Autobiography - by George Roger Williamson Cohill – 1/20/06


It was a hot summer day during peach season on my father's orchards when I was born on August 27th, 1923. It must have been during the morning hours, because my arrival was announced to the workers in the orchard by the driver of a "mule driven" wagon that hauled the fruit from the orchard to the packing house. I was born in the master bedroom of our home at Cohill Manor, and the midwife, Mrs. Haywood, washed me up in the bathroom. This birth was the only one in our family of 10 kids that occurred at home.  Mother was living in Baltimore when she married Daddy, and the older kids were born in hospitals in the city. Other kids were born either in Baltimore, or at Allegany Catholic hospital in Cumberland, MD.


Baptism was at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Hancock, MD. It was also eventful, as Mother wanted to name me "Roger Williamson" after her brother-law; but when they got to the church, the priest told the assembly that "Roger" was not a saint's name, and to come up with something. My godfather, George Anthony, was the owner of the local grocery and general store, so my Mother decided to add "George" to my name. The outcome was the full name "George Roger Williamson Cohill".  This caused me several problems in later years when I had to verify my identity for legal documents. The first time it came up was when I enlisted in the Naval Air Corp. At the time of my induction, I had to make an extra trip to the Baltimore induction station "to verify my identity". All of my records, prior to this time in 1944, were in the name "Roger Williamson Cohill".


The very early years at home must have been exciting, as several stories emerged later about my escapades as a small child. I must have been a "fire bug"; as on one occasion when at the age of about 3, I lit a pile of newspapers in front of the large fireplace in the living room, and then rode my "kiddy car" into the kitchen and told Ruth Kerns (my second Mother) "you'd better come in here!” On another occasion I started a small fire on the floor in my upstairs bedroom. The scorched wood was still there when I left home for College in 1941. Another time I got into serious trouble was later when at the of about 7 or 8 and my older brother "Morgan" and his friend from Hancock, Bill Faith, were playing cowboys and Indians and they hid from me. They were playing around my Dad's packing house; and after they disappeared, I got cold and decided to start a little fire near the packing house to keep warm, with some shredded paper that was lying on the ground. The paper, (that was mixed with the apples in the packing barrels to help them keep longer) was impregnated with oil and trailed into the wooden door of the 2-story packing house. The building, all of the grading equipment, and thousands of bushels of apples were completely destroyed. I hid for 3 days in the hope that my Dad's temper would be cooled off; but still got punished.


This is a good place to put in some words of praise for Ruth. While growing up, Mother was virtually an invalid; much of the time in a wheel-chair, and Ruth did virtually all of the housework; cooking, washing clothes for all 13 of us (Mother, Daddy, 10 Children and "Big Ruth") and when necessary, keeping us from fighting or otherwise getting into trouble. Her punishment was so light (switching our legs with a small willow branch) that we would laugh at her when she finished. Ruth was as close to a saint as anyone I ever knew. She worked from early morning until she went to bed; earned room, board and $6.00 a week; and virtually raised all of us younger kids, from me down to Josephine who was the youngest. The older girls did a little housework, and sometimes helped with the dishes; but for the most part, big Ruth" did all of the heavy housework. The boys in the family didn't have to do any housework; not even make our own beds! My Dad said the girls did housework while the boys worked outside at various jobs.



During the years from first grade (age 6), until College (age 18) 


Daddy kept us busy with all kinds of work and chores. At about age six, my job during the summer was "water boy" for the workers in the orchard. I had a small 2-gallon wooden keg with a wire and wooden handle, and a bottle cork for the stopper. I'd have to find the closest spring - we had several of them around our 750 acres - fill the keg with water by submerging it in the spring until it filled, and then carry it to the orchard work crews that may be 1/4 to 1/2 mile from the spring. Sometimes I'd see a poisonous copperhead snake or a black snake around the spring and I'd be afraid to use the spring and go some distance to find another one that wasn't infested.


My Dad always gave each of us a job of some kind. One of my first, on which I was paid by the hour ($0.10/hour), was pulling "suckers" from the center of apple trees. Some apple varieties produced a prolific abundance of these suckers, and pulling them off in the summer meant less heavy pruning in the winter. I was actually put in charge of a crew of small boys who worked under me. Another summer I was assigned to watch over a flock of sheep. They stayed in the barn-yard at Night; but each morning I took them (50 sheep) to an un-fenced field about 1/2 a mile from the barnyard. We had to go on the highway (then  U.S. Route 40) to this field, and I walked in front of them while the sheep followed. I stayed with the sheep all day, as my job was to see that the sheep stayed in the un-fenced field. I usually stayed under the shade of a huge oak tree in the center of the field and read books all day or took a little nap. One day I woke up and couldn't find the sheep. I really panicked, and went running around this 40 acre field looking for them, when I noticed some white spots on a ridge about a mile away, and went racing to the area, only to find  the spots were large limestone boulders. While making another swing around the field I heard some brush rustling in a wooded area on the edge of the field not far from where I was sleeping under the tree. 


The sheep, all 50 of them, were laying in the shade under the trees! When my next older Brother Morgan (we called him "Moggie") graduated from high school and went to the University of Maryland, I inherited  the job of milking the cows and feeding the hogs at about the age of  10. This job was really "the pits", because the cows had to be fed and milked twice a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In addition, we had about 20 hogs that had to be fed; and the cow-barn and hog-pen had to be cleaned of manure about once a week. This involved picking up the week's supply of manure with a pitch-fork or shovel, and  piling it in the barn-yard for later hauling to the field for use as fertilizer. In the spring and summer when the grass was growing good, the cows had to be driven to a pasture field about 1/4 mile from the barn. Occasionally the fence around the pasture would develop a break, the cows would get out, and end up at a neighbor's farm. This would involve another hectic race to find and recover the lost cows. 


We did not have a bull, so we took the cows when they were "in heat" to our neighbor's farm for this service. I ended up doing the "milking routine" every day until I went to college at the age of 18.  In addition to the daily livestock activity, I also inherited the job of mowing the grass every week. We had at least 3 acres, and I took pride in keeping it well groomed. One good feature of doing the "chores", my Dad gave me an allowance. Don't remember the amount, but my guess is about $.50 or $1.00 a week. He wasn't overly generous, but at least we didn't have to ask for candy money.


During the summer months, we were given a variety of jobs; depending  upon our age at the time, where help was needed, and what skills we had developed. I did everything from the 'sheep-herder" described  above, to hoeing corn, threshing wheat, making hay (mowing and  hauling it to the barn), picking apples or peaches, driving trucks, and working in the packing house and cold storage. The packing house jobs were the best, because there were always a lot of people around, and a wide variety of jobs available. I loaded and unloaded trucks coming in from the orchard, "fed" the grader, pulled baskets and  barrels from the warehouse (3 and 4 stories above the grader), filled the baskets and barrels from the grader which separated the sizes and quality of the fruit (we always put the best fruit on the top so the package made the very best appearance when the customer took off the lid!) and ran errands for the foreman.


The packing house was a major operation. We could sort, grade and  pack up to 1000 bushels a day. This of course involved the same volume being picked by up to 20 or 30 men in the orchard, 20 or 30  men and women in the packing house, my Dad and two or three people working in the office analyzing the markets, writing orders, scheduling trucks and handling payroll. The office had a teletype machine (ticker tape) that printed out the prices of apples and peaches at various Eastern markets; and confirmed orders with  customers in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, PhiladelphiaAltoona, Wheeling, Johnstown, and Boston. We shipped mostly North and West; because that's where the best markets were. As I got older,  (over 16) I drove the truckloads of fruit to markets in all of these markets. We'd load in late afternoon, then drive until midnight or 3 or 4 in the morning to get to the markets before they opened. All of  the markets were wide-open in the middle of the night, and we could usually get unloaded and be on the way home by 5 or 6 in the morning. 


The drive home was 5 to 10 hours; the trucks were serviced, reloaded  and returned to market that night. Another driver usually took the next load so the previous driver could get sleep and rest. We ate  "good" while on the road. Truck-stops have some of the best food around, and plenty of it. Drinking while driving was taboo. We always had two or 3 drivers and I never saw one of them drink while on the  road. The markets in big cities after midnight were a sight to behold! A tangle of traffic, a maze of bargaining between the wholesaler and their customers, and the frenzy of a process that was akin to what you see on the New York stock exchange.


We had a cold storage underneath the packing house (at ground level) that held up to 50,000 bushels of fruit. The apples were put into "cold storage" as soon as they were packed in baskets or barrels; and kept loaded until they were ready to go to market. Some varieties kept better than others. Rome Beauty and York Imperial varieties could be kept in good condition until late spring the following year.


Daddy was very creative, and had many innovations in his packing,  shipping and marketing operations. However, he did not take as much interest in the growing operation. He generally delegated the growing  operation; spraying, pruning, thinning, and picking; to the orchard foreman. This was either a hired manager, or one of my brothers or me. Thinking back, it is amazing how much responsibility he gave  us, both as kids and young adults. My brothers Jack (the oldest), Tony (next to the oldest), Mary Ann and Moggie (Morgan) all worked in supervisory positions. Tony was in charge of field operations; Jack ran the office; Moggie worked under Tony in the orchard and farming operations; and Mary Ann did all of the secretarial work such as typing, sending teletype messages and doing the payroll. We had as  high as 100 payroll checks a week during the busy picking season; 20 or 30 year-around.


The "Fruit Stand" was another operation. Located in front of the cold storage, it was kept open year round. A full time man (Mr. McCumbee) lived in the "Toll House", which was a 2-story brick bungalow that at  one time was used by the agent who collected tolls from the stage-coaches and wagons passing through on the original National Highway (later U.S. Route 40). The Toll House is now being restored as a National Monument and Museum. The house was right at the corner of the packing house, and Mr. McCumbee stocked the counters and made cider in a small cider press where customers could watch it operate. 

Daddy spent a good bit of time at the fruit stand, and took pride in showing off the cold storage and packing house to visitors, especially famous ones of which there were many, such as Governors (O’Connor, Preston Lane & Theodore McKeldin) Congressmen (Joe Byron), Senators (Millard Tydings), businessmen Joe Klug and Pat McTighe, newspaper writers (Frank Lee Carl and Mike Pendergrast), and state police. They often stopped for apples and cider; especially after it got "hard"! I grew up (1929 when I was 6, until 1941 when I left to go to college) right in the middle of the great depression and the prohibition era.


Many of Daddy's friends knew he had hard cider in the cold storage; and many of his personal friends were treated to a visit to our home for a drink of "Apple Jack"; often mixed in the mint juleps for which he was famous. 


A number of the full time employees lived in tenant houses on the farm and orchard; and often the husband worked in the orchard, the wife worked in the packing house and the children that were old enough worked on the orchard in the summer. The parents for the most part were poorly educated; but the children all went to school. Most of the children went on to become holders of good jobs after high school. One of them is now the president of a local bank.  


Daddy had other business operations during my childhood. He had a  school bus route and brother Tony drove the bus. He had the Southern States Cooperative agency in Hancock where feed and farm supplies  were sold. He operated a brokerage business for the benefit of smaller growers who had no contact with the major markets. My brother Jack was very active in this venture. He had a peach packing house at Easton, MD for a couple of years; and I traveled with him to buy raspberries in the Boonsboro area of Washington County and apples in the Berkeley Springs area of West Virginia.


School Years:


My grades in school were always pretty good, except for penmanship.  Being left-handed, it was impossible for me to master the "Palmer Method"; and I always got poor grades in penmanship. None of my teachers tried to change me to right-hand writing, but they couldn't understand why I couldn’t learn the Palmer method. It had something to do with my habit of writing with my wrist turned at a 90 degree angle so I could see what I was writing. My behavior in school was only fair, because I remember being disciplined in the second grade for splashing muddy water on some girls in the play-yard; and getting my hands smacked with a ruler in the 4th grade for pulling the hair of a girl that sat in front of me. I must have been better though in the 1st grade, as my teacher, Miss Mary Thomas, wrote on my last report card "If all boys were like this boy, what happy teachers there would be"! Guess that went to my head, and I went down-hill after that!


In both grade school and high school, I was in several musicals and school plays. Some of the parts I remember are Hansel in "Hansel & Gretel"; and the gardener in "H M S Pinafore". I was a pretty good singer, and was teamed up with a girl, Janice McKinley, to sing "Sweetheart/ Sweetheart" at a school function. We were so good, the Lions Club invited us to be the entertainment at one of their dinners. Social life in high school was pretty good, considering the fact that I had to milk the cows every day, and work on the orchard or in the packing house during the summer. I had one steady girl friend that I dated a good bit, Rosalind Fine. She was from a Jewish family who ran a clothing store. But I also ran around with a couple of high school buddies, and we went to Berkeley Springs where we could buy beer and dance with the local girls. We did a good bit of socializing in a group; dancing with any of the girls that were available at the time.


Otherwise, my grades were good, and I did not have any problem getting accepted at the University of Maryland. I was determined to go to college, even though my Dad wanted me to stay home for a year or two until he could afford to pay my way. It was a very bad time financially for the orchard business, and I was taking a good bit of responsibility in running the orchard. My older brother Jack couldn't get along with "J.A.", and went to work at the Bethlehem Steel shipyards in Baltimore.


"Moggie" enlisted in the Army; Tony was  involved in a truck accident in the orchard that left him "brain damaged", and eventually permanently hospitalized at a mental hospital; "Coc" had graduated from College, and after teaching for a year or two to pay off her college debt went into the Maryknoll Convent; Mary Ann, who was doing all of the office work for a few years, left and went to Baltimore to work; and Bebe was at St. Joseph's College in Emmitsburg. As I was the only child old enough to take any responsibility (Felippe, Bill And Josie were several years younger than my 17 years) so I was the only one left that was old enough to be of any help to my Dad. It's no wonder he discouraged me from going away to college.


With a tuition scholarship, a couple of hundred dollars in my pocket from the summer's work, off I went to college Park a week before classes started so I could find a part-time job to take care of room and board. I really had no conception of what was involved besides going to classes. The Good Lord  must have been with me however, because I met a couple of guys from the Cumberland area, and they knew Cohill Orchards from their travels by the Andy's Dandy signs when passing through on Route 40. They were Sophomores and had experience waiting on tables in a small restaurant, the "Terrapin Inn" that was owned by an older woman, Mrs. Goldsmith. I was hired on the spot, mainly due to the help of my Western Maryland friends, as a dishwasher. The nice thing about the job was that our pay was "room & board", except for breakfast and Sundays when we had to eat on our own. I was promoted to "waiter" in about two months. We served lunch and dinner, and Mrs. Goldsmith was very cooperative in helping us work around our class schedules. We lived in rooms upstairs over the restaurant - 2 to a room. Marsh Stiedings, my "bunkie” as we called each other, was a major in chemical engineering.  We often studied until 12 or 1 o'clock; then went over to the bowling alley for a game or two. Then we'd have to have a bite to eat, so we'd stop at the White Castle hamburger joint for a couple of 10 cent hamburgers; about the size of a quarter.


