Life Over 56  


I remember: when I was a little boy, the day I got my Comet Sabre 44 model airplane powered by a 0.049 OK Cub gas engine. Little did I know at the time why it gave me such a thrill to have it, but the dark side is that it represented a much deeper desire to fly away and escape my violent father.

Me With My Sabre 44 Model Airplane
Photo Taken May 12, 1952

In fact my father would take off his 2 inch wide belt and beat me or my brothers at the slighted provocation. That has affected me to this day some 60 years later. I cannot wear a belt more than an inch wide lest it reminds me of him beating me.

One day back then my father beat me with that belt because he thought I did not play the trumpet well enough to suit him. You see he wanted us kids to play music or else.

Eighteen years later I went to Phoenix College where I took several Marshall Arts classes which were a substitute for physical education requirements, first Korean - Kuk Sool Won then later Jujitsu. However, the classes for me were for balance and the ability to fall without getting hurt as bad, since at the time, I was a heavy construction worker and feared falling from roof tops and scaffolding.

My father paid his price for abusing us when we were little. His ego and arrogance took their toll on him. He died of a massive heart attack when he was 61. My mother lived to be 89. To this day I do not see how she lived so long - because he treated her like dirt.

Going to college was for education and wisdom instead revenge against my father. Those long days both working by day and going to college at night helped me cope with my past. I eventually earned an Associate of Arts Degree - from Phoenix College and later a Bachelor of Fine Arts - From Arizona State University and an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems from - Ivy Tech in Kokomo, Indiana and was on the semester honor roll at Purdue University at the IPFW campus in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Today I am working on many projects including Life Over 56.

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES: Written: Feb. 4, 1997


      He led the way down the steep steps into our dimly lit basement. I followed him as he placed one foot carefully after another on each step. When we reached the bottom of the narrow staircase, we walked over to the well in the corner. I peered over the edge into the deep, dark hole in the floor.

      The well rings, which are hollow cylinders stacked one on top of the other like cans on a shelf from the bottom of the well to three feet above the basement floor. My father already broke the concrete floor away from the well and dug the clay down two feet deep around the rings. He thought if the rings were to slide all the way to the bottom of the well it would keep the sand from running into the well. The sand was clogging the pump and getting into our water.

      I was about ten-years-old at the time when my father put a narrow ladder into the well which was about 18 feet deep and 30 inches across inside the rings. He told me he was too big to fit in the well with the ladder in it. So, he told me I would have to climb into the well and fill a water pail with water and sand. Then he would pull it up when it was full, empty it and lower it to be filled again.

      I did not want to climb into the well. The damp basement offered only enough light to see shadows of things on the water in the well. I stared at the gray floor joists above me as I put a foot onto the ladder to make the decent to the bottom of the well. "War of the Worlds" movie memories haunted me as I climbed down the ladder. The inside of the rings started to look like a spaceship access tunnel. The darkness bought up visions of different monsters to mind. The farther down I went, the more I could not control these memories. When I reached the bottom, my father took the ladder out. I was in near hysteria when I realized the ladder was gone.

      After a while, I began to relax and started to perform the task that I was to do. I would bail. He would pull the bucket up and pour the water around the rings. This went on for a long time. I was beginning to tire. I wanted to rest. I did not push the issue, knowing my father wore a two-inch-wide belt and would not hesitate to use it liberally on me at the slightest provocation.

      It seemed to be an endless task filling the buckets again, again and again. I began to drift off into a daydream where I envisioned things coming down on me and things slithering out of the dark spaces between the concrete rings. The water started to come alive with anything my mind could envision in it.

     Suddenly, I heard the roar of rushing water. Within a second, the water in the well rose up 10 feet high. Instinctively I climbed up the pump's 3/4 inch water pipe and was standing there watching my father in slow motion going after the ladder. Then the sudden realization hit me that, if the pipe on the pump broke off due to my weight or the pump broke loose from its mounting platform, I would have been crushed under it like a bug. And if I had not reacted so fast, I would have drowned in that well before my father could have got the ladder into the well or the ladder hit me in the head while I was in the water.

