Dear Mom and Dad
188 pages
English

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Dear Mom and Dad

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188 pages
English

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Description

Much has been written both about and by people who feel they were assigned the wrong body at conception, exploring the struggles and too often the tragedies that result from that mismatch of nature. Very little has been written, however, to chronicle the lifelong struggle of people to understand and come to terms with two distinct sets of emotions, one male and one female—a single soul, at times divided, at times united, by two clearly identifiable spirits.

 

Dear Mom and Dad: You Don’t Know Me, But … traces the life of George through the eyes of Georgia, the female half of their soul, from early childhood in the post war Texas oil fields through the innocence of his early school years in northeastern Oklahoma. With the onset of puberty, Georgia watches the omnipresent feeling of not being normal cast a destructive pall over nearly everything he attempts. After the collapse of his lifelong dream, George begins again with hopes, new dreams, and the love they’ve both always longed for. Georgia finally emerges, but understanding her part in their soul comes slowly and is complicated by a tragedy of profound proportion.

 

Dear Mom and Dad considers the ultimate understanding of God’s will for both George and Georgia and its unusual conclusion, sharing a story of struggle and self-acceptance.


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Publié par
Date de parution 20 octobre 2017
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781947938878
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 6 Mo

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Exrait

Dear Mom and Dad
You Don’t Know Me, But …
A memoir of a hidden spirit
Georgia Lee McGowen


Copyright © 2017 by Georgia Lee McGowen.

Hardback: 978-1-947938-86-1
Paperback: 978-1-947938-85-4
eBook: 978-1-947938-87-8


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.


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Contents
Acknowledgements
Foreword
Introduction Chapter I In the Beginning Chapter II Zion? Is This the Place? Chapter III This Is the Place … Again! Chapter IV An Incomplete Metamorphosis Chapter V When Never Comes Chapter VI A Pinball and A Maid of Zion Chapter VII Waking Up Is Hard To Do Chapter VIII Canaan and the Canaanites Chapter IX An Angel and a Shadow Chapter X Running From Canaan Chapter XI The Bow After the Arrow Is Loosed Chapter XII An End Hidden In Hope Chapter XIII Reality and Dreams Chapter XIV A Butterfly At Last
Afterword


To the two people I’ve always wanted to write a lette r to, my Mom and Dad.


“Then God said, ‘Let us make people in our own image, to be like ourselves. They will be masters over all life…’
So God created people in His own i mage;
God patterned them after Him self;
Male and female, He created them.”
Genesis 1: 2 6-27


Acknowledgements
It is of great importance for me to acknowledge the assistance and support I’ve received from so many people in the process of bringing this effort to fruition. I must of necessity begin with Rosalyn Mendez without whose unsolicited and profoundly generous assistance, Dear Mom and Dad might never have been published. The atmosphere Lisa and Adele at Cash Inn Country on McDowell in Phoenix have perpetuated and fostered, is one of the joys and places of mental rejuvenation to which I’ve retired on many an evening. It’s a place where I’ve met literally scores of friends, who’ve added so much to the tapestry of my life, including Rosalyn Mendez and her man, Pat Gaona. To supportive patrons of Cash Inn like Sally Mendoza, who’s been an unflagging encourager, I extend undying gratitude for your faith i n me.
To my long-time friend Linda Talley-Branch: I’m deeply indebted to you for your editorial contributions which have made my efforts here more understandable and readable. The assistance I received in the final proof read of this text from another dear friend and ardent supporter, Mona Scott, Residential Faculty member of Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona, was an absolutely invaluable contribu tion.
For my son Peter who, though admittedly with little understanding of the emotions involved, offered his assistance in the decision to pursue the publishing avenue I’ve ch osen.
To another long-time friend, encourager and supporter, Doug Benton, I extend a thank you, which seems so inadequate regardless of what emphasis I place on my appreciation. When I had all but given up ever completing what I’d begun, he came through with exactly the right words, and instilled a new commitment that carried me through to the completion of the ef fort.
If it wasn’t for Dr. Joseph Pearson’s, profound knowledge of the context of virtually every verse in the Bible, and his dedication to sharing that knowledge, I might never have come to the realization that God clearly had a purpose in creating me the way He did.
Pastors Jabowa Whitehead and Juan Morales, founders of New Foundation Christian Fellowship in Phoenix, deserve credit for the rejuvenating atmosphere to which I turn weekly and at times daily, for a spiritual and emotional up lift.
Anyone who thinks that prolonged and deep conversations are necessary keys to understanding will have difficulty in understanding the dramatic effect that simple, seemingly minor contributions to conversations between friends can have. Two cases in point: my long-time friend Marian Aylesworth is responsible for bringing Genesis 1:26-27 to my attention. Michele Hughes placed the final key to acceptance with a phone call to share the definition of “We nkte.”
To those I’ve failed to mention but who have certainly contributed to my life, I offer a heartfelt thank you for your contributions, not the least of whom is Mom. But then, this book conveys, I hope, that grati tude.
And for Dad … the tears that rise up this very moment are from sadness that in this life, you never knew me, your eldest daughter. Someday you will.


Foreword
I was excited and flattered when Georgia asked me to write a foreword for this book. It expresses thoughts and struggles of many individuals I have counseled. Most importantly, it demonstrates a true solution to the difficulties experienced by anyone who does not fit neatly into a gender box. That solution is self-accept ance.
When studying to be a psychologist, I learned about gender issues in only one of my classes. They were brief presentations which described gender “disorders” as a mental health condition. At the time, I accepted gender issues as a mental health problem. Four years later, I was introduced to the field by a therapist who had originally studied with Harry Benjamin. I learned from meeting clients that the labels “transgendered”, “transvestite” and “cross dresser” are not representative of different “disorders.” Rather, they reflect varying degrees of dual genderism. This does not mean that people with high levels of dual genderism (today labeled “Gender Identity Disorder”) cannot have mental health problems. Most people I have worked with over the years were not confused about their gender. They were confused about “why” they were this way and why few, if any, people would accept it. In fact, depression suffered by many experiencing high levels of dual genderism was due to their beliefs about needing to keep their true identities se cret.
Georgia’s book describes her personal struggle to accept what, deep down, she really always knew. It reveals the confusion and rejection felt from loved ones, even when unintentional, and how this can be worse than dealing with societal disapproval. The best part of this book is how she found inner peace through self-accept ance.
Christine P. Grubb, Ph.D.
Licensed Psycholo gist


Introduction
There are not two of me. There’s only one of me. I just happen to co-exist in a male body with an equally singular man. That’s the way God made us. Maybe one day, when God was through packaging souls and spirits with available bodies, I was a leftover spirit, so rather than wait until the next batch of souls and bodies was ready, he plunked me in with George. I don’t actually believe that, but I do wonder occasionally. The reality is that I believe this dual-spirited soul is, like the rest of His creation, intentional and purposeful. The first question is … why? The second question is … how are we supposed to live this way? The why may not be known until we’re face-to-face with God. The how is what this narrative of the journey to our ultimate solution is all a bout.
I hope in the following pages to raise awareness of the fact that thousands of people . .. men and women alike . .. live with the confusion of two, coexisting spirits within the same soul, and the difficulty they have in reconciling those two spirits and personalities. It’s a lifelong issue most often never reconciled. Being dual-gendered isn’t the same thing as being trans-gendered and it’s not the same as schizophr enic.
The root word trans is defined by the Encarta Dictionary as: across, on the other side of, beyond; indicating change, trans fer, or conversion. If I was trans gendered or trans sexual, there would be no spirit you will come to know as George. It would be a matter of me feeling as though I was simply a person trapped in the wrong body. If we were the result of schizophrenia, there would be no control over who existed at any given moment and we would be given drugs to allow just one of us to be in control and to express their being. Quite possibly, more than two of us would exist. People like me always have control over the expression; the emotions, however, are a different issue. They just are and are nearly always present in some form. What people like me deal with is a life-long struggle for understanding and acceptance that goes on between the spirits of two personalities. And that’s the VERY abbreviated an swer.
The bottom line is this; our soul, which for many years was believed to be just the tortured spirit of George, was tortured from the beginning, from early childhood, by the opposing attractions of masculine and feminine. The male body was always the deciding factor in what I should yield to, in spite of the fact that half the time what George was drawn to was me; the feminine. Therefore, a feeling of worthiness was difficult to experience because everything social and moral said there was something wrong with a man who had as many feminine inclinations as he did masculine. Those feelings eventually corrupted nearly everything he attempted, and were so ingrained in our psyche that, at times I still have occasional doubts today that the direction my life has taken is the one God inte nded.
If something in the sharing of my life helps someone else avoid the mistakes caused by a lack of understanding, then I believe I need to bare it all. What I hope to accomplish, in writing this book, is to help people and their families realize early in life, that if they’re dealing with gender confusion issues, they can resolve it early, and go on to lead productive lives. I’ve seen too many families and individuals’ lives literally destroyed because the nature of being like us, dual-gendered or trans-gendered, wasn’t recognized and understood early in life.
The question that will ultimately come up in the mind of the reader, as it did in our own mind, is George an invention created to cope with the world? Or, is Georgia an invention created to justify George’s failures? Is it possible that both George and Georgia are inventions of a poorly developed sense of self? The answer to all three questions is an emphatic, No! We are not inventions. We are discoveries that have taken a lifetime to explore and understand. We are developments that continue to mature. We began as independent entities that became mutually aware entities and from there mutually accepting personalities, each with its own distinct character traits and contributions to our soul. The point of Dear Mom and Dad is that ignorance and lack of understanding led to heartache and failure before awareness, understanding, and acceptance were achi eved.
When I set out to share the details and events of a combined life, the attitude which prevailed was clinical. I wanted to expose the causes and results of, what I viewed as, a single soul reacting to the elements of two spirits. I expected it to be a fairly simple task; after all, I was writing about self. It did not turn out to be a simple task. I found that I was not just remembering facts and events. I found that I was stirring up emotions long since forgotten and stuffed in boxes, both real and psycholog ical.
The memories are extracted and reassembled from recollections of the places and homes we lived in over the years. I began the process soon after completing the 40th move of our lifetime, and after the renewed expression of our Christian faith. I soon found that it required an honesty I wasn’t really prepared for. When one makes a full and complete presentation of their lives and their will to God, with a genuine desire for Him to take charge of every facet of one’s life, He will do exactly that. One of the very first things that He affected, at least for us, was our memory of the past, by virtue of demanding complete and rigorous hon esty.
Digging through old photographs, papers, and especially letters, where the real emotions of the time lay hidden, became a tearful and at times, an agonizingly painful and heart-wrenching effort. Maybe it’s a device of the mind and heart that’s there to protect us until we are mature enough, or experienced enough, to deal with it, but I found in this process that I had been living with skewed memories about many th ings.
The expected corrections in memory of some events occurred. Some places turned out to be not as important, or as beautiful, as the memory of the heart would have me believe. But, totally unexpected discoveries of inaccurate memories of emotions and relationships with people we were closest to also occurred. Those discoveries became the source of many tears and also what the term “heart wrenching” really was meant to desc ribe.
Remembering the good and the bad in the relationship with Colleen demanded the most effort because it had become a habit to simply remember her in an unfavorable light. It was easier on the ego. I found it absolutely critical to pick my way cautiously through those memories because anger and feelings of betrayal had so overwhelmed the realities. The truth of George’s part in the relationship was often buried by the mental bandages and dressings he had used to help in the healing process. I found, in the process of recounting all the details of that relationship and past events that God seemed to be hovering at my shoulder, scrutinizing every word for accu racy.
In re-reading the letters from Susie Richins which were found in a box that had been unopened for more than forty years, I felt as though someone had taken my heart in a large pair of hands and was trying to squeeze it until it stopped beating forever. I wanted to take George and beat him soundly, for being so oblivious and callous to someone whose letters, re-read after forty-seven years, expressed a unique and sincere love.
Later, when I accidentally found a file folder with all the cards and letters George had received from Stephanie Gianos, I recalled some moments in their relationship that had been stuffed away, to avoid facing his own naïveté. In that relationship, the conditions in his life that led to losing touch with her were a painful punch in the emotional gut.
The understanding of past events is revised by close examination of them and when that is complete, one is left with wondering, “What do I not understand t oday?”
The most painful of all the memories I had to deal with were those of our bride, our friend and lover, our anchor, Marilyn. As you read the book, I believe you will understand why I say no more about her here.
Thanks to the “Google Search” I was able to locate and reconnect with a number of people who’d influenced my life in many positive ways. Others, I found, had passed away, and that always brought a profound sadness. Time periods will be related here when there is seldom any mention of me. They are important to relate because they are another indicator of the absolute duality of our soul.
The important thing is to read this. As you read, whether you are dual-gendered or not, consider what a close examination of your own past might possibly do to help you understand where you are today, on the road God has mapped out for you, and what detours you may wish to ret race.
And lastly; if at times my descriptions of feelings or perceptions seem confused, remember that it is a part of the condition and the process of achieving self-comprehension of our dual na ture.
From the Tao Te C hing
“All things have their backs to the fe male
And stand facing the male
When male and female com bine
All things achieve har mony.”


