The grizzle-bearded guy in the picture is me. The picture was taken yesterday evening, when I was still 49 years old. Today I am fifty. Adding insult to injury, AARP has sent me a membership card and information about joining. To which, I exclaim:
People don’t exclaim ”Fie!” much these days. Fie is something that old-timers used to say. It is an expression of dislike, disapproval, or annoyance. I picked it up after recently reading some really old farm almanacs. This is my first opportunity to put it to good use.
Seeing as it’s my birthday, and I’m getting so old, I thought I might write a rambling essay about the heartache of getting on in years. But I’m pretty sure I’ve already done that here in the past. I’m not absolutely certain of it because, frankly, I just don’t remember like I used to.
In any event, perhaps, while it’s on my mind, and I still have my wits about me, I’ll ramble on instead about my younger days. That’s something that we old-timers like to do.
Why, you might wonder, would I want to ramble on about my younger days; the days when I was a teenager going into adulthood, looking to find my place in the work world? Well, part of the reason is that we’re going into the winter doldrums of February here in upstate New York; not much is happening around the homestead to write about. Another part of the reason is that there are a lot of young men out there (my own children included) who might be so bored that they’d find something interesting and maybe even instructive within the recollections of this ageing agrarian. You never know. Besides that, we old-timers are prone to ramble on about such things because. Just because. I don’t need a reason. You got a problem with that? (old timers get cranky with age too)
So here goes…
They tell me I was born in Bath, Maine, in 1958. My father was a student at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. He graduated from that fine institution, as did his father before him, and went on to become a medical doctor, as did his father before him. Both of them were, I’m pretty sure, good students. I, however, was not fond of schooling and did not do well at it.
Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. I was academically inclined and a very good student in the grades before high school. When I was in Jr. High, I fully intended to go to a good college (maybe even like Bowdoin) and become a doctor. That was my goal and I was very serious about it. But in the 9th grade things changed. My family moved from suburbia to the rural farm country where I now live, and my interest in school radically declined. I decided that medicine wasn’t for me. I wanted to be a homesteader or even a farmer. I wanted to work with my hands, to work the land, to start my own small business, to be my own boss, to be independent. I didn’t see how high school fit into those goals. How’s that for a 180-degree change of attitude and objective?
I managed to graduate from high school in 1976 and that was it for me and graduations. I did go on from there to some institutions of “higher learning” but I never graduated from anything again.
Well, on second thought, that’s not entirely true. When I was maybe 21 years old, I took an evening adult education class in automotive repair at the local vocational high school. I stuck with it for one night a week over the course of a few weeks, and in the end I got an “official” certificate of achievement. My stepfather called it a diploma and made a big deal out of it. Finally, I had graduated from some level of schooling after high school. He was making fun of me.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s what happens when old timers ramble. The story isn’t necessarily organized. We take off on rabbit trails. Which reminds me… my two sons, Robert and James, have been hunting rabbits this month, and having a great time of it.
Where was I?
Okay. Right. So…. ”Fie! And double Fie!” That’s what I say.
Hmmmm.... I’m feeling a little tired now. I think I’ll take a nap.
We shall continue this true tale of my confused young self, looking to find my place in the work world. I’m just getting started. This might end up being a 12-part series... or even longer. My epic saga of youthful angst. Maybe it’ll be even longer than that. I don’t know for sure cause I’m just rambling and I never know where such writing will take me.
To be continued.......
Click HERE to go to Part 2 of this series