Thursday, December 23, 2010
Autobiography of a Nobody (excerpt)
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?