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Poetry Prose and Other Words

by Ken Ingham

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Autobiography

Feet in the Country, Heart on the Farm
A memoir of my approach to adolescence, growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, spending summers on my uncle's farm near Shelbyville Michigan, barging through adolescence, going to college, marrying my highschool sweetheart, attending graduate school, carreer at NIH and as a blood researcher for the American Red Cross, family, parenthood, grandparent hood . . . . available at Amazon.com

Preface

This project began as a collection of Kenny on the Farm stories aimed at children. My twin daughters were 11 years old. For most of their lives I had been regaling them with third person stories of my childhood summers on my uncle's farm in southwest Michigan. They never tired of hearing about my true-to-life shenanigans and predicaments. Telling those stories, and even more so writing them, was not just fun, it was therapeutic. Reflecting on that period of my life helped me to better understand myself, how those rural experiences had affected my values, my love of animals and plants, my need for outdoor solitude, my concern for the environment and my desire to conserve open space, clean air and clean water.

Gradually I began to think of the project as more of an autobiography than a collection of stories for children. In 1995 I completed a draft of what eventually became Part I of the present book, covering the pre-adolescent years. I distributed several photocopies to aging relatives who I feared might not live to see the finished product. They passed those copies on to others. The feedback was positive enough to keep me motivated. I had already drafted several stories about my teen years and was trying to decide how to include them. Meanwhile, I was living whole new chapters and recording some of them in a journal. I was writing the book at both ends, forward from the beginning and backward from the ever-shifting present. The only hope for continuity was to fill in the middle: college, marriage, graduate school, family and career. That took another 15 years, in part because finishing my first book of poetry, Ecoepic & other Poems, gained higher priority.

But who am I to write an autobiography? I am neither famous nor infamous. I lost my father at a young age, but I had plenty of help to overcome that. There were no tragedies, no holocausts to survive, no molestations, no harrowing or heroic war experiences, no sex change operations. And yet, in retrospect—the second time around—you have before you an inside look at the life of a man of those times, his growing up and coming of age, his intellectual and spiritual development, his evolution from a wannabe country boy to a scientist conducting health research for the National Institutes of Health and the American Red Cross. Part history, part science, part philosophy and travelogue, this is the story of my odyssey through the last half of the 20th century and into the third millennium. It is a privilege to share it with you.

Ken Ingham's biography
  5-Leaf Ivy Logo

Poetry Prose and Other Words

by Ken Ingham

home - poems - essays - aubtoiography - retroblog - music -
reading list - other

 
 
 

Autobiography

Feet in the Country, Heart on the Farm
A memoir of my approach to adolescence, growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, spending summers on my uncle's farm near Shelbyville Michigan, barging through adolescence, going to college, marrying my highschool sweetheart, attending graduate school, carreer at NIH and as a blood researcher for the American Red Cross, family, parenthood, grandparent hood . . . . available at Amazon.com

Preface

This project began as a collection of Kenny on the Farm stories aimed at children. My twin daughters were 11 years old. For most of their lives I had been regaling them with third person stories of my childhood summers on my uncle's farm in southwest Michigan. They never tired of hearing about my true-to-life shenanigans and predicaments. Telling those stories, and even more so writing them, was not just fun, it was therapeutic. Reflecting on that period of my life helped me to better understand myself, how those rural experiences had affected my values, my love of animals and plants, my need for outdoor solitude, my concern for the environment and my desire to conserve open space, clean air and clean water.

Gradually I began to think of the project as more of an autobiography than a collection of stories for children. In 1995 I completed a draft of what eventually became Part I of the present book, covering the pre-adolescent years. I distributed several photocopies to aging relatives who I feared might not live to see the finished product. They passed those copies on to others. The feedback was positive enough to keep me motivated. I had already drafted several stories about my teen years and was trying to decide how to include them. Meanwhile, I was living whole new chapters and recording some of them in a journal. I was writing the book at both ends, forward from the beginning and backward from the ever-shifting present. The only hope for continuity was to fill in the middle: college, marriage, graduate school, family and career. That took another 15 years, in part because finishing my first book of poetry, Ecoepic & other Poems, gained higher priority.

