JWG (jwg) wrote,

Memories of 1962

At some point last night when not being able to fall asleep again I was thinking of the 1960-1962 period of my life. My mind went through this history:

I was a new PhD candidate in Physics at Columbia in the fall of 1960 and had a part time job teaching 7th and 8th grade science at a private school. At the end of the academic year I had pretty much decided that I didn't want a career as a teacher, didn't want to be a physicist, and living in NYC wasn't where I wanted to be. But I had no alternatives and there was the problem of the draft and that 2-S deferment was pretty nice. So after working as a summer camp councillor I returned to Columbia but not teaching in the fall of 1961 and took math instead of physics courses with the eye of applying to MIT in the Math department (my undergraduate degree).

I also took a computer programming course at the fledgeling Columbia computer center. Was that fun. I became a hacker instantaneously spending lots of time there and the soul of a new machine hit me (IBM 1620).

I moved back to Cambridge for the spring term (1962), entered MIT as a Special student while preparing to apply and got a part-time job at the MIT computer center. (This reminds me that I still have the card deck of a Fortran program I wrote that was an English to PigLatin translator). Quite soon I decided to get a job in the computer industry which would get me a critical-industry 2-A draft deferment. I applied for a job at Honeywell writing a Fortran compiler and got a verbal offer at the interview. On the way home I stopped at the West Newton Savings Bank to get a loan application so I could buy a new MG-A that I had recently seen. When I got the offer letter in the mail I applied for the loan and bought the car a few days later.

I started the job in June. After a week of so of basic training I dug in - the project was just starting - there were a bunch of new hires plus some experienced people and I was given the responsibility of designing the code generator. This project is what launched my career.

During the summer I was temporarily living in Baker House, the MIT dorm I had lived in as an undergrad because one of my prospective roommates was on the summer staff there. By the end of the summer my two roommates and I were to move into a newly found apartment in Belmont. I had my red MG-A, RKL had a red Austin-Healy Sprite that he had won in a limerick contest!, and DWD had a red Triumph (TR6) so it was quite a nice backyard. In July my father died so I went back home (upstate New York) to see my mother and go to the funeral. My father's death occurred while playing duplicate bridge (6 diamonds redoubled I am told!). My parents best friends came immediately to help out and my mother dealt with it pretty well; my father had a heart condition so it wasn't a complete surprise. My mother had excess household goods since they used to have 2 abodes (just like we do now) so there was stuff to bring back. Some things like one of my iron frying pans is from there and may well be vintage 1940!

And eventually I did fall asleep again.
Tags: career, nostalgia, personal

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