In one of my early childhood memories, I was sitting under the kitchen table and trying to make a book using
notebook paper, a yellow crayon, and a piece of red yarn. I remember being very unhappy with my first attempts. It did not look like
This was in Youngstown, Ohio in the early 1950's. I was the middle child of three. My father
was a widower trying to keep his household together. For the most part, his job as a foreman at Ohio Bell Telephone kept him out of
the house during the work day. This meant that we were watched over by a confederacy of neighbors, family, and sitters. In reality,
my nine-year-old sister was in charge, and sometimes, our imaginations colored our interpretation of reality. When we first watched
Howdy Doody on television, we could not help but notice that "Buffalo Bob Smith" looked a little like our father.
"People look different on television," my sister said. That was the first part of the analysis. The second was even easier. My father's
name was "Bob Smith" (and yes, I am really a junior). I could go on, but the simple conclusion is that we learned to handle reality
by taking forays into the world of imagination.
After fourth grade in Sheridan Elementary School, we
moved to the Cleveland area, North Olmsted, to be exact. My father had been sent to school to become a telephone engineer, and he took
the bus or Rapid to Public Square every day. Besides lawn mowing, babysitting, and snow shovelling, my first real job was a partnership
with my brother. We delivered the Cleveland Plain Dealer. This was my second adventure in the world of print.
I left the newspaper for a lucrative ($1.25 per hour) position as an orderly at Fairview General Hospital. My main duty was to
care for the lab animals. My second responsibility was as a gofer. This was my first independent venture into the adult world
of work. I liked it very much, and it led me to set my career goals in the medical field. After my senior year in high school, I went
off to Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. I was a biology major. My sister had graduated in mathematics from the
same college, and my brother would follow me two years later to study English.
After invertebrate zoology,
botany, and calculus, I changed my major to religion and philosophy. I had never encountered this world of knowledge before, and found
it fascinating. The good news was that my pre-med major fulfilled many of my prerequistites. I had started to write poetry in high
school, and I began to write more. My first "book" was an undergraduate thesis, The Church and “Extra Eccleisiam Nulla Salus”:An historical survey of the use of the Cyprianic dictum as an expression of authority within western theological traditions.
(Needless to say, it has not been widely read!)