1) Warning: Gruesome Train Accident Severs Dad’s Legs

Train accident_2013-02-10_1821 (1)-framed

On a hot July evening in 1938 – much like any other – a 24-year-old man met with a very unfortunate train accident. As the story goes, later that night our family learned the man in the accident was our Dad. Rush D. Stanley’s legs had been gruesomely severed above his knees. Dad recovered and lived another 16 years before succumbing to heart failure on January 5, 1954 at 40 years of age. So by any ordinary measure, Dad led a short, tragic life.

Dad’s Driving Force

But Dad was no ordinary man. Family photographs of Dad show a man with no legs hunting deer, building his own house and designing a contraption to help himself control the gas and brake pedals of the family car. Those photos and childhood observations by my older brother Dean, paint a picture of a man possessed. A man possessed by a blinding determination to build his independence and resume a more normal life.
Rush Stanley and Ralph SchmidtDad wasn’t a war hero or a special Olympics star. In 1938, when he lost his legs, people’s attitudes were those of pity, not empowerment. Economically, Dad’s accident was devastating. He could not work and was completely dependent on Mom. Hardly any details were available about where Dad eventually found work when he recovered, but we will remember him more for his determination to become mobile, his love of the outdoors, his inventiveness and his occasional outbursts of meanness when he drank.

I inherited Dad’s love for tinkering – and I suppose, trying to break the mold.

An Autobiography with Something for Everyone

Today, 75 years later – in the year 2013 – here in my autobiography, I’ll share with you how I spent the last 50 years in search of my life’s work and some of the rotten luck as well as triumphs I’ve had along the way from North Minneapolis to Nob Hill.

Did you lose your Dad when you were young?


Next – How Dad’s Death Solved Mom’s Biggest Problem

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