Chapter I
In the Beginning
We were born on the same day to the same mother and same father in a small, north-central Texas Panhandle company town. Twins? No, not exactly. He would be raised purposefully. I, on the other hand, would not be. I wasn’t acknowledged at all; because of course they didn’t know that I was part of the package. They couldn’t, and therefore didn’t, see me. I wasn’t a figment. A figment is something feigned, imagined, not real. I was very real, but at the same time, I was very hidden. He was beautiful to look at, and they took lots of pictures. What they didn’t know was that they were also taking pictures of me. In retrospect, I believe that anyone who could look at him and not see me simply had to be b lind.
Mom and Dad were classic examples of young postwar products of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. Mom was born in the Oklahoma Panhandle but had spent most of her life in the Texas Panhandle. Her father was the son of a hardworking Scotch-Irish hardware and dry goods store owner. Our grandfather pretty much followed in his father’s footsteps in one capacity or another until his untimely death from lead poisoning, caused by an accident involving a shotgun, when a man he stopped to help attempted to rob him. Mom was only fourteen at the time, but in spite of the Depression, our grandmother saw to it that Mom and her younger brother finished high school and went on to college. Mom attained what today would be an associate’s degree in education. She found a job teaching in a small, two-room school in the northern Texas Panhandle. When a friend wrote to tell her of some openings in the new school in the town where Dad lived, Mom and her roommate both applied and were h ired.
Dad was a fourth-generation product of Prussian, Belgian and French immigrants. His family had been farmers and ranchers as well as lawyers, business owners, and entrepreneurs. He was raised on a dryland farm and dairy in the Texas Panhandle, the youngest of three children and the only son. He hated the farm and specifically the dairy aspect of it because it meant there was never a day off. Dairy cows are milked 365 days a year without fail. On one occasion when Dad was in his early teens, he brought home a rather dismal report card. Grandpa’s response was amazingly insightful and effective. He called Dad into his study and held up the report card and said,
“Do you see these gr ades?”
“Yes, sir.”
Then pointing out the window at the forty plus dairy cows which Dad hated with a passion, Grandpa said,
“Do you see t hose?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Well, young man, they go hand-in- hand.”
That was all he said and that was all he needed to say. After that, Dad never brought home a grade lower than a B, and few of those for the rest of his high school and college careers. The dislike of the farm spurred him on to excel in school, and he ultimately graduated from West Texas State University with a degree in chemical engineering. The best job he could find at the time was as a laborer for the oil company he would eventually spend his entire career working for. By the time he met Mom, he had worked his way into a position in the testing lab at the refinery and had also acquired a café and nursery by winning at a few nights of poker. Before meeting Mom, his typical weekend was pretty much a mixture of poker and scotch, a fact that would be hidden from his own children for y ears.
Mom and Dad met when he heard that the new “single” school teachers needed some furniture – he showed up on their doorstep with a load of furniture. Dad took Mom to a dance on Valentine’s Day 1941 and before he left her at her door that night he had proposed. Four months later, they were married, but not before Mom let him know in no uncertain terms that poker had to go. It wasn’t long after we were born that the scotch also vanished from Dad’s list of guilty pleasures. The first few years of their marriage were actually spent in New York City where Dad was loaned to the government to work on oil and fuel supply problems for the Defense Department. We were born soon after they returned to T exas.
They were something of a physical mismatch as a couple. Dad was a slender six-foot-two inches tall, with size thirteen, four-A six-A feet, that required shoes custom made in New York. On the other hand, Mom was just a touch over five feet tall and although she wasn’t slender, she wasn’t overweight either. The difference in their height went without notice by us until one night when we were in our early teens. I don’t remember the occasion, but we were at a dance with them, and the sight of them dancing together somehow struck a humorous note. It seemed as if Dad was dancing with a little girl, and totally oblivious to her presence in front of him. Despite their physical mismatch, they were perfectly mated, intellectually and emotion ally.
Georgie was their first child, and being a boy, he was named for our Dad and grandfather with the requisite Roman numeral tacked on. He wasn’t actually a third, because the two middle names had the same first letter but the names were different for Dad and Grandpa, with Georgie’s name being a combination of those two. Typical of families of that era, we weren’t an only child for long. Brother Nick came along two years l ater.
A third adult has to be mentioned. That person is Granny, Mom’s mother. She was one of those people without whom life would have been void of some of its most significant flavor. She was born in 1898 in the Oklahoma Panhandle when it was still a territory. Her father was a rancher who’d acquired his land in the Great Land Race of 1889. Her one sister was older by at least twelve years. Granny was her daddy’s pet and her mother’s greatest worry due to her unseemly tomboy behavior and habit of doing everything against the g rain.
She met Grandpa when she was twelve years old and never, for the remainder of her life, ever loved another man. He had come to a party that her older sister was having. As he was leaving, he told great-grandmother that he would be back for Mamie on her eighteenth birt hday.
When Granny was fifteen, she graduated from high school and wanted to get married, but great-grandma put the kibosh on that plan. No daughter of hers was going to be an uneducated ignoramus. Granny was shipped off to Arkansas to what is now Arkansas State University. She created an uproar when she joined the equestrian team; she refused to ride sidesaddle the way women of the day were expected to ride. She endured school until her eighteenth birthday when she finally married Grandpa. I remember her talking about how incensed she was when men started showing up on her doorstep wanting to “rescue” her after Grandpa’s untimely d eath.
By the time we were born in 1944, Granny’s appearance had changed from that of a slender, extremely attractive young woman to a somewhat overweight, matronly woman. She was forty-six, always wore calf-length dresses that buttoned up the front, and unless she was leaving the house, I don’t recall ever seeing her without an apron on. Her gray hair was kept long, but it was only worn in one style. Each night after her bath, she combed it and then braided it. Finally, the braids were pulled up and wrapped over and across one another on the back of her head. I never once saw her with her hair any other way and I don’t think many other people did either because even in pictures of her as a young woman, her hair was worn in the same fas hion.
With these three unique people to guide Georgie’s development, we began life in the agricultural and oil country of the Texas plains. That post-World War II environment wasn’t conducive to self-acknowledgement in the mid-1940s. It wasn’t an environment conducive for acknowledgement of anything which wasn’t an absolutely normal Protestant behavior or characteristic. When the doctor slapped us on the behind at 11:05 AM, October 20, 1944, Georgie started crying and the doctor announced, “Congratulations! You have a boy!” That announcement meant that I wouldn’t receive an ounce of recognition or attention for a long time. It’s not that I was any more aware of my presence than he was at the time, because I obviously wasn’t. What it did mean was that we would be raised as a male child. The very visible male plumbing was clearly the deciding measure of th ings.
An accurate perception of self is often the most difficult assessment one can make, even in the most nurturing of environments. When the environment in which one is shaped is one where the guiding belief is that a child is more a thing to be shaped and molded to the vision of what the parents wish for than one of guiding the child toward its natural inclinations, failure to some degree is generally the result. That isn’t a nurturing environment – that is a controlled and frequently stifling environ ment.
For the most part, spontaneous actions resulted in sudden and often severe reprimands. The reprimands were then followed by what Mom and Dad considered discipline appropriate to the act. One such incident occurred after we had left the Texas Panhandle and moved to Houston. Georgie was less than four years old when Mom announced at dinner that she was taking him to the show that night to see a “real shoot-em up Western.” If you’re very much younger than, say fifty-five years old, you’re not going to appreciate how momentous that announcement was. That was big news, I mean really big news, and it was going to be a shoot-‘em-up Western. Wow!
After dinner, Georgie wandered outside for a little after-dinner adventure before it was time to get ready for the show. It was getting dark when Mom hollered out the front door that it was time to get ready. That’s when he did it. He knew he should wait until he got inside. But no, he just had to do it, right there in the gutter, in plain view of the entire neighborhood and Mom.
Ziiiipppp! Down came the zipper, and out came “Fred”. (I called “it” Fred. What else is a girl to call that thing?) The sound of splitter splatter in the water in the gutter was humiliating, and Dodo Georgie was just as relaxed as Fred was. Well, Dodo was relaxed until he heard; “Georgie! You get in this house this instant!” That zipper came up so fast I thought he was going to lose Fred in it. (Not that I would have minded that … it’s just that, well, you know.) Up to that moment, I don’t honestly think it occurred to him that what he was doing was wrong. I’m not even sure it occurred to him that he was doing it. All I remember after that is the lecture he received, as he lay there in bed … without going to the m ovie.
If what he’d done was something he’d been told not to do several times before that evening, then maybe being denied the joy of the movie would have been appropriate, but that wasn’t the case. He’d never done anything like that before. That’s just the way most children were raised in the 1950s. Undesirable behavior was to be nipped in the bud. Because of that environment, the instincts that came from my part of our soul, he soon believed to be something that must be rigidly squel ched.

