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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Road to 65, Mile 264: Ferry Life

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August 19, 2015, Prescott- No, I am not embarking on another far-flung adventure.  Today, I am ruminating about the process of getting from one place to another, by boat.  Ferries have been around since before Egypt or Sumer were kingdoms.  Probably, as soon as a Neanderthal or Peking Man was able to fashion a log large enough to hold one or two other people, he or she would have had the bright idea to charge them a fee, in the currency of the day, in order to get across the river or lake.

My own experience with ferries goes back to 1966, when my parents took us to Martha’s Vineyard for a day.  I remember the salt air and the rather smooth ride from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven, across Vineyard Sound.  We visited some Wampanoag people, in Gay Head, on the western end of the island, and being 15, I wandered off for a bit, by myself, to try and meet up with some local kids and hang out to see how life was there, day to day.

Since then, life has taken me across many bodies of water, either by watercraft or by plane.  I’ve tried my hand at rowing, and paddling canoes, with varying degrees of success.  There was one time, when I worked for Villa-Oasis School, now defunct, when one of the students and I slept on opposite ends of the Headmaster’s boat, while at Cholla Bay, in Sonora.  When we woke up, the next morning, the boat had drifted about a half-mile out to sea.  We rowed it back in, but I was never invited to go back to the hacienda.

Large ferry operations, like those in Alaska, Washington State and British Columbia, are staffed by young and old alike, working twelve-hour shifts.  Alaska’s ferry crews are state employees, and no tipping is allowed.  My tendency is to tip, fairly generously, for good service, so this was a new experience.  Then again, the prices of their fare make not needing to tip, a blessing.

Having spent 6 1/2 days aboard a U.S. Navy vessel, last Fall, I wondered how the crew members on various ferries regard their lives.  I listened to people talk back and forth, during the four Alaska Ferry rides, and the trip to and from Victoria, aboard a Washington ferry.  The dining staff and purser’s office folks seem to work the hardest, never seeming to catch a break, with several hundred, and sometimes over a thousand, people to keep fed, and secure.  As with any vessel, the engineering people, in the hottest part of the ship, have the most thankless working conditions; even if they are sitting, they are doing so in a heat capsule.

The sleeping quarters for the Alaska crew, are below decks, under the engine room and car deck, which, for safety reasons, is off-limits to passengers, for most of the journey.  Four scheduled and supervised car deck calls, per day, are allowed the passengers, mostly to check on caged pets which are secured in vehicles, with the windows rolled down for ventilation.  The crew members did tell me it was sometimes hard to sleep, with the dogs barking, off and on.  It’s definitely a life that one would have to choose out of love for people and for the sea.

Many of my fellow passengers chose state rooms as accommodation.  Being me, I rolled out a pad and a sleeping bag, though on top of a cot, so as to not have to get soaked, lest a wave came up over the bow or, as happened a few times, rain water leaked through the canopy.  I have mentioned, in one of the Alaska posts, how a woman sleeping to my left did get an unwelcome bath, from just such rain water.

One of these days, I will be on a ferry again.  I might do the state room experience, or just remain myself, and exult in the canopy of stars.  Either way, the sea and I will remain friends, as will the crew.