Our first house was far, far away from my family in New Jersey. It was all the way across the Hudson River—61 miles away from the center of the universe.
Dad took a new job working for a company in Dobbs Ferry, New York, and for a while, he carpooled with three other employees. When the commute became too tiresome, we began looking for a house. We tried so hard to stay in New Jersey, but we just could not find a house we could afford. So I left my job at Bell Laboratories, where as you all know, I invented the cell phone. The group had to continue without me and I found a new job working at IBM.
We moved into that house in the autumn of 1980, and that is where Dad built his first deck a year or two later. The house had a walk-out basement, so the deck was about 8-10 feet from the ground. He did most of the work himself, and his friend Dave Clark from Vermont helped with some of the heavy lifting.
I put a lot of trust in Dad’s word that it was a solid deck. That is all I had, because he did not get a building permit until years later, so the structure was not officially certified by the town. I had so much faith in that deck that during the summer of 1983, we had a party and invited my family to our house for a barbeque.
This party was not just my siblings, but also my aunts, uncles, cousins, and their children. Even in 1983, which was before all of you were born, my family was still quite large. I love my relatives, so this was not my way of eliminating them in one fell swoop. Like in the movie, Field of Dreams, “if you build it they will come,” Dad built it and they came. I was so happy that so many of them took that long journey across the river to our party.
Breaking our tradition of never taking photographs of family gatherings, this time we broke out the cameras. There are only a few, but I was able to find them. You will see Grandpa but not Grandma, and Uncle Tony but not Aunt Marian. I don’t recall who else is missing. Thirty-two years ago we had this party. A lot has happened since then. I hope you enjoy trying to identify the faces.