Today's Featured Biography
All right, let's take a whack at this bio thing!! Born in Grinnell and adopted by two fledgling professional photographers a few days later. Spent the early years through 1966 in Grinnell and then Mom and Dad decided to move to a larger market in Ames. My brother and I went kicking and screaming, but eventually adapted. AHS was huge compared to GHS(which I never enrolled at, but still stay in touch with some of their '69 alums), but I got used to it eventually. Back then, the ADD folks were labeled, as the Peggy Ramundo book so aptly says, "Lazy, Crazy, or Stupid". My guidance counselor chose the first label and who was I to argue. Did manage to graduate, but failed the summer ISU sessions for the same reasons and spent two years commuting to DMACC in Boone. Still lazy and one elective short of the 2 year degree. Nam was over with and I didn't see the point in going any further.
Worked a lot of construction jobs at ISU and surrounding areas until the big snowstorm in mid April of 1973. 14" had fallen on Ames and put a stop to the construction of the Animal Disease lab we were working on. Two weeks later after we'd gone back to work, another 5 inches fell and I decided to pack up all my VW and Porsche stuff and follow my parents to Arkansas where they retired in 1971.
Worked for the Kroger Food Company in their Warehouse for 25 years until they decided to consolidate the Memphis and Little Rock locations, and my wife said she wasn't moving any further SOUTH!! There was a Target Distribution Center in need of help so badly that they hired a 47 year old reject like me and in 2003, they let me transfer to the new Distribution Center in Cedar Falls. My wife was thrilled, but the kids went kicking and screaming. They've since realized it was a good thing for them.
While in Arkansas, I developed addictions to high end stereo equipment and canoeing and kayaking and to a much lesser extent, golf. Attended a slide show in the summer of 1977 hosted by a Dr. Ken Cooper, the author of numerous aerobics books and from then on, I was addicted to running and exercise. One mile at a time turned into two and then five and then 10 and pretty soon I was marathon training. Raced 4 of them and even broke 3 hours in 1981. All this fitness transferred to competitive canoeing and kayaking and in the early and mid 80's, we'd travel to the Missouri Whitewater Championships and make an annual trip to the Wausau whitewater course on our way to my wife's family's property 90 miles away in Lakewood. I organized close to 100 canoe and kayak slalom and downriver races throughout the 80's and early 90's in Arkansas with a lot of help from the Arkansas Canoe Club. One member said very accurately," Max organizes the slalom, and Joyce organizes Max!". We even put together a couple of triathlons, when they were more or less in their infancy. I pursued canoe and kayak instructor certification in 1987 through the national governing body, the American Canoe Association.
All this involvement in paddling competition migrated to the national scene as both a competitor and a volunteer. I qualified for the 1992 Olympic Trials in Maryland, but wasn't going to make the team. Just being there and absorbing the atmosphere was worth the gas money. Little did I know that 4 years later in Atlanta, I'd be an Olympic head coach for a team of one from Guatemala! I could write a book about those 5 weeks away from the family.
Speaking of family, I met my wife Joyce on a canoe trip on the Current river in the spring of 1977, and it sort of escalated later that summer in Lakewood, and we were married in October of 1978. We finally hatched a couple of kids in 1988/1989 and being a parent was a brand new challenge. A son Greg, who's now finishing up his AA degree at Hawkeye here in the Cedar Valley, and Amanda, who's just starting her freshman year at Augustana College(Joyce's alma mater) in the Quad Cities. Greg followed a similar path to his dad as far as school went and is active in the same autocross events I used to do at his age. Amanda is more into the movies, music, and dance scene.
For those of you that had your senior photos taken by my parents, they sold the studio on Main St. in 1971, retired to Heber Springs Arkansas, and for a while kept an apartment in St. Louis as Mom trained new photographers for a photography chain named Lisle Ramsey Studios. Mom and Steve Ward's mom(editor of the school yearbook) either didn't get along or mis-communicated with the cropping information on the senior pictures, as those of you that always wondered why the Hill's Studio photos looked smaller than the Wellhouse photos, well now you know the rest of the story. Stewart Buck's mom inquired as to whether Mom would retouch out Stew's long sideburns from the senior photo and Mom said no way, so Mrs. Buck carted Stew to Hill's since they would do the modifications. Three strong-willed women for sure.
The heat and humidity in Arkansas didn't agree with Mom and Dad's arthritis, so they moved to Sedona, AZ(before it was hip to live there) in 1976 and Dad died rather early on of brain cancer in 1978, Mom sold the house that was too big to live in alone and moved to southern California for a while, but tired of that rat race and moved to Walnut Creek and spent her final years there in a gated retirement community. She left us on Mother's Day in 1996.
As a family, we were pretty regular attendees at St. John's Lutheran Church in Grinnell growing up and once we moved to Ames, Mom and Dad joined the Lutheran Church on 16th St. near the high school. We attended maybe twice through the high school years, but returning for the "graduation" recognition in the spring of 1969, I was shocked at all the babes that were members of that church. Not that this would've motivated me to go to church more often....... Living in the bible belt for close to thirty years gave me a different perspective on religion and it took a long time to sift through a lot of narrow minded thinking. We had tried to hook up with a couple Lutheran churches down there and even that didn't feel right, but eventually Joyce found a Presbyterian church she liked and eventually I followed suit. The interim pastor there, Dr. Dick Hardy,was in his early 80's at the time and later we found out he had marched with Dr. King in Selma Alabama; no small commitment from a white man back then. His successor was equally feisty and remains a mentor both to us and our kids. Joyce was the head of Christian Education at the Arkansas church, and for a while held that position at our current church here in Iowa.
Our five plus years in Iowa this time around have had their ups and downs, but on balance, the move back has been for the better. We manage to keep busy most of the time and when all the important stuff is done, a volunteer opportunity avails itself and the old pastimes of paddling, golf, Sudoku puzzles, Steven Wright jokes, music, writing(or couldn't you tell, German cars, fitness, and plain old loafing; not necessarily in that order.
If I had to pick one high school days "moment", it would likely be the Friday or Saturday night when as a Junior in the fall, Stew Buck somehow found out about this show band that was coming to the ISU Memorial building for a concert. They were called the Fabulous Flippers. Donald Fagen claims that the Rascals are the original blue-eyed soul brothers, but I submit the Flippers would've given them a run for their money. Stew took his girlfriend Jan Steel, I took Joyce Matters, and I'm sure there were others that "looked" like college kids that were able to get in. Man, what a show! Most of you remember their big hits, Harlem Shuffle and I Don't Wanna Cry, but that whole night was magical. A little water over the dam since 1967, huh?
I'll close with a couple of Steven Wright jokes....no wait a minute...I've lost page 35!!! I guess it wasn't that important.
Back to Steven Wright...
"My high school colors were clear......I'm not naked, I'm in my band uniform.."
"I was picking up my girlfriend for a date one Friday night and her dad answered the door. I asked him when I needed to have his daughter home and he aid eight fifteen.....I said, middle of August? Cool!"
"My third grade teacher was 70 years old and really deaf. The only way she could catch us talking in class was to keep the room at 16 degrees Fahrenheit so she could see our breath."
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