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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Autobiography of a Nobody (excerpt)

The following is an excerpt of my father's autobiography as he wrote it.  I hope to eventually have it all transcribed from his original manuscript.  What is presented here today has not yet been edited.

From Chapter 2 of Autobiography of a Nobody:

            We had no kindergarten like the children have today. Our school was a building where grades one through six were taught. I was not a good student. I wasn’t a smart student like so many of them were. I did not get a good scholastic foundation. It was my own fault, I thought too much of playing instead of studying. I can’t blame my parents either. With eight children to look after, individual tutoring was out of the question. However, my mother did insist on giving me my spelling words without fail every night. I could spell. But reading1 arithmetic, geography, and other studies did not come easy for me. Hindsight is better than foresight, so if I had it all over to do again, I would know that I should allocate time to my lessons instead of thinking everyday was a picnic with games to play.

            Seventh and eighth grades were the same pattern. I got by as an average or below average student. I did get a lot of exercise walking to and from school, morning, noon, and evening. The school was in the main part of Clarksburg.

            High School--grades nine through twelve--was a big step up for me, I looked forward to gym classes. You had a choice of swimming, or playing basketball. Swimming was the choice of Fish Mouth. It had nothing to do with his nick-name. He just loved to swim. I always chose to play basketball.

            There was one class subject I really liked. It was typing. My teacher liked me, because I did work hard at it, and my father had a typewriter at home for me to practice. Practice does make the difference. I caught the eyes of other students in the class watching me as my fingers danced rapidly across the keyboard. I hope I did not come across to them as a smart alec show-off. Host of them were struggling after nearly a full semester to do 25 words per minute, to enable them to pass the course, or 30 words to take 2nd year typing. I was moving along at a clip over twice as fast as this without really trying.

             Since I was the fastest typist in the class, my teacher let me compete against other typists from other schools at different locations. This I liked. Thanks to my typing teacher, I got my first job after graduation. An officer of a large construction company called my high school for a good typist. She recommended me. From this job, I learned the field construction office profession, and never had a desire to do any other type of work.

            A very sad event happened to me while I was in high school. My father died. At the age of forty-seven, he laid at home in bed with appendicitis.. He was a Christian Science member. They believe in faith healing. He wouldn’t go to the doctor. Until —— it was too late! His appendix burst within him. He was rushed to the hospital. Peritonitis had set in. No wonder drugs then. Next thing, word came home that my father had died.
 
            I do not believe in Christian Science, They put out a good newspaper, but as for me that is it. It was a cold snowy day in December my father’s: funeral was held. He was buried in the family cemetery on a hill-side in Homer, W,Va. The pallbearers had a hard time slipping and sliding upon the glistening snow covered, slippery hillside carrying my father’s casket. As the cold wind, blew, the tear drops froze against my face. My mother was widowed with eight children, God bless her.  She was not a Christian Science follower. She believed in God.
 
            My father died December 19, 1936. Our Christmas was shattered! When I returned to school after time off, a friend of mine in gym class said to me, “What have you been doing, goofing off?”   Some people can say some mean things, but he didn’t know! With tears in my eyes, I told him I was off because my father died. This was a sad event, the saddest thing to happen to me up to this time.
                                               ####
 
              All Christmas stories aren't happy ones.  There is a happy outcome to this one in the sense that my father was a great Dad.  Christmas's were always very special in our house and we had a life of abundance in more ways than just material things.  He was Godly and good-hearted.  And he was very funny.
 
              My siblings and I were all adults when my father passed at the age of 67.  That was twenty years ago.  He left us at far too young of an age, but thankfully he saw us all go out on our own as adults and was able to see all of his grandchildren. 
 
                 Let me know what you think about this excerpt.  We were fortunate that he did leave us something in writing.  Have your parents left an autobiography?  Have you thought about interviewing them and writing a biography as a family history keepsake?
 
 
          

23 comments:

  1. That is so wonderful and sad at the same time.

    I loved reading about your dad in his own words.

    It's really special that you have all this written down.

    Maybe one day (when I've had a bit more life) I'll write an autobiography.

    But maybe I should just convince my gran to do the same... Hmm...

    Have a very Marry Christmas. :-)

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  2. Be thankful he wrote that. I think about the last few years of my grandmother's life and listening to her stories. (She was in her 90's and mind clear as a bell.) I wished I'd recorded some of those stories, because now they are gone forever.

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  3. yes, Christmas is not always a happy time. I totally understand what kind of sentiment it can evoke in you because of your father's death. Both my grandmother and my grandfather died one late December, and we often have bad things happening in our house during the festive season, which is always paradoxical.

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  4. Very very interesting. Isn't it great to have insight into our family members by their writing? My daughter tells me she has come to know me better by reading my blog. I think it's important to leave our thoughts for generations to come.

    Merry Christmas!

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  5. Misha-- Now is the time to start keeping a journal of your life so you have fresher memories for an autobiography later. A memoir is a great thing to give to future generations.

    Alex-- I know what you mean. I had grandparents and aunts and uncles whose life accounts would have been great to have.

    Dezmond -- Yes "tragedy" at Christmas can make the future celebrations a bit more bittersweet.

