I was born August 27, 1956 in Texarkana, Arkansas. Now before you get any ideas, my parents lived on the Texas side of Texarkana; they just went to the hospital on the Arkansas side of town. They did get me to Texas in a few days, and I have been here ever since.
I grew up on a small farm, on the south side of Texarkana, literally in the Sulphur River bottoms. My dad worked an hourly job and my mom, well, she was my mom. Always cooking, always cleaning, always doing the things that moms did back in those days. My parents did not receive much formal education, but they knew an awful lot. I guess you could call it common sense. I had one brother and one sister, but they were pretty much grown by the time I was old enough to remember anything.
You’ve probably figured out by now that we grew up pretty poor. But I’m not sure we realized it. I look back now and I know it was pretty rough, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We heated the house with a wood heater, we did all our farming with horses or mules, and we didn’t even have running water in the house until I was about seven years old. Even up until the time I left home for college, we did not have any hot water in the house. My dad didn’t like those hot water tanks and he was afraid they might blow up, so we didn’t have one. Wow, the memories that brings back.
I will always remember my mom stressing how important an education would be to me, how it would allow me to live an easier life than they had lived, and how it would open doors to do other things. And she was right. My mom never allowed me to ignore my education and in May 1974, I became the first person in my family to graduate from high school. I will never forget the happiness in my mom’s face when the ceremony was over and I handed her my diploma. There is just something about seeing your children be successful that cannot be explained, and you can only understand it once you have experienced it.
Throughout my years as an educator, I have always tried to remember where I came from and what it took to get me where I am today. I had many people in my life that encouraged me and kept me going. I can only hope that I have returned that favor by encouraging a few students along the way and helping them pursue their dreams.