No prank: I’m an April Fool! An honest autobiography of my 68 years

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No prank: I’m an April Fool!
An honest autobiography of my 68 years

No one has ever said I’m normal. I’m on the transgender spectrum but will never even attempt to transition. I’m too old and I’d be a butt ugly female. Except for my wife and daughter, I’ve been a loner all my life. My socialization skills are very poor to non-existent. I enjoy being alone, even when I travel. I took a 2 week tour of Israel and Jordan, lated a 2 week tour of Great Britain and Ireland alone (The best part was ending it at the 2015 Gabycon!), 5 days in the Bahamas, 5 days in Las Vegas with a side trip to Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon; alone.

I’m not tooting my horn, just trying to lay out the truth. I scored 1240 on my college boards (1969), my IQ tested at 134 and I graduated college in 1972 with a BS in Secondary Education/Comprehensive Social Studies with a 3.08, not the best but I worked 6-8 hours EVERY day after school and most Saturdays to pay my way through school & support a car, taking 18+ credits a semester, completing the degree in 3 1/2 years. I have no fear about public speaking and easily do so, enjoying it. Yet socializing before and after is a huge turn off and makes me feel ill at ease. I’m known for my imagination and ability to re-purpose things. When people told me I’m good at thinking outside the box, my wife would tell them I never realized there was a box. But the best thing about me is that I have an honest to God excuse for being utterly eccentric. My birthday is April 1 (1951). I was born a fool!
I was the middle child of 5. The oldest, my brother, was 6 years older. Next was a sister who would have been 3 years older than me. When she was 18 months old, while my mother worked in the kitchen canning vegetables, she wandered out of the house while supposedly napping and drowned in the spring next to the house. I came along 30 months later. My next sister came along 3 1/2 years after me, and the last sister was born 15 years later, my brother was 25 with 2 kids, I was a freshman in college.

My bigoted father was a hard drinking, tough bastard, a WWII vet of the 17th airborne who made a combat drop into Germany in March 1945. He was raised on a farm in Berks County, Pennsylvania during the depression, dropped out of high school to work on the farm, then joined the army in late 1943, working as an auto mechanic after his discharge. He was able to curse for an hour in 5 different languages thanks to his time in the airborne. A functional alcoholic, he never drank until after supper, but them drank himself to sleep every night.

My mom had a wild streak. She was the 12th of 13 siblings from the Schuylkill County coal regions of Pennsylvania. Her older sister took her in at age 2 and raised her. During WWII, while she was in high school, she became involved in a regional fast pitch softball league as a pitcher, doing well. When Mom was a junior in high school, my dad came home from training on leave before shipping out to Europe in April of 1944. Since he was a soldier and 5 years older as well as a recognized local hellion, the sister who was raising her forbid mom to go out with him. Mom was stubborn, climbed out of her bedroom onto the porch roof, shimmied down the rain spout and went with him anyway.

My brother was born 9 months later while dad’s unit was mopping up the remnants of the Battle of the Bulge (which qualifies me to be an honest to goodness true son of a bitch). Needless to say back then she was forced to drop out of school. After the war when Dad came home it took nearly a year for them to marry.

A few months after I was born my parents bought land along a newly built 4 lane highway. Ther were no close neighbors. Out of guilt over my older sisters death, my mother overprotected me. I don’t know if she crossdressed me but there are photos of me wearing a playsuit at 2 with my naturally curly hair looking like Shirley Temple. That suddenly changed with the birth of my younger sister when I was 3 1/2. My first clear memory is of her lying in a bassinet giggling with delight as I leaned in and swirled my curly hair against her tummy as she tried to latch onto my locks. I loved her and still do. However my parents reaction to her arrival hit me hard. Suddenly I had to become “all boy”. I clearly remember being summarily cuffed by my dad for doing anything he considered remotely sissyish.

My next distinct memory was when I was 5. The top of the cess pool in our back yard collapsed... in August. (There was no sewer. A cess pool is where ALL waste from the house plumbing emptied. Ours was a pit 10' x 10' x 10' made of cement blocks with some on their side to allow the contents to seep into the ground.) My brother, 11, was made to climb into the morass to tie ropes around the broken concrete chunks so dad could pull them out with his pickup. Then I was sent into the pit with a pail, standing up to my arm pits in the sh*t with bits of TP floating around the smelly brown watery sludge. My brother stood up top, lowered a 5 gallon bucket on a rope which I had to fill. Then he’d haul it up and carry the sludge 75 feet to our garden where he fertilized the plants. It took us 3 days in 90+ degree weather with hordes of flies buzzing to bail out the cess pit. On the bright side, since then nasty smells don’t really faze me. Our 1 acre vegetable garden did well for several years after that. Naturally it was my chore to pull the weeds in the garden.

Later that fall, a skunk fell into one of the basement’s recessed window holes... right below the window of the bedroom and bed I shared with my brother. It wasn’t a nice way to wake up. My dad ordered my brother to get it out. Even at 5 I knew to never disobey an order from our dad. My brother got the skunk out having been sprayed several times. Needless to say nothing removed the smell and we continued to share a bed. It was the first time I was thankful for the cess pool experience. My brother went to school and was promptly sent home for 3 days.

The next spring a detached 2 bay garage was built 16 feet from the house offset back 8 feet. A 16' x 12' x 4" cement slab patio was added between the garage and house. Dad started doing car repairs in one bay of the garage in addition to his full time work as a mechanic for a car dealer.

Needless to say by the time I started school at age 6, (kindergarten hadn’t yet reached our school district) I had learned to at least appear to have ‘manned up’. I still had secret girlie interests... just could never show them. I compartmentalized my girlish desires, isolating them from my tough guy presentation. When I was alone, I indulged in girlie daydreams. In my dreams I became the girl I wanted to be. Back then girls wore dresses to school and I secretly wished I could wear their cute dresses. My boyish self became quiet, somewhat withdrawn, stoic and tough but not belligerent. This dichotomy was not smooth. I never made friends with my classmates so I never visited them and they didn’t visit me. I knew them and could talk to them when needed, but never got close. I hated presenting as a boy and that showed through my withdrawn self isolating behavior. I never learned to socialize. I never developed an interest in sports, and still have none which further isolated me from other guys adding to image that I was a ‘weirdo’. Academically I did well, reading was a gateway to escape my hated reality. My imagination was unbridled. I lived in a hidden fantasy world but merely existed in the real world.

All was not peaceful. I was expected to present as a tough guy boy. Since I hated sports, I found an outlet in war. Back in the fifties and sixties MARX toys made military sets of army men. My Christmas presents were military sets, WWII, Cowboys and Indians and Civil War. I’d pretend to be soldier. I’d set up massive battles in our sandbox. I unknowingly found a release for my buried girlie angst in the harsh combat and death of war. My male self became an ardent warmonger which made my girlie self disgusted. Somehow I learned to deal with both sides.