From Houston, the family moved to northeast Oklahoma and that was the last time we lived in Texas. We still consider ourselves Texans, though. Everyone who’s ever been born in Texas, even if it was on a bus passing through Texas, considers themselves Texans. But then, there is the distinction of being a real Texan like we are, because Dad was born and raised in Texas, Mom was raised in Texas, and we were born in T exas.
Oklahoma! What in heaven’s name can you say about the first place you really felt anchored to? The Oklahoma Panhandle was Mom’s country like West Texas was Dad’s country. The two areas are virtually indistinguishable as you pass from one to the other. A good Okie is just as proud of his heritage as a Texan is his, but you will find the occasional turncoat who tries to pass as a T exan.
The Oklahoma Panhandle is flat by comparison to the northeastern area where we now found ourselves. Today, a check of local license plate frames and bumper stickers will let you know that this is “Green Country,” and by comparison to the rest of Oklahoma, it is green. I don’t remember if they called it Green Country back then, but Mom was perfectly comfortable and at home there. After all, it was still Oklahoma. It seems a relatively small state to have such a variety when it comes to terrain, fauna, and flora. My memory banks seem to remember the panhandle as flat and brown, with rattlesnakes and coyotes, and northeast Oklahoma as hilly and green, with chiggers (“no-see-ems” to some) and sk unks.
The rolling hills and low mountains of northeast Oklahoma were covered in deciduous trees and pine forests, interrupted frequently by farm fields and pastures. No interstate freeways had been built, and very few four-lane highways existed to speed the traveler from one place to another. The highways ran through the middle of the towns, which meant there was at least one stop sign to interrupt progress. Frequently, a farmer would be making sorghum molasses along the side of the road near his home. Whenever we passed one, Dad always made it a point to stop and taste the molasses. If it met with his approval he purchased a quart for one of his favorite treats – saltine crackers with butter and mola sses.
Where do I start? The family arrived there with me in tow but still unobserved and unacknowledged. I have so many bits and pieces of memory about Okmulgee, a town of about 8,000 population, just thirty miles or so south of Tulsa. I guess the best place to start is with the place , our house. It seemed rather big back then but in reality it was a small square bungalow. I only remember two bedrooms, a bath, a living room, and the kitchen, but it probably had a small dining room and a third bedroom. It was one of four identical houses set side-by-side across the street from the refinery office where Dad worked as superintendent. They were company houses and intended for salaried management at the refi nery.
No garages were attached to the houses. One four-car garage at the end of and perpendicular to the drive which ran in front of the houses sufficed for all four families. That garage was where I learned about the anatomical difference between girls and boys. I remember that she was blonde and cute and that her dad worked at the refinery but that’s about it. Georgie didn’t understand the emotions that experience evoked and I don’t suppose I did either because it was a mix of his amazement and my jeal ousy.
Across the gravel drive and in the direction of the refinery was a large grassy area with picnic facilities – tables, grills, and so on, on a concrete pad. On the other side of that was the horror , known to us kids as Greasy Creek . Its real name was Okmulgee Creek, but everyone we knew called it Greasy Creek. It irritated Dad to no end because the fact that it was greasy was due in some way to the refinery he was in charge of. It was aptly re-named and the mere thought of falling in was sufficient to keep us from venturing anywhere close enough for that to ha ppen.
The social atmosphere there at The Courts was the closest thing I can recall to one big happy family. I remember each family and how they fit into our life, especially the couple next door – they were the only ones with a television. Each day that the Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, the Cisco Kid, or Roy Rogers was on the TV, their living room floor was covered with kids. Gosh, what a time we had. We were too young to know then that the good guys always survived and the bad guys always lost out, so each episode carried with it the energy associated with impending doom for the hero.
Oklahoma was where consistent memories began to develop. Georgie started school there and the Methodist Church we attended had an amazing children’s library. It was there that a love of biographies of famous people was born. The schools there stressed reading; as soon as school began each year, a ceremony was held. Students were recognized for the number of books they had read over the summer. In our baby book, I found the lists of books read over three summers; with few exceptions, the titles indicate that they were biographies of the famous and the not-so-famous. As a result, Georgie developed a sense early that just maybe he too was meant for great things. If he’d only k nown.
For the first time we became aware, of racial and social prejudice which was something we weren’t raised with. Mom and Dad never bracketed their opinions of people on the basis of something they couldn’t help or had no control over, such as the color of their skin.
Many of the emotions experienced over the next five years might have been noticed in the more aware society of today, but at the time they were not. It took years for me to come to the point where I could recognize some of the relationships for what they were – clues to my existence. One of those retrospective clues is in the nature of Georgie’s relationship with a girl whose grandfather lived two doors away and who worked with Dad.
When Sherry and her sister came to visit their grandparents, she and Georgie spent a lot of time together. Sherry was the first of Georgie’s “girl” friends and one I have very fond memories of. Although we discovered the anatomical differences between boys and girls in the garage with someone else, Sherry shared the differences with us. For whatever secrets there could have been for us at that age, she and Georgie shared it all.
The time together was spent one of two ways. They played “doctor” on occasion, but usually it was “Roy Rogers and Roy, Jr.” No, not Roy and Dale. It was Roy and Roy, Jr. Georgie was Roy and Sherry was Roy, Jr. She was insistent on being Roy, Jr. and not Dale Evans. I have often wondered whatever became of her and if she became a mirror image of me. That could just be wishful conjecture, prompted by the desire to reconnect in this world I have found myself in. The only picture I have of her is a grainy photograph of the two of us playing in front of the house. We lost track of each other sometime in junior high.
The only lasting relationship to come from our time in Oklahoma is the one with Roger Montgomery Short. Our fathers worked together and our mothers became and remained lifelong friends until his mother passed away. Roger is as sensitive and caring today as he was then, and I’m certain it was those characteristics that drew us together and holds us together. Not a day goes by that I don’t get at least one e-mail from him. I’m always saddened when I think that his father and sister both died early in life. His mother lived well into her eigh ties.
While we lived there in the company house, Georgie started and finished first grade. By the time school started the following fall, we had moved again. It was becoming a habit for Dad to move into company housing at the beginning of a new assignment and then build a new home. Like everything Dad did, there had to be something unique about their home. It was built in an “L” shape with a sunken living room on the northwest corner of the “L”. South of that were the bedrooms and bath. To the east of the living room was the dining room and kitchen. The window above the sink overlooked the back yard and horse pasture and barn beyond. Not so unusual, is it? Well, that’s where normal sto pped.
To the east of the kitchen was a door that opened on to an enclosed breezeway that separated the house from the two-car garage and adjoining mother-in-law quarters, reserved for Granny when she came for her annual visits and any other visitors. The unique characteristic was that there was a large elm tree located between the house and the garage. Dad refused to cut it down. This meant the breezeway had a tree growing through the roof and also through the equally unique red concrete floor. The new home was located on the south side of town just across the road from the country club and we remained there for three y ears.
We have many, many fond memories of those three years. Most of them involve either horses or the country club swimming pool. We first received a dark chestnut and white Shetland pony from the family doctor. We named it Merrylegs. Soon after that, a horse we named Ginger was our Christmas present the first Christmas in our new home. The two names came from one of our favorite books, Black Beauty . I don’t know how old Ginger was, but she couldn’t have been terribly old because she lived another eighteen years and died on our uncle’s farm in the winter of 1969. Georgie was stomped, kicked, dumped and run away with so often by the two animals that it became an assumed occurrence if we were on horseback. One would think that we would have developed an intense dislike for horses, but actually the exact opposite happened. For all the control Mom and Dad exercised over Georgie, as long as he was on his horse he was left to himself. So riding became his es cape.
On July 4 th the following summer, Ginger presented us with a colt. She was a beautiful bay filly with three white stockings, a white star between her eyes, and a white patch on her nose. We named her Skyrocket. The discovery that Ginger had given birth was typical of Dad’s way of doing things. Before breakfast that morning, Dad was standing in front of the kitchen sink, looking out the window in the direction of the wooded lot where Ginger and Merrylegs were kept, when he said,
“You know, there’s something funny about Ginger this morning. Georgie, you’d better run out there see what’s the matter.” The filly standing next to her mother would be truly loved and treas ured.
Georgie had received his first swimming lessons in Houston, but there in Oklahoma, Mom enrolled him in every swimming course offered at the country club. She was bound and determined that her children would not become drowning statistics. Our second home was only a half block from the club and summer days meant hours of each day at the pool.
Thanks to a condition in our grandfather’s will, the only way Dad could receive what little he had coming was that he purchase a television for his father’s grandchildren. Grandpa knew his son all too well; he knew that without that condition in his will, we would have to leave home to ever have a television of our own. The Christmas Eve delivery of the television and subsequent antennae installation on the roof led to a prolonged belief in Santa Claus for Georgie. He was still awake when they started tromping around on the roof and he was sure it was rein deer.
While we lived in Oklahoma, Georgie’s level of self-awareness began to expand, and with each new awareness came additional proof that he wasn’t like the boys he knew. In Oklahoma during the early 1950s, every boy played football, beginning in the second grade; I recall no exceptions to that rule. He knew he was supposed to enjoy it and participate, but he felt terribly out of place and uncomfortable. Confusion was the order of the day. He liked girls. He loved girls. He was drawn to girls like a moth to f lame.
On the other hand and with few exceptions, the company of boys left him with a feeling of unworthiness. If he was given a choice, he spent his time with girls. That’s where his (my) comfort zone was. His heroes were just that, his heroes. That was a natural boy thing to do – to idolize heroes. Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid and Hopalong Cassidy – those were his heroes. So he disliked sports, but he idolized male heroes. In that 1950s Oklahoma environment, it’s no wonder that he didn’t feel “no rmal.”
Two things helped him cope with the confusion. The first was the succession of teachers he had in those first four years of school. They were nurturing and caring women, who it seemed were teaching because they loved what they were doing. They managed to instill the real basics of education, reading, writing, math and history, with only a principal and a janitor for support s taff.
The second thing which helped him through the early years was his ability to create a world of his own in his mind as he wandered about the woods alone, whether he was on horseback, walking, or bicycling. His reading instilled imagination and it was his imagination which provided him refuge from a world he felt out of plac e in.
When the family moved into that second home on the edge of town, Dad insisted that his namesake oldest son follow in his footsteps, and it wasn’t the last time he pursued that end. Dad had run a trap line in his youth, and he felt Georgie should do the same. The first winter we lived across from the country club, Dad had him up long before breakfast to go check traps. Other than an occasional squirrel, the only thing he ever caught was skunks, but at thirty-five cents a pelt that wasn’t a bad return. The smell wasn’t so awful to Dad and Georgie because Dad’s limited sense of smell was inherited by his son. The one real advantage to the smell was that it made checking traps a cinch. All you needed to do was get within fifty yards of the trap and sniff the air because a skunk caught in a steel-jawed trap will immediately paint the area yellow with its repellant. I don’t remember how many skunks Georgie caught, but it was enough to make at least a small contribution to the purchase of a fifty-dollar savings bond.
The last year we were in Oklahoma was the year Georgie was in the fourth grade. At the beginning of the year, he was seated about two thirds of the way back and on the teacher’s far right. By early spring, he had been progressively moved to the center seat on the front row. His vision had begun to deteriorate, and in the 1950s no contacts, designer frames, or featherweight lenses existed. It was a staggering blow to his ego. He tried for awhile to maintain a facsimile of decorum and self-image suitable for Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, Cisco and Hopalong, but it was just too much to ask, for him to imagine any of them wearing glasses. So, by the time school was out, he had abandoned forever the enjoyment of those pers onas.
That spring Dad was promoted which meant another move. When school was out in the summer of 1954, we left Oklahoma and a wonderful world of childhood adventure and innocence behind. We left the only home we’d ever really known or become attached to. Behind us now was a life where there was a sense of freedom to roam where we wanted, when we wanted, in the safety of knowing that Mom or Dad was always available for rescue missions when needed. The “age of innocence” is a clichéd term, but that is what we had lived, and it would be left behind … for ever.
We left what we would come to think of as Heaven on earth, for years to come. We headed north and west to an environment so totally different from anything we had known that even Mom had some difficulty adjusting to our new environment. It was the only time I remember her crying for any reason until years later, and it was the only time that I remember Georgie crying when leaving one home for another. But he did cry as they drove away from our home with the tree growing through the roof, the red breezeway floor, and the faint odor of skunks that had been skinned in the garage. As Dennis the Menace said to his little friend Joey once, “Wish I was three again knowing what I know now.”


