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EP249: The Story of My Grandfather, The Landscape Management Company Powered by Goats and I Found Out I Was Adopted at 30

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 5, 2022 3:05 am

EP249: The Story of My Grandfather, The Landscape Management Company Powered by Goats and I Found Out I Was Adopted at 30

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 5, 2022 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Robert Frohlich, author of Aimless Life, Awesome God,  tells the story of his German-born grandfather William Burtner- a man who helped build the "Arsenal of Democracy" in World War II. Genevieve Church, the third "Goat Lady of San Francisco", is the executive director of City Grazing. Listen to her share about how this sustainable land management and fire prevention non-profit organization came to be. Skip Reeves tells the story of how he came to find out that he was adopted at 30 years old. 

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00:00 - The Story of My Grandfather

10:00 - The Landscape Management Company Powered by Goats

35:00 - I Found Out I Was Adopted at 30

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It's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday. We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture, and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in. Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm.

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Light. Comfy. Good to go to. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show, including your stories.

Send them to They're some of our favorites. Up next, a story from Robert Froelich. Robert is the author of Aimless Life, Awesome God, and a regular contributor to this show. Today, Robert shares with us the story of a man who impacted him profoundly.

Take it away, Robert. In World War I, Wilhelm Bistner was in the German army. His assignment was to care for the horses that pulled the cannons to fight against the Russians. During a gas attack in that war, Wilhelm suffered the loss of his sense of smell. After the war, he was awarded a small disability annuity for his injury.

The monthly payments continued until he died in Florida in 1977. Wilhelm was born in 1892, the son of a tavern owner in Berlin, Germany. He learned his trade as a tool and die maker and married Elspeth Schultz.

In 1927, they came by ship to America with their daughter, Ursula. Wilhelm Bistner became William Burtner. His German friends called him Willy, and everybody else called him Bill. When he first came to the United States, Bill worked as a mason's helper while he learned the English language.

Then he went to work at his trade. Long Island, New York, was a hotbed in the early days of aviation, and he saw it all. He knew many of the pioneers in that field. He worked for Sversky and for Sikorsky, the early developers of the helicopter. He also worked for Republic Aircraft and Chance Vought Aircraft. In 1933, Bill went to work for EDO Aircraft in College Point, New York. Bill was involved in the design and fabrication of floats for various aircraft, including some for Charles Lindbergh and Admiral Burke. I remember he had two model airplanes proudly displayed on the mantle in his College Point home. One was a solid aluminum model of Lindbergh's plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, and the other was a Chance Vought F4U, the iconic gull-winged Navy warplane.

World War II created a huge demand for military aircraft floats. As Assistant Division Superintendent, Bill headed up a fabrication shop. According to one College Point resident, he hired, "...every German toolmaker and machinist he could find, including my father's, and as a result put food on the table for my family." Bill put all his skills to work, revamping tool designs and manufacturing processes to make the production faster and more safe.

In 1943, he won a National Safety Ace Award for one of his designs. After the war, Bill retired to his 100-acre retreat in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. Living in a house he had built himself, he and Elspeth took me with them in 1947. He had a small machine shop there and planned to do some contract work from time to time.

That only lasted a year. They moved back to the city, gave me back to my mother, and Bill started work at Sperry Gyroscope Corporation. The company manufactured guidance systems for ships, aircraft, and missiles. Bill always took great pride in his work, immersing himself in the tiny details of his craft. And he loved the shaping of hard steel or soft aluminum into useful objects. Once he showed me a rectangular aluminum box about one and a half inches wide and high, and about two inches long. It had a hinged lid. At Sperry, Bill had designed the tool that made this box. Which was an electrical junction box for the instrument panel of the Boeing 707 aircraft.

He explained to me the intricacies of bending allowances, and the tiny tolerances that went into this simple object. Bill retired again in 1961. But when I returned home from military service in 1964, I found him working every day in a small local machine shop, still making tools to shape metal to his will.

Bill's German-born love for precision and order carried over to his off-duty life. He owned just three cars during my lifetime. All Plymouths, a 1941, a 1955, and a 1968. They were all base models with manual transmissions.

And apart from a radio, no amenities. Every Saturday, Bill would check under the hood. Reflecting on my grandfather's life, it amazes me the advances he was part of. Young Wilhelm, taking care of horses and the muddy battlefields of World War I. Bill, the tool and die maker, acquainted with the pioneers in aviation. Bill, the superintendent, helping to win World War II by making water landings possible for military aircraft.

