The picture above was taken during one of the goodbye luncheons. From right to left in the back are Ginny Davis, Maria Goldsmith, Gary Cutler, Jan Walp, and Dennis Cole. In the front from left to right are Pat McDevitt, Steve Malony, Michelle Worthington, Sara Paranzino, Kim Wilkinson, Maryann Livingston and yours truly.
I was happily employed at this location until 1987 when General Electric bought RCA. The ambience of the workplace completely changed. New GE faces were everywhere and it took some time before the feeling of trust was established between most of them. This was the beginning of the end of the Cherry Hill facility. It took two short years to empty out the buildings of people by the fall of 1989. Not too long after that another mall was built in its place. The man in charge was Bill Young, a very ‘simpatico’ man with a charming smile. He made the transition as easy as possible and transferred back up to Schenectady when we did and continued to be an ally until my retirement.
Bill was the nice GE guy and not the only GE guy. I remember attending an all-hands meeting in the Cherry Hill Inn shortly after the take-over. A man with little regard of the ex-RCA employees stood up at the podium and announced with no feeling that "... in a month most of you will be gone." I remember that day as the worst day of my career with RCA.
Most of my colleagues were let go, scattered to the wind. Some of the lucky ones were transferred to Schenectady, New York to another computer center. I was among those, so by Thanksgiving of 1989 we were all moved into our new house and enjoying Upstate New York. I ended up no more than 4 hours drive-time from where I originally grew roots in this country, the Finger Lakes Region, Ithaca, in particular. After twenty years our lives were to change drastically.
Leaving Levittown was easy for many reasons and difficult for many different reasons. During our twenty years of living there we observed many changes in the area. Although Levittown itself stayed pretty much the same, the surroundings have not. Levittown was established in the 50’s to offer basic housing at reasonable prices for those who wanted to leave Philadelphia and move into the ‘burbs’. It was a ready-made city of about 50,000 people living in one of four different style houses, ranging from the small rancher to the four-bedroom, two-story colonial.
We bought the four-bedroom model and were very satisfied. A few years went by and a huge mall was built about five miles from us and that changed everything. Traffic became much heavier and houses sprang up overnight making life more difficult. I think that was the reason we spent so much time away from the house, especially after we got the camper, then the motorcycle.
Mary’s mom still lived in the area, so leaving her was not easy. Luckily, other family members were also going to be left behind, who could take care of her.
We put the house on the market and sold it reaping a big monetary gain. GE paid for the move of all the belongings, all of which were packed up by two people. It was very impressive. We had and still do, have many breakable things, which were packed securely in box after box after box. A huge tractor trailer parked in front of the house two days later and started to move the boxes. Before they were done the entire inside space of the trailer was full. They hoisted the 19’ Blue Fin boat inside, along with the two BMW motorcycles and countless number of boxes, each identified by a small orange, numbered sticker. It was years before we finally disposed of the last of those boxes.
We Find Our New Home
There were company-paid trips to Schenectady to look the area over and become familiar with the Capitol Region, look for a new home, etc. It was during one of these trips that Mary and I were looking for a new home. A collegue recommended a realtor, who happened to be a relative as well and with his help we looked through the multiple listing of the area. The first house we looked at was in Wilton at Exit 16 in a small development of around ten houses. We were by ourselves, so we found a vacant house and were looking into the windows when Mary commented on a noise we kept hearing. It sounded like a waterfall. It was eminating from behind trees close to this house. We walked closer to the trees and discovered the source of the noise: It was generated by cars traveling at high speeds on a highway we later identified as the infamous Northway. We know this road, as years ago when our son, Roger and family lived on the Air Force base in Plattsburg we visited them quite a few times. These trips were made at all seasons of the year, all hours of the day and there was always traffic to contend with, so we knew that we didn't want to live anywhere along this road. So, that house was OUT!
After looking at the multiple listing we found two more houses to visit. They were (and are) far enough away from the Northway and the commute to the new workplace slightly less than from our old house in Levittown to Cherry Hill. The old commute was just about 25 miles and even though there were multiple routes of travel, they all involved traveling through congested areas and took at least an hour to complete. One of these routes was using Route 95, a six-lane road always full of cars and in terrible condition. That route also involved taking one of the bridges by Philadelphia to the New Jersey side.
The new commute was sligtly less in distance and on a good day I could make it to work in 40 minutes, traveling over two-lane roads with less than a dozen traffic lights. We worked in an architecture-award-winning building on Cambridge Road in Schenectady. The facility only consisted of a couple of buildings, the other contained the computer room. Our building had two stories and the second floor had a kind of a 60-70-foot corridor open to the main lobby below. The wall of the lobby was made of glass panels through which the parking lot could be observed. I remember an occasion when I stood by the railing of this corridor looking at the people leaving after work. It was summer and I marveled at the fact that they all started their engine, opened the car's windows and drove away. This sight was never seen in the Cherry Hill parking lot. Everybody drove away with the windows up and air-conditioning on full blast. Summers were definitely more enjoyable in Upstate New York.
The second house we looked at was in Galway Township, a very rural neighborhood. There was a single attached garage and a separate two-car garage. The interior had hardwood floors and enough bedrooms. The tour of the house terminated shortly after it began: There was a very strong cat odor and then I found a chainsaw on the floor of the main closet. There was an abandoned car behind the garage that the owner had been mowing around for some time. Dejected we moved on to the second house. The realtor had called them asking for a tour and was given the go-ahead within only 15 minutes. This house was about a half-mile from Route 29, 10 miles west of Saratoga Springs, a famous horse-racing town. Fans come to Saratoga in the month of July and the populations grows to an uncomfortable size. During this period I avoid the town if I can.
