Thursday, May 27, 2010
Russ Miller lives in a modest home in Marysville, Ohio, where he spends his days much the same as most retirees do; catching the latest football game, making minor repairs on the house, and doing the occasional landscaping and gardening. The difference is, Russ has been retired for thirty years and has lived his entire life with cerebral palsy, a disorder caused by an injury to the spinal cord during or after childbirth. From day one, he has had to overcome daily struggles with muscle coordination and speech and adapt into this ever changing world, but one conversation with this man will show you the power of the human will. Intelligent, kind, and gifted with the collected wisdom of many battles won, Russ is a model for anyone who has obstacles in their life, which happens to be all of us.
I grew up in a big family. There were seventeen of us kids, and the older boys and girls kind of helped the younger ones as they got older. When I was young the doctors diagnosed me with cerebral palsy, and that caused a lot of struggles for me, but I overcome them for the most part. I owe a lot to my family. With my problem they would pitch in and help me walk and do different things at the time. In fact, they went so far as to stretch ropes between the windows, and that’s how I learned to walk. I walked between the ropes to hold my balance, and my brothers and sisters were always there to catch me if I happened to take a tumble. I had leg braces from my shoulders down to me feet.
When I was six years old, the National Easter Seals Society, a charity for disabled children at the time, provided funds for my braces and shoes, and the state helped pay for my operations. Without those braces, I’d hate to see where I’d be now. They helped stabilize my legs while I built up the strength to walk. As I got older, they took the braces away from me, but they took them away too soon and my legs couldn’t hold me up. I was walking on my knee caps at one point. Not long after that I had to have my first surgery. My hamstrings were drawn up so tight that I just couldn’t hold myself up, so they had to go in there and cut the hamstrings behind the legs and put twelve inches of new muscle in there so I could straighten my legs out. That was an experience. You know, let me tell you a little story about that. I had a friend, a young lady that I went to school with, had the same thing I had. Her name was Judy Carter. She had the braces, had the crutches, had it all exactly the same as me. She had the same operations as I had, too. Me and a buddy of mine, we went to visit her one time, and here she was in a wheelchair. She didn’t have any braces on, she had three kids that she had bore, and she was married, of course. We got to talking about old times, and I just stopped to ask, I said, “Judy, I got something to ask you.” I said, “You got the same surgeries I had, why aren’t you up and around?” And she said, “I couldn’t take the pain.” I said, “Well shame on you.” It was very painful. I had that first surgery, and I was in casts for six weeks. They took me to the hospital and took my casts off, and I had a little bit of infection, so they kept me for about a week. Every day they would put my braces on me and they’d make me get up and walk, and that was the toughest thing I had to do because the pain was so intense. They had a pan in front of me, and every step I’d take I’d get sick. Up to the second day it got easier, and the third day it got easier, and I kept on going, you know? It was another challenge, another challenge that I overcame.
Wearing the braces and going through the pain of therapy was always hard, but it was very rewarding at the same time. Just knowing the fact that I had to wear them, and they were gonna help me along to be able to overcome a lot of my spasticity, I was able to look at it a different way and say, “These things are bad, but I’m gonna wear them anyhow.”At one point the doctors told my mom and dad to put me in an institution. Parents were different back then, they couldn’t deal with this, so they would put some of the kids in a home. Some of these kids were just like me. They had a brain, they could function, but their body just couldn’t do what they wanted them to do. A lot of them went into an institution, and my mom told the doctor, she said, “You know, I’ve had fourteen children, this is number fifteen. I didn’t give up on them and I won’t give up on this one.” I always felt bad for the other kids that couldn’t overcome the trials and tribulations. I would look at them and see the ones that just couldn’t overcome, and I would think, “There’s always someone worse off than you are.” You get what the good lord gave you and that’s what you have to live with.
Dad and Mom didn’t make a lot of money back then, but we managed. We were all taught self reliance, and everyone was expected to do their share. At one time we had eight kids living at home, and that was a pretty good group. I got treated equal. There was no favoritism. I got my rear end thumped a few times. [laughs] I was expected to do all the normal things that my brothers and sisters did. I would get up, and first thing they’d do is one of my brothers would put my braces on me, and that was a challenge in the winter time because they were so cold. I didn’t really want to wear them at times, but they’d put them on me and wait for my bus, which was a taxi cab by the way, that took me to school and brought me home. I’d do my lessons and chores when I got home and that’s about it.
Of course, I liked to have fun, too. There were several things I couldn’t do as a kid, so I kind of reinvented baseball. I could pitch and catch, and I could hit the ball. Of course, I couldn’t run, but somebody would always run for me. I had a tricycle that I like to ride around the yard, so that helped too. I kind of had to reinvent life. I had to adapt on a daily basis to keep up with my brothers and sisters. I saw how they go and go and do and do and I told myself, “I can do this. I just have to do things a little differently.” We’re all the same, really. Just do things a little differently, that’s all.
I was always different, of course, and people weren’t as accepting back then. One of the hardest things was go to the grocery store. I hated it, but my mom and dad made me go anyhow, because they said, you know, look, you gotta be out in the public. Whether you want to or not, you’ve got to. Don’t let that bother you. So it did bother me, for a few years it bothered me, and then I kind of got used to the idea, you know, it’s just the way people are, that’s all. You just have to rise above people sometimes. Looking back, I’m glad they made me do that.
After I got out of school I had a hard time finding a job. At the time there were laws and companies wouldn’t hire the handicapped. Insurance wouldn’t cover them, I guess. So that went to my mentality and discouraged me a little, but eventually they changed the laws and my brother in law got me a job working for the county at a water pumping station. I would watch the gauges and keep the place clean. It was a good job, I really enjoyed it. I did that for a couple years, then I got a job at the county courthouse as a parking attendant. I met a lot of good people there. I worked there for seven years until I retired in ’78. I took a fall and I was out of work for about a year, so my bosses decided it was time for me to retire. They threw me a big party and there was a big write up in the paper. That was a good time. Now I’m just enjoying my retirement. My wife, Virginia, retires in a few years, so I’m looking forward to that so I can spend more time with her. I’ve been retired for a long time, can’t hardly believe it sometimes, but the way I see it I’m about to start whole new chapter with many more to come, God willing and if the devil don’t care. I’ve seen a lot, I’ve done a lot, and I’ve overcome a lot. That’s what life’s about, seein’, doin’, and overcomin’.
For those people out there with dreams, I would say once you set your goal, keep after it. Don’t give up, just keep right on it. You know, you’ll have your downfalls and your pitfalls, but just keep right on goin’. If you want something bad enough, you’ll get it. You just gotta keep punchin’. Sometimes you get knocked down, but you gotta get back up, no matter how much it hurts.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Virginia M. Davis. Tomlin Davis. You want my maiden name, I imagine. Virginia M. Tomlin Davis. I’m from North Lewisburg. I lived there seventy-some years. My mother was raised out over by where the Honda plant is now. My father was born in Saint Paris, [in the] western part of Champagne county. Out somewhere on route thirty-six. My father was a rail welder, so… my father took his training in Saint Paris, and then when I was older we lived in Kent. Then my father got a job down in North Lewisburg… ‘cause that’s where my mother was from, and my grandmother lived there, and all my relatives lived there. So, I’ve been there ever since.