So I had room and board, a tuition scholarship, but I needed additional money for books, breakfast at Albrecht's Drug store, Sunday meals and beer. I learned about a part time job from my room-mates; at Headley's book store on the edge of the campus. Most days I got in a couple of hours, either after finishing the dinner service at the Terrapin Inn, or squeezing in an hour or two between classes, lunch and dinner. Don't ask me when I had time to study. For a while during my freshman year, I also had a job cleaning test tubes at the U.S. Bureau of Mine lab on campus. The jobs only lasted about 2 months even though the pay was good; I had to start work each day after the lab closed at 10 PM, and then clean 500 to 1000 test tubes with a small bottle brush every week-day night. Sometimes I worked until 1or 2 AM, as I was pretty much on my own; not another soul in the building, and there was no set starting or quitting time.


One of the craziest things I did in my freshman year at College was to accept an invitation from a girl friend from Hagerstown to a dance at Vaasar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. One of my friends and I went to a dance at College Park on Friday night; then about midnight went out on Route 1 to hitch-hike the 300 or so miles to Vaasar. We really had no trouble getting rides, although we didn't get to Poukeepsie until about 7:00 AM the next morning. We waited in a diner until we were sure the college girls were out of bed.


They had reservations for us at their guest house, and a shower and a couple of hours of rest were most welcome! We went to the dance that night, church the next morning; then the girls wanted to go to Manhattan on the train with us on our way back to College Park. This was a serious problem for us, as we intended to hitch-hike back and our budget did not include any train fare. Between us we had enough to pay our own fare, and we let the girls buy their own tickets. Then they wanted to have lunch at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central. This took us down to our last 25 cents and we still had the problem of hitch-hiking out of down-town Manhattan on a Sunday afternoon! Fortunately, people were very conscious of the war effort, and we were lucky enough to get the rides we needed.


In December, I got a job working at the D.C. Post Office in  Washington, right next to Union Station. Transportation was via street car to work and back to College Park, with a transfer at North Capitol Street. I worked all night, and the main problem was poor service at 5 or 6 AM. All this time I still kept my lunch and dinner job waiting tables, an hour or two at the book store, and attended classes 4 or 5 hours a day.


On Sunday December 7th, 1941, war was declared with Japan and Germany after Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. Several of my friends and I were having a sandwich and coke at Albrecht's Drug Store when we heard the news. I was already enlisted in the R.O.T.C. [Reserve Officer's Training Corp] and expected to be called to duty immediately. We were given an option of transferring to a Naval Reserve training program (V-7) and were told to await orders. None were received during the remaining school year, so I finished my Freshman year and went home to work for Cohill Orchards during the summer.


Unfortunately, I and many of my friends expected to go into the service any day, with the consequence that we got "happy-go-lucky" and "goofed off" a lot that semester. My grades were barely passing, but we were saved by an understanding attitude by our professors. I know one course, zoology, which I thought I was flunking, my Professor Dr. Truitt gave me an "A"! 


No news from the Navy during the summer, so I went back to the University of Maryland in September of 1942, still expecting to be called to active duty any day. I continued my jobs of waiter, book store clerk and postal clerk in the D.C. Post Office at Christmas.  Toward the end of the 2nd semester, I finally got orders to report for duty (officer's training) in June 1943, a year and a half after Pearl Harbor!  We were supposed to take 90 days of training and then be commissioned as Ensigns. (We were referred to as "90 day wonders"!) About the same time, Daddy got sick and was hospitalized.  


He needed some one to run the orchard, and I agreed to ask the Navy for a "4 month" leave of absence so I could run the orchard until he recovered. To my disappointment, the Navy issued me an honorable discharge instead of a "leave"! I ran the entire orchard operation for the next several months, Daddy came home from the hospital in apparent good enough health to go back to work, and I  decided to re-enlist in the Navy.


Unfortunately, when I tried to re-enlist they told me the V-7 program was filled up. At the Washington, DC office where I went to re-enlist they told me the Naval Air Corp was taking applicants under the V-5  program and sent me to the floor below where I was enrolled in less than an hour. They scheduled me for a physical the next day and sent me home to await orders. They finally called me to active duty in November of 1943; but told me that because I had been deferred, it would be necessary for me to be "drafted" by my local draft board, and go through the formal indoctrination program. This involved my getting a formal draft notice, going to the Baltimore induction center, getting another physical with all of the other draftees; and  for a while, I thought they were going to put me in the army infantry. Then my name was called to report to a Naval Officer at the induction station. He informed me that I had orders to report to the Naval Air Corp training program, and to go back home and await further orders.



Navy Days:

About a month later I finally got orders to report to the Training Station at Williams College in Williamstown, MA on January 3, 1944.  The first day I was there, because I had taken ROTC training at  Maryland, I was appointed platoon leader for a group of about 20 men.  We lived in the school dorms - double decker beds. Wake-up bugle call was about 5:30 AM and after quickly getting dressed we marched to breakfast, and then we marched to and from classes and the mess hall all day until about 6:30 PM. Then we had to study until taps about 9:00 PM. Courses included various technologies related to flying  airplanes; including aerology, weather (cloud formations), aircraft  identification (Jap, German, American), and how to use a slide rule to calculate air speed, distances, carrier locations, wind-drift and other calculations needed to find our way to and from an enemy target over open ocean without radar or radio communications. One of the worst fears was getting lost in a situation where a multitude of variables were at play; such as the speed of our carrier, speed of the enemy target ship, speed of our plane, wind speed, and distance between our base and the enemy. It’s little wonder that so many planes were lost because we couldn't find their way back to the ship or base.


Three months were spent at Williamstown, after which we were transferred to Rensselaer Polytechnic in Troy, NY where we continued our studies, and took flying lessons at the Troy Airport. The day we took our solo flight was a big day. One of my friends didn't make it off the runway and landed [uninjured] in a wooded gully at the end of the runway. My most frightening experience was during a solo flight down the Hudson River, when the weather was clear at take-off.  While returning to the base, a dense fog covered the area around the airport. I couldn't see a thing on the ground. After a few minutes, when the time required to reach the airport from my training area had passed, I knew I was past both Troy, and Albany on the other side of the river.  I made a 180 degree turn and shortly afterward the fog miraculously cleared, and the airport came into view. During the few minutes that intervened however, I contemplated the procedure for an emergency blind landing. One of my main concerns was the disgrace of crashing my plane during the first few weeks of pilot training without ever seeing an aircraft carrier!



Naval Hospitals:

My pilot training was interrupted when rheumatic fever hit me at Rensselaer. I had my first overnight leave in over 4 months and decided I'd go to Manhattan; why, I'm not sure, but I seem to recall visiting Ralph and Adele Donelly who were living in a high-rise overlooking the Hudson river. Ralph was in the Army, and stationed at an Army base nearby. Anyhow, I wasn't feeling too good when I left Troy, and felt worse on return late Sunday night. Monday I went to classes and gym (swimming), and felt so bad I decided to check in at the sick bay on the campus. I had a bad sore throat, and was very tired, and the nurse on duty put me in a temporary "sick bay" bed. It was on the 3rd floor of a tower-like building with a lot of steps to the 3rd floor. After I got in bed, I found that my ankles, legs and knees were very swollen and painful. I stayed in the sick bay until the third day after arrival, and when I couldn't walk or even get out of bed, the nurse on duty sent me to the local Good Samaritan Hospital. They immediately diagnosed my condition as rheumatic fever, and started me on massive doses of aspirin - 4 aspirin every 6 hours. 


They then informed me that my heart was damaged and that I would have to have complete bed rest; bed pan, assisted feeding and no physical exertion. I was a heavy smoker, and was allowed a few cigarettes; however they would not let me get the cigarettes from my bed stand, or let me light them my self;   claiming it would be too strenuous.  After about 2 weeks, they transferred me on a stretcher by train to Grand  Central, and then by a Navy ambulance to St. Albans Naval Hospital on Long Island. Two weeks later, they got me out of bed with news that I was being transferred to a California hospital to get me into a warmer climate for recuperation. They put me on a hospital train and I ended up at San Diego Naval hospital one week later. It was the longest train ride I've had in my life. Fortunately, I was able to get in and out of my bunk, and there was always a poker game going that helped us pass the time. The train was "side-tracked" several times for hours to permit trains loaded with war materials to pass, and it was hot with no air conditioning. A memorable stop was in Tucson, Arizona where we could get off of the train and some ladies with the USO had cake and coffee for us.


Arrival at San Diego was an experience. The hospital was "chocker-block" full, and we were put in temporary barracks in the San Diego Zoo! Worse yet, the barracks were converted animal barns with  "lingering odors", and were equipped with triple-deck beds! It was some climb to the top bunk!. On complaining, some other cadets and I found out that we had been classified as "enlisted men" rather than officers. We were immediately moved to SOQ (sick officers' quarters)  where the change was dramatic! Clean, comfortable beds, 2 to a room, and excellent food and service! In a few days at San Diego I became what is known in the Navy as an "ambulatory patient", which gave us permission to go off of the Hospital grounds, walk to the mess hall, and move around the grounds. I shared a room with a Marine Lt. who  had fractured his ankle while playing tennis at the Marine Base in HI. He was very unhappy to be hospitalized, and like all of us, was anxious to go back to active duty. Liberty during this brief period was limited to going to a "Tea Dance" for servicemen at the beautiful Coronado Hotel, and making the rounds of a few bars in downtown San Diego.


After about 3 weeks, I was sent to a convalescent home at Rancho Santa Fe, CA; near Del Mar about 25 miles north of the hospital. This turned out to be a "bonanza". It was a millionaire's estate, which was leased to navy for the duration of the war. It housed 50 officers and cadets that required R&R, and was run by a retired admiral who didn't care much about what we did. It was just two miles from the Del Mar Beach, a beautiful golf course, and a neat bar and cabana at the Rancho Santa Fe Hotel and Inn. The estate included a swimming pool, a citrus orchard that was full of tropical fruit, and various recreational facilities such as shuffle board and tennis courts. We had a station wagon limo available to take us to the beach, golf course or the Hotel, and any special trips a few of us decided to lake. We had Navy corpsmen to provide table service, house cleaning and other personal services. Every week or two we had some kind of entertainment. Pat O'Brien Spent a couple of evenings with us, telling stories and tales about Bing Crosby and other screen actors.


Pat and Bing both had beach homes at Del Mar, and Pat was seen regularly at the Catholic church we went to on Sunday. One Sunday he invited our Catholic group to his home for coffee and Danish. We met his wife, and children who were small at the time.  We had a lot of spare time at Rancho Santa Fe, especially in the evenings. I got a part time job as bartender at the Inn, where Wallace Berry was a regular at the bar. He was doing a movie about Navy Blimps that were stationed at Del Mar. He wasn't very friendly, and pretty boisterous when he was drunk! The job supplemented my $75.00 a month as an Av Cad for beer money and any other entertainment we could devise. While there, I met a girl and her sister from Mexicali, Mexico who were vacationing at Del Mar. We had 3 or 4 dates, and I talked a friend into hitch-hiking with me for a week-end visit to  Calexico, CA across the border from Mexicali. It was a disaster! We called the girls on arrival, thinking we would take them out for date. The only thing they would do was take us on a brief tour of Mexicali City, then told us they were not permitted by their parents to go out at night. We ended up getting up the next morning when the temperature was 110 degrees, and hitch-hiked back to Rancho Santa Fe. Otherwise, we spent our days alternating between the golf course in the morning, the beach in the afternoon, and the bar at Rancho Santa where I either worked or hung-out.


During my stay at the Rancho Santa Fe convalescent home, it was necessary to go to the San Diego Hospital once a week to visit my doctor. On one occasion, he sent me to the dental clinic where they promptly pulled out 2 of my molars that were suspect. A couple of weeks later, the doctor decided that my tonsils were a potential source of infection, and I was sent to O.R. for removal. Back to bed at the hospital for a week, and then back to Rancho Santo Fe for more R&R. I had come to San Diego in early May, and finally in October the doctor decided I had to go to Corona Naval Hospital in Corona, CA where all rheumatic fever patients in the West had to go for a final decision on whether we would go back to duty or be discharged. At the time my move was scheduled, it turned out that Corona was full of casualties from the Pacific, and my orders came through to go to another convalescent facility, which turned out to be the Arrowhead Springs Hotel at Arrowhead Springs, CA.  


This was a beautiful resort hotel, with all of the normal amenities those rich vacationers expect. We were at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, and resorts such as Crestline and Big Bear were just up the mountains a few miles. Transportation was a problem, and we had to hitch-hike to go any place. Money was also a big problem, so we could only afford about one weekend a month any distance from the hotel. The only big trip was an attempt to hitch-hike to Las Vegas for the week-end. Another buddy (Al Driver) and I started out at San Bernadino on the main highway at the foot of the mountain. We got over the mountains to a crossroad just west of Victorville, which we found out was in the middle of the Mojave Desert. It suddenly got very cold and started snowing hard, and there was virtually no through traffic. We decided to turn back, and finally got a ride to another crossroad, a town called Lucerne Valley, where there was a  boarding house where we could get bunks, and a hall in back where a country band and dance was in progress. Needless to say, we participated, and when we got up the next day found that the road to Big Bear, which was on our way home, was impassible. So we hitched another ride with a man who was going over the back road to Palm Springs where the weather was beautiful, and that's where we spent the rest of the long weekend, finally getting back to Arrowhead  Springs after traveling a couple of hundred miles in a circle! 


When an opening occurred in early November at Corona Naval Hospital, I was moved to that location with the expectation of going back to active duty soon. The Corona facility was a fully staffed Naval Hospital, but before the war it had been a well known resort for the rich and famous, The Lake Norconian Club. It was located on the outskirts of Corona, a few miles from Riverside.  The place was more "hospital like", but we had swimming pools, golf course, tennis, and other recreational facilities. Our rooms were the original hotel rooms, and were quite nice, including tiled floors, bath, and showers. We had 2 to a room, and we ate in the officers' mess. We were not too far from Los Angeles, so we went to the big city to participate in the free entertainment that was so abundantly provided to members of the service. Saturday night dances to big band music at the Ambassador Hotel Ballroom; Sunday afternoon barbecue and swimming at some movie star's home, and food at the USO.  almost every week, movie stars from Hollywood entertained in the auditorium.


Within a couple of weeks at Corona, the cardiologist decided I was ready to go back to duty. He sent me to the El Toro Marine Base for a flight physical, where I was quickly told I could not pass the physical for further flight training. The flight surgeon and the doctors at Corona argued back and forth for another 2 months, and finally agreed on a diagnosis of "aeortic insufficiency". My only medication of 4 aspirin ever 6 hours continued, but otherwise I got no treatment, and continued as an "ambulatory patient".


