Some Quotes from “Senior Scraps”

“Senior Scraps” is a little scrapbook like book that we got when we were seniors in high school. It’s not a yearbook. It doesn’t have a hard cover. In fact I picked it up the other night and the front cover just fell off, probably from age. It has things like the scores of all the football games we played. I noticed the scores are there, but not who won. Same thing for the basketball games.  I wrote some comments which were written in 1960, the year I graduated.

Under the heading: “Clubs”:

“The only club which I belonged to this year was the Jets Club of which I was the president. Our dues were 25 cents a month. In the ninth and tenth grades we had the Spanish Club at Belleview which I was treasury (sic). We had a riot in both of them.”

Under the heading: “Drama”:

The only drama we had this year was the junior play. It was a riot. I took Nancy Leatherman and we went to her house after-wards for cake and coffee. She sure is a nice girl. The play was about a sorority that didn’t believe in dating boys and how a boy spies on them and reports all about it to the college newspaper. The collection of girls in the sorority were really good and a couple of them stole the show.”

Under the heading “J Hop”

“Wonderful, simply wonderful! I had Dad’s ’60 Ford and took Nancy Leatherman. The theme of the dance was “Sea Fantasy” and the band was the “No-Names”. The decorations were very good and the band was all right. But the best thing of all was Nancy. She wore a beautiful pink semi-formal dress with white gardenias. She’s a wonderful dancer and I had a wonderful time. I hope she did too. After wards we were supposed to go to a party, but instead we just road around and talked. After that we went to her house and sat and ate and talked some more and watched TV.”

You can see I had a good time in high school. Nancy and I were an item for a while, but if you’ve read the earlier posts about high school, you know it didn’t last long. I have a couple more quotes, but I’ll do them next time.


Back to High School

The neatest thing happened a couple nights ago. I got a call from Karen that someone had called looking for me and left a number. I called her back and found out it was a women who I graduated from high school with named Betty Gothberg. (She, of course, has a married name now, but I’m not sure if she ever told me what it was. If so, I’ve forgotten.) She was excited that she had located me and we talked for almost an hour. She still lives in Battle Creek where I went to high school.

They are planning a 50 year reunion next year in 2010. They are going to have a big party and invite as many students that graduated in the class of 1960 as they can find.  I told her if there was any way I could do it, I would be there. We talked about all of the people she had located and where they were (scattered all over the country). She told me that they knew of 15 that had died over the years. So out of 72 graduates, there are about 57 of us left. A couple of the names I remember real well and have wrote about here and now they have passed on. So, I won’t be seeing them at the reunion.

After we talked, I got out my “Senior Scraps” which is a kind of yearbook, with room to put pictures and comments that I made back in 1960. I found Betty’s picture (not that I had any trouble remembering her). I spent a few minutes going down memory lane and looking at all the pictures and wondering what the people might look like now, 50 years later.

Next time, I’ll put in some quotes of what I wrote in the “Senior Scraps” book about some of things I did during my senior year. We may have talked about these things before, but I’ve never quoted myself as a 17 year old. Next time…


I Meet Barb and Fall in Love Again

I think this will be the final post in the exciting life of James Hoag. I will only post here occasionally as I have something to say. This one takes us up through my marriage to Barb and that’s close enough to the present to call it quits. Hope you all enjoyed it. 

In late 1999, I got a call from Karen. She was living in Orem and, of course, I still lived in Sandy, Utah. She told me that she had met a lady in her ward that reminded her of my mother and wondered if I would like to meet her. I assumed she meant for a date and asked why I would be interested in dating my mother. But, it sounded cool and after five years of being alone (female-wise), I said sure. The woman’s name was Barbara Bennion and she had five kids from previous marriages, most of whom were grown up. She still had a couple living with her. I started emailing her and we talked back and forth for a few days and then agreed to meet and go out to dinner.

