What do you want to be when (and if) you grow up?

(This is a photo of my great, great, great, great Grandfather Dillon Asher’s cabin, built in 1820, in Redbird, Kentucky.)

Well, someone is going to out me, probably Fnord, so I may as well out myself and save her the trouble.

Today is my fifty-eighth birthday. It is also the fortieth anniversary of the day I graduated from high School.

I was born in the front room of my grandparents farmhouse, on a wide space on a rural road in Southeastern Kentucky. There is no “there” there. About a mile away is an old stone and clapboard General Store than used to be the local mail drop. In the stone over the door is etched “Jarvis, KY, U.S. Post Office.”

The world has not been the same since I showed up.

I had a very humble start in life. The midwife was paid twenty-five dollars to deliver me. We had no running water and just had got electricity four years before. The farm was 76 acres of tobacco and we largely lived on the garden my Grandma grew and the pigs and chickens that Grandpa kept.

I never saw a doctor or dentist until I was seven years old and long gone from the farm where I was born. I wasn’t circumcised until I was eight. (Jesus Christ! You wanna do what?) When I was twelve, I ran away from home, hoping to hop a freight train back to Kentucky. It was January and I nearly frostbit my feet and had to go back.

Since then, I have often wonder what my life would have been like had I been allowed to stay with my grandparents. Would I have grown up to be the man I am today or would I have been a far different person?

Virtually everything about me today is a product of my intellect and not a reflection of my life post-adoption.

Still, should I ever grow up, what will I be?

I guess, that is a question that can never be answered.

William Stephenson Clark, a.k.a. Stevie


Filed under family

24 responses to “What do you want to be when (and if) you grow up?

  1. Happy birthday to yooouuuu♪♫•*¨*•♥*¨*•♫♪ Happy birthday to you♪♫¨*•♥•*¨♫♪Happy birthday ♪♫•*♫♪Deeeeaaaarrr Will♥♥♥Happy birthday♪♫•♥*¨*•♫♪..to..♪♫•*¨*♥¨*•♫♪..you!

  2. wicked

    Happy b-day, Will!

  3. tosmarttobegop

    Happy Birthday to you and you do not look a day over …. saw you yesterday? …. Ah maybe a day over….
    say… 58?

    But that is a good question, what will I be when I grow up?

    I did start out with some high intentions, a Marine Biologist and specializing in Cetacean Zoology.
    The study of whales, but there was a big problem I totally hated school!
    From 1st grade on it was more like a prison sentence of hard labor.

    A teacher told my parent when I was in the eighth grade that if it is something I was interested in. I did extremely well but if I had no interests it was like whipping a dead horse to get me to do anything. Pretty true of my school years…

    The other interest when I grew up was Law enforcement, I did that for over seven years.
    And was told by other I did well but the Politics caught me and I do not do well being Political.

    A old man asked me once where I had work at? After finishing with the list he said I had more jobs in my short life then he had in over fifty years!
    I still give thought to what I want to be when I grow up and since deciding it was time to find one thing or place it has not worked out.

    Either fired or laid off and the longest of having the same employer has been eight years in a row. My Aunt actually told me she thinks I have a fear of success, I think I would make a great opinion talker. That or a ass hole since everyone has both and they generally stink or so it is said.

    I have thought being a fly on the wall would be interesting high enough to be out of reach of fly swatter of course! Just hang there and watch as the world spins and people act as people. Study them and see where the logic is coming from, though as a human that last part does escape me.

    For the most part the logic seems to be the same as a guy hitting himself in the head with a hammer. If asked he replies that he had just bought that tool and did not want to waste his money so he has to do something with it!

  4. wicked

    I’m 362 days older than Will. I was 7 weeks, 2 days old when I was adopted. The name on my original birth certificate reads Roberta Louise, the name given to me by the nuns. My birthmother never saw me after I was born. Unlike Will, my growing up years were pretty good.

    It’s not where we come from that matters so much as what we’ve done since then and where we’re going from here.

    • My husband was adopted too. It is very sad, really, because he has no idea what the name was on the original birth certificate. And the State of Missouri makes it very hard to find out.

