My Life Thus Far: The Seventies

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February 11, 2016, Prescott-  Today was brutal, for many people about whom I care.  It wasn’t so bad for me, personally, because I stayed put-mostly out of financial prudence.  Things will be better that way, tomorrow.

So, I will continue recounting what has been good, and not so good, with the years gone by.  A lot of you, my faithful WP readers, despised my account of the Sixties.  Brace yourselves:  Things went a tad south for me, as twentysomething, but I lay the blame at my own two feet.  Therefore, if you were rankled by me as a teen, skip this post.

1970-High Point:  Being in Fort Myer for the entire year.

Low Point:  Stan E. getting killed in combat.

People in the heart:  Cathy P., my best long-distance phone friend; my three faithful roommates in the TriService barracks; Don and Charley,my co-workers; Stan E., who died for his country.

Places in the heart:  Georgetown, DC; the C & P Canal Towpath; Lynn Beach, when I was on leave.

1971-High Point:  Being stationed in the Cholon section of Saigon.

Low Point:  Wretched, crowded, chaotic Long Binh Army Base.

People in the heart:  Jim T., who stood up for his girls; Tay Lanh, who honoured my dignity; Bill B., Arnie P. and Roger D., my buddies in Cholon; the Henderson family, who overlooked my surly temperament, while I was in Sydney; Tommy W., who didn’t deserve to have been left alone, while injured.

Places in the heart:  Cholon; Vung Tau; Tauranga Park; Woollahra.

1972- High Point:  My hitchhiking trip across North America.

Low Point:  Ignoring what I had been told about spiritual truth.

People in the heart:  Dave G., who gave me my first post-Army job; my workmates, Jimmy, Jan, Donna and Franny; Jim F., my long-suffering boss; Lillies S., the college office manager, who told me to always set my sights high; my hometown buddies, who welcomed me back from ‘Nam; the Gordon family, of Toronto, who camped with me, along Lake Superior; Kathy B., with whom I almost fell madly in love; the Bullocks, who hosted me in Baltimore, for a week; the anonymous truck driver in King of Prussia, who introduced me to the Baha’i Faith; Sandy and Al, my housemates; Donna G., who tried to be a good friend.

Places in the heart:  North Shore Community College; Montreal; Lake Superior; Edmonton; Jasper; Lake Louise; Babb, MT; Morgantown, WV; Baltimore; Ocean City; Bethlehem, PA; my little room in Beverly, MA.

1973- High Point: Visiting Prince Edward Island.

Low Point:  The Chelsea Fire.

People in the heart:  Geary C., Alan A., Sandy G. and Angie D., my friends at NSCC; just about everyone I met on PEI; the hipster who filled my tank with gas, for giving him a ride from Ellsworth to Boothbay.

Places in the heart:  Beverly,MA; Salem; Boston Public Library; Prince Edward Island; New Glasgow, NS; Boothbay Harbor, ME.

1974- High Point: Working at Quisisana Resort, ME.

Low Point:  The botched attempt to serve as editor of “Sage Revisited”.

People in the heart: All my NSCC and Beverly friends; Kathy H., Annette K, Tom & Fricky J., Sandy M., the Grices and Dave B., who were my friends and co-workers at “Quisi”; Dr. and Mrs. Ziv, my “Jewish grandparents” from lower Manhattan; Jimmy S. and Mr. McGregor, who offered me work close to home; my dorm mates in Orchard Hill, at UMass-Amherst.

Places in the heart: Quisisana Resort, Lovell, ME; Bar Harbor; North Conway; Amherst; Fisher Island, NY.

1975- High Point:  Hiking the Presidential Range, in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Low Point: Getting fired from a part-time job, on my 25th birthday.

People in the heart:  My campus buddies at UMass; Mrs. Braman, the housemother in my rooming house, in Northampton; Steve R., Paul W. and Ken C., my brainy, irreverent and totally sloppy first housemates in South Deerfield; the Rivard family, who moved in, after the guys were evicted; Allan D., my internship co-op teacher; Lloyd Z. and Linda D., who imparted good pedagogy; every child who put up with me in that little U.S. History class; the Zivs.

