A new school
Having graduated from elementary school, which was grades one through six, we now moved into the white building. Of course in those days, we didn’t really have a graduation ceremony like they do today. Back then we just moved from one grade to the next. But in this case we moved to a new grade, the seventh, as well as a new building right next door. I understand that originally, the two entrances were kept separate, one for the girls and one for the boys. Following in this fashion, inside there are duplicate stairwells as well. When I attended school there it had become the Jr. High School grades, which was seven and eight and we could use whichever door we wanted.
I don’t know if this was by design or accident but we got a new school bus and driver. This driver was a vast improvement; he was what we’d call a cool guy. For one thing, he had hot-wired the bus and had a radio sitting on the floor next to him. Its antenna hung out the window, and could be brought in quickly if needed. You see radios were not standard issue on Sudbury school buses. What made it even better is that he had it tuned to our favorite radio station, WMEX.
Move to West Roxbury
Other than the apartment in Marlboro, the only other place I remember that my mother and grandmother lived in, was an apartment at 349 Baker Street in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. She moved here somewhere in the early 1950s. I would have been about five to seven years old. I don’t really remember her moving there but I do remember being there on weekends when I was with her. It was an average type of building with two apartments in it. We lived downstairs and an old French lady lived upstairs. She used to make the best French desserts. I really can’t remember what they were called but they were so light and flaky and covered with powdered sugar. Everyone loved them, actually today, I hate light flaky things. Other than that, my memories of the woman upstairs were all good; she was just a very pleasant person. Anyway, my mother and grandmother were living there at the time and I was there for a Christmas in the mid-1950s, when I got my first new bicycle. It was a three speed English bike with hand brakes, a real fancy model. It hadn’t snowed, but there was a lot of slush on the roads and was therefore slippery. I just had to take my new bike out for a test drive, so off I went. What a test it became! I ended up driving, or should I say sliding, into a truck that was parked on the side of the road. I went back to the house in tears with my tail between my legs. I felt so terrible because I had broken something just given to me by my mother and my heart was broken. I know that probably sounds like a normal simple feeling for a kid, but for me it was utterly devastating. I had broken the new bike that my mother had just given to me.
I remember one other thing given to me in this apartment. It was a remote controlled fire engine. It had a wire attached between the control and the truck, which isn’t like those radio controlled models of today. I used to follow it around the apartment all day long or until the batteries ran dead. I also remember buying a train set for myself while we lived there. I had saved and saved (mostly Christmas money I think) and picked out exactly the set that I wanted. Looking back, it was small and only went in a circle, but I loved it. Anyway, I walked down to the Western Auto store, in West Roxbury, and bought it all by myself. Well, as it turned out, I was supposed to wait for my mother to come home from work, oops. I still can’t figure out if she was angry with me because I had gone and gotten it or just disappointed that she wasn’t part of buying it with me. I sometimes wonder why small things like this still bother me today.
I think I’ll interject a few comments on that apartment here. It had big old stuffed furniture, the kind that you literally sank into and had to work at to get out of. My mother decided that the kitchen needed painting and after getting the ok from the landlord, painted it Chinese Red. I had built a model sailing ship that sat up on a dresser. During a bad rainstorm, the ceiling leaked above and filled my ship with water causing it to fall over or sank, so to speak. My mother had been dating a guy that owned a gas station and for Christmas he gave me a speedboat with a real gas engine on it. I tried to start it in the bathroom sink, but couldn’t. I was a wimpy kid and never used it. I remember washing and polishing her car and daydreaming that someone would come along and recognize what a wonderful job I was doing. I remember the way that one of my mother’s boyfriends was driving away as another was just arriving. They just missed each other. I remember the day that my mother got all dressed up for a date and she had even had sprinkles put in her hair. I didn’t like them and told her that they made her look cheap. She got real mad at me, went back into her room and combed them all out. She left on her date without saying a word to me.
Mother buys a new home
During the spring of 1958 my mother, while driving around looking for a new home, spotted a big hole in the ground with a foundation in its beginning stages. Turning around she wrote down the phone number of the builder and got on the phone almost immediately. The location was perfect, being right on Bridge St. in Dedham Massachusetts. It is about a mile and a half from where she worked, at the Veterans Hospital in West Roxbury. I guess you might be able to say that she built the house, because she was so involved in its construction from the very beginning. Initially, built as a two-bedroom cape cod with an unfinished upstairs, the plan was to finish the full shed dormer into two additional bedrooms and another bathroom at some point in the future. When the first phase of the house was completed, the unfinished upstairs became my bedroom. There was no heat, but it was warm enough. I had a bed, chest of drawers and all the room that I needed. There wasn’t another bedroom downstairs for me anyway and I was only there on weekends so it seemed to work out just fine.
