The handsome man pictured here is Thomas J. Watson, Jr. He succeeded his father in 1952 as President of IBM. You can tell by his pose and demeanor that he was very proper, to say the least, and he insisted that the IBM employees emulate his example. The adorable little boy pictured is my middle child, Matt.
In 1961 Dutchess County, NY, was dominated by IBM which provided 60 percent of its manufacturing jobs. Some of our friends worked there and we had heard them complain about the very strict dress code. That was about all I knew of the company until I visited there on a hot summer day in 1961.
IBM provided quite a few amenities for their workers and one of these was a lovely country-club complete with a large swimming pool and a wading area for the children. My husband and I and three children were still living in Manhattan so it was a treat to escape the heat of the City and meet my friend at the club. As I recall I only had my middle child with me that day and we came toting bathing suits, shovel and pail, towels and lots of sun-tan lotion.
My first inkling of the rigid rules and regulations came when I took my little boy into the big pool with me. The life guard told me in a very stern tone that the wading pool was there for the children and they were not allowed in the main pool. “Oh, well”, I thought, “we’ll just go play in the wading area”.
Matt had his little pail and, although there was no sand, he loved pouring water from the pail and watching it splash. After all, he was just a year old so he was easily entertained. Alas, it was not to be so. I was told again that I was breaking the rules! No pails allowed!
I was getting a little annoyed at this point but I decided to let it ride and to just enjoy the sunshine and the perfect day. I knew that Matt would be more comfortable out of his wet and clammy swim suit so I slipped it off and gave him a good drying with my towel. I was just about to put his little fat legs into a cute pair of shorts when a very loud voice boomed out, saying “THERE IS NO EXPOSING ALLOWED AT THIS CLUB. COVER UP THE BODY IMMEDIATELY OR YOU WILL BE ESCORTED OFF THE PREMISES.”
“Horrors”, I thought, “how could anyone do such a thing at a public swim club?”, and I looked around to see who the awful pervert could be. It took me a minute to realize that the accusation was directed at me !
That did it. With all the dignity I could muster I packed up my few items, including the shovel, the pail and the little shorts that I decided NOT to put on my baby. And to add insult to injury I took his little hand and WALKED him across the length of the pool on our way out...his EXPOSED fanny saying loud and clear what I thought of their rules and regulations.!