Age 6, day after Labor Day, 1950
I’ve been told that a sure sign that one is getting older is that the long term memory gets better and the short term memory gets worse. I’m not convinced that’s true. I know I’m getting older. I’m reminded of that every March 17th when I share birthdays with St. Patrick. My long term memory has always been bad, and does not appear to be improving with age. There are only a few memories of which I can recall specific details before I was six years old. I vaguely remember times when my two older brothers, Barney, nine years my senior, and Fred, six years my senior, would take care of me while mom and dad went off to the general store. I must have been about five when my brothers decided to slip off and go swimming in a forbidden farm pond a couple miles away. They took me with them of course. I recall they left me on the bank and told me to stay. I disobeyed. I remember the water carrying me toward the middle of the pond when my brother Fred pulled me out. That was the last time my brothers took me away from our house without mom and dad being there. Another time I recall with more specificity. It was the day before my first day of school. Back then, there was no such thing as pre-school or kindergarten. Every child entered the first grade when reaching six years of age. My brothers thought my hair was too long for school and they would be embarrassed, so they used a pair of mom’s sewing scissors and cut it while mom and dad were gone to trade chicken and duck eggs for potatoes and apples from a farmer across the county. They thought they were doing mom and dad a big favor. Turned out they got in lots of big trouble when mom and dad returned home to find my hair looking like that of a scalped critter. So, I missed the first half of my first day of school ‘cause mom had to take me to downtown Corbin to the local barber shop to get a real haircut. That’s when the barber sharpened his single-edged straight-razor on the long leather strap hanging from the side of the barber chair. Even now I can hear the poppin' sound of the razor against the leather. He’d lather the back of the neck and around the ears with cup soap, then shave the same areas with the razor. He finished it off with talcum powder. Lastly he doused your freshly cut hair with “doodle water” before neatly combing it. You smelled good for at least a day.
Memories of my childhood while in the first through the eighth grades are vivid. Most notable was that of my first case of puppy love. I walked Diane to and from school most every school day from the first grade until she moved to California sometime during the summer between the fifth and sixth grades. On Sundays I would walk to her house and we would go to church. I recall performing hard labor the entire summer vacation before she moved helping my dad dismantle a grocery store in downtown Corbin which had been gutted with fire. I just wanted to make enough money to buy her a going away bracelet. I bought her one for $35.00. Janet and I located Diane in Moss Beach, California a few years ago while we were vacationing in Southern California. She mentioned the bracelet. I think she said she still had it in her scrapbook.
How could I ever forget the third grade? The classroom was lined with fish tanks all along the walls. This was the home for guppies and many different species of goldfish. Helping our teacher feed and care for the fish was a task we all looked forward to. It was better than recess. It was during this same year that I got my first bicycle. Dad traded for a used girl’s bike, welded a bar across the top and painted the entire bike cardinal red with black stripes on the fenders. With its colored tassels hanging from the ends of the handle grips, its light and horn on the handlebars and the saddle baskets on the back, it sure looked like a brand new one to me. I got it for Christmas that year. Mom wouldn’t let me ride it until the weather broke for spring. In the meantime, I just sat on its seat in the living room and “made believe” I was riding it to my friends’ houses just up the road.
There were plenty of chores at home. Fact is, the only way I was allowed to play little league baseball and football was to have all my chores completed first. Summer chores included cutting the grass and especially what we called horseweeds, mending fences, hoeing the garden, busting rocks and spreading them on the driveway, feeding the animals, helping dad carry his tools to and from his jobs, and helping mom clean the house and can veggies, berries and fruit, most of which we grew ourselves or obtained from our farmer friends by just some good ole fashion “tradin’”. Lots of times I went to my cousins and helped them on their farm. Fifteen head of milk cows were milked by hand each morning and each evening, animals fed, hay picked up on the mule-drawn wagon and pitched in the hayloft. A special time was during milk fights. That’s when you squirt each other in the face while hand milking a cow. Somehow, me and my friends always found the time and wood to build a shack, go fishin’ in the farm ponds without mom knowing, and play marbles, Cow Boys and Indians and Cops and Robbers. During school months, homework came first, usually right after getting home from school each day.
