1. Who was your FIRST date?
Difficult to say. I don’t recall dating Martha as much as hanging out with her with my friends, then with her more than my other friends. Eventually we kissed a lot.
2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love?
Yeah, but not often. I went to her wedding. I’m reasonably sure that her husband doesn’t know we dated. I used to think that was weird. Then there was this other woman I dated considerably later on; I was going to mention her in this blog actually, but she preferred that I didn’t. She’s comfortable with the fiction that her husband is the “only one”, despite the fact that she was married before. HER husband knows we dated, and in fact recognized me from a drawing of me as a duck that the late Raoul Vezina drew. So maintaining a fiction about the past I’ve learned to recognize as important to some people. I suppose that includes me.
3. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink?
I don’t remember what, but I remember where: it was in a bar on Clinton Street in Binghamton. I was 18, the legal age. My sister was singing there, if I recall correctly and I don’t think I had to pay for the drink. It was almost certainly a mixed drink; I want to say Tom Collins.
4. What was your FIRST job?
I’ve answered this before (newspaper deliverer or library page). The first job I had where I was making any real money was working at IBM in Endicott, near Binghamton. I had graduated from high school in January 1971, and I worked there from March through August. My job was to do these three processes. First was to put this coating over these circuit boards. The second (and the most difficult) was to bake them in these ovens, making sure not to bend the pins or have the coating get on the pins. The third task was to bake this plastic holder onto the circuit boards.
Irritatingly, the first shift did a lot of the first task, leaving the second task to me. And I really had to do it, because the coating would start riding up the pins if they weren’t baked within 10 or 12 hours. They didn’t like me because I would do the first task so fast that the company raised the rate for that job, something like from 60 to 80 boards per hour. That WAS a tactical error on my part.
I was on the second shift, which ostensibly was 5:12 p.m. to 2 a.m ., with a 48-minute lunch. But I hardly ever worked that shift. It was usually 5:12 p.m. to 4 a.m., and then from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Not only did I save lots of money for college because of the 16 hours of overtime per week – and because I was generally too tired to go out – I managed to lose 30 pounds because I was too tired to eat.
In the summer, there was a guy – I wish I remembered his name – who was a son of an IBM bigwig; he was quite intelligent and as bored as I was. So we would get into his Aston Martin and drive as far away as we could for 20 minutes, then reluctantly drive back.
First time I ever gave blood was while I worked there because I could get paid at work while taking of the hour to donate.
5. What was your FIRST car?
No idea. It was the S.O.’s and it was red and had push button transmission. I once knocked over a Dumpster while driving it; I wanted to go forward but went into reverse.
6. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
I had gotten chosen for this Governor’s Conference on Children and Youth when I was in high school, and there were seven of us from the Binghamton area who flew to Albany in a plane with perhaps a dozen seats. It was during a lightning and thunderstorm on the way up. Met Nelson Rockefeller for the first time.
7. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?
My first best friend was probably Ray Lia from second grade. We were in Cub Scouts together; his mom was our den mother. I didn’t see him much in high school; he went to North High instead of Central, because it offered some technical courses he wanted. I pretty much lost track of him until 1976, five years after high school, when he invited me to be in his wedding. I escorted his mom to her seat, which as nice. I caught the garter, which wasn’t. We exchange Christmas cards, though most of the writing is by his wife Pam. He is, as of about a month ago, one of my Facebook friends.
8. Whose wedding did you attend the FIRST time?
I have no idea. When I grew up in the church, most of the weddings were open to all the parishoners. So I went to a lot of weddings as a kid. I even sang at a few, notably I Love You Truly, a truly horrific piece of claptrap. I know I attended my sister’s godfather Elmer’s wedding to Barbara in that period.
As for which of my friends married first whose wedding I actually attended, I’m not at all sure. My sister got married on Halloween 1975; a definite contender.
9. Tell us about your FIRST roommate.
That would be Ron Fields. At New Paltz in 1971-72, there were only two black males in Scudder Hall, a grad student in biology (Ron) and a freshman poli sci major (me), and somehow we ended up as roommates. I’m pretty sure it was no accident. Ron was fine. He did have one great idiosyncrasy that amused me and others; he recorded every cent he spent in a notebook. “Soda, 50 cents,” etc. One day, he bought a used car. “Car, $1000.” It cracked both of us up.
One day in March 1972, the phone rang fairly early in the morning. It was my father, but Ron didn’t let on. He did prompt us to clean the room, then conspired with a friend of mine to get me out of my room so that my family and friends could surprise me that weekend for my 19th birthday. Kentucky Fried Chicken, as I recall.
10. If you had one wish, what would it be (other than more wishes)?
Either the ability to fly or to transport.
11. What is something you would learn if you had the chance?
If I had time, I’d become more computer savvy; I just muddle through.
12. Did you marry the FIRST person you were in love with?
No, and we tried to make it work more than once.
13. What were the first lessons you ever took and why?
Piano lessons when I was eight with Mrs. Hamlin. I was not at all good, but I still remember a lot of those intro lessons by heart. It was also useful in singing, so it wasn’t a total waste.
14. What is the first thing you do when you get home?
Take off my shoes. Keep the carpet clean.