The earliest record we have to the Sawyer family shows that Jean Sawyer (presumably named "John" until his marriage to a French girl, Charlotte Lirette) was born probably in the vicinity of Lancaster, Massachusetts. As stated by Joseph Avila Sawyer, Jean was a descendant of one of four brothers who came to America and settled in the area of Salem, Massachusetts. According to the book, "Sawyer Family History" prepared by the American Genealogical Institute, the names of the four brothers who left Lincolnshire, England, and settled in 1636 in Salem, were Edmund, Edward, William, and Thomas. Since Thomas later become one of the first settlers of Lancaster,
Massachusetts, it is safe to assume that he was Jean's forefather. Joseph Avila Sawyer often mentioned that some of his ancestors lived around Lancaster. He also stated that, according to his father, John Sawyer left Massachusetts and settled in the vicinity of Three Rivers in the Province of Quebec, Canada. Here he married a French girl and might have accepted the Catholic faith. As to the reason for migrating to Canada, Joseph Avila Sawyer once mentioned that he might have gone
north either as a prisoner of war or forced to leave because he wanted to escape the
The study of the Sawyer genealogy in Canada was made by the Institut Genealogique Drouin of Montreal and by Sister S. Lucie, S.C.O. of Ottawa, Canada, respectively. The latter derived her information from birth certificates, baptismal and marriage certificates. In her study of the Sawyer family, Sister Lucie comments that whenever the godparents were unable to sign the birth or baptismal certificates, the priests would sign the documents with the result that very often he would spell the last name according to sound. Hence, the name "Sawyer" was often misspelled on some certificates. Accordingly, SAWYER appears in a number of forms, namely: Saer, Sailor, Sailleur, Sauyer, Sawyeur, and Sayeur. It was not unusual to find three different spellings on the birth, baptismal, and marriage certificates in the same family. The preponderance of certificates shows the right spelling of SAWYER.
The only information available relative tot he occupations of the earlier Sawyers is obtained from either the birth or marriage certificates. For instance, these sources reveal that Jean Sawyer was a blacksmith in St. Maurice. Maurice Sawyer was a molder in the foundry of the village of St. Maurice, in the Province of Quebec, and later became a blacksmith. Joseph Sawyer was listed as a journeyman at the time of his marriage to Marguerite Gilbert. By the time Joseph Maxime was born in 1946 he was a farmer. The early life of Joseph Maxime indicates that while he was in Canada, he was first a journeyman and later, a farmer.
As a wedding gift Joseph Maxime Sawyer received a large acreage of wooded land which he had to convert into an agricultural farm. The area was covered with maple trees which had to be cleared. This was done piecemeal as Joseph Maxime built a large one-room log cabin. Then he proceeded with the construction of a stable (for his cattle), which was made an annex to the main log cabin. In order to carry out his work as a
farmer, Joseph Maxime Sawyer borrowed money from a Mr. Ducharme who held what was known at that time as a Contract "elimerer." This type of contract entitled the lender to take possession of the farm the day after the lendee failed to meet his payment. Joseph Maxime Sawyer's farm was located in an area close to Mont Carmel, Quebec.
Joseph Avila Sawyer was born in the log cabin built by his father. When he was about five years old, his father, who had been ill for over eighteen months lost his farm to Mr. Ducharme who foreclosed when Joseph Maxime's wife's money ran out. During his illness his wife had to use the money she saved before her marriage, to survive. Presumably during Joseph Maxime's sickness, the farm was hardly cultivated and not enough revenue was derived from the farm for subsistence.
Joseph Maxime Sawyer and his family moved to Saint Maurice and later he worked for the Cure de Saint Maurice, cultivating the farm the church occupied. After a few years, he established residence in the rectory proper. Although living in the rectory, Maxime cultivated the farm for the Cure. In those days, many French Canadian families would come to the states to work during the winter months and go back to Canada in the spring to farm during the summer season. Learning from these transient workers the great labor market in the United States, Maxime decided to move his family to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he worked for various contractors, doing painting and carpentry work.
