Tag Archives: Auburndale

Alive in the Morgue

[Steve]: Auburndale went through to high school. Then went on to Gordon College and part way through Gordon College, I stepped out for a semester. It was the time of the Berlin Crisis [1961]. They called it the Berlin Crisis, when the Russians [Soviet Union] were behind the idea of isolating Berlin. The Americans went in and flew supplies over; they did a bridge of flying of all the supplies until that barricade, as it were, was broken.*

Steve in Fatigues, maybe 1963

Steve in Fatigues, maybe 1963

[Steve]: It was at that time [1962?] that they were “recruiting” people into the army. They weren’t recruiting; they were drafting. I went in, choosing what I wanted to do and that was to work in the medical laboratory. I did that and was a lab technician. When I came out of the army, I did more lab technician work. I finished up at Boston University, where I got my degree in psychology.

[Virginia?]: I think my parents were in South America. I was reading all this to my mom [Lee], that whole thing where you were talking about. . . . She goes, “I don’t remember him being in the service.” I said, “Mom! He was your brother. You didn’t know he was in the service?” Were they in South America at that time? What year was that?

[Steve]: Well actually, I recall being up to visit you in Bloomfield when you broke your leg and got chicken pox and had to be taken to. . . .

[Virginia?]: ‘72.

[Steve]: Yeah. ‘72? No.

[Virginia?]: They [who?] graduated in ‘72.

[Eric?]: ‘74.

[Steve]: Yeah, so actually. . . .

[Heidi]: When they [Steve and Marcia?] got engaged and you went down to visit. . . .

[Virginia?]: That was in ‘65.

[Heidi]: That was in ‘65.

[Marcia]: Yeah. You [Virginia? b. 1963] were just real little then and we got engaged in ‘65 and you [Steve] had just gotten your degree from BU.

[Steve]: Boston University.

[Marcia]: Your undergraduate degree.

[Steve]: But I was then in doing some graduate work.

[Virginia?]: So Mom and Dad had to have been in Peru because she probably doesn’t remember.

[Marcia]: It was early ‘60s.

[Eric?]: She probably doesn’t remember it, but I remember going to an airshow.

[Steve]: Yeah.

[Eric?]: Where you were working in . . . you took us . . . there was a morgue there or something.

[Heidi]: Yes. When you were working. . . .

[Marcia]: Fort Dix.

[Steve]: Fort Dix.

[Eric?]: OK. I don’t remember where it was, but I was just remembering you being there. And then you all sent us off.

[Steve]: Alive.

[Eric?]: Yeah. You gave us a tour of the morgue. But I remember you were working in the lab at that time. I remember you guys sent us off to the airport. I was so impressed with my Uncle Steve and I’m trying to remember why.

[Steve]: Why. Yeah.

[Heidi]: He worked in a morgue.

[Marcia]: He looked pretty smart in his uniform.

[Eric?]: Yes, he did, but anyway, I do remember being there.

NB: See also Steve Finds His Tie for another story from Fort Dix.

*Airlifts of supplies into Berlin took place during WWII, rather than during the Berlin Crisis, which culminated in 1961 with a military stand-off and the erection of the Berlin Wall. During the Berlin Crisis, Kennedy deployed 148,000 Air National Guard and Reservists and increased standing troop-strength in the army, navy, and air force. In my cursory reading, I see no draft mentioned with regard to the Berlin Crisis. However, my recall of this story cites the Vietnam War (1955–1975) as the reason for Dad/Steve being threatened with the draft.

story told by Steve to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • There are a lot of pronouns and names followed by ?-marks. These represent my guesses as to who is talking and whom. Please verify that I guessed correctly or clarify.
  • The unresolved question was whether or not Lee was in Peru in 1962/3 when Steve was in the army. Was she?
  • What year did Steve visit Lee’s family in Bloomfield? Where was/is Bloomfield?
  • Whose leg was broken? Who got chicken pox? Virginia? Kathy?
  • Who graduated in 1974?
  • Why would Lee be in Peru but her kids be in the United States for Steve to visit and/or to visit Steve at Fort Dix?
  • Dad/Steve, I recall this draft-threat being attributed to the Vietnam War. Can you clarify? And can you give the dates during which you were in the service? The other story shows 1962 being one of those dates.
  • Dad/Steve, please tell the sleeping in the morgue story.
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VJ Day to CPA

I was around for VJ Day [Aug 14, 1945], which was a great celebration. Firecrackers. It meant that all the boys were coming home. It was a great, great emotional day.

