Memoirs – Chapter 14
RETIREMENT YEARS – After 1968
I was forty four years old and, for the first time since I was seven, I was without a job or any plan to get one. I had been a student for fifteen years (interrupted for three years in the army) and during that time I worked to have spending money and to pay for college costs.
After that I worked full time for twenty years at Servomechanisms and Trio Laboratories, supporting myself and my family. Click here to see the jobs and businesses I had before retirement.
Family life was in a time of transition also. Hilde, our AFS daughter, had returned to Norway a few months earlier. Joan was in her senior year and would be off to college soon. Cathie’s college was two years down the line and she was very active in her own social life. Soon we would be seeing them only at vacation times and then as their family life expanded we would see them even less.
My mother had died two years earlier but Dad still lived in the house a block away, so we saw him almost every night for dinner. He was a full participant in our social activities and added much to them for the next ten years, until he died in 1978.
My resignation from Trio was fairly quick and unplanned. I had an income from my severance/consulting agreement, money in the bank at a good interest rate, and Trio stock that I might be able to sell at some time in the future. I did some calculations (without a computer) and it showed that I didn’t need to go out looking for a job. Little did I realize that more than half my life was still before me.
In fact, looking for a job would have been a problem. Because I was a part owner of Trio I had been paid more than one would normally pay an engineer who was not a supervisor. My job of exploring new products and developing them was not a typical job description, and I did not have an advanced degree that would justify the higher salary.
I thought I might do some consulting so a week after leaving Trio I walked into the County Clerk’s office with a signed, notarized form, that I had purchased at the stationery store, to register a business: Worthing and Associates. They told me I could not register a sole proprietorship with the “Associates” name, so I changed it to Worthing Enterprises. That was the beginning of numerous businesses over the retirement years. Over the years I have registered numerous other names but Worthing Enterprises has always been the major one under which I have done business.
After our first trip abroad in 1959 we traveled to many places, mostly foreign. We went to Scandinavia, Switzerland, and Greece while I was still at Trio. After that we took a long trip to Asia, and a shorter tour of Egypt. We went on numerous cruises, with or without our daughters.
At a family gathering the day after Christmas in 1994 Clare asked everyone what they would like to do, have, or achieve in the upcoming year. Bob and I had spent quite a bit of time researching our ancestry and he said he would like to see the country that our family had come from. Cathie suggested I accompany him, so in 1995 the two of us went all through Austria-Hungary in our search.
Shortly after I left Trio Clare and I decided to take a trip to Asia. We started planning, had a private itinerary prepared for us, and on Joan’s birthday, March 11, 1969 we left town for ten weeks. We arranged for our cleaning lady, Gertrude, to stay at the house to take care of food and the housekeeping. Dad was just a block away, so leaving Joan and Cathie here in their senior and sophomore high school years did not seem like a problem to us. For details of Our Asia Trip click here.
Cable TV and South Africa
Shortly after Clare and I returned from Asia, in June of 1969, Frank Merklein suggested I come out to visit him at Brookhaven Cable, where he was the system manager. While there he showed me the facilities and then he explained that some investors in South Africa had been referred to him by the U.S. State Department as an expert on setting up TV in foreign countries. He had flown to South Africa and discussed the subject, and after suggesting that cable was the way to introduce TV to SA, they wanted a report describing how it could be done. For more of The Cable Television Story click here.
That summer of 1969, after we came home from Asia, Clare said she would like a deck in the back yard so she laid out a free-form design with garden hoses. Then Perry and I built a big redwood deck. Here are a couple of pictures, during and after the deck construction.
The next summer I had an even bigger project. Clare and I had talked for years about rearranging our kitchen. Now that I would be around the house we needed to figure out how we could both work there. After many sketches we finally realized we really needed to expand the kitchen area, and that the only way to do that would be to move the front wall outwards. We made more sketches and finalized on a design that would extend a section of the roof in a way that make the addition almost invisible outside, but add a lot of cabinet and counter space inside.
I drew up the plans, asked the neighbors for their approval and then went before the Town of Hempstead committee to get the needed variance and permits. At the last minute before going to the board Clare asked whether we could have a bay window right there in front of the sink. I redrew the plans and submitted them for approval. In July of 1971 we hired our favorite Norwegian contractor to build the shell of the expansion and I did the rest: plumbing, wiring, walls and floors, and installation of cabinets. We had all the latest gadgets like an instant hot water dispenser, pop-up bread-power mixer, filtered drinking water, and more.
After our trip to Asia most of my volunteer activities continued as before, some expanded, and some new ones were added. Although I expected to have lots of time available it was soon occupied by politics, computers, and then Mepham Alumni.
From 1960 to 1970 I served on several committees of the Levittown Public Schools, including the District Vocational Advisory Committee and budget committees. After Joan, and then Cathie, graduated our local school activities gradually ended. Clare was still involved with PTA on the county, state, and national level.
In 1988 the Levittown Superintendent organized the Levittown 2000 Task Force to come up a plan for our schools in the new millennium. We formed sub committees (I was on the Technology subcommittee) and filed the final report in 1991. I often wondered how much of that report was eventually implemented.
