I intend to write an outline of my 85 year (so far) life. I know that
few will be interested but I believe I will enjoy doing it. This
autobiography will not be in chronological sequence since I tend to
jump around and write what Is on my mind at the time. Also I will not
be accurate on dates of events. I probably could do some research and
get them right but I am too lazy to do it so I shall use approximations
as best I can.
I can’t remember much of my earliest life
experiences. My mother used to read books to her children each evening
and by the way there were 9 of us. Hearing my mother reading is about
the earliest I can remember. I remember that I learned to understand
the meaning of many words long before I could speak them. I remember
trying to form the words but at first it didn’t come out and was not
understood. The older ones just assumed that it was gibberish but I
knew what I wanted to say. I don’t know exactly how old I was during
that period. I have since read that it natural to understand before you
could speak but others don’t often know that you know. I didn’t
remember that period of my life until I was an old man.
I started school at age 5 going directly into
grade 1. For grade 1 through 6 I attended a one room school in the
hamlet of Orleans, NY.
I am reminded of a poem that I wrote at the
Orleans School, preserved by Mrs. Estey, found in her papers after her
death and passed to me through her daughter, a friend of my sister Peg.
At that time I went under the name of Burr Arthur <Buster> Cook
which is signed on the original document along with my age which was 7
years. Under the signature is the inscription: "Beast powet in U.S.A.".
This is the sum and substance of any evidence, in existence, that I did
anything in school. It disputes the claim of the Board of Education,
that I did nothing at all in school.
The title of my poem is "My Itchen" and is included here in the
original spelling, a skill that did not improve until I started using a
computer and Word Processor with spelling checker.
I whas itchen in the kitchen
while you was pitchen
in the hall
while you was pitchen
in the hall
it started to cry
and that is the story
of my itch itch itchen
in the citch citch citchen
riten by Burr Arthur Cook
Beast powet in the U.S.A.
Before I was old enough to go to school I could not wait. I
envied the older children of the family who went off each day
to school. I remember thinking that school must be fun, only
the more mature get to go. I used to look at pictures in the
Book of Knowledge. We had a very old set of these books. I
was fascinated by the pictures and drawings of the solar
system in these books and looked forward to learning of these
things in school.
This was the way I approached my first day at school. I was
disappointed to find that the assignments had to do with
things that I had already learned from my older siblings,
such as, the alphabet, the colors and other pretty boring
stuff. I performed just enough of this work to ward off
punishments such as sitting in the coat closet for hours on
end with the boots and overcoats, or sitting in the corner of
the room where I first contemplated the properties of
I hated school. After my first year I knew that I had to
resist whatever it was they were trying to make of me. I
passed the first and second grades without incident, but
rarely had any papers or reports to bring home that would be
worthy of praise. Since my brothers and sisters got the
report cards on the same day as I, it would be difficult to
ignore them, which would have been my preference. My parents
were blessed with adequate IQ levels, and saw no reason why
their offspring wouldn't be the same. My reports were perused
and not much was said to me about it. However, conversations
took place between my parents and teachers, principal of the
parent school in Clifton Springs as well as the
Superintendent of Schools.
In the third grade I severed my relationship with schools and
withdrew. I refused to do anything at all. I remember
thinking, at that time, that I had it made. I was punished at
school by being made to stay after the rest went home. It
didn't matter, however, since I had found a way to direct my
thoughts and escape from their prison. I thought a lot of the
war, which was in full swing, and imagined myself finding
ways to assassinate Adolph Hitler or his Japanese equivalent.
I was well educated when it came to identifying all types of
aircraft, ours and theirs, as well as ships at sea and
artillery in the field. I knew the careers of Eisenhower,
Patton, McArthur, Rommel, Gene Autry and Charlie McCarthy. I
was able to think about these things rather than the long
division, which I detested. To my amazement, not much
punishment was dealt out at home on this matter. Instead, I
was taken to medicine men, mostly on pressure from the school
system. I remember one Doctor, a friend of my Grandfather, in
Utica, who remarked that I looked healthy and that he himself
had never been fond of school. In the public schools of today
I would have been treated as learning disabled and sent to
special classes. I don't know how I would have reacted to
On days that I could not make it to school, because of one of
the numerous physical complaints I concocted, I was sometimes
given the choice of attending school or accompanying my
father and assisting him in his work as an independent
electrical contractor. These field trips were easier to
handle, than school. They usually took us to various cow
barns around the county and chicken coops and sometimes a
warm house. During these times I learned a lot about
electricity without which I never would have entered the
computer field and my life would have been much different.
Years later, my son Jim worked for my father for a period
long enough to learn several building trades which has kept
bread on the table for both of my sons and still does.
I don't have a lot of memories of school. I was pretty
successful at shutting it out. My younger brother, David
passed me by and wound up ahead of me and Jim was not far
behind. Somehow, I managed to be promoted from grade school
with the comment that I didn't earn it but, perhaps a
different teacher might help. It didn't. I became more
imaginative at finding ways to avoid going to school at all.
I recall that I found myself in an Algebra class taught by
Bob Kloepfel. Whenever I attended school, which I did
sometimes just to maintain relationships with friends that I
formed there, Bob Kloepfel would call on me to solve equations
on the black board. He seemed to enjoy watching me solve the
problem correctly, while others in the class could not, even
though I never did a single assignment for the class. Doc
Robbins, the agriculture teacher, liked to have discussions
with me, and I generally enjoyed his company. An English
teacher, Mrs. Spangle once praised my journalistic
capabilities when I decided one day to write an essay in
class. Mr. Foster, a shop teacher, enjoyed working with me
when I did a valve job on a Briggs and Stratton engine in his
class. It was too late for any of these people to reach me. I
was too far behind and involved myself in school only when
they discussed something that interested me. I recall, one
time, showing the science teacher the relationship between
the earth, moon, sun and planets and drawing diagrams on the
board in illustration. I know that he was impressed. His name
was Richard Kishler. He became furious with me when I called
him by his first name one time.
I was not good at sports and still do not know the rules of
the games of baseball, football and basketball. I was able to
run and jump and thus took part in track and field events
until someone decided that attending school was a requirement
One day, in the early sixties, I dropped in at the BOCES
computer center, then on main street in Clifton Springs,
where Bob Kloepfel, my ex Math teacher, was in charge. He was
happy to see me but, informed me that he was having
difficulty getting the bugs out of a computer program he had
just written. I wound up spending the afternoon with him and
to his surprised; I fixed all his program problems for him
and showed him some useful tricks on the IBM 1401 computer.
I am not sure if it was before or after
starting school that I became rather sickly. Most of my problems were
not severe enough to keep me out of school which I did on my own quite
well. I remember that I began to stutter and cough a lot and my nose
stuffed up. I found myself not able to breathe through my nose and
developed an asthmatic condition. I had what was called swollen glands
in my neck and I became severely hard of hearing and I can’t remember
what else except that I had many minor ills with many ear aches and
general fatigue. I did not engage in any physical activities with my
siblings and had few friends.
It was, at some point around that time that
the doctor decided that I needed to have my tonsils and adenoids
removed and I was admitted into the hospital in Canandaigua N.Y. where
I spent a few days. I remember quite vividly the smell of ether which
was used to put me to sleep. I awoke with a very sore throat but by
evening I was able to eat some ice cream. This may very well have been
my first taste of ice cream and by the next morning I was eating
oatmeal and eggs and toast and many other things. Coming from such a
large family I was not used to eating so well and when the time came to
go home I wished I could stay there a little longer.
Prior to my first day at school my name was Buster. That is
the only named I had. I was very disappointed to find that
the teacher would have no part of calling me by my real name
and insisted on calling me Burr Arthur Cook. I had trouble
saying this name and often people thought that it was
One of my earliest memories is of an incident that took place
while I was busy watching a crew of men working on the road
that passed our house. One of the workman looked my way and
said "hey Buster, how about getting me a glass of water". It
was a hot day and the request seemed reasonable, so I went
into the house to pump a glass of water for him. While I
worked the pump handle filling the glass I casually asked my
mother if she knew the man in the road waiting for the water.
She looked out and said that she did not know him and asked
why I thought that she should know this man. I replied that
he, somehow, had known my name, Buster.
My favorite books, at that time, were "Buster Bear" and
"Bobby Coon" both of which my mother would read to me.
Sometimes she would read books to the entire family in the
evenings. She would read a chapter each night and then we
kids would beg her to read another before bedtime. The Uncle
Wriggly books were favorites at those times as well as Peter
I started going to movies at an early age. My older brother
took me a lot and we would usually walk 3 or four miles to
see Tarzan or Gene Autry or Hop along Cassidy (not sure of
that spelling). These were my heroes. Later, the movies were
mostly about the war which provided adequate heroes.
There were two stores in Orleans at that time. Both were
heated by wood stoves in winter. On winter days and summer
nights Avery Hollenbeck's store was a gathering place for
local farmers and retired men. They discussed crop prices,
politics and local gossip. I began stopping there, at first,
while running errands for my parents, but soon started
dropping in there on my own when I knew that the men were
gathered there. I was well accepted by this group and, in
fact, they would dig into their pockets and buy candy and
cakes for me. I did not fully understand at the time why
these men enjoyed my company so much. Whenever I arrived at
the store they seemed to be happy; laughing and grinning and
winking as one after the other would reach in their pockets
for change and saying "wouldn't you like one of these candy
bars here?". I always said yes and while I would be eating
that, another would say "how about one of these pies over
here?" and I would shake my head in a yes. They always bought
me a Hires Root Beer to wash it all down and the laughter
became louder and louder as I ate cookies, cake, pies,
bananas and candy as long as they wished to carry on. The
men always gave up first, thinking that I might explode.
They were amazed at my capacity and their eyes opened wider
with each item that I ate, but I was always willing to eat
one more. When asked, I would say yes I have had my supper
before coming to the store. This worked so well in Hollenbeck's
store that I started dropping in at Fabrizi's store and found the
same kind of reception. I never got a stomach ache although some of the
men seemed to become concerned sometimes.
One time I wanted to visit the store, but the snow was very deep. I had
No boots that were adequate so I put on my older brothers boots
and trucked on over there, by way of the foot bridge. The
boots were farmers type knee boots, but on me they came all
the way up to the groin, which made it difficult to maneuver
through the snow. When I arrived at Hollenbeck's store all
the men were there. John Runyun, Halsey Smith, Avery
Hollenbeck and several others. They looked at my oversized
boots and laughed even more than usual. One asked if they
pinched my feet. Avery replied that I was pinching something
else, and all laughed loudly. It was a long time before I
realized what they meant and worse yet that they were right.
Anyway I waddled home in these boots with a full stomach.
One time I was bringing a loaf of bread home from the store
when some of our chickens jumped on me and started eating the
bread. I made it home with only half a loaf. I guess it was
only fair since we later ate the chickens. We had one large
rooster in the flock that always chased me after that
whenever I got too close. I would run to the footbridge as
the rooster was too chicken to enter the bridge which had
cracks between the floor boards. I have never been fond of
chickens from then on. We raised turkeys for several years,
but I was never attacked by a turkey.
When I was around 55 years old I was suddenly
stricken with a very heavy illness. The most debilitating manifestation
was a severe fatigue. After several months of getting no place with the
medicals I read a book about little understood diseases and I came
across the name of Dr. Charles Lapp in Charlotte N. C. and I promptly
made an appointment with him. His specialty was Chronic Fatigue and
Immune System problems.
I had relatives living near Charlotte and made
many trips to see Dr. Lapp and enjoy the hospitality of relatives. On
one of those visits the good Dr. had a novel idea. He had discovered
that my childhood illness aligned with a polio epidemic in my area and
he had concluded that what I experienced was very likely a very mild
case of polio and further what I experienced was most likely what is
called post polio syndrome. I was quite happy to except that as what I
was currently experiencing.
Two things in my life caused a turning point. One was working
in a very boring place, sort of a continuation of my school
experience. I was working, in the 50s, for Chevron Oil
Company, as a general maintenance man, and getting by. The
job was not difficult. It required knowledge of general
construction skills including electrical and plumbing skills.