The most exciting times I had at Corona occurred after I met a Navy Nurse (Ensign) at one of the monthly dances and cocktail parties the Captain of the base threw for hospital staff and patients. It was a special occasion; New Years Eve. This lovely nurse was somehow up in the band-stand assisting the orchestra on the drums. We danced a few dances, and went home separately; but I remembered her name was Pat Gorman; and the next morning was surprised to see her on the elevator we took to the hospital Chapel for New Years' Mass. I smiled, and soon after learned that her old boy friend, Jim Lyons, who was a member of our group that "ran around" together, was getting discharged and returning to Wyoming. With the help of her nurse friends, I was able to move in as Pat's "date", and very soon we were  "going steady". We had many dates over the next 2 months; most of the time with 2 or 3 other couples. We went to a small bar in the Village of Corona; or to a small club, (Pop Fuller's) that had music and a dance floor. When we were out of money, we spent the evenings with the girls at the nurses' quarters. They had a nice living room, and plenty of beer and Coke in the fridge.


The "boys", there were 3 of us, Art, Johnny Burrell  and yours truly, who ran around together and dated nurses (Ethyl, Evelyn and Pat), and pooled our resources. I think it was Art who decided we could get around better if we had a car, so we went together and rented a car from Budget. One problem was gas, which was severely rationed. I was the "life saver", because I knew my dad had plenty of gas, with farm ration stamps, that was used to run the farm equipment and truck the fruit to markets. My Dad kept us supplied with "T" (truck) stamps,  and this greatly improved our mobility! We talked the girls (nurse friends) into going to the Big Bear Winter Resort for a week-end. 


None of us skied, but we had a lot of fun in the snow, which was of course a nice change from the constant heat and sun. We rented a cabin (the old days when girls and boys slept in separate rooms!). I remember that I got "mad" because Pat wanted to go to bed, and I wanted another drink; so I decided to walk home from the mountain resort. I got as far as the town limits where some road construction was in progress. Concerned about my safety, I took red kerosene lantern from the barrier and walked back to the cabin, where everyone had a good laugh about my aborted trip. The story of "the red lantern" stayed with me until I was discharged, and we kept one in our home after we got married to remind us of some  good old "fun times".


On our drive back to Corona, we needed gas. Unfortunately, the owner of the station didn't think kindly of a bunch of "out of uniform" service boys and girls passing illegal gasoline ration stamps. The owner called the police, and one came with sirens blaring, who fortunately was sympathetic to servicemen. He gave the station owner regular ration stamps from his own pocket and let us go on. We were a little more careful after this episode, and limited our excursion to local areas around Corona; mainly "Pop Fuller's" Cafe, which was only a few miles away.


The word finally came back from El Toro Marine Base and the Corona doctors that my aeortic heart valve was damaged to the extent that I could not go back to active duty, flying or any other strenuous activity; and I was discharged in March, 1945 with the diagnosis "aeortic insufficiency", and awarded 50% disability.


I was soon on my way back to Maryland, and spent the next 5 months working as manager of the orchards in Hancock. In September, I went back to the University of Maryland to resume my education. Life was altogether different now, with tuition and monthly living expenses paid by the Veterans administration as a disabled veteran; money from my summer work on the orchard, and a desire to study hard and finish my last two years of College. Being one of the earlier veterans returning before the war ended, I was welcomed with open arms by my friends who were "4-F" and never went into the service. In rapid-fire order, I was elected President of ATO Fraternity; President of the Interfraternity Council, and was put in the role of "BMOC". Our Fraternity brothers started straggling back from the service, and the campus was soon buzzing with activity.


At the end of the summer, I talked the local priest in Hancock, Father Ray Kelly, into driving with me in his new Plymouth car to California to visit Pat; and give her an engagement ring. We stayed at the "Mission Inn" in Riverside, a couple of miles from Corona. I spent every evening with Pat, but we did take Father to "Ken Murray's Blackouts", where both of us were embarrassed because of the scantily dressed actresses, and the lewd jokes! Pat and I had a wonderful time together, and it's a shame we didn't get married "right on the spot"! 


We even had a "built-in" priest; and the Mission Inn was a famous location for marriages. I think our engagement was so new that neither of us were quite ready for the final step. Father and I had a leisurely trip out and back from California. We went out on "Route 66" through the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona;  stopped at Las Vegas for a few hours of gambling on the way out, and we came back through the Rockies and Denver.


Before the Christmas holidays, I talked Pat into visiting Hancock while she was on leave at her home in Minnesota. She made the grueling trip a couple of days after Christmas from Owatonna by train, and I picked her up at the closest station to Hancock, Cumberland, MD; which was 39 miles, and over 5 mountains to the west. 


I think Pat thought she was going deeper into the mountains, whereas we were traveling out of the hills! The arrival at Hancock was a big occasion, and my Mother, who was always very prim and proper, decided she would serve "tea". My Dad, who was the opposite of "prim and proper" came into the living room about that time, wearing long underwear and an old bathrobe, and heard my Mother ask for tea to be served. My Dad exclaimed " that girl doesn't need tea, hell, what she needs is a good stiff drink after that long trip!" And so, at 10 in the morning, Pat had a "good stiff drink" for her first hospitality at Cohill Manor.


We went to the New Year's Ball at the Alexander Hotel in Hagerstown, which was considered the biggest social event in Western Maryland?  Put on by the Assembly Club which had only 100 members of the socially prominent families in the County? A couple of my fraternity brothers (Bob Bounds & "Doc" Yeager) came for the occasion as escorts for local debutantes. Following the New Years celebrations, I was due back at school in College Park on the 3rd of January, and Pat had a reservation on a flight scheduled that evening to go back to duty in California. We drove to College Park on the 2nd, and Pat got a room at a nearby motel. On January 3rd, my 1st class was at 9:00 AM, and after class I picked Pat up at the Motel and took her to breakfast at the college hang-out, Albrecht's Drug Store. We started discussing the problems we were faced with in keeping our plans to be married in Minnesota in June; the possibility of her being scheduled for "overseas duty", and the costs involved in flying back & forth to get to a wedding in  Owatonna. We decided to try and get married that day, after which she would be eligible for discharge when she returned to Corona. We had no idea where to start, so we went to the courthouse in Hyattsville to inquire about where and how to get a marriage license. The clerk told us we had to go to the county seat in Upper Marlboro, and that we were exempt from the "3-day waiting period" law in Maryland because Pat was in the service. He told us there was a minister around the corner who would marry us. We then decided to visit the Priest at the local Catholic church and find out if he could marry us that day.


Father Hughes was a young priest, not more than 30 years old, and he listened to us together for about 15 minutes while we explained the "whole nine yards" about our plans to marry in the coming June, Pat's risk of over-seas duty, the problems of arranging a marriage ceremony in Minnesota with Pat in California; not knowing when she might be called for over-seas duty, while I'm in Maryland, and neither of us with enough money to finance the special trips that may be required, if we tried to get married before the June date to make it possible for her to get out of the service before being shipped out. Then Father interviewed each of us in separate rooms for another 15 or 20 minutes, following which he brought us together and announced: "If you two get your license and come back at 5 o'clock, I'll marry you".


It was at this moment that what we were doing finally "sunk in"! We had to drive the 26 miles to Upper Marboro for the license, go to the local jewelry store for wedding bands, order flowers, call our parents and tell them what we were doing, line up my sister "Coc" to serve as the brides-maid, announce to school friends at Albrecht's Drug store that we were getting married at 5 o'clock, and arranged for a Catholic fraternity brother, Jack McVeigh, to be the best man. 


Needless to say, we had a very busy afternoon and 5 o'clock came very quickly. The wedding ceremony was brief, but I remember Father Hughes telling us to walk very slowly down the aisle, because "the wedding will be brief, but will have to last a very long time"!  


Pat was due to leave form the Washington National Airport at 10  o'clock, which gave us time for a lovely dinner at the Willard Hotel.  Then we went to the airport to catch Pat's flight. We learned that the flight had been cancelled, and the airline gave Pat a free room (which we shared!) at the Annapolis Hotel. Our free honeymoon was short lived, as  they told  Pat that she needed to be at Union  Station at 8:00 AM to catch a  train to L.A. She had a rough time getting back, as they shifted  her to a plane at St. Louis, and they sent her on to L.A. on a very rough flight. I went back to College Park to classes, and awaited a call she had arrived safely; but Pat was 2 days A.O.L., and her superiors were in no mood to expedite her discharge from the Navy. We wrote to each other every day, as we had done for the many months after my discharge from Corona.


Finally, in Mid-March Pat got her discharge and made travel plans to Maryland, with a stop in Owatonna on the way. The stay in Minnesota lasted several days, while her Mother made plans for her to visit all of her relatives, but after I urged her by phone to get on the way, she arrived, finally, at College Park. I had a fraternity brother(Joe Paravotti) who was a part-time bell-hop at the Mayflower Hotel, where he had arranged for us to have the bridal suite for a couple of  nights, but Pat was a day or two beyond the reservation date, so this special treat for her arrival fell through. I had already rented a one bedroom apartment in a government housing project, Calvert Homes in Riverdale, near the University. It was about as close as you can get to bare subsistence!  One room, no inside doors, just a curtain on the bathroom.


Our "heating system" was a coal-burning stove. A gas stove for cooking in one corner of the living room, along with an old fashioned "ice box", made up the "kitchen". We had daily ice and coal delivery to keep our food cold and our stove burning. Pat had a rough time keeping the stove going while I was in classes, and a couple of times she was in bed under the covers to keep warm when I got home. 

The only good thing was the rent of $17 a month, which I could easily afford on my $90 a month under the G.I. Bill! We did have some good neighbors who were in the same position as we were. Bill Ellias, a football player at Maryland who went on to be head coach for the Naval Academy was our next-door neighbor.


We lived Riverdale for a few months, until an opening occurred in a much nicer government project called "Greenbelt", with a full bath, a bedroom, a kitchen and living room. This was a bit more expensive, but included electric heat, an all electric kitchen, and light for $38 a month. Still pretty good rent when compared to today's prices! 


We stayed at Greenbelt for a couple of years (except for the summer of 1946 when we stayed in Hancock on the orchard) while I finished college and for a few months after I took a job at Miller Chemical.

We had a plan all worked out to finance our married life while I  finished school. Pat would get a part-time job at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Riverdale. This would be supplemented with money she would receive by enrolling at the University under the G.I.  Bill; and I would continue working part-time at Headley's book store. Then Things began to fall apart! A few days after Pat started working at the hospital, she cut her hand severely on a broken bottle, and could not go back to work for several weeks. Then in May we learned that she was pregnant with our first child. We went to Hancock for the summer, and by the time we returned to College Park, we decided it would be impossible for her to enroll as a full-time student. That ended our master plan; but none-the-less, we were able to survive on my meager government check and income from part-time jobs.


The first summer together was pretty rough. My Dad was expecting me to come back to Hancock when I finished College, and went to great lengths to make Pat and I welcome at Hancock that first summer. He fixed up a 2-story 3-bedroom tenant and it was not too great, but livable. It was a typical farm house; and had been used to house migrant workers the previous season. Even with the "make-over" the place was dirty, the yard was a mess, and we spent the whole summer working on the place; painting, decorating, mowing, and planting. One  unusual feature of the house was solid walnut floors, steps, and trim throughout the house. I guess with a lot of work and patience, the house could have been made very interesting.


We returned to College Park and our "modern" apartment at Greenbelt for my senior year, where we patiently waited for or new arrival, Mary Pat. Meanwhile, I was engaged in campus politics in a big way. I was elected President of ATO Fraternity when returning in my Junior year. Then, I was elected Vice President of the Interfrantity Council. Finally, I was nominated and elected President of the  University Student Government Association. By this time, the campus was "swamped" with 10,000 returning students. The campaign for election was a big deal with slogans (Up The Hill With Cohill!), newspaper and radio ads, and even leaflets dropped on the campus by an airplane! One evening my campaign committee had me walk around the campus with my pregnant wife, followed by a loud-speaker truck, to "play up" my being married, and that Pat and I were both returning war veterans.


Meanwhile, Pat was getting close to "delivery time"; and while waiting for the word to take her to the hospital, I learned that Daddy had passed away while on a vacation trip to Florida. I took Pat to the Seventh Day Adventist hospital in Silver Springs; where Mary Pat was born in the early morning of February 28th. After being assured that Pat and Mary Pat were doing O.K., I left for my Dad's funeral at Hancock, a 100 mile - 3 hour trip over old route 40. 


Daddy's funeral was a huge affair. Business, political and personal friends from all over the Eastern U.S. were on hand. After the funeral, I rushed back to the hospital, but had very little to do as Pat stayed in the hospital for 10 days. My main concern was to get the apartment ready for the new addition. I finished my last semester at Maryland on a sour note. With all the excitement and concerns related to our new arrival; my dad's death; and what to do about the orchard and my Mother's well-being, I slacked off on my studies and flunked a critical final exam in organic chemistry.  Mary Pat was a "premie" , and so tiny I could carry her in the palm one hand and hold her head with my fingers. She was beautiful, but very "cranky". One of our methods to sooth her was to go for a ride in my "broken down, 39 Plymouth"; why that worked I'm not sure, because the car was a rattle-trap!


My flunking organic chemistry was a huge problem, because without the credits I couldn't graduate; and I was not only anxious to get out of college, but we needed the money! I talked my professor into letting me take the final over (finals were normally not required for graduating seniors in most courses); and by studying night and day in the Maryland library, I was able to get a passing grade, and my name on the list of graduates! One of the graduation highlights was that I received the President's (Curly Byrd) citizenship award as the most  outstanding student of 1947!


With a B/S in hand, my next decision was how, with a wife and our new arrival, Mary Pat, I was going to make a living; and a future; in that order! My oldest brother Jack, who never got along with Daddy, decided to come home and run the orchard. Younger brothers Felippe and Bill had just gotten out of the service and also decided to stay on the orchard. I talked to my advisor, Dr. Ernest Cory, and he told me about a job opening as field entomologist with Miller Chemical and Fertilizer Corp. in Baltimore. He urged me to take the job; commenting that my Dad had always had a rough time financially and agreed with my conclusion that the orchard was not big enough to support 3 families. So off I went to work in Baltimore.


We stayed in our apartment in Greenbelt, and I commuted on the old Baltimore-Washington Boulevard to the office at the foot of Caroline St. on the Baltimore waterfront. My work with Miller involved traveling with the salesmen to advise their customers on the control of insect and disease pests on fruits and vegetables; and hopefully train the salesmen on how to provide this service on a routine basis. 


The Eastern Shore of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, Tidewater Virginia, Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey were major markets for Miller at that time.  One interesting service call was to a large strawberry grower in Norfolk, VA. who was having trouble with red spider mites. Our sales rep, Bill Rafter, asked me to go to Norfolk to inspect his field and give him advice. I hadn't been in my new job very long, and was not sure of the best way to travel. My first thought was to fly, and rent a car. But on checking out the alternatives, I found out that "The Old Bay Line" ran a steamer every night that arrived at Norfolk in the morning Then I got the bright idea to reserve a "cabin for two" and take Pat and Mary Pat, now two or three months old, on the overnight "cruise" down the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore.


