Collected Tales from our Life's
Where have you been? and what
have you been doing? - - - family, school, career, pastimes, good
When I graduated from Eastmoor,
I had no idea what my future might be. I knew I would go to college,
but that was about it. I had no long-term goals or plans. I wound up
at Miami University, majoring in mathematics. If I could do it all
again, I wouldn’t choose Miami, or math.
I spent the next four years quietly rebelling against the smothering
paternalism of the universty. I received a good education, I had some
great professors, but by the time I encountered Abstact Algebra in my
junior year, my enthusiasm for math had evaporated.
I decided to add on the courses necessary for teacher certification,
just as a back up. They were worthless, every one. But I got my
check marks. Finally, at the end of four years, and with an
excessive number of academic credits, I was through with college.
It was a blazingly hot June morning - graduation day.
Neil Armstrong was the commencement speaker. I stopped at
the local Dairy Queen for a slushy, then left Oxford, Ohio behind me
for good. My diploma would be mailed to me at a later date.
I have no idea what wisdom Neil imparted to those graduates in
For the next eight years I taught high school in Greenwich,
Connecticut. I never wanted to be a teacher; my original plan
was to do it for a year, then apply to graduate school. But by the
time that actually happened, I shifted from pursuing an advanced
degree in literature to getting an MBA.
I was accepted at Northwestern University and moved to Chicago, just
in time to experience the blizzard of ‘78/‘79, which buried the city
under 90” of snow and ice.
Two years later I began what developed into a 30-year career with IBM
in finance and business process transformation.
I started in New Jersey, just outside of Princeton, but after 3 1/2
years, I was transferred to Westchester County. I worked in locations
around the area until I retired in 2010. I bought a condo in a
converted elementary school in Pleasantville where I still live
today. I was fortunate to travel quite a bit for work, both
domestically and internationally, and have friends in several
countries around the globe that I still see occasionally.
favorite high school memory
Mr. Disbro’s American
literature class: diagramming sentences (War is frugal.), reading
Hawthorne and Thoreau, faking a book report on Moby Dick, finally
seeing Mr. Disbro stand on his head!
More than any college course I ever took, William Disbro influenced
my own teaching.
Driving, with no GPS, from Sydney
to the Blue Mountains in Australia by myself. Having never
driven a car with the steering wheel on the right side, and traffic
flowing in reverse of what was the norm for me, I managed to
negotiate right-hand turns, congested roundabouts, and high speed
highways without damage to body or vehicle.
To receive my teacher
certification , I had to fulfill the student teacher requirement.
At that time, Miami University had a program to place students
in Europe. So in mid-August, 1969, the same weekend as
Woodstock, I boarded an Icelandic Airlines flight from JFK to
Luxembourg, with a stop-over for refueling in Reykjavik, along with
several other students and our advisor. When we landed the next
day , we all headed to the cities where we would be teaching. At my
request, I had been assigned to the American School of Paris.
For three months, I rode the school bus back and forth from the
Latin Quarter, where I was living, to the commuter town of
Saint-Cloud. At night I would sit in one of the neighborhood
cafés, eating as cheaply as I could - often a mushroom omelette or a
bowl of onion soup, with some good bread and a glass of red wine.
In my spare time I tracked down the haunts of Ernest Hemingway
and other historic figures.
It was my first time in Europe and my first time traveling alone.
The experience opened my eyes. Paris was cosmopolitan.
Paris was sophisticated. Paris had a history. I
wanted to live in that world. The first step was to leave Ohio.
Visiting Cuba twice- in 2014
and again in 2015, in the company of Raul Villarreal son of René
Villarreal, who worked for Ernest Hemingway for 20 years.
I first met Raul and his father in New York City in 2000 at a
memorial service for Jack (Bumby) Hemingway. Also in attendance
were his daughter Mariel, Gary Cooper’s daughter Maria, Tom Brokaw,
and George Plimpton.
Raul was able to get us inside Hemingway’s beloved house, the Finca
Vigia. On the wall were his trophies from hunting in Africa, on
the floor of his closet were the boots he had worn on safaris, on his
desk was the typewriter where he wrote, and in every room, hundreds
of his books, all just as he had left them when he hastily left after
We went to Cojimar, the small fishing village near the marina where
Hemingway kept his precious boat, the Pilar. There sits a
statue of him, a tribute from the local fishermen, made from metal
donated from their boats.
And we explored The neighborhoods of Havana, as well as the Cuban
countryside. The focus of the trip was art and music, two of
the areas in which the Cuban people excel. But we also learned
about the realities of present-day Cuba. I don’t know if I will
ever return. Obama’s efforts to improve relations with Cuba
have been reversed. Politics once again get in the way.
My trip to Istanbul also stands out in my memory, but I’ll save that
for another time.
The summer of 1975, I was a
contestant on the short-lived (4 1/2 months) quiz show Musical
Chairs. Filmed at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City, my
episode was aired on CBS in September. I made it to the finals, but
was defeated by the song ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak
Tree,’ a tune I detested then, and still do. I managed to win $500
for my efforts, far from enough to change my life!
You’ve come a long way in 55
years. Where are you going in the next five years?
Since retirement, I spend my
time reading, cooking, and traveling as much as possible. I’ve been
to 22 countries on 4 continents, as well as 26 of the 50 states.
The pandemic has greatly curtailed my trips, but I am slowly
getting back in the groove. Maybe next spring will be Paris
I joined a writing group over five years ago and try to maintain a
daily writing routine.
In 2006, I joined the Hemingway Society, and have attended six of the
seven conferences since then -some international, some domestic.
I have met and become friends with some of the scholars who
attend, and was asked to lead a walking tour of Jake Barnes’ Paris (from
The Sun Also Rises) at the last conference. The next one is
scheduled for July 2022 in Wyoming and Montana. I plan to attend, and
would like to visit Yellowstone National Park while I’m out there.
I think about moving in the near future, but am not rushing to do so.
I do hope my health will hold up for at least five more years.
If it does, I’ll let you know how I spent my time.