Q. Where did you spend your childhood?
A. I was born and raised in northeast Indiana, in a crossroads village of twelve homes. I went to high school in the nearby town of South Whitley, where my dad was employed by the Fox Products Corporation, which makes bassoons, oboes, English horns, and contrabassoons. He was trained as a jeweler and was one of two people in the Western Hemisphere to make contrabassoons. My mom raised four children and numerous animals; it’s not quite the niche position my dad had, but it was considerably more demanding.
I have three younger sisters: Katie, Stephanie and Betsy, who are two, five, and ten years younger than me. Their names will likely come up in sermons, especially if they’ve not made an attempt to visit in our first year at St. Francis. They all live close to home, with Betsy being the furthest away in the big city of Fort Wayne. When we were growing up we spent most of the summer playing outside – after our mom fussed at us for watching Divorce Court and kicked us out. We rode bikes, played in the sprinkler and water-hose, and made up games on the patio. I shudder to think how much dirt and loose grass we tracked into the house. It was during the summer that we spent time with our Grammy, either at her house in the woods or when she remarried, at Grandpa Vic’s lakehouse. We loved the lake – grandpa’s house was at the end of a channel, and we happily swam in it, pushing each other off of floats, doing cannon-balls from the end of the pier, and waving at every boat that went past. The lake house was in the thick of Amish country, and Grammy would make grandpa slow down every time we passed an Amish house and she would say, “Look kids, Amish!” We also lived in the thick of Amish country at home, so it was no big deal – but we humored Grammy.
In the wintertime we could always count on a few snow days; one of the worst sounds I remember as a child was that of the snowplow going down the road at two in the morning, robbing us of our snow day. We lived next to a hill, and our incredibly understanding neighbor let us sled on it (not that we ever asked him, but at least he didn’t yell at us to leave). We’d put on our snowpants, boots, gloves and hats, and zoom down the hill, then trudge back up again and again, sometimes tackling each other on the way up so we could try to hit them with our sled on the way down…(though that might have been just me, though Betsy probably did it too). We did well when we were outside – that is, we didn’t fight, bicker or whine at each other. The activity brought and held us together.
When I wasn’t outside, I was reading, playing Legos, building models, drawing or working on my train layout. When I was outside by myself and the weather was good, I was working on my layups and practicing my jump shot. I played basketball from the first through eighth grade, and little league baseball second through fifth grade. I enjoyed playing both sports, but not enough to make them the center of my life, which is what it took to play in high school.
Watch this space for the next chapter…