1929 was the year of the big stock market crash. I was about six months old when it happened, so I don't remember anything about it. But I'm sure it affected my early life. I didn't know that my family was poor, and I grew up without a lot of ambition but with a strong sense that I'd have to take care of myself in the world. My dad was a dreamer without a very good feel for reality. When the Okies were moving to California in 1932, we were in our Model A Ford headed for Seattle. Almost didn't make it, and had to borrow money to complete the trip.
Six months later, the Red Cross gave my dad vouchers so we could drive back to Cincinnati
again. I suppose I have some of my dad's shortage of common sense, but I also have some of my mom's traits, too. It took me a
long time to realize that her genes were the ones I like most about me. She admired goodness, and she loved what she called
"God's work." (That doesn't mean, as I guess it does to some people, the work that people do to help the Big Guy out. To her it means His handiwork--nature, the world, the heavens, and people.)
As soon as I left high school, I joined the Coast Guard and got stationed in
Washington (click here
to jump to Coast Guard Days pages), where I married,
fathered a child, got out of the service just in time to miss the Korean War, broke up with my wife and returned to the Midwest,
where I got a job, got married, went to school, fathered two more children, eventually bought a house in the suburbs and a
Mercedes Benz automobile and not long afterward discovered I was not doing what I was meant to do (though I didn't know what
I was meant to do, but it wasn't that), so dropped out and went to Iowa to attend grad school, and then to California for a couple
years until I missed my kids so much I again returned to Cincinnati. As they say, "You can't go home again," but I had some of my
dad's genes, you remember, so I gave it a shot. Eventually I went freelance, writing technical manuals for people, and ended up in
Ann Arbor, Michigan, up to my ears in computers. They paid my rent, but it wasn't until I retired that I found out what I was
supposed to do: write. I'd had inklings back in my twenties, but I guess the other things I did were my training school.