Matt, Age 0-10
Welcome to my life.
It may not look like much of a life from your point of view, but so far, I've enjoyed--mostly.
Happily, there are no baby pictures of me. Trust me. There aren't. I've looked. That's fine with me because I
like to think I was always the adorable tyke in the school photo at upper left (taken at age seven).
I was born in the hospital in Lake Village, Arkansas, one Sunday afternoon in 1953. Wisely, the city fathers of
Lake Village have converted the old hospital into a museum. It makes perfect sense to me that my birthplace
is now a museum. (Kind of like Abraham Lincoln!) Anyway, the photo of the hospital below was taken in the
mid-1970's. The 1969 Volkswagen parked out front was my first car.
I spent the first five years of my life with my family in McGehee, Arkansas. The photo at left is of me
taking a nap in my bed. (BTW, that bed I'm in is now where my mom sleeps in Batesville.)
I achieved notoriety as a mere child by winning a contest and becoming the cutest kid in McGehee in
1957. (I'm sure it was just a scam being run by a local photographer, trying to get local parents to pay for
pricey photos of their kids.) Anyway, check out my winning smile in the two photos at bottom left.
|So when we moved to Mississippi, one of my first friends was Dottye Lou Langhofer--I swear
I'm not making this up--next door. One day, we were playing hide and seek at her parents
house. I found a great hiding place under her parents bed. IT'S NOT MY FAULT that she
wasn't able to find me and that I fell asleep while waiting to be found. Anyway, as the story
below from the Batesville newspaper indicates, the incident got blown WAY out of proportion.
Left, above and below: Was I cute or what?
A couple of weeks after we moved to Mississippi, my mom had a fifth birthday party for me and invited the
neighborhood kids. Above, I'm attacking the cake. Below, left to right: Sara Thompson, Dottye Lou
Langhofer, Harry Moore (back to camera), me, Nick.
In the spring of 1959, Dottye Lou and I set up a "lemonade stand" in front of her house. In reality, her dad
owned a service station, and we were selling cokes for six cents that he sold at the station for ten cents.
That should have taught me something about economics, but no. Front row, left to right: Billy McCullar,
Nick, Harry Moore (drinking coke at right in the same shirt he wore to my birthday party the year
before--interesting what you notice fifty years later). Second row: Me on high chair; Dottye Lou, Barney
on bicycle, Sara Thompson.
My first snowfall, 1959. (BTW, the birthday party photos above, this photo, and the lemonade stand photo
below were taken over a nine-month period on one roll of film. We weren't big on photos in our family.)
In October 1962, the family drove to Philadelphia to visit my Carlton and Mary Elizabeth Spears, my aunt and
uncle. Uncle Carlton was the Number 2 in command at the Philadelphia Navy Yard at the time. The family
legend is that at lunch with the admiral who ran everything at the Officers Club on base, I ordered a
hamburger. The Navy man waiting on us informed me that they didn't serve hamburgers. At this point, the
admiral who ran the base told the waiter that "I think we can find the young man a hamburger."
Along the way, we visited the Smoky Mountains, Washington DC and New York. It was the first "vacation" I
ever remember. Oddly, this photo of me by the television in my aunt and uncle's den in Cherry Hill is the only
surviving photo of the trip.
Left: My brother and I happened to be visiting Uncle Charles, Aunt Eleanor and my cousins in Irving,
Texas, when Six Flags Over Texas opened in August 1961. My aunt--bless her--took five rowdy juveniles to
the park on the second day it was open. She became an early member of the ever-growing sorority of
Oppressed Amusement Park Mothers. Anyway, while we were there, I made the unfortunate impulse
purchase you see on my head at left. A week or so after we got home, my dad took this photo in our
backyard of Calvin Flint and me, holding a string of fish we (mostly my dad) had caught on a fishing trip.
Below left and right: My brother and I with our parents at Easter 1963. The photo of me with my father is
the only photo I can find of my father with either of his children.
BTW, all three of these photos were taken with a Polaroid Land Camera we had bought about this time. It
was always fun to watch the pictures develop before our eyes, but after they were completely developed, we
were supposed to wipe down the print with some sort of finish. As you can see from the pictures of Calvin
and me and of my mother with Nick and me, we usually botched that part of the process.