Of course this area being unfinished allowed me to continue my experimentation into electricity and electronics. The builder had nicely installed pipes from the basement up to this area for future use as heating. However, until them, I used it as a raceway for wires. Looking back, it really was nothing special but for a kid with an imagination it was great fun running wires through it.
About this time, we all started listening to music. Much to the chagrin, I think of our parents, it was rock and roll. We’d hang around in each other’s rooms for hours just listening to records over and over. One day, while in Sudbury, I was up in my room listening to records on my record player. Playing one song repeatedly, I got the notion that Mum would probably love to hear this as well. I packed it all up and brought it down to the kitchen where Mum was cooking, set it up and announced that “you’re going to love this,” put the needle on the record and turned up the volume. After it played, I asked her “wasn’t that great?” Mum being Mum gave me this sweet accepting look and replied, “Why yes.” I packed it all back up and returned to my room, thinking that she truly had liked it. I’m really not so sure this was true, now that I’m a parent myself.
This was the 1050s and early 1960s and the music was and still is wonderful. Every generation has its’ form of music. Our parents had the big band sound and we had rock and roll. This is when I started getting interested in audio equipment. Of course at this time there wasn’t much that a kid could afford, but I did the best that I could, by working with my record player which of course was monophonic, stereo hadn’t really been introduced yet. I added inputs to allows connection from other sources as well as a connection for adding external speakers. I made it sound as good as I could. I also managed to get a record changer for playing multiple records, one after the other. For a kid, this technology was just the best.
Now I do not know this for sure, but I suspect that it was Peg’s idea that I should join Little League. She was always athletically minded and loved sports. If I remember right, her first teaching jobs were as a gym teacher. Anyway, I did not like sports before Little League, during Little League or even after Little League. Matter of fact I do not like sports to this day.
However, there I was standing around listening to the coach as he gave us some last minute instructions and the all-famous rah-rah pep talk. That’s the one, after which you all join hands, throw them into the air, yell something and run out onto the field to your position. This may have been ok, if I liked sports and therefore knew something about the game. Like the rules. I knew nothing, other than how to put on the glove. Peg had tried to play catch with me, which was certainly not an ego building experience. Another problem with the situation was that none of my friends were there. They may have been on other teams, but I didn’t know because Little League wasn’t something we talked about. So besides my support system of one, Peg, I was all alone when there.
Because I had never played baseball before, the coach started me out in the right field. Looking back, that was a good move on the coach’s part, as he certainly would not have wanted me on first base. There I was, for the most part just standing out there. If you know anything about Little League, there is little to no action in right field. After a while I got a little bored and started looking around, turning this way and that while fidgeting, paying no attention to the game. Per the law of averages, a ball has to head into the right field eventually. There I’d be, just standing there daydreaming, while the ball came floating to the ground right near me. Then all-heck would break loose as everyone started yelling. Of course, I had no clue why they were yelling. After a bit, I’d catch a word or two indicating that I should pick up the ball, wherever it is, and throw it to someone, who knows who though. After a little running around, I’d eventually find the ball and after a strong windup, throw it towards the general area of the pitcher’s mound, but to no one specific. The coach tried me in several positions with pretty much the same results.
Eventually it was my teams turn at bat. I guess they try to have everyone up at bat at least once; when my turn came, another ego boosting moment occurred. Let me just say, it’s the fault of those pesky rules, that I didn’t know. I got up to bat and on the first pitch, strike one. I’ll do better next time, so my ego says. People started to egg me on to do good, watch the ball, etc. Of course, Peg was the loudest of the bunch. Second pitch strike two. My hands are getting sweaty on the bat. It feels like Peg is about 15 feet tall and hovering over me with fangs leaking venom out of her mouth. Everyone is rooting for me, I think, but it doesn’t feel that way. I am so nervous. The pitcher swings and delivers the third pitch. I swing and slightly tap the ball and it drops about three inches in front of me. Time stands still as I stand there absolutely dumbfounded not knowing what to do. All of a sudden, people start yelling “Run, Run.” At the exact same moment, the catcher reaches around me, picks up the ball, taps me with it, and yells, “You’re out!” I continue to stand that dumbfounded, but now not knowing what just happened. After I’m dragged off the field and people turn their attention elsewhere, someone calmly explained to me that I had actually hit a fair ball. He explains that, it’s called a bunt and that I could have run for and made it to first base. Of course, the catcher may have picked the ball up, run after me, and tagged me out anyway, but I did get a fair hit. Knowing this helps a little as an adult, but back then, as a wimpy kid, it just didn’t make up for the embarrassment of it all. As you might guess, my Little League career was short lived.