In 1958 we got hit with a blizzard March 19 & 20. The weather service said it was 16 inches but the it was considerably more than that. The turnpike, just 25 miles away measured 50". The snow drifted, shutting down the highways as well as the back roads. We lost power for 5 days as did 80-90% of the rural county areas. It was over 7 days for some. Our home was a one story ranch built along a 4 lane highway. The snow blew off the surrounding fields and built up to the eves of the house barricading all the doors and windows trapping us inside. My dad went into the attic and called us up to look out the attic window to see how deep it was. My dad told my brother, then 13, to lean out to see if he could see the windows of the first floor. As soon as his head was out the window, my dad grabbed him by the belt and heaved him out the window telling him if he wanted to get back in he’d have to dig the door open. At least my mom threw out his coat and gloves.

I vividly recall mom loading us kids in her car on Friday afternoons. We’d drive down the highway towards the city of Reading where dad worked. At the time I thought it was a game as we kids scanned the parking lots of every bar we passed looking for dad’s pickup. When we found it, mom would pull into the parking lot. We kids stayed in the car while she went in. A few minutes later she’d come out with dad. He got in his truck while mom got in the car, then we followed him home. It was years later I realized it had not been a game. It was dad’s payday and he’d stop at a bar for a drink. If left unchecked he’d blow nearly all the pay. Mom searched him out to prevent that from happening.

Periodically mom would ask us kids if we wanted one of those wooden paddle boards (similar to a ping pong paddle) with a small rubber ball attached to a long piece of rubber which was stapled to the paddle stapled. The object was to see how many times you could successfully bounce the ball off the paddle. I was about 8 when I figured out the that when the rubber broke, the paddle made quite an effective disciplinary paddle. I vividly recall being regularly paddled.

The paddlings from mom were nothing compared with what we received from dad. They began with cursing and demeaning name calling. Then he’d unbuckle his belt and pull it out. We’d start crying at that point. He’d loop the belt and hold it in his fist. Then he’d grab us by an arm with his other hand and lift us until our toes barely touched the ground. Then he began wailing our butts as rapidly as he could. The pain was sharp and cutting, making us reflexively try to dance away from the savage blows. The swinging didn’t stop. He kept wailing us on whatever part of our body presented itself. The beating would last until he was too tired to continue. The welts would last for days.

My brother got it worse than me because he’d defiantly try to hit my dad while being wailed. In 1959, my then 13 year old brother managed to wrench himself free from dad’s grip, falling to the ground in the process. Dad just stood over him and wailed away. Front, back, arms, legs, face, it didn’t matter to my dad who by then was raging mad. I was terrified and ran for mom. She had to literally tackle dad to make him stop beating my brother who was bleeding from several places. He went to school the next day, clearly having been beaten. Back then things like that were never reported.

I was 8 when that beating happened, and that experience set my life. I determined I would never fight back against my dad. I’d simply take my punishment silently, like a MAN. I bit my lips when being beat with the belt and by sheer willpower forced myself not to flinch from the blows. That pissed dad off because he thought he wasn’t hitting me hard enough so he’d double his efforts. By then I was mentally off in a zone where reality didn’t exist. My stream of consciousness hid in my compartmentalized girlie self leaving my tough guy militaristic male self to deal with the beating. Somehow my male self was able to use the adrenalin generated by the fear, pain, and the beating to reinforce his resolve and will not to flinch or cry. He simply blocked my girlie self away in happy daydreams to the point a small smile appeared on my face. That infuriated dad who thought I was smirking so he would wail me until he couldn’t, then he’d throw me on the ground in disgust. What’s even worse was those years were the good times of my youth.

When I was 9 in 1960 my dad had a 2 bay service station with office, waiting room and stock room built 16 feet beyond the detached 2 car garage. The first 5 years it was open 7 days a week, 6am to midnite. My brother & I had to work in the garage. I had a 3 step stepladder at the gas pumps so I could pump gas, wash windshields and check oil and water. Dad’s work was outstanding and his prices fair. Word of mouth was all the advertizing needed as within a year he had to turn some customers away.

Dad was not the calmest person. If something went wrong or one of us kids screwed up he’d go off on a cussing tirade. I recall a carburetor being thrown on the floor and beaten to pieces with the 20 pound sledge hammer. If it was one of us kids, he’d curse at us and demean us as being worthless and “useless as the tits on a bull!” My brother was also hot head who wouldn’t take it. I lost count of how many times my brother and dad went at it, brawling with each other. When I was on the receiving end of his yelling and derision, I detached myself from events retreating into my girlie unreality. I’d simply continue to perform whatever job I was doing blithely ignoring dad’s harsh tirade. My non reaction pissed him off as he realized I was not playing his game. He’d storm away to brood.
My brother and I could never please my father, while my sister was daddy's little girl and didn't have to work in the business. We couldn't play, she could. We weren't allowed to show any emotion except anger (but certainly never towards my dad) while she could cry, giggle & hug. In short, I was jealous. I remember the frustration was so great I attempted to try on my sister's dresses. The envy I felt for my sister only antagonized my hidden girlie self.

My brother graduated from high school in 1962, in December he went for basic training with the National Guard. He married and moved out when he came home. That left me, age 11 working in the garage. I had a step bench that I stood on to lean over the fenders to do tune-ups. I got cussed out whenever I snapped a sparkplug. I also did lube and oil changes. I drove the cars into the lift bay careful to center it on the lift plates. Then I had to raise the car with the lift. Fortunately I never mashed a car. My normal routine upon returning home after school was to change out of my school clothes into my work clothes then heading to work.

The driveway/parking lot had 250' of road frontage. The north 100' was 40' deep with a 40' x 100' front lawn between it and the house. The next portion 50' was 90' deep to the doors of the detached garage. The next portion was 50' x 70' deep to the service station with 3 gas pumps in front of the office/waiting room. The final portion was 50' frontage with the depth angled from the 70' depth of the garage to 10' depth at the south end/edge of the property. The first 3 years it was stone, then asphalted. Whenever it snowed, we hand shoveled it open.

We had a one acre vegy garden and 2 acres of lawn behind the house, detached garage and service station. I was responsible for mowing the lawns with an 18" hand pushed reel mower. (After I married and moved, he bought a used Jeep with a snow plow and a Cub Cadet garden tractor with a 48" wide triple blade mower deck and a snow blower attachment. When I asked why he hadn’t bought them earlier when I could have benefitted he said: “I didn’t need them. I had you.”)

