I plan on posting excerpts from my last book on this blog. This first one will start with the Preface.
This book started out as a biography about my dad. But Dad is a lot like his mother and was not very helpful in supplying details about his life and ministry. So I could really only write about my memories of him, and that’s how this book came into being. The more I wrote, the more I realized I needed to write these words for you, my children. I wanted you to see how great my mom and dad are, and learn some lessons from my own life.
I wrote the first draft in 1993 on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean while in the Marines. I kept it all these years and always meant to have it ready for you each to read before you went to high school. But, I got so busy with my career and paying bills that I never got around to completing the project.
I’m sorry I didn’t do it sooner, but I hope you enjoy these stories and memories from my early life regardless of their lack of timeliness. When you were little, you used to beg me (and my mom) to tell you stories about when I was a little boy. I did tell you a lot of stories, and you might even remember some of the fantasy ones about how I saved the town (or Lottie, or my family) from Indians, Monsters or Bad Things in general. While many of those stories were entertaining, this book will be more factual—but hopefully no less enjoyable.
In the seventies and eighties, life was different than it is today. Many of the inventions we have today were not around when I was growing up. Nobody had a computer and there were only three channels on TV. Air conditioning was not in ev-ery house or car and only “rich” people had microwaves. Some of the basic things that you’ve always had were not even invented when I was a kid. Cell phones, MP3 players, VCR’s, CD’s, remote controls, weed-eaters and riding lawnmowers have all changed life for kids today.
While it may be hard to believe, life without air conditioning, a microwave and no cable or satellite TV was still fun. As kids, we had more time to play outside with each other. We had nothing else to do and the heat in the summertime made us want to go outside. Without a microwave you couldn’t just warm something up to snack on. You had to wait for dinner to eat and, because we were poor, Mom didn’t have anything like Star Crunches around. With only three channels on TV, there wasn’t a lot to watch, and TV’s were expensive with most families having only one. Back then, you actually had to watch what your parents wanted to watch.
As a kid, the only way I ever played a video game was by using my lawn mowing money at the arcade or going over to a rich kid’s house that had an Atari (I only knew one kid who ever had one.) Nobody knew what a song playlist or a CD was back then. Those who could afford cassette tape players in the eighties would record songs from different records or off of the radio and put our favorite songs together from different groups on a “mixed tape.” The only way to buy one song when I was a kid was to buy a little 45 rpm record. I don’t even think they make those anymore.
Most of the things you have today all save time and give people more choices. Just think about how that makes things different. My parents experienced a lot of changes in their life-times too. They grew up when there was no indoor plumbing, washing machines, dryers, vacuums, air conditioning or many of the other things I, in my own childhood, could never imagine living without.
My mom can remember when their house did not have in-door plumbing. She tells how my Grandpa won their first TV in a contest and how no family had more than one car. Everyday life in the fifties and sixties was different for them compared to me just as this new century has been different for you. Some people say it’s better now, but older people say it was better back then. Personally, I like computers, AC, iPod’s and ESPN! I agree that the new inventions keep us inside and in front of a TV or computer more, and we don’t “play” with our friends outside as much, but I still like the new stuff.
In the “old” days, we all watched the same TV program, we all rode in the same car, and we all listened to the same radio station, but we also all ate at the same time, which allowed families and friends to spend more time together. Today we all have our own TV, we all have our own car, and we cook our own dinner. Occasionally on long trips we all ride in the same car, but each person has their own iPod and playlist or DVD and headphones. These things do make life more about the self and less about family, and that is probably one of the things that is not as good as the old days.
The other thing to remember as you read this story is that we were not rich. I don’t know that we were poor, but there were times when we had very little extra money. When you were growing up, we were poor when Callie was little, but you probably don’t remember that. So, while you did not grow up rich, you definitely grew up in a house were we could afford good vacations and nicer things. That wasn’t the case for my own childhood, but man did we have FUN!
Hopefully you will have fun reading these stories as well, and learn some new things about my parents and Lottie, Ruth and Courts. You will also learn some new things about me. Some of it I am not proud of, but I hope it will help you avoid the mistakes I have made.
I really didn’t want to include many of the negative stories that are in this book. The poem below (with a few of my edits) sums up why I chose to include them. It would be much easier to slide into the last half of my life with many of these secrets hidden, but I know there are others that I love who may follow in my path and this book is my attempt to build a bridge, for them, over the troubled waters I fell into.
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for almost ended him;
But he turned when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near
“You’re wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the close of day,
You will never again pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head,
“Good friend, in the path I’ve come,” he said,
“There followed after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way;
This chasm that has been as naught to almost destroyed me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He too, must cross in the twilight dim—
Good friend, I’m building this bridge for him.”
Author – Will Allen Dromgoole
You can order the whole book at this link – Son of a Preacher Man- Amazon Page