my father was discharged. he and my mother returned to jonesboro, arkansas, their home town, which was about to adapt as its motto ' the city ready for tomorrow'. after the war just about everyone was ready for tomorrow, the surprise of course would be that tomorrow was beyond what anyone could imagine.
my mother's parents also returned to jonesboro. they had moved to jacksonville, just north of little rock, for the war effort. my grandfather made detonators for bombs. my mother gave tours to visiting brass, and worked in the bookkeeping department. my grandmother gardened in the pre-fabricated suburb that housed the detonator plant workers. back in jonesboro, my grandfather sold dodges and my grandmother continued her gardening behind the house they rented on oak avenue, and raised chickens. my parents lived with them, housing being in very short supply after the war. my father began a degree in business from arkansas state university as my mother grew great with child. jonesboro was beginning the population boom that would envelope many american cities as mechanization took command of the farms and people began to look for the new era in which progress would be the most important product.
one of the newcomers to jonesboro and the staff of st. bernard's hospital was a recent m.d. from north dakota, walter shepherd. my mother was one of dr. shepherd's first patients, somewhat to the horror of some of my father's family. dr.shepherd was a roman catholic. he would become a friend and physician to most of the family, even though many of them never forgave him his papism. indeed his religion would have an important impact on my nuclear family later. but in 1946 everyone was happy that shep was successful in a knock-'em-out-and-drag-em-out delivery of a ten-pound boy--me. i weighed nearly 10% as much as my mother, and didn't seem too anxious to enter the world. but, stainless steel forceps convinced me.
i was brought home to be the first grandchild on either side of the family, and was expected to enjoy the fruits of the many sacrifices of the war years.
and, i had been expected to be a son, named dale richard in memory of 'a handsome young marine' who had been a close friend of my parents before he became one of the millions of casualties of the war. it would be many years before my mother told me anything else about richard dale, whose war memorial i was. he was not only dsome, and a marine, but he was a homosexual. it was a brave new world into which i was born, but not brave enough to talk about sex.