All Stories, General Fiction

Cohort Retirees by Tom Sheehan

Each Raytheon retiree’s email, each contact with an old co-worker, though distant, departed, an accidental approach, brings me back to places, offices, plant sections and locations, that I left in my past and where I find those that never let go, holding on with clever clutches; some of my favorite people ever climb back into my present circumstance, letting me know they do not let go, not easily, not knowingly, not without a sidewise look I can remember as if it was sent my way yesterday.

Each one comes precious, through a sweet face, a stolid character remaining forceful, true as ever, one of his or her kind. I remember them all. Many of them hang on with the strength of comrades from combat zones that also never let go, their grips always tenacious, that enter night’s sleep, morning’s sudden memory, evening’s calculations, the evermore.

There is no other word for it; not at this moment.

I do not treat such encounters lightly, for many years of my life have been spent in such memorable company, and 25 years of separation do not dim the many personalities, the many faces, the many characters that stand in my mind., Oh, we can get mawkish at times, I’ll readily admit, where feel old feelings re-route themselves in a clutch at memory, remember favorites of a special day, or a time of deep pressure working on us as a unified force, that we could do and we could get done. We might titter at it now; we didn’t then; that was bread and butter on the table, the extra beer at night on the way home, the car pool en masse.

I wonder, for those who hang on, what they do to pass their time, eat up their last years, busy their hands or minds with, be they so graced and healthy. I admit it is for me a daily question, a pause in my recollection, a moment of query. They had such prowess we saw on the occasions when things got tough, the fires got hot, the demands came with force; each war that came was the war to end all wars.

Most of us remember those who aspired among us, and there were many … those who dug deep, had pride, moved the blockade, maintained those early charts on the wall. I hope many of them battle yet, though the numbers climb like mountaineers, one step at a time, one life at a time, one memorable face at a time, Everest being what it is.

I count myself lucky, finding the computer that has produced 26 books, hundreds and hundreds of Internet appearances of work, my day starting with an endless hunger for the first 1000 words of the day; as I remember Pete Steckowich showing me the first computer I ever saw, never knowing, at that moment, what it was to do for me.

I wrote this on my computer for co-worker Charlie Poulin:

A Last Note to Charlie Poulin (written in a parking lot after final services for Charlie Poulin, in Haverhill, years ago;

Dear Charlie,

This will, I suppose, be the last email to you, but it is due. I am convinced it will catch up to you in some kind of cyberspace, or, if I’m lucky, it will be waiting for you some place special. We said goodbye today and last night, the Exodus in place for you. I saw you, in repose, for the first time in sixteen or seventeen years, since the day we last we passed each other in the corridors of Raytheon, bent on our tasks, not much else in our ways. You were a most special cohort; never once in all our years did I ever hear you curse anybody, any boss, any subordinate, or knock one, or show impatience at the weakness in others. You knew what we were and what we were capable of, and if we came short, there was the art of forgiveness all of us did not have.

You carried a special grace with you, Charlie, all along the long track of those years, from the second floor of Mill 2 at old Shawsheen through our spread at West Andover. Most all of us know it, whether now in hindsight or not. I was lucky, I saw it early; special people were in our midst, you, Joe Latvis to name another, the real kind of cohorts and neighbors that made days, hours, tasks to be nothing more than pudding at best. I will not chastise anybody by not putting them in your company, but you were a special grace among us. I suspect that many of us knew that, even if we could not say it, or scream it as we ought

We caught up with each other via email, at least three years’ worth, often daily.

Last night I met your family for the first time ever, knew Elaine instantly and your daughters, recognized the traits, the slim carriages, the facial grace, a kind of grace that speaks without talking. That’s your stuff, my friend. You made it happen.

I have to tell you, Charlie, you have longevity by the ton: here at your hand is eternity, long memories locked up forever with such as me and others I could share you with. And then there is the family, right down to the latest great grandchild I would guess, carried by a slip of a girl I believed to be a granddaughter ever smiling at him. Ryan is his name, from what I could hear, from a whisper. I am sure he will hear about you down the road, how he spent a few hours in tribute to his great grandfather back there in the year 2007.

From many sources, nation-wide and worldwide (all the way over to friend Guillaume in Paris), are echoed your observations and imparted justice about the Red Sox, Red Sox management, Red Sox Nation itself, so acute, so true to fact, that many think you had a special wand and a special ear for inside stuff. Friend John (92, 85 years a fan), who specializes in studying their faces in the dugout when they are winning or losing, was keenly aware of your intuitions. He has appraised you to the baseball heavens on many occasions.

But that’s all play stuff, as you and I agreed on so many occasions. Here’s the important stuff: a game is a game, and hunger and wretchedness are facts of life that kill us internally when we see it. On my way to see you off today, after being lost for a bit in your city of Haverhill, I saw a bag lady cross the street in front of me while I was at a red light, her feet wrapped three-fold by tape and heavy socks, wearing extra coats and a final raiment of a plastic wrap against the deadly winter winds. She ripped at me, those feet plodding on the streets of the city, passersby sort of ignoring her wandering with a plastic bag half filled with returnable containers. Oh, she would have slain you, Charlie, with her plight, and before I could move, hand off a five-dollar bill, she was gone and the horns of cars behind me were urging me to move on, past her pain, past her winter, past her hunger, past some need I had no other idea of, as I sought your departure place.