We were a little  disappointed when we saw our "cabin"! It was about 4 feet wide and 8 feet long; with double decker single bunk beds, and just enough room on the floor for our suitcase (no closets). We also had to figure out how to accommodate the baby supplies, and figure out how to sleep with the baby in a single bunk bed. Dinner was O.K. in the dining room, and the view was spectacular, but that was about it. Mary Pat was not the least bit impressed by the view or the food, and we retired early to our "cabin". The rest of the night was utter disaster! No room to sleep, the bunks slanted in to the wall; and we spent most of the night trying to get comfortable in the single, slanting bunks with poor Mary Pat crying a good part of the night. When we arrived, dead tired, at the dock in Norfolk, we decided that I had better get a hotel room for the day, so Pat could get some rest, while I made the call on the strawberry grower, Grayson Whitehurst, who was located in Virginia Beach. On arrival back at the hotel, we decided that we could not spend another night on the Old Bay Line, so we tried to get a flight back to the Washington, DC airport, which was the closest to Greenbelt where we were living at the time. The flight we were to take was cancelled, and the only thing available was a limo that would take us to the airport in Washington. The limo was loaded with 7 or 8 passengers, including a very fat man who smoked cigars. About an hour out of Norfolk, we ran into a big traffic tie-up. It was caused by an over-turned tractor-trailer with a load of live chickens! They were all over the road, and it took forever for them to clean up the mess. It was after midnight when we arrived at Washington National Airport in Alexandria, VA; a good 40 miles from Greenbelt. Our only alternative was to take a cab. On the way into downtown Washington, we heard a noise in the rear of the cab. It turned out that the trunk of the cab had flown open, and guess what? 


Our suitcase with everything we had taken for our trip including bottles of baby formula had spilled into the street! After arriving home about 2 A.M. we made a decision - never again would we go on a cruise on the old Bay Line. In fact, it was a long time before Pat and "our baby" went with me on any business trips.


After 3 or 4 months of commuting to Baltimore from Greenbelt, we decided the job was going to be permanent, and we rented a second-floor, two-bedroom apartment on St. Dunstans Road in Govans, a suburb of Baltimore. Soon after we moved, it happened again! Pat became pregnant, and the following February Rosemary was born. Another beautiful baby, and she came in the middle of the night on a cold icy night in February. Our apartment was on a hill, and the road was not only covered with ice, but the door locks on the car were frozen and had to be thawed with hot water! The car wouldn't move on the solid icy road, so we had to get our good neighbors at 3:00 in the morning, (God Bless Them!) to push us up the hill. We were lucky to arrive at the hospital in time.


Now with two beautiful children, the two-bedroom apartment seemed too small, so we put a down payment on a 3 bedroom row house around the corner on Bradhurst Road. Nothing down, and 30 years to pay, at 4%!  It was not bad for a "first" home. It was on a corner, and had a nice back yard with a picket fence where the girls could play. We lived there about a year when, while I was on an over-night business trip, the furnace went off. It was a cold winter night, and Pat went to the next-door neighbor for help. He just said "Call the oil company" and closed his door. When I got home the next day, I had "orders" to look for an apartment where Pat would not have to worry about a furnace!


We moved to a nice apartment complex on Dulaney Valley Road in Towson. Unfortunately , the only thing available was a one-bedroom on the 1st floor, but in a month or two a 3-bedroom became available on the 2nd floor. We lived in Dulaney Valley apartments for several years, where Andy and Kitty were born and made their 1st home. They were both born at Mercy Hospital in down-town Baltimore, and their arrival was more "routine" than Mary Pat's and Rosemary's! Our apartment was getting pretty crowded; the laundry-room was on the 1st floor, which became more inconvenient for washing clothes for 4 children and 2 adults. Then Pat's Mother, who was living in Owatonna, reached a stage that she didn't want to live alone; so we bought a split-level house with 4 levels and 5 bed rooms on Epsom Road in Campus Hills, and Nana Gorman moved in with us. She had her own room on the lower level; the laundry was in the basement, in the middle level was the kitchen, dining room and living room; and on the top level was 3 bedrooms that Pat and I, Kitty, and Andy occupied. Mary Pat achieved independence with her own room next to Nana.  This arrangement only lasted about six months, until Nana Gorman got tired of the steps, and home-sick. She went back to live with Bud and Lola Gorman in Minneapolis, and we decided that 4 levels was too much.


We then bought a very nice 4-bedroom ranch home with a large eat-in kitchen, living room with a fireplace, 4 bedrooms and 3 baths, and an attached garage; all on the same level.  On the lower level we had a large family room with fireplace; and a huge basement that we made into a play room. It was even equipped with a "quarter" slot machine that I brought back on one of our trips to Owatonna. The home was in a beautiful location on 1/2 acre of land in a wooded area at the corner of Providence Road and Cowpens Ave. We had some very nice neighbors all around us. Pat had a nice relationship with friends from Church, including the church secretary, Helen Day, who kept her involved with Catholic Daughters, church functions and school where Mary Pat, Rosemary and Andy where enrolled. I belonged to an investment club of neighbors that met monthly and invested our monthly contributions. Pat and I both played poker monthly with a group of neighbors. Some of our life-long friends from our Towson days were Bob and Betsy Dyke; Alice & Bill Monahan, Mr. Nelligan, Helen Day, and Alice & Bill Carroll. Our 5th and baby girl, Betsy, was born in Mercy Hospital not long after we moved to Providence Road.


Our days in Baltimore, my employment with Miller Chemical, the birth of our 5 children, and social life with friends, were certainly among our most rewarding. I had progressed in salary and responsibility from field entomologist to Vice President and General Sales Manager over the 17 years, and was very happy with what seemed to be a stable business career.


Then the sky fell! Our principle stockholder at Miller Chemical decided to sell his interest to a small but growing company in  Philadelphia, Alco Standard Corp. It was run by an aggressive president, Frank Andrus. They manufactured a rubber compound that was used in foam rubber and other specialty items, one of which was a spray product that controlled soil erosion when applied to newly seeded grassy areas. He and his associates viewed Miller as a good marketing tie-in because of our activity in the turf and lawn care markets. Unfortunately, Andrus had a lot of wild ideas about expanding. One of his pet ideas was to "corner" the mixed fertilizer market in the mid-Atlantic area, and to integrate backward into the basic production of nitrogen products and super phosphate; both of this required huge capital investment which Alco was unprepared financially to provide. Then Andrus reneged on commitments he made to me at the time of the Miller acquisition regarding salary; and the person who was my direct superior at Miller, Lawrence Cameron, would not support my claim; I think  to save his own skin. I forced a confrontation, was lied to, and quit on the spot. My Miller Years "section" of this biography will cover more of the business aspects of my tour with Miller Chemical.


Job hunting was something that I had little experience with, having been with Miller Chemical for 17 years; but I had a good friend at DuPont, Ed Hobaugh, who said he would help me get a job with that company. It would have been necessary for me to start as a field salesman, which I was reluctant to do. I ended up at Geigy Chemical Corporation (later Ciba-Geigy and Novortis), which required selling our lovely home on Providence road and moving to New York. We sold our home very quickly to a Miller employee, Don Fiery, who took my job, but we did not have a suitable place to move to in New York. Pat was very supportive, and took a lot of punishment in the process. 


Mary Pat and Rosemary were in school in Towson. Reluctance to take them out, and the difficulty I had in finding a suitable place to live near the Geigy offices in Ardsley, forced Pat to live with the 5 children  in a very small 2-bedroom apartment in Towson, until June. I drove from Dobbs Ferry, where I shared a small apartment with another Geigy employee, to Baltimore every week-end. I think Pat and the Kids were glad to see me leave early Monday morning so they would have more space in the tiny apartment!  


I roamed the streets of Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington and Tarrytown from January until Late May every morning and evening; when one morning, as I drove around a nice street in Irvington-on-Hudson looking for a "for sale" sign, I passed a man walking his dog on Circle Drive. I decided to stop and ask him if he knew of any homes for sale in the area. He seemed shocked by my question, then proceeded to tell me he and his wife had just decided at their breakfast table to sell their home, and invited me to see it! It was a 3-bedroom ranch home in a nice area, with a basement and attached garage, that was much smaller than the home we had become accustomed to in Towson, but I was desperate and placed an immediate call to Pat.


At this point I think she would have agreed to anything, and we signed a contract with-in 24 hours with Mr. & Mrs. Walter Adams. He was an artist, and we were impressed with one of his award-winning oils labeled "Benediction". I told him we were impressed with the  beauty of this and other paintings, mostly of nature scenes. He said "There's enough grief and misery in the world without perpetuating it on the canvass!" Pat never even got a chance to see the house. We moved in shortly thereafter in early June.


My job at Geigy involved a good bit of travel, and a week or two after we moved, I had to take my first business trip to Geigy headquarters in Basle, Switzerland. Pat was still unfamiliar with the area, and decided to take the 5 children to Ocean City, Maryland while I was away. She had always been frightened when traveling over bridges, but God Bless her, she braved the trip over 5 bridges to get Ocean City! Soon after that, I fell and broke my ankle while working in the back yard, and had the usual experience of immobility with a leg cast. Pat had to drive me to and from work, on top of taking care of the house and children. One morning while waiting for the traffic to clear on the access to the Saw Mill River Parkway, the driver behind us bumped the rear of our car. I jumped out with a cast on my leg, waving a crutch. I thought the driver was going to have a heart attack! Mary Pat, who was home for the summer, also shared the duty, and picked me up a few times.


Needless to say, we got off to a bad start in New York! We really liked the Village of Irvington, and our location on "literally" Circle Drive. We had some nice neighbors - the Harmonys and Owens, and the church was just a couple of blocks away. When we went to register, Mrs. Brown told us that 40 children lived on Circle Drive, and asked how many children we had. When we told him 5, he reared back in his chair, his feet flew up from his cassock, and exclaimed; "Ye gads, now there's 45!"


Our house on Circle Drive was a 3-bedroom ranch With an under-ground garage. We eventually built a "family room" addition onto the house; and I paneled the basement later while Pat was on a visit to her Mother's in Owatonna. It was situated on a nice lot that had a high stone wall in the rear. We had a chiropractor and his wife on one side, and a veteran who had lost both legs on the other. Neither was especially friendly, so we just associated with other neighbors around the circle. The family room addition was a God-send, as it opened on to a nice patio and the rather secluded yard. The kids played a lot with the neighbor children who lived in the Circle. Andy was old enough to take on the "yard work"; and the 3 older girls were a good bit of help to Mom in the house. On bad days (we had a lot of snow in the winter!) they played in the garage or basement. One of their favorites was playing "store" with empty cereal and other food boxes from kitchen. The basement was rather small, but my paneling job, and some old carpet, made it O.K. for use as a playroom. We sprayed water over the patio, and used it for an ice skating rink in the winter.


Mary Pat went off to St. Joseph's College in Emmitsburg, MD while we lived on Circle Drive; Rosemary went off to Loyola College in Baltimore; Andy started at Stepinac High in White Plains; Kitty was in was in high school at Our Lady of Victory Academy, and Betsy was in grade school at our church. 5 children in 5 different schools! 


There was always something going on; parent’s week-end; school plays; basketball, debating club, school fairs; and parents' clubs. Pat took the brunt of it, because I was often traveling, both with Geigy and Esso. At Geigy we were setting up national distribution for our product lines, involving travel to the California, Florida, Texas and Louisiana markets we were entering and had test markets. I was holding sales conferences in key markets, traveling to FranceEngland and Switzerland for meetings with "top brass"; and visiting acquiescing sites in Cleveland and in Canada.


My commute was easy (just over the hill) to Geigy offices at Ardsley, but after starting with Esso, I did something I swore I would never do; commute to downtown New York via commuter train. Funny thing; I got used to the 10 minute walk to the Irvington station, the 50 minute train ride, and the 20 minute walk from Grand Central to 50 W. 49th St. across the street from Rockefeller Plaza. It  was a pretty long day - from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM - so I wasn't much help with the kids, except for baths and singing lullabies! As mentioned earlier, the older girls were a great help to Pat, but she still had to bear most of the responsibility.


When the Geigy job "petered out", we were fortunate to be located in Irvington-on-Hudson and to be able to keep our home there. Even the over-seas travel was facilitated from that location, as we had good limo service to Kennedy, Laguardia and Newark airports. The travel itself was grueling; long trips from one stop to the other; in and out of Hotels; meeting new Esso people every few days, and eating at a different place every day. The one redeeming feature of traveling with Esso was the first class airline and hotel accommodations; and a driver at each stop to take us to our destination.

Esso's world-wide plan to enter the agricultural fertilizer and pesticide markets came to and abrupt halt in the fall of 1969.


I was very disenchanted with large corporations and the lack of control that could be exercised to bring about practical changes. After talking it over with Pat, the decision was made to pursue a dream, which started after leaving Miller Chemical in 1962, to start my own agricultural chemical business; little realizing the obstacles that would be faced over the next 27 years! The decision was made to look at the Delmarva penisula, where I had business friends from my Miller Chemical days traveling the area with one of Miller's key salesmen and an old friend, Bill Rafter. Bill had recently retired from Miller. He was a "gold mine" of knowledge about the area with an excellent reputation with local growers; and he agreed to be my "inside man" and contact with the local growers.


We sold our home on Circle Drive, cashed in my equity in the Esso pension plan, and moved to a low rent, 2 story frame houses in Salisbury, MD in November of 1969. Before we even  got settled, my supposedly "right hand man", Bill Rafter, died. Undaunted, I proceeded to find a place to set up shop; just an office and telephone; and warehouse space to store some pesticide and fertilizer chemicals. A "Captain Anderton" was the owner of an office building  and warehouses on the waterfront dock of the Wicomico River, which was navigable to the bridge in Salisbury. He told me to make myself at home in one of the offices; and to use all of the warehouse space I needed in the ramshackle warehouse across the parking lot on the River. When I tried to find out how much he would charge, he said "whatever you can afford"; and "whenever you can"! This was my first big break. A nice office with a telephone and no fixed monthly rent.


My next project was to develop a business name; incorporate so I could raise addition working capital through the sale of stocks or bonds; find customers, and develop supply sources for chemicals. Another lucky break was finding an excellent lawyer who was also the "benevolent" type! I had an old friend, Ben Rosenstock, in FredrickMD who was the attorney for my Dad when I was running the orchard in Hancock years before. He gave me an excellent reference to Dale Adkins, an attorney in Salisbury who took me under his wing, and for a few hundred dollars that I could pay when ever I had the money, he set up all of the legal documents, by-laws, minute books, and stock certificates.


Next, I had to set up a banking relationship. Friends of ours from Baltimore, Bill and Alice Monahan, moved to NJ and had introduced me to their close friend Jim Gibbons; who was a bank V.P. in NJ. He advised establishing an account with a local bank, and introduced me to a friend of his at the Maryland National Bank office in Easton


They had a branch in Salisbury where we set up an account with then  V.P. Bill Postals; and set up a line of credit that was far in excess of my net worth! My "business plan" which I had taken time to spell out in detail, must have impressed them! With the paperwork work completed, the only thing left was the small job of lining up customers, and setting up accounts with major chemical suppliers!


