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I was born on August 23, 1943 in Schenectady, New York to Gordon Elbert Paul and Lesley Landborg Paul. I was a late child in that my parents were both in their mid to late thirties when I was born. My sister Anne was (and is) my only sibling and she is thirteen years older than I. We lived at 223 Union Street in the historic Stockade section of Schenectady, an otherwise drab industrial town wholly devoted to the support of the General Electric Company. During the war my mother worked for the Ration Board and my father worked for General Electric.
I attended pre school in Schenectady until the spring of 1949 when I went to live with my Grandmother Lavergne Edwards Paul in nearby Selkirk while my parents divorced. I entered first grade in a two-room school house in Selkirk and launched my academic career by knocking over a vase of roses on the teacher's desk. We had five grades in our room and the water tasted very bad. At Christmas time in 1949, I went to live with my mother who had moved to New York and had found a small apartment at 518 Madison Ave in midtown New York. This was to remain my "home" until 1963.
Being that my mother worked, from second grade onwards I was sent to boarding school. Second through fourth grades were spent at the St. Christopher's school in Dobbs Ferry New York. Sixth through eighth grades I attended the Manumit School in Bucks County Pennsylvania. The exception to this was the fifth grade when I attended Public School No. 59 near our New York apartment. During these years, I rarely saw my father who was working in a variety of sales positions in Schenectady and was very involved in tournament bridge. In 1955, he returned to teaching, the profession with which he started his working career. He was a high school mathematics teacher. The following year he took a position at Blair Academy in Blairstown New Jersey.
In 1957 I was offered the chance to attend Blair (an event that shaped my life) free of charge as a faculty child. It was four years of considerable growth, both intellectually and socially. I graduated from Blair in the Spring of 1961 and in the fall entered Columbia College, the men's undergraduate division of Columbia University and one of the schools in the Ivy League. I complete my undergraduate work in three years and graduated in August of 1964 with a BA, majoring in English Literature. Throughout my college career, I worked nearly full time, first as a waiter and then in the Columbia University Library. Unfortunately, I experienced few of the normal college social and extracurricular experiences. Aside from $950 per year that my father gave me, I was totaling self supporting at that time.
It had been my intention to enter a graduate school of Architecture and to pursue that profession. I was, in fact, accepted into the professional option plan of the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture after completing two years at the College (three year's worth of class work). This permitted me to spend my last year of undergraduate work in the first year program of the Architecture School. After completing this year, I decided not to pursue an architecture career, principally because it seemed an excessively hard way to make a living.
While I was a student at Columbia, in August 1963, my mother died after a long and increasingly debilitating battle with Multiple Sclerosis. I moved to the South Bronx where the rents were more reasonable.
In August of 1964, at the age of 21, and newly graduated from Columbia, I married Carolann Mulroney, my high school sweetheart, in the garden of my sister's home in Rowayton Connecticut. We moved to New York's Upper West side, first on West 103rd Street and then on West 97th Street.
In the fall of 1964, I sought a job in the computer industry, mainly because my close friend Michael McCarthy had been working as a programmer and computers seemed fascinating. I interviewed with IBM and was offered a job as a system engineer trainee in the Banking and Brokerage office near Wall Street in downtown New York. I spent three years with IBM and benefited from their extensive training program. I realized that software development was the most interesting process and that I was really good at it. The good fortune of my job with IBM really shaped my life.
My first action after getting a job and earning some money was to learn to fly. I had always been interested in airplanes and flying. Charles Lindbergh was my hero. I drove up to Westchester County Airport one morning a week and subjected myself to the wonders of flight under the autocratic supervision of a series of low mentality flight instructors. In October of 1965 I soloed and in April of 1966 I received my private pilot's license. Carolann was very skeptical about flying (a bad sign).
In January of 1967 our daughter Victoria was born. Carolann quit her job at Columbia and became a full-time mom. A few months later, I was lured away from IBM by a small consulting company, Automated Concepts Inc., and doubled my somewhat skimpy IBM salary. I was the fifth employee. The owner/president seemed quite old (he was 28 years old). I worked for them for seven years doing software development in IBM assembly language and sometimes COBOL. I was a specialist in communications and real-time systems.
In December of 1967, I was assigned to the Sprague Electric Company in Williamstown Massachusetts. The snow was three feet deep and Carolann, who didn't drive, was appalled by life outside of Manhattan. But the job was great, she learned to drive, we both learned to ski, and by the time the flowers came out in May we loved that small college town. That summer I earned my instrument rating and bored holes in the clouds all over New England. Unfortunately, the assignment ended by Thanksgiving and we headed back to New York and settled in one of the northern suburbs, Mamaroneck on the northern shore of Long Island Sound.
