Ray … Who?

Haha!  It’s not like the the name is unique.  I bet there are a million people out there who say “Yes?” when someone shouts out “Hey, Ray!”

I simplified it all because when I joined Second Life ™, I decided to take the same first name as in Real Life, so as not to confuse myself.  Also, since I’m not trying to hide there (my RL stuff is right out in the open for all to see), it was a natural.  In truth, I think Ray Weyland is more widely known then Ray Pascoe, Jr., is.  Not sure if that’s good or bad.

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Six Periods of Songwriting … 6 Plus

6 – Later Minnesota –

I’d say the “Later Minnesota” years started after 2002, basically after I started “recording” my songs.  At first I was using a fairly old computer to record with.  But, in 2005 I decided to commit to a small Project Studio and bought a rack mounted system just for recording.  Now, I had two computers: one for “business” and one for “recording.”  The business one got replaced soon afterwards (like, it died), which was good because it was getting too old to handle the newer software.

I was really interested in making CDs during the years between 2006 and 2012.  I mainly used them for demos.  To be honest, the quality on them was marginal.  Yet, it was during these years that I developed the idea some professional CDs: “Me, Myself, and Alice,” “Midnight Writer,” and “Me, Myself, and Others.”  And, yes, I had enough songs for the first two and was thinking I could get enough for the third, with “a little help from my friends.”

Also during this period, I renewed my interest in the Minnesota Association of Songwriters (MAS).  I was not diligent in attending meetings.  But, I got around a little to meet and work with others interested in writing and performing music.

And, that is where I am now.  Both of my computers died in 2015.  I really wanted to replace them with high-end Macs.   But, financially, that was out of bounds, way out of bounds.  So, I settled for a high-end Dell and it’s been working great.  I’d been trying to work with my iPad for recording.  It’s OK.  But, just not the same.

I continue to improve my style, attending workshops and watching all the videos I can find online.  I joined SongTown, and that has helped, too.

Also back in 2015, I started my “Symphony.”  I work on it bit-by-tiny-bit when I can.  However, I fear it will become my “Unfinished.”


Plus – Second Life ®*

Yes, this could be considered Later Minnesota, but is a class by itself because it is so different working in Second Life (SL) than in Real Life (RL).  When it comes to performing, that is where I’ve done most of it: online.  Plus, I have four songs written specifically from events in SL (“Come Sailing with Me (on a Second Life Sea)”, “When Dragon Stopped By”, “Sing Me A Sweet Song”, “To Esther”).  And, my lead-in and closing songs are very SL related.  There were a few years there where every Tuesday night at 9pm Central I’d do a one hour show, and mostly following a very talented singer/songwriter from Connecticut: Shannon McMahon.

*Second Life ® is a registered trademark of Linden Lab

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Six Periods of Songwriting … 4 thru 5

4 – New York, after Military

After I got out of the Service I lived at home, was dating a girl named Sue and was writing a lot of music.  I made several attempts at playing the local bar scenes, getting mixed reviews, but mostly positive.  But, I passed on an offer to join a band and I messed-up a trip to Boston to get my songs heard.  I wrote about that last one in my Blogspot.  You can read about it more at this link (Year-I-Leaped-and-Missed).

I wrote a lot of songs about my relationships: both before and after the breakups.  Sounds like Taylor Swift’s music.  But, I assure you they weren’t that good and were targeted at a different audience. LOL.

It was during this period that I picked-up playing the 12-string guitar: both acoustic and electric.  I got a better amp and lugged them around .. even down to Bob’s place.


5 – Early Minnesota

My early MN years are split between the apartment near work and the house on Alice Ct.  At the apartment, I used the speaker cab of my amp system as a writing table (laying it face down on the floor).  But, at the house I managed to buy a small table for working on.  I also bought a small electric piano to help with song development.  I tried making multi-take records on tape, dubbing in the piano.  But, soon gave up on that.