Do you feel like as you were growing up, and going through life, that you had a really strong role model, or a family member that really shaped your life?
I had an aunt that was awful good to me. My mother’s younger sister. And I yet to this day haven’t figured out why. She used to do so much for me. She told me one time that I was more like a sister to her, because she was thirteen when I was born. And she was always doing things for me. Up until she passed away. And she had a family of her own. And she still took care of me.
Oh… what do I want to say? The world’s more, you know, inventions and things, it amazes me what they can do now, what I couldn’t, ‘cause I was on a little switchboard with the plugs. Today it’s all computers. I started operating when I was seventeen and all the rest of it. I was on that switchboard when Pearl Harbor was bombed. And I had the switchboard, and all of it dropped, so that I couldn’t answer them; I didn’t have enough plugs. I was talking to everybody. But the ironic thing about that was that I was in England on the switchboard, with the Eighth Air Force, when they went in on D-Day. In the morning.
It was scary, but I knew that, when I went to work that night, that something was up, because the switchboard was full with operators and the supervisor was there. And she didn’t work at nights. But she was there that night. And we had no relaxing at all. We worked constantly all night. When I got up, and when I got off work, it was still dark, and we were walking back to the barracks, and we could hear the radio, and the Germans were yelling “Invasion, invasion!” to their troops.
I’ve been back twice. The first time I went back, we went back to the estate where we had our headquarters, and there were people there to meet us and greet us, to take us back where our barracks used to be. Well, when I used to work, I would walk to work in the morning after breakfast, and once in a while we’d get an orange. And I was walking down this walk, and this little five-year-old boy came out and asked “What’s that in your hand?” and I said “An orange.” He said he’d never seen one. So I gave it to him. Well, when I went back in ’87, there was a young man and a woman that met me to take me back to the barracks, and we were walking back that way and I told them about the orange, and that man said “Well, I was that little boy!” And I went back in ’93 and saw him again. Well, I’ve lost contact with him. His wife wasn’t well. I don’t think I’ve lost his address. Anyway, I knew that I had done something for somebody,
I flew over Germany and France in a B-24 after the war was over. The sight was not good. It’s where they bombed all the places. I came back on a hospital ship. [I gain strength from] just knowing that I’m in good health, and that I have a good place to live. I have a good family. I think at my age I’m very fortunate. I’m eighty-eight years old.
This girl wrote to me and said thank you for my service. A little girl from Texas. Wrote a real nice letter. So I wrote back to her, sent her a few of my pictures. Sent her a picture of me when I was in the service. Well, I wouldn’t want her to see me now! [laughs]
Is there anywhere else in the world you would like to visit?
I’d really like to go to Africa. I’d like to roam the safari. Have you heard about the Bucket List? Well, I have a bucket list. I got to do two things. I didn’t get to go on a safari, because, well [laughs] I just couldn’t afford that. But my sister and her granddaughter took me to the Wilds. Up in the eastern part of the state, and I did go up there, so I’ve been on a safari.
But I would like to meet the President. Yes, I would. I would like to shake his hand. The reason is, when I was growing up in Kent, Ohio, I had a really dear friend. Her name was Rosalie Peoples. She was a black girl. Well, those people, they didn’t live down where I lived. They lived down at the other end of the town. And do you know, it never dawned on me, in all my years, to be prejudiced. And I thought a lot of Rosalie. Some people didn’t. But I have never been that way, never. Yesterday, I’m sitting here [motions to her chair] and a black friend of mine came to the door. She came here ahead of my one sister. She came to see me. She said “I had a hard time trying to find this place, but I found it.” But I just admire the man, for trying what he did, and doing what he did. I didn’t think it would ever happen in this country. I didn’t think it would. I just don’t think that they’re giving him time to do what he wants to do. They’re just fighting him all the time, and that’s not right.
When you think of being an American, of being from America, what do you think that means?
Well, it just means freedom. And I have great respect for my flag. I put flags on the cemetery in town for the veterans, from when I was sixteen years old, and this is going to be my last year, I mean, I’m not going to put them on this year. It’s going to be seventy-three years. The two and a half years while I was in the service, I didn’t do it. My grandchildren help me now, but there was a conflict with somebody, so we gave it up. But I’ve always had great respect for our flag. When I see it hanging wrong, I tell them about it.
I would like for you to feel proud that you are an American. Because if you have to go somewhere else in the world to live, you will not have the opportunities that you have in this country. I’ve seen too much of the strife, and poor people, and things like that that I just I can’t imagine. And we have a wonderful country. We should be proud of it. That’s the way I feel.
Themes in Three Cups of Tea:
1. Effects and Construction of Religious Intolerance and Extremism
2. Patience and Perseverance in Hardship
3. The Nation-building effects of Education
4. Pros/Cons of Westernization and Breaking Down Tradition
5. Liberation of People, Especially Women, Through Education, and the Effects of This
Monday, May 24, 2010
English 367 10-12
Holding On Paper
I first met Jack McCoy when his son, Max, invited me over to help them work on a barn that they were building. I was expecting the barn to have been started and thought they just need help lifting some things, but all that was there were some blueprints and a lot of wood. I asked Max what was going on and he said that they had to start somewhere. A few minutes later, he introduced me to his dad and we got to work. The whole time we were working, Jack would be telling endless stories of history that were interesting to say the least. Since then, I was always kind of interested about all the different types of work he did. During the interview, I found that he had a lot of pride in his work and really loved the types of work that he has done.
“[As a firefighter] I’m a paramedic [and] a suppression specialist.” Being a suppression specialist is basically putting out fires, typical firefighter work, but being a paramedic is useful in a lot of career fields other then firefighting. In fact, being a paramedic landed him on a SWAT team for three years and on Med Flight for ten years. He also contributed in the restoration of the rescue degree program at
Though he got on the SWAT team for being a paramedic, his survival knowledge helped him out quite a bit.
“[On the SWAT team] we would fly and do infra red photos on marijuana fields which was interesting. The people were dealing huge quantities and endangering children. Now, I’m not against marijuana or anything but I thought the job was fun and it is against the law. When we traveled through the plantations, I would lead the team and look for booby traps. Some of the booby traps were pretty cool.”
Jack also mentioned that growing up he wanted to be a carpenter, which has played a role in some of the work he’s done in the past.
While doing these projects in
Since Jacks is done with his work on the SWAT team and his work in
“I’m also proud of working to restore the rescue degree program at
In Jack’s career as a firefighter, he has recently stepped down from being the director of the emergency medical services for the
Gender roles have been a source of tension for years: from Betty Friedan’s legendary book to the controversial ERA, the women’s rights movement has gained invaluable momentum and won innumerable victories for the equality of women in the work place, as well as other sectors. All this focus on making sure women could leave the home put a stigma staying home, even for those who enjoyed it. This created the idea of “just a housewife” or “she doesn’t work: she’s a homemaker.” Gladys takes those prejudices and throws them out. She cared for her family, immediate and extended, all her life and now that they’re moved away she spends her time caring for those in need around her.