We finally got my new bike to Sudbury and over the years that bike became sort of a legend in its own time. To say that I was rough on it might be somewhat of an understatement. I was very happy to have received it but thinking back, an English bike might not have been the best choice for me. A rugged dirt bike would have been much more practical. You see, everyone else had appropriate bikes and I went wherever they did and many times places not suited for a dainty bicycle. For example, riding along railroad tracks or up and down cement steps, is not where one should ride a bike like this. One afternoon Clark and I were riding around the church property going up and down the steps. After going up one set, and being at the platform by the front doors we got too close and my pedal went right into the spokes of his front tire. Needless to say, he came to an abrupt stop. He didn’t get hurt, but his bike sure needed some work after that. These were the types of, shall I call them accidents, which happened with our bikes. Slowly, over time things started to drop off and/or break. I remember when it was brand new, it had these nice shinny fenders. Those were the first to go!
Just for fun, here are a few quotes from my friend Jack:
“We would ride our bicycles all over town. It amazed me at your ability to ride on the track for long distances. I never had the balance to go more than a foot or two. You also were the first kid I knew who had an “English” bike. Looking back, you should have been paid for testing the durability of a ‘gentleman’s road bike.’”
“I remember your ingenuity of adapting an alternate braking system that seemed to work well. Of course that excludes the time you were showing off for my mother when you jammed your shoe into the front fork to brake the front wheel instead of the back wheel. It did result in a spectacular endo except the part that you couldn’t get your foot back out before face planting severely on the pavement. I don’t think Mom was as impressed as horrified.”
From this you might get an idea how I abused that bike of mine. We certainly had a heck of a time though; we rode, as Jack said, all over town, literally. For some reason the three speed shifter seemed to endure the longest. Really bent and banged up, but the gears in the back still worked. The brakes were long gone. I had to resort to inserting my foot between to front fork of the bike and the front tire to stop. You can imagine I started going through shoes rather quickly. My mother was sort of upset over this one, but she did keep buying new ones for me. When I started walking on the ground through a burned hole in the sole, they were replaced quickly. This did make for painful stops on the bike though, as I’m right handed and my right foot got hot. Using my left foot didn’t work so well.
13th birthday present
Based on what we’re read thus far on Dick, you know that we can always trust him to come through when things are at their brightest and make them worse. I was enjoying my 13th birthday with my Sudbury family and friends. We’d had a wonder dinner ad Mum had made me a special cake that we had all enjoyed. After the festivities, Dick asked if I’d like to go down to Twin Maples for an ice cream. His treat for my becoming a teenager. He had a friend that would be going along; it seemed he always had a friend at times like this. Anyway, I said yes and off we were. Oh have I mentioned that I recently learned that he most likely didn’t have a license at the time. And those license plates on the car were most likely, “borrowed.” So Dick hops in the driver’s seat, I get in the middle and his friend on the passenger outside. In those days, we had bench seats so three could fit in the front seat. By the way Twin Maples was a restaurant that existed east on Route 20 just about to the Wayland town line. The physical building is still there today, but it’s being run under another name.
So there I was feeling like I was about to be squeezed to death, it was so crowded. Just so you get the picture here. Dick is not the safest driver in the world, its winter time and there’s snow on the roads, even more in the parking lot. We pulled into the parking lot and time stood still. Dick got this strange look on his face and looked over at this friend, who got a similar look on his face and simply nodded. To this, Dick announced that we’re going to really celebrate your birthday Tommy. Looking back, I wonder if he thought this was some sort of rite of passage celebration. If so, I honestly didn’t need one. Anyway, he pushed down on the gas, accelerated, and cranked the steering wheel hard to the left! The car went into a spin in the middle of the parking lot. What fun they thought it was. I was terrified! When the car stopped spinning, another thing had stopped as well, the engine! I think it’s kind of comical looking back at it, here he was trying to impress a kid with how big and macho he is and we ended up sitting there for about 15 minutes cranking the engine to get it started again. If I weren’t so scared or was it relieved I think I would have said something like, nah, nah, told you so. But, instead I sat there and when it was time, went in and enjoyed my ice cream.
