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.  It seems all so "me-ish" to me, but that's me, normal in other words, for me.  I don't do "me" regarding how others see me, so I don't think of such things.  I'm also sure this is a constant barb in the posteriors of those who love me, and yet, here I stand, firmly 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 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 started to show our roaming tendencies. Some were 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, was the day.  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. It's 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 think 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 indeed have one of those new-fangled "party-lines," usually, and the corner drug store with its Pay-phone booth was only a hard five-minute run away...if you had a dime to spare.

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.  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.  There she met her Lancelot, Frank Hurder the Ice Man, my grandfather.  As I recall, those two, my paternal grandparents, had more influence on our family than my mom's family did.  At least early on, that was the case.  It was a religious thing.  The Hurder's were dyed in sackcloth Catholics.  The Hurlburt's weren't, and 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, etc.

Once Julia Hurder was gone, grandpa seemed to lose interest, and the family went to hell!  Ha!  If the family ever does see this, oh boy, will TSHTF! 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 are not, and never we were!  Even now, the three remaining siblings know our place.  We are passing too soon, though, with fences still to mend. 
EDIT: There are just two now.  Dennis is in Maine, and I live in California.  The two who are most alike, and yet we are so far apart.  As to the others, we did not mend those fences.  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 around, at least where my brothers and I were concerned, she did.  The Hurlburts hailed from Nova Scotia.  A tiny farming town called Windsor Forks in Halifax.  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. 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.  I was blessed with 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.  I hope to follow suit in that regard.  ;~)  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 a 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 190 if I hang half a leg off the side now. Ugh!)  I 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 could 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.

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

I spent my spare time playing Army, baseball, football, or hockey at three in the morning.  Anyone who hasn't done these things, well, you haven't lived yet.  And yes, we walked to school in knee-deep snowdrifts, uphill both ways.  I have no complaints about 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 everyone 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 were taken away because of the bad decisions I made.  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.  When I first watched 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.  You're too short, lousy eyesight, you have no college. Strike three, you're out, kid!  UGH!  This rejection was as big a crushing blow as not making it onto the Red Sox Little League team in sixth grade.  Humiliation!  Abandonment!  Lost!  Forever! It stayed that way until I was drafted about a year later.  I 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 every day 'til I join him on the other side of Rainbow Bridge.  My war dog, Prince, 16x5; but that's another story.  He got me through that one.  It was the aftermath that was the actual test.  It took another lifelong friend to get me past that.

Coming home wasn't 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 phantom.  When I came home, my 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 there.  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 six of the most awesome grandchildren ever.

My passion, after the family, lies 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 a." - Claude Monet.

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

Grumpy old grandpa, March 2019.

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