His first job was with a Mr. Humphrey who built many houses on White Street and Fourth Avenue in Pawtucketville, in the area between Mammoth Road and Mt. Hope Street. Mr. Humphrey was a night policeman who constructed houses during the base day and worked for the City of Lowell at night. He had all French Canadians to do his work, and one of them happened to be Joseph Maxime Sawyer. Later on, Joseph Maxime built his own house on Gershom Avenue between Sarah Avenue and Bodwell Avenue. When his son, Josephat, opened a casket shop on the corner of Fletcher Street and Dutton Street, he worked with his son. It is here that, while working at a bench saw, he was hit in the stomach by a flying piece of board coming off a power circular saw. He died the next day at him home on March 5th, 1915.
At this point, a note of interest is worth mentioning. Joseph Maxime's wife, Marie Celina Boulard, taught Catechism to English immigrants who settled in the Province of Quebec in Canada. The preponderance of these immigrants married French Canadian girls and accepted the Catholic Faith. This explains the many English and Scotch names (Donaldson, Macdonald, Ewin, Richardson, etc) among French Canadians.
Avila Sawyer's early life in Canada was normal. He was brought up as a ardent Catholic. He served as an altar boy until late in his teens. Although he excelled in mathematics, his elementary education was terminated at the age of 12. He soon obtained a job in a buggy shop as an apprentice. Later on, he became a full technician in his trade and remained with it until his family moved to Lowell, Massachusetts. Here he worked at the Lowell Machine Shop until one day he decided to practice carpentry. Later on, he obtained a construction loan from a local bank and started building his first speculative house. Before his project was completed he sold the house. This encouraged him to start the construction of two houses and hired help to assist him. Again, these houses were sold before their completion. In this manner he came a general contractor and his first contract involved the construction of a tenement house on the southeast corner of Riverside street and University Avenue in Pawtucketville.
Throughout his life Avila built hundreds of houses not only in Pawtucketville but also in the Highlands and Belvedere sections of the City of Lowell. He also constructed numerous duplexes and tenement houses. His construction activities were so heavy at one time that he often purchased his lumber by the carloads from Arkansas. His pride was the building of the original chapel of St. Joan of Arc. His fifteen room house he built for his family in 1910 on White Street served in 1922 as the rectory for this church. In 1908, he moved to St. Cyrile, Quebec, to engage in making horse buggies. Because of adverse business conditions in that field, he came back to Lowell to continue his house construction business.
Unfortunately, Avila Sawyer did not recognize the depression in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1922, which was the result of the textile mills moving to the southern states and the show factories relocating out west. The 100,000 population of Lowell could not be sustained by the remaining industries which could only support, according to experts, a population of 40,000 people. The result was that he over extended himself with his speculative construction. In 1930, he had to take over many of the houses and tenements he had constructed and sold with him holding the second trust. In the years to follow, he slowly had to surrender most of the holdings to the local banks which had the first mortgages on all his properties. His income from his real estate was not sufficient to pay the taxes and the interest on the loans. By 1936, he only owned his home and a four tenement house on University Avenue. That latter was sold to his daughter, Cecile, with Avila Sawyer holding the first trust. At the time of his death in 1959, he was the co-owner with his daughter, Marie, of his home on Varnum Avenue, opposite the Pawtucket Falls.
Avila Sawyer made a great deal of money only to lose it slowly as he advanced in years. He always feared poverty and hoped that he would never have a financial setback that would force him to end his days at the State Poor Farm, in Tewsbury, Massachusetts. Unfortunately his wish was not granted as he died at the State Hospital (formerly the Poor Farm). Another interesting point that occurred at the moment of his death is that the little Irish boy whom he chased away from the immediate neighborhood on White Street because of his nationality said that his earnings increased as his family became larger and started decreasing as it became smaller. He and his wife, Aurore, raised 11 children out of 15 who were born.
