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Showing posts from October, 2017

The Beginning of The End

The Beginning of The End

We weren't poor, just lower income. We were two young people who grew up middle class and living on the edge was new to us. We 'd been living in low rent, cheap places, the kind that were in need of some repair and came with some sort of infestation. They all were definitely without anything like air-conditioning. Looking back, the good side to all this is it taught me to be very careful with how I spent my money. I learned to budget, juggle bills, live within my means, and appreciate discretionary income.
For years I kept my budget in my head. I knew how much I spent and where I spent it. Later, when I was working in Silicon Valley making good money, I went to see a financial adviser. I walked in with nothing but a pad to take notes. He asked how come I didn't bring my financial stuff, things like pay stubs, bank statements, bills, credit card statements, etc. I told him I didn't need them, it was all in my head. I knew my income a…

Boil the Oil in the Soil

Boil the Oil in the Soil

My first 6 months to a year I lived in the upstairs apartment of my maternal grandparent's house. It was 1949. My Dad was a WWII vet and married my Mom after the war ended. I was their first child. They had built-in babysitters with my grandparents living down stairs. My grandmother had a Brooklyn accent since she grew up there and it was from her I picked it up. My Mom had a more typical Long Island accent. Why did she not have a Brooklyn accent as well you might ask? Well she was adopted and so her very early life was not spent with her adopted parents. However, I have no memory of all of this so this information comes directly from my parent's memories. My parents bought a new house in the famous “Levittown” , the first mass-produced suburb. It was a planned community, built to take advantage of all the GI's returning from the war who would be marrying, starting families, and needing a place to live. The houses were affordable, came …

It Comes In Pretty Handy Around Here, Bub

It Comes In Pretty Handy Around Here, Bub

In “It's a Wonderful Life” – There is a part in the movie where George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, is with his angel Clarence at the bar and he asks Clarence if he happens to have any money and Clarence replies no they don't have any need for money up in heaven. George then says “Well, it comes in pretty handy around here, bub.” When watching that part of the movie I always think about this time in my life.
I was a married Airman First Class stationed at Beale AFB in Marysville, California. As the summer of '70 was coming to an end, money was tight and we were living as frugally as we could. I watched other married airmen, who were having trouble making ends meet, start going into debt. I was determined not to do that. As I mentioned previously, the money situation made doing my own laundry mandatory. My pay was something like $120 a month and they gave us another $100, for food and rent, supposedly $60 was for rent …

Mr Adler and Those That Can

Mr Adler and Those That Can


My Dad was fond of saying “Those that can, do, those that can't, teach”. I know he didn't really believe this but he liked to say it, after all his Mother had been a teacher. I suspect that some of his motivation was his sister-in-law, who was an excellent teacher, but also someone who could come across as a “know it all”.
I've had many teachers, both good and bad from grade school through college. Teaching is more than just a skill that you learn. Being able to teach is really a gift that should be highly valued. Unfortunately there seems to be this general idea that teaching is kind of easy and most anyone can do it, so we in general pay teachers poorly. Why? Is it better to have a few more dollars in our pockets than invest in our kids, really our whole society? That does seem to be the general feeling. We lose so many talented teachers to other occupations because we as a society undervalue the ability to teach or maybe we underv…

New York, New York

If You Can't Get It There, You Can't Get It Anywhere, New York, New York
Growing up I was always going to live in New York City when I got old enough. Growing up in metropolitan New York you tend to think you are the center of the world. OK, maybe everyone thinks that of the place where they live while they are growing up. The difference is, a New York City area person never stops thinking that way. They see everyplace else as somehow lesser. The title of this piece is not likely true but it's said that you can get everything in New York, and we all believed it was true, at least for anything worth having. Thanks to the Air Force I got the opportunity to live in other areas of the country and I found out that overall I actually liked the West Coast better.
We were fortunate in that although we lived in the suburbs my parents liked going into the city. We would go in multiple times a year. We'd eat at the Automat, an early type of fast food restaurant. It had a…

Beale AFB – Settling In

Beale AFB – Settling In

 We were in California. I was trying to settle into military life and working on the air base. The navigation repair shop was active round the clock so there were 3 shifts. Most missions were flown in the morning with some in the afternoon. Due to the plane's notoriety, we were always being visited by “important” people. We were frequently on display. For instance Jimmy Stewart visited twice in the year and a half I was there. Senators and Congressmen came for a look-see as well as any high ranking military men who happened to be visiting the base. The SR-71 was a big draw. Day Shift (8:00 to 16:30) was a big shift, meaning it had the highest number of airmen and sergeants assigned to it. Day shift involved doing the pre-flight stuff in the morning. Most of the flights out of Beale were scheduled for the morning. After that it was a lot of standing around, cleaning up to prepare for visitors, and standing inspection. The work load was light but …

California Here We Come!

California Here We Come!

With our 1960 Rambler American station wagon fully packed we left Mississippi to head for Beale AFB in Marysville, California. The Air Force would pay moving expenses so we packed up a lot of our stuff in a trunk and had it shipped, but we still had enough left over to fill up the old Rambler. I had 10 days to report so we decided to head up to New York to visit the families for a few days first. That would end up being the only time during our marriage that we visited. My parents had come to visit once in Mississippi but I think it was before Donna came down. I don't remember Donna's parents ever visiting us. After a short visit in New York, we headed west mostly along I-80 directly to California. Interstate 80 was not complete at that point, at least not in Nevada and Utah. In Pennsylvania 80, in those days, ran down towards Philly and by Pittsburgh. It's I-76 today. It was a toll road so we avoided it, but we did pay the tolls in Oh…