However, the life in Alabama was soon to change. In the spring of 1962, Dad took my elder sister and mother to Greenwich, Connecticut to interview at private schools. Dad was being transferred to the New York area that summer and the whole family would be moving for the first time in seven years. My interview with the headmaster of Greenwich Country Day School went quite well. All I talked about was golf which I had become quite knowledgeable about, and the headmaster was an avid golfer. I was accepted for admissions that following fall, although I would have to attend summer school to improve my verbal and math skills.
Early that summer the movers came and packed up our belongings, and the family departed in the station wagon for the trip north. We stopped at Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, Virginia and in Washington D.C.. In New York we spent the day at the World's Fair. Although exhausting I particularly enjoyed the General Motors and General Electric exhibits about future living. I also was able to see the Pieta which was on loan from the Vatican. When we returned to the car, we found that the car had been broken into. All of our valuables were gone including my mother's fur coat and my transistor radio. Life in a urban area would require less trusting in the future.
We moved into a new house in Stamford on a pond about ten miles away from school in Greenwich. Dad would drive me to school every morning around seven A.M. and then catch the train from Greenwich to go into New York. The ride after the smooth flat roads in Alabama was quite scary on the curving back roads of Greenwich. I entered into an intensive summer school program having to learn grammar and punctuation, writing, and geometry and history. For some reason I found the courses easy though much more comprehensive than my studies in Alabama. I was the subject of much fun from my classmates because of my southern accent which I had developed over many formative years in the south. That summer I built a tree house in a tree across from our house and would spend many evening hours enjoying the new types of birds in the Connecticut forest. I made many friends in school and would be going to school with them for the next three years.
Regular school sessions began that fall, and I was introduced to a much more intensive academic schedule. There was English, Latin, French, Math, Social Studies, History, and Science. Woodworking classes and organized athletics were held in the afternoon along with study hall. Mid day assembly consisted of hymns and prayers along with an address from the headmaster or some other public speaker. I was placed in the top quarter of the class which was quite competitive and I would always be given grades for effort although my academic grades were only average. Most of my classmates had attended the school since nursery school, so they were much more attuned to comprehensive studies. Although I worked hard my previous education in Alabama had left many gaps particularly in American history. I knew more about the Indian tribes of Alabama than the founding fathers. I excelled in Math and struggled through Latin. I was quite adept at woodworking class and pursued a number of projects from lamps to a desk.
Most of my classmates were politically attuned and mostly republican, however, I did not watch much television during that period since my studies preoccupied most of my free time at home. Kennedy was president and the children of Greenwich were unfamiliar with the south and his civil rights ideals. They were somewhat skeptical of me coming from the south, however, I found my classmates more insular than many of my Alabama friends. Greenwich was a large town spread over many miles and children were mostly dependent upon their parents to visit their friends and do most errands. Since I lived in Stamford a number of miles away I was not able to see many of my friends after school and my sisters remained my best friends. My eldest sister was enrolled in Rosemary Hall in Greenwich, so she would ride to school with me daily. We carpooled with an English couple who had a daughter that also attended school in Greenwich.
Fairfield county was a very attractive area, and although Stamford was a quite nice area, my sister and I started urging my parents to move to Greenwich, so we could be closer to our friends. They eventually found a new house and we moved to Greenwich the following year and my younger sisters were to enroll in the Day school.
In those days Greenwich was purely a bedroom community and there were not all of the corporate offices in town. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, and many families had been resident in the community for hundreds of years. Greenwich was a three hundred and fifty year old community and it had only become a suburb of New York City with the advent of the railroad fifty years earlier. There was a tradition of rural industry and hard work which was reflected by the innumerable stone walls surrounding properties through out the community. As Robert Frost said, " Good Fences Make Good Neighbors."
Going to and from school with my sisters was a constant ballet of jockeying for position in the station wagon and my mother's ear. We would carpool with another family from outside Detroit who had recently arrived in town, and had one daughter my older sister's age and two sons near my age, one of whom would become one of my best friends although we attended different schools. Greenwich has many fine private and public schools, and the children always form cliques around the schools they and their siblings attend. The parents tend to carry on this tradition by remaining in various cliques revolving around the various country clubs, tennis clubs, and yacht clubs of which there are many dotting the landscape of the town. My father chose to join the Greenwich Country Club which was a great pile of painted white brick since the old club house had recently burned down. Our neighbors the Kings were also members, so my friends and I would end up spending many long summer afternoons around the pool, tennis courts, and golf course in an endless pageant of leisure after our hard days of work during the school year. Without a car in Greenwich, one goes where their mother takes them since navigating a bicycle is quite dangerous and strenuous on the narrow hilly roads. The evolution of B.M.W. in North America was a direct result of the type of driving conditions that existed on the back roads of the New York metropolitan area. Those great big old station wagons were not very practical when passing your neighbors on the narrow roads that had evolved from cow paths centuries earlier.
