I was born in the early 1940s in Sacramento, where my maternal grandparents, Ralph and Grace Cost, lived. After brief periods in Stockton and Modesto, my family moved to Sunnyvale, where I attended school from kindergarten through 4th grade. When I was nine, we moved to Los Altos, where I spent the remaining years of school.
On graduation I knew that continuing on with higher education was not my cup of tea, primarily because I always found it difficult to sit and concentrate on lectures for long periods of time. Consequently I moved from job to job – including delivering furniture, working in a mailroom at Stanford – before landing a job at Pacific Telephone, the local phone company.
The mid-60s was a tumultuous time nationally because of the ever-escalating war in Vietnam. Not wanting to be drafted into war, I decided to enlist with the guarantee that I’d be stationed in Europe. Along the way I was schooled as an artillery fire direction specialist, then was given a transfer to the communications support company in Berlin, where I had a variety of jobs, including working the military and State Department switchboard for several years.
Upon discharge I pretty much devoted my time to work. After some years living here and there I had saved enough to buy a 700 square foot house in the southern (i.e. low rent district) of Palo Alto, which put me quite close to the various phone company offices where I worked.
In the late 70s I joined American Mensa after qualifying on their examinations. In this group I discovered many kindred individuals and made several close friends, one of whom I dated and eventually married in 1980.
Upon discharge from the Army in 1968, I returned to a guaranteed job with the phone company, where I advanced through the craft (hourly) ranks, staying with the company until the early 80s. Various external events had changed the telecommunications game and after 19 years, I was recruited to salaried work at the then-premier Silicon Valley telecom firm ROLM, where I eventually wound up working in the international division as a field support engineer, which involved many trips to eastern Asia and Europe to help local technicians set up new installations.
Again, external events shaped my destiny as first IBM, then Siemens, took over ownership. A former boss had left for another telecom outfit, then recruited two of us to join his group. This was a place called Raynet, an offshoot of Raychem, that had developed the technologies to transport telephone conversations through fiber optic cables from the telephone switching exchanges to the residential or business customer. Our group was involved in planning and deployment of systems in Europe. This job lasted until the late 90s when Ericsson bought the technology and closed the doors, laying off all 500+ employees.
After a few weeks of many phone calls, answering ads, and knocking on doors, I was offered a position at Cisco, then a high flier in The Valley. By the time I reached 60, I had decided that the technology had grown to such an extent that much of it was over my head. And then fate stepped in yet again in the form of the dot-com bust of the early 00s, and I was among the thousands that Cisco laid off, which provided a nice severance package. While not officially retired, I did enjoy the time away from work, time that I could spend with my pre-teen daughters. Oh, I answered help-wanted ads, went for a few interviews, but my heart just wasn’t into it. I became de facto retired and a class chaperone whenever my girls went on field trips.
Daunna, my wife of over twenty years, and I decided to look at our future, including the possibility of moving from Palo Alto to someplace with a more relaxed pace of life and less expensive cost of living. We could look forward to my Social Security and the Ma Bell pension kicking in when I turned 65 in the mid-aughts. Her family lived in Cincinnati, so she wanted to be near, but not too near. We eventually came across an opportunity to buy a new home in Bloomington in 2008, when Fiona, our oldest daughter, graduated from high school. In the years since relocating here, we’ve made many new friends and have found new interests.
Which more or less brings me up to date here in 2018.I hope you enjoy some of this smørgåsbord of biographical nuggets, snippets of humor, and occasional tall tales – any of which can range from G to R-rated.
The image above was taken when I played the part of innkeeper Illas Pastia in the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music production of Bizet’s opera Carmen in the spring of 2016.