My second-grade teacher, Carol Ledbetter, encouraged my writing and drawing and thought I was a brilliant child. She was a great encouragement. She'd tell me, "Michael, one day you'll make me famous". Mom thought she was too easy on the children. I contacted her in 2007 but after almost three years, I found out my childhood heroine was rude arrogant, and incapable of processing any information that didn't agree with her world view. You can never go home.
Classmates used to stand around my desk and watch me draw. When we made our first Holy Communion I had the priveledge of drawing a poster to put on the church altar (my mother has it somewhere). I loved to draw but fame...ahhh...it was just too much. Besides that, my parents thought I was a mean kid. Well, I was, but only at home. At school I was an angel. I was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Horsey character. I grew tired of smiling. It felt fake. Why did I have to put on a facade' and sell out? They didn't understand me anyway, did they?
On January 27, 1974 my father's mother died. This left me with just my mother's mother who, at 80 years old, rarely said much to us. Both grandfathers died before I was born. A classmate, Tom Crayner, coaxed me into his bus as we waited for a transfer and talked me into teaching him drawing techniques. I usually drew King Kong. I didn't like the human interaction but I couldn't say no, and he looked like a monkey so I just pretended I was trapped on the Planet of the Ape and he was Corneilius. I later found Tom and I were born eight hours apart (he's older) in the same hospital and our parents' knew each other. We became best friends forever even though he looked like a monkey.