Saturday, October 28, 2017

My Computer Science Education

I received my undergraduate and master’s level education at Michigan State University. Here is a synopsis of the “state of the art” from 50 years ago and a few perspectives.

Computer Hardware at MSU

The first computer at MSU was the MISTIC (MIchigan STate Integrated Computer) which was built in 1956-1957. It was based on vacuum tube technology (2000 vacuum tubes!) and used paper tape or cards for both input and output. It was classified as a “supercomputer” at the time with a capacity of 1024 40-bit words (about 5K). It weighed a ton, occupied an entire room, was supported by a staff of 10 (on each shift), and consumed nearly 30 kilowatts of power.

In 1963 MISTIC was replaced by a transistor-based CDC 3600 which was in turn replaced by a CDC 6500 in 1968. These were also classified as supercomputers.

While the MISTIC was no longer operational when I arrived in 1966, it was still talked about. I worked on the 3600 for the early part of my education there, built a simulator of the 6500 before it arrived so we could get used to programming it, watched the 6500 be loaded into the computer center (by taking out a 2nd floor window and lifting the various components up with a crane), then used the 6500 for the remainder of my education there.

Computer Science Degrees at MSU

The first few courses were taught immediately after MISTIC became operational. They were initially elective courses in the Electrical Engineering department. The College of Engineering at the time just offered the five traditional disciplines – Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Metallurgy. Agricultural Engineering was also offered as a joint program with the College of Agriculture.

In 1966, a sixth discipline, Engineering Science, was added to the college’s offerings. This was a more applied engineering discipline. There were three “flavors” – Computer Science, Materials Science, and Systems Science. Computer Science became its own degree program in 1968, and in 1969 Computer Science became a separate department in the College of Engineering and graduate degrees were then offered. Systems Science became a separate degree program shortly thereafter. Materials Science became a department in 1971.

My Educational Track at MSU

When I graduated from high school I had never heard of computers. Since only government agencies, large research universities such as MSU, and large corporations had their own computers, that was not surprising. Since my strengths were both mathematics and science, I initially enrolled in the College of Engineering for the fall of 1966. Since all first-year engineering students had the same required courses, one did not select a specific discipline until their second year. However, I was tending toward Electrical Engineering as that was the most mathematical of the disciplines. One of the first courses I took was an Intro to Computing which was FORTRAN programming. I immediately fell in love with computers.

With a heavy course load and a few credits from having taken AP Calculus in high school, I became a sophomore in the spring quarter (MSU was on the quarter system back then). That fall, having completed the general engineering requirements, I began taking EE courses, the first one being semi-conductor design. I quickly decided that EE was a bit too technical to me and not to my liking the way that computer science was. I changed majors to Engineering Science (then just a year-old program), but taking courses that were applicable to both the computer science and systems science variations in that program. I was still taking a very heavy course load (18-22 credits a quarter) and was on track to graduate in just three years in 1969.

In 1968, just being a year away from graduation, computer science became an official degree program. I quickly changed my major to computer science. There were only 7 BS in CS degrees awarded in 1968. In 1969 that increased to 26 BS degrees of which I was awarded one. It was primarily a male-dominated degree program (as were all the engineering disciplines) with only one female graduate in 1968 and two in 1969. The engineer science disciplines all required two minors in addition to the major – mine were in mathematics and systems science – because I had kept my options open until my final year I was only one course short of having a systems science degree as well.

With the graduate program starting that fall, I decided to remain and work on an MS in Computer Science as well. The graduate program was pretty small as well in those early years and there were often only 3-5 students in a class. I received my MS in CS in the winter of 1971 (the only graduate in that discipline that quarter). By then I had also decided to get a second graduate degree – an MBA. I was taking several courses that could apply to both degrees. I received my MBA in the summer of 1971, having thus been awarded three degrees in just five years.

Changes in the MSU Offerings Since Then

The College of Engineering has expanded to offer degree programs in Applied Engineering Science, Biosystems Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Environmental Engineering.

The Computer Science Department awards roughly 150 BS, 20 MS, and 15 PhD degrees each year. The CS program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. (As a side note, for 6 years in the late 1980s and early 1990s I was an accreditor for CSAC, the Computer Science Accreditation Commission, and the forerunner of the CAC.)

Some Perspectives

When I received my BS degree in 1969, there were very few institutions who had degree programs. None of my professors had CS degrees – they were degreed in things like engineering, mathematics, social science, and other disciplines.

