Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Peaceful Year, except perhaps, the Murder Next Door

Wilmington Trust would regularly do health screenings as a free service to we employees. I don't know if it was because they really cared about our health or to see if we were still alive. Usually these were conducted by the Visiting Nurses Association of Delaware. It was probably through them because John Behringer, a Section Manager and Assistant Vice-President, the man everyone suspected would eventually replace Walt Whittaker as the head o Deposit Services, was on the organization's board. On September 22 they were giving blood pressure screenings
I routinely went to these. It was cheaper than a doctor appointment and in my position I was expected to set an example for the troops. It was no biggie. I knew I had hypertension and was on a medication for it. And the test was simple, no needles involved. The nurse just slapped a cuff about the arm and listened to your pulse while the thing grew tighter around you.
Thus I sat there as the cuff squeezed. I looked at the nurse and her face had turned ashen. She appeared actually about to faint. She told me my blood pressure was somewhere over 200 and my pulse was a mere 20 beats a minute. She also commented my skin was clammy. To see the fright in her eyes I thought maybe I should lie down on the floor; I must be dead.
She told me I needed to see my doctor at once, and Walt my boss, agreed. He told me to call my physician and to go home.
I did both. My doctor told me to come right in. He did a general examination and sent me off for blood work. Now there would be a needle involved. Apparently, I wasn’t going to drop dead right away. I reluctantly obeyed, for I have a phobic fear of needles.  I had studiously avoid as much as possible having any of those things stuck into me.
One night a few days later my doctor called me at home. He had just gotten the results of my blood tests and wanted me to come to his office right away. He sounded as shook up as that Visiting Nurse. Maybe I was getting to such a state myself. It's a scary thing to hear a doctor say drop everything and come see me. So I drove in to see him.
He slapped a copy of my test results in my hand as if those lines and ranges would mean something to me. He pointed to one result.
“See that?” he asked. “It shouldn’t be that high.” He looked at me briefly.” And look at this one.” He pointed down the page to another line with numbers on it. “If that first one is high, this one should be low. But it isn’t. It is too high as well. It doesn’t make sense”
He sat down in his chair behind his desk waving the test results in the air. “None of this make sense,” he said. “I have no idea what’s going on except I can’t make heads or tails of these results.” He calmed down and paused, taking out a card he wrote something down and handed it to me. “I want you to see a kidney specialist,” he said. “Call the number on the card to make an appointment.”
I called the nyber and the next available apointment was in October.

While waiting to see the kidney specialist in October, I went through a seminar at Online
Consulting in Wilmington. This course lasted three days and got me certified on Office Writer Inform. It really fascinates me how many word processing programs I went through until M/S Office’s Word sort of become the standard.

I finally saw the kidney specialist and he did nothing except send me to Christiana Care for further tests, such as un ultra-scan of my kidneys. Oh, and bill me for the visit, of course. The result of these tests was my kidneys were alledgedly loafing on the job; working only 50% of the time. This was scary stuff. I had nightmares I would end up on dialysis spending hours watching my blood going through tubes to be washed.  On October 20 I visited the Kidney Doctor, a Nephrologist, in his office. I went in with a little dread, but he quickly told me my kidneys weren’t the problem. They were fine, but my thyroid wasn’t working, at least, not working hard enough. I had hypothyroidism. The thyroid is like the body’s thermostat. It controls your metabolism among other things. My thyroid was not injecting enough hormone into my system when needed. It was no big deal, he assured me, unless I ignored it. He gave me a prescription. All I need do was take this one little pill every day for the rest of my life.

In the middle of November my dad came down to our house to rake the leaves. He said my mother was driving him crazy and he just had to get away. Both parents came down for Grandparent’s Day at my kids school. We went up to Bucktown for Thanksgiving and this year instead of cooking a big meal, my parents took us all out to the Dinner Bell Restaurant for supper.
On December 3 my mom went out to feed her cat, which lived in the garage/basement, but
she fell down the stone steps hurting her right foot and skinning her leg, arm and head. Dad took her to the Phoenixville Hospital. Her foot wasn’t broken, just badly sprained, but they put a cast on anyway. Of the 15, Misty the dog, fell over her water dish and spilled the water on the floor. My mom slipped on the spillage and fell on her bottom. She was more embarrassed than hurt. The doctor took her cast off on the 19th.
We had Christmas at our place.