     Then a warm feeling came over me as I realized how grateful I was to still be alive.

Journal Memories, Nov. 30, 1983, Eng. 211 ASU

Class Assignment: I Remember:

      1. When I arrived home this afternoon, Stephen, our two-year-old son was stacking grocery cans all around my chair. The place was getting cluttered. He was playing with the cans when he decided he would try to climb the shelves where the cans once were. He wobbled like a new born colt and it took him quite a bit of time to get up on the first shelf. After he managed to get himself on the first shelf his confidence drove him to the second shelf. However, when he reached for the third shelf he teetered and fell backwards to the floor. He fell with a crash.

      2. I think it is interesting enough to study life but it is better to live it. I see all things about me and wonder what I have missed over the horizon. I sometimes imagine miniature cities on just a drop of water. I think of little things scurrying about on a microscopic dot. I wonder whether they are happy or sad. Or are they even more sad because they know not either happiness or sadness? The things I imagine in a few specks of dust are enormous, yet in the universe there appears to be far less. On a clear night there can be seen a host of tiny dots in the sky, but how far are they apart? How can there be so much in so little and so little in so much space?

      3. The written word speaks to me in an incredible way. It is a hidden voice of visual meanings and feelings. I wonder how much just a signature can tell us. Do the shapes and curls of the letters speak with an invisible voice? I wonder.

      4. I often tell stories about things that are really good , but the buzzards always seem to pick my words clean.

I remember my, October 18, 1983, English 211
ASU Class Assignment Titled Remember:

      I felt cold as I shrived under my thin blanket. After I woke up, I knew it snowed last night because there was snow on the window sill near my bed. My father had not worked most of the winter, so we had very little fuel for the stove which was burning with a weak flame. I wanted to dash from my bed to where the heater was, but it was too cold.
      Soon, my mother came in and said, "Time to get up." I rummaged quickly for my tattered clothes and shabby shoes, then went hastily toward the heater. I stood in front of the stove rotating in the heat so as not to burn any tender places. The sun was late as usual, on these winter days, it seemed it needed the a little extra sleep too. It wasn't long before the sun poked its nose over the horizon so I could dress in its light. I could hardly wait till it was warm enough to leave my warm nest and venture out to breakfast.
      After breakfast, I grabbed my lunch and left for the half mile walk to the bus stop. The snow was deeper than usual. My shoes sank into the powdery stuff and squeaked as I walked. It was a ritual I had been making most days for four years now. It seemed to take longer to walk to the bus stop. When I got there, I was constantly being interrupted by my shivering and shifting from one foot to the other. It was cold. I couldn't wait to get into the nice warm warm building at school. It wasn't very long before I realized that there were no tire track in the snow on the highway. Uh-oh, I think the bus isn't going to come today: Just the same, I'd better wait a little longer. It seemed as though a long time passed before I started back home. I was soon at the house taking off my sopping wet shoes and drying my soaking wet pants by the stove. The house was warmer now about the temperature of limp ice cubes in a flat drink. I remember the radio and the announcer saying, "And now for the list of school closings." When he said, "Lakeshore Elementary." I jumped with up and down with joy.
      I knew I wouldn't get into trouble for missing the bus. I put on my soaked pants and wet shoes then went outside and played until I caught a cold and couldn't go to school, even if I wanted to, for a WEEK.*

*I edited this a little because it was really bad. However, it was one of my first experiences in writing during my sophomore year at Arizona State University. The story is strong. It would be even stronger if one realized that I would have taken a sever beating from my father for missing school.
      Years later my brother walked between ten and twenty mile to school and received a morning announcement - I believe on the school intercom - Likening him to Abraham Lincoln for walking so far to school. Little did they know we would have taken a sever beating from our violent father for not going to school.

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