I was 13 in 1964. One day when I reached the garage after school, I was handed the 20 pound sledge hammer. “They’re coming tomorrow to put an addition on the house connecting it to the detached garage. You need to break up the (16' x 12' x 4") concrete slab tonight. And make sure to take care of all the customers stopping in for gas.” I had already learned never to question much less protest his orders. It took me 6 hours to break up the slab, finishing it under spotlights but I didn’t miss any gas customers. The slab had been poured over 10 gauge steel reinforcing mesh with 6" squares. As I broke a section, I had to use bolt cutters to snap off the reinforcement mesh to remove it. I had blisters on my blisters. I still have that sledgehammer and have used it many times in renovations.

In 1965 the garage closed on Saturday & Sunday and the daily hours changed to 8am to 6pm. With the free time, one evening after supper he asked my sister and I if we’d like a swimming pool, that Sears had kits to create a 20' x 40', 3' to 8' deep in ground pool. We both said yes. (I hadn’t learned just how perverse my dad could be.) He took us into the back yard and we staked out a 12' x 24' pool house and the pool behind it. Then he took me to the tool shed, gave me the wheel barrow, pick, and shovel. It took me a month to dig the pit for the pool, including footers for the wall and trenches for the plumbing, as well as digging footers 18" wide by 2' deep for the pool house and a similar trench to bring a water line from the house and a sanitory sewer to the cess pool. This time I bought myself a pair of work gloves. He then had a contractor pour the footers and build the cinder block walls. The pool kit was a huge plastic liner that fir the pit and a filter set up. We did enjoy the pool for 43 years.

Dad taught me how to swim... by throwing me in the deep end. I’m still here so it did work. I discovered I’m one of those people who can’t float. If I stop swimming, I sink. So, when the liner sprung a leak at the bottom, I ‘volunteered’ to patch it. That meant roughing up the area around the leak, cutting a suitable patch, applying the glue, then holding the patch in place for 90 seconds until the glue adhered. The pool had to be kept filled year round so the freezing ground couldn’t push in the walls. So the winter I was 16, in January, I had to chop a hole in the 1" ice, dive in to find the hole, in the corner at 8' deep, then patch it.

While life was harsh, I must say we always had a roof over our heads and food to eat. Today my parents would be arrested for child abuse. But back then, no one cared.

An incident occurred at the junior-senior high school when I was in 8th grade that terrified me. We were in the locker room after phys-ed class. A class of seniors was doing the same. As usual, I was by myself when several jock style seniors decided I was prime meat. They began insulting me but just as I did with my dad, I ignored them. That pissed them off so they began shoving me. I still ignored them. Then one slapped me in the face. My stream of consciousness hid in girlie land while my tough guy macho male persona took over. I stepped back and silently glared hatred at him. That momentarily surprised them but the asshole slapped me again laughing. “Don’t like that, huh,” he taunted me. “What are you gonna do about it?”

All the anger and hatred that I kept bottled up in side boiled out. Silently I charged him. Caught by surprise, I bulldozed him into the lockers with a loud CLANG. The noise quickly drew classmates from both groups.

Now I was a scrawny average height 8th grader and he was over 6 feet tall, solidly built and muscled. He pushed me off and swung at me, his fist connected with my jaw knocking me back several steps.
After that everything got really hazy.

They told me I had a crazy smile and insane glare on my face as I charged again slugging away at him. He slugged me right back. After exchanging a flurry of blows he knocked me down giving me a bloody nose. Thinking the fight was over he laughed... until I sprung to my feet and began lapping up the blood from my nose. They told me my crazy smile and expression grew even wilder. I went at him again... and again... and again. Each time he decked me I jumped back up. Again they told me each time I was looking crazier and more insane than the last time.

I remember seeing the fear growing on the senior’s face as he realized he’d picked on the wrong 8th grader. I guess I did a version of Mohamad Ali’s ROPE-A-DOPE on him, wearing him down as I finally knocked him down. Then I jumped on him and began pummeling his face and head. I don’t recall stopping, in fact I don’t recall anything until reality returned when I found myself laid out on a bench with a gym teacher tending my battered bloody face. My lips were split, nose broken, eyes blackened, knuckles shredded and a mild concussion were the obvious damages.

My opponent was taken to the hospital for split lips, black eyes, broken nose, teeth knocked out and lose, fractured ribs, and a severe concussion. They told me it took 4 seniors to pull me off the guy I beat up. Apparently I fought them and the gym teachers when they arrived. Fortunately I was too tired and damaged to do any damage to them. Since this was 1964, the police never got involved. The onlookers confessed to the principal the senior boy instigated the whole thing so the school did nothing. We didn’t even get sent to the school guidance counselor. Our injuries were deemed sufficient punishment. Tales of my berserker insanity spread through the student body, adding to my weirdo image. On the bright side, for the rest of high school no one hassled me for any reason.

What terrified me was the blood lust I felt. Blacking out at the end while still fighting horrified me. I was told that I probably would have beat the senior to death if they hadn’t pulled me off. Me, the wanna be soldier with a girl hidden deep inside, had let the beast inside me loose. It took several weeks until my anxiety settled, along with several frustrated attempts at suicide. My pocket knife was too dull to effectively cut my wrists although I did manage an nasty cut on one. The rope I used to try to hang myself tore. I tried jumping in front of a tractor trailer as it zoomed past the garage, however my dad saw me and yelled at me to “get the fuck back to work”.

I vowed to never do get into a fight over something so stupid again. So far I’ve lived up to that vow, I’ve never physically fought another person but several hotheads tried to goad me into fighting. If I was a loner before, I became almost hermit like after this event. I never had friends to hang with, never participated in school extra curricular activities, but I maintained good grades. Outside of school I worked in the family garage or later in other jobs. My life was school or work.

My dad was a bigot. He hated Catholics, fags, blacks (he always used the ‘N’ word) spics, jews and probably every ethnic roup that wasn’t a WASP. During the 1960's race riots and protests he ranted an raved about the f***ing n*****s. With some of his buddies they formed an impromptu semi militia armed with shotguns and deer rifles with the expressed purpose of clearing the n*****s out of Reading if they ever rioted there. Naturally I was drawn into the movement. I became nearly as bigoted as he was. What saved me from jumping into the hatred was my vast reading. I learned he was wrong. I’d never even met a black person until I started college. But talking to blacks confirmed just how hateful my dad was. I’ve had to struggle to keep myself open and accepting of others since my initial childhood trained reaction is one of bigotry. I feel I have overcome that bigotry in my behavior but I can’t erase that initial bigotry.

