Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fathers, Part 6

(The Alfreds, junior and senior)

Soon after their divorce, Dorothy married Harry Achenbach, a career Navy man. The first of their four children was born in 1930. They called him Bobs. Wherever Harry was transferred, Dorothy and Alfred Jr. and his new brother followed – to Indiana, Illinois, California and Panama.

Meanwhile, Alfred Sr. abandoned the idea of practicing law in the U.S. and sought business opportunities in Mexico. He remarried a woman who, according to family lore, was a wealthy socialite – the complete opposite of Dorothy – and started the Agua Buena Sugar Co. in central Mexico. A daughter, Betty, was born in 1933.

The younger Alfred saw his father rarely, usually on summer vacation visits to the sugar cane ranch in Mexico. His family was constantly on the move, and it was difficult to form friendships when he changed schools so often. The death in childhood of his half-brother, Bobs, robbed him of his closest companion.

At age 13, young Alfred was sent to the Taft School in Watertown, Conn. His father thought it would do the boy good to be on his own and away from home, in a place where he could stay put and make friends, to experience independence and to grow up in an all-male environment that would prepare him for the world, as he had done himself at Lawrenceville.

For the next five years it would be Alfred’s home, except for summer breaks. It would be his home until January 1944, when he would enter another nearly all-male environment that would prepare him for the world: the Navy and the war in the Pacific.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Holy catfish Alfred- no family resemblance here! -DBH