A couple of us, Bob, and Willie, always talked of getting out of this town. We even thought of transferring to a nearby high school just to get away from the overt familiarity of our little town and high school. But I think we knew, deep inside, that we would never do this. Kingsburg was our home, for our entire youth, until we left for college at the tender age of 17.
Certainly, we did not appreciate the safety, honesty, and clean living of our little town. When Hillary Clinton said that “it takes a village”, she was describing our little town. Many townspeople were there to help and protect us, whether we wanted it or not. We never had to hitch hike, as someone we knew would drive by and give us a ride home. Everyone knew who your parents were, and where you lived.
That very security left us wondering about what else was out there in the world. We had intermittent glimpses at the outside world. We went to San Francisco every year with the scholastic honor society. And our band made several trips to the Bay Area, and to Southern California. We often spent summer vacations visiting relatives in SoCal. We saw the big city and we liked what we saw.
Further analysis reveals that my home environment played a large part in this endeavor. My parents were not able to attend college, primarily for economic reasons. But I know they valued education, and our ability to excel in it. They provided supportive activities, like the Scouts, 4-H, music lessons, and after school sports. But mostly, they and our grandparents (who lived across the street) stressed hard work, primarily on my Uncle’s farm, and a vineyard that my Father owned.
How I hated doing farm work. Driving the tractor wasn’t so bad, even though it was terribly boring. But anything involving sweat labor was a real ordeal for me and my younger brother. It was not uncommon for us to get home, after football or baseball practice, and get sent out to the farm until dark to do some back-breaking work. Then after dinner, we settled into some homework, before instantly falling asleep from total exhaustion.
But, I resolved to have different life when I got out of this town. I wanted to be a college educated something, I did not know exactly at that point. But I knew I did not want calluses on my hands, and dirt under my fingernails. Little did I know that the little town, and the work ethic that was forced upon me would lead to future accomplishments.