A Month in New York City

In January of 1981, I applied with IBM to go to a school they offered in New York City. I don’t remember the name of the school, but it was like graduate classes in computer science. The school lasted four weeks and was held in a building on 42nd street right near Times Square. I stayed at a hotel on Lexington Avenue and really had a ball living in New York for a short time. I went to class during the day and in the evening I was able to go to movies and Broadway plays and live TV shows. Two plays that I remember seeing were “A Chorus Line” and “Ain’t Misbehavin'”. They were both very good. I saw “The $25,000 Pyramid” TV show with Dick Clark as the host live. I was in the audience for five shows. They tape five shows at a time with a short break between the shows for the contestants and the host to change clothes and for them to clean up the set. I was there for an entire afternoon. It was very cool.

On thing I did while I was in New York was to go to the Lincoln Center Library which had all the entertainment news. I was able to fill in some blanks on the Top 40 charts that I had been unable to get up until then. I also visited some really great record stores down in Greenwich Village which had 45 records that you couldn’t get anywhere else. I was still into music. And as of this time, I still hadn’t met Mike Sveen.

Halfway through the four weeks in New York, I had the choice of going home for a break or having my wife come out to see me. We decided that Karen would come out. Kristy had been born just 5 months earlier. So Karen came to New York and brought Kristy with her. We spent the weekend sightseeing, me being the big shot New Yorker who knew where everything was. The church had a ward in a building right across the street from Lincoln Center. A Temple is on one of the floors of that building today, but then, it was just a chapel and a visitor’s center. On Saturday night, we got one of the girls from the ward to babysit for us while we went to a show. I have no idea what we saw. Maybe Karen remembers, but I remember taking the babysitter home afterwards (maybe in a taxi, not sure – I didn’t have a car). She lived down right near the World Trade Towers that fell during 911. I remember dropping her off right in front of the World Trade Tower and her telling me she could get home all right from there. It’s amazing what you remember and how much you forget.

Sometime in 1981, we got new home teachers and I met Mike Sveen for the first time and an eternal friendship was born. I’ve already talked about that in the blog post “here“.


A Nice Family of Five Children

The following was written by Karen. She remembers more about those days than I do, so I am indebted to her for Kristy’s birth information:

OK, we’re in the “modern” days of the 1980s so ultrasounds can detect what the sex of your baby will be so when Kristy was growing inside me we took advantage of this new technology. It’s a girl!

Since we had two K’s in Kimmy and Katy and I got to decide the girls’ names I chose (or we becuz Dad had some input in her middle name) Kristin. No, I was not watching the TV show “Dallas” at the time. Guess there was a Kristin in that series. (note: she’s the one who ended up shooting J.R.)… I went with Kristin for the third “K” (or 4th with my name!) Think it may have been on the list of names for future babies I wrote down as a college student, along with Kimberly. I have an aunt Christine who people said I looked like, but no, Kristin is not an updated version of my aunt’s name. Elaine, as Kristy’s middle name is from Dad’s grandmother or step grandmother’s name. He can correct that. (Dad: She was my grandfather’s wife, but the only grandmother I ever knew.)

I was appalled after I came home from the hospital when I realized Kimmy and Katy had learned what Barbie Dolls were becuz Veryl Firl had taken care of them one of the days while I was having Kristy. Her kids or grandkids must have had some at Veryl’s house; of course she allowed KK to play with them. I’m sure KK were ecstatic. Our household was never the same!

Kimmy (1975) and Katy (1977) were close to ages 3 1/2 & 5 when Kristy was born. So they along with their little friend Megan and perhaps Abby Anderson were our welcoming committee when we arrived home from the hospital. They were so excited for this new baby, they were beside themselves. Trying to remember if all three girls slept in the same bedroom, Kristy in the crib and Kimmy/Katy in my old double bed. Would’ve been a crowded bedroom. David was very sensitive to Kristy and her needs. Whenever she cried he said, “Mama, the baby’s crying!” He’d stand by her bed and watch her and soothe her.

I remember that the December after she was born on Sept. 20, 1980, all the kids came down with chicken pox, starting with David. I didn’t want the baby to get the chicken pox so I said nobody could touch her, else she might get them. That hurt David the most. He wanted soooo much to touch her, hold her, etc. As I looked back on the chicken pox for the 4 older kids, I realized that Kristy probably did get a light case, one on her head and one on her bottom. Thought the head one was cradle cap and thought the bum one was a rash!