While the growth in BS-CS degrees offered at MSU has increased from 7 in 1968, to 26 in 1969, to 150 today, that is not nearly sufficient to meet the demand for those with computer science knowledge today.

CS degrees are still quite male-dominated, although perhaps less so than other engineering disciplines. But they are also heavily dominated by non-US citizens. Based on last names and pictures, the full-time faculty appears to be 18 Asians, 6 from the Middle East, 3 from Germany, and only 4 from the US. There are also only 5 women out of 31 faculty (all but one of them being Asian). The student body is also quite heavily Asian.

Although it was my CS background that got me my initial job, technology is a constantly changing field and one has to keep getting retrained and re-educated to keep up with these changes. But something that carried on all throughout my career were the things that I learned in those Systems Science courses, essentially the ability to look at the larger picture and envision how technology can then be applied to help improve things. So I would advise those looking at a CS education to not get too enamored with the more technical CS courses, but to balance those with course that foster “systems thinking”.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Genealogy Story – Illiterate Ancestors

I was recently watching an older episode of Who Do You Think You Are? – the British version. At one point in the episode they were looking at a document that was signed by the individual’s ancestor and noted that it was “signed” with an “X”, indicating that their ancestor was illiterate. This got me thinking about my own ancestors and whether any of them were illiterate.

I had noted in an earlier blog ( that literacy in England was only 5% in the late 1400s, but that by the time that my ancestors came to the US in the early 1600s it was nearly 50%. The US did not begin asking questions about the ability to read/write until the 1850 census. So the only way to find illiterate ancestors would be individuals who were still living in 1850 or who were born after that or to find a document that required their signature.

Generally, an individual’s literacy will be based on their parents, so if their parents were literate then they will be also. One’s educational achievement will also tend to be at least as great as their parents. People also tend to marry others in their same economic strata so both parents pass on the same level of literacy to their children. My grandparents had a grammar school education. My parents’ generation generally had a high school education, and those in my generation will often have a college education. The only exceptions to this being based on your parents will be if there is some sort of significant event in the family/individual – such as an economic crisis where the family is plunged into extreme poverty.

An example of a “significant event” from my own ancestry is when my maternal grandfather’s mother died in childbirth and his father, either feeling not able to raise an infant or feeling reminded of his wife’s death every time he saw his young son, sent him to the next town to be raised by foster parents (my grandfather’s older siblings were not sent away, so I tend to favor the latter reasoning). Thus, my grandfather’s education would have been influenced by his foster parents instead of his own father.

Armed with this information, I began looking back through my family tree to see if I could find any illiteracy.

My mother’s family all seem to be literate. Since her direct ancestors were early immigrants to America in the 1630s and included ministers and others who attended college, the level of literacy was quite high. I could not find any examples of illiteracy there. And since Pierponts were minor royalty in England it is likely that they were literate for several centuries before. The same was true of my paternal grandmother’s line. Her family was Jewish and lived in Brooklyn where they were involved in industries such as watch making. I could not find any examples of illiteracy there either. That left only my paternal grandfather’s line.

I went back another three generations through those who were listed in the 1850 census or later. It was not until I looked at my great*3 grandfather, Silas Russell (1803-1886), and his wife, Hester [Disbrow] Russell (1807-1898), that I was able to find any illiteracy. All the census records from 1850 and forward record them as not able to read or write. I was also able to locate a document where they “signed” with a mark of “X”. The document was an application for a civil war pension for their daughter whose husband was killed in the war. Since she was born at home, they had to attest to that fact and on one of the 45 pages of the application that attestation and their “signature” can be found. This is as exciting to me as to such a similar mark was found by the person on the TV show!

I have not been able to document any other instances of illiteracy among my ancestors. Since older census records, either in the US or in England, do not ask that question, and since finding other documents that require signing is like looking for a “needle in a haystack” that would be quite difficult. So finding one such document is quite amazing.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Three New Learnings – Letter P

There are always new things to learn. Here are three that I learned in the last week or so – all beginning with the letter P.