My dad was an ace mechanic, able to fix anything that could be repaired. In the sixties he was one of the few independent mechanics who tackled automatic transmission repairs. When I was 15, he had a customer who was going on a road trip but his transmission was slipping. He dropped the big Chrysler off needing it back in a week. Dad promptly took it out on a road test, pulling up at the garage door. Blowing the horn was the signal for me to open the overhead door then run to the front of the car to guide him onto the lift. By the time I ran to the back and closed the overhead door, the car was going up. I grabbed the drain pan, a 24 inch galvanized catch pan 6 inches deep so he could drain the transmission fluid, only this transmission didn’t have a drain plug. The capacity of the transmission was 11 quarts of fluid, 4 of which were in the torque converter. After the road test the fluid was hot, about 220°. To drain it you had to remove all but 2 bolts on the fluid pan and loosen those 2 so the pan would drop. It was my job to hold the pan high enough to catch the fluid as it rushed out. The pan refused to drop, the gasket between the pan and the cast iron housing had baked them together. He pounded a big screw driver into the gasket to force it to pop off but it wouldn’t budge. By then he was pissed. He then removed the 1 of the remaining bolts and tried pounding the screw driver in there. About the third tap the pan let loose. Held on by the partially removed remaining bolt, the pan fell. Instead of having a 1/4 inch gap which allowed for a semi-controlled flow, the pan dropped to a 60° angle. This resulted in 7 quarts of 220° transmission fluid gushing out of the transmission almost at once. Image a 1/3 filled 5 gallon bucket suddenly upended. The hot fluid hit the drain pan and promptly splashed out... onto me. Fortunately it just missed my eyes, but from my nose down, my face caught it, as did my neck and chest. The fluid ran down my body to the floor.

Needless to say I was severely scalded. My self control snapped in and I held the pan to catch the remaining trickles from the transmission. My shirt, jeans, underwear, socks and shoes were soaked with the super hot fluid. Basically from my nose down, the front of my body was burned. I was lobster red and had blisters on top of blisters. Fortunately the contact was brief so I suffered no deep burns or scarring. But it was 2 weeks of hell as I healed, on the job. Since I could still stand, and wasn’t bleeding, they never took me to the doctor.

My dad didn't close the business down and retire until the end of the December when he was 83. He moped around until the spring then put himself heart and soul into vegy gardening. In August he suffered sun stroke, never fully recovering. At 84 a stroke finally took him 11 months after he closed the shop.

As I turned 16, my dad began getting several tabloids to keep in the customer waiting room. In them I discovered that others were interested in transgender, in fact I discovered the word transgender. (Wish I could get all the back issues of the CANDID PRESS... the hot pink one as it billed itself... by Lee’s Mardi Gras). I didn't know anything about transgender. Until then I felt like a freak and feared my hidden and oft denied girlie self made me a faggot... my dad's bigotry in action. My girl side slipped deeper into the dream world of transgendered fantasies as I now had a source to give me ideas.

At 16 in 1967 I got a job on a chicken farm to get away from dad. It was 2 miles away so I Initially rode my single speed coaster brake bike back and forth. That’s how I got my first speeding ticket. I drove through the main street of a small town. The cop tried for 2 weeks to nab me but he did succeed. He finally got me for doing 45 in a 35 MPH zone, passing a tractor trailer in a no passing zone and on the wrong side of the street. It cost me 45 dollars. Shortly after that I got my driver’s licence.

In September of my senior year of high school I began working 6 hours a night in a local factory after school, going full time after turning 18 in April. I never even attempted to date until March of my senior year of high school, the factory was having a banquet and my co-workers insisted I bring a date. At the same time, a girl who was a junior asked me to attend the school dance sponsored by the art club of which she was a member. I’d never been to a dance... but told her I’d go to the dance if she’d come with me to the banquet. (She knew me because her mother had been my den mother in cub scouts back when I was in 2nd grade (I had to drop out when we opened the garage)... back then I’d pull her pigtails and push her too high on the swings so she’d scream.) Those were our first 2 dates. We just continued dating.

My male persona was still friendless. I knew and spoke to a lot of people but I was a confirmed loner. While my girlie self continued in my daydreams and night dreams, imagining fantasy scenarios that would force me to undergo a sex-change, I was a gung-ho type externally... always trying to prove my masculinity... to myself... despite my sissy thoughts. As a member of the Class of ‘69, I even earned an NROTC scholarship to Penn State. I wanted to be a Marine officer and go to Vietnam to prove how tough I was. Fortunately, I blew out my knee and the NROTC dropped me in August. Without a scholarship I had to pay my own tuition (my parents had a surprise baby... she was born in my first month at college and so they couldn’t help) so I transferred to a local commutable PSU sub-campus. I worked full time in the factory the first 1 1/2 years, getting up at 6am for school, then working 3-11pm every night and Saturdays. The only time off I had was 6 weeks for surgery to clean up shredded knee cartilage in 1970, the surgery was done during Spring Break. (Back then, before the advent of orthoscope surgery, they cut you open 6-7 inches on the side of the knee, then peeled the knee open to gain access.) Since I had to return to school, I mastered driving my 4 speed Mustang fastback with my left leg since my right leg was in a knee immobilzer draped over the center console.

An on the job injury in 1970 at that job taught me a harsh lesson. A raw metal edge on a steel drum sliced through my jeans and into my lower left thigh leaving a deep 1 inch slash. I was sent to a local doctor who checked the wound and cleansed it. Then he looked at me, “You look like a tough guy, are you?” At 19 I was too inexperienced to see his trap so I nodded. “Well, it’ll only take 1 stitch to close the wound. Since you’re a tough guy we don’t need to give you Novocain.” Trapped, I agreed. I even watched, gripping the edge of the exam table, forcing myself to not flinch or make a noise, as he put in that stitch with a 1 inch curved needle. “Well, you really are a tough guy. Unfortunately I need to put in another stitch. Since you didn’t need the Novocain for the first, we’ll just do this one the same.” Backed into a corner I had to agree. It took 4 stitches to close the wound without any pain killer as the doctor smiled. I’ve learned NEVER to tell anyone I was a tough guy.

That December, my second shift boss at the factory, knowing it was the college Christmas break, asked if I’d be interested in working part time during the day at his part-time job delivering furniture and installing rugs for a local furniture store. I agreed, so learned how to install rugs and deliver furniture. The furniture store was part of a double business, partnered with a funeral home right next door. Between deliveries I helped move bodies and position them in caskets. One day I was sweeping up leaves and petals that had fallen from the flower arrangements before the afternoon funeral, (the viewing had been the previous evening). As I swept, the dead guy belched... loudly. It almost scared the crap out of me. When I reported it the funeral director laughed. “That’s the build up of gas from the body starting to decompose.” Then took me back to the guy to watch as he pushed on the guys gut forcing the gas out. “We have to do this before every service,” he chuckled. “Can’t have a belch with friends and family present!”

My girlfriend enrolled in a nearby college so at the end of the Christmas break of my second year, I transferred to that college. Since we lived a mile apart, I picked her up each morning at 7am, then we did a triangular commute, 15 miles to college until 3:30, then 14 miles to Reading where we both landed after school jobs at a department store working 4 to 10pm, then 15 miles home. As a result we practically lived out of our car. I started in the shoe department fitting shoes but moved into store security in plain clothes looking for shoplifters. That job opened my eyes!

