> Sford wiki > Sford personal history
THIS PAGE NOT BEING UPDATED!! I've moved it to DropBox and use PlainText.
I have a horrible memory. I remember very little of my childhood, teenhood, young adulthood, middle adulthood, late adulthood ... basically I'm lucky if I can remember what I ate 10 minutes ago. I have always been this way.
This history is just a memory aid for me to keep certain chronological facts that my brain cannot keep straight. It is not intended to be interesting to anybody but myself, nor is it particularly inclusive or wide-scoped. It started as a conversation and scribbled note-taking with Margaret in Early 2008 as we were trying to figure out the chronology of a lot that had happened to us since we met. So everything prior to 2001 I basically threw together so that it doesn't look like my life began in 2001. The lack of detail prior to 2001 is NOT a reflection of relative importance to me or significance to my life - it's just not what Margaret and I talked about. I hope to flesh out those earlier years as time goes by. Don't hold your breath.
December 7: born. I'm pretty sure we lived 3210 Merle Hay Road in what I always called "the yellow house".
Naturally, I don't remember much that I could pin a year on. I remember we lived next door to the Grasianos (sp?), an Italian family. Lee Grasiano was a bit of a jokester, and looking back, might have influenced me more than I can imagine. He used to say that he had horse stables in his back yard, an obvious yarn since I could see into his back yard. At one point, he used either a cane or crutches, I don't remember which, and claimed that one of his horses had bit him.
A house or two further down was a woman who collected coins. I must have started my penny collection during these years, because I remember buying a 1909 VDB from her for $1.00. I still have it. This seems odd to me since it indicates a level of interest and even sophistication in a hobby that I didn't think I had developed until later.
On the other side was a family with two sons, Peter and Paul. They were more my sister's age. Further down was ... Peggy? Penny? A friend of my sister's. Somewhere in there was Everet something, a significantly older kid.
But mostly I remember Bobby Lempki (sp?). He was my best friend during this entire time. Given the scarcity of kids my age in the area, he may well have been my only friend. But I remember he was a good friend. I am told that his family was very poor, although I certainly didn't know it. I remember he had an unused water well on his property. It might have had a pump on it, but might not have; my memory is hazy on that point. It was incompletely covered by a board, and I remember dropping a toy rubber knife that I had found into the well. It's funny the strange little things that stick in your memory.
Fall: Went to Kindergarden at Riley School (?). Remember my teacher was Mrs. Wheeler, with assistant Mrs. Fry. Very vaguely remember being alone in the classroom one day while the rest of the class was in the playground, whistling a sad tune, liking the sound as it reverberated. But this cannot be an accurate memory; I'm almost certain that I did not learn to whistle until several years later. So I don't know where this came from.
December 24 or 25: Very early yet vivid memory: playing with an electric train I got for Christmas and thinking that I would remember Christmas of 1962 for the rest of my life. So far, so good. I remember being both happy and slightly disappointed; the latter being because it used 3 rails on the track, which made it less like "real" trains.
Summer: I'm pretty sure we moved to 75th street in Urbandale this year, and that I attended Olmsted grade school for 1st - 3rd grades.
Don't remember any dates of events, but I remember living next door to Billy Hurr (sp?), a somewhat sissy kid. I remember once he had a cool ring that made a whizzing/siren sound when you blew into it. I pressured him into trading the ring for as many junk toys of my own that I could lay my hands on. That evening, my mother made me trade back.
I also remember a bully named David Sikes (sp?) who lived not too far away. I don't remember him ever actually beating me up, but he certainly used intimidation to get his way. One clear memory: my best friend, Bobby had spent the night. I finished breakfast before he did and went outside to play. I kind of forgot about him and rode my tricycle, met David, and I think may have ended up near his house, where he annoyed me by repeatedly bumping the back of the trike with the front of his two-wheeler. I think I whined a bit and went back home in a huff, only to learn that I had been gone for quite a while and Bobby's parents had come to get him. I remember thinking that they came pre-maturely *because* I had disappeared, but looking back as an adult, I think it was just as likely that they had planned to come at that time anyway. I was crushed, and mentally blamed it all on that bully, David Sikes. I remember hearing MANY years later that, as a young adult, he had been killed in a freak accident where he was trying to pull a car out of a ditch with a winch, when the cable snapped and struck him down.