Turning Point is a local program that provides shelter, counseling, and other services for abuse victims, mainly women. While families are staying in the shelter they are provided with what they need in terms of food, clothing, and limited transportation. Sponsors do most of the financing with the help of volunteers and donations.
Gladys sat in her kitchen chair, completely willing to share with me anything I needed to know, but a little confused about why I would be interested. Even she was quick to put down the importance of the things she has done and is doing. Her main concern in every topic was not herself but the details of the story or characters and subjects of whom she spoke.
Staying home and playing the traditional role seemed like the obvious choice to her. She came from a time when that was expected. However, she gave no sense of being forced to be there. It had its ups and downs but seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the work she’s done in her life. She says, “I don’t really like to cook. I like to clean house, I like to do the dishes, I like to mow the yard. I like to clean the car. I never did mind to iron or anything. I like to sew and crotchet.”
More than being happy as mother and homemaker, she never really wanted to do anything else or take advantage of her newly acquired freedom pursue a career. “The only thing I would have liked to have done is be a Home Ec. Teacher.” She was involved in 4H with her children for many years, as well. She could teach these girls how to do the things she spent her life learning. She helped them learn how to do the crucial things that keep a household working.
With three children, two girls and a boy, she was kept pretty busy by everyday tasks. Yet, she managed to go the extra mile and take advantage of the opportunity to be as involved as possible in their lives. One thing that extra mile included considerably strengthened her skills. She appointed herself their seamstress. “I made all their clothes when they were little. Until maybe about seventh or eighth grade.”
The Turning Point stuff you’re making, what group is that for?
Well I was at my quilt club and one of the waitresses there, there are four waitresses, came back with sheets of paper the size of notebook paper. On them was directions on how to make a dress out of a pillowcase. See, I’ve never heard of this. And it was not clear. The picture wasn’t clear, like she’d copied it of off something. She comes to me and says, “Do you know how to make a dress out of a pillowcase?” I go, “Well, I’ve never heard of that before.” And she’s showing it to me and I said I’d almost have to have a pillowcase and go at it step by step. You know, like what they did on the first page and then the second page. And then she said what it was for. I said, “How would it be if I just made some dresses?” and that’s how that came about. And each dress I make I think, “Now this is going to be cute.” But sometimes I don’t realize how cute it’s going to end up. I’m going to give the rest of that sack to this same place. I feel funny about making all those dresses the same size. The reason I made them all the same size and all kind of alike was because I could get more done. I imagine, because of the economy, there is more strife in families. They need these secure homes. I feel like I can make another dress, like; what difference does that make?
She also does a a lot for another organization. She makes small blankets for donations to a hospital. “The lap robes I made for the wounded soldiers from Iraq. I mailed them to Texas. I got this idea out of the newspaper. I saw it in the newspaper and it said to call this certain number in Sandusky. I called it...and she called back. She gave me the address of where to send these. I sent them to a man in Texas, and then he took them there.”
“It seems that all my life, I’ve helped [others]. It seems that I’ve done a lot for other people. And I DON’T want anything done for me.”
I was introduced by a relative of mine, who is currently a sales manager for the company. It was brought to my attention that the Saturday I interviewed Mr. Mathews it was his eighty-second birthday. It was clear who still ran the day to day operations. I started the official interview at about 10:00, and Mr. Mathews was as interesting of a man as I have ever met. He greeted me with a smile and a hand shake and sincerely seemed interested when I explained the reasoning for the interview. I then spent the next hour and forty-five minutes at a giant conference table in Mr. Mathew’s office. It was kind of funny how I was “briefed” before hand about what I might expect, and what to do and what not to do, we really connected, and Mr. Mathews really opened up about his personal life and what it took for him to get where he is at today. This wasn’t an easy road for him to get to where he is, but he never gave up because it was something he really wanted to do, that was very evident when I spoke with him. The one point that really stuck out to me the most was when he said “I just made my mind up, people always tell me I wouldn’t make it I said “well that will be my call”, my father in law always told me “you will never make it in that business” if you think you can do it, you can do it.”
I had eight brothers and sisters we were real poor you know during the depression. No money you know, no inside facilities, no electric electricity, no lamps. I just was raised poor, lived on a small farm, and didn’t think that’s what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I think everyone should have to be poor it seems like they get better work ethics. We had to work all the time you know get up at 4:30 and do the chores, take care of the farm milk the cows all that, I just didn’t want to do that. I got involved in this business and liked it. Just watched my parents you know, always poor. We eat what we raised, eat what we shot all that stuff, and didn’t want to do that my entire life. , I was born and raised in Kansas, my wife was raised in Marion met her while I was in the service in California, I got discharged from the Navy, her sister still lived in town and so I came back to Marion with her and we got married a year or two later, after that.
When I was in the Navy I bought a car off a guy, an old 31 Chevy, loved it, I wanted to get into that business, I didn’t want to be in the steel mill for the rest of my life. That’s kind of the way I got into the car business started selling cars, worked my way up in the car business, managers, used car mangers, new car mangers a little bit of everything. You had to work at it, you know it was long hours. It was something I enjoyed, your grandpa could tell you we used to go a house and sell them vehicles and stuff. You either like it or hate it, if you don’t like you better get out. I always thought there was a better opportunity in the car business. I didn’t have any money when I come here I had $75 when I arrived in Ohio. I just always wanted to work my way up, and wanted to be a dealer someday. I just wanted to do it, in order to do it I just had to do it, I don’t know if that makes sense or not. I just made my mind up, people always told me I wouldn’t make it, I said well that will be my call, my father in law told me that, told me you would never make it in the car business, if you think you can do it, do it. Was it an easy road? Hell no it wasn’t an easy road; I wanted enough money to buy a sandwich if I need it. I wanted to eat steak instead of bologna! Car business has been good to me, I like to visit with people. Went to seminars and stuff. It was a different game than what it is now. I looked at dealers and said that’s something I want to be some day. It’s not instant. It’s not going to happen overnight. I just wanted to be a dealer. But I knew you had to go through all the steps, and had to do all that stuff to get there. But it worked out good for me. Hard work, a lot of work, long hours its rewarding if you really want to do that.