I tested the waters on sending out tapes to music producers.  No go.  The kindest replies I got back were that they were not looking for my style of music.  Otherwise, I mostly just never heard back.

I also tried out for a music competition.  But, I didn’t have the gear for making a good impression and the songs I chose to perform were some of my less developed (read as “newly written”) and did not impress the judges.

Now, the Early Minnesota period is really a long one because it includes my early married years.  I didn’t do much writing or performing during that latter period.  So, there is not much to mention.  But, I continued to play guitar and piano, even composing songs on the piano: something I hadn’t done much of before this.


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Six Periods of Songwriting … Periods 2 and 3

2 – Early Military

When I left for Basic Training, I left my guitar back home.  But, at Tech School, I had a lot of free time.  So, I went into town and bought another 6-string and started writing songs.  Actually, I wrote a lot of them and still have the original note sheets from that time period. I’m not sure, by my present standards, that they are any good.  But, it was a start.

And the same held true at my first duty station in Florida.  I continued to write songs, many of which are actually in my present “play folder:” such as “Cold Wind’s Blowin'” and “Just Can’t Make this Town.”

I left that guitar at home, too, when I left for Vietnam.  But, of course, I bought another one over there (and it was *really* cheap).  And, of course, I wrote a *lot* of songs there, too.  I’m not sure where that guitar went after my tour of duty was up.

3 – Late Military

My last duty station was in the Washington, DC, area.  There I graduated to an electric guitar.  I don’t remember the specifics.  But, I do remember the amplifier had a grounding issue: if you touched the back panel there was a good chance you’d have a shocking experience.

I continued to write songs, as usual.  But, one song in particular has a special story.  About mid-year, the USAF put out a request for essays about “What’s the price of Freedom.”  Well, I didn’t have a thought in that regards.  But, I did create a song on the idea of “What’s the Cost of Freedom.”  I didn’t submit it because I didn’t think it matched what they were expecting.  But, the song still hangs in there.  In fact, back in April of 2007, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) was asking for material on how we “Take a Stand” and I submitted a Pod Cast based on that song (listen to it here, I’m the second from the left, click on my image to listen).  The song itself got a low approval rating by someone higher up.  But, I got some nice comments from the Show crew via email.

OK … on to the Post Military years.

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Personal History, Part 7

Again, for the sake of sanity (yours), I’ll just hit the high points of the next 40 years.

For two years (1976-78) I lived just across the street from work at Sperry Univac.  The plant was in Eagan, MN, a suburb of St. Paul.  I worked a lot of overtime.  But, when I wasn’t working, I was home writing songs.  And smoking a ton of cigarettes. I didn’t get out much, since I was back into my walking everywhere mode.  But, I did get around a little.

After two years, my rent was getting high enough that I was worried about where to stay in the coming future.  A co-worker owned two houses and rented one of them to people.  He had the first level on that one available, so I took him up on the offer.  It was on Alice Court in St. Paul, on a quiet circle behind an apartment complex built on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi.  And, again, I wrote a lot of songs there.

Soon after, I met a beautiful woman at work, Judy.  She was a single parent with two young boys and a dog.  We all got along very well together.  So, after a getting-to-know-you period of about 4 years, we were married.  My whole family came out from New York to Minnesota for the wedding and my brother was my Best Man.

Again, there’s potential for a whole chapter every decade after that.  But, I’ll just hit the main points so that you know a little about the rest of my life.

I worked for Sperry Semiconductor for about 12 years, taking on different roles.  During the last few years I went into programming, working on Process and Manufacturing Control software.  Then, in 1986 (or thereabouts), Burroughs and Sperry merged to form what was later called Unisys.  The Semiconductor Division became redundant in the new company and was closed down in 1988.  I managed to fill an opening in their Airlines Division writing code for their Cargo group.  That was good for about 4 years.  But, an economic down-turn forced a number of us onto the street.  Yep, that career was done.