But I brought her to your final services with me and on the way back to my home, as you were flying out under sunlight, moonlight, starlight, through ethers and the taste of forever, I said prayers for her in your name. Bless her this night, Charlie, whatever it brings her, but not the cold, not the hunger, perhaps only a moment for a prayer for you.

I have to say it now, that I believe transformation is at hand. In one fell swoop it comes, came. I could feel it at some place in the last ceremony we would ever share, as far as I know as a mortal (and some familiar faces there). I know you are outbound, over water, through the light of planets and comets and a momentary sense of darkness, as you make that final move. The glorious freedom I can feel. You are out there, Charlie, loose, free, on the rise, above water and through air and all that tries to catch at us. And all those awful appendages and accoutrements you wore or carried by medical dictate have been discharged, the pain is gone, as well as the quiet agonies that you bore silently, that held on so long into your slow passing.

Now comes the great music, my friend Charlie, the true music, the music of the heavenly sphere. Once again you can hear Elaine’s voice, and the voices of your children at song and poem and story, the magical words rising from their being taught the awareness you bestowed on them. You can hear their songs at the sweetest echo of all, the new hearing that comes back to you, and the chants and the hymns that moved your soul all its days.

Just think of it, Charlie, all like you said, about being lucky. You’re about one of the luckiest guys from Raytheon I know. It really is a bon voyage, mon amie.

Be swift to Him.

Your friend,

Tom

The following was a list that Charlie Poulin drew up from his past at Raytheon Andover:

Charlie Poulin
Raytheon Names from the Past
Gabe Defillipo Nabbe Mansour Glenn Grubbs Dick Rawling Jerry Perocchi Ray Kindella Hank Belair Dick Raymond Lee Voight Harry Jacobsen Pete Drivas Dewey Oligny Marilyn Kenyon Joe Savoie Bob Clark Bernie Lemoine Wally Campbell Lee Goguen Bob Chamberlain Joanne Campbell Al Cushing Bill Levesque George Beaumont Larry Wongburg Howard Ponty Howie Bowen Bernie Langlois Roger Melanson Bob Murphy Claire Langlais Bert Churchill Oscar Frechette Charlie Bada Larry Somes Eric Leviarnie Harju Fred Lachance Tony Ciardello Lem Loo Miff Datore Herb Myers Bob Whynot Bob DiehmDon Hall (acct) Don Hall (repro) Marilyn Seguin (Winship) Walter Brouillette John Demars Jean Mclaughlin (Brandin) Paul Gyrsting Bob Gray Jim Angellini Bob Beaudoin Frank Coppola Paul Tanguay Jim Hill Norm Cynewaki Alec Lengyel John Grabowski Frank Graham Jon Welch Mario Pettricone Al Dercole Leo St. Cyr Dick McCabeChuck Mullaney Bill Doyle Tony Recchion Harry Loebel Chuck McEaneney Ken Hird John Booth Todd WhitneyWin Carlson John Kilgore Lenny Barone Al Walden Dave Andrus Dave Keeler Bob Taylor Tom White Chuck Hutchins Sam Amanatian Chuck Bouchard Frank Ball Dick George Bill Realle John Hoell Laura Hill
Stan Macejewski Dick Jarzobski Vin Jarzobski Helen Shadallah Paula Jajuga Eark Card Pete Ciaraldi Jean Keating John Keating Dick Lynch (PC) Dick Lynch (QC)Jack Finley Marsha Nolan Frank Feeley Mary Cochrane Lois Outen Kelley Carey Frank Samuels Gene Watt Fred Durso Bill Bresnahan Peg Curtin Jeannie Rivers Adam Flione Jack Kirby Leo Chateauneuf Jack Rogers Wil Chateauneuf Matt Poth Gus Lombard Fred Elias Bill Winfield Joe Greene Joe Ray Donna Bruno Bruno Coppola Joe Bruno Tony Silva Al Cuthbert Ed Oneill Henry Fournier Dick McCabe Ellie EldredBill Geraughty Bill Desrosiers Bill Moody Mike Rufino Charlie McQuade Frank Simone Lucien Dalpe Frank Daley Arthur Lavoie Larry Meaney Kirk Lavoie Mike Grassi Pete Giarusso Charlie Grasso Dick Fellows Frank Lawler Al Barbuzzi Rex Hucks Frank Hoeven Phil BeilockAND OF COURSE: Torrey Jackson Dave Rumore Dick Mahoney Ed Blackwell Vin Doyle Ed Gaudes Manny Mendonca Denny Bly Bob Scarpello Dan Hanlon and any other of the Lawrence British Club gang that I may have omitted. Since this list was done entirely off of the top of my head, there are probably dupes and misspellings, for which I apologize, but anyway, I hope that you guys have some fun with it, and that it brings back some memories. CHARLIE P.

Tom Sheehan

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 


4 thoughts on “Cohort Retirees by Tom Sheehan”

  1. Hi Tom,
    I am a sucker for a list of names!
    And more, to the meaning of those names to the person who has listed them.
    The line isn’t finished but I loved, ‘Some of my favorite people ever climb back into my present circumstance, letting me know they do not let go…’
    That is an absolute gem!!!
    Brilliant my fine friend!
    Hugh

    Like

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