I went to my doctor in the middle of January 1989 and my blood pressure was good. The daily thyroid pill was doing the job. I was feeling well, except on February 18 when I came down with the flu. Everybody in our house was sick. I was still in bed on the 23rd. Other than that hiccup both Lois and I were getting along without incident. So it went pacefully and normally through spring.

In June I went to Washington DC for a seminar at the AMA called, “Measuring and Managing Products Profitability. My mom came and stayed with the kids while Lois joined me in Washington.

On July 4 we went to the Fireworks Picnic in Rockford Park. Rockford, not to be confused with Rockwood, is located in Wilmington, not far from Immanuel Highlands where we were still attending church. It was quite an event, including food naturally, and a concert  before the fireworks display that featured the singer Mel Torme, (left) the Velvet Fog as he was called.
We had spread a blanket on the ground like most around us. Pictured are Darryl, myself and Noelle before Hell broke loose. We got a good close up view of
the fireworks. Oh did we ever, too close a view. It was like finding yourself in the middle of an arial war raid. Little fires fell from the sky around us as the bombs burst in air. My kids were terrified, and I was, too. I was very relieved to escape the park in one piece, even though we had the fear of the car overheating as we poked through city street with the rest of the exiting crowd.

Wilmington Trust decided to photograph all their employees for the 1989 Annual Report. We were ordered to report to the Delaware Stadium for the picture taking. (Delaware Stadium did not become Tubby Raymond Field until 2002.) This was scheduled for late afternoon on a sun-blistering mid-July day. The temperature was blazing and they had to line up around 2,000 plus people with no shade or shelter from the sun, which was in our face. The photographer was in the press box on the opposite side of the football field and needed the sun at his back for the light. It took over an hour to get everyone situated. By some miracle no one passed out.
After several takes they got the picture they wanted and we were dismissed. Food had been catered and was being served beneath the stands. It was the usual picnic style dishes, hamburgers and hot dogs, but there was also potato and macaroni salad and other things. Some of these items were not the best to have standing about in 90 plus degree heat for a couple hours. A number of the partakers ended up with food poisoning.
The photograph wrapped around the cover of the annual report. Somehow I ended up on the front not too far left of the logo. I called this my “Where’s Waldo” moment. 
So, where is Larry? Can you find me?

Okay, if you look left of the bottom curve of the logo I am about four people over. I’m the one in gray hair.
My moment of fame!

On August 17, we went to my mom’s and then she drove us all up to the Land of Little
Horses Miniature Horse Farm in Gettysburg. It is an interesting attraction. They have a lot of miniature animals beside the horses. There is a tent show with a parade and different acts, kind of like a circus. There was a sulky race. We all took a carriage ride, then Laurel and Darryl took pony rides. Afterwards, we drove through some of the Battlefield. We had dinner at the Family Time Restaurant in York.
On the 27th we went to the Wilson family Reunion, held now at my cousin Horace’s farm
near Phoenixville instead of Bob Wilson’s place. Bob and his family had moved to Maryland where he started a horse farm. There was no pool at Cousin Horace’s and it was still hot even late in August. Horace was one of my Grand Uncle Heber’s sons; the other was Everett. My cousin Bob had been Heber’s brother Evans' son. We explored the barn and a little museum Horace kept, played the games, but all of us were very wore out and I think we left early. Our weariness shows in the photo. We went home, but Laurel stayed behind and went to her grandparents for a couple days.

