Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Self-made Man

Let me tell you about my husband and why I'm so proud to be his wife.  But first  a little background.  Jack's mother, to me anyway, is not the most self-assured person, though as a young girl she seemed to be.  She left home an went all the way to Calif. on her own where she met a Marine and they decided to get married.  We even have the papers they filled out, but he was shipped out before it took place.  Though a few letters were received from him, he couldn't tell his where abouts, then they stopped coming.  Home to her family she came, pregnant and I'm sure feeling shame.  In those days you didn't do such things.  She gave him, his fathers name and raised him with the help of family until he was four when she married.

Now to the step-father and possible more reason for her lack of confidence.  Raymond was a big man, 6'2" or better and over 200lbs.  He was hard man and definitely didn't believe in sparing the rod.  Jack is a natural left-hander which would set Raymond off immediately.  One of those who believed the left hand was the sign of the devil.  He would beat Jack everytime he caught him using it.  Now I should say Jack didn't always help matters by reminding him at these times that he was NOT his father.  He beat Jack so bad one time a neighbor finally stepped in (you didn't do that back then either) and threaten give twice what he handed out to the boy.  Raymond was a lazy guy who always looked dirty and greasy to me. One that didn't hold down a job and they moved constantly, causing Jack to change schools often. He had to repeat both 1st and 2nd grades.  To make matters worse all Raymonds and Dolly's kids were girls.  He was so bad even his girls told their mother that if she didn't get rid of them they were leaving too. 

The Thanksgiving when Darla was 2 weeks old when tried the family thing on his side.  Now you must know Raymond made my skin crawl so this was quite the chore for me.  He picked up and held Darla and I had all I could do to keep my mouth shut.  The poor child suffered for this, because as soon as we were home I stripped her down, scrubbed her good, and burned the clothes she wore.  That tells what I thought of him.

When Jack finished the ninth grade he left home for the summer to stay with his grandmother and told his mother we wasn't ever coming back.  He didn't and I think she may have taken a few beathings herself for not forcing him too. The school he was going to was more geared to a kid planning on college and Jack knew he didn't have the resoursces or grades for that.  Though he was, by no means, lacking in intelligence.  So he left and went to school where I did, where he could learn skill that would help him get a job.  He learned printing (which is a lost art now) and of course there was auto-mechanics. 

We married after he graduated (I graduated a year earlier) which was 2 years later than he should have if they hadn't moved so much.  He was make $45 a week at a local print shop and I was working at the Admiral corp.  He went to tech school to learn welding and then he left the print shop and went to work for Beloit Corp. which made printing machines.  He worked his way into better jobs like fixing them for customers if something went wrong. 

There was an opening on the local fire dept. and he applied and got the job.  It was the job he loved the most and the one that gave him the the shaft.  The man he was stationed with was (to my way of thinking) was a snob.  If you didn't live in the right place you didn't belong and this man became Chief.  The township had to cut back at that time, closed one station and laid off 2 men.  Both were from our neighborhood and, of course Jack was one.  Did he let that keep him away? No, he stayed as a volunteer (paid-on-call now), and that man had to see him at every call.  Jack went to more schooling and became an EMT. 

But what did he do for regular employment?  He took a job as a custodian for the local school district.  The boss there saw potential and made him the district maintenance man.  That added to his schooling as he went and learned, plumbing, electrical, boiler maintenance, abestos removal, floor care etc.  He has degrees in each and every one.  A 3-ring binder full of them.  He eventually move to another school district with a retirement plan from which he finally retired.

He loved clowns and decided one hobby would be one and joined 'Cousin's Otto's Clown Ally', even recuiting Darla who was a 8 yr. old.  They marched in the Circus Parade in Milwaukee and she being so little was the one the kids weren't afraid of. 

We had 2 boys so he became a scout leader learning and teaching the skills they need.  This helping in his yearly trips with the science schools he still does.

This became a little long, but you can see why I feel so proud to be his wife and why my kids are so quick to let people know who their dad is and how much they love him. 


  1. Terry, I'm proud too. And there is no one more sincere than I am right this minute in time when I say it. If I was there, I would embarrass you by giving you (and Jack too if he's let me) a fierce hug. I too know what dysfunctional family life when a child is, though I don't talk about it much, and I appreciate with every heartbeat what Jack went through though my story is different.

    Much love to all of you and no wonder I am so genuinely fond of you all.

  2. This is a beautiful post Terry. You and Jack are both so lucky, he to have found you, and you for being such a devoted companion. May you continue to have many happy years with this wonderful guy!

  3. I like so many others know what a dysfunctional family is. I'm sure you know what a jewel you have in Jack. He is a fine example of being a husband and Dad.
    I wish you many happy years together.

  4. I love the stories like this that aren't just inspirational but true! Never give up, never quit! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  5. I'm sitting here with a great big smile on my face, Terry.

    First of all, thank you for starting my day off on such a positive note; I've been pretty caught up in the bad stuff going on in the US now, and I forget sometimes how many good people there are in the world. Your husband is one of them (so is mine).

    To be married to a good man is a wonderful thing--in him you have a wonderful friend and companion, and someone who can really share the life journey with you; I'm so happy you have such a man in your life.

    For a person to overcome such harshness in his life is a testament to the man. I guess the Lord figured Jack deserved a little goodness in his life after all the bad.

    So, God sent him you.

    May He continue to bless you both, Terry.

  6. Very enjoyable read! He is one of those folks that "got lemons and made lemonade".
    He is a good example of the American Spirit.

  7. I loved reading this !! Dysfunctional would be a nic sentiment to my childhood ! It is great to see that he used that experience to be a better person and great parent, not all do. Of course he also had a wonderful lady by his side all those years, the two of u r very blessed and its wonderful to read just how much you love and respect him...I would say you are both lucky to have each other !!!

  8. Bravo Terry! We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.. and we are all imperfect with not so perfect lives (past & present).
    Jack is a survivor in many ways and he has a lot of wisdom and experience to pass on to many people… young and old if given the opportunity. There’s no doubt that the two of you make an awesome couple. I am sure that if Jack was to read this, he would be quite proud of you, his darling wife, as I am sure that he could write plenty of good things about you! Cheers to Jack… to you… to you two as a couple and to your extended family!