Virginia 2004 to 2020
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Last update May 20, 2020

Chapter 18 : Virginia  2004 to 2020

Elaine and I both wanted very much to live in a nice house that we owned.

Elaine and I visited Virginia twice in 2003. We first looked for a house that cost $100,000 or less in Asheville, NC. We found nothing we considered acceptable. We did consider buying a lot and putting up a “double-wide” prefab home. The ones we saw looked great but I think we both felt there would be an undesirable social stigma.

On the second visit we looked at houses in Abingdon and we had raised our maximum price to $125,000. We found one we liked a lot and called from Yonkers to say we would take it. It was already sold. A month or so later that sale fell through and we bought the house. The address of that house was 870 Wayne Ave.

We were to have moved around July 4th of 2004. I had retired from Hofstra about a month earlier. I ended up with shortness of breath and (I have a whole story about all this) I ended up getting two stents put in my heart at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital the weekend of July 4th, 2004. The doctors told me that this operation probably saved my life. As the doctors expected, I recovered quickly and we moved to Virginia a few weeks later. I went in the hospital on a Saturday, went home on Sunday, and began walking for exercise on Monday. It is now February of 2020. It’s been over 15 years and I know now how lucky I have been not to have had problems with my heart since then. Even if it fails tonight I have been incredibly lucky.

Moving to Virginia was in many ways a glorious experience. Both of us were delighted to have a nice house, a nice yard, two cars, and a pleasant safe neighborhood. We invested something like $5,000 re-modeling the house, including adding a large back porch that included a screened in section with a large outdoor table. We bought a riding mower and I mowed the lawn. We bought bedroom and dining room furniture. Half of the basement was more or less furnished and that became my office – full of books, papers, computers and, I admit, junk. The other half of the basement was set up with shelves to hold the many boxes of papers and things I had brought with me. Though I have since gotten rid of about 2/3rds of it I still have a lot of junk I hope to get rid of this year. Life was good.

We were also delighted to find there was a nearby Unitarian Church. We became active members and it became our primary social base. We had a group of friends and had group dinners every month or so.

Emory & Henry

I had visited Emory & Henry college asking about work on one of our visits to Abingdon before we moved here. There was nothing available. In the fall of 2004 Elaine saw a news item about Emory & Henry getting a grant for Instructional Technology. I applied for and was interviewed for the job of Instructional Technologist. I thought I was perfect for the job. I was pretty upset and disappointed when I did not get the job, but I got over it and went on with my new, and I thought wonderful, life.

Shortly before the start of the fall semester of 2005 I got a call from Paul Blaney, the academic Dean at Emory & Henry. The dean was responsible for (my guess) about 2/3rds of everything that happened at the college. He was not responsible for fund raising, athletics, and student recruiting, but even in those areas he was influential. Paul asked if I was still available. The two previous Instructional Technologists had not worked out. One had just quit and they needed someone right away, especially someone that could manage their new on-line learning support system. They were using a system called “Angel” and I had worked with a very similar system (Blackboard) at Hofstra and was fairly sure I could handle it. I got the job and I did well working with that system. Paul called me in early in he week and I went to the opening gathering of Faculty on Friday and began work on the first day of school on the following Monday.

I continued as the Instructional Technologist at Emory and Henry college for 9 years and retired at age 75 in June of 2014. I had many friends and lots of great experiences while working there. I would still work there if I could.

Divorce from Elaine

Elaine and I celebrated our 5th anniversary in early December of 2006. She went off to visit a woman she had known when she first came to the states in the 1970’s. It turned out she was going to meet the widowed husband of another of those friends. I found out.

When she came back after having been gone about 6 days I met her with a dozen roses, told her I knew where she had been and why and told her I wanted to work on our marriage if she was willing. She was not. She had made up her mind to divorce me, marry the man she was seeing and move to Arkansas. This was a total shock and surprise to me.

I did not handle it well, though better than my first divorce, and whined and complained to anyone who would listen for over a year after she left in May of 2007.

