Charles William Capes II Back to 'Tree'
First of all, I am the author of this Web site/history, so if I have made use of the 'I' and 'Me' words anywhere, that's who I mean!
I was born February 7th, 1938 at approximately 1:00 AM. My parents, Victor and Norma Capes lived at #40 Eadie Place in Brighton in Staten Island NY. My Dad worked for the Muralo Company in some type of executive position, as I remember being in his office on several occasions. My Grandfather, Charles W.Capes was President of the company, and I believe my Uncle, Jean Capes, was also employed there. My Mother was typical of the women of the day, being a homemaker, rather than attempting to balance a job and motherhood. Due to being named after my Grandfather, I escaped the trauma of ever being referred to as 'Junior'.
I have a few memories of the early years, fragmented and making no particular sense to anyone else, but here are some of them. I remember sitting in front of the big console radio, listening to the reports of the war. My father being called before the draft board, but not having to serve. Playing war with some of the neighborhood kids. Coal being delivered by big men carrying the coal in big canvas sacks up the hill to dump through the window. Trucks were huge noisy contraptions, with chain drives on the side. Ration stamps for food, gas, tires, almost everything. Really strange ideas, like doctors making house calls when I got sick. One of the first movies I ever saw (and it scared the HELL out of me), was 'Fantasia' by Walt Disney. I love it now, but it was scary to a little kid. My Dad was also very active with the Sea Scouts in those days, so we spent a lot of time in the camps and at Scout meetings.
For those of you that have never been in the area, Staten Island is exactly that, an island located between the Battery in Manhattan, and New Jersey. The Staten Island Ferry was 'The Way' to visit New York, and it was a fun trip, passing by the Statue of Liberty and some other landmarks. Once in the city, is was a standard treat to eat at the 'Horn & Hardart' restaurant, placing coins into dispensers to obtain all sorts of good food. No waiters, so it was an inexpensive lunch. I remember all the warships in the harbor, as well as the liner 'Normandie' lying on her side at a pier in New York.
In 1945, at age 7, We moved to Cornwall, on the Hudson River in upstate NY. My Dad was the mail messenger, carrying mail sacks and bundles between the 3 post offices in Cornwall, and the trains. The trains were also a major part of my childhood in Cornwall, 'cause back then they were steam engines, and they were IMPRESSIVE. Since my Dad knew everyone associated with the train station, I managed to get a ride between Cornwall & Newburgh one day sitting in the Engineers seat, and pulling on the whistle cord all I wanted. For a couple of years, things were real tight, and the firemen would be sure to kick some coal off the tender as they passed our house, so we were able to save some money on heating. We raised chickens to sell the eggs, and I spent LOTS of time collecting them. We also had two pigs, named 'Porky' and 'Petunia', I didn't know it at the time, but they tasted REAL good, after they mysteriously disappeared one day. Although I attended regular school in Cornwall, there were no kids anywhere near our house, so I learned early on to play by myself. I knew every inch of Storm King Mountain at one time, having traversed it regularly with the 3 dogs as my companions, 'Terry', an Irish Setter, and two Dalmatians named 'Micky' and 'Jerry'. At that time , the Hudson was still clean, and you could eat the fish you caught. Shad fishermen made a good living from the river. Hell, you could even SWIM in the river. A regular site was the three 'steamers' of the 'Hudson River Day Line' traversing the river, bringing tourists from Manhattan up to Albany, with stops in between. The best was the 'Robert Fulton', with a huge walking beam on the top. It was a 'side-wheeler', and quite an impressive sight. Let me not forget another item that kept me busy, and that was the old serials on the radio. Who could forget 'The Shadow', 'Jack Armstrong of the S.B.I.', 'Sgt. Preston of the North West Mounted Police', and 'Sky King'.