This past week I published my 15th book. This one is titled “Introdukshon di e Bukinan
di Tèstamènt Bieu” (translated – Introduction to the Books of the Old Testament). It is written in the Papiamentu language. I had never heard of this language until recently and was told that it is the native language of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao – the ABC islands off the northern coast of Venezuela. I then looked up Papiamentu in the dictionary (e.g. Wikipedia) where it is called a Portuguese Creole language. This was a bit confusing to me at first, as the only languages I knew which had the Creole designation were the Louisiana Creole language that is spoken only by a few thousand people in that US state and the Haitian Creole language which is also French based and is spoken by over 12 million people.

But it turns out that I had some learning to do. According to Wikipedia, “A creole language is a stable natural language developed from a mixture of different languages.” There are examples of English-based Creole, Spanish-based Creole, French-based Creole, Portuguese-based Creole and others. Papiamentu is derived from Portuguese and African, with influences of English, Dutch, and Spanish. It is spoken by roughly 250,000 people in the ABC islands.

So not only did I learn about Papiamentu, but I had to correct what I thought I knew about Creole!


I will often do some ad-hoc research on One that I did recently was in order to see if there was a connection between our former neighbors (for 25 years) across the street whose house we recently purchased for my daughter to live in. Her maiden name was Peebles. But this was the same last name (and a somewhat unusual one) of an ex-husband of my wife’s cousin in Michigan.

After tracing the family line back for both these two people I found that they did indeed have a common ancestor, namely William Peebles who was born to a man of the same name who emigrated from the United Kingdom in the late 1600s to Prince Georges County, Virginia. So our neighbor is the 7th cousin (once removed) of the ex-husband of my wife’s 1st cousin (once removed). While this is not a close connection, the fact that I could document a connection between our former neighbor and my wife’s cousin is pretty interesting to me. One of the family lines stayed in Virginia until recently and then migrated to PA, the other moved from VA to TN to AL to MI.

For those who have shopped at it, there is also a Peebles Department Store chain with its headquarters in Virginia whose founder is also a descendant of the same William Peebles.

It’s always interesting to me to discover connections such as this through my genealogical research.

Polish Jews

A few days ago I watched an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are.” This is the UK version, not the US version of the same name. The episode I watched was about Jane Seymour because that was the only episode that season that starred an individual I knew (because she had appeared on American television). One of the things that I like about the UK version is that television there is not loaded with commercials like US TV shows, so a one-hour show is 57-59 minutes long instead of the 40 or so minutes of a one-hour US show.

The UK version is also not sponsored by, so instead of using technology to look up records they concentrate on showing the original records from churches, town libraries, and other sources as the person being highlighted is traveling around from place to place. Thus you get a bit more of the real history as you see the places involved.

In the case of Jane Seymour, she was trying to find more information about her father’s family who were from Poland in the mid-1900s. The first part of the investigation was in Warsaw which is where the family was from. They not only visited the places where her family was from, but showed old photographs of the life of Polish Jews during WWII when few Jews from Poland survived the Nazis – initially through imprisonment in the Warsaw ghetto and later through the concentration camps where all Jews were being sent.

According to my DNA analysis (via, 20% of my DNA is of Eastern European Jew origin (centered on Poland), so this background of Jane Seymour is a big piece of my heritage as well. My Jewish ancestry is through my paternal grandmother – her maiden name was Vera Levy. She was born in Brooklyn, NY, and lived in a series of tenement houses surrounded by other immigrant families – from England, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and other countries.

My grandmother’s great-grandfather, Lewis Levy, had immigrated to NY in 1851 from a suburb of London, England. But it appears that the Levy family were part of a Jewish community in England who had come there from Eastern Europe a few generations prior to that. I have not been able to confirm where/when the Levy family moved to England, but I have confidence that my DNA analysis is correct. So while the Levy family did not have the same type of experience that Jane Seymour’s family did a century or so later, I was still able to identify with the discrimination that Jewish families in Europe experienced.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Short Story – The Carwash

Benjamin Morrison had been running the carwash for several decades. The sign on the side of the building said, “Benjamin Morrison’s Carwash, Specializing in Packards”. He loved the classic lines of those motor cars! But the Packard Corporation had gone out of business a few years before and had been in decline for quite some time. So the volume of the carwash business had been going down, too. He originally had three bays in the wash building and three bays in the drying/polishing building, but now only one bay in each building was active. That was the center bay in the wash building because it had slightly wider doors that more easily accommodated the newer, wider models, but the left-most bay in the drying building because it had better light from the large window on the side of the building. That necessitated a left-hand jog when going from one building to the next, but his customers did not seem to mind – with the exception of old Mr. Abernathy who didn’t like any change in his routine and who worried about scraping the sides of his beloved ’26 Packard.