In December of 2006 Elaine told me she would leave me. I arranged to go on a cruise with Paul during the week from Christmas to New Years. Elaine wanted me to go visit Sari and Arlin for Christmas as planned. No Way. Elaine went by herself. After the cruise I was due back in Abingdon for a New Year’s Eve party at Eric Grossman. My plane got delayed in Detroit and I spent New Years eve in a motel there at the airline’s expense

VW bus Mexico

It worked out that we sold our house and Elaine left for Little Rock and Michael Obrian (?) around the first of May.2007. A day or so later I moved into my rented house at 240 Mason Place. I was feeling pretty low and lost. I wanted something to make a statement to myself that I would not give up on life. I came up with the idea of buying a VW Camping bus.

I began to search on line and eventually found one for sale for $3,000 in Mexico City. The couple selling it were from Switzerland and had bought the bus in California. I agreed to buy it and arranged to fly down to Mexico City and drive it back. I invited Barry Germond to join me and we met in Mexico City and spent several fun days there. There is a whole story here about finding that sale would not be legal in Mexico and deciding to do it anyway.

Barry and I drove back from Mexico City to Abingdon.  We spent two days driving in Mexico, then one day in San Antonio, a day driving to Houston, and a day to New Orleans.  We stayed in New Orleans  for two nights, then drove two days back to Abingdon. A great trip. I kept the bus until selling it after moving in with Phyllis in 2012.

Mason Place

We sold the house and I rented a nice little house on Mason Place in the heart of Abingdon, about a block from the library – the library that was located on the same lot as the school where I had started first grade. It cost $700 a month and I could have spent less on an apartment, but I loved it. I was there for five years. I moved to Phyllis’s house in May of 2012.

During two of those years I rented out the upstairs of the house for $400/month. I did well

However… here’s how I tell the story. At the time Elaine left I still had a few thousand dollars in savings and got a few thousand from the sale of the house. I decided that these were savings for a rainy day and, Elaine’s leaving was a rainy day. By the time I moved in with Phyllis in 2012 I had spent a lot of that money. What was left, plus the money I had saved in the retirement plan at Emory & Henry, I used much of for Phyllis and me going to France, on a two week cruise (Paul comped the cost of the cruise, we paid for flights and hotels), and going to Portugal (and England and France) and had only about$4,000 left. Phyllis paid large parts of her cost on these trips but I paid for quite a few things, like car rental, restaurants, and maybe a portion of other major costs. I am now down to around $2,000. Dumb me.

Marker Events – 2007 to 2012

I mentioned that I went on a cruise with Paul in December of 2006.

In 2007 and 2008 I flew down to Tampa before Christmas and drove with Rosalie to spend Christmas with Emery Baya, Rosalie’s brother, in Mobile. I enjoyed those visits.

In 2009 Gloria Wadle invited me to join her, her husband, Elden, and their son, Fabian, on a two week trip to Colombia, South America. We would be visiting her mother and Gloria’s extended family in Bogota, Pereira (where mother and other family lived), and Medellin. (not sure of that name, I thought it was on the coast, but Medellin is not on the coast). I had become friends with Gloria and her mother while taking a line dancing class at Emory & Henry.

I had a wonderful time. We were there for about two weeks. I have lot’s I could write about and I think I did at the time. I may look for those notes. Enough for now.

I had met Phyllis Haile by then and I believe she went to California while I was in Columbia.

Fiddle lessons – Sam Gobble, Joy

After Elaine left I thought about resuming playing the fiddle. I had taken lessons from Kathleen Collins for a few years after my first divorce but had played little since then. I took a class at the Abingdon Higher Ed center and ended up taking lessons for several years from Sam Gobble. I loved Sam’s fiddle style and I think he was a good teacher. I went to his house in Mountain City, Tennesse, near Blowing Rock, NC, to classes once a week and enjoyed the experience. I could write more about that. I took lessons for a year or two. I remember that I stopped going around the time I met Maryanne Horn – probably in 2008. I remember talking about Maryann when I was in Mobile for the 2nd Christmas.

A year or two later I ended up taking Banjo lessons, and then fiddle lessons from Joy Patton, another wonderful fiddler. At first she taught me in my house on Mason Place. Then she began teaching at Capo’s music store I went there for a few years, until the store closed. She continued teaching in Marion but I decided that was too long a drive for a one hour lesson and stopped. I played a role in getting Joy to start teaching again after her husband died and she was grateful for that and always was especially kind to me.