Chapter II
Zion? Is This the Place?
It’s a good thing we had no idea of what awaited us that summer of 1954. Having recently read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , the thought of running away from home might have been given more than passing consideration. If it wasn’t for Mom’s unflagging optimism and positive influence, I’m not sure what might have become of Georgie. The looming social challenges would have been tough enough for someone with a sense of being a normal person. But for a ten-year-old boy who doesn’t understand why he feels so totally unlike and separate from his peers, the immediate future would leave him with a sense that his unlikeness made him unaccept able.
After the tears of departure from Oklahoma dried and we were on the road, Georgie had another experience in store before we reached Utah. It was summer camp.
For a number of years, Granny had spent her summers working as chief cook, bottle washer, and sometimes manager of Western Life Camp, a private camp in the mountains northwest of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Georgie and then little brother Nick had been spending at least a part of every summer there with Granny since Georgie was a baby.
From the time we were old enough to have memories of camp, the memories always included horses. Granny grew up on horseback, and she saw to it that her grandchildren had the same opportunity. Long before we moved to Oklahoma, Granny made sure we were taught to ride. The old man who provided horses for the camp always had a few for us to ride when we were there. When I think about it now, it seems almost unreal. As early as four years old, Georgie was expected to ride alone on a horse and be able to handle it … and he did. In fact, he handled it very well. The picture albums have abundant proof. When I look at those pictures now, I think he resembles a chipmunk on a large dog. He was so small and the horse so big that his little legs just seemed to stick straight out to the side.
We were free to roam about the roads and forest as we pleased as long as we didn’t stay gone too long and Granny had a general idea of the direction we disappeared in. We were seldom alone. Reuben, the son of a single Mexican father who lived in a small adobe house near the camp, was almost always with us. He was considerably older by at least five or six years, but the common denominator between us was doing whatever we were doing on horse back.
That summer of 1954 was the first time Georgie got to attend boys’ camp as a regular camper and enjoy all the usual activities of camp, from nature hikes to horseback riding. Every minute was filled with a planned activity except for Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoons were always free time, but not until we’d written a letter home to the folks … no exceptions, even for Georgie. The following is a sample of one of Georgie’s communications found in that batch of letters years l ater.
Dear Mom and Dad,
How are you? I am fine. Camp is really fun. I am taking archery and rifle shooting and leather working and horseback riding. My counselors name is Speedy and he is really fast. That’s why we call him speedy. Landis got a bad rash from poison oak and Peder Rush threw up at the dinner table yesterday. Ick.
Love,
Ge orge
“Dear Mom and Dad!” I have started so many letters in my mind over the years that way, but the intent of those unwritten letters was always to find some way to tell them that I existed … that Georgie wasn’t the only person in that body. It’s a phrase that’s rolled around in my mind so many times that it just comes up out of nowhere for no apparent reason. Life would have been so different if I’d been acknowledged and accepted but nobody, including me, had a clue I even existed. Since camp was supposed to be a time of growth and discovery, I’ve often wondered how things would have gone if a second letter had been included in the enve lope.
Dear Mom and Dad,
You don’t know me but I’m your daughter Georgia. You don’t know about me because I am here inside of Georgie and he just now found out about me. I hope you like me when you meet me. Please don’t be mad at me for being here. I can’t help it that I have to share his body and don’t have my own.
Love,
Your daughter Geo rgia
No easy way exists to break that kind of news, is there? It certainly isn’t even possible until the existence of the person is known and acknowledged by the one the body is shared with. I didn’t mean to cause Georgie problems, but I guess I did since my unknown existence made it virtually impossible for him to be a normal little boy.

Georgie made it through that first summer at camp okay, and we found ourselves at our new, once again temporary home in Bountiful, Utah. It would have been enough of a challenge fitting into a new life in a new neighborhood 800+ miles from everything we had ever known, without the one major challenge we now faced … Mormo nism.
Up until that point in our lives, we had lived in a world of many different faiths, but where we attended church on Sunday morning was never an issue … unless you were Catholic, and all that meant was that you didn’t eat meat on Friday. But Mormons looked at life differently from anything we had ever experienced. In Oklahoma and Texas, the Methodists went to church on one corner, the Presbyterians went to the church catty-corner to the Methodists, the Baptists were down the street a ways, the Church of Christ was on the edge of town, and the Catholics were near downtown. That was it. There was no other distinction. You just went different directions for a few hours on Sunday morning and that’s all there was to it, but not with the Mor mons.
Our first morning at our new home was a real treat. When the kids across the street showed in up our yard first thing to check Georgie out, the first words out of their mouths were not:
“Hi! I’m Rob.” Or, “Hi! I’m Skip.”
No, the first thing out of their mouths was:
“Hi. We’re Mormons and you’re not.”
Prejudice was something that we had been exposed to before. After all, we came from the South, but we’d never been the ones subjected to prejudice. Blacks lived all around us in Oklahoma and Texas, but that was it … they just lived around us. It was no big deal. We didn’t associate with them socially, and they didn’t associate with us socially. Both sides of our family were open-minded and accepting of other people. For our family, the only distinctions allowed in describing other people were limited to positive characteristics that the person had control over, not physical characteristics that they were born with.
Maybe it was because Mom and Dad were selective in the friends they chose to associate with, but everyone we had known up to that point in our lives had the same accepting attitude. Where there had been differences, they were readily visible and obvious. What we had to deal with now was blatant discrimination, albeit discrimination that wasn’t always obvious. If Mom and Dad hadn’t been people who were self-assured and anchored in their beliefs, it would have more than likely been a much more difficult row to hoe. At any rate, our social life for that summer became a constant “us against them” affair, and we learned to accept that the first words out of the mouth of any new acquaintance was nearly always, “Are you Mormon?” or “Which ward are you in?” (The latter just being an indirect version of the f irst.)

