I managed to flunk out of college after completing two years of
time at Kent State University.
It was simple, really. I went to college hoping to be a chemistry
teacher, and discovered these new things called "computers" which
I spent all my time playing with instead of studying. My awesome
room mates, Curt and Tom, enjoyed a game of Atari 2600 just as
much as I did, but were not so absorbed with hacking games and
writing new routines to the obsession I was.
In the end, my dad tried to force me to take accounting classes
but that didn't work out, either. So he sat me down to have a
talk with me. Here is how it went:
Son, you're all done with college. So now you have a few choices.
One, you could get a job around here somewhere and move out of the
house (This was Ohio, it's a WELFARE state. What jobs???) Two, you
could join the service like your brother did (oh joy, four years of
army life!) Or, I just happen to have right here a one-way ticket to
Denver, Colorado. (And pulls it right out to show me. Huh?) What's
in Colorado I ask? Jobs. He tells me it's my choice, that he can
get his money back on the ticket if I choose not to go that route,
etc, but it's looking the best of the three so off I go. Never left
the small town USA before, and now I am dropped into this major
American city. I was stunned!
But after a couple months staying with my oldest sister I got a job
driving a drywall scrap truck and picking up scraps. It paid enough
that I moved out into my own apartment. At the job sites, I watched
the sparkys wiring outlets, the plumbers running copper, and of course
my own company guys hanging wallboard. Apparently the guy I had
replaced was a slooooow worker because I kept getting all the scraps
loaded into the truck so fast I was in danger of working myself out of
a job. The guys seemed to like me, so soon they found a spare pouch
to hold screws and a beat up old screwgun. I would show up, scrap
the place, and then spend most of my day hanging drywall with the rest
of them. One day the boss "caught" me at it, watching me put up the
sheetrock faster than some of the journeymen, and next thing I know
I was "fired" from scrapping and had become an apprentice to a guy
named Dave Smith.
This came with a $3 per hour raise, too! And my good luck that often
happened to me in my life struck, because Dave wasn't just a drywaller.
He was undeniably the best of the best, at least the best I have ever
met in my life. He taught me everything, and I memorized it all. Soon
the two of us were doing jobs by ourselves, where before it might have
been a whole crew. I would cut headers and hang doors with him while
talking about life, baseball, whatever. I knew what he was going to
need before he even asked for it. Dave eventually did bids on jobs
for the company, and our boss made money like he never had before.
Dave always suffered from sore knees, elbows, and shoulders. He wore
braces and pads to help out. Once I realized he was no more than a
few years older than me, I asked him how it happened. He said it was
from hanging drywall!!! Between realizing that I too was going to
grind down someday, and the fact we always worked indoors in summers
(w/o AC most of the time) and outdoors in winter (often w/o heat!) I
finally decided I had enough of this. So I went back to college in
the evenings and got my computer science degree.
Before I jump to that, remember the Atari 2600 from college? I kept
it, and when I moved to Colorado I brought it and an Atari 800 + 810
home computer system with me. This was 1984. As soon as I got out
on my own, in the spring of 1985, I bought a modem, a 835. 300 baud
and no ring detection. With help from a friend I met "online" ha ha
I got BBS software and set up my own Atari BBS, Hozerville. That
board was online until 1992, and became in its day the largest and most
influential Atari board in all of Denver. I had the first Atari BBS
with a hard drive, the first to have online games, and even a dating
service. I was president of APPLE (Atari Public Program Library
Exchange) and held monthly meetings at my apartment where scores of
folks brought systems and TV's and exchanged software. This is also
when I first started making home-made Atari 2600 carts. Eventually the
board ugraded to 9600 baud, spun of lots of satelite sysops around
the country (I used a modified AMIS which folks liked a lot) and my
second line (if you don't know what a BBS is, sheeze!) was always off
the hook. This hobby was a lot of my life! My #2 guy, my assistant
sysop, was named Mark and we became best friends for years.
Speaking of best friends, when I went to Denver, my cousin Dave Dunn
moved to Houston, TX for pretty much the same reason I did. He got a
job and was thinking of moving up with me to work in Denver. He did
something suprising, though - before he got here he got married! So
it looked like I was going to move there instead. I went down for a
week long visit and his wife, Vonda, the clever girl that she is fixed
me up to meet a girl named Robyn. WOW what a girl. The one date on
Sunday turned into a week of dates, and an engagement. Her parents
were nice, she was nice and everything looked promising. I sent her
a computer down and via PC Pursuit she would connect to my BBS and we
would type back and forth for free, long distance charges being so
expensive. (My son thinks his generation invented IM, ha!) But her
father figured out I was from OHIO (he at first thought I was from
Iowa, hey so I can't talk clearly!) and then I heard him say:
Grant was from Ohio. Sheridan and Pope were from Ohio. McClellan
was from Ohio. SHERMAN was from Ohio. No yankee from Ohio is going
to marry my daughter!