I met Maryann Horn at a weekend for prospective Elder Spirit residents held at the Jubilee retreat center in Abingdon and we got along well. She lived in Jacksonville, Florida, in a nice house on a river. I went to visit her there. We decided to try living together and had to chose between Virginia and Florida. We ended up arranging for her to rent the upstairs of my house on Mason Place with the intent that we would be a couple and she would be an active member of Elder Spirit. Elder Spirit has two kinds of residents. One group purchases their apartments, the other one has to be below a maximum income level and will rent their apartment. I could not afford to buy and while working at Emory & Henry my income was too high.

Maryann moved in ( I wonder what the date was, probably in 2009) and we lasted about three weeks before agreeing that we would not continue dating or being a couple. She continued to rent for another year or so.

A few months after she moved out someone in Elderspirit called asking if I would consider renting the upstairs of my house to a man moving to Elderspirit from the Miami area. I ended up renting the floor to Jack Schlepowitz for a year or two. He became active in the Unitarian church and was living in my house when I began dating Phyllis. He and I coexisted fairly well but were not particularly good friends.

Sometime in this period, probably in 2010, I took a two week vacation and went to a one week French school at the Cour de France school in Sancerre, France. During the second week I took a train from Paris to Barcelona and flew to Minorca, and island in the Mediterranean sea. This is the island from which the Baya family immigrated to New Smyrna, Florida in the late 1700’s. While there I stayed in the city of Cituadella and met with the priest with whom my father had corresponded about the Bayas. He spoke Spanish and Catalan and had published books in Catalan.

I spent a night in Barcelona on the way back, and then several nights in Paris before flying home. One of the days in Paris I took a fast train to spend a day in Cherbourg, on the Northern coast.

I believe I wrote up this trip also and will look for those notes.

As usual, lot of stories I may get to someday…or I may find my notes from then.

While still working at Emory & Henry (2005 to 2014) I began to teach classes  at the Summer Scholars one week program held at Emory & Henry each summer.  I first taught how to build and program Lego Mindstorm robots. The students were, I think. In grades 7 through 9. I had suggested this subject and my friend, Eric Grossman, who was running the program that summer, agreed and arranged for the college to buy four robot sets. I already had two. I think I taught this for 3 or 4 years. The last year I taught there, possibly 2013, I taught Python programming and someone else taught robots.

This lead to my becoming a coach for a First Lego League robot team using the Mindstorm robots and I coached a team for 3 years and have assisted coaching teams off and on since then. I worked with a team this past winter. Most of the teams were made up of home schooled students and I very much enjoyed the experience. I took two teams to the Virginia state finals.

Radio Show

In 2009 an acquaintance who was doing a weekly radio show on WEHC, the Emory and Henry college radio station, offered to let me fill in for him one week when he would be away. He eventually left the college and I got his slot, Monday nights at 7 and a re-run at 1 PM on Saturdays. I have been doing this show every week since then, over ten years.

Earlier this year (2020) I recorded show #466. Because my numbering has been somewhat sloppy I would guess that I have now recorded about 450 hour long shows. Each show is a Disk Jockey format. I call the show “Wombats & Music” and explain that the “wombat” term is used to refer to oddball things other than commercially recorded music, such as a poem, a joke, a story, or something that I have recorded. I also have occasional co-hosts who select and introduce the songs. I think I have had about 20 co-hosts over the years. Josie, Phyllis’s granddaughter, has co-hosted about 5 shows. I have put all my past shows up on a web site. Technically this is not permitted by the FCC due to copyright issues. I figure so few ever go to that site it will probably never come to the attention of the FCC. I am told that the worse that could happen is a “cease and desist” order from the FCC. The current address of the radio show web site is

I consider these recording an important part of my legacy and have asked Matt to assure that they are preserved for the future. I won’t be here so I guess it does not matter that much if they get lost some day.

Well, I’m finally writing about the last phase of this saga, so far. I do very much hope that I get to go back and write more about many of the topics above. I often felt I wrote a paragraph where I wanted to write pages.

After Elaine left I did not really go on anything like a date until I met Maryanne Horn, and that relationship was short lived. I had a couple visits with Bunny Madeiras but there was no magic there for me, just respect and admiration.