But who am I to write an autobiography? I am neither famous nor infamous. I lost my father at a young age, but I had plenty of help to overcome that. There were no tragedies, no holocausts to survive, no molestations, no harrowing or heroic war experiences, no sex change operations. And yet, in retrospect—the second time around—you have before you an inside look at the life of a man of those times, his growing up and coming of age, his intellectual and spiritual development, his evolution from a wannabe country boy to a scientist conducting health research for the National Institutes of Health and the American Red Cross. Part history, part science, part philosophy and travelogue, this is the story of my odyssey through the last half of the 20th century and into the third millennium. It is a privilege to share it with you.

Table of Contents

Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

I. Motown vs No Town: Growing Up in Two Places . . . . . 9

1. The Heavy Front Door . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

2. Up Home in Shelbyville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

3. Welcome to Grammar School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

4. Every Child Deserves a Good Thrashing . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

5. MacArthur Undefeated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

6. Dogs I Have Known . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

7. Roomers and Boarders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

8. A Room of My Own . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54

9. I Had a Mom Like That . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58

10. Three Reasons To Cry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64

11. Undergoing a Hurdle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

12. Horse Barn Memorabilia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

13. Heath Bars Lead to Harder Stuff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

14. Huckleberry Tavern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84

15. Return to Petersburg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

16. Bully's First Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95

17. Gladys the Frugal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .101

18. Macho Rooster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109

19. Carlene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115

20. Seven Come Eleven . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .119

21. Miracles and Magic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .125

II. Affections and Affectations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .130

22. The First Thing I Should've Done . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131

23. Yard Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135

24. Fat Lip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140

25. Skip Run Sing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .146

26. Hoops and High Hopes for a Hy Phi . . . . . . . . . . . . . .154

27. Driving Me Mad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .160

28. Transition to Normal School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165

29. Fraternity Fatuities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .172

30. Adrift . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181

31. Big Guy's Demise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186

32. Becoming Engaged . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192

33. Staying Engaged . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197

34. Helpmates of One Flesh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203

III. Much Higher Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211

35. Heat and Light in Colorado . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .212

36. Hindered Internal Rotation in the Rockies . . . . . . . . . . 220

37. Finishing Up and Moving On . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 232

38. MSU and Infants Two . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237

39. East Coast Almost: Garrett Park, Maryland . . . . . . . . 248

40. Two Good Years at NIH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .254

41. Bright White Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .261

IV. Blood Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267

42. My First (and only) Permanent Job . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .268

43. Two Texans and a Yugoslav . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .276

44. Becoming the Trunk of My Family Tree . . . . . . . . . . . 287

45. Physical Chemistry of Plasma Proteins . . . . . . . . . . . . 289

46. Nuclear Free Zone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .294

47. Slaughter Beach, Delaware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .299

48. Briary Bottom, West Virginia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306

49. Ein Jahr in der Schweiz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .313

50. Final Promotions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .319

51. Hunting Island, South Carolina . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .327

52. California Ramble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 332

53. Little Irene and Sonny . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 338

V. Soviet Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .341

54. A Collaborative Agreement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .342

55. Comradery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .349

56. Coming and Going Between Boondoggles . . . . . . . . . . .363

57. Draining the Brain of Sovereign Ukraine . . . . . . . . . . . . .372

VI. Overlapping Slices of Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379

58. Have Pain , Will Travel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381

59. What Became of My Family's Farms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .389

60. Getting Greener . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .399

61. My Good Friend Was A Therapist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .402

62. American Red Cross Disaster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .408

63. Briary Bottom Forever Wild . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .412

64. Becoming Nana and Bapoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 420

Portions of Family Trees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .428

Index of People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 431

About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 434

Extracurriculum Vitae (in progress)
a detailed all-inclusive resume' of employment history,
embellished with reflections