Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Proud of my grandfathers...

So, the other day I heard about the boost in wind power that's likely to come about as part of the stimulus. I figure that GE's turbines are probably likely to be heavily favored in the US now matter how they stack up to the turbines from Denmark & Spain.
I had a faint memory that my grandfather had something to do with turbines at GE, so I called my mom, and she confirmed that her dad worked at GE in Schenectady as a turbine inspector, doing the final inspections on these enormous pieces of equipment before they got shipped out.
So, finally something to be proud about GE for, despite decades of harsh layoffs that severely affected my extended family in upstate NY.

A little more about my mom's dad. He arrived in the US as an infant in the arms of a single mother from Krakov, Poland just before the turn of the 20th century. I'm not sure how he and his wife met, but they settled on a small subsistence farm in Schohaire county, outside Albany/Schenectady, that my uncle continues to maintain to this day.
They raised eight children on that farm, my granddad working nights at the GE plant inspecting turbines, and working days on the farm with his wife and kids.
Somehow, they managed to keep all those kids fed and clothed, no mean feat in itself, but their proudest achievement was sending each and every one of those kids through college.
And now I'm teaching college. Pretty dang cool.

So, my mom and dad met while teaching at Ithaca High School, where they both started teaching after college. My dad was also a crew coach at Cornell, but that's another story.

His dad was a chemical salesman for Monsanto for most of his life, towards the end of his career he got into training other chemical salesmen. He was for a brief period the head of the New England Chemical Club, who used to invite various of the Red Sox out to their dinners and watch them make asses of themselves getting drunk among the various employees of the chemical industries.
And now I do research on the impact of chemicals on people's health. Pretty dang cool.

His dad (my great-granddad) in turn was something of an inventor, which I didn't know until various patents started showing up on the internet - an umbrella design - one of the early designs for a carbeurator - and a modular box design. I don't know if he made money off any of these inventions or not, and I don't know much else about the man at all. But an umbrella design, how cool is that. I'm tempted to go out and have one special-made for me using his design.

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