Speaking of Bobby, there was one point where we arranged a "play date" (although they weren't called that back then) where we walked towards each other and meet half-way. (He still lived across the street from the Yellow House, probably almost an hour's walk.) We successfully met and proceeded to have a good time, exploring a creek, doing whatever it was that little boys do. At some point, we became hungry and decided to walk the rest of the way to my house. After walking for a few minutes, a police cruiser pulled up and asked us who we were. We responded, and he had us get into the cruiser. He said on the radio that the "runaways had been found". I remember saying under my breath that we had NOT run away, we were just playing. The police took us to my house where our very worried mothers were overjoyed and furious at the same time. Apparently we were supposed to meet and come directly to my house. And apparently we had been gone for quite a while. Needless to say, we did not have cell phones back then. :-)
Bobby and I tried to keep our friendship going through multiple moves. I think the last time we got together was when I lived on 55th street and I went to his house (no longer on Merle Hay). I remember hearing the song "I Shot the Sheriff" and not getting it at all, assuming it was a novelty song (and not a very good one at that). We didn't have much in common by then, and it may have been the last time we got together. Although I also remember one time he came over to the 55th street house. The other boys in the neighborhood wanted the two of us to go outside and play, but I remember jealously wanting Bobby all to myself. I remember it being awkward. I don't remember how it turned out, although I suspect we did go out and probably had some fun. But those two get-togethers were definitely the final attempts to keep a long friendship going after we had drifted apart.
Anyway, back to 75th street. There were also two boys that lived ... next door? ... and may have been twins. I played with them a fair amount, but I can't for the life of me remember their names. They did have a memorable dog named Rusty. Rusty was a big dog who liked to lick people. A lot. So much so that Rusty was a dog to be avoided, not sought out.
I remember an adult couple who I'm pretty sure lived nearby: the Reeds. I remember liking them greatly, primarily because they were the first adults who seemed to really listen to me and interact with me at almost a peer level.
I'm pretty sure this is the year we moved to 3948 55th street house. Started 4th grade at Moore School. "As Moore School burns to the ground, with it's colors of black and of brown..." (popular mutation of school song).
As usual, I can't pin very many things to dates, so I'll just ramble a bit about the years 67 - 76. Key friends: Chris (older) and RIchard Backie (sp?), Fred and Kerry (older) Horner, and somewhat less close, Jim Fath. And what's his name across the street. Damn, I can't remember his name. He was a bit odd, and I didn't hang with him as much as the others. Fred was a bit of a tough guy, but for some reason did not view me as bully-meat, a fact that now somewhat mystifies me. I certainly heard him regail me with stories of his bullying prowess later on in High School. Jim Fath was the only kid my age, Richard, Fred, and across-the-street kid were all a year ahead of me. That didn't seem to matter much since throughout grade and junior high, we tended to hang together as a neighborhood. In high school, however, we grew apart. There was also an older kid across the street from me named Mike Obrian. We hung out for a while for some reason. There was also a fellow tech-geek named Dave Momberg (sp?) who I spent some time with. He eventually became a druggie and a sound guy for a band or something.
In Junior High, I became friends with Lyle Ruppert. Our friendship was very strange. We hung out together in school almost constantly, and walked to and from school almost every day. We had similar interests, similar senses of humor. But for some reason, we never did anything together outside of the normal school day - never got together after school, never over the weekend, almost never over the summer. So, although I would classify him as my "best" friend, he was also in some ways a distant friend. (We only lived about a 5 minute bike ride apart.) After college, we grew apart, but tried to keep somewhat in touch. At one point in the mid-to-late 90's, in a fit of mis-directed temper at some imagined slight, I stop communicating. Older and wiser now (Sep 2010), I found him on LinkedIn and have re-established contact.
During High School, I got a job at Bishops Buffett where I met Judy Thompson (who became my first girlfriend), her friend Tammy Thompson (?), and her boyfriend Mark Glowacki. Mark and I became good friends, and we and his brother Chris used to do a lot together. We made a stop-motion film with my dad's super-8 camera, which I Mark eventually transferred to video tape and sent to me a bunch of years ago. If I still have it somewhere, I should digitize it. They went to Roosevelt High School, and they were on the crew for the drama group. I helped them with the sound and spot light for the Fiddler on the Roof production. Interestingly, Karen (who I had not yet met) also acted in that play as the Ghost of Tevia's mother.
