Last year was my 50th year in the electronics business and last month Barbara and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. When I started in this business as a skinny 21-year-old beginning engineer, I was usually the youngest member of the staff. Now I'm older than the father of my boss. Time does fly, but this is still a fun business.
Over the years there have been stops at Western Electric Hawthorne Works in Chicago, IBM Military Products Division in Kingston, N.Y., Kellogg Switchboard & Supply in Chicago, and the Beckman Systems Division in Fullerton, Calif. All of those operations have been shut down for years. Jobs were not outsourced; they just went away. But I had skipped town before the crash. Skipping town is a survival skill.
Barbara and I got married in a snowstorm in Chicago in 1956 and spent our honeymoon at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. That, too, is long gone.
A week later, we drove to Kingston, N.Y., where I started work at IBM on the vacuum tube-driven SAGE system. Two weeks after we arrived there, my mother died. IBM offered to pay our airfare back to Chicago. An IBM representative met us at the airport to see if we needed money or anything, and an IBM person showed up at the wake to offer condolences. Here I was, a wet-behind-the-ears engineer, only two weeks on the job, and IBM treated me like I was family. I was. But that was 50 years ago. Those days are gone forever.
Thanks to our daughter Frances, a real family gathering took place on Feb. 11, 2006, at the Toll House in Los Gatos, Calif., to help Barbara and me celebrate our 50th anniversary. Our three children, 10 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter were there, along with neighbors and friends from Chicago, New York, Boston and Southern California. Seventy-eight folks ranging in age from 87 to 10 months were there, all dancing to the bluegrass music of the Stairwell Sisters.
What a grand day it was.