Tom's Page

I graduated (barely) from Princeton in 1962. I wouldn’t have gotten in today. But we all remember Herb, right? It just took a ‘phone call. Father kept me on a tight financial leash so the summers were working ones. The jobs were menial, including a stint as a messboy on a Swedish refrigerator ship that hauled kangaroo meat from Australia. Remember all-meat Nedick’s? You got it.
I spent a year working at Citibank in New York. That’s about all I could take of it and it of me. I re-met Nikki in the summer of 1963, we married in June of ’64, and through her I became interested in teaching. The next 10 years were spent at Maumee Valley Country Day School near Toledo. I took the job for the money. Starting pay was $3800/year, and I ended at 14K. But rent was only $50/month, and gas was probably under a dollar. Who needed money? By the late 60’s we had moved to a farm in Pemberville, Ohio, population 1900, and the kids grew up in that environment.

I got discouraged with teaching in 1974, didn’t think I was making a difference. I headed grades 6-8, watched them change as they moved through high school. As it turns out, I did make a difference, but I was slow to see it.
After a few years of landscaping work in the Toledo area, we moved to Connecticut, in 1978, where we still are today, same town. Nikki had gotten interested in antiques, and New England was where the goods were. I ran a garden center, oversaw a housing development for absentee builders, while she did antique shows. By 1986 we decided to do antiques full time. What a fortuitous decision. We dealers had a great run for 15 years. It’s all different today. The internet has leveled the playing field, the wheel has turned on styles and tastes, and the quality of the reproductions is excellent. It’s a dicey business now, largely dependent on the relationship between hard work and luck.

Luckily, I kept a hand in the plant business for the same period. Our specialty was, and still is, urban landscaping. What plants take the drought and the heat and the salt of cities, and at the same time resist vandalism? We hit upon roses, and the city of Springfield is full of them. What started as a flower business has now become an urban beautification business: graffiti, chewing gum, trash barrels, flowers, sweepers. It’s part of the privatization of public services. We hire prisoners, still on their bracelets. The public agencies are somewhat constrained by union work rules. We’re more flexible, work nights and weekends, and are obviously cheaper. The union guys don’t get laid off, their slots are just not refilled. We have a great relationship with these agencies. Our job is to be invisible, make the elected officials look good.

When I haven’t been working, which is seldom, I’ve been a lifelong canoeist, and closely involved with Camp Koch-i-ching, Cincinnati-based and now the Camping and Education Foundation. Farthest north has been the Back River, which starts in Nunavit and runs to the Chantry Inlet in the Arctic Ocean. Treeless tundra, grizzlies and caribou, but downstream and downwind, very quickly.

Lots of stories to tell. Most funny. Everybody has a story. Nikki and I have criss-crossed the country, lots of times, all backroads, listened to people’s stories. You’ve got to go to Kansas! Anybody read Blue Highways? Our trips include Galapagos, Antarctica, the North Polar Icecap. I want to go to China; I know Ned’s been. I want to go to Kazakstan; I know Millard’s been.

A few pictures from our trip to the arctic circle last fall. Beautiful!

And our family: