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My Path (2) Ketchikan

The ten years from age 10 to age 19 were the most normal and sAtisfying of my life.  I still have no memory of interaction with family except little bits and pieces.  But my memory of other things opens up from the moment we stepped on the ship, though i might as well have taken the trip alone so far as my my remembrance is concerned.
The ship was a luxury cruise liner refitted for the more practical  affairs of war.  The ship was prepared for an attack.  The US wAs on the offensive.  ( I started to write: "We were on the offensive" and that would have been true, because for the first and only time i felt like a part of the country rather than an alien being),  I rember each port of call, especially the beautiful English looking Victoria,
and the wild west look of Prince Rupert with its wooden streets and sidewalks.

When we arrived in Ketchikan, it was pouring rain,  I would see and feel a lot of it in the next ten years.  I came to love it.  Rain at nighr was especially comforting, it reduced the human population and chaned its quality.  I think i was able to be so normal in the day time because i had the night to wander in, and the rain, and the forest, and the mountains.

Ketchikan. where my father had gone to work for the city as superintendent of water and power, had a population.of about 7000 with a  few hundred more strung on two rods eah running just a few miles east and west out of town.  To  the south was Tongass Narrows and beyond that the North Pacific Ocean.  To the north were many of miles of forests And mountains.  The northern tip of the town, where we live, was sheltered by two mountains Deer and Bear.  The trail up each began less than one half half mile from my bedroom.  However the trail up BeAr mountAin to the east was undeveloped and blocked by a platoon of Military Police there to guard the reservoir which was also pArt of my fAther's responsibility.

The soldiers were from Alabama and they adopted me as a sort of mascot.  I learned a lot of things about sex and bigotry that ten year old would be better off not knowing.  This possibly caused some social damage which took many years to undo.

School was the central structure in the town.  It was atop a hill.  I don;t remember it having a play ground, though it must have had one.  Main Elementary School occupied the first floor and Ketchikan High School was on the second.  While i spent tghe first four grades in five schools, the last eight were spent in one.  By the time i finished high school

I had some very close and dear friends.
I had many other friends
I wrote sports news for money
I was on the  track team.
I performed in plays and stand up.
i got a "grown up" job
I won a college scholarship.

I also went to church.  The Lutheran Church was the dominant church in town.  Most of my first friends went there so i did also
Every Saturday was catechism and i got my first religious instruction which was not fundamentalist..Oh, the "fundamentals were there: Trinity, original sin, unerring Bible, virgin birth, resurrection, salvation and damnation, second coming, etc., but the emphasis was on the teachings of Jesus: love, forgiveness, generosity, hospitality, the "reign" of God.  From there i followed my girl frioend into he methodist church where i became part of a spiritual community and felt an impulse to "preach" which eventuly i percieved as a "call."  The call came when i was 16, then a few months later an "uncall."

If had been able to explain my experience of bliss at age nine as "divine." i would have described this one as "demonic."  Years later i would learn from Sociologist Rodney Stark that negative "spiritual" experiences are about as frequent as positive ones.  All i knew then, and i knew it very deeply, was that the universe was a dull grey assemblage of matter and energy with absolutely no
moral significance.  Good was no better than evil, death no better than life, and no God existed who could sort these things out.  As for human beings creating meaning through interaction with each other, forget that shit.  The powerful would continue to dominate the meek as the rich woul ride the backs of the poor.  This "depression" went on for months, and then subsided as the practicalities of working and going to school intervened.  I never talked about this experience, but it never entirely went away.  Now in old age, i am beginning to think of this experience in more positive terms.  Maybe i was right And wrong at the same time and i was being warned to be skeptical when people try to tell me what something "means."

I went "stateside" (Alaska would become a State in ten years) to attend college.  I returned the following Summer to work in the lumber mill.  I did the same after my Sophomore year.  Then i left Alaska and Ketchikan for  good.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 13th, 2015 09:14 am (UTC)
Thanks for this continuation of your story. Can I ask if the "uncall"/experience/perception came on as quickly as the experience of bliss?
Sep. 13th, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)
It almost did. but it was a thought process, and lasted for months rather than seconds. I awoke one morning with the "realization" that life was meaningless, but that "realization" grew over days as i tried to shake it off and pray it off, Funny thing is, i continued to study for my "preacher's license" as if nothing had happened.
Sep. 13th, 2015 11:35 am (UTC)
It seems you had many experiences most children/adolescents never have. That must have shaped the person you are now no matter how far away you perceive it in time. And without knowing you personally, it does not sound as if you have Aspergers as you did have a good amount of social experience among other sorts. I always resist labels myself...
And thank you for continuing your story. I appreciate it a lot.
Sep. 13th, 2015 06:37 pm (UTC)
Well, it is a self diagnosis, and those are always questionable.
Temple Grandin attributes her success, in part, to the social environment of the fifties. I think the forties were even better.
Adults had better things to do than worry about their kids, at the same time communities were still strong. The balance of stability and freedom seems like it was almost perfect for me. I hardly ever remember being at home, but home was always there and i don't think i feared it. I am sure there was some repressed trauma related to family, but autism best explains to me the lack of family memory. I have asked my brothers what kind of big brother i was. They say "pretty good." but don't give details. I have not asked my sister that question for reasons still too difficult to go into. Ketchikan was my Avalon, my Eden. Not perfect, but pretty close.
Sep. 14th, 2015 12:33 pm (UTC)
thank so much for talking more about your life story, Bob!
Sep. 16th, 2015 08:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading it.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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