Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Dropout (05/12/11)
He was born to immigrants and worked on the family farm, in Arizona, until the Depression hit in the 1930’s. David had always loved school, but the times dictated his fate, and he dropped out in the eighth grade. His parents lost their beloved farm and headed to California. Though not part of the ‘dust bowl’ folks, they joined their ranks, on the way west, furniture and household goods piled high in their truck. David recalled the makeshift camps set up on the side of the road each night, and the flicker of cooking fires seen for a long distance.
Arriving in Anaheim, they heard of orange groves where jobs were plentiful. David and his family worked hard, saved their money and joined their oldest son up north, where he was able to find a factory job. They moved into a small craftsman home in a quiet working-class neighborhood, where David’s father succumbed to cancer. By that time, David was a young teen and had sole care of his mother. He worked side-by-side with his brother in a factory that made pipes to carry water to booming Southern California.
Years past, and like many of his generation, David was unable to return to school. Instead, WWII called him to duty in 1943. He served his country with honor, guarding prisoners of war in Utah. After the war, he married his hometown sweetheart. David resumed his job in the pipe factory. Soon he had three young children, a mortgage and a salary capped by his own lack of education. David dreamed of providing his children with the schooling the Depression had deprived him of. If he was going to enroll them in private schools, he had to get a High School diploma. But where would he begin? He hadn’t darkened the door of a school in years, and felt awkward being in his thirties and not understanding the path to completing his education.
One evening after dinner, as the children were doing their homework, he kissed his wife goodbye and slipped out the door to the local high school office. There he found answers and enrolled in a GED course. His children thought it strange to watch their dad pick up his books and leave for school each night, but David was determined to finish and to teach them perseverance. He refused to test out of the program early, desiring to cover the subjects he’d never taken. After his class, David studied late into the night, despite having to arise early for work. Two years into his education, he felt ready to take the test. David’s family waited anxiously at home for the outcome. They would know by the look on his face when he walked through the door. David walked in, deadpan. Then suddenly, jubilantly, picked up his wife and twirled her around. He hugged and kissed each of his children as they jumped up and down with glee. What had been a difficult journey for David was now a proud victory for the entire family.
Dad never became a professional, nor did he make a grand salary. However, he was able to find a good company to work for, which would not have hired him without his GED. His ambition to send us to private schools was met, and we each learned to persist in our chosen fields, and to honor our father who sacrificed so much for us.
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