Two memorable occasions during my early childhood years were while playing with my next door neighbor friends, Buck and Ivan. We were always on the lookout for wood to use to build a shack. On one occasion we found a wooden hog feeder turned upside down at the rear of their barn. I turned it upright only to find a nest of bumble bees swarming in my direction. My two friends simply stepped around the corner of the barn avoiding the bees as I ran across an open field toward my house. The bees caught up with me about half way there clinging to my hair and stinging the back of my neck. By the time I reached my front door and got inside, I had been stung 12 times. Back then the doctors made house calls. Good thing I wasn’t allergic to bee stings.
Buck, Ivan and I were playing in their apple orchard where the sage grass was taller than we were. We were crawling under the apple trees where the limbs spread out close to the ground. Suddenly a long black snake dropped from a limb and wound itself around my neck. I began screaming and trying to pull the snake away from me. In the meantime, Buck and Ivan ran to their house and got their grandmother. She came running with a garden hoe and got the sake off me. This time I went to the doctor’s office. I had more bruises and cuts from the blade of the garden hoe than I did from any damage done by the snake.
5th & 6th grades, back row, third from right, October, 1955
I was in the fifth grade when my brother Tim was born. My mother was in the hospital for several days before and that many days afterwards. During that time, I performed all the housework and cooked breakfast and supper for me and dad. Mom had prepared me well teaching me how to wash clothes and cook simple meals far in advance of the event. I recall being late for school on a couple of mornings right after mom and baby Tim came home from the hospital. I told my teacher that I was late because I washed diapers for my baby brother. It was the truth and she believed me with a chuckle.
A painful lesson came at age twelve when dad gave me my first rifle, a Savage .22 single shot bolt action. The rules were clear. I could use the rifle only under my dad’s supervision. The rifle was to be kept unloaded in the closet inside the house unless it was okayed by my dad to remove and load it. One day I took it outside and showed it to a friend. My dad came home from a job and saw me with the rifle in the side yard. He never said a word. He walked down the yard and took the rifle. What followed was my dad’s style of discipline. It was immediate, swift and effective. Most of you who are baby boomers or older know exactly what I mean. In addition, I never saw the rifle again.
Dad was an excellent swimmer. Mom was terrified of water. She was so terrified that she forbad me to go near it. The reason, I learned later, was because she lost two cousins by drowning while serving in the U.S. Navy. I guess she was going to protect me from such a fate. One day during my twelfth year my dad put me in the car, told mom that we were going to check out a job site, and drove to the Corbin City Reservoir. He had hidden a pair of shorts under the car seat, which he told me to put on once we arrived. We walked to the river bank where he immediately picked me up and threw me in. “Sink or swim” was his command. I don’t know if I swam or not but I did come out of the water. Within the next couple of hours, dad had taught me to swim. Of course I never told mom, knowing if I did dad would never take me swimming again.
The twelve year old experience that made me feel like a man at the time but by far was the dumbest when looking back was learning to smoke. Uncle John came to our little farm each day for about two weeks and built mom and dad a new smokehouse. I was his helper. The smokehouse is where mom and dad hung the hams, slabs of bacon and pork chops and then smoked them with hickory. Sometimes they would cure them with salt. That’s when and where Uncle John taught me to roll cigarettes with Prince Albert tobacco in the white draw-string cloth bag with the slips of paper inside a black paper container glued to the outside of the bag. It took me most of the two weeks to learn the trick of rolling my own. Uncle John could make one using one hand, his teeth, lips and tongue. When you lit mine the front tip would be on fire until it reached the tobacco, sometimes half-way down. I hid my smoking from mom and dad until I was a senior in high school. If they knew, they never let on. Nowadays, seeing someone roll their own is interpreted with a whole new meaning.