During 2007 and 2008 I became good friends with some younger single professors at Emory & Henry and we began to socialize – going to movies, having parties, and going out to eat. My closest friends in the group were Marcos Zarzar, a math professor from Brazil, and Twange Kasoma, who taught in the Mass Communications department. Twange was from Zambia and was a tall, stunningly beautiful, black woman. She was smart and sincere to the point of being naive. She and I, and her future husband Jon, are still friends, and are in contact with Marcos. Twange is a professor at Radford college and Jon is a software designer/programmer. Marcos is an actuary in Philadelphia. We three had offices in the same building, Miller, at the college. There were another 6 or so people who were part of the group and we all got along. So far as I know there were no romantic relationships in the group.

Phyllis Haile

Probably in fall of 2009 I met Phyllis Haile. She and I would get married in December of 2012. I first became aware of her in the Unitarian Church when she asked some interesting questions during the discussion after a talk at a Sunday service. I tried to find her later that day but she had left. We met the next Sunday and became friends. We would often have breakfast together before the UU service. We eventually began dating and I asked her to marry me around the end of 2011, or early 2012.  We are now in the 8th year of our marriage and all is well.  Though I think I loved Elaine and Bonnie, Phyllis is the first wife I have been able to say “I love you” to   This is a good marriage.

Somewhere along the line we went to France for two weeks. We visited her friend, Chantal, in Paris, rented a car and toured France. Wonderful stories if I can ever find my notes. I’m guessing this may have been in the spring of 2012. I’m pretty sure we were not married at the time

When I met Phyllis she was living in a trailer next to the house of her oldest brother, GH Andis, on Smith Creek. Smith Creek is a road and a farming neighborhood about ten miles South of Abingdon. Phyllis and her 7 siblings had grown up there. Phyllis had begun having a house built in Bristol, Virginia, about 5 miles from Exit 10 on I81. She took me to see the foundation. The house was being built by a builder who was a friend of Phyllis’s family, Wayne Hughes.

Phyllis probably moved into the completed house in 2010 or 2011 and I moved there in May of 2012 after living 5 years in the rented house on Mason Place. The address of this house, where Phyllis and I (and cats Buckeye and Sally) now live is 108 Pebble Beach Dr, Bristol, Virginia, 24202.

From the time I met Phyllis until her mother died a few months before her 100th birthday in 2018 (I think) Phyllis was helping care for her mother. Her mother, Ruby Andis, lived in the house where Phyllis and her siblings had been raised. Phyllis would usually spend one night a week, often on Friday or Saturday, with her mother. I sometimes stayed too. I got to know Ruby and I think we both enjoyed each other’s company. Ruby had memories reaching back to earlier generations and loved to share them.

Phyllis and I got married in the Unitarian church on December 23, 2012. Our friend, Bob Hill married us. Phyllis’s three children, Jessica, Rachel and Adam were there as was Adam’s wife, Heather, and Phyllis’s only grandchild, Josie. Wava Osborne and Jessica had been working together for weeks before the wedding and it was a wonderfully successful event.

I continued working at Emory & Henry until June of 2014. Some summer before that, perhaps 2013, Phyllis and flew to Rome and went on a two week cruise with Paul. We spent two nights in Rome and then cruised around the boot of Italy, stopping at a port every night, up the other coast, stopping in Turkey and Greece (Athens and another port, I think) and ended up in Venice. We spent two nights in Venice and flew back to the U.S. I hope to find my write up of that trip. I do recall that I took a rented tux for formal night – wretched excess for sure and that hauling our suitcase around Venice, especially the little bridges over the canals was a royal pain.

In the summer of 2014 we spent two weeks in Europe. We first flew to London and spent four nights or so there. My son Paul joined us for two nights and we took a guided tour that included visiting my old school, John Fisher, in Purley. We also visited Stone Henge, a place hight on my bucket list.. We stayed with Olivia and Dan Hewitt, friends of mine from the Scarsdale meeting for two or three nights after Paul left. We then flew to Southern Portugal (possibly to Faro ), picked up a rented car, and spent 10 days in a rented apartment/cabin at a small, rustic, vacation resort outside of Lagos. We had a wonderful, very relaxed, time there. I arranged to take fiddle lessons from a Potuguese instructor in Lagos.