Darryl’s birthday was August 24, but like many of our family events, we didn’t celebrate it on the actual day. We were celebrating it on August 30. My mother came down and Lois had baked a cake that was waiting on the dining room table.  Mom and Laurel arrived around 3:30 and I got home from work at 4:30. Darryl searched for his presents, which were hidden about the house and then opened them. I then went back to the bedroom to change from my suit to something cooler. Lois went to the kitchen to prepare our dinner.
It was a little after 5:00 by then. There was a knock on the front door and Noelle answered it. Standing there was a policeman. He asked her if her mother was there, but didn’t wait for an answer. He simply walked in, up the steps to the living area and then down the hall toward the bedrooms. Just then I stepped out of the bedroom and here was this cop standing in my hallway where he had no business being. The only thing he said was, “Sir, I want you to take your family immediately, leave the house and go up to the top of the street.” We hurriedly filed out. My fear was a gas leak. Once outside I asked the officer what was wrong. He said, “We’re having a little trouble with a neighbor.” That was all he told us. We followed orders and went up the block to the next intersection at Wentworth, the street behind our home that intersected with our street where it curved higher up the hill.
There were a number of people milling about the intersection, rousted from their homes along both Olympia and Wentworth. There  were a group of cops huddled about halfway down Wentworth, about opposite where a home there bordered on my backyard. Suddenly a young black man came from where the crowd had gathered and began running down the middle of Wentworth. Police yelled at him to stop, but he ignored them until one cop grabbed him. It took three police to finally halt his progress and they slammed him down to the ground. They handcuffed him and took him away down the street.
“That’s the son,” somebody said and we finally heard what had happened from some of the bystanders. The people who lived behind me were named Newell. They had moved in less than a year ago and had two small children who lived there. The children had sometimes played with my own. The youngBlack the cops had tackled was also a son, but he was in his late teens or early twenties and didn’t live in the same house. Mrs. Newell had a restraining order against her husband. He wasn’t supposed to come anywhere near her, but those restraining orders are only paper and little protection. Newell had showed up at the house and pushed his way in.
The cops weren’t certain of the situation. They knew he and his wife were in the house and they knew he had a gun. They were treating this as a hostage situation and trying to coax Newell out without any harm to anyone. At this point they didn’t realize his wife lay in the garage already dead.
It was getting late in the evening. This may have been a hot August day, but with darkness came a chill. Other people drifted off to stay with relatives or to book a motel room. We were stuck. When the cop told us to leave immediately I did just that. I didn’t grab my wallet, only my keys. My mother had left her pocketbook in the house. Neither of us was being allowed to go down the street and get our cars. We had no transportation nor any money. We were stuck.
It was getting later and colder. I was only dressed in a thin pair of shorts and a T-shirt. The kids were no better dressed. I looked down and saw Darryl had left without his shoes. Then a man I didn’t know came up to us. He identified himself as fire police and said he would take us to the firehouse to spend the night.
Several firemen greeted us when he dropped us at the firehouse in Claymont. They led us
upstairs to their lounge. Some of them went out and came back with pizza and sodas for us. They gave us blankets and we bunked down best we could right there. None of us slept very well. Police and fire calls kept coming in over the radio all night. The fire whistle blew at 3:00 AM.
In the morning the firemen brought us donuts and coffee, milk and juice for the kids. I called into work and told them I wouldn’t be in today. They had heard reports on the news. Afterward, I walked back to our street, going to the lower end. I had hoped I could go up and into my house, pick up my wallet and get Darryl’s shoes. When I got there I found a patrol car blocking the street. I asked the officer if I go to my house, but he said I couldn’t. “It’s right in the line of fire,” he said. Newell was still holed up. He had an automatic weapon and had threatened to blow the house up.
I walked down Glenrock between my street and Wentworth. I could see up to my back yard and there was a swat team on my back porch with rifles aimed toward Newell’s. Wentworth had a barrier across it, but you could see the action up the street. A crowd of people were already there watching. I counted 21 cop cars along the street. Police were up in the trees. A negotiator was on a bullhorn. They had fetched Newell’s mother to the scene and she was pleading with him to come out. He wouldn’t budge.
They whisked his mother away and I heard a couple pops from the backyard and glass breaking. They had begun lobbing teargas into the house. Suddenly there was a pop nearby followed by a loud explosion and I could see a large hole had been blasted through the garage door. Still he wouldn’t come out.
I walked back to the firehouse. The firemen brought us subs for lunch. Newell finally surrendered at 3:00 PM. They rushed in and found his wife’s body in the garage. Their two young children had been away with someone so no harm came to them.
The firemen drove us home at 4:45. There were paw prints from a cat across Darryl’s birthday cake. My mother finally left at 10:30 that night. She took Darryl and Noelle with her, even though Noelle protested about going with her.
Noelle protested all of September 1. On the second my parents took them to Rax for lunch. Darryl’s was free because it was his birthday. Then they took the kids to an antique car museum in Boyertown. My mom made supper, but both kids really wanted to come home by then. Lois, Laurel and I came to dinner and then took them home.

In October we attended the 30th Reunion of Owen J. Roberts Class of 1959. It was here I learned my close high school friend, Richard Ray Miller was dead. He was only 47 when he passed, but when we try and drown our disappointments in alcohol, it sometimes removes us from the scene early.

