All my life I have had a quest for adventure. I just love exploration and enjoy discovering new things. It was during Cub-Boy Scouts that I met the three men who shaped my whole life’s quest for adventure: Edward Giamo, Bob Hemm and Jack Brandreth. Only Bob Hemm is still alive. Recently, I was able to tell him just how much he influenced my life, from some talks he made to Boy Scout Troop 1, perhaps 55 years ago!
Edward Giamo Jr. was a brilliant real estate lawyer/baron, but when I met him he was my friend Bobby’s older brother, and Edward was still attending Georgetown University. Edward had worked at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. He told me stories of climbing The Tooth of Time Mountain along with tales of encountering the bears, the snakes, and coyotes in the park. By the time I was 15-years-old, I went to Philmont and stood on the peak of The Tooth of Time, and had a bear incident of my own.
Bob Hemm is the father of a friend of mine, Drew Hemm. Bob is without a doubt a man who was years ahead of everyone. He even drove BMW’s in the mid 1960’s, when no one had them; yet, the Hemm’s had three: a 1600, a 2002, and the luxury Bavaria model. Bob had a Beta Max camera system in the late 1960’s. It would be 15 years before I even saw another. But it was Bob who talked of parachute jumps, flying his own plane, and gliders to a very attentive Troop 1, in Pelham New York. In all honesty, my own father had his own plane in 1969, and did soaring in gliders too, but as to parachuting he once explained he spent his time in the 8th Air Force during World War II attempting not to be forced to parachute out of his B-17 bomber. As he put it, “I am never going to jump out of a perfectly operating aircraft.” I also know he witnessed fellow servicemen being shot by Germans as they parachuted out of crashing planes.
When I was in the Cub Scouts, my friend Lee Brandreth’s mother, Bonnie Brandreth, was our den mother that first year. I never met her husband/Lee’s dad until Lee and I were freshman at G.W.U., and he drove us from Atlanta to Washington D.C. after Thanksgiving weekend in 1971. During that 8-hour drive he told stories of attempting to climb the Matterhorn, hiking in the Alps, plus the fun of owning the James Bond model Aston Martin DB III. He was also on Admiral Chester Nimitz’s staff during World War II. It was that day that I decided mountain climbing in the Alps was going to be for me. Lastly I have to add, that a woman, who was at dinner with Lee, his dad, and myself when we stopped on that drive in Richmond, commented that, “Jack Brandreth is the best looking man, I have ever seen!” No one has ever said that about me.
Now, at 65-years-old looking back, I realize it was Edward Giamo’s stories that led me to visit and camp out in over 20 National Parks and climb the Tooth of Time in New Mexico. It was Bob Hemm who was responsible for my 1977 purchase of a BMW 320i in 1977 that I drove all over the northeast. It cost only $6775 back then, 4 years later the cost of a BMW 320i was $32,000. Throughout my life it was Jack Brandreth who was responsible for teaching me to think outside the box. It was his advice I used when purchasing the best outdoor gear, which in the end was very wise.
Lastly, I must also say thank you to Jack Brandreth for my adventures in the Alps. I went back 23 out of the next 25 years until my divorce and its ramifications ended that streak. (The other two years I missed were the years my daughters were born.) The end result was a successful summit of Mt. Blanc in the mid 90’s, the tallest Mountain in the Alps. As I watched the sunrise over Western Europe from that summit I looked at the Matterhorn off in the distance and thought of Jack and his many attempts to summit that noble mountain. In later years, I skied the Matterhorn, and on a separate occasion, I took my mom and dad to Zermatt and my kids to the Italian side of the Matterhorn, Cervinia.
As of now, I have had the opportunity to do long hikes of the Appalachian trial in nine states. Along with my daughters, I did all the huts in the White Mountains. I also did ice climbs alone and with hikes in the Adirondacks. Mount Blanc traverses Italy, France and Switzerland, and I love that region, and even took my wife Cindi there this last March. I never attempted to climb the Matterhorn, because as a father of young daughters, I felt that mountain, with its brittle rock that led to a dozen deaths per year, was way too risky.
Now as a sixty-something, I sail Gardiner’s Bay with my quest for adventure being an attempt to produce the best sailing sunset photo that day. However, still when I sit in my big bedroom chair, I still dream of climbing upward to see views I have never seen before.