NOSTALGIA

 

Introduction: I have two hometowns, Lincoln and Fairfield, Illinois. My family moved to Lincoln during my freshman year in high school. I really liked being the new kid at school. Just about everyone accepted me into their group and whatever they were doing. At first my neighbor, Ronnie Leathers, said he could hardly understand me because of my strong "southern accent." It seems funny now that being from Southern Illinois would qualify me as having a southern accent. I think my accent came from spending several summers in Texas between the ages of six and seventeen. It is really amazing to me that those four years that I spent in high school still stand out as being the most significant time of my life. This is where ideas, attitudes, and habits were formed which served me well, or not so well in some cases, for the rest of my life.

My bio: I want to tell you about some things that have taken place in my life since the day I walked into Lincoln Community High School, until now. I am going to write this brief "autobiographical sketch" in Internet style. Scattered through it will be underlined words and phrases that will take you, with a click of your mouse, to more details on that particular topic. Other things will be humorous (hopefully), while some will even be romantic, like "Brad's secret love" for example. This is my first attempt at creative writing, so be gentle—don't laugh.

This is beginning to sound like a Willie Nelson song. My not-so-secret loves are still a big part of my memory along with the pain of the breakups and that ever-present teenager curse—peer pressure. Everyone used to say "get over it, you are just a kid and it is natural to have these intense feelings at your age." Somehow I misinterpreted that as saying that it would get easier as I got older. Wrong!

So, here we go with some life highlights that come to mind:

Fishing: It was great fun fishing in the lakes with Ronnie Leathers. We used to run "trot lines" before school in the mornings. Here is a photo of Ron and I with a carp that we caught. The photo was published in the Lincoln Courier.

Hunting: I remember pheasant hunting with Tom Werth and being stopped by the game warden. He had his assistant along with him, and this man had to be the meanest person since Adolph Hitler. After a big hassle, they let us go. Memories of hunting with the Leathers brothers are still hiding back there in the cobwebs. I thought I was a pretty good shot, but these guys were really good! (Tom Werth passed away in 2008, Jim Leathers—several years before. I still see Ron from time to time.)

Camping: There was a little island at Lincoln Lakes where we used to go camping. This was great fun, except one night "Herman the German" the Lake's manager, who patrolled the Lakes constantly trying to catch me breaking one of his rules, heard us all raising a racket and yelled over to the island and told us to clear out and go home. Well I can't repeat here what Jon Diers said that I told him, but I think he got it right when he told the story at the 40th reunion. We all did clear out, and right away. I heard that Blackie Fults swam across the lake so fast that Jon Diers was water skiing behind him. (Dec. 2004 note: Jon called me and said that Fults doesn't know how to swim—so I guess this is another distorted memory that I will blame on old age. Someone was swimming with him.)

The most embarrassing things that happened to me in high school were: Playing Pekin's sophomore football team and having the game called off at half time because the score was something like 50 to nothing, their favor. I got a tooth chipped in that game that hurt until years later when I got it capped. This had to be the world's worse football game. They were so much better than we were that they would laugh at us as they ran across the goal line. Our coaches got so embarrassed that they stopped the game halfway through. In another game, I was playing center and I had just had the stuffing knocked out of me on the previous play. We were all set in position and I suddenly realized that I had forgotten the number on which to hike the ball. So, I just picked up the ball, stood up, and turned around to ask the quarterback what to do. You can imagine what happened next. The whole opposing team piled on top of me. Our coach wasn't too happy and pulled me out of the game. At the last class reunion I fully expected to be reminded of that great play of mine, but fortunately no one brought it up. Maybe this foggy memory thing is not going to be so bad after all.

Were you there: One question making the rounds at the 2000 reunion was: "Were you there when Ken Fuller drove his jeep over the ice on Lincoln Lakes?" My answer is: "Yes, it was at a skating party at my house and I got into the jeep with him. I can still hear the ice cracking and everybody yelling." It was sort of like the old "where were you when you heard that Kennedy had been shot?" question. Here is where it happened.

The Lincolnites: The trip to Peoria to pick up the Lincolnite yearbooks from the printer! What fun! Can anyone name everyone that was in the car that day? Leigh and "Slats" Fouch claim they were in the back seat and that I was driving Who else was there? Surely Mr. Bass was with us. You know the joke: "when you get old you lose two things, the first one to go is your memory, and I forgot what the other one is."

Racing: I was stopped for speeding while racing Jim Benner on the way back from the state basketball championships in Springfield. Both of our cars were full of cheerleaders. He paid his fine and went home, I had to wait in jail until my dad came to bail me out. If I remember correctly it was $104.00 for 110 mph. I worked off my debt by delivering furniture for 75¢ an hour. Tell Benner that my new Vet has 345 HP where that old '58 Buick probably didn't have any more than 300 HP. Not that I am willing to repeat that race or anything—I don't drive that fast anymore. My last speeding ticket was in 1963.