I had no formal education.
The second thing, precipitated by the first, was getting
involved in amateur radio, and taking a correspondence course
in general electronics. An FCC license opened doors for me
and got me into companies like Univac, IBM and Honeywell
Bull where computers became my area of expertise.
The following several pages describe my work history in the
Computer field. My three page Resume follows.
* Over 25 years experience in data processing including four
years of recent experience with ORACLE.
* Experience in multiple roles such as programmer/analyst,
trainer, technical consultant, DBA, and database designer.
* Familiar with structured methodologies and automated tools
for modeling, normalizing and documenting databases.
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE Newest to oldest.
o Independent Consultant - September 1987 to Present
Developed and presented training seminars on ORACLE release 6.0.
Presented courses on ORACLE for Xerox Corporation,
Eastman Kodak Company, Datamation, Buffalo Board of Education
as well as for the Bull users groups NAHU and HLSUA.
Developed and implemented an ORACLE transportation (busing)
application for the Buffalo Public School System. Also
created ORACLE applications for the budget office and for the
Magnet School program using a Bull DPS-7000 computer system.
Some of the development was done on an IBM PC and ported
to the mainframe computers.
Developed and presented training courses on IDS/II, TDS, IQS.
DM6 TP and other topics for various Bull computer users.
Coded Accounts Payable system using Burroughs COBOL and DMSII.
o Senior Education Specialist at Honeywell Bull where I
Developed and taught customer and internal training seminars.
Various subjects included micro Database seminars.
Consulted with customers in support of Honeywell software products and
On one occasion assisted the Indonesian Department of Agriculture, in
Jakarta, with problems implementing programs under MOD400.
o Programmer/Analyst at Ragu Foods - 6/77 to 6/78
Developed and implemented on line COBOL programs for an order
processing system running under CICS 1.3 and using IDMS.
o Teacher at Monroe County BOCES - 6/76 to 6/77
Taught one school year of Computer science and Electronics.
o Programmer/Analyst at Community Savings Bank - 10/75 to 9/76
Developed and implemented a system for administrating IRA accounts
posting payments and producing various reports including monthly
statements. Developed reports from savings and mortgage databases,
by census tract, to comply with new state redlining laws. The
redlining system also made use of ADMATCH and census data.
o Consultant with Information Associates, inc. Worked at customer sites developing programs for manufacturing applications.
o Customer Engineer at IBM Service 1401, 1440, 360 and related hardware.
o Field Engineer at Remington UNIVAC - 5/59 to 3/60
Service NU90 NU80 hardware.
Back in the early part of 1988 I spent several months in
Riverside, California, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
Bob, who was also an independent contractor, and had
a business called B Software, had asked me to run the
business for a few months, while he checked into an
Alcoholic Rehabilitation Center. He had an office on
Wilshire Blvd. in L.A. which housed several data entry
clerks and he had a crew of four programmers working on a
project at A. L. Lewis Corporation Offices in Riverside.
Lewis was a parent company to Lucky's Grocery Chain. The work
was routine and not too demanding.
I would fly home every other weekend on a Pan Am 747
from LAX to JFK airport and fly from there to
Rochester on a small plane that seemed to take
longer than the coast to coast flights.
On other weekends I would take a drive around the area, where the
scenery is breath taking. On weekends that I did not fly home, I would
sometimes send a ticket (when BT Software could afford it) to
Vivian and she would fly out to spend a couple of days. When
Vivian was there for a weekend we always went for side trips
around the west coast area as she did not want to sleep in
the apartment provided for me in Riverside which was a fine
apartment but it had no furniture in it and I slept on the
floor on a sleeping bag.
I like to go to zoos, but Vivian is not that interested.
Anyway, we visited the San Diego Zoo which is one of the best
along with Lincoln Park in Chicago, the Bronx zoo and the
Toronto Zoo, which I recently visited with my grandson Ben.
Vivian likes the ocean side and I prefer the desert. We often
drove down the Santa Monica Freeway to the end and up the
Ventura coastal highway to Santa Barbara. This is part of the
famous route 1, all of which I highly recommend for it's
unparalleled beauty. All the way from the Mexican border to
the Redwoods in Northern California. The Oregon coast is much
the same all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River where
you meet the rain forest of Western Washington. Big Sur is on
this route as is Carmel where Clint Eastwood was Mayor.
On Occasions when I found myself in Riverside on a weekend by
myself I generally drove about 75 miles east on Interstate 10
and turn north to Joshua Tree National Monument where the San
Bernadino Mountains give way to the southern boundary of the
Mohave Desert. This is a wild area about 50 miles North and
south by 75 miles east and west. In this area desert foliage
abounds. I used this place as my Sunday School and spent many
hours meditating and chanting out there. My chanting seemed
to please some of the wild life and one time I found myself
sitting next to a Desert Iguana which was about sixteen
inches long. They sit very still on a rock, in the sun,
lifting one leg at a time. They do it so slowly that you
don't notice until you realize that a different leg is now in
the air. They do that to cool there underside. Also, I have
seen Big Horn Sheep, Rattle Snakes, Mountain Lions, Gilla
Monsters, along with many critters I couldn't identify. The
most impressive thing about Joshua Tree, however, is the
plant life. One time I stopped there just in time to see the
Barrel Cactus bloom. I ran across a guy with a camera set up
to film the opening of this very impressive flower. The drive
through the park is either an uphill climb or going south it
is downhill ride and you could coast for the entire 50 miles.
As you proceed through, the type of foliage, always abundant,
changes at various levels. At the bottom Ocotillo is often in
blossom. Further up you are treated to Tree Cholla groves
with various colored desert wild flowers. At one time of year
it looks like a sea of yellow flowers. Near the northern edge
of the park you suddenly find yourself in a forest of Joshua
Trees with branches that reminded early settlers of Joshua's
arms raised toward the heavens. It is not possible to
describe these amazing freaks of nature. The rock band, U2,
wrote a song about, and named an album after, the Joshua
Tree. To me Joshua Tree is a sacred spot. I have shown it to
Vivian, my wife, Butch, my son, Chuck Lyons, a friend, and
Don Love who lived nearby and never took the time to look it
Joshua Trees are plentiful to the north east from here all
the way to Las Vegas and to the north west to Edwards
Airforce Base where the Space Shuttle often lands. Vivian and
I made the trip past Edwards on one weekend that we went to
Sequoia National Park. The trip took us through Boron, made
famous by Ronald Reagan when he appeared in the Twenty Mule
Team commercials. I didn't know it at the time, but, I am descended from one
Another favorite spot of mine is at Big Bear, in the San
Bernadino Mountains. This is the closest ski area from L. A.
and can get congested. There are points up there where, on a
clear day, you can look out on the Mohave Desert towards
Needles, the hottest place in United States, while standing
knee deep in snow.
I still communicate with some of the people I worked with in
Riverside, especially Don Love who is now in Chicago and Paul
Taylor who lives in his van in San Diego where his ex wife
lets him park his van in the driveway and lets him inside in
the morning to use the bathroom. I last saw Paul about two
years ago when Butch and I used the last of my frequent flyer
tickets to fly to San Diego. We rented a car and after
visiting with Paul we visited The Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree
and Los Angeles. I eventually had a falling out with BT over
our different ideas about business practices.
This article is reprinted with permission from the Finger Lake Business Almanac
written by Chris Sharman
E-Company gets message out, promotes local firms & FL Geneva
The owner of an Internet company here created a website that promotes
local businesses and tourism in the Finger Lakes. The company also
helps individuals and businesses make use of the Web's resources by
offering on-line computer training and website design.
Burr Cook, a retired computer trainer, and his daughter Christine Cook
own and operate CyBurrSource at 38 Linden Street in Geneva.
An admitted history buff, Mr. Cook created a website
[www.thefingerlakes.com] to promote tourism in the region and promote
local industry. Businesses are invited to list their contact
information for free with links to their website available for a
nominal fee. A simple one to two page web site can be made for
approximately $225 with a $99 yearly renewal.
Visitors to the site get lists of Finger Lakes attractions including
parks, museums and historic sites. Some, like the Glenn H. Curtiss
Museum of Early Aviation in Hammondsport have links to their own
websites. Lodging, dining and winery guides with contact information
are also listed.
The site receives up to 15,000 daily hits. * Traffic is high early in
the week and picks up again toward the weekend as web suffers from
around the country explore products, attractions and accommodations in
the Finger Lakes.
The site's guest book allows virtual visitors from across the globe to
submit questions and comments about the Finger Lakes region in a
message board format. E-mail links are provided for ease in sharing
information. A bookstore section on the site lists Finger Lakes-related
literature and a classifieds section is currently in development.
The son of an electrical contractor, Mr. Cook first became involved
with computer related technology while working for Univac of Illion,
Herkimer County, in 1959. Working for public and private institutions
he began as a programmer/systems analyst and later a trainer and
technology consultant. His career includes stints at IBM as a custom
field engineer and at HoneyWell where he traveled throughout Europe and
Asia as a senior education specialist. Mr. Cook retired from HoneyWell
in 1991. He formed Cook House Computers in Palmyra in 1985. Cookhouse,
even though it was a one-man show, became an international computer
seminar and training company.
Christine Cook, an attorney, established Cybersource Geneva during the
summer of 1998 with the purchase of Snow Computers' Internet service
provider equipment. Snow Computers continues to operate in Newark
selling computer hardware. The current spelling of the CyBurrSource is
a reference to Mr. Cook's first name, but also a deliberate avoidance
of Cybersource, a name used by a West Coast Web developer. The company
reformed as CyBurrSource and Christine Cook re-dedicated herself to her
law practice. This created a need for Burr Cook's expertise and
experience in technical training.
"The dial up Internet provider business did not grow as expected due to
the arrival of several alternatives such as free dial-up services," Mr.
Cook says. "Our business took a natural turn toward the World Wide Web
and the creation of sites."
Ms. Cook, who specializes in criminal law, developed the website
Ezlawlocator.com. It provides links to legal resources in an organized
and easily understandable manner, free of charge.
"Without a site like this, an attorney could easily spend thousands of
dollars in legal research each year," Ms. Cook says. She has also
established a comprehensive website for multiple sclerosis patients and
Stephanie Nudd also works with the site building side of CyBurrSource.
Ms. Nudd builds retail sites. Her work includes sites for Pasta Only's
Cobblestone Restaurant, Eunhui's Buckwheat Pillows and a communications
company named MarketHOLD Productions.
CyBurrSource's pricing for site creation varies according to the needs
of the customer. Less complex sites created for the primary purpose of
promoting a business can be created on a budget of just a few hundred
dollars not including minor maintenance and upkeep charges. Sites
involving complex graphics, numerous links and e-commerce applications
can run in the $3,000 range.
After creating a finished web site, CyBurrSource refers its clients to
TéAta Technologies of Geneva for hosting. Mary Bartolotta-Knipple owns
the one-year old full-service company. She has over twenty years
experience in the IT industry. TéAta also designs websites and is
equipped to provide secure credit card processing, shopping cart
software and Internet marketing services.
Around the globe, Internet use is expanding at exponential rates. The
number of web savvy citizens is expected to shoot up from 300 million
currently to over 1 billion by 2005. Over 150 million people will get
connected this year alone, says a study by the Angus Reid Group of
Industry statistics report that Internet use is growing so fast that
traffic is actually doubling every 100 days. Approximately 62 million
Americans now make use of he Internet on a regular basis.
CyBurrSource offers CompTIA certifications, an abbreviation for the
Computing Technology Industry Association. The organization works to
develop vendor-neutral standards in e-commerce, customer service,
workforce development and training certification. Ideally, these
standards will help to ensure consistency in network, internet and
e-commerce solutions internationally.
CyBurrSource's first CompTIA training module is A Plus, a program
enabling students to pursue positions as a PC technician trained in
hardware installation. The Second, NET plus certification, is "ten
times more important than A Plus," Mr. Cook says. It prepares students
for a career in network administration. The third certification is
I-Net Plus, an increasingly popular module in place to educate would-be
web developers and future e-commerce consultants.
