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Stephen R. Clark

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Oreland, Pennsylvania
Joined June 1996


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was born in New Castle, Indiana in March, a fortnight past Ides, in the mid-baby-boom years.

Before I came along, my mom, dad, and sister traveled a lot around the country. Whenever money got tight, dad, a WWII vet, would tie up his leg and claim he lost it in the war and people would give him money feeling sorry for him.

No one is sure why he did this since he actually had plenty of money from the family business. The only real physical problem dad had was a bum eye he got from winking too much.

That was his story, anyway.

The truth was simply that he had worked in a sawmill as a teen and was hit in the eye by a stray wood chip. We still don't understand how he got into the Army being blind in one eye! Really.

What was the "family business?" Apparently we ran a little hooch-making operation.

The recipe was an ancient Appalachian Indian concoction that could cure anything, plus fuel your car.

I was totally clueless about all that because I was only a baby.  What do babies know? But I really did like the feathers in my headdress. They tickled!

People thought dad was a florist, but that was only a cover. There were huge boilers in the greenhouses where he "worked" supposedly  used for heating. Not so. There was more than water being brewed in those babies. Some of the finest Appalachian Indian hooch flowed through the clanky "steam" pipes.

And while he did grow roses -- and dad really was a great grower -- that's not all he grew. There were also snapdragons, mums, carnations, tulips, and all manner of "potted" and "cut" plants and flowers, if you know what I mean. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

Like all babies do, I got bigger. They had a hard time stuffing me into my baby table thingy. My grandparents liked to use cake frosting to lube me up so I'd slide right in. I didn't mind. I liked cake. It felt good and the icing was delish!  

As I got older, I had to help out with the business. My first job was handling security. I looked cute in my cowboy outfit, and the Revenuers were really surprised when they found out my six guns were real, and fully loaded.

Giddy up, fed! Dance for me!

After awhile, I got tired of the family business and ran away to join the circus -- every little boy's dream! I got a job as a midget clown.

My clown career really took off when they started shooting me out of a cannon. (Get it?) But the landings were hard and the noise hurt my ears.  I decided it was time to move on after doing three shows a day for two weeks straight and lost my hearing for a month. My ears are still ringing, too! Seriously.

So, I went back home. While I was gone at the circus the family had gone legit. Dad was really growing roses and only roses at Meek's. The greenhouse boilers piped only steam. Mom was a seamstress at J.C. Penney's. My sister had become a thespian, joined the high school orchestra, and was part of the cheerleading block. Go Trojans!

She basically made me her pet and took  me everywhere with her. But that was cool. Her girlfriends thought I was cute and Sis bought me stuffed animals and candy.

From then on I grew up fairly normal, went on to junior and high school learning legitimate and useful skills (for the most part). It was in high school I discovered words and my knack for doing interesting things with them. (A special thanks to R. Bobby Dicken for his tutelage.) I sent off a few poems and stories and got published as well as paid a couple of bucks. It was pretty neat that I could actually make money writing! Still do.

The sad thing in all this? I wasn't cute anymore. I turned into a nerd. But at least I was a legitimate nerd with our family's life of crime nothing but a fading memory. Except, the first summer I came home from college, I noticed the bottles in my mom's Avon bottle collection weren't empty anymore. And there was this thing in the basement that looked a lot like a miniature boiler. I decided it was better not to ask any questions.


Now, about that hair. Before "Napoleon Dynamite," there was ...

I think that'll do for now.








God's Man: A Daily Devotional Guide to Christlike Character



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