Before I begin I have had some people think I should rename the blog to things like Tom’s Old Thoughts, Tom’s Recollections, An Old Man’s Ramblings and a few others. I do agree the original title, “The History of Me”, is rather boring. So I ask you to give me your thoughts on the naming of this series. Add your own or use one of the other ones. Just leave a comment at the end of the thread. Thanks. 


“I’m Still Paying For It”


I remember this very vividly. It involves riding the bus. I enjoyed riding the bus because you can learn a lot by doing that. It’s not only good things but it is learning and I was always told I needed to learn something everyday. So here I am in the 4th grade riding the bus to and from school for about 35 minutes each way. There was no assigned seats but it happened that the older kids were in the back and the younger ones were in the front. Leonard Graff was my bus driver.

The Salute

Every school day at approximately 7:25 AM the bus drove up the hill to my house and stopped for me and then down the other lane we had which was always in bad shape with holes and ruts. Some of the kids like that and pretended to bounce around the bus. But I digressed a bit. Every day, yes every day when I got on the bus there was a huge (seemed like it at the time) high school kid sitting in the back seat on the right side and I would bound up the steps and look right at him. He would proceed to raise his left hand and give me the middle finger. I mean that was a daily thing.

One evening I asked another kid on the bus if he would pay attention tomorrow as I got on the bus at the big kid because I wasn’t going to look at him. Sure enough I remembered and sprung up the steps without looking and went to my seat. I asked the kid behind me, “well did he give me the finger?” He looked at me with a pale face and stated, “no, he saw me looking at him and he flipped me off and not you.” We learn at that moment that he gave the salute to anyone that looked at him. I, from that day on, attempted to not look at him. Afterall, that is what he wanted.

Daily Routine

Everyday I sat in the fourth row on the left side of the bus. Almost without fail. I wanted that seat. Why? Well there was a girl in the third row which was in front of me and I wanted to be close. Close so I could aggravate her, tease her and talk to her. She must not have minded too much as she sat there everyday. I was in the 4th grade and she was in the 3rd grade. Almost daily I teased her, pulled her hair and grabbed her books. But one day something happened.

I was teasing her which involved being a brat and grabbing her books, pulling her hair and all the stuff I normally did on the bus. All was the same. Until, I went to my class and about 20 minutes into the day the teacher across the hall (her teacher) came and I talked to my teacher. As her teacher headed out she asked me to follow her into the hall. The teacher told me one of her students said I stole 50 cents from her book. I told her I didn’t take any money and she asked to see my pockets. They were empty. She told me I needed to give the money back if I had it. I didn’t. I mentioned maybe it was still on the bus somewhere and she told me at recess I had permission to look on the bus.

The Plan

Just as it became time for recess to begin, Doug Graff asked me what was going on. I told him and said that I never took it. He said he had fifty cents he could give to me (what is the interest on that money after 50 or more years?) and we concocted the story that I would FIND the money on the bus. Which is what I did. The money was accepted and all is well on the Earth. But the story doesn’t end there.

The Lifelong Debt

I believe the girl lost it or never had it but she claims differently. You see this is her picture…..

and I married her.





Linda Meeker






To this day she thinks I took her money. I didn’t. I just call her irresponsible to lose 50 cents and blame it on me. But whoa have I ever paid her back for that money. I am still paying.

I guess she didn’t mind marrying a thief!

Later in Life

A sidenote: When we were teaching school we both told a similar story to girls who came to us and complained that some boy was bothering them. We told the story of how some boy was bothering, picked on and aggravate a girl and he MARRIED HER!


thatsgrossTheir response ewwwww!










Previous Posts

January 1 – My Birthday

January 4- My First School Basketball Team

Before I begin I’ve had some people think I should rename the blog to things like Tom’s Old Thoughts, Tom’s Recollections, An Old Man’s Ramblings and a few others. I do agree the original title, “The History of Me”, is rather boring. So I ask you to give me your thoughts on the naming of this series. Add your own or use one of the other ones. Just leave a comment at the end of the thread. Thanks.

Sixth Grade Basketball

I remember it. Almost everyone went out for basketball in the 6th grade. I also remember it because I gained a life lesson in the very first game that I played in. More about that later. I loved sports and this was a chance to get it going. The 6th grade season was coached by our principal Lanny Rudd. He was a fair guy that loved working with kids. It was time to practice and practice for the upcoming season. We only got about 2 or 3 days a week for practice as we yielded to the “lightweights” and “heavyweights”. I am also going to save commenting on that until a later time.


