henson_jwStories by J.W. Henson from All-Creatures.org

About the Author: John W. Henson

 I was born on the raw and rainy night of November 30, 1930 in the small isolated farming community of Ooltewah, Tennessee near Chattanooga. The hillbillies lived between town and us! The great worldwide depression was just heating up. My father died when I was six months old leaving mother and me to face the world alone. She never remarried, but was industrious, thrifty and God-fearing so that life was comfortable enough for us. I necessarily learned the ways of hard work on the farm at a very early age.

I began high school on an exceedingly accelerated schedule of study and toil. I worked nights and weekends in a local printing establishment with forty hours work per week, to pay my expenses. I continued this harsh schedule through college, graduating in 1954 with a BA degree in Chemistry.

On June 3, 1951 Audrey B. Gackenheimer and I were married and have had 59 very happy years together (2010) and hopefully many more to come. Three children came to bless our home. Brenda, our oldest, was a manager with the Nabisco Baking Company in California. John IV is Director of Neurology at the Swedish Institute in Seattle, Washington. Shandelle, our youngest, is Professor of Mathematics, with a PhD, at the Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Sadly, none of them chose to remain near their parents.

I taught High School Chemistry, and Math in a country High School in Missouri in the mid 1950s. It did not take long for me to realize that teaching was not for me, so I returned to the rumble and roar of the printing pressroom. I had started Printing in 1947 as janitor and retired in 1992 as President of the same company. It was a glorious finale to a wonderfully happy life.

Retirement has been very delightful and important to me. Audrey and I have crossed the ocean 38 times, most of which were to visit her cousins in Germany. We have traveled South America, and I crossed the Russian wasteland on the Trans-Siberian railroad. We have made a couple trips to Africa and have developed a love and respect for all cultures. It is sad to see the destruction that our unthinking and greedy inhabitants have placed upon our planet home. May God forgive us in our day of ignorance.

Story telling was always very important to our family. We spent long winter nights before the hearth of a fireplace, and the glow of a kerosene lamp, reading and telling stories. I grew to believe that there was an important story in the life of every human being and that it was my task to unravel it from the happenings of the day. Mother and I began keeping a diary in the early 1940s, and I have perhaps the best-documented personal history of most any one. A short time ago my son called me and said, “Dad, I need the day that I received my acceptance letter from the University that I had been invited into their medical program.” It only took a couple minutes to give him the date. He was impressed and I was gratified. I have encouraged many dozens of friends and acquaintances to start diary keeping. It gives one a continuity to their life that nothing else can.

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