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

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Busy, Busy, Busy

As if my plate wasn’t full enough by 1987, I must have decided one more side dish couldn’t hurt. Back in early summer of 1986, my boss, Walt Whittaker, had conversations with a Mr. David Bakerian, who was the Executive Director AIB Delaware. AIB stood for the American Institute of Banking, an education arm of the American Bankers Association. Walt suggested the possibility of my teaching some courses for the AIB. Suggested subjects were Management Fundamentals, Deposit Operations, Quality Circles and Strategies for Pricing Bank Services. Mr. Bakerian requested my resume, which I duly sent him, and then I heard nothing the rest of that year.
But in early 1987 I was contacted by Mr. Bakerian, who asked if I could put together and teach a course on Quality Circles. I sent him an outline proposing my ideas and on March 19 received a Delaware AIB Instructor’s Application from the Chapter Secretary, Bette A. Pase. On March 23 I received a contract to sign, which I did.

I’d be teaching from 6:30 to 9:30 PM, May 21-28 at The First National Bank of the Maryland Complex (Pictured left) in Millsboro, Delaware.
Okay, that’s a bit of a trip. I’d have to leave directly from
work to make it there by six. Millsboro was in Lower Slower Sussex County, just at the far end of the Indian River Inlet, the area my dad and I used to put out to sea for Tuna Fishing in my youth. It was a drive of around 100 miles and two hours.
I don’t know how I squeezed everything into my life and survived. Ah, the energy of youth; although, I didn’t think of myself as so young at the time, I was 45 when I inked that contract.
By this time of my career I needed an assistant. This was my bosses listing of my "few" duties:
1.     Plan & schedule major project activities within the division and coordinate with other divisions.
2.     Review, recommend & coordinate Quality Control for each operational unit.
3.     Develop Employee training in areas of quality and productivity.
4.     Review and recommend new methods & procedures for more efficient operations.
5.     Conduct feasibility studies for new procedures in Deposit Services.
6.     Recommend and Justify major equipment acquisitions.
7.     Coordinate & process reporting on Divisional Tactical Planning.
8.     Work with WHYY in updating their operation in conjunction with lockbox work.
9.     Become coordinator of product Development & Chairman of the product Development Committee for Retail Banking.
10.  Work on Deposit Product Retail Banking Plan & Budget.
11.  Coordinate CSR & Corporate Intern Training for Divisions.
12.  Design, edit & co-write Division Newsletter.

There were seven more objectives, but I can’t read Walt’s handwriting well enough to list them anymore. Why didn’t he have Francine type the darn thing?
Besides my divisional duties I had also been named the Chairman of the product Development Committee (which I always called the “New Products Committee”.) The sponsor of this committee was Robert V. A. Harra, then Vice-president of Retail Banking and later to become the President of Wilmington Trust. I am very disappointed in Harra having always considered him one of the “good guys”. On the left is a photo of him entering Federal Court with his Lawyers as today he is under indictment for basically fraud. He is the second from the left.
I was also at this time serving as a member of the Pricing Committee. I would also later be a member of the Information and Data Security Committee.

