Thursday, 9 July 2015

Visiting Gerald 'buzzin cuzzin' MacAdam, June 1960

Without knowing Gerald MacAdam personally,
I believe this is the best photo I could find to introduce him to a stranger.
Here he is with Beryl in a Model A Ford.

My father made the following notes in the photo album ... by way of further introduction:

"Ross and Alice MacAdam were living at Lachute. Gerald and Beryl [seen above in the passenger seat ... and below as 'Beryl MacCulloch' a couple of years earlier] had the farm which was eventually sold. Gerald and Beryl moved to southern Vermont where Gerald did farm work. They then went to Greenfield, Massachusetts, where Gerald operated a Texaco service station. He later obtained work at the local electrical power company from which he retired." (LC Gagnon, notes from July 1993.)

My father did not note the presence of the third Model A passenger in the album ...

I think this is 'Mrs MacAdam', Gerald's grandmother.

*  *  *

I have not yet read all of the letters which Gerald sent to my father over the course of half a century. He was a faithful and generous correspondent over the years and his letters were full of unconventional sayings, often playful English constructions and humour.

One letter he wrote - just before our visit in 1960 - talked about Gerald's shiftwork schedule at the power plant and the fact that this enabled him to work at other jobs and to take International Correspondence School courses in his spare time. Included in the letter is advice on how to manage people ...

Occupying a Masonic office of a particular type, Gerald had decided to be rather blunt with some of the Masons under his care, as their observances were not being properly carried out. He suggested that my father (also a Mason, and a Sunday School Superintendent {.. try the latter - the pay is great!}) could use similar techniques to whip his Sunday School charges into whatever shape my father thought they had failed to take.

My father was always 'proper', courteous, and often quite formal.

Gerald perhaps thought life was too short to stew about little things or to beat around the bush. 

Written a few years before this particular visit, here is the most 'unconventional' letter written by Gerald that I could find. 
It wouldn't be 'proper' for my father to write a letter like this to anyone, but he kept it in his files for about 60 years. 
I can imagine him laughing as he read it aloud.

Our trip to Gerald and Beryl's took place June 26-30, 1960.

"Gerald was returning to the U.S. from a Lachute visit. He came in at noon Sunday, June 26, and we were away by 1.30PM, after a scramble. Car drive was pleasant and we arrived about 9PM in the evening." LC Gagnon notes.

My father had never had a car and we lived in a basement apartment in Lachine. I was just short of my third birthday when we went. I remember the bright sunshine from the right side of the car and the highway overpasses and bridges racing by.

There are no photos of Gerald or Beryl in the album from this visit.

"Their home - Boston and Maine right-of-way is up on the hill behind."

Perhaps on the morning after our arrival, my father had me at the back of the property and his camera in his hand. He was shifting his head around "Where is that son of a gun?!". A train was passing through town up the hill somewhere.

Here is Gerald and Beryl's former house in a recent Google (circa 2015) view.
The address through the years was 8 Conway Street.


In May 2018, my hope for this post came true much more quickly than expected: This page was discovered by Gerald's granddaughter, Andrea Kiendzior, and I was also contacted by Gerald's daughter, Sherry Carbone - whom I remembered from our visit. 

The house was flooded by the raging waters of the Deerfield River when Hurricane Irene passed through the area in August 2011. 

Gerald MacAdam died in August 2010. Beryl MacCulloch MacAdam was forced to leave the family home as a result of the flooding and she died in November 2011.

This Google view shows how close we were to the tracks.
The bottom right corner of the image points roughly north.

My father notes that this is the Deerfield River - I have joined a couple of his photos together to show the view on Gerald's street.

"Looking over at the bridge into Shelburne Falls and its main street
(Piers of former tram bridge are in the background)."

Main Street, Shelburne Falls.
While many people like to look at old car photos,
I'd like to point out that this area seems to have many of the nicest features
of typical New England towns.

Pro-Tip: Take a camera and a little kid with you when visiting railway yards.
A Boston and Maine switcher works in the yard up the hill behind Gerald's house.

This was my first ride in a an operating locomotive and I was watching the ties moving beneath us.
 My father was busy lining up the photo, when the engineer set up the air brakes.
I remember the latter reaching over and steadying me by my left shoulder
to prevent my collision with the cab interior as we decelerated.

Jeffrey and Clifford (MacAdam) and I take an afternoon dip with Mickey Mouse.

"Greenfield. Dam passes water to spillway."

"Bridge goes over spillway which leads to power house in distance."

"Spillway just above power house where Gerald was employed."

"Westbound freight through Shelburne Falls."

"Station is used for maintenance of way equipment. Passenger traffic was given up several years ago."

"Old wooden auto car at right."

"Boston and Maine diesel travelling deadhead."

Jeffrey and Clifford seeing us off at the Greenfield station.
... I thought it would be nice to post a good photo of these two guys.

I was probably 'over-socialized' by this point and ready to return to our dark basement apartment in Lachine.
Notice the Lachute T-shirt, and also the Swift's ice refrigerator car at the Swift's building.

The Official Guide of the Railways; National Railway Publication Co, New York; November 1958, collection of LC Gagnon.

I am quite certain that we left Greenfield at 1:46 PM on Boston and Maine No 75, 
transferring over to CPR rails at Wells River, Vermont as No 31 and arriving at Windsor Station at 9:50 PM.