Probably like you, I have enjoyed reading good books since I was a little. And when I got to college and had to choose a major, I choose Comparative Literature, so I could read some more good books. Doing so inspired me to become a writer myself.
I began by writing poems for my local town newspaper. My moniker was ‘Poet Boy America.’ As my popularity grew, I began reading in cafes, and music venues. That all came to an end when I got married and we quickly had a child. I needed a real job. Before graduating, I dug ditches for the Water District; washed dishes, bussed and waited on tables; and cleaned the local schools at night. Then I became a schoolteacher. I choose to do so in the inner city of Los Angeles. I taught at in the gang infested areas of Watts, South Central, Compton, and Pomona. It was dangerous. One day three boys came into my oversized classroom of 60 students and pointed their guns at my head and asked me if the kids in my class if we were “Crips” or “Bloods.” – There was a hushed silence. And then I replied, as calmly as possible, “Right now, I am certain that we are all whatever you say we are.” – Fortunately, they found that to be funny and laughed. Then they just turned around and walked out.
The first book I ever read was the Bible. We had a large family Bible with a middle section that showed the life of Jesus in pictures with short explanatory captions beneath. That is literally how I learned to read. As a result, I became a believer. My family were not. So, I walked to church, the Laguna Presbyterian, and attended alone. And years later, in the midst of being married, having a child, working multiple jobs, and going to college, I was the Youth Pastor there. Then, I began a little church made up of ex-hippies from the canyon, The Laguna Church. We had the sweetest worship and fellowship than any church since.
I grew up in a family of World War II veterans. I heard many stories of their experiences. And as a boy, I played War with other boys using what we could find in our father’s war chests: helmets, belts, jackets, and medals. We would choose sides and then play using sticks. Too, many of the books I read were about war. Leon Uris’s Battle Cry about the 1st Marines fighting in the South Pacific, was my favorite.
As a teenager, I was drafted to fight in Vietnam. I did not agree with that war. It made no sense to me. Vietnam was not attacking us. Why should I go and kill their people? Fortunately, they found a medical issue and classified me a 4-F. That meant I could never serve in the US Military. – It did not alter my respect and appreciation for those that did go to war in my place. And so, I chose to find ways to honor them. I created a charity, Patriotic Hearts. I offer multiple programs that help citizens in the military and when they get out. I also have programs for their families because they also serve in other ways.
Nowadays, being somewhat retired, I am an eclectic writer. I write books in multiple genres: non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. And I write internet articles and posts. – I hope you enjoy reading them.