Dear Aunt Nancy:
Mom and Dad kept busy harvesting his crop year round and sold to grocery stores. When we moved to New York the property (a 4 acre “farm”) was sold more for the greenhouse than the house, and my recollection is that the purchaser became a full time grower and made a nice living off of Dad’s greenhouse.
(As an aside, we hated to leave that farm because we had a pony, black haired and sassy, and appropriately named “Nancy”. You will recall that you took her and kept her on your farm and renamed her “GG”. She was so much fun that I think she was more aptly named after you, and to me she will always be Nancy.)
A Cranky aside – Aunt Nancy’s real name was Eleanor, but that is a different story.
Unfortunately, unlike wood, fiberglass boats sank like a stone if capsized and that stunted the initial appetite for them. But Dad conceived of the idea of building a hull inside the hull of a fiberglass boat and filling the core with foam. Tests demonstrated to Dad that this construction would not only give the boat a firmness not present in initial fiberglass boats, which felt like you were sitting or standing on eggshells, but, more importantly, it could make fiberglass boats even more buoyant than wooden ones. He then set about making a fiberglass boat.
He designed a racing sailboat that fit the allowable dimensions of the moth, a type of 1-2 man 11 foot racing sailboat then popular at the Ocean City Yacht Club, and set about building it in our basement on Long Island.
He did this from scratch. It required building a wood frame, upside down, then covering it with chicken wire and ultimately plaster. A separating compound was then spread on the plaster and fiberglass on top of that. When it set, the fiberglass was popped off the plaster mold and it became a mold for the actual fiberglass boat that was built inside of it so that, on its removal from the mold, it would have a smooth exterior. He then built a second, smaller hull, installed it within the larger outer hull, filled the gap between the hulls with Styrofoam, and eureka, he had created one of the first (if not the first) fiberglass boats that would not sink.
This is now essentially the method used in constructing all fiberglass boats even to today. Not only would the boat not sink, his design was so good that the boat dominated the moth class for some time. My brother Jim sailed it to third place against far more seasoned competition in the first regatta the new boat was entered in, the International Championships, which had more than 100 entrants. Because it was fast, and would not sink, there was a demand for the boats and we made and sold 10-15 over the next few years as a hobby for Dad and summer job for Jim and me.
And then came the computer and digital age. Dad was just a little early for it. Too bad, he would have reveled in all that has come in the past 20 years. But he was fascinated by what he did see of the new developments and the potentially powerful new tools that could be developed.
I remember how he applied his intellectual curiosity and “can do” attitude when Aunt Phil came to live with him and Mom as she battled cancer. She was bedridden and helpless at times. That distressed Dad, but he was intrigued with the then developing use of electric garage door openers and remote TV channel changers. He wondered how that might help Phil, and he developed a remote for her that she could use to turn on and off lights in the room, summon them and, I think, control the radio. All pretty standard stuff now, but he developed it from scratch.