Places in the heart:  Amherst; Northampton; South Deerfield; the White Mountains; lower Manhattan.

1976- High Point:  Graduating from UMass.

Low Point:  Almost losing a sibling, in an accident.

People in the heart:  Dave C. and Janet C., my Quisisana friends and a most unlikely couple; Fred L., aka “Doctor Dirt”; Clay R., my younger doppelganger; the Smalls, who lodged me in Bangor; the Bryants, who fed me, whenever I tutored their son; Mr. Bluestein, who stressed the value of a dollar; Peter W., who hired me as a Teacher Aide; Cheryl Q., who mentored me.

Places in the heart:  Bangor, Brewer and Etna,ME;

1977- High Point:  My brother, David’s, wedding.

Low Point:  Being evicted, on false pretenses, in the middle of February.

People in the heart:  Cheryl Q., Peter W., Greg F., Susan C., Grace P. and Evelyn L., who tried their best to be mentors and friends; Lucy and Ronnie R., who took me in from the dead of winter; John and Mary M., my cousin and his wife, who were always there for me; my eight unsettled, troubled and always worthwhile students, in the Behaviorally-Challenged class; my first and fourth-graders, that second year, who re-assured me that I could serve as a teacher.

Places in the heart:  Brewer, Etna, Vinalhaven and Fort Kent, ME; Fredericton and Edmundston, NB; Riviere Bleu and Lac Megantic, QB.

1978- High Point:  My sister, Cheryl’s, wedding.

Low Point:  Losing my temper on a school field trip to a museum.

People in the heart:  My friends and well-wishers at Etna-Dixmont School; my new supervisors at Villa School, Toltec, AZ; many of my students, at both schools; Mrs. Knox, my landlady, over the summer.

Places in the heart:  Bangor, Etna, Dexter and Kingfield, ME.; Mactaquac Park and Saint John, NB; Toltec, Casa Grande, Phoenix, Tucson and Grand Canyon, AZ; Amarillo; Chicago; Toledo.

1979- High Point:  My first solo visit to Mexico.

Low Point:  Encountering a dangerous sex offender, in the New Mexico desert.

People in the heart:  Lynda E., Patrick G., Bill K.,  John G.- my co-workers at Villa; the vast majority of my students; the two sisters who drove me from Little Rock to Albuquerque, without regard for my disheveled state; the majority of my fellow travelers, between Phoenix and Boston, and back; the young lady who gave me a ride from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, in an empty tour bus, just for the sake of having company.

Places in the heart:   Casa Grande;Grand Canyon; Tucson; Puerto Penasco; Hermosillo; Ensenada; Woodfords and Bishop, CA;  Hodgenville and Mammoth Cave, KY.

This decade brought a lot of painful personal growth to my doorstep. There are many people from those days who, if they were never to see me again, it would be too soon.  There are others whom I miss, sorely.  The big lessons are that alcohol and autism are a  wicked combination.  Lack of even rudimentary social skills surfaced, at the worst possible times, though thankfully, it was all pretty much done by the time I moved to Arizona.  When a rough-edged former co-worker tried to nail me with  the label of “loser”, towards the end of 1979, his words fell on deaf ears.

The Eighties would be, by and large, awesome.

 

My Life Thus Far: The Sixties

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February 5, 2016, Phoenix- I had my lunch, of spicy California rolls, at Dreamy Draw Park, a popular desert redoubt, on the northeast side of town, before going in for what was an encouraging dental checkup.

While sitting in the coolness of the Sonoran Desert, I went back, in my mind to the years of adolescence.

1960-High Point: The New England Shopping Center opened.

            Low Points:  Ellen moved; my Grandma died.

People in the Heart:  Barbara I., Ellen S.

Places in the Heart:  Makepeace Hill, Johns Pond (Mashpee)

1961-High Point:  Hiking Mt. Chocorua, NH.

Low Point:  Having a stupid meltdown, while on that camping trip.