Don’t know what she thought of me, but I guess it wasn’t too bad. We started going out. The first date was to a Ruby River restuarant where we had to wait for almost an hour to get a table. This gave us a chance to talk and we discovered that we had a lot in common and she was really easy to talk to. I hadn’t had anyone to really talk to in a long time, so this was really great. In a way, she did remind me of my mother. I had always been able to talk to my mother. I could tell her anything. We were more than just mother and son, we were friends. And that was the way I felt about Barb.

She liked going to concerts like I did and so we went to several during the fall of 1999. In December, I figured, what the heck, we’re not getting any younger. Why wait, so I proposed. We had only known each other 4 months or less, but I knew it was the right thing to do. We had talked about getting married, but I wanted to make it official, so we went to Temple Square in Salt Lake. They had put up the Christmas lights and it was magical. I was intending to get down on one knee and actually propose, but at the last minute, I chickened out and so we just sat down on one of the benches and I offcially popped the question.

We were married on Feb 29 2000 which is the leap year extra day. So, we only have a real anniversary every four years. We were married at the Ward house in Orem and our Bishop did the honors. I think everybody from both sides of the family were there. All of my kids and their families (actually, I think Matt was the only one married at the time) and all of her kids. Mike and Julie Sveen even flew out for the occasion. It was a great day. We then spent a few days in Las Vegas on our honeymoon. Next Feb, 2009, will be our ninth year together. There has not been one day that I have regretted marrying Barb. We are happy and we get along perfectly. People we run into at church or other places ask how we met. I tell them, my ex-wife set us up. Well, after hearing that, they have to know the whole story.

And now you do.


Living in Sandy, Dad Dies

During this time, both Kristy and Katy lived with us for a time. I don’t remember the specifics, but Kristy worked at Office Max and lived with us which was just up the street from the store. She finally left that job and transferred to an Office Max in Denver where she met Chad and you all know the rest of that story.

Katy, while using my computer, met this guy online named Craig and they started a relationship. After some interesting events and a couple rocky years, they are together permanently and have a sweet little boy named Ben who I don’t get to see very much. You also know the rest of Kate’s story.

One day while working at American Express, I got a call from an old fiend from Magellan. He was now a manager and asked if we could have lunch together. I met with him and he said he would like me to come back to Magellan (the new name of HAI). He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and, so after only 15 months or so at American Express, I changed jobs yet again and went back to work at the same location I had worked at originally upon coming to Salt Lake City.

This was 1998. I think that is the same year that my Dad died. I got the call from Dorothy, his wife, that he had passed away and the funeral would be in a few days. David and I got on a plane and flew back to Kalamazoo, Michigan to attend the funeral and see my Dad for the last time. We had been out there about a year earlier and had stopped and talked to him. He was in a hospital bed and pretty sick and we all knew he would not last much longer. That was the last time I actually talked to him. After the funeral, we flew home. Dorothy moved in with her daughter, Linda (my sister) and I never heard from either of them again.


Traveling the Country with Synon

Everyone was afraid of Magellan. There were rumors that they were going to fire everybody in the IT department. I started looking for another job. The tool that we used to do our programming was called Obsydian and it was owned by a company called Synon, Inc. There were very few people in the country who knew Obsydian and in the 2 years I had worked at HAI, I had become something of an expert. So, I called Synon and asked them if they would like to hire me. I had heard they were looking for teachers.

To make a long story short, I interviewed and was hired. For the next nine months, I worked for Synon as an instructor. Every sunday night I flew out to somewhere in the US and every Friday night I flew back. I have a magnet on my refrigerator at home of most of the states and cities I travelled to. It was great fun to see the country. I went places I had never been before. The class I taught was about 4 1/2 days long and it was the same every time, so I got pretty good at it. The job was great and I really loved it. But after a few months, I really got tired of the travelling. It turned out that it was not good to leave David alone in the apartment for five days at a time. I was still very heavy and it was a struggle to get to the airport and stay in hotels and eat out all of the time.

