The first half of
my life was spent, or wasted, in Southern California, the best part at
Brown Military Academy, a dash of reality with the sunshine. Hollywood
High, while fun, bored me, and I left without graduating. Acted the
fool for awhile. Joined the Navy, Sub School, New London, CN; played
football for Bayonne Navel Depot. Returned to CA to revive the good
old days by enrolling in Los Angeles City College to play football
with old high school friends. A bust. To avoid reading and writing, I
took courses in the Theater Department, which lead indirectly to an
invitation from Will Geer to join his troupe, Folksay Theater, and to
perform with them in Topanga Canyon, CA and in NYC.
Spent a year-plus
wandering about NY and when a play in which I had a role failed to get
on stage, I returned to California. Through the good offices of
Anthony Quinn and Nick Ray, movie roles and a contract at 20th
Century Fox materialized. But discomfort was the price of
ego-kneading, and anyway writing had become necessary, air and water.
Some traveling by thumb and a return to school, seriously this time,
to study philosophy at Kenyon with Virgil Aldrich. On to the
University of Wisconsin. Completing the course work for a PhD,
and welcoming into
the world the arrival of Emily Margaret, my daughter.
Shortly afterwards, I waited out at a friend's bedside his death and,
as a result, decided poetry's claim was too strong to share with
philosophy. My friend, a poet, had been right when he wrote "...We/all
go the way we go/all the way..." It was, for good or ill, also a
decision to go it alone; in retrospect, a decision that affected too
many lives. Perhaps, there's an up-side, and Emily's life,
accordingly, will be fully loved and accepted within the terms only
she sets, whatever they might be.
Turning 50 and
desiring upward mobility—enough to afford to smoke two packs a day and wet
my whistle—I enrolled in the Writing Program at Bowling Green State
University. Perhaps working with young writers differed from standard
academic programs. Wrong. However the friendship of Howard and
Jennifer McCord redeemed a year of wandering in the brambles of the
Politically Correct University of the 90’s.
near-half-century of work creaked under the period’s accumulated
dust and just as I began to figure the stuff would settle, dust to
dust, Dale Smith, a true eccentric, entered and feather-dusted and
published and set aside work for future publication. That’s where
things stand, and until those old movies surface on TV, there’s
reason for me to smile.