And he was right. Robyn's mother convinced her that I would move to
Houston, marry her, and then move her away from her momma. So we didn't
get married. Years later, in about 2004, I ran into Mrs Dossey and she
lamented greatly that I didn't marry her daughter. I was strong in the
faith then and remain so today - but Robyn married a local that kept
her in Texas, but someone not strong spiritually and led her away from
God. Her mother sure wishes she could have undone her part in that.
Of course I had a few other girlfriends. Kristy (back in Ohio) thought
she had gotten pregnant at college and called me up scared. I agreed
I would gladly marry her, and we made plans for her to come out. But
all of a sudden I didn't hear from her and she didn't call me back.
Turned out she wasn't pregnant, so all of a sudden she wasn't interested
in me anymore. Then there was Monica, who I adored and sort of dated
off and on for about 7 years. I married Karen, which is where I got
my son, David Marcus (remember the two friends mentioned above?). She
was my sister's husband's sister. Got that? So at Thanksgiving, etc
I was the unmarried brother of my family and she was the unmarried
sister. Everyone always sat by couples, and so we sat together. For
some reason, she took it in her head that she HAD to marry me so I
wouldn't do anything crazy, like marry Monica, so she chased me for a
few years. She was delighted I didn't end up with Robyn, either. I find
this sort of strange - Karen is rather pretty and I look like a toad.
Toad then, toad now. But after I married her she ran off with the guy
next door, leaving me with Dave at 8 months. That is the backdrop of
my deciding I didn't want to be doing drywall the rest of my life and
needed to get back to school and get a degree.
And then there was Lynne. She was about my age, just a couple years
younger. Quiet, pretty, everything any guy would ever want but I kept
chasing the wrong girls. Funny, serious, GODLY, and a true friend. We
had always been friends, too, and remain so. For a while we dated and
I got rather serious about her. Then I went on a trip to Ohio for a week
and came back to find her dating someone else. After having a wife run
off on me, then a nice, true friend girl stomp your heart, I was ready
to be done with all of them. This is the #1 reason I moved from Denver
to Colorado Springs. Away from Karen, Monica, and even Lynne.
In Colorado Springs, I was the "new" guy at church and Deniese was the
"new" girl. We teased each other about who would get a job first (she
did, of course!) I finally got the nerve up to ask her for a date
about Valentines day, and we got engaged in about a month. I knew right
away this was what it was all about!!! We got married later that year
and I've never regretted it.
18 months after graduation, I finally got a computer job. For quite a
while I was the best educated drywaller in all of the Springs. I would
go on interviews and they would tell me straight to my face that if I was
a woman they'd hire me, but as a white male I was out of luck. This was
back in the days of job quotas and reverse descrimination. Ack! I had
to take a huge cut in pay from being a drywaller as it was. I made about
$16/hour and dropped back to $7, as a contractor. The job started right
before I got married, so we decided to cancel our honeymoon until later
when work was more steady. Eventually I got a contracting job at Sun.
They wanted to hire me right away, but there was a hiring freeze on.
A year later, still during the freeze, they brought in a girl about to
graduate college and had me teach her everything I knew about my job and
my day to day responsibilities. In spite of the overall freeze, they had
decided to hire this girl and so she got my job. I did eventually get
hired about 6 months later. Right away they allowed me to hire college
interns, and in my time in Colorado I had about a dozen of them.
Eventally the company decided our site, which was making 40% of the
entire division's profits, had to be shut down. Yeah, that didn't make
sense to us, either. I ended up being relocated to Massachusetts. Out
of 175 folks working in Colorado Springs, 4 of us moved here and today
only two of us who got relocated here are still here. Some moved to
California, and some were re-hired when Sun built the campus up near
Boulder, in Broomfield. This Colorado campus did not exist when our
site was closed or I would have gone there long before I ever moved
Here are some random memories from Colorado:
Snow. Once in late July! Oh my goodness.
Pat and Larry treating me like a son, and them being like parents.
Probably the two most influential non-family folks in my entire life!
Hanging drywall in almost every single mini-mall, major mall, and sky
scraper in all of Denver and the metro area. And writing "Monica is a
Goddess!!!" in secret places above ceilings, behind walls, etc.
My basement apartment where the heat was so hot I would sleep with the
windows open and wake up with snow piled up on my bed.
Lawn furniture for, well, furniture! We all gotta start somewhere!
LOTS of diapers and baby bottles. Watching the 'Vikes beat the Broncos
with little Dave sleeping on my lap.
Crump Electronics and my ever questing for better and cheaper ways to make
Atari carts, Atari home computer mods, and all kinds of gadgets. I sure
did start taking a serious tilt into the electronics hobby!
Predicting three Broncos blowouts in the super bowl... and being RIGHT
each time. I won a humdinger of a bet on the second one!!!
Pepe's Restaurante, the most amazing Mexican food, especially the home
made chips/salsa and the Sante Fe Enchladas. YUM.
The 1977 Chevy Luv that I spray painted battleship grey. I loved that
little pickup truck, wish I had a picture of it.
