A happy girl flipped me a freshly minted, shiny silver dollar one night in 1974.  I was so blessed as I sat on a old truck tire in the pool of light cast on the gas pumps of a lone gas station about five miles east of Barstow California. The night was cold, as nights are in the desert, and I was wearing a small blanket with a head hole ripped in the center to make a makeshift poncho.  I didn’t have any shoes and wore rags tied on my feet as sandals.

I thanked the happy girl for the silver dollar and used it to make a call home. What’s a 15 year old boy to do twelve hundred miles from his Oklahoma home?  CALL MOM! But she could neither afford to drive out and pick me up, nor send me the cost of bus ticket. Even though mom couldn’t offer a swift rescue from the consequences of my errant teen-age behavior, my spirits were lifted and I rode that call all the way back to Alva, Oklahoma.

I thumbed a ride from a trucker named “Wormy” the next morning. I was home two days later.

My personal experience leads me to believe that the strength of the nuclear family is the foundation of American culture. An intact family, with two parents actively engaged in child rearing, offers the best bet at a robust, dynamic culture at large. With the nuclear family dismantled, as it is today, there is a gradual disintegration of  society as a whole.


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