My father, Harold was born on September 7, 1923, the oldest of Wanda Sznarbach and Harold C. Amacher's four children.
Father said his earliest memory was at the age of two. It was a cold day, and a relative had brought the baby marbles to play with. The family was poor, and glass marbles were expensive, so poor kids had terra cotta marbles coated with wax to make them roll better. Someone thought the marbles would be too cold to give to the baby, so they put the marbles in a pan on the stove to warm up, but the wax melted and the marbles fused together. This picture shows my father at 15 months of age.
Father spent World War II in the Army Air Corps, supporting air bases in England. He also had the job of recovering aircraft that had crashed, sometimes attempting to rescue survivors. "That's how he burned his hands," his brother pointed out. I do not remember knowing that he had burned his hands until his funeral.
Father had a picture taken of himself in kilts in his army days. Roy and I thought this was for real. We should have gotten suspicious, because the number of the unit kept changing. One time he'd be a member of the 125th British Highlanders, the next time it would be the 284th Highland Regulars. When we asked, "Dad, is that really you?" he would say, "Oh, yes. We were the only troops on D-Day that didn't get our pants wet." Then we would say, "Dad, that's a cool sword in the picture. What happened to it?" Father would reply, "Oh, I bent it opening a can of Spam or something."
When the war ended, there was no need for aviation mechanics, so father drove a 6X6 coal truck. He told me that he was in charge of a camp for German prisoners of war. He was responsible for the well being of the German troops. He told that the camp was sent rations including canned corn. The Germans were very insulted, evidently regarding corn as livestock feed. "I almost had a riot on my hands," he recalled.
Father went to school at Fenn College, later Cleveland State University, where he majored in Electrical Engineering. Anatomy was a required course at Fenn College, a course father fondly called "cat mechanics." He explained the curriculum. "The first half of the semester, we tool a cat apart. The second half of the semester, we put the cat back together again. The final exam was to put a saucer of milk in front of the cat and see if the cat would lap it up. It was a tough course. Most of the engineers flunked out because of Cat Mechanics."
Across the street from Fenn College was a "greasy spoon" named the "B & H." Mother said that B & H stood for Beans and Hash. Father reported with authority that B & H stood for Burp and Heave.
Father had a crush on a waitress at the B & H. She came to his table to take his order. "What will you have?" she asked. "A cup of coffee, scrambled eggs, and a kind word," replied father. The waitress disappeared and returned later with his order, which she silently placed in front of him. "What about my kind word?" he asked. "Don't eat the eggs," she replied.
Father didn't get a spoon for his coffee. So he said something to the waitress like "you know, this coffee is really a little to hot for me to stir it with my finger." And then, instead of bringing him a spoon (which was his real objective), she comes by on the next trip and drops a couple of ice cubes into his coffee cup, so the coffee won't be so hot anymore.
When my father was in college, he got a part-time job working in a Post Office over the Christmas holidays. The fellows were standing around the water cooler one day in early January, and this is the joke they told.
A man went to a county fair, and found a man selling a horse. The horse was a good-looking horse, but the selling price was impossibly low. The man looked the horse over carefully. The horse had good teeth, had a shiny, healthy coat, and strong legs. He was alert and seemed to have good eyesight. Finally the man asked the owner, "This looks like a good horse. I can't understand why the price is so low." "Well," said the owner, "he is a good horse but he has one fault. He likes to sit on grapefruit." The man thought about this for a while and finally thought to himself, "how much of a problem can this be? I'll just keep the horse away from grapefruit." So he hitched the horse to his wagon, and drove him home.
All seemed to be well, until the man tried to drive the horse through a little ravine about five miles from the fair. At the bottom of the ravine was a little stream. The horse got to the bottom of the ravine, started out into the stream, and half way across, sat down and wouldn't move. After numerous attempts to get the horse to cross the stream, the man gave up and angrily went back to the county fair, where he found the horse's seller.
"What's wrong with that horse you sold me?" he demanded. "He's sitting in the middle of a stream and won't move. I looked all around, and I know for a fact that there are no grapefruit anywhere near that stream."
"Oh," said the seller, "I forgot to tell you. He likes to sit on fish, too."
At this point, my father and his friends looked up, and standing next to the water cooler was the foreman of the Post Office who said "Har! Har! Har! Ver-ree fun-nee. You guys are fired." So my father lost his job at the Post Office over the joke about the horse that liked to sit on grapefruit.
Father met my mother, Genevieve Wargo, at Fenn College. Father later taught night school at Fenn College. This picture of father, mother, and I was a card for Christmas, 1952.
After graduating from Fenn College, father had a fellowship with the Atomic Energy Commission and worked as a Health Physicist. He said that the Health Physicist job was the worst one he ever had. He would try to enforce safety codes, but as soon as his back was turned, tape would be placed over locks on doors. He was conducting an experiment involving a pen of radioactive sheep and a pen of non-radioactive sheep, but in the middle of the night the sheep got lonely and jumped the fence.
Mother was a creative woman, active in the garden club and in the Cleveland Miniature Society. Her yard was a showplace. She is remembered for her generosity with her knowledge and her plants. I have several plants in my own yard that mother gave me that remind me of her.
April Foolís Day was a big event at our house. Mother would plan pranks for months, and father would dutifully react accordingly. She had great fun sewing his socks together so that they would come out of his drawer in one long string.