          People in the Heart:  The Geotis family, who moved into the Statuto’s old house; the members of my Boy Scout troop.

          Places in the Heart:  The White Mountains of New Hampshire (all of them).

1962- High Point:  Family gatherings at Kingston State Park, NH.

             Low Point:  Five days in the hospital.

People in the Heart:  A tall, beautiful girl in our grade (anonymous, out of respect              to her and her loving husband); my then new friends, Dean and the late Mike; three            beautiful sisters, who were friends of our extended family.

            Places in the Heart: Canobie Lake;  Kingston State Park.

1963- High Point:  Putting an end to being bullied in Grade 8.

            Low Point:   The death of John F. Kennedy.

             People in the Heart:  Half the female population of Saugus Junior High School.

Places in the Heart:  Every school building that was torched by a serial arsonist,                  who was in our class.

1964-  High Point:  Promoting out of Grade 8.

Low Point:   Dealing with enuresis.

             People in the Heart:  Those three beautiful sisters; the thugs who actually stood                  up for me.

             Places in the Heart:  Our cellar, where I could shine the family’s shoes and listen                to the richness of pop music; Breakheart Pond.

1965- High Point: Getting my own newspaper route.

Low Point:  Dealing with a pedophile.

            People in the Heart:  My neighbourhood group of friends (who remain my friends,              to this day).                                                                                                                                 

            Places in the Heart:  Breakheart, Johns Pond, the Saugus Howard Johnson’s                          Restaurant (where so many of us hung out); Mt. Chocorua.

1966- High Point:  Getting my driver’s license.

            Low Point:  Working out the bugs in my own driving behaviour.

             People in the Heart:  Most of my newspaper customers; Coach Wall, who put me                 through Driver Boot Camp, and whom I credit for 50 years of driving, with only                   two, one-car, accidents; Joan M., one of my best female friends, ever.

             Places in the Heart:  Martha’s Vineyard; the above-mentioned spots, from 1966.

1967- High Point: Getting a job at a supermarket.

Low Point: Struggling on the job.

People in the Heart:  Bob Powers, my first boss, and one of the finest people for                   whom I’ve ever worked;  all my above-mentioned peers from Saugus High.

             Places in the Heart:  Merrymeeting Lake, Alton, NH; Fireplace 10, at Lynn Beach.

1968- High Point: Graduating Saugus High School.

           Low Points: Not taking college seriously; all the crap that went down that Spring.

            People in the Heart:  Ron Gerace, my fourth boss; Professor Ahmad and Jim                          Gorman, who tried to set me straight about college; Kathy W., to whom I should                  have paid more attention.

             Places in the Heart: The old campus of UMass-Boston; the Back Bay; Hampton                    Beach, NH.

1969- High Point: Completing Army Basic training.

             Low Point:  Leaving college, feeling like a failure.

             People in the Heart:  My Army buddies, Tim and Mike; Drill Sergeants Cummings,             Wescott, and Green.

             Places in the Heart:  Downtown Columbia, SC; Myrtle Beach; Indianapolis.

Junior High had its share of abysmal moments.  High school, I must say, was freeing.  I had a core group of friends, and yet made the rounds of several groups of people, in Saugus and in nearby Melrose.   I was too young, emotionally, to have attempted college.  Girls and protest marches were way bigger in my life than studying.  So, 1969 found me treading water in a job at my Dad’s GE Plant, then signing myself up for the Army.  It was past time to stop being the family nuisance.  On June 16, 1969, I left for Fort Jackson, SC.

I did not, in the scheme of things, end the ’60’s too badly.  By October, 1969, I had made a place for myself on a “clean-up crew”, re-establishing Army postal service to the residents of Tri-Service Barracks, Fort Myer, VA.  Still, the bugaboo of alcohol dependency, along with mild autism, kept me from bonding with many people and created all manner of problems, with my family and with others, who didn’t know me very well.  The hiatus of Boot Camp and Advanced Individual Training did bring me a bit further along towards adulthood, but relapse came, once I was back in routine.

The ’70’s would be the first of my two lost decades.