She was a cute little blondy, like Katy became. We loved her and spoiled her and pampered her. She could do no wrong! Both Katy and Kristy were born at Olmsted Community Hospital in Rochester. I asked for “no smoking” rooms so I had the equivalent of a private room both times! I took advantage of the quiet and wrote notes about my babies and my impressions during my hospital stay. Wish I could put my hands on those notes.

I was Relief Society president from 1979-83, four years, four months and yadayada days! So Kristy, as a baby, went with me to meetings, visits to the hospital of members of our ward or out of town patients. She “broke the ice” when I’d visit people. First, we’d talk about the baby and then get on to other things. One gal was there in the mental health section and grew so attached to Kristy that she sent her a Raggedy Ann doll she made and a red and white sweater and hat set she knitted. The woman was probably in the hospital 3-4 months.

Seems like Kristy and I would walk to the Lutheran church down the block in the afternoon about the time Kimmy and Katy would be walking home from school. We’d wait for them and all would get excited to see one another.

Dad got to see Kristy’s birth as he did David, Kimmy and Katy. Matthew is the only baby that neither of us saw the birth happen. It was either the south who weren’t up to date or maybe 1967 was too early to allow parents to be part of the birth. We were too dumb as parents to ask for that maybe. Anyway, I vowed never to not see a birth of my babies again.

Also Matthew only nursed 6 months, again becuz I was a dumb mom! The rest nursed at least a year; Kristy a bit longer. With David I learned to use real foods to feed him instead of baby foods like with Matthew. Got a simple little food mill to grind the people food and feed to him. Or cut things into small pieces. Real food is more nutritious for babies and less costly and no chemicals or so much salt. All good reasons. Maybe some of this came about becuz David was born while Dad was at BYU and I interacted with “smarter” people! I continued the practice with the girls when it was time for them to eat as well. They had baby oatmeal but if I remember right most of their diets were real foods right from the beginning.

So now we had a nice family of five children.

Thanks, Karen – Dad

The Wonderful Canoe Trip

When David was about eleven and Matt was 14 or so, Matt was a boy scout in the ward troop. Since I was the father of a boy scout, naturally, I was called to be the Scout Master of the troop. It turned out to be a lot of fun. This was back when I could get around and do stuff. I was very overweight, which I’ve been all of my life, but at least I could walk and go on hikes and do the stuff that boy scout’s do.

I had an assistant, but don’t remember his name. We decided that summer (probably 1981, but I can’t be sure) to take the boys on a canoe trip. We had to rent canoes and arrange for the boys to bring food to cook and eat along the way. We carried everything with us in the canoes. We spent many scout meeting planning this adventure and trying to think of everything we would need for the trip.

We were planning to be gone three days, I think. We went to a spot just outside of Chatfield where there was an access to the Root River. The Root was not a big river but it offered some challenges. Karen drove with us to the drop off point. Then we put the canoes in the water and we arranged for Karen to pick us up somewhere down river in three days.

Matt went on the trip and I think he had a good time. David got to go because he was my kid, even though he wasn’t officially a boy scout. I remember the Brinkman boys went along, too. There were some other boys and my assistant. So, we had quite a group. The river was quite shallow in places. The canoe would bottom out and stop. We found that all we had to do was step out of the canoe into the river and take our weight off of the canoe and it would bob to the surface and we could get it off the bottom.

We stayed at this little campsite the first night. We had arranged for the boys to work on merit badges during the trip. Of course, everyone got the canoe merit badge, but we worked on camping and preparing meals to eat out doors and several others. I think the goal was for each boy to get at least three merit badges as a result of the trip.

The river was shallow in some places and then in this one section, it was almost rapids. Not quite, but for a group of inexperienced boy scouts, it seemed really fast. I think we had at least one canoe that swamped and dumped all it’s contents into the river. The second night we camped on a sand bar and everybody woke up in the morning with sand in everything they owned.

At the designated time on the third day, we arrived at the pick up point and Karen and other mothers were there. We had had a good time, but we were really glad to see them and get off the river. It was something to talk about for months. I think, by and large, it was a success.  I enjoyed scouting so much that I joined the scout council that met in Rochester and was involved in scouting for a couple years after I was released from the ward.


Current: The American Songbook

The only posts I have put on this site in last few months have been my continuing life story. I think I need to write once in a while about what is happening to me right now. That, after all, is also part of my life story, but I’m going to post these in a different category. I’ve called it “Current” and while you all can read them if you want, if you don’t want to (I have people reading this that aren’t family members), then just skip the posts that start with the word: Current.