Selling vehicles was tough especially in the late 40 and 50’s it worked out okay there is a lot of good people. The biggest hurdle would probably be working my up. You would be a manger here then a new car manger then a used car manger then, you know, working my up. Probably the toughest would be when we had the recession through all that in the forties. The more I worked though I knew I wanted to be a dealer. I went into the used car business and a bank loaned me $ 6,000 that’s all they would give me for floor plan, I had to work a little smarter, so I could accumulate a little bit of equity. When I first got into this business you could shake a man’s hand and it actually meaned something. Its probably not as important to them as it is to me. I was born and raised about handshakes, if you shook hands with a guy; well your grandpa has done the same thing. Shake hands you know, pay ya tomorrow, don’t have that today. There is an obvious generation gap, its tougher out there today. You treat customers like you would your brother and sisters, that’s hard for people to understand. Customers today, I think, want to deal more with a professional, today you have to sell more empathy than ever let that customer know you are gonna take good care of them, let them know you are working for them, it’s a little tough out there, the consumer I don’t think understands it. There’s a lot of good people, there may be some you are not comfortable with but, nothing you can do about it, but they still buy cars.
In 1940...something went into the used car business for about ten years, then I bought my first new car dealership in about 1974, in Mt. Gilead, I worked for the dealership, thought there was better opportunity in the new car business. Now we have them in Newark, Oregon, Sandusky, and Toledo in northern Ohio, they do their own thing. Now I mainly stay here in Marion, go to the south end store regularly, I go to Newark when I need to. They got good mangers and good people.
Well I come in at 6:30 and leave at about 6:30. I spend a lot of time out on the floor, out with the customers. This is a tough business to manage; you got to have the right people. You got to discipline yourself to do things you don’t want to do, they all want to know things, they want to do this, this and this, and it’s not the way this business works. When a customer comes in your going to do everything to sell a car, but hopefully in a professional manner. This is a business where you can do well, but you got to be committed to business, work long hours. Things I wanted fifteen years ago I don’t want today, don’t need them today, but I wanted them then didn’t have no money to do it. This is a business where you can make good money; the right guy can make good money. I always tell people, this may sound corny; I want to hire someone who is smarter than I am and someone who wants my job. They say well why do you want to hire someone who is smarter? I said well they are easier to train, and it’s true. We got a good crew in here now.
I don’t think this generation has the want, or the commitment to do what I’ve done. They have never been disciplined today, they never been poor; I don’t think I could have done it any different. It’s like anything else it could take you until your 55 65 years old before you make any net worth. Boy you meet a lot of good people in this business. I knew this family we sold cars to, they could only afford so much, they had this fifteen and a half year old kid, just raising cane you know, having fits, he was a good customer of ours, he said Thurman what do you want me to do here? I said well, probably ought to let him walk a little longer, boy didn’t like it but the old man did. Kids now don’t have that, they never had to live poor and struggle. I’ll tell you what will put you out of business its that 2nd and 3rd generation. People, a lot of them their not loyal anymore. They will go out of town for a hundred bucks or 50 bucks now. I don’t think salesmen today are like they used to be either, I think they want to wait for things to happen, hell we selling their grandkids cars today, a lot of reoccurring customers. Its different, I get on the phone and call customers that have bought cars and see where there at.
I think the American dream is something you dream about and want to do, hope you get that done and make that goal. I don’t know, I guess I have done what I want to do, I think I would like to do more but I think I have run out of daylight sooner or later (Laughs). I would like to see all my mangers someday get a dealership you know, leave here and go on their own if that’s what they want to do. But they got to get ready, they got to be willing, their wife has got to understand it. I like coming to work you know, there is something different everyday in this business. I’m in early you know 6:30, I have breakfast sometimes at 5:45 6:00 with a couple of the mangers, we spend a lot of time together. In this business there’s a difference between a job and a profession. This is, I think, a profession it’s not an eight hour a day job
Sunday, May 23, 2010
As I was scrambling for time to do an interview of the last three people who backed out. I decided to give Mr. Richard Vaughn a call and see if he has an hour of so for me to interview him for this essay which was due on the 14th of May. I called him and he said, sure I could come over and interview him because he was working on matchstick crafts. He informed me that his latest invention of matchstick crafts is birdhouses. Mr. Vaughn told me that the main reason he does the crafts is for the money but not so much anymore since he gives away more than he sells. He explains to me that it is more of a hobby to pass the time by. I, myself, have purchased a jewerly-box and I put in an order for a birdhouse when he gets some made in a month or so. Richard Vaughn is a single-father of an adult daughter and a grandfather of a granddaughter. He is 57 years old and is unemployed. He has health problems from a stroke he had at age 30. He likes to spend his free time doing the matchstick crafts to keep himself busy and to keep his mind busy also. Richard is a very talented artists and has the patience of a "God" when it comes to making these matchstick crafts which take months to make depending on what he is working on.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Homeschooling was the traditional method of education until public schools became common. Then, in the 1970s and 80s, as many parents decided to remove their children from public and private schools for various reasons, the American homeschool movement began. At first, some homeschoolers faced problems with school districts, and parents had to fight for the right to teach their own children. Gradually these difficulties were overcome, and homeschooling has continued to grow rapidly as another learning option for children. Approximately two to four million Americans are homeschooling today. Chasta AtLee of Marion, Ohio, has been a homeschooling mom for ten years now, ever since her oldest son was just three years old. She has seven kids: Wesley, Caleb, Samantha, Miriam, Levi, Zipporah, and Naomi.
Well, growing up, I always wanted to be a nurse. And I thought, “I’ll be a nurse until I get married and have a family. ‘Cause that’s really what I want to do.” And I always said, “I want seven or eight kids.” [Laughs] Be careful what you wish for, right? So, growing up, that’s how I always saw myself, as having a large family. I’m the oldest of five in my family and to me that was normal. And even then five kids was like, “Wow, that’s quite a bit of kids.” It was normal to me. …When we had our sixth child, it hit me, like, “Wow, I have more kids than my mom did now.” …But I mean to me, I don’t know, I love kids, so having them around…I don’t see it being any different than any other family, I guess.
I was homeschooled fifth, sixth, and seventh grade…and maybe it was just that age or whatever, but I loved being outside and exploring and just seeing the world around me. And I think that was probably one of the best things for me homeschooling at that time was just, I loved exploring. I mean, I would just go out and make up my own science experiments or just go out and read a book all day long or, you know, whatever I would be able to do and I could do it on my time and not have to sit and wait for the other kids to catch up.
That’s one of the things I love doing as a homeschooling mom, just being able to show my children how things work, not just say, “Well, read this section and we’re gonna take this quiz.” …It clicks for them because they see it.
Why did you choose to homeschool your children?
Lots of reasons. I think foremost would be, my husband, Brian, and I feel that it is our duty as parents that God has given us the responsibility to educate our children. And we see that as educating them at home under our authority.
Let’s see… My highest priorities. As far as homeschooling, it would be to see my children loving God and using the abilities that He has given them to the fullest. To use what God has given them as far as how they can learn, what their abilities are, what their passions are, and try to encourage that. To help them be the people that God has created them to be. I would say that’s probably my number one priority.
I love seeing them—especially now that the girls are in softball—and to see them out there playing and enjoying it and just having fun, and knowing that they are using the abilities that God has given them. I like that. …I love seeing them enjoy life and learning.
What kind of challenges and struggles have you faced throughout homeschooling?
Keeping up with them. They seem to learn at such a fast pace it’s like I constantly have to keep something in front of them, or they get bored.
