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In the Class Will of the Graduation Edition of the 1963 Oriel, I left my acting ability to Randy Bardsley. For a Class Gift I received a wig and a beard to wear in my next theatrical production. In our Class Prophecy I designed the new Westboro Hilton Hotel to host an Athletic Summit Meeting. To round it out, I was recognized as the best boy dancer.

So, how did I turn out? To prevent you from jumping to the end to find out, I never acted beyond the One-Act Plays and the Senior Play, never became an architect, nor did I ever appear on American Bandstand, compete with Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, or even become a judge on Dancing With the Stars.

It all began growing up on my dad's dairy farm on Smith Street. What was really hard work for my mom and dad always seemed like a lot of fun, as Tom and I often had our friends like Peter C come to the farm to play in the hay or chase the animals (and vice versa).



The family farm on Smith Street


My grandfather, Thomas, who ran the town of Westboro along with Leigh's grandfather in the 20's and 30's, started the farm in the 1890's. We were three miles from town which, at the time, seemed like an overnight journey. I often envied my classmates (Ruth, Sue, Alan, Don, Peter, Tiny, Kathy, Francis, Sally, Sookie, Ajax, etc.) who lived within walking distance of school. Can you believe how lucky they were?


My brother Tom and me


As Tom and I were getting older, Mom and Dad realized we would not want to be the third generation on the farm. As a result, they sold it in the '50's so Mom could go back to teaching in order to send us to college. As some of you may recall, I went to Rensselaer. Actually, I can thank Meri W's dad for suggesting that to me in the seventh grade. And, of course, my interest was the excellent Architectural School there.

Once enrolled, I was eager to start my new education in architecture so I could design that Hilton. However, my well kept secret had finally caught up with me. I am color blind, and I do mean color blind. In fact, I remember in first grade fearing that Miss Bagley would call on me to color something in front of the class. I thought I would end up like poor Beatrice. I even had to take three driver exams before I could get my license. The reason was that I flunked the color test twice until I discovered that the green is always at the bottom of the light. Thank goodness that's a federal mandate today.

Since many freshman classes in architecture at RPI were all about color, I knew I had to make a quick change in my major or end up in the corner. So I immediately switched to mechanical engineering and said goodbye to architecture for some time (but not forever as you will find out soon).

I loved engineering and still do today. The best part of those four years, however, was finding my wife Sue via a blind date at the end of my junior year.


Our wedding, July 1967


We ended up marrying shortly after graduation in July 1967. That also was the year of the movie The Graduate starring Dustin Hoffman. And do any of you remember the one liner from Mrs. Robinson's husband? He said "Plastics."

I kept that word in mind for a couple years as I was employed by United Aircraft in Hartford, Connecticut. My first job at Hamilton Standard was to design a valve system for temperature control on the Lunar Excursion Module. I felt pretty good about that since the only colors on the moon are shades of gray. I then moved on to the Pratt and Whitney Division to help design the new turbo-fan jet for the Boeing 747. My job was to design the jet noise suppression equipment. Again, I had no problem with the color of stainless steel.

But now it was 1969 and I was getting restless to move from engineering work into more marketing and business types of assignments. So I searched out a job at the DuPont Company in Delaware where the plastics revolution was happening (thanks, Mr. Robinson, for the tip). That started a very interesting and exciting 36-year career.

In 1971 Sue's and my life changed for the better when our son Doug arrived. Even though he was a "preemie" and had to remain in the hospital for some time, he recovered quickly and has been and still is the joy of our life.


Our son Doug and Sue


If any of you have had careers in a large corporation, you know about the corporate ladder. There never is a misunderstanding as to where you start. The real issue is when you fall off because everyone does eventually. So I thought the best way to cover those 36 years, before you all fall asleep, is to show you some people and experiences I enjoyed while trying to climb (some of us call it clawing) up that ladder.


Drinking in Malaysia


One of my first trips overseas was to Malaysia. All my experiences drinking at college (and others with Chuck Melesky and friends at the drive-in off Route 9 in Shrewsbury) could not prepare me for those late nights with the Asians drinking things I can't even recall today. In fact, the next day (while still hung over) was very memorable in that I was given a tour of a snake temple owned by the family of our first customer. And if anyone wants to see that picture including the boas let me know. [Ruth has nightmares and would not let me send that photo!]

I was in Asia as part of a DuPont team to develop small plastic packets for personal care products like shampoo, toothpaste, and medicines. We helped develop the package concept in the U.S. at fast food outlets for things like ketchup, mustard, etc. Since the average person in Asia makes only enough money daily to buy goods for that day, the package sizes have to be very small, not jumbo. It now is a successful packaging business in Malaysia, thanks to that important first customer (with a very strange hobby!).

Not far away in Japan I managed a JV to make plastics for the cover of golf balls. Our breakthrough was the Titanium cover. The name turned out to be more of a marketing gimmick by Titleist in the U.S. as the only titanium present was in the catalyst used to make the specialty plastic. I was glad that Sue often traveled with me as she helped protect me from bad things like hangovers and occasional rain.


Sue and me in Japan


The one thing she couldn't protect me from, however, was the traditional Karaoke bars, as these were an important rung on the Asian corporate ladder. More business was transacted there than in the board rooms in Tokyo. And, as you can see, the Geishas are old and not that interested in amateur American singers belting out "Michael Row the Boat Ashore." Maybe if I had had a wig and beard they would have liked me more?