Avila Sawyer and his wife were devout Catholics. Avila was highly devoted to the patron saint of carpenters, St. Joseph, whom he invoked in all his trials in life until he took his least breath on earth. Frequently during lent he and his wife had the entire family say the rosary in the kitchen after the evening meal. He trained his family in the old French Canadian tradition of seeking the father's blessing on New Year's Day. This practice lasted until the middle thirties. They raised their children on good religious soil and hoped some day one of them would become a priest. The closest to the dream they came to is when a grandson, Lucien Sawyer, was ordained to the priesthood. A daughter, Gertrude, embraced the religious life and became a nun of the Assumption Order.
Avila Sawyer was a man of normal stature. He measured about five feet six inches in height. He had broad shoulders and muscular arms in his middle age. Below his left eye, he had a small scar which was the result of being kicked by a horse while handing from its tail. He had twisted the tail around his arms when he was a child and was able to ride in that manner for some distance. He received the blow in his face at the moment of release.
As a family man, Avila Sawyer was a good and devoted husband and father. He was never heard raising his voice toward his wife or reprimanding her. He was always the first one up in the morning. He would read the Lowell Morning Courier Citizen and then he would proceed with the preparation of the breakfast for the entire family. He felt that Aurore, his wife, bore the brunt of the activities of the children during the base day and therefore he always wanted her to sleep late in the morning until the children had left for school. He was a good teammate in providing and raising the family. When death came to his wife on May 5, 1950, he was on his knees at her bedside, holding her hand and praying. Avila died nine years later on June 8, 1959, leaving behind him an impressive record of good Christian family living.
Gerard Sawyer, the fourth son of Avila was born in Lowell, Massachusetts on March 8, 1910. He attended St. Joseph School for boys, which was serviced by the Marist Brothers. After completing the 8th grade, he attended St. Joseph Junior High School which at that time was limited to a two-year high school program. When he continued his high school education at Lowell High, he soon discovered that the general program of studies at St. Joseph Junior High did not prepare him for college. Hence, he had to shift to a scientific curriculum which delayed his attending college. He received his four year diploma in 1929 and his post graduate school certificate in 1980. He was admitted at Carnegie Tech after successfully passing his College Entrance Board examinations. After completing his sophomore year at Tech, his father advised him that he could no longer assist him with his college education. Gerard had to return home, and shortly thereafter, he obtained a job with the U.S. Coat and Geodetic Survey of the Federal Government. He returned to Carnegie Tech and took two courses per semester at a reduced tuition fee. Because he did not register in a full academic program until the last semester of his senior year he could not earn his Degree until 1936. Throughout his college training, Gerard earned about 50% of his education by working at various tasks on the campus. He borrowed money from the college and his two sisters, Marie and Cecile during the course of his college training. At one time some of his meals were subsidized by the Welfare Fund of the school. On another occasion, to satisfy his hunger he ate some raw bacon his roommate had been saving for himself. He found it very tasty and he reported that when one craves for food, everything is palatable.
Originally, engineering was not the career he wanted to follow. His early teens found Gerard aspiring to become a drummer, as he was highly impressed by the mannerism of the R.K. Keith's Theatre drummer in Lowell, Massachusetts. For months he pestered his parents to buy him drums. Lo and behold, on Christmas Day he found drums next to the Christmas tree. He soon arranged to take drum lessons from Mr. McLaughlin, the drummer at the Keith's theatre. After six months his drum teacher advised him that he had
taught him everything that had to be learned about drumming. Unfortunately his instructor told him he was not ready to play in an
orchestra because he had absolutely no "rhythm" in his system. He urged him to develop rhythm by learning how to dance and by learning to carry a tune. These counsels Gerard accepted very religiously. He arranged to take dancing lessons from a Doris Connelly of the Girl's City Club, whose studio was located on Middlesex Street.