Linda and I were busy putting together the manual for the Action Concept Team training. This program contained instruction not only on how to conduct the meetings, but on how to understand costs and put together reports to justify ideas.  Our plans were to raise the education of the employees rather than just show them how to cooperate as a team. In line with believing in the employees’ desires to learn and grow, I initialed volunteer management classes called “Lunchtime Videos in Management”. During the lunch hour I would show and discuss videos on management theory and technique with employees. There was no compulsion to attend. Anyone interested had to come of their own volition, meaning they gave up their own time to be there. We would all bring our lunches and eat during the videos. We did keep attendance and give out certificates. It actually drew quite a few employees and grew in attendance over the year.
Linda and I created a newsletter for the division, “ACTion News”.
The newsletter was not created in the office. It was down at a home location, but not mine. I had a state-of-the-art Hewlett Packer (HP) PC at this time. My first fully functional home computer had been an Apple, which I loved, but the bank, when it finally accepted the desktop machines, had went all PC with Compaqs I had then went to Compaq so I could work at home and match up files with those at work. (Apples and PCs didn’t play well together in those days; they wouldn’t even speak.)
The thing was, Linda had a MacIntosh II (left), which had just been introduced in March. The Mac had much better graphics than the PC and we could make a cleaner looking newsletter using it. We would get together at Linda’s Wilmington apartment to do our designs.
We then began spending more of our time working out of her digs.
At this time Linda was associated with Immanuel Highlands Episcopal Church. She kept
urging me to visit the church and I did and before you knew it Lois and the kids and I were attending there regularly. I hadn’t dropped my membership at Bethel Baptist, I just stopped going there. Soon I was fairly involved at Immanuel; in fact teaching Sunday School to the teenagers. In August all three of my children were Baptized there. Our former churches did not practice infant Baptism. It was expected a person must first come to a saving grace in Jesus Christ. They did have dedication service and we had been through dedication services for all three of our children. Immanuel, however, did practice infant Baptism. Our offspring were no longer infants, of course, but there isn’t an age limit on the ceremony.
At Immanuel it was required, not that the children make a profession of faith in Christ, but that they have Godparents. Two couples took the oath as Godparents, one couple for Noelle and one couple for Darryl. Linda became Laurel’s Godmother. Therefore, it was set, they could be Baptized, which was done by sprinkling.  It was a most impressive service, the kids all dressed up. They came down the aisle holding lit candles. Darryl tripped at the first row, tumbled forward with his candle and almost set a woman’s hair on fire, but we managed to upright him and smother out any ambers without using any Holy Waree from the Font, and get on with the service. The Baptisms were on August 2.
I am not overly impressed with this Godparent requirement. We were in a twilight zone here because we really knew no one at this church or had any family or friends of the Episcopal denomination. Godparents were supposed to fill a very important role in the child’s life, being spiritual mentors, praying for the child, helping to bring the child up in the faith and even fulfilling the role after the child was an adult. They were to be surrogate parents to the child if something should ever happen to the birth parents. Ideally, the parents would pick someone they trusted to fulfil the role. However, it was required the Godparents be of the same denomination and we had no one that met the requirements. Our children were treated almost as orphans or urchins and a hunt was on to supply them with foster Godparents, at least for Noelle and Darryl.
Linda was ready and able to be Laurel’s Godmother. Her Godfather was named Chris Simons, a friend of Linda’s from Rhode Island, a long distance Godfather, who basically disappeared from her life after the ceremony.
 After putting out a church wide plea we did recruit Godparents for the others. Noelle’s were Dave and Jeanne, a young couple, full of do-gooder energy. What Noelle remembers anymore of Jeanne is she couldn’t bake, but produced a terrible blueberry, chocolate crumb pie that made Noelle sick. Dave and Jeanne are pictured on the left, although, Noelle doesn’t appear in the photo. Laurel and Darryl both do. I don’t know where Noelle was, but she was so shy in those days she was probably hiding.  (Laurel is standing left of center wearing pink shorts; Darryl is the younger boy front and center.)
Darryl’s Godparents were named the Hoovers. I forget their first names. They were a bit
older than Dave and Jeanne and longer married. They were also a bit stiffer.
Yes, these Godparents did stand for the kids at their Baptism and sometimes they did activities with them. They gave them gifts at Christmas and on their birthdays, but the reality is it was an artificial relationship. As Godparents they should have remained in the kid’s lives as examples of Christians, but in reality after we left Immanuel and returned to Bethel Baptist they had nothing more to do with their respective Godchild, not even a Christmas Card, let along Lois and I. Of course, Chris had returned back to new England early on anyway.
Throughout the whole Immanuel term, which lasted over 5 years, Linda was the most faithful as a Godparent.
During 1987, the children began to branch out into activities beyond school. Laurel had already spent a year in Ballet Classes at the YMCA, although she just wasn’t coordinated enough for classical dance. She always seemed to be going in the opposite direction of her fellow classmates. She dropped out by 1987.
Noelle started dance classes that year and she showed some ability, especially in acrobatic dance. Noelle is the blond in the backrow on the left. This was taken at one of the Dance School’s recitals.  (We still have her costume.) After a year of tap she really leaned toward the acrobatic, so she put away her parasol and went to Gymnastic Classes. She did quite well at swinging on bars and walking narrow beams. She had athletic ability and daring.

