AIT Graduation Day at Fort Polk. Louisiana, USA

New ID Photo August '71

New Army ID Photo August '71, Fort Benning, Georgia, USA

Letter from home, March '72 - Bien Hoa, RVN

I have been told that all successful artists have an "About" page on their websites.  Seems all so "me-ish" to me, but, that's me, normal in other words, for me.  I don't do "me" in terms of how others see me so I don't think of such things.  I'm also certain this is a constant barb in the posteriors of those who love me...and yet, here I stand, resolutely me.

So, in the interest of behaving like a successful artist, let's get on with this "About Me" thing. ;~)

"Me" began in a small hamlet in the quaint township of Old Boston.  Ahem!  Just kidding.  I grew up on the mean streets of new Boston in the 50s with a gazillion other kids born to hard working post WWII lower middle class folks.  Jamaica Plain...JP was my hood.  I had half a gazillion cousins whose families were spread all over New England and starting to show our roaming tendencies with some heading for New York and as far away as Texas and even exotic California.  I would join them after I wasn't just a "me" anymore and move west myself.  But not before some trials and errors...oh, the errors!!!

September 6th, 1951.  Nothing exciting happened this day.  I checked.  A novelist was born.  A jurist died.  The Sox had the day off.  Then there was "me", the subject of this "about".  (Side note: Is it strange that we refer to this "about" as a "thing"?  Wasn't about just a word at some point?  Never mind...its probably just me again).  This is my birthdate. 09061951. The one number sequence I still remember (aside from my SSN).  Well, that and my paternal grandfather's phone number for some reason.  I still remember Grampa's phone #, PA9-0193.  I'm thinking my aunts taught me the number so I'd know someone to call in an emergency.  We didn't always have a phone in my house but someone in the neighborhood would surely have one of those new fangled "party-lines", usually, and the corner drug store with it's Pay-phone booth was only a hard 5 minute run away...if you only had a dime.

I never met all my grandparents.  My father's mom and my mother's dad had both passed before I was born.  I heard that both were larger than life kind of characters, especially my dad's mom Julia; an Irish lass whose history somehow stopped at Galway port in 1906 when as a teenager she started her journey west to the promised land as an indentured servant where she met her Lancelot, Frank Hurder the Ice Man, my grandfather.  Those two, my paternal grandparents, had more influence on our family than my mom's did, as I recall.  At least early on that was the case.  I think it was a religious thing.  The Hurder's were died in sackcloth Catholics.  The Hurlburt's weren't.  The Hurder's would have it no other way.  ALL Hurder children would be brought up Catholic.  End of story!  In the name of the father, and the son...

Once Julia Hurder was gone though, grandpa seemed to lose interest and the family went to hell!  Ha!  If family ever does see this, boy will TSHTF!  Truth be told, we Jamaica Plain Hurders were the worst of the lot (damn city scum) and that wasn't so terrible compared to what I've seen over the years.  I can proudly say, though, that at least the religious hypocrisy stopped with the last three siblings in my family.  Saints we aint and never we was!  Even now, the three of us left, know our place.  We are passing too soon, though...with fences still to mend. 
EDIT: There are just two now.  Dennis in Maine and I in California.  The two most alike and yet so far apart.  As to the others, fences were not mended...the past's ugliness remains.

Not to leave out the other side of the family; nana Hurlburt ruled with an iron rolling pin for as long as she was least with me and my brothers, she did.  The Hurlburts hailed from Nova Scotia.  A little town called Windsor Forks in Halifax...farmland.  Nana had to be tough coming from farmer stock out of that harsh northeast climate.  Somewhere in that lineage there was a Mayor of Windsor Forks (a "Benedict" and my nana's dad I believe) who once greeted the Queen of England and if my memory doesn't betray, my mom was supposed to present her with a bouquet, but at the very last second, she chickened out and ran away.  Honestly, if true, this would explain a lot!!!!!