Industry figures largely explain the increasing interest in this
career. From the first quarter of 1998 to the first quarter of 1999, it
is recorded that 427,000 small businesses in America went online. If
this trend continues, web developers will be in high demand.
At CyBurrSource, students perform lesson modules and tutorials from a
range of on-line training sites. Textbooks are optional. "My philosophy
is to make full use of the technology already available on the web,"
Mr. Cook says. "There are numerous on-line tutorials and many of them
If students choose to purchase a textbook, Mr. Cook will gladly obtain
one, but there are no set rules. His aim is to get each student up to
industry standards and ready to pass the exam. Exactly how they get
there is open to interpretation. Mr. Cook currently has three students
in a Net Plus class using three different books. He is often surprised
that anyone would purchase a computer training textbook, he says. The
traditional model of a teacher lecturing at a blackboard will be
replaced by interactive and collaborative online educational systems,
Each CompTIA exam takes approximately forty hours of preparation. "My
rates are based on $10 per hour per student or $400. If the students
takes more or less time the cost is still $400," Mr. Cook says.
At the completion of their on-line training, students take the CompTIA
exams at New Horizons Computer Learning Center in Rochester. The tests
cost approximately $128 each. There are two tests for A Plus and one
for Net Plus and I-Net Plus.
With a newly attained certification, students are ready to enter the
job market. Veterans of the computer-oriented workplace use the
industry-recognized standard for advancement.
Mr. Cook keeps in contact with his former students via the web. "I
maintain an Internet discussion group called CyBurrList for
certification students and graduates which number about thirty at this
time," Mr. Cook says.
Though CyBurrSource offers no formal job placement functions,
CyBurrList allows for the sharing of ideas and job openings. Former
students can converse with new and potential students.
End of article=======================================================
Back to the Future Again
I met my wife at Roseland Park. Vivian lived in Lyons and
since I could not afford a car I moved into the Iroquois
Hotel, by the tracks, in Lyons and obtained work in a
factory. In April of 1953 Vivian and I were married and have
been together since with the exception of a couple of periods
of separation. Before we realized what was happening we had
four children and not much money.
In 1954 I decided to make use of my electrical knowledge and
went to Chicago to Coyne Electrical School and took a course
in Radio/Television repair and tried to make a living at
that. Having been a general screw up all my life had not
prepared me for running my own business. The fact that I
drank a little more than socially at that time didn't help.
I soon gave it up and found a fairly well paying job at
Chevron Oil Company.
The oil business kept me going for a few years but soon got
to be boring and shift work was not to my taste. My growing
hatred for that job prompted me to sign up for a
correspondence course. I completed the lessons rather rapidly
always keeping ahead of the mail man and waiting for another
good grade to come through, and they did. My choice of
schools was The Cleveland Institute of Electronics and the
purpose was to prepare for an FCC license. In 1959 I went to
Buffalo to take a test for a First Class FCC Radio Telephone
License which I passed.
In late 1959 or early 1960 I found an advertisement, in the
jobs column, for Univac Computer Repairmen, featuring on the
job training. I sent a Resume and was called to Buffalo for
an interview. When I arrived for the interview I found about
50 others had come at the same time. We were all given
general intelligence and aptitude testing after which there
were only three of us left of the original 50. The interview
went well and I was offered a job. I was hired, along with
about 400 others from all around the country, to fill a
government contract. We spent 20 weeks in a class room
learning the inner workings of the Univac Computer System. We
learned about the computer from the inside out. I had no idea
what a computer was used for when I started. Attending
classes, eight hours a day, and getting paid salary plus
expenses at the same time seemed like a good deal and it was.
I received a diploma, which certified me as a Field Engineer
on the UNIVAC NU90 Computer System. Shortly there after, the
company lost the government contract and left the entire 400
of us out of work. I was called back to work there at a later
date, but by that time I had found a better deal. I am
grateful to Univac Corporation for launching my career in
Computers, but, I made no lasting friends there and I was
very fortunate to have found a job with IBM. Back to the
class room. I worked for IBM for several years, my resume
above somewhere relates my work history. I made some good
friends at IBM, but, life gets hectic sometimes and we have,
for the most part, lost touch. We lived in Webster during
that period and my house became a gathering place for IBM
"Customer Engineers", as we were called. We had many card
parties at my house. Vivian would usually leave town for the
night while all the rowdies from IBM came by to play Poker,
Euchre and other such games. These parties would last all
night and I always had a head ache the next day.
When I was working at the U of R, around 1971, one of the key
punchers offered me a pet raccoon. She lived on a farm and
had shot a mother raccoon for stealing eggs from the chicken
house. They then realized that the mother had babies. Five of
them. I agreed to take a male. I thought it would make a
wonderful pet for Stephanie. I kept him in a box beside my
desk for a whole day and took him home after work.
The next day I found some boards and chicken wire and erected
a pen. It was about three feet wide and tall and about eight
feet long. On top of that I installed an old dog house, like
a cupola on top of the pen. Rocky could hide in the
cupola as it was entirely enclosed except for a hole in the
floor, also the roof of the pen, to gain entry. I picked his
name, Rocky, after the Beatles song, popular at the time.
On the front of the pen I put a sliding door with a latch.
It took him five years to figure out how to open the latch
and at that time, during the early spring when a raccoons
thoughts turn to love, Rocky left and never returned.
Rocky turned out to be more than Stephanie could deal with
and the responsibility fell on me. At first we tried bottle
feeding, as he had trouble drinking from a dish, but as small
as he was he chewed the nipple off the bottle. His mother
must have been very tough. We then tried a dish of bread and
milk. This he did quite well with and soon grew big enough to
eat just about anything.
His favorite foods were marshmallows and graham crackers. He
had a large bucket of water and dunked everything in it. I
tried giving him a rawhide bone to chew on thinking he would
sharpen his teeth. He softened it up in the water before he
ate it. His teeth got very sharp anyway and later I regretted
trying to help them along.
I lost several friends during that time because Rocky bit
them. I always warned them, but they had to find out for
themselves. They would see me walking around with Rocky on a
leash and him climbing up on my shoulder and sometimes on top
of my head. He seldom attempted to bite me, but I never
forgot that he was a wild animal. I could never feed him from
my hands as he was very protective of food and would bite any
one that went near it. I usually would put his food in the
cage while he was sleeping. He slept during the day and
wanted to play at night. He would allow me to snap a leash on
his collar as he knew that meant I would take him out to
play. He got along famously with my dog, Missy.
I took Rocky to the Vet once a year for shots. He needed both
cat and dog shots as raccoons can get both types of diseases.
The Vet was a little afraid of him. I don't blame him as
Rocky had powerful jaws and his bite could be severe. I was
never severely bitten by him as I learned what kind of
situations made him angry enough to bite and avoided them.
Rocky was a friend of mine.
Honeywell and Later
In the spring of 1978 I was getting tired of boring
programming jobs, and I looked into the help wanted section
of Computer world. I was working for Ragu Foods at the time
and was comfortable there and treated with respect. Sometime
during the winter of 1977/78, along with Bob Christ, a fellow
programmer at the spaghetti sauce factory, I attended a
training class on CICS programming. The instructor for the
class seemed to live an interesting life, traveling from city
to city, teaching a five day course in each place. I found an
ad for just such a job and set up an interview in Wellesley
Hills, near Boston, with Honeywell Information Systems.
My first interview at HIS (Honeywell Information Systems)
was fairly standard. I talked to several people and had to
demonstrate that I could talk to a group by giving a ten
minute lecture on a subject of my own choosing. I presented a
lecture entitled "Zen and the art of Writing Bubble up
Sorting Routines in COBOL". This presentation earned me the
alias "The Guru from Ragu" which stuck for quite a while.
Fortunately, I had some experience, teaching, with RBI, ECPI,
IBM, BOCES and at U of R Computing Center.
My second interview was with Al Manson who was to become my
boss for ten years and also a lifelong friend. (I talked to
him on the phone just before Christmas, this past year, and
exchanged cards). For some reason this interview was to take
place at five in the afternoon, I suspect that it was because
of last minute flight arrangements. When I met Al, it was in
the parking lot, as he was on his way to a party, which is
not unusual for Al as he was invited to everybody's parties.
He asked me only one question and that had to do with the
accuracy of my resume. He said that if at least half of it
was true, he wanted to hire me. I assured him that it was. He
then handed me an expense voucher and told me to find a nice
hotel in Boston and have lobster for dinner. A flight home
was not available until morning. I did as he suggested and a
few days later I received a very nice offer including a very
adequate expanse account and salary about $5500.00 more than
what I was accustomed to.
My title at HIS was "Education Specialist" and a few years
into the job it was "Senior Education Specialist". My job was
to develop training courses on HIS software, database
technology, transaction processing technology and
manufacturing software. It was also my responsibility to
teach the course a few times while training an instructor to
use the material, usually consisting of a student handbook,
an instructor guide, and slides. Most of the seminars were 3,
5, or 10 day presentations.
Once I established myself as a productive member of the
Honeywell team, I was allowed to do my course development at
home and fly to Boston when I needed to use computers or
equipment that I did not have at home. The software that I
became involved with became more and more esoteric. At first
my territory included Boston, New York City, Toronto,
Baltimore, Washington D. C., Buffalo, Pittsburg and
Philadelphia but soon I started stopping regularly at
Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, L. A., Phoenix, San Diego,
Sacramento, Minneapolis, Detroit, Seattle and Boise and most
other US cities, spending more than half of my time away from
home. I also made many trips to London, Paris, Frankfurt,
Dusseldorf and Helsinki, traveling well over a million miles.
Vivian accompanied me to Paris one spring and on another
occasion she joined me in Angers, France, near LaMans.
Recently, Vivian had occasion to visit London, Salisbury and
Stone Henge. I made the same trip, alone, several years
After spending over 20,000 per year on my American Express, I
was granted a platinum card. One of the best benefits were
the Frequent Flyer Programs, where by free tickets could be
obtained after flying a certain distance on a given airline,
usually 20,000 miles. Getting these free tickets allowed me
to take a traveling companion along now and then. I
especially enjoyed being the tour guide and showing someone
else some of the places that I hold sacred. I have made at
least 100 flights into Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix and on
every visit I would make it a point to drive to the Grand
Canyon, each time being a spiritual experience. Vivian has
accompanied me, many times, to places like Atlanta, Phoenix,
Sacramento, Seattle/Tacoma, San Diego and many other
interesting places. My expense account allowed us to rent a
car, except in New York City and Chicago where Taxis were
I am in the mood for reliving some of my travels. In August
of, what I think was 1973 I took a 15 day trip to the west
coast. Prior to that time I had never been further west than
Chicago, where I attended an electronics trade school in
The trip was supposed to be a family vacation taking
advantage of some time off between jobs. I had been working
for the University of Rochester in a very interesting job,
helping Doctoral Candidates and those involved in Medical
research projects, to use the computer to analyze their data.
Anyway I was between that job and my new job as a consultant
with Information Associates, Inc. in Rochester and had some
time to kill. For some reason that I no longer remember,
Vivian had to back out from the trip at the last moment. That
left just Stephanie, then barely 11 years old, and myself, so I asked
my good friend Ike to travel with us in my 1962 Plymouth with
push button shifting. We started out on a Saturday morning, although I
remember the exact date, but, Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice
President while we were on this trip.
The first night of our journey was spent in Indiana, in a
campsite with two large ponds with swimming. We set up two
tents, the same way we did more than a dozen times on the
trip. Ike had a one man pup tent and Steph and I shared
a roomy umbrella tent which was easy to set up. After this
first night, Stephanie could set up the tent by herself,
which she did, and often she would help others set up their
tents as they arrived at the campsite. While Steph was
working on the tents, I would start a charcoal fire and cook
our evening meal. Breakfast, being the cheapest meal of the
day we ate in restaurants and diners, almost always having
pancakes, and for lunch we snacked either in the car or at a
roadside table. We took no interstate highways and stopped
frequently to take in the sights. I remember having a nice
campfire to space out on before going to bed. Stephanie was
very fond of toasted marshmallows. Stephanie has photos from
the trip and one of them was taken of this campfire.