Christmas was, of course, the best time of year. We would spend 3 days every Christmas at my Grandparents, Charles W. Capes & Frances D. Capes, home on Staten Island. It was truly a 'Mansion', complete with servants quarters (unoccupied) and a huge fireplace next to the Christmas tree. Although I received the normal presents every kid gets, each year there was one especially 'neat' gift from my Grandparents. One year it was a genuine Red Ryder BB gun (and no, I didn't shoot my eye out). However, I believe the absolute greatest gift they ever gave me was a #8 1/2 A.C.Gilbert Erector set. For a kid with a good imagination, who was alone most of the time, it was the ultimate gift, and brought me countless hours of enjoyment. I should also mention that I had an additional companion during these visits, and it was my Grandfathers Irish Setter, named 'Paddy'. I think he was a brother to our Terry, but I'm not certain.
To a person of my generation, there is no doubt that global warming is a reality. The typical snowfall (and they were regular) was over my head. In those days, one traveled up the Hudson Valley on Route 9W, and I remember the giant rotary snow plows they used to keep the roads clear. When is the last time you saw one of those in action?. It took more than the 'threat' of snow to call a school closing, it was up to your parents to get you there. You remember, 15 miles, uphill, both ways! The best sledding was next to the school, on Church St. The janitor for the church kept throwing ashes across the road, and we kept covering them with more snow. Cold, Oh Yes, the entire river was frozen solid every year, and the Coast Guard cutters were kept busy clearing a channel.
In November of 1949, my Mother left my Father, taking me with her. We moved to Newburgh NY, and lived in a series of apartments there. Although my Father legally had visitation rights (every other weekend), it wasn't long before they ceased, probably due to shenanigans on my Mothers part. Despite this, my school years, grade 6 through High School, were pretty good. I never had problems with studies, and maintained a high average without having to work hard at it. I was active in amateur radio (K2MIC) as well as being pretty good with a camera. I joined the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) my last two years of High School, so the Air Force was a natural career choice, knowing that I wouldn't be able to afford college. Accordingly, I graduated from Newburgh Free Academy June 30th of 1956, and enlisted in the USAF in mid August. I had a strong interest in electronics, partially from working for several Radio & TV repair shops, and also from my 'ham radio' experience, and knew I could easily apply that to landing a good position in the service.
My tour of duty was great, as I ended up in a high-tech position, servicing weapons fusing systems (atomic weapons). I spent a total of 1 1/2 years in Denver Colorado, then went overseas, 1 year in France, then another year in England. One of the more useful things I learned was "Treat your superiors as warnings, not examples". Strange, that was true in civilian life too. While in the service, I got my degree, so the college I couldn't afford came to me free. I was discharged (Honorably) in 1960, and returned to Newburgh. That only lasted for 6 months, then I got a job (the first of MANY) in Connecticut, and moved there in the winter of 1960.
In October of 1961, I made a fateful decision to move to an apartment in Milford CT, and promptly met a neighbor named 'Judy'. Exactly one year later, October 28th, 1962, we were married, and we're still together. Although I was regularly employed in the electronics industry, I at one time decided to try another career, so I joined the Connecticut State Police, finished 6 weeks of training, then promptly resigned, and went back to electronics. Part of the reason was being told by the instructor that 'I wasn't enough of an S.O.B.'. The other and more important reason was, having just gotten engaged, I was assigned to Canaan CT. It would have been impossible to find a location further away.
April 2, 1966 brought us Charles W. Capes the 3rd (Chuckie), and about two tears later, Kristin Ellen was born. By that time, we figured out what was causing the children, so we stopped having them. I retired in June of 2000, and have been busier ever since than I ever was while working. Perhaps things like this web site are the reason.
You've sorta seen that I've always been around relatives that liked dogs, and I am no exception. After our marriage, we first got Samantha, who had pups so we kept one of those too (Shannon). Later, after they both passed away, I found the add "Free to good home, 10 mo. old Golden Retriever", so Barney came to live here. He lived to be 14, and was a great dog. 'Buddy' was adopted at age 5 as well, but we only had him for about 7 years.At this time, Rusty is top dog, adopted also at age 9 months, now 5 years.
Thanks for your interest, I hope you've enjoyed these scribbling, and I hope someday my descendants will find these of interest as well.
Charles W. Capes II
February 20th, 2007