Siblings who are offspring of Mary Ellen Fulk
"Of 8 siblings, only 3 finished high school and 1 finished college."
One might take the above conclusion as a denigration of my siblings (a term
most of them hate, preferring brothers and sisters, but I am sometimes
parsimonious ... sometimes).
The statement is not a reflection of my relative standing--though by all
accounts I have been luckier than my siblings.
The statement is about how bad conditions hold down good people. Consistently,
like me, my siblings when given conditions to do better did do better. My
belief in and hope for humanity is predicated on the real life record of
my siblings of whom I am both extremely proud but sadly estranged.
The statement is not about my being more intelligent than my siblings, for
we are all genetic offsprings of a rare, genetic genius who is the most
dysfunctional person I ever met, my mother. Unfortunately, some of the
dysfuntionality is inherited, hopefully shaped into eccentricities. Fortunately,
I did not murder her after
she almost beat me to death for objecting to her stealing my piggy bank to
buy some fastfood for herself when the house had no food.
Old Bro: My oldest brother was the dumbest person I ever met until
I heard what he had achieved in the US Marine Corps from him and others.
Dropping out of high school in the ninth grade, he lied to get into the Marine
Corps. In his first enlistment, he spent 360 days in the brig. Facing a
dishonorable discharge, a colonel told him that his life was over as a person
who was a high school drop-out with a dishonorable discharge. The same colonel
said that he understood why a bright, motivated person could make bad choices
given my brother's upbringing. A choice, the colonel said, "I'll get them
to give you one more chance to avoid the life that lies before you as a
dishonorable discharged drop-out. I think you can be a good marine. We need
good marines." Slam bam, thank you mam. My brother shaped up into one of
the finest marines ever, earning early promotions including E-9 at 17 years.
Ask any marine if this is an achievement. Ask them if it is an achievement
for a person who had spent a year in brig. My dumb older brother reminds
me of what Mark Twain said of his father, "When I was 14 my father was the
dumbest person I had ever met. Five years later, he was the smartest person
I ever met and he had not changed a bit."
While I am proud of my brother, we are estranged for two reasons: For years
he visited our support-skipping father who I had never met. Old bro never
told any other sibling of our dad's whereabouts. He not only kept this
information to himself but passed himself as a single child without siblings.
It was a great moment, as described to me by another brother--the
my older brother and his family showed up unexpected at our grandfather's
home. My older brother (married for two decades with children in their late
teens) had never told his wife or children of having siblings. Embraced by
the Good Guy, "Who's this?" his wife asked. "My brother." "What!" His children
had the best response, "Great, we got some more aunts and uncles!"
This selfish dysfunctionality I can understand for I'm sure the old alcoholic
who was our dad pressured him to keep quiet. But it did piss me off when
my brother did not come to the old alchoholic's funeral after having kept
our dad to himself for so many years.
The most important reason for estrangement is a telephone conversation that
became a one-way shouting match. When the FBI raided a Congressman's office,
I said this was a violation of the Constitutional separation of powers, that
other, Constitutional means were available for investigating the congressman,
and that it was better to have another corrupt congressman get off than to
violate a foundation of our national problem-solving process. He yelled and
screamed at me like a fascist defending Hitler. I can neither bide nor trust
a person who so screams when he had not only once sworn to uphold the
Constitution but was still drawing a retirement paycheck for that sworn oath.
It was such oath-breaking militarists who provided assistance on November
22, 1963, because they knew better what was for the country than the
democratically elected president. The same military mindset provided deep
information that led to the forced resignation of Richard Nixon.
Brains and Braun: One brother I have always considered gifted with
more raw intelligence than me but he did not have the luck. He has had to
struggle without the mentors which God has gifted me.
God, I miss the
The Sister: No sibling had it harder the single girl in the family.