Our next and permanent home was two blocks from Dad’s office, right next door to the loading dock where the tank trucks took on their loads of petroleum products from the refinery. The company-owned house had been built in the late 1800s and had been sitting vacant for some time before we moved in. Extensive work was required to make it livable again, including remodeling one of the upstairs rooms into a bathroom big enough to accommodate a small pool t able.
Among the idiosyncrasies of this residential challenge were things like double-thick brick walls which had been painted white on the exterior. The bricks of the home had not been fired, which led to some interesting discoveries by Georgie. A garden hose with a nozzle attached could bore a hole through the walls in a matter of mere minutes. While this was an exciting discovery for him, it was not so for Dad. On learning that the smokehouse attached to the house had been converted to a fort complete with freshly bored rifle ports and peep holes, Dad ordered an immediate halt to those modificat ions.
The floors of the home were less than level. In fact, the kitchen floor was so out of level that a soup bowl could only be filled to about two thirds capacity without overflowing on the downhill side. When Mom waxed the linoleum floor, Georgie and Nick would polish it for her by running down the hall from the front door in their socking feet and sliding clear across to the other side. When we lived in Oklahoma, our socks were always red from the breezeway floor … now they were always covered with green lint from the cheap cotton carpet Dad had installed everywhere but the kitchen and bathr ooms.
Mom and Dad had their bedroom downstairs. At first, Georgie and Nick shared a bedroom upstairs and then later had separate rooms. It was our first opportunity to slide down a banister and it was great fun until the novelty wore off.
The area we were now living in was an odd combination of industry, commerce, and residential. Our house was located in front of an old automotive garage and was sandwiched in between the refinery loading dock and an independently owned distribution facility for the oil company Dad worked for. On the far side of that facility were two more h omes.
Directly across from our home were three homes of varying style and age, occupied by people I don’t remember except for the Jensen family which included three rather attractive daughters. On the west side of the Jensen home was an open area and then an old vacant, dark red brick building that at one time had housed the local bank. Between that and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks was the old defunct train sta tion.
Back on our side of the street on the far side of the loading dock, was a small building that was occupied by Jack’s Barbershop, which was to play a significant role in Georgie’s life quite soon. Next to the barbershop was the post office. Beyond that, were the Union Pacific Railroad tracks which angled slightly to the northeast and ran through the eastern portion of the refi nery.
About a hundred yards or so down the nearby railroad tracks on the side nearest to us were three small homes, occupied by railroad employees. One of those employees, Vince Mayer Sr., was the father and patriarch of one of the most remarkable families we would ever know. Of the eight children, the fifth in age and youngest of the two boys was someone who became the closest and best friend Georgie would ever have. Vince, Junior, was someone whose friendship would transcend all the norms of the world. In fact, the friendship of the two families would defy everything that normal society expected. Vince and Georgie were a near match in height and weight, but other than their common sense of humor and the unknown factor that drew them together, there were no other similari ties.
Vince’s mother was originally from the Mexican state of Durango. Her father, a landowner, was killed during the Mexican Revolution in the early 20 th Century by one of the revolutionary “armies” fighting in northern Mexico. Since Pancho Villa and his “Villistas” were active in the area at the time, it’s possible that’s who killed him. Vince’s grandmother, mother, and her brothers and sisters came to Utah in 1924 where Vince’s uncles went to work in the Park City silver mines and Kennecott Copper mines west of Salt Lake City. His dad, originally from the Mexican state of Jalisco, came to Utah via California in 1922. He and Vince’s mom were married in 1928. Over the years, the couple raised a remarkable group of very accomplished chil dren.
Except for one of Dad’s idiosyncrasies of sometimes going against the grain, our family was, for the most part, the model post-war family. Mom and Dad had come out of the Texas oil fields during the Depression and were living the American dream. On the other hand, Vince’s family had come from Mexico. His dad was a section gang foreman for Union Pacific. In spite of these differences in background and apparent social position, the two families became and remained close for many y ears.
For the first time in our life, we were introduced to a physically abusive adult. The principal of our new school was a World War II veteran and former army drill sergeant with a gravelly voice he blamed on having to overcome the wind at a base in the Aleutian Islands. By his own admission to the sixth grade classes he taught half of each day, he was a failed engineering student in college after the war. Consequently, he did the only thing he could manage a semblance of success at – he became a teacher. As such, he had risen to the position of principal of our school. He was so arrogant and had such a low opinion of the intelligence and comprehension level of his students that he shared that dismal fact with his young students. To this day, that is evidence to me of his own less-than-average intelligence. An innocent reply to a question from him one afternoon led to the physical abuse, and it forever left a scar in Georgie’s confidence in his ability to understand what people in authority were saying to him.
Georgie’s introduction to the man’s violent, vicious, and abusive nature came one fall afternoon as the class was being allowed outside for “phys-ed.” Our teacher lined us all up with our bats, balls, and mitts for some organized softball as part of our physical education. On his signal we marched out the door of the second floor classroom, down the first flight of stairs to the landing outside the principal’s office, and on down the second flight of stairs to the ground floor. From there, we were directed to exit through the front door of the buil ding.
When we reached the bottom of the stairs and started toward the front door, we passed the principal who was leaning against a wall talking to a woman visitor. As we passed him he asked, “Where you kids goin’?”
Georgie cheerfully replied, “Its phys-ed time, ain’ t it?”
Before we knew what was happening and more importantly why it was happening, the man reached out and grabbed Georgie by the back of his neck and literally threw him in the direction of the bottom of the stairs. At that point my memory is probably not so accurate. What I’ve found myself remembering is he grabbed Georgie by the neck again and, lifting him off his feet, tossed him halfway up the first flight of stairs. He repeated it again until Georgie was on the floor of the landing outside the door of the office. The reality is probably that although he manhandled Georgie for certain he probably only shoved and pushed Georgie toward the landing. There, he was told to get up to the classroom to his desk and wait.
Georgie began sobbing and continued sobbing for what seemed an eternity until the man returned upon concluding his conversation downstairs. When he entered the room, the fear that enveloped Georgie was something he had never felt before. We had never been exposed to a violent adult in our lives. We had always been taught that the adults in our lives were good people to be respected. All Georgie knew and all we felt was fear. The fear was the only thing that allowed him to stop crying when he was told to hush and then asked, “Do you know why you’re being discipl ined?”
“No!” Georgie managed to reply as he struggle to avoid crying a gain.
“I will not tolerate disrespect. You are to remain at your desk for the remainder of the day and think about it.” That was the sum total of the discus sion.
When we arrived home that afternoon, Mom had already been contacted by the principal with his version of the story. From previous experience, Georgie knew better than to dispute what any grown up had said, no matter how far from the facts that story wandered or how badly the story missed the mark altogether. He just listened to Mom’s admonition to not be disrespectful with adults and quietly resigned himself to a silent, simmering hatred of the man for much of the rest of our lives. The following year was an unbearable time when we had to endure him as a horribly uninspiring teacher for half of each day.
I know there were times when Georgie played softball or football with the boys, but there isn’t much more than a faint glimmer of a memory about those activities. The one enduring memory is of two girls who were “horsey.” Connie and Judy loved horses and I loved playing with them. They would go to an area of the playground apart from everyone else and play at anything that involved horses, pretending they were riding horses, that they were talking to horses, or they were horses. I suppose it may seem unfair that the memories of what Georgie did have been somewhat erased from the memory bank we share, but that’s what’s happened. But don’t despair, he has plenty of other memories, even if a great many of them are things he would like to forget … like the stolen bic ycle.
One afternoon, Georgie’s bicycle was stolen due to his carelessness. Dad took advantage of the situation to instill a sense of responsibility in Georgie by arranging for him to shine shoes at the barbershop located on the other side of the loading dock. The recent experience with the school principal had left him with such a fear of adult reactions that Georgie was practically incapable of approaching anyone to ask if they wanted a s hine.
Eventually, Dad was reduced to having him shine every pair of his abundant supply of custom, specially made shoes each week to pay off the “mortgage” Georgie had to sign to borrow the money from Dad for his shoe-shinning supplies and equipment. Pasted inside our baby book is a receipt from Western Leather Co. in Salt Lake City for “shoe shine supplies” for $9.44 plus 16¢ tax. At the bottom of the receipt in Mom’s handwriting is a note, “Georgie’s first business.” When the mortgage was paid, the forty dollar J.C. Higgins bicycle he had put on layaway at Sears was paid off.
The remainder of the first three years in Utah was spent attempting to grow older and to enjoy the process. He and Vince spent a lot of time together and concocted many ways to enjoy themselves. Vince was far more mature than Georgie, primarily by virtue of being the fifth of eight children. His advanced maturity resulted in a mentoring relationship as well as that of being the best friend. When they weren’t together and Georgie was alone, he inevitably found himself wondering why he wasn’t like all the rest of the boys his age. It wasn’t fair, but neither Georgie nor I was equipped to deal with my unseen and unknown presence. It was almost as if we had been locked in a dark closet together, unable to see, hear, or feel one another, to verify the palpable sense that we weren’t alone in t here.