We arrived at the address given and were faced by a long driveway, at the end of which sat a large-looking hose with wood siding. The driveway turned out to be almost 200 feet long. There was a two-car garage and a front porch half the width of the house. All around the house were tall trees. There was a back porch and a red one-horse barn in the back.
Here's the story of the house:
There was a GE employee named Ev, who needed a quadruple bypass surgery. He felt like a teenager afterwards and he and a couple of young co-workers decided to build a house. They had cleared just enough land in the forest to fit the house and used a lot of the lumber for the siding and the kitchen cabinets. There is little molding in the house except for around the windows and doors, all of which Ev made himself. Ev was conducting the tour of the house with Mary following him. We hadn't seen half the house when she turned around and mouthed the words "I want this house!" to me.
There was a small foyer (one of Mary's requirements), a large kitchen, two bathrooms, four bedrooms (two down and two up) and a full basement. There were electric basement heaters in every room with their own controllers. Ev admitted that toward the end of the house building project he ran out of money, hence the electric heat. There was a thousand-gallon oil tank buried in the ground used by the oil-fired hot water heater. The house sits on 3.2 acres of trees.
The house looked very ordely, given the fact that we only gave them fifteen minutes to tidy up and the ambience was that of a home, not just a house. Mary was very excited as was I, so we told them we would get back to them shortly and we put in an offer. The offer was quickly accepted and all parties were happy.
While waiting for the closing date we moved into the Residence Inn in Latham and commuted to work from there. A week or so later we signed the papers and were permitted to move in. Our belongings had been in storage but now could be delivered. The original driveway was gravel and had a huge tree growing out of the section close to the house. It was unusual and different but it prevented the trailer to be backed closer to the house. No matter, a dolly was used to transport everything into the house. After a few hours of directing people to the proper rooms everything was unloaded and we were left to our vices.
We spent Thanksgiving 1989 in the house with no furniture. We went to town and purchased a couple of cheap blankets and slept on the floor of our bedroom. It felt good to be home and good to "play house".
Everything seemed to fit in our new home and it seemed as though we've been accumulating stuff for years, storing them in boxes that now could be easily displayed. A good example of this was Mary's collection of salt and pepper shakers which now line the walls of our little foyer. The foyer was also the place to display our collection of embroidery/petit point artwork brought over from Hungary. One of these depicts an old Jew writing something in a book. The Hungarian lady artist who made this spent an entire year creating this work of art and reportedly wore glasses resembling Coke bottle boottoms. How do you put a price on something like this? This same person also did Gainesborough's Blue Boy, equaling the first piece in size and quality. Mary's older sister, Elsie had given us a couple of examples of her work, which also hang in the foyer. She was nice enough to make a likeness of our BMW RT motorcycle, complete with the sheepskin cover.
We needed/wanted new bedroom furniture, so we moved our old furniture into the guest bedroom upstairs and went shopping. Maria was with us when we went to a furniture store in Clifton Park. We found a set we liked and Maria talked with the owner to lower the price a little. We still have and like these pieces.
Celebrating 25 Years of Marriage
We renewed our vows to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I approached a local Roman Catholic church to see if they would marry us again but was denied again because of my divorce. If staying together for that long doesn’t prove that we belong together and that we intend to continue to stay together, I don’t know what does. So we visited the local Methodist church in Galway and they immediately agreed to perform the ceremony. We invited many friends with whom I worked in Cherry Hill and much to our delight, many of them accepted. Many of our relatives were present as well, including our niece from New Jersey, the Harrisons from Cleveland, the Martonfalvays from Long Island, who gave us a wonderful demonstration at the reception of how the waltz should be performed. It was exceptionally cold, even by Upstate New York standards but we all had a wonderful time. My mother enjoyed herself with Hugo and Susan and for the first time in my life, I got to dance with her. As we were dancing, she says, diplomatically, "I didn't even know you could dance!" She was usually very openly critical but that time I feel she held back, for which I was very thankful.
As a teenager she was quite a dancer. Back in those days she needed a chaperone to take her to these dances because proper introductions were necessary to be able to dance with a girl. Needless to say, her mother had to approve of the young man. My mother was very popular on the dance floor. By the way, this was ballroom dancing which has many rules and nuances needing to be followed. The man has to lead and the woman has to be able to follow. It gives the man a feeling of superiority to be able to lead a good female dancer and that dancer doesn’t have a good time with a mediocre leading man. Of course, I am not speaking from experience because I never had the opportunity to try this kind of dancing, much to my parents’ and my sorrow.
The female dancer carried a little booklet with her in which the dances were recorded. At the beginning of the dance young men would crowd around her asking her to put their name next to dances. Being popular she got to pick and choose her dance partners for the night by reputation established at previous dance outings. Once the music started, my mother, as they say, would “dance the night away”, while my grandmother beamed with pride.
Mary and I took some ballroom dancing lessons a few years back. Let me tell you, it’s a lot harder than it looks! We didn’t finish the lessons.
There were many presents. We received 25 silver dollars, a silver lapel pin of a fish, a couple of fishing tackle boxes, assorted silver trays, candle holders and picture frames. The talents of the disk-jockey were donated by one of my colleagues, Pete Mochrie. The most unusual gift came from a nephew of ours, David from Cleveland, who fashioned a couple of statues of our likeness from clay. One interesting fact is that he painstakingly fashioned each part of our bodies of different colors, i.e. hair, teeth, my tie, etc. from different colored clay. The other is that he used a two-dimensional photograph as a model.
The celebration was, from our point of view, a success and we hope to repeat it for our 50th. I think everyone enjoyed themselves and hopefully we planted a seed in somebody’s mind to follow in our footsteps when it’s time for them to celebrate a milestone such as ours.
The two figurines sculpted by David from a couple of photographs.