Personal History: Sunday Stealing

Who Knows Where The Time Goes

daughter, wife, niece, sister, sister, niece (Feb 2011)

This week’s Sunday Stealing is called Personal History, an interesting topic.

1. What would you like people to know about your mother?

I was thinking about this a lot this week. My father was the more outgoing and visible member of the couple. But I doubt they would have been been able to pay the bills if it wasn’t for my mom.

She was a bookkeeper at McLean’s Department Store in Binghamton, NY, then worked at Columbia Gas, not even a block away. When she moved to Charlotte, NC, she was a teller at First Union Bank, which eventually was swallowed by Wells Fargo. I probably got my love of numbers from her. When I told her we were learning base 2, which we were told was the basis of computers, she was clearly excited.

2. What would you like people to know about your father?

I’ll be writing about him on August 10, the anniversary of his death. My eclectic taste in music started with him.

3.  What was your childhood bedroom like?

HA! After my second sister was born, my father put up two walls in the dining room, built a wooden shelf into the two walls, then put a mattress on top of that. My storage was under the “bed,” though my books were around the corner on a bookcase. My dad painted the solar system on the ceiling.


4. What was your favorite activity as a child?

Alone: playing with my baseball cards. With others: playing softball/baseball/kickball. And singing.

5. What was high school like for you?

When we first got there, there was a certain hostility from some because my friends were identified as against the Vietnam war. But by the time I graduated, most of the school was against the war. I was on the stage crew and president of the Red Cross club. I was also president of the student government, which is how I sort of got to introduce Rod Serling.

6. Write about your cousins.

I have no first cousins. My parents were only children. Well, essentially. My mom had a younger sister who died as an infant. So my cousins were my mother’s cousin’s kids who lived in NYC and were a decade or more younger than I. Still, aside from my sisters and their daughters, they’re the closest relatives outside my nuclear household.

7.  What was your favorite food as a child?

Spinach. Totally indoctrinated by Popeye.

8. What was your most memorable birthday?

My 16th was held at the American Civic Association, so it was a real party. Lois, who I’ve known since kindergarten, gave me Judy Collins’ album Who Knows Where The Time Goes. She was afraid it might be too country for me; it was not.

9. What world events were significant to you as a child?

The integration of the high school in Little Rock, AR. Sputnik. The Cuban Missile Crisis – I didn’t really understand it, but I grokked adults all being nervous. The assassinations of Medgar Evers and John F. Kennedy. The massive 1965 blackout was the only time I ever heard my father worry about a possible Soviet plot.

To Starr Avenue

10. What did a typical day look like as a child?

During the school year, walk to school about half a mile, usually trying to vary my route. At lunch, walk home to my grandma Williams’ house for lunch, watch JEOPARDY with her sister, my wonderful Aunt Deana, back to school, then walk home with, in geographic order, Bill, Lois, Karen, Carol, and Ray. I’d walk home.

11. Write about your grandparents. 

Gertrude Williams (1897-1982) operated out of making us afraid of the boogie man. I don’t remember her husband, Clarence Williams (d. 1958), though I may have gone to his funeral. 

Agatha Green (1902-1964) was my Sunday school teacher and taught me how to play canasta. She was the first person I knew well to die, and I was devastated. McKinley Green (1896? -1980) was a custodian at WNBF-TV-AM-FM and would bring home stuff the station no longer wanted, such s the soundtrack to The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968).

12. Did you move as a child?

I moved from the second floor of 5 Gaines Street, Binghamton, NY, to the first floor when my mother was pregnant with her second child. Until college, that was it.

13. Who taught you to drive?

Several people tried, including the Okie, Uthaclena, my father, and a professional.

14. Which job has been your favorite?

FantaCo, the comic book store/mail order/publisher/convention, where I worked from May 1980 to November 1988.

15. What was the best part of your 30s?

Working at FantaCo, singing in the Trinity UMC choir

The mother-in-law’s move

busy summer

movingMoving is tough, I can attest from having moved 30-odd times. My mother-in-law’s move was definitely challenging.