Over in Concord, north of Sudbury, is Walden Pond. Henry David Thoreau lived in a cabin here for several years, during which he wrote his famous book Walden. Just to the west and not far from this is the not famous Whites Pond. My tales emanate from this pond.
My friend jack’s brother, Jim, is, I believe, two years older than he is and therefore got his driver’s license before Jack or I could. Occasionally on a hot day, he and his friends would hop in the car and head for Whites Pond for swimming to cool off. Whenever we could, we’d beg to tag along, which usually meant squeezing into the back seat. The privately owned shoreline had houses lining it so access was limited. However, there was one area for a public beach, which I believe still exists today. From the beach, you could look across to the woods of the other shore. It was very peaceful. There was also, again I think there is still one there but most likely replaced by now, a raft. That raft was such fun to dive off. We also created out techniques for handstand dives as well as cartwheel dives. We all had such fun on the raft and actually Whites Pond in general.
One time that we were there, a scuba tank and mask appeared. I don’t remember who had brought it, but most everyone gave it a try including myself. It took a little egging on by the other kids to get me to do it, but eventually they strapped this tank to me back and I gave me some basic instructions on breathing and moving in the water. Moving didn’t seem to be a problem, it was that breathing part that was a problem for me. Standing there in the water, they showed and watched me breathe. When all was looking good, they told me to slowly kneel down and sink into the water while continuing to breathe as I was. Everything would go fine until the mask began going under water. At that point, I just stopped breathing. They’d bring me up and go through it all again, with the same results. After several tries, it was someone else’s turn. So much for my first scuba lesson, it was back to swimming for me.
Swimming at Al’s pond
Another pond that we used to swim in was in front of Al Clark’s house. Let me rephrase that a bit, we swam there a few times until I ran into a snake. Jack tells a slightly exaggerated tale of this event. It is colorful, but a little overrated. His story goes something like this. He saw me defy gravity. I dove into the water, but stopped in mid-air when I saw a snake beneath me. I stayed suspended until the snake went by. I then swam to the opposite shore without my head ever getting wet. Now, if this were true it certainly be an impressive feat as he claims. Now this is how I remember the story. I was swimming across the pond and had reached about the middle. It was then that I spotted a snake swimming next to me. I immediately panicked and swam like hell for the shore. I never did see that snake again. Moreover, nor do I want to.
The Barn, continues
Through the years, the barn continued to stand proudly for everyone’s use and use it we did. There just seemed to be no end to the enjoyment that she was able to give us all. I know it was just a physical building standing there, but at times, it almost seemed to take of a life of its own and become one of us, as if playing with us. It’s kind of a hard thing to describe, unless you were fortunate enough to have grown up in such an environment during such a magical time.
Let’s get along with some stuff that happened while I was in Jr. High School. Of course, now I was a big cheese. I mean, I was no longer in elementary school, so I must know everything, right?
Directly above the center of the third floor of the barn was the cupola on the top of the roof. Once, I remember seeing a ladder stretched from this third floor loft all the way up to the cupolas. Honestly, I can’t remember if I went up there or not, but I find it highly unlikely that I did, being the chicken that I was. I do remember, however, using a long downspout to try to kill pigeons that were always up in there. Didn’t ever get any, but it was fun trying. Those darn things just kept moving too fast.
I also remember swinging on a rope out over the main floor (covered with lots of loose hay) from the third floor loft, letting go and landing on the main floor. We were all over these three levels, up and down ladders, jumping, from level to level. It’s really anyone’s guess why we didn’t break any bones doing all this. It’s funny, even while doing all of this I was really scared of heights. But, whenever someone else was around I would try and not show any of that fear. Sometimes when I was up there alone, I’d climb up onto the top loft and not be able to get down. I’d just have to lay down in the middle of the loft so that I couldn’t see how far down it was. I felt like the edge was like a magnet that would pull me over it, I were to get too close. Eventually, I’d quickly get up and scoot down the ladder.
With the hay removed, this area became an entirely new play place. There were scuttles (trap doors between the floors) that were always fun. Two great games to play in the barn were ‘you’re it’ and ‘hide n seek’ as there were plenty of places to go. Also, there were multiple floors so you could now get lost very easily so that if you didn’t want to be found, no one could for quite a bit.