We started out in the morning of the second day on US Highway
36 which took us through two state capitals, Indianapolis and
Springfield and spent the second night on the Mississippi
River at Hannibal Mo. The town is
full of Mark Twain memorabilia including the picket fence and
the cave. We swam at the campsite but the water was muddy.
On the third day we drove, on US 36, through St. Joe, Mo.
where Bonnie and Clyde once robbed the bank. We continued,
driving over half way through Kansas before stopping for the
night at Prairie Dog State Park where we were the only
campers to stay the night. We swam in a man made lake in the
park. We saw a jackrabbit and I convinced Stephanie that it
was a Jackalope, a fictitious animal of the area, a rabbit
with horns like an antelope. I later found a post card with a
picture of a lope, as we called them for short. I don't know
how long she was fooled, but, now she is middle aged and I'm
sure she no longer believes in lopes.
The next day, our fourth of the trip, was a very exciting
day. Like all the days and nights of the trip, the sky
remained clear. Just when we thought we couldn't take another
day of flat countryside, their came the mountains as if they
rose abruptly out of the plains. For some reason I wanted to
change my cloths before getting into Denver so I stopped and
went under the highway in a dry river bed where I saw a very
large king snake watching me from a nearby rock. I wasn't
sure just what kind it was at first and went hopping back to
the highway while putting my trousers on.
We encountered a severe gas shortage in the Denver area.
Fortunately we had enough gas to get well out of the area and
up in the mountains we found a gas station with no attendant,
you had to put one dollar bills in the pump like a vending
machine. We had a couple of ones and got enough to get us to
a town that had gas, I believe it was Durango Co. We came
upon a hail storm in the mountains and I thought it would
brake the windshield. We found pock marks on the roof of the
car. Before stopping for the night, near Durango, we went
through a long tunnel under a mountain, and also we found a
place where we could make snowballs in August, high up in the
Rockies. It got very cold in our tent that night, but, we
were prepared and slept comfortably in our sleeping bags
instead of on top of them as we had done previously. We took
a picture of the tunnel and some high country scenery. I
enjoyed experiencing the freezing temperature in the middle
of summer. It made me realize once again that the Tao is
all powerful and that I am influenced profoundly by the Tao,
while the Tao itself remains unshakable.
The fifth day of our excursion took us over some very
impressive mountains but by mid-day we
were out of the mountains and into a semi-desert area. Here we
found some dinosaur tracks and stopped also, at the four corners
where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet. The only place
in the US where four states come together and a national
site. We continued traveling southwest through the Painted
Desert which seemed very western and very colorful. Like I
remembered from the cowboy movies I enjoyed as a youth. We
pitched our tents for the night in the middle of this desert
area in the village square in a small community. There was an all night
gas station near bye and we were welcomed to use the rest rooms. All
night long I had to be careful not to move
around too much as cactus spears would poke through the
bottom of the tent, sleeping bag and blankets and everything
else I could find to protect myself. Still every now and then
during the night I got the point, when rolling over. This
campsite was on the Hopi reservation. Coal had been
discovered on the reservation and, since the government
didn't know about the coal when they promised the land would
always belong to the Hopis, they were in the process of
slowly driving this very colorful people off the land. When
the miners came in, they would show no respect for the Hopi's
corn fields with their bulldozers etc. I had further contact
with Hopis later in life, but that is another story.
Later; Day number six of this trek took us to a town called North
Rim on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
Most of the morning took us along the Vermilion Cliffs and
the side trip to the canyon rim took us through a beautiful
Ponderosa Pine forest.
We saw the canyon around noon time when it is free of shadows
and took many photos of this amazing place. This was the first
of many trips to the canyon for me. It is a sacred spot for
me just like Joshua Tree and Organ Pipe Cactus National
Monuments. This was, however, the only time I visited the
north rim and the only time I drove all the way. Phoenix
became a regular stop for me in the 80s. I would fly into Sky
Harbor Airport and rent a car and stay in one of my favorite
hotels. When my work was done and the week end rolled around,
I would start out alone, when I couldn't interest anyone in
going along, and head for the canyon and sometimes to the
Hopi Reservation to visit my favorite people. OK back to the
north rim. After taking several pictures and having a near
nervous collapse when both Ike and Steph got too close to the
edge of the canyon for my taste. There were no railings or
safety features at that time.
After we left the Grand Canyon we went north into Utah and
passed thru Zion National Park. It is a very special place.
One feature was a four mile tunnel. The mountains in Zion are
of yellow rock. No other place is anything like it. Each time
we entered a National Park or Monument there was normally a
substantial fee involved, which we never paid. We found out
right away that if the car contained someone over 65 years
old the admission was free. I think Ike was actually about 62
at the time, but easily passed for 65. A couple of times the
toll booth attendant asked for ID and I would shout at Ike as
if he were deaf and he would pretend not to hear. I would
shout "he wants to see your ID" and Ike had a pocket full of
various ID cards, none of which indicated his date of birth
or age. They always gave up and let us in for free. Stephanie
found all this horse play by grown men to be hilarious.
That night we camped at Cedar City Utah. We got the last
available site as the camp was full. It was a possemans
convention and everyone in camp was some kind of deputy. We
behaved ourselves. Just as I was getting dinner ready to
serve Steph wanted to go to the camp headquarters where home
movies would be shown. She insisted so I gave in. Five
minutes later she was back. When I asked about the movies she
said they were all about God and stuff. It seems that the
place was run by Mormons. For the second night in a row there
was no place to swim.
On the seventh day we drove across the Mohave Desert in
southern Nevada. Here we saw our first Joshua Trees. We did
not know what they were. The scene was most unusual but got
boring after a while; Just sand and dry lakes. After a while
we saw the Sierra Nevada Mountain range rising out of the
desert. The road we took over the mountains was only open
from May through September and it took us up to the snow
line, about 12000 feet. When we finally descended we were in
the Yosemite Valley and took a little side trip to the falls
which afforded a rest while Stephanie made a nervous wreck
out me by climbing around on the huge rocks at the foot of
It got dark shortly after we left Yosemite. I called my
friend Bart in San Francisco and decided to drive on to the
city on the bay and sleep in a bed and shower. Around
midnight I woke Steph to see the Oakland San Francisco Bridge
Tunnel which was recently damaged by an earthquake during the
World Series Games.
We arrived at Bart's and put Steph to bed and partied into
the night with Bart and Dave. In the morning Rita took
Stephanie to the Zoo at Golden Gate Park and had a chance to
ride the cable cars and see China Town and take many photos.
On this, the eighth day of the adventure, we left San
Francisco heading north across the Golden Gate and followed
Highway 101 toward the Redwoods. We camped about two hours to
the north of SF in a remote campsite occupied only by a family of
back packers from Kingston, New York. All of the redwood
trees in this area had been cut down. You could walk into
the woods and find giant stumps. We climbed onto one of these
stumps and found it to be about 15 feet across and flat as a
dance floor. We did an imitation of Fred Astaire and Ginger
Rogers which made us hungry. After dinner, sitting by the
fire, I was moved to tears over the demise of these giant
trees, older than Christianity.
Early in the morning of the ninth day we stopped at a nice
municipal beach, on the Pacific, around Eureka, California
and took some nice photos. We followed highway 101 north
through the Redwood National Park. Here, a very small
percentage of the original redwoods remains untouched, thanks
to Teddy Roosevelt. The highway winds through the woods like
a snake, as no trees could be cut down in it's path. Ike
reminded Stephanie that the squirrels must be as big as dogs
judging by the size of the trees. I think that of all the
places we saw on the entire trip, this was the most
impressive. It has never been convenient for me to return to
the Redwoods, but I remember it as a very sacred spot. Vivian
and I later visited the Sequoia National Park which is
similar. The sequoia trees are high up in the Sierras while
the Redwoods is a rain forest. The undergrowth is just as
spectacular as the trees. It is mostly covered with high
ferns 5 to 8 feet tall. The Redwoods took many centuries to
get that big and foresters theorize that conditions may no
longer exist for them to grow that big again. There are tests
under way to find out but we won't know during our life time.
After climbing around on redwood logs, with steps cut into
them so we could hike into the woods, we drove on into Oregon
and spent the night near Grants Pass. We made camp in a site
called Natural Bridge. The ponderosa pine woods was growing
out of old lava beds, which is how the natural bridge was
formed. The ground was covered with gray volcanic ash making
it difficult to keep clean. In the morning I washed in the
river even though it was the coldest water I ever felt; a
glacial stream. I washed Stephanie's hair in the river and
she complained a little about the polar bear dunking I gave
her. I was ashamed of how dirty we had gotten, but we did a
fair job, even though the ash almost covered us again before
we broke camp and moved on. That morning of day 10 we found a
rustic log cabin type restaurant and had pancakes with real
maple syrup, making the freezing morning ablutions all worth
After breakfast of day 10, we came upon Crater Lake,
Oregon, a very calm lake
in an extinct volcano. The banks of the lake were too steep
and to dangerous for us to get down to the lake, so we followed
some of the hiking trails along the rim. The water was the
bluest blue I've ever seen.
The next stop was at a laundry where we washed and dried all
of our very dirty clothes and bedding. We continued northward
to Bend Or. and then headed due east and stopped at a campsite on
the Boise River either in Oregon or Idaho near the border.
That night the campsite had showers which was nice. We saw
raccoons getting into the garbage cans.
On the morning of day 11, before stopping for breakfast, we
stopped at a scenic site, on the way up the side of a
mountain range. This was a breath taking scene, overlooking a
desert as colorful as any we had seen thus far. The area is
part of what is called "The Great Basin", a high desert area.
A lone man in a van pulled into the parking area while we
were there. We talked with him about the scenery and found
that he was a retired widower enjoying a vacation. He was
traveling in the opposite direction from us.
We took some back roads through Idaho, taking us to the Craters of
The Moon National Monument. This spot is used sometimes for
making movies about the moon. The landscape in similar.
Around noontime we stopped at a general store, to pick up
lunch, in a town called Corral, Idaho, with a population of
7 people. It was warm and a dog was sleeping outside and when
we went inside we found the store keeper sound asleep in a
chair. After we pick up our groceries the man was still
sleeping. We had put gas in the car and could not, in good
conscience, leave without paying for it. We tried several
different ways of making noise with no success. Finally the
dog woke up enough to bark a couple of times and the man woke
up and all was well.
That afternoon we followed the Snake River for a ways and by
evening we found ourselves in Jackson, Wyoming. We checked
out a campsite in Jackson where the owners made derogatory
remarks about the length of our hair, so Ike and I decided
not to spend the night. Steph did not understand, but we
explained that we could camp in the Grand Teton National Park
for free and all was well. We found a good spot and set up
camp in the middle of an elk reserve.
We awoke on the morning of day twelve to find our water had
frozen over night. We were very high in the mountains. We had
breakfast at Jackson Hole in a large teepee with a roaring
fire in the middle and picnic tables like spokes of a wheel
surrounding it. We had all we could eat of ham, eggs and
pancakes. They had buffalo steaks on the lunch menu, but we
were in Yellowstone by lunch time. Our favorite spot in the
Grand Tetons was at Jenny Lake. The Tetons are some
of the most Rugged in the US and they remind me of the Saw Tooth
Range in Idaho.
At Yellowstone Park we visited Old Faithful and rested for a
while waiting for the geyser to do what it does. We drove
northward from the Tetons through Yellowstone and drove
around the circle in Yellowstone
and left the park by the eastern gate. We stopped at one point
to watch a moose grazing in a bog. That afternoon we drove
through Cody, and Greybull, Wyoming toward the Devil's Tower
I am not sure if we took in the Tower on this afternoon or
the next morning, but it was a very interesting place. On the
way into the Monument Grounds you go through a large colony
of prairie dogs. The park ranger told Stephanie that it was
useless to try to get them to eat out of your hand. "They are
just too timid" he said. None the less, we got a photo of a
prairie dog taking a piece of bread from Stephanie's hand.
On this, the 12th night, we made camp on the banks of a very
clear river in which we could see brook trout, doing what
trout do. During the night we could hear mules or donkeys
baying, they kept us awake for a while.
