Fred's motto was "be happy." This was something I would often hear my father repeat. He had an optimistic heart-warming demeanor and pleasantness that would bring a smile to those around him. People who knew him and remembered him commented on his intelligence and knowledge on almost any subject, his modesty, and genuine friendliness. When particularly happy Fred would sometimes sing any of various oldies tunes. Other times he would recite poetry. Some of his favorite poems are listed below. During his years of retirement he loved social gatherings and in public would even strike up conversations with complete strangers who he would befriend. Earlier this year he came with me to Union Station in Washington, DC where I was to pick up a suitcase we had shipped from Schenectady. Since he had difficulty walking, he waited for me seated at a table at one of the fast food shops inside the bustling station. When I had returned I found him in deep conversation with a young fellow who had sat down at the table to eat a sandwich. Dad was in deep conversation with him discussing the virtues of subquantum kinetics, one of his favorite topics of conversation. The youth apparently had studied physics and was on his way to being converted.
Paul LaViolette, December 2, 2008
His favorite poems: The Face on the Bar Room Floor, Casey at the Bat (both of which he could recite by heart from the time he was in high school), If by Rudyard Kipling. Here you can listen to one of his recitations of The Face on the Bar Room Floor.
Some favorite authors: Lowell Thomas (author of Lawrence of Arabia), and many others. He was a prolific reader. He also was fond of the Seth book series by Jane Roberts. Also in the last year of his life he got most of the way through the Bible.
Some favorite actors: Will Rogers, Alec Guiness, Anthony Quinn, Kathryn Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, Sean Connery, Harrison Ford
Some favorite TV programs: Andy Rooney on 60 minutes, As Time Goes By, Keeping up Appearances
Hobbies: amateur radio (he built his own radio and transmission tower), photography (he developed his own pictures), model airplane gliders, sailing (owned and maintained his own boat), reading, geneology and family history, and subquantum kinetics (few knew as much about it as he).
Favorite sayings: Fred had a host of sayings which he had picked up during his earlier years. One he learned from his neighbor Charlie Uphan would come out when he saw you trying to pick an overly ripe apple out of the bag. It went something like this: "If you eat the spoiled apples first, you'll always be eating spoiled apples." Once Fred saw Uphan pick up a piece of food that had fallen on the floor, wipe it off, and eat it. Then Uphan commented "everyone eats a peck of dirt before they die." And so this was an often repeated maxim in Fred's repertoire.
Illustrated discourse by Fred describing his work at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (1946 - 1963): download here
Historical account of the life of Fred's father Julien and his early family history.
Story about Fred's father's traveling theater show.
Paper Fred wrote in high school about a ball lightening death during his father's traveling theater show.
Story about the fortune teller who foretold Fred's future.
The knot that won't come untied.
The Face on the Bar Room Floor -- recitation by Fred LaViolette.
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