After my father-in-law died in April 2020, she had, beyond the emotional stuff, reams of paperwork to deal with. Yet by the fall, she knew she wanted to move, and by the spring, she signed papers to indicate where.

Yet the moving – and I mean the psychological decision to move – couldn’t really take place until after May 22, 2021, when my FIL was buried in the columbarium of his church.

The sorting and tossing began in earnest. A lot of can foods, including every kind of canned beans I’d ever heard of and a bunch new to me, are now in our pantry. Or on the dresser which has become the overflow from our pantry.

Besides the music, I gave away all of the blank writable CD and DVD discs. I knew my MIL couldn’t use them, and I don’t have a computer with a drive anymore.

My MIL had the closing for her new place in mid-July, but only a handful of boxes made it there by then. Her daughter and one of her sons worked diligently. But here’s what I’ve learned from about six dozen moves. The movee has to make the decisions about what stays and what goes and in their own time.

The hard thing is that she had to decide about not only her own stuff but her late husband’s. The last several moves they had done together. Add to that moving from a house to an apartment, and it can be daunting, even with help.

Two strong guys

Moving day came in early August. The two guys started at my MIL’s home about 75 miles away, then to her new place, about 15 minutes from here, then the delivery of three pieces of furniture to our house. One of these was a very heavy armoire going into our second-floor bedroom. One of the moving guys thought, incorrectly, that I was trying to tell him how to carry the piece. No, I was merely trying to let him know where to place it.

But there were still items in the old house that needed to leave by August 17, when the closing on THAT house took place. Not incidentally, my wife started a summer job on August 2, so she would work all day then spend the weekends helping her mom.

My MIL seems to be adjusting to the new place, even as she continues to unpack boxes, some with items she didn’t really want to make the trip. She’s making friends. After living alone for over a year, it’s a new day.

Moving, moving around, Picasso

“You are a very intelligent person!”

Picasso.portugueseI have my own office at work for the first time in over 12 years. There’s a lot to this story, and I would share some of it. The problem is that in moving into the said office, I have managed to pull something in my back, which makes moving around quite uncomfortable at times.

And I otherwise feel a bit, well, off, including a near-constant headache. I’m waiting to see a doctor after I hear from the HR folks about whatever the worker’s compensation process is.

Meanwhile, I sit in my office putting things on the wall. A picture of me when I was on JEOPARDY! Close up, it’s horrendously pixelated like something from Picasso’s cubist period. From a distance, it’s not bad. Also, a picture of my father, my sister Leslie and I singing when I was 16.

Oh, speaking of Leslie, I mentioned she was going to have surgery on her left arm on October 1. well that didn’t happen because of an infection at what would have been the surgical site. But she went back to the doctor on October 15 and the infection has been stemmed. Now she’s scheduled for surgery on October 23.

So emotionally, I think I would feel really good if I didn’t feel so bad. Y’know what makes me happy? Positive spam messages, such as:

“I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts on this sort of area. Exploring in Yahoo I, at last, stumbled upon this website. Reading this info, I am happy to convey that I have an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I most certainly will make certain to don’t forget this site and give it a look on a constant basis.”

Thank you very much. You’re too kind.

“You are a very intelligent person!”


“You can definitely see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.”

Thanks for the good advice.

“The ability to think like that shows you’re an expert.”

Aw, shucks.

Full circle

full circleEarly in June, I took a #10 Western Avenue bus downtown, then a #18 bus to Delmar to see my podiatrist at 8:20. When I caught another #18 bus to go to my doctor’s office to get a shingles vaccine, it was the same driver; not really a great surprise.

I took another #18 bus back to Albany with another driver. That same driver, about 15 minutes later, then took me out to Corporate frickin’ Woods, the #737, which I did find interesting.

As I may have mentioned, this past 109 months is the second time I’ve worked at CfW, the first time at Blue Cross/Blue Shield for 13 months in 1989-1990. The return there in 2006 did not make me happy. At all.

The first job I ever had in the Capital District was at the main branch of Albany Savings Bank in downtown Albany as a teller in February 1978, a job I did not enjoy, but I liked the locale. It DID become my bank as well, as it transitioned to Albank, Charter One, and now Citizens Bank.