And Bill, the tool maker, seeing parts he helped create flying high in the sky, and even into space. Bill Burtner loved this country, and he made the most of the opportunities it gave him. And he returned the favor by giving his best to America. He never lost that German love for precision and ordinal, nor did that distinctly German accent ever leave him.

He was my grandpa, and I loved him. And what a gem we just heard. I mean, what a time to have grown up.

I mean, from horses to flight. And there he is, right in the middle of flight, using his God-given skills to help America defeat the Nazi menace. Our arsenal of democracy, folks.

We couldn't have done it without it. And men like Bill on the front lines. William Burtner's life story is told by his grandson, Robert Froelich, here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell, and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation.

A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming. That's That's

And we continue with Our American Stories. Up next, you'll meet Genevieve Church. Genevieve runs a very unique business in San Francisco. That is City Grazing. City Grazing is a sustainable land management organization powered by goats. Here's Genevieve to tell us about how the business came to be and also the history of goats in San Francisco, beginning with Estelle West, the first goat lady. Goats in San Francisco have a long history and women raising goats in San Francisco, there is a long history. Estelle West was raising goats and, you know, she was at a time when having livestock for meat, for milk was relatively common still in the Bay Area. But she was one of the last people who was actually in San Francisco proper raising her animals and making her living from them.

San Francisco was busily becoming a city and didn't want livestock within city limits anymore. Estelle West was quite a character apparently and loved to flout authority and she just wanted to keep raising goats the way her family had been. And so she was a mild criminal, shall we say, in keeping her goats in places where the city didn't really want goats kept. After her, this very sweet woman that I met who was the second goat lady of San Francisco, she had been raising goats on Portrayo Hill, which was a little bit less of a settled area in San Francisco. When she was a kid, her family had about five or six goats, sometimes as many as 15.

They didn't have as large of a herd and they were not dependent on them for their income, but they were a part of their family's income stream. And when the city was laying the first sidewalks in Portrayo Hill, her goats got out and ran across the newly laid cement and left goat hoofmarks in San Francisco's first sidewalk in Portrayo Hill. She got in a lot of trouble. They made her family get rid of their goats. I met her when she was in her 80s, and so I'm really happy to get to carry on the tradition of livestock in San Francisco and goats in San Francisco.

And of course, it's also an honor to get to be the third crazy goat lady of San Francisco. I'm the executive director of City Grazing. We are the last local herd of working animals in the city. We actually take in retired dairy goats and we give them kind of a second lease on life.

All they have to do for us is eat for a living. So they go out, they eat a lot of the brush that's unwanted, a lot of the invasive vegetation that we have, and both reduce fire hazard and improve the health of some of our small local forests in San Francisco. City Grazing was started as a little bit of just a fun side project by a man named David Gavrich, who owned an industrial waste management company. And he thought it would be a fun way to advertise their commitment to green methods and to keeping their waste processing very clean by having a herd of goats that actually lived on site next door to the waste processing center. It's pretty common in California to see goats grazing on the side of the freeways. So there are a few different companies in California that do large-scale goat grazing. These are companies that have 1,000 animals or up to 4,000 animals and graze in really big areas alongside, like, chevrons processing plants alongside the freeways alongside some of the wind farms and solar farms in California.

These are really common companies that use grazing animals to keep their fire hazard down. And David saw that, thought it would be a lot of fun to do it on a small scale in the city. So he started with just a few goats, didn't really think much about how goats multiply, ended up pretty quickly having 40 goats, and at that point was renting them out. He was renting them to backyards, and that was in 2008 that he got started.

I came on board in 2012. I answered a very random Craigslist ad. I had just moved back into San Francisco, was looking for a new career, and found a very unusual ad that said, write us a paragraph, tell us why you're qualified to take care of our 40 goats in Bayview while our current goat herd goes home on vacation for six weeks. And I thought, no one has 40 goats in Bayview.

Bayview is an industrial part of the city. And I was just like, I have to see this. I grew up on a cattle ranch. I'd been around animals most of my childhood, and I never really thought I'd work with them again.

So I randomly answered this ad, and we just kind of hit it off. David and I got along very well. The goats definitely needed more care than they were getting.