In 1955, the Cold War was hot. The arms race was in its first lap, and nuclear weaponry was a priority. At the time, the one absolute in raw materials for that arsenal was a little known element referred to as U235, or uranium. In the process of creation, God had seen fit to bless the American Southwest with an abundance of uranium deposits. The discovery in July 1952 of the richest uranium deposit in the United States started what became a 20 th Century version of the California Gold Rush of the late 1840s. By 1955, the rush was in full swing. Dad made the acquaintance of a few people who had contracted at least a mild form of the “Fever” at a Rotary Club convention in Salt Lake City that year.
It didn’t take long for Dad and his friends to form the Industrial Uranium Company , so named because Mom refused to go along with the venture, if she felt the main product of the company was to be weapons of mass destruction. I’m not sure how Dad managed to convince her that the name alone would assure the peaceful use of any future discovery, but he did. Thus began a series of weekend trips to the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. And so also began a lifelong love affair for both of us with the beauty and mystery of the deserts of the Four Corners, especially the Monument Valley area. It is a love so deep and enduring, we’ve both decided that if, when we get to the Pearly Gates, St. Peter says,
“You must pick a place that you have been in your life on earth to spend eter nity.”
Monument Valley is where we’re g oing.
A true sense of spiritual and emotional freedom was discovered there and one we were never able to duplicate anywhere else. Over the next half dozen years, Georgie lived for those trips to the mines. He was left to himself to roam around the desert, intrigued and comforted at the same time by the clean, warm desert floor and the selective, precious life that existed t here.

The summer of 1956 was the last vestige of our sheltered childhood. As fall approached, so did adolescence, junior high school, and a period of prolonged unhappiness which stretched on for the next five years, interrupted only sporadically by events that became happy memories. I know now that my presence contributed a great deal to the discontent and unhappiness, but there wasn’t a thing I could do abou t it.
When the sun rose the morning of the first day of school in the fall of 1956, it brought with it a whole new world for us. It was a world of school bus rides, homework, trombone lessons, a widely expanded range of acquaintances, and a more vivid awareness that many of the people in this world, young and old alike, were not nice people. To his credit, Georgie maintained his characteristic optimism about the possibilities he saw in the faces of his new classmates. Instead of thirty or so people in one class, Georgie now had to face forty or so in each of seven classes. It was like the first day of class in a new school, multiplied by seven. It was exciting and frightening at the same time.
We had been leading the life of a large frog in a tiny pond. Now we were the equivalent of a small frog in a much larger pond. We had had happy memories and cherished occasions to savor, along with times we longed to revisit. Now, each day at school became a time to endure until we could retreat back into the safety that lay behind the front door of that big, white brick house on Fifth South. With the exception of the principal in fifth grade, we had always had teachers who made us feel as though we were at least somewhat important. Georgie now became just a face in each of a half dozen groups of faces that the uninspired teachers checked off the attendance roster at the beginning of each hour.
A teacher, whose name I can’t even remember, was the only one who gave Georgie reason to feel as though he had some value. She encouraged him to write. I don’t know why and I don’t know how she shared that with Mom and Dad, but she did. The result was a narrative he titled “ Wild Horse Hunt in Skull Valley .” It was quite an accomplishment; seven and a half handwritten pages, chronicling a weekend adventure in the arid, desolate country southwest of Salt Lake City. The effort earned not only an A+, but the added notation of “excellent.” Two businessmen who Dad knew through his position at the refinery were avid horse hunters, and Dad finagled an invitation for us to accompany them one weekend in late September. The purpose of the hunt wasn’t to kill the wild horses but to capture them and sell them to “mustang” enthusiasts. I really don’t remember much else about that year at all. The scraps of memories I do have are not really relevant here.

The summer after the seventh grade was a watershed period in our lives. Granny was still working at the camp near Las Vegas, New Mexico, and that summer she asked Georgie to work for her in the camp kitchen during the girl’s session in July. In June he was one of the campers for the last time. He was barely old enough to bunk in the cabin on the hill appropriately named “Hill Cabin.” Actually it was really more of a ridge than a hill, but I don’t remember anyone ever bringing that issu e up.
What happened there in Hill Cabin was tough for a child from a family of prudes. Yes, I know the word prude is normally reserved for women, but it fit Dad as well as Mom and Granny. It was primarily a time of fear with a little excitement. An unexpected awareness of one of life’s primary motivations arrived suddenly and without warning on a Saturday mor ning.
Everyone – counselors, staff and campers – had gone to Santa Fe for the day. Granny and Georgie were the only ones who didn’t go; Granny had to oversee preparation of the evening meal, and Georgie had seen Santa Fe many times before, so he was excused from the expedition. After everyone left and Granny was busy doing what Granny did, Georgie found himself alone in Hill Cabin. There in the solitude of that cabin he discovered what every boy since Cain had been discovering. Puberty! God what a miserable time it was, for someone with nobody to turn to for explanations, advice, or comfort. I’m sure it must be difficult for normal boys to deal with, but for Georgie it was more than just difficult. My emotions were mixed in with his, and he didn’t have a clue what it was all a bout.
He had learned from other experiences that some subjects were off limits and this was one that he was sure would be in that category. As desperate as he was to learn what it was all about, fear of reaction to the questions he had paralyzed him. He was left to his own devices and imagination to figure it all out. He didn’t do very well in that effort. The fact that he had me hiding in his subconscious just made it all the more difficult for him. He knew that he wasn’t like all the other boys, and he still didn’t know why. What most boys would have had the courage or overwhelming curiosity to ask, he was too afraid to ask.
One of the primary ways Mom and Granny had of controlling Georgie’s behavior was to automatically respond to any behavior they didn’t see as proper. “What will people think?” covered a lot of behavior ground. He had been hearing it as long as he could remember and the result was a magnified fear of other people’s opinions. With the omnipresence of those fears about what people would think if he asked the questions that were on his mind, he was left with the questions unasked and, therefore, he had no forthcoming answers. And there I was in the dark recesses of our jointly inhabited soul with no idea of who I was or what I was doing there. Georgie had no notion that there were two different sets of emotions at work. The onset of puberty for Georgie began a life of urges, gratification, and guilt, in that order, the latter induced by “what would people think if they knew.”

The end of boys’ camp was on a Saturday in late June or early July, and the beginning of girls’ camp was the next day on Sunday. Georgie managed to get his trunk and assorted treasures moved from Hill Cabin down the hill to the other end of the campus, over the tiny little creek that ran along the base of the hill, and into the small two-bunk cabin reserved for the boys who worked in the kitchen during girls’ camp.
That summer he shared the cabin with two other boys, Neil and E.K. What a pair they were. Like nearly all the kids that came to the camp, Neil was from Texas, specifically from Lubbock. He was considerably tall for his age and, as Granny noted once, skinny as a rail. In a number of ways, he resembled the rendering of Ichabod Crane, in Disney’s production of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Neil had a naturally sweet and caring disposition that endeared him to everyone who knew him. E.K. came from Waco. His height was roughly midway between Georgie’s and Neil’s, and he was slightly heavier in build than Neil. I always remember E.K. as being a bit too outgoing, possibly as a way to distract people from his acne problems. They were older by at least three or four years, and therefore shared secrets of life that Georgie was just beginning to discover, so once again he felt somewhat left out and diffe rent.
Working for Granny introduced a whole new facet in the relationship between her and Georgie. We had never known Granny to be anything but kind and loving beneath her stern exterior. She remained kind and loving, but she was now the boss. There was no room for error in the camp kitchen. Therefore, she reigned supreme over a level of order and decorum that would have been the envy of many basic training sergeants in the military. Decorum and propriety were a vital issue in nearly every part of Granny’s life, so when Georgie decided to indulge in what Granny considered an improper swat at the ample behind of one of the girls who worked in the kitchen, you would have thought he had walked bare naked into the kit chen.
“Geo rgie!”
The tone and the volume were sufficient to send our heart straight to our throat and lodge there. I don’t remember the short, extremely pointed reprimand that followed, but I do recall the pounding heart and the flushed face. Years in the future, Georgie found it difficult to pat even his bride and the love of our life affectionately on the backside. Even though it was totally unnecessary, Granny a dded,
“Don’t you ever touch a woman on the backside again, young man. Do you hea r me?”
Did he hear her? The entire camp heard her.
Coping with Granny as a boss at the same time puberty was blossoming now became complicated with the flavor of love. Georgie had his first real, mutual exchange of affections with a girl. Among the generous selection of girls his own age which girls’ camp had to offer, he naturally had to fall in love with “the boss’s daughter.” The object of his affection was LaGala the youngest daughter of “General” Smith, one of the camp’s ow ners.
It started on the way back from an after-dark session around the campfire on Sunday evening. They were walking next to each other, and suddenly she reached for his hand, locked her fingers in his, and squeezed. Georgie’s personal night sky was suddenly aglow with the most spectacular display of emotional fireworks imaginable. His heart began to pound out of excitement of the awareness and out of fear that the General, or worse, Granny, would notice. What a short walk back to the cabins that was.
When the lights of the main campus were reached, LaGala was forced to let go of his hand and they parted with a si mple,
“Goodnight! See ya tomo rrow.”
That’s when we felt the bulge in his pants. “Where did that come from?” was the first reaction, but it was quickly followed by, “Oh yeah, we know.” Instantly, we both panicked at the thought that someone might have noticed that , and/or the handholding. The fireworks were quickly replaced by clouds of fear.
I don’t remember how General let it be known that he was aware of the mutual attraction and small sharing of affections, but he did. So did Granny. Unbelievably, there was a subtle acceptance, and approval from the General and his wife. Granny only went so far as to let it be known that she was aware, but she stopped short of any degree of appr oval.
About midway between the beginning of and impending end of girls’ camp, General took Georgie aside one day to ask him a question. Although Georgie had at that point in his life never heard the phrase, “What are your intentions toward my daughter?” he feared the reason for the atten tion.
“How would you like to go with us to Yellowstone Park on our vacation when camp is over?”
Did we hear correctly? Did he really ask if Georgie wanted to accompany the family on their vacation? That is indeed what he asked. When he got over the “Uh, uh, uh,” of shock and joy, the answer was of co urse,
“Uh, yes, sir, I w ould.”
The only surprise bigger than the invitation was the approval granted by Mom and Dad. If an angel had appeared to announce that life for him would be over soon after the trip, it would have been okay. After all, he had just died and gone to heaven anyway. Dreams of riding in the back seat of the Smiths’ Cadillac for nearly 2,000 miles next to LaGala and holding her hand the entire time crowded every other thought from his mind. Then the news came.
A few days before the end of camp, Granny summoned Georgie to her cabin. She had received a letter from Mom. Dad was being transferred to northern British Columbia immediately. Therefore, Mom would be picking him up and taking him/us to Oklahoma and Texas for a farewell trip before leaving for our new home. Not for the first time and not for the last time, we experienced that if something is just too good to be true; in all likelihood it is too good to be true.

