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Steve’s Book, Life of a Baby Boomer is Now in Paperback!

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I’m so excited Steve’s book, “Life of a Baby Boomer”   http://amzn.to/1sBlyyu   is  now in soft cover on Amazon. It will be available on e-book on Amazon after December 1st. He’s included pictures of his family in the book, which brings the story even more to life. It’s an inspiring story for anybody who has ever felt down and out and maybe believed they were being judged unfairly. His book can be found on Amazon as a soft cover for $8.43 (don’t ask, I know it’s a weird price). He made the price as cheap as possible so more would be able to read it, and hopefully benefit from his story.

This is a book especially for those who grew up in the fifties and sixties, or suffered any kind of abuse, or had doubts about their capabilities, or served in the military, or have ever worked in law enforcement. I’ve read this book many times, and its words still serve to comfort and inspire. It was a privilege for me to help him put this book together. Steve has always believed faith in God–even if it is shaky and as small as a mustard seed–is the key to surviving life’s difficulties. A mustard seed of faith doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough to survive all the hardships life deals us. I hope you join Steve on his journey. It’s a book that will make a great gift for the holidays.

Below is an excerpt from the book:

Chapter Three

 

 

The Lord said, If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this

   mulberry tree, Be uprooted and planted in the sea; and it will obey you.  Luke 17:6 NIV

 

In spite of the horror of my childhood, I felt secure in the love of my Grandpa and Grandma Rockwell, though I didn’t dare tell them what happened to me at home or at school. I also had a secret sustaining me, because I’d never forgotten that near-death experience I’d had, and although I didn’t have the words to explain it, I knew someone was protecting me. I thought of it as the guardian angel my granny used to talk about.

Not only was there emotional torment at home, but I had difficulties at school as well. Once I came home from school crying because the teacher had taken my arm and scratched it with her fingernails, leaving four trails of blood down my arm, and then my mother yelled at me because I was too old to cry.

To my mother, expression of my feelings was a sign of weakness. It was one of those rules I had forgotten, but it wasn’t likely I’d need to be reminded again. During my first month of kindergarten, my mother would take me to school, and I’d run home as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

I couldn’t explain to others why I kept running home, so they assumed I was afraid of school. The truth was I was afraid to leave my mother at home because I feared my stepfather would kill her if I wasn’t there. It was a secret I couldn’t share with anyone. In my mind, if I was present, he wouldn’t kill her because I’d be a witness. It never occurred to me that he might kill me too.

I concluded my presence saved her, because the five or six times he beat her badly enough to be hospitalized, I was in my room and my brother was at his real father’s house. All I’d hear was my stepfather punching her as she slammed up against the walls, and the sound of her screaming.

Once she hit the floor with a dull thud, an ambulance would be called and I’d remain in my room, too terrified to move. When she’d come home from the hospital all bruised up, she’d say she’d had an operation. I never dared question her about these lies; I was just grateful she was still alive.

My long ride on the short bus started in kindergarten because I continuously ran home to my mother; I never talked to anyone other than my brother or grandparents, or occasionally, my mother, until I reached the second grade. On the first day of school in second grade we were told to write a poem and read it in front of the class.

I proudly read aloud to my classmates: “Once there was a dog, he slept with a hog./The hog was dead./ The dog had no head.”

In my mind, the poem wasn’t twisted, and it made perfect sense. I had sort of an “Old Yeller” theme going on like in the movie. I pictured a dog in his doghouse and a hog trying to get in, so they got into a fight. The hog, which had huge tusks, ripped off the dog’s head, but the dog had injured the hog enough so he also died of his injuries. The poem had the added bonus of rhyming and having a sense of justice.

In spite of my complete understanding of the poem, I was sent to the office to be seen by the school psychologist. I explained to him I’d created my own language in my head and the only person who could interpret my language was my brother. The psychologist nodded a lot, as though he understood, but he clearly did not. This wouldn’t be the last trip I’d make to his office.

Even though my first poetry reading was not what I’d hoped for, I did begin to speak normally in the second grade, but I don’t believe the psychologist was responsible for my progress. I credit my ability to speak to others to my second grade teacher, Mrs. Emmons, whom we fondly called M&M, after the candy. In fact, she looked like the lady on the See’s candy box, a grandma-type representing everything sweet and good in life.

She’d sometimes set me on her lap and give me a hug, an experience I was unaccustomed to, but I learned to like it a lot. She was the first person, except for my grandparents, who accepted me for just being me, and she was one of the few who loved the misfits more than the socially acceptable. She was the first teacher I ever remember giving me the recognition I longed for, and it was partly because of her that I later became a teacher.

Even though I was now speaking, and I rejoiced being in Mrs. Emmons class, I had already been labeled as one of those children who rode the short, yellow bus. I was still taken out of class one hour in the morning in order to have remedial help.

In my special education class, I was instructed on how to make sounds, and when I made a mistake, I would be slapped across the face. When I incorrectly wrote the sound or letter, I would be hit on the palm of the hand with a ruler. As horrific as these teaching practices sound, they were acceptable methods for training “slow” or “retarded” students back in the 1950’s. I was subjected to these learning methods until I entered the sixth grade.

That hour of special education each day was more like an interrogation than a learning experience, except there were only bad cops, no good ones. Each day I entered a room not much larger than a closet, with bare, concrete walls and no windows, nothing but gray concrete surrounding me, a barren room where no love of learning could ever take root and grow.

The theory of educating students like me was that a disciplined body would lead to a disciplined mind. For that hour, I’d sit on a hard wooden chair with a table in front of me. The teacher would never sit; she’d walk around, continuously circling me like some boney bird of prey. It never occurred to the teacher I might have inner needs she could possibly discover through talking to me about my life.

The sound of her footsteps would thud in my ears, as I concentrated on keeping my arms on the armrests of the chair and my feet flat on the floor. Good posture was considered important in my speech training.

If I moved, I’d get whacked with a ruler, so I learned to sit really, really still. Every minute I sat, the room would get smaller and smaller, the clock ticking louder and louder. The bare concrete walls, no windows, and hard green tile on the floor could be compared to a prison I’d later work in, only the prison had colorful murals and painted stripes on the walls.

I remember coming back to my regular class where Mrs. Emmons would always give me an extra special hug; I’m sure she’d see by the expression on my face the trauma I’d been through. Mrs. Emmons was a bright and golden ray of sunlight in the dark, gray clouds of an unenlightened school system. Maybe I needed the darkness to give a background to the brilliance of her warmth and kindness.

I’d recall in my Sunday school class when the teacher would talk about having faith just the size of a mustard seed and being able to conquer mountains. Mrs. Emmons was my mustard seed of faith.

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt and you can share this book with others. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Bren

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