At that time, he just had one of the employees from the railyard who was taking care of them. So I just kind of never left. And in 2015, I took over management. In 2017, we converted to a nonprofit, and that's really allowed us to open up who we work with and what we do. It lets us adopt animals rather than purchasing or breeding. It lets us have more work with municipalities, with schools, with universities. It also allows us to be a little bit more proactive in our hiring policies, so we really strive to give work to people who are from our underserved neighborhoods in San Francisco.

So it's opened a lot of doors for us. What we do is specialize in strips of undeveloped land, and San Francisco has a lot of that. There's a lot of back hillsides or park areas that haven't been landscaped, and that's where we come in. And then also just backyards.

We do a fair amount of backyards. It's a lot of fun to bring somebody five goats to spend a week in their yard and let their family interact and see what that's like. And most of our goats are really friendly. They love people. They're easy to hang out with.

And you wouldn't necessarily want to keep them forever, but they're a lot of fun for a week. The community loves the goats, absolutely loves them. From being completely startled to see a goat, you know, we get the, why are there goats here, questions from passersby. We get kids who've never seen a goat before and do not know what they are and say, Mommy, what's wrong with that dog?

Or, is that a donkey? That was my favorite question that I've ever gotten. The goats have a lot of fans, and so we always publicize if we're at a location where the public can come and view the grazing. And that is just an amazing side benefit of what we do.

It's really great to be able to give back to the planet. It's great to be able to contribute to the health of trees because a lot of what the goats eat is the Himalayan blackberry, which is an invasive here, and a few different forms of ivy. So a lot of our work is taking care of those two plants to keep the trees in some of our parks like the Presidio, UCSF Mount Sutro. These are a couple of the larger parks in San Francisco that we do a lot of work for.

It's really about tree health, but it's also about fire hazard reduction. But a huge part, especially in the last few years, people were just looking for anything that they could do outside with their kids, like how do we get out of the house? And you can always come visit the goats, right?

So it's just so much fun to give people that kind of outlet. And it's not just people with their kids. We've got dog walkers who bring their dogs. The dogs are fascinated. They've never seen goats before either.

These are city dogs, right? They do not know what livestock is. So they have a lot of fun. And the goats are so funny.

They're very used to the urban environment. Goats are such adaptive animals. You wouldn't put a horse or a cow or a sheep in some of the situations that we very happily put our goats. The goats are just like, oh, yeah, OK, is this the new place we're staying for a week?

Cool. And they'll interact with the people. They'll interact with dogs. They get bored if they're in one location, as anyone who has goats can tell you. Goats get very bored and they will start trying to break out.

They love to explore new space. They love new vegetation. And so we find they have much better manners if we are moving them around pretty regularly and giving them new grounds to stomp on. Our mission is sustainable land management, and that's really just about inspiring people to find creative solutions to the problems that we have. What we do is so beneficial, but it's really just goats being goats. It's a very elegant solution to the problem of overgrowth or fire hazard or invasive plants because we put the goats on them and the goats don't do anything special. They just do what goats do. They compete with each other for food and they have a great time doing it. And you're listening to Genevieve Church, the third crazy goat lady of San Francisco.

More of her story here on Our American Stories. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes. Just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. I heart radio and the black effect podcast network are sponsored by better help online therapy, better help online therapy, a more convenient, affordable and accessible way to try therapy.

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Let's pick up where she last left off. We have so many amazing goats and they come to us from all over. As I said, most of our goats are retired dairy goats. Their milk production drops off and it's hard on their bodies, so it's really fun for us to be able to take those ladies in and retrain them. We take them in and just put them in basically that pasture and then leave them there for a week. And when they first come to us, they'll come to the fence every morning like, isn't someone supposed to do something with me now?

Don't I have to go somewhere? And we're like, no, just go eat with the rest of the goats. But we also, every year we try and adopt in some of the little orphan dairy boys. Dairy goats have to have a baby every year in order to keep giving milk.

The females go back into the dairy industry, but those males usually go into the meat industry. And we like to adopt a few of those in every year and raise them to be grazing goats. So those little guys, they are very social.

They've been hand raised by people. They really turn to us for all of their needs. They're so much fun to interact with.