My girl and I took a minimum of 18 credits a semester, 21 for 2 semesters, 24 for one, and went all summer. We graduated in 3 ½ years. I had a 3.08 cum. ave. & a BS in Secondary Education/Comprehensive Social Studies but was never able to get a job teaching... the market was flooded when I graduated; 19,000 of us graduated with similar degrees but there were only 2000 jobs available so unless you had connections... My girl graduated a year later in December with a triple degree, Elementary Education & Library Science & Early Childhood Education. We married 4 days after she graduated... in December 1973. I never even dated another girl. We had a daughter in 1977 and bought our current home in 1977... a fixer-upper.

The home had 60 amp electric service with 8 outlets in four rooms downstairs and 4 outlets for 4 rooms upstairs. The wiring was separate positive and negative wires stung on glass knobs. I replaced the fuse box with a circuit breaker panel then tore out the old wiring and adding at least 4 outlets in each room. The heating system was a 1910 cast iron coal fired boiler that had been converted to oil. It fed 4 cast iron radiators on the first floor and 2 on the second. There had been 4 radiators on the second floor but they had started leaking so instead of fixing them, they removed them and plugged the pipes. The system was in poor shape so I repaired the remaining pipes. We discovered the roof was leaking at the chimney flashing. I went out on the 60° sloped roof to repair it. I wrapped an arm about the top of the chimney as I leaned to patch the bottom side, the top 3 courses of bricks collapsed. I toppled off the 2 1/2 story roof, catching myself on the rain spouting with my left leg and arm dangling in space. Once I regained my panicked senses, I managed to clamber back onto the roof. I ended up removing the loose bricks, 9 courses, 8 inches below the low the roof line. Then I rebuilt the chimney using the removed bricks after I’d cleaned them up.

My wife also brought me to God. We began dating in March of 1969. By mid April I wanted to take her out on a Sunday... she told me she was in Church on Sundays (She started teaching Sunday School at 14), so the following Sunday she gained an assistant teacher. She later told me she had prayed to God that she didn’t have time for dating to find the right guy and asked God to just send the right guy to her. She said she knew I was the guy God had chosen for her when I showed up to be her Sunday School assistant a month after our first date.

She guided me into a solid faith in God. Beginning as an assistant Sunday School teacher in 1969, I've moved up to be a teacher and from taught 2009 through 2015 I taught the 13 & 14 year olds catechetic class. Our church is a Union Church... a building shared by a Lutheran and a United Church of Christ Congregation. My wife and I have served on the governing bodies since 1976. She was superintendent of the Sunday School and set up & ran the children's church program. She served on a committee in 1996 that brought the 2 congregations together under one pastor. We've maintained our individual affiliations while combining all finances and functions under a Union Board. I served as the Union Board president or vice president (we alternate position by congregation each year) from 1996 to 2006. I'm still on the Union Board and in January of this year was again elected as board president. I served as Treasurer of the UCC from 1993 till we fully merged finances in 2005. I've served as UCC congregation president since 1995. I’ve been treasurer of the Sunday School since 2000 and treasurer of the Memorial Fund since 2002. Needless to say I’m heavily involved having grown from an eager newbie to a respected elder. I recently completed 2 terms, 6 years, on the UCC Committee of Ministry which is the local regional body overseeing 52 churches.

Back in 1993 I’d just taken a seat on the UCC consistory. The esteemed elder statesman of our congregation was serving as treasurer. In March he announced he was getting too old to handle all the duties and asked that I be appointed assistant treasurer. I was truly humbled by his request and no one refuse his requests. I was trained in the task over the next 2 months at which point he announced he was stepping down from the consistory leaving me to take over as treasurer. He had terminal cancer and was dying, which he did 2 months later. This was how I became an officer of the consistory.

At the time the congregation was served by a very affable pastor. But he lacked organization on all levels. If he bumped into you at the grocery store he’d report it as a pastoral visit. We had been trying for 2 years to get help from the denomination in organizing him. There were many issues. The final one was the joint Christmas Eve Service in 1993. He arrived 5 minutes before the start of the service, and forgot the bulletins. The church was packed. I ran to the parsonage, a block way, to retrieve them. We were late starting the service. Then his sermon ran long as he rambled on. Everyone was fed up with his ineptness. We all knew it was time to part ways.

At our January Consistory meeting, the president announced he couldn’t handle things and resigned on the spot. Then the vice president did the same thing. Suddenly, with one year experience on the consistory and 7 months as a drafted officer, I was the sole remaining officer. The rest of the members looked at me. Then one made a motion to elect me president by acclamation in addition to being treasurer. My first task was to fire the pastor. Our contract provided a 3 month notice of termination so I fired him effective mid-April. Terminating the pastor was the act that set the ball rolling for our congregations to eventually merge under a single pastor.

I’ve mostly worked in supervision since graduating college. First was making gas and electric cooking ranges starting as a laborer but proving myself becoming a shift supervisor in 6 weeks. Then I tried a six month stint as an insurance salesman discovering my social skills were not up to the task. Next was a stint as a 3rd shift supervisor for a steel tubing manufacturer.

That job had 2 significant events. First was a massive blizzard. Third shift started the work week Sunday night at 11pm. It was snowing heavily with about 4 inches and as usual I was the first to arrive to unlock the doors and turn on the lights. Shortly after I arrived the phone began ringing as the workers began calling off because of the snow. By 10:45 everyone had called off. I checked outside and saw we had 8 inches. I was driving a Pinto station Wagon so 8 inches meant the snow would pack under the chassis if I moved. I was not leaving the parking lot. I called the plant manager to tell him, his reply was that the governor had declared a state of emergency and ordered everyone off the roads, he asked me to stay to get everything ready for first shift so I agreed. In the morning the manager called me, the snow emergency was still in effect so first shift was down. Then he told me none of the first shift supervisors could make it in but 3 maintenance people could to begin clearing the parking lot. Again he asked if I could stay so there was supervison. By that time the snow was at 15 inches and there was no way I cold get home so I agreed to stay. The same happened for second shift, and since I still couldn’t get home I agreed to stay. After 3 straight shifts my butt was dragging and I was looking forward to going home to sleep. At 10:30 my third shift crew began showing up... the snow emergency had been lifted and the plant was starting up. As the only third shift supervisor, I had to stay for my shift. I came in at 10pm Sunday night and left at 8am Tuesday morning having covered 4 shifts working 34 hours straight.