    Teresa-- I agree with you on that. Leaving something for our children and even others to read can be enlightening to them. Even for historians, the journals and life accounts can be very useful for piecing together information about history.

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  6. That is very moving and thought provoking too. I thought the line: 'I do not believe in Christian Science, They put out a good newspaper, but as for me that is it'. summed up the futility of his death. Yes Christmas can be a difficult time. I hope yours is a blessed one.
    MERRY CHRISTMAS :O)

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  7. Pretty interesting, LEE.
    I can understand how your Dad would have held some resentment toward Christian Science.

    Hey, A Very Merry CHRISTmas to ya, McBuddy

    Yak Later...

    ~ Stephen
    "As a dog returns to his own vomit,
    so a fool repeats his folly."
    ~ Proverbs 26:11

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  8. I love this. I can relate as when I was in kindergarten me and my older brother and sister went to a one room school house for grades K-6. Great post.

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  9. This was beautiful. I believe with my whole heart that EVERYONE should write down the history of their family becasue if they don't, someone else might & the truth may not be told. Have a Merry Christmas :)

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  10. Wow, it must be interesting and emotional to have something like that left behind by your father....
    My dad died last year, leaving nothing like that.

    It was a lovely excerpt. Will you be posting more?

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  11. What a wonderful memento to have from your father. My dad died too young as well.

    Have a wonderful Christmas Lee! Enjoy your time with your family! :)

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  12. I'm so grateful for modern medicine.

    I think it's really great that your father wrote these things down to preserve those memories.

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  13. Madeleine -- Having a great holiday so far and wishing you the same.

    StMc -- Yes, and thank you for your continued online friendship which I hope can continue in the real world someday.

    Stephen Tremp -- You grew up in more modern times too! You must have been in the boonies to be in a one room schoolhouse. Merry Christmas!

    Stars -- You make an excellent point.

    Andrew -- I am considering some more excerpts. I'm glad he had the foresight to compose this record.

    Jemi -- You have a wonderful time as well!

    Karen -- I believe that God gave us medical knowledge for a good reason. Thanks!

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  14. Thanks for sharing this wonderful yet sad at times post. It was a joy to read.

    Sorry for the delay but yesterday had a fall on a patch of ice and sprained my wrist so found it painful to write.

    Have a most joyus Christmas with your family.
    Yvonne.

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  15. I'm glad you have these stories from your father.
    Merry Christmas!

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  16. Hey, Lee.. Great story about your dad. The school he went to is very reminiscent of mine. I look forward to reading some more. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas time. Love, Ruby Young

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  17. You're so lucky to have a record like this. We have a few things like this in my family, and I'm working on assembling more--it's fascinating to hear about where we came from and what happened before we were around, and just as interesting to hear about the conclusions our family members have drawn and the lessons they've learned from their experiences. Thanks for sharing this--hope you're having a wonderful Christmas!

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  18. Oh Lee, thank you for sharing such a personal and beautiful excerpt from your father's writings.

    Your father left you a legacy. It is sad that his method of "learning" was never known about during that period in his life. He was, what would be termed today as a "kinesthetic" learner,who benefited most by gleaning knowledge in a "hands on" mode (IMHO.)

    I hope you bring his life's story into the mainstream as there is much to be learned here. Your father was definitely not a "nobody," but someone who was struggling with the limited research and information that was available during his lifetime..

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  19. Lee, what a beautiful post. I certainly enjoyed reading your dad's autobiography. It's priceless. I wished I had something written by my loved ones that had passed on. I hope my grandchildren enjoy reading my stories... assuming I become a grandma some day :-))

    Doris

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  20. To me, family history is amazing. I loved this! Please post more, I think many people will find it very interesting.
    I'm sorry to say that there isn't much of any formal family history left for me. My mother destroyed it all one day...

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  21. Yvonne -- Sorry about your misfortune. Hope your wrist is better.

    Carol-- I'm glad he left this for us!

    Ruby-- We have been enjoying a wonderful white Christmas holiday in East Tennessee. Heading to Houston for New Year's. Thanks for stopping.

    Amie--- It's good for family members to perpetuate family histories.

    Paula -- I agree that my Dad was definitely not a "nobody"-- not sure why he came up with that. I do hope to do something with the autobiography at least for family members if nothing else.

    Doris -- I'm sure your grandchildren to come will absolutely treasure your wonderful stories.

    Pat -- I'd like to know more about why your mother destroyed your formal family history. What a tragic loss! I will post more of my father's autobiography some time.

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  22. That’s a poignant story. It’s one that’s too common in the world, but that’s actually not very common among Christian Scientists. I sympathize with your father’s experience, but to fault Christian Science would be mistaken. It has an excellent track record. So many times when I’ve heard of neighbors or acquaintances dying while under medical care, I’ve considered the many such cases in which Christian Science had brought healing. Why your grandfather moved on early, I don’t know, but so many fathers, such as myself, rely on Christian Science to better ensure that we can be a good, Christian influence in our children’s and other’s lives for a long time.

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  23. Curtis-- I don't know that much about Christian Science so I don't have too much of an opinion. However, the incident had a big impact upon my dad in his feelings toward the religion.

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Lee