I worked as a software contractor for about a year and a half.  I had about three good customers.  But, the support they needed was just bleeding me.  I couldn’t keep it up for much longer. Fortunately, my favorite customer (where I actually had 2 projects going) had a job opening for a person of my expertise and caliber.  The Dakota County TVI was looking for a person to install and maintain a student database system, in conjunction with the State of Minnesota.  I interviewed and got the job.

Here, again, I could go on and on about the challenges.  But, I won’t.  I’ll just say that for the next 20 years and two months I did whatever it took to support the staff and students at DCTC.  [Oh, yah … a few years after I started, the State of Minnesota merged all Community and Technical Colleges plus the 4 year campuses into one entity that most of us called MnSCU (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities).]  I did database stuff, web stuff, web applications stuff … all kinds of stuff.  But, I didn’t fix computers: not my kind of stuff.

I retired from that job in 2014.  It was a good time to leave.  Change was coming, I was getting tired of keeping up with all the technology, and I really wanted to work more on my music.  But, I really miss the people I worked with.

Meanwhile, on the family side, the boys grew up and each went off to college.  The oldest went on for advanced degrees and has done quite well in both industry and as a professor at Duke University. He married a wonderfully talented and smart young lady. And they now have two beautiful and smart children. Being as they are in North Carolina, they come out here almost annually, and Judy and I get to go visit them almost annually, too.

The younger went to college in Wisconsin and came back to work at G&K Services.  He married a beautiful young Wisconsin woman. Together they’ve had four beautiful and smart kids (really, now … aren’t all grandchildren beautiful and smart), plus two dogs (at separate times).  They don’t live too far from us at the moment, though they did spend some time in Iowa while he managed a plant down there.  He, too, has done well for himself, working his way up the ranks.

I left out a lot in this story.  That’s because I do write songs about them, more or less.  A few side items to mention would be:

  • Judy has a sister in Phoenix and it is fun to go visit every so often. I’ve had a few song ideas (that need finishing) on several of those trips.
  • We have two great friends, Norm and Diane, who have shared so much with us that we are almost family. In fact, I’ve written at least two songs while up at their lake home in Wisconsin.
  • I love visiting the North Shore of Lake Superior.
  • We both love to travel.

That’s the nitty of it all.  Like I say, the gritty will have to wait for the book (ha-ha) or songs.

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Personal History, Part 6

Well, I’ve just got out of the Service and I’m looking for my fun … no, no … that’s the song.  I was just looking for a job.  I began living with my parents and dating Sue.  I played my songs at a special meeting with her senior class (at the High School).  I helped her parents with the animals on their small farm.  And I worked several jobs in the area.

The most significant job was the last one with Cambridge Memories in Poughkeepsie, making semiconductor memory chips.  This was the job that launched my future.  But, I’ll say more on that later.

I lived with my parents for three and a half years.  During that time, I spent some time with Bob (from college … I bet I forgot to mention that he grew-up in that area of New York where my family was originally from).  He got me out-and-about and half (or sometimes fully) smashed many a night.  And, Sue was a big factor in getting me out, too.

But, me and Sue … that died, too (as the song goes).  So, to console myself, I bought a used Harley Davidson 1200cc motorcycle.  My buddy, Al, from work helped me get my motorcycle endorsement on my license.  Yep, I took it on that big Harley, on a wet Fall afternoon … wet leaves all over the place where I had to do figure eights.  But, I got it done.

I loved that Harley.  Yet, I could only go about 250 miles before it turned my hands to rubber from the vibration.  Truth was, it was an AMF version … 1973.  Some would say not a true Harley. So, the engine had issues.  Ah … but the stories.  And, again, that’s gonna have to wait for the book.

One thing I will mention:  I took a few glider lessons from a school in Wurtsboro, NY.  There was an old WWI era flight field there where the lessons were given.  It was both fun and scary.  But, it was also too expensive for me.  So, I only managed a few rides.

