I graduated from New Salem Academy in the summer of 1965, second in my class. It was an interesting evening as I had an accident a few days earlier. While at Doane's Falls, north of Athol, Massachusetts on the way to Royalston, I decided to one-up the guys there and dive into the pool at the bottom of the falls. Yes we had been drinking and showing off for one the local "filly's". Others had been jumping, cannonball style, but I thought a nice swan dive would be impressive. Well about two feet of water made an impression in my skull.
I left shortly after graduation to live for awhile with my Dad in Pendleton, OR. I had to work an Agricultural jobs to complete the requirements for my High School Diploma. I had also enlisted in the Navy and wanted to visit before heading off for my "new" life.
It was a long bus trip across the USA in the summer of 1965. I think it was 72 hours if my memory is correct. When the driver told us we would be there soon, I could only see miles and miles of wheat. Then all of a sudden we dipped into the Walla Walla Valley and there was Pendleton.
My father was married to a lady named Prescott, who had two daughters. One had this spit-shined 1959 Chevy, with the big winged fins on the bad. It was a beautiful Lavender color. Dad help me find a job packing frozen peas. Yes that's right. Packing frozen peas into a 4 X 4 palletized box. Dad drove a combine harvesting wheat. It was beautiful country.
I left for the Navy from The Dales, OR and landed in San Diego, CA. Boot camp was an experience. I had never had much upper body strength and the physical part was tough. I still had problems with bed wetting. While I was there, the Navy did several medical test on me. I will go into detail in "Medical History". I was told that I could not continue in service. They allowed me to stand on the tarmac and "pass in review" on graduation day, then sent me on my way with an Honorable Discharge on October 19, 1965, Eisenhower suit and all. I weighed in at 193 pounds, 72 inches tall.
I was not welcome back in Oregon, so I headed back to Massachusetts. Mom was still living with her husband in Orange. I got a job at Aubuchon's Hardware. I soon had a car and the carefree life. But all was not changed. Life with Arthur had reached a turning point.
Mom divorced Arthur and moved to Athol, where she worked at the hospital. I went to work for Temple Oil Company part-time and worked at Cass Garage full time. I got a place of own for awhile. I still had a lot of growing up to do. I fell for a girl who was having an affair with a married man I knew. I caught then together one night. I broke my heart and I struck back by telling the man's wife. He gave me a few hours head start out of town.
This was the summer of 1967 and having not see my father for awhile, I went to East Moline, IL to visit with him. He was dating a woman named Maureen who had a daughter that liked to tease. One evening while we were sharing supper with them, dad had too much to drink. Maureen told him that he should stay over and not drive in his condition. He stomped out of the house yelling that "no damn woman was going to tell him what to do." When I tried to explain to him that Maureen was only concerned for him, he told me to "not let the door hit me in the ass on the way out." I had no job and no money and now no place to stay.
I called Maureen and she put me up. I got a job on the assembly line at the John Deere plant. I worked for a time in the foundry and later on the assembly line building combines. It was here that I had run-in with the union. I crossed a picket line and got a broke nose. Maureen was cool. She came from North Carolina and made homemade dandelion wine. She also had "moonshine" from home. Renee', her daughter, was quite a tease and we had several contacts. No I was still a virgin when I left. Maureen had a Barracuda. A yellow automatic. A tough little car for its day.
I went back to Massachusetts when the job laid me off. Things had quieted down and Mom gave me a place to stay and get back in the life of a small New England town. I soon had a job with the Athol Daily News as the Assistant Circulation Manager. The job lasted for almost three years. But as I learned in life, sometimes the only way to get ahead financially is get a new job paying better money.
I became one of the hell raisers from town. I started with a 1965 1/2 Mustang and soon graduated to a 1968 Mustang Fastback 2 + 2. I had money and influence in town. I did what every good New England male does: I drank and chased women. Mostly I drank. Drinking gave me courage and fighting become a way of settling disputes. I took my share of licks and gave a few. I was also big and most did not want to challenge me. I chased a lot of women, which would become so much a part of my life. Most of them only wanted me around for the "freebies" and it told many years for me to figure that out. I did enjoy their company and my dreams of conquest.