For a Fortune 500 company, she worked her way up above any level achieved
by any earlier family member. Admirably, she was the first one to retire
from private employment which prompted more than one version of, "Hey, Bob,
if you are so smart why did she retire before you." My response was that
as a rule I could not retire because I consistently liked what I did which
meant I didn't work and couldn't retire.
John Galt: In the book Atlas Shrugged, an engineer is portrayed who
can integrate many facets because of a 3-D mind with a photographic memory.
The most amazing thing about our family John Galt is not that this tenth
grade dropout has final say on new installations of transportation, utilities
and processes at the largest grain public grain processor in the world (ADM's
Decatur plant). The amazing thing is how it could have been his many years
before. While his children went to school, he would quit his job as a plumber
or pipefitter every month of May offering to return to work after school
started in the fall. Despite threats of non-reemployment, he put his kids
first until the youngest said at age 16, "Daddy, I love you, but I want to
spend the summer with my friends." No problem. When he told his boss
of no more summers with his kids, the boss said, "We have this special job
in mind for you. Had it for several years but could not offered it because
of your family focus." Wish he was not a top level computer game player--a
reflection of his 3-D mind and photographic memory--for the world could use
more community leaders of his potential.
Happy Go Lucky: Had too many wrecks and demons to remain happy and
Termite: Being the baby of the family always carries its special
challenges, one of which is "no one will tell me what to do." His legendary
suffering no fools is more than telling a few subordinates to get their tools
and leave a job for doing a poor job. One account has him telling his boss,
"Look, you've never had to re-do a single one of my jobs. If you don't like
the way I am doing it, here's the tools. You do it. Call me when you want
me to work for you and not under you." The family John Galt repeatedly said
he would like to hire Termite as a supervisor but his diplomatic skills are
good for only a foreman.
While my achievements have rested on greater luck than many, my respect for
my siblings innate intelligence is shaped by similiarities in metabolism.
All have been insomiacs, or, as one sister-in-law put it, "Those Brown-Barnetts
can't sleep like the rest of us." Peaks of mental achievements rest on the
rhythm of the bowels of which insomnia and necrolepsy are signs of wide-swinging
bipolar minds. If one takes advantage of the highly functional highs and
minimizes the swings of potentially dysfunctional lows, one can achieve great
things. Opters for the monopolar state of paxil-prosac peace or zoloft zombies
never know the happiness of being one of the best.
As the Roman Imperator was reminded of vissitudes of fate by a slave whispering,
"Fortune and fame are fleeting," so do I know an activity which indicates
that Timism rest more on luck than mental greatness among my siblings: Three
siblings can not only beat me at billiards, but they beat me badly. One time,
I stayed on a pool table for almost 30 hours. Three times I have sunk a ball
on an adjacent table. Pool is a game of finesse, intelligence and
planning. Consistently winning is the sign of a great mind, not a hard-working
While we share similar levels of integration, our divergent paths preclude
the shared information for storied intimacy of close, non-dysfunctional
. In an intellectual pursuit
in which this thinker may be operating beyond his means, the serenity of
isolation precludes on-going, working relations common to many. I'm surprised
that I still have a wife. Consider how in 12-months of 2006-2007 I took three
30-day Amtrak Rail passes. The isolation
of the train coupled with the brief passing friendships is very enjoyable.
The estrangement from my worthwhile siblings is a dysfunction for which I
can claim majority blame. If anyone did anything wrong it was me. Sadly,
as the Beatles said, "Once there was a way to get back home."
Consistently since undergraduate schools I have sought to find a way to share
timism, e.g., the paint pump venture. As I have said to my wife, "If you
need me, I will be there. If you ask me to quit timism then it is time for
My belief in democracy and meritocracy has been shaped by my personal and
familiar experience wherein bad conditions kept good conditions down. When
I look at the products of broken homes and neighborhoods, I see the stunted
plants in the garden of life that did not get the sunlight let alone some
fertilizer to bloom as bright human beings.
Robert S. Brown-Barnett
Created by Linkstat.bas\Program
05-22-2015 @ 07:32:34