Becoming an eighth grader was my first conscious experience with the concept of middle management. You are now looking down on all those in the grades below you and being looked down upon by all the high schoolers above you. That changed slightly when I became a member of the varsity basketball team and actually got to start some games with the high school players as an eighth grader. At the same time I was still playing Little League baseball and football. In school matters, I still struggled as I had throughout grade school with spelling and reading. Math came easy. By this time I had talked mom and dad into letting me take piano lessons at the school. It cost $5.00 a month for two one half-hour lessons per week. The music teacher put me in recitals and made me sing as well. I didn’t mind singing but had all kinds of problems hitting the high notes when my voice started changing. Most of the time I was a good student and never got into trouble with my teachers. Not sure why I decided one day to change my pattern of conduct and conspire with Richard and Robbie, two of my fellow twelfth graders, but I did. One of us spotted a green snake going down inside a manhole cover on the school playground one day at recess. We slid back the cover and Robert climbed down inside the hole which was about three feet deep to catch the snake. We had already decided to take it in the classroom and put it in the teacher’s desk drawer. We had talked too much. Somebody told the school principal what we were up to and she caught us “red-handed” catching the snake. Not only did I get a paddling at school but I got one when I got home. Back then, that’s the way it happened. When one misbehaved at school one paid the consequences at home as well. Once again, most baby boomers know exactly what I mean.
Paperboy for the Month - July 1959
Twelve years old is when I got my first real job. I became a paperboy for the Corbin Times Tribune. Boy, was I a big shot! Don’t let it be said that only the mail got through in all kinds of weather. Back then, the daily newspaper did too. That’s what the newspaper office had me believe. I folded the papers, placed some of them in the basket on the front of my bike and some in the cloth paper bag hanging on my shoulder with Corbin Times Tribune written on its side, rode along the route tossing the papers in the customers’ yards. There were no mailbox or tube deliveries back then. Each Friday I had to stop at each customer’s house to collect for the paper bill. Most times no one was home. That created a real problem for me. I had to pay the newspaper office each week for the papers whether I collected from the customers or not. Most of the time I delivered the entire week for nothing. Lots of times the past due customers would move away and never pay their bill. The most I ever made for a week’s delivery was $1.35. One week I was $9.80 short of having enough money to pay the newspaper office for the papers. I knew better than to tell mom or dad. I didn’t want them to think I couldn’t handle the job. Instead, I went to the First National Bank and borrowed $10.00. They told me I had to have an adult co-signer so I got my Aunt Dot to sign. She later told my mom. Mom and dad made me work extra chores to earn the money to pay off the loan. I did get named paperboy of the month in July that year. Right after that I concluded that the paper route wasn’t a very profitable adventure so I tendered my first ever resignation.
Freshman Year, 1959
The moment I entered high school it was as if someone had turned on a switch in my brain. I no longer found reading and spelling difficult as I had in grade school. Algebra, geometry, calculus, trigonometry, physics, and chemistry were a delightful challenge which I looked forward to each school day. French was my favorite foreign language, although I was required to take Latin as well. Modern and European History were my most difficult subjects for which I devoted most of my study time. Homework consumed from three to four hours each evening. This did not include the time spent reading mandatory English Literature classics, essays and poetry. Still, I found time to complete my everyday chores around our small farm, help my cousins on their big farm, play Babe Ruth baseball, Church League softball, take boxing and piano lessons, and play starting forward on the varsity high school basketball team. During the summer months I worked as a stock boy for Western Auto, stripped and hung tobacco for the neighbor farmers, and worked as a soda jerk for the ice cream parlor at the Hungry Hound Restaurant. Back then a soda jerk was one who made and served ice cream cones, milkshakes, sundaes and banana splits and wore a white hat and apron. I used the money I earned, .25 cents an hour, to help mom and dad pay tuition, books, fees and buy school clothes so I could attend St. Camillus Academy, a private Christian school. By the time I graduated, I had served as President of Student Council three of my four high school years, and was selected as the 3rd place state winner in a speech contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars on What Freedom Means to Me. I was presented the Outstanding Leadership Award by the Optimist Clubs of America, chosen as a Governor’s Scholar, now known as a National Merit Scholar, and honored by the University of Kentucky Alumni Association for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement. I earned my high school diploma and graduated valedictorian of the 1963 graduating class. Lastly I was awarded a scholastic scholarship to Villa Madonna College. Later, upon its relocation from downtown Covington to its present campus in Crestview Hills, it was renamed Thomas More College.