There were a series of April Fool pranks surrounding fatherís morning coffee ritual. Father would stumble down the stairs, and sit down at the kitchen table. Mother would heat the water for his instant coffee, and eventually he would wake up. One April Foolís Day, mother sabotaged the milk. The following year she put salt in the sugar bowl. Finally father realized the pattern. When he came downstairs for his April Foolís Day coffee, he carefully inspected the inside of the cup. He carefully tasted the instant coffee before spooning it into the cup, then scrutinized the sugar and the milk. Satisfied, he leaned back and indicated to mother that he was ready for the hot water. When he tasted the coffee, he spit it out. Mother had filled the tea kettle with vinegar! Roy and I rolled with laughter.
Father worked at General Electric in Research and Development and taught Physics and Mathematics at night at Fenn College. He told the following story to illustrate the point that there is no place for humor on examination questions. He was trying to demonstrate a piece of equipment called a mass spectrometer to the class, but the equipment wouldn't work. He called in the department chairman and finally the Dean to help him demonstrate the experiment to the class, but neither could get the equipment to work. On the final examination, father asked the question, "If you were standing on the top of Fenn Tower with a stop watch and a mass spectrometer, how would you measure the height of the building?" The students worked for hours trying to calculate the answer. When he saw how hard his students had worked, he was ashamed to tell them that what he had in mind was that they would drop the mass spectrometer and time how long it would take to hit the pavement.
Father retired from General Electric Company. He was always a man of many interests. If he wasn't making a stainless steel tomahawk for Indian guides, he was growing crystals in the basement, or winning awards at the Wood Carver's Guild. I was born on October 19, 1951 in Lakewood, Ohio. I went to school at the Ohio State University and got a Master's degree in Nursing in 1978. I met my husband, John Thomas McAdams, born on November 19, 1937, at a church single's group Christmas tree trimming party in 1985. Tom is the son of Charles V. McAdams Senior and Mary Elizabeth "Mae" Kelly and is the fourth generation of the McAdams family to be born in Pittsburgh. I can document his second great grandfather's presence in the city in 1837 by a deed purchasing property on Quarry Street. Tom worked as a CAD/CAM operator at Westinghouse Science and Technology Center. Tom has a son, David, by his previous marriage. In researching family history, I learned from the McAdams Historic Society that it was traditional for Irish men to name their first son after their own father. I believe that my husband was named for his two grandfathers - John for John J. Kelly and Thomas for Thomas Joseph McAdams, the second generation of the McAdams family to be born in Pittsburgh.
Tom and I met at a single's group at Beulah Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA in December, 1985. We were married in the garden of that church on July 18, 1987. Tom has a son, David John McAdams was born on Christmas Day, 1969. David met Tanya Jeanine Hagen, born Upland, California on April 25, 1970 while they were in medical school at Georgetown University. Tanya is the daughter of Russell Allen Hagen and Virginia Kay Blaser. More about the Blaser family on the Blaser Family Page.
David and Tanya were married in Coronado, California on May 30, 1999. See their wedding pictures. Tanya's mother, Gini Blaser runs a ranch in Arivaca, New Mexico. Her grandfather, Sid Hagen was a pilot in the South Pacific in World War II and is now a retired dentist. Sid's wife, Ellie King Hagen was the original "Rosie the Riveter." Tanya explains that the famous cover of Life magazine was her grandmother, Ellie.
This is a picture of the four of us at the Historic Strausburg Inn, Lancaster County, PA, in January, 1997.
My parents lost a set of twin girls at birth in August 1957. My mother mourned their death for the rest of her life. She passed away in University Hospitals, Cleveland, on January 5, 1998. My father grieved terribly and followed her a few months later on June 12, also at University Hospitals.
Roy Harold Amacher was born on May 6, 1959. He got a bachelorís degree in mechanical engineering from The Ohio State University. He lived in Dayton, Ohio after college, then moved to Maryland. Roy has an interest in anything aeronautical. When I took Tom to meet Roy for the first time, we went to Arlington National Cemetery for the memorial service for Francis (Dick) Scobee, the commander of the Challenger. Roy received his Masterís degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1999.
Roy works for the Department of Defense and married a co-worker, Jacqueline Lee Maurer on October 8, 1989. Jackie was born March 13, 1959 to Jacob Harry "Jake" Maurer and Jeanette Katherine "Jean" McComas. Jackie enjoys sewing and made a prom dress for her niece, Jennifer Keen.
I had a fascinating conversation with Jackie's father, Jake whose family has been documented in "A Small Branch of the Nye Family Tree Descendents of Jonah Adam Neu of Pennsylvania 1749-1970Ē by Max B. and Evelyn Tunnicliffe.
Jackie has two sisters, Donna who is married to George Keen, a stationary engineer, and Alicia who is married to Rob Humphreys who works in air conditioning and refrigeration.
Jackie and Roy have a beautiful home in Columbia, Maryland. Columbia is a planned community in which utilities are all underground, and billboards are illegal. The impression is one of driving through a park more than driving through a city.
Roy and Jackie have two children, Katherine Michelle, born August 16, 1991 and Daniel Joseph Harold, born on April 2, 1993. When I pointed out that Thomas Joseph Amacher, James Joseph Amacher and Danny all have Joseph in their names, Jackie responded, "What an interesting coincidence. The reason for Danny's "Joseph" was Roy and I both liked the name and it also honors both of my grandfathers who were named Joseph. We thought we would name Danny Daniel Thomas until the day I said it aloud and called him Danny Thomas. I guess I am dating myself, but I just didn't want him to be ridiculed as being named after the actor Danny Thomas."
Life is busy for two working parents. Katie is a Girl Scout and is proud of the "Wet Land" that her school built.