Dad pretty much follows in Mom's footsteps with this project, giving us a life story in 25 bullet points. There are a couple of things that he downplays, though, to which I feel the need to devote a little more time... The first of which is when he says (in #18) that being able to figure batting averages within seconds isn't very useful anymore. WHAT?!? We all STILL love to play that game where we give Dad random fractions, like 78 out of 432, and see how many milliseconds it takes him to get within hundredths of the correct answer. So it's shocking to me that he doesn't find that useful. Because I certainly do!
Secondly, Dad's reference to campaigning in #22 brings back GREAT memories of election years... I loved courthouse-hopping on election nights watching results come in. Ahhhhh, that was so much fun. (Especially since Dad always won!) The parades and the church picnics were a blast, too. I could eat a roast beef sandwich right now... And don't forget about the two-button campaign slogan - genius! (I tried to find a link to a picture of them online, but, alas, it was pre-internet, so there's nothing out there about it. If Dad still has a set, I'll get a picture of them and post it later...)
OK, enough elaborating. I think I'm ready to hand you off to my dad. The politician/lawmaker/judge that never let his "important" job get in the way of his burning need to
Papa's 25 Random Things:
1. I grew up in Mt. Sterling, a really small town - spent time at Dad's farm implement business ("the garage"), Grandpa's general store ("the store") and gas station ("the station"), lived on the only street in town, Plymouth Drive ("the street"). That place, that family (Mom and Dad, Mark, me, Brian, and Julie) - I still love to go there.
2. I had the same teacher for all 8 of my grade school years in a one-room schoolhouse at Mt. Sterling - field trips, recesses, same three classmates all eight years, indoor plumbing partway through, up close and personal relationship with corporal punishment. I got to spend October afternoons outside keeping score of the World Series games for Basil Leach, the teacher, while all the other kids had to stay inside and do the schoolwork.
3. My favorite thing to do in Mt. Sterling was to play baseball games (I was always the Cardinals) by throwing a rubber ball (bought from the store) against my Grandpa and Grandma's brick house, creating ground balls, fly balls, line drives. Developed pretty decent fielding skills and forced Grandpa to finally put a screen over the window to protect the glass. In the wintertime, or on rainy days, I created those same games in our house's basement. Since the Cardinals had Ray Sadecki and Steve Carlton at the time, I developed a pretty decent left-handed delivery.
4. Our weekly trips to church (Oklahoma Church of Christ) allowed me to spend time at Hope with my Mom's parents and their whole family - everybody showed up there most Sundays. Games with cousins, Donnie Hilkerbaumer, Grandma's cooking, Grandpa Miller, trips to White's Store for afternoon sodas (but 7 or 8 grandkids in the back of his pickup truck would have been child endangerment in the modern era).
5. I had great grandparents, and Grandpa Miller was my favorite - always had a dollar for me at the county fair (when a dollar went a long ways), always teased me (called me "Jefferson Island Salt" after a company that made block salt that he set out for the cattle), always asked me to go along to the Turner Place, or the Fleck Place, or the REA summer boards meetings on the Osage River (with incredible BBQ meals).
6. I got "adopted" as a teenager by Jack Steffen, a 30-something who was dating my Dad's cousin, Cleo. We shared a love for the Cardinals, played softball together with the whole town on Sunday afternoons across the river (he was a really good fast-pitch softball pitcher). He taught me to play golf, would call up my Mom to see if I could go with him to play at Owensville. He always followed up golf with a trip to the A & W. I loved the golf, the A & W in those cardboard containers, and seeing the girl carhops!
7. Listened to Cardinal baseball during the summer at "the station." Mark and I and the old guys (Fred Leimkuehler, Bud Landwehr, Bill Rikard, Marvin Brinkmann). They bought us ice cream sandwiches and sodas (back when they were a nickel or dime each).
8. I graduated from Owensville High School - rode the bus most days 20 miles each way. Student Council, golf team, baseball team. Teachers I'll never forget, classmates whom I still see, and some who have died and I still miss.
9. I was pretty good at Latin in high school. Mrs. Kinder was my teacher. Elected president of Latin Club my freshman year (my first foray into politics, but none of the upperclassmen wanted the job). Was never embarrassed to wear the brown toga with green sash that Mom made for me (the headband with those fake little cherries was over the top, though).
10. We started a baseball team in Mt. Sterling when I was about 13 or 14. Drew kids in from the area and played games at Mt. Sterling, Hope, Morrison and Gasconade (the only place with lights for night games). I lived for those games, hated rain-outs, played catcher, shortstop and second base. Always batted over .300, fielded well (see #3 above), baited the opposition and the umpires unmercifully.
11. Those early teams led to having a "town team" in the Osage Baseball League. We recruited players from a wider area (Owensville, even St. James, Rolla), and won several league championships. Played second base almost exclusively, batted second in the line-up, developed switch-hitting skills. Once hit a triple and got a bunt single off of Tom Henke, who would become one of professional baseball's greatest relief pitchers.
12. Once hit a golf ball through Grandpa and Grandma Schaeperkoetter's bay kitchen window. Wasn't aiming for it!
13. Ran into a gas pump at "the station" with one of dad's tractors as a teenager. Wrecked his brand new car at 18. And he still loves me, I think!
14. I was in Army ROTC in college, then served three years on active duty in the Army and about ten years in the Missouri National Guard. Ft. Riley, KS, for ROTC summer camp, then Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN, and Ft. Leonard Wood, MO while on active duty. Served during Vietnam War, but never left the States, and got out of the service to go to Law School.
15. Met Jane at SMS, introduced by Jane's high school classmate, John Spreitzer. First date was in October 1969 at the Bears' Den on campus. Pizza dates ever since!
16. Jane and I got married in 1973, and Sarah arrived 9 months and 29 days later. Amy, Scott and Matt followed - four great kids, and now grandchildren are doubling our pleasure.
17. I love to do different things with words - one time the word "okra" sent me totally over the edge - in front of my kids and Jane eating out at a local restaurant. Also claim to have invented a word. "Vuja de" is the opposite of "deja Vu." It is the feeling that some experience has never happened to you before. I am pretty sure that George Carlin stole it from me!
18. I am really good at figuring out batting averages off the top of my head. Really useful back in the day, not so much now.
19. Politics has been in my blood since 1960, when I followed the election of President Kennedy closely. He has always been my hero. Jane and I really got into the 2008 campaign (saw President Obama and Vice President Biden before the election). Looks like I will have two heroes!
20. Elected student body president at SMS (they call it Missouri State now). One of the opponents that I defeated was a friend, Bob Holden, who would later become Governor of Missouri.
21. Twelve years in the Missouri General Assembly (8 in House, 4 in Senate), 12 years as a Circuit Judge, five years and counting of other service. Somewhat unique in that I have served in responsible positions in all three branches of state government.
22. I really loved those parades while campaigning for office. But four on July 4, 1988 was probably over the top. Just ask our kids how much they enjoyed that!
23. I once taught a college government class for East Central College at its Rolla campus. I should have been a teacher!
24. Had a little car wreck in 1999, seven surgeries by an incredible surgeon, Dr. Anglen, and was left with a slightly shorter left leg. So if I "lean a little to the left", there is an explanation for it physically if not politically.
25. Married to the best math teacher in the world. I may have gotten the Cantley Math Scholarship coming out of OHS, but she has the ability to teach math in a way that humbles me!