      We have taken the steps that we need to so far. We are at the point where we have to pay several hundred dollars to a private investigator approved by the court who would be given the names of my husband’s birth parents and attempt to find them. If she were to find them, she would ask them if they were willing to have their names given to my husband. If they so no, that’s the end of it. If they say yes, the investigator will facilitate communication.

      You know, he just wants to know where he came from. He thinks about his birth parents a lot and he just wonders if they ever think about him. He wonders if he has siblings in the world. If there is anyone out there that resembles him physically, if they share his interests. It sure as hell doesn’t seem very fair to me that anyone would want to keep that from him.

      Anyhoo, that’s my rant.


      • WSClark

        This is how I found my birth-family…………….

        Now, I did have an advantage because I was born in such a small “town” but we started by looking at all the births on that date in that country.

        One of them will be a “hit.”

        Keep in mind that the authorities sometimes fudged the dates of birth to keep people from finding out the truth. Check dates before and after by a week or so. Look for father “unknown” if he was adopted at birth.

        It takes work and perseverance to find a birth-family. You just have to stay with it.

      • WSClark

        County, not country…………………..

      • wicked


        It’s Missouri’s adoption registry. Free.

        The longer time goes by, the more the chance people are no longer living.

  5. First of all, happy birthday. Secondly, I think you are right, you never know who you are going to be, when you grow up, but we all have goals and dreams we have the possibility to achieve!

    • Good morning ‘goals,’ and welcome to Prairie Pops. Good to see you.

      Goals and dreams — now there’s another interesting topic!

  6. I’m a few years older.

    I was born in 1947 in Watonga, Oklahoma, in a hospital, which was pretty much unheard of for a family of no means back in those days. There were ‘complications.’ So now we all know the reasons behind me being who I am. 😉 Brain damage, undoubtedly.

    I used to answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” by saying: a bum, preferably a bum with enough to keep a roof over my head, ’cause I’m not much of a camper.

    I don’t think I’ve grown up, but I am exactly what I wanted to be if it ever happened! A bum. Who would have known how well suited I was back in the days when I was raising a family and working several jobs to do it? I’m enjoying a well-deserved rest.

    Aren’t we all a sum of our experiences and the interactions with the people we met throughout our years? Who knows how each of us has been effected or what affect we’ve had?

  7. WSClark

    When I wrote this piece, I meant it to be a bit more light-hearted than it came out. I should have known better than that.

    I don’t want to sound like I am wallowing in self-pity. It’s not like that. I’ve long since left the past behind, as evidenced by my comment that the “good old days begin tomorrow.”

    Still, my birthday is a yearly reminded to me of what was and what might have been. As self protection, I do not celebrate my birthday and haven’t for decades. No cakes, no presents, no birthday cards. My family doesn’t like it, but they understand my feelings.

    Anyway, I am proud of my heritage. I am proud of the family that I belong to – the Johnson Clan of SE Kentucky.

    I visited the cabin in the thread photo some years ago, and visited the graves of my ancient ancestors, including Dillon Asher. Dillon was a bad boy, fathering children by his wife, his sister-in-law, two French women that had been given to him as payment in a legal matter, one of his slave women and with an Indian woman. Family tradition is that we are decedent from his relationship with the Indian woman, although we can never be sure.

    In those days people turned “white” at census time.

    • WSClark

      It’s kind of fun to play the genealogy game, but it can be frustrating.

      Details can be very murky, for instance:

      Both of my grandfathers originally had different surnames. My maternal grandfather was an Anderson, but for reasons unknown completely, he and his siblings were taken in by the Johnson’s around 1905. Grandpa would have been 5 at the time.

      My paternal grandfather – the evil one that dumped me at the orphanage – was originally a Seimen and changed his name to Clark at some point in the Thirties. We do not know where the name “Clark” came from.

      My maternal grandmother’s lineage is much easier to trace, since it is part of the history of SE Kentucky, Dillon Asher being the first magistrate of the area. We have traced the Asher’s back to the United Kingdom, to at least the early 1600’s.

