Memories

Posted on Friday, November 25th, 2011 by Thomas Hutchins 79 Comments Comments

Husband, Brother, Father, Father-in-Law, Uncle, Grandpa, Farfar, Gammelfarfar, Relative, Friend.

Dad is many things for many people, some we may not want to write here πŸ™‚
He made an impression on people throughout life.

This page is intended to be a collection of characteristics and events that we collectively remember.
Please feel free to add what you remember as comments below:

79 Comments

  • There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of some way that he has influenced my life. Some mannerism that I have, a comment that I make repeatedly, I terrible joke that I tell. He lives on through all of us that knew him, learned from him and loved him.

  • I remember him being bleary eyed and pounding coffee on the christmas morning that Santa Claus gave us all bicycles. Found out later that he had been up the entire night trying to put them together

  • The Holiday season brings back so many memories. The most important of which is how Mom and Dad inserted traditions into our lives. They did it in ways that were so subtle that it was never aparent that it was “planned” and never felt forced.

    Every year on Christmas eve we gathered around the tree turned down the lights and listened to a recorded version of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”. My brothers and I could recite the entire thing word for word and yet it was wonderful every time. It was a signal that christmas was coming. It is also a wonderful message about being grateful for what you have, for seeing beauty in everything around you, and for understanding how precious life is.

  • Continuing the list of his favorite sayings. When things did not go exactly your way and you were grousing about it, he would say,

    “Its better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick”.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    I will always remember how courageously Dad fought, to the end of his life, against the many ailments he had. Despite the multiple organ failures, anemia, overmedication and fatigue, Dad always wanted to participate in all activities and excursions that were going on. He did participate and did so, fully. He was eager to do his physical therapy and his treatments and he never took his eyes off of the goal of recovery and return to a more productive life.
    Dad, I admire you greatly for your courage and fighting spirit and only hope that I can show a fraction of that courage as I face physical challenges ahead in my life.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Dad-isms. – a few more of Dad’s sayings

    “not as good as you”. – a response to the greeting, “How are you”

    “Are you working today?”. – Asked of a worker who came late or was dogging it on the job. It usually resulted in a puzzled look on the face and was followed by some pretty good hustle.

    “mental midget”. – Someone Dad was not impressed with

    “kick out clause”. – Dad’s term for the right to terminate early and one of Mom’s least favorite phrases.

    “idiot box”. – television

    “screwed it up to a fare thee well”. – Although I never quite understood what this meant, it never felt very good to receive it as commentary on those occasions where it applied to something I did.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    I remember how Dad loved fishing. It probably started when fishing with his uncle and catching those big Northern Pike in Minnesota. I remember him digging up earthworms in our yard and going to the Frederiksted pier and fishing there. Dad would take us crab gathering and then climb the rock cliffs at Judiths Fancy to a fishing hole where we usually did well. We caught a lot of fish together at Mooselookmeguntic Lake. I remember, in particular, one year in late May when Dad, Eric and I went to Mooselook just to fish and bagged a bunch of trout and perch. I remember the many times Dad got us out deep sea fishing, especially when we all went out on the Reliance. To end this fisherman’s tale, even though I was not there, I recall the tale of how Dad once fought and landed a 200+ pound Blue Marlin on Stu Lewis’ boat and that was the big one that did not get away.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    I will always remember how remarkably well Dad overcame the severe physical setbacks that he suffered in the plane crash. He did all that was possible to continue all of the activities that he always did. He played tennis, he hiked on mountain trails in Sweden, he climbed ladders and was all over the job site, getting after his crew. Despite having poor service on his prosthesis and often having to walk with his stump turned raw from a poor fit, you didn’t hear him complain or see him withdraw from any duty or activity. I regret how I took for granted his participation and vitality when he was operating with only one eye and one good leg and diabetes, and….

  • I think you would have smiled about the services on Saturday. and maybe you did. I hope so. The outpouring of people that you have touched has really been amazing. Amazing, but not surprising.
    We also watched some football, so that made it complete!
    πŸ™‚
    I cannot believe you are gone. And yet I know we will all keep you here in our hearts.
    I love you.