After the Supreme Court prohibited state sponsored prayer in schools, in 1962, the Levittown Board of Education instituted a requirement to read a part of the bible at the start of each day. Under the sponsorship of the Nassau Chapter of the NY Civil Liberties Union (and George Nager) I, and a like-minded group of Levittown citizens, sued to eliminate the bible reading and won a decision of the Commissioner of Education to eliminate it.
Then I was asked to serve on a nominating committee for the Nassau Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and found myself elected to its board. I lobbied for our civil liberties positions with our state and national legislators, and stayed on the Nassau CLU board until 1975, when my commuting to Albany conflicted with attendance at its meetings.
When President Nixon was accused of Watergate crimes I participated in an ACLU committee that was pressing for his impeachment. I attended many meetings at the New York headquarters and prepared a pamphlet describing the impeachment process. Then I spoke before the Nassau Board of Supervisors urging them to support impeachment, and lectured at several schools (including Mepham and Levittown high schools) and civic organizations on the Constitution and how the impeachment process works. By the time President Nixon resigned I had a large collection of “Impeach Nixon” buttons, which I later sold at a yard sale. Click to see the letter from the head of the NYCLU.
In 1971 I thought of creating a sperm bank for men who were about to have a vasectomy and registered a business named Family Futures. For more information on Family Futures click here.
During the time that I was much involved with the South Africa project George Nager asked me to sit in on a meeting of volunteers for Assemblyman Stanley Harwood. I went to the meeting, but did not have time to help with the 1970 campaign. However, when 1972 came around I volunteered for that campaign and became the number one assistant to the campaign manager, Debby Harwood. That early involvement with politics then led to several years of working for Angelo Orazio and the New York State Legislature. For details on Politics 1972-1986 click here.
In September 1977, in anticipation of future retirement from my work in Albany, I registered a business in the name of Energy Management Services.
In December 1981 I left the Albany scene, still to be working for the Assembly, but fewer hours a month, and from the Long Island office. Then I received a call from my contact at Carrier Corp who said he had a problem that he felt I could help him with. He needed a technical expert to testify in a law suit initiated by their distributor in St. Louis. At various times over the next decade I testified as an Expert Witness in the air conditioner/heat pump field. For details on Heat Pump Expert Testimony click here.
Nassau County has a complicated procedure for a landowner to reduce their property tax assessment. The first requirement is to fill out a 3-page application (with attachments) and send it to the Board of Assessment Review. Then, after the usual review and denial of the application, the owner may appeal the decision to the NY State Supreme Court that has a special Small Claims review procedure.
I first went through this procedure in 1989 and received a 28 percent reduction in my property tax assessment. I suggested the process to four of my neighbors and they also received substantial reductions. In 1990 I wrote a letter to our Levittown Superintendent of Schools suggesting that the school district initiate s series of seminars for the residents to show the community how to file for the tax reductions.
After receiving no answer from the Superintendent I decided to help my neighbors on my own. I asked the Levittown Public Library for time to do a presentation. They announced the meeting in their newsletter and posters in the library and on April 8, 1991 I had my first lecture. I prepared an instruction sheet with a chart that calculated their assessment, and provided samples of the tax exemption application form. I continued giving this lecture for nearly a decade, until the attendance dropped off.
In 1993 I reapplied and received another 22 percent reduction in my assessment, and have been applying for an assessment reduction ever since. In recent years I have allowed a lawyer to file the form for me, and I believe it gets me a better reduction.
In 1980 Clare trained at the Education and Assistance Corporation to be a mediator in their Mediation Alternative Project, and for five years she was a mediator dealing with community disputes, PINS cases, and Special Education disputes. At one point I had the training and successfully completed the course in Mediation and Conflict Resolution, but was never asked to serve as a mediator. Apparently I was too anxious to jump in with solutions to problems, rather than listening to problems and letting the disputers solve the problems for themselves.
During my Albany years there were a few times when I needed to do some complex computations so I decided to relearn some computer programming and found it to be fun. Although there were hobbyist kits available for building your own computers, it wasn’t until 1977 when two companies started selling personal computers, the Apple II and the Commodore PET. Sometime in the next few years the Riverhead schools purchased a few Commodore computers and during one spring break Joan brought one home for me to see and play with. After I stopped commuting to Albany it seemed like a good time to purchase my own personal computer.
Soon after I bought my first personal computer I joined the Long Island Computer Association and was deeply involved with other computer enthusiasts. I created a club of NEC computer users that distributed software all over the world. I formed a user group for owners of NEC computers, which expanded to IBM type PCs. I helped with lectures about computers and Photoshop at the Bethpage Library. More than anything else, my life from then on centered about computers. For more on A Lifetime With Computers click here.
Mepham Alumni Association
Although I was active in organizing our reunions in 1961 and 1991 my major work with the Mepham Alumni Association started in 1995 when Clare was working on her class of 1946 fiftieth reunion. Since then I modernized their mailing list database twice, created their website, and brought them into the computer age. For details on my time with the Mepham Alumni Association click here.
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