The Blu Inn: Does anyone remember sitting in a booth in the Blu-Inn on Friday night with a couple of fresh pizzas covered with paper napkins to keep them warm, and waiting for midnight to pass so the Catholic guys could eat meat. I can't put faces on that moment.

Dating: One time I had a date and I asked my dad for some money. He gave me 50 cents. A little discouraged, I went to my mom and she gave me five dollars. So this girl and I had a great time on $5.50 which probably included "dinner" at the Dog 'N Suds drive in, or maybe a pizza at the Blu Inn, a movie, and gas for the car. It is a lot different now.

Bumps in Life's Road: The sudden death of Mr. Bass, in our senior year, was a big shock to me. It influenced me for the rest of my life and had a part to play in my search for spiritual answers (life, death, the reason for being, etc.), including becoming a minister and a foreign missionary. About nine years later my brother Greg accidentally shot himself while we were deer hunting together in Wisconsin. I was already a minister by that time and the horrible experience shook my faith to its core. I went ahead and started my missionary work but it was just too soon after his death and I wasn't ready. If you would like to read about my struggles to find spiritual answers which is the second part of my story, click on the link to the left, send me an e-mail and I will send the rest of the story back to you. If you don't want to read this part, that is all right. I know religion and politics are not popular topics in some circles. At least there is nothing about politics here, and not really religion either since this is only about my own struggle with faith.

Education: Four years of undergraduate study in the school of Religion at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. I have attended various colleges and universities in my search for enlightenment. I attended a missionary school in Wisconsin for one year before going to Costa Rica. I lived in Costa Rica for a year and studied in a total immersion course of the Spanish language at El Instituto de la lengua española in San José, Costa Rica. I am a self-taught radio engineer, I obtained my First Class FCC Radiotelephone license, and taught communications and electronics as part of my work at Motorola.

Military Service: Four years in the United States Navy. Honorably discharged as Radioman Second Class. Recruit Company Honorman. Radio School Graduate with high honors.

Professional Associations: Past Member of the Institute of the Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA), the Radio Club of America (RCA), and the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Participated in the POCSAG (a radio paging protocol) committee in London. Was on the management committee for the development of the FLEX (a radio paging protocol) at Motorola.

Language Ability: Fairly fluent in Spanish (read, write, and speak), speak some Guaraní, a South American Indian language. I have a basic understanding of Brazilian Portuguese, and I have studied some ancient Greek and Hebrew. My Latin teacher at LCHS passed me with an agreement that I would never again take a foreign language course. I broke my promise, and language turned out to be one of my talents.

Family: I have three grown daughters: Allison, Amy, and Eva, all who I love very much. Among the three of them I have eight grandchildren. My mother passed away on December 27. 2000. My father preceded her on June 23, 1986. They are buried with my brother Greg, in the old family cemetery near Kinmundy, Illinois. As mentioned above, Greg died in a hunting accident on November 23, 1969.

Hobbies: I enjoy first reading a book and then watching the movie on which it was based. I have a home theater & surround sound system that I am proud of. My favorite old movie is: "Of Human Bondage" made in 1934 from W. Somerset Maugham's novel of the same name, starring Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. I am still doing some photography, both black and white and color. I took a course in large-format black and white photography a few years ago in the Florida Everglades from a master photographer. It was fun. I don't do much ham radio anymore, I still have my license and do operate occasionally. Computers and Internet web page "authoring" are another active interest of mine. I read a lot of technical, and motivational materials. I like music a lot, Blues: Muddy Waters, Latin: Buena Vista Social Club—El Cuarto de Tula, Popular Classical: The Three Tenors—Plácido Domingo singing Granada, Jazz: Dixie as heard at the end of the movie Rambling Rose, and old-time Rock & Roll: Chuck Berry—he had trouble singing on key, but he was the greatest—I like him better than Elvis.

Career: I am still involved in radio communications as you might guess from my high school days as an avid ham radio operator. Several guys at the reunion were already retired. I could retire tomorrow and live like a king for the rest of my life—just as long as I die in about 30 days. Ha! I have over thirty years in radio communications and electronics. I have visited 57 countries in my travels. Some were just in and out while others were 25 to 50 repeated trips. I have lived in Costa Rica, Paraguay, and Puerto Rico. I spent 280 days in Colombia one year and then 300-and-something the next. I have been all over Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East, and Asia. During my years of working at Motorola I managed various groups of professionals, one was an international marketing team, and one was a group of 20-plus engineers. I had many different positions, starting as an electronics technician, through several levels of management in sales, marketing, and engineering, to my last position as vice president of international networks at a wireless messaging and data company in Dallas. I can't imagine that anyone would want to know more about this career stuff, but it you do, click here. Whew...

Summary: Life is good for me now. Now if I can just find the right girl, and figure out what I want to be when I grow up. . .

 

Updated: 11/19/2008

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