In the next series of chapters, I am going to discuss individuals that I have mentioned and to some extent, briefly glossed over them in my first book and earlier chapters in this book. By treating them in this manner I have done a gross injustice to them. Therefore, I am going to rectify those breaches of etiquette and devote more time discussing their lives and the impact that they had on our family. Just a note, the order I am discussing them in this book in no way reflects on their importance to the family or to me personally. It is just how I wrote the book. Boy, you guys are so sensitive. If you did not get a chapter in this book, I am sorry, this in no way reflects in anyway on your impact or your importance in the family, I just don’t have the room to cover every member in the family. Though you may get an honorable mention at the end of the book.
The first chapter in this section is devoted to an amazing man, my stepfather Edward J. Mazdzer. Many people never even have one father that cares for them. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had two incredible fathers. They both impacted my life in different ways. They have both passed away and they both are still missed. However, I digress, let’s get back to my stepfather’s story. I will use the “Dad 2” among other titles of endearment in this section in an effort to simplify things a little.
Edward was born on February 17, 1928 in Bellows Falls, Vermont to Josef Mazdzer and Helen Swiokla. He had four siblings, three sisters Marja Mazdzer, Ana Mazdzer, Helen R. Mazdzer and a brother Joseph P. Mazdzer. He was a three letter man in High School for Baseball, Football and Tennis. Soon after he graduated from High School, Edward joined the Navy in 1946 and served for two years. Though it is not documented in any historical literature, Dad 2 repeatedly regaled me with stories of his ride on one of Admiral Byrd’s many exploratory flights over Antarctica. As near as I can figure, it took place in 1947. Apparently my stepfather only served in an observational capacity. Ed met and shook hands with Admiral Byrd and spent some time talking with him and was subsequently invited to fly with him as one of his passengers and observers. Dad 2’s military career was otherwise unremarkable and he left the military with an honorable discharge. He utilized the GI bill to pay for his four year degree at St Michael’s College. He went on to attain his Masters in Art in Education at Plattsburgh State University. He had certifications to teach in mathematics and science. His love, however, was earth science and that is what he predominantly taught up until his retirement. His career path varied throughout his forty years of teaching. When my mother married him he was an assistant principal at the Dannemora High School. When he took a job teaching at Bayonet Junior High School, he concentrated on teaching only. To supplement our family income, he taught night school a couple days a week and taught summer school as well for several years. Though in the later part of his career he only taught school in the days and only during the regular school year. While he was working on his Master’s Degree and to supplement his income, he was a swim instructor for the YMCA. Edward’s educational career spanned 40 years.
My stepfather was in the process of completing his divorce when he was introduced to my mother by her sister Barbara Ducharme. He had four children from this marriage. Dad 2 basically raised me from the age of six years. He taught me how to swim and to appreciate school and science, in particular. He treated me like one of his own children. He was always there for me. When I was older we used to go to movies together just for a father and son outing. On occasion, when Mom went and visited my other siblings, I would go over and watch videos with him to keep him company. Even though he was not my blood father, I miss him just as much as I do my blood parents. Even years after my father retired he would meet his old students when out doing errands and they all to a fault said “Hi” and referred to him as “Mister Ed.”
In his later years, he made arts and crafts with my mother and sold them in craft festivals with my sister Regena. The constant working with his hands helped him with his arthritis. I built him a computer and set him up with a comprehensive software package. Though much to my surprise his favorite game and program was Avery Cardozza’s Slots. He could play that game for hours.
They were married 34 years at the time of his passing. He left a strong legacy and influence on literally thousands of young adults in his educational career. He was loved by all and is missed in particular by me.
A little side note about my stepfather. He developed a mild case of Ricketts when he was a child, which manifested itself as basically a reversed rib cage. Typically the lower part of the rib cage is larger than the upper portion, which allows for increased expansion of the lungs when the individual takes a deep breath. It did not effect his teenage life , since he was able to play sports. However, in his later life this malformation plus his heavy smoking in his early adult life resulted in him developing emphysema. What is the issue here, is that his story about how he got it does not follow the facts that I have been able to collect on his family history. He told me that his mother died before his father, when he was a teenager. He also stated that his father had limited cooking skills and that in conjunction with a diet low in Vitamin D and Phosphorus resulted in both him and his brother developing Ricketts. The problem arises when I researched his family tree. According to all the facts I could find, his mother died after his father, and he was over 22 years of age when she died. I guess this is just one puzzle that I will most likely never be able to solve. My stepfather was always a trickster like the Norse God Loki, so maybe this one little mystery about his life suits him just fine.