Special Events & Vacations
1950s – 1960s

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Once upon a time in America . . .

I grew up surrounded by family with unusual connections, during periods of history replete with global events.  Everyone in my "Baby Boomer" generation has tales to tell.  "Synchronicity" is a fancy word for what was happening in the world around you, reflected back into your personal timeline.  Here is my sequence of When, What, Who, Where, etc.


1953 – Summer
Overnight Train to Ravenna, Ohio
The first special trip that I remember, though I might be wrong about the year.  We took an overnight train ride in a Pullman sleeper car.  With five people and only four sleeping berths, I shared with my mother.  I have some memories of the house and neighborhood in Ravenna, and it was the only time I met Grandma Tuttle.  She passed away a few years later, and I didn't get back to Ohio until a road trip we took in 1992.
1954 – August
Ocean Ferry Ride – Vacation on Nantucket Island
I think I have the years correct; this was the last summer when my father had only 3 weeks of vacation.  We drove up from Pelham (NY) to Woods Hole (MA) and took a three-hour ferry ride across Nantucket Sound.  The cobblestone streets are a clear memory, but we lost the family cat to distemper during the trip.  After one week on Nantucket, we continued up to a two week stay with Grandpa & Grandma Root at the farms on Calef Hill in Sanbornton (NH).
1954 – December
Grandfather & Grandmother Root – 50th Wedding Anniversary
The entire family gathered in Annapolis, Maryland at the house on Franklin Street.  My parents and brothers and I took the train down to Baltimore, Maryland to meet Uncle Ellis and his family (Aunt Lucille, cousins Steve and Pam).  We picked up Uncle Lloyd and his family at the airport; they arrived from his Navy posting in Alaska on a DC-3 airliner.  The celebration was held in the Officers' Club at the U. S. Naval Academy, a rare gathering of our entire clan.  Photo  A Family of Roots
1955 and 1956 – August
Two weeks vacation at Marine Lodge Cottages in Dennisport, MA, followed by two weeks staying with Grandpa and Grandma Root at the farm in Sanbornton, NH.
1957 – April
Grandma Tuttle passed away at age 80, in Ravenna, OH.
1957 – July
Start of the International Geophysical Year (IGY), featuring Planet Earth scientific activities in 67 countries over a period of 18 months.
1957 – August
Two weeks vacation at Marine Lodge Cottages in Dennisport, MA, followed by two weeks staying with Grandpa and Grandma Root at the farm in Sanbornton, NH.
1957 – September
Start of 4th grade for me, at the Siwanoy School in Pelham Manor, NY.
1957 – October 1st
Sputnik I – The first successful launch of an artificial satellite, by the Soviet Union.  American attempts to launch via the Vanguard missle failed repeatedly, with several dramatic explosions at or just after launch.
1957 – December
Paul Parker, a professional New York photographer, took a series of pictures for the Boy Scouts of America, using my family as models.  I came across copies of the original photographs when we cleared out my parents' Heritage Village condo in the 1990's.
1958 – January 31st
Explorer 1 – The first successful American launch of an artificial satellite.  While the launch was part of the IGY effort, it bookmarked the start of the Cold War Space Race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
1958 – July
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act into law, increasing the United States to 49.  Richard M. Nixon was serving as Vice President.
NASA – Congress created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
1958 – June or July
One week away at Camp Westminster (church camp). 
1958 – August
Two weeks family vacation at Marine Lodge Cottages in Dennisport, MA, followed by two weeks staying with Grandpa and Grandma Root at the farm in Sanbornton, NH.
The nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus crossed the North Pole underwater.  Unknown to me at the time, my uncle, Capt. Lloyd E. Root, was managing the Navy develoment program for the USS Nautilus and other nuclear-powered warships.
1958–1959 – 5th Grade
Science Fun "Science Fun with Milk Cartons" included an intriguing picture on its cover, showing a cantilever bridge model constructed using a razor blade or sharp knife to make cutouts in the heavy waxed-paper milk cartons that were common at the time.  I made a careful replica using the instructions in the book and won a class prize for the result.
1959 – June or July
One week away at Camp Denton Lake (another church camp). 
1959 – August
Two weeks family vacation at Marine Lodge Cottages in Dennisport, MA, followed by two weeks staying with Grandpa and Grandma Root at the farm in Sanbornton, NH.
August 21st – Hawaii admitted to statehood as the 50th state in the United States.
1960 – June or July
Two (or more?) weeks at Boy Scouts Camp Siwanoy, Wingdale, NY.
July 20th – First successful launch of a Polaris A1 missle from a submarine, the USS George Washington.  A month later, I watched a 16mm copy of the classified Navy film of the launch, with my grandfather's friend, Dr. Clinton Bramble – in the living room of his summer house on a dirt road in Franklin, New Hampshire.
