Collected Tales from our Life's Journey's




Barbara Catterton


Where have you been? and what have you been doing? - - - family, school, career, pastimes, good times, etc.

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 attendance.

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.

unique achievement

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.

standout event

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.

unforgettable trip

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 Castro’s victory.
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.

little-known fact

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 once again.

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.