Friday, February 27, 2009


Of late, while I am still relatively lucid, I have begun to write a memoir. It's a about my childhood--- growing up as a black, Catholic, baby boomer moving from Philadelphia to the Deep South in the 1950's and being loved by crazy adult relatives and even crazier, but well meaning friends. I have been engrossed in the writing effort for a couple of months now. I can't wait to see how eveything turns out, myself.

As is said in the introduction of the book, "It's a wonder that I made it out of childhood alive! (By the way, the working title is "The Mostly True Adventures of JustPLainWill (Batteries Not Included)" and it will, no doubt, be available at a better bookstore near you sometime soon for $19.95)

Deciding to write about your life is not a trivial undertaking. It’s not that I have had achieved anything that has been truly exceptional (the fact of which my family and close friends never fail to remind me). I have never had any encounters with space aliens (unless you count the possibility of Sister Ursula, the nun who was my eighth grade homeroom teacher). I’ve never rescued anyone from a burning building or done anything which would prompt a TV newscaster to tease an onlooking audience with the words: “film at 11”. (If I'd done something such as been the first man to walk on the Moon, you'd have heard of me already.) As family and friends have also reminded me, the most noteworthy thing that I have accomplished thus far is to have somehow managed to stay out of jail.

Maybe it is kind of presumptuous----maybe its even a bit arrogant------ to “offer” your memoir…especially when nobody has really requested that you do so or paid you a handsome advance. Personally, I kinda think that normally, anybody who writes “their own story” should have accomplished a lot (e.g. Colin Powell, Jonas Salk, Albert Einstein, Neil Armstrong) or surely must feel that their life and the way that they have lived it can contribute a lot to the political or social discourse. (Reader, I am sure that Paris Hilton, Snoop Dogg and Flava Flav must have had similar feelings when they began to write their life stories.) This writer, on the other hand, is chronicling his own story because I am getting older and I figure that some of the stuff that has happened can now be revealed since any Statute of Limitations have, in all likelihood, expired by now. In the spirit of full disclosure though, my memoir is a blatant effort to make myself look good to future generations of my family as well as to any of the authorities. In other words, it’s my way of saying to posterity “…that was my story and I’m sticking to it.”

Anyway, in my efforts to write the book, I have recently done some "poking around" ("research" you might call it) into my early years and have been able to dig up a bunch of incidents that I had long since forgotten. In the process though, I have also found out that this business of "personal archaeology" can be a little dicey. I’ve had access to a few pictures, some old clothing, a diary that, unknown to me until recently, my mother kept for three years when I was between 7 and 10 years of age, and regrettably, more than a little high school memorabilia. As a result of this …er, circumstantial evidence, I have found that when you do the ‘memoir research’ that there’s all kind of things that you recall (even without the help of sodium pentathol) that maybe you’d rather not remember ------or even know about. As an example:

At 6 years of age, I thought that Pontius Pilate was really Pontius Pilot and flew for Delta Airlines in his spare time.

In 1956, I actually owned ----and wore----- a synthetic Official Davey Crockett coonskin hat.

At 7, I once inquired of my African-American mother, if we had any Amish relatives. (This was revealed by reading an entry in my deceased mother’s diary.)

Until I was 15, I was dumb enough to believe that when a girl said that she couldn’t go out on Saturday night because she had to wash her hair, that she was actually washing her hair. (For that whole year, I just figured that Cassie Morgan, undoubtedly the prettiest girl in my high school as well as the four surrounding states also had the cleanest damn hair around…at least as so far as she led me to believe.) This whole episode was replayed as I looked through one of my old high school yearbooks.

I actually once owned an eight track cassette tape player, as well as the car that went with it.

Once gave an elderly relative a Chia Pet for Christmas

As an adult, I actually sat through both “Howard the Duck” and "Catwoman" although, in my own
Save as Draft
defense, the latter was the in-flight movie and I cold not walk out of the ‘theater’ at 43,000 feet… though I did, for a moment consider it.

When in some state of delirium that obviously lasted for about half a decade, I actually owned and wore both a leisure suit AND a Nehru jacket …although not at the same time.

My grandmother once told me that if you go snooping around, you might not like what you find. Gawd, was Nana ever right!


  1. I am going to love your blogs - no doubt about it. You had me laughing out loud - the Pontius Pilot cracked me up but I'm impressed that you even knew the name at age 6!

    BTW, even though I am a girl, I too had a Davy Crockett coonskin cap AND I had an 8 track in my car in high school - crapola, I am truly old. How did that happen??

    PopArtDiva aka The Brat in the Hat aka The Martini Diva aka The Diva of Tiny Foods aka The Normal Challenged Artist

    Yes, I have multiple cyber personalities. . .

  2. PopArtDiva:

    Thanks for the encouraging comments. With regard to knowing about Pontius Pilate at 6: You have to undersatnd that I am a recovering Catholic and Catholic School school student. Went from the time that I was 6 until I was fifteen. The nuns begin indoctrination pretty early. So even at six, we knew about "some guy" named Pontius "Pilot". I didn't remember this story until found some old artwork from the 1st grade depicting "The Crucifixtion". A six year old Will drew the three crosses at Cavalry just fine, but he also showed a big airplane going overhead with Pontius Pilot at the controls. My constantly exasperated (with me) Mom also made a comment about it in her diary. (She also commented about how after I was exphosed to phonics that for three months, I INSISTED upon spelling Phladelphia with a "F"!