Tag Archives: autobiography

Clubius Contained Part 2 – President (October 1960)

It was a new month, October, when mom said the leaves on a lot of the trees would be changing colors and then falling off onto the ground. I was now walking to school by myself and I had to walk through the leaves on the other side of the park under the trees and then down that “Fifth” street after the park that went straight down to my regular school.

School was okay so far because the teacher really liked me and I was learning how to read really quickly and could even sort of read those “Doctor Seuss” books without anyone helping me. The books I really wanted to read were the ones in dad’s office, like those big red war books. Also the school had its own “library” with books that were easy for kids to read. I also had three new friends, Gabe, Jake and Amanda. One of them was even a girl, but I don’t think she was a “Tomboy” like Molly, because she always wore dresses to school and she thought that boys were “weird”. That was the word she used when she thought something was strange or didn’t make sense. Even though Gabe, Jake and I were boys, and “weird” I guess, she said we weren’t “dumb” like other boys, or “silly” like other girls.

Continue reading →

Clubius Contained Part 1 – Regular School (September 1960)

Me age 5 & Bach School circa 1960

Mom and I were sitting in one of those “office” places, like dad’s in the basement. But this one was in this regular school place called “Bach School” (pronounced like “Baugh”). I was supposed to go to school here, but mom and the other grownups here had to figure out whether I was going to be in “kindergarten” or “first grade”.

This older woman with black hair all piled up on her head sitting behind a big desk said to mom, “The score on Jonathan’s Weschler IQ test is sufficient for us to consider starting him in first grade instead of kindergarten.”

“Good” mom said nodding, “He is a very bright kid. I think he would be bored to death in kindergarten.”

Continue reading →

Why I Write

My passport photo right around my 15th birthday in 1970

I continue to podcast chapters of my autobiographical novel based on my odyssey backpacking through Western Europe in 1973 at age 18. There appear to be at least a handful of people who are listening to all or some of the episodes, and occasionally I get at least a bit of feedback. Even one or two positive comments are very helpful feedback that I’m on the right track with this.

Continue reading →

Introducing my Two Inch Heels Podcast!

Hey all… I’ve just posted the first nine podcast episodes of my autobiographical novel Two Inch Heels, about backpacking through Europe for 11 weeks in the fall of 1973 at age 18.

That said, having recorded and wrestled with the editing process of the first ten chapters, I am finding that an audio reading of my work is a challenging and humbling process. Challenging in that my voice these days tends to get hoarse and navigating my long sentences often causes me to stumble over words or struggle to render clauses in particularly long sentences correctly. Humbling because those stumbles often indicate my prose could be rendered better, plus that reading for an audience is a real skill that I have not fully developed yet!

Please have a listen, when you get a chance, and give me feedback. I’ve posted the introduction and 8 chapters so for, with more coming. Thank all of you for your continuing support!

To listen to the audio version of this introduction, either go to Apple Podcasts and search for “Two Inch Heels” , or click this link.

Two Inch Heels Part 3 – Angie

[This is part of a rewrite in August of 2021 of my autobiographical novel “Two Inch Heels”. It is the second half of what used to be “Part 1 – Angie”]

The next morning was Friday September 21, and after breakfast with the Clays, we said our goodbyes, repacked our backpacks, and Bill drove us back to the Oxford bus station. We were catching the bus to Salisbury, which had been on our planned itinerary. Angie wanted to see Stonehenge. I had seen it, three years ago, but was happy to go again to a place of great gravity and historical significance. There was also an official youth hostel in Salisbury, and we had called ahead and confirmed it was open and should be able to accommodate us.

Continue reading →

Two Inch Heels Part 45 – Home

It was still Tuesday December 11 and I sat in the front passenger seat of our old Buick Skylark that my mom was driving home from Detroit Metro airport. My brother was in the back seat and my backpack was stowed in the trunk. The car was technically mine, given to me by my grandfather, my mom’s dad, but was now our family’s only car. Her ‘old banger’ of a car finally died a year ago and was sold for parts for fifty bucks and hauled off by a tow truck. She did not have the money to buy even another used one. She at least, while I was gone, was paying the insurance, the gas, and what little maintenance it got.

It was dark already so it was hard to make anything out. I-94 from Detroit to Ann Arbor was familiar to me, having driven into Detroit and back, maybe a dozen times or so in the past few years, mainly to go to the airport or to see a Detroit Tiger baseball game. Particularly when we got near the big auto plant outside Ypsilanti, all lit up just off the freeway, I knew I was getting into familiar territory and close to home. I felt really tired, my day having started fifteen hours ago after little sleep, and since then the four Chivas on the rocks. My mom got a kick out of it when I told her what I had drunk on the plane, commenting that I had become a “sophisticated drinker”, though I did not tell her how much I had drunk.

