Pat and I have four wonderful adult-children. Their marriages to four equally delightful spouses and each marriage producing one boy and one girl have given Pat and me great satisfaction.
Now that Pat and are both in our eighties, we are especially proud of our family and appreciate their desire to return each holiday season to hang out together. Whether the trip is from California, northern Virginia, Washington state, or Maine, all four of our children, with their children in tow, have made the trek to Hilton Head Island. It’s pretty special.
As a reader and writer, I am constantly looking for subjects and people to write about. I intend writing about more of Pat and my ancestors in the days ahead, but today I’ve decided to venture into risky territory and write something about each of our adult-children—Kristina Albrecht (Summers), Margaret Warren (Fletcher), Steve Morgan (Haskell), and Jan Greer (Mohr). I say ‘risky’ because if one writes about one’s ancestors no one is around to dispute what’s been written. I have written two biographies of men (my father – the founder of Brunswick Yarns, and Stewart Woodfill—the long-time owner of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan). In both biographies, the men were no longer around to take issue with what I said about them. But, I’ve decided to venture into “danger territory,” anyway.
The following younger highlights of each child came to my mind.
KRISTINA (Tina) is our youngest. Born on November 5, 1969 in Taiwan, she joined the Haskell family in May 1970, when Pat and I flew to Taiwan to speed up the heavily bureaucratic adoption process. We wanted our new daughter to join her family as young as possible, and we got the job done. We wanted Kristina to have a family-connected middle name. Albrecht came from Pat’s father’s family and is originally from a Danish ancestor. We named her Kristina because we liked that name so much. She soon became “Tina” to all of us.
About a week after first meeting Tina, she, Pat, and I were on a China Airlines flight back to San Francisco and on to Atlanta, where our friend Reverend Phillips picked us up and drove us back to our home in Pickens, South Carolina.
Tina growing up in the small South Carolina town is a story I plan to expand on and write later. Suffice it to say Tina, a beautiful Asian girl, was distinctive in Pickens. Welcomed by her family and the many friends she acquired as she grew up in Pickens was a joy to witness, and we all loved and adored her.
I remember one story Tina once repeated in front of me, and her friends at Occidental College in Glendale, California:
Tina used to go to the office with me on Saturday mornings. She would sit at my assistant’s desk and pretend she was my secretary, typing on the typewriter and taking imaginary calls.
This particular Saturday, on the way to my office, Tina noticed a sign that said, “KKK Meeting Tonight at 8 PM.” She was probably about four years old and learning to read and asked me, “Daddy, what does KKK mean?” I hesitated a while then said, “It’s complicated, honey, let’s talk about it when we get to my office.”
I started our conversation with, “First thing to tell you, honey, is that you wouldn’t be welcome at that meeting, and I’ll tell you why.”
I then went into a brief history of just what the Ku Klux Klan was, explaining the group started immediately following the Civil War and still exists in some parts of America - including South Carolina. The KKK was founded to harass blacks and wore white robes and hoods. Over the years their hatred expanded to oppose all types of non-white races and religions, including Jews, Catholics, and Asians.
Tina listened carefully to me and asked a few questions. She seemed to get what I was talking about, and the subject did not come up again until years later, when I was eating dinner with her Occidental College friends in California. Our daughter told the story just as I have told it today, and I was very proud of her.
When Tina joined our family, we promised whenever she wanted to go back to Taiwan to see where she was born, we would take her. In 1997, she said she was ready to return for a visit, and Pat and I made plans to take her to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Tina was 28 years old.
We had an interesting trip. The orphanage where she was born had become a home for mentally disturbed children, but some of the same people who worked at the orphanage when Tina was in Taichung were still there in 1997.
One mistake I made was trying to save money on our hotel rooms. I had booked the same hotel where Pat and I had stayed in Tai Pei in 1970 when we first met Tina. Unfortunately, this hotel had not been upgraded. In Hong Kong, I made the same mistake (booking at a cheap hotel), but we soon rectified that and re-booked into a three-room-suite at the Mandarin Hotel - the nicest hotel I’d ever stayed in. Tina was beginning to date her now husband, Ben Summers, and Ben scored some brownie points big-time when he sent her a nice long e-mail and had flowers waiting for Tina in our hotel room when we arrived back in San Francisco.