  • After being corrected by Grandma for misbehavior, Grandpa would say aloud to himself “Put a smile on your face and keep your big mouth shut!”

  • When a Michigan football game was on TV, Grandpa would stay on that channel and watch it. I was not interested in football back then so I got bored but Grandpa sat through the whole game and was very interested. When some games got a bit out of hand he would ask me to pull out the Chinese checkers, our favorite game that we played together. He was almost always the winner but when I finally won I got so excited and ran to tell Grandma.

  • Once a year since 2003,we would visit Grandma and Grandpa in St. Croix. I remember visiting #79 Judiths Fancy, the house Grandpa built. I remember Grandma, Grandpa, Ena and I would walk to the nearby beach and collect shells and coral. Grandpa could walk easily and without a cane. Their dog, Dede would also go on the walks with us. Grandpa showed me the place on his property where he excavated and found many historic artifacts.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    The old plantation ruins in Judiths Fancy are some of the most significant historic buildings on St. Croix. After one hurricane (I think it was Marilyn) the chimney took some serious damage at the top, losing about a quadrant. The owner did nothing to repair the damage. It sat there with the deterioration accelerating in it’s open state. The Judiths Fancy Owners Association did nothing and the VI Department of Planning and Natural Resources and Historic Preservation did nothing.
    Dad decided that he was not going to let this great asset crumble. He rented a crane with a man-lift and brought his best mason and some laborers and had them repair all of the damage using the historical specification mortar and did it all with his own resources.
    Dad did many such acts of generosity in the Virgin Islands that affected lives and assets and much was done silently for which a great debt of gratitude, I believe is owed.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Hurricane Hugo

    There are volumes to tell about Hugo. Vibha and I spent that dreadful night with Mom and Dad and went through the agonies at daybreak with them.
    In the days that followed, we came to know how widespread the recognition and respect was for Dad and his construction company. From 6:00 in the morning, notable people from all over the island came to Dad and dropped down 25 to 50 percent deposits on the repair of their homes and pleaded with Dad to put their roofs on and repair their homes.
    Driven largely by the desire to help, Dad took on a huge volume of work. The ensuing months were the hardest business I have experienced. Shipping bottlenecks destroyed schedules, labor was unreliable and expensive, workers had housing issues and we were working out of rootless, generator powered houses.
    It was a trying time for all of us, especially the aftermath.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    The RELIANCE

    Thank you Dad for all of the great trips we had on the Reliance. Just the day trips to Buck Island were great fun. The excursions to St. John and the BVI’s were some of my most fond memories.
    I will always remember Dad, with his black eye patch, where he belonged, captaining the ship.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Dad, Eric and I used to play golf at The Reef fairly often. This was after the accident. Dad had a decent short and medium game but was not able to get enough into the swing for then drives.
    One time we were about halfway done and Dad lost his balance on a stroke. He fell and wrenched the prosthesis. The impact caused the prosthesis to be jarred loose. It was going to require some adjustment so Dad was done for the day. We laid the leg over the front of the golf cart. There was still a sneaker on the leg and a long sock up the false Caucasian colored leg. We drove back to the ProShop with Dad in the cart and his leg hanging over the front. The Golf Pro said to us;
    “You guys really take your game seriously”

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Dad was really into the concept of pre-engineered steel buildings. They were a quick, cheap way to build a lot of space. Everywhere he went he was looking for real estate deals and when he found an attractive piece, he invariably wanted to put up a steel building there. It didn’t matter whether the land was in a ghetto, or a residential neighborhood, the steel building was going to make it work.
    After moving to Jacksonville, Dad was looking for land opportunities to build a steel building for a spec office building investment. Dad was in his late 70s and supposedly retired. Mom was vigorously opposed to the idea.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Dad and Chip Wolcott
    Chip was an athlete and educator friend of ours from Vermont. Chip came downtown run the Caravelle Hotel. They got along great and did some horsing around on the island. One night there was a power outage so Dad took Chip with him and they went down to WAPA. They marched inside the power plant and pretended to be executives. Dad was giving orders and telling operators which feeders to energize. Chip was looking for a place to duck out.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Dad and the wild taxi man.

