© Art by Sandy, S.M. Rodgers,
Author of Legacy of the Skull Master
Born After the World War II.
I was born in June of 1946. My mother always said that the nurses had then
told her I was so large, I could get a nickel and catch the bus to our home.
A nickel was all it took back then. Mom definitely had her hands full at that
I remember bits and pieces of all of my early childhood, usually of joy or
about trauma. My tricycle was chased by an overactive puppy,
and the ribbon on the back too close to my ankle, which got nipped.
A portrait by SandyI believe that I was about the age of three at the time.
Together, Life Changed For Myself and My Mother
I later learned that My mom and biological father were divorced. Mom
had to raise me, until I was about two years old. She had to finish school,
and worked to take care of me. She could have easily given up , and let her
sister and husband adopt me. They wanted to do that for her, but my mother
would not give up.
Consequently, one day this strong lady found love. The only reason she
divorced my real father was the fact he was not handling life well, after being
severally injured during the war overseas. I think he was a paratrooper jumping
out of airplanes in Europe during World War II. Due to the fact that she
was young , and he was not treating her well, then it was time to move on in life.
My real father was kept like a mystery in my life. Don’t talk about and don’t ask!
All I ever heard about was how his being a war veteran eventually helped me
to go to school. There were no more words, and I was told he died of a heart
attack at the age of 52.
As a result, mom re-married and her new husband was a wonderful provider.
Later in my life, I came to realize just how important and wonderful my step-father
was to me over the years. I also saw in the teaching field which I had chosen,
that a child with two loving parents was such a precious gift for their future.
My parents both taught me the significance of being a hard worker. It builds character
and makes one tougher and able to meet challenges head-on! I worked as a grocery bag
handler and a stock boy, as well as working in a cotton mill, and helped to build houses
during summer months. I had the bruises and blisters to prove it!
Fast forward my life to a time during those teen years and all of their limitless growing-up
experiences. At age 15 I had a broken ankle playing football. Up until then, I was always
considered the fastest sprinter on the team. It took a while to regain my pep, after struggling,
and I was soon back on the road to a scholarship. The old coach told a local man, as he viewed
me running after school, that he wished every kid on his team was so devoted as I was. He
said that he would win every season and the big championship!
My time on the 100 yard race was a blazing 9.8 seconds and universities were all found
watching some of my varsity games. I played on the junior team on Thursday nights
and on Fridays, the varsity. Then come the next season. I suffered a big setback.
Biggest Setback In My Life
I had a spinal injury at practice, when a huge player tackled me and then
pounced on me, causing slipped discs in my lower spine. Later, these discs became broken,
and I had a dangerous operation in which the doctor had told my parents that I might
not walk again. It was with much luck that I had no more of those terrible complications.
Having suffered greatly through the rest of high school, I was certainly very fearful
of so many things then. I was reluctant to go to the board to do a math problem,
even as a senior class student. Often, I was stuttering and stammering, when I had to read
A Fire to Remember in a Life Changing Tragedy
As I waited to soon go on to Art school, I had a terrible incident that made a big impression
on my future life choices. On Saturday, as we sat in a filling station with friends, two of our
buddies there were given the assigned duty to clean the car racks. The boss said to never use
gasoline, and because they were in a big hurry on dates, decided to use the gas anyway.
As a result, a huge explosion occurred , when two other boys passed by, and one was dared to
throw a cigarette into the service area, and they were thinking it would only cause a small blaze.
The two boys cleaning the area caught on fire, and the teenagers were severely burned.
I tried to chase the two workers as they ran and were on fire. One friend tackled a badly burned boy,
while I stopped the other and told him to roll over and over to smother the flames. I covered his
back with my shirt and tried to console him as we waited for ambulances. I answered and told
him that his Jesus was there with him after he asked me that question. Both friends died on the
way to the local hospital. This was never out of my memory, and I did not realize at the time that
I was to sometime later devote my entire life in helping many children in need.
Going to Ringling School of Art
After I had graduated from high school, I decided to go to art school in Florida. The Ringling Art
School had a good reputation, and I attended for about six-months. As I learned later on, the school
wanted more experienced art students. my art instruction had been limited before I attended the
I decided that I needed now to go on to college and study to be a teacher. I attended junior
college then, and when I was at the one year point, and my friends were joining in on the
Vietnam War, then I planned to join-up too and get the G.I. Bill. Uncle Sam refused after three
days to take me, because I had a former spinal injury. The head man told me to “Get my A– back
on the bus and be glad I didn’t have to spill my guts in some rice paddy”,
(as quoted by the old chief in the Atlanta processing center).
