It was a chilly November night in southwest Iowa 44 years ago tonight when I came home to find a note on the door. I'd been out of town covering a football game between the Clarinda Cardinals and another team, for the Clarinda Herald-Journal, one of my many duties in my first newspaper job.
Our second child was due, but we thought we'd have a few more days. The child had already been nicknamed "Thumper" for a habit of kicking inside the womb.
When I pulled up at the house after 10 that night, a note from my wife Neysa said she'd gone to the hospital and our oldest son, Vance, then just over two, was at our friends the Negleys.
I sped down the street to check on him, before going to the hospital, and there, sitting around the table with smiles, were both my wife and our friends, enjoying the joke.
But the next day, our second son was born, given the name Travis Austin, the first for a cousin-in-law and the next because, because.
When we brought him home a couple of days later, his brother burst into tears. By Thanksgiving, as we sat down to dinner around a round oak table, with him in a baby seat on another table, he loudly fussed away, until we put him on the main dinner table, meeting his demands to be included. My mother's sister and my favorite Aunt, Sissie, humorously nicknamed him "Lake Travis," for his active bowels.His nephews and nieces call him "Uncle Ta-Ta."
He's always liked to take things apart, and enjoyed marching to his own tune, gaining a snarky and dry Culp sense of humor, and independent Clarkiness. He's come to love basketball, survived ups and downs, become a computer jock, a passionate motorcycle owner and traveler, and a lover of music.
Tomorrow, he'll be 44 years old. It's an always interesting journey.
"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.