So, last night, Barb and I attended the O C Tanner Gift of Music: “The American Songbook”. It was at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake and free to attend. You just had to go on the church website and signup for tickets. We had really good seats. We saw the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony. There were two guest singers who were great. They sang Broadway songs from “Ragtime” and “Man of La Mancha”. The choir was part of almost every song and it was so cool. I thought to myself. Surely, this must be what heaven is like. We don’t need to just listen to hymns to be spiritual. There is much other great music that inspires you and makes you feel good.

The conductor announced the last song and then they started into it. I noticed some people begin to leave (to get an early jump on the traffic, I guess). Barb and I have a rule. We don’t leave until it’s over. We stayed and they did two more encores after finishing what what on the schedule. The choir did “Battle Hymn of the Republic” which is kind of their signature song and the only song by the choir to actually hit the Top 40. In fact, it was Top 10. Then the orchestra did “Stars and Strips Forever” which was a number one song in the early 1900’s by John Philip Sousa.

It was wonderful. Many people had left by the time the concert had actually finished, but we are so glad we stayed. It was worth the extra time it took us to get out of the parking lot and on our way home. This is the lesson I learned: Sometimes, the best things happen to us in the final moments of our life. If I had left when the concert was supposed to be over, I’d have missed two of the best performances of the night. As I get older, I’ve been feeling lately, that life is pretty much over. But the concert is not over. My life is not over. I still have time to do some great things. Sometimes, the truly great things happens late in the concert.

And Then We Were Six

This will be a long post as both me and Karen have a lot to say about Katy. I hope I remember the facts right, but if not, I’ll correct it. Here is my version:

In 1977, number four was added to our growing family. Kathryn Amanda Hoag was born on April 6. I don’t remember too many details of the birth itself. I know I was there in hospital for it. She was born at the Olmsted Community Hospital in Rochester, MN. This was my third time, so I was experienced by this time. I will try to get some more details from Karen.

Karen has some problems nursing Katy. (She mentioned nursing in her version below, so maybe I’m thinking about Kristy – someone can correct me) She just didn’t take to it right away. I remember Karen getting more and more frustrated as Katy wouldn’t nurse. So, the more frustrated she got, the harder the nursing was. Kind of a vicious circle. I might have given her a blessing, I don’t know. I hope so. Finally things calmed down and Katy began to take to it. She was probably hungry and had no choice by this time. But, it had us worried for a while.

Katy was a sweetheart. (still is, actually) But, so shy. As you all know, she got over that. I remember the least little things would upset her. A vivid memory I still have was one morning we were eating breakfast in the kitchen. I was sitting on one side of the table and she was on the other side. She was probably about 2 at this time. Maybe younger, I’m not sure. I looked over at her and made a face at her. She looked at me and burst out crying. I guess I had scared her. So, I had to comfort her and I knew I could always get a rise out of her if I wanted to tease her. We are good friends today and I’m grateful for that, so I guess she has forgiven me.

Karen’s version:

What I remember about Katy’s birth was the Relief Society had a bazaar (one of the last ones done in the church) in March and I wanted to participate so I was hoping Katy wouldn’t come until after that! Also you were still recuperating from your old-fashioned pneumonia. …She was born (if I remember right) on Good Friday, April 6, 1977. (It was near Easter anyway, maybe a week before Easter?)  (Editor: She was actually born on a Wednesday, Easter was the following Sunday, April 10) Katy was the only baby who had to be induced because she was overdue.I think Matthew and David were on their way to school when we went to the hospital for her birth. They suggested the name “George” for the baby. No ultrasound was available then so we didn’t know if Katy was a boy or girl. If it was a boy we planned to name him Ryan. If girl, we decided Kathryn for my grandmas Lederman and Rupp and Amanda for my mother.We came home on Sunday from the Olmsted Community Hospital. I remember sitting on the couch holding/nursing Katy and looking out the front window in the living room and also looking out the sliding door in the dining room (where I was sitting I could see out both windows at once) and seeing lush green grass and leafed out trees. It was gorgeous, a truly early spring for Minnesota. And I felt so blessed having her in the springtime. Katy was a cute little girl with dark hair the first few days. After we got home from the hospital she had blond hair. Didn’t notice the change in color until Allen Currit, a neighbor pointed it out. It had been so gradual.

The first six months after Katy’s birth were hard becuz Kimmy was only 17 months old when Kathy was born. So I had 2 babies in diapers. It was a busy time but after awhile they played well together.

I called them chocolate and vanilla: Kimmy in dark hair, Katy with blond. We’d go grocery shopping and people would ask if they were twins (when they got a bit older). Kimmy was tiny and Katy was regular size so they seemed about the same age to onlookers, I guess!