Tina and Ben Summers were married on Hilton Head Island on April 21, 2001. They have two children, Noah and Lisi, and live in Redmond, Washington. Tina runs their household, and Ben is an executive at Microsoft.
MARGARET (Margo) is our second youngest. She was born on July 1, 1964 in Providence, Rhode Island. Our family was still living in Moosup, Connecticut.
Margaret Warren Haskell was named after two of our favorite relatives - both of whom Pat knew and liked. Margaret Warren was my great aunt, my Grandmother Hussey’s sister. She never married and lived in the Warren home in Dedham, Massachusetts. Margaret Allen Smart Berry was my mother’s sister. She lived in Ohio and later in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Neither Margaret had any children.
When our Margo was about one year old, we were living in a beautiful old white wooden house in Moosup, Connecticut. At one point, she developed a serious cold and stopped eating. Pat and I rushed her to our pediatrician, Dr. Harvey Grinsell, who told us, “You drive her as fast as you can to the Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam, Connecticut. She has a serious case of pneumonia, and we can’t wait for an ambulance. I will meet you at the hospital.”
We brought Margo to her room, where she was immediately hooked up to IVs, etc., and we were asked to leave. On the way down the stairs, we ran into a close friend of ours, Jimmie Booth, who told us their son had just died of leukemia that very night. We were petrified, and Pat, being an RN, wanted to stay with Margo, but they didn’t allow that in hospitals at that time.
Fortunately, Margo’s super doctor, Dr. Grinsell, saved her life, but he told us later, “It was touch and go for a while as to whether she would pull through. She was completely dehydrated when she arrived.”
Margo was three years old when the Haskell family moved to Pickens, South Carolina in 1967. She attended Pickens First Baptist Church kindergarten and Pickens public schools through the eighth grade. Margo was small for her age, and she told us, “I’d like to go away to boarding school,” so we began looking at schools. Pat and I selected a number of schools in the South and New England (Chatham Hall, Berry, Foxcroft, and Dana Hall). All of us were quite taken with Dana Hall School. Located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, one of the many reasons we liked it was its proximity to my twin sister, Mercy Wheeler, and her husband, Bats, who lived in South Natick, the town next to Wellesley.
It was a sad day for Pat and me when Margo boarded a plane in Greenville, SC headed for Boston, where the Dana Hall bus would pick up all new students. Margo was still small, and, although she looked forward to going to Dana, she was “anxious and excited at the same time, as I really wanted it to happen.”
Margo thrived at Dana Hall School. She grew up to be a beautiful young lady, was Co-Captain of the Dana Varsity Basketball Team, and made some life-long friends at Dana Hall. I joined the Dana Hall Board of Trustees while Margo was a student there and remember seeing her play basketball a number of times. We still enjoy basketball and have watched a couple of basketball game at Winthrop University, where Margo’s own daughter, Corie, attends college.
Margo and Robert Fletcher were married in 1987 in Pickens, South Carolina. They have two children, Charlie (now married to Megan), and Corie. Margo and Butch live on Hilton Head Island, where she is a Montessori teacher and Butch a successful contractor.
STEVE (Steve) arrived in Providence, Rhode Island on July 25, 1960 - just eighteen months after his older sister, Jan, was born in the same hospital - almost Dutch twins. We had selected the name Steven because we liked it. His middle name, Morgan, came from my mother’s side of our family. Charles W. Morgan, the famous whaling ship owner in New Bedford, Massachusetts was my Great-Great Grandfather.
Like me, Steve was small for his age growing up. Unlike me, however, Steve exhibited early signs of athletic competence. I remember his being on a football team in Pickens. I went to every game that season and the coach never played Steve until the last two games because he thought he was too small (and therefore no good). He finally put Steve in a game. As soon as Steve got the ball, he ran past everyone on the field for a touchdown. That coach started Steve in the final game, and he continued to excel. What a mistake it was to judge Steve by his size only.