In case you can’t read the clipping from left to right

Front row- Lawrence Graff, Kevin Reynolds, Bobby Wills, Tom Knuppel, Steve Wilson, Bob Skaggs

Back row- Coach Lanny Rudd, Calvin Willard, Dennis Woodley, Dale Meeker, Larry Kennedy, Rickie Picken and manager John Eubanks

Let the Games Begin!

Finally we had our first game. I was a starter on the team and was doing very well. Now here is the life lesson. During a timeout in the 3rd quarter of my first game, I whispered to one of the other players that was close to the scorer’s table this, “check and see how many points I have.”

Things stopped right there! Coach Rudd asked me what I had said. Sheepishly, I told him. Calmly, as he always did, he looked at me and said something like…. we don’t care how many points you have, this is a team and we only want to know how the team is doing. Gulp. I was frozen and then shook my head.

program6thgradeLesson Taught, Lesson Learned

It was a lesson I always kept. I don’t remember asking how many points I had during or after the game EVER again. The reason I didn’t ask after that is I understood the lesson and my mom ALWAYS told me how I played, if it was good or if it was bad and she shared what she had for free throw percentage and shooting percentage. She told me if I could do better. I had one technical in my basketball career (8th grade) and she let me have it. That discussion will come in another story.


Now back to our 6th grade season. We didn’t play a ton of games but we were good. In fact, we won all our games except for the last game which was in the Woodrow Wilson tournament. Look at this program carefully as it lists all the players like usual except they also go a bit further and show our height and weight. Methinks that is not socially acceptable today.

plhilltourneyWoodrow Wilson Tournament

The tournament started on Saturday March 2, 1963. Here is the schedule for it:


In the first game, according to the Pekin Times we defeated Bellevue 34-19 as I had 14 points and Dale Meeker chipped in 8 points. The second game we beat top seeded (who seeds a 6th grade tourney?) Pleasant Hill 26-21 and Dale and I had 8 points eachto lead the way.

Then in the semi finals we beat Robein 31-26 and I had 12 points. The championship game was ugly for us as Canton whalloped Forman 41-22. I didn’t realize til I looked at the article and box score I had 4 points and must have choked big time. I did get selected to the All-Touney Team.

This is what I received for the selection.

Hope you enjoy some part of my stroll down memory lane. I will be adding stories on Sundays and Wednesdays and they will not be in any particular order.

Feel free to share with someone who might have remembered these thinngs or may have been part of it. 

  • NEXT BLOG: Sunday, January 8th – “I’m Still Paying For It”

Other Blog Posts in this series:



Yes, today is my birthday. January 1st has always been special for me all the way back to the youth days. My parents made it a big deal telling me that everyone in the world is celebrating my birthday. We started on December 31st as that was my dads birthday. So we celebrated that until midnight and then it was for me. They always told me the ball dropping in NYC was to let me know and the world it was Tom Knuppel’s birthday. I bought that until I was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old. But I told that story to my grandchildren to make them think the same thing. It didn’t work.






Let’s do some history diving.

I was a surprise baby by all accounts as my brothers and sister were all born 2 years apart….. until it came to me and it was a five year span. That is a sign, a clue that I wasn’t really a planned child. My parents didn’t know if they were having a boy or a girl. They already had four boys (Richard, William, John and Lyle) and one daughter (Elizabeth Jane). What they did want that they admitted to me much later was to be born BEFORE January 1st in order to get the tax break in 1950 instead of waiting an entire year in 1951. Also, I was told that they promised my sister, Jane, I would be a girl. That didn’t work out. I was born in Peoria, Il at approximately 10:30 AM. That seems to be late but I was rewarded as the FIRST BABY born in Mason County in 1951, even though I was born at Proctor in Peoria. I won all the prizes. Things like diapers and powder and other things were given to me since I was a BORN WINNER! I guess things had no where to go from there except downhill. 🙂

What did I win for my family? Here are the prizes from the news clipping.





The one on here I love….Hurley Funeral Home transportation to and from the hospital (wait, I was already there) or $3 in cash. 






My mother and I were in the hospital for 10 days before they allowed her to go home. There wasn’t any problem it was just standard procedure to do that. I joke that she kept asking to stay another day so she could avoid the five children at home. My mom showed me, later in life, the copy of the hospital stay and for 10 days in 1951 was about $60.53! (I have the receipt) Oh wouldn’t that be nice today?