July 20: On vacation camping in Peninsula State Park and went into town in the evening to see a fuzzy white blob moving around on a TV screen (I'm pretty sure we were standing outside of a TV store which was closed for the day). That blob was, of course, Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon. I remember being very disappointed that the white blob on the screen did not look even vaguely human, due to the poor picture quality. Although I was "into space" in those days, I do not remember being particularly awestruck by the whole thing.
August 12: My sister Linda married Hank Zaletel. I was a 14-year-old usher.
Fall: Broke up with Judy Thompson after going out for ... I dunno ... maybe 2 years?
Early winter: I had been trying to get close to Kathy Simpson, but she already had a boyfriend, about whom she was quick to complain, which made me think I had a chance. Possibly to derail my efforts, she got me in touch with Karen Daniels, who was a year ahead of me and was in her first year at Cal Tech. We wrote each other frequently, and became close.
June (?): Graduated from High School in the Spring.
Summer: became quite close to Karen.
Fall: Started at Iowa State University.
December (?): I think it was a quarter or two into the 77/78 school year that Karen got burned out by Cal Tech and came back to Iowa. I think she took a few months off.
Spring: I think it was Spring of 78 that Karen went to Drake University for a semester, taking liberal arts classes, including French. She lived in an apartment on campus, and I think continued living there through the summer of 78. In the Fall of 78 she enrolled in Iowa State in the Nuclear Engineering department.
December 29: Married Karen. Hank Z was my best man.
April 19: my mother died of lung cancer. Although I did not know it at the time, she had it during my wedding. The disease went from vague suspicions to fatal in less than 4 months.
Spring: Karen and I graduated from Iowa State University and started work at Fisher Controls (now owned by Emerson). Continued to live in Ames while Karen studied for her Masters degree.
January 11: Linda's first daughter, Anne, born. I'm an uncle!
Spring: Karen got her masters and found a job at Sargent & Lundy in Chicago. We moved to Wilmette. Worked for MCC Powers (AKA Powers Process Control) for a couple of months, where I met Wendy Teller and Rich Weyand. Project was cancelled, so I went to work for Cook Electric in Niles (or was it Morton Grove?), which later became Northern Telecom. I wrote a BiSync driver in assembly for their Z-80-based BMC product (Billing Media Converter).
August: Got sick of doing Z-80 assembly language at Cook, so switched to Siemens Gammasonics (later simply Siemens Medical) working on Nuclear Medicine scanners, and later on X-ray scanners. Ended up working for Siemens for 11+ years.
November 11: Linda's second daughter, Elizabeth (Libby) was born. I'm an uncle again!
October 14: Birth of Becky (my daughter).
Spring: Adoption of David (my son).
June: Left Siemens and joined Lachman Technology. I had been doing more marketing than technical work at Siemens and was missing the technical. Then on Tuesday, May 10, there was a total annular eclipse of the Sun over Chicago. Since it was annular, the sky did not actually get all that dark, but still, a *total* eclipse! Over Chicago! I had made a cardboard box eclipse viewer and had fun over lunch watching it. Outside of the Siemens building there were maybe 20 other people, some with pinhole viewers like mine, others with welding goggles. But most of the engineers I talked to were only mildly interested. That afternoon, I spoke with Karen on the phone. She said that Lachman had a company-sponsored pizza party in the parking lot (with beer), and that Ron Lachman had purchased a box full of mylar eclipse viewers. Naturally, over half of the engineers had their own viewers. I knew at that moment that I was working for the wrong place. One satisfying thing about working at Lachman is that it was filled with eccentric uber-geeks. I had always felt somewhat out-of-place everywhere I had worked. Suddenly I felt ... normal. It was a strange and wonderful experience. Anyway, within a few days of the eclipse I had purchased the 3-volume Comer TCP books and did my best to become a networking engineer prior to my interview at Lachman. Apparently I did OK. I initially worked for Mike Garwood, then later for Jay Opperman, and finally for ... I forget who.
October 12: My father died.
February: After only 2 years of one of the best jobs I had ever had, the Great Borg, Computer Associates, purchased what was left of Lachman and gutted it. Once I saw that they were systematically destroying everything that made Lachman good, I followed Bob Van Valzah (an ex-Lachman guy) and joined Future Source.