What events would you consider to be the highlights of your life and how would you say they’ve brought you to where you are today?
Probably when Wesley was born just for the fact it was starting our family and I was seeing myself as a mother, I think for the first time, was kinda shocking in itself but exciting. It was exciting too. To go along with that, I would say that just the birth of all of my children has been, wow, look at how blessed I am…and just really thankful that God has given me the opportunity to raise these children…which, of course, at the same time is scary. That’s probably been one of the highlights. And how has it affected me? I would hope to say that it has stretched me as a person to be better, to be a better mom, a better Christian…and just knowing that these children are depending on me, and knowing that they need me to set a good example for them and to help them reach their full potential.
And what would you most want people to remember you for?
Probably being a loving and giving person, which I hope I am. I try. I think that would be it. That I was a person that people could count on and I was generous and caring…and a good mommy.
What advice would you give to others following in your steps?
Always remember why you started homeschooling. If you keep that perspective, you won’t get burnout, and you can press through the really hard days where it’s like, “Ahh”. And you know, we’re never gonna get though this, or I just wanna not do this right now…just step away… But for me, keeping that perspective and knowing that hey, we didn’t choose this because this is our only choice. This is something we chose to do for very good reasons, and I go through those reasons and that helps me sometimes when I’m like, “Ah, I don’t know about this anymore…” You get fed up or you just get tired. So I think keeping perspective on what you’re doing and why you started the homeschooling and why God has called you to it. Then you know, yeah, I can do this, because it’s not just me doing it. God’s going to help me, ‘cause, you know, this is what He would desire for us. So that helps to get though some of the days. [Laughs]
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The particular breed Ron chooses to use, the haflinger, is an Austrian breed known for their chestnut color and flaxen mane and tails. Haflingers are bred to be a compact size while still powerful enough to engage in draft activities with little exertion; they were used as pack animals in World War II. These quiet, kind natured ponies are magnificent to see in action and are hard to forget. As we walked around Ron’s farm he was sure to point out every one of his eleven horses. He’d say, “See that one out there? That’s Nash. He was my first haflinger. He’s 24 years old, got him when he was five or six months old. I raised him and did all his training myself. He’s a good old boy. He’s one of my carriage horses.” The horses are more than just livestock to him; they are like members of the family. Each horse has its own story, purpose and personality. That is most likely why the horses themselves were the biggest influence on Ron pursing his passion. In addition to working at a local fertilizer company and running his carriage service, Ron is also a 4-H advisor. His 4-H club includes draft style horses and ponies and focuses on kids that want to learn how to drive a horse.
Their carriage service caters to weddings, proms, special events, Christmas parties and just about any other occasion there is. “We kinda wanted to do it for fun but it turned into a little small business” Ron modestly explains with a chuckle. After forty years of marriage, Ron and Linda are still so much a part of each other. This is a true family business. “My wife is a big help in my carriage service. Linda keeps me going. My granddaughter is a big help, she goes with me once in a while and they know how to harness the horses, help get everything ready. They know what I want when we do it so they know where to fall in and get the job done. And we take pride in our carriage service so we wanna give everyone a good job, look sharp, and do the best that we can” he continues. He manages to keep his business going by just using his truck and horse trailer to haul around their equipment. “I’m proud of my wife and my carriage business. We try to do a good job for the people we do things with the carriage service for,” continues Ron as we advance further through the farm.
Aside from being an all around enjoyable experience, the carriage rides also offer a glimpse of history. The earliest type of carriage used and that was recorded was the chariot during the 9th century. Carriages were brought into the United States with the establishment of the thirteen colonies. Sadly, the invention of steam power led to the rapid decline in the use of animal power for transportation. This once flourishing tradition is now hard to come by. The nostalgia of the ways of the old days it what draws the customers to the carriage business. “They like going back and just listen to the horses hit the road when they trot and takin a ride in the carriage, a lot of people don’t get that. Especially people that lives in the city, that don’t see stuff like that get a chance to do it” adds Ron. Carriages also help to capture the imagination of the public. In fairy tales we see stories such as “Cinderella”, where the beautiful maiden is carried away to a ball in a pumpkin transformed into a carriage, heightening the allure of the carriage. This facet is especially appealing to the wedding customers since a bride gets to act like a princess and truly live out her dream of a fairy tale wedding. Ron and Linda make sure that every customer is treated with the utmost respect and show this by doing the best job possible for the job that they are doing. Ron concludes that the key to doing the best possible job is to “Be on time, look sharp.”
“I’ve enjoyed it,” explains Ron, bringing a smile to his face. “Had a lot of fun, met a lot of nice people,” he continues. The carriage business also offers some other benefits to Ron, he tells me “It keeps me young, keeps me going with it, not giving up . . . keeps me movin and active.” When I asked Ron if he ever wished if his life would have taken a different path, his answer was the quintessential answer to sum up his character, he responded with a simple “Nope, I’m happy with the one I got.” With a happy-go-lucky attitude toward life, Ron is not someone who is easily forgotten. When asked about the future of the single man carriage business Ron explains “I think it’s going to be, it’s a good hit. It’s growing. Our business is getting more and more and we don’t really advertise that much, just on word of mouth but I see it getting bigger.” Likewise his goals for the future are “mainly to get the carriage service going more . . . try to get it more active, be busier, do more weddings, advertise a little more to help it grow.”
Winston Churchill got it precisely right when he said there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. Ron has surely gotten to experience the life of a horseman to the fullest. He hopes to be remembered for being a good, hard-working, honest man, but most of all he wants to be remembered for being an all around good horseman. Ron plans on retiring from his full-time job in a few years and continuing to run the carriage service. With a constantly optimistic outlook he admits, “When I get too old to get up in the carriage, I’ll have to quit and give it up. Figure I’ll hand it down to one of my kids or grandkids.”
“Honesty and integrity and hard work…that’s…boy, that’s at the roots!” says Dick Leuthold as I interview him in his magnificent house located in Bucyrus, Ohio. When asked what qualities a good American citizen should have, Dick replies, “He should be honest, hardworking and God-fearing.” These characteristics are evident in Dick’s life, showing up time after time in many different ways.
Leuthold is 76 years old. He is a gentle-spoken, retired businessman who’s been involved with the insulation business since the late seventies.
Dick grew up on a farm. “I always had a handle in my hands. It was either a shovel handle or a hoe handle or a rake handle or a basket handle or a sledge handle, a axe handle, saw handle, always had a handle in my hand.” Dick learned the work ethic early in life, by following his dad around on the farm without being taught verbally. Church was very important to the family as they attended church every Sunday and Dick learned there was a right and wrong very early in life. At the age of 16, Dick lost his mother and with his father on the road selling silos, he was thrown into the role of being a mother and a father to his younger brother and sister. It was these kinds of qualities that led Dick to the successes he has had and even is still being seen today.