We left Portugal to fly to Paris where we spent a few nights visiting Chantal, then flew home.

Many stories – and I did type up my memories….if I can find those notes.

Phyllis and I had been to a singing week at Pinewoods camp some year before 2015. In 2015 we returned to go to the Tradmad week and had a great time. I have recordings from that week. At the end of the week we went to the Pelican reunion weekend on Star Island. Paul, Matt and his family were all there for that weekend. I loved it.

In the summer of 2018 Phyllis and I went to the Traditional Music week of the Swannanoa Gathering, held on the Warren Wilson college campus outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Phyllis sang “Summertime” at the closing concert and it was spectacular.

In the summer of 2019 we went to the Vocal week of the Augusta Music Festival held on the Davis Elkins college campus in Elkins, West Virginia

Over the years we have been together Phyllis and I have attended several Caracas reunions where people who had attended one of the English speaking schools in Caracas in the 50’s and 60’s got together. I recall that we went to reunions in Galveston, St. Louis, St Croix (a week in the Caribbean), Tidewater, Virginia, and, in the fall of 2019, Charleston, South Carolina.

Prior to meeting Phyllis I had been to many such reunions, including Houston (twice I think), Dallas, New Orleans, Tampa, Phoenix, Santa Fe, and Tuscon.

I have lived in Phyllis’s house at 108 Pebble Beach Drive in Bristol, Virginia since May of 2012 and it is now February, 2020 as I write this. This is the longest I have ever lived in one house and I love it. I have my own office room and a shed that Phyllis bought for all my junk (I honestly intend to get rid of 2/3rds of that stuff this year). We had two cats, brothers, when we moved in. Phyllis got Buckeye and Chester as kittens when she lived in Asheville before moving back to the Abingdon area. Chester died several years ago and Buckeye is my buddy. My relationship with Buckeye is the longest I have had with any pet.

Buckeye and Chester had been indoor cats all of their lives until around 2015 when Phyllis decided that her being allergic to them was becoming too annoying to her eyes and decided to put them outside. We put them on the back porch and they hardly ever left the porch. They even used a sandbox on the porch. Chester died on the back porch. sometime in 2018, or so, Phyllis decided to let Buckeye come back inside and he has been here since then. His bed and his sandbox are in my office room.

We ended up with a second cat, Sally, who began to visit us around 2017 as a young, maybe 3 months old, cat. She is our outdoor cat. We had a couple of other near adoptions, but one (Sadie, wild and feral) died and the other was a small kitten who was around for a month or so and then disappeared.

Burning Man and Andy Stokes.

I have pages written about my experience at Burning Man and my friend, Andy Stokes. I will just mention a few facts here. Andy was my best male friend in his life.

Andy Stokes was in my fraternity at M.I.T. and was two years behind me in school. He came to my wedding to Bonnie. We had remained friends since then. To my sorrow Andy died in August of 2018. Andy and I had visited each other off and on over the years. He and his wife, Sally, lived in Pasadena, California.

Around 2004 Andy began to attend the Burning Man week held in Arizona every summer. It’s held in the empty dessert and the 70,000 or so who attend build a complete city, Black Rock city, for that week. They try to leave the dessert as empty and pristine as it was before Burning Man week. Google it. It’s an incredible event. Andy encouraged me to come. I could never get that week off because it was early in the Semester and Emory & Henry would not let me leave. In 2014 I joined Andy in Pasadena and we drove to Burning man and spent the week . I was 75 years old and it was a challenging and utterly fascinating experience. I have a detailed journal of my experience and a lot of pictures and I hope to add them to this set of memories.

I have now covered, at least lightly, my entire life up until now. I have so much more I would like to write about much of what I covered. I also know that I often wrote pages of notes about many of the trips I took over the years, such as my Burning Man notes. Some I know I can find and lots of others I may find. I will add them to the clickable links in the outline of my life.

This is the last of the current documents I have written about the major parts of my life.  I hope to write a concluding document that gives a brief description of some of additions I hope to make to this collection if I live long enough and remain motivated.  My current concern is the Covid-19 pandemic and this has give me some incentive to get this far.

Harry Baya   May 12, 2010