Taylor, Separation of Service from Navy 11.29.1946

Taylor, Separation of Service from Navy 11.29.1946

We stayed there [Drexel Hill] until 19—what was it?—1945 and then we moved to the Boston area, into Newton, in another subdivision of Newton, which was called Auburndale. We stayed there for many years. Dad [Taylor] had bought this house for something like $15-, $18,000, the whole house. It was a big house; a very big house; a big, white, wood house. Yes, in Auburndale.

[Heidi]: May I ask you? So Grandpa originally comes out of Kentucky, then moves to Massachusetts, then to Philadelphia, back to Massachusetts—what’s the draw to Massachusetts? What? Why? I know Philadelphia was. . . .

I think he was in Philadelphia before and that’s where he met Mom, Grandma, Virginia White Duncan. Or was it New York? I may well have been New York.

[Heidi]: It was New York where they met.

Now she was also in the Navy and she was a typist, secretary, shorthand, did shorthand, and I think met him in the work which she did with him. Now he was at the, by the end of the Second World War, he was manager of a large company that made airplanes for the war. But some of the airplanes never got used because the war ended.

Anyway we moved up to Boston.

[Heidi]: Do you know why?

Up in Boston there was a job at the Bentley school. And he had a job of teaching there. Now that school was in Boston itself. It’s now found in Waltham, Massachusetts, but then it was in Boston, not too far from the Prudential, near where that is now.

[Eric?]: He was in accounting.

He was an accountant, right.

[Eric?]: He was also a CPA.

Yeah. CPA is a Certified Public Accountant. He would, that was his, he enjoyed teaching. He was a good teacher.

He had gone to Boston University and he was one of the first students in that era that he was there to study accounting. And he was, I’m told, the best student that they had ever had early in the course of the teaching at the university in the accounting work.

story told by Steve to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • What stories of the war ending celebrations do you recall? Do you recall your parents telling you?
  • Lee, Betty, Steve: can you add details about what dinner with your family was like that night? What you and your friends did? What your mother or father said? Was there a special statement or service at church?
  • Do you ever remember watching Grandma take dictation in shorthand or translate shorthand back into regular text? Was she good at it? Do you have any samples of her work?
  • Does anybody have additional accountant/CPA stories from Grandpa that you’d like to share?

Grandma Drives, Not

For the entirety of their marriage, Virginia did not drive. Betty told me “she wouldn’t touch one of his [Taylor’s] cars.”

One or more of the boys taught her to drive sometime in the mid-sixties. Aunt Betty thought it was after Grandpa’s death [d. 12/22/1967]. Dad [Steve] remembers taking her driving before they went to Italy [1967]. The experiment was short-lived.

During their drives, she was very nervous all the time, with a quivering lip, but Dad doesn’t recall her actually breaking down and crying. She took it as a challenge and was determined to do it. Dad took her out a couple of times, but she also took formal lessons.

Mum [Marcia, Steve’s wife] and Dad took her down to Boston to get her license. He doesn’t think she passed the written exam the first time. Mum quizzed her on the way to the testing site, asking practice multiple choice question, such as “What’s the speed limit in a residential area? A. 10 miles/hour. B. 20 miles/hour. C. 30 miles/hour. D. 40 miles/hour.

Grandma frequently chose the wrong answer and justified her choice as the safe option: “I’ll say it’s 10 miles/hour because then even if it’s 20 miles/hour, I’ll be driving under the speed limit, so I won’t be breaking the law.”

Washburn and Auburndale, courtesy of Google MapsUncle Wally bought her the car.

She was returning home to 16 Washburn Ave in Auburndale, driving up Auburndale Avenue. At the intersection with Washburn Ave., she made a left. Instead of taking the corner completely, she ran into the neighbor’s porch instead.

The McCrees called it their piazza—Mrs. McCree was Italian. They had a son Dad’s age named Jackie. Inside Mrs. McCree asked her husband, “What are light’s doing , coming out from underneath the piazza?”

“It just came up,” said Grandma when Dad asked her what had happened. After this, she decided not to drive anymore.

story as recalled by Betty in a conversation with Dawn Harrell (Steve’s daughter), November 13, 2013, and by Steve in a conversation with Dawn Harrell, November 20, 2013
  • What other stories of Grandma’s driving exploits do you recall?
  • Did she pay for porch repairs? Did someone from the family repair the porch for them?