Jane was allowed to name me, at least to a certain degree, to help hide her disappointment that I was a boy. Never knew for sure how I became Thomas Lee. I was told that my mom never stayed home with me and if there was somewhere to go, she took me. Things like crowded high school gyms in the winter and loud, noisey stock car races in the summer. Yes, my dad had a stock car that he owned and operated on. But mom wasn’t about to allow him to drive it. After all, he has six kids at home and he had no business getting in any stock car wrecks.

My first recollection was about at the age of 5. A couple of things hit me. One is we had a big farmhouse and all the bedrooms were upstairs where the one and only bathroom was located. I shared a room with John and Lyle and it was the first room at the top of the stair to the right. The room was not big enough for three beds but could handle two beds and a baby bed. I slept in the bed until I was 8 years old and we moved to another house.

Another was my first trip (that I remembered) to Florida. Dad was already in Daytona Beach and mom and I stayed at a motel in Springfield that was owned by Lyle and Marge Drake. They were good friends of my parents. We got up the next morning and rode in a car with them all the way to Florida with me in the back seat playing quiet games. I never asked my self where the other kids were or why dad was already there. That answer will come later.

That’s all for now. I hope you join me in my adventure.



Thanks for reading about me. I will be posted articles from time to time in 2017. They won’t be in any particular order but rather stories that I remember and will share. I am currently raidng the scrapbook my mom diligently kept from my sports days from 6th grade through high school. If you know anybody that can transfer old newspaper clippings into a modern format, please let me know. Lastly, feel free to leave any comments about my stories. 





“It’s not fair.”

It is the phrase that has become society’s personal crutch. Three simple words that hinder people from taking ownership and responsibility for their actions. The sentence used as justification for us to fall apart. Often, we examine our experiences and instantly resort to pointing out what’s “unfair.”

To a certain degree, “It’s not fair” is our comfort blanket.

Yes, in many situations, things are unfortunate and completely out of our control. Circumstances arise and life throws some pretty hard curve balls. However, do you know what is in our control? The way we approach our adversity.

Stop Wallowing

We need to stop wallowing in sorrow and making excuses. You lost your job? Does that mean you should have a pity party for yourself? No. Work on your resume and start hunting for a new one. You did not get accepted into a program. Should you give up on your dream of being in the field? No. Start exploring alternative ideas and mapping out potential paths.

If you want something, fight for it. Do not become paralyzed by fear or rejection. Success comes through repeated mistakes. What is the worst that could happen? You get denied? Well at least you tried it. Sure, it might take 10 attempts, maybe 100, but if it’s your life dream: go for it! Keep striving for it until you see results.

Instead of focusing on the problems, start discovering solutions. Every new day is an opportunity to transform our lives. Heartaches and disappointment should not control us. Personal pain should not break our spirits.

Avoid becoming lost in comparing journeys with the people around you. Instead of constantly over-analyzing personal flaws, embrace them. Instead of taking in the disappointment, take in the memories. Just because things did not work in your favor now does not mean it will never happen.

Look for Opportunities

It’s about having optimism and being content — understanding that the timing you have planned might just not be what is right for you at this time. Maybe grad school is not happening right now, because an even greater is opportunity is coming along.

Actions always have consequences, but stop allowing them dictate your life. Sure, there will be times where you wonder “why?” There will be times where you put in so much effort, but there is no return. However, be comforted in knowing that is natural.

Someday when you achieve your dream, the satisfaction of knowing you fought for it will be invaluable.

We evolve every single day. Whether or not you realize it, you’re probably not the same type of person you were five years ago. Not even five months ago. Stop beating yourself up for regrets you may have about the past. Supposed “mistakes” often open doors of opportunity. Life isn’t fair. It is a balancing act of highs and lows. Ironically, that is what makes it beautiful. The challenges we face allow us to appreciate our successes. Rough times make great ones even greater.

It is OK to acknowledge something is not fair, but avoid resting in that state of mind. Challenges present the deepest learning experiences and sometimes, the most cherished memories. We might not know what lies ahead, but at least we have the power to choose what we leave behind.

And oh I couldn’t understand it, for I felt I was rich
And I told them of the love my momma sewed in every stitch
And I told ’em all the story momma told me while she sewed
And how my coat of many colors was worth more than all their clothes


But they didn’t understand it
And I tried to make them see
That one is only poor
Only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money
But I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
Made just for me

By Dolly Parton




People hate being poor. They frown upon being poor and certainly loathe it.

What we’ve lost sight of is that it’s… Okay to be poor, a good thing even.


