I suppose genetics had something to do with it since both Father and Mother were "handy" and keenly interested and involved with design, building and use of living space. Early on found me playing with Lincoln Logs, making castles and villages in a large sandbox, finishing an unused garage attic, building tree houses. Neither a chemical engineering degree, a graduate program in human development nor a polyglot career in engineering, psychology and personnel administration kept me away from building as a part-time activity. By the time I reached forty I abandoned the corporate game and focused on drawing board, hand and power tools. builders, tradesmen, real estate agents, bankers and lawyers. The switch proved to be the best way of feathering the nest and providing enjoyment both for me, buyers and tenants.
Once on hitchhiking to New York City I was advised by my pickerupper that anyone living in that city must have a place away from it to maintain sanity. I took his advice and fell in love with West Millford, NJ. Warwick & Greenwood Lake. NY. Not only are they stunningly scenic but fertile fields for building and renovating residential properties.
By 1967. I had completed ten projects and was eager for more. A house on the market had instant appeal. Of log and stone, it overlooked pristine Pinecliff Lake at the base of pine, hardwood and hemlock-clad Bearfort Mountain. On the shore opposite lay the West Millford town center with a mega-supermarket, banks, home centers, restaurants, excellent schools, and services. And all just 40 miles by frequent commuter bus from Times Square!
The house was set into the mountainside with an eight-loot high stonewalled unfinished full basement and one car garage. The floor above had a pine-paneled living room with cathedral ceilings, a stone fireplace on one side. family/dining room and a kitchen on the other and a 30-foot wide bank of casement windows overlooking the lake. Behind this were two bedrooms and a full bath. The gabled roof was pitched high enough to allow a generous attic room, which had not been developed. A private patio behind the kitchen could accommodate lounge chairs and picnic table. The lot was so small (50’ X 120') that there was no grass to mow although a small garden could be tended at the back of the house.
The ancient owners were anxious to unload so the price was right. Invariably my projects were started in wintertime. I asked the owners to let me test the water and septic before signing the sale contract "No - it's winter and with no heat the pipes will freeze." My ardor was unabated and I signed the contract. This before the time when New Jersey required sales agents to reveal all problems and defects. Nor did I query next door neighbors - a mistake I have not since made. Soon alter closing. the good neighbor to the South disclosed that dishwater was routinely thrown off the patio. The septic had died and could not be revived. Panic!
I had not taken out a building permit, advised that local codes and inspectors were irrationally tough. The local substrate was predominately non-porous clay which would not "perc" so that there was a thriving honey-dipping industry and no automatic laundry. The only solution was to build a bank of imported porous soil to surround a cesspool. So, I did it out of desperation, knowing that the property could have been condemned otherwise. The only problem was the neighbors on the north who were afraid they would lose their child from dysentery. Fortunately, they did not report me - I think because they were wary their own violations would come to light and also hesitated to stop a project that would improve the appearance of the neighborhood. It worked!
Next problem: Colliform bacteria in a water sample. Solution: dig a deeper well with appropriate casing. Problem: Bounteous springs from the mountainside running continuously through the basement and scotching my plan to finish it with cement floor and sheet-rocked walls. Solution: Provide a trench around the periphery leading to a French drain. Otherwise, things went smoothly. I cemented the ground floor, replaced the garage door with a standard entry door, built a switchback stairway to the living room and used the remaining space for a utility room, a generous closet and a potential game or family room. A stair to a gallery and access to the ample attic, which could, with addition of a shed dormer, become a spacious master bedroom.
The following spring, wasps invaded the eaves and carpenter ants were feeding on the hearts of the log walls, which were otherwise such good insulators. Panic! The wasps were evicted and kerosene soaked, crumpled newspapers were stuffed into the logs then sealed by cement. The ants gave up!
