My Autobiographical Story
I fancy myself a good storyteller. I can relay the storyline like nobody else and deliver the punchline in classic Wilson style. But when it comes to telling my story I have trouble starting. It’s been said that one need only begin with “once upon a time” but that only works for nursery rhymes or fairytales. But who’s going to believe that once upon a time I was born? I have even tried one dark and stormy night……but I really don’t know what kind of night it was? After all I was just a baby. Several times I’ve sat down determined to get my story down on digital paper but then I don’t seem to have any. The one thing I know for sure was that I was born in a hospital. It wasn’t a big hospital and neither was the small Idaho town of Nampa back in ‘49. A hundred years earlier and it might have been a gold miner’s town, but then when was the last time gold was discovered in Idaho? When I was born I wasn’t even older than my brothers because back then I didn’t have any. I guess being the first born has its perks.
As time went by or as water flowed under the bridge I did have some brothers. Three of em and we were all little angels. People were struck by the sheer beauty of us J-angels. What you never heard of a J-angel? In total we were four boys and our names began with the letter “J”, thus J-angels. Now mom (rest her soul) never agreed with me on the “fact” we were angels either. I told her once it was my story and I’m sticking to it.
When I was born we lived on a farm just outside of Homedale Idaho with Grandma and Grandpa Wilson and my little uncle Gary. Then at some point we moved into the cute little house on the ditch bank in town. Our little house had been a chicken coup that dad fixed up into a 2 room house. One room contained 4 bunkbeds (2 up and 2 down) and the other was the kitchen, family room and the folk’s bedroom all rolled into one. It was so small we probably had to take turns sneezing. I did have one of those mini-bikes that I’m sure was the envy of my 1st grade classmates as I rode across town on my way to school. Hunched down on that bike I must have been less than 36” high and lucky for me traffic was light back then.
A bit later we moved out to Wilder. I don’t remember much except working in the fields with the migrant labor crews picking anything that grew and needed picking, potatoes, strawberries, etc. Our treat was a Saturday movie and a large chocolate-dipped cone at the Frosty Palace in Homedale.
I think when we moved to Nyssa in Oregon I was in the marching band as one of the drummers until I followed the other drummers in boycotting the music teacher. When all was settled down, I was the only ex-drummer of the group.
There was a time when dad stepped in a post hole and was rushed to the VA hospital in Boise for surgery and rehabilitation. Mom ended up trading our farm for a house in Northwest Boise so we could be close to dad. We pretty much stayed in Boise after that and I went into junior high. Oh I’d tell you about my brothers, but then they wouldn’t get to tell their own stories, okay?
Jess was 2 years younger than me. John was a year younger than Jess. Jerry was a year younger than John. Now you have the J-angels. We all got along great – so long as they obeyed my orders (demands). Any disagreements that sprung up were squelched in pure Wilson fashion – a dogpile in the middle of the road where I’d be initially on top.
I was going to South Junior High when President Kennedy was shot. It was a shock but then I didn’t know much about politics back then and I really didn’t know JFK personally or professionally.
By the time I got to Borah High School I would have been considered the kid who didn’t have a clue – about anything. I joined the Civil Air Patrol where I learned military customs, traditions and discipline and got to wear a blue Air Force Ike Jacket and a nifty uniform. I became part of our CAP exhibition drill team (we didn’t have anybody to compete against).
In the summer after my junior year we moved out into the desert at a place called Landeco, just outside of Kuna. I made up my mind I wasn’t going to go back to school and my dad figured keeping me in the field running a caterpillar pulling a rake or a disc would help get me ready to go back to school. A few days after school started I got this idea that school was right up my alley and besides I would be in the senior class with my uncle Gary (they had moved to Kuna many years before). And since I was going into my senior year dad gave me a car as a graduation present. I think it was a long and black 1960 Cadillac sedan, you know like those used at family cars at a funeral home. Man I didn’t understand why I never had anybody asking to ride in my car after the ball games. I earned my letter in sports by having some of the cleanest smelling towels ever. I graduated as a Kuna Kaveman with my huge “K” on my letterman’s jacket.
After graduation I moved into an apartment in Boise and worked a couple of part time jobs before going to work at an auto parts store as a delivery driver. I had traded the old caddy for a ’58 Pontiac Chieftan which I prided myself on doing my own repairs.
In 1967 about six months later I joined the army to become a truck driver and my first assignment after truck driver training was to a transportation unit in Southeast Asia. I arrived in Thailand near the end of February 1968 and began hauling military cargo and munitions to air force bases where units went on combat missions over Laos and Vietnam. I ended up staying in Thailand for 2 ½ years, meeting and marrying my wife of now 51 years and we have 2 daughters (each are now grandmothers).
I ended up making a career out of the military taking my family to places like Panama and Germany, and to various bases in the states. My last tour before retirement was to Japan and as I came home Operation Desert Shield had begun gearing up in 1990.
The good Lord has really blessed me with years and ears and a little bit of hair on top and a lot has changed since those early years. I’m fully retired working as a keyboard ranger, building webpages and groups for veterans. Just being a good hubby to my wife, a tolerable dad to my girls and grandpa to my grandkids (all adults) and Papa Joe to the great-grands. Our families are here in Colorado, while my brothers and their families are centered in Idaho and beyond. Mom and dad are now gone and so is brother John and most of my aunts and uncles most lived to enjoy their golden years. I’m now in my 70s and looking forward to another 20 or 30 years of wedded bliss and being around to make sure my offspring toe the line……..or else! This is the end of the story, but not the end to me, okay? – I’m the Real Truckmaster!