The 13th day was very eventful as we stopped at the Mount
Rushmore Monument. It is interesting that, during the
depression, someone convinced the Congress to appropriate
money for this mammoth carving. To me, it seems like a
terrible thing to do to a perfectly attractive mountain in
the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.
We stopped again in Rapid City, SD, at a road side zoo which
featured a raccoon playing basketball, a skill that is
practically useless for raccoons. We spent a good
portion of the afternoon on Interstate 90 through The
Badlands and camped near Mitchell, SD.
On the morning of the 14th day we drove south on Interstate 29 to
Council Bluffs, Iowa and picked up I 80 east, driving into
Illinois by nightfall.
The next day, number 15 of the trip,
we drove the rest of the way home by nightfall. We had the
pictures developed and Stephanie still has copies. Ike had
slides made from the pictures that he took. They were very
During my 10+ years working at Honeywell Bull, I acquired a
reputation for being a person who could communicate well with
technical students from Oriental countries. Because of this
reputation I spent most of my time, with people from China,
Indonesia, Korea and Thailand. This experience required two
skills other than the technical. One was to communicate with
those with minimal English vocabulary other than technical
terms, and the second was to teach through an interpreter.
Since I spoke only English, and the interpreters generally
had little technical expertise, sometimes it would be
difficult to get the points across and knowing if they were
These groups were generally taught at sites like Boston,
Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle, Paris or Angers, France,
London, Helsinki and others. Since I was always away from
home during these encounters, I spent much more time with
these people than I would have otherwise. I took groups on
week end excursions to New York, Niagara Falls, Disney Land
and Universal Studios in Los Angeles and many other
I became interested in Buddhism when I met Ross, in
the 1960s, who introduced me to the writings of Herman Hesse,
and I became a Buddhist before I ever met any Orientals, but
the encounters with the Easterners allowed me to see the
influence that these ancient philosophies have had on at
least two thirds of today's world population.
When Buddhism came to China, from India, Confucian
thought, influenced by the Taoists, followers of Lao-Tzu, was
the most prevalent philosophy of the sages. When Buddhism
came along, with its rituals borrowed from ancient Hindusm,
and merged with the Confucian-Toaists it became something
more appealing to the masses. Without thinking about it as
religion, the Chinese people live these traditions in their
I consider myself a Taoist (pronounced dowist). Since Taoism,
although it has a text or liturgy, does not itself provide a
religious practice, I choose to practice Nichiren Shoshu
Buddhism. It is a beautiful practice providing a way to get
in touch with the Buddha's enlightenment through chanting
certain parts of the Lotus Sutra, written for that very
purpose. This practice in no way conflicts with my Taoist
philosophy. It seems to be possible to practice a religion without
adopting its philosophy.
During my tenure at Honeywell and later in my own business I
joined frequent flyer programs and I earned many free tickets
from American Airlines, United Airlines, USAir, Northwest,
Pan Am, TWA, Delta, South West, Eastern, Continental and
Republic Airlines. I generally used the free tickets to take
someone along on a trip.
In 1983 I had two free tickets from American Airlines, that
had to used before January first of 1984, which I used them
to take my grandson [Shad] on a tour of the West, leaving on
the day after Christmas, 1983, when Shad was about 11.
We flew from Rochester to Chicago and had a couple of hours
to kill at O'hare Airport, the busiest airport in the world.
So, I took Shad to the roof of the parking garage where you
can see the several runways, in all four directions. The
highway that enters the airport passes under a couple of
these runways and sometimes I have passed under planes that
were landing or taking off. Anyway, this is where Shad
learned to Identify the 707, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, DC8,
DC9, DC10, L1011, BAC111 and other smaller piston driven
aircraft. We left Chicago on my first ride on a 767, which
was Boeing's latest jumbo jet and landed in early afternoon
at Sky Harbor in Phoenix.
From Phoenix we drove southwest, through a cloudburst, to
Gilla Bend where we stayed overnight. In the morning we drove
our rented Suburu south to Organ Pipe Cactus National
Monument, one of my favorite places. This was the rainy
season in Arizona. We encountered an occasional downpour, but
most of the time it was sunny and 60 to 70 degrees, which
seemed quite warm since leaving behind, in New York, some
brutally cold weather. We crossed into Mexico, on foot, at
Gringo Pass where we looked around at the poverty there and
were glad to get back to the USA with a few pesos we got in
change from buying a post card. We gave them a US dollar and
got back a pocket full of Mexican change.
Organ Pipe was especially beautiful on this trip. More
recently, I dropped into Organ Pipe with Butch and found
that, for some strange reason, the Organ Pipe Cacti are
dying. I was deeply moved, since this is the only place
where this beautiful plant can be found.
On each occasion that I visit this holy spot, I drive around
a 20 mile loop through the park. On this drive you get to see
the Sonoran Desert at it's best. Also, you can see a mountain
that has a natural hole in it through which you can see the
sun, if you go at the right time of day which is just before
sundown. In this sacred spot I thought about my belief in
the Tao and how it differs from traditional beliefs in a God.
The Tao, in my belief, doesn't care at all whether or not I
believe in it. The Tao watches over everything and every one
with the same amount of compassion. The Tao is the mystic
force within the universe that controls every movement within
the most minute of particles as well as galaxies. The Tao is
what we return to when we die. It matters not what happens in
this life time, in the Taoist's mind, as we will return to
live another life and another and another until we obtain
nirvana and become content to join the Tao forever. During
all of these life times we will become every kind of plant
and animal life many times over. When it seems like there is no
fairness in this life I remember that all is fair when spread
over many lifetimes. We will sometime become that
person that we hate the most, that person that we want to put
to death. The next fly that you swat could be me or yourself.
This is why I try to show reverence for all living things and
try to use no more than needed. I have always searched out
these spots where I can feel completely at peace and one with
the Tao who can't be swayed into giving me preferential
treatment by talking to it in my closet or reciting certain
passages from the holy books. However, (The English books say
not to begin a sentence with the word however. However, there
are always exceptions.) when I meditate or chant the Lotus
Sutra, I can feel the warmth of the Tao. I enjoy feeling It's
influence on an extremely hot or cold day, reminding me of my
frailty in the face of the Tao.
I remember talking to Shad about Taoism on this trip. I
wonder if he remembers. He must have been 10 or eleven years
old. about the same age that Steph was on our earlier tour
of the nation by car.
After leaving Organ Pipe we drove north through Why, Ajo, the
lower Sonoran Desert, and crossed over some lava ranges
called The Sauceda Mts., Sand Tank Mts., Maracopa Range,
Sierra Estrella Mts. and the Big Horn Mts. and stopped for
the night at the Best Western Motel in Wickenburg, Arizona. I have
stayed at this motel, also, with Chuck Lyons, with Vivian and
several times all by myself. The restaurant connected serves
the best breakfast anyone could ask for.
In the morning we drove north on US 89, over a mountain
range, climbing from the warm Sonora Desert through a snow
covered mountain pass in the Prescott National Forest and
then down again to Prescott, Arizona. Leaving Prescott behind
we took US 89 Alt. through Jerome, a ghost town that was once
a thriving silver mining town. After looking around Jerome,
on the side of Mingus Mountain overlooking the high desert
area between there and Sedona. In Sedona, we stopped for
lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, the Oaxaca.
which is on the second floor and through a large picture
window you can view the red rocks surrounding the town. We
climbed out of Sedona winding up through Oak Creek Canyon
with many Hairpin turns continuing on 89A to Flagstaff which
is about 7000 feet above sea level and gets a fair amount of
snow in winter. After visiting Walnut Creek Canyon with it's
Indian cliff dwellings, some well preserved and we could go
inside, we drove through a snow covered forest to the
Grand Canyon. This was a unique experience as the
upper walls of the canyon were spotted with snow, yet you could look
down at the canyon floor which looked hot in the afternoon sun.
We lingered until late afternoon and then cut through a corner
of the painted desert then over the San Francisco Mountains
and back to Flagstaff after dark. We checked into the Pony
Soldier Motel, went to a Mexican restaurant for enchiladas, then
slept soundly for the rest of the night.
The next morning we drove East on I-40 to Winslow where we
had a cowboy breakfast at a desert lunch counter. Shad was at
such an age that he required huge portions of food and we had
little trouble around those parts. We then headed south on 87
through the Coconino National Forest and Payson Arizona and
shortly thereafter turned southeast on a back road in the
Tonto National Forest. This route took us to Tonto Basin and
the Roosevelt Dam. From there we took a dirt road for over 30
miles on the Apache Trail to Apache Jct. near Phoenix and
stayed overnight in Carefree. Carefree was surrounded by huge
rocks and looked like you might run into the Flintstones
anyplace in town where all of the business establishments
were built around that theme.
The next morning we took a breakfast flight from Phoenix to
Chicago and on to Rochester and home by afternoon as we
lost three hours that day. We still have photos of the trip
including the Pear Cactus which was in bloom throughout the upper Sonoran Desert.
As Lord Buckley Always Said
"What a great thing it is to be alive. My Lords, my Ladies, Beloveds,
would it embarrass you very much if I were to tell you that I love
you?" Clinking glasses, murmurs and nervous laughter would be heard as
Buckley paused, then whispered, "It embarrasses you, doesn't it?"
My (Burr Cook) Relationship
to John Alden And Priscilla Mullins
of Mayflower Fame
My Branch of the Mayflower family
1. John ALDEN was born about 1598 in Harwich, Essex, England.. He died on 22 Sep 1687 in Duxbury, Plymouth, Mass.
John married Priscilla MULLINS daughter of William MULLINS and
Alice ATWOOD on 12 May 1622 in Plymouth, Mass. Priscilla was born about
1602 in Dorking, Surrey, England. She died about 1685 in Duxbury,
Plymouth County, Massachusetts..
John and Priscilla had the following child:
+ 2 F i. Ruth ALDEN was born estimated 1635. She died on 12 Oct 1674.
2. Ruth ALDEN (John) was born estimated 1635 in Plymouth,
Plymouth County, Massachusetts.. She died on 12 Oct 1674 in Braintree,
Ruth married John BASS son of Samuel BASS and Anne UNKNOWN on 12
May 1657 in Dorchester, Mass. John was born about 1632 in Roxbury,
Suffulk County, Mass.. He died on 12 Sep 1716 in Braintree, Mass...
John and Ruth had the following child:
+ 15 F i. Sarah BASS was born on 29 Mar 1672. She died on 19 Aug 1751.
15. Sarah BASS (Ruth ALDEN, John) was born on 29 Mar 1672 in
Braintree, Mass... She died on 19 Aug 1751 in Braintree, Mass...
Sarah married Ephraim THAYER son of Shadrach THAYER and
Deliverance PRIEST on 7 Jan 1692. Ephraim was born on 17 Nov 1669 in
Braintree, Mass... He died on 15 Jun 1757 in Braintree, Mass...
Sarah and Ephraim had the following child:
+ 51 F i. Ruth THAYER was born on 1 Apr 1704.
51. Ruth THAYER (Sarah BASS, Ruth ALDEN, John) was born on 1 Apr 1704 in Braintree, Mass...
Ruth married John CAPEN . John was born on 16 Oct 1694 in Dorchester, Mass.. . He died about 1748.
John and Ruth had the following child:
+ 55 F i. Esther CAPEN was born estimated 1723.
55. Esther CAPEN (Ruth THAYER, Sarah BASS, Ruth ALDEN, John) was born estimated 1723.
Esther married Benjamin LUDDEN . Benjamin was born estimated 1720.
They had the following child:
+ 56 F i. Milcah LUDDEN was born on 17 Apr 1765. She died on 25 Jan 1846.
56. Milcah LUDDEN (Esther CAPEN, Ruth THAYER, Sarah BASS, Ruth
ALDEN, John) was born on 17 Apr 1765. She died on 25 Jan 1846.