It lasted for nine months and then I said, enough. I called a friend of mine who had also left HAI and went to work at American Express in Salt Lake. I asked him if they had any openings. They did. I interviewed and was hired and once again, I changed jobs. This time I went to work for American Express. We worked out near the airport which wasn’t too bad since I lived in Sandy. I continued to program in the same language that I had been teaching. I lasted at American Express for almost 1 1/2 years.


Moving to Utah

Sorry for the long delay since the last post. I have been busy on another web site and the holidays took some time. I think we are getting down to the last of the posts on the history. I will bring things up to date over the next few weeks and then compile all of the information into one document which I hope to have for all of you sometime next year. Maybe that will be next year’s Christmas present. So, on with the story…. 

Sometime during the time I lived in Rochester (about 9 months), David called me and begged to come live with me. I don’t remember the reasons he gave, but I finally agreed and he moved out of Winona and moved to Rochester to live with me. So, when it came time to move we moved together. The moving company actually put my car in the moving van and Dave and I flew to Salt Lake City. We rented a car and got a real estate lady to show us apartments and in a couple days, we were ready to move into the Falls Apartments in Sandy. But since our stuff wasn’t here yet, we stayed with Matt and Stephanie in Spanish Fork. They were taking care of an adult facility for handicap people. I think Matt was still going to school at that time, but maybe not.

It took about a week to get the stuff out here to Utah. I started work and drove back and forth from Spanish Fork to Salt Lake. 

Our furniture finally arrived and we moved into Sandy. I was learning new stuff at HAI and it wasn’t easy. David stayed in the apartment. It was about this time that we started the daily calls. Since he was alone all day, he would call me or I would call him and we’d talk for a few minutes. This has evolved into the system we have today which is three calls a day (most days). He does that with others, also.

That lasted for two years or so and HAI was bought out by a company called Magellan Health.


The Worse Day of My Life

I thought things were back on track and we were OK, but the marriage was broken beyond repair. I am not going to go into details about the breakup in this blog. I think my kids need to know my feelings about this (Karen can write her own feelings, if she desires), but I do not want the world to know these details. When I publish this memoir as a book, I’ll include a chapter about the breakup, but not until then. And that will be for family, only.

I think David was the first one we told. Maybe Katy and Kristy knew first, I’m not sure. But we told him on his birthday, Aug 28, 1994 because that was the first opportunity we had when he was at the house. He was really upset about that and I’m not sure he ever completely forgave us for spoiling his birthday. We told Matt and Kim by phone which really sucked. That’s no way for kids to find out their parents are breaking up.

As you all know, I moved out about October of 1994 and got an apartment in Rochester. I was still working at IBM, fortunately. We sold the house sometime that winter and Karen moved to Orem with the only 2 kids who were still at home, Kristy and Katy.

David was living in an apartment in Winona, Kim had moved west to go to school and Matt was at BYU working on his degree. As I said, I moved into an apartment in Rochester and settled in. When Karen moved, four of my five kids were in Utah, so I decided it was time for me move out there too. I called Matt and asked him to send me the Sunday classifieds from the Salt Lake newspaper every week. So, about Friday of each week, I would get this package of newspaper from him. I studied the want ads for job offerings. I looked for anything that I thought I was qualified to do.

A company called HAI (Human Affairs International) called me and said they would like to interview me over the phone. They wanted someone who knew the AS/400 computer for a new project they starting and I had been working on it for the past 10 years or so. I had a phone interview with the boss and then a second one with a technical guy. He asked me all kinds of technical questions (to see if I really knew the AS/400). I guess I passed because they offered me a job.


A Quick Cute Story

Karen sent me this story of something that happened to Kristy when she was little. I can really see her doing this:

There’s a cute story about Kristy taking a nap in her bedroom when a fly came into her room. It probably buzzes by her ear and annoys or even frightens her. So she leaves her room, closes the door, stuffs the crack under the door with various things like a blanket, pillow, clothing so the fly can’t come out. Then she lays down in front of the door to continue her nap. Of course, I confront her, asking why she’s laying outside her room instead of on her bed in her bedroom and she tells me what happened. I may even have a photo of her laying in front of the door in the hallway! She was probably 4 or 5 years old when this happened.