Singing in a karaoke bar in Japan


Along the way, I have practiced a little Boogie dancing in Egypt as well as Olympic sprinting at the original stadium in Greece.


Dancing in Egypt


Sprinting in Greece


After a number of years with DuPont in Delaware, I had a chance to help manage a manufacturing plant in southern Texas near the Louisiana border, the heart of Cajun country. This is the land of the Texas Two Step, Cotton Eye Joe, Schottische, and Coon Ass Waltz all of which Sue and I learned and occasionally taught. As you can see in this picture, climbing the ladder down there meant dressing a little more like a Texan, not a Yankee.


Dressed like Texans


The other important role for me was being a soccer dad. Since I was never gifted as an athlete, I had to work harder than most. My motto was that I did not have to be a soccer star. I only had to be better than the next dad out there. By the way, our son Doug at age 10 played in the Astrodome in Houston, went on to be a Delaware state soccer star, a Bucknell College star, and is now a soccer coach, among his many other responsibilities. And his son Jay is following in his footsteps at age 9.

For the remainder of my career at DuPont, I worked in more than two dozen jobs comprising just some (but not all) of those additional rungs on the ladder. Most all of the assignments involved problem solving but there were some fun jobs, too, dealing with things like Teflon, space age metals, films to ensure popcorn pops in microwave packages, films for flat screen TV's, plastics for the high-end athletic shoes and swim suits, synthetic fibers for Stealth aircraft, smart packaging films that absorb fat from potato chips, easy-open food packaging (still working on that), and many more that are probably more boring than the ones I already mentioned. Enough already! Enough!

So did I ever at least try to design that Hilton? The answer is closer to yes than no and colors did not matter. With a lot of help from my wife Sue who was employed for years at Winterthur Museum in Delaware, I learned about the American Decorative Arts, i.e., antiques and historic architecture, the latter being my passion over the last 20 years or so. It provided me welcomed relief from the pressure of corporate work.

I focused my new knowledge on finding and working with Sue to restore historic houses in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. We started with a 1790 house in 1977 and are presently working on our fifth one, a 1730 home on Cape Cod.


Our present home in New Castle, Delaware, circa 1825, purchased in 1997


Our former home in Avondale, Pennsylvania, circa 1732, where we lived 1987-1997


I like the design, the balance, and the handcrafted details of these old houses. I have learned to do some of the trades myself as a way to appreciate the real workmanship but, more importantly, to save some money. Together, Sue and I do the social research on the families who have lived in these properties, along with the title searches going back several hundred years. An interesting fact about our present house in Delaware is that a family who made grandfather clocks lived there in the 1700's. Sue and I did the research and were very fortunate to find a 1782 clock made by those owners back then. It is now back home where it belongs in New Castle, Delaware. But more important than the clock is the fact that Sue continues to handle all questions relating to color within these properties.

But with old houses occasionally come BIG problems like the one we are facing at the Cape. It seems that the inground oil tank had been leaking for many years before we bought the property in 2006. As a result, the Massachusetts EPA has labeled our property a hazardous site (remember the Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska?) due to groundwater contamination from the oil. At present, the house has been raised onto I-beams, the foundation removed, and several hundred thousand pounds of oil-soaked sand are being removed down to a depth of 23 feet. The goods news is that my insurance company is covering most of the cost, but I expect a sizable premium increase soon. I still enjoy the historic architecture of the property even though it tilts a little more now.

Our other passion has been to travel internationally, both on DuPont business as well as on our own. While Sue loves the food and flowers, I focus on the historic architecture of the Mayans, Romans, Egyptians, and Greeks.


Sue and me in Egypt


Sue and me in Peru


In fact, I wish I had known more about ancient cultures and architecture back in the '60's. If I had, my career would have been similar to Martha Oleson's husband. You are a lucky lady, Martha, to have been part of your hubby's fabulous career all these years!

So now I will close, first with a picture of my dad whom many of you knew. He passed away a couple years ago at the age of 98. For close to 20 years he wrote an article each week in the Chronotype titled "As It Was Back Then." He loved Westboro and was passionate about its history. He was, I recall, the oldest elected town official at 92 when he became a trustee of the library. You would often see him driving his old Chevy (previously owned by Leslie W's grandparents) at the front of each Memorial and Independence Day Parade.


My dad, Frank W. Poskitt


And the last picture is of our two grandchildren, Jay and Colby. Sue and I are so fortunate to have them and our son Doug in our lives, as they live in New England close to our Cape Cod home.


Our grandchildren, Jay and Colby


For those of you who have grandkids, you know how special those relationships can be. In fact, I have come a long way since Miss Bagley's class in that I now let my six-year-old granddaughter help me with my colors as opposed to my helping her.

I also am thankful for my brother Tom whom many of you know. He has been and continues to be an important part of my life. As an oncologist, Tom has often written for The New England Journal of Medicine, practiced medicine in several areas throughout the country, but more importantly has been and continues to provide family and friends with invaluable medical help and insight. In fact, much of my success is attributed to his being so outstanding in everything he did. Of course, as a younger brother, you always want to outshine the older brother or at least try like hell to catch up to him. Maybe someday I will.

I am eager to see all of you next summer in Westboro at our Class Party. Until then let's stay in touch through this website that Ruth has developed for us. It's a wonderful gift of renewed friendship.





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This page added 4/21/09
Last updated 9/10/11



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