The Cat's Meow PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kellie Rowden-Racette,Contributing Writer   
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Their common love for cats drew this couple together

As you walk in the front room of the cozy cedar-shingle house, you immediately gravitate toward the comfortable-looking sofa backed against the window. But before you sit down, you notice a pair of glowing eyes staring at you from the other side of the sofa. A yellow striped cat named Max jumps up and comes over for an inspection while another cat – this one big and black – jumps down off of a corner chair and wanders out of the room. That’s when it hits you – throughout the room are various pieces of cat artwork adorning the walls and shelves. Clearly, this is a haven for cats. “Oh, I hope you’re not allergic,” says Bob Golden, as he nudges Max toward the floor. “We have four of them.” Like any couple where both partners are in their second marriage, Bob and Linda Golden continually work hard to accommodate each other’s previous lives – grown children, careers, grandchildren – but most importantly they each must accommodate each other’s cats. “That’s how I knew he was acceptable to me because I knew he was a cat person,” laughs Linda, who originally brought three cats to the marriage. And although she takes responsibility for all of the cat motif artwork inside the Golden household, she does point out that it’s not entirely her doing. “The cat that says ‘welcome’ on the front door – that’s yours,” she says, looking at him playfully. “You had that before I even met you.” Bob Golden, now 62, met his future wife, Linda, on a blind date while he was working as an administrator at Keene State University in New Hampshire in the late 1990s. A mutual friend, a massage therapist, decided the two were nice people who might be compatible and enjoy each other’s company. She was right. Their first date was dinner and a concert at the college and Bob says he had a hunch then that something might work out. “It seemed to have interesting possibilities,” he recalls. But Linda wasn’t as sure right away. “Oh, I didn’t know it was going to work out,” says Linda of their first date. “There was so much going on in my life then. We met in December and in May I moved to Portland, Maine, because of my job.” Still the two kept in touch and finally Linda decided she had enough of Portland and of corporate life, so she moved back to New Hampshire. The couple lived together for a little while and eventually got married in June 2001. Now, six years into their marriage, they appear completely happy and complement each other’s personality perfectly. “She’s more relaxed than I am and is more willing to take life as it comes, and that’s good for me,” says Bob. “I’m afraid I’m kind of a recovering Type A personality.” And while Linda agrees with his self-description, she also describes Bob as having a sneaky sense of humor. “It’s hard because my background idea of him is more of the academic, but then every once in a while he breaks character and he catches you off guard.” Originally from western New York, Bob grew up the oldest of six children in an Irish-Catholic family. A true example of a 1950s family, his father was a businessman who worked for a tire company and his mother was a housewife. With six kids in the house, Bob recalls his childhood home being noisy and rambunctious, but describes it has “happy chaos.” “There was always something going on and when dinner came you better grab food fast – it was that kind of thing. Let’s put it this way, when I went away to college, I was very happy,” he laughs. “I mean I love my brothers and sisters, but it was such a great experience to be on my own.” That great college experience took place at the University of Michigan where he studied history. Although he enjoyed his stint in the Midwest, he returned to the New York after graduating and continued his studies at the University of Rochester where he received his doctorate in American and English literature. He says he naturally gravitated toward the field because he always liked to read. “I knew that I wasn’t cut out to be a history scholar and found that, as a country, we produce some really great writers,” Bob says. “I was interested in 20th Century literature in particular. Literature is an interesting reflection on society and I think you learn a lot about the society you live in by studying its literature.” While he enjoys the works of classic writers such as Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Willa Cather, he says one of his favorite contemporary writers is Richard Russo, who wrote “Empire Falls,” which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002, and “Nobody’s Fool,” which was made into a movie starring Paul Newman. “Many of his writings are about down-in-the-mouth upstate New York industrial towns where luck ran out a long time ago but the people continue to live there and cope,” he explains. “He seems to have a great understanding of the lives of people in the lower middle class who are struggling and he has a great sense of humor.” After receiving his doctorate he served as a faculty member at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where he taught writing, literature, and film history and criticism. It was during his tenure there he began moving toward the administration side of higher education. Bob says it probably began when he took charge of a yearlong series of films and lectures and symposiums about moving images – television and films. The series was extremely successful and, as a result, the RIT administration asked Bob to become an associate dean. The rest, as they say, is history. Today he serves as the provost at SUNY Plattsburgh and has done so since 2002. “I don’t know exactly how I crossed over. I don’t think there was one day when I woke up as a faculty member and decided I wanted to become an administrator,” he explains. “I think what often happens as a fairly young faculty member, you get involved in committees and various projects and you do well or people trust you and things evolve from that. Things happen.” Although he has been an administrator for almost 18 years, he says he never envisioned himself in administration when he was pursuing his doctorate degree. He says he loved teaching and very much enjoyed what he was doing in the field of literature, but as time went on he became intrigued by what he could accomplish on the other side. “One of the best parts is that on occasion rather than people talking about things saying ‘wouldn’t it be nice to do this or that?’ you can actually make it happen,” he says. Although Bob’s job can be high pressure and extremely time consuming, he does find time to wind down. One of his leisure time activities is “playing farmer” at his country home in Washington County. “I like living in the country,” he says. “When I’m there I’m a fake farmer. I don’t really grow stuff, but I have a lawn tractor and about 30 acres of land.” But there’s a more worldly side to this academic would-be farmer. In addition to attending concerts and events on campus, Bob and Linda take advantage of Montreal and have season tickets to the opera. They also travel quite a bit, for business and pleasure. Last year they traveled to China for a business trip and to France to attend a French Language School to try to recapture the ability to speak French. “I don’t speak it as well as I like, but I’ve sort of relearned my French,” says Bob. “I kind of regretted losing the ability to speak it and I’ve always been interested in French culture. When I retire, Linda and I will try to spend some time there, perhaps in the south of France during the winter.” So with all this travel, the big question remains: what do Bob and Linda Golden do with all their beloved cats? “Oh, we have a really good cat sitter who visits twice a day,” explains Bob. Meanwhile Max reenters the room and nudges Bob’s hand, looking for attention, and another previously unseen cat peers around the corner to see what is going on. “Given how much we travel, the nice thing about cats is they are less maintenance than dogs.”



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