Mary Milcah was the widow of Joseph L. Brown of Vermont when she married her second husband
Daniel Gates. Mary and Daniel had five children after 1794, all born in Hopewell. She was 11th of 13
Milcah married Daniel GATES son of Daniel GATES on 9 Jul 1794 in
Preston, Conn.. Daniel was born on 27 Oct 1744 in Preston, Conn.. He
died on 15 May 1832 in Hopewell, Ontario County, N. Y.. He was buried
in Hopewell Pioneer Cemetery, Ontario County, N. Y..
They had the following child:
+ 60 M iv. Joseph Brown GATES was born on 28 Apr 1802.
60. Joseph Brown GATES (Milcah LUDDEN, Esther CAPEN, Ruth THAYER,
Sarah BASS, Ruth ALDEN, John) was born on 28 Apr 1802 in Hopewell,
Ontario County NY.
Joseph married (1) Pamelia Bishop COOK about 1829. Pamelia was
born on 23 Jul 1802 in Cazenovia, New York. She died on 3 May 1881.
They had the following child:
86 F v. Mary Milcah GATES was born in 1841 in Hopewell, Ontario County, New York.
62. Daniel N. GATES (Cyrus GATES, Milcah LUDDEN, Esther CAPEN,
Ruth THAYER, Sarah BASS, Ruth ALDEN, John) was born on 15 Jan 1826 in
Hopewell, Ontario County NY.
Daniel married Mary Milcah GATES daughter of Joseph Brown GATES
and Pamelia Bishop COOK estimated 1865 in Hopewell, Ontario County, N.
Y.. Mary was born estimated 1835.
They had the following child:
+ 93 F i. Esther Pamelia GATES was born on 30 Jul 1877. She died on 11 Mar 1973.
93. Esther Pamelia GATES (Daniel N. GATES, Cyrus GATES, Milcah
LUDDEN, Esther CAPEN, Ruth THAYER, Sarah BASS, Ruth ALDEN, John) was
born on 30 Jul 1877 in Hopewell, Ontario County, N. Y.. She died on 11
Mar 1973 in Buffalo, N. Y.. The cause of death was Old Age. She was
buried in Hopewell Cemetery on Mumby Road.
Esther married Dr. Arthur Mortimer COOK son of Dallas Dudley COOK
and Mary Julia MILLIKEN on 7 Aug 1898 in Hopewell, Ontario County, N.
Y.. Arthur was born on 22 Mar 1877 in Clarendon, NY. He died on 5 Apr
1957 in Orleans, NY. He was buried in Hopewell Cemetery on Mumby Road.
Arthur and Esther had the following child:
+ 108 M i. Stanleigh Gates COOK was born on 22 Dec 1907. He died on 7 Jun 1977.
108. Stanleigh Gates COOK "Stan was born on 22 Dec 1907. He
died on 7 Jun 1977 in Newark, NY in Newark Wayne Hospital. The cause of
death was Cancer (Brain Tumor). He was buried in Hopewell Cemetery on
Stanleigh married Adelaide Emily BENSON "Em" daughter of Roy
Garfield BENSON and Frances Lorraine GULVIN about Oct 1927 in
Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York. Adelaide was born on 26 Jan 1908
in Canandaigua, New York. She died in Lyons, New York . She was buried
in Hopewell Cemetery on Mumby Road.
Stanleigh and Adelaide had the following child:
124 M i. Burr COOK "Buster" was born on 3 May 1934 in Canandaigua.
"...there is no king who has not had a slave among his
ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his."
- Helen Keller
EVENT: Benson Reunion July 24, 1994
This is an annual event, held at Ontario County Park, on top of Gannet Hill in South Bristol. It was a
nice day for a picnic and an afternoon of coversations with relatives seen once a year. Anyone who
is not attending this event is missing out on something. I highly recommend it. I know that in my time
there have been no shootings or duels at this event.
There were 34 in attendance including two guests. They were:
Gary R. Cook
Rachel Bissell (guest)
Michelle Enright (guest)
Yvette A. Bennett
Danny L. Bennett
Samantha A. Bennett
Cristy Lee Bennett
David A Bennett
James R. Cook
Lorrie Berg Ellis
Suzie Berg (came with a boy friend)
Adelaide is the one I would pick, if by some divine act, I was allowed to choose my own mother.
She never scolded me. I don't recall her even speaking harshly to me. This, even though I was
the most troublesome of the family. I became rebellious in the third grade and refused to do
school work. I failed that grade and several others until the School Board insisted that I be seen
by a doctor. The doctor found no reason for my lack of good study habits, but, I think, both of my
parents felt that something was wrong and as a result I was treated differently from my siblings
in regard to discipline. I'm sure that my clashes with the academic world caused embarrassment
for the entire family. Adelaide had 9 children an admirable job raising them all and all turned out
to be fine citizens. -The above was written by Burr (Buster) Cook.
Celestia Cynthia Burr (Elisha, Aaron, Ebenezer, John, Samuel, Benjamin, Mr.) was born
on 17 Apr 1815 in Norfolk, Conn.. She died on 11 Oct 1896 in Clarendon,
Orleans Co. New York. She was buried in Hillside Cemetary in Holly,
Orleans Co. NY.
I believe that Celestia was born in Norfolk Conn. , but her name is not on record at the Norfolk
Town Hall. It may be that she was born somewhere else, since I have no proof. I was able to
find the birth record for Her father Elisha, on file in Norfolk. Dewitt and Celestia were both Methodists.
She lived first 18 years in Conn. accompanied parents to Sprinwater, NY, later to Clarendon, Orleans Co.
Resources: (1) Cook Family Bible; (2): Grave stone at Hillside Cemetery in Holly, Orleans County, NY.
Celestia married Dewitt Clinton Cook son of Miles Cook and
Matilda Coleman about Sep 1839 in North Bergen, New York. Dewitt was
born on 16 Aug 1813 in Pompey, Onondaga County, NY. He died on 8 Mar
1884 in Clarendon, NY. He was buried in Hillside Cemetary in Holly, NY.
Dewitt came to Western NY. with his father before his marriage and settled at North Bergen,
Genesee County, in 1840 he was residing in Clarendon with his wife where they lived the rest
of their lives. Dewitt was a carpenter or house joiner by trade, he built many of the frame
Buildings of the town, homes, farm buildings and schools that are still standing. His residence
was on Upper Holly Road at lot 152 which consisted of 48 acres, a short distance north of
what is now the Brown Schoolhouse Road. He was a member of the Orleans Pioneer.
His wives were born at Norfolk, Conn. Their church affiliation was Methodist. The children
were all born at Clarendon.
Sarah C. Burr was the first wife of Dewitt. Sarah died on march 2, 1839 at age 20 due to
complications of giving birth to George Newton, Dewitts first son. During the next several
months, while Dewitt was at work, Sarah's older sister Celestia cared for and became attached
to the child, who was sickly and required constant care. on Sept. 9, 1839 George
Newton died at age 7 months and 13 days. Dewitt and Celestia, both grieving deeply over
the loss of the child, took refuge in each other and married shortly there after. Together they
had three more children and there are literally hundreds of living ancestors like myself.
Dewitt is buried at Hillside cemetery in Holly, Orleans Co. NY. Also buried there are his
wives and three children. This Cook family plot is in a beautiful place on a hillside in a grove
of large trees. The cemetery is terraced and is a nice place to walk and enjoy the out of doors.
Resources: (1) Cook Family Bible; (2): Grave stone at Hillside Cemetery in Holly, Orleans County, NY
Dewitt and Celestia had the following children:
+ 1315 M
i. Dr. Edward James Cook was born on 4 Jan
1842. He died about 1917.
+ 1316 M
ii. Dallas Dudley Cook was born on 25 Dec 1844.
He died on 8 Sep 1917.
+ 1317 F
iii. Sarah B. Cook was born about 1856. She
died about 1914.
I have found the ancestors from the following countries, England, Ireland, France,
Germany, Holland (Netherlands), Belgium, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
Resources: Cook Family Bible ; Records at Canandaigua, Ontario County, NY.
I lived in only one place throughout my childhood, Orleans,
Phelps Township, Ontario County, New York.
According to the "Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of New York
State" for the year 1860 the population was 218. The year I was
born, 1934, saw the closing of both the Post Office and the
Railroad Station. The hamlet, once a thriving village had been in
decline since the fire of 1910.
Early settlers in Orleans were Wheats, Fergusons, Shekels,
and the Baggerlys, many of whom brought and kept slaves
until they were outlawed in New York in 1826.
The Current Baptist Church is the third on the site. It
burned in 1845 and in 1910.
In 1845 the records show Orleans with two churches, two
hotels, three shoe shops, three blacksmith shops, a potash
factory, a distillery, a tin shop, a tailor shop, a wood
turning shop, a harness shop, boot factory, tannery,
slaughter house, a saw mill and grist mill at the falls in
flint creek, a carding mill specializing in monks cloth and
there were three doctors and a post office.
The village was originally called Hardscrabble because there
were, of course, no bridges originally and it was a hard
scrabble getting from one side of town to the other, up and
down the creek banks. The inhabitants were particularly fond
of Andrew Jackson's valor in the battle of New Orleans and
shortly after the 1812 war Hardscrabble became Orleans, which
now possessed a bridge (built in 1816). One Elijah Goodale
was killed in the bridges construction.
In the late 1800s Orleans had a coronet band which travelled
around in a colorful wagon drawn by 4 horses. In the band
were John Runyan, Eben Potter, the Blythe boys, the Lambs and
Rulisons and others.
On April 10, 1910, a fire destroyed 23 homes and businesses
in Orleans, including 120 tons of coal. The town never
recovered from that loss and evolved into the sleepy town
that I grew up in.
One of the high points of life in Orleans was in the 1940s,
during the war we had a severe snow storm and the trains
could not get through the drifts. One day while watching the
trainmen work, Ed Preston and I were invited into the steam
locomotive and actually allowed to pull the lever which
started and stopped the train as it shuttled back and forth
doing it's work. That was exciting.
The Depot at Orleans
I am not sure what the source or date of this article is. If anyone knows please let me know as I would like to include credits.
The Station closed the year that I was born, 1934.
My father, in partnership with my uncle, Doug Wager, bought the
building. Portions of it were used to put a three room addition on the
Cook family home
on the other side of Flint Creek. One outstanding feature that still exists is the slate roof.
The Depot was located just south of the water tower.
This house belonged to the Green family. It was across the tracks from the Depot.
You can see the old lower bridge in the background. I watched the house burn
from our house across the creek when I was very young.
survivor he most likely was not. He was, however, the
last surviving pensioner of the Revolutionary War.
Many of the news paper articles written about him are incorrect in several
respects especially concerning his age at death. It is quoted as 105, 106 and 107.
Military records show however that he joined the army in 1780 at age 16 and
died in 1866 making him 102. I recommend the book
"The Revolution's Last Men" by Don N. Hagist.
Recently a marker
was erected in Clarendon giving his age as 107.
by Mabel E. Oaks
In early times Orleans was a prosperous, thriving community with
Clifton Springs--then Brimstone Springs--left far behind it in
activity. Mrs. Sidney L Wheat Sr., whose late husband was a great great
grandson of the 1795 Orleans pioneer Benjamin Wheat Sr., has compiled
many scrapbooks which reveal in picture and in print both the old and
new Orleans (before and after the fire). Practically all the following
facts on Orleans were given me by Mrs. Wheat and are printed here with
Her November 15, 1961 Geneva Times article told of the Baggerly
family's 1805 arrival from Maryland. The well-to-do Baggerlys,
Fergusons and Shekells all brought
slaves as did other settlers from the south. These must have been freed
at least by 1826 when New York State outlawed slavery. It was Benjamin
Shekell who founded Clifton Springs and built a mansion there in 1800.
Conover's History says that the Shekell slaves were well provided with
homes when freed--equally true of other Phelpstown slaves, we assume.