On August 25, 1968 I received my First Jump Certificate from Parachutes, Inc. at the Orange, MA airport.
In 1970 I went to work for Simplex Time Recorder Company in Gardner, Massachusetts in the commercial collections department. My brother Mike was working there at the time as a time study man. I enjoyed the work and had my first crush on a married woman. Bonnie was quite a character. Her husband became a good friend but soon left for his 6-months training for the National Guard. He asked me to spend time with Bonnie while he was gone. Everyone at the office thought she and I were fooling around as we spent so much time together. We both lost out job over a prank that we thought was very funny.
After lunch one day I had Bonnie drop me at my house and then take my car and park it in front of hers. We both called in sick and the next morning we both got called into the manager's office and were accused of spending the day together. I was upset and told my boos he was just jealous as he was not getting what he thought I was. We both got fired. I managed to get my job back.
I came very close to having an affair one night but did not take advantage of the situation. A few months after her husband returned from basic training she just up and disappeared in the middle of the night. No one ever heard from or saw her again.
In the early part of 1971, Simplex transferred me to Tampa, Florida. I worked in the office there. I was a small town boy in the big city for the first time in my life. I did not take care of my job and soon lost it. I bounced around from job to job and had a very rough time for a few months. I finally landed a job where I learned to drive a tractor-trailer rig. I hauled cement around Florida. I remember one job - hauled in the cement for some of the road for Disney World by Orlando. After getting up my confidence I transferred to their long haul division - Clay Hyder in Auburndale, Florida. I was a modern day cowboy, driving a rig and chasing women. The money was too good and I soon found that prostitutes were easier to communicate with and fell into that lifestyle for almost a year. I met a few people while driving and soon moved to work with an independent trucker hauling orange juice out of Florida. He paid me for loading and unloading plus so much a mile and I was doing fine. But once again I out smarted myself. I got into an argument for not carrying cash with me (I figured he should pay me for loading and then I would have had some). I walked on him in Georgia and "thumbed" my way back to Florida.
Things went downhill from there and I was soon without a place to stay and on my way back to "Mom" in Massachusetts with my tail between my legs.
By 1972 was I working for the Town of Athol in the EEA program. I worked part-time for the town treasurer - Leo Dugas. He thought me a lot about account and balance books. The other part of my time was help recruit people for the program. It was during the time that I got into a relationship with a married woman that I would meet in the mornings before going into work. She was a great little lady and a real turn on. The job lasted for almost two years.
After I left there I worked for a while in a plastic manufacturing plant on the second shift. There was another married woman there. These relationships never amounted to much more than relations.
It was no long after 1975 that I found myself back at the Athol Daily News as the Circulation Manager. It was a big change but full of lesson on life. The hardest one I remember was have to tell one of the young girls working there that he husband had committed suicide the evening before. She came in asking for help in finding him as he had not come home. After a couple of phone calls I go the answer and did not have to say too much as she could tell from the expression on my face that the new was bad.
It was at this time with the Daily News that I met and married my son's mother. She worked for me in the front office and was pregnant at the time we got to know each other. She was having trouble at home and one thing led to another in our relationship. The night she left he husband we spent together in a company car in a rest area just outside of town.
I found an apartment and cleaned it up for her. She moved in with furniture that I had from the room that I had built in the basement of my mother's home and with some thing she had. She was all the excitement that I ever wanted and was blind to many things that should have warned me to STOP. I let her use my car to deliver papers to help support he and her daughter. She had an abortion the year we were living together as she was still legally married at the time. We decided to get married when we thought a house would be the thing to get.
Not a very good reason to get married. We lived in the home for less than a year and then decide very quickly to move to Texas. We sold a lot of what we had and packed all the rest in our Ford Pinto station wagon and moved to Euless, Texas with the help of my brother.
By the end of 1978, we had a new son, I was working for Reynolds Aluminum Recycling Company and we had an apartment in Irving. Life seemed good on the outside.
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