I almost forgot to mention the two main events of the summer of 1969: the moon landing and the Woodstock festival in upstate New York. I was still in Houghton when the moon landing happened and left soon after for New Jersey. The big news when I got there was this first ever open field drug/sex/music festival where tens of thousands people, it might have been hundreds of thousands, camped out in the open field for several days. It was a peak of hippie culture of make love not war!
I ended up in Long Branch New Jersey for my job but rented an apartment in Asbury Park. Asbury Park later gained notoriety as the home of Bruce Springstein! Both Long Branch and Asbury Park were in Monmouth County, the supposed home base of mafia. That summer NJ legislature was holding hearings on Mafia and for the first time that they had an insider, Valachi, singing like a canary. The headline news a few days after I got there was the unfortunate death of a local judge. Poor guys garage door would not open and he died of CO poisoning. A few days later the local police captain died because his brakes failed. Both of the poor souls had been summoned to testify in Trenton. Needless to say it was an interesting summer.
My boss Ron Heacock had taken an instant liking to me. I became his lunch buddy and he taught me to play Poker. I joined his poker group on Thursday evenings. Needless to say that I was quite lucky in Poker, having spent my nights at IIT playing Teen Patti.
Those were the days when the gasoline cost no more than 25 cents to a gallon. So going on long car trips was well within our means. DC, upstate NY, Connecticut, Boston just to mention a few of the places we traveled to on weekends.
I was hoping to connect with my pen-pal Ann who lived in Connecticut. But she had enlisted in the Air Force in late 1968 and had moved to Texas. So we stayed just pen pals for a little bit longer.