When girls’ camp was over a few days later and the Smiths had departed for their vacation leaving us behind with Georgie in a state of profound disappointment, we had to wait a week for Mom to pick us up for the goodbye trip. During that week, Georgie had a remarkable time in the company of the camp’s other owner, Booker “Chief” Willoughby, who was for that week, the grandfather we’d never had. Fishing and whittling were the primary activities during the day, followed after dinner most nights by canasta with Booker’s wife and Granny. One day, when Booker was catching fish, but Georgie wasn’t, Booker concluded that the problem was that Georgie didn’t have a cigar to chew on like he did. So, Booker produced a cigar for Georgie to chew on. It actually seemed to work. At least Georgie began catching fish at last. At the end of that week, Mom arrived to pick us up for the trip to Oklahoma and Texas, which was a monumental disappoint ment.
Years later, Georgie would attempt to read Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again, because the title of the book seemed to indicate a story he could relate to due to the disappointing experience we now had. Ever since leaving Oklahoma three years earlier, Georgie had lived with the unspoken hope that someday he would be able to re turn.
The trip was an education in how the memory works in our lives. We know that some people have a preponderance of memories involving unpleasant circumstances. Some have mostly pleasant memories of the past, but most of us find a mixed bag of memories about our pasts. As a result of the assortment of unpleasant experiences in Utah, our memories of Oklahoma were tilted somewhat toward the pleasant, so he longed to return to what he remembered as happier days.
The reception Georgie anticipated went something like this.
“Wow! You’re back! This is great! Hope you can stay a long time! Do you think you’ll get to move back?”
But that isn’t what happened. Roger was the only friend who was glad to see him. Of the rest who we were able to contact, none appeared to be the least bit interested in renewing the relationship. It was a painful, but necessary experience. We learned for the first time that the nature of relationships changes with time. The people we had known, mostly kids, had moved on to other interests and relationships. We had faded into dim memories for them. We found that relationships, like the one with Roger, were meant to last a lifetime. Those friendships are indeed rare and to be cheri shed.
The house we had loved had been altered to fit the personalities of the new owner, as it should have been. The fence around the horse pasture was gone. Our hopes for a return to things as they were vanished. Our future, however, didn’t allow us to wallow in that unhappy reality for long.

Almost as soon as we arrived back home in Utah, we headed for our new home in northern British Columbia. With the recent experience in Oklahoma, our emotions about the move were much different this time. There were no tears, no real sadness involved. Mom’s ability to somehow make moving an adventure again made it much easier too. Dad drove with us. In Calgary, Mom was put on a plane for the last leg of the trip.
As usual, we didn’t ask questions, we just wondered, but not for long. Somewhere between Calgary and Edmonton, Dad spilled the beans. Mom had flown because she was pregnant. She would be waiting for us when we arrived by car. He didn’t need to explain anymore. We were old enough to remember the miscarriage she had a year and half earlier and the trauma that went with it. It was then we were told Mom had suffered several miscarriages before Georgie was conce ived.
Life as we knew it had been changing for some time, but other than exposure to Mormonism, the world around us hadn’t changed. The further up the highway toward Fort St. John, British Columbia, we traveled, the more the world began to change. Dad turned north on Highway 43 soon after leaving Edmonton, Alberta, on Highway 16. For the next ten months, the only paved roads we saw were in Dawson Creek, where the famous Alcan Highway began, and in Fort St. John, forty-six miles further north. There, the only pavement was the highway from the south end of town to the north end of town.
About the first thing we learned was that Canadians didn’t refer to the highway as the “Alcan”; they called it the “Alaska” Highway. The only newspaper between Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson was the Alaska Highway News , not the Alcan Highway News.
Life in Fort St. John was totally different from anything we had ever known or would ever know again. It was a real frontier town, from the board sidewalks to the sign at the edge of town that proclaimed, “The Village of Fort St. John.” The oil company had built two subdivisions of small three-bedroom homes set on full basements. However, even though there was oil and a refinery to process it, there was no asphalt on the str eets.
The geography was basically flat to rolling and for the most part was nearly virgin forest of both evergreen and deciduous trees. Some farms had been hacked out of the wooded terrain. The land appeared to be fertile, but making a living from it was difficult. The board sidewalks of Fort St. John weren’t the only piece of the past still in evidence. At best, most of the farmers were working with outdated, steel-wheeled tractors, while others still relied on horse-drawn equipment. In the fall, the fields were not a scene of large combines cutting and separating grain from stalks. The fields were dotted instead with clusters of bundles of grain, stood on end, awaiting the arrival of a threshing machine, and one of the old steel-wheeled trac tors.
The school Georgie attended was a combined junior high and high school. Even though he was in the eighth grade, he was still the youngest student in the school. The reason for that was a near total disregard for education. Everyone but Georgie had failed at least one year. For most students, the eighth grade was the goal.
It was a true melting pot. We had been taught in elementary history that the United States of America was the great melting pot of cultures and races. In 1950s Oklahoma and Utah, we saw little diversity. Oklahoma had its plus or minus, twenty percent segregated black population. Aside from the religious differences, Utah was virtually all Anglo and of a single cultural flavor. Canada in the 1950s, especially northwestern Canada, was a true melting pot of people and cult ures.
For starters, it had only been two years since the anti-communist uprising in Hungary. Many of the lucky escapees ended up in northern British Columbia, so Hungarians were there in substantial quan tity.
The teaching staff at the high school was indicative of the rest of the community. Our English teacher was French; go figure. Our math and physical education teacher was Japanese. Our shop teacher was Polish. Our social studies teacher was Australian. The school principal appeared to be English. The history teacher who lectured us on getting a higher education was the only native, “Heinz 57 Variety” Canadian that I re call.
The student body had the same mixed bag of origins as the staff, with some additions. At least two students I remember were of indigenous native origin, and many were a mixture of two or three of those nationalities listed a bove.
To add additional flavor to all of these groups, there were the students whose parents worked for the construction companies building the oil refineries and pipelines. These were children who had attended school in places like Peru, Saudi Arabia, and No rway.
In Utah, certain things and habits the rest of the world took for granted, Mormons abhorred. In the late 1950s the rest of the adult world, for the most part, smoked cigarettes. The rest of the world consumed large quantities of caffeine in one form or another, either in carbonated beverages like Coke, Pepsi, and RC, or coffee. The rest of the world partook in substantial quantities of alcohol. The world we left behind in Utah was very nearly void of these simple pleasures of life. Upon leaving the school building at noon on the first day of school in Canada, we nearly went into a state of shock when a full third of the class offered Georgie a smoke, yeah, a smoke , a stogy, a cigar ette.
As if Georgie’s age wasn’t enough of a factor in the looming emotional isolation, his innocence when it came to the details of what sex was all about left him on a desert island in a sea of sexual awareness. The conversations between various male and female classmates about the activities of the previous evening or weekend, many mornings during the week, and most Monday mornings, went right over his head.
Eventually, he would figure out what had been going on all around him that year. Five of the girls in our class quit school to get married that year. It never even registered with Georgie that they were probably pregnant. It was almost as if everyone else spoke a different language, one he couldn’t understand anymore than he could understand why he felt so totally different from everyone else.
Years later, after exposure to the lives of and autobiographies of transsexuals, he would discover that the one common denominator was their stated knowledge that they just always knew they were in the wrong body. A belief that Georgie was really Georgia and only Georgia would have made life simpler for us, but of course it wasn’t the case.
Sometime during the fall, something happened that would haunt us for years – forty-two years to be exact. Early one morning we had a dream. In the dream, Georgie was a young adult and was driving a car with a young woman in the front seat next to him. The impression of the dream was that she was his wife. In the back seat was a young boy who appeared to be four or five years old. He was standing, not sitting, and he was leaning over the seat between Georgie and the woman. Then the dream changed to a cameo-like vision of the woman, accompanied by a feeling of tragic loss, as though she was gone forever, and that Georgie and the boy were now alone. At that point, Georgie awoke with those brief details of the dream vivid and deeply etched in his mind. A powerful sadness overcame him, and he began to cry. It was a long time before the memory of the dream and that cameo vision ceased to bring sadness. He would remember the dream forty-two years later, and the tears would flow a gain.
A second dream occurred that winter. In this one, Georgie was playing cards with a young person who appeared to be a very feminine girl, but something indefinable about her left the question as to whether she was really a girl or possibly a boy. That dream also continued to resurface in our memory for y ears.
That fall, winter, and spring the Great Northwest was right out our back door. With the exception of one or two friends, Georgie explored them alone and for a brief time relived the freedom and joy of the woods and fields he had enjoyed in Oklahoma. When he was alone, there was no one to compare himself to. He tried continuously to understand why he felt that he was so different from everyone else, but the answer didn’t come.
Our family went through a major change that year, the arrival in late March of our baby sister. She was given the name Sarah Margaret, but that name was never expected to be used. As soon as Mom and Dad announced her name, they immediately notified everyone that she was to be called Sally. And Sally it was. We had arrived in Fort St John a family of four and would leave a family of five.
When school was out for the summer, the family moved again. This time it was south to Calgary. The limited understanding we had of the situation was that Dad had been offered an opportunity to leave the company he had worked for more than twenty years to accept a lucrative position with the partner company in Canada. When it appeared that he was going to make the change, Mom headed for Texas and Utah with us in tow for another farewell trip. In Utah, a picnic and party was thrown for the family, and at the party Georgie renewed his acquaintance with Je anie.
Jeanie had been a part of our life from the very beginning. She was born in the same hospital and more than likely the same hospital room in Texas, fourteen years before and it appeared that romance was in the works. Jeanie was slightly taller than Georgie, but that didn’t seem to bother him much. Her slender body was topped off with beautiful, shiny brunette hair that wasn’t quite long enough to reach her shoulders. Her most remarkable physical asset was her legs, but Georgie didn’t appreciate that until several years l ater.
The summer after their junior year in high school, Georgie picked her up when he was out for a horseback ride one afternoon, and they stopped by our house. Aunt Helen was visiting at the time, and Georgie introduced them to each other. Later, Aunt Helen remarked that Jeanie had beautiful legs. One other thing about her appearance was something they had in common. She wore glasses. Hers were somewhat more stylish than Georgie’s because her frames somewhat resembled a cat’s eyes. Oddly enough, all these assets were somewhat lost on Georgie. He was totally smitten because a girl actually seemed to be attracted to him.
Jeanie and Georgie agreed to correspond faithfully. Being the dreamer he was, thoughts filled his head of a long-distance romance enduring until graduation, four years in the future, when he would return to claim his love. Back in Calgary, before he could write even one letter, Dad and Mom announced that we wouldn’t be staying in Calgary after all. We would be returning to Utah before school started that fall. There was a God after all. Georgie would get to claim his love almost immedia tely.
So, in late August, almost a year to the day from leaving Utah for northern British Columbia, we left for Utah and the final chapter in Georgie’s adolescence. I, on the other hand, would remain locked in adolescence for a long time. Brief, occasional times would occur when the emotions and urges that were me would lead him to small advances in his acknowledgement of me, but they would be sc arce.