The speeding ticket! I had a roommate who turned out to be a jerk, and
one day we were both visiting somewhere and Monica was there. I adored
her but of course she adored Dave my roommate, who flirted with her
like crazy. When we went back to our apartment, he laughed and told me
he was just leading her on, he had zero interest in her whatsoever, but
it was fun to jerk her around. Note to self - if ever in this situation,
NEVER be the one to spill the beans to the girl. She will shoot the
messenger every time! Instead, arrange it so she hears it from him, from
someone else, ANYONE but you! But... I went to her house and told her,
OF COURSE she accused me of being jealous, of making it all up, of trying
to ruin any chance she had with Dave, etc. I was furious and when I left
her house I got stopped for speeding, about 20mph over the speed limit.
The day of the court appearance arrived, and I had to show up for it. I
guess because I was so far over there was no set fine, it was to be
determined by the judge. We are called in alphabetical order. Right before
my turn, this girl is called up. Same cop, same day, same place, and
about the same speed as me. Anything to say for yourself? she's asked.
No, your honor. He say this is her first offence so he fines her $180.
Yikes!!! I don't have that kind of money! So then it's my turn. Anything
to say for yourself? Yes, your honor. My girlfriend was being stupid
and unreasonable and she made me pretty mad so I was thoughtless about the
speed I was going. Judge says I can understand how that could happen.
And fines me $60! True story!
The Denver Zephyrs. First game ever, I was there!
All those books I read from the Columbine library. Niven, Poul, Bear,
Heinlein, I couldn't get enough of them!
The townhouse dad bought that I finished the basement in, right down
the hill from the "Funplex". Also, seeing the baloonists land almost
right on top of our house!
Playing Risk and Monopoly with Rob Dallas and Karen always glowering at us.
Lefty my (duh!) left-handed Atari friend.
Heritage Square and TJ Mullens amazing Dinner Playhouse Melodrama!
The Phantom of the Opera date that wasn't a date. Sorta. Know what I mean?
Playing chess (and golf) with Virgil, who was a master player at chess
and hit a hole in one which I witnessed. Too bad he was too old to be
able to see it drop in for himself! He thought we made it up for a
long time afterwards.
The Mile High Flea Market. What an AMAZING place!
Billy Joel (twice!)
Building the police station, the jail, the flea market, and MCI's
headquarters in Colorado Springs. If you ever visit MCI, see all those
round columns through the windows? Some 3 to 4 stories tall? I built
EVERY SINGE ONE of them!
One day I was in Golden, Colorado on a job at a mini-mall doing a tenant
finish. I hear my name and turn around to see Larry Campbell and some
suits. I chat with him for a few minutes about church, Monica his
daughter, and general "good to see you and run into you" stuff like that.
He introduces me to his friends, Pete and Joe, and I name Daryl and Dave
who are with me. After he's gone, my friends look at me amazed. How do
you know this guy? From church, of course. Oh, and I kind of date his
daughter off and on. Larry works for Coors Energy - his friends for
lunch that day are Pete and Joe... Coors.
Attending college at Metropolitan State in downtown Denver. Who would
have thought a Wiley Coyote fan like me would graduate a RoadRunner!?!
My trip to Yellowstone, and that week long stay at the Stanley Hotel
(where the Shining and Dumb and Dumber was filmed). Finally a honeymoon!
Having folks come over from church and while we watched a movie or
played games I had them peeling labels off old Atari carts so I could
reuse the cases for new games. They always thought that was either
crazy or genius!
Steve, Dave's adopted older brother who lived with us for over a
year and saved enough money to buy his own house.
The time crooks tried to steal the radio out of the tracker by
cutting the vinyl top to unlock... the already unlocked doors.
All they took was the cheap flea market seat covers, anyway!
The Rail Road museum, the mint, the Museum of Natural Sciences, and lots
The Sky Sox, watching Trent and Webster and Ty. The year they won the
AAA world series! Saving Deniese from the fly ball Larry Walker on rehab
popped up RIGHT on her head! Doesn't it figure, the one day I didn't take
my glove to the game.
Feeding Brewster (my wife's pomer) a couple cans of dog food (a normal
serving was half a can) and the mess I got to clean up (but he thought
I was awesome for feeding him so much!)
Amonte, the peach faced love bird that we thought was a guy but
laid eggs! Also loved me, but would bite Dave, Deniese, Brewster, and
anyone else foolish enough to get near it! Pretty Bird! Pretty Bird!
I knew we should have taught it to say I Don't Bite instead...
All those sunsets. And watching the snow fall 30 miles away while you are
standing in bright sunshine.
Blowing bubbles and watching them "shatter" because they froze before they
hit the ground. The snow not melting but just "disappearing" into the
air. Snowfalls over 30" in one day (yikes!)
Beau Jo's pizza. How I would dearly love to have some of that again!
Our little house on Sacramento Place, where we added a bathroom,
built on a dining room, pushed out a deck, expanded the car port,
as always built the required backyard shed, and bricked in a great
big patio. The Tom and Jerry ironing board and oversized swamp
cooler made that house just perfect - so we had to move of course.
Our family trip to Carlsbad Caverns where Deniese and Dave were close
to croaking from heat stroke (but the 110+ heat didn't bother me at
all, go figure!) and Dave being disappointed because he wanted the
bats to fly out and come land on us like butterflies. Yikes!