My mind has been dwelling on those persons that have made a difference in my life, of which there have been many. Without offence to anyone, I am going to talk about those people that were a help and inspiration to me and were not related to me. Lord knows there are many family members that have been there for me, but I will save them for another day.
I am thinking back as far as I can remember, with the knowledge that I will probably overlook someone.
Unknown Store Keeper - When I was a young boy in Rensselaer, New York, there was a little store in my neighborhood. The store owner was a nice man who would occasionally let me sweep the floor for five cents. That was my very first employment of sorts.
Mrs. Getchell and Mrs. Clark - Grade school - Great teachers who, in spite of my antics, managed to foster and encourage my interests.
Mr. Pageau - A neighbour in Saco, Maine when I was a boy. He was always friendly and helpful when I was working on a project in my back yard. He would give me scraps of wood and be interested in my tinkering efforts. The most prominent one I remember, is building an antenna tower for my crystal radio.
Mrs. Winward - Grade school - I believe it was 6th grade. By training she was a music teacher. I suspect that the only opening at the time was as a class room teacher. Great luck for our class, because she gave a great emphasis to music. She made music fun and interesting. We often listened and talked about musicals and classical music. One piece of work I remember and became fond of, was The Peer Gynt Suite by Grieg. Often we did fun songs.
Mr. Anagnostis - High School - Another great teacher who could see my potential and always, I mean always, had a smile on his face. I was fortunate to have him as a teacher and a friend and his recent passing was a sad event. Before he passed, he wrote an autobiography called 49 Storer Street. He had a very interesting life.
Susan and John York - My neighbors across the street. After I got my drivers license, I was anxious to enjoy the thrill of driving on my own. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to drive the household car because my grandparents couldn't afford to add me to their insurance. John and Susan were gracious enough to let me use their car when I needed it for dates or whatever. They were super in other ways, letting me do odd jobs to earn some extra money and just being good friends.
George Noiles - An older gentleman in our parish. While I was in high school, I had an amateur radio license, commonly called a 'ham' license. With it, I could transmit and receive in Morse code to other 'ham' radio operators. Mr. N. was also a 'ham' and fostered my interest in it. Because of his connection in the local power company, he was able to help me get a telephone pole planted in my back yard for an antenna to my radio. He even got me a summer job working with commercial radio equipment.
Carol and Fred Holmberg - Carol was like a second 'mom' to me, always being there to speak frankly about anything and everything. Always a great sense of humour and always upbeat. She continues to be a great friend and it pleases me to no end that I am considered a part of the family.
Fred was the minister at the church my grandparents and I attended. In addition to Sunday services, he conducted early morning 'youth group' meetings for the high school kids in our church. This was how I became integrated into the family. I would go to their home after school the day before the youth meeting, spend the night, and bright and early the next morning go from the parsonage to the church. This way, I didn't have to rely on transportation from my home so early in the morning.
I could go on for hours about the many, many things they have done for me and how they have always been a positive influence on me. Many of the events that I have already depicted in this blog have often involved them.
The Hamlyn Bros. - Before the term 'nerd' became a part of our vocabulary, I was one while in school. Besides tinkering in my workshop, I would be found watching the construction of a house behind ours. It was summer and I would do this for hours on end. They were Bob and Charlie Hamlyn and their crew. I would watch the progress from the framing to the wiring, to the plumbing, to the plastering (yes, they still plastered in the '60's), to the finish work. During this project, they asked me if I would like to be their helper. I was ecstatic. They gave me a hammer and paid me five dollars a day. The next couple summers, I worked full time for them. The many things I learned was invaluable in later years for my
John Poulson - While I was in Air Force technical school,
1968, John, my barracks roommate, thought I needed some direction in life. He introduced me to his church and I have been a part of it ever since. The combination of Church, family, and friends, has made my life complete. This summer, 45 years later, I had the opportunity to personally thank John for sharing what he had, and the profound difference it made in my life.
Dick and Mary Thornton - Probably the most giving couple I have ever known. They were and are like family to my family. Always willing to help and always happy and humble. When my family needed a place to stay when we first arrived to the West, they opened their home to us for as long as we needed it.
Dick's recent passing was very sad for me. He continued to be happy and grateful for his life right to the very end. An example to anyone and everyone.
Phil Meppen - I always tell people he is my personal hero. I was caught in a jam with an unfinished home after my contractor abandoned the project. I asked Phil for help and he dropped everything he was doing, and without concern for payment, jumped right in and resolved the problem very quickly.
On another occasion, I was in the early stages of building a deck. While digging the holes for the concrete piers to hold it up, I underestimated how difficult it was to dig the very rocky soil. Again I asked Phil for help and in no time at all, he was on the scene with his backhoe and the problem was solved. A great example of a true 'brother' looking after his fellow man.
I sometimes wonder the things that were done for me through my life that I was never aware of. The highest praise for anyone is entitled to those that do not seek it while in the service of others.
So to those unsung hero's that have helped me in the past, present, and future; I thank you.
To practice five
things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are
gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness. -