Continue reading →

Two Inch Heels Part 44 – The Coopster

It was Tuesday morning December 11, 1973. I awoke with a start, Kevin calling my name, and it barely felt like I had slept at all. My mind had buzzed late into the night with anticipation, it being my last night after eleven weeks in Europe. It was nearly six o’clock and I had a 7:15 AM bus from the downtown Oxford bus station to the London Victoria Coach Station. From there a walk across the street to the BOAC office where I would check my backpack and take another bus to Heathrow for my 11:15 AM flight nonstop to Detroit. Kevin had volunteered to drive me into town.

My last two days had been pretty mellow, just hanging out here at the Clay’s with whoever was home. That is except for a trip to the village pub last night with Kevin, Madge, Bill, and Nana, where they took turns treating me to pints of Watney’s for my final sendoff, each with a toast. Kate was out studying with her friends. Before heading out she had found a moment with me when the others were out of earshot to say goodbye and say that Mackenzie wanted her to pass on a big thank you to “her cousin Spike”.

Continue reading →

Two Inch Heels Part 43 – Kate & Company

It was a chilly overcast Saturday afternoon December 8 as Kate Clay and I walked down Manor Farm Road from her family’s house towards Horspath village’s little bus stop at the bottom of the hill. She had invited me to join her and her “mates” who were going to see the new movie version of the musical Godspell, showing at a theater in downtown Oxford.

I remembered Kate from that summer three years ago when she was just thirteen. She was extremely shy, and had not interacted with me, my brother, or my mom very much. Now at sixteen she seemed to have come out of that shell, though still more reserved than her gregarious older brother. She had a look about her that was quite distinctive, with straight brown hair cut short on top and behind the ears in back, but with long bangs tumbling over her forehead and even longer on each temple down in front of her ears. Shy and cerebral like me, she had a thing where she would look down when she was thinking, her hair hanging down obscuring her eyes and nose, then bring her head up and flip her bangs to the side revealing her big eyes when she was finally ready to share her thoughts. More so than me, her brother or her parents, she seemed to have a real fashion sense about her, always dressed with thought when I had seen her. Today she was wearing a knee-length camel colored wool coat, fake-fur trimmed black gloves, brown and gold plaid knee socks rising above tall shiny black boots with platform heels an inch higher than mine. With my own big ‘fro’d hair, charcoal colored flared slacks, and two-tone suede heels (a bit worse for wear after ten weeks of way more use than I had imagined when I brought them) we would have looked the part of a trendy young couple. That is except for my bright orange down jacket (certainly a bit on the dirty side as well from so much use) that clashed with the rest of my attire, certainly not the least bit fashionable.

Continue reading →

Two Inch Heels Part 42 – The Clays

Spring Lane in HorspathIt was Saturday December 8th and I woke up in the rollaway bed in Kevin Clay’s bedroom at his family’s house in Horspath outside Oxford. I had gotten in last night around ten o’clock and Madge, Kevin’s mom, had made up that bed with fresh linens, rather than having to use my sleeping bag. Good thing, because I had noted that final morning at the youth hostel in Amsterdam when I had last rolled my bag up, that it really smelled of ten weeks of my sweat. Not so noticeable in a big male bunkroom where your nose kind of expected a bit of that reek. Plus the pervasive smell of hashish also kind of masked it. Of course, after those three days lying open on my bunk, with all that burnt hashish in the air, I’m sure my bag was now imbued with that scent as well. But here in this clean well kept house, it’s odor would probably be more noticeable, so best not to have to unroll it. When Angie and I had been here back in September and I used it to sleep on the living room floor with Kevin, it had been all fresh and clean and never used before.

Continue reading →

Two Inch Heels Part 41 – London

It was Friday December 7th and I sat in the friendly confines of the American Express office in London. I still had a bit of post nasal drip, but was definitely and thankfully getting over my cold. The place was full of people including some of my backpacker ilk, though there were no VW vans being sold out front or hashish being sold in the bathrooms like in the Amsterdam office. In just four days I would be on the plane back to the States.

Ceil had driven me back to the little Manningtree station this morning with still snot-nosed Rebecca in tow. But the wildly precocious two-and-a-half year old had been full of energy and interest in everything. Rather than stay in her seat in the back of the car where she was too short to see much of anything out the windows, she would stand just behind and between Ceil and I in our front seats, and from that vantage see everything we could see out the car windows. She had learned to say, “What’s that?”, and fired off the question several times a minute for the entirety of the ten minute drive to the station. Between Ceil and I we had identified and explained to her trucks, tractors, traffic lights, bicycles, barns, even a small plane up in the sky, and of course the little station once we finally got there.

Continue reading →