Category Archives: Family Life

An Amazing Cook

Sheila was an accomplished cook, in any setting.

Even our picnics were extensively catered.

She had worked as a short-order cook in a roadside restaurant near the Bourne bridge as a summer job while she was a teenager, but most of her cooking skills seemed to be self-taught, through books and experimentation .

Beheading Artichokes Central Park Picnic

Cape Breton

Since the mid-1990s, Sheila has led us on multiple summer trips to Cape Breton Island, in Nova Scotia, Canada.

We first rented a house in the Margaree valley in the 1990s, and then found our way to the Ross house, located on a bluff between Margaree Harbor and Whale Cove, looking out onto the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

We returned there for several years in a row, most recently in July and August of 2012.

Ross House Deck Ross House Boil 

Video: “Six Shots of Limoncello”

Joe put together this great video from a trip to the Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens in Quebec last February:

— “Dinner at Anciens Canadiens“, Posted on YouTube

As Caitlin tells the story:

When we rented a house in Italy near Sorento [in 2002], every time we went out to eat, they gave us each a shot of limoncello. One night none of us wanted our shots and I bet Sheila she couldn’t drink all six shots and make it through the windy drive back home without throwing up. She downed them all and didn’t bat an eye.

Outdoor Feasts

Sheila figured out how to keep the family well fed on our many trips to the woods and wilds.

In this photo, it looks like Sheila’s making us breakfast at the edge of the world somewhere:

Cooking In The Wild

On the left, Sheila is preparing bacon and french toast; on the right, she’s pouring a pancake:

Cooking In The Wild Cooking In The Wild

By Freighter To The North

In the 1980s, Sheila learned that you could drive north into Canada to the end of the road — and then have your car winched onto a a freighter and carried further north along the St. Lawrence and Atlantic coast, to small coastal communities that were not otherwise connected to the outside world.

So of course, we went, with our big family van and all five children:

St. Lawrence Freighter St. Lawrence Freighter

Camping and Canoeing

When the kids were young, Sheila convinced George to go on a canoe camping trip. Although she had never been canoeing, she had read a few books and was confident they’d be able to figure it out. Sure enough, they did, and the entire family went camping and canoeing nearly every summer for the next four decades.


1969-1985: 200 Claremont Avenue

When Sheila first moved to New York in the summer of 1968, she shared an apartment with another young woman in the movement, but several months later she moved in with George.

George had been sharing an apartment at 200 Claremont with a few other Columbia students for several years, and then some LNS folks, but in the years that followed, the roommates left and the apartment was filled up with Sheila and George’s children instead.

During the 1970s, in response to the abusive behavior and neglect of the building by the landlord, Sheila worked to organize the tenants, and helped lead them to cooperate on rent strikes, to take legal action against the landlord, and eventually to take control of the building themselves when the landlord was forced to abandon it to City ownership.

Eventually the building at 200 Claremont completed the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board’s Tenant Interim Lease Program and became an HDFC cooperative, allowing the tenants to buy their apartments for a nominal sum.



This photo shows a young Sheila standing in front of some type of tracked construction equipment, during a visit to one of her father’s engineering project sites:


She had three younger siblings: Margaret (“Marnie”), John (“Johnny”), and Kathleen (“Kathy”).

This photo shows the four of them standing by the Cape Cod Canal, near Gray Gables:


1948-1950: Peterborough, NH

Sheila’s parents moved to Peterborough, New Hampshire when she was young, so that her father could work on the Edward MacDowell Dam, constructed in by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1948-1950.

This picture shows Sheila outside the Peterborough house:

Sheila in Peterborough, NH
Sheila and George went on a trip to Peterborough in recent years and took a few photos of the dam:

MacDowell Dam MacDowell Dam