Richard Ray Miller and Ray Ayres and I had written some little plays for our high school. We were constantly together in those days.

(Right, Richard Ray held over the edge by Ray Ayres. Miller and Ayres were my closest friends at Owen J. Both are deceased.)

We had Thanksgiving dinner at our place and also Christmas. The year sort of quietly ended with a visit to my parents and another dinner on New Year’s Eve. 1989 ended rather peacefully, perhaps a good sign as we entered the 1990s.

Or maybe not.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Hollowed Out Woman


The sword of time will pierce our skins.
It doesn’t hurt when it begins,
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger…”*

Wilmington Trust opened the new Operations Center in the beginning months of 1988. This would mark my third address since coming to the bank in 1980. From my first days with the company until my last I had private offices. My first was on the mezzanine of DuPont’s Montchanin Building facing 10th Street. We rented the building for our headquarters, but it was already becoming cramped. Our Savings Division was on a floor of One Rodney Square, about two blocks away and our Wire Transfer Division was a block away in the Farmers Bank. There a new headquarters being built on the day I started and we consolidated all our divisions and departments in 1981 to the new Rodney Square Headquarters, a high rise build from the inside of the old post office. My own office got a little bigger and moved up a few floors in the new place. Now less than a decade later we had outgrown Rodney Square and needed more space. A separate Operations Center had been constructed outside of Wilmington in the News Castle Corporate Commons and there my divisions moved. My office got bigger and I had a nice view of the New Castle Airpor runways There was an open house held and in the photo my mom, the kids and I are entering the front door. I do not know who took the photo. Lois was home sick.

It brings on many changes 
And I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make

All our little joys relate...*
This new year was to be less than enjoyable. It brought a number of changes and griefs.
The years 1987 through summer of 1988 had indeed been full and busy times. Linda and I had created a whole new communications and employee development discipline throughout Walt Whittaker's Divisions. In the photo on the right (recently taken) I am holding a couple of our publications. The white volume contains copies of our ACTion News for the year 1987. This was the regular newsletter she and I created, edited, mostly wrote, published and distributed to the Deposit Service and Data Preparation Divisions' employees.
This sample ACTion News copy on the left happened to feature my Lunchtime Video Training Program. I would teach courses using videos of various business practices. This training took place in a large conference and was strictly voluntary. Any employee could attend. and many did, even though these presentations were done during the lunch hour. People were encouraged to bring their lunch and eat during the sessions. Certificates were award at a little ceremony (with cake) to those who completed each series. The picture on the front of the paper shows Walk Whittaker, vice-president and my direct boss, during one such graduation ceremony.
These newsletters were written and put together by us at Linda's apartment.  As I have said, we did a lot of work at her place during this time.
The blue binder I am holding contained the Action Concept Teams Training Manual. Its section dividers are shown here on the right.

Not only did we have to create the program, we had to train nearly 300 employees in its use. As you can see from the photo (recently taken) on the left it was a fairly thick manual.
(Yes, I still have a lot of these materials. I warned before that I was something of a packrat.)

The move to New Castle Corporate Commons brought many changes. First of all, I lost my assistant. This was probably a good thing considering the feelings I had developed toward her.  Linda went on to other projects in her life, mainly within the Episcopel Church. This included the publication of several books: A Guide to the New Church’s Teaching Series, The Marriage Journey – Preparations and Provisions for Life Together co[authored with a Delbert Glover (although as far as I know she never married), Transforming Disciples and Pocket Bible Guide.

Linda in 2009, left.

On March 19, Lois began working on a new job at Wilmington Trust, Automated Lockbox. On Mother’s Day, May 8, she felt too sick to join the kids and me at my parent’s. Just over a week later I was rushing her to the Riverside Hospital (right) in West Wilmington, she was hemorrhaging. The doctors decided to do a dilation and curettage (D&C) and they discovered she had a tumor the size of a tennis ball. They couldn’t operate because she had lost too much blood. They gave her a transfusion and sent her home to build herself up before they could do anything further.