They're really naturalized to people and they have big personalities. But some of our other goats are rescue goats that have come from you name it, all different situations. And yes, all of our goats have names from Regina, the complaining dairy goat who never stops yelling at us.

We have Huck and Finn who are a pair of twins. Another pair that we have is Curry and Stew. Their original owner raised them for food, but he bought them as babies and he loved them so much, he just fell in love with them and called us and kind of shamefacedly said, I can't eat my goats.

Can you take them for me? So we took them in. But my favorite two, they've actually both passed on now. Princess and Udo came to us. They didn't seem to know that they were goats. They were these enormous, enormous alpine goats and they had been raised in someone's kitchen in Oakland. They'd been raised on people food.

They'd never grazed. They'd been eating breakfast cereal and apparently human food their whole lives. The lady who raised them was very eccentric.

Her neighbors were complaining to the health department. She reached out to us and we were like, yeah, sure, we'll take them. So we went to get them.

And we didn't really think it through. We didn't understand that they, you know, other than going into her backyard, they really hadn't been outside. She was keeping them in the house. So we had to teach them how to live outside. We had to teach them how to graze.

We had to expose them. They were adults. They were both quite large. And in the end, both of them took over the herd. Both of them were were the alpha males in the herd. And we named Princess Princess because he was so high maintenance. I have to say, like that name wasn't really supposed to stick because he was the biggest white male goat with giant horns that you've ever seen. And it was just kind of an ironic name because he didn't know how to eat or take care of himself. He was such a princess. We had to wait on him hand and foot before he learned how to be a goat.

By the end, he was the king and he just ruled the entire herd. So those two probably are my favorite rescue story. But we have others. We have goats that came to us from 4-H. So there are 4-H kids that had raised them, didn't want them to end up being harvested.

So they donated them to us rather than sell them at the fair. One of them, though, he had a little accident. And this was before he came to us. He lost the tip of his ear and they decided he couldn't be shown as breeding stock, which was the intention when he was raised. His name is Dipper. Dipper looks like a small rhinoceros without horns. He's the most muscular goat I've ever seen. He has giant, thick legs and huge feet and a giant head. He looks like he could knock all the other goats down, but he's the ultimate in gentle giant. He doesn't know he's strong. He doesn't know that he's just the burliest goat ever. And he stands off to the side and lets all the other goats eat first.

And we have to keep him in with the old ladies because he does not understand his own strength. So they come to us with such cute personalities and individual natures. Goats love salt. They have a very high need for salt in their diet. And so when you see a goat licking the inside of a tin can, which, yes, that stereotype is an accurate one. Goats will pick up tin cans that have had food in them and they will carry them around. They actually can't eat them. They are trying to lick out whatever was inside that can. If there's any residue of salt, a chip bag, you know, what's the most common piece of litter that you see anywhere?

It's a Doritos bag. They will take them in their mouth. They will chew on them and chew on them and chew on them with the way we chew gum. And then they'll spit them out because they're just trying to suck all that salt off of the inside. That's kind of where goats get that reputation from. So it's like, why did they chew on plastic?

We finally, I think it was a vet who was like, oh, it's the salt. They love roses and they love blackberries. Blackberries, that's great because it's a massive problem in California. We have Himalayan blackberry growing all over the West Coast and it's a terrible invasive plant. The roses, not so much.

Nobody really wants the goats to come in and eat their prize rose collection. So we do have to, you know, we're really intense about our fencing to make sure that that doesn't happen. Homeowners associations in the Bay Area tend to, I don't know why, but they almost all have one giant inaccessible hillside that periodically needs to have something done about the fire danger and we love doing it. City Grazing gets about 60 percent of our income from our grazing work, but the other 40 percent of our income comes from donations and we really rely heavily on that.

We have a really amazing team of employees. We are out there setting fencing, clearing paths. San Francisco is big in terms of population and small in terms of acreage.

It's a tiny little city that is jam-packed. So we have to build really nice fences every time we take the goats anywhere to make sure that they stay enclosed, stay safe, and make sure everyone in the situation is contained. We also have a box truck that we converted to a mobile barn, but it's essentially just like any U-Haul that you'd use to move. We pull out the ramp, the goats run in the ramp or run out the ramp, but it's really kind of hilarious to check out the goats getting in and out of the truck. It's not what you'd expect, but it's definitely been one of our best innovations. Talk about funny stories. We have staged goat yoga.

