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. The work was hard, the weather 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 wielded a long hooked blade on the end of a wooden pole to sever overhanging tree limbs that encroached the roadway. 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 sharpened it, the same chore took three times as much effort. Even with gloves my hands had blisters on top of my calluses. One month we repaired a wooden bridge over a large drainage canal. I carried 8-foot-long railroad ties soaked in creosote on my shoulders. By the end of the day, my white t-shirt was stained black by the resin, the oily tar baked in the hot sun, bonding the shirt with my skin, some which peeled off when I removed the shirt after work. These blisters left scars.
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. I fondly remember my mom packing a brown paper bag with two bologna&egg sandwiches, a bag of Lay’s potato chips, and a (no-kidding) RC Cola for my lunch.
I joined the Air Force a year after high school when I finally realized there wasn’t much of a future for me in my little hometown. I am forever grateful for the opportunity the Air Force gave me, including a chance to experience a much broader perspective of the world. After my four-year commitment, I received a honorable discharge. My GI Bill benefits, along with a couple of part-time jobs, enabled financing for a quality education at the University of Arkansas where I received an Associates of Science degree in Land Surveying and a Bachelors of Science degree in Civil Engineering. After college, I joined the Air National Guard, was commissioned, and later in my career, I transferred to the Air Force Reserves. Fifty years later after that summer job with the county, I’ve completed a satisfactory career as a professional engineer and land surveyor, serving many years part time and sometimes full time 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, but significant efforts will take one a long way toward their goals. I believe providence has played the biggest part in my life. For this new career as a writer, I’ll do as I’ve always done. I’ll do the work and be grateful for whatever success comes my way.
I now live in Japan with my wife, Mary Tomonaga, and our spoiled dog Ichiro.
The Naked Peacock
It’s said, writers write what they know. What I know is a collection of personal experiences and observations, boiled down to perceptions and understandings, and though I work hard to uncover them, also contain bias and prejudices blind to my self awareness. In October, 2016, I attended the Japan Writers Conference, carrying with me an egotistical idea that I could become a writer. I thought myself educated, aged with wisdom, and with a little more knowledge of the industry, ready to lay upon the world fascinating stories. I was humbled to be in the presence of many fine writers who had made a lifelong endeavor of writing. At the end of the day, discouraged and lost in thought, I wandered the high castle ruins of Tokushima and encountered someone that I did not expect. I’ll hold the details for a later time, but from this meeting came an epiphany which has set my approach to writing. The Naked Peacock’s fiction stories are a both a reflection and 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.