Once back in New York, Carolann applied to Columbia and in 1971 finished her BA degree in Art History. I bought a succession of beat up airplanes, one of which crashed in a field in New Jersey scaring my passenger (who had never been up in a light plane) half to death. We flew to the Bahamas and all over the East Coast. I found Victoria a more willing companion than Carolann. Throughout this period I was working at various programming assignments, dabbled in project management, and was coordinator of my company's education program.
In the summer of 1971 I took four months off from work and the three of us went to Europe. We bought a VW bug at the factory in Germany, filled it up with camping equipment, and drove throughout Europe. from England to Turkey and everything in between. It was a wonderful experience, and even Victoria who was four years old, had a tolerably good time driving for hours on end, and then visiting an endless succession of art museums. We returned in late September and resumed our "normal life".
But it wasn't to last long. In November, Carolann announced that she wanted a separation. I moved to a small apartment in Manhattan's East Village and Carolann made plans to move to California (without me). It was, without doubt, the worst time in my life. I had thought our life were not just good, but very good. I was terribly wrong, said Carolann. In June, Carolann and Victoria loaded their possessions into a van and headed for Los Angeles. It was a catastrophic day in my life.
I bought a motor cycle and tried to put my life together. I received a lot of support from my friends and dated some wonderful women, to whom I must have seemed self-centered and preoccupied with my failed marriage. Victoria came and spent two summers with me (1973 and 1974), the latter in the company of her mother. We had many opportunities to reconcile but it just didn't work.
In 1972 I bought a pair of brownstones on West 12th Street in Greenwich Village in partnership with my friend, and high school buddy, Peter Williams. I moved into the second floor apartment overlooking 12th Street and could look into the apartment of Ramsey Clark, the former US Attorney General who lived across the street. They were beautiful old buildings dating from before the Civil War. The whole deal was a disaster. Peter, who was a professional slum lord, made a number of strategic mistakes and before we knew it, we had a full blown rent strike on our hands. For two years, I endured the enmity of my neighbors and dug into my thin wallet to pay the mortgage. For two years we had neither heat or hot water. I scoured the neighborhood for packing crates to burn in the fireplace. It was misery, both physically and financially.
In the summer of 1974, I was offered a job for a new company in Monterey California, Ocean Data Systems. My friend Howard Straus, whom I had met at IBM, had joined the Navy and had ended up in Monterey where the Navy had its weather prediction computers. I could think of no reasons why I should not move west: the weather, the beautiful locale, my daughter living in Los Angeles, and an escape from being a landlord.
When I interviewed for the job at ODSI (later Global Weather Dynamics Inc), I told my potential employer that I wanted to travel and would be disappointed if that opportunity did not materialize. Capt. Paul Wolff (US Navy, retired) chuckled to himself and predicted that I would regret making that statement. Howard, for his part, took me on a tour of the local beaches where in every cove we saw numerous nubile maidens cavorting naked in the waves. I was quite ready to sign on the dotted line. I finished my last assignment for CBS Election Night Coverage, and on the following day, November 4th, 1974. I sold my share in 44 West 12th Street, and got on a 707 headed for California.
My twenty one years time at GWDI (as of 1995) has been spent in a combination of software development and intense international travel. I became the architect of the principal product of the company, a meteorological message switching system. The first installation was scheduled for October of 1975 in Pretoria South Africa. I packed for six weeks and didn't return to Monterey for six months.
Earlier, in February of 1975 I had had a blind date with Gayle Wood, a 2nd grade teacher in Monterey. We had a lovely love affair, but one that was punctuated by our mutual uncertainty . In July, Gayle, not having any great success with me, moved to San Francisco to work on her masters degree in early childhood education. We continued to see each other, but the distance made our relationship somewhat difficult. Over Christmas 1975, Gayle came to South Africa for two weeks during which time we toured the country and celebrated one of our most memorable Christmases. Gayle left the day after New Years. At 2 in the morning, I received a call from my sister. Our father had died. I was on the next flight to New York. Gayle was lounging on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.