I was the last of five children.  I am the spitting image of my father, but with terrible eyesight and I got Hurlburt hair instead of my dad's monk like bald spot.  In that respect, I look like my uncle Bob Hurlburt with his silvery grey hair right up to the end...well, I hope anyway.  ;~)  Handsome devil he was, even If I do say so myself.  I'm 5'6" and when I was at my best I weighed in at hard muscled and harder boned 145 - 150.  I could fight with the best of them and run all day long.  (I topple the scale at 170 if I hang half a leg off the side now...ugh!)  I absolutely inherited my dad's propensity towards fighting and anger in general. I was and to some degree still am a power-packed mini Mack, if you will.  A diplomat I am not.  My mouth goes on automatic the very second I'm offended...and a lot offends me today.

I had more friends and cousins growing up than I can count.  Both sides of the family were quite prolific and it seemed like all families had five kids at least.  The funny part was that my dad's side had almost exclusively boy kids and my mom's side was almost all girls.  I remember thinking before family outings, 'Oh cool.  Uncle Jimmy's house.  Baseball with Jimmy Jr. and Joey.'  or, 'Ah nuts!  Uncle John's house and all those girls.  What are they gonna make me do this time?'  Then, "Moo-oooooom?  Do I have to play with the girls?  Can we bring the dog?  Can I bring my bike?"  "SHUDDUP MYKA!" came the below from the front seat.

No offense to my newly re-found and favorite cousins.  Remember, Rose, you told me to do this!!! ;~)

As a youth, if we weren't visiting family, I spent my spare time playing Army, baseball for 50 innings at a time (games lasted all weekend long sometimes), football or hockey at three in the morning on a fine four degree February workday, and it was all wonderful.  Anyone who hasn't done these things, well, you aint lived yet...said no parent EVER!  And yes, we absolutely walked to school in knee deep snow drifts, up hill both ways.  I have no complaints with my youth.  No family or person for that matter is perfect.  We all have spots.  Mine was a nondescript upbringing with highs and lows like every one else's.  My folks did as well as anyone else's folks did and just as bad at times.  I had chances and choices I squandered and some that were taken away.  It's called life, oddly enough, even when you don't get to live it your way.

My way would have been as a flyer.  From the time I could first watch those old action movies about heroic flying men I wanted to be one and planned on it.  When it came time, I went to every recruiter there was but walked away with no joy.  Too short, bad eyesight and no college...strike three you're out, kid!  UGH!  This was as big a crushing blow as not making it onto the Red Sox Little League team in sixth grade.  Humiliation!  Abandonment!  Lost!  Forever!  Until I got drafted about a year later and went to war as a ground pounder instead of a fly guy.  That was okay though in the end.  I met my other best-friends-ever while serving and one in particular that'll be with me everyday 'til I join him on the other side of Rainbow Bridge.  My war dog, Prince, 16x5; but that's another story.  He got me though that one.  It was the aftermath that was the real test.  It took another lifelong friend to get me past that.

Coming home wasn't a homecoming at all.  It was a disaster.  I'd never met anyone who hated me face to face before then.  Even in the Nam, the enemy wasn't in my face.  He was an elusive wraith.  When I came home my own countrymen wanted my blood and threw bags of dog shit at me.  At first I lashed out.  When it became apparent I would not survive this environment, I went underground for  a while.  I was angry and stayed that way but I learned to quash it.  Jail scared me!  There wasn't much going on for me for a while and if I hadn't found love, somehow, or it found me, I might still be under.  I did fall in love though, with the only real "lifelong" friend I've ever had, even if it did take a miracle.  Her name is Donna and as I've said repeatedly, she saved me from me.  She still is.  Thank you, dear.  Yes dear, I'll take the dogs for a walk, now.

I, we live and we've thrived.  I'm retired as is Donna.  We have been blessed with three incredible children who have their own families now and they have re-blessed us with three of the most awesome grandchildren far!  Hint, hint!

My passion after family is in image making.  I hope to nibble someday at the prowess Adams had with light and glass and film.  I have learned to see a little bit, and will, I hope continue to do so.

"To see we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at". - Claude Monet

And so, to show you...I click, click, click.

Grumpy old grandpa, March 2019.

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