Book 2 in the Gifford Ulrich Series

Book 3 in the Gifford Ulrich Series


I was born in DeSoto, Missouri, in the summer of 1947, the youngest of four children. My father completed the eighth grade and quit school to help support his family. My mother completed ninth grade and was told that she was needed at home. I am grateful that my parents valued learning and education. I am grateful that they liked to read and our home always had plenty of books and magazines and newspapers.

I have always considered it a gift to have grown up in a small Midwestern town in the 1950s. I have never wanted to change that. Since I am a believer in exceptionalism, I think DeSoto was an exceptional place, at times a magical place. The adults who were there as I grew up were fine people, and I am always proud of the adults that were made from those high school graduating classes in and around my year of 1965.

I agree that our parents were the greatest generation, but we Baby Boomers have cared about our communities and our country, and we have done our best. We’re still doing our best to leave something of value or beauty or meaning behind.

I gathered my formal education from the elementary and secondary public schools of DeSoto, Missouri, Jefferson College, the University of Missouri, and Southeast Missouri State University. My non-formal education was accumulated as a newspaper delivery boy, a grass cutter, a lunch ticket puncher, a factory laborer, a quality control technician, a hod carrier, a towboat deckhand, a pool hall assistant manager, a plumber’s helper, a rock band manager, a bartender, a secondary math teacher, a furniture delivery man, a cross country coach, a shipping warehouse order filler, a consultant to an educational software company, a help desk person at an insurance company, a college math teacher, a seed merchandiser, a bank courier, and an author. My informal education was collected in group interactions pursuing interests I chose or interests that were chosen for me. The learning continues, intentional or not…

Speaking of formal education. I remember…

I remember as a kindergartner standing in the corner of the fence watching faces and waiting for my high school sister to walk me home after school. On most days, when I saw her coming, I had to wipe tears from my face. I don’t know where I got abandonment issues.

I remember in first grade giving my milk money, two pennies, to a classmate who was crying because her toes hurt from a ballet demonstration she had done. I hope it helped.

I remember getting in trouble in third grade for throwing a boy’s baseball on top of a three-story school building. I had told him twice during recess to play catch, or “not catch,” as the case was, in a different direction so that when he missed the ball it wouldn’t roll through our basketball game. I had to stand behind the classroom door for punishment. I felt a strong sense of injustice.

I remember wanting a football helmet for Christmas in fourth grade, but when the teacher told us to draw our hoped-for gift in art class, I drew a cowboy outfit. It was the only thing I could draw that looked real, and I wasn’t into impressionism.

I remember in fifth grade asking a good friend’s mother if her son could spend the weekend with me. When she asked me where I lived, I gave her the address and directions, and pointed to the portion of town that occupied the “wrong side of the tracks.” She said, “Oh. Over there? No. I don’t think he’ll be able to spend the weekend.”

I remember in a seventh-grade basketball game, rebounding an opponent’s missed free throw and putting it right back up at the wrong goal. Luckily, I missed.



I live with my wife, Arlene, and our Russell Terrier (Shorty Jack), Zeke, in Herculaneum, Missouri. I am an avid sports fan and follow Mizzou football and basketball, St. Louis University basketball, the Cardinals, the Rams, the Blues, and the DeSoto Dragons. When I’m not writing, I enjoy shooting pool, reading, watching movies, and planting things and watching them grow (including trees, shrubs, flowers, and ideas).



The Author