Sunday, January 8, 2017

Fun with NPN

Today, January 8, is the date of my father's birth. I am remembering him in a special way this week, thanks to a telephone conversation with one of his friends, who commented on how much fun they had had together. “He was just fun! So much fun!”

What a wonderful way to think of my father, Nathan P. Nichols. Yes! He was an expert at having fun. The more I thought about this, the more examples came to mind. I've been smiling all week, mentally compiling lists of the ways we had fun with him.

Here's an example from 1974, when I had flown back to Danvers for a visit, bringing my two young children from California.  There was snow on the ground, and my parents brought out a Flexible Flyer sled for us to play with. We took turns on that sled, but Nick soon fetched a boat from the garage so that he could slide down the driveway without waiting for a turn on that sled.  I feared that he might crash into a tree along that steep curved driveway, but he slid with confidence, and arrived safely at the bottom. Soon he was offering rides to others.  In this photo, he and my mother are accompanied by my daughter Tonya.

This weekend I have been writing a piece about my father's playfulness.  I will probably submit a composition to the Danvers Herald soon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pearl Harbor

Today is the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

I was not yet born, so have no first-hand memories of the event. My parents, however, sometimes talked about that day, telling how their friends who were in the Reserves dropped what they were doing and left immediately to answer the call of duty.

What were my parents and their friends doing together on that day?  They were in Danvers, in the woods on a hill in north Danvers, clearing and cutting ski trails for the coming winter.

Growing up near that hill, I heard that story many times. I didn't hear details of the horrors of that day, nor did I hear much about the context in which that attack happened. I just knew from my parents that something big and significant had happened, unexpectedly, one day in December some years ago while they and their active, outdoor-loving friends were busy clearing trails. And suddenly friends needed to leave, for much more urgent tasks.  One detail I don't know is HOW the news reached them. Did someone have a radio? or a pager of some sort?

Whenever someone mentions Pearl Harbor, my mind jumps back to that long-ago story.  I try to imagine what my father, mother, and their friends must have been thinking and feeling the day.  (They never discussed such with me.)  I do know that my father shifted to war-related work in a lab at MIT, instead of working in his shop that produced hearing aids. And I believe that his friends who went to war all returned alive.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Putnam Pantry

On November 9, 2016, I had the opportunity to introduce my grandson to Putnam Pantry.  He was visiting New England from his home in CA, and had just turned 11.  I treated him to a Sundae.

I also told him a bit of the history of the place.
We drove by General Israel Putnam's house as we left, and I repeated the oft-told story about his command at the Battle of Bunker Hill, "Don't shoot 'til you see the whites of their eyes." A few days later Mateo and his mother took a tour of Bunker Hill, and he was excited to tell me that he recognized that quote. 

In September, after my high school reunion and a quick tour around my old neighborhood, now so changed as to be unrecognizable, I had written, "At least Putnam Pantry is still there, still in business."  It was a joy to bring my grandson there.