She was back in Riverside Hospital at 8:00 AM on June 2. The operation was performed at
10:00 and lasted until 2:15. On the third my parents came down and we went to the hospital to see her. Lois was having pain, but they had already had her out of bed and walking. My mom stayed overnight, but my dad went home. They had removed the tumors, which required her to have a hysterectomy, one that a nurse later told her was the worse butcher job she had seen. The botched hysterectomy would lead to other complications in the near future. (Left, Lois in April 1988, before the operations.)
The next morning, we were up early. I took Noelle to her dance class and dropped, Mom, Laurel and Darryl off at a yard sale and I went to see Lois. I came home and dad was out back trimming our rear yard with a weed whacker. I mowed the front and mom made dinner. After dinner mom and I went back to the hospital. Dad took the kids to a carnival. (Right, Laurel, Noelle & Darryl, summer 1988.)
Lois came home on June 6. She was getting along okay, but couldn’t do much. On the 28th she went to her doctor. He told her she was leaking fluid from somewhere and made an appointment for her to see another doctor. She had to wait awhile to get to see him. Meanwhile, on July 6 we installed an above ground pool in the backyard. We had had a plastic wading pool, but this new pool would accomodate us all at the same time with room to spare. It was a good way to keep cool.

It wasn’t anything elaborate. It was 12 feet in diameter and could be filled to a depth of 3 feet. It was big enough for the kids to do some actual swimming, but not enough for diving. This didn’t matter. The kids loved it and it kept us all cool. It also got me out in the sun a lot, which helped with my psoriasis.
But on July 20 Lois had to be at the hospital at 7:30 AM for an examination at 3:15. During this it was discovered she had a leak in the track to her liver.
She was back in the hospital for more tests on July 26.
On August 11 her doctor called and informed her she would have to go into the hospital again for another operation. She had some kind of blockage to her kidney causing the organ not to be functioning correctly. The operation wouldn’t be until September. We could try and do some summer stuff before then.
Well, maybe.
Mom came with us as we took the kids down to Wildwood, New Jersey. It wasn’t a bad day at the start, but by late afternoon dark clouds began rolling in above the waves and those waves were getting fairly choppy. We packed up and left. We were chased all the way back to Delaware by those dinosaur clouds and then a terrible storm hit just as I crossed the bridge from one state to the other. I could barely see the road, but we were able to see a number trees down. We had no electricity when we did get home. My mother stayed over.
Lois and I slept in the living room with the kids because they were scared. No one slept well.
There were sirens blowing all night. Turned out lighting had set a Purina Feed Plant on fire and it burned down. Years later I worked in Southwest Wilmington at a printer and I could see the remains of that Feed Plant a few blocks away. The electric came back at 9:00 AM and that is when my mom went home.
The next night, a Friday, I dropped the kids off at my parents to spend the night. We didn’t pick them up again until 7 the next evening. Lois and I were both on vacation. The following Monday my mom again joined us and we all went to the Philadelphia Zoo. Lois made spegetti for dinner and my mom stayed the night.
The next day, the 23rd, we tried Wildwood again. My mom was along again, but Lois stayed home. She said she didn’t feel good. On the 26th, the kids and I went to my parents to celebrate Darryl’s 7th birthday. Again Lois wasn’t feeling well enough to come along. On Sunday, the 28th, we went to my cousin Bob’s farm for the Wilson Family Reunion, except for Lois. She was sick and throwing up. She had a fever of 103.
Lois went back into the hospital for an operation on September 8. The Doctors expected to remove her kidney. It was a three-hour operation. As it turned out, they didn’t have to snip out the kidney. It was nice they were leaving something inside her. She was becoming a pretty hollowed-out woman.   She had went in for the procedure at 10 o’clock AM, but she didn’t finally wake up until 9 that night. She remained in the hospital for over a week and came home on the 18th. She seemed pretty good.

On August 20, Lois transformed into The Road Runner, the mascot of the Darley Road Elementary School where all three of my kids were attending at the same and only time. Lois’ physical health was improving. We kidded there was nothing left inside her to take out anymore.
The scars on her body by now made it appear as if she had already been subject to an autopsy. There was a long scar down her from mid-chest, left from when she had corrections to her womb and her gull bladder removed. Another long scar crisscrossed this one, turning it into an inverted cross. There were other scars, who knew anymore from exactly what, the caesarian birth, the near kidney loss, the hysterectomy? And despite all this cutting up of her body by doctors and having had three children (and ten pregnancies), she still had a great body at age 47. Now for the time being it looked like she would avoid the doctors and the hospitals for some time. 

My turn was coming.

* “Suicide is Painless” (Known as “The M*A*S*H Theme)
Music by Johnny Mandel; lyrics by Mike Altman