Five things you probably didn't know...
By bobp on Jun 01, 2007
- I was born and raised in Medford, Massachusetts U.S.A. Right here. It is ~2 miles (3.2m) to Boston from Medford. In fact Medford is part of a group of surrounding cities known as Greater Boston. If you like Italian food as I do, (being 1/2 Italian and 1/2 Spanish) go and visit Bob's Food Store. The store is located at the top of the next street over from where I lived. This specialty store still uses sawdust on the floor just like the butcher stores of yesterday. If you go and visit Medford, I recommend you lock your car doors. If you know me I have a strong Boston accent. I do not sound like I grew up in Kansas or Texas. Life in Medford gave you some street sense and skills. I was highly encouraged or basically forced by my Dad to attend 12 years of parochical school (St. Joseph's, Medford, MA and Pope John XXIII High School, Everett, MA). With many blue collar people in the city there was plenty of opportunity to make bad decisions on the road of life. My Dad always told me "picture my face before you go do something stupid." That helped me say many times "I'll catch you guys later..." As I grew older and attended college-- the streets started to consume some of the young adults that I knew. Unfortunately some are in a better place today while others ended up in not such a good place. However my brother "Al" became a Chemical Engineer, "Mikey D." became a Mechanical Engineer and 2 Stevie's became Electrical Engineers. So 5 of us on Golden Ave becoming engineers. It is interesting that 4 of the 5 engineers all did the 12 year reform school program above. Go figure...
- My 1st job was peeling 50 lbs. bags of onions for $2.35/hour. After peeling onions for a while you cannot get the onion smell off of your hands. You get acclimated eventually and your red eyes stop pouring tears... most of the time. Onion peeling was a right of passage (Is he going to last or quit???) before you got moved up to unloading full freight cars of 50 lbs. bags of carrots, cases of lettuce, crates of melons and yes those onions once again. This was a lousy job at a Fruit and Produce wholesale operation for grocery stores. Have you ever seen a freight car up close? They are BIG and can fit many bags of carrots. How do you unload these carrots? One 50 pound bag at a time even if it is winter (cold) or the humid days of August (hot, hot, hot). My Dad would smile and say this work is good for you. It will encourage you to earn your living with your head not your body. Physical labor is a good learning lesson when you are young but as you start becoming a 40 year old your body begins to break down.
- I liked to take things apart (still do) and "trying" science, especially during the summers. I was blessed at being good at math and having a desire, since I was a kid, to get stuff done. I earned my undergraduate degree from the "engineering factory of Boston." After getting an advanced degree in Computer Science, I enrolled in an advanced business degree program. A thesis was required to graduate. The thesis was due in February... I had the thesis signed off and orally defended 6 months before it was due. My Dad would always say "Anybody can talk but walking the talk is what matters." Can you get it done? My parents both grew up during the Great Depression. Their stories of hardship certainly shaped me. My Dad worked as a union (AFL-CIO and Carmens) employee for over 50 years. I never saw him miss work, never saw him intoxicated, never saw him loaf, never saw him act as a bad example to me. Guess how I act today? I had to pay my own way through college (hello cooperative education at NU). My parents paid for the 12 years of parochial school so the rest was up to me. During college I received some student grants. I also worked part time at a plumbing supply store stocking inventory and delivering merchandise in a Class 2 truck. Problem was I didn't have a Class 2 license... This again was Medford. Have you ever tried to move a cast iron bath tub or steam fed boiler? They are both h-e-a-v-y. Becoming an engineer looked better and better all the time.
- A Medford Little Leaguer and Babe Ruth League baseball player won a World Series ring with the Minnesota Twins in '91. We played ball together and he lived right down the street. Imagine being able to live the fantasy that many boys played as kids. Hitting a home run in the real World Series. Mikey did it! I played baseball, hockey and football through high school but Mikey P. was able to play baseball as a professional career for 11 years. I don't want to say I was the last guy cut before making it to the show, but then again I didn't warm any benches when I did play. I still have the scars from hockey on my face, the broken bones from football and the shoulder from baseball that predicts the weather. Mikey has a World Series ring.
- I am a cancer survivor. I reached 5 years of being cancer free from initial diagnosis last August '06. Cancer is a physical and mental challenge. I truly believe mental attitude plays a big part in the battle. I'm also convinced that the lessons from Medford played a part in fighting the disease as well. Part of the recovery of being a cancer survivor is that you have to talk about it. Why me? Why did I survive and others did not make it? Helping others get through the hardship and loss of life is therapy as well. I had the same type of cancer as Lance Armstrong. Lance was a very late diagnosis because of his denial. For me I embraced the fear much sooner. If you want to know what it was like for me read his book. I read his book after my 2 surgeries and boy did it hit home with a lot of parallels. The numerous needles, xrays, and CT Scans with active contrast is not fun. The mental part of thinking that the next test is going to reveal metastasis or tumor marker is plain brutal. It certainly made me cry.