      One genealogical effort suggests that we may be related to William Wallace of Braveheart fame, but that has yet to be verified.

      “William” is one of the more common given names in our family’s history and I am named for my maternal great grandfather, William Matt Asher.

      There is a long family tradition of using a middle name as a first name, hence I was known as “Stevie” as a child, and my family still refers to me as such.

  8. Today is also Jean Schodorf’s birthday. She is one of the many Republican candidates vying for the nomination and hoping to be elected to the seat Tiahrt is vacating. I personally appreciate her moderate views and think she stands head and shoulders over the other Republicans wanting that seat. Another reason I’m a registered Republican.

  9. Happy birthday!

    I am a believer that everything works out for the best in the end. You received more opportunities later in life, but the bad experiences helped mold who you became.

    Your life would have been happier if you stayed with your grandparents, but you probably had a calling beyond rural family life. Unfortunately, you had to struggle to reach adulthood and your purpose, but you wouldn’t be as strong if you hadn’t gone through what you did.

  10. indypendent

    Happy Birthday..

  11. wicked

    What do I want to be when (and if) I grow up?

    I want to be Leigh Anne Tuohy (played by Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side). She gets things done! People listen to what she has to say! She’s my idol!

    And if you think I’m kidding, think again. 🙂

  12. Freebird1971

    Gowing old is mandatory,Growing up is optional

  13. Freebird1971

    Damn I just realized until Monday Will is 2 years older than I am,guess I should start showing more respect to my elders.

  14. So within a few days we have THREE birthdays? I like that! Even tho Will doesn’t celebrate, when you stop to realize that birthdays beat the hell out of the alternative I say bring em on! 😉

  15. tosmarttobegop

    Kind of what I said of mistakes in life, it does not matter who you were or where you came from but who you are and where you are today.

    Everything goes into who you are at the moment, good and bad.

    LOL here is a story (God is there something that does not remind me of one?)
    I had attended a computer programming school more a tech school then a college.
    I was hired as a staff member and one day asked a question.

    The owner/CEO/Chief instructor all the above had the largest Motor home he could find and often went to KC to watch baseball and Football games. Which as it happened he would be driving through my town going and coming.

    I at the time lived in a house at the end of a small road across the railroad tracks that ran through town. The road was narrow and there was no place along it to turn around such a large motor home.

    So when asked why I had never invited him to stop by at my house?
    I told him briefly what I just described above and said I literally live on the wrong side of the tracks.

    A week later and during a staff meeting, he turned to another staff member and said Ok!

    I then was given a lecture about how it did not matter where I lived today or where I came from as to my self worth. And I should never be ashamed of myself or where I live.

    Now that has never been one of my problems though I can be my worst enemy at times.

    I explained that to the staff member and suddenly the CEO sat up straight and said.

    “But you told me you live on the wrong side of the tracks!”.

    I then explained it again what I meant and he seemed embarrassed and just remarked never minded!

  16. wicked

    I was finally spurred to start searching for birthfamily in the 80’s after reading a Reader’s Digest condensed version of The Search for Anna Fisher. I was in my late 20’s and the Internet wasn’t available. At that time, there were 5 “open states” and Kansas was one of them, meaning anyone over the age of 18 could request their original birth certificate. My birthmother’s last name was unusual, making my search much easier, but it still wasn’t easy.

    I joined Wichita Adult Adoptees for a while and met many great people, both adoptees and birthparents. I even appeared briefly on a news story on one of the local stations after I’d located my birthmother. She wasn’t very willing to give me information I requested (health info), but she finally relented. I haven’t been in contact with her for over 25 years.

    She told me the father’s name on my birth certificate was made up. It’s kind of funny that after a search on the internet, I recently found the very, very unusual name listed on a the website of a high school near where she lived as a teenager. I guess she lied.

    Moral of the story is that if you do find birth family, it isn’t always a positive experience. But it sure doesn’t hurt to try.

  17. Freebird1971

    After reading some of the posts I realized I am so blessed that I have a great family and we are so close to each other.