In 1976 that all ended when Cambridge Memories closed our plant.  The Engineers all found jobs in other parts of the country and I just sat, wondering about my next step.  Well, my old boss called me from Minnesota saying he was now working for the new Semiconductor Division of Univac and would like me to interview for the job.  I said, “sure thing.”  So, I bought a ticket for St. Paul.  But, the agent gave me a ticket to Minneapolis.  I said, “but, I’m going to St. Paul.” She looked at me like I was an idiot and said, “It’s the same place!”  OK.  Sure.  My geography was a little weak in regards to the mid-West.

I interviewed and got the job, even getting a $1000 pay raise before I actually started.  So, on September 3th, 1976, I packed my car with my guitar and amp and as many boxes as I could (the rest and my furniture … all 5 pieces of it … would get picked up by movers later) and headed West.  But, I left my Harley behind.  After all, who rides bikes in Minnesota?  Man, was I dumb!

Well now, I drove through Hell!  Literally!  On September 5th, a large portion of I-94 in Wisconsin was in the middle of a huge forest fire.  And here I was, driving through it, smoke and flames all around me.  But, I made it.

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Personal History, Part 5b

Now, I’m a little fuzzy on the sequence of events in these next few months. I’m not fuzzy on what happened, just when.  I had been seeing this one young lady (whom I’ll call Penny) in particular and she decided she wanted to keep in contact, even though we’d had a really rough relationship.  I think this is how it went.  But, if there is anyone out there that remembers better, go ahead and drop me a line.

I went to Abilene to do my training.  There, out in the vast openness of Northern Texas, I wrote a number of songs to express my feelings.  I also came face to face with a big, hairy spider.  Now, I don’t like regular spiders much less big and hairy ones.  But, I wasn’t gonna let it get the better of me.  So, I screamed for someone to “get it” and someone did. Taught that spider to mess with me!

Meanwhile, I’m communicating with this “Penny” who has now moved from Florida to West Virginia to live with her Granny, along with her cousin (whom I’ll call “Anne”).  I had some Leave coming before heading overseas.  So, she suggested that I stop in to Granny’s on my way home.  So, I did. I took a flight to West Virginia (not sure which airport), took a bus to the closest town from Granny’s.  In town, I stopped at a store and asked about where Granny’s place was. Well, the store owner knew her. So, he took me there, driving around between mountains on both sides of a winding country stream and ended up at Granny’s place.

Now, you have to admit, Granny (and Grandpa) were the nicest people you’d ever meet.  They had to be to take in a traveling Service man for a day or two just so their granddaughter could see him before he headed off to war.  And it was nice getting to know her cousin.  She was a few years younger and very pretty, sort of shy, but not.  I only remember a few things, like walking down country roads and such.

Then, I was off to home.  A few weeks later I was on my way to Vietnam.

Vietnam.  Wow!  I have a whole lifetime of stories to tell about that year.  Way too much for here.  But, there basics are that:

  • My first few months were just like Mash, living in a Quonset Hut with 5 other guys.
  • I worked on a cargo plane, C-7, de Havilland Caribou, #168
  • I preferred my camera over a gun.
  • It was either blazingly hot or massively wet most of the time.
  • There were people trying to kill us, once in a while.
  • I wrote a ton more songs.

I’d get letters from both “Penny” and “Anne” fairly regularly.  But, one day, “Penny” said she’d met someone else and so, goodbye.  But, “Anne” continued to write.

So, skipping over about 40 pages of stories, it’s now the end of my tour and the USAF is retiring our planes and flying them home.   We installed an extra fuel bladder in the cargo bays just so they could make it to Hawaii to refuel and make the next hop to the mainland.  Well, guess who’s plane didn’t quite make it, running out a fuel and ending up in one of the bays (San Francisco, maybe?). Yep, there was a clipping from the local paper of the tail sticking out of the water with 168 on it plain as day.  Dang!

