In the sixteenth century, the first of my line in the New World landed at Isle of Wight from Ingatestone, England, a lovely little village in Essex about 35 miles northeast of London, where Queen Elizabeth I used to find respite from her royal duties. Over the centuries, the family spread throughout the colonies, mostly accumulating in the Carolinas. We were once rich with land; hundreds of acres, the records say. We were even believed to have owned an island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Bodie Island, where a 160-foot, working lighthouse still stands.
My family’s tie to the Carolinas lasted until the 1950s when my late grandfather moved south. A man who worked many jobs in seemingly unrelated fields, he found himself in Florida, where accounting and finance seemed to stick. In fact, he would go on to retire from USF after over 20 years with the institution.
My father was born a child of post-World-War America, with fond memories of Howdy Doody and days spent at the ball field, getting the autographs of greats like Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra when they came to Florida for spring training. Youth didn’t spring eternal, however, and a cheery childhood turned into the horrors of the Vietnam War. This embattled Southeast Asian country became my father’s tour of duty, a short one that would end with shrapnel and an ultimate honorable discharge as a wounded veteran.
I was born in the midst of Watergate, when a Quaker pianist somehow ran the protectorate of the world. I am an Xer by birth, but my childhood was anything but an environment of Life After God. Rather, it was filled with structure: uniforms of corduroy and un-emblazoned shirts (tartan jumpers for the girls); collar-line hair; and avoidance of card games, R-rated movies, and alcohol. After thirteen years at one private school, I graduated with some decent memories, a few lasting friendships, and loyalty to a family faith-tradition traced as far back as the Spanish Armada, at least as loyal as an adolescent could be when his goal in life is to become a rock-and-roll drummer.
Music guided my academic career, leading me not directly to studies in music but to the Mass Communications department at University of South Florida, where I earned a Bachelor's in broadcast programming and production with hopes of being a radio music director. My love for the lyrical end of music also stimulated my interest in poetry and prose, and therefore literature and writing became my academic minor. Eventually, my passion for the written word won out over music and became the impetus for a career in corporate communications and a Master's in Library and Information Science followed by what is now my current position as a administrator, librarian and professor at a Florida college.