Earliest Years

© Copyright 2011 by Joel R. Hall – All Rights Reserved

I don’t remember my first Easter because that was the day I was born. It was April 6, 1958. My mother was 22 and I was her third child in 2 ¾ years. I was born two weeks late, and as my birth approached, my mother prayed over and over that Easter would not be spoiled for my older sister and brother by my arrival on that day. This story, repeated to me over and again by my mother, somehow seems to perfectly sum up my early years.

As to how my name, Joel, was chosen, remember that this all took place well before the advent of ultrasound imaging made discovering the gender of an “in utero” baby a possibility, so my parents had to chose names for both genders. As it was related to me, my parents struggled for some time to agree on a boy’s name until finally a compromise was reached wherein the name Joel was chosen. The interesting thing about this from my perspective is not only what the reason was for choosing my name, but also what that reason was not. It was not chosen based on the Old Testament prophet Joel. It was chosen because Joel McCrea was my father’s favorite Western film star and my mother thought the name “sounded good”.

Actually, one of the most interesting things to me about the story of how my name was chosen has to do with the fact that after all the trouble in choosing my name, once I was born my parents chose to call me Joey. I went by this nickname until I was 8 years old, at which point I decided I would rather be called by my true name.

My father was in the military when both of my older siblings were born. My sister Karen was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky and my brother Clayton in Frankfurt, Germany. Indeed, I was conceived in Germany but was not born until after my father’s discharge from the service. We were living in a cozy little two bedroom house on 2nd street in Palestine, Texas at the time. The word cozy, of course, is a quaint way to say that we were crammed into the house like sardines since my father was employed as the county agent for Anderson County and brought home a modest paycheck. My mother, of course, was employed as a full time baby sitter and incubator, so she was working without drawing pay.

I am told that during this time we had a housekeeper by the name of Josephine. I don’t know much about her, but was told often that she doted on me. According to my mother, she called me “Jo-baby” and was as protective of me as a mother hen. Of course, I don’t remember her, but something tells me that I owe her a great debt of gratitude for injecting a large dose of love and attention into my very young life. I base this suspicion on the fact that I do remember experiencing a great sensation of love and loss at the mention of Josephine in the years after we moved from Palestine, leaving her behind. God sends his angels to those that need them most.

Yes, things were tight in Palestine, but they were about to get a whole lot tighter as my father returned to school in College Station to study veterinary medicine at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (later renamed Texas A&M University).

© Copyright 2011 by Joel R. Hall – All Rights Reserved

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About Joel Hall

Onward through the fog!
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