Henry Baggerly, a strong Methodist, soon had built a meeting house on
the northwest corner of Case and Wheat Roads; its burying ground across
the road is now hidden in a little grove of trees. The gravestones of
Henry and his wife have been moved close to the road and carefully
embedded in cement inside a railed enclosure. After Mr. Baggerly's
death a new Methodist church was erected in the village itself about
1835. This fine large steepled building was later sold for use as a
Presbyterian Church. In the 1890s services were discontinued, and the
ufortunIate edifice was sold to become a fruit evaporator; it burned to
the ground in 1902. The settlement's other church, the third Baptist
Society of Phelpstown, was established 1819; the very next year a $2000
building arose on the site of the present church. Burned in 1845, it
was rebuilt but burned again in the disastrous 1910 fire. So today's
Church is the third on the same spot.
One of Mrs. Wheat's scrapbooks contains this authentic and remarkable
record of Orleans public buildings and businesses in the year 1845; the
list was gathered by an old time resident from those still older.
Two Churches--one school--five general stores, two hotels, three shoe
shops, three blacksmith shops, potash factory, distillery, tin, tailor
and harness shops, wood turning and boot manufactories, a tannery and
slaughter house. As for mills--there were one saw and two grist mills.
In addition a carding mill near the upper bridge specialized in making
They say the stores did many thousands of dollars worth of business.
One grist mill and the saw mill stood opposite each other on the creek
banks; at its end of the dam each had a wooden flume whose deep stream
raced toward a wheel. Often in springtime the dam would go out with the
ice and have to be rebuilt. Flint Creek at such times never knew its
own strength. Phelps town mill owners frequently lost heavfiy in spring
when trees and timbers came floating down to destroy dams and bridges.
The old three-and-a-half story, frame grist mill stood until 1930 when
fire destroyed it. Around 1900 the village had a wagon, sleigh and
harness shop for both manufacture and repair, a corn planter factory,
four evaporators and a large vineyard industry.
Orleans had for years its resident doctors--Dr. Lewis, Dr. William
Turck and Dr. G. Y. Armington. Its early school had fine teachers--for
instance, Richard P. Marvin who became a New York State Supreme Court
Justice just as did, many years later, Chief Justice Earle S. Warner,
distinguished descendant of Orleans pioneer Jesse Warner of Warner
Hill. Richard Marvin, his brothers Erastus and William (afterward a
Judge) taught in our town schools in the 1820s and 1830s while they
studied law with Thomas Smith Esq., Phelps town’s very first attorney.
Dolphin Stephenson, son of Harvey S., an 1800 Orleans settler,
practiced law for years at Phelps village in the Eacker block, east
corner of Main and Church Streets. Phelps has had many outstanding
lawyers, and this tradition continues.
Orleans had a post office for 100 years, most of that time with daily
mail. This closed in 1934. Its newspaper, "The Asteroid," was being
printed by the Geneva Courier office in 1879. Just after the Civil War
large slate quarries were opened along the Creek. Some of the slate was
ground to make a plastic roofing material.
The prizewinning Orleans Cornet Band, once famous, drove to all sorts
of area events as far away as Rochester and Sodus Point. The painted
bandwagon smartly drawn by four horses, its uniformed occupants and
their paraphernalia must have been a colorful sight. The wagon had
seats on each side for about ten men (twenty in all) with room for
their instruments in the middle. John Runyan, Eben Potter the whistler,
the Rulisons and Blythe boys, the four Lambs (one a drum major), Sumner
and Ed Ferguson. Drummers, were a few of the band members, Mr. Briglin
tells me. Sumner's big bass drum is now in Oaks Corners Museum, the
gift of Glenn Sheldon. After the railroad went through, the station
waiting room was often used by the band for practice sessions; they
played home town concerts on the hotel balcony. Orleans men--musicians
or not--used to pile into the big wagon to ride down to Phelps village
on town meeting days.
"Henpeck," northeast of Orleans, was really School District 22,
established 1829. The old brick schoolhouse stands empty where Schroo
Rd joins Route 88. Folk living near the school were said to be from
Henpeck. Thereby may hang a long forgotten tale of some unhappy
husband. There is another version of the nickname's origin; some say
one Hen (ry) Peck was trustee so long that the district took his name.
The fearful fire of April 10, 1910 was discovered by Mr. Jesse Briglin
whose family were barely able to escape their house in night clothing.
Twenty one buildings were destroyed, including seven homes, the Baptist
Church, town hall, warehouses, barns and school. This school was a
two-story brick building erected 1882; its upper floor was a hall for
both school and public purposes. Joseph Blythe's coal shed with 120
tons of coal caught fire; over half the coal burned and continued
burning for days. The hamlet never recovered from this blow.
One of Rev. Anson Titus' historical articles tells the origin of the
community's name. First nicknamed Hardscrabble, it received its
permanent title at the close of the War of 1812-15 after Gen. Andrew
Jackson had won the Battle of New Orleans and so saved a large area
from the British. Local admirers of the soldier hero suggested his
victory be commemorated by naming their hamlet Orleans. Jackson was
then the idol of a large part of the American people. In 1818 he led
the Seminole War to its successful end, became Governor of Florida in
1821 and seven years later was in the White House as seventh President
of the United States.
An old obituary I recently read was on the death of a daughter of
Elijah Goodale and relates to Orleans. I quote: "Her father, Elijah
Goodale, a Phelps pioneer, was killed Sept.21, 1816, at the setting of
the sun just as he was completing the bridge across Flint Creek at
Orleans." Elijah's bridge may have been the first one there. If the
creek had to be forded and the steep banks climbed until 1816, little
wonder the place was called "Hardscrabble." Elijah was undoubtedly of
the same family as Solomon Goodale, Orleans Baptist preacher and 1796
first town clerk of Phelps. The Elijah Goodale listed in the 1867
Directory as owner of an Orleans hotel and carriage shop was probably a
William Moses Kunstler is a lawyer that most have heard of.
I remember many an afternoon or evening spent in his Greenwich Village
home. I was flattered that he accepted me as a friend and
shared some of his idle time with me.
Sometime, maybe around the year 2000 give or
take 5 years or so, I started feeling my age. I loved the far western
states where I had visited on my many trips for Honeywell Information
Systems which later became Bull Computer Systems. I longed to see the
west one more time and I knew that if I waited much longer I would be
too old to make it. I wasn’t feeling well. I had been sickly for quite
some time and saw little chance of improvement. So I decided that if I
was going to do it now was the time. I had it in mind to see the
redwoods again but didn’t make it that far. I had an out dated station
wagon that was seeing its last days and coughed and sputtered a little
and didn’t want to climb above seven or eight thousand feet. I didn’t
want to go alone so I checked around for a companion found that Ben
wanted to go.
I had purchased 4 spare tires on rims cheap and
since the tires on the wagon weren’t good I strapped the spares on the
roof. We loaded up with a tent, food and many blankets and sleeping
bags and were off. We got off to a late start so we camped in western
Pa. The site had a large swimming area and showers and a store for
On our drive through Ohio we passed the ball
park of the Cleveland Indians and the followed the shore of Lake Erie.
We stopped to wash up in the lake and I cautioned Ben about the
slippery rocks the I promptly fell into the lake myself.
We followed Rt. 6 through Indiana to Chicago
and passed the White Socks Stadium and the Sears Bldg. the tallest in
the US. Illinois was rather boring as was Iowa except for the flooding
which caused a rather lengthy detour. In Nebraska things started to
become more interesting to us and it remained such for the rest of the
trip. I tried to make it interesting as possible for Ben but was
somewhat hampered by the fact that I wasn’t feeling well as my health
was in decline. Even with the way I felt I did enjoy most of the trip.
We followed the North Platte River and stopped for good swim. At one
point we realized that we were only a few miles from Kansas so we took
a little side trip to see what it felt like to be in Kansas.
The terrain started become less flat and in
Colorado we finally saw mountains rising out of the plains. We could
soon make out the glaciers in the mts. On the way up the mountain side
we came upon a glacial stream or maybe it was a river. We stopped for a
couple of hours and Ben spent a couple hours panning for gold. We
didn’t get rich. I don’t know how he could stand the ice cold water
coming from melting snow further up the Mt.
When we started up the mountain again the car
started to stutter and soon quit altogether. We were on a steep climb
and were able to back up into a parking area and stopped at such an
angle with the back of the car heading slightly up hill and we were
able to start coasting downhill and soon the car started.
On the way down we a large group of long horn
sheep. We were on the to Rocky Mountain National Park but never got
that high up. I thought about getting the carburetor adjusted for
higher altitude but didn’t because I thought my might screw things up
worse. Instead we turned north to a highway that missed the high
Still in Col. Headed for Cheyenne we
came upon an interesting formation of boulders and played on them for a
while. On the way back to the car Ben found a huge pile of fire
crackers. I cautioned him not to take any with us as they are not legal
in all states but I knew that he had hidden a substantial supply in his
sack in the car. Mostly I was afraid he might get hurt with them.
Occasionally he would set one off behind me and scare the shit out of
Back on the road we continue into Wyoming and
Cheyenne then Laramie where we had a Mexican lunch and checked into a
motel called the Laramie Motel. About 3am the phone rang. It was a
prostitute. Many of the motels in the west have hookers especially on
truck routes. She started out by asking me if I knew what time it was
and I said it’s the middle of the damn night. When she got around to
making her proposition I said no thank you and hung up the phone since
I didn’t think Ben would be interested either. Besides he was
The next day we came upon a house made
entirely of dinosaur bones. It was a tourist attraction so being
tourists we went inside and discovered that there was fee. It was worth
a small fee as they had many old western memorabilia. There was an old
lady giving a talk about the place and warned us we could check around
outside but to be very careful because the area was infested by rattle
snakes that year. When we left Ben got in the car very carefully. It is
a good habit to not mess with rattle snakes.
I remember a very impressive dam that we drove
over and stopped halfway in a parking area for viewing. I’m not sure if
the damn dam was in Wyoming or Utah. Anyway we if we were not in Utah
then we were very soon. We passed by a National Park having to do with
dinosaur bones but we had seen enough of those.
I looked it up on Wiki and found the name is Dinosaur National
Monument. I remember that we spent a night in Utah on a lake and slept
in the car. We slept in the car several times. We had a lot of clothes,
blankets, tents and pillows in the station wagon with the back seats
folded down and it was quite comfortable.
Next day we skirted through a corner of Idaho
and followed a river to Jackson Wyoming watching some white water
rafters. We tried sleeping in a TP but Ben seemed to be breathing hard
so we drove down hill to a motel. Morning saw us exploring the Grand
Tetons with some rough mountains and on to Yellowstone. There we
explored some hot water pools and saw a moose. A little further on we
saw an elk. Ben got a picture of the beast and getting a little too
close for my nerves so I let him take the picture and ease back to a
safe distance. They are aster all wild animals.
We left Yellowstone by the north exit into
Montana climbing over an 11,000 foot pass. I thought for sure the car
would quit but it made it. Visibility was poor as we were in the
clouds. The first motel in Montana reached out for us aster a busy day.
Next we crossed North Dakota where we stopped
to view the badlands. And on to Minnesota where I drove north for while
to visit Hibbing which is where Bob Dylan grew up. One of his early
songs “Girl From the North Country” about that small city. I was
disappointed that there were very few memorabilia to be found not even
a post card. We did find an interesting site in the form of an iron
mine. It was the biggest man made hole I’ve ever seen. There were huge
trucks in the hole with tires taller than a man. You could view the
scene through a glass wall.
From there we went by way of Duluth into
Wisconsin and Michigan where we passed through the great north woods
and camped and had a good swim in Lake Superior. We exited Michigan by
way of Sault Saint Marie crossing into Canada. We got the 3ed degree
from the Canadian Border Patrol but we checked out as harmless
wanderers. I remembered the fireworks but they didn’t look in the car.
While more or less following the north shore of Lake Huron where we
found a small lake with swimming. Ben was a good swimmer and went out
to a raft while I sat at a picnic table with some ladies who spoke only
We spent a night in a motel not far from
Toronto and in the morning visited The Toronto Zoo. They had a tramway
at the zoo which made continuous rounds to all of the exhibits. You
could get off and on at any point. It is a good zoo. We went home by
way of Niagara Falls after visiting all 5 Great Lakes.
During my traveling years I earned many
free tickets for miles flown on various airlines. Some I used for my wife to
travel with me which included 2 trips to Paris. I also made two trips, very
similar as that with Shad, accompanied by my son Butch (Burr Jr.) and once with
my good friend Chuck Lyons.
