LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Besides the six blood-related grandkids, Loretta and I have four other little girls and a grown up who call us Grandma and Grandma.
In 1986, I started an after-school and weekend recreation and counseling program in Mount Vernon. Called the Rockcastle Teen Center, it was operated by the Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) which had a relatively long history of providing summer camp opportunities and weekend excursions at no cost to a few thousand teenagers.
The belief at that time was that kids who had access to supervised recreation were more apt to stay out of trouble than those who didn’t. So the Teen Center catered to kids whose families simply could not afford the costs associated with extra-curricular activities at school and to those on the verge of academic failure because they couldn’t afford tutors.
The first two kids I met during the course of renovating and readying a building to house the center, were twin boys, Jack and John Edwards, and for a bunch of reasons, they stuck to me like ticks. They were getting ready to enter their sophomore years of high school.
First one and then the other and then both of them started coming home with me on Saturday nights. Loretta and I had just moved into an old house that came with a host of maintenance problems.
We also had lawnmowers, weed eaters, a tiller and a chain saw that needed frequent fixing. To this day I have no idea where they learned the skill but the Edwards boys knew the workings of small engines better than anyone I’ve ever met. They were both enrolled in vocational electrical and carpentry classes at school and they could fix anything.
They both loved running anything that had a motor and fixing it if was broken or not running as well as they thought it should. Nintendo had just made the scene and my kids had to have the very first one to hit the market. Neither of the Edwards boys had the slightest interest in Zelda but they might pause to play Nintendo golf or baseball if there was absolutely nothing else to do.