Summer 1966


That’s me on the left.

Based on this photo, I could tell you a story of my early years of poverty and deprivation growing up in rural Southeastern Oklahoma. Of cultural backwardness and intellectual malnourishment. I could tell you such a story but, despite what the picture above suggests, it wouldn’t be true.

No, pictures don’t always tell the truth. And this frozen Kodachrome moment tells a whopper.

That’s my little brother and I (4 and 6) having the time of our lives in the Summer of 1966. Both Mom and Dad were college professors. And this Summer, we spent six weeks living in this cabin on Lake Texoma as Dad–a biology teacher–did research for a paper he was writing on some obscure species of sand wasps.

He spent each day sitting in a lawn chair with a legal pad in his lap, logging the comings and goings of little wasps. Meanwhile, my brother and I–perpetually shirtless, shoeless, and careless–lived liked two wild men of Borneo, swimming, fishing, tree climbing and whatever else we jolly well pleased.

As I look at this picture now through the eyes of a husband, I have to wonder how good a time my Mom was having during those six weeks. That cabin didn’t have much more than running water. And a quick check of NOAA’s historical weather data shows that the temps in July of ’66 were way above normal. I suspect most of the cooking was done outside on that little charcoal grill because it was simply too hot to consider cooking anything indoors.

Two years later Mom would get to build her dream home. And over the 10 years that followed my brother and I would do our best to destroy it with the help of two sisters who would come along eventually. There would be piano lessons, drama workshops, science fairs, and reading of all the right books.

But for part of one hot summer, we all lived like depression-era sharecroppers. And that was all right by me.