I learned to read when I was a young kid living in a small town called Floriston. It was about thirty houses splattered against a mountain side, just into California from Reno NV, along I-40.
It was a major stop for the railroad in the 1800's, with a 52 room hotel and right next to a large ice facility, where the trains could load up.
The town was built in 1899 by the Floriston Pulp and Paper Company to house employees. It was the second largest paper mill in the world at the time.
When the mill shut down, it turned into a ghost town. In 1947 a lawyer from San Francisco bought the place, and incorporated it.
Why we moved there in the early fifties when I was about six, only my step dad knows, and he is now long gone.
I lived there for several years with my older brother and younger sister. We walked at least a half mile every day, across two major railroad tracks, up to I-40 to catch a school bus into Truckee, thirty miles away.
Reading became my passion. As I encountered new words, I would look them up in a dictionary I somehow had. I learned the difference between then and than.
It didn't serve me well as I landed a major programming contract many years later, where I made a written presentation to a company and the President said I had the contract, but there are two p's in shipping, Jim.
That would be Interocean Steamship, a major shipping company in San Francisco, where I created two major computer applications, over seven years.
I suppose I could stop here with this post, but that would leave so much unsaid about Floriston.
These were my brothers and my formative years, under a strict step dad, and they ended up defining us. I survived, somehow, Dana did not.
Our bedroom was a dark basement with two small beds. Our mom was wonderful and kept our spirits somewhat alive, and occasionally my grandfather would show up and take us to the drivein in Reno.
In Dana's later years, unknown to me, he ended up homeless on the streets of Sacramento, CA, out of his mind. One day he took a leak behind a building and the cops charged him with indecent exposure and he ended up in jail as a registered sex offender. They put him in a mental institution, and eventually a locked down nursing home in Modesto, where I saw him last. He died early this year.
Me, hell, I was one fucked up kid as I reached my teenage years. We were long gone from Floriston but I was a mess. My IQ was very high, but I didn't know what to do with it, and I lacked the skills and guidance to do anything right.
Thus evolved the crazy journey that led me here. It is what it is, and I finally consider myself a good man...