About the Author

"Failure to face our environmental mistakes perpetuates them."

  • BBA from University of Texas at Arlington
  • Biology major first 2 years
  • Former “Big 4” CPA with Deloitte-Touche and Price Waterhouse
  • Member of Occidental Chemicals task force on groundwater contamination
  • Former CFO - Agribusiness and Advertising
  • Former multinational Treasury Analyst at Texas Instruments
  • Independent business consultant/business process analyst
  • Thirteen-year resident of Alameda
  • Vietnam-era Marine Corps veteran
  • Writer, naturalist and amateur wildlife photographer

Marine Corps boot camp was easy after growing up at a Texas orphanage where I avoided beatings by hiding in a corner and reading books. Now I write about those times. My heroes are orphans and the generous few who make our journey into adulthood less difficult. The nine years I spent at the Tarrant County Children's Home during the 1950s and '60s are the focus of my current coming-of-age memoir as told by my sixteen-year-old self.
I write full-time and have been gathering material for decades, generating ten or twelve stories and chapters originally intended as a novel. But I have changed course and am rewriting as a memoir depicting the naked truth of orphanage life and the circumstances that make such places necessary, even vital to society. Some of my memories are painful, even grisly, but they will shed light on homelessness, reproductive rights and the value of public education and welfare. Yet many of my experiences are loaded with fun and adventure.

Shall we allow the popular conception of the American orphan to be defined by the likes of Li’l Orphan Annie, a Depression-era propaganda caricature intended to alleviate America’s collective guilt? Don’t worry about the poor kids raised in institutions or in foster care as gypsy second-class tenants. They’ll be fine. Look at Batman. Look at Will Hunting. (And please, do not mention Harry Potter in my presence.) No, we do not become superheroes or geniuses hounded by job offers when we turn twenty-one. Dickens lied. The vast majority of us do not get taken in by loving families or under wing by wealthy benefactors. We make it on our own. We learn by trial and error. We make a lot of mistakes—fodder for interesting stories.

In my story, ingredients of human character are laid bare. I throw light on the true realities of how children without parents make their way into adulthood. We mature outside the umbrella and limiting perceptions of protective parents. Our imaginations are more likely to survive adolescence intact. Our moral fiber is shaped and tempered by trauma and adversity in unpredictable ways that redefine Free Will and can make us appear indestructible. Many of us learn to function routinely at a superhuman level for long periods of time. And sometimes we crash.

My goal is not a dry sociological treatise but a memoir that reads like a novel, a work of literary art accessible to the widest possible audience. I draw from a wealth of personal experience and research material that includes over 400 period photographs of my cohorts and the orphanage campus, a roster of my dorm mates handwritten by my matron, an extensive genealogy and a precious few family photos.

I've completed over 30 hours of college coursework in creative writing and at least that in related workshops. But I learned the most by studying great literature, engaging in on-line literary discussions and publishing on-line literary analysis. Four years ago I had a near-fatal nervous collapse from too many years of delving too deeply into painful memories. I bounced back tempered, not weakened, and more determined than ever to give voice to my corner of the orphan world.

This memoir will be my magnum opus, my reason for being. If I fail, the suffering I have witnessed and experienced will be wasted. I cannot allow that to happen.

In 2016 I relocated to Tigard from Northern California where I had a career in corporate finance from 1978 to 2016 after practicing as a CPA in Texas. In the Bay Area I advocated for Seabirds and fair housing. My BBA is from the University of Texas at Arlington, where I first majored in biology. My stories and poems have been published in college literary magazines such as Forum Magazine and the on-line journal, Synchronized Chaos.

Favorite line: A boy unloved by his mother becomes a Pinocchio. With luck, he learns to be his own Geppetto.

Favorite Goodreads Post:
Jason: "Slow down, my friend."
Me: "I'm just getting warmed up. Everybody needs to understand that any time someone disparages John Steinbeck or something he wrote they're going to have my pen to answer to. That's just how it is. Think of me as Tom Joad; where there's someone being bullied or taken advantage of or a kid going hungry, I'll be there."

Favorite Quotes:
"Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you. For you is the phenomenon perfect. What we are, that only can we see. All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do. Adam called his house, heaven and earth; Caesar called his house, Rome; you perhaps call yours, a cobler's trade; a hundred acres of ploughed land; or a scholar's garret. Yet line for line and point for point, your dominion is as great as theirs, though without fine names. Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform you life to the pure idea in your mind, that [world] will unfold its great proportions.

...The sordor and filths of nature, the sun shall dry up, and the wind exhale. As when the summer comes from the south; the snow-banks melt, and the face of the earth becomes green before it, so shall the advancing spirit create its ornaments along its path, and carry with it the beauty it visits, and the song which enchants it; it shall draw beautiful faces, warm hearts, wise discourse, and heroic acts, around its way, until evil is no more seen.” 
—R.W. Emerson ("Nature")

“Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.”
― George Orwell, 1984

"This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."
--Will Shakespeare -Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 

Favorite Scripture:
Matthew 25:40: "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
--(Revised Standard ed.)

[The Free Will Injunction.] Genesis 4:7: "If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door; and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it."
--(Jewish Publication Society Bible)

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I saw your comment on the Post News article about the proposal to declare a Housing Emergency in Oakland, and was curious if you would be willing to share more info about how this did not work in Alameda. I am working with a group of middle schoolers interested in how to get more affordable housing in Oakland and we are trying to see multiple sides to this issue.
    Thank you so much!


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