From the friendly skies to unfriendly skis to antique-shop management...
Fifteen months after my brother’s arrival, I was born to Florence and Jim O’Connor of Malden, Massachusetts. I attended the Malden public schools and Emmanuel College. Senior year a friend asked me to accompany her to an interview by United Airlines for a stewardess position. In short, she was not hired, but I was—much to the dismay of the nuns at Emmanuel. I headed for Cheyenne, Wyoming, for training that summer—a very big deal for someone who had never been west of Worcester.
After being stationed in Washington, D.C., and flying west for several months, I transferred to Boston. My mother was very ill, and I stayed on after her death, because I had met my husband. He started B.U. soon after we met and opened a soft-serve stand for summer revenue. When I was not flying, I often worked at the Dairy Whiz. We courted for more than three years and married in January of l956 as soon as Bob had finished his finals in order to take advantage of my free pass to fly west to ski in Sun Valley and Aspen. And that’s a whole other story—as a new skier, he took me to the top of Ajax Mt. on a 28-degrees-below-zero day and talked me (sometimes very loudly) all the way down. So we didn’t do that “top” business again. I joined the Ski School groups and stayed on Little Nell.
Carol, Marianne and Lisa were born, and I was very busy. We began summering in Rye about forty years ago, and all three girls had waitress jobs here. I helped out from home with Bob’s job as manager of Boston Hill Ski Area in North Andover. He soon bought the area and built buildings and a chairlift. When the girls were in school, we all went there (only thirty minutes from home in Malden) for week-ends. I was in charge of ski shop sales (not buying), ski school registration, tickets and rental forms.
We signed an agreement to sell the area in the early 1990’s pending planning board approval for a housing development. About that time, the real estate market plummeted, and the deal fell through. Coincidentally, a cousin of my deceased mother-in-law died and left my husband the contents of her South Boston two-family home but left the home to her next door neighbor. And it was packed! I was quite resentful about clearing it out after everybody took what they wanted and did not know what to do with all the stuff. We moved it ourselves to our empty large food building at Boston Hills in the spring and then casually went off skiing out west.
On our return we decided to have a Yard Sale. Every dealer in North Andover and Lawrence showed up. We did it again the following week-ends, and lo and behold, I was in the antique business. That lasted ten years until real estate started coming back, and we sold the property. Now I guess I am “retired” but do keep as busy as my mood dictates with revamping vintage lamps and making shades for them to sell in my daughter’s shop in Plymouth. I also enjoy concert going, travel, piano, reading, and cooking.
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