In September, 1963, I moved from home, my parents and little brother Tim,
to become a college student on my way to adulthood in
first full-time job was Assistant Director of the Boys Clubs of Cincinnati,
Ohio, followed with two years of teaching junior high in Western Hills, a suburb
In Federal Police Uniform, 1973
During this 10 year period, I was stationed at several locations
throughout the country with special assignments serving on a federal cadre and
specializing in law enforcement research and investigating federal corruption at
The house I built, 1978
In late 1979 I entered the University
of Cincinnati and commenced study for a doctorate degree in political
science. After completing my
assignment in Washington, D. C., I was to be reassigned to a field office in
First wife, Gail and son, Ernie, 1972
My first wife, Gail, passed away when our son, Ernie, was 17 years old.
Present wife, Janet, 1986
My present wife, Janet, and I were
married at my brother’s house in
seen the devastation that the crime of child sexual abuse does to a family and
the community through my federal law enforcement experience, I did not hesitate
to respond to the request of then Attorney General David L. Armstrong to
initiate a statewide organization for the prevention of child abuse and sexual
exploitation. In 1985 I put together
a two year pilot project for the prevention of these crimes in the counties of
Bracken, Grant and Pendleton. The
project was so successful that the KY Multi-County Task Forces on Child Abuse,
Inc. was incorporated in January 1987 and received its tax exempt status shortly
thereafter. Including the two year
pilot project, I served as the organization’s Executive Director and Board
Chairman for 20 years, having retired in early 2005.
In 2000 I was named a
Daily Point of Light by the National Point of Light Foundation.
Information about the charity and the work it does can be found on its
website at www.kychildabuse.org.
desire to help children did not end with preventing their abuse and
exploitation. For ten years I served
as a member of the Falmouth Lions Club having served in the capacity of club
president for four of those ten years. The
primary purpose of the Lions Club during my tenure was to pay for eye
examinations and purchase eye glasses for children whose parents could not
afford to pay. In addition, the club
raised money to pay for expenses associated with eye surgery for less fortunate
children. On occasion, the club
collected used eye glasses which were refurbished and sent to third world
countries and paid for expenses for blind children to go to camp each year on
Lion Veldon Boggs, Karen Davis Parker & Lion Samples, 1994 Falmouth Lions, 1994
Lions collecting used eye glasses, 1994
Lion Gary Pferrman, Santa Claus Clay
Clifford & Lion Dr. Peter Fullwood, 1994
U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno
was during this approximate same time period that I was elected as a Pendleton
County Police Constable. I graduated
from the Kentucky Criminal
Justice Training Academy in mid 1994, equipped a cruiser and for the
next nine years provided police and investigative services to the residents of
Visit my Aunt Mae, my mother’s sister. Aunt Mae passed away August 30, 2006, one week before her 96th birthday. I sang her favorite gospel songs to her many times on my visits with her and at her birthday parties. My final song to her was “In the Garden” at her funeral service.
Visit my brother, Fred, and his family Brenda, Cassie and Thomas, in
with my brothers, Tim and Bernie. Tim
Visit Morten and Marieanne in
Play alumni basketball games with my high school alma mater, the St. Camillus Saints.
Pick apples from the orchard,
make apple butter and applesauce. Dress up for Halloween.
Spend time with my dogs, Tootsie
Spend time with my grandchildren, Abby, Zoey, Kasey and Tatum.
Pose with my
now Heather Renee French-Henry.
Steve, is my friend too.
Sing at my annual High School Alumni
with my brother Tim on guitar.
Take my wife
and best friend, Janet, on a date.
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