    One day on a job site in Water Island, one of the workers got bent out of shape and was going to have it out with Dad physically. He rushed Dad to attack but Dad grabbed a 2 x 4 and gave the guy a different perspective. Other guys intervened and when the guy calmed down a little, Dad talked to him and found that he was in dire financial straits. Dad loaned him the money to buy a taxi van. The guy quit construction, bought the van and ran a taxi for the rest of his life and was always thankful to Dad for the help and invited him to his wedding.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Dad and Robbie

    In the early 60s Dad hired a bright, rough Antiguan teenager named Cecil Roberts as a tradesman.
    Dad threw him the thick of things and helped train him to be one of the best multiple-trade foreman in the Virgin Islands. He was always running a HCC job or three. Because he was not much younger than Dad, Robbie was somewhat in competition with him. They would get along great and then every year or so, would squabble about money or methods or nonsense, separate for a while, miss each other then patch up – for 35 + years. Robbie died a few years ago of cancer and maybe a little sore that Gene outlived him.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Some key terms to know when you are on a Hutchins Construction Co job site.

    spoon. – shovel
    sky hook – a means of carrying a very heavy load that would collapse the existing walls and beams, and that uses a bearing system with little or no connection to the local conditions.
    gone bush – not working any more
    wench – a geared, spool mechanism with a cable used to pull with great force
    come-along – similar to a wench without as much pull
    downstroke – cash deposit
    pig foot – steel wedge for concrete formwork

  • When I took Gpa to the hardware store one of the first times, we drove by some pedestrians by the parking lot. Just as we passed them he gave me a fright. I thought I’d done something wrong (I hadn’t had my license for long), but then I heard the words: “You missed them! How could you? They were so close!” and he looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and a grin on his face.

    This was the first, but not the last time I heard this and so now, everytime I drive past someone walking on a parking lot, I always think of him and his joke.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Dad was called a lot of things on the jobsite, most of them favorable. In the later years the admiriation and respect got to the point where he was known to all by the name of the great chieftan – OONTOONGA

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Whenever anyone asked him his age he would say “85”.
    Well, you came close, Dad,
    and if it hadn’t been for a seaplane and some bad medicine,
    you would have blown 85 away.

  • More of his construction terms

    Mud = Cement

    “just drift it a little” = get a really big hammer and hit it as hard as you can.

    Workdays started at 7 am, working a half day meant you stopped at 3:30 (instead of midnight).

    “Making faces on Stones” = hitting rocks with a sledge hammer until they broke with enough of a flat surface they could be used in a masonry rock wall.

  • Doing all of those BVI trips, including the one on the Intuition, a 33 sloop with no motor, and he of very little sailing experience.

    I remember going down wind from Virgin Gorda to Marina key we got into an nasty squall and we all headed down below closed the hatches and left him out there to sail the boat by himself.

  • Doing the Dove call by blowing into his hands.

  • Barb and Ed Beach

    There are so many memories! Playing tennis with Gene never winning except twice! But we had fun. We will miss you

    Much love to Sue and every one.

  • I remember when I was 7 or 8, I spent 3 days with Grandma and Grandpa in St. Croix. This was when they were living at #79 Judith’s Fancy. My parents had to travel off island so they left us for a few days. One day when Michelle came over we both thought it would funny if we put a pony tail on Grandpa. While we were playing with Grandpa’s hair we listened to some music about Maine. I will never forget when we heard the song, “hole in the bottom of the sea”. Grandma started singing it and Michelle and I both started laughing and ran out of the room

  • I remember that every time we went out with Mom and Dad in Christiansted, Dad would always order Raspberry Koolaid. It must have been has favorite drink.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    I remember what I think was a 1967 VW bus that Dad used for a construction vehicle.
    It had a split windshield with windows that tilted out.If we were carrying long wood beams, we would motor down the road with long beams sticking out the front.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    “Just a passing shower”