July 4: My grandmother Hanke died.
October: After only a year and a half at Future Source, I left and joined Teradyne. Went to work for Jay Opperman (also an ex-Lachman guy).
February: I left Teradyne and joined Mark Mahowald and Bob Van Valzah at Whitebarn (soon to become Talarian, later to become Tibco). I was contracted out to Sam Fusios at 3Com during the Whitebarn/Talarian phase, and then transitioned to QA when Tibco took over.
December 25: Though I didn't know her at the time, Margaret and Sukie (dog) left Connecticut in a blizzard. They arrived the next evening too meet her children in their new home in Illinois.
May 13: I am ashamed to say that it was on this day, Mother's day, that I had a discussion with Karen which resulted in my stating my intention to move out. It was several days later that I moved into Brookview Village. Although I had been thinking for some time to end the marriage, I had not planned on initiating anything for several more months.
End June: Gail visited Chicago to spend some time with me and Margaret (although I did not know Margaret at that point). I remember that I had a Boy Scout camping trip with my Son and had to spend a night or two in the wilds of Wisconsin in the middle of Gail's visit. I believe I first met Margaret (albeit briefly) as I was getting ready to drive to the camping trip. Shortly after my return, I remember Gail and I getting seafood from a restaurant (Shaws?) and bringing it over to Margaret's. That was the first opportunity to actually get to know her.
July 4: Went to Glenview's Independence Day celebration with Becky, Margaret, and her kids. I'm pretty sure David was with Karen that evening.
Rest of July: E-mails, phone calls, and get-togethers with Margaret.
August 1st (officially - may have actually been 2nd or 3rd): First time I told Margaret that she was "the one".
September 11: the 9/11 destruction of the WTC. I remember that morning needing to take David to the Holy Family hospital for some kind of test, possibly related to his back brace, and walking through the hospital halls, glancing at a few TV sets in various waiting rooms. I saw some kind of building fire but didn't pay it much mind. It wasn't until I got in the car that the radio told me what was going on. I took David to school and called Margaret (whose parents live in NYC). I went straight to Margaret's at that point and we tried to deal with it together. As horrible as that day was, it did bring us closer together.
Fall: We got Jack.
March: I moved to Coromandel.
May: I got laid off from Tibco. Moved out of Coromandel and into Margaret's house for a few weeks (?).
May/June: Karen moved to Wisconsin with David. Becky continued going to High School from the Glenview house. I moved in there with her.
June: Becky graduated from High School.
July: I started work at HyperFeed in the QA department. Bob Breisch helped me get in the door (thanks Bob!). After a while, I moved from the QA department to development.
July: the Glenview house sold and I moved to Highwood. That's 4 moves in 4 months. I'm pretty sure Becky moved to Wisconsin with Karen. The Spring/Summer period of 2003 was tumultuous for all the Fords.
August: Becky dog-sat Margaret's dogs (Sukie & Jack) during the day while Margaret was on vacation with her kids.
August: A day after Margaret returned, Suki died. We all miss her, but are glad Becky was there for her (though thankfully didn't have to deal with her death) and that we got to say goodbye.
September: Becky entered University of Wisconsin
November 29, Thanksgiving weekend: Jake Wartel's Bar Mitzvah.
November 20: My divorce finalized.
Much of this year is a blur. In later years we had trouble figuring out our chronology together partly because 2004 became sort-of a "lost" year.
Spring (May?): Margaret's divorce finalized. About 2 weeks later (?), Margaret had a positive mammogram which led to a diagnosis of breast cancer.
Summer: Margaret had her major surgery.
Fall/Winter: Margaret had Chemo Therapy. I remember going to many of her treatments and reading aloud to her from a Donald Westlake book, I think it was "The Road to Ruin", which features his lovable character John Dortmunder.
Spring (?): I think this the year I got Margaret PhotoShop. (I found an email dated Sept 16 which made an oblique reference to it.)
March: Margaret had a hysterectomy, the last "major" treatment she received for her cancer. Although there was no diagnostic information which indicated the need for this operation, her family history and a sense of being conservative led Margaret to choose it. Subsequent analysis of the ovarian tissue uncovered several small, malignant tumors, too small to be detected via normal diagnostic procedures.
August 1: I left Hyperfeed and started at 29West, Inc.