The second event was in 1979 and nasty. I had completed my third right knee operation and was heading for a fourth. I was in a lot of pain so was taking Darvon, a precursor to percocet. The script called for 1 pill every 4 hours. When that stopped being effective I took 1 every three hours, then every 2 hours, then every hour, and finally 2 pills every hour. The knee pain was still there. This night there was a machine operator who refused to follow safety guidelines established after an employee had been injured necessitating the amputation of a leg. I warned the man twice, the second time with the union rep and the union safety committee rep. The third time, with the support of the union reps I told the man to clock out and go home as I was suspending him. Now I’m 5' 10" weighed in about 170. The guy stood 6' 5" and about 250 pounds, mostly muscle. The guy was pissed that the union wouldn’t stand up for him and stormed out. Hearing a commotion in the rear of the plant I went to investigate. The guy was there throwing around accumulated debris. I stupidly went out and calmly told him to leave or I’d call the police. He came to me putting up his fists snarling that I was picking on him and he wanted to fight. I calmly told him to go home or I’d call the cops. He hauled off punching me in the gut. The impact caused me to step back. He repeated his demand we fight. Again I refused calmly telling him to leave or I’d call the cops so he punched my gut a second time knocking me back several steps. Again he said he wanted to fight but I again refused calmly telling him to go home or I’d call the cops. That time he clocked me in the face. My bottom lip was driven through by my teeth, blood was gushing. I shook my head and spoke calmly. “Now you’ve done it. Now there is evidence you’ve hit me. Go home, I’m calling the police.” He was clearly confused I didn’t react. I walked back inside and he left. I called the cops, he was arrested for assault and eventually fired and tried for assault getting off with a fine and probation. The blood flow slowed and stopped while I was talking to the police. I went to the hospital emergency to get my lip stitched. When the doctor finally got to me, he cleaned the wound then asked me what I was taking. I told him Darvon, then he asked how much. Being honest I confessed 2 an hour. The doctor nodded, then said he didn’t need to Novocain my lip. He put 4 stitches inside the lip and 3 outside. I felt no pain although my knee still hurt. I was told to get my teeth checked by my dentist. The next morning I saw the dentist. He checked my teeth, found no problem, then asked if my wife was with me. She was called back and he told her to take me back to the hospital since I had a brain concussion. I wound up admitted and staying 4 days for the massive concussion. I had 2 fist sized bruises on my gut. It scared me since I never felt any pain while calmly taking a beating. I have not taken pain pills during the day since then. I only take the proper dosage before going to bed.

A few months later there was a wildcat strike. Supervisors came in to man the plant. I was alone on third shift. I heard noise in the plant, hammering and crashing. I ran to the area to discover 2 men inside smashing equipment. I yelled and gave chase, out the rear door into a downpour chasing them along the driveway. Halfway between the door and the picket lines, I caught up to 1 uy and tackled him to the stone covered driveway. He was stunned and as I sat on him the other guy turned to see what happened. He was standing directly in a spotlight allowing me to identify him. He turned and ran. I picked the guy I caught up and took him back inside. I called the police and plant manager. Based on my testimony both were fired and the guy I caught jailed. I found out during the trial the guy I caught was on an FBI watch list as a member of the communist party and a known agitator during regional union strikes.

My next job was as an assistant manager in a fast food restaurant. After 3 frustrating years I moved on to become a supervisor in a pretzel bakery. The job was okay but the pay stagnant. So I took a job as a supervisor in a factory. After 3 years I ended up being ‘let go’ because I complained about the man with whom I shared an office was a chain smoker. My daughter was asthmatic and the smell of cigarettes set off attacks. The stench in the office was so bad I had to strip out of my clothes on the back porch before entering the house. I requested a ventilation fan be installed to lessen the smell. This was in the 80s before banning smoking was even a thing. Restaurants were just beginning to set up no smoking sections. Upper management, all smokers, decided I had to go so I was laid off.

I moved onto a shift supervisor in another pretzel bakery. They had 2 plants and were moving my plant into an addition on the other plant. We were half way through the move when a huge order for small bags of pretzels for airline snacks came in. By then our plant was down to 2 shifts. Beginning August 1, we went to 24-7 production working 12 hour shifts. We worked those shifts until January 31. The only days off were Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. Working 6 months 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week except for the 4 holidays was numbing. Get up, eat, go to work, go home, eat, go to bed... that was it. However, the pay was great. The plant then closed and we moved to the main plant.

My termination there after 10 years sucked. I worked third shift as packaging supervisor. There was a shift superintendent and a baking supervisor. The baking supervisor retired, so the superintendent and I split the duties until a replacement could be hired. After 6 months we were feeling the strain and asked when they’d be hiring for the open position. The next month I received my annual job review which was above average across the board and included a 6% pay raise. Two weeks later, on a end of work week Friday night, the plant manager and assistant manager showed up at the shift start. After we had the employees working, the shift superintendent and I were called into the office. We were told we were being laid off with a 3 month severance package. My pay raise came through in the severance. The shift superintendent had started with the company right out of high school 44 years before. The next week they brought in people to replace us. It turned out the bottom line looked good with just the 2 of us working. The shift superintendent had 4 weeks of vacation and I had 3 weeks. The replacements had 1 week vacation and the 3 were hired for what the superintendent and I earned. I landed a shift superintendent position with another pretzel bakery, but the commute was 56 miles round trip.

During those years, I normally had a part time job in addition to the full time job. I worked 2 years as a courier for a bank making a run between Reading, Allentown, Philadelphia and back to Reading. I worked as a weekend security guard for 4 years at a warehouse and 2 years weekdays after hours in an office. I spent 5 years working in a U-Haul store at the sales counter as well as cleaning trucks and doing minor repairs.

In 1990 we nearly doubled the size of our home, adding an in-law suite to move my mother-in-law & brother-in law in with us. The addition was 16' x 31', 2 stories plus attic and full basement with an outside entrance. We had the excavation, basement floor and cement block walls built, the framing, windows, siding and roof done, the main electric supply increased to 200 amps and a heat pump installed as HVAC, the back up heat was an 800 gallon hot water time of day system.

With assistance from my wife and 13 year old daughter, we did the rest. Dismantled and removed the cast iron furnace, the pipes and radiators. Ran duct work for the HVAC throughout the combined house as well as installed a central vacuuming system. Installed all new plumbing throughout the old house and new, including a new bathroom and kitchen in the addition. Ran new electric lines from the panel box, installing all outlets and switches. Installed waterproof barriers and insulated the walls and attic floor. Installed the drywall and painted. Installed tile ceilings and tile flooring. It took us six months while both of us worked full time.

My mother-in law passed away in 1997, but my brother-in-law is still here... he’s now 58. He’s a great guy, has a BA in computer science, but is so afraid of making a wrong decision he can’t make any. I have to guide him through all decisions, including buying cars.

My wife, a school teacher, was diagnosed with MS in 1997 shortly after her mother passed. Thanksgiving 2000 she slipped on ice and fractured 2 vertebrae. Refusing to seek treatment or stop teaching at the school and church, she finished the school year in a manual wheelchair. I lifted her about, bed to bath to wheelchair to car to wheelchair or whatever as she couldn’t walk. We’d get up at 5am, I’d help her bathe and dress. Then got her into the car and got her inside the school. I’d go to work, a 56 mile round trip plus working 9 hours. That meant she was at the school between 10-10.5 hours. Then we’d go home where we reversed the morning routine with supper that I made thrown in.