Laurel was always the cautious one. As a toddler she had crawled to the bottom of the stairs. She looked them up and down, then carefully climbed on to the first step. She then reached back a leg until she could feel the floor with her toe, then climbed back down. She went up on the first step again, then carefully onto the second. Once more she paused, reached down with her toe and lowered herself down, then down again to the floor. She repeated this procedure with each step. When Noelle reached that age and crawled to the stairs, she took one look up the steps and zip – she scooted to the top without further hesitation.

Therefore, when Laurel was 9 years old and asked to try horseback riding I didn’t expect much. We took her to a teaching stable just over the Pennsylvania Line off Kennett Pike, not far from Winterthur. It was called Gateway Stables. I figured once she got up beside a horse and saw how tall it was she would decide against this adventure.
Boy was I wrong. Not only did she get up on a horse, she continued to go to Gateway weekly until well after she graduated high school. She loved everything about it. In the summer she went to Horse Camp. She was required to care for the beasts as well as such dirty tasks as mucking out the stalls. Over the years she competed in several Horse Shows and collected a number of ribbons, mostly First and Second. You could win a ribbon down to sixth place, but there was no participation ribbon. What you got you earned on merit and skill. In the picture she is holding the first ribbons she ever one.
She was 10 years old and I believe she took a second, fourth and fifth. By age 15 she was getting a nice ribbon collection, including several Blue First Place Ribbons.
You competed in categories, not by age group. These were things such as cantor, walk and trot. She was not
ready for jumping events yet. That would come. (Right, Laurel taking a jump. She took a Blue Ribbon in this event.)

Laurel may have had two left feet for dancing, but she had other musical skills. She was accepted into the Immanuel Choir. Now you have to realize they did not have a Children’s Choir, and their adult choir sang very difficult hymns and classical pieces. Laurel had to take a couple months of voice training by the choir director before she was accepted. Singing would remain something she did throughout school as well as performing in musical plays. On the left is the Mt. Pleasant Chorus when they competed at Epcot Center, Disney World. They finished second. Laurel is on the far left of the top row.
She did take up an instrument at Darley Road Grade School, when she was in the fourth grade. (Laurel had attended first and second grade at Wilmington Christian School, a place I was less than impressed with.) The instrument she chose was the French Horn.
I sometimes wonder about these teachers. When I was in fourth grade the school offered music lessons on instruments. I took up the trumpet. The school music program did ask me to switch to the French Horn, but not until I was about to enter tenth grade. The French horn was too large for laurel. She disappeared behind it. She finally dropped the lessons. A similar instant happened with Darryl when he reached fourth grade and Darryl does have musical ability. He went for the Violin, of all things. Again, they gave him an adult instrument way too big for his size. Even worse for him, they gave him a right handed fiddle and Darryl is left-handed. This did not succeed for him.
Things were going pretty good. I was extremely challenged at work, but thoroughly enjoying it. The kids were doing well. Everything seemed in control, but two small entries in my mother’s diary are telling. On May 22 one sentence appeared in her entry that said, “Lois went to doctors”. The next day an entry included this, “Lois acting up again.”

The second half of 1987 would see things get a bit weird.

1 comment:

WARPed said...

Wow Larry, I hope your 2 musical kids found their respective outlets.

Being a concert clarinetist in school, I know French Horn is a bitch to play!