Rocketry
Missiles were a popular subject for young males.  This model set included all of them.
1960 – August
Two weeks family vacation at Marine Lodge Cottages in Dennisport, MA, followed by two weeks staying with Grandpa and Grandma Root at the farm in Sanbornton, NH.
1960 – September
The Class of 1966 started 7th grade at Pelham Memorial High School, Pelham NY.  Like both brothers in previous classes, I was in the Honors section for all academic subjects.
1961 – Summer
Boy Scouts Camp Siwanoy for Jeremy and I; the new Explorer Science Camp for John, nearby.
Al Tedesco, older brother of my school friend John Tedesco, produced "Ameri-Can-Can" musical show at Mamaroneck High School.
Two weeks family vacation at Marine Lodge Cottages in Dennisport, MA, followed by two weeks staying with Grandpa and Grandma Root at the farm in Sanbornton, NH.
My grandfather, Prof. Ralph E. Root, passed away in September at the age of 82.
1961 Fall
Started eighth grade at PMHS; joined the Gymnastics Club for tumbling, vaults, rings.
1962 Spring
Perhaps a quiet year during the Cold War and Space Race, with periodic air raid drills in the school basement – "Duck and Cover" in case of a nuclear attack.
Won First Prize in General Science at PMHS Science Fair, for "Explanation and Demonstration of Thermo-Electricity"
1962 Summer
Boy Scouts Camp Siwanoy for me, Explorer Science Camp for Jeremy.
Two weeks family vacation at Marine Lodge Cottages in Dennisport, MA, followed by two weeks in Rockport, MA to avoid Echo virus outbreak in central New Hampshire.
1963 – Spring (perhaps)
Pelham High School in the 1960s had a reasonably well-equipped "shop" with a variety of wood-working and metal-working power tools, a garage bay for automotive work, and a printing shop.  I learned manual typesetting and became an experienced letter-press operator.  My father "knew some people" and arranged a family tour of the New York Daily News operations in New York City.
1963 – June / July
Completed the four-week Basic program at Explorer Science Camp near Wingdale, NY.
Older brother John had a summer intern position at Roswell Park Institute in Buffalo, NY.
1963 – August
Airline trip from New York to Billings, Montana on a Lockheed Electra II turboprop, for a three-week stay at the X-Bar-A Guest Ranch near McLeod, Montana, with a two-day side trip into Yellowstone Natiuonal Park.
1963 – November 22
President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, Texas.  I was in the 10th grade, in a classroom on the third floor of Pelham Memorial High School, Pelham, New York.  The news reached us within minutes of the event, perhaps via the amateur radio club.  CNN and 24-hour TV news did not exist.
Joined the PMHS Soccer Club when I outgrew the Gymnastics Club.  Joined the Sock & Buskin Drama Society in addition to the Theater Production Combine (TPC), the informal group that helped with audio-visual gear and supported the backstage needs for all of the auditorium shows. 
1964 – Spring
The Space Race and the Cold War emphasized science and technology education and opportunity.  This was the heyday of Science Fair activity for my brothers and I.
My brother John was captain of the PMHS Interscholastic Mathematics Team; I was the team high scorer for 1964.  Completed first round of College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) achievement tests.
Performed a secondary lead role onstage in "Playboy of the Western World" by J. M. Singe, along with scenery, costumes, props and lighting work.
1964 – Summer
Completed the six-week Advanced program at the Explorer Science Camp near Wingdale, NY.  My brother John and I worked backstage with the Pelham Summer Playhouse (PSP) theater group.  Jeremy worked as a summer research intern at the Jackson Laboratory in Maine.
1964 – Fall
Junior year at PMHS; elected President of Explorer Science Post 10.  Completed CEEB Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs); selected to be captain of PHMS Interscholastic Mathematics Team. 
1965 – Springtime
When I passed the age of 16, my father arranged a private tour of the Radio City Music Hall, home of the Rockettes.
Earned a spot in the Knight and Lamp Honor Society; continued in the PMHS Soccer Club.  Visited MIT in Cambridge, MA for an admissions interview; passed NY drivers test for a junior license.  Completed another set of CEEB Achievement Tests, as requested by MIT.
1965 – Summertime
Completed a six-week National Science Foundation program in Abstract Algebra and Computers at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Brother John worked as a summer intern at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Research Center in NYC.  Jeremy worked as a summer intern in Woods Hole, MA.  John and I worked backstage for the Pelham Summer Payhouse production of "Oklahoma" at Bronxville High School, since the PMHS auditorium was under construction.
Our parents took a Pacific cruise to Southeast Asia; my father spent several days in a hospital on Taiwan recovering from a flu-like illness.  I spent two weeks living with the Maynard family and their two boxer dogs.
