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“Once upon a time . . .” How else do you start a story on a white blank screen? Do you open the tale with some far-out statement that you, the author, have to maintain chapter by chapter? Or do you leave the writer some leeway to spin his or her story? Once upon a time gives the author that privilege. Let’s start with a life that began because of some quirk of nature. Normally, when the many halves of a new life struggle their way up the warm, moist channels to meet the other half of a new life, one new life-form develops. However, in this particular sexual encounter, two spermatozoa overcame the odds and managed to penetrate a pair of ovum. Now two new life-forms begin their migration down the channel to fasten their growing cell bodies to the nourishing walls of the womb. Nine months later, two baby boys were born (a traumatic event probably best not remembered) and began their life journey. In the evolving tale, it will be up to the reader to determine if this is a compilation of fact, a mixture of fact and fi ction, or just pure fi ction. The fraternal twins grew up on a farm in the Midwest, and some of the rigors of farm living in the 1920s are part of the tale. However, it is used only to set the stage for one twin’s story. But wait! The twins were not alone. Two brothers preceded them so closely in this family that only two years separated the youngest from the oldest. A sister was born when the twins were fi ve. The mother of these fi ve children died shortly after the fi fth baby was born. The father’s mother stepped in to care for the newborn and at the same time tackled the task of raising and infl uencing the lives of four rambunctious boys. Five years later, the father remarried, and fi ve children were born to this second marriage, but so much later that they had little to no infl uence on the character of the elder fi ve. The fi rst four were close enough in age to present the same parental challenge as quadruplets. Each brother probably infl uenced another; however, the story is not about some personality trait caused by the close association with one another. A graduate student in psychology could write an A+ term paper on the interaction of the four completely different personalities. No doubt the many daily routines of maintaining a general-purpose farm infl uenced the path each brother would follow in later life. As soon as each boy was big enough (age six or seven), they were assigned chores—that is, feed the chickens, feed and milk the cows, slop the pigs, clean the barn, and so on—to do all the daily menial jobs it takes to operate a small farm stead. The tasks grew harder as the brothers aged and grew stronger. Farming in the early years of the twentieth century required input from every able-bodied individual needing the life-supporting sustenance provided by the land and animals. The father, the Old Man, on this farm had a constant battle to keep everyone carrying their share of the workload.read more