But Benjamin was getting older, too. And since he was actively involved in the business, which was all manual labor and individual attention given to each vehicle, he needed to find someone younger to run the business. His son in Arizona had been getting more insistent that he retire and move there and he admitted that the prospect of a warmer climate was getting very appealing. But who to give the business to? His son and family were all in Arizona and his daughter and son-in-law had their own careers in New York City and no children. After much thought, he made a decision.

Jim Smith had been working for Ben for many years. He had the same sort of dedication to the Packard and its classic lines as Ben did. He had started out as a washer back when the business still had all three bays open, and now he was in charge of the drying/polishing bay. He didn’t have a title, but he was essentially a supervisor in the business. When Ben announced that he was going to be retiring to Arizona and wanted to sell the business to Jim for a very nominal price, Jim was a bit shocked. He knew all the aspects of the business, but the generosity of Ben was overwhelming. It took him several seconds to regain his composure before he could accept Ben’s offer.

It didn’t take long for Jim to realize that the business needed a few changes in order for it to survive. While he kept the name in honor of his former boss, he changed the “Specializing in Packards” to “Specializing in Classic Automobiles.” He also upgraded the lights in the center drying bay so customers could drive straight ahead from the washing bay. Mr. Abernathy was most appreciative of this latter change! The increase in business was not dramatic, but it was enough to make it viable. Now collectors of vintage Cadillacs, Fords, Hudsons, and other brands besides Packards could be found going through the carwash. Because the carwash was an entirely manual effort, owners of vehicles with soft tops or open touring cars were much more open to visit Benjamin Morrison’s Carwash. Jim had enough business to keep only one set of bays operational. But at least the business could continue.

It was about 15 years later that the aging process caught up with Jim, too. He was struggling with arthritis in his knees and needed to be able to do something before he was totally disabled. He had kept the business going, but he had not gotten rich from it. He believed that he had enough saved up to retire to Florida where he believed the weather would be more amenable to him. If anything, business was once again heading downhill. But he remained dedicated to providing a useful service to those individuals who owned classic cars and wanted the kind of care and attention to detail that Jim was able to offer. But like Ben before him, Jim was struggling with whom to pass the business along to.

Jim’s one son was well established in his own career in finance and had no interest in following in his father’s footsteps. The best possibility was Jim’s granddaughter, Rebecca. She had worked for Jim off and on for the past several years. Although she was in her 20’s and not yet married, she also did not have a career and had worked at a series of low-paying jobs since finishing high school. But whenever she worked for Jim in between other jobs she seemed to like working on the procession of classic cars that came through the carwash. Jim thought long and hard and then made his decision.

Rebecca, or Becky as she liked to be called, was thrilled with the prospect of having long-term employment at something that she enjoyed doing. It wasn’t long after Jim had turned over the keys and moved south that she put her own stamp on the business. She painted the aging buildings a bright yellow and renamed it as “Becky’s Carwash” with the “Becky’s” in bold black script – she had never totally understood her grandfather’s keeping the business named for a man who had died several years before.

Becky attributed the increase in business to her decision to repaint the buildings and rename the business. During busy summer weekends she even had to open a second set of bays to handle the increased traffic. She hired and trained several local youth during those busy times. She was convinced that her upgrades were the cause of the increase. And while she knew that most of the owners of the classic cars that were her staple were middle-aged men, she would have been shocked to realize that the reason for the increase in traffic was because of Becky herself. Those otherwise car-focused gentlemen just liked the sight of the blond well-proportioned Becky dressed in t-shirt and shorts leaning over their vehicles as she ensured that they were well cleaned, dried and polished.

It was about fifteen years later that Becky had to deal with the decision to sell the business. She was now Rebecca Johnson, having been married to Andy for nearly ten years. He was employed by a large corporation in the nearby city and was being considered for a position in the corporate headquarters in Chicago that came with a substantial promotion. He and Becky had no children to tie them down so the only thing holding them back was the carwash business. Andy was putting a lot of pressure on Becky to sell it so they could move.