She was also superintendent of the Sunday and ran a children’s church program. So each Sunday I pulled her, in the wheelchair, up 27 steps to get into the church and down into the basement, then did the same as we left. After 6 weeks, one of our older parishioners thanked us for what we were doing. He had wanted to do something big for our church but didn’t know what to do... until he saw us silently struggle to get in and out of the church every week. He put up the money to make the church handicap accessible. Within 6 months people who hadn’t been to church for years were able to come, all because she refused to quit and I enabled her to keep going.

When people would ask her if she ever asked “God, Why me?” she’d smile and say “NO, I never asked ‘God Why me’ when I met my husband. I never said ‘God why me’ when I had our daughter. If I never said ‘God why me’ for the good things in my life, what right do I have to ask for the bad things.”

On the last day of the 2000/2001 school year the pain became too much and she collapsed. Finally she let me take her to the hospital where she spent 47 days in the hospital until she was stabilized by injecting bone cement into the fracture vertebrae. She was 99 percent bedridden for the next 9 years, paralyzed from the waist down, unable to even roll over. While she was in the hospital, I stripped our 7' x 9' first floor laundry/powder room down to the studs and floor joists, rebuilt it with tiled floor and walls, put drains in the floor, added a handicap commode and vanity. I did this while working full time & spending 3 hours a night with her, and still getting to church.

After she came home I was still working full time and taking care of her, bathing her, cooking the meals and taking care of all her bodily functions. I was her sole care-giver... other than a nurse coming in once a month to change her catheter. Twice a day I had to don rubber examination gloves to manually remove the contents of her colon. I joked that I was a unique husband because her doctor instructed me how to be a pain in her tush. I was a twice daily doctor ordered pain in my wife’s ass!

Needless to say I did all the shopping and housework. I did step out of being an officer on the church board. I remodeled the rest of the house, adding ramps and a huge bay window for her to look outside. I modified over the bed tray tables to accommodate her laptop and a flat screen TV with little drawers for whatever she needed. I modified a revolving greeting card display 24" in diameter and 5‘ tall. I cut a hole in the side to insert a tray holding drink and snacks at arm height. In 25 pockets over 3 layers she could keep pens, paper, crocheting needles, books and numerous other goodies that she could access merely by turning the unit.

Unfortunately, I still had the 56 mile commute and was gone 10-10.5 hours working. In 2004, the company we dealt with for her medical equipment and supplies asked me to stop in their showroom, a mile from our home. They knew all that I had done for my wife and that I was great at thinking outside the box and understood the pain and aggravation of disabled people and their families. They needed a service manager and offered me the position. I took a 33% pay cut but lost the commute. In addition I was able to go home every day at lunch so she was only alone for 5 hours at a time. My empathy and my mechanical abilities proved just what they needed. Their customer satisfaction jumped up. If I needed time off to take my wife to a doctor, they let me use vacation and sick days. We were a good fit, I for them and them for me.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for MS. It is a slow decline moving in spurts and gaps. MS is aggravated by stress, stress is aggravated by pain and discomfort. There was nothing but narcotics to ease those. Worse, she knew she’d never get better but would slowly deteriorate until she died. Despite my best efforts, her life was a steady downhill spiral that lasted 9 years. She refused to go to a hospital or care facility. She was firm in wanting to stay at home until the end. I fully supported her. Those last months were rough because we both knew she was deteriorating. Two days before the end, she had a doctor appointment. One look and the doctor wanted to admit her to the hospital. She refused telling him she wanted to die at home. He gave her a quick mental acuity test which she passed. He looked at me to see if I wanted to admit her. I said no. None of us knew how close the end was.

June 16, 2010, was a day I’ll never forget. It was 2 days after the doctor visit. As I prepared for work she was semi-conscious, an increasingly growing state. I tried to give her the morning meds. She tried but couldn’t swallow, the water dribbled from her mouth. She started becoming upset at her inability to swallow. I told her it was okay, that we’d try again when I came home at lunch. She settled down. I told her I loved her and kissed her goodbye like I did every day. (Just writing this brings back the tears and grief.) When I came home she was smiling... and cold. My forever soul mate was gone. While I did mourn her passing a bit, I enthusiastically celebrated her life and ultimate graduation.

Her faith never slipped. As the end neared she told me that she’d be waiting for me in Heaven, but that I should take my time and go see the places we had always talked about visiting. She also insisted she was not dying. She declared she was preparing to take her final exam so she could graduate to Heaven. Her faith was powerful! I have her ashes at home as we had discussed the end. When my turn comes, my ashes will be added to hers, then we’ll be interred together.

We dated 4 1/2 years, then were married for 36 1/2 years. During that time we were seldom apart. We made our decisions together. That was the toughest adjust, learning how to make a decision without her input. It took me 6 months.

In the 9 years since her graduation, I wear a hollow cross on a chain with some of her ashes inside so she is always with me. Her engagement and wedding band are on the chain. My wedding band had to cut off prior to surgery a few years ago so I had the jeweler thread it through her bands before sealing it in place so now the three rings are interlocked. Over the years I’ve visited the Holy Land, Great Britain, the Bahamas. Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. She accompanied me to each. I’m content living alone because she’s always with me. We were soul mates in life, and we’re still soul mates.

Just 2 months after my wife graduated, my 84 year old mother had a bowel blockage requiring a colostomy. She couldn’t return home so, since my home had been set up for handicap accessibility, I moved her in with me. I made sure she followed doctor’s recommendations. In December she had a stroke. I brought her home after 2 months of rehab but she refused to follow orders. Instead of using the walker to get around, she’d go from one piece of furniture to another, often slipping and falling. My sister is a nurse and together we realized she needed full time care. We ended up placing her in a nursing home. Another stoke took her in September at age 85.

Physically, I’m in remarkable shape considering I had 3 slice open and peel back cartilage operations between 1970 and 1978. Between 1980 and 1987 I had 4 orthoscope cartilage operations, in 1989 I had damaged bone in the knee removed via an orthoscope. Then my doctor sent to a specialist at the University of Pennsylvania. As I waited in the exam room, I heard my file being picked out of the file holder. The doctor knocked and stepped in, then quickly apologized saying there had been a mix up as he left. A few minutes later he returned and asked my name. Then he apologized again. He’d looked at the x-rays of my knee in the file, assuming they were from a man about 75... I was 38. The only thing he could recommend was a full knee replacement but I was way too young. I pushed the replacement off until 2000 (age 49) when the pain was so bad I couldn’t sleep. I was back at work in 6 weeks and it’s still functioning quite well. That was 9 surgeries in 30 years.

