By Gus Widmayer

Robert Gamlin’s parents, Florence and Edward, were married on June 21, 1916, in Groton and stayed on with his grandmother, Emma Jane Gamlin, at Crystal Spring Farm on Old Dunstable Road. In addition to Bob, Florence gave birth to Edward “Bud,” Richard “Dick,” and Franklin “Sonny” Gamlin, and the eldest, Thelma.

Edward worked on the farm while at times handling part-time posts as deputy at the police station and as a town public works employee. In addition, he maintained several camps on Blood Road called the Jewett Camps. These are only cellar holes now. The road was used previously as a farm and woods road but is now part of the trail system.

“Soon after Chicopee Row opened up, more and more of the usual traffic that drove past the farm was diverted, leaving fewer and fewer sales of produce. Still others began treks to the Midwest and west, leaving abandoned farms — many of which were bought by Mr. William P. Wharton,” Bob recalled.

On January 5, 1929, Emma Gamlin sold the farmhouse (a Mr. Dick Lewis lives in this house today) along with 21 and a half acres to a Mr. James M. Mudge but retained 133 acres of the original woodland lot. It contains 43 acres known as the Briar Meadow Lot on the east side of Cow Pond Brook by the railroad bed. The swamp that was there has since been made into a pond, thanks to the work of some crafty beavers.

The family moved to a house on Champney Street in town. Young Bob, then about five years old, was very unhappy about the move and cried when told they were moving. Bob Gamlin attended the Boutwell Elementary School and then Groton High where he played baseball and basketball, and drove his Model-B Ford until he graduated in 1942.

He signed up for the Marine Corps from December to December, 1942 to 1945, attending boot camp on Parris Island, S.C. Afterward, he spent two years in Panama in various positions for the protection of the Canal from invasion or sabotage. While there, he twice contracted malaria. He was transferred to Camp Le Jeune, North Carolina to serve in the motor transport office. It was his duty to keep track of all the trucks’ locations and personnel records. He was assigned the position due to his typing and clerical skills and accuracy, he said.

Bob achieved the level of corporal by the time of his honorable discharge in 1946. He attended Burdett College on the G.I. Bill, from which his sister Thelma graduated.

In 1948, he married Frances M. Miller of Franconia, New Hampshire. The couple has four daughters, Dawn, Karen, Susan and Robin; seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Frances’ parents were Delia (Therrien) and Howard Miller. Bob and Frances showed me many old family photographs during my visit with them, several of Emma and one of Bob as a toddler of four years old dragging along his Kiddo Kat wagon.

In 1949, Bob was hired as an auditor by the firm of T.C. Edwards and Co., CPAs at No. 131 Clarendon Street in Boston’s Back Bay. The firm was founded in 1902.

In time, the son of the founder sold the firm to two employees and Bob. The three paid for the purchase from future receipts. In time, Bob bought out his partners and expanded the accountancy firm to Woburn, Mass., and Salem and Derry, N.H.. Their principal business model was in auditing mutual savings banks as well as other financial institutions.

Bob commented to me on the current dire straits in which the U.S. economy finds itself.

“There was a day when homeowners who found themselves under water, so to speak, were easily cured by having the banks extend the life of their loans,” he said. “The mortgagees would pay only interest until they were able to get their loan current. By working together, it was a win-win solution because the bank got its interest and the client still retained his property while enjoying its accompanying tax deduction.

“Banks at that time also made and held onto their own loans,” he said, “and were responsible for their own decisions, overseen by the federal, state and private auditors. Gradually, the Accounting Association along with the government agencies, got involved and changed the rules, each one worse than the prior ones, including the concept of market-to-market, which in essence valued the home at market value, making many loans in technical default with banks forced to charge off the difference or collect it from the mortgagee. We all know how that has turned out!”

Bob retired from that business after 42 years by selling the firm to his eldest daughter, Dawn S. Landry, and several employees in the same manner that he had acquired the firm. Dawn retired after 34 years with the firm doing the same by turning the firm over to her senior employees.

Bob moved from Groton in 1946 to Flint Street in Somerville with his mother, where he met his wife. The couple then moved to Wilmington and finally, during the Blizzard of 1978, to Londonderry, N.H., where I was holding my interview with them.

“Why donate your land rather than develop it?” I asked rhetorically.

To be continued.