We Get a New Church

1977 was pretty much a lost cause as I was sick most of the year and I’ve already talked about that. Sometime between then and about 1980, the church decided that we had grown enough that we could build a new church building. So, the powers that be bought the lot right across from Mayo High School and the Rochester First Ward was born. This was in the days when the members helped do the actual work on building a building. They don’t do that anymore. I have memories (not fond ones) of going to the chapel and doing what help I could. I think I painted and moved stuff around. I’m about as handy as a guy with two left hands, so I wasn’t a lot of help. And of course, I was complaining most of the time. I told them I would rather contribute my money than do this work. As it turned out, that’s what the church does now, so maybe I was inspired. (or just lazy, not sure which).

We got the chapel done and I remember the Stake Conference when we moved in. It was a cool meeting. I was thinking Elder LeGrande Richards, an apostle, had come to dedicate the building, but I guess he visited the old ward building that we eventually sold.  I had read all his books and he was kind of a hero to me. I know we had a General Authority come to Rochester to dedicate the new building, but neither Karen nor I can remember who it was. We eventually sold our old building to the Jewish congregation in Rochester and they turned into a synagogue. I think it still was when we left Rochester many years later.

Tomorrow: Little Katy joins our family


Bats in the Belfry

They had a story on Channel 2 here in Salt Lake last night about West High School. It seems they are infested with bats. These are Mexican fruit bats and are migrating to Mexico. The bats like to stop over for a few days on their way to Mexico and terrorize people at West High.

I’m not sure when it first started, but after we moved into the Eyota house; we started hearing noises coming from the ceiling and the attic. At first we thought it must be mice. I went to the store and bought mouse traps and put them upstairs and in the crawl spaces in the attic. Never did catch a mouse, but continued to hear the noises. Well, one day we found out what was causing the noise when suddenly a bat was flying around in the house. Now, I’m scared of most everything, but bats particularly creep me out. They can be dangerous if they bite you. But mainly they do a lot more good than they do harm, but I didn’t care. I wanted them out of our house.

In the 18 years we lived in Eyota, we never did get them out completely. We had a home teacher for awhile named Brother Langston and he came over and sealed up every crack he could find where they might be getting in. That slowed them down, but it never did keep them out completely. We would get, on average, about one bat a year that would get into the house and I had to catch him. I guess there were times when Karen had to deal with them alone, so there were more than one a year. I’m glad Matt was there to help her because fighting the bats was a task no one wanted to do. I know you shouldn’t kill bats, but my rule was, if they got into my house, they were dead meat. I saw no point in letting them go outside just so they could come back and invade out house again. I bought a butterfly net which helped a lot to catch them.

A quick P.S. to this story was one day I went to work and was working at a temporary building just north of the IBM plant. It had two sets of double glass doors to enter the building. The double set of doors kept the cold out of the building and the heat in. I approached the outer set of doors one morning and just as I opened the door, I saw a bat flying around in the space between the doors. I couldn’t believe it. Were they following me? Obviously, I had no way to get into the building so I stood there thinking about it for a minute. Finally, I opened the outer door as far as I could and waved my hands and the bat flew out the door and on his way. Now I could go in. Someone was definitely out to get me. I was kidded about that for many months.


Our First Year in Eyota

I have been out-of-sorts for the past month or so and didn’t feel much like contributing to this blog. But I will try to continue.

My memory is fading and any help you all could give me on some of this would be appreciated. We moved into the Eyota house in January of 1976. Karen said that it was a warm winter and it was very muddy when the moving van brought the furniture. I don’t remember much of the first year until I got sick. I went to work at IBM every day. We were writing a compiler that would later be used to build the System/38 (an early IBM computer). The 38 evolved into the AS/400, a machine that IBM still makes to this day. I think I wouldn’t be too far off to say that the AS/400 is the most successful product IBM has ever produced. And I had a small part in creating it.

We started out going to church in a little chapel over near the Mayo Clinic. I guess we owned the building. I remember it was a small building with the chapel upstairs and most of the classrooms downstairs in the basement. I’m not sure, but I think the first person we met when we stopped at the building one day was Brother Duane Mathias. He was there doing some kind of maintenance. I don’t think we had actually moved into our house yet. But he welcomed us to the Ward (It may have been a Branch at that time) and showed us around.

We had to stay in the Ramada Inn for a week or so until we could close on the house and get our stuff from North Dakota. The kids loved that. They had a pool. Eventually everything came together and we were able to move in.