I became a writer is my love for books and for telling stories. I have to
thank two people for making that possible. The first is my late
Grandfather Robert Elliott. He was the story teller in our family. I
remember sitting with him as a boy listening to him telling one of his
stories--holding on to every word as I traveled with him in my mind to a
far away place. So I say thank you Grandpa for all the wonderful stories
and for helping me to never stop dreaming.
The other person I
must thank is the late Mary C. Burnell. When I first met Mary, she was
living in my mother's adult foster care home. She was a retired school
teacher who wrote a pictorial history on Port Huron and St. Clair River.
It is a wonderful book about our area. When she met me I was nineteen
years old, and I could hardly read or write. I had no self-confidence. I
just thought I wasnít smart enough to learn.
It all started when I
was a young boy going to school. I was so shy I wouldnít ask any questions
in class. As a result, I fell behind and never caught up. I was put
in a class for children with learning disabilities. For me, it didnít do
much good. I felt embarrassed about being in the class. I thought I
didnít measure up to the other children. I was never passed to the next
grade; I was always placed. That was the way they promoted children who
couldnít get the grades to pass. It was no different in high school. I
went to a vocational school called the Skill Center where I took the Foods
program. One day I was talking to one of the teachers, and I noticed the
class list in his hand. I saw that my name had a "H" by it. I asked him
what it meant. He told me it was because I was handicapped. Thus, you see
why I felt the way I did. But that all changed when I met Mary Burnell.
She made me believe in myself, and for the first time in my life I felt I
was smart enough to learn. I started reading small childrens books and
before long, I could read as well as anyone else. It is the love that I have for
books that made me want to write. I believe Mary and my grandfather put me
on the right path in life. Who would have ever believed the boy from the
resource room would grow up and become a writer?