Well, I made it home, and on to my next duty station of Andrews AFB, outside Washington, DC.  Now that I was “home,” I was hoping that I could get to see “Anne” again.  But, she had moved to Louisville by that time and it was just too far for me to travel.  After a while, I gave up on the idea and told her so in my last letter.  I never heard from her again.

While at Andrews, I finally decided to buy a car.  Well, I made several weekend trips back to New York now that I had wheels.  But, that didn’t last long.  On one trip, someone ran a red light in Baltimore (outside the airport) and smashed up my whole front passenger side: bent the frame and everything. Left the car there to get fixed and was without wheels for over a month.  Got it back in time to drive it home after getting my final discharge from Active Duty.

Also, while at Andrews I wrote a number of songs that I still play.  But, that’s mostly covered in the other section.

Another notable event: on one of my trips home before my car got wrecked, I met one of my sister’s girlfriends.  She and I got along quite well, which escalated after I got out of the Air Force.

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Personal History, Part 5a

Post Syracuse with Uncle Sam.

I can’t begin to tell you everything here, and do you really want to know?  But, here’s the short of it, anyway.

During my last year at Syracuse, my father left the ministry and the family moved from Stittville back to Pleasant Valley.  So, when I left school, I moved back there, too.

After dropping out of college, I decided to join the USAF before the Army got me in the draft.  I’d always loved the Air Force, ever since my Uncle Hap (Dad’s brother) would give me his leftover Aviation Weekly magazines.  But, I had a deferred start date of January (1969) and it was only September.

So, in the meantime, I picked up some work at the IBM plant in Poughkeepsie working in the data center handling the output from the printers and mounting tapes as requested.  It’s where I learned how to curse.  And I got really good at it.  I could curse out two full sentences in one continuous burst of profanity.  And, since I now *had* to drive, I finally got my driver’s license.

So, now I was completely ready for military life.  Sure thing.  Except for my “learning disability,” which proved to be an issue there, too.  Lots of things happened in those four years of service: far too many to detail here.  So, here are the highlights.

First and foremost of all my experiences is that I picked up the guitar in earnest and started writing songs.  That I’ll cover in the other section.  So, here are the specifics.

Basic training (Lackland AFB) was a near bust.  They almost forced me to go through it twice … that’s the learning thing getting in the way.  But, I made it through.  Then, I had wanted either missiles or jets to work on and I got reciprocating engine aircraft (prop planes) as my MOS.  But, that was good.

At training school (Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, TX) I found out I was pretty good with tools and figuring out what was wrong with things (I had always loved taking things apart and putting them back together). Plus, I had the free time to start writing songs (other section).

Then it was down to Florida (Hurlbert Fld in Ft. Walton Beach) for a year and a half of working on planes older than I was: the A-26 in particular.  I also worked on the O-2.  Lots of stories there, but I’ll spare you.

A few of us got together to rent a place off base to hang out on weekends.  That’s where most of the juicy stories (that I’ll spare you from, also) happened.  But. The short list is …

  • bought a 250cc Yamaha street bike and tooled around on that for quite a while.
  • Met three young women who each taught me something different about … well, women.
  • Upgraded my bike to a 650cc which taught me a little about speed (it’s OK … I survivied).
  • Gave up my last Silver Certificate (remember them?) as a tip to a waitress because, well, it was all I had left in my wallet after I paid for my coffee and roll.
  • Enjoyed taking the same (above) waitress on rides on my 650. Just rides.  We were friends. And, yes, she was one of the three.
  • Wrote about 50 songs down there. I think only about 5 survive to the present.

Soon, the USAF decided they needed me over in Vietnam.  I tried to tell them I was a pansy when it came to war things.  But, they didn’t want to hear it.  Besides, they needed to send me for training on my new bird.  So, it was off to Abilene, TX, and Dyess AFB.

[I’ll finish the story in the next Post.]

