I've been a writer, photographer and researcher my entire life. For as long as I can remember I was writing, often using long hand or using my mother's Royal and Smith-Corona typewriters with black and red ribbons and onionskin typing paper. I used to use my Mom's Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera to take photos that were more often black and white than color. And we’d have to wait to get the film developed at the local drug store.
And we always had plenty of encyclopedias in the house to research things I was curious about and wanted to learn about. The encyclopedias of the 50s and 60s were as interesting to study as any encyclopedias today.
Cooperative Extension Service and 4-H booklets and government pamphlets as well as public and school library material also fed my research needs.
Having suffered hearing loss and speech disabilities reading and writing was difficult for me. That's why sometimes a reader might find misspelled words or the wrong words used in a story. Still I spent almost all of my free time either reading, writing or researching or listening to music on old record players or 8-track players my dad hooked up to a car battery in the house to power for me. We didn't always have a TV and although I loved movies or good TV shows like Sky King who contributed to my naming. During the times our tube TV was out of service my grades in school climbed and so did my activities involving my reading, writing and researching.
Those were my Three Rs and until this very day I am not very good in math. But who needs to be with the calculator? When I was growing up the Three Rs, Reading “aRithmetic” and “wRighting” were what a student was expected to master. (Too bad it still isn’t that way today.)
Being partially deaf I often could not hear what was being said in school or church and my mind would drift to imagination. I’d imagine many things and invent things in my mind. My older (late) brother Kenny was very instrumental in my creative writing since he used to tuck me in bed at night and tell me stories to put me to sleep.
My Dad would let me rest my head on his arm while he lay in bed and read comic books, sometimes to me and sometimes to himself.
My Mom was instrumental in developing the horror stories in me. She was great for scaring the hell out of me while telling me far fetched things. Like one night my Mom and Dad went on a “wrecking call” with the tow truck, having been called to help clean up a major accident. When they returned hours later Mom said lots of people were killed and said, “I have their teeth to prove it!” and she’d dump her false teeth on the kitchen table and make me jump to the roof. Or when I was looking out the windows at night trying to see what was out there and she’d see my from peeking in another window, race around and press her face to the glass and scare the hell out of me. (All in fun and play) and of course imagination leads to ideas and ideas lead to writing and writing leads to…well, here we are.
I have a cousin named Junior who liked to tell far fetched stories. I used to love the stories he told. They were always good. Everyone talked of his BS. One day I told Junior one of my own stories and he said to me, “You can’t bull shit a bull shitter.” Obviously I improved my story telling.
And then there was Mister Sather, I hope I spelled that right, my art teacher. What a wonderful storyteller he was. Amazing. Mister Sather, a man with a glass eye, which he’d taken out and showed us before, would turn off the lights in the classroom and stand up by the chalkboard and tell this story about a huge bull in a slaughter house hanging from a hook and some how this bull would get loose and in an angry revenge get even with all responsible for his fate. Then he’d pretend something was in his eye while reminding us of his glass eye and then he’d make it look like he was twisting his glass eye with his finger and then throw a piece of white chalk to some girl who’d start screaming and set off a chain reaction of student’s screaming and wetting their pants. I loved that guy. I got decent grades in art, always at lease a 65 with a red circle around it.
There were many others who were instrumental in creating my imagination that sparked my writing. I estimate several billion dollars worth of manuscripts have been lost in my lifetime, due to being destroyed from one reason or another.
So, after retiring from the automobile business with disabilities I spend as much time as I can in my lifelong passions of reading, writing, photography and research.