When we moved to Rowayton, CT, Nigel was four and Nick was two and both had their baby pictures on their green cards showing they were a “landed immigrant of the United States”. They, like the rest of our family, kept those original photos until we became citizens years later.
Rowayton had a Community Co-operative Nursery School and we signed Nigel up to go there. We paid a monthly fee but we also had to participate in the maintenance and upkeep of the facility and the grounds. I was Treasurer one year and I did a lot of grass-cutting and other odd jobs while Doris was teacher’s helper about one day per two weeks. I remember that they had a big fund raising event one evening and one of the parents who was related in some way persuaded Benny Goodman, who lived in adjacent Westport, to play for us. We were sworn to secrecy because Goodman did not want to infringe some kind of Union agreement and also did not want to attract a crowd to our little school. Nigel went there for a year and later, Nick also went until kindergarten.
My job became interesting and I was amazed how many of our business contacts were so easy to get to. I very soon learned the streets of New York and I also travelled from both major airports almost weekly to visit customers’ plants and on sales calls. I spent a lot of time along the Gulf Coast with one particular customer, the Big Three Company. We supplied oxygen and nitrogen plants from Victoria, TX to Baton Rouge, LA. These plants were eventually linked by a common oxygen and nitrogen pipeline network totally planned by Harry Smith, the Chairman of Big Three. He tried, quite regularly, to hire me to manage the whole system but I resisted, knowing I would never have another week-end free.
Harry’s theory with the pipeline was that if you ran a pipeline past every chemical plant and refinery along the Gulf Coast they would all eventually start using the gases almost as a utility. His prediction was proved correct and their sales rocketed. This increased their production volume allowed Big Three to be extremely successful in bidding low prices to the space program and getting a majority of the contracts.
One of our neighbors, Russell Shafer and I played a lot of “Competitive Frizbee” out on the street in front of our houses. We stood about 30 feet apart and threw aggressively at each other. A good throw had to be caught or the thrower got a point. We had a variety of shots which developed a terminology. We had a “bouncer” which hit the ground in front of the opponent and rose up right in front of him and was hard to judge. A throw that arrived very near the ground became a “knuckle-scraper” for obvious reasons. Shaffer invented a foul shot which became a “duster.” In picking up his Friz he would scrape it along the gutter and gather dust in the rim. The dust stayed in until the catcher stopped it and the dust flew in his face. I was able to name one particular shot I remember. It was a “pant-splitting knuckle-scraper.”
Our lives became routine with lots of sports activities for adults and kids together with almost daily visits to the beach in summer. In 1963, we bought our first new vehicle, a Chevrolet Impala station wagon.
I was invited to give a paper at the 1963 Cryogenic Symposium at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Doris and I started planning how we could combine this with a vacation. Our kids were now 9, 7 and 5 years old and we had begun to think of camping trips. The net result is that we went for almost three weeks on a holiday which we all remember so well. We bought an 8 x 12 foot tent and an assortment of camping gear such as lanterns, a stove and sleeping bags. These all went on our roof-rack and the three kids rolled around with the seats down in the back of the wagon.
We stayed at a hotel about every third night but usually stopped somewhere close and cooked supper on our propane stove. We stayed one whole day in Wisconsin Dells State park, made a quick stop in Lacrosse, Wisconsin at the Trane Company that supplied heat exchangers to L’Air Liquide and continued west to the Black Hills of South Dakota. We visited the Corn Palace in Mitchell, the dinosaur park in Rapid City and went on to Mount Rushmore. There was practically nothing there but the monument whereas today it is a giant tourist center.
After that we got to Yellowstone Park, where we had reserved a cabin for four days. We saw the problem tent campers had with visits from bears which in the sixties roamed quite freely all over the park. We frequently got in a “bear jam” in which cars would back up for photographing bears and cubs and for illegally feeding them. We had visits to our cabin’s garbage can nightly and we have pictures of bears head first in the cans. There were stories of car damage, especially convertibles, when bears tried to get food and we saw that the campers had to hang their food on a line between trees to stop the bears getting to it. We toured the entire park over the four days, visiting all the prominent geysers especially Old Faithful, which at that time went off like clock-work in 57 minutes. (Today, it goes most of the time in 63 minutes.)
From Yellowstone, we went to near-by Grand Teton Park and found a wonderful campsite by the lake which we enjoyed so much that we stayed there for three days. We thought originally that we would include the Grand Canyon on our trip but there would not have been time, particularly as I had a date in Boulder, so we turned and headed eastward towards the Rocky Mountain National Park.
The scenery was awesome as we crossed the Continental Divide, from where streams of water start east or west to the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. The drive down from the 14,000 foot peaks (Mount Elbert in Colorado is the highest of the Park peaks at 14,400) into Estes Park, CO was impressive and we found a camping space at Mrs. Smith’s Campground in the downtown area. Our experiences there are another memory for another day.