Writing demands continued to haunt him in graduate school at the University of Iowa, where he was majoring in speech-language pathology. Finally, he went to war. With his advisor's encouragement, he signed up for a writing class.
"Creative writing - fiction, will that be okay?" he asked his advisor.
"Whatever it takes," his advisor responded.
About the third time the writing professor wrote, "Show, don't tell" followed by a so-so grade, Donald began to understand show, don't tell! That was when he started making the cowboys in his stories talk occasionally instead of telling the reader that they were tall, silent types.
Donald isn't tall, silent nor is he a cowboy, but he finally has time to ride his horse since he retired from his life's work as a public school speech-language therapist. His retirement has been short-lived, however, because he recently began working part-time for Prentke Romich Company. They manufacture and sell computerized devices for handicapped people who have language and cognitive skills, but cannot talk due to disabilities such as cerebral palsy and brain injury. These devices, configured on an individual basis, have speech synthesizers that respond when the User touches select icons.
He discovered an interest in writing stories portraying father-child relationships, involving both conflict and joy. One of his favorite characters is a lot like his daughter, Kristina, who loved playing basketball in high school, even though she was very short and spent a lot of time on the bench, unless her team was WAY ahead in points! Last year she graduated from the University of Montana with high honors. She is a member of Mortar Board National Honor Society, and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. At graduation, when she came strutting out with all of those colored ropes on her gown, her dad cried (Donald, that is).
Donald also likes to develop characters similar to his son, Mickey, a nationally rated free-style ski racer. At Senior Nationals, 1997, Snow Bird, Utah, he needed one more run with at least an average score to qualify for the U.S. World Cup team. He figured he was "shoo-in," and decided to try a new trick on his second air. He fell, no score. Darn, that same dad cried again.
Later Mickey somehow lost his racer's edge after appearing in Warren Miller's "Snowriders II movie," 1997, as both a skier and a narrator. Expect to find Mickey waiting tables in Hollywood soon.
Donald is hoping to find a home for a book consisting of a compilation of his short stories called IF YOU'VE GOT THE TIME - The 11 short stories portray father-child relationships, relationships of sorrow, conflict, courage, fear and humor and of joy, of course. These stories are set in an array of times, places and circumstances. Some of the stories are written from a child's point of view, but most are from the father's point of view. A complete proposal and text of the book are available from Donald Price.
My dad and I planned to leave before dawn for opening day pheasant hunting. I got up before my
alarm, before my dad, and before my labrador retriever, Jigs.
I had cleaned my new shotgun so many times in the last week that I was probably in danger of wearing out the barrel but I ran the cleaning rod through it once more in case it had picked up speck of dust since last night. I put just a touch of oil in the action, too.
I checked my wallet to make sure I had my hunting license, put my gun in its scabbard, grabbed my hunting vest and put everything in the pickup. Those actions, the sounds of "trip!" never fail to awaken Jigs.
We had breakfast at a truck stop and arrived before daybreak at the Dapner farm, home of Rex
and Molly Dapner and their son, Alex, who had moved away.
When we pulled up to the farmhouse, Rex blinked the porch light, so we figured he would join us shortly.
While we waited, I decided to make sure I had put my license back in my wallet.
"You're going to wear your license out if you keep checking it," Dad said.
How did he know? "Uhh, I was gonna put it in my hunting vest."
I could imagine his smile as he kidded me.
"Good idea, Charles."
I found my son, Cody, sitting on the lawn in the back yard.
"Hey, guy, mind if I go to baseball practice with you?"
"No! No more baseball," he said.
"Oh, now Cody. Get your mitt and let's go."
"No, Dad, I'm done with baseball." He picked a cloverleaf.
"Why?" I sat down on the picnic table.
"I'm just sick of it."
"So you're quitting?"
I recalled Coach Sturdy's pep talk from the first team meeting in Kiwanis Park.
"Okay, ballplayers, we are going to have a winning ball club here," he had said. "Our secret for winning will be team play. We'll begin playing as a team from day one, today! How? Anybody " The movement of his hands stopped.
He stood still.
"Practice," a small boy sitting in front of him said.
