Joined 8 years ago from Western New York
I was born in Liverpool, England in 1946, when my father came home from the war. There was no future for a man of imagination and drive in post-war Britain, so in 1951, we emigrated to America, settling in upstate New York, in the Mohawk Valley. I grew up in an English/Welsh home, but all my education and social intreraction was with miidle-class "Americans". I put this in quotes, because we were all the children of immigrants. My friends were Italian, Polish, Assyrians, and French-Canadians, so we were quite a mixture. Everybody's parents or grandparents were from the "old" country, so when we visited each other's homes, there were always wonderful dishes to eat: Kielbasa; falafel and pita; homemade sauce; at my house: shepherd's pie and bread pudding! Yum!
When I was a kid, we travelled a lot, as my father was always trying to advance himself to improve the lot of our family. He was a clever and hard-working man. He always worked the evening or night shifts at the factory where he worked (as a millwright) to earn more money. Later, he started a cleaning business, cleaning offices and homes and cleaning windows. He was never at rest. Always working to advance the family. My mother also worked as a bookeeper, later tax preparation specialist.
So, I was fortunate in having hard working parents. Myself, I was artistic and studious, and loved to play - indoors or outdoors. I loved adventure and sports and imaginative games. I was always happiest when I was by myself, reading drawing, or playing with my soldiers and cars.
At school, I was average, never studying and passing everything easily. There was no challenge. I guess, like most kids, I didn't know why I was there, except that I had to be. I drifted along with a B- average, not putting ant effort into grades. I loved to play soccer and ski club - that's about all. I didn't really "discover" girls until my senior year, so I was un-socialized in that important aspect of my eduucation.
I was accepted at some good schools and I really wanted to go to Purdue (Big Ten!), but my parents decided I was too young (17 1/2) to go away to school, so I ended up in the local college: Utica College of Syracuse University. I was too young and I didn't get the courses I wanted, so I didn't do very well, grade wise. At that time Lyndon Johnson was grabbing anyone who wasn't in collge and drafting them to go to Viet Nam. So when I got the "Greetings from the President" letter, I left and choose to return back to England rather than become a killer in south-east asia.
In England, I got married, found my career in Computer Operations, and travelled all over UK and Europe. We didn't have any money, but we travelled all over, so I was happy! Later, the Labour government came to power and I discovered why my father had left: no hope for anyone with imagination or drive! So I started looking to emigrate. We were accepted by Australia and were ready to go. We decided to visit our families in the states before we went to the antipodes and we stayed at the 1000 Islands on the St. Lawrence, which was really great! At that time, I heard of job openings in computer operations in Toronto, so I applied to the Bank of Nova Scotia.
Back in London, I was asked to interview by Scotiabank in the City and I was accepted and hired on the spot! The bank arranged for everything, our house sold at a nice profit, and before we could turn around, we were relocated to Toronto! So began ten wonderful years in a great town and great country. I loved the bank, was great at my job and we made many wonderful friends, Again, we travelled all over Ontario and Quebec, mainly camping because we didn't have any money. But we had two lovely daughters and we were a happy family!
All went well and we were very happy in Toronto, but the old urge to keep advancing came over us and we started looking for a move back to the states. My parents lived in Rochester, NY (Mary Lou's folks lived in the St. Lawrence valley in Alexandria Bay, NY, but there was no work there. I got two offers: one for Key Bank in Albany, the other at Marine Midland Bank, in Buffalo.
Buffalo was closer to Rochester and Toronto, so that was our choice! The job was as a senior Hardware Technical Analyst, planning and installing large 264 channel IBM 3020 mainframes, a specialty that I had developed over the years at Scotiabank. My peculiar talents in planning, computer operations and hardware, and CAD drafting led me into this niche.
We were able to buy a nice house across the street from the East Aurora country club for only $80,0000 (compared to the home we sold in Ontario for $315,000)! So, we were pretty happy, although we hated to leave Canada, which is a wonderful place to live.
Marine Midland Bank, although large by US standards, was small compared to ScotiaBank. They were provincial, wheras ScotiaBank was international. Theu had small ideas and the people who worked there were equally small minded and provincial (like Buffalo). Its a kind of backwater. Life went on there, but I could feel the friction. Eventually, after I was there for six years, they were bought by a true international giant: HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation). There main objective was to cut costs, so purchase of 5 million dollar mainframes was first on their list!
So, in December 1989, I was "let go", the first of many times. Technical skill and experience have no value in a world that values the bottom line, more that their "human resources".
While I was working in Buffalo, I began to catch up on my education, which I had neglected during my years in England and Canada. During this period, I finished my interrupted BA though independent studies. After many false starts, I discovered Excelsior College (NY State Regents) in Albany , NY. Through them, I was able to collect the various courses that I had earned in three countries, combine these credits with standardized exams (GRE Subject exams) to earn enough credit hours to qualify for the Bachelor of Arts Degree.
This process was so satisfying and exhilarating that I looked around for the next level. I tried to go to SUNY Buffalo Law School, but, strangely, they offered no evening programs - one had to go full-time days. This was impossible for a working guy like me, so I looked further and found a wonderful program at Syracuse University (the school I had started in via Utica College). It was just what I wanted - a combination of History, Political Scince, and Social Sciences. The best part was that only two weeks was required on-campus, the rest was independent study. So, it took me five years to earn 30 credits, and it was the hardest, most rigerous, program I ever took, but I absolutely loved it! The first "A" I ever earned was at this school! I was awarded the Master of Social Science Degree from SU in 1988. It was the proudest moment of my life!
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