Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I can vouch for my grandpa being a gentleman. But until this week, I didn’t know he was ever an officer of anything.

This week’s calendar entries open the door ever so slightly, but leave most questions unanswered:

My grandfather was not a big civic joiner.

Sure, he took part in church-related activities. He went bowling alongside his friends from work. And he participated in a group or two that aligned with his personal interests, like the Stamford Art Association.

But, as far as I knew, he was never a Lion, Moose, Jaycee, or member of any other community or social improvement group. Nor did he ever hold any position of official authority.

At least, that was what I thought until I uncovered the above calendar entry.

Then I went backwards through his calendars and discovered that, for portions of 1966 and early 1967, unspecified “board meetings” were regularly noted at 8 p.m. on the second Monday of each month. No other info was ever presented.

(The February 1967 meeting seems to have been the last one he attended. February is a curious time for any board to roll over its members; but, who knows?)

The notion of his serving as an officer on a board, or even attending a meeting, took my dad by surprise:

I certainly can’t picture him either seeking or enjoying such a function.

If I were to assume that he was indeed on some board, my guess as to what it would have been, in order of decreasing likelihood, would be:

1. Stamford Camera Club (although I think he was more active in that during the mid-late 1950s)
2. Springdale Methodist Church, or some sub-group thereof
3. Some Art Club / Society
4. Bowling League
5. Local branch of the Sons of the Alsace Schnitzelbenders

I can’t rule out any of those for certain; but again, in the absence of more specific info, I can only guess.

One potential clue comes from the calendar entry of March 14, 1966.

That word at the top doesn’t look like “officers,” nor does it quite look like “official,” and it’s certainly not “Schnitzelbenders.” But I can’t figure out what it is.

(It looks almost like “offernal,” which I went so far as to Google just to see if it was a church term related to the offertory. It isn’t.)

If I could sort it out, that might give me my answer. Any guesses from the peanut gallery?

March 14, 1966.

 

 

This entry started as me gawking at one of those long-gone activities my grandpa engaged in — something I considered outdated and foreign to my experience.

But the more I think about it, the more I think the quirk lies with me, not with the passage of time.

Maybe I’m wrong.

010665s

January 6, 1965.

What we have here appears to be a home visit from a TV repairman. (His charge of $10 is equivalent to $76.62 in current money. I’m assuming the $10 charge was for the service visit and not for the dancing lessons.)

The notion of a home service visit for your TV brought me back to the days when TV sets were big heavy monsters full of tubes, and sometimes built into big wooden cabinets as well.

Nowadays, it seems to me you’d bring your TV to the repair shop to be fixed– if indeed it went on the fritz at all, which hasn’t happened to me in quite a while.

But some Googling suggests I’m wrong. Here in the Lehigh Valley, I found websites for two TV and electronics repair shops that seem willing to make service calls.

(I suspect they are more interested in fixing a big, integrated home audiovisual system than in fixing just a TV set. One of them promises in-home repair “for your larger items.” But, from the looks of it, they’ll probably come to you and do whatever you call them for.)

And, my perception of in-home TV repair is probably clouded by the fact that my TV stays off most of the time.

I watch literally no TV at all. Zero. I’m even out of the habit of watching hockey and baseball games. My wife has Hulu and is more likely to watch her chosen shows on a tablet than a TV screen. And my kids use the TV mostly as a video-game screen.

So the fact that my previous TV set lasted a good dozen years without repair doesn’t mean the home TV service call is a thing of the past. It just means I’m an outlier … and that a machine that isn’t used very often will last a long time.

If you have experience with home TV repair calls, or lack thereof, let me know in the Comments. I’m curious to hear from others whether this is a thing of the past or a thriving concern.

# # # # #

One imagines my grandparents, great-grandma and aunt would have wanted to put their newly repaired TV to use that night. What would they have watched?

Newspapers from Jan. 6 say the night’s network lineup included “The Patty Duke Show;” “Beverly Hillbillies,” Dick Van Dyke, Danny Kaye, and — most interesting to me, though not necessarily to them — “Shindig!” with Sal Mineo, Bobby Sherman, the Zombies, Sandie Shaw and the Righteous Brothers.

January 1971: Zeroes.

The start of a new year is always a time for hope — whether it has plans and plots behind it (I’ve looked at my budget, and I’ve figured out how I can start saving money for retirement!) or whether it’s simply based on generic optimism (This is going to be my year, I just know it!)

For some portion of us, that hope will be repaid. For others, it will vanish before the month is out.

(I was tempted to write “for most of us, it will vanish before the month is out,” but that seemed exceptionally cynical. Things work out for some people. Who keeps statistics on the pursuance and fulfillment of hope, anyway?)

This installment finds my grandfather at the start of a new year, striking out on a personal project with at least some degree of hope.

Unfortunately, “striking out” seems to have been the operative phrase.

On January 4, 1971, my grandpa made an afternoon visit to the local unemployment office and returned with nothing. (I assume the zero with the dash behind it is a reference to his job search, and not to something else.)

This was not his first visit there — the office is mentioned on calendar entries from the end of 1970, as well. But, maybe the start of a new year rekindled his hope that somebody would be looking for an experienced draftsman.