Then there was what, I’ll call the pigeon shit event and I’ll use a quote from my friend Jack to describe it. “I remember the time Dave McKenzie was with us. For some reason you had gone down into the basement through the floor trap door. Dave was swinging and was coming forward again when he noticed that you were coming up the ladder and almost at floor level. He was afraid that he would hit you and attempted to stop by putting his size 12 feet down in a snowshoe fashion. The results was he scooped up hay, pigeon crap from the floor, and it dumped on your head. The sight of it made us laugh but I don’t think you saw too much humor in it.”
Then there was the time that, again I missed the humor in, that I was swinging on this rope between the barn door header and the loft. Again, Jack sums it up nicely here: “You also failed to see the humor on that swing when you were about to kick off of the door header when the rope broke propelling you out the door like a shot and landing in the unforgiving rocky barnyard. It scared the hell out of me as I saw you go from the side. I was afraid you would be seriously hurt. I was greatly relieved that you were able to walk away.”
As you can imagine, we did have some great times in the barn and we all actually lived to tell about it.
Hanging from the second story loft opposite the main barn doors, was a basketball hoop attached to a backboard. Again, with the hay removed, this made a perfect area for many-a-game of basketball. There’s an old saying, “build it and they will come.” That seems to hold true when it came to this basketball “court.” It seems like all of our friends and their friends came to play. I have no idea who might have put the hoop up there, but it appeared one day and just became a magnet that drew kids to it. None of us were really any good at the game, but we did have fun. Of course, the shortest, that’s me, were at a disadvantage trying to get that ball way up there and through the hoop.
I don’t remember there being any scoring and we didn’t seem to argue at all. We were just a bunch of kids with one goal in mind and that was to have fun. We did get some scrapes and bangs, but nothing serious. Most of our “injuries” were the type that would wait until dinnertime when we’d go home and get a Band-Aid put on.
To the dump
All my friends in school knew that I was in to tinkering with electronics and one day I was told that a company called Lincoln Labs, in the neighboring town of Lincoln, was taking a lot of used equipment to the dump over there. My eyes twinkled and I couldn’t pass this one up. When I got home from school on the bus, I told Mum about it and asked if I could go up and see if Joanne Schofield would give me a ride over to Lincoln so I could see what they had put there. She agreed and off I was. Fortunately, for me Joanne was home and she had the time to take me over. It was like finding a pirate’s treasure chest, to me. There was all sorts of rack-mounted equipment with switches, dials and meters. I just knew that I’d be able to do lots with this stuff. Of course, Joanne had no clue what any of it was but gladly lent me a hand getting what I selected into her car. Returning to the farm and unloading my treasure, we then went out on another run. One carload was just not enough. Boy, I was in heaven. Over the next months, I moved pieces from this chassis to that, incorporated function, and just had a heck of a lot of fun. This, of course, did not help the reputation of my room and the fear of folk to come in it. I still did know that they wouldn’t be electrocuted upon entering.
The entire family and friends would gather for this annual tradition. Preparation would take days and because the occasion is for a group of up to 50 people, not just Mum would be involved in it. On the day, people, including but not limited to Ann, Bunny, Joanne, and Romaine would arrive with large plates of food. People came from far and wide, for example: Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut. The one thing that I just could not warm up to were the oysters. Mum would open these large cans and pour these raw oysters into large baking pans. I’d like to share with you what it looked like to me, but I’ll save you from that mental image.
I believe it was scalloped oysters, they were making. Although the farm, has since been sold, at the time of this writing Ann has continued this tradition to this day, thus getting the new generations get together at least once a year. What a wonderful time this was for all, to see everyone that you don’t on a day to day basis. When you got up from the table, you certainly never went hungry after that meal. Just the opposite in fact, you usually had to go sit in a corner for a while. Or go for a walk to get rid of that bloated feeling.
While I’m on the subject of Thanksgiving, let me jump ahead to Thanksgiving, 1963. After eating with her family, Ingrid, who was later to become my wife, arrived at the farm. Al Clark greeted her at the front door, handed her an apron, showed her where the sink and dirty dishes were and said, if you’re going to be part of this family then you need to wash the dishes. There was no discussion about the fact that she hadn’t even eaten there. She just went to the sink and spent most of the rest of the day washing dishes. She was welcome at the farm after that.
Clark was two years older that I and we did all sorts of stuff together that boys are supposed to do. We whittled sticks with our knives, went fishing, and all kinds of other stuff. He always seemed to have the cool stuff, most likely because he was older; he always included me though. He even had a shoot range down in the basement of the house over in Maynard. That’s where I learned to shoot a 22 rifle. Later I took lessons and actually was a “fairly” good shot, even recognized by the Captain of my ship in the Navy. Oops, let us get back on track. Clark also got a bow and arrow set and let me use it, occasionally. After some time passed, he was able to get a nice high power job. By this time, I had finally gotten a small set, but at least we could go out together each having our own.
