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Homecoming

Jeff Reder

Jeff Reder

By the fall of senior year at Lake Forest I had decided to postpone grad school, which left the possibility, actually the probability, that my draft board would come calling. So seizing the initiative, I drove to Chicago and enlisted in the Army and Officer’s Candidate School (OCS), and the Army gave me a battery of mental and physical exams to ensure I wasn’t crazy but was fit for duty.

Army doctors found no bone spurs, but did discover that I was red-green color blind, likely the cause of some unfortunate college wardrobe choices. It also meant no helicopter flight school for Jeff. I did score well enough on the mental tests to qualify for Engineering, which confused me, as I had just spent three years majoring in English.

I was granted a deferment to finish college, and in January 1970 started Basic Training, followed by Advanced Individual Training (AIT), then OCS. But a funny, life-altering thing happened while at AIT. The Army evidently decided they had enough Officers, and offered those of us with OCS class dates the option of dropping out of the Officer’s program. To make it attractive they would cut our commitment from three years to two and guarantee a year stateside, which meant there, would not be enough time left in a two-year commitment for a tour in Vietnam! I took the option.

They sent me to Ft. Lewis, near Tacoma, Washington, where I spent a rather low-key Army tour of a year and a half, befriending a bunch of guys, and now their spouses, with whom I rendezvous on a regular irregular basis. I left the Army in December 1971 and headed to Colorado with an Army buddy and his friend from the civilian world for a little work and a lot of skiing.

One thing lead to another and before the season was over, when a local restaurant came up for sale, the three of us and a fourth friend bought The Blue Spruce in Frisco, Colorado. That first hundred day ski season blurred in to several more. The restaurant thrived. One can only have so much fun though, and in 1975, we sold the ‘Spruce, and I headed back east to seek my fortune

In New York my father’s cousin, who ran an armored car operation in Massachusetts, approached us to start one with him in New York. We spent a month with cousin Gerry studying the numbers and surveying the market in suburban New York and in the spring of 1975 launched Hudson Armored Car & Courier Service.

By fall, we bought out Jerry’s interest and held on tight! Our competition was Brinks and Wells Fargo, and honestly, they could not. We were small and nimble and offered better service at lower prices. From a single leased truck, we grew, over fifteen years, to over twenty trucks with operations throughout metropolitan New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey. A separate courier service we started handled checks and other non-negotiable items for many major banks. Some of you may have seen or received solicitations for a Sweepstakes through our long affiliation with The Reader’s Digest!

We operated seven days a week, though with the occasional holdup, shots fired, and lots of employees, it was stressful. While Hudson was successful by any measure, after almost 30 years it was time to move on. In 2004, I sold the business to another armored carrier and, heading toward retirement, we moved to New Hampshire and found a home in the postcard-perfect village of Hancock, in the Monadnock Region. So now, we live where we vacationed for many years.

By this time, I had been married for twenty-five years to wife Carrie, and we had raised two great kids: daughter Dana and son Matt. When our youngest (Matt) started first grade Carrie began nursing school and has been a practicing RN since graduation. Dana went off to Cornell, followed by Teacher’s College at Columbia. A School Psychologist, she is now the Director of Student Services at Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, MA. After SUNY Oneonta, Matt followed his sister to Columbia, and then went on to Northeastern where he graduated from their Direct Entry Nursing Program as a Nurse Practitioner. He worked at Mass General for a year, and then accepted a position in the ER at Winchester Hospital.

After our move to NH Carrie began work in the Nurse Clinic at Cheshire Medical in Keene. I cruised: skiing, mountain biking, gardening and house projects filled my time. But you need a reason to get up each morning, and after a year in Hancock Carrie pointed out her working and my cruising was not working for her, and she was right. She suggested I apply at Home Depot in Keene to keep me out of trouble. I spent ten years there as Delivery Coordinator, finally retiring in the spring of 2015.

We have been fortunate. Our family has been blessed with good health. We enjoy seeing old friends (including those army buds and the occasional Boston area LFC’er), and making new ones. With Carrie’s retirement last June, we have been able to travel more. Both kids are now married, and son Matt and his wife Crystal have a four-year-old daughter, so we are finally in the grand parenting business.

Well wow! Hard to believe it has been fifty years.