On a hot summer afternoon, he reported at the studio. After Miss Connelly explained the
rudiments of the art of dancing, including the manner in which the male partner held the lady, she showed him the "Collegiate Step." It merely consisted of making short plain steps while keeping time with the music. As
soon as the phonographic music started, Doris came forward and placed Gerard's arms according to good dancing procedure. At that time, Gerard was a shy young man without any experience in dealing with the fair sex at close range. He completely froze as his right hand touched the semi-bare back of his teacher. He could not move forward or backward as directed by Miss Connelly. Doris immediately assumed the role of the "leader". As soon as she had Gerard moving, she was successful in making him go through the simple dance steps. After two lessons, Gerard accepted the advice of his dance teacher and went to the Commodore, a public dancing hall. He discovered he could never obtain a second dance with any of the young girls who had performed with him on the dance floor. Finally, he met a very jolly but obese lady (in her late twenties) who considered dancing with Gerard an interesting experience. She was a very good dancer who was light on her feet. Because of her stature she received few invitations to dance on the main floor. After a few weeks, Gerard learned not only the art of dancing the "Collegiate Step" properly but also the "Charleston" from his bulky partner.
Simultaneously with his dancing venture, Gerard joined the Glee Club at his high school. He was under the false impression that the purpose of such a group was to teach students the singing skill. Every day, at noon, he reported for practice and the entire membership of about 90 people sang "Did You Ever See Pete Go Tweet On His Piccolo", while a boyish bob teacher walked up and down the aisle of the auditorium. After two weeks, she located the false note. Gerard was politely advised not to come back for practice. His inability to carry a tune reflected a trait found in some of the Sawyers.
At this point, Gerard decided to organize a neighborhood orchestra. Its membership was made up of boys living in Pawtucketville, who had taken lessons in some musical instruments. The first rehearsal took place after school in the afternoon at the home of Francis Dupont, the pianist, located on White Street below Moody Street. The group had the music sheets for only one son,
"Bye, Bye, Blackbird". The practice was officially started when the leader, "the violinist" counted one, two, three, four, GO! At this point the orchestra took off with music coming out of every instrument with Gerard counting out loud, ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, as he was told to do by his drum teacher. When the orchestra managed to finish playing the song, Gerard was stilling going on his drums while counting out loud. Gerard was slow in counting ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR,... and therefore had not finished reading his music sheet. Throughout the practice, Gerard finished reading his music ahead or after the orchestra had completed playing the song. It was a cacophony that lasted two hours.
The group of amateur musicians did not despair. They continued having weekly rehearsals at the home of each player. By the time they met for practice for the first time at Gerard's home on Riverside Street, practically every parent had notified his son not to return for any future rehearsal. At one place, the neighbors called the police.
Finally, the group mastered "Bye, Bye, Blackbird" and received their first invitation to play at Harvey Houde's wedding party at the Pawtuckville Social Club on the corner of Moody Street and Gershom Avenue. Everyone in the festival was treated all evening with "Bye, Bye, Blackbird", the only musical composition the orchestra could play harmoniously. It was even played for the Grand March with all the guests faltering as they were completely disorganized, trying to march to the tune of a fox trot. The
remuneration for the evening's work amounted to $2.50 per musician.
Shortly after their first assignment, the orchestra developed to become a competent team of musicians with Gerard gaining respect as a drummer. They performed at many local dances and parties. But Gerard soon realized the compensation was far from adequate. He accepted the fact that he was less than a mediocre drummer and certainly would never succeed financially as a professional musician. His forte was mathematics, and not music. Arriving at this conclusion, Gerard decided to matriculate in Civil Engineering, although his father wanted him to study architecture for which he lacked any aptitude.
After receiving his B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering, Gerard Sawyer worked for a consulting firm for a while and finally joined the staff of engineers in the Design Division of the Department of Public Works of the City of
Pittsburgh. In 1939, as a result of a reorganization, he lost his position. Again he was in the employ of a couple of engineering outfits for a short while until his appointment as a stress analyst at the Glenn Martin Aircraft Company in Maryland. In August 1941, he resigned from this position to
join the Bridge Division of the Government of the District of Columbia. Here he became a bridge designer with his first project being the design of a small bridge across Tidal Basin, connecting 15th Street extended to the George Mason Bridge.
His greatest accomplishment as a bridge engineer was the design of the Dupont Circle project, involving half a mile of street car tunnel, two underground street car stations, one vehicular tunnel and half a mile of depressed highway.