The First local ad brought a copious response and I chose an attractive unmarried couple who loved the house - and I them. They operated a popular and romantic restaurant in a converted ancient flourmill alongside the Pequannock River in New Jersey. Their invitation to enjoy a free dinner was a clincher. An innovative fare and a rare feature of senior portions were pluses. They moved in only to encounter the next scourge - a family of bats! Few people I know love bats - but this couple was undeterred!
Next trouble - his divorce had not been settled and banks would not grant a mortgage. I decided to be patient and rent and in a few years, they were owners. Alas! The restaurant burned down after a flood and they had to sell the house.
Today Pinecliff community is upscale and a new owner obviously loves the house and cares for it. As I did.
My first experience was at Cornell when I was supposed to be "Women's Editor" of the "Comellian" in the 1943 - 44 school year. Since most of the men were off fighting in WWII. Nancy Green, women's "Business Manager" and myself had to fight the Cornell administration for the right to publish a yearbook. They gave us three weeks to sell 1,000 copies at $5.00 each and when we were successful we were allowed to become "Editor in Chief" and "Business Manager." If that had not happened there would be no 1994 "Cornellian."
My second experience came when I applied for a "Junior Editor" position at Random House in 1945. My parents were good friends of Bennet Cerf, head of Random House so I had no trouble getting an interview. I told him about my success while at Cornell, and he said, "What can you do?" I replied that I had just explained that to him, and once again he asked, "What can you do?" He was referring to secretarial skills such as typing and short hand. He told me that those skills were the only entry into Random House for women. I asked about qualifications for men. His answer was. "We take in young men as junior editors all the time."
I was so angry that I left and sat through a double feature twice. I eventually became a "social worker."
My third experience was probably the worst of all. Without going into details as to how my husband and I and three very small children moved to St. Augustine. FL. We parted company several years later. I had seen the handwriting on the wall and had been making weekly trips to Gainesville, FL, where the University of Florida is. I realized that I needed to change careers so that I could spend as much lime as possible with my kids and this meant becoming a teacher. I had to put in a year in residence taking courses and interning. So I wrote to University Family Housing which had been made available for all the returning veterans who were already married and back at school under the GI bill of rights.
Their answer was that we did not qualify for housing because we weren't a FAMILY. I wrote hack and asked if it were a father and three small children, would they qualify? Their answer was yes.
From that day on I decided that we were a family, and nothing would stop me from bringing up my kids as members of a family. I got my M.Ed (not worth the paper it was printed on) and an MA in Intellectual American History. I taught for 16 years while my kids were growing up. Most of the time we had no child support. They all went to college, and now at ages 41, 42, and 43, there are four delightful grandchildren and they are all in careers that probably wouldn't have been possible in 1945.
I was elected to our county school board in 1980, and was re-elected two more times, and retired in order to become a lobbyist. I am still an "Education Consultant." The opportunities for women have improved tremendously.
The war was over. The blue Tampa Bay channel waters sparkled in the Florida sun. My companion's friend had a stately yawl given to him by an admiring widow.
It was a perfect afternoon for a sail to the outer banks for a picnic and swim. Jay and I went into town for beer, cold cuts, bread and cheese. We expected there would be some nourishment on board as Bruce lived on the boat. We stored the food while Bruce went to pick up his date, Mary.
With joy and light-hearted thoughts, we left the dock. Jay had been a PT boat captain during the war and had sailed during his teens. Bruce was an airline pilot and knew little about sailing. Who cared? We were young and had already gone through a war. You know - live today for tomorrow we may die. Mary felt queasy and went below. I followed to see what I could do to help her - nothing - she just lay down on one of the bunks. Above, there was work to help the men get underway - coil ropes, help furl sails. etc. Soon we were breezing out of the channel ready for delights at sea. 1 stretched out on the salon hatch listening to the water slap against the hull.