Our first home in Salisbury was an old 2-story frame house that was what I would call "basic"! Not long after were got settled there, a nice brick ranch home right behind us became available for rent; and we grabbed it. Unfortunately, the owner decided after a few months that he was moving back to Salisbury and wanted the house. We then decided to move to an apartment development on the Wicomico River. We only lived there about a year when a new condominium development, "Crosswinds" was under construction. By this time, we were making a small profit at Agrotec, so we put a deposit on a second-story unit in a location we liked. Unfortunately, the building in which our unit was located caught on fire while under construction. We had already terminated our apartment lease and had to move, so the builder provided us with a free unit until our replacement was ready. 


Eventually we got situated in the unit we decided to take, in place of the one that burned.  Crosswinds was very comfortable for us, as by that time, we just had Betsy at home.  Kitty and Andy went off to College; Andy at Belmont Abbey;  Kitty at Loyola; and Betsy went to St. Francis grade school, and then to public high school right across the road. We stayed there about 10 years, until we bought the Johnson business in Pendleton, NC.


While in Salisbury, Agrotec was truly a family affair. Andy, after trying "watermelon picking"  for a local farmer Bill Toadvine the first summer, asked me if I had anything for him to do at Agrotec. We decided he could make some money for the company by operating a weed and insect control service. He went to work setting up a sprayer unit on the back of one of our pick-up trucks, and kept busy through the summer. He pretty much ran the service himself, including assembling the sprayer, lining up customers, and doing the spraying. Kitty worked in the office at a wide range of jobs; assembling catalogs, waiting on customers, packing, unpacking, and checking in our daily UPS shipments, answering the telephone, and writing orders. Betsy did much of the same kind of work, and since she was with us in Salisbury for a longer time than the others, had many more opportunities for "family togetherness" in the work-place! Pat, God Bless her again, stayed home the first couple of years and did a lot of volunteer work at the St. Francis Rectory and school. One day, when I was particularly frustrated with the pressure at Agrotec, I told her that if she had time to do so much volunteer work for the church and school, why not work at Agrotec? She never flinched, and came to work the very next day!


After we moved our operation to North Salisbury Blvd., and got bigger in the sprayer parts and nursery supply business, Pat ran the office and handled the "walk-in” customers. It amazed me how quickly she learned the sprayer parts, especially the thousands of nozzles, tips and pump parts we stocked for both the wholesale and retail trade. 


While we were located on N. Salisbury Blvd., we got our first (Sperry Univac) computer, and she sat beside the operator and rattled off the part numbers and prices that needed to be posted. After we got the computer going well, Pat retired. She has often told us that we picked her brains, put them into the computer, and then sent her out to pasture! (Of course that wasn't true!)


We came to Salisbury in the fall of 1967, and then after purchasing Johnson Manufacturing Company in Pendleton, NC in 1981, moved to Franklin, VA where we rented a rather nice condo. By this time, all of the children were gone, and we decided to live in Franklin which was the closest large town, 25 miles, to Pendleton, NC where our plant and offices were located. Pat volunteered at the Franklin library, and took on the job of counting and depositing the weekly collection at St. Judes' church. My hours were long, and the 30 or 40 minute commute got tiresome, so after looking around the area near plant, we decided to buy a home in the village (700 people) of Boykins, VA. It was a nice brick "ranch"; with 3 bedrooms and a large family room, on a corner 1/2 acre lot. We were in a nice section of the village, with wonderful neighbors in all directions.


Our stay in Boykins, which lasted until 1991 when we decided to buy our "retirement" condo in Williamsburg, was a nice chapter in our lives. Even though it was a small town, the neighbors were very friendly, and much to our surprise took us into there community life with open arms. Our neighbor on the other corner was Texie Marks, a millionaire daughter of one of the founders of Union Camp Paper Mills. She greeted us the first day with a beautiful bouquet of  flowers, and food for our first day. A week or so later, the local physician, Dr. Naurano, and his wife hosted a garden party for us to which most of the residents of Boykins were invited. We got invitations to join a bridge club, Lions Club, Baptist church functions, Methodist church functions, and virtually every other function that occurred in the community.


Pat played bridge every week with a small group. Our neighbor on the other corner, "Kat" Draper was a lovely neighbor, and next door to us lived the owner of the local grocery store and meat market, "Buck" Lassiter, who was also the town constable. Strangely enough, we probably had the best social life in that small village of any place we ever lived. Cultural events were held regularly at the College in nearby Murfreesboro, NC


Our neighbor Texie had donated a building to the College; and always invited us to join her in prime seats. The local Baptist minister, Rev. Ipok, and his wife became good friends. He even gave me advice and helped me install a TV antenna on our roof.


Our church in Franklin was somewhat inconvenient, but Pat and I counted the collection every Sunday after Mass; and Pat drove over on Monday to deposit the money and work in the office. We made good friends with the pastors. First there was Father "Al" Pereira, and he was followed by Father "Gene" Teslovic. Father Al was a small (5'2"), but outspoken, priest who knew all of the cardinals and bishops in the Richmond and Washington Dioceses, and told us many interesting stories. He had served as pastor of the church in Virginia that the Jack Kennedy family attended, and knew them intimately. Father Gene was young and aggressive. We went with him and several others parishioners each month to the near-by state prison to have prayers and Mass for the inmates. It was an interesting experience, as the men were mostly made up of hardened criminals who had murdered someone. We were often shocked to hear them tell us frankly about their crimes. We had to be searched and "patted down" before entering; and we walked through the yard full of convicts on our way to the prison Chapel.


About 1990, I concluded that Agrotec would not grow further without an additional infusion of capital, and began looking for a buyer, or a merger partner. I had extensive talks and came very close to deal with  Top Air, a company in Iowa that had a large plant and extensive distribution in the mid-west. We had agreed that a merger would give Top Air distribution in the East, and extend Agrotec's coverage into the Mid-west. We were close to signing, when one of the principals in Top Air, and the man we were negotiating with, was fired by his board of directors "for misuse of company funds". The deal fell through.  Then I tried to sell our Brazilian friends, Jacto, who were supplying us with a range of air-blast sprayers and parts, on the idea of buying Agrotec as a means of more firmly establishing their product line in the U.S. Unfortunately, the Nishimura family (father and 5 brothers) that owned their operation could not agree on such an aggressive entry into the U.S.


Meantime, Pat and I decided to invest in a condo in Williamsburg, with the thought that we would go their on weekends and for vacations. We tried that for about a year; then decided that it would be just as easy, and eliminate the maintenance of two homes, if we sold our Boykins home and moved full time to Williamsburg. I commuted daily (about 50 miles and a one-hour drive) to Pendleton for a while, thinking that any day one of the several "irons that were in the fire" to sell the company would materialize. When nothing happened for a few months, I bought a travel trailer and parked it beside the plant at Pendleton enabling me stay down at Pendleton 2 or 3 nights a week and cut down on the driving. Fortunately this set-up only lasted about 6 months, as the sale of Agrotec to Williams Controls finally went through. Once the sale was complete, I quickly sold the trailer and went to Williamsburg to be with Pat on a full-time basis. 


Fortunately, all of these personal moves did not affect us too badly financially, as we were able to recover our investment each time, and make a modest profit on each property we sold.

During my various "business escapades", a number of major family events occurred:

1971 - Rosemary married Kevin Plunkett at St. Jude's in Salisbury
1975 - Our 1st granddaughter Katie was born

1977 - 2nd granddaughter Colleen was born
1980 - 3rd granddaughter Kelly was born
1984 - 1st grandson Kevin Cohill was born
1987 - 4th granddaughter Carolyn was born
1988 - Andrew married Terrie Gabriel in Blacksburg
1989 - Andy's 1st daughter Thea was born
1990 - Kitty married Jim Desimone at Transfiguration in Tarrytown
1991 - Kitty's 1st daughter Emily was born
1992 - Andy's 2nd daughter Allie was born
1993 - 2nd grandson Greg was born
1994 - Betsy married Alex FauntLeRoy in Ocean City
1995 - Betsy's 1st daughter Madeline was born and passed away 2 months later
1996 - Betsy's 2nd daughter Chloe was born

1996 - Kitty's 2nd daughter Molly was born
1998 - Betsy's 3rd daughter Hannah was born


Retirement took on a new meaning in 1994 after I sold Agrotec.  Pat and I took in all of the sight-seeing and cultural opportunities that Colonial Williamsburg provided. We went to the Colonial area at least once a week; either to shop in one of the fine stores like Casey's; or just to stroll down the main street through the restored area.  Several museums were also readily available, and I think we saw them all! We bought annual passes to Bush Gardens, and we went there every month or two; just to walk through, or to take in the concerts and entertainment that was constantly changing. It didn't take me long to get involved in Williamsburg Commons politics. I was elected president of the Condo Association, and became embroiled in the controversies we had with the manager that the Association hired to run the place.


St. Bede's Church was a quaint little chapel that was too small for the week-end vacationers, so we had to plan our timing carefully to get a seat. Pat took on the job of washing and ironing the purifications, and occasionally "lost her religion" when they contained too much lip-stick stain! It was a very nice parish; but a little hard to make friends due to the size of the congregation. We had some nice friends at the Condo; cards once a week with Bob and Grace King; and a neighbor Hal Hooper, who was a curator at one of the museums, kept us informed about the exhibits. Some very nice dining opportunities were also available. Williamsburg Inn and the restored area taverns were good. If  we wanted to "Slum it", a "Cracker Barrel" restaurant was just a short walk away.


We enjoyed visits from the children and grandchildren, who came, but not frequently enough! After nearly 5 years in Williamsburg, we started getting homesick for more contact with our children and grandchildren. We decided that we had experienced most of the cultural advantages Williamsburg had to offer, and why not move closer to the New York area where most of the family was located? 

There was really nothing to keep us in Williamsburg except the cultural aspects. Andy thought we should move to Blacksburg, but as one of my prospects for the Agrotec plant once told me about Pendleton; "It's nor exactly the end of the world, but you can see it from there"! So we looked for a retirement community closer to the New York area.


We made a couple of trips to Tarrytown, and visited communities in northern Westchester county, and central and northern New Jersey.  Mary Pat had a friend whose father lived in a community in Tom's River; and we looked at that development as well as 3 or 4 others in the area. Leisure Village West looked like the nicest; with golf course, 2 swimming pools, 2 club houses, a private lake, bocci and shuffle board courts, and miles of beautifully landscaped walkways. 

We bought a 2-bedroom condo with cathedral ceilings, attached garage and a nice yard that backed up to a wooded area called "The Preserve".


Our tranquility at Leisure Village was shattered, when a routine visit to our family Doctor Power told me to get another cauterization, to check the aeortic valve of my heart, at Deborah Hospital in Browns Mills, NJ. They sent me rather quickly to surgery to implant a new bovine (calf) valve, as the existing valve was closing, causing poor circulation. Mary Pat came down from New York to be with me during the operation. (It's wonderful to have a nurse in the family!) My recovery was routine, and in a few weeks I was pretty much back to normal.


Following this episode, Pat and I decided it would be wise to move closer to Tarrytown and Manhattan so we could be closer to the family. Our primary doctor, Dr. Power, was located in Forked River, some 30 miles away, and he practiced at a hospital in Manahawkin, another 10 miles down the road. Mom had to go to that hospital for various tests when she was having trouble with her diabetes and heart. So we started looking again for a retirement community closer to New York that had better and more convenient medical facilities. 


After looking at several places in Westchester and other nearby areas, we finally decided upon Glen Arden in Goshen, 40 miles, and 45 minutes, from Tarrytown.


So this brings us to where we are today; living in an "Independent  Living Life Care" retirement community where we have a lovely 2-bedroom apartment with a nice living room, full kitchen, and a balcony overlooking a beautiful courtyard and garden. The picture window, at the end of our second floor hall where we live, frames a valley with a green forest in the spring and summer; and beautiful fall foliage in the fall. Winter brings us a good bit of snow, and fortunately we do not have to go out-doors unless we want to.


We get one full course meal each day. Our weekly linen is picked up and delivered to our door, and the Laundromat at the end of our hall is free. It took us a little while to get used to the freedom from cooking 3 meals a day and not having to "clean the house" (vacuum, scrub kitchen and bathrooms!)

Glen Arden's surroundings are very nice. Outside grounds are beautifully landscaped, with seasonal flowers in beds around the building. I take a daily walk - twice around our buildings - which gives me a full mile of walking exercise. Indoors we have a lovely lobby, library, billiards’ room, Cafe for lunch, snacks and coffee, exercise room with treadmills, bicycles, and weights; and a large swimming pool with a whirl-pool bath. Bus service is available for doctor appointments, groceries, and church. There is some kind of outing every week or two with bus transportation; luncheons, tours, plays and musicals. Pat manned the visitor desk in the lobby on Friday, and I did the same on Monday.


As usual, I've gotten into politics, and was quickly elected to the Residents' Council as "Councilman At Large" for a 3-year term; then to secretary of the Council and the Residents' Association. I served 2 years as Chairman of the Association ; Chairman of the Finance Committee, and Chairman of the Delegation to the Glen Arden Board of Directors. I have one more year as Vice Chairman of the Association and Chairman of the Delegation to the Glen Arden Board of Directors.


Not long after we arrived at Glen Arden in June of 1998, Pat had some chest pains while we were visiting Rosemary following a night at the theater on Broadway, "Miss Saigon", and we decided to "make tracks" to Goshen where she could see her regular cardiologist at the Arden Hill Hospital Emergency room. She was immediately diagnosed as a candidate for a heart cauterization. We decided she should go to Sinai, where Mary Pat could keep in touch with her. She was immediately diagnosed with severe blockages of her heart, and went promptly to the operating room.  The operation was a quadruple by-pass, and it was successful.


Unfortunately She did not recover very rapidly from the anesthesia, and soon developed pneumonia. She had great difficulty in breathing, and a tracheotomy to install a breathing tube, was required. Further complications developed, probably because of the breathing tube interference with her normal eating function, and they installed a feeding tube in her stomach. Of course her diabetes didn't help matters. She went to Sinai in October 1998, and stayed in ICU, unable to breath or eat on her own, until early April. She was finally able to walk with the help of a nurse, and we moved her by ambulance to Helen Hayes Rehabilitation Hospital in Haverstraw, NY,  which was noted for success in “weening” patients?  Within a few days, the breathing tube was removed, and with the therapy she gradually learned to walk with a walker. In mid-April she came back to Glen Arden, directly to our apartment.


Now in November of 2005, after 6 years at Glen Arden, we are spending most of our time reading, writing email, working on my autobiography, and watching morning and evening news, Judge Judy, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and Larry King. Pat likes to read romance novels. I tend to go for historical novels. Andy gave me a good one - "The Bear and The Dragon", and the girls gave me two books about "Morgan The Raider" and "Ranger Mosby". My grandfather, Benjamin Morgan, is mentioned in the later book as being in a raiding party during the Civil War. 