010471

A week later, the same thing, only at a different time:

011171

A week after that, the weather turned cold and crappy. My grandfather made the trudge out anyway, and was rewarded for his persistence with nowt. (The big blue temperature marking only seems like another giant goose egg in this context.)

011871

One more week of Mondays in January, one more week of sloppy weather, one more week of returning home empty-handed:

012571

The 1971 calendars say my grandpa made one more fruitless expedition on Monday, February 1, and then — miracle of miracles! — landed an interview on Wednesday, February 10, with a company called Sonic Engineering. (Whether the interview arose from the unemployment office or from my grandpa’s own shoe-leather reading of the help-wanted ads is lost to history.)

rosenberger

I know very little about Sonic Engineering except: (a) it apparently had an office in Norwalk, a community or two over from Stamford; and (b) it didn’t hire my grandpa.

And after that, the visits to the unemployment office disappear from the calendar, as do any additional references to interviews or jobs. (My grandpa’s heart attack in May of that year put paid to any remaining job-search aspirations.)

Am I trying to rain on the hopes of the new year? Definitely not. As I said, some people’s goals and wishes come true.

Maybe the message is that sometimes, if you don’t get what you want, you end up doing just as well or better in the end.

My grandpa was 60 years old in that first week of 1971. He would only have worked a few more years anyway; I don’t perceive that his life was that much worse because he didn’t. Maybe another job would just have been another source of stress.

He might have liked to have a few more years of paychecks in the bank, just on the general principle that you can never have enough money. Whether he would have spent that money or not is another question. As it happened, he got by without it.

So, hold tight to your New Year’s hopes … but if you don’t get what you have in mind, be flexible and wise enough to move with what you do get. Things have a way of working out.

I’m having trouble saying goodbye to this year in any coherent way; a stifled retch feels most appropriate, like the sound you make when you’ve emptied your stomach but you’re not done throwing up.

(Setting aside national politics and the deaths of lots of famous people, the Hope Street universe lost a noteworthy person in 2016 — my Great-Aunt Eleanor, the last living member of my grandparents’ generation of the family. That in itself would make it a subpar year. There were other things too.)

Maybe what this year needs to close it out is a good dance. It could be something slow and mournful. Or it could be something fast, for those dancing to forget.

At least one of the Hope Street Blumenaus used to end the calendar year that way, back in the day:

IMG_2863.JPG

December 28, 1962.

Assuming the DJ was spinning the hits of the day, the kids at the church dance on Dec. 28, 1962, would have had pretty slim pickings. (“Pepino the Italian Mouse,” anybody?)

At the year-end 1963 dance, the young Methodists of Springdale might have heard something from a certain Liverpool band that was just sneaking onto New York radio and would shortly turn America on its ear. But in 1962, no such radical change was around the corner, and the bland musical interregnum between Chuck Berry and the Beatles was still in force.

It’s hard to anticipate any radical social or personal changes around the corner in 2017, either.

But, who knows? You never see them coming.

So turn out the lights on 2016, find a partner, and we’ll be back to see if next year is any better.

(Keep your hands where the chaperones can see them.)

On Hope Street, the turbulent year of 1967 came in with fire and went out with ice.

(Granted, there were some pleasant moments in between.)

My earlier post about the Connecticut ice storm of December 1973 is one of the most-read installments in the history of this blog.

So when I learned from my grandpa’s calendar that there was another ice storm in Stamford six years earlier, I figured I’d write about that one too.

dec1967

December 11, 1967. Later in the week, just two towns over from Stamford, a child is born who will grow up to be a titanic figure of my college and early-twenties years in New England.

 

If you’ve never heard of the Ice Storm of 1967 … well, there’s a good reason; it turns out that it wasn’t that big a deal.

The New York Times dispensed with it in a 10-paragraph article on page 41 of the Dec. 12 issue, summarizing: “Icy rains pelted the suburbs, snapping power lines.” (The city proper was plagued by blowing, heavy mist and rain, but temperatures stayed above freezing.)

The article singled out classic Tri-State sprawl-spots like Mamaroneck, West Nyack, Ramsey and Nanuet for mention, but didn’t say anything about Connecticut. Presumably that meant there was no news fit to print there.

By the following day, ice had been replaced by what the Good Gray Lady called “muddy fog,” in a story noting that New York had received two-and-a-quarter inches of unseasonable rain in two days’ time. (The author of this shoe-leather mood piece? Future two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner J. Anthony Lukas.)

The Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, ran a one-paragraph brief on page 3 noting that “a sleet storm tore down power lines” in the New York suburbs. This item appeared beneath a similar one-graf news brief noting that the Maui Nukupuu — “a small bird with a large down-curving bill and a tubular tongue for extracting nectar from flowers” — had been spotted in Hawaii for the first time in 71 years.

The relative silence of my grandpa’s calendar suggests that the power stayed on and life went on more or less as usual. The calendar also makes no mention of a day off work, which my grandpa would usually note when heavy weather occasioned it. (Dec. 11 was a Monday.)

I guess, then, that the December 1967 ice storm was nothing epochal. It was just a bump in the road … something to be tolerated amidst the ongoing grind of holiday errands, like retrieving college-age kids, buying Christmas trees and putting up home decorations.

dec1667

December 16, 1967.

One hopes the people of Fairfield County tolerated it without too much grumbling. Just a few years later, they would see much worse.