I thought about what to write today and I have kept coming back to a story from my past. This goes back past my days at AFC. It goes back before I ran the ISX 5300 at Racal-Datacom. It goes back before my days making a DMI Terminal Adapter (anybody out there remember the DMI Computer to PBX specification? I doubt it). This goes back to my first job out of College at Racal-Milgo.
I moved to South Florida to join Milgo in July of 1983. They had a great program for fresh college students that allowed them to spend 3 month blocks in different departments. This let the student and company learn about each other and find the right spot. My first block was in the statistical multiplexer aka Mux Group.
I worked with some very interesting folks Henry Scanzano, Bob Nelson, and Steve McKinney were my first project mates. We were all spending time on the “High Speed Aggregate Card” also known as the QuickerMux. I was writing 6809E Assembly language and was taking over the Craft UI from Steve. The software team rolled up under a couple of really nice guys: Bill Saavedra and Alex Downie.
The company had a number of young engineers and we hung out together and did things. We also spent time going out to Happy Hours on Friday. Ah the life of a young engineer in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale. The Mux Group also had a monthly poker game (nickel, dime, quarter) at various folks houses. It was great learning, a good group and I had fun.
When Thanksgiving rolled around, I was going to be staying in Florida for my first major holiday on my own. If you have ever done that, it is a lonely feeling. I was a bit down and depressed about it. When one day about a week before Thanksgiving, Alex invited me to his house for Thanksgiving Dinner. I had a great meal and a great time with Alex, his wife and his kids. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. When I was little we got to visit with my Dad’s family in New Jersey and Connecticut. When I was older my Mom and Grandmom put on a huge feast. Having a place to go was a big deal to me.
I can’t tell you what this simple act meant to me. I know it probably was not a big deal to Alex, but it might have been the single nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. He passed a couple of years later from lung cancer. Scott Buratt and I drove Bill Saavedra to see Alex in the ICU. I remember thinking that Alex was not there but in my heart. I still think about Alex every Thanksgiving.
So, I blog a lot about business but remember business is full of people. And I have had the great fortune to meet wonderful folks along my journey.
I hope you all have a great Holiday Season.
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