It was confirmed that very same day of those coincidental bus trips that my office will be relocating downtown, likely in September, to the very same intersection I worked 38 years ago. I hear the offices served a former law firm, so they are supposed to be pretty nice. Collectively, the biggest add for us will be a fiber-optic network for connectivity. A really good thing will be that the walls go to the ceiling for private and semi-private offices, which will be HUGE for me.

(Put your rant about the dehumanizing effect of the office cubicle here.)

We have been encouraged to use some time in the summer to purge files of material we no longer need. After nine years, one gathers lots of stuff. This will take a while.

I’ve already asked some folks to take some print versions of Census data from 1990 through 2000 because it’s occasionally useful – I’ve referred to it three times in nine years – but if I could get OTHERS to store it…

I am happy. This will be the fourth move in this job in almost 23 years, and I’m sure, it’ll be my last because I’m likely to retire before another one.

Yes, I still remember: moving sucks!

The movee (or his/her designee) must be in charge of the move, especially the unloading.

Poor Jaquandor wrote at the end of May:

The move is done.
Well, at least the part that involves “taking all of our stuff from the old place and bringing it to the new place”. I can’t believe how long this process took. It seemed a good idea at the time: “Hey, we’ve got about two months, so we can just slowly nickel-and-dime our way over there! We can slowly pack and take a few things over every day and gradually it’ll get done!”

Take it from me, folks: this approach sucks, and should never be adopted by anyone. Live and learn, I guess.

[Except for his books,] Moving it in little chunks was a stupid, stupid, stupid idea, and it may well rank with my dumbest ideas ever. What sounded like a way to make moving into a less-stressful, less-annoying, less-soul-crushing-of-a-day turned out to be “death by a thousand cuts”. The old place became this daunting monkey on our backs, always there, always in the back of our minds. Every day, thinking, “I’m almost off work, gonna go home and take a nap…oh wait, gotta go grab more stuff.” “Hey, it’s Sunday, I can read the paper and–oh wait, gotta go grab more stuff.” The phrase “Oh wait, gotta go grab more stuff” has become the most often-said thing around here.

Yes, this is almost invariably true. I have moved so often, north of 30 times, that I actually got rather good at it. But I never enjoyed it. Jaquandor’s way reminded me of getting a pair of pliers to remove a tooth, but you just yank it a little every day for three months.

I’ve been in my current abode for 14 years this past May, and the idea of moving STILL gives me the willies.

Jaquandor also wrote, and I am going to quote his entire post:

Really good friends help you move. Your best friends help you move twice

This is not necessarily true, in my experience. I’ve helped people I’ve known for two weeks.

I once wrote, and it’s still accurate:

Moving other people’s stuff I love. I love it for a number of reasons:
1) It’s good exercise
2) It becomes an interesting anthropological study
3) People are grateful that you’re moving their stuff
4) It’s not MY stuff

Whereas moving my OWN stuff, even efficiently, is all sorts of emotionally dreadful.

Here are my rules for moving other people’s stuff, having done so many times:

1) Pick a time. Stick to the time. I want to get there, do it, and leave.

2) The movee (or his/her designee) must be in charge of the move, especially the unloading. I don’t care if the movee picks up a single thing as long as that person can say: what goes and what stays when we’re in the old place; and where the things go when we’re in the new place.
One friend was physically incapable of helping the physical moving. That’s OK.

3) Have extra boxes. Inevitably, the movee thinks he/she is done packing, but forgot the stuff behind a piece of furniture or in a closet or in the refrigerator. Seldom have I been in a situation with too many boxes.

4) Don’t pack your books, records, and other dense items in large boxes. I may be, as one friend calls her roving moving crew, of “strong backs and small minds”, but we’re not looking to end up on the disabled list while doing one a favor.

5) Highly recommended: extra packing tape, and markers for labeling boxes (oh, PLEASE, label your boxes so that we don’t have to open the boxes and decide what’s in them). Bungee ropes can be useful.

6) If possible, contact the authorities about blocking off the moving spaces so we can load and unload at the actual addresses rather than from half a block away.

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