January: Becky left for a "study abroad" stint in Rajistan, India. It consisted of about 2-3 months of intensive study followed by 2-3 months of volunteer work for an NGO.
January 27: David turned 18.
February: After the latest of a series of problems, David got his own apartment.
July: Becky returned from India.
Fall: Becky diagnosed with M.S.
December: Margaret had a relatively minor surgery to correct bleeding. This was the final (so far) surgery related to her cancer. (Two other minor surgeries, not listed.)
January: David entered Ozaki County Jail for 8 months, during which he earned his High School diploma.
June: Becky Graduated from U. Wisc.
July: Vacation with Margaret and her family in Cape Cod and Salem, Mass.
August: David released from Jail.
Early Fall: David starts classes at CLC.
Mid Fall: Ann Z gets married to Jeff Harrington. David and I travel to Nevada to celebrate.
Late Fall: David drops out of school and starts living in homeless shelters (mostly PADS).
December: Becky leaves for India for Fulbright project.
March 3 (?): Colonoscopy by Retsky
August: I took Margaret and Linda (my sister) to India! Becky met us at the airport in New Delhi and we spent 2 weeks touring Northern India, especially the Ladakh region. Margaret took lots of pics! It was a truly magical time.
November 15: BEWARE OF THE IDES OF NOVEMBER! Margaret and I are married.
November 20: David in jail again, but not for long.
January 27: David turned 21.
May 14: Left for our honeymoon to Wildman Ranch for an extra-long weekend of white water rafting and being lazy slugs in a wonderful cabin. We rafted both the Peshtigo and the Menominee, and we enjoyed the Menominee far more. It used large 6-person (or was it 8-person?) rafts with a professional guide. The Peshtigo river was much shallower and used individual "thrill-cats", an inflatable kayak-like boat that had a little too much "thrill" for Margaret and me. We chose to stay at the cabin at the Menominee river facility, which turned out to be wonderfully quiet and secluded. The Peshtigo facility had lots of people, including lots of kids. If doing a family vacation, the Peshtigo would be a better place to stay. But for a honeymoon, the Menominee was perfect.
July 10: Margaret left for Béré, Chad for two and a half weeks to volunteer at the small hospital there. Her brother, Fred, is an OB surgeon and spends a few weeks most years donating his services in poor countries, and this year Margaret went along. Margaret has dreamed of going to Africa since she was a young child, and given that I don't have a strong desire to go there, this was the perfect opportunity for her.
Sept 27: Nate drove golf carts. Not in a good way. :-(
March 3: Margaret and Celia left for India. Much of their time was spent in Shantiniketan, West Bengal.
March 20: INFA prematurely let the cat out of the bag regarding the 29West/Informatica acquisition.
May 24: M turned 50 and celebrated with Shyamal and Celia at midnight.
Aug 3-4: Steve, Nathan, Stanley and Becky left for an India vacation to visit Margaret and Celia. I should outline what we did.
... PARTIAL OUTLINE (by M)
Aug 19-20: Steve, Nathan, Stanley, Celia and Becky came home from India.
Nov 11: M returned from India. Though she arrived in Chicago in November in sandals, it was an unusually warm day. She was greeted at O'Hare by Steve and Celia with Jenna and Laura Friedman.
Nov/Dec (?): Margaret stopped working for Felony & Mayhem press. And not in a nice way. I (Steve) am disappointed, both that it happened, and in the way it was done.
April 2 (?): Tony (née Simon), a 9-year-old rat terrier, arrived from Kansas (?). He was short-listed for being put down at a shelter, and a surprising network of dog lovers arranged for his transport to Highland Park, free of charge. After several false-starts, we decided on the name Señor Ratón - Tony for short. He gave Margaret a nasty bite on the hand one evening during his first week. :-(
June 2-5: Mini honeymoon #2 at Eleven Gables Inn on Lake Geneva, WI, a dog-friendly B&B. Tony bit Jack on the leg, continuing his rein of terror. :-(
June: I became manager of the QA group.
Sept 14: Colonoscopy. (Aren't you glad you know?)
This has been a year of work for me. Lots of work. Seems like nothing much else has happened.
Sept: Nathan goes to Ohio University where he is learning to burn through money.
Nov: I organized a blood drive! Com Ed chose today to replace a power transformer, plunging the office into darkness for the morning. In spite of that, the blood drive seems to be successful.