I have herniated 2 discs in my neck resulting in greatly reduced feelings in my arms and hands. I can still use them and my strength is good, but my sense of touch leaves a lot to be desired. I have herniated 3 discs in my lumbar area but so far physical therapy has kept me going although the discs are fairly crushed. I had orthoscopic surgery on my left knee in 2012. In 2014 I had a laminectomy performed in my lumbar region. Basically they went into the spinal column and roto-routed around the spinal cord between L3 to L5. The herniated disks still plague me but I've learned to eat the pain rather than let it eat me. It hasn't stopped me yet. In December 2015 (age 64) I had the left knee replaced. This time it took 3 months to get back to work.

I was back to work 2 months when 1 day in mid-May I could no catch my breath. After 6 hours I went to a local Urgent Care center. They did an EKG, there were irregularities but nothing stood out. They recommended I go to the hospital Emergency Room. The EKG results were similar. So they decided to admit me for more tests. After innumerable tests, scans and blood work they still found nothing but minor irregularities. The cardiologist was puzzled and suggested a last test, an invasive heart catherization. When I awoke they told me they found 3 blocked arteries and needed open heart surgery. So I went under the knife. When I awoke they told me they had to replace 6 blocked arteries. I never had a heart attack. By getting the shortness of breath checked I caught the problem before one could occur.

My age for full retirement benefits was 66. I was 65 at the time and had been working since I’m 9. I debated whether to retire or return to work as I breezed through the therapy. I was due to be discharged at the end of July but couldn’t make up my mind. I actually felt guilty just considering retirement. A week before my discharge, my employer called me to tell me they had sold the business and all employees were laid off. I just smiled, God was telling me to retire. I was able to get 6 months of unemployment which took me to a month before my full retirement age. I own my home so my Social Security retirement and survivors benefits from my wife’s teacher’s benefits was comfortably adequate to pay my bills. I tap my IRA account for luxuries.

About a year after my wife graduated, I realized I was alone with no one to tell me what to do or how to do it. No one could tell me my fashion sense was off or my colors didn’t match. I decided, that since green is my favorite color, to the best of my ability, I’d only buy green clothing. However, it was difficult to find green underwear and socks. So I bought RIT Kelly Green Dye and dyed all my underwear and socks green. I realized I could dye faded denim, and greys. It wasn’t too long until all my clothes were green. It was impossible to find green shoes, so I bought Kelly Green Leather Dye and it worked on tan suede shoes. So now even my shoes are green. I've dyed numerous tan canvas tote bags green to carry what I need.

The people at church are accustomed to my eccentricities so they just smile when I appear. Whenever I’m out in public I seem to draw people’s eyes. I don’t give a damn about their opinions, I’m happy!

My grandfather taught me a few things. We’d talk while I drove him to and from his chemo treatments. One day he told me the secret to a good life. “In everything that happens, no matter how bad, there is some good. Now the good may be hard to find and usually does not make up for the bad, but train yourself to seek out the good first. Then hold that good tight to your heart while you deal with the bad. It greatly reduces the impact of the bad.” Knowing I was in pain due to my knee and back and he certainly was from the cancer and chemo, I asked him what’s so good about pain? His response was instant as with a chuckle he replied. “As long as I hurt I know I’m alive.” I laughed too. I trained myself to look for the good and it has enabled me to get through the tough times.

Another thing he taught me: “There’s nothing wrong with talking to yourself, ni fact it’s okay to talk to yourself. It’s okay to yell at yourself. It’s even okay to argue with yourself! The only time you need to worry is if you argue with yourself and lose the argument.”

After being retired for 2 years, I was bored. Since BCTS needed funds, I decided to get a part time job. I’ve been working for the county agency providing transport for school districts. In 2 weeks I should be taking my CDL test to drive school buses, in the mean time I’m working as a bus aide, 2 hours in the morning, a 5 hour break, then 2 hours in the afternoon. I’m earning enough to support BCTS at higher levels and enjoy a few luxuries. Being a bus aide is relatively easy although it can be frustrating.

My transgender issues had been buried in childhood but never left. My ability to channel the frustration and pain proved valuable in enabling me to overcome the physical pain of my injuries and surgeries. I channeled the adrenalin to push through the pain. My wife loved me but would not condone my TG issues so I buried them. As busy as my life was, the only outlet for my TG was my reading and imagined fantasies. I've never gotten past the guilt or desire for my transgender self. The only outlet was writing TG stories. As my fem alter ego, Jennifer Sue, I wrote dozens of stories in the 1990s published by Echo Productions, Reluctant Press, and others. Those stories were my fantasies. Stories... and I mean fiction stories... of 9 to 12 year old boys being tricked, trapped, or seduced by circumstances into girlhood... hating their transformation but growing to love it. Such stories set my imagination and libido in motion as do photos or drawings of boys dressed as girls. I read any story & check out any photo or drawing that feed my fantasies. I do not in any way, shape or form want a relationship with such boys. I want to BE those boys. I wistfully put myself into the stories, photos, or drawings wishing it had happened to me. The fact that in my fantasies the boy does not enter into the transformation intentionally was a key factor. It was my guilt-ridden past that kept me in this cycle but I have long ago come to terms with my fantasies.

Those stories morphed into better writing. I found FictionMania in 1999 and posted stories there. All story writing ended while I was caring for my wife. I found BCTS, back in 2008, and posted the stories I’d put on FM my stories have been posted here. After my wife graduated in 2010, I started writing, posting them on BCTS. I live my TS life on BCTS which is why I try to be a supporter of the site.

I hope this confession hasn’t been a turnoff, but I felt a need to do it. Perhaps it gives the readers insight into my fictional stories, adding more depth. I’m proud to be different!

Boys will be girls.. If they’re lucky!

Best wishes to all.

Jennifer Sue

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Happy Birthday!

To us! ;-)

I was born 19 years later.


I'm in awe

The organization of this retelling is a well-done approach. The stories in it almost unbelievable. Now my knee hurts, so realistic is your descriptions. I feel blessed to be only 6 years your junior while having missed life changing events like yours. Happy birthday, thanks for writing and sharing TG stories from your imagination.

>>> Kay


Andrea Lena's picture

So many moments in my life seem to have parallel yours, including that I turned 68 March 5th. Happy birthday day, dear heart!


To be alive is to be vulnerable. Madeleine L'Engle
Love, Andrea Lena

Happy and best to you

Amazed and humbled when reading the hardships and persistence my fellow brothers and sisters who suffer this life endure. No one would voluntarily submit ones self to the tortures of this affliction. My heart goes out to all who have managed in some way to continue this life and, my respect.. And, also to those who have found it beyond their own limits to endure.


Thank you

for all the great stories and more!

Happy Birthday JS

Podracer's picture

Thank you for entrusting us with your story thus far, and wish you more yet to come, green or not. It was great to meet you back on your tour and i'm glad to be in a happy memory for you.

"Reach for the sun."