I was born in November of 1957 to Ray and Anita Paden at Georgia Baptist Hospital in
Atlanta, Georgia. The youngest of three children, I had no idea what was waiting for
me at home, but of course, I couldn't have done anything about it anyway. My
brother, Daran, was delighted to have a new little sibling on which to practice his pranks
and tortuous experiments. My sister,
was finally able to yield herself to the invading spirit that sought to control her ...
the ghost of a 19th century school marm. Here I am at 4 months. Cute, wasn't
I? That didn't last long.
|I don't remember too much about my early life, except for
Daran tormenting me and Lynndale teaching me to read and cipher. When I was born, my
family lived in a quaint little house on Hill Street in Lakewood Heights, but I have no
memories of it. For me, life began in a three-bedroom brick home on Hutchens Road, a
suburb in southeast Atlanta. That house is still there today, and I occasionally
drive by and get all misty with reminiscence. One of my earliest memories is of
falling off of that home's carport wall into a rose bush. I was standing on
the wall trying to lasso the wayward shrub, but when I caught it and gave a tug the
villainous vegetation caught me instead. This was during the height of the Cuban
Missile Crisis, and many of our neighbors ran from their homes in search of a bomb
|A back view of our carport on Hutchens Road. (The evil rose bush can
be seen in the lower right hand corner!) In addition to serving as a platform for
falling, the carport wall also served as a capital workbench for any kind of hammering,
cutting, burning or painting chore a child might undertake. I might add that my
father was usually unappreciative of my constructive and destructive efforts, to the
extent that they involved the carport wall.
|As you can see from this photo dated June of
1964, I was an avid reader. (I'm not sure how old I was here. My mother
recently informed me that the film was left in the camera until they had the money to get
it developed. Possibly a year, but probably not more than six.) It's hard to
tell from this small rendering, but I'm perusing a catalog with pictures of guns.
The groundwork for many of my varied careers was laid here in this humble library, where I
filled my head with wisdom. I especially remember learning about dinosaurs and
insects from the Golden Book Encyclopedia. I also gained a knowledge of guns and my
first basic understanding of female anatomy from the Sears and Roebuck catalog. But
I never did join the navy.
|Only someone who grew up the youngest of three siblings can
appreciate the joys and trials I faced in those days. Mom and dad would sometimes
leave us at home alone at night, and we would conduct "scare tests" by turning
off all the lights in the house and then congregating in the small bathroom adjoining our
parent's bedroom. Alone, one by one, we would leave the safety of that small island
of light and negotiate our way through the darkened house. Daran invariably went
first so that he could cause a loud crash, utter a strangled cry for help, and then hide
in some dark corner and wait for us to investigate. Oftentimes the evening would
culminate in me angrily chasing him around and around the house with my sister threatening
to tell when mom and dad got home.