By Walter Houghton
A person who was my hero and I always looked up to was my Uncle Royal. When the war ended the most memorable thing for me was going to White River Junction with my grandparents to meet his train. I still remember that old Boston & Maine locomotive coming around the bend, whistle blowing, coal smoke and steam belching from it. And there he is, coming toward us in his navy-blue uniform and white sailor hat straight from Pearl Harbor. Hawaii! What a joyous day for this six-year-old! Afterwards we would look at his photo albums and he taught me to identify every ship that ever sailed into Pearl Harbor. Or best of all, pictures of him driving an LCM around that hallowed harbor. One time he took Bobby and I and our cousin Wayne to New Hampshire to see an F4F “Wildcat” that graced the front lawn of a private school. We were able to crawl up in it and pretend we were Navy carrier pilots. Well, I fell in love with old warbirds that day and have had a lifelong affair with them including the Navy “Yellow Peril” biplane that I still own and fly every day when I am home.
With the clever inspiration of Grandpa and Uncle Royal we had probably the first television in town. This involved stringing a two-wire line a half a mile up back on Gramps hill to a TV antenna that would reach out of “the Valley”. Now this hill we are talking about has a 60-degree incline! It had electric line boosters along the way and was a marvel of invention. So, at night we would sit-down to watch, WGB, Channel 6 (the only channel), and the wind would blow and the screen would go all white! Well, somebody probably me, would start up the line, in the snow, by the moonlight, to find where the wires twisted together. I tell you, we really had to want to watch TV, but we were the only ones that could, thanks to Houghton ingenuity!