First Chapter

Article Outline

First Chapter

Looking back over my life, my grandfather Clyde had the biggest influence over me, to some people's dismay I'm sure. Notably, my dad and aunt Roz, who both had issues with him. He was a driven, focused, super-intelligent man, who worked very hard to make a good living for his family. He was very successful by getting into the retail furniture business and selling them. He gave himself a hernia at a very young age working in his stores moving furniture around. He was a small man, about 5 foot 5 I'd guess, and he sort of had a small-man's syndrome.Although he enjoyed hanging around other men much bigger than he was. I'd go golfing with him and his friends (to drive the cart or just tag along; I rarely played with the adults) in some cases were like inebackers. 6 foot 6 powerful businessmen. He hung out with Vic Kiam, who used to own the New England Patriots and was on a famous commercial talking about how he liked Remington electric razors so much, he bought the company! If I don't get a link to that, a Youtube search will show what I'm talking about.

He was from a big family, moved to the US when he was very little to NC, to a farm area that I visited in the late 1990's with my dad on the way back from UVa. I went up there w ith him to get checked out re: his liver transplant. He had a hard childhood, as did most kids those days, and a lot of his life was private. No one knew much about him. I probably knew as much or more than anyone up to a point in his health where he couldn't really communicate and was married to Pat, his 2nd wife and nurse. A fine woman who helped Grandaddy tremendously. And was well-compensated for it. Which she promptly lost.

He went to the University of Georgia for college, a fact I didn't know until after I applied and was fortunately still admitted. Sort of like majoring in English and not learning my mother did the same at Converse. Or my uncle Cokey was a KA like me at Emory University in Atlanta. Interesting phenomenon.

He worked in the military doing Navy intelligence for a couple of years and was over in Brunswick, Ga working on a ship. I would end up living down the road from Brunswick later in life. My mother was born in Brunswick on Jan. 19 1945. After that, my grandparents moved to Albany, where they had Roz. Albany was where everyone in the family grew up. Uncle Ken still lives there with his 2nd wife Phiney. His first wife, Marjorie (Sister) Miller lives there as well, and was married to uncle Ken up until I was about 10. They had 1 child, Misty, who lives in Vernon, NJ with her family. They're a whole chapter thanks to my dad. Probably would be whole topic for a therapist as well.

Grandaddy was married to Louise, maiden name Belk. Her family was from Wales, and she had the white skin to prove it. She never liked me and showed it, especially when others weren't around. She was pretty mean, but I don't know if I blame her. Maybe I do...I don't know. I don't know all the details, but they had their marriage problems. They stayed together despte them, and Grandmama even going up and staying in the beach house in Alligator Point, FL for a while, aka "separated." She eventually returned, but nothing would ever be the same after that. I think she may have had an affair - she dyed her pair blonde, and was still pretty young. I also think that was the summer my uncle Cokey lost his virginity to Sister's mother Jane Miller, just to blow people's minds.

Grandaddy retired when he was 27 years old and retired well. It seemed normal to me, but now of course I know he was pretty wealthy. He was responsible for the way I am and who I am. That includes seeming snobby to some people, which comes from hanging out at country clubs, vacation homes, yachts, everything private and around loaded old men all the time who were far wealthier than my Grandfather. Like Vic Kiam. Of course my life is much different as an adult.

Money played a big part in his life, and as a result it has mine. Casey is totally different, and her upbringing couldn't have been any different. It was the opposite in nearly every way in fact. There will be a chapter on it in this book also. It was a thorny issue growing up, especially with my dad and his attitude toward it.

I spent every Summer with my grandparents in New Hampshire on Lake Winnepesaukee in Wolfeboro, the oldest resort in America. And A millionaire's playground. Very cool old lake houses with wooden Chris Crafts in every boat house and dock. Picturesque. Thanks to Grandaddy, a lot of my life has been picturesque. Whether that's the work value he instilled in me that makes me persistent enough to keep at it until I get what I want or die trying, or he supplied the money for me to enjoy the best, like going to Woodberry Forest. If anyone ever challenges you on that claim, ask them if Exeter has a golf course on campus? No? Then shut up.