N is for Norm: My thirtysomething dad. Fourteenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!
During my elementary years in Endwell, N.Y. my dad Norm was in his thirties. A Navy veteran of WW II and an electrical engineering graduate of Clarkson University, Dad was also a father of three and just starting out in his career.
So his job loomed rather large in the late 1950s to early 1960s — and that job was in Quality Control at General Electric in nearby Westover, a short drive from our house.
On weekdays I remember Dad donning his pressed shirts, skinny ties and suits — the ubiquitous corporate uniform — and heading out to the job, often after he and I had breakfast in the kitchen since I had to be in school early, too.
Enter the Fiat
When we first moved to Endwell, we had one family car — and Dad either drove that to work or had Mom drop him off. But soon enough it became clear that a second car would be needed. So Dad, who stood 6 foot 2, went to a new dealership in town and bought himself a little navy-blue Fiat 500.
The other dads on our block were big on joking with each other — and as soon as they saw Dad’s tiny car they started in. Before long it became known as “Norm’s can of worms” — much to Dad’s chagrin.
But as a young father with a growing family, Dad believed in living on a budget — so every morning, despite the ribbing, he folded himself up into the two-cylinder Fiat and off he drove.
Mentoring and civic involvement
Dad was always one for getting involved in community projects, too. He had been on the school board in my early childhood, when I went to Altamont Elementary near Albany, N.Y.
Once we moved to Endwell, Dad was more focused on career networking, joining the Endwell Rotary Club and becoming active in the American Society for Quality Control — known around our house as QC.
He was also matched up with a younger engineer at GE to serve as his mentor — and they developed a friendship that lasted for the rest of his life.
Weekend Dad: hobbies galore
Weekday Dad was a suit-and-tie guy — but Weekend Dad engaged in umpteen interests and hobbies. He raised tropical fish and (a camera buff since high school) built a small darkroom in the basement.
Of course he did the usual household tasks — painting, repairs and killing dandelions to achieve a perfect suburban lawn. But he did fun stuff, too — like hooking up a DIY coffee-can speaker under the outdoor eaves of our house to broadcast holiday tunes at Christmas.
On summer weekends, Dad drove our family to our camp on Page Lake so we could learn to swim . And ever the ice cream lover, he even found a country ice cream stand with what seemed like hundreds of flavors for us to stop at en route.
Dad also loved to garden. Under his tutelage, I planted my first potatoes in a small plot behind our house and learned how to separate the roots (corms) of our beautiful blue irises — his favorite flowers, which still remind me of him each spring.
Up next, O is for Overtown: An Endicott escape. Please stop back!
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