some part he was fabricating. As he explained the reason for the various angles and sizes adding the degrees and millimeter measures as he spoke, the sketch became an intricate line drawing with the precision of a blueprint by the time he finished.
I don't know much about his youth, not even sure where he was born, just when. It might have been in Beacon, NY. or NYC. I know he quit school at 13 when his father was killed in a train accident. I'm not even sure of his father's full name. He didn't finish high school but earned a GED, either during his time in the Marines 1937-39 (either he lied about his age or got his mother's permission to enlist, I don't know) or in the Coast Guard, 1941-45. I don't know how or when he met my mother, but there are pictures in the family album of him in his Marine uniform, and his Coast Guard threads.
When the war ended in '45, he got a job as an armed guard at the Daily News in Manhattan. By then he had a wife and three kids: me at three plus, the twins Ken and Maureen a approaching two. At some point, maybe in '46, we bought a house in Queens Village. We lived there until school ended in 1951then moved, first in with maternal grandparents outside Milford, NY, then to Gilbertsville into a rented house on Vale Street. By then Mary was their fourth.
When the Korean War started My Dad landed a job wiring F84 jet fighters at Republic Aviation in Farmindale, on Long Island. He stayed with relatives during the week and came home on weekends, until the school year ended. Then he rented a house in Bayport, where we spent the next three years. When the war-that-was-not-a-war ended in some sort of armed truce, companies were downsizing and we were once again on the move. This was June of 1955 and Martha, now almost a year old, had been added to the brood.
We moved back to Gilbertsville, into the same house we had left three plus years before. The fall of '55 I began my freshman year in Gilbertsville Central School. I'm told that my Dad "We're not moving anymore." And so it is that some part of my immediate family has continuously resided in that village for sixty-seven years and counting.
Until next time,