I grew up with an extended family of intelligent and well-educated folk, following World War II and
the Korean "conflict". Everyone in my "Baby Boomer" generation has tales to tell.
My parents were older members of "The Greatest Generation" in America – young children during the
first World War, educated in the years between wars, mature professionals during the second World War.
Marriage and children – my brothers and myself – were delayed by the war, but family
circumstances provided for a rich set of opportunities and experiences.
The New Hampshire Connection
In the latter 1930's one of the professors at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut found an affordable piece
of property in central New Hampshire, about 20 miles north of Concord. It had been farm country, but it was
near a pleasant hilltop crossroad that provided a respite from the coastal heat and humidity of New Haven and
the New York area. My Uncle Ralph, then also a professor at Yale
(Dr. Ralph G. Meader), bought
a nearby property at the corner of two unpaved roads – the Calef family property, where Calef Hill Road
crossed March Road. Over a period of years, then decades, a notable assortment of scientists and
professionals formed an ad hoc summer colony in the Sanbornton and Franklin area.
Down March Road and Burleigh Hill Road toward Tilton was the New Hampshire Soldiers' Home,
a state-run residence and medical facility for military veterans that was established at the end of the 19th century,
to care for Civil War veterans and other servicemen. In the center of Franklin was the ironworks responsible for
the Franklin Fireplace. Franklin was also the home of a national collection center for mica and other industrial
and/or strategic minerals [mica was used for bombsights as well as the heat-proof "windows" into a stove or firebox].
On the road from Tilton to the Soldiers' Home was the Tilton Tannery, providing material for all manner of clothing, cases,
and for the Tilton Endless Belt Company.
When we drove up to the farm in August, we most often came off the highway (Route 3, before there was an Interstate 93)
on the Franklin side, past the creamery and up into higher ground via Clarke Road and Calef Hill Road. At
a corner on Calef Hill Road was a poultry farm with a noisy barn full of birds; around the corner was the double-dip
"roller coaster" stretch of road with a working sawmill split across both the northern and southern sides.
The places are gone, the names of the roads may have changed, but the memories are crisp.
Here's an ordered list of When, What, Who, Where, etc. – my selected points of interest.
- 1946–1952 – August
- Sanbornton, New Hampshire – Grandpa's House
Grandpa Root bought the smaller property at Calef corner when he retired from his professorship at the U.S. Naval
Postgraduate School (NPS) at the end of World War II. My parents were married in September 1945, very shortly
after the Japanese surrender. My older brother, John, arrived not quite nine months later - one of the very first
in the 'Baby Boomer' generation.
Every year thereafter, Dr. and Mrs. Root moved from the family home on Franklin Street, Annapolis,
to the farmhouse in Sanbornton in late March or early April. During the summer, my parents took
advantage of my father's three weeks of vacation time at "the farm" in Sanbornton, helping with
the upkeep and providing a yearly special time for my brothers and I.
(Prof. Ralph E. Root)
- 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 spaces, I shared with my mother. I do have
some memories of the Tuttle house and neighborhood in Ravenna, and it was the only time I remember meeting
She passed away a few years later, and I didn't get back to Ohio until a road trip with Nancy and our boys 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 three weeks of vacation.
(After his 25th anniversary with the Standard Oil Company - September 1954 - he had fours weeks vacation time.)
We drove up from Pelham (NY) to Woods Hole (MA) and took the 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 our regular stay with Grandpa & Grandma Root at the farm in
- 1954 – December
- 50th Wedding Anniversary – U.S. Naval Academy Officers Club
Grandfather & Grandmother Root celebrated their Golden Anniversary in Annapolis, Maryland.
The entire extended family gathered at their house on Franklin Street.  My parents drove us from Pelham
down to Baltimore (I think). I have a snapshot memory of meeting Uncle Lloyd and his family at the airport;
they arrived (from his Navy posting in Alaska) in 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.
A Family of Roots
- 1955–1957 – August
- Marine Lodge Cottages, Dennisport, Cape Cod then Sanbornton, New Hampshire
Two weeks on Cape Cod followed by two weeks at the Root summer house. Sometimes Aunt Olive and Uncle Ralph also
came and stayed for a while, but the Roots were always there. Grandpa put in a half acre of vegetable garden each year,
and my father took care of pruning the apple and pear trees and the grapevines. Home-grown corn dried in the shed made
fabulous popcorn; homemade bread and fried dough and applesauce made from golden delicious apples were regular treats.
- 1957 – Midsummer
- Start of the International Geophysical Year,
(IGY) featuring Earth scientific activities in 67 countries over a period of 18 months.
- 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.
- 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 – August
- The nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus crossed the North Pole underwater. Unknown to me at the time,
my uncle, Capt. Lloyd E. Root (USN), was managing
the Navy develoment program for the Nautilus and other nuclear-powered submarines. We spent our regular two weeks
on Cape Cod and two weeks in New Hampshire. This may have been the year we visited the 'Castle in the Clouds' attraction
and explored around a bit more than usual; my brothers and I were growing up.
- 1958–1964 – Early Summer
- My parents provided us, in retrospect, a carefully orchestrated introduction to the outside world. My brothers and I
were all involved in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts program (Scouting Events);
the path toward independent living started with one-week summer camps through the church - Camp Westminster one year, Camp
Denton Lake the next - and continued with two-week stays at the Boy Scout Camp Siwanoy for three years.