Getting My Degrees, and Finding My Wife
I continued on to junior college got my associate degree, and then went on to Troy University
to work on an Art Education degree. After much struggling, I managed to finally graduate and
became a teacher in an Albany, Georgia school. During my first year, I met and became close to
several special needs children, and it made me decide to change my major and get a degree in
Special Education. After several years of teaching and learning from my own students about the
hardships of life, the I met my wife in a junior high school in Georgia. After several months of getting
to know each other, then we realized that we had already met years before at an art show.
How was I to know this, when I went to work at the school she taught at? Strange events do happen
in peoples lives.
Sandy was an art teacher at the same school, and we had a lot in common.
We got married, and then we decided to move to Waycross, Georgia and lived
there for a while. I decided to take a new job working with severely emotionally disturbed children,
and I stuck with this demanding job for four years. As a teacher, I had to drive more
than one-hundred-twenty miles each day. I really learned about children with very poor home lives,
and consequently I devoted myself to help them every way that I could. After running out of two new cars
and becoming totally exhausted, then I moved to a Georgia high school and taught Learning disabilities
and Behaviorally troubled kids for more than six years.
Strange Things Happen You Cannot Explain
At the beginning of the year, after going on a Dove hunt at a local farmers field,
I had an very strange incident that I had witnessed. I saw five UFOs and several
other folks gave similar accounts in that part in the state. What they were I will
never really know.
The rough times I latter experienced with health problems led me to an escape,
when I decided to use my art talents in cartooning. I later would begin my cartooning about
“Gak and Geek”, the name I gave to little blue men in a saucer. I enjoyed this and it seemed
to give me some sort of release in the toughest times during a tumor that was discovered near my brain.
I had learned to think positively and enjoy myself when I could. It often goes deeper in which you
feel it’s more than just what is seen on the surface. Over the years many people and have witnessed
other strange UFO events. Some were to be so very up close and seemed remarkable.
Yes, “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio”, as defined by the great Shakespeare, himself.
I have always felt that there is a reason for every experience we have and is meant to be.
Our Family Grows
My wife and I adopted two young boys over the years. and had a sweet little girl of our own,
born naturally, even after doctors had told my wife she would not have any babes of her own.
A regimen of vitamins and healthy habits helped solve that problem!
It would be soon another challenging time in my life, when it was discovered
that I had a brain tumor. After starting at a new school later that year, I had severe headaches,
and my wife said to go to the emergency room one evening. The doctor diagnosed not a
sinus infection, but a tumor of my brain.
I was sent to Atlanta immediately and shortly had an operation to remove the tumor.
I suffered quite a lot after that and upon returning home decided I needed to go back
and teach some more. After one more year of classroom struggles, I was forced to become
disabled and joined the ranks of the folks who drew a disability check each month. This was to seem
more of a challenge than I had ever faced. I needed to work and not sit on my backside.
Our family all needed a change and after we decided to move down to Florida.
I soon began teaching in a local high school. It would be the toughest five-year stretch
that I had ever faced, but I loved every minute of it. I had challenges from the parents,
other regular teachers, principals and superintendent in that system. They all seemed
to love my efforts and wanted me to stay. It was just too much of a strain on any nervous system,
and my physical ability at the time, and my family moved back to Georgia at the final end of my
five years of work.
My oldest son had a heart attack and his wife was going to give birth very soon,
and they convinced us to move back to our old home, and this we did in order to help both of them
get through the trying times. Our son had a very hard time, and had to have stents placed in his
blood vessels. Later on, he had to under go bypass heart surgery. He was only in his thirties at the time.
When all this was finally resolved, we moved away again and lived in small Georgia town.
Here we stayed and enjoyed a rural setting for a while. As our daughter lived in another state,
then we decided to move out there and be with her. Here we have resided for more than
twelve years and have really enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere found in the Mid West.
Here we have discovered everything the heart desires and plan to stay here the rest of our happy lives.
Taking Life One Step at a Time
Despite surgery for aneurysms in my abdomen and legs, living through a car accident, and
my wife overcoming her Ovarian Cancer, and now fighting Colon Cancer, then we believe this
is the best place for us all to be. The medical provisions are very good, and we have received excellent care, as long as we have
lived here and in visits to two hospitals in the area. I would recommend trying the Mid West
to anyone that might ask where a good place for medical help is to be found.
The human spirit knows no limits and helps us meet each new challenge with strength that our Maker
has given to us every one. Our Lord God still has plans for us all, and I believe that He is certainly not
through with my wife and I, as yet. Life has challenges for us all. We do intend to remain
and give it our best. Every day is prayer day, and we all say ours, being sure in giving thanks
for all of our God’s blessings.