Chapter III
This Is the Place … Again!
Even though Georgie had yet to be exposed to homosexuality, I honestly believe that it would have been easier for him to live with an attraction to boys. At least, he would have known why he wasn’t like the boys he viewed as normal . They were attracted to girls, and he would have been able to identify the attraction to boys. He had no idea why he was attracted to women, and yet he felt such an odd combination of comfort and discomfort around them. He didn’t have a clue why he was often uncomfortable around both women and men. The excitement of the return to Utah would soon be overcome by his lack of maturity and understanding. In addition, I would physically emerge, seemingly out of nowhere, for the first time, and Georgie was in for a period of even more pronounced, absolute confusion and unhappi ness.
Returning to Bountiful had so many varied aspects to it that explaining all the emotions that presented themselves is impossible. There was the excitement of new love, the re-establishing of some old relationships, and the discarding of previous associations. The prospects of a new home and neighborhood to explore were full of the now familiar excitement of previous moves to someplace completely new. While this wasn’t to some place new, the school was new. Georgie was now in high sc hool.
The school district was undergoing expansion and for that year alone half of the ninth grade was assigned to the high school. The other half of the ninth grade remained in the old junior high building, while a second junior high was built to accommodate the expanding population. The situation resurrected some of the unpleasant emotions experienced in the Canadian school system where we were the youngest and the most n aïve.
It might have been slightly more tolerable had Vince been in the group that went to the high school but he wasn’t. For the majority of the year, we lived within a block of each other, and most afternoons Georgie and Vince got to spend at least a little time with each other. For a time in the fall, however, spending time with Vince wasn’t quite the priority that spending time with Jeanie was. The first time he saw her on returning to Bountiful was the first day of school. The smile she gave him at that first encounter in the hallway left no doubt in his mind that she found him rather cute. That’s what he wanted to be … cute! Not a very manly emotion, so I suppose it might have been my influence that generated the desire to be … cute.
When we returned to Bountiful, we also returned to the church and the church family that we had been a part of since moving to Utah the first time four years earlier. It was the same small community church, affiliated with the Congregational Church. This was where everyone in search of a Christian spiritual family went on Sunday mornings, except the Baptists, Catholics, and, of course, the Mor mons.
The Baptists, being Baptists, were such purists they were willing to make the forty-five minute, one-way drive into Salt Lake City to the closest Baptist church to commune with like minds. The Catholics had been in the Salt Lake Valley nearly as long as the Mormons had been and had a small and established church and school in Bountiful. All the rest of us, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and assorted others attended Bountiful Community Church on Sunday mornings. Sunday evenings were Georgie’s opportunity to get close to Je anie.
At 6:00 P.M. every Sunday evening, the junior- and senior-high-aged youth met at the church for Pilgrim Fellowship, better known as PF. That’s where the confirmation of mutual attraction was finally achieved with Jeanie. Of course, it took several months for Georgie to totally blow it, though not entirely by his own efforts. He was terribly immature for his age and terribly fearful of what others might think. He tried too hard to express feelings he didn’t understand anymore than he understood how they should be expressed. That mix was a total disaster not only in this relationship but in every relationship he was to have until he was a senior in high sc hool.
I don’t even remember how long the romance lasted. It may have lasted until spring, because, oddly enough, my memories of events following the breakup are of people in shirtsleeves. After school one afternoon, Jeanie told him that she couldn’t be his girlfriend anymore. He felt as though his entire world had collapsed. He had been rebuffed before, but not to this extent. Up until that moment, their shared affections had never gone much beyond holding hands and walking arm-in-arm, and up until then he had never had the courage to ask for so much as a kiss. But at that point and with nothing more to lose he mustered up the necessary courage. Even that was a disa ster.
After a dismal peck, he slumped out the door and began the long, lonely walk home. It was more than a mile and a half from her home to ours but it seemed like ten. For the first time in his life, he had a truly broken heart. He managed to hold back the tears until he reached home and was safely behind the door to his room before the floodgates were opened. He cried for some time before Mom summoned him to the kit chen.
For the first and only time in our young life that I can remember, she showed concern for him in a way that elicited a real expression of emotions from him. And for the first and only time, it seemed as though she felt real sympathy. He would eventually recover, of course, but the experience built an even larger barrier to sincere expression which would remain for several y ears.
In the meantime, Dad was happily overseeing the construction of his and Mom’s dream home. The venture into uranium exploration and mining in Arizona had been paying off in a big way. Mom and Dad had found a lot on the edge of Millcreek Canyon above Bountiful. True to form, especially for Dad, they wouldn’t have a home that looked like anything else in town. They located an architect who designed a home unlike anything else in Bountiful and unlike all but a few in Salt Lake City. All of the preparations had occurred before our year in Canada, so with plans already in hand, the process of building the home began. At the time, it was the very last home on the street and remained so for some time. Over the years it became a near landmark, primarily because the design was quite unusual for Utah.
In 1958, an overwhelming majority of Utah homes were basically big square boxes set on full basements and designed to house large families at a minimal cost. The design of Mom’s and Dad’s dream home was the equivalent of a rectangle parallel to the street. A single-car garage and a carport that could accommodate up to four cars was set at a forty-five degree angle and extended from the east or uphill end of the rectangle. On the side facing the street, the only windows were twelve-inch-high, frosted, textured glass, just below the ceilings. On the opposite side of the house which faced out onto the canyon below, the appearance became radically different. It was as if a large ninety-degree triangle was attached to the rectangle, the square corner of which extended out over the canyon. From the canyon side, the home was two-story and virtually all glass. The glass was interrupted by three things: the four-inch-wide, eight-inch deep, vertical beams which supported the open beams of the ceilings. The second interruption was the horizontal beams at either two or three feet above the floor and eight feet above the floor which separated the lower glass from that which extended up to the ceiling. The third interruption to the glass was the ten-foot-wide, split-stone fireplace wall on the south-facing side in the living room. The stone wall extended upward from the bottom floor through the roof and enclosed the bottom and top floor firepl aces.
The main beam in the living room required a special permit for it to be hauled from Oregon. It rose at an angle from approximately nine feet above the floor near the entrance to about twenty feet above the floor at the point of the triangle. Another main beam, which was in two pieces that met out of site in the split-stone wall housing the kitchen ovens, ran the full length of the recta ngle.
The floor plan was nearly as unique as the beams and windows. Except for the master bedroom area, which was to the right or downhill end of the rectangle as you entered from the front door, the upstairs was all one open area. Encompassed within that area were a formal dining area, living room, entry foyer, and kitchen and family dining area. The east end of the kitchen and along the downhill side of the rectangle where it met the triangle was a greenhouse b ench.
This home became the focal point for our family from its completion until the present. It was a place of joy, a place of refuge, a place where people from all over the world would find hospitality and a warm welcome. The front door was a Dutch door; the upper half was frosted glass to match the glass on the rest of the front of the home. It was flanked by floor-to-ceiling, two-foot wide, matching frosted glass panels. For those who knew the family, it became common knowledge that if the top of the Dutch door was open, you were wel come.

Church had always been a significant part of our lives, which was primarily Mom’s doing. I can’t remember a time when we weren’t in church and Sunday school on Sunday morning. In her mind, I honestly believe that the only excuse for missing church and Sunday school was a hearse in the driveway, and the only person who would be excused from church was the one whose body was in the hearse. Until our return to Utah, the only memories of church or Sunday school are those of the church library in Oklahoma.

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