- 1961 – Spring
- The Siwanoy/Bronx River Council of the Boy Scouts, our regional organization, established a summer camp dedicated to advanced
science and biology studies – the Explorer Science Camp.
My older brother, John, attended the first session in July.
- 1961 – September
- Grandfather Root passed away in Franklin, NH a few weeks after we headed back to school.
While it was a sad occasion, he went quickly after a long and successful life.
- 1962 – Summer
- Science Camp in July for Jeremy, my other brother. In August we took our regular two-week vacation stay on Cape Cod, but we
did not continue up to New Hampshire. The Meaders were up at their summer house, but there was also a reported risk of
the polio-like "Echo" virus; We spent two weeks in a rented cottage in Rockport, Mass. on Cape Ann.
- 1963 – Summer
- Science Camp in July for me. John attended a National Science Foundation summer program at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute
in Buffalo, New York. The rest of us embarked on a three-week western adventure, traveling to the
X-Bar-A guest ranch in southwestern Montana.
My father also arranged a short trip through Yellowstone National Park, including an overnight stay near Jackson Hole and
the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.
- 1964 – Summer
- Brother John graduated from high school, second in his class by a tiny margin. He spent the summer working in the lab
at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute in Manhattan, then started at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island
in the fall. I attended the inaugural Advanced Program at the Explorer Science Camp, a six-week stay. John and I
were also involved with the Pelham Summer Playhouse production of "South Pacific" at the Pelham H.S. auditorium,
organized by the older brother of a high school friend.
- 1965 – Summer
- Brother Jeremy graduated from high school, in the top ten of his class. Jeremy spent the summer in Woods Hole on Cape Cod,
working as a research lab assistant. I was signed up for a typing class at the high school, knowing that I would have to
leave early for the NSF program in Abstract Algebra and Computers at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.
That year the Pelham Summer Playhouse produced "Oklahoma!" at the Bronxville High School, because the Pelham H.S.
auditorium was undergoing a substantial upgrade.
- 1966 – Summer job in New York City
- After graduating with assorted awards and honors, I worked a supplemental job as a Clerk 3 in the Research Department,
Tunnels and Bridges Division, New York Port Authority. The headquarters building was on 8th Avenue and
15th Street in lower Manhattan, so I commuted an hour or more each day on the New York subways. Jeremy
stayed in the Rochester, NY area and John was in Boston, working at Massachusetts General Hospital in G. Octo Barnett's
Laboratory of Computer Science (supervised by A. Niel Pappalardo, an MIT alumnus).
- 1966 – Parents' Cruise to the Far East
- I stayed a couple of weeks with the Maynards in Pelham while my mother and father took the first of their 'Senior
Tour' excursions, on the other side of the Pacific. Dad came down sick and spent a few days in a hospital in
Taiwan, provoking local curiosity with his florid complexion and white hair.
- 1966–1967 – Freshman year at MIT
- Grandma Root passed away peacefully in mid October at the nursing home in Lexington, Massachusetts
With help from the Eastern Airlines shuttle routes, we gathered a substantial fraction of the extended family
for a memorial service in Annapolis, Maryland.
- 1967 – Summer in Cambridge, Mass.
- I moved from Bexley Hall to a sublet apartment on Bristol Street, a couple of blocks from Technology Square.
Fred Abramson and I shared the rental; the regular tenant was Mike Meyers, the older brother of a home-territory friend.
I spent most of my time at MIT with the computers, but there were a few extra-curricular adventures. Partnered by Mike's
sometime girl friend, I played in my first ACBL (American Contract Bridge League) regional tournament, at the Copley Plaza hotel
- 1967 – Parents' Cruise to Alaska
- The family has collected a number of unusual "opportunities" over the years. This was the year of the
Fairbanks flood(s) in Alaska, resulting in unplanned changes to the travel locations and one-time-only experiences.
- 1967–1968 – Sophomore year at MIT
- Back to Bexley for the academic year, I still had my part-time job with the Computation Center as a user consultant.
- 1968 – Summer in Cambridge
- I moved off campus from my Bexley Hall dorm suite to share a rented house with Al Jefferys and a few others.
My right hand was out of action, so my final exams were postponed. The CCA people (Cambridge Computer Associates)
tried to talk me into joining their fledgling company, but I had money in the bank and was looking for some time off.
- 1968 – Parents' Cruise to Panama Canel and Peru
- Another unexpected opportunity for my parents! Their cruise ship landed in Miraflores, the port serving Lima, Peru,
the morning after a military coup attempt by General Juan Velasco Alvarado. With the help of brave taxi drivers,
my father came back with a few pictures of tanks and military vehicles in the city center.
- 1968 – Junior year at MIT
- When I moved off-campus at the end of the Spring term, I became a de-facto member of the Non-Resident Student Assoication, NRSA.
The NRSA was sort of a fraternity, with the use of a house on Memorial Drive between McCormack Hall and the West Campus
men's dorms. NRSA was mostly Boston-area people, so it had an intramural hockey team. I was talked into
playing on the team while I was there – on figure skates, since that was the way I had learned to skate and that
was the equipment I had.
- 1969 – Out of college, into IBM
- I was not paying enough attention to studies and classwork, and my part-time job at the IBM Cambridge Scientific Center
was seductive. With luck and help I converted from college student to Associate Programmer, full-time.