Dick got started in the insulation business in the late 1970’s. He saw an ad in the Wall Street Journal and answered it and found that the salesmen were selling insulation equipment. This gave Dick his idea of starting a cellulose insulation operation in Bucyrus, Ohio. He had no previous background in the industry, but he understood machinery. The company of Fiber Chem was established in October 1977. At one point in time, the business nearly failed. Dick says, “It was a bad experience, but it was a good experience and it was a very profitable experience for moving forward.”
In its simplest form, insulation dates back to when the cavemen shielded themselves from the elements. It took thousands of years before the idea of adding material to buildings came into play. The first architect to use cellulose insulation was Thomas Jefferson in the design of Monticello. From this, the use of cellulose insulation took off. Insulation is the most effective way to improve the energy efficiency of a home. Insulation helps keep heat in during the winter and lets heat out during the summer to improve comfort and save energy.
Faith and religion are very important to Dick in life which can be witnessed in his business experiences and in his life in general. His family never turned their back on God and never missed a tithe. “When the going really got tough, I started on my knees,” Dick states. Dick believes that one cannot be successful unless you work to please God.
According to Dick, there are a lot of important factors in running a successful business. One of the biggest things is to treat the customer like you would like to be treated. “Business is people, numbers is the language,” Dick explains. “And so you got to know your numbers and you got to have good people. That’s all there is to it.” Today, as Dick sees it, it is getting more difficult for businesses, because the laws of society give a lot of slack to the people who don’t want to be honest and work hard. Even though the owner ultimately makes the final decision with any aspect in their business, it is important to seek the opinions and ideas of the workers. Dick goes on to say, “You got to be very transparent with people and if you’ve been wrong, you need to tell them you’ve been wrong.” This carries a lot of weight when it comes to customer relations.
When asked about some of his best memories in business, Dick was quick to give answers. One was when they were able to obtain their underwriters’ laboratory certification for their product which was like good housekeeping badge recognition. Another good memory was when they were able to sell Fiber Chem and this was valuable because they were able to partner with another person in the development of a patented method of manufacturing which was innovative in the whole industry and placed value in the company. This was the obtaining of the fiberizer.
The fiberizer is the finish mill that makes the cellulose insulation. This would also be used in the new company of Advanced Fiber Technology which was started after the selling of Fiber Chem.
Advanced Fiber Technology’s manufacturing line includes cellulose insulation and industrial grade fibers. Their model of, converting today’s wastepaper into tomorrow’s products conveys the whole purpose of Advanced Fiber Technology.
Dick’s oldest son Doug introduced Dick one time, as the visionary of Advanced Fiber Technology. This sort of shocked Dick to be described in this way. Dick mentions though, “You know, you have to have visionary characteristics to see opportunities, and I think a visionary is a person who never has a good, solid feeling how things is going to end up.” Dick had the vision of the founding of the industrial center where Advanced Fiber Technology and several other companies are located today in Bucyrus. It was on New Year’s Eve night when Doug was a senior in high school and Doug was hosting a party for some of his friends at his house. Dick says to his wife Joyce, “These guys are going to go off to college and hither and yon and we should have something in the community to retain them.” Joyce suggests Dick should do something about it, so being the go getter Dick is, acted upon his vision. He took the ground he farmed at the edge of town and developed it into an industrial center. So, Dick had the vision for that and saw that his vision was fulfilled.
Dick also had the vision to see 1000 jobs in the center someday. This vision was nearly reached by creating a little over 900 jobs at one point in time.
When Dick received the patented machine, the fiberizer he saw the vision that this was something that could be licensed all over the world and was throughout the United States, Germany, Japan, Czech Republic, Finland and licensed about 80% of the production in Canada.
A neat experience happened in 1995 or 1996 when Dick had licensed technology in Japan and in Germany and had installed complete manufacturing plants. Dick tells of a moment he had. “One day I got to thinking, you know, 50 years ago, we were at war with these two countries. Fifty years later were doing business with them.”
Family is another important aspect in Dick’s life and something he leans upon for support and leverage. His father was a very important person to him, although he was pretty aggressive. When describing his father, Dick replies with, “If he’d been a military man, he’d been a rival to General George Patton. But I never doubted that my father loved me.”He talks about the partnership with his two sons in the founding of Advanced Fiber Technology. He says they were a good three man team. “We had a very, I think unusual family experience from the standpoint of how well we worked together, just the three of us,” Dick says. Each fellow brought a different strength to the party and contributed to the success of the business. Dick tells of a story when his boys and daughter were younger and says that he and his wife would take the time to follow what they were doing. Dick can remember a time when he shut the tractor off around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, so he could go to one of his kids’ ballgame that he had helped coach the team. Dick recalls coming home and working till three in the morning to get caught up with the time he had missed. Dick says, “It was the best thing I’d ever done. I never regretted that.”
When Dick mentions his wife, Joyce, who he lost in February, one can tell how much she meant to him. She was a true helpmeet to him and a very supportive person. Dick sums it all up when he relates, “I’m a blessed man because of the wife that I had.” She was most helpful to him along the way as Dick says [with a laugh] his wife was smarter than he was. She was never as vocal as Dick was but she was very, very intelligent. He says he learns an awful lot from his three children day in and day out. Doug, not even intending to try to teach his dad but just from his father observing him, learns a lot as well as from his daughter and his younger son. He says he has to give them a lot of credit. He has learned so much from them.
After talking to Dick, I can see why the man has been so successful in his life and why he is such a respected man.
“I’m a blessed man because of the family we have. You know when this life’s all over with, I think a man and a woman… what they acquired monetarily isn’t that important, it’s the life they’ve lived and the fruit of their life is their children and that’s…to me… I know a lot of people that have a lot of money…I come to meet a lot of very wealthy people, a lot of them have heartache because they chased their work too hard and didn’t spend enough time with their family…and you only got one chance to do that!”
I first met Myrtle nearly 21 years ago at the age of five; she was a co-worker, and a friend of my mother’s. They both worked as nurse’s aids at Americare, a nursing home. I don’t recall meeting her, but for the last fourteen years or so she has been my surrogate mother, grandmother, adviser, confidant, best friend, and my mentor. At the age of seventeen she began taking in children for various reasons to raise, or mentor.
I believe she has eccentric moments, is a dreamer, and most of all I believe she’s a visionary for taking in children. She doesn’t believe she is a visionary though. When I told her I thought she was a visionary she just replied back with, “It’s just me. It’s just something I do.” It is part of her essences. It’s what makes her story worth being told because there aren’t many people around that would take in children to guide them.
I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t have the relationship I have with her. She took me under her wing. She’s always supported me, and encouraged me to live out my dreams. She’s my number one fan.
In August of 2009 Myrtle was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer. I’ll never forget that phone call when she told me she had cancer. It was one of the worst moments in my life. It was my greatest fears come true.
Pancreatic cancer is referred to as a silent killer, because it commonly goes undiagnosed, or it’s often diagnosed too late. It is one of the most aggressive cancers. Most patients are given 3 to 6 months, and some live out a full year, so far Myrtle has been going strong for nearly 10 months.