Why? It’s a learning opportunity. A character building opportunity. For most of us, whether or not we’re poor is highly dependent upon our attitude.

If we believe that we can’t afford to live below our means, we probably won’t even try to find a way to make it happen. That’s a good way to make sure you never get ahead.

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.   Philipians 4:12

Instead, why not take the view that you really do have enough? A simple change in your point of view can make all the difference. It allows you to look for ways to use your resources more efficiently, so that you can not only live within your budget, but under it. After all, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, if you don’t live beneath your means, you can’t save/invest for the future.

Here are some important things I think we need to learn from being poor.

  • Stewardship. If we aren’t wise stewards of few resources, why would we be given many?
  • Contentment. It’s clichè, by its true; if we’re not content with little, there’s not a chance that we’ll be content with much.
  • Humility. It’s oh, so easy to be conceited in our wealth. Being the person without a smart phone (or whatever), keeps ya humble. A trait which will hopefully be carried over into wealthier times.
  • Adaptability. Being able to adapt to your financial situation can be an invaluable skill that will carry over into other areas of life.

Money is not the be all, end all.

Politeness Shouldn’t be Selective


Manners are something that just comes natural with some people. Sometimes it amazes me to see it in some people and not others in the same family. I was expected to be nice and say no sir and no ma’am and thank you along with excuse me. I always said please and thank you, and didn’t find it odd that these simple adages were expected of me; it was part of how I was raised, and it went a long way to showing mutual respect for another person by being polite to them.

The amazing part is some people are downright offensive to you using manners. They freak out, they cuss you out, they demean you for doing something your parents told you was the right thing to do. Elderly ladies don’t like to be call ma’am for many reasons and one of them it makes them sound old. Hmm. Politeness shouldn’t be selective, it should be given to everybody regardless of age, position in society or skin color. It shows you want to show respect.


I just don’t understand the reasoning behind becoming offended by, or being opposed to, being called ma’am or sir. I understand that in our society, which constantly struggles for progress, some people may see it as archaic in nature, an unnecessary representation of inferiority to another person or some other such intellectual nonsense that makes everybody’s head hurt. However, it’s insulting that the respect you show somebody is thrown right back at you, like he or she rejects your show of politeness just because his or her idea of what being polite means differs from yours. You’re left wondering how to respond to them while foregoing everything you have been taught to do when addressing another person. It’s offensive to be told that your show of respect isn’t accepted, and makes you feel as if it isn’t returned, either.

I once opened the door for two ladies going into a department store and one of them stopped and told me she could open her own d___ door. I just looked and her and said, ” I’m sorry for trying to be polite.” She didn’t respond.

I’m not going to stop practicing politeness because people may no longer expect it.

Put Some Silence into Your Life

Put Some Silence into Your Life

Society, for the most part, appears to hate silence. We surround ourselves with noise. Sounds and beeps are all over the place. When is the last time you drove a car with no passengers and didn’t turn on the radio or CD player? We can’t stand it.

If we have noise going then we can avoid having confrontation with ourselves.  Yes, that is what is likely to happen. We will do anything to put noise into our lives including singing horribly out loud to ourselves. Silence is considered one of the great spiritual disciplines and the most avoided one of all.

Consider this quote from Roy Walsh, psychiatry professor quoted in the book The Search for Meaning:

Basically our lives are, to a large extent, spent in avoiding confrontation with ourselves. And then you can begin to make sense of the enormous amount of our culture’s daily activities, which attempt to distract us from ourselves, from deep reflection, from deep thinking, from existential confrontation. There’s a wonderful phrase by the philosopher Kierkegaard, “tranquilization by the trivial.” I think our culture has mastered this better than any culture in history, simply because we have the wealth and means to do so.

What makes silence difficult? People are action oriented and they complement our actions not our being. Think about the last time someone said to you “How are you?’ They want to have noise or conversation as they are afraid of silence.

If we slow down and put silence in our lives it would cause us to listen to ourselves and God. We would rather have a tornado buzzing around in our head as we don’t want to confront the mess we have inside and outside our head. No one can fix that but God.

The answer is simple (isn’t it always?), but undesired by most. We just simply need to add a little silence to our lives. Turn off all the noise, and then listen to the noise inside. I promise if you keep working on finding that inner silence, it will start to come and the peace that passes understanding will also find you too. Silence really is golden.

Let’s start treating like it’s worth what it actually is.


The opinions in this blog are those of Tom Knuppel