One day we were over in the parking lot of Our Lady of Fatima Church, with our bows and arrows. We were shooting at this and that, just killing time playing. Then I got this brilliant idea! One might call it a stroke of genius or just plain dumb, I’ll let you decide. I decided, for some unknown reason, to shoot an arrow up into the air. Well, here comes that rocket scientist thinking again. Without a thought, I aimed it straight up, fired and watched it and watched it! All of a sudden, I realized that I couldn’t see it any longer. Shit run! But, which way! It could be coming down in any direction! Well, I started to take a step and it came down! Are you ready for the unbelievable part? I had on a loose pair of loafer shoes and as I was stepping forward, the heel of my foot lifted out of the heel of the shoe. Unbelievably, at that instant the arrow arrived and went right through the heal of my shoe and stuck into the parking lot! I stood there not really understanding what had just happened, but I couldn’t move. When I realized what had just happened, feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me, I got scared. But, then I saw Clark and not wanting to show any fear, as any normal guy would do, I just pulled the arrow out and started joking with him about it. To this day, I just can’t forget it and also think about how lucky I was to take that one step forward. Was it God that made me take that step? I wonder if this might be the reason, or at least one of them, why I don’t do stupid or dangerous things any longer?
By the way, just prior to writing this, I was in contact with Clark and he did confirm that this did in fact happen as I have described it here.
Automatic worm extractor
WARNING: Unless you are familiar with building and using electrical devices, do not attempt to build this. It could result in serious injury or death.
Now, here is a device that I’m sure that you’ve most likely never heard of before. At the time I was subscribing to magazines such as Popular Mechanics, Popular Electronics and so on. I’d read them monthly fantasying about building this and that from the pages of those magazines. It was magical and did wonders for my imagination. At the time we were really into fishing a lot, and therefore on article truly hit home. It discussed the concept of building a device that would allow you to cause worms to crawl right up and out of the ground. Now this I figured was definitely superior to randomly digging holes trying to find them. What could be better than having them come up to us? I read that article over and over to make sure that I understood the concepts of exactly how it works and was it safe? After all, it did plug into a regular house outlet and one could hurt oneself.
I built this in a wooden box and when first plugged in for the initial test those darn worms did just as the plans had suggested, they came right to the surface. The theory of this device is that you push the rods down into the dirt about 5 feet or so apart. An electric current will flow between them and heat things up a bit. This the worms don’t like and try to escape. If the dirt is very dry, you might want to spray it with a garden hose before using this extractor to moisten the soil.
Remember, you have been for-warned as to the dangers of using this device without proper training. I have only placed it here as part of my story of things that I did as a child.
A Kiss Lost
When we were about to ‘graduate’ from Jr. High School there was a girl, I can’t remember her name, which was kissing guys to celebrate the event. I guess it was kind of saying have a good summer and I’ll see you in High School. Well, she kissed quite a few guys and when I was asked if I wanted a kiss, I was caught off guard because she wasn’t really a friend of mine. But I sure knew that she was pretty. Anyway, she said that it would be ok to kiss me. But, I knuckled under in fear or shyness. I just could not do it but, I sure wanted to. I managed to make some kind of lame excuse and joke about why I wouldn’t, but it was all a lie. She asked a few times and then finally just said ok your loss and walked away. I was so disappointed and mad at myself. I really did want to kiss her, but why couldn’t I? Where did this fear come from? To this day, I still don’t know.
Mother’s wish turned down
Also around 1961 or 1962, work on finishing the upstairs in my mother’s house had been progressing and was nearing completion. There were now two bedrooms, a bathroom and two very large closets. She moved her bedroom from downstairs and that room became the dining room. On a visit to her house, she told me of her plan. Now that the house was complete and I had a room there and she wanted me to move to Dedham and live with her. I could then attend Dedham High School.
I flatly refused. Up to this point in my life, I had lived and gone to school in Sudbury. All my experiences were there, both good and bad. Yes, I had spent time with my mother, but it was always on her schedule. I never really understood why she wouldn’t take time off from work to be with me. From my perspective, what she didn’t understand was that Sudbury was my home. All my friends and family were there. Speaking with her about it now as an adult, her feeling were clearly hurt a lot, she wanted me with her. In later years, she’ll claim that I was the reason that she had built the house in the first place.