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Yes, Water Island was special.
    I remember being out on the rear balcony of our house at Shipwreck Point looking out at the ocean. Dad had gone to St. Croix and we were waiting for him to come back. Then we saw an open island sloop from St. Croix sailing by with our MG Roadster parked sideways on the deck and Dad sitting on the gunwales with his legs outboard and waving to us on his way to the dock.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Water Island again. Sitting in the passenger seat blazing along the patch paved roads in an army issue Jeep. All of a sudden, the Jeep would veer to the edge of the road. Dad going after a snake.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Water Island again, actually St. John. On weekends we would take overnight trips from home in Water Island to the beautiful beaches in St. John. We loaded up our cabin cruiser named “BOAT” and headed to Cinnamon Bay or Caneel Bay. I remember being at Cinnamon Bay with the boat moored to a palm tree and there were no other boats there. I was about 6 and I have this clear image from the deck of the boat watching Dad swim under the boat, face up. As I saw him come out the other side with a big smile on his face and bubbling out his nose.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Eugene L Hutchins. – artiste

    Was surprised at the skill and speed that Dad painted the 40 foot long mural of Strand Street, Frederiksted on the covered patio wall over the dining area. What a shame that it got painted over.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    I remember the pig roasts Mom and Dad would put on at #8. The ears sewed over the eye sockets was a nice touch. Hard to beat the lechon.
    The party usually had a big group and many kids our age. The mixed age touch football games were also entertaining.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    I remember Dad working with me on making Guillows airplane models of balsa, tissue paper and butyrate dope. They were great models and very realistic. I enjoyed making them after I got the hang of it thanks to Dad. I made a Fokker biplane and a Grumman Hellcat

  • Steven E Hutchins

    It wasn’t that often but when it happened, Dad made some creative school lunches.

    Peanut butter and cucumber sandwiches

  • Saying the dinner time prayer, which I actually did not realize that the last part was actually english for a long time. “askinthypreciousnameamen” all one word.

  • Sorry in advance to P.E.T.A.

    The sight of Sam (the cat) flying THROUGH the pass-through at number 8, all the way to the pool in the air, no bounce. After being caught by dad on the kitchen counter (again).

  • The very simple and consistent rule for the Hutchins Boys behavior.

    The relative awfulness of the job that we would have to do was directly proportional to the magnitude of the infraction.

    Result, when you really messed up you were digging a very very long ditch in the middle of the day in rocky soil. Whether a ditch was really required in that location or not.

  • The sight of him standing in Steves room, in the early morning, light just coming in the window. I had heard Steve removing the screen from the window, so I knew what was coming, Steves leg first entry through the window after a night out on the town. Dad standing in doorway between Steves room and mine, with a funny kind of grin on his face. OH MANNNN this is gonna be good.

  • Trying to drive the camper over the log bridge at Bemis Stream. I was very very young but I remember this vividly, I think that I remember it because it was so CRAZY. πŸ™‚
    No problem mon.

  • Building and launching Estes rockets. He never was in the center of it, he was around, keeping and eye on things, giving advice while we were building them, but letting us make mistakes and learn from them. That theme runs through so much of my memory. He made it ok to make a mistake, as long as we learned and did not repeat it.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Let the saw do the cutting

  • “What is PsychoCeramics”

    It’s the study of Cracked Pots!

  • “That’s not a hole, DEEPER!”

  • A Mooselookmeguntic memory. Our family was visting Gene at the A frame, Gene had put his boat in the water at the Marina, but needed to get his trailer back to the cottage. Since we could not bring it back by car, it was decided to float the trailer, on styrafoam, behind the boat. I remember that there were four of us in the boat, Tom, Gene, my young son, Josh and myself. We were about 3/4 through our journey when some wave actions moved the styrafoam and the trailer sunk to the bottom. I will never forget Gene’s reaction, no anger, not upset, he just sat there and said, “well we are going to have to try something else.”