Her having cancer is one of the reasons why I felt it was important to interview her. Everyone has a story that should be told before they die. Everyone is important to someone.
I interviewed her in her in-closed porch that is overcrowded by enormous house plants. Her home is filled with plants. In fact her whole yard is filled with flowers, various bushes, and small fruit and vegetable gardens. She doesn’t know how many she has though, nor does she know why her plants grow so well. I believe the answer is that she has a special love that allows plants to flourish around her just as she has a special love for children, and they flourish around her.
My name is Myrtle Guseman. I’m sixty-four years old. I was born in West Virginia. Varney, it’s a little town with a gas station, post office, store combination and if you didn’t look real quick, or if you blinked then you’d miss it.
I had a very good, happy time as a child other than my father. He was a womanizer, he was a drunk. My mother had to go work to support herself, me and my sister. If it hadn’t been for my mother I’m sure my sister and I would have ended up in an orphanage. I loved her more than life itself. We were more than mother and daughter, we were friends. There is nothing in this world that I wouldn’t have done for her and vice versa. One of the worst experiences in my life was when I was twelve years old, and we were in
severe car accident. They told me that my mother was going to die and that was it. That was even worse than the doctors telling me I had cancer. That was my mother! I loved her more than anything. I couldn’t live without her. She had a broken hip, her clavicle bone was broken, and her pelvis was broken. I mean she was just smashed from head to toe. They said she probably wouldn’t live the night and she did. Then they said she would never walk again, and she did. Then they said she would never walk again without crutches, and she did. The constitutional love of her two daughters allowed her to overcome those obstacles.
When I was about two years old we moved to Chicago. My dad was a construction worker so he traveled a lot. My mother went to help her sister in Ohio and I wasn’t losing my best friend so I came right behind her…I was twenty-eight when we moved to Ohio, and I’ve been here ever since.
Out of all your accomplishments, which one are you the most proud of?
I have to say four, my four sons because we have such a close connection. When they were smaller they could come to me, and we could talk about anything and everything. They always knew that no matter what they did that I was proud of them. I taught them to always go with family first. You know its okay to argue. Of course you’re going to argue, but when it comes down to it you take care of your brothers.
Would you change any past decisions if you had the opportunity to?
Yes, I don’t think I would have gotten married the second time…He drives me nuts. Just too much togetherness I don’t have any me time. He wants to know what’s in my letters. He wants to know who I am talking to. He wants to know what they said, and he’s having problems with his hearing so you say something, and he think it’s something else, and instead of asking you to repeat it he answers you. Sometimes it’s not the answer you’re looking for. I could just crack him over the head. He needs to get out more often. He really does.
Can you tell me about some of your hobbies?
[Sighs] Growing plants, vegetables, and I like to do crafts. I don’t think you would exactly call it a hobby, but I like to be around small children, because they’re so sweet and innocent. No one has corrupted them yet, and they give their undivided love to you. They are just the essences of innocence. We don’t have that for very long. I like to get in the swimming pool with them, get on the swings with them. We just have a great time together. I’ve shown two of my granddaughters how to plant watermelons, pumpkins, and we had a great time watching them grow.
Why do you think you’ve always taken in children from broken homes to mentor them?
…I love kids and I don’t want to see them hurt or mistreated. I really do love them. It’s something I do; it’s something that not a lot of people know of. I don’t do it for bragging rights. I do it for the kids. I can’t stand to see a child hurt. It’s like when I took care of Elizabeth. She was three years old when I met her and if she would get a fever her mom wouldn’t know what to do so I would keep the child for a week at a time, then it got to be a month at a time. She was so happy here. I just love kids. I don’t think any of them should be hurt, or unhappy. I knew her mother was taking advantage of me, but I wasn’t dreaming about that. I didn’t care. She was only taking advantage, because I let her, but I couldn’t let that little girl be sick and not have anyone to stay up and hold her and so I did. I have grown men now that come, give me a big ‘ol hug, call me mom that I had when they were young…They still come around.
How many children have you taken in?
[Sighs] Oh, probably around fifteen to twenty maybe. Not all of them lived with me but a good ten did [Pauses] maybe more than that.
Was it your life calling?
I think so because I would be willing to go to jail over a child. I wouldn’t think twice about it…[it] all comes from the heart.
How did you get started?
I was seventeen and this is the truth it was through no fault of her own my cousin and my aunt lost their children to the welfare. I couldn’t stand to see them babies go to a foster home and I took three of them. I was seventeen year old and I took in three children. One was a toddler and the other two weren’t even preschool age yet. That’s how it started but I also took care of my sister when my mother had to go to work. I was ten and she was five, so I ended up her part-time mother, then I took in the other three children. It was two girls, and a boy. I just fell in love; I couldn’t stand to see them hurt. I would have taken in all of them had I had the room, and I did not take one penny from the welfare. I said no those are my relatives and I will take care of them. I was only seventeen years old and that’s how it all got started because those children had done nothing. They hadn’t done nothing to be placed in a home with strangers.
Do you think you’ve made a positive impact on the fifteen or so children you have taken in?
I really think so. This one gal, she went to college, she was in the service and I don’t think that would have happened had she not stayed with me.
What’s your biggest fear in life?
You know I really don’t have very many fears. I know I’m dying, but I don’t fear it. I don’t fear it, and I’m not afraid to die. I am a little scared because that’s the only time in your life that you’re going to do something totally all on your own. You are not alone from the time of conception you’re not alone, because you’re with your mother and this continues throughout your whole life. There is always someone there you can talk to, be with. You got your family, your classmates, and your co-worker, you’re with someone or you could be if you wanted to but when [Pause] you die that’s a trip you’re taking all by yourself, and that will be the first time in all of your life and it’s a little scary. You know taking that journey because you don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean you have no idea but hey I’m one that’s always up for a challenge. Come on let’s go. [Laughs] You know if I have to go I hope I can do it with dignity.
Do you think it’s important to be alone to learn about yourself, because in death we are alone like you said?
…Yes I do believe that has helped me not to be so frightened of death…I do very well alone…It’s comforting to me to be alone…You get to know yourself inside and out. You know what you’re capable of when something comes up…
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you meet that challenge?
Oh, well I’m facing it now and that’s cancer. I’m meeting it everyday head on by staying positive every time there is a set back. I always look for the positive, a positive somewhere in the situation. Ninety-nine and nine-tenths of the time I come up with something positive. It’s actually a miracle that I’m still alive today, because my cancer was found in stage three and there’s only four. Pancreatic cancer is the most, most lethal cancer there is. It doesn’t get any worse and there’s four percent survival rate, and that includes state one, two, three, and four. They lump them all together and you have four percent survival rate so. [Pauses]…It’s positive attitude and doing what has to be done like taking chemo and radiation, and I did that for five days a week, had radiation and chemo together. I’ll tell you something I was so sick I couldn’t get up off the couch, then traveling for two hours a day on top of it, but that’s what I had to do and I did it. I didn’t say I can’t do this, I can’t do this. No, I said well it’s time to go. I’ve done everything the doctors have asked me and I go in there joking and laughing and half the time I think they think it’s Jim [Her son] that has the cancer because he shaved his head. He and I walk in there and he has the bald head and I’m laughing, carrying on, and telling jokes. I even tell jokes to the doctor, but yes positive attitude. It’s not going to save my life, but it’s buying me some time and that’s all I can hope for. You know I never once thought why me. I’m sure it’s there somewhere inside my head, but so far it hasn’t come to the surface. You know it is what it is. And so I deal with it. I’m not real fond of the after effects, but that’s not the cancer that’s the chemo causing the side effects other than the pain.