If you missed your chance at the goat yoga trend when that was a thing, don't worry about it because what you really missed out on was probably getting peed on by a baby goat. That's what we don't tell you when we sell you the ticket, but it was a fundraiser that we did for a while. Some of the other crazy stuff that we've done, we have pranked a groom at a wedding. His in-laws hired us to bring goats to the wedding reception and to bring them out behind the groom while the father of the bride was making his toast. We didn't know this.

They didn't tell us. I don't think they loved their son-in-law very much. He was terrified of goats.

It was just a scene. It was hilarious for everyone there except for the groom. We've taken goats to nightclub openings, not inside, outside, so their ears wouldn't get any damage. We've done a really great promotion years and years in a row. We did about five of these called Goat My Valentine, where we would bring goats and stage a photo shoot so that you could come up with your sweetheart and take a photo with the goats and get cuddly with our baby goats on Valentine's Day.

That was a really fun one that we did. People love goats. It's true. And they're a lot of fun. We love them. We're all of us at City Grazing. We smell terrible at the end of the day, but we love our job. And a great job on the storytelling and production by Madison and a special thanks to Genevieve Church, Executive Director of City Grazing. My goodness, I love some of the names, Huck and Finn, Regina the complaining dairy goat, and Princess and Udo, enormous alpine goats who never grazed in their lives. They were raised on human food in a house.

The story of City Grazing, which started as a fun side project, but now takes care of fire prevention and so much more in the city of San Francisco, here on Our American Stories. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So, if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try All-Free Clear Mega Packs. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs.

My family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So, the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that All-Free Clear Mega Packs, they have your back. Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types.

Peace. Go to forward slash black effect for 10% off your first month. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.

If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage. It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. This is Our American Stories, and as you all know, Listener Stories are some of our favorites.

We play them a lot here. And send your Listener Stories to There's a short form to fill out.

You can type it up, send it to us, and you'll be hearing back from us. We love these stories. Your stories make this show what it is. Up next, Skip Reeves, who listens to us on KOA Newsradio 850 AM and 94.1 FM out of Denver. Skip found out something interesting about himself when he was in his 30s.

Here's our own Monty Montgomery with a story. Skip Reeves' real name isn't actually Skip. My real name is Jory. As I understand, when my mother was pregnant with me, my grandfather would say to her during the course of the pregnancy, when is that little Skipper coming out of there? And so when I was born, the name Skipper just kind of stuck.

I have four children that have grown at this point. I grew up to be a professional musician. I was a professional drummer at one time, and I had the moniker known as the world's tallest drummer because I'm six feet 11. And so everywhere I would travel to perform, everybody would say we've never seen a drummer as tall as you. I had the privilege of playing with nationally known bands such as the Drifters, the Platters. I played with the Marvelettes, the female group from Motown. I had a pretty happy career as a professional drummer.

All in all, I'm doing okay. My childhood, first of all, my father was in the military. He was in the Army for 25 years, so all of my childhood life I was a military brat.

We traveled around a lot, but I lived a good portion of my childhood in Germany. My childhood was a good one for the most part because I had a very loving, hands-on, attentive father. I had a very good father. I liked my father being in the military. All the traveling around, when I look back on it, really prepared me for life and all of the challenges that it would bring upon me as I moved through life. I was a little black kid, but I grew up around a variety of races of people, so because of that and living in another country, I grew up to learn that people are just people.

I didn't grow up with any kind of racial issues. My father didn't teach us any of that while we were growing up. I will tell you this, he certainly taught us to stand up for ourselves. He taught us, hey, respect other people and have them respect you, so my father certainly didn't raise any of his kids to be pushovers or to be walked on or walked over, but he raised us just to be decent people who make a positive contribution to society. So I grew up like that, and I'm still that same person to this day, but my father was a major, major influence on me because he really was a man who loved his kids. He took care of us very well, cared about all of us deeply, and he would do anything he could to help us, support us, and to stand by us. So my childhood, for the most part, was a good one, you know.

But it wasn't one without its corpse. When I was five years old and we were living in Germany at the time, my mother came up to me one time and she said, Skipper, because that's what she called me then, and she still calls me that to this day. My mother said, Skipper, she said, I got to talk to you about something a little bit important. She said, we're going to go see a man, and he's a judge, and this man is going to ask you certain questions about your father, and whatever questions he asked you, say yes to them, and are you happy here in this family? How does Lester treat you? Because that's my father's name, Lester.

