Why Do I Keep Fighting? Because I Was An Ugly Duckling?

Posted on November 21, 2012


I intention today was to write about the  economic disintegration that is bearing down on us and link an article by one of my favorite writers at American Thinker, Monty Pelerin. Do check it out. It’s a good article.

On Monday I wrote a post asking the question; Who Will Carry The Torch Of The Spirit Of What America Once Was? The comments from you all were interesting. Some said  they would continue blogging on issues, but they were convinced that America as an idea was dead and would never be seen again. So, those commentors were not going to waste their time carrying that torch. Some commentors were equally disallusioned but for various reason they planed to keep carrying the torch. A few commented that they would keep the carrying the torch because that was who they were. I think that I may fit in that last group. One reader sent me an e-mail. Paraphrasing he said: Jim, I read your blog every day. You are consistent in painting a very dark picture about America’s future. You have to told us more than once that you believe America and the world are going to experience a total economic collapse. So, how is it that you can still want to fight for the America we will never see again? I decided to try to answer that question publicly in today’s post.

I cannot remember when I wasn’t a fighter. When pushed my reaction is always to push back harder. This fighting spirit that seems to have been always with me nay have come from a few sources. It may be something I inherited from my dad’s side of my family. It may be related to my early childhood. As a child, I was an ugly duckling. Seriously. I was one ugly kid.  And, it may have com from something else that I will address at the end of this post.

My father, his sisters, his older brother, and his parents left their native homeland of Scotland in, I believe, 1915 or 1916. They first settled in London, Ontario, Canada. A few years later they immigrated to the US and settled in the industrial, auto manufacturing city of Flint, Michigan where I would be born and grow up. Dad’s family was dirt poor. They were all small in stature. They were a hard people. You would even say they were fridged people. They rarely showed any warmth to ward anybody, or even among themselves. In spite  of their sad economic status and being small people physically, these people never took any crap from anyone. Let me tell you about my grandmother. I’m not sure she measured even  four-foot ten inches. This tiny lady was as hard as nails. She didn’t pass until I was in graduate school. In all those years, I can not remember once ever receiving a hug from her or any  sign of warmth. My grandmother always resented that her children allowed their children to sit at the same table and eat with the adults. But, what really drove over the edge was that her grandchildren were allowed to speak at the table without first being spoken to or asking permission. My aunts and my Uncle were much like my grandmother. My father was a more gregarious person. He liked having fun. I’m bot sure my father ever totally grew up. As an adult he was fanatic about fishing and he liked to spend time with his buddies gambling and getting drunk. Anyway, it is possible I suppose that I inherited my fighting spirit from my Scottish stock.

In terms of physical features, I didn’t inherit much from my father. I grew up to be several inches taller than he. I did, however, inherit two features from my father that contributed to my being an ugly duckling as a child. I inherited my fathers fine, light, straight hair which the slightest breeze would send into disarray. And, I had two cow-licks. My poor mother tried so hard to control my uncontrollable hair. Nothing worked. In desperation she would take me the barber and have my hair cut in what was called a “butch” cut or a crew cut. That solved the problem for a few days, but when my hair grew a little, some of it would stand straight up as it was supposed to do, but some stuck out to the sides and some laid flat, and of course the two cow-licks quickly showed up. The other thing I inherited from my father was a propensity to perspire. Yes, we sweated a lot. To give you an idea of the severity of this problem let me give you an example. My father I often went ice fishing on Lake Huron. It could be bitterly cold. We had all the proper clothing. We wore wool socks and we had felt lace-up boots and we wore rubber boots over them. Dad and I always had to take extra pairs of wool socks with us. In spite of the cold, our feet would sweat and, of course, the sweat would start to freeze and we would have to change our socks. So, I want you to imagine this skinny little boy with unruly hair who was always wiping his brow and, therefore, he was always the dirtiest kid in the neighborhood. This was a great embarrassment to my mother. She couldn’t understand why I always had to be so dirty and why I couldn’t be more like the other boys. Mom didn’t understand about my perspiration problem. But, there is more to this ugly duckling story. When I was about two and a half years old, my mother took me with her to buy some groceries. When we returned home, she was carrying a couple of paper sacks of groceries and like most little boys I wanted to help mommy. She gave me a loaf of bread to carry. The side door to our little house opened on to a small landing. Straight ahead were the stairs leading to the basement. To the right were two steps that led to our small kitchen. I slipped on the first step and caught my front teeth on the second step ripping them out. So, when my permanent teeth grew in, they came out almost horizontal. I had horribly bucked teeth. The final straw came when I was eight years old and had to begin wearing glasses. So, put this picture together in your mind. I was this skinny little kid with uncontrollable hair who was always dirty and who had horribly bucked teeth and who wore glasses. Because children can be cruel, you can easily imagine that fighting became a way of life for me. Most of the time I only had to fight one boy at a time. But often it was two boys at a time. Sometimes they would get the best of me, but mostly not. This was not because I was bigger and stronger than them. I wasn’t. It wasn’t because I had better fighting skills than them. I didn’t. It was because I didn’t have the good sense to know when to quit. Eventually they could no longer defend themselves from my non-stop onslaught. So, maybe I still have that fighting spirit within me because I was such an ugly duckling as a kid. There is another possibility.

In spite of the nature of my Scottish stock and in spite of my experiences as an ugly duckling child I have always had a soft spot in my heart for old people who only want for some one to talk with them once in a while. I have always empathised with people who were treated badly because they were overweight or because of the color of their skin. And, mostly, I have always had a soft spot for children, the innocent and the weak. I keep photos of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren near at hand. When I look at their faces, I know that no matter the odds, I have to fight for them on the oft chance that if I teach about what America  was really all about, maybe some day  events will occur that will allow them the chance to try the experiment that was America again. Only if they have kept the spirit alive, will  they be prepared to give the idea of America another chance.

So, maybe I am who I am for all the reasons above. I don’t know. I only know I will keep fighting.

Well, now you know what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

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