I began contributing to the Social Security System at age 14. That summer, I worked for the Lawrence County Road Department, hired on via an employment program set aside for low income folks, like us. It was hard work, hot and sweaty (imagine driving down a dirt road in rural Arkansas and coming upon a prison chain gang--without the chains). Most days I used a kaiser blade (a thin, 18” curved blade on the end of a wooden pole) to cut off tree limbs overhanging the dirt/gravel roads. In the morning, while it was still sharp, I could whack off a 4” limb with just a couple swipes. By noon, before the foreman would sharpen it again, the same chore would take three times as much effort. Even with gloves, my hands were covered with blisters. One month we repaired a wooden bridge over a large drainage canal. I'd carry 8 foot long railroad ties that had been soaked in creosote on my shoulders. By the end of the day, my white t-shirt was stained black by the resin--when I got home from work, some of my skin peeled off with my shirt, the hot sun having cooked the oily tar and bonded the shirt with my skin.
Hard work never hurt nobody. Bad grammer perhaps but true words. I enjoyed the comradery of the men and boys I worked with. Most of them were from the foothills around Black Rock, true salt of the earth folks. What I remember most fondly: every day, my mom made two bologna&egg sandwiches for my lunch. She’d stick them in a paper sack with a bag of Lay’s potato chips, and a (no-kidding) RC Cola.
I joined the Air Force a year after high school (it took me that long to figure out there wasn't much of a future in that little place called home). This opportunity gave me a chance to experience a much broader perspective of the world, and for that I am forever grateful. I received a honorable discharge and used my GI Bill benefits. I graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelors degree in civil engineering. I joined the Air National Guard, was commissioned and later transferred to the reserves.Fifty years later after that summer job with the county, I've completed a good career as a Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor, along many years in the military, where I started out as an E1, became an enlisted non-commisioned officer, and retired as a Colonel.
It takes more than hard work to be successful, I think. It'll take you a long way, but providence plays a big part. For my writing, I'll do the work and be thankful for anything else that comes my way.
I now live in Whidbey Island with my wife, Mary and our dog Ichiro.
The Naked Peacock
It's said, writers write what they know. What I know is based on a collection of experiences and observations, boiled down to perceptions and understandings, containing even those things blind to my self awareness. The Naked Peacock's fiction stories are a both a reflection and a projection of what I know about love and death, happiness and sorrow, longing and having, and all the other mysterious natures of humanity and our universe. I hope you like them.
My Writing Story
When we were kids, my brother Dennis started a family newspaper. He published a daily menu of dishes few families (back then) in Northwest Arkansas would ever cook (sashimi was bait). A gossip column with made-up stories about the people of our small town was hilarious. Dennis was an avid Marvel Comics fan, so we did a cartoons section with super hero stuff, guys with Popeye arms and long capes. We would sketch word balloons and insert action dialogue, "Bam", "Pow", "Take that"... After an interesting life, I hope to populate some enlightening stories in which to fill those balloons.