Chapter 1: The beginning

Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)

The above quote is a true look at my life up to this point, as all I can do is look at it and wonder what could have been had I chosen a different path in life. But the question comes to mind, why would I have chosen a different path? I chose the path I took with full knowledge as to what I was doing.

Let us begin with the world at the time of my birth. The year was 1979, and the following items were in the headlines:

  • Vietnam Takes Over Cambodia
  • Shah Leaves Iran For “Vacation”
  • Ayatollah Khomeini Returns To Iran From France
  • China Invades Vietnam
  • Accident At 3-Mile Island Pa., nuclear Plant Threatens Area
  • OPEC Announces Further Oil Price Increase, 50% In One Year
  • $1.5 Billion Federal Bailout Is Approved For Chrysler
  • US and China establish diplomatic relations, formal ties with Taiwan are severed
  • Voyager sends photos of Jupiter
  • Margaret Thatcher is elected first Woman British Prime Minister
  • Inflation 13.3%, Prime Rate 15.75%
  • “Archie Bunkers Place” with Carroll O”Conner premiers
  • “The Dukes Of Hazard” with Tom Wopat and John Schneider premiers
  • California is the first state to initiate gas rationing on alternate days, many states will follow
AMC Gremlin
AMC Gremlin

And in Hopkinsville, Kentucky an event was occurring that did not make the headlines. A young woman was being rushed to the hospital in a small AMC Gremlin. The young man that was the driver and eager father was a Medical Technologist at the local Hospital. For many weeks, the young couple had waited and planned for this moment and it had finally come.

Jennie Stuart Medical Center
Jennie Stuart Medical Center

The local hospital was named Jennie Stuart Medical Center. Its history is like that of many hospitals in the United States. A doctor realized there was a need for a medical facility in the local community and so he did his best to make it happen.

The Godsey Family
The Godsey Family

So off about 10 in the morning on that first day of summer, June 21, was born a male child to Gary Wayne and Fredericka Margaret Ann Stites Godsey. There was some debate, as is usual with first time parents, as to what they should name this child. The mother wished for him to carry his father’s name, but his father was against the notion all together. So a compromise was reached. They named him Gregory Wayne Godsey. This was a good compromise as the child still bore the initials of his father and was not a junior, which of course, was the father”s objection to using his name.

Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church

My first memories are of Sunday Breakfast at my grandparents. We would all go to Sunday Morning Mass at 7:30 AM and we would all sit together in what most people at Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church would have called Stites pews. The family started out taking up two pews and by the time I was 7-8 we were up to three sometime four pews. You see, I am no stranger to big families. My grandmother Stites (my mother’s mother) had seven kids. By the time you add their spouse (or in some cases, spouses) and their two to four kids each, you have a rather large family. We had some of the most interesting family get-togethers but that is an entirely different story.

Robert Stites Sr and Me
Robert Stites Sr and Me

The Sunday morning breakfast was a delightful time in my memories. Oh sure, there were fights between children and sometimes their parents, but that is the benchmark of families. My Grandfather Stites (Robert Hunt Stites, Sr.) would always cook the eggs with pig brains cooked in. I did not know that fact until I was much older or perhaps I may not have eaten so much of them. But then again, the Godsey’s and the Stites for that matter, rarely refused food, no matter how bad it might actually be. My Aunt (Christine Standard Stites) would cook the biscuits or rolls to have with the breakfast. My Grandfather loved her rolls, which may explain why after his death her rolls started to take a turn for the worse. We have jokingly threatened to use her rolls now as weapons against each other, that was until the Kentucky State Congress voted to place her rolls on a list of deadly weapons.

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Firetruck

I do fondly remember my grandfather taking us to the fire-station in Hopkinsville. He was at one time a volunteer firefighter. When he was growing up the Latham Hotel in Hopkinsville, burned to the ground. The Latham Hotel was not one of those pay by the hour places, no it was a place the President of the United States might go to relax. My grandfather ran inside the building as it was on fire and rescued the two large planter vases that stood at the foot of the stairway in the hotel. These vases where taller than him but he felt he had to do something the help rescue the fine antiques that were housed in the Hotel.

Helicopter
Helicopter

Sometimes my grandfather would take us to the Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. This was my favorite place to visit as it had a full scale, working Helicopter just outside the main part of the museum. My grandfather had served in the military for a short time. I am not sure if he was in any of the combat zones during his tour of duty. I wished at times that I had listen to his stories more. But now I am just destined to wonder until I see him again.