Between 1966 and 1978 I traveled extensively, mostly to South Africa, Egypt, Greece, Finland, Bulgaria, and New Zealand. I spent a miserable 200th anniversary of the United States working in a dingy computer room in Cairo. Gayle and I continued to see each other from time to time. I bought a small house in Carmel Valley Village and then two years later sold it to buy 10 acres of land in Corral De Tierra, an area that John Stinebeck referred to as the "pastures of heaven". In 1978 Gayle and I were once again reunited and in June of 1979 we were married at our newly completed house on the hill top served by a dusty dirt road. My sister and Gayle's brother attended us at the ceremony that (in the style of the 60's, was characterized by Indian poems, personal testimonials, and few, if any, references to the Almighty. I disgraced myself by weeping throughout the affair and was unable to read my little poem scrawled on the back of a paper bag. We honeymooned in Finland where I worked and Gayle had a lovely vacation. It has been a good marriage that has been the focus of our life for the last 17 years.
In 1984, I broke with GWDI and took a consulting job with NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California (near Los Angles). I commuted down to LA during the week and spent the weekends at home. I took this as an opportunity to get back into flying, something I had been ignoring for the previous fifteen years. Contrary to my better judgment, I bought a plane to make the commute. It was a 1966 Mooney (no relationship to any religious sect), a fast four seat retractable. I could make it from Salinas to Pasadena in a little under two hours. This plane, 9208M or "Mike", became for Gayle and I the means for many weekend and vacation trips: The East Coast (five or six times), the Oshkosh Wisconsin air show (nearly every year), Alaska (twice), Mendocino, Callistoga, Harris Ranch, Death Valley, Las Vegas, and Red Bluff, a hard six hour drive to where Gayle's parents lived that we could make in 90 minutes. Latey we have been traveling to Mexico with some regularity and spent Christmas 2004 in Belize and Guatemala.
In 1987, I returned to GWDI and found my old desk and filing cabinet still filled with my papers from three years earlier. We had found the weekly separation difficult and Gayle had said, in maybe not the same words, "Get a new job or a new wife". In 1991 we sold the airplane when things looked bad at GWDI (which they do, periodically), and I went through a difficult year feeling that my identity (pilot and exalted commander) had been stripped from me. In 1993 we bought another Mooney (a 1978 201) which has recently been upgraded to a 1980, 231 Turbo Mooney. In 1996, we were reunited with our old friend, "Mike", in a miraculous turnaround of fortune. That story is told in "How not to sell your Mooney"
In 1990 Gayle became a school principal, a job that keeps her incredible busy, and forces us to spend a lot of time alone. I continue to travel extensively in my job. In 1990, I discovered a profound interest in genealogy and have spent a considerable amount of time exploring my roots and boring my family with my findings. I spend a great deal of time on-line exploring the use of the Internet for both genealogical and personal use. Victoria, our daughter, graduated from College, UC Santa Barbara, and lived for two years in Japan. During that period, we became linked at the hip (so to speak) by e-mail, a practice that continues today. With the encouragement of Gayle, Tory has become an elementary school teacher in LA. In 1998, she moved to Santa Rosa in Sonoma California where she teaches Kindergarten.
In August of 2000, I broke once again with GWDI and joined a aviation-oriented engineering and research firm in Los Gatos California, Seagull Technology. The job was great, software development for air traffic control applications. But the commute was horrendous, 90 minutes each way at off-peak times, longer during the rush hours. In November of 2000 I was offered a good position as a senior software developer at Tivre Technology a high-tech startup company based in Monterey, 10 miles from my house. I jumped at the opportunity and enjoyed the simplicity of just doing programming in C++ and Java. Unfortunately, the dot com bubble burst and Tivre was a causality. I found myself 58 years old, unemployed in a market filled with thousands of brilliant software developers. Fortunately GWDI's door was still open and I rejoined them doing a very interesting and challenging job that I have no intention of leaving until I retire.
In the summer of 2001 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. This devastating news coupled with the recommendation of immediate surgery encouraged me to seek out an alternative therapy that would leave me with all my body parts intact. For two difficult years I adopted the Gerson Therapy, a controversial therapy involving a very strict vegetarian diet, no salt, virtually no fat, and nearly continuous consumption of freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juices. I also documented this experience in a huge personal diary. After two year, it was determined by biopsy that the cancer, although not eradicated (which was my expectation), had shrunk considerably. The doctors at Stamford concluded that, for now, the condition should just be monitored and there was no need for any conventional treatment. As for the Gerson therapy, I believe it works but it is unsustainable and represented a complete disruption of my life.
Corral de Tierra, October 28, 1995 (Last Updated November, 2005)