Even though the business was once again in a decline, primarily because now in her early 40’s and married Becky was not the draw that she had once been, she still loved the carwash. So it was with reluctance that she agreed to sell. Andy was even willing to help finance the sale if need be. Becky’s choice for a new owner was Jeremy Mills. Jeremy had been one of the local youth who had helped during the summer rushes back several years ago. He also continued to help during his breaks from school. He had graduated from college the previous year with a degree in marketing, but was still unemployed. When he was not out “pounding the pavement” looking for a job, he would continue to help out by relieving other employees when he could. Becky could see a lot of her younger self in Jeremy.

Jeremy was startled when Becky approached him about taking over the business. And when he learned that Andy was willing to not only have her sell it at a pretty reasonable price, but that he was also willing to help finance it by holding the mortgage, he knew that this was his golden opportunity. With the approval of his parents, with whom he still lived, he enthusiastically agreed.

But Jeremy did not immediately try to put his stamp on the business. For several months, he kept the name of the business and spent much of his time trying to find out what his customers wanted. He interviewed all those who came through the bay doors, finding out where they lived, why they patronized the business, what they liked/disliked, what they thought of his pricing, and what changes they would like to have. He also spent two days at the county antique and custom car show – not looking at the cars, although he would have liked to, but talking to the owners, asking if they used a service like his, how far they would be willing to drive, what would convince them to go to a business like his. From this he also received information about a few other, larger car shows on the east coast and he traveled to those as well, asking the same sort of questions. By the start of winter, he had decided what he needed to do to make the business successful.

The new name of the business was not going to be personalized. Rather, he was going to call it “Classic Carwash and Detailing”. The latter part of the name was because he was planning to erect yet a third building to focus on interior detailing. This building would have two bays, one of which would be staffed and the other fully equipped but not staffed. It would also have a small office section on the end. In addition to the staffed offerings, Jeremy planned on offering to rent out bays to classic car owners who liked to do their own work and who did not want others touching “their” car. He was able to get financing for this new building by approaching a local bank where the loan officer was most impressed by Jeremy’s marketing results that showed how much demand there would be for these new offerings, and even letters of commitment from classic car owners who wanted to use those services. Jeremy spent the winter months having the new detailing building erected, cleaning out the bays of the other two buildings – some of which had not been used for a couple of decades, repainting the older buildings a more classic light brown color instead of the now faded yellow, and putting up new signs – covered until the grand re-opening was scheduled in the spring.

Five years later, on a sultry summer day, Jeremy was sitting in his office and thinking about how far he had come. He was still not yet thirty, but he owned his own business – the loans having been paid off the previous year. All eight bays were busy, most with his employees doing the work, but the rest with car owners who preferred to do their own work. Jeremy also had three franchises of “Classic Carwash and Detailing”. The oldest one was in a suburb of Chicago and was partially owned by Andy and Becky Johnson – Andy because he knew a good investment when he saw one, and Becky because … well, she still liked cars. The franchise in Virginia Beach had been going for two years now, and the latest one near Memphis was scheduled to open on Labor Day weekend. Jeremy had already booked his ticket so that he could participate in the opening ceremony.

As he scanned the wall opposite his desk which had pictures and a framed newspaper article of his own grand re-opening, Jeremy thought back to that day. The local newspaper and the local TV station had both sent reporters to cover the event. Even the mayor had stopped by to say a few words and have a photo op. There were also a few special guests. Andy and Becky had flown in from Chicago as an investor and prior owner. And Becky had even convinced her grandfather to fly up from Orlando. Jim was now confined to a wheelchair, but that did not stop him from rolling up to the microphone to offer his comments on the event. But the star of the event was a 1926 Packard. Although Mr. Abernathy had been dead for over 20 years, Jeremy had located Colin Abernathy who had inherited his grandfather’s car when he passed on. Jeremy had presented Colin with a complementary “Gold Gloves Special” which included a carwash, polishing, and thorough interior detailing. After all, it was partly that car which had inspired the start of the business so many years ago – “Benjamin Morrison’s Carwash, Specializing in Packards”!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Wolcott Memories – Being a bad boy

The most recent posting on the website, written by my friend Florence Goodman, was part of a continuing series about Wolcott residents who served in WWI. One of the featured soldiers this month was Albert James Homewood. Two things about this article caught my eye – one that his mother’s maiden name was Frances Ella Alcott, thus meaning that he was a descendant of James Alcox/Alcott who was one of the earliest settlers to the area and thus was a relative of mine as I am also descended from the same individual. The other is that information from the article was obtained from Elaine [Homewood] Martinelli whom I knew growing up as she was only a few years younger than I was. I contacted Elaine via Facebook and we shared a few things. But that got me thinking about an incident of my childhood that I want to relate in detail here.