The coach danced backwards so he could see him.
"Practice, yes, very important," he said. "What's your name?"
"Pepper.' Pepper spoke from under a too big baseball hat.
"What is your favorite position, Pepper?"
"Okay, I got a job for you, Pepper." Coach Sturdy's portly belly moved with his hands as he portrayed Pepper's job. "You find a partner who wants to be a catcher and throw him some good pitches, okay?"
"Mmm, kay," Pepper answered.
Oh no he's drunk, Angie thought.
Tom was trying to light a cigarette by aiming the match at the matchbook.
"Tom, you've been drinking?" she said.
She sat down across from him at the kitchen table without removing her jacket or setting the mail down.
"Hell no, I ain't DRINKING! I'm just having a couple beers."
"But how..? Oh, Tom, you were doing so Good, " Angie said. Damn, I said that? she thought.
"Gooood? So who What spedatal...pedestal you on today, woman?"
"I bet you're starving, Tom. Just hold on 'cause the roast is coming up, just the way YOU like it!" Angie gestured toward him with both hands, the mail and a nod as she stood up.
"Nah, take your time," Tom said. "Sit. Sit here by me, okay?"
Angie set the mail on the counter and, without taking her jacket off, began preparations for making a salad and some gravy.
"Take your time, I said."
"You need to eat, big guy!"
"And spoil a good drunk?"
"Oh, you rascal!" She felt her pocket for the car keys. "Darn, left some groceries in the car."
"Like hell you did!"
Trathford Woodspan heard the sound of horse hooves on the pavement behind him and
made three fast pulls on the lawn mower's starter rope. The engine did not fire and the
hooves stopped behind him.
"Damn!" He said to himself.
"Hi, Trathford. Bitchin' hot, huh?" Chip said from his Appaloosa gelding.
Trathford turned some, tipped his jaw, pulled three more times and said, "Hotter than the bennies of sin." Then he pulled once more and let the rope retract, keeping his grip on it.
"No, bennies of it?"
"Never mind, I made that up." He pulled the starter rope three more times.
"Try chokin' it," Chip said.
Trathford dropped the rope, pushed his glasses up and faced Chip as if to say, I'll resume this job as soon as you leave.
"Look!" Chip slid back from the withers of his bareback horse and pointed at them. "My ass is even wetter!"
Trathford examined the damp sweat pattern skirting the horse and the ragged tennis shoes booting the rider's feet. He refused additional study. This guy is just some kid from up the road. So what if I did sit by him on the school bus once or twice? he thought. Then he declared, "Contact sweat, you might say."
"Bareback sweat," Chip said.
"Good thing you are wearing trousers," Trathford said.
"Oh, ha! I got it."
"You do not own a saddle, I presume?"
"Oh, I got one, all right an old time one " Chip reached behind him, flattened his hand, cocked his elbow and raised his hand high. "It has a really high cantle."
Trathford stared at him without expression, as though he were appraising him for a report.
My wife, Carla, and I wanted to have a baby. We tried everything conceivable that our doctor, our friends, and a few old wives suggested. We made love when our body temperatures were hot, cold, and indifferent. We made love when Carla was just about to ovulate, after she had just finished ovulating and in between, of course. We made love when she hadn't ovulated for days while pretending we were both married to some one else, the idea being "With our luck, we'll get knocked-up."
We were ready to consult with a different doctor when the topic came up one summer evening while visiting on the patio with our friends, Jack and Laura. They have six children.
"Have you tried having sex when your body temperature is at a high ebb?" Laura
"Yes, Laura, we tried that, frequently," Carla said.
"Have you tried to accommodate irregularities in your ovulation cycle?"
Jack and I sat puffing on our pipes, planning a fishing trip.
"Yes, that too," Carla said. "I'm about ready to stand on my head!"
"Now you're on to something!" Laura said.
"On to what?" Carla asked.
"Conceiving while standing on your head."
"I was kidding," Carla said. "I can't stand on my head without sex, let alone with "
"Goodness, no. I don't mean stand on your head and have sex, Carla."
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For more information, please e-mail Donald Price