I was raised in three places at once: on a farm outside North Platte, Nebraska, on my grandfathers estate along the banks of the Fox River in Illinois, and during the school year, in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
A Farm in the Sandhills
Our farm was actually a Homestead. My great-grandparents may have wanted to be near their famous Uncle, Col. William F. Cody. But whatever the reason they settled on ninty acres of Nebraska Sand Hills outside of North Platte, Nebraska on the fork of the North and South Platte Rivers. It was a burgeoning rural farm community made so mostly due to the Union Pacific Railroad along the throroughfare that would become US 30, and to the fact that Buffalo Bill chose to settle there. The "Great Scout" built the Scout's Rest Ranch there and the family clustered around him.
The UPRR had tracks from the East all the way to Promentory Point Utah in those days and it served the country well. The head end grew to encompas most of the west and they had our farm was later condemned by rule of Eminant Domain to accomodat the three humps that rounted train traffic throughout the West. My great-grandparents raised 11 kids on that farm, and I learned how to be a man there almost 100 years later working summers from the time I was about eight. The Wilson Family worked the land for themselves and my father from sunup till sundown till the bitter end came the year Elvis died in 1976 and Dad sold it.
The house my parents Jack and Bettie built in Cheyenne was with $5,000 Mom got from her G.I. Bill. She was an U.S. Army lieutenant during World War II and as an Army nurse had brought the guys back to life with the most severe injuries suffered overseas, multiple amputations and so forth. Hundreds of men gained the benefit of her German-Scots Irish toughness, intelligence and compassion, She was the best medical person I have ever known. No doctor I have met since knew more about internal medicine than she did or the healing power of the human body, mind and spirit.
After the war Mom volunteered to work with polio victims in the age where Jonas Salk discovered polio vaccine. She moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1948 to meet a man, and did: the ratio of men to women was 4 to 1. My father had accidentally stabbed himself in the leg with some ice tongs as he was icing a UPRR refrigerator car. He had gotten out of the Army and had finished college at the University of Wyoming. She was the nurse who helped him heal in a couple of different ways.
He had graduated with a major in psychology and had completed a year of law school when a disaster struck the popular Wienbarg family. His entire family was killed in a car accident on the way back to Cheyenne from a visit with him at the University in Laramie. The shock waves jar me to this day. Irma, his mother driving, father George and brother George Junior in the back seat of a 1946 Chevrolet were traveling back to Cheyenne from Laramie on U.S. 30. It was early in the morning. The blinding winter sunrise and the last leg of a long journey to pick up George Junior from the airport in Denver put everyone in the car to sleep. Only George Junior woke up the next day with a blood clot in his leg that found its way to his heart, which stopped with his doting brother Jack beside him. He moved to Iowa for a year to be with his Aunt Alice, attending medical school at Creighton. But it was too much. He returned to Cheyenne to take car of the family estate which his weasly cousin Inez was moving in closer for the kill. But family was everything to the 24-year old orphan, and he kept Inez and her sons close to him, even she and Wesley, her oldest would later steel much more from him than he could possibly imagine at the time.
Jack and Bettie met about a year later and married. I came along, then my brother Jim and my sister Beth Louise. It was fun to be alive and living in America in The Fifties! The War had ended only five years before and we were all there to enjoy the fruits of America's "success". None of us knew what sadness lingered in my father. It was the German way to keep such things well-hidden.
I loved my childhood, the kids took turns visiting The Farm in Nebraska and then there was the annual trip to Oswego, Illinois with the entire family where my mother's extraordinary family welcomed the wounded Father and his adoring throng. Love multiplied in these days.
and sister, James and Elizabeth who still live in Wyoming and Colorado
are the orphans. Mom left the earth in this form in 2001, Dad in '95.
Jim is a railroader who put in almost 30 years hauling freight between
Cheyenne and Rock Springs. Beth, our younger sister put in her time in
raising her now twenty-somthing children Sonya Elizabeth, Heather Louise
and Aaron Kyle.
Dad had found solice in his music and acting aftter The Accident. He had played clarinet throughout his high-school and college years, and began soloing at the Revised Church of Latter Day Saints then the Baptist Church while living with Aunt Alice and Uncle Floyd in Council Bluffs, Iowa. After moving to Cheyenne he began singing on the First Baptist Church radio program on Saturday mornings, and I was right there in the control room with Ray Lansing at KFBC to watch. By the time I was 16 I had my own radio show on KRAE thanks to Mr. Tom Bauman.
I did time
in Cleveland , just like Don Imus Bob Hope, Andrew Carnegie, George Steinbrenner
and Buffalo Bill. There I worked at WGCL, and on the first of two big
television specials, voiced many commercials and got the guts to think
I could really "make it" in New York City.
Hank Berger in Hollywood he and I researched and wrote When the Music's
Over, the Jim Morrison Story for Robert Evans of Paramount Pictures
and achieved world fame again when we cut up the original Hollywood Sign.
By placing little pieces of it on Art Deco plaques that Hank had designed
then selling them we garnered attention in practically every media outlet
in the world. In New York six years later I capitalized on the icon's
fame again by becoming the first person to achieve a trademark on it,
then creating a line of clothing called Hollywood Clothing with the Korean
designer Viola Park. We again hit the press and achieved the same reach
as selling the sign did plus and including articles in Time Magazine,
People Magazine, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles
Times, and so on. The line was sold in fifty states and stores world
wide. Hank died at the end of October, Halloween Day two years ago. He
had been a magician, and was a Harry Houdini fan. See you in Heaven big
Before that, I also produced and was to star in the pilot for the music video series Kicker Kountry for the Nashville Network which was to air live from the Ed Sullivan Theatre on Broadway but some dweeb from Cleveland swindeled me out of the title and I was left holding the bag and the advance press that had come out allover New York.
For the past thirty-five years I have worked throughout the country in broadcasting as a broadcast journalist covering some of the most fascinating stories in the world. I am currently acting and writing screen plays.
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