His greatest professional accomplishment is best described by the following synposis which appeared on the program at an A.S.C.E. dinner in 1975 when was given a life membership in the Society:
"...His greatest accomplishment outside of directing the design of the longest prestressed bridge in the world (the proposed Three Sisters Bridge) in 1970, and the widest
tunnel in the U.S. in 1972 (Center Leg Tunnel) is the role he played in having the Secretary of the Army permit the construction of fixed span bridges across the two Washington rivers (in lieu of movable spans) in 1958, resulting in a saving of $7,000,000, thereby making the District of Columbia the first in the nation to bring about equitable navigational clearance standards for highway bridges. For his role he received a cash award from the Board of
Gerard Sawyer progressed through the ranks, becoming the Chief Bridge Design Engineer, and later the Assistant Engineer of Bridges. His ambition in life was to be the Engineer of Bridges for the District of Columbia. Unfortunately, his dream was frustrated as a reorganization abolished the Bridge Division and relocated the bridge design functions in a newly created Office of Planning, Design and Engineering. Gerard Sawyer served only six months as Acting Bridge Engineer until the reorganization was implemented.
As though Providence denied him his dream, it had something more financially attractive in store for him. He was appointed the Chief of the newly created Office with a 40% increase in salary. Subsequently there were a number of reorganizations with Gerard finally heading the Bureau of Design, Engineering and Research as a Deputy Director of the Department of Highways and Traffic. He held this position until his retirement in 1974.
Gerard Sawyer was active in a number of professional committees, namely: the Bridge Committee of A.A.S.H.O. and the Bridge Construction Committee of the Highway Research Board. He wrote many technical papers for various professional magazines, including the Engineering News Record. He was also on a special committee of seven bridge engineers who were sent to Europe in 1968 to study prestressed concrete bridges. For his technical performance, he received meritorious awards from every director that headed the Department of Highways and Traffic from 1952 to 1974. In 1970, he was honored with a Service Award from his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A note of interest is worth mentioning here. At the award ceremony, Gerard found himself sitting next to a former classmate, Dr. Jack McKee, head of the Department of Sanitary Engineering of California Institute of Technology. The latter was also the recipient of an award from the University for his outstanding scientific contribution to the Civil Engineering Profession. The unexpected meeting of the two graduates of the Class of 1936 prompted Gerard to remark to his former classmate who graduated from Carnegie Tech with the highest average, "No one would have thought in 1936 that Jack McKee would some day bring his 'Anchorman' to Pittsburgh to share awards, on the same stage, from the University"
When Gerard attended Lowell High School which was about a mile from his home, he always walked by a large billboard located on top of one story buildings on Moody Street, diagonally across from the City Hall. The beautiful girl shown on this panel was considered by him as representing his "dream girl". She had blue eyes,
fair skin, with very light brown hair. But the most interesting aspect of the figure was the reflection of an inner sweetness within the beauty of her face. Gerard thought she could pass as a sister of Ann Harding, his favorite actress. Although he frequently
marveled at this picture on his way to school, he would always dismiss the possibility he might find such a "Dream Girl", for he reasoned that such a perfect person, if found, would not be attracted by an ordinary young man, such as he was.
In the late winter of 1938, while working as a bus boy at Carnegie Inn on the College Campus, Gerard suddenly spied sitting at a table, next to a square column, eating her lunch, a young quiet coed who reflected all the characteristics of the girl on the billboard. He soon arranged for an introduction. Thereafter, Margaretha Nichol and Gerard met often, after the noon rush hour, to enjoy together an English muffin, a sandwich, and coffee, in a quiet area of Carnegie Inn. It marked the beginning of a five year courtship.
Gerard Sawyer married his college sweetheart, Margaretha Nichol, in the rectory of St. Paul's Cathedral, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on February 22, 1941. Needless to say such a union was not without opposition by Margaretha's parents and relatives who felt extremely strong against Catholicism. One relative pictured Margaretha as a Methodist martyr who would be saddled with a huge assembly of super-active children, causing her to age prematurely into a tired, wrinkled old mother. It turned out that when the program of bringing up a family was over, Margaretha looked much younger than many of her counterparts in life. Gerard and his wife raised 7 children, two girls, and five boys. Before the wedding bells were sounded, they both shared the desire of having a moderate size family. As each child came into the world, each old member of the Nichol family welcomed him with open arms and enthusiasm.
