How far back can one stretch one’s memory? I don’t remember being born. I’ve tried to reach that far back in the resources of my memory, but I can’t quite get there. I don’t remember weighing four pounds and a few more ounces, but I remember hearing stories of the “Ides of March” surprise I represented for my parents. They had no idea that I was hanging around waiting for Ronnie to be born. You can say what you want, but despite the fact that I can talk the horns off a billy- goat, I have the capacity to keep a secret.
Surprise! Surprise! Not only did they have their first born, but I also did my very best to turn the event into a half-price sale. They literally got two for the price of one. Some might say, “I was double trouble”, but Ronnie was actually no trouble at all. That was true for his entire life. He came close to being the “John Boy Walton” of the family. He could do no wrong.
On the other hand, I was that kid who made parenting challenging. I prefer to think of myself as strong-willed. That is a much more positive description than “pain in the neck”. Maybe I marched to the beat of a different drum? I liked to do things my way. Guess what? The persona has stuck with me all of my life. I still like to do things my way.
I guess you could say, “I built memories for my parents that lasted a lifetime.” That was true of Ronnie as well. He was the “near perfect” kid and I was the more challenging. I may have been the second child, but I wasn’t just a tag-along. I also wasn’t a bad kid.
I didn’t get into much trouble. The most egregious thing I did was receive a failure slip in Spanish when I was in the 9th or 10th grade. You would have thought my “failure” to academically do right was headlined in the Odessa American. My mother had a tendency to overreact. She spent way too much time reminding us of “our permanent record.”
I have a friend who now lives in California. He, too, is an identical twin. He and his brother are as different as night and day. They grew up in Louisiana and their parents were prominent members of the community. His twin occasionally colored way outside the lines of what many found acceptable. Consequently, despite the fact he and his brother looked identical, behaviorally they were very different. My friend grew up with the common questioning: “Are you the good one or the bad one?” Doesn’t that hurt your heart?
Whether the “bad one” was known for a criminal record, I can’t remember. Sadly he is estranged from his parents because he didn’t meet their expectations. Consequently, early in his adult life he left Louisiana and moved to California to follow his dreams. It was mostly a dead end street, but he was determined to chart his own course. As it turned out, years later his twin found the lure of California or maybe it was the sense of need to be near his brother.
One of the things I discovered while going through my parent’s things after they were gone was a hand-embroidered baby’s bib with my name on it. I also found a baby ring that belonged to me. There was a tiny blue ribbon tied to it. In their keepsakes was also a small clipping from the Nocona News that announced our birth. I may have been a surprise, but my showing up at the last minute got my name in the news.
Today you can find the three things I’ve just mentioned displayed in a shadow box in my home. I don’t remember that part of my life, but I have evidence that it was a part of my history even if I don’t remember it. I even have the newspaper article substantiating my birth.
I guess you could say that I was born in an era when what appeared in the news generally was factual and few questioned the authenticity of what got reported. What a different day in which we live.
When I was a kid growing up, it was almost with a sense of reverence that my parents listened to or watched the daily news. Television didn’t come our way until 1953 according to my Google search. I remember it differently. I think it was 1956 or 1957. We were one of the first families on our street to get a television.
Prior to television, it was the radio that my folks routinely devoted themselves to when the daily news broadcast was made. They thought it important to know what was going on. They also subscribed to the Odessa American and my dad would devote a portion of his day to reading the newspaper. From my perspective, the only thing I found of interest was the “funny papers”.
When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, I collected newspaper clippings associated to his death and the subsequent quest for justice. I purchased copies of newspapers from big cities and created a scrapbook of articles associated to the assassination. You won’t be surprised, but I still have it.
In the past few years there have been questions regarding the authenticity of news releases. In fact, depending on your political vantage, you probably prefer one news network over another. There is the belief that those crafting the news do so with a prejudicial bent.
Maybe it is a right of passage or the loss of innocence, but hasn’t that always been true? We are told only what those in high places permit us to be told. We are parceled out pieces of the truth scripted or manipulated to support vested interests and “our perceived right” to know the truth.
Am I just a cynical old man? I don’t think so. However, I do think that facts presented are not always facts. However I just heard a news story I found fascinating. A high school journalism class was pulling together an article to welcome their school’s new principal. It was really their intent to welcome her to Kansas.
In researching her background, her story didn’t add up. They were able to find numerous discrepancies associated to her credentials, the university she reportedly attended where she claimed to earn her master’s and doctorate degrees. It was somewhat bothersome to the journalism class that the university website didn’t have a physical address listed on their website. They also found references related to it being a “diploma mill” where a few bucks could get you anything you wanted.
Her previous academic experience was also questionable. The journalism students reported their finding of the facts, and it lead to the principal’s resignation. Somehow, I find all of that a little refreshing. I am also of the mindset that much of what you read in the news isn’t necessarily the news.
All My Best!