Mother always thought he was with Morgan the Raider, because he was "released from prison" in Charleston, WV at the end of the war. With the help of nephews Charlie Cohill, Patrick Cohill and Bill Cohill, I'm trying to trace from Civil War records on the internet just what he did to be put behind bars. (Maybe we shouldn't go there, but a mystery is a mystery!)


In November of 2005, we experienced our worst personal tragedy. Pat had just gone through chemotherapy for multipal myloma; cancer that affects the blood stream. She was having trouble with stability following the treatments, and had a bad fall in our apartment. While in subsequent hospitalization, she developed pneumonia, from which she never recovered. She passed away on November 22nd, 2005 at Arden Hill Hospital in Goshen, NY. With only a month until our 60th wedding anniversary, it is very strange not to have Pat around.



Business Career

Upon graduation from the University of Maryland with a BS degree in Entomology, it was my plan to go back to Hancock and take over the running of the orchard business; about which I was thoroughly familiar as a result of my continual employment by my Dad during vacations from high school, college, and return from 15 months in the service. 


Daddy had more or less promised to turn over the management to me upon graduation. Unfortunately, he passed away in February before I had finished school, and my oldest brother Jack, and two younger brothers Felippe and Bill, decided to return to the orchard. Jack had been working for Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore for several years, and never got along with JA, (as we called him when he was not around!). 


A severe frost reduced the prospects for a decent crop in 1947, and I decided that there was no way the orchard would support all four of us in the foreseeable future.


Miller Chemical

I took a job with Miller Chemical & Fertilizer Corporation in Baltimore, with encouragement from my advisor at Maryland Dr. Ernest Cory, who was head of the Entomology Department. My title was "Field Entomologist", which involved visiting various orchard and vegetable farm customers of the company. I worked with the local salesman or plant manager, often calling on his customers together, so he could get credit for the service we rendered. Miller had plants and warehouses throughout the mid-Atlantic area, and I worked with most of them. The company had about $1,000,000 in sales at the time; but during my tenure of 17 years sales grew to $10,000,000. We had plants in Baltimore; Hanover, PA; Salisbury, MD; Whiteford, MD; Ephrata, PAFredrick, MD; Gaithersburg, MD; Charlestown, WV; Winchester, VA; Stony  Creek, VA; Roanoke, VA; and Richwood, NJ.


My success paralleled the Companies progress, advancing to assistant sales manager, sales manager, vice president in charge of sales, and member of the board of directors. The principle stockholder and President of Miller was W. Newton Long; and he was one of the finest men I've ever known or worked for. He was vary straight and narrow in his own habits; but at the same time tolerant of others. His Brother-in-law was secretary of the Corporation and one of the key salesmen, but had a problem with alcohol. Mr. Long asked me several times if I would try to help him, which I tried to do; but he was eventually killed when he walked in front of a speeding car on a busy street near his home.


We had 35 men is our sales department, and covered the area from Florida to western New York. The product lines were broken up into 3 divisions; Pesticide, Fertilizer, and Home Garden. The fertilizer division sold primarily bulk fertilizer, delivered to the farmers' fields and applied to the crops. Each plant had a fleet of 5 or 6 specially designed spreader trucks to deliver the product. The Pesticide Division sold all types of insecticide, fungicide and herbicide products; that were sold primarily to large fruit and vegetable farming operations such a Dulaney Frozen Foods, Byrd Orchards, Heinz and Campbell Soup. Most of the pesticide salesmen were trained to make recommendations to their customers on the right chemical, and the right time for application. The Home Garden Division sold a variety of pesticide and fertilizer products in attractive packages through retail garden centers, hardware stores and supermarkets.


Some of the many associates at Miller were Ross Holtz, Lou Fries, John Dyer, Bill Sadler, Larry Shaver, Jesse Miller, Bud Ashmore, Otto Neuman, Bill Rafter, Dee Dee Keene, George McGrew, Tom Bradley (Sr & Jr), Russ Rouser, Clayton Hackman, Jack Hartley, Jerry Rohrer, Bill Wilner, and Bob Lesher. Lawrence Cameron was treasurer, and later became President under Alco; Clarence Carr was our accountant. Eddie Moore and Andy Fisher ran the plant operations with a plant or warehouse manager at each location.


The job with Miller was very satisfying in both challenges and personal satisfaction. It was an opportunity to watch and participate in a steadily growing operation, involving acquisitions, advertising, training programs, product research and development, and the management of resources. At one point, I went to Puerto Rico to study the feasibility of building a plant to produce soluble fertilizers [VHPF & Nutrileaf] for export to Florida; one of our principle markets.


In 1962, the principle stockholder, Newton Long wanted to retire, and decided to sell his controlling interest. Some of our management team wanted to buy him out, but we did not have sufficient financial resources to swing the deal. He sold controlling interest to a small but aggressive manufacturer of rubber products, Alco Chemical Corporation in Philadelphia. The President and CEO, Frank Andrus, was an aggressive manager that was full of grandiose ideas, many of which did not seem practical (such as the manufacture of anhydrous ammonia) for the Miller operation to undertake. He also was reckless with actuations that did not appear practical, such as a New Jersey company named Goulard & Oleana. We had disagreements over policy; and broken promises over salary increases, which after 17 years with one company caused me to look for greener pastures.


Miller did not do too well under Alco, and after a few years was sold to a key employ, Donald Fiery, whose father was involved in the management of their Charlestown, WV operation.  Alco went on to develop other interests after Frank Andrus died, and management was taken over by a very able Mike Gelbach, who took that company on to be a multi- billion dollar corporation on the New York Stock Exchange.


Geigy Chemical Corporation - 63-67

In 1963, after growing unhappy with the way things were going at Miller Chemical, it was time for me to look for another way to spend our future. After interviewing with several companies including DuPont, Chemagro, Esso, Monsanto, and a company I can't recall in St. Louis, I decided to take a job with Geigy as Director of the Consumer Products department. It was a new department set up to handle all of the Corporation's consumer products that were under development in other Divisions - Agricultural Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Dyestuffs and Industrial Chemicals.


The department was placed under the Agricultural Division, since this Division had several pesticides that lent themselves to the consumer (home-owner) market. I reported to the Division President, Dr. George Ferguson; and had a "free rein" to set up an investment budget, hire the needed staff people, develop research and marketing plans and establish distribution. It was the intention of the Corporation to have a new Consumer Products Division evolves from the start-up department. My office was a large corner office, typical of the other division presidents. We worked entirely independent of the Agricultural Division, and pretty much operated as a separate company.


My first task was to establish an organization to development marketing plans, product research and development, sales coverage, and advertising; with the objective of marketing Geigy products that fit various consumer markets. These products came from all divisions; pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, dyestuffs and agricultural chemicals.


We were guided by a staff from the parent company in Switzerland who had previous experience with consumer products in France, ItalyEngland, Argentina and Germany. The staff was small; Max Murbach as manager, Lucas Beyerler, market research, and a small group of specialists with experience in advertising and product development. 


In addition, we had access to product development from France where Geigy had a major consumer product business. In the course of working on new product and market development I made visits to Basle, Paris, Poitier, Manchester, and Rome to review their products and programs.


To get a "jump start" in the U.S. market for the household and garden pesticide markets, we purchased an old established company, Flytox Inc., in Cleveland, Ohio and Ontario, Canada. I wanted to move our consumer products division to the Flytox property in Cleveland, but management wanted us at Ardsley where we could stay in closer contact with developments in the other divisions. We spent our early marketing efforts in the household and garden pesticide area, but pharmaceuticals were of special interest due to Geigy distribution in drug outlets in the U.S and Canada. Another development that we were working hard to bring to market was an aerosol that worked on the principle of siphoning the active product from the container without bringing it in contact with the propellant. This had the potential to open up the aerosol market to a wide range of products that were not compatible with the propellants. Geigy had a patent relationship in France with Precision Valve Corp,, the largest aerosol valve mfg. in the world which was owned by Robert Alplanalp (who incidentally was a close friend of Richard Nixon). I was involved in negotiating patent rights with Alplanalp, who reminded me somewhat of a mobster. He always had a bodyguard with him and he liked to go to an elegant restaurant at City Island in the Bronx. 


Our organization included a product development manager, Marvin Thornton; a marketing manager, Don Akisson; a marketing research manager, Herb Hirshan; an advertising manager, Larry Marrone; and a sales manager, Bill Gamble, who was our contact with major grocery store chains. We ended up with several products on the market;  Spectracide garden insecticide, Sequestrene iron chelate, and Fly-tox and Crawl-tox household insecticides. Our sales went from "0" to about $10 million, and our distribution was steadily expanding. 


Spectracide was pretty much National; the household insecticides were achieving major market shares in several test markets (New OrleansJacksonville, Dallas, Erie, and Montgomery where we were doing heavy TV and newspaper advertising. But we had very stiff competition from well established brands such as S. C. Johnson's Raid, Boyle Midway's Hot Shot, and Ortho's Rose & Garden.


We recommended a major investment in national advertising to counter the strong completion from these brands. It was at a time that Geigy Atrazine was getting over 80% of the world corn herbicide market; the Pharma Division's Butazolidine was the leading arthritis drug, and the Industrial division had a lion's share of the U.S. optical brightener business. The other divisions needed to greatly expand their production and warehouse capacity to handle the fantastic increase in volume they were generating. The end result was a management decision to put their financial resources into the leaders; and to discontinue any attempt to enter the consumer products business. I was naturally very disappointed, and even though I and my staff were offered jobs in the existing Agricultural Division, I felt my future would be limited. At this point, I went back to Esso, where I had interviewed 4 years previously, before taking the Geigy job.


The personnel dept. at Esso quickly set me up with interviews at Esso Eastern Chemical, Inc. and I got the job of Marketing Manager for the Agricultural Division's Far Eastern markets where major plants were about to come on stream and rapid expansion was contemplated. I reneged on a long-standing vow not to commute to down-town Manhattan and started commuting from Irvington-on-Hudson to 51 East 49th Street in Rockefeller Center.


Esso - 67-69

The most interesting period of my career was the 2 & 1/2 years spent as Marketing Manager for the Agricultural Chemical Division of Esso Eastern Chemicals, Inc. Geigy offered me a job in the Agricultural Division, but I was concerned about the future after losing the opportunity to develop a separate division. I went back to visit Esso, where I had interviewed before accepting the position at Geigy. 


Esso had ventured into the agricultural chemical field in the early 60's in an attempt to utilize unmarketable natural gas deposits, and the refinery gas pollutants which included large amounts of nitrogen, and sulfuric acid. The basic chemicals not only cost very little, and their disposal was actually a great added expense to the refining operations. Environmental concerns caused increasing pressure to eliminate pollution from the areas surrounding each plant. These pollutants were available at virtually every Esso plant around the world. About the same time, the Rockefeller Foundation, established by the same Rockefeller family that started Esso and owned a major stake in the Corporation, was developing new varieties of grains, to feed a hungry world. The effort was concentrated primarily on wheat varieties at the International Wheat Research Institute in Mexico, and rice varieties at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines. This research investigated not only improvement of the crops' ability to reproduce more abundantly, but also the cultural needs such as fertilization. The new varieties required much higher levels of fertilizer than the old- low-yielding ones. The Esso management was made aware of these needs, and probably under the influence of the Rockefellers, started an internal research program to determine where the Corporation's refineries and industrial chemical manufacturing experience might fit in.


Esso had refineries in many areas where food was critically short.  The also knew from their chemical manufacturing experience that refinery gas that was being "burned off" or discharged into the air, could be "scrubbed", capturing the anhydrous ammonia, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. These could then be converted to urea, a solid form of nitrogen fertilizer; and dry sulfur which could be used directly as fertilizer and to reduce soil alkalinity. A project was started to build the plant facilities at refinery locations in areas of the world where increased grain production was needed, and where the new varieties of wheat and rice could be cultivated. The end result was plants or marketing facilities in the Far East areas of The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Australia; Mid-east areas of Greece and Lebanon; South Africa in Africa; Netherlands in Europe; and Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico in Central and South America; and Canada in North America. By the time I joined Esso Eastern Chemicals Inc. in 1967, most of the plant facilities were completed or near completion.


Esso Eastern Chemicals was one of 5 subsidiaries of Esso Chemical Inc. (a subsidiary of Standard Oil Co. of N.J.); others were Esso Chemicals Europe, Esso Chemicals InterAmerica, Esso Chemicals Middle East, and Imperial Chemicals Canada.  Esso Eastern Chemicals, Inc. had 2 Divisions; Esso Eastern Industrial Chemicals, and Esso Eastern Agricultural Chemicals.  Other regional companies had similar divisions. Esso Eastern Agricultural Division managed 22 corporations in the Far East that devoted a percentage of their activities to the agricultural markets. The chain of command was fairly well defined. I was hired as Marketing Manager of the Agricultural Chemicals Department and reported to the Manager of the Department (John Forgrieve, who had a staff of 4). He reported to the Vice President of Esso Eastern Chemicals Inc. (Len Moody); who in turn reported to Tryg Tonnisson, President of EECI.

The subsidiaries of the Ag Division each operated as separate Corporations, and had a President who reported to John Forgrieve; and had responsibility for the profit and loss of their local Corporation. Our most active Corporations, and their  Marketing Managers were:

Esso Standard Fertilizer Corp. (Philippines); Perry Onstot

Esso Pakistan Fertilizer Corp.; Tony Ward
Esso Thialand : Fritz Menschar
Esso Australia ; Joe Sexton
Esso India; Answar Desai


Marketing Manager it was my responsibility to supervise the development  and implementation of sales and marketing plans for the agricultural business in each area. We had major activities in the Philippines and Pakistan where our marketing activities alone employed over 500 people in each country. I had a staff of 4; an Agronomist, Bob Wheeler;  Entomologist, Bill Eisler; Horticulturist,  Pete McManus; and Market Research Specialist, Andy Carlin. Key among our responsibility was forecasting the chemical needs for each market, the supporting manpower, assessing the educational needs of the farming community, the training of sales and technical servicemen, advertising and sales promotion, product transportation, packaging, and the distribution network. We also had the responsibility to review the marketing expenses and the P&L for each area. Detailed financial information from each affiliate was due in the New York office on the 10th of each month. Our review of the data was reported each month to the EECI Board of Directors at the regular monthly meetings.


Twice each year I visited the Affiliates, which took me around the world each time. First a rest stop-over in Hawaii or Tokyo; then to Our regional office in Hong Kong. I usually went from west to east, so in order the next stops usually were The Philippines, MalaysiaSingapore, Australia, Thailand, India (Bombay and Bangalore) and Pakistan. By this time, it was closer to fly back to New York via Western Europe; with  stop-overs for business or rest, in EgyptGreece, Switzerland, Germany, and England. One trip on business to Switzerland from The Philippines took me from Manila to Tokyo to Fairbanks, over the North Pole to Copenhagen and then to Basle. We always traveled first class, and stayed in the best hotels; Acura in Tokyo, Mandarin in Hong Kong, Raffles Singapore,  Intercontinal in Karachi, and Hilton in Athens to name a few.