Gerard and Margaretha lived seven years in a one bedroom apartment at 3426 16th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. At this address three children were born. In 1948, they moved to a new stone and brick house they had built at 4020 17th Street in the northwest section of the city. During the early life of the family, both Gerard and Margaretha gave their children a strong Catholic religious base and, for a number of years, the family prayer was said after evening meal. Frequently, Margaretha would assist her young children with their catechism lessons.
It was always the desire of both Gerard and Margaretha, to infuse into the minds of their children, at an early age, the feeling that one's education is not finished until graduation from college. The teaching of this philosophy paid off as all of the children received college training in some kind of profession. Every one of them bore a large percentage of the cost involved.
Gerard enjoyed sports. As a teenager, he played neighborhood baseball, football, and tennis. His position in baseball was either at third base or left field. He struck out frequently under competition, and consequently his batting average was below mediocre. At football he either played in the line or at the end position. He very rarely played in the backfield because he often unconsciously revealed by some mannerism the ball carrier before the football was snapped. One could say Gerard was most competitive in tennis. He reached his peak in 1929 when he was a finalist in the Pawtuckville Singles Tournament, being defeated by Gerald Buckley. In the same year he was seeded #2 on the Pawtucket Tennis Club team. At that time his style of tennis was chiefly that of a chopping game. He later developed his drive which became his principal stroke. Although he joined his high school team, he never went out for his college team because he had to work for his education. When he retired, he made tennis one of his major activities, playing mixed
doubles with fellow retirees.
In 1974, Gerard Sawyer decided to retire at the age of 64. At his retirement party, he stated in his short farewell talk that he was among the 20% of his friends and
acquaintances who retired with a happy frame of mind as he felt that (1) he was still wanted by his superiors, (2) he had not outlived his usefulness as an engineer and administrator, (3) he enjoyed his responsibilities at the office, (4) he still commanded the respect of his staff and his fellow workers, and (5) he stilled enjoyed good health. His staff and friends gave him a xylophone set (concert model) as a gift.
In his retirement, Gerard and his wife undertook numerous short and long trips. Twice they went to Europe. They frequently attended plays, concerts, and ballets. They enjoyed visiting old friends and relatives. Carpentry work around the house was almost a second vocation for Gerard. With the experience he gained working for his father on Saturdays and during the summer months from the age of 12 to 19, he insulated the second floor ceiling of his house and constructed a new floor in the entire attic. He replaced all the doors and door frames of his house, built with panels a recreation room in the cellar, and erected a modern wooden fence around the stairwell of the outside steps to the cellar. His retirement program also included some church work. He played his xylophone daily for a number of years. Since he had not played this instrument ever since he left Lowell, Massachusetts for college, he had to review and learn over again all the musical exercises and pieces he played during the three years he took xylophone lessons from Mr. McLaughlin, the R.K. Keith Theatre drummer, and a Mr. Forsberg, a saxophonist for the well known Leo Daly Orchestra. He soon learned to play fluently such classicals as "Nola", "La Paloma", "Chromatic", "Humoreske", and "The Golden Wedding". He often enjoyed telling the story that one time while practicing his xylophone, a friend of his wife who was having a telephone conversation with her, suddenly asked, "What's that noise I hear in the background? Are you having the piano tuner fix your piano?"
Although his daily diaries throughout the years reveal a great deal of trials, disappointment, hardship, and adversity in his life, Gerard's overall assessment of these experiences was that they
were and in spite of one's attempt to avoid them, and to pray to obtain release from them, he felt one should face them with courage and try to live with them within a spiritual concept. His diaries also indicate many enjoyable moments benevolence, and pleasing events which were looked upon as Providence providing a temporary respite in the painful experience of life. Gerard called his retirement period as the last stage of the drama of life. He often said that his retirement provided serenity, enjoyment, and good health which he claimed could only have occurred as God's reward for the general display of fruitful endurance in the upbringing of their family. Gerard never considered adverse life experiences as misfortunes to be avoided but rather as opportunities to be embraced for the high purposes they can serve.
