Thursday, July 16, 2015


The WORDS are deduced from their ORIGINALS,
Explained in their DIFFERENT MEANINGS,
Authorized by the NAMES of the WRITERS
IN WHOLE Works they are found.

By the Author
Samuel Johnson, A.M.

W. Strahan et al, London

VACA’TION. [vacatio, Latin.]
  1. Intermission of juridical proceedings, or any other stated employments; recess of courts or senates.
  2. Leisure; freedom from trouble or perplexity.

See you all in two weeks!

Saturday, July 11, 2015


There are twenty-six of them, neatly dressed.
Hair shining, parted, combed.
Two are still sporting high collars, but the rest have the modern, turned look; a few have vests; one’s in a bow tie, but the others are knotted and pinned; almost all have French cuffs with links, laced shoes, sharply creased trousers.
Confident. Assured. Not smiling.
It’s serious business…

This is the Class Day Committee – the seniors responsible for the activities for the full-day celebration for the Class of 1907 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
My grandfather, Gardner S. Gould, is on the far left, front row.
          He majored in Civil Engineering, was a member of the track team, captain of the hockey team (two of his brothers followed him to MIT; the Gould Forward Line was formidable, indeed!). His thesis? A Plan for the Abolition of Grade Crossings at Quincy Mass.
He disliked working for others, preferred to be his “own man;” he had a private practice with offices in Boston (which shut down every day from noon to one; he and a colleague from down the hall religiously played cutthroat cribbage during lunch).
One of his projects was the construction of the portico over Plymouth Rock—I have a postcard view of it and a framed citation from his construction crew!

But who are all the others? I’ve often wondered where they worked, wondered about the bridges and roads and structures they designed and built; who they married, the names of their children, where they lived and died.

And I’ve often wondered how they remembered my grandfather—fondly, I hope, as do I.

Friday, July 3, 2015


This is my maternal grandmother, Verna (Vernette)…born in January of 1885 at Bear Island, Queensbury Parish, Province of New Brunswick, Canada.
Her father had both a farm and a general store there—he sold flour, meal, dry goods, groceries and hardware. Her chore on the farm was caring for the chickens – feeding, cleaning the coop, collecting eggs, which she sold in her father’s store for her first earnings.

She relocated to the USA when she was just twenty-one years old; eventually worked as a nurse at Faulkner Hospital in Boston, where she met my grandfather. She was his operating nurse for a few years, then married him in 1911.
          She lived the rest of her life in Boston.

The photo was taken by my grandfather in 1911, at Bear Island, where they traveled to be married in her parents’ living room – their honeymoon was a week-long fishing and canoe trip along the St. John River (note the rod by her side, resting on the seats). She looks pretty fashionable: dark hose, skirt, middy blouse with tie; her hair’s swept up a la Gibson.

I have her eyes.

She fished for her supper in the St. John River as a child, fished later on in the lake near their summer house in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. She taught me to fish in that same lake; I caught my first perch in the shadow of Mount Monadnock—I remember the quiet grinding of the oarlocks as my grandmother rowed me about in that soft, purple light.

She loved dogs (several cocker spaniels, oftentimes in pairs), fast cars (my mother remembered her bombing around Boston in a bright yellow roadster). She ate apples and ripe pears (Bosc preferred), liked the smell of horses and farmyards; she insisted the alphabet ended in “zed.” She talked to crows, made fantastic blueberry pies, sewed matching pajamas for me and my teddy bear, took me for long walks in the woods and taught me to build houses for the Little People (who, she said, migrated to and from Canada with the geese every spring and fall). She bought me jeans and soft flannel shirts, Red Ball Jets and sweatshirts.
And she loved me; she was the first person in my life who accepted me unconditionally.
I adored her.

She died in Boston on May 27, 1957.