    This was also the same trip where my brother in law (Gene)taught me how to do moose calls.

  • 10 cents a block πŸ™‚

  • When you missed a nail as you were driving it into the board with a hammer, you were making smiles in the wood.

  • When I was devastated by the departure of my two older brothers, him taking me to the bank, and setting up a loan to allow me to buy me a Lawn Mower so I could start my own business. It makes me smile as I type this about how many parents, on seeing their child in lonely distress would go out and buy them a gift or toy. Mine bought me a lawnmower! and I am eternally grateful.

  • Dad water skiing behind the wolverine with his skis crossed the whole way.

  • I remember welcoming Sue and Gene into my home for the first time, and how welcoming and loving Gene was in return, of me. It meant the world to me. Truly, it meant the world to me, and his love for Eric was so big and so heart-warming that it still brings tears to my eyes. He told Eric and me that he loved us both, that he was happy for us, and that he couldn’t wait to spend more time with the two of us together. He was the first family member on either side to say this. I remember that every single time in the last six years when Eric and I spent time with Gene, that the visits always ended with Gene opening his giant heart and telling Eric how proud he was of him as a man and a father, and how happy he was for him. I remember Gene at my parents house in DeLeon, ignoring Sue and eating and drinking whatever he wanted, then my dad (who is a doctor) discovering Gene’s blood sugar level. My father’s eyes went wide and he paced around then said “Gene don’t you think we better run into the hospital,” and Gene was like, “Nah, I’ll be fine.” My dad paced some more, and Gene took a few insulin shots, and Gene was fine. Nothing was going to stop the party, for Gene or anybody else. My dad still laughs about this, with disbelief. And real relief that nothing happened to Gene on his watch! I remember Gene in St. Croix, when I met him years ago, and that he was always smiling, always laughing, always cracking jokes, and always had something nice to say to everyone. I remember him with Bean curled up against him. Leaned forward in conversation with young Steve. Patting on Nicole. Engaging my kids Clark and Sami in spirited conversations about their activities. Asking about everyone’s loved ones and interests. Always caring so much about making sure everyone else was the priority. For such an incredibly tough man, he was so soft inside, in the best way.

  • Lazy Mary will you get up, she answers back I am not able, lazy Mary will you get up, we need the sheets for the taaaaaable.

  • One day as I sat sad and lonely,
    a voice came to me from the blue
    -Cheer up thing could get worse.
    So I cheered up,
    and sure enough things got worse.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Water Island – I was about 6. I remember being on a job site with Dad and he grabbed a huge iguana with his bare hands. He wanted to take it home to show Mom. He told me to hold it by the neck and the tail. I was terrified because he looked like a dinosaur and was not that much smaller than me. Dad gleefully sped off towards home. When we got in the house, Mom screamed, I let go of the neck, then the tail broke and he got loose bleeding as he ran around in the house. I dropped the tail and it kept flopping and bleeding until Dad was able to catch them both. Dad was in the dog house for a while.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Around 1964 – 1965 we moved to a small island just outside of Charlotte Amalie Harbor named Water Island. This was a fantastic adventure for us as kids and exciting times of growth for Hutchins Construction Company. Dad was the exclusive builder for the whole island. He built up a fleet of vehicles and heavy equipment and an army of workmen.

    I remember Dad would shuttle his crews in his two boats to and from St. Thomas each day. All of the materials would be carried in these boats as well. I remember boats being loaded to the point of sinking as they crossed the channel to Charlotte Amalie.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    I remember when we had our two horses, Peanut Butter and Shadow. When we moved to Judiths Fancy, the horses kept getting stolen by guys from the housing projects. Dad would get us in the car and go down to the projects and find the horses and negotiate the return of the horses and we would ride them back home. This happened a number of times until we eventually let them go for a small sum as we were graduating on to other things.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Mooselookmeguntic lake water skiing conditions;

    “Flat as a cucumber”

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Dad did have a soft spot for automobiles. He was proud of the 1964 Buick Riviera. I remember riding with him and when encountering a straightaway, would occasionally like to exercise all 465 cubic inches. This was fun for all except Mom as she would usually give him a scolding.

