Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis


There was a special guy on Tom's staff whose name was John Bergren but we always called him Bergren. He'd been at IBM a long time and at Santa Teresa a long time and had worked his way up to handle all of the operations for the lab. He was the one holdover from the former lab leader who stayed on with Tom.

Bergren common sense and working wisdom to burn. He invented chill. He was our rock. And he was blind. He had enough sight to move around in familiar places and he could see large blobs of color. "That's a lovely red top you have on." He'd say of my big scarf, honestly, I believe, just to let me know he could see something.

I reported directly to him and it was wonderful. He kept me sane and smart and full of excellent advice. Plus, I could sit across from him and use my face to react to what he was saying - even sticking my tongue out if I wanted - with impunity. (At one point, after a reorg, I was repositioned to report to another guy. One day I was in his office talking to him and, inadvertently, made a face to something he said and he just laughed and said "Susan! I'm not John. I can see your face!" Cracked me up.)

He came to me one morning to ask for my help. Tom wanted to convince John to move from Rochester and join us in California. But for a lot of political shenigian reasons, a refusal from John for any reason would have ramifications. So, did I feel comfortable sounding him out? OH yeah, baby. Success!

John had spent as much time in California as I had so having him to explore with was so much fun. We knew nothing. We checked out every nook and cranny. We'd head out Saturday or Sunday (or both) mornings for the adventure du jour. One of our great finds was a tiny roadside restaurant that specialized in fried artichokes outside the tiny town of Pescadero. The place was owned by a Greek guy and the only wine he served was Greek which wasn't very good but we always had to drink it or he would be insulted. It was a spot we always went back to.

We'd go north to San Francisco or South to Monterey or West to Half Moon Bay - every weekend. It was a great time. We also collected a gaggle of like minded folks and had an even better time trooping from here to there as a group.

A couple of times we rented a condo in Reno and half of us went skiing and the other half of us went gambling. Here's a shot of the group. I have no idea what's going on with my hair or why Dick got nearly cut totally out of the picture there on the right.

(Oddly, 3 of those 6 guys are now dead. Dick died of a brain tumor a few years ago. John, top left, died of an undiagnosed genetic disorder (hemochromatosis) in 2005 and the guy just in front of him, with the white hair, got early onset Alzheimer about a year after this picture was taken and died about 10 years later. Wild.)

This was really the only time in my life that I had a such a group of friends. In addition to those in the photo there were about 4 others in the group and we were tight. It was great fun and very interesting. It was amazing to have such a large and wonderfully diverse group of very best friends but it was not forever. Most of the ones still alive are still in California. One couple I do still hear from every Christmas. They now divides their time between New Mexico and South Carolina. I haven't spoken to any of the others in a lot of years now but my memories of that time are wonderful because of them.

To Be Continued
Tags: tbc
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