Rumor has it that I was born on June 23, 1943. I really can't remember, and I really don't trust what my two older sisters tell me. My three brothers are all younger than I am, so they don't remember either. It's a real problem; however, my birth certificate does agree with that date. All the stories about storms, two headed calves and words appearing in the sky are very suspect. Don't believe everything you hear about me even if I tell you myself.

I was very young when I was first born. I guess that's normal. It's just about the last normal thing that I did. Everything about me is just a little bit off; but fortunately for me, mostly in a good way. I'm a little taller than average, a little thinner than average, a little stronger, a little quicker. I don't think that I'm outstanding at much of anything except perhaps word puzzles. I'm a crossword demon. I even create my own, some here on this site.

There are some negatives. I have some allergies, my asthma was very bad when I was little. Then they discovered epinephrine and the other cortisols, and that took care of most of my problems. I learned to avoid certain kinds of dust and animals, and I rarely have any problems these days. Those early days I used to spend a lot of time in the house, and I turned to reading very young. One of my older sisters was into science fiction, and I used to read all the books she brought home and the magazines that she subscribed to. The story that most impressed me at that age was Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Robert Heinlein. That was serialized in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and is still one of my favorite stories.

We lived on a ranch two miles overland from the nearest neighbor, five by the road, eight miles from the nearest town, and thirty miles from the nearest town with a real library. We had a party line phone, no indoor plumbing or central heating. We had a radio, but there wasn't much on, and we didn't get TV until I was in high school. What we did have was lots of wide open spaces and lots of imagination.

My sisters were five and six years older than me, and I had three brothers younger by two, three, and five years. My sisters became instant babysitters of course. I think my father planned it that way. After all he did marry my mother on her birthday, so he'd only have one big date to remember.

My sisters were quite clever. When I wanted to play with them and they'd rather I didn't bother them, they talked me into pretending to be "Air." I was supposed to just float around not making any noise. That worked for a while, but I was a little too active and solid for it to work very long.

We used to do some things that would get our parents cited for child abuse or endangerment these days. I remember once when my youngest brother, Steve, was still just a baby, my sisters took us all up onto the roof of the house. We used a step ladder to get onto the porch and then climbed all over the rest of the roof. I was a real monkey in those days, and I would climb trees and buildings and telephone poles, anything to get a little higher off the ground. I had some pretty spectacular falls, but just got the wind knocked out of me. These days I'm afraid of heights. I don't even like looking down from a second floor balcony. I have no idea what happened. Apparently puberty turned off the monkey genes.

I had a social studies class in High School where he had to write something about our intentions following High School. I was interested in science and engineering with a fall back to teaching if I couldn't make it in my first choice. I may have written that just to get back at my teachers for wasting my time with such stupid questions, but I've wondered since just what they thought of my answer. It was a common opinion at the time that those who could did and those who couldn't became teachers, so maybe it didn't mean much to them. Teaching was a secondary profession. I eventually decided to become an Electrical Engineer solely on the basis of a magazine article that said that they were the highest paid college graduates. As I have a natural aptitude for details and mathematics, engineering was easy for me. I got a Ph.D. without really working too hard. I lost interest in money along the way though, so I never did work much as an engineer. I probably should have gone into teaching. I have a real genius for explaning complicated things to people. I once amused myself for an evening by teaching a bar maid how to calculate square roots. She was so proud of herself. For weeks she went around offering to do square roots for people. She was considered pretty much of an airhead, so people were impressed. I don't know if it increased her tips any. She had another good figure that helped with that.

I should probably explain why I lost interest in money. It had to do with a woman, although it differs from the usual stories. In my freshman year of college I lived in Selleck Hall, the only men's dormitory on campus in those distant days just as the university decided to experiment with coeducational living. I met a lot of women who ate in the cafeteria with us barbarian males. We also had strange little parties modeled after what the Greeks, fraternities and sororities, were doing at the time. I met one young lady who developed a severe crush on me. Her parents were rich, and she was an only child too. Now my daddy always told me that it was just as easy to fall in love with a rich woman, but the problem (You knew there was a problem right?)was that she had a darker mustache than I did, she was skinny and bow-legged, and she had a really annoying little giggle. Well, I really wasn't all THAT shallow and callow, and we did get along OK, but I did some serious soul searching and decided that love was more important than money. Some of the considering looks that I'd been getting from one of the campus beauty queens may have had something to do with it as well. Looking back I think a few cosmetic changes, an exercise program and a voice coach might have changed everything.

To be continued ...

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