I am self diagnosed with obsessive compulsive behavior. I have had the “collector” thirst in me since I was just a little guy. Over the years it’s been baseball cards, comic books, records, albums, tapes, CD’s and now digital files. But I think I began displaying my first symptoms in the second grade.
I remember finding a book at the grade school library that fascinated me. It was a book about airplanes and had page after glorious page of 3D outlined views of just about every kind of aircraft you could think of.
I purchased a Rainbow tablet at the corner candy store for a nickel. It was great – five different colors and stacked so high it seemed I would never run out of paper. With my trusty (class required) Laddie pencil, I would daydream through class after class by tracing those planes. Each page had a top, front and side view. I labeled them all carefully and really had no idea why I was doing this or what I would do with all the tracings when I was done.
The kids at the desk around me thought I was crazy because there was no obvious use for my artwork. I think I even knew that back then, but if nothing else, I got pretty good at identifying aircraft. I begged for and received a set of Tootsietoy die-cast metal airplanes. I flew them around imagining all sorts of exotic destinations and fake battles.
You might think that this led me to my decision to join the Air Force, but trust me, that wasn’t it. First, I have been deathly afraid of heights as far back as I could remember and the thought of flying in ANY plane freaked me out. Second, and remember this was during the Vietnam conflict, I had been drafted and would have gone into the Army anyway. I gave up an extra two years of my life to enlist, but as far as I was concerned, I was alive because I avoided the Army. So much for childhood dreams…