1965 – Fall
Senior year at PMHS; served as Assistant Treasurer for the class, collecting sports ticket money and concession-stand proceeds; took over as Treasurer when the original one - my backstage friend John Tedesco - lost his eligibility.
1966 – Springtime
Continued backstage and lighting work in the auditorium, including a challenging "ad lib" of lighting for a live talent show with no predetermined order of appearances.  Ran the election of student officers for the next school year.
Soccer became a varsity sport for the first time; earned a spot on the varsity team and played four other schools in the area.
1966 – Summertime
Graduated from high school, 4th in the class with several academic awards, looking forward to attending MIT in the fall.  Commuted daily via the New York subway to a summer job at the New York Port Authority in lower Manhattan.
Brother John worked a summer position at the Massachusetts General Hospital, working on medical records software for Digital Equipment Corp. computers.
The Pelham Summer Playhouse produced four separate shows – "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off," "Spoon River Anthology," a Children's Theater workshop, and "Music Man."
1966 – Fall
Freshman orientation at MIT, then my first year in college.  Grandma Root passed away at age 86.  The extended family gathered for a memorial service in Annapolis, MD.
Signed up for an introductory computer course; excused from classes because I knew too much.  Prowled the MIT halls at night and took advantage of a roommate with a part-time operator job, learning how to operate and program the IBM mainframes. 
1967 – January 27
A flash fire in the Apollo 1 module during a launch pad test killed astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.
1967 – February
The Selective Service College Qualification Test (SSCQT) was administered at MIT.  The use of the test was abandoned after that year.
Accepted a part-time position in the MIT Computation Center as a user support consultant.  Professor Corbato wanted to get some work out of me, since they saw me around every morning.
1967 – Summer
Sublet an apartment in Cambridge, worked full time (and overtime) at the MIT Computation Center.  Customized and installed IBM ASP/360 on an IBM System/360 Model 40 computer.  Played the Open Pairs event (duplicate bridge) at the ACBL Regional tournament, in the Boston Copley Plaza hotel.
Our parents took a cruise trip up the west coast of Canada and Alaska; their itinerary was changed to work around the historic Great Fairbanks Flood of the Chena River.
1967 – Fall
Sophomore year at MIT brought classes on semiconductor physics and electronics.  Continued part-time at the MIT Computation Center, added a role as librarian for software from SHARE user group.  Provided programming help on a variety of student and/or faculty projects.
1968 – Winter / Spring
Active in the MIT Folk Dance Club, recruited into the MIT annual Tech Show stage production.  After busy work with stagecraft and costuming, signed on as Stage Manager for Tech Show 1968.
After a Tech Show friend was drafted and emigrated to Canada, tried to teach myself how to drive the used motorcycle another friend (Alan Jeffreys) talked me into buying.  Crashed, mangled an index finger, had to defer final exams until healthy. 
1968 – June 6
Robert F. Kennedy was killed in Los Angeles, California by Sirhan Sirhan.
1968 – Summer
Moved off campus to rental house in Cambridgeport, with Alan Jeffreys and others.  Various adventures, several of a questionable nature; Hawksie's Ride.
1968 – Fall
Returned to MIT as a member of the Non-Resident Student Association (NRSA).  On academic probation (bad grades, distractions, etc.), recruited for NRSA intramural Ice Hockey team. 
1968 – October 18
With an informal introduction from Edson Hendricks, interviewed for and started a part-time position at the IBM Cambridge Scientific Center in Technology Square.
1969 – January
Dropped out of MIT to avoid flunking out.  IBM made a full-time position for me as an Associate Programmer in the Scientific Center.
1969 – May 21
Apollo 10 went into orbit around the moon, carrying astronauts Gordon Cooper, Donn Eisele, Edgar Mitchell.
1969 – June 20
Apollo 11 landed successfully on the moon, then the world watched via live television as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface.
1969 – November 15
Marched on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. with about 1,000,000 others, protesting the American involvement in the Vietnam War.
1970 – Spring
After a casual supper in Harvard Square, found myself surrounded by a Vietnam War protest clash between November Action Coalition demonstrators and local Police.
1970 – Summer
Mostly adult, working full time in system software research at the IBM Cambridge Scientific Center.  With friends went shopping for a rural weekend getaway property; discovered the entire town of McLeod, Montana was on sale, priced at just $70,000.

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Copyright © 2015 by David B. Tuttle, Reading MA
This page updated 26-Dec-2015

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