A little information always leaves me wanting more. But then again, even with a lot of information I still have questions. Still, as long as I’m doing this, I might as well make it as full as I can from the beginning. A friend from high school that I recently reconnected with asked me on a FB blurb, “What have you been up to since high school?” Whoa! I graduated high school in 1970. That’s a lot of years to cover in a facebook blurb. But, in a bio, one may expect to receive a good overall perspective of the bio’d one’s life. I’ll start out small, and add more as I go along.
I was actually born small. Well, maybe not too small. My mother saved a lot of things and I came across an my birth announcement from 1952 recently. It said I weighed in at 10 lbs 11 oz. Bigger than average. But I’m a normal size guy today. 5′ 11″, about 210 to 215 on any given day or night. I was born in Staunton, Illinois in Macoupin County. My mother had grown up on a farm near there. Her father worked in a coal mine and died of black lung disease. I only remember him in a hospital bed at his home. He kept parakeets and Wrigley’s chewing gum which he handed out to grandkids(the gum I mean) when they came to visit. He had a big bushy beard for most of the time I remember him. He could have been scary, but he wasn’t to me. And a little fun fact, he repaired the plastic toys for his parakeets with chewing gum. I don’t guess the parakeets ever bothered the gum because it was always there, unbothered. His wife, my grandma raised kids for her side of the equation. I think there were 11 of them. And took care of grandpa when he was sick.
We lived in the littler own of Worden, about 6 or 8 miles from Staunton. Mom had three sisters who also lived in Worden. It was kind of a little commuter town for men who worked over in the Illinois part of the metro St. Louis area where the good jobs were. Dad worked in the steel mill on the midnight shift. He carpooled to work with a bunch of other guys who worked there on that shift. Others worked in the refineries or the other factories over there. There were carpools for every shift at every workplace. It was a pretty quiet little town…population 1000 or thereabouts. There were plenty of kids to play with. A lot of them were cousins. Each of mom’s sisters also had big families.
I was one of eight kids myself. Four older brothers, and three younger sisters. Actually, if you want to get picky, three of my older brothers were what they call half brothers. From my dad’s first marriage. They were always just brothers to me, and to the rest of the family. We never made that separation in growing up, but I just wanted to be clear.
Dad was born in Richmond, Indiana, one of three kids. His dad was an artist of sorts…I think he was a sign painter mostly, but I can’t imagine he didn’t do more than that back in the day when everybody did a lot of things to survive. I guess I really don’t know about my father’s mother’s early life. I only remember that Dad’s parents were divorced and both remarried. And they all lived out in Ohio in a relatively small area so that when we visited, the two or three times we did, we got to see both sets. Dad had one sister and one brother, and I guess some step brothers and sisters as well which we didn’t see much. I think they lived farther away. Mom and Dad apparently met in Ohio when Mom was out there visiting some of her relatives one summer. Imagine if you will, her bringing home to her small rural town family a divorced man, 11 years older than her, with three boys from his previous marriage that she met on a trip. I know I’d be more than a little dubious and I feel a lot more liberal than I imagine they were. But…it worked out, and they were married for more than 40 years.
But I haven’t really got to much about me yet. Still, I think that background about parents is very pertinent. I would not be the person i am today if not for my parents. Mom took on a ready made family and really an unknown quantity in Dad. And Dad was a solid guy who worked for 18 years i think in the steel mills before he was called to the ministry. He had not even finished high school. He first finished up a GED, and then studied for several more years before he became ordained. His first assignment was in 1966. I had just finished my eighth grade year and would enter a really foreign high school when I went back to school in the fall. My older brother was preparing for his Senior year at Worden, with all the friends he had grown up with. His graduating class would have been about 16 kids. The new school would graduate 150 in their senior class. My brother would not be one of them. The move was upsetting enough for him that he dropped out. He later joined the Navy. I’m glad of that. I think he later got his GED also. Neither one of us was happy about the move, but he advised me that I had to deal with it for several more years so I’d better go with the flow, while he would soon turn 18. Not like he was planning it all, just that he knew he couldn’t deal with it effectively. I hated that, but I appreciated the brotherly advice. It was helpful to me.