Last updated 11-24-2021
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, academic year 1963-64 where my tuition would have been free had my father not changed jobs to accept a new position as assistant director of a small private prep school in Stowe, VT. With that consideration void, I transferred to:
Reed College, sophomore year, psych major, economics minor, 1964-65. With a budget of only $40/month for rent, utilities, food, and books, I left college at the end of the year to accept responsibility for the tuition loan my father had taken out for me, but was unable to make any payments on due to his own loans between marriage for his 1962 master of Education from Harvard in 1962. This left me subject to the draft. It took my VT draft board two years to make a decision on my status. During those years I spent the academic part of the year in Portland, OR where I had college friends, where I took advantage of the resources of the public library and various universities and colleges as a non-student, and my summers in VT where I had built a summer cabin for myself earlier in 1962 and concentrated on repaying my former tuition loan which I accomplished in September 1966. In June 1967, my draft board assigned me to alternate service as a psychiatric aide responsible for a locked ward of 30 schizophrenics in a private hospital in Brattleboro, VT starting at $1.36/hour. My partner and I lived in our used 1963 VW bus saving up for rent money for VT’s cold winters.
Completed my alternate service in September 1969 and began studying architecture by interlibrary loan with guidance from a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor of architecture’s syllabus. Studied full time for 7 years while working construction jobs summers when I wasn’t studying or building houses for myself during 11.5 years. Since my architectural study was not for credit, I decided to resume college and earn a related degree in structural engineering so I could take the professional exam and charge for house plans I designed.
Portland State University, Portland, OR. June 1976-May 1979, earned BS is civil engineering, structural option including first 12 credit hours reserved for graduate study. Due to my demonstrated aptitude for FORTRAN programming, the dean of engineering school offered me a graduate Research/Teaching position (living stipend and tuition waiver) if I would continue my graduate studies and write a thesis that supported research they already had funding for from the Bonneville Power Administration. I completed all course requirements for a MS with a perfect 4.0 and wrote up my research for the funded research sponsor, but numerical analysis of beam columns in the post buckling steel plastic range was more interesting numerically than relevant to my interest in architecture, so I made the decision to purchase a NEC Information Systems APC and to start writing OS drivers and utilities in Intel 80×86 assembler instead of FORTRAN, and instead of writing my thesis.
With the exception of the summer I was 16 when I worked for a local architect/contractor and my two years of alternate service, I have been an independent contractor or sold licenses to software I had written, or provided research on a consulting basis.
My paternal grandfather, Ralph Edwin Boothby (1890-1964) had an outsized influence on my life, not primarily because my cousins and I and our respective parents spent the summers with these grandparents in Vermont, but because his prominence in the early history of Progressive education would result in many of my prep school teachers having known him as well as my being a faculty child from ages 3-6 in a prep school founded in 1935 whose founder he had known since the 1920s when his Harvard classmate, Perry Dunlap Smith, hired her to teach at his North Shore Country Day School that he had founded in 1919.
In a 1929 address to the parents that hired Ralph E. Boothby to found Metairie Park Country Day School he said about his educational philosophy:
“Study of the individual child, and effort to satisfy his or her needs; Freedom to develop naturally, which does not mean license to invade other people’s rights; Attention to play and physical development for every child; The utilization of children’s interests for educational ends; A large place for beauty in nature, in art, in music; Friendly relationship between pupils and teachers, with teachers functioning as guides rather than taskmasters; Such cooperation between school and home as will make the two, supplementing each other, provide for the whole development of the child.”
Nowhere in that statement does he mention the advantage of establishing professional networks by attending elite colleges. Yet in letters with my father when he was choosing a college for himself, he expresses his disappointment that my father chose Dartmouth instead of Harvard and ends with “at least you will let your son attend Harvard.”
My most notable characteristic is finding intrinsic satisfaction in learning whatever attracts my interests. Initially this was science because my father taught science and I spent time after my own school day helping him set up labs for his students. When my grandfather was head of the education department of Antioch College starting in 1922, pioneer aviator, Orville Wright, was a trustee of that college, which probably explains my father’s childhood interest in building model airplanes and later my own. This photograph is of me in 8th grade after winning 2nd prize in the tri-city science fair for the airplane I had designed late in 7th grade and built during 8th grade. It was judged on its structural design as I did not yet have an engine for it and could not afford to build the radio control for it before my interests turned to designing and building homes.
In the summer of 1964, my first girlfriend, met on a blind date in college, took me to 3 days of the Newport Jazz Festival. She was the first American born generation of her Italian parents. I did not have a car so hitch-hiking to her different state also brought me into contact with people unlike my parents and teachers. By sophomore year I transferred to Reed College to major in psych. The social sciences continue to be an interest in my retirement.