Author’s Note


The stories contained in these pages are recounted as accurately as possible. I may have some nicknames wrong, and the dates, especially in those chaotic 1970s, may be a bit off, but otherwise this book, to the best of my knowledge, reflects the events and experiences as they actually happened.

Interspersed throughout the narrative, in italics, are my stepfather’s stories in his own words. They are based on notes I took during interviews that I conducted with him in the late 1990s. These are only a small sample of Dad’s stories over the years, and from a period when he was more somber, not to mention sober, so they are relatively low-key compared to his more youthful, enthusiastic versions, full of laughter, irreverence, and about as much edge as he thought the listener could handle. I used versions of some of these in my 2006 novel The New and Improving Thomas, about the misadventures of an aspiring conformist. Take these stories for what they’re worth, as Dad might’ve put it.

I should also say that my mom, who’s a primary source for those early years, is a fairly modest and forward-looking person. I have her support on this project, but I’ve also written this book in a manner that respects her privacy.