Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

Half The Man

Posted: November 9, 2018 in Life and Memories
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“…I’m going to be like you Dad,

You know I’m going top be just like you”

Cat Stevens

He was born beneath a shimmering winter moon in the old south during the infancy of the roaring twenties. He entered the world as the fourth of five children to his loving, hard-working parents who scratched a living from the rural Middle Tennessee soil. They named him Hubert after a close family friend and for the first seven years of his life he learned the ways of the county as he ran, romped and climbed after finishing his daily chores at his home that his God-fearing father had built by his own hands as a wedding present to his doting wife. At the dawn of his eighth year Hubert’s parent made the decision to move the family to the larger town in the area, to give them a chance for a better education than that which was available to them in the small one-room school house in the community. The family moved to town three years before the crucible of strife and hunger created by the great depression descended upon everyone in America like crashing wave, changing almost everyone’s life, virtually overnight. Hubert’s father was a carpenter and home builder by trade and with several homes owned by him, as well as a garden and a few chickens, their family fared better than others as Hubert learned to hunt and forage to assist in providing sustenance for the family. While growing up in this difficult time he quickly learned to survive by using his wits and his fists and was largely self-educated after quitting school in the eighth grade, he grew up street smart, tough and mean.

When he turned nineteen at the beginning of 1941, his love for animals and nature caused him to turn to the only institution where he could be outdoors and ride horses and get paid for it…he enlisting for a year with the local Nation Guard post, subsequently becoming a member of the US Army National Guard Horse Calvary. Ten months into his tour while relaxing at home on a ten day furlough, he was listening to the family’s Silvertone radio on a chilly Sunday morning in December when the broadcast was interrupted by the announcement the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He was immediately inducted into the Army and for almost four years following additional training designed to hone his skills as a soldier, he lived in the heat, stink and slime of innumerable South Pacific Islands, dodging bullet, bayonets and bombs. One bomb got too close and he spent the rest of the war traveling from hospital to hospital, finally receiving his discharge papers on November 19, 1945 from Walter Reed Army hospital in Washington, DC.

He finally arrived home to Cookeville, Tennessee to an almost non-existent job market, a young wife and a coping disease called alcoholism. He drifted from job to menial job until the arrival of a beautiful daughter forced him to start fighting the bottle and looking for meaningful work and sobriety, turning his attention and concentration toward providing for his growing family. Not long after the birth of his third and final child, a boy, he opened his own business while struggling to seek ways to balance his time between work and family.

With the birth of his children he became he became a loving father who taught his children independence, responsibility., self worth, strength and kindness. The lessons of life he passed to his children was readily absorbed by the two girls as they grew to become successful and responsible adults and parent. The boy, on the other hand…maybe no so much.

I am the boy and this man is my father. I have watched, respected and attempted to emulate him all my life without too much success, though I still try as I attempt to apply the I moral and social values he taught me. More importantly though, I have learned to fight for myself, fish, hunt, hike, write my name in the snow, (I’ll give you a minute to think about the last one) and how to laugh from him.

He is the foremost of my heroes and I love him. Watching my children grow and develop makes me realize just how daunting the path of being a father really is to follow. I try to view them through his eyes as I attempt to draw upon the lessons that he taught me growing up. If I can learn to be half the man he is, I will be grateful and happy, and I will also consider myself lucky, for I still have a tortuously long way to go.

Written under the pseudonym Richard Corey 1998

Dedicated to my father, Hubert Bussell

Jan 27, 1921 – November 9, 2013

When I was a child growing up in Middle Tennessee during the sixties, one of the things I really loved to do on a summer evening after supper was finished and the chores were done, was to go outside into the magical back yard of our neighborhood home and crawl up onto the white, wooden picnic table that ruled the middle of the yard and lie there on my back and allow the exquisitely dazzling night to envelop me. There was very little light pollution then in our small town and I would first watch the lightning bugs dance and flicker about as I would attempt to follow the trail of a particular one, endeavoring to guess where they would suddenly next appear in a flash of light in this secret hide and seek game we were playing together. Soon however, I would tire of that and turn my attention to the main attraction, the gloriously magnificent stars in the heavens! I learned early on that as I watched other thing at night, the stars would seem to grow brighter and brighter and many more would suddenly seem to start appearing, as if adjusting a light from very dim to dim to bright. All these beautiful celestial objects arrayed themselves from horizon to horizon while twinkling and dotting the inky canvas high above and were always a pleasure and joy to simply study and watch.

In this time period of my life during the sixties in Tennessee, life was blissfully lazy and safe. In our neighborhood, if the weather permitted, our moms would often kick us out of the house in the morning so we kids weren’t in their way as they went about their home-keeping duties, and we would have the day to romp and wander and play, always with one ear cocked, listening for the familiar sound of our mothers calling us home for lunch or supper. I also loved reading in these idyllic years, and ever so often, I might earn a dime or even a quarter to spend on candy or comic books that I could open and escape into far away countries or even space as a superhero or a fearless  adventurer. Usually sprinkled about throughout within the pages of these comics were ads and one of the ads, in particular attracted me, and I was allowed to snip out and write to was an advertisement for the American Seed Company. It just so happened, according to the ad, the American Seed Company would send me seeds to sell at a small profit as well as earning points that were redeemable from their catalog. The more seeds I acquired from them, the more point I accumulated, toward the wonderful prizes they listed in their catalog. Looking though the list of prizes in their big prize book, I quickly spotted what was the best prize of all…a telescope! Oh my…I imagined all the wonderfully, glorious things I could see with that marvelous device!

Momma loaned me the money to get started on this enterprise (15 cents a pack) and when my flower seed packets and the instructions for selling and marketing them arrived, I started canvasing the neighborhood, knocking on doors and touting the beauty of these seeds. I would find myself going back and looking in the prize book at that telescope as I continued to sell my little seed packets, afraid that it would somehow disappear from the pages, for with that telescope, worlds unknown would open up to me and ever-so-more increase my ability to explore the stars. I quickly sold out and ordered more and more seeds and even though it took me all summer, I finally had enough point accumulated to receive what I had been diligently slaving for, the telescope! The telescope ultimately arrived and even though it didn’t quite match the picture from the list, it was still a wonderful thing, for with that small, flimsy paper-tubed telescope, I discovered planets, craters on the moon, moons around Jupiter, Saturn’s rings, the milky way and so, so much more. I would sit or lie out on that picnic table gazing through my telescope and I was instantly out there floating among the stars. I recall staying out there for what seemed like hours evening after evening until Momma would eventually call me back from my adventures to reality, bidding me inside to get ready for bedtime.

Some of those memories came flooding back to me last night as I dutifully went down to the chicken yard located in the field next to the woods of our farm in rural Tennessee to secure the hens in their house. As I started walking back up toward my home, I paused at the edge of the woods in the moonlight and just stood there in the gentle night breeze gazing up and watching the lightning bugs flickering and flashing as they performed for potential mates, attempting to impress them with their aerial phosphorescent displays whilst the clouds and the stars high above were doing a hide and seek dance of their own. After a bit, I continued up toward the house smiling as I remember the old pleasant memories of a childhood long ago and started wondering what ever happened to the little telescope that allowed me to romp among the stars, night after night…

Jim Bussell

7-22-16