Lowell Nichol Sawyer, the 2nd son of Gerard Sawyer was born in Washington, D.C. on July 12th, 1945. As a baby, he was jolly and laughed often. When he was 8 months old, one evening his temperature suddenly jumped to 104 degrees, his eyes turned in and his skin slowly changed to a blue and purple and his skin slowly regained its white color. When the doctor came to give emergency treatment, he failed to find anything chronic about his general health condition.
At the age of three, Lowell experienced his first nightmare which frequently occurred throughout his childhood and adulthood. He woke up in the middle of the night screaming as though he was in a state of intense fear. At one time during his teenage years, he came running out of his room, making a loud penetrating cry, and as soon as he reached the top of the stairway, he plunged forward and rolled down the steps. When his parents found him on the floor of the first floor hallway, he was hollering while pounding his hands on the floor. Fortunately these periodic experiences never injured him physically.
As a young child, Lowell was a very active boy. Many times he enjoyed damaging things that belonged to others. Consequently at the age of four and five he was rarely the recipient of "The Candy of Honor" given weekly by his father to those members of the family who showed respect for the toys of others and had not had any
crying spell during the week. By the time he was six he had outgrown this destructive tendency and developed an extreme interest in sawing and cutting logs. He first displayed this love for this type of work when he often sat by and watched his father preparing firewood for the winter. Many times he offered to clean the outside steps and sweep the cellar for permission to watch his father perform with the axe. As soon as he was able to handle this cutting tool, he spent a great deal of time sawing and splitting logs which he collected in the nearby Rock Creek Park. For his 1946 Christmas present, he requested a sledge hammer and chisels, which he later found under the Christmas tree. A year later, Lowell, who had a difficult time learning Latin as an altar boy, inquired of his parents if he had to study Latin to become a woodsman. When he was told that most trees are identified by Latin names in horticulture, he immediately asked, "Does one have to learn Latin to become a trashman?" Thus, Lowell showed his second aspiration in the event he failed to become a log cutter. When the time came to make a decision on his college program of studies, horticulture or logging engineering did not prevail in the selection of his career. He received his college Degree in Mathematics from St. Mary's University of San Antonia, Texas.
Although cutting and splitting logs were Lowell's principal interest as a child and a teenager, he never seemed happy unless he was performing some kind of work around the house. This inborn motivation was never displayed so well as when he advised his parents one morning that he had a most pleasant dream during the night. He revealed that he dreamt he had dug up a trench in his father's
front yard and removed a six inch soil pipe.
At one time in his childhood, Lowell became sensitive to the sight of a person chewing his food with his mouth open. Several times, to the embarrassment of his parents, he made efforts to vomit at the dinner table when guests displayed this bad habit. However, this sensitiveness lasted only during the time he was eight years of age. He completely outgrew it.
In his early childhood, Lowell was given a strong religious foundation from his parents. He developed a keen interest in the things that had spiritual values. Hence, he often attended an early Mass on Saturdays and frequently endeavored to have his father to join him by trying to wake him up on his father's only day of rest. Whenever the latter refused to budge, he attended church alone or with his older brother. In consonance with his early religious interest, at the age of ten he submitted to his father a long list of
Lenten resolutions with one item being "Not to talk at the dinner table". He indicated to his father that for $5 he would observe the terms of his list faithfully.
Although at one time in his childhood Lowell never talked at the dinner table for a period of one year (in compliance with a New Year's resolution), his father's diary had no indication as to whether or not his father ever agreed to any
remuneration for his proposed Lenten sacrifices.
In sports, Lowell learned to play tennis, baseball and football. He enjoyed these activities only as a source of diversion. His strength in recreational pastimes were in "bridge" and pool. He showed a great deal of expertise in both.
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