    Then there was the red 1957 Ford Thunderbird. This car was equipped for racing and could really fly and it had the beauty of the classic design. Dad was very generous (and brave) in letting Tom and me drive it to school on occasion. It was all great fun except, of course, when Dad ran over the hard top.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Back to Mooselookmeguntic. I remember Dad single handedly fabricating all of the heavy timber A-frames and then hauling them to their bearing area and then lifting the point overhead to where they could be connected to the “wench” and taken up the rest of the way by the rest of us. This planning and method enabled us (Tom – 11, Steve – 10, Eric – 6 and Mom) to get the shell built in that one summer vacation.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    Although I never saw it, the imagery of Dads homemade plane never grew dull in all of the times the story was told. It was his model airplane making skill stepped up to the level of manned flight.
    It was Eugenes buddy on his bike pedaling madly down the slopes of a quarry with Eugene on his plane in tow. After a brief flight that ended up on a neighbor’s roof, Eugene high-tailed it out of there never to see the plane again

  • Steven E Hutchins

    I remember all five of us camping out in a tent and having all meals on a Coleman stove as we built the A-frame cabin by ourselves on Mooselookmeguntic Lake in Maine in 1970, 71. Dad would have us up early, digging foundations, hauling water for concrete and then having a break at the end of the day. It was hard work but we ended up with a camp that we loved and used for many years to come especially because we built it.

  • Steven E Hutchins

    “OUS MACHEN the TV!!!”

  • Steven E. Hutchins

    Although I never saw it, the imagery of Dads homemade glider never grew dull with all of the times the story was told. This was how his model airplane making stepped up to full scale as a one person glider. With his buddy on a bike, pedaling madly down the banks of a quarry with Eugene on his plane in tow and the brief flight that followed ended up with the plane on the roof of a neighbors house and Eugene high-tailing it out of there never to see the plane again.

  • I remember driving around in the Golfcart very young and grandpa would push the pedal and I would steer, but I could not steer exactly straight so he would quickly turn the wheel seconds before hitting a bench or the rock.

  • I remember helping Grandpa build a wooden cannon carriage from a copy of an old historic drawing. He then put the old Danish cannon that came from Christiansted Harbor onto the carriage. We then dragged the cannon to the front yard where it stands today.

  • Anne-Marie Hutchins

    I remember the very first time I met him, back in 1975, and he greeted my with a kiss.

    I can see him throw up his arms in the air and say: Humbug! and make a funny, innocent looking face.

  • Linda LiljebΓ€ck

    After climbing the mountains in Abisko we sat down in the cabin and Grandpa asked me to help him take off his boot. So I did and I pulled as hard as I could because that boot was really stuck. And then suddenly it came off and I was very pleased, until I realized that I had pulled his whole leg off! I was a bit embarrassed but Grandpa had a good laugh.

  • I remember Dad standing behind the counter at #8 Judiths Fancy making grilled cheese for lunch. We ate a lot so he was busy.

  • When I started playing tennis, he came up with the plan of making one of the walls in the barn into a practice wall for me to swing some tennisballs at. It took up space from his other things and it was really just for my sake. That wall is what made me able to even join the team and actually win a couple of games. The love and care to go out of his way to help me in any way he could, I feel is so characteristic of him.

  • I remember when I were a little kid and grandma and he visited us in Sweden. I was so fascinated with his prosthetic leg and I. He would let me touch his eye and knock on his leg and he would say things I did not understand.

  • I remember putting on some old classic and grandpa coming in to join the singing, with his unique, coarse voice.

  • I remember him driving down a dirt road on Water Island with a bulldozer. Steve (5) and I (7) were in the raised scoop of the bulldozer enjoying the ride πŸ™‚

  • I remember him calmly and skillfully comforting our first child Rebecka when she was three weeks old.

  • Dad had such an amazing memory for people and names!