I was a “good kid” growing up and seldom got into trouble. I was always a top student academically and generally lived up to the expectations of the adults in my life. But there were two occasions where this was not true and one of them that I will relate here.

As I have posted earlier ( and, I attended Alcott School (named after one of my relatives as well as one of Elaine’s relatives as above). There were about 20 in first grade – the only students of that grade in the entire northern half of the town. As mentioned in the second article, one of my classmates was Don Therkildsen who lived on Center Street. Like me, he was a somewhat gangly blond boy and we got along well together. He and I are the focus of this story.

For a reason that I don’t recall, and for one of the few times in my childhood years that I did not sleep in my own bed (except when camping), I stayed overnight with Don at his house. I believe it was a Friday night until Saturday afternoon. The Therkildsen’s had a large family like ours, and Don and his younger brother shared a bedroom at the top of the stairs. There was no bed frame, just a double bed mattress on the floor, but they made room for me and we shared it for Friday night. In the morning, his mother made a good breakfast for the family. The Therkildsen family were from Denmark – I believe that Don’s grandparents were immigrants, and Don’s father had a job working for the Homewood family on their chicken farm which was right behind the Therkildsen house. The Homewoods lived across the street down just a short ways and on a rise so that their basement/garage level was accessible from the street.

After going out back to the chicken house – a large structure where the chickens ran free in the center part of the building and the nests were along the side – we then went across the street to the Homewood’s basement which is where they processed the eggs. For those unfamiliar with egg processing, the eggs are cleaned, then inspected, graded for size, and put into cartons. Part of the inspection process is what is called “candling” where the eggs are placed in front of a strong light which can reveal the contents as the shells are translucent. Any cracks or blood spots inside the shell are easily seen and that egg is then rejected as unsuitable for sale. Don and I helped in the processing of that morning’s eggs for a while, then, on his instruction, we each took a few of the rejects and left.

The northern side of Center Street toward the town center and west of the Homewood house was a steep embankment with no other dwellings. Up past the Therkildsen house there were also no dwellings on the south side of the street. At the top of the embankment was a rocky outcrop where you could look down to the street perhaps 20-30 feet below. It was then that Don revealed to me why he had us bring some of the reject eggs with us. I thought that we were going to throw them at trees or rocks in the woods, but he had an idea of lobbing them down toward any passing vehicles. As I said earlier, I’m generally a “good kid”, and this is not something that would have occurred to me. But for once my “bad boy” streak kicked in and I decided to go along with the idea.

Getting the timing right to lob an egg over the intervening trees below us on the embankment and having them hit the street in time to intersect an oncoming vehicle is not the easiest thing, so the first few never hit the street until the vehicle had safely passed. But we quickly got better and scored a few hits. It was all fun until one of the cars stopped, the driver got out, and started up the steep hill towards us. We immediately took off running, going back into the woods beyond the embankment and eventually circling around to re-emerge farther down the street near the Therkildsen and Homewood houses and back to Don’s house.

We did not get caught, but I immediately vowed to myself to never get involved in that kind of activity again – and I never did. For Don’s part, he eventually became a policeman for the Town of Wolcott, rising to be their highest ranking official – and no doubt with an awareness of his own background, learning how to deal with “bad boys” like we were on that particular day.

It’s now been 60 years or so since that incident. But the lessons that I learned from being the “bad boy” for once in my life have stuck with me that entire time. And they have also made me much more understanding of how to deal with both my own children and now my grandchildren as they go through different phases of their life.

Thanks to Flo for her stories about Wolcott History and to my newly discovered cousin Elaine for triggering my memory about that long-ago day in my growing up years.

PS – for those who are intrigued about my second “bad boy” incident, I’ll just briefly mention that once my cousin Dave and I were playing with matches in a vacant field at the corner of Seery and Long Swamp Roads and I accidentally set the field on fire and it got too big to stamp out. The fire department had to be called and I was named as the culprit (for which I was appropriately disciplined). Part of my personal learning was that as soon as I was old enough I joined the local State Forest Fire crew that was run by my uncle and thus spent several years trekking into the woods with an Indian Pump and equipment to put out small forest fires that were too far into the woods for the fire department to reach with their hoses. Everything can be a learning experience!