Some experiences I have left out but I guess that isn’t really
necessary at this point in life and that has to do with mind altering
substances. In Arizona I met some Hopi Indians. They turned me on to
blue corn. More importantly they introduced me to peyote. Peyote is a
bit more powerful than LSD but peyote is not readily available without
Indian contacts so I used LSD to access. I never had any bad
experiences with it as some have. In fact it was good for me since I
stopped drinking and saved myself a lot of trouble and my work
improved. I smoked lots of reefer over the years. Pot turned out to be
bad for me since I got COPD around the turn of the century.
My job history
a teen I worked part time on farms around Orleans but more often I would
accompany my father and help wiring houses and barns around the county.
My first real job was at a machine shop in
Lyons, N.Y. called Kenmore. I had just turned 17 and lied about my age to get
the job and also to drink in the neighborhood bars. You had to be 18 to do
both. I worked there until I got married at 19. During that time I lived at the
Iroquois Hotel, a couple hundred yards from Kenmore; both were by the rail road
and sort of dumpy. I liked the hotel since there was a bar and the rent was a
dollar a day. My pay was around $40.00 a week.
the shop I operated a punch press. Everyone that had operated that press prior
to me had lost at least one finger to it; all but me. I still have all of my
fingers. I had moved to Lyons in the first place because my future wife lived
there. When I married Vivian we moved into an apartment owned by her parents
who were always very kind to me.
Since I had not graduated from high school it
was decided that I should get some education. I had a basic knowledge of
electricity and an interest in amateur radio. I had built my own ham radio
equipment and thereby taught myself some basic electronics. I had no real work
skills and after marriage I operated a steam roller driving back and forth over
gravel for construction of highways.
Because of my electrical knowledge I
picked an electronic course in Chicago. In Chicago I continued drinking a
little too much but I still learned a lot more about electronics. I was always
a little homesick for my wife and on a few occasions I would take a long
weekend and hitch hike home for a couple days. There were no interstate
highways as yet and truckers were very willing to pick up a rider. It was on
those rides with truckers at age 20 that I got turned on to speed. I quickly
learned that all truckers used Benzedrine or Dexedrine and drove many days
without sleep. Most of the diners that catered to truckers sold the speed with
a cup of coffee. It was during that six month period of training that my first child
tried starting a business repairing TVs and electrical wiring. However I wasn’t
mature enough to run a business and soon found it necessary to seek employment.
I don’t remember how I got the door opened
but I sought employment at a relatively new plant in Lyons. My knowledge of
electricity and other building skills opened the door for me. The plant was owned
by Chevron Oil Company. The business was selling various asphalt products for
road construction and paving. I believe the year was 1954.
The plant consisted of seven large
(million Gallon) storage tanks that held various oils, a large high pressure
steam boiler, various sized pumping equipment, a platform for loading tank
trucks and a dock for canal boats. The oils came in by barges on the Erie
Canal. I soon became proficient at all of the functions of the plant and
working shifts operated all functions of the plant alone. Various oils and
asphalts were mixed into smaller tanks for truck loading.
At the time the average pay in local
factories was about $60.00 per week. At Chevron I was earning over $100.00 per
week; enough to live comfortably.
I eventually became bored with the work
and thought of ways to find a job where I wouldn’t feel constantly tarred. This
prompted me to begin a correspondence course from The Cleveland Institute
studying advanced electronics which was highly mathematical. I sometimes had
considerable free time on the graveyard shift while tending to the boiler. The
boiler was large and noisy but I was used to it. The steam was used to keep the
millions of gallons of asphalt heated to over 300 degrees.
After completing the course I was sent a
list of possible job opportunities and I made application to Univac Company. I
believe I have previously spoken of the interview and acceptance there. I spent
the summer of 1960 in the class room learning to be a field engineer which
meant a computer repair man. Unfortunately, after graduation Univac lost a
large government contract and Laid off the 400 newly trained field engineers. The
training was intense and I made no lasting friends.
So, in the fall of 1960 I found a job with
IBM as a field Engineer and began another few months of classroom training. IBM
assisted us in buying a house in Webster where we lived for about 3 years. I
quickly made friends at IBM and had a series of card parties at our house with kegs
of beer and ham sandwiches. These were usually all night affairs. I was trained
on the 1401 computer. The computers were huge and could not be taken into the
shop; they had to be fixed at the customer location. There was no way to even
move one a little bit. I must brag a little here and say that I became rather
good at the job. And in 1963 I was given my own territory in the Dansville
area. Our family moved to and IBM again paid for moving and assisted in buying
a house on Main Street in Dansville. By this time we had 4 children. I got in
some trouble for drinking a bit too much and in the summer of 1965 I joined AA
and stayed sober for the next 20 years. In AA I did make many lifelong friends
most of whom are dead now. At some point it was decided that since I was so far
from the main office in Rochester that I should be trained to assist my
customers with programming problems. I was trained on the autocoder language.
From that time on I trained myself on newer programming languages and updates.
By 1966 with my reputation tarnished from
drinking I decided that it was time to move on. I took a temporary position
with a company that bought used IBM machines and provided the servicing. The
money was good and the work was easy. The base was in Rochester and we bought a
split level in Penfield.
From there we moved again because my next
temporary contract job was in Utica, as a System analyst, at a place called
Chicago Pneumatic Tool Co. We lived for a short time in Oriskany NY in a
temporary small house which I rented. I became good friends with part on the
gig. Bart was the first to turn me on to pot smoking which I immediately took
to. When I moved on to a more permanent position in Rochester I got Bart a job
at that location and we worked together for a while.
and I worked at Fasco Industries Until I left in 1970. We were well received
there. Bart grew his hair quite long. He never got it cut while there. A low
level Manager complained about his long hair until the owner of the factory
came out of his office by the front door and told everyone that Bart could wear
his hair anyway he wanted and warned all that they should leave him alone; he
was a good programmer, the kind the company valued. Bart stayed on at Fasco
several years after I left before he moved to San Francisco. Bart has been a
lifelong friend. I visited him in SF a few times when my work took me there and
also with Stephanie and Ike on vacation around 1972. More recently Bart took a
vacation trip around the country and spent a few days with me in Syracuse. He
came by train wear he had taken a sleeping car so he could smoke his weed on
the way. One of my favorite memories from the Fasco period was when the boss
called him into the office. He told Bart that he noticed that he did twice as
much work in the afternoon than in the mornings. Then he said that a couple workers
had told him that Bart smoked a joint every day at lunch time in the parking
lot. Bart apologized and said he would stop doing that. The boss quickly said
no don’t stop; I just wanted to suggest that you smoke one in the morning so he
would work like hell in the morning like he did in the afternoon.
Around 1970 I was called by an old friend
who was now an administrator at Rochester Business Institute. He asked me to
come to work for him as an instructor of computer science and I accepted. Of course
the pay was much better. I had to quickly learn 4 new computer programming
languages. I liked this job. This is where I met Ross who I have spoken of
above somewhere. Ross was a hippie in disguise. He came for an interview in a
borrowed suit and tie and an Eagle Scout tie pin. At one point my son Jim came
to the school to learn about computers. While there he got involved in a band
that formed at the school and played for various school functions. I think that
during the semester he partied more than study. He is currently a self taught
computer expert. The students were well behaved and so was I. All good things,
and bad things, come to an end. I would never have left that job if it wasn’t
for the sudden drop in student enrollment. The computer was a large expenditure
compared to equipment needed for other topics and the time came when the
administration made a decision to discontinue the computer courses. They tried
to keep the wraps on the decision as they knew it would be difficult to replace
me if I left before the end of the semester. Fortunately the secretaries were
friendlier with me than with the administrators and clued me in so I
immediately updated and circulated my resume. Of course as we know secrets
always get discovered and word of my resume circulating got to administration.
I was approached by the big boss who had a very grim look on his face. He asked
me if it was true that my resume was in circulation. He said to me “it doesn’t
look good for an instructor to have a resume going around town”. He stood there
waiting for an answer. Of course he thought that I knew nothing of the upcoming
drop on the computer courses. So my reply was “OK you tell me your secret and I’ll
tell you mine”. He stood there dumbfounded for a while before asking where I got
the info without telling his secret. We both knew the others position. Of
course I didn’t tell him that it was his private secretary that told me. When
I was ready to start another job I gave 1 month notice so that a replacement
could be found.
Next I was hired by The University of
Rochester who had computer systems in the basement at Strong Memorial Hospital
which we referred to as the bowels of the building. The hospital and medical
school was actually part of the U of R. Another system was located in a section
of The Townhouse Motel Next door to the hospital and another on the U of R
campus. My main function while there was to assist medical students by helping
them with the computer work involved in writing papers for their doctorates and
other research projects. This was highly mathematical and I took some
mathematics and calculus courses at the university. Taking courses for free was
a benefit for employees and I was allowed to take one course during the day and
one in the evening. Out of curiosity I took one semester of Sociology which was
quite interesting but not really practical. Later in life I took courses by
mail from the U of Iowa and the U of Oregon on Biology and upper level
literature for my personal improvement. I can’t remember why I left that job except that I was greedy for more money.
I don’t remember all of the places I did
contract programming. But that involved short assignments at various companies
around the Rochester area. Then around 1976 I taught high school students
electronics at BOCES in Penfield. I wasn’t particularly good at working with
teen agers and only stayed there for one school year.
My next job was at Ragu Foods where they
were mainly into production of spaghetti sauce. There was nothing particularly special
about that job. It was easy working as a Systems Analyst developing business systems.
I remember sending a case of Ragu sauce to Bill Kunstler in NYC more or less as
a joke. We were into pulling each other’s leg for laughs and getting stoned. I
always stopped to see Bill when I was in NYC on business and he was always glad
to see me because I always had a bag of weed.
I want to break from work history before I
get into Honeywell and Boston. The recent history has caused some upheaval in
my life. Today is the 25th day of March in the year 2020. For the
last 15 days I have shut myself off from the world and have remained in my
room. The kitchen is the next room and the bathroom is on the other side. This
is my world now. I fix my dinner in the kitchen and eat it in my room. Every
time I leave my room for any reason I disinfect my hands before I return. The
only other person that enters my room is my daughter Christine. Christine and
her friend use the rest of the first floor. Upstairs there is Gwen and a
friend. Christine only goes out to pick up take outs from a local diner, I hope
very carefully. I amuse myself by watching TV and sitting at my computer typing
messages on Facebook.
It seems like eternity but it was only
around the first of this month that the virus (COVID-19) started circulating in
this country. And it has only been since I shut myself in that it was
discovered in Onondaga County. Only about 60 cases have been found in this
county but due to the shortage of testing equipment and the fact that a large
number of cases are asymptomatic. The ones that have been tested positive are
very sick and many are dying. Those that are asymptomatic are still very
contagious which makes them more dangerous. It is suspected that for every sick
patient there are 11 more that aren’t sick. The number sick people doubles
about every 3 days. Just yesterday I found out that my nephew Derick and his
wife, a nurse, are sick with it. It is very hazardous for doctors and nurses as
it is extremely contagious and is 10 times worse than the flu especially deadly
for the elderly.
Being 85 years old I am especially
frightened. Most people are. I have experiencing periodic moments of panic and
anxiety. To make things worse President Trump and others knew this was coming
and did nothing to prepare consequently there is a severe shortage of medical
will die due to Trumps stupidity.
Today my cat died. It’s been between 5 and
6 months since the vet told me he would live only a few days. It was 10 to 11
years ago that I ran into a friend at the plaza. He had a large box with him.
In the box he had several kittens. I picked up a black kit. I played with it
for a few minutes and could not put it back. Throughout that period he has
slept next to me. Tonight he won’t be there.
have described my almost 10 years with Honeywell Bull Company and I still get
$200 a month from them since I actually worked there long enough to earn some
I continued to do the same sort of thing that I did at Honeywell in my own
successful business called Cookhouse Computer Company for a couple years. That
and what followed is described in the article reprinted from the Finger Lakes