Steve left Pickens schools in the eighth grade to attend Cardigan Mountain School, an all-boys pre-prep school in New Hampshire. I was a Cardigan alum and thought Steve might like it. At first he was negative about the idea of leaving home, but once we visited Cardigan, he wanted to apply immediately. He learned how to study and, particularly, play all different sports. He excelled in soccer, skiing, and tennis and graduated from Cardigan (the first son of a Cardigan alum to graduate) and was accepted at the Asheville School in Asheville, North Carolina.
He shined in sports at Asheville and was captain of both the varsity soccer team and varsity tennis team. Pat and I watched him play both sports and loved it.
Steve continues to be an excellent tennis player. I remember his going to the Paul Scarpa Tennis Camp at Furman University and playing in the finals of the Pickens Country Club Men’s Tennis Tournament. Unfortunately, he played against a local banker, who made wrong line calls. Steve became the runner-up, although he was the better player. Tennis had become an active sport in Pickens, with the Haskell family leading the renewed interest in this sport. More than 100 people watched that finals match.
Steve went West in the early 1980s and graduated from UC Irvine. He still plays soccer and coaches it as well in Berkeley, CA.
Steve Morgan and Michelle Haner were married on Thanksgiving in the backyard of their home in Oakland, California in 2006. They have two children, Morgan and Emily. Michelle is head of the Arts Department at the French American International School in San Francisco, and Steve is a playwright, part-time teacher, and coach in Berkeley.
JAN (Jan) was born in Providence, Rhode Island on January 7, 1959. Conceived in France, she is our first child. We named her Jan because we liked the name. Her middle name, Greer, was Pat’s mother’s maiden name.
Jan has been a joyous person from the day she was born and fun to be with. Her first boyfriend was Mike Brown, son of Malcolm and Sandy Brown, our best friends in Moosup, Connecticut. Jan and Mike competed in the Moosup Grammar school and were good buddies.
When we moved to South Carolina, Jan was an active participant in many activities, including girl scouts, where she was the only white girl in Pat’s almost-all-black troop. She attended Camp Ton-a-Wandah at age six and went to this fine camp for many years. She was followed by sisters Margo and Tina. Pat had originally worked at the camp, teaching horseback riding. Jan later became a counselor at Ton-a-Wandah, teaching dance and theatre.
For high school, we decided on Salem Academy in Winston-Salem, NC. Jan, Pat, and I thought the school was a good fit, and Jan had a good fall semester. During Christmas vacation, the headmaster, whom everyone adored, was caught sleeping with his secretary and was fired. The old ladies of the school took over, and Jan hated what was happening. At the end of a summer, when Pat was sculpting in Italy, Jan convinced us she just didn’t want to return to Salem, and she transferred to Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville as a commuter. She kept her Pickens’ friends and developed new ones in Greenville.
Jan has always been a little accident-prone. An active Pickens Presbyterian Youth Group member, Jan drove home after church in her Ford Pinto. A car stopped suddenly in front of her, and she found herself going over the side of a bridge into the brook below. Fortunately the brook wasn’t too deep. She crawled out, walked up to the road, and a couple who had witnessed the accident brought her home. Our family was eating lunch when Jan walked in saying she’d had a car accident. She was fine. There wasn’t even a tear in her fancy white dress. I remember driving back down with Jan to look at her car in the brook, and seeing lots of cars parked beside the road wondering if the driver was ok and where she(he) was?
Jan became interested in drama early in life. She wrote plays and she and Steve gathered the Pickens Country Club Drive neighborhood kids together to perform as the “Gallypads” in our cellar-theatre.
Jan is a writer herself, who taught freshman Composition and worked in the Writing Lab while a grad student at Clemson University.
Jan and her husband, Joss Mohr, were married on the beach in front of our Hilton Head house on April 22, 1989. They have two children, Sayde, who lives in Boulder, CO, and Winslow, who is a senior at Clemson University, where both Jan and Joss graduated and met. Jan writes and handles marketing for a healthcare firm in Miami, FL and Joss is property manager for a Hilton Head estate.