How long did the doctors give you?
At first he said two to five and then he changed it to six months to a year and that’s where we stand now. You know what? I’m not planning on dying in six months or a year. I try to live everyday as it comes.
You won’t go gently into the night?
No, I want to go with dignity, but I’m going to fight and scream the whole way. They’re going to have to take me the hard way. I’m not going easy because I’m going to be here for Christmas. I’m going to be here next June to see my grandson graduate. I already promised and I keep my promises. I don’t care if they have to put me in a wheelchair, and then put a hat on my bald head.
What do you think happens when we die?
I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll find out. To be honest I just hope we cease to exist…I’m sort of like my grandfather was I believe we have our heaven and hell right here on earth and it’s what we make of it. I don’t think I would like looking up or down at my loves one and they would be in pain or hurting for some reason. I wouldn’t want that. I wouldn’t want that, so I would rather when I take my last breathe just to cease to exist except in the hearts of my family and friends…I can’t see myself if I were a tortured soul just roaming the house. If there is something else then I just don’t want to see what’s happening on earth. It would be too painful and I don’t think anyone would want to be in heaven, seeing their children, grandchildren, friends in so much pain. I know I wouldn’t want to be in heaven if I had to look at that [Pause] or hell.
I do believe in a higher power and for me that’s god. I do believe in god. I just really don’t think I want an afterlife.
…I think if I thought about it and I think if anyone thought about it, thought about it, and tried to research it, do this and that [they] would go crazy trying to find the answers because there are no answers. Scientist can’t answer it. The bible can’t answer it, so I’m not going crazy. “I’m just going to take this trip all by myself and I’ll find out when I get there. I’m not going to worry about it. I want to live everyday to the best of ability to live…”
Radio DJ at WMRN
May 20, 2010
WMRN has served Marion, Ohio for over 40 years now. It first went on the air in the 1970’s and has had several name changes over the years. WMRN is currently owned by Clear Channel Communications and it is responsible for three radio stations. These three stations are 1490 AM Radio WMRN, FM 95.9 WYNT, and FM 94.3 WDIF. I visited Tim on May 10, 2010 at his studio where we did the interview. He gave me a tour of the building and to my surprise gave me a small interview on the air, which was definitely a first for me.
Tim has been in the radio business for many years now. He started back in 1983 when he was still in high school working for free at the Christian radio station in Upper Sandusky. Since then he also spent some time working at WNCI in Columbus which was one of his biggest successes. Tim said about WNCI, “I was so nervous when I got on the air, 175,000 watts – it was truly incredible. Just knowing I had that many listeners was a huge accomplishment for me.” Tim has many responsibilities at the studio and at home, where he does much of his work. One of the major things that Tim was working on the day of our interview was the Red Cross Radiothon that occurred Thursday, May 13th. It was a huge event at the studio that everyone had put time into for weeks. Regularly, he is the music director at WMRN which means he is responsible for the daily playlists and sweepers, the advertisements and fillers in between songs, getting made up. Tim is also the Digital Content Director, or the webmaster for all three radio stations. He updates all the websites regularly and makes sure they are running smoothly. Lastly, he is the Director of Integrated Marketing which means that he sells banner ideas for all three stations. Tim also is one of three people who are called immediately if the station has a dysfunction and goes off the air. He must figure out the problem and log into the virtual private network to get it up and running again. Tim has many jobs which he must do that keep him busy each and every day. When something comes up that needs done he gladly takes on the task and gets it done as sufficiently as possible. To me, Tim is a great definition of a hard worker at WMRN.
Tim is very passionate about his job and I could tell that just from interviewing him. He took a 4 year break in 1991 and in 1995 when he was offered a job at WMRN he took them up on their offer. “I had to go back, choosing another career just didn’t seem like an option anymore. It just seems like it’s what I was meant to do and I enjoy every day of it” says Tim. Tim explained to me that it has been his dream ever since the sixth grade. He had become interested in it way back then and had just never changed his mind about the job. When he’s on the air, there’s no place he’d rather be. Tim says, “It’s great to be on the air, connecting with listeners and speaking to them one-on-one. We truly are friends on the air.” The job gets stressful every now and then and the days can be long and tiring but each and every minute is worth it.
Tim has a big connection to his family which is one of the reasons he didn’t thoroughly enjoy working at WNCI. The studio was an hour away from home and he rarely got to see his family. He wasn’t at all used to that and decided to return to Upper Sandusky, his hometown. Throughout his career, his family has always given him love and support. At first they wanted him to be a musician but they saw that he really loved being on the radio so they decided to support him in whatever choice he made. Tim’s biggest life influences were his parents so when his father passed away last year it was very hard on him. They have never been unsupportive of his decisions and have helped him get to where he is today. Tim said about his parents, “I think having that kind of support in my life really pushed me to strive to achieve my biggest goals.” In the future, Tim hopes to have his own business. He would like to create websites for others and also do some audio work on the side. There’s no place he would rather be and he knows that for a fact because he has experienced many different opportunities in his life. From taking a break from his job to being a part-time worker for WNCI, WMRN has always been his favorite place to work. While discussing co-workers with Tim, I realized he really thinks greatly of everyone he works with. “It’s like a second family,” Tim says, “They are so supportive of you and everyone gladly helps one another at the studio.” He introduced me to his boss and the secretaries that were working that day and everyone was glad to hear that OSUM was putting students out into the community to do their work. Everyone was very polite and I understood why Tim had said his radio crew was just like his second family.
Tim strongly believes that if you try your best, you will get rewarded for it. He explained to me that persevering is one of the most important themes in how he got where he is today. Tim had absolutely no experience in the radio business when he first began. It all started with a demo tape that he had made by himself at home. He sent it along with a resume to several radio stations and received no response from any of them. Although he could have just given up then and changed his mind, he didn’t. Finally after trying for several weeks, he was offered at position in Upper Sandusky. Although he didn’t receive pay for his work there it was still good to get some experience in the business. If he had given up then, he would have never made it to where he is today. I asked Tim if he had any advice for those pursuing a new career. He explained that you should learn to deal with rejection because you’re not always going to get the job the first time. Also motivation was a big part of his job search and he thought that it would be recommended for anyone. Finally I asked Tim his view of what the American Dream really was. It truly showed me how much he loved his job when he responded with, “I think for me, I’m living my dream!”