John Palmer Learned was born on November 2, 1912 in Newburyport,
Massachusetts. He remembers that his family kept horses for most of
his childhood. Fond pastimes were skating at the Dexter House and
the Newburyport Mall. At the
Artichoke reservoir, skaters could roast marshmallows on fires set
on the ice.
His first trip to this region is quite memorable, especially to
those around him. In the summer of 1914 he kept the guests of the
Asquam House awake with his crying all night. He has always had a
deep affection for the White Mountains. He has climbed Mr.
Chocorua, Red Hill, and the Mt. Washington range. In the early craze
of skiing, he skied
Gunstock, Cannon, Cranmore, and Tuckerman's Ravine. One time he took
the snow train to North Conway with his father. While his father
skated, he rode the train over to Maple Ridge with the other skiers.
The toe strap on the ski fell off (remember those old
bindings?), and he had to walk down in waist-deep snow. He nearly
missed the train back to Newburyport. On better skis, he won a
silver maple leaf at Mont Tremblant.
In 1928 he chaperoned his sister on a camping trip in the Canadian
has always had an interest in geology and glaciers. He reprised this
trip in 1994 with two
daughters. Pictures from the first trip have assisted the Friends of
Jasper Park document
the shrinkage of the glaciers.
Like many members of his generation, he does not dwell of negative
as the early deaths of his brother and mother, World War II, the
Cocoanut Grove fire, and
the Great Depression. His family lost the Learned Shoe Company due
to arson in 1929,
adding to other financial losses.
He was able to attend and graduate from Harvard College, the class
of 1935. He
joined the Towle Silversmith Company, his lifelong employer. In
World War II, he
served in the Navy. Sent to Washington, he was succeeded in his
office position by his sister, Lorna Learned, a Wave; perhaps a
first for the Navy.
He also served on the
in Argentia, New Foundland.
With good fortune, he met and married Kathryn Morris, a young widow
daughters. When orders came to serve in the South Pacific, on the
Herald of the Morning, the family traveled across the country.
Gasoline was severely rationed and once, traveling on an empty tank,
they coasted into a Nevada town by opening the car
doors to catch the wind.
After the war, they returned to Newburyport and the Towle Company.
Learned was involved in many civic groups, including the YMCA, the
library Board, and
even running for Mayor.
They built a house on Lake Winnipesauke in 1964 and retired here. He
hobbies including geology, Red Sox, birdwatching, and cooking. He
followed Julia Childs on the television and replicated many of her
recipes. A propos of the season, He makes a great Buche de Noel. He
embraced new technology from snowmobiling to the internet at age 78.
He continues, and will continue, as the family photographer.