Wyatt Underwood's


Growing up

I was born, as many of us were, to a mother and father, and no one else. Before I quite understood anything, we whisked away from Albuquerque to Brasil, and my sister joined us. She took up a lot of my mother's time and my father was seldom home, which left me free to learn Portuguese and play with Brasilian kids. I did, as often as I could.

My father was home often enough that a brother joined us, and while my sister and I were getting accustomed to that, we whisked off from Brasil to Baton Rouge, and another brother joined us.

Apparently that was enough, no one else joined us.

We almost got accustomed to Baton Rouge and whisked away to Recife in Brasil, where we stayed long enough for me to experience school, and walking home in Recife, and become aware of girls who seemed completely unaware of me, then we whisked to Miami and the family disappeared.

My sister and I went to live with an aunt - my mother had a sister! who knew? - in St. Louis, and just about got accustomed to being strangers in Missouri when we went to live with another aunt - my father had a sister too! imagine! - in Perryton, Texas.

We did get accustomed to being strangers in Perryton. It was easy, lots of people were. Anyone whose grandparents hadn't been born in or near Perryton was almost as much a stranger as we were. Except we trumped them by speaking Portuguese! And neither of us spoke English that Perrytonians understood. School was dandy.

We might have had a chance to learn a passable English, at least the American version, in its North Texan style, except bzat! Our father and mother collected us and then collected our brothers and deposited us in Clovis, New Mexico, where our father was now the pastor and preacher of the First Baptist Church. He was still mostly gone, but ate supper with us some evenings and spoke to us as he rushed off before breakfast. Now and then he wanted to talk, except he knew nothing about kids and we knew nothing about preaching or pastoring, which meant we had no common language.

We stayed in Clovis long enough for me to learn to talk to girls and even find out what a girlfriend was, sorta, and long enough for me to have a paper route for a year! Ooo! My own money! Parts for my bicycle when I needed them, not when my parents had time or money! Movies! Magazines I wasn't spozta read! My own pocket knife! Cap guns!

We whisked off to Albuquerque where my father was no longer a preacher or a pastor but something or other in the state Southern Baptist Convention. Not the big whoop-de-doo but a deputy whoop-de-doo. We still had no common language, as you may have guessed. I got a new paper route, which let me buy a motor scooter, boots, and my own gun - a real gun, not a cap gun. Ooo! Life was much better.

Especially since I had several breakthroughs about girlfriends! Yea! Life was much better!

Whew! I graduated from high school. I was so close to being a grownup that I could leave home. I did. I went to college. Bless our government back in those days! They were so afraid of Communists and Communism that they kept people employed and busy both! I had a job working as an engineer-in-training at White Sands Missile Range and got to go to college too! And my sweetheart from high school decided to go to college there too, even if she had no intention of becoming a cowgirl, a rancher's wife, or an engineer. (It was an A&M college that had just changed its name to New Mexico State University. It had a skazillion guys, mostly engineering students but almost as many cowboys, and 400 women. Those were amazing times.)

Wait! What happened to family? Oh yeah. I left home and home left me and neither of us missed the other much. I was busy learning engineering and physics and mathematics and getting ready to marry Sue Lynn. My folks whisked away to Richmond, Virginia, not long after I left home. They wrote to tell me where to send them mail, and I did.

I never learned how to do family well, as you can see.