Writing this reunion bio has led me to think about certain relationships that have occurred in the last 50 years. With the clarity of hindsight. I now feel my most important Amherst experience US that it helped form my sense of place namely, the region we call home. That, in turn, influenced my self-awareness, the sense of how I was and what I really liked to do, and ultimately how I've lived these past 5 decades.
Let me explain. I was born and raised in the suburbs of NYC to parents who themselves were native New Yorkers. Due to the depression and gas rationing during WW II, people didn't travel as much in those days. In 18 years, I don't recall being more than 50 miles from my hometown. In short, I was a city slicker, confined both physically and mentally because I simply didn't know what else was out there. I thought all the noises, smells, impersonal crowds, traffic congestion. Pollution, and similar aspects of urban living were the norm. Even as a high school senior applying to colleges, I only had the vaguest idea of where Massachusetts was let alone the town of Amherst. In today's jargon, they'd say I was "geographically challenged".
In 1948, our freshman year, that all gradually started to change. Two concurrent factors were involved: the first was going away to college in a small rural New England town; the other was our family moving to Worcester (a city in central Massachusetts about 50 miles east of Amherst) when my father changed jobs. My eyes were opened: never before could I remember seeing such open spaces and bucolic quietude. Who of us wasn't impressed by the pastoral serenity of the view of the Holyoke range from the war memorial at the south end of the Quad? Later on, during college breaks, I traveled with my father on his business trips to other parts of rural New England and my horizons were expanded further. My favorite area, however, became the Connecticut River valley from around Northampton up to Hanover, N H. For some unexplained reason, l always felt an inner calm, an unstressed, and relaxed at "home" feeling whenever I was in that area.
Fast forward 4 years; 2 years as a draftee in the Army (we all had to go, remember?) with some more mind broadening travel; 2 years of graduate school (Columbia MBA '56). Finally, marriage (Anne Drysdale. Middlebury '51) and starting a career. By this time, we were both ardent escapists- we knew there were better places for us to live and raise a family than crowded suburbs or cities. We spent the next 10 years in small towns in central Massachusetts (our daughters, Leslie and Lois, have the distinction of having Athol, MA as their birth place). In 1959, I joined my father in business- sales and service of paper machine accessories to paper mills throughout New England. Talk about "the road less traveled" -that's not the usual career path for an Amherst graduate. Anyway, I became a traveling salesman, aka...peddlar" aka "professional tourist,'' free to roam New Englands's highways and byways calling on customers in a 750 mile belt from Stamford, CT up to Madawaska, ME. Over the years, it developed into a lonely, physically demanding 24/7 type job. On the plus side, however, every day was different, you were your own boss, and you didn't have to drive in congested cities (our major customers were the big paper mills in Maine). As you can see, this life suited my escapist personality: I did it full time for 33 years, and am still involved on a part time basis working with the R & D department on new products.