Grandma passes away

Sometime in 1992 or 93, my mother decided that she couldn’t live alone any longer. She talked to my brother Martin and ended up moving to Maine to live with him. I was sad because I knew my mom was dying and now she was almost 1500 miles away, so I knew I wouldn’t see her very often. Somehow, between the time she moved out there and the time she died, we did get to Maine. She was living in a assisted living home and spent almost all of her time in bed. She was in good spirits and glad to see us, but it was hard.

When she first moved to Maine, she lived with Martin and his wife Sue. Things were fine until they came home from work one day to find her laying on the floor. She had fallen and couldn’t get up. (Just like the commercial everybody makes fun of). She had been laying there for several hours without any way of telling anyone of her plight. Martin decided that Mom shouldn’t be on her own anymore and checked her into the assisted living center.

In October of 1993, I got a call from Martin. He said, in effect “If you want to see your mother alive again, you’d better get here as soon as you can.” I was in a panic. I didn’t have any money. I called the airlines (didn’t have internet quite yet) and tried to get a hardship flight to Maine. Those are cheaper because getting a flight on a moments notice can really be expensive. It took me a while to convince someone that this was a hardship case but just as I was about to buy the ticket, Martin called again and said “Don’t bother, she’s gone.” So, the last time I saw my mother alive was when we visited Maine.

Martin took care of everything. Mom was to be buried in Bellevue, Michigan, next to Floyd who had died in the 60’s. Martin had gotten insurance that paid for flying her body back to Michigan to be buried. So, instead of flying to Maine, we all got in the car and drove to Michigan for the funeral. It’s been 15 years since she left us and I still miss her. She and I had a special Mother/son bond that few people have. I am looking forward greatly to seeing her again on the other side.


The Year of School at Winona

In 1993, IBM was falling apart. Sales were down and they were starting to re-access their “no-layoffs” policy. People were leaving and I realized that my job was in jeopardy. I had 27 years with the company which put me just over the line to something they called “bridge to retirement”. Retirement for IBM was 30 years of employment. You had to have 27 years in order to bridge. Bridging meant that they would give you a years salary and then when you hit 30 years, you could retire just like you had actually worked those last three years.

It seemed like I had no choice. I couldn’t take a chance on being laid-off which IBM was doing a lot of in those days. I was eligible for the bridge and so, reluctantly, I retired from IBM. But, here I am, I’m 52 years old. That’s pretty young to retire. We had a years pay in the bank, so I felt like we could afford to train into something new. I decided to try to fulfill a life-long dream of mine to be a teacher. I had always wanted to be a teacher. Thought I would be a good one. I loved math and I thought I could teach it to high school kids. So, I enrolled at Winona State and started taking classes.

I’m not sure Karen ever really approved of this move. Unfortunately, we weren’t talking much in those days and I don’t know what she would have rather me do, but I did go to school for a year. The problem was, the money only lasted for a year. I didn’t work during that year, so no new money was coming in. As the year got closer and closer to an end and I realized I needed at least another year to finish my degree, I realized we were in trouble. I loved going to school. I loved learning math and I really wanted to finish, but there was no way to do that and put food on the table. So after one year at Winona State, I dropped out.

The next few months were some of the most difficult of my life. Maybe of Karen’s, too. Like I said, we weren’t talking much. I joined a temp agency and spent the most horrible three nights of my life stocking food at the local Barlow’s grocery store. I drove taxi for 10 days. In that 10 day period, I earned a grand total of $120. That’s $12 a night for a 10 hour shift. Obviously, I had to do better than that.

Then, my salvation came. I got a call from a contractor company that provided a help desk for IBM. They needed people who knew IBM products and could talk to users about the computers and the software that runs them. So, I went back to work at IBM, this time as a contractor.