The clause, “Gordon is I,” sounds pretentious even to a retired English teacher, but I happen to be both Gordon and retired teacher. Over the past twenty-odd years, I occasionally read excerpts before I became its editor and made it public.
Purchased in Woolworth's Five and Dime store, the book yet retains the embossed gold-colored word "Diary" on its front cover, which is saying something for objects produced decades ago by the American work force.
I believe Mother must've read it because she threw out all my other personal effects after I joined the Navy, including model airplanes and cars; buzz welder; three flashlights; and my collections of jackknives, matchbooks, and "Hot Rod" magazines.
I paid two bits for the first issue of "Hot Rod" at Your Record Store near Davis's restaurant in downtown Wisconsin Rapids. That issue is now worth five thousand dollars. Neither restaurant nor record store exists, plus records are used mainly by finicky audiophiles. CD's work quite well for my ears.
After Dad's death, besides giving up writing in the diary, I also miraculously stopped bed wetting entirely except for two brief summer periods when I visited Dad's brother, Uncle George, his wife, Marie, and their children Mary Lee, Mike, and Buddy.
On my first reading, I discovered I was more unwise as a youth than I had previously thought. If a family member had discovered the book, I had two perfectly-prepared explanations for its existence: 1. It belonged to a chum who gave it to me to hide; or 2. I found it in the Old Grove's outhouse-sized, abandoned electrical building with missing door.
How is it possible that a friend would have family members with the same first names as my family and how could a book left to deal with Wisconsin's weather be in nearly perfect condition?
By the way, that building is the same one where Bobby Kell stored a cache of his father's cigarettes under a pile of the previous year's fallen leaves that crackled whenever we brushed them aside during the following spring and summer to get at those "coffin nails" or "cancer sticks." That's what everybody called them. Decades later, the Surgeon General didn't have to enlighten us.
Oh, those were the days for which I have such fond memories of childhood friendships, including but not limited to the four Kell children; the Peterson (Danielson) brothers; Louis "Louie" Abler; Johnny Nelson; Karen Klinkenbeard; Johnny Ristow; Lynn Manley; Roger Aton; Billy Schroeder; Jimmy Lokken; Mary Ann Schnabel; Timmy Lattimer; and Lee Anunson (Oh, could he cuss, and would we laugh). Such fond, fond memories.
I swore I'd never be like my parents. However, I turned out to be as humanly imperfect as they, which prompts an overdue apology to them and to my adult children who swore they wouldn't follow my path, either.
So, what's the point of this? Simply, I have decided to continue the diary in this public venue in the tradition of Gordon Bartholomew Hoffman, a nom de plume I cooked up seventy years ago as an eight-year-old. I shall retain his penname.
By the way, I loathe self-centered confessions by either the famous or infamous. So, where does that place me? Plainly, this word gatherer sees himself as being no better than the best and no worse than the worst but somewhere in between, including ninety per cent of the rest of all living humans.
The five-above figure includes Mother Teresa types; Medal of Honor recipients; police officers; fire fighters; active U.S. military members; and ordinary citizens who put their lives in jeopardy to save the lives of fellow humans they don't even know.
The five-below figure includes politicians who serve more than two terms of office; child molesters; religious terrorists; rapists; contract murderers; and all other felons, convicted or not, who don’t regret they committed their crimes because they were wrong. In that order.