How does he treat you and so forth? So a man is going to ask you some questions about that, just answer them the way I'm telling you to answer them. And I said, well, okay. I mean, I was five years old. I had no clue what was going on. So sure enough, we went to some building. I can remember going into a little small room, which now I'm pretty sure was the judge's chambers. At the time, I didn't know what it was, but we went back there, and sure enough, there was a judge there with the typical judge clothes on, and he did start asking me questions. You know, how did I feel about being a part of this family? You know, what did I think about my dad?

There wasn't that many questions, maybe four or five, I think, that I can recall, and I pretty much answered positive and affirmatively to all the questions. And so, you know, the judge said, well, okay, that's it. And we walked out of there and went home.

I never gave it another thought. But what I found out was later on, when the whole issue came up of him not being my biological father, when I went to go talk to my mom about it, that's when she brought that up. She said, Skipper, she said, remember when you was a little boy in Germany at five years old, and you had to go talk to that judge? And I said, yeah. She said, well, that was the occasion that your father was officially adopting you. And I said, oh, so that's what that was about. But at five years old, it didn't mean anything to me.

I just went in and answered the questions, and we came out of there. That's right. Skip was actually adopted, and he didn't know about it until he was in his 30s with kids of his own. But it took some discord in his father's life for that information to come out. My mother and father divorced, so some years later, my father remarried.

And unfortunately, some years into the marriage, that relationship began to sour as well. Well, sometime prior before that, my father had taken his then wife down to Texas, because my father's from Texas. And as his wife was visiting with some of the older relatives, the conversation just came up that I was not Lester's biological son. When my father and her started having some issues in their marriage, as I was told, she threatened to call me and tell me personally that, you know, that Lester is not my father. As soon as she said that, my father called my mother and told her the situation, and he says, you know, Reba, my mother's name is Reba. He said, you know what, you need to tell Skip what's went on all this time.

He needs to hear the story from you. So my mother called me one day, and she was crying and trembling on the phone. And yes, I was 33 years old at this age, married, but she called me on the phone and, you know, trembling.

And I could tell there was a lot of anxiety there. And she said, Skip, I need you to come over here, because I've got something real important to talk to you about. And I said, OK. So, you know, I got in my car and drove across town and went to her house.

And so when I walked into the house, she was shaking and trembling. And, you know, she was kind of crying and said, I got something I need to tell you. And I basically said, just go ahead and tell me. I said, you know, just you can relax and calm down, whatever it is.

Just just go ahead and tell me. And she says, well, you remember when you were five years old and you went before that judge, so on and so forth. And I said, yeah. She said, well, Lester is not your biological father.

She said that was part of the adoption process. And I said, OK, so you know what? And she kind of looked at me like, that's it?

And I said, well, what do you what am I supposed to do? You know, and she said and I said, first of all, I said, Mom, that doesn't bother me. I said, it doesn't bother me at all. I said, you know, I wouldn't trade him for a father for any other man on this planet. I said, I've never felt like I was not a part of this family.

I've never felt like he was not my father. I said, so, you know, you can relax. You know, I said, there's there's nothing to be upset about. I said, I don't see that either of you did anything wrong. And she says, well, she said, Skip, you know, we never meant to keep this from you. She said, but she says, but you guys just got along so well and did everything.

She said it just never came up. So I said, I'm OK. I said, I'm not mad at anybody. I'm not upset. And I said, so everybody can relax and calm down. It is what it is. Let's keep moving.

There's been absolutely no change, no altering whatsoever, none whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I think finding that out probably brought me even closer to my dad, because after I found that out, I called him up and I said, you know what, dad, I love you even more. I said, because, man, you took on a child that wasn't yours and gave me a great life.

You know what he just said? He just said, well, Skipper, I love you, too. And we didn't have a very long conversation about it. It wasn't very long at all.

I mean, I think the conversation might have been two or three minutes and it was over. You know, I grew up very, very secure knowing that my father was that kind of man. He just raised me to just be OK with who I am.

And I've learned that that's a very important position to know, is who in the world are you? And what a beautiful story. A special thanks to Skip Reeves for telling it.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-15 08:34:55 / 2023-02-15 08:51:57 / 17

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