Don Whitney - In His Own Words

Why Dick (Don and Jans son, was once named David)
A favorite photo of Dad and I in his "office" at home - ~1954

In spite of the difficult time Jan had during her pregnancy with Sue, she felt certain she wanted another child and I went along with the idea, albeit with a bit of reluctance. The first pregnancy had been and eight month nightmare. Jan was sick the second time around, too, but we both had learned how to do a better job of coping. It was also made easier by the fact that were in our own house, and relatively settled down. Dick was born in Southbridge on August 11, 1951, and things went well.

Rather, I should say David was born. All during Jan's pregnancy, Mother Stillman extolled the virtues of the name, David. She applied various forms of subtle pressure for us to name the forthcoming child 'David', if it should turn out to be a boy. Frequently she would say, "I hope someday I will have a grandson named David." And so when the big day arrived, and the nurse asked Jan what the baby's name would be, in her partially anaesthetized state she answered 'David'. We, of course, had previously agreed upon Richard, and there had never been any difference of opinion between us. But when I arrived at the hospital to see the new arrival, I was introduced to my son 'David'. Needless to say, the paperwork was changed post haste.

Since Jan's folks had provided us with help in the form of a nurse when Sue was born, they decided to do it again with Dick. Unfortunately, the great nurse we had for Sue wasn't available, so they had to settle for a different individual from the same agency. Mother and Dad Stillman brought her to Southbridge on the afternoon that Jan was scheduled to come home with the baby from the hospital. Mom Stillman had made it clear that the plan was for the 'nurse' to remain at our house, while we went to pick up Jan and young Dick. I left directly from work to go to the hospital and, when I arrived, I was surprised to see not only Jan's folks but also the 'nurse'. Mother Stillman was a very strong willed person, and when she made a decision it usually stuck. But not this time - the 'nurse' had overruled her, which didn't bode well for what was to come.

The 'nurse' made it clear that the baby was her responsibility, and that things would work out great just as soon as we got used to her ways. Jan's mother wasn't happy, Jan wasn't happy, and I could sense impending doom as Jan's folks took off to return to Newton. I was right - things went from bad to worse, and by suppertime it became obvious that the tension had grown to a point where we couldn't make it through the night. I called Jan's folks, who had just arrived home, and we agreed the 'nurse' would have to go. Dad Stillman suggested we meet in Worcester, and I called Bob and Marion Crist to see if they could help in the crisis. They came right up, and Marion stayed with Jan while Bob and I hustled the 'nurse into my car and took off to make the connection in Worcester. The addition of a rather heavy thunderstorm added to the already eerie atmosphere, and I well remember hearing the nurse call out, as we were climbing the long hill in Charlton, that she had left her eyeglasses on the kitchen window sill. I said we would mail them to her.

We got through the first couple of nights with the new baby by ourselves, but Mother and Dad Stillman arranged to have a longtime friend and neighbor, Mrs. Cronin, come up and assist Jan with the baby for a week or so. Though not a 'nurse', Jan knew and liked her, and she worked out fine. It turned out that a couple of months later Jan developed a breast infection, had to stop nursing Dick, and Mrs. Steinfeldt was again engaged by the Mother and Dad Stillman to give an assist.

Other Excerpts:
Notes from Don's father
On being sent to Summer Camp
Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard
Glenn Miller
Asbury Park
Harvard Days / Remembering Jack Lemmon
The Totem Pole
Engagement to Jan
Starting at AO as an Apprentice Lens Designer
Why Dick was once named David

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