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Personal History, Part 4

So, let’s see … Syracuse University, Smith College of Engineering.  The College isn’t really important other than I thought I should become an Aerospace Engineer.  Well, that proved difficult for a person who doesn’t study his butt off.  So, we will skip the few details of my scholastic lack of achievement.

There were several people that I was close to during my first foray into higher education.  But, the closest was my buddy Bob.  He was studying Archeology and was a philosopher of the best kind.  We would “discuss” ideas for hours, both he and I at opposite poles of the concept under discussion.  Plus, he would accompany me on some of my attempts to play pianos that many of the women’s dorms had in their reception areas.  But, I’ll cover that in the “Music History” section.

Now, remember, I still didn’t have my driver’s license.  So, I (we) walked everywhere.  I’d even walk to downtown to buy sheet music.  But, my most notable walks were at night.  Instead of studying, I’d leave the dorm and start walking into the outlying town:  the residential parts … they felt safer.  And, as I walked, I’d sing songs to the trees, starts and dark houses along the way.  It’s surprising, thinking back now, that I was never picked up for suspicious behavior.

[Side note:  I lately I’ve tried to retrace those walks using Google Street View.  But, not only has the campus changed significantly, but so have the neighborhoods. I guess 50 years can make a big difference in things, not just people.]

I did go out on a few dates during this time.  But, the most memorable event was one where my date kept singing “shades of mediocrity” to herself and eventually went home with another guy.  Oh well, such is life in the big city.

I barely squeaked out a 2.0 GPA out of my first year.  But, the second year was a disaster: 0.38 GPA.  That was all F’s and one D.  Some might say I simply didn’t show up for school that year.  But, actually, I did.  A lot happened … just not scholastically.  I discovered wonderful books at the library that were not related to anything I was (supposed to be) studying.  I discovered fascinating experiments going on in the labs areas under the Stadium.  But, the problem was that I couldn’t calculate a three dimensional field vector to save my soul.

Now, that Spring, Bob said one of the most memorable things to me on one of our walks.  I had told him about a dream I’d had, and he replied, “you know, you are the little Dutchman with his finger in the dike holding back the waters that are the real you.  Some day that dike is going to break.  But, I doubt you will remember I told you this.”  Or something like that.  I remember.  And, I managed to hold back the water for a long, long time.

I was also in the Air Force ROTC program.  On the day during my second year that I knew life on campus was done for me, I went to the ROTC Commander and told him I was resigning and going Active.  He said, “Why would you do THAT, airman?” To, which I answered, “I’m flunking out, Sir.” Guess that was good enough for him.

I tried Summer Semester that year to try to retake some of the classes I needed.  But, it was no use.  Vietnam was escalating, the draft was in full swing, and my college deferment was in doubt. It was time to move on.

Oh, I nearly forgot.  I obtained two vices during those two years: drinking and smoking.  In truth, I gained the first vice the summer before college at Summer Camp.  I just expanded on it at school.  The second vice started with smoking a pipe.  I loved the smell of the tobacco.  But, the pipe was a messy thing to carry around and clean.  So, by my second year, I moved to cigarettes, which were much more manageable.  It would be decades before I quit both.

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Six Periods of Songwriting – Period 1

Continuing the story … in Utica I not only continued playing the piano.  But, started working with the church organ.  I had mixed feeling about that.  It was harder to play than the piano.  but, it had so many new and wonderful sounds.

I mentioned earlier that I was talked into the cello.  For a year, I lugged around that big old cello to and from school before I said enough of that and quit.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the sound of the cello.  It just wasn’t what my heart was into.

But, now we start to see my budding composing years ….

1 – The Beginnings

Three years of Utica and my dad was transferred north of the city to Stittville.  I continued with the piano, even staying after school (at Holland Patent Central School) to play on the school’s baby grand.  It was during this period when I composed my first song, calling it “We’re Leaving” in reference to graduation.  I played it for the two music instructors there.  One began to say “It sounds a lot like …” But, the other interrupted, saying “No. No. it’s different enough!”  But, I caught the drift of the first comment and dropped composing for awhile (like maybe 10 years).