One of the concerns in every project was the practical control of insect pests with equipment that could be used without major investment in equipment or technology. An inventor in England had developed a low-volume hand sprayer that was powered with flash-light batteries. I made a stop-over England to try to purchase the technology from the inventor. On another trip, I spent several days in Tokyo and Osaka in negotiations with Japanese chemical manufacturers to purchase patents on new pesticides they had developed.


During the tour of duty with Esso, I organized a meeting of the affiliate marketing, technical, and business managers, which was held in Manila in the Philippines. The object was to share information about product and market development in the Far East Region. We discussed the opportunities and the inefficiencies of doing business in each area.


Not long after that, the Board of Directors of the parent Esso Oil Company decided they had had enough of the agricultural chemical business world-wide, and decided to close down or divest of all such investments. The bottom line was very poor, and problems of working with the political systems in developing countries were overwhelming. 


Graft, corruption, and inefficiency made life next to impossible for a U.S. corporation that would not cooperate with local authorities.  The inefficiency of local, untrained personnel drove costs to an unreasonable level. Most of the operations were closed or sold within a year, and I, once again, had to look for a new job.


After having two aborted job opportunities within a 7-year period, I made the decision not to seek employment with another large corporation, and pursued the impulse I had when leaving Miller Chemical in 1963 to start my own business. I was very disenchanted with the lack of control over my future with large corporations, and vowed that "if I made any more mistakes, I'd make them on my own"! 

These were "famous last words", because I did in fact make quite a few more! So off I went;  sold our home in Irvington, NY; and, with the money we had in profit-sharing plans in Geigy and Esso, went to Salisbury, MD to start an agricultural chemical business.


Agrotec Inc.

We liquidated all of our assets in New York; house, stocks and bonds, and pension fund with Esso. We moved into an old 2-story frame house where the rent was cheap in Salisbury on the Eastern Shore. I had picked the Eastern Shore to start a pesticide business because of previous experience with Miller Chemical who had a dust-mixing plant there, and my knowledge of the area through an old friend, Bill Rafter,  a "Sales Rep" for Miller who had retired.  After finally incorporating in 1969 under the laws of Maryland, it was time to try to produce some income. The starting nest-egg of $50,000 wasn't going to last long, in spite of the liberal credit I received from my landlord, my attorney and the bank. Except for the loss of "my right-hand man" Bill Rafter who passed away before we got started, the timing was good, because we were in operation in advance of the 1970 spring season. I started making personal calls on all of the old Miller Chemical customers; and shortly visited the Farmers & Planters Fertilizer Company to try my sales pitch for a spring order for chemicals. Two old Miller customers, V. V. Hughes and Jack Rayner of Rayner Brothers liked my idea of specializing in pesticides and using my entomology background to give advice to my customers. They were also good friends of the late Bill Rafter, and I think they had sympathy for my loss of Bill as a start-up partner. At any rate, they were both Directors of Farmers and Planters, and used their influence to get the manager, Ed McGrath, to invite me to share their office and warehouse at no charge, as a service to their fertilizer customers.


We moved our office into the room occupied by the Manager, Ed McGrath, and used the secretarial and accounting expertise of their right hand "gal", Irene Phillips. Looking back, the whole maneuver was tremendous stroke luck! We had no warehouse or office expense; we had secretarial and accounting support, and labor to load and unload trucks with incoming supplies and out-going sales. 


Salesmen for F&P, Don Hales and Bob Phillips, introduced me to some of their customers; and spotted business for me.  I hit the road running, offering the vegetable growers in the area a field checking service. We had an immediate core of customers. 

Practically all of F&P's customers grew vegetables and other high value crops that needed pesticides. The "field checking" service went over big. The office support from Irene Phillips was also a tremendous asset. She handled correspondence, handled all of Agrotec's bookkeeping and payroll; and was on a first name basis with all of the farmers in the area.


Agrotec's contribution to F&P was a complete pesticide service that  included field inspections for customers; and I brought in new fertilizer customers for F&P that resulted from my contacts outside of their "family". We made connections with several major pesticides suppliers to act as their distributors in the Delmarva area, and shortly we were bringing in truckloads of insectides, fungicides, and  herbicides that we purchased from such companies as Chemagro, Dow, and Union Carbide. We quickly got into buying and selling products that ran as much as $50,000 a truckload. Some of our customers were very large operators. Ray Nicholas at Dorco Farms in Vienna grew 1500 acres of spinach; Jack Rayner had 500 acres of strawberry plants, Dulaney Foods grew 5000 acres of vegetables, and within two years we had over a hundred large farms on our books.


This arrangement went on for a year or two, until Agrotec's activity began encroaching on the space F&P needed to run the fertilizer business. We added some basic spray equipment; pumps, nozzles, tips, hose, fittings, and some complete sprayers that we purchased from manufacturers for resale. The idea to get into sprayer equipment was to fill a niche in the market that over the years, even back to my Miller days, I noticed was not being filled by the equipment and chemical dealers. It was observed over my years in the chemical business that pesticides were often applied improperly due to badly designed and poorly maintained equipment. Also, that segment of the spraying market was virtually non-competitive. Roller pumps were a big problem because of the rapid wear created from the use of dry pesticides such as simizine and sevin. On a trip I took to Kansas City to try to obtain a distributorship from Chemagro Corp.,

I  decided to inquire among the local farm equipment dealers there as to what they were doing about this problem. One dealer told me he had found a different type of pump manufactured by the John Bean Division of FMC Corp called "the meter-flo". It was a centrifugal pump; no rollers; and it had a fiberglass housing that resisted corrosion, and at the same time solved the wear problem associated with  the roller pumps with cast iron housing.


This was another big break. I found out those farm equipment dealers in the Delmarva area had never heard of the pump, and of course the pump was not available to farmers who had so much trouble with roller pumps that were on virtually ever boom sprayer on the market. I called an old friend from my Miller days that worked for FMC, Mark Slade. He put me in touch with FMC's equipment manager for the area, who happened to be his son Bill Slade. Bill made a visit to Salisbury where I explained my interest, and suggested that his regular FMC dealers were not doing anything with the "Meter-Flo" pump. How, I'm not sure, but he somehow convinced his management to set Agrotec up as a distributor for the pump. This opened up a way for Agrotec to establish a dealer network for spray equipment, and the dealers were quick to recognize us as a well-qualified supplier of new, modern sprayer technology.


Within a short time, we were able to achieve recognition as a distributor or OEM with two other major suppliers of sprayer parts, Hypro and Spraying Systems. This led to a dealership with F. E. Myers Co. for complete sprayers, which I soon found lacked the features needed to satisfy the growing and diverse markets; especially herbicide sprayers for the corn and soybean markets; and pesticide  sprayers for the large vegetable market in Delmarva. Soon, with the help of our son Andy, we were modifying the equipment manufactured by Myers, and a company with whom we had made a connection, Engine Parts Mfg., who was willing to sell us unassembled basic frames that we could use to design our own sprayer. Raven Industries, one of the largest producers of fiberglass tanks in the country, set us up as an "OEM", which gave us the same cost position as large, national manufacturers.


The chemical and sprayer parts business grew steadily, and we had a brisk "walk-in" trade. Kitty and Betsy became favorite clerks for some of our grower friends like Elton Pusey and Fred Rust! I think they sometimes came in to talk, get advice, and just "visit".


We took over an old, open shed across the street from F&P, which once served as the Salisbury railroad station on the abandoned tracks, to store and modify these sprayers. We worked out in the open air; hot  in the summer and cold in the winter; but at least we had a roof over our heads. Next came the request from F&P to vacate their office that we were using; as the flow of Agrotec suppliers and customers was crowding their quarters. They rented us the small 2-room office connected to the sprayer shed for $50.00 a month; and we had a "built-in" guard in the form of "Shug" who lived in an upstairs room. He kept a high-powered rifle by the window at night to discourage trespassers!


Then we decided that what the vegetable market needed was a good "air-blast" sprayer, so I learned that a new type had been introduced into the Michigan by a couple of brothers who had a deal with a Dutch company, "Kinkelder". I contacted Kinkelder's U.S. distributor in Canada who sent a guy by the name of Bill Doe to see us. We ended up with a distributorship for the line. Unfortunately, the concept of a low-volume, small droplet, fine mist concentrated spray was new; and sales did not develop, in spite of numerous field demonstrations and sales meetings. Our neighbor, F&P, had a young salesman, Don Hales, who liked the sprayer and the new concept; and he helped me with demos. Then he suggested we start a spraying service for local growers in the Salisbury area. I supplied the Kinkelder sprayer, Don supplied and drove the tractor, and I was the back-up man to help move the tractor and supplies from field to field on a pick truck and trailer. For 2 or 3 years, the service flourished, and we ended up hiring another man to help Don, Marvin Williams, so I could concentrate on sales. We worked in the evening or at night most of the time, because there was a constant wind in that area during the day. Don was a vegetable farmer in addition to working for F&P as a fertilizer salesman. He knew farming, every field in the area, and worked day and night if needed to handle the work-load. Marvin was a genius with equipment. At the peak of our activity, we sprayed over half of the watermelon acreage in the area!


The use of plastic to cover young vegetable seedlings was just becoming popular, so Don talked me into buying a special machine to inject fumigants (methyl bromide, vapam, and vorlex) into the soil and simultaneously cover the ground with plastic. I then lined up sources of polyethylene covers, and became a distributor for Dupont and Monsanto. I lined up the jobs; inspected the fields for insect and disease problems; decided what chemicals to apply; arranged for the necessary chemical and plastic supplies; and helped Don and Marvin in the field anytime they needed back-up. It was grueling work; but somebody had to do it! We lined up a distributorship with DuPont for a new type of trickle (low volume) irrigation tubing that was an ideal way to get water to crops that were planted under plastic covers. Once the practices got started, growers bought their own equipment, and the practice became well established. We gradually discontinued the application business, concentrating on chemical and equipment sales; finding it more profitable and less labor intensive than custom work.


By this time, we had completely out-grown our facilities at F&P.  heir warehouse was too small to handle our chemicals and plastic supplies, both of which we bought in tractor-trailer loads; and the small office and parts storage area in the old train station was bursting at the seams. We learned of large warehouse that had previously been a distribution warehouse for a bread company, just off of North Salisbury Blvd. (U.S. Route 13). It had everything we needed, but of course at sharply increased cost. A nice office and warehouse; a large covered loading dock in the rear, an outside display area, and adjacent space on both sides for outside storage. 


Across the alley leading into our building was an old run-down shed that was not in use. Business continued to expand. Both in chemicals and all types of sprayer equipment and parts. The plastic covers for vegetable crops grew into plastic greenhouse covers to go along with our growing chemical activities with the nursery industry. Our specialty chemicals for nurseries grew rapidly, with fairly light completion, and with higher profit margins than the bulk chemicals. The  agricultural market was more and more dominated by coops and a couple of distributors who worked on vary narrow margins; sometimes only on the freight they recovered for hauling from suppliers with their own trucks. Our ability to finance; and to cover wider areas became more and more restricted with the bulk chemicals, so we gradually shifted our efforts to expanding the more profitable spray equipment and nursery supply business. We did so with reluctance, because the bulk chemical business was an excellent source of working capital. Major agricultural chemical companies had "pre-season programs" that permitted us to take possession of the chemicals in the fall and winter; and not pay for them until April, May and June. We then sold the chemicals, with substantial discounts, in December and January for cash; which we could then use until  the bill with our suppliers came due in April, May or June. Unfortunately, our competition soon caught on to this scheme, and discounts for "early order" became wide-spread and left very little profit. At this point, I decided to shift our activity and assets to the more profitable nursery and equipment business.


By this time, Pat was working in the office, helping our secretary, Jean MaKala; Kitty was working summers and after school; and Andy was in and out while finishing high school, during summer vacations, and between decisions about which college to attend and what courses to take. The sprayer parts business was really booming and brought in the highest profit margins. I was up to my neck in sales activity with the nursery customers and the related chemical and supply business. The dealer activity with "Agrotec" sprayers was gradually increasing; and our improvised "manufacturing" operation in the  loading dock area of the warehouse was a mess. 


Andy got tired of re-modeling sprayers and frames that we found necessary to correct defects and improve performance. We were trying to buy trailer and boom frames from Engine Parts Mfg.; add the hoses, pumps, valves, nozzles and tips; and finally label the "hybrid" with our Agrotec logo. He came to me one busy morning and complained that what we were doing was "ridiculous", and that we should make our own frames. I objected that we would have to set up a welding operation in the already crowded warehouse and loading dock; we had no experience with welding; and that I was too busy to mess with it. He then came up with the idea of hiring an experienced welder; using the run-down shed (with no heat) across the alley; and copying the basic designs from other sprayers on which we had already corrected the flaws. I told him we would go ahead with the idea if he would hire a welder and supervise the project. Next thing I knew he hired a welder, Hank Lickty, who was 75 years old and looked it! When I complained about Hank's age all Andy said was, "but he knows how to weld!" With that we started our integrated manufacturing business. In no time, we found out the shed we were using was grossly inadequate, and started thinking about building, renting or buying a separate building.


Our organization grew as we added more products and sales territories. Ed Parker handled pump and sprayer repairs, Linda Horsey worked in billing and inventory, Tom Taylor worked in accounting, Joe Hochmuth worked in the parts department, Art Pease, Jim Adams and Cliff Moore handled outside sales with nurseries, golf courses, vegetable farms, and farm equipment dealers. We expanded our distribution to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Western shore of Virginia. Salesmen were also responsible for some deliveries, and everyone pitched in regardless of the type of job.


One project we considered, and developed building plans for, was construction of a one-story concrete structure on U.S. Route 13, at the intersection with the road going into Delmar. It was a beautiful location, but at about the same time a property on Spearin Road owned by Jim Olney in Snow Hill came up for sale. It was an old, frame construction, chicken hatchery with a two story frame house on the property. We decided that the hatchery building would take care of our sprayer manufacturing; and Andy quickly recognized that the house could be his "digs", and be close to the plant that was pretty much his "baby". Not too long after that, Andy decided to resume his computer science education at Virginia Tech, and we moved Agrotec's office and the remaining warehouse items to Spearin Road. The house became Agrotec's new office, and we eliminated all of the travel back and forth from North Salisbury Blvd. We had several acres of land, and enough storage space; but the building was all chopped up, with several rooms; and an attic loft that was not very convenient. But at last we had a separate paint room (without any approval from OSHA!); and the welding was separated from the assembly area. When we were on North Salisbury Blvd., we painted right in the warehouse where we stored chemicals, supplies and parts; and the retail counter was in the same building. One day, a woman came in to pick up parts for her husband's sprayer, and she was wearing a white dress. Next day she came in to complain that right after she left our building, the dress turned a light shade of pink! We didn't have a clue at the time as to why she had the problem, until later, after the lady gave up on claiming liability, Kitty, who was working at the counter at the time, decided that the building exhaust fan was pulling a mist of red paint from the back of the warehouse!