Two hours later we arrived at the entrance of the Bay and moored. Jay, Bruce and I sat on the deck drinking a beer or two - yakking. When I finally went below to fix sandwiches, I found Mary still seasick and miserably unhappy. I relayed the message above that I felt a return to port would be desirable. Did I mention that off and on I had been holding the poor girl's head while she heaved? It was getting late and since I had discovered all we had to eat was what Jay and I had brought board plus some oranges, we had no supper handy.
The anchor was raised and the sails were hoisted. Jay tried to come about for the return trip but the boat did not answer to the wheel. We anchored again, of course after lowering the sails. It was discovered that the rudder was broken. Even trying to run with the engine would not make any difference. We needed help badly! With a mirror found in my "necessaries" we signaled to the few passing luxury boats. Only one came near but informed us that there was no way they could help. Not everyone in those days had ship-to-shore or ship-to-anything else. We kept signaling, hoping for a small plane Flying overhead. I had done this many times. My flying friends must have been otherwise occupied that day. No sight of pleasure craft in the sky.
It was getting dark. Mary was heaving still and the men were getting angry with one another - shouting, cursing and just running hither and yon, accomplishing nothing. I was becoming afraid. We could see the shore but the current was too strong for anyone to attempt swimming. We had already put a line over the stem which was quickly pulled to the bow. We could only hope the anchor would hold: if not we would be swept out into the open Bay.
Bruce went below to comfort Mary while Jay and I stayed on deck flashing SOS to a moored freighter nearby. I had always heard that rescue at sea was speedy, only later to find out that when large ships were in the channel there were no lookouts. Jay and I decided we might as well go below and try to sleep until the dawn. How optimistic - who could sleep? We might awaken in the morning and find a vast ocean and no shore in sight!
We were lucky, the anchor held. The damn freighter slowly slunk away to the harbor we had left. The sun brought our spirits up again. We could see we were not alone, there was small boat activity in the water. But nobody paid any attention to our frantic waving or mirror SOS. Within an hour a Coast Guard Cutter appeared and did respond to our signal. Jay used many hand signals, which were not only understood but brought forth a line to be attached to our boat. His expert knowledge made it easier to know where to tie it on. Happily, we were towed back to the harbor and our dock. We found out that the crew of the Cutter had been given a day off to fish - a prize for extraordinary service in the last couple of months. We hoped they would be given another day because they used this one rescuing us. A sick, frail Mary was helped ashore by Bruce. Jay and I were left to wash down the decks and otherwise tidy up aboard.
What had started out as a happy day afloat turned into a nightmare. Both exhausted, Jay and I kissed goodbye and went our separate ways.
I wonder if the other three remember that day of long ago?
"KAPPA FROM CORNELL"
Harold J "Hal" Rhyndance BA ‘43. JR ‘49. Ruth (Cosline) Rhyndance BS '44
A freshman dance at Willard Straight Hall in September 1940, introduced Harold Rhyndance. Jr. to Ruth Cosline. They dated several times, exploring the wonders of the State and Strand theatres in downtown Ithaca. Each had many dates with different people, as was the custom in the pre-war days. Going "steady" was unheard of unless you were engaged to be married. "Playing the field" it was called and in their endeavor to meet many people on campus, they lost touch with each other.
They became reacquainted during the 40th class reunion after tragedies befell their respective spouses. Following long distance courting (Washington DC to Palos Verdes, CA), they married in November 1986.
After retiring and settling in on the beautiful California Coast, Ruth asked Harold, "Why didn't we date more at Cornell?" He answered, "Like the old songs says. It Was Just One Of Those Things.'" The next week, he received a letter from a Cornell friend, with congratulations on his marriage and stating that "back in our Sigma Chi days, I vaguely recall you mentioning that you had your eyes on a pretty Kappa who was so popular as to preclude much chance of dating."
Over the years, he confesses, he learned to be more aggressive, first, as an Army officer, and then as a trial attorney in Washington DC. Among so many brilliant lawyers, he says, he had to think positively.
And it happened, with positive thinking, that he flew via Delta to California many times, and won the heart of the "Kappa from Cornell.".