I soon graduated from High School and went off to Syracuse University.  There I continued playing the piano in the dorm lounges.  One particular incident stayed with me for decades.  I was with my buddy Bob (I need to tell you more about Bob .. he was a true friend) and playing around on an Upright in a side lounge.  This girl was listening for awhile.  then she came over and said, “You are playing that.  but you aren’t feeling it.  You need to *feel* it.”  And, she left.  I was stunned and my buddy Bob was just besides himself with laughter.  Lesson learned.

So, maybe a month later, I was playing the baby grand in the main lounge.  I was just improvising, playing chords and melodies and seeing what came out of them.  I didn’t think it was anything special.  But, I must admit, it was just flowing out of my hands as if I was channeling someone else.  Suddenly, having had enough, I stopped and turned around back to my buddy Bob (yep, Bob was there too), who shook his hands and said, “why’d you stop?!!  That girl over there was totally entranced with your music!”  Well, maybe.  I don’t know.  She didn’t come over, the moment was gone, and we soon left.  But, it was another lesson learned: I actually could play that thing.

Towards the middle of my Sophomore year I got tired of seeing all the other, better piano players on campus.  So, I walked to a music store and bought myself an inexpensive 6-string guitar and some music books with guitar tabs on the pages.  And, so, I taught myself to play it.

On to Periods 2 and 3 ….

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Personal History, Part 3

Now, where did I leave off?  Ahhhh .. Utica!  Now, that was a whole new story.  A completely new set of discoveries and friends.  It was where I (and some friends) discovered rockets from Estes, and that leads to all sorts of stories.  🙂  Trips to the Park.  Trips to the Library.  And not to mention having to walk to school uphill both ways. LOL

Utica was also a time of learning.  Science projects were fun, and my friends were very creative.  they obtained parts from NASA and created a fuel cell that they improved every year.  By the third year, their fuel cell was amazing (at least to me).

But, in three years, Dad was transfered to Stittville.  Sounds like a small town and it was!  Two streets through town.  But, the house was nice and I was beginning to really come into my own.

I remember walking railroad tracks to rivers and pastures I’d never see from the road.  I remember nights playing crazy games with the neighbor’s kids.  I remember two Proms where I learned what an idiot I really was.  And, I began to learn about love.  Not “Love” … that would be a few more years away.  But, I learned about the heart and touching and longing and other things much more precious than “Love.”

This was also where I learned to drive.  Haha.  I obtained my driving permit and drove with my Mom many times into Utica to get groceries.  I never got around to taking my driver’s test.  I was in no hurry to drive alone.  I think I renewed my permit three time before running off to college.  And, there, I walked everywhere.  but, I get ahead of things.

That two years in Stittville was almost magical.  In Winter the snow was perfect for building.  And there was plenty of it.  I remember walking though a field one winter, crossing a fence and stepping off into a snow drift and was up to my chest in it.  It was so fun!

Springs brought new life and everything seemed to glow.  The days got longer.  It, too, was just plain fun.  And, the sap was running on the sugar maples, which meant the smell of boiling sap would soon fill the air.

Summer was just too busy with exploring, now that there was no school.  It’s amazing how my brother and I would wander the countryside.  You wouldn’t do that now a-days.

Fall was the most magical of all.  All the sugar maples turned bright red.  And the smell of burning leaves would fill the air.  The days started getting shorter. We were back to school.  but, that was good: good to see our friends again.

Graduation was fun but sad.  We were separating, spreading out across the state.  Some stayed to help on their parent’s farm.

I tried working that summer.  Got one job mixing “mud” for some bricklayers.  That was good.  I received many compliments on my “mud.”  When that job ended (yah .. just one foundation that summer), I took a waiter job at a resort area.  Never again.  I was never meant to be a waiter. LOL.

From this point, I jump to school at Syracuse University.  But, that’s my next installment.  See you back here then.

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