Greenwich always tries to project a tweedy Anglophile preppy image that reflects the Anglican - Ivy League education of a great many of its prosperous residents. My family was Presbyterian and mid western, but we easily fit in since we shared many of the same roots and values as the other Greenwich residents, a great many of whom were from other parts of the country drawn to the New York area through business and other professional ties. There were a great many residents of French, English, Irish, Scottish, Scandinavian, German, and Italian descent. In the 1940's the United Nations had thought about locating in Greenwich, but after vigorous local protests withdrew, but still the community would reflect the international quality of New York. However, the nature of the topography of the community tends to make it like an English garden maze with many well traveled and less traveled roads and lanes housing many families of diverse background.
My family's house was in the back country area just south of the parkway in a new development of clapboard homes. Most of our immediate acquaintances revolved around carpooling and church. The church was a classical New England church at the top of a hill about two miles north of our house. Although encompassing a large area the back country area was not that populous since there were a large number of properties maintained as estates and small farms. The abundance of trees obscured most of the architectural beauty of the back country community, and there were miles of riding trails that cut through the forests and fields. Gradual development has increased the density of the population, but still there is a strong sense of privacy in Greenwich to this day.
I use to enjoy exploring the woods with some of my friends. They were always a good place for endless conversation out of hearing range of parents and siblings. The winters were more severe than what I had grown accustomed to in the South, and I quickly learned to dash from the car to house and other buildings. I always remember coming back from athletics at school to the main building with my hair frozen after a shower.
I quickly learned to play soccer, basketball, and tennis since sports were required at school. However most of the other students were more expert since they had been participating in organized sport most of their educational careers. I never learned how to ice skate although I would become an enthusiastic supporter of ice hockey in later years in school. I did not care for wrestling since it always smelled of sweat, although a number of my friends were quite good wrestlers. Most of the sports required organized calisthenics and a good deal of jogging. Since I was very thin, I was always somewhat inexpert in these pursuits and would generally get a cramp within a few laps. Still I would try my best against the more athletic students.
In eight grade I changed from shop to photography and would gradually become more expert in the techniques of photographing and developing. This activity in the afternoon working for the school yearbook frequently gave me an excuse to miss athletics which I did not regret. The worse part of photography was breathing the chemicals while working in the darkness of the laboratory for hours on end. One of my co-photographers leant me a Leica to use and I was gradually able to become more expert in the field of photography, but still amateurish by most professional standards. I really enjoyed candid photography and occasional experiments at art photography. Being a photographer gave me plenty of time to wander around exploring the more remote parts of the school and plenty of time day dreaming while other people were competing on the athletic fields.
Once a friend and I found the negative images of our transcripts next to the darkroom photocopying machine and we learned that we had two of the highest IQ's in the class much to our egos pleasure. That Christmas I received a Canon 35 millimeter from my parents, and I would spend many happy times shooting pictures around our home and school. Greenwich was the bedroom community of some of the best photojournalism magazines in the country, so I received a good deal of encouragement although I would never pursue a career in photography. I always found plenty of time for books and reading and would never forsake that pastime through out my life. I became an avid reader of the local paper, however, the gossip at school was much more interesting. The boys and girls at school were extremely well mannered and well bred, but there was always a strong underlying sense of humor running through the school, particularly manifested by the orations of the headmaster.
Many of the students had older parents, so the student body tended to be somewhat somber, with more of an adult sense of humor.
I was able to help out designing sets for Gilbert and Sullivan productions which involved more carpentry than designing.
The day Kennedy was shot school was dismissed early and my Latin teacher was seen crying in prayer. The next few days were my earliest memories of television news, and the vivid pictures as they were etched across the national mind would always make me somewhat skeptical of the legitimacy of the political process. We always heard so many inside stories in school from children of parents in the know that one could not help but be repelled by the efforts that individuals would undertake to gain political success. To this day Greenwich is still a very political community, but somewhat less so compared to the heartland of the nation.
In my final year at school in Greenwich, I would spend more time on my failing studies. I was transferred to the second quarter, thus losing track of my friends in the first quarter, however, I would spend much time in pursuit of photography for the yearbook. I also had to be tutored in English grammar and spelling, since my early days in the south still made me weak in the field.
There were weekly dances at my sister's school during which most of the boys would stand on one side of the room talking while most of the girls would be on the other engaged in gossip. Occasionally the adults would try to pair us off, and as soon as possible we would return to our respective sides of the room.