This is my father, John Melvin Reynolds. He was born on December 3rd in 1918, the second of four children to James and Leah (Melvin) Reynolds. Everyone called him Jack. His sister Eileen was born a year earlier. Everyone called her Bunny. She died in 1961 after slipping on a rug in her home and hitting her head. She was 43. The youngest was George. Uncle George, who never married, would send us postcards from all over the country. He died in 1968, at age 43. No one really talked about the death of Uncle George, and it was very sad because he was dead for a couple of days before anyone found out. It was the only time I saw my father cry. My dad died in 1979, on the day after Easter. He was 60. He had a heart attack after doing some yard work on a beautiful spring day. That leaves Uncle Butch, whose real name is Jim. Butch will turn 90 on December 7th, and we’ll all celebrate Butch’s longevity next weekend.
My father worked in downtown Providence. He wouldn’t recognize it today. The building where he worked, the old Hospital Trust Building, now houses the Rhode Island School of Design library and archives. In the mid 70’s, he took the train to work from East Greenwich, but the train doesn’t stop in East Greenwich anymore, and they moved the Providence station. They moved the river, too. All part of the revitalization of Providence. My dad witnessed the completion of the old Industrial National Bank building (the “Superman building”) in 1927. He used to take the trolley downtown from his home in Washington Park. Washington Park was working-class Irish then; now it’s mostly Hispanic. Times change. He used to eat lunch in McGarry’s restaurant (“What did you have for lunch today, Dad?” “Ham sandwich and a glass of milk.”) McGarry’s is long gone. After lunch he’d walk over to Merrill Lynch to see how the market was doing. Merrill’s gone now, too.
Once, when I was about five years old, I accompanied my father downtown to his office on a Saturday. Before he worked in the old Hospital Trust Building, he worked in the old IBM building, at 180 South Main Street. All I can remember from that trip was seeing a lot of typewriters on a lot of desks. My first “real” job, in 1981, was at the Old Stone Bank. I worked in their Real Estate Investment Group, and that office was in the building at 180 South Main Street. There’s more to that story, but I’ll save it for another post.
On this day, I’m going to remember my father. Today he would be 93 years old. But the last day I saw him, as I boarded a bus that would take me to Logan Airport and off for a year of college in Switzerland, my dad was tall, handsome, youthful, and full of life. I am fortunate to have that memory.