The only major liability problem we ever had with any of our equipment involved a pair of sprayer "saddle" tanks, 200 gallons on each side of the tractor when mounted, that collapsed in a farmer's field and ruined a couple of acres of crops and damaged the tanks and frame beyond repair. We were lucky to get off with just the replacement of the equipment! The tank frame incidentally was one of several sets we purchased from Johnson Mfg. Co., a company that we later purchase! And that contact led to our eventual acquisition of the company!


We stayed at the Spearin Road facility for 3 or 4 years, while the business grew "topsy-turvy", in all directions. It became apparent, while we were there, that we were doing too many things; high-volume agricultural pesticides, nursery and greenhouse supplies, golf course chemicals, nursery chemicals and specialty fertilizers, farm sprayers with booms, air blast sprayers, pest control sprayers, small greenhouse (Gastec) sprayers, plastics for the farm and nursery, and a custom spraying and fumigation operation. The bulk Ag business was the least profitable, and although it seriously affected our cash flow form pre-season sales, it was the first segment to go. Don Hales, who was my right-hand custom sprayer man, took over the custom application business and bought the specialty chemicals and plastics from Agrotec. Next we dropped the golf course chemicals due to insufficient market for the inventories required to service the business.


Our sprayer business continued to grow, gross margins were good, and our dealer business continued to expand with outlets from New England to Florida. It was possible to expand geographically with sprayers, while other remaining segments of our business met tough competition when we got away from the Delmarva Peninsula. Some were new customers like E.C Geiger, who was one of the largest greenhouse and nursery suppliers in the country. We decided to gradually drop our nursery supplies that were competing with them.


Then came the final event that shaped Agrotec (until we sold the company to Williams Mfg. in 1980). We bought Johnson Mfg. and moved our entire operation; office, plant and equipment; and moved "lock, stock & barrel" to Pendleton, N. C. We learned from a circular letter that Johnson was declaring bankruptcy. I decided to drive down to Pendleton to see if I could pick up some of their plant equipment (which we needed at Spearin Road) at a decent price. I as amazed at what I saw at Pendleton. A well-maintained building of over 50,000 sq.ft., a nice office, a retail counter with a parts storage center, and a beautiful plant with a wide range of the best equipment, were located on a main highway and surrounded with a chain-link fence on 5 acres of land.


My quest for used equipment quickly led to an offer by the principal stockholder and President, Louis Johnson, to sell me the entire business! I was  reluctant to even consider this idea, because we, as usual, were strapped for cash, and had just gotten acclimated to our Spearin plant and offices. Louis urged me to ride down to Rocky Mount to visit his banking friends at Peoples National Bank. It didn't take long for the Vice President, Ron Johnson to recognize the possible benefits of combining the two companies. Johnson had distribution in the Southeast; Agrotec in the Northeast. Johnson's products were primarily for the agricultural markets (peanuts, corn, cotton and soy beans); Agrotec's line was directed toward nurseries, vegetable crops, fruit, and pest control. Johnson had excess plant facilities; Agrotec had a very inadequate plant that needed substantial improvements. The bank was quick to make a deal, and when I told them we had very little cash and couldn't afford such an investment, they said they would let Agrotec assume Johnson's loans that I recall were in the neighborhood of $800,000; and give us an open line of credit of $ 200,000 to provide working capital. I couldn't believe it! But in addition to a major improvement in plant facilities and a major increase in sales, we now owed over a million dollars!


But we accepted their offer, and proceeded to move our entire operation to Pendleton. First, we had an auction sale at Spearin Road to sell equipment and inventory that was slow-moving, or unseeded because the Johnson plant was so well equipped. The sale brought in a substantial sum, and we were amazed at how much some of the individual items brought. We sold the property very quickly to Dick Allen of W. F. Allen Nursery, and loaded everything on trucks for the trip to Pendleton.


We actually had a very easy move. It was the end of the spring season in June. The Johnson plant was in full operation, and except for the problem of finding a place for everything, we were in full operation very quickly. Offices were fully equipped, parts inventories were on hand, and we kept the entire staff that worked in the plant, office, and warehouse.  We brought only a "bare bones" staff from Salisbury

Jim Adams in sales, Clarence Bush in production, Sharon Austin and Teresa from the office. Louis Johnson and Frank Ferguson and Barbara stayed on in sales capacities. The plant group at Johnson stayed in place, with Robert Harrell filling a key spot in fabrication of steel parts and frames.


Exactly what Louis and Frank did over the next year, I'm not sure; but sales just floundered. Some of the old Agrotec customers drifted away because we were too far away; and competitors like Hardee in Loris, SC made a vigorous effort to take Johnson dealers away. The interest rates of 19 to 21% were staggering; and the farm market was falling into a depression, I think caused by the high interest rates at the time. Louis and Frank were not ready for the "belt-tightening" we had to face, and both resigned after about a year.


We kept going back to Ron Johnson at Peoples Bank for additional working capital, and they were, for the most part, cooperative. We had trouble meeting the payment schedules on the original loans, and finally could not pay the interest of over $200,000 per year on the loans. Larry Tucker at Peoples asked me to meet privately with him to discuss the matter. He suggested bankruptcy, which I immediately rejected; pointing out to him that the Bank had no right loaning Agrotec such a huge amount in the first place, and that they had some obligation in the matter.


We somehow kept operating for a couple of more years by withholding payments and interest on the

Peoples loans, and gradually accumulated some working capital. We were aided in this "juggling act" by extensive credit from suppliers; first Tecnoma from France with whom we had an exclusive distributorship on the East coast, and later with Berthoud in France; and finally from Jacto in Brazil who were happy to take over the role we had with Tecnoma and Berthoud. As a result of the high-volume sales resulting from the imported lines (sprayers ranged in price from $4,000 to $12,000 each), we maintained a substantial cash flow, and kept our plant in full operation. 


We also increased our efforts to the non-ag markets; pest control,  golf courses and lawn care; all of which were growing rapidly. Our sales manager, Jim Adams, didn't mind traveling, and we set up  distributors up and down the East coast; literally from "Maine to Florida". Likewise with the Jacto line for which we had exclusively for the entire U.S. We established outlets in Texas, California and Michigan. We began to envision Agrotec as a major national player in the spray equipment business. We had developed specialized products for virtually all of the major U.S. markets. Boom sprayers for the row crop markets; air blast sprayers for the orchard and vegetable markets; skid sprayers for the pest control and landscape markets; and small power sprayers for the nursery and greenhouse markets. The only National companies in the sprayer business, John Bean Division of FMC, and F. E. Myers, were losing out due to poor response to newer markets.


We continued to innovate, and develop special equipment. We incorporated flexibility in most of our designs.  Frames were built that could serve as a skid sprayer, or as trailer sprayer by adding a set of wheels and a tong to the same frame. Pumping units could be interchanged on many models, depending upon the need for high or low pressure, high or low volume, engine or PTO power. Frames were built with holes "pre-punched" to accept the pumping units, hose reels, booms and accessories. Robert Harrell in metal production could work with a minimum number of steel gauges and lengths. Most of the frames were produced from large sheets of flat steel which were cut on 12 ft. shears to the desired width and length. Holes were punched in the desired positions for eventually use to bolt on accessories such as pumps and booms. The flat steel as then "bent" to the desired shape to make the components for the frames, which were then welded together.


The next step was painting and was very automated. The paint shop was a long room equipped with a "trolley" on which the steel components were hung. The trolley passed through a paint booth equipped with spray guns and exhaust fans. The trolley took about 30 minutes to complete a circuit, giving time for each coat of paint to dry before application of the second coat. As far as manufacturing was concerned, we had ample space to expand our volume, and plenty of land for future expansion.

Our long term strategy was to concentrate on the more profitable non-age areas, and expand geographically to all major U.S. markets. We had established a National reputation with customers like Orkin Pest Control, E. C. Geiger,  and Michigan Orchard Supply. We were considering the fabrication of our own air-blast sprayer, to replace the imported lines on which we had become dependent. The foreign suppliers, Kinkelder, Tecnoma, Berthoud and Jacto, all became greedy after we had introduced their products to the U.S. market. First they were generous with credit. Then they tightened the credit line.


This was followed by a change in their management of the U.S. market; Bill Doe with Kinkelder, with Tecnoma, Jim Orcutt with Berthoud, Jiro Nishimura and Peter Gustin with Jacto. They all started taking over the customers we had established for them. Admittedly, we had limited capital to finance rapid expansion; but we had established the brands in the U.S. Our efforts to find a way to jointly work the markets failed. At one point, we formed a joint corporation with Berthoud which they failed to support financially. We tried several times to get the Nishimura's at Jacto to buy us out,  or buy into, Agrotec. I made a trip to Pompeia in Brazil to meet with the Nishimura family (father and 5 sons ran the business) to negotiate a closer relationship. Eventually, all four of our foreign suppliers went their own separate ways; and finally disappeared from the U. S. market! All was not lost however. Substantial lines of credit carried us through some tough periods. Because of the imported product lines, we were able to expand the distribution of our own manufactured equipment; and established a reputation as a "one stop supplier" of  sprayers and parts.


We had a major operation at Pendleton, and the organization was large. Al Byrd handled accounting and the computer work. Andy had steered us along, starting with our Salisbury operation, with computer hardware and software. Our entire operation at Pendleton was computerized, right down to the last nut, bolt, and lock washer. The system enabled us to quickly develop costs, product pricing, and sales reports of all kinds. Billing was a snap, and if anything, we had too much information generally about our business. Sharon Austin and Jill Gibson worked in billing for a while. They both became entangled with a couple of our male employees, and for a while, it looked like we had a little "Peyton Place" going! A black girl, Janet Faison, finally took over the billing and was there until we sold the company. She was probably the most diligent and brightest secretary we had during Agrotec's 25 years of operation.


About 1988, we decided it was time to look hard for a way to exit Agrotec and retire. We had built up the assets of the company from the initial investment of $50,000 to $1,545,000. How do you find a buyer that would like to be in the sprayer business. Among the prospect: a man who owned an office building in Wilmington, NC wanted to trade it for Agrotec. I was not ready to start a new life in the real estate rental business! I approached our main competitor, Hardee Mfg.; but they had no interest, and were considering a sale of their own. We came close to an agreement with Top-Air Mfg. ; a major Mid-west sprayer company in Nebraska who wanted to expand to the East coast where Agrotec was strong. We were at the final contract-signing stage, when the President of the company was fired for embezzlement of company funds.

A big drawback to any sale was the heavy debt of $400,000 to Peoples Bank still hanging over us. I decided to try a settlement with them, and went with a blank check to visit the account manager, Larry Tucker. I went over the history of our relationship; the largely unsecured nature and the exorbinate 20% rate of interest of the original loan; my difficulty in selling Agrotec with the high level of indebtedness; and my age, this was past normal retirement.  Larry asked me what we could do. I pulled out my checkbook and told him I was prepared to pay $100,000 to settle the entire balance. Another big, and pleasant, surprise! He agreed!


Not long after that, I learned that Hardee Mfg had been bought out by Williams Controls Inc. I contacted them through their agent at Hardee, Rod Snyder, who agreed quickly that combining Hardee with Agrotec was a good idea, and all we had to do was work out the deal.


I sold out the entire business; they absorbed all of our debts; I got the value of the New York Life retirement account of $75,000; payment of personal loans we had made to the company of $60,000; a 5 year, $250,000 consulting contract; and a job as part time commission salesman for the Delmarva Peninsula, Maryland and New Jersey. Adding up the settlement, we netted about $400,000 for the business. In the 27 years we owned Agrotec, from 1967 until 1994, we lived comfortably, and developed significant equity in our 3-bedroom brick ranch in Boykins, and our condo in Williamsburg.

The break from Pendleton was complete, and I quickly went up the road to Williamsburg. We had move there from Boykins a couple of years earlier when we first contemplated my retirement. Following my exit, I worked as a commission salesman for about a year selling Agrotec sprayers and Hardee mowers. I also represented Jacto in the Northeast until we moved from our second retirement home in Lakehurst, NJ in 1997.


RWC Autobiography Notes

For whatever reason, I've been called upon often to serve in positions that required the chairing of business and organization meetings.

President - High school senior class
Vice President - Interfraternity Council - University of Maryland
President - Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity - University of Maryland
President -Student Government Association - University of Maryland (9,000 students)
Vice President & General Sales Manager - Miller Chemical & Fertiizer  Corp.
Member - Board of Directors - Miller Chemical & Fertilizer Corp.

Director - Consumer Products Dept. - Geigy Chemical Corp.
Member - Board of Directors - Agricultural Division - Geigy Chemical  Corp.

Marketing Manager - Esso Eastern Chemicals Inc. - Ag Chemical Dept. (Managed marketing activities of 22 subsidiary Corporations in the Far East)
President & Board Chairman - Cohill Estates Inc.

President & Board Chairman - Agrotec Inc.
President - Crosswinds Condominium Association (150 units)
President - Williamsburg Commons Condominium Association (200 units)

Vice Chairman - Glen Arden Residents' Association (200 units)
Chairman - Delegation to the Board of Directors - Glen Arden
Chairman - Finance Committee - Glen Arden


My Travels:

All of my life's activities have involved some form of travel.
As a teen-ager I drove trucks delivering apples (200 to 500 bushels) to Pittsburgh, New York, Wheeling, Baltimore, Washington, and Philadelphia.
During service in the Navy, and following I spent time in Williamstown, MA; Troy, NY; St. Albans, NY; San Diego, CA; Rancho  Santa Fe, CA; Arrowhead Springs, CA; Big Bear, CA; Corona, CA; Palm Springs, CA; San Francisco, CA; Calexico, CA; Mexicali, Mexico; Tiajuana, Mexico; and cross-country by auto Mansfield, OH; Columbus, OH; St. Louis, MO; El Paso, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Needles, CA; Riverside, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Denver, CO.  During 17 years (1947-1963) in various positions with Miller Chemical my work took me to almost every city along the East Coast and to San Juan, PR. Conventions took me to Spring Lake (NJ); The Homestead (VA); The Greenbriar (WV); The Essex & Sussex (NJ); French Lick (IN) While at Geigy Chemical (1963-1967), business took me to Lisbon, Portugal; Manchester, England; Paris & Poitier, France; Basel, Zurich & Davos, Switzerland ; Milan, Balogna & Rome, Italy; Barcelona, Spain.

During my tour of duty with Esso Eastern (1967-1969) My travel took me around the world 5 times. Starting in New York, I stopped over or conducted business in Honolulu, Manila, Hong Kong, Tokyo, KyotoOsaka, Kuala Lumpur, Bankok, Singapore, Sydney, Adelaide, BombayBangalore, New Dehli, Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore, Athens, Cario, Frankfurt, Leverkrusen, Basel, Anchorage, Copenhagen, London and Manchester.



By George Roger Williamson Cohill, 01/20/02