The story of how my dad came to meet me

Today, at 3:09 PM EST, I will have completed my 51st trip around the sun. To mark the occasion, my father, who I’ve never known to write much in the way of family history, wrote a long, detailed letter about coming to see me, after hearing that my mother had gone into labor. Here, because I’m afraid that I’ll lose it if I don’t post it, is the story of my birth from his perspective, as he traveled by train with a broken arm from Portsmouth to Lexington.

Mark, on Feb 10th 1968 I was stationed (on medical hold) at Portsmouth Naval Hospital in the orthopedic ward 7B, which was an isolation ward for Vietnam returning Marines. I was a Navy Corpsman (8404 classification – Medical Service Corp assigned to the Marines) although I was never deployed to Vietnam.

I was admitted on or about Nov 11, 1967 with a mid-shaft fracture of both bones in my right arm. In December 1967, Dr. Curtis Dale Adams, a Navy orthopedic surgeon, operated on me, and placed a plate and screws in my right forearm. He later removed them and sent me to full duty, approximately one year later.

Anyway, when your mother went into labor, your Grandfather, Bob Avery, called the Navy hospital, and they got a message to me. I then went to Dr. Adams, and he gave me a 30 days convalescent medical leave to come home to Lexington, KY.

So on February 11, 1968, with my arm in a cast, I paid approximately $18 for the 500 mile trip to Lexington on the Norfolk & Southern Railway. The train was scheduled to leave Norfolk at about 5:00 PM, and arrive in Lexington mid-afternoon the next day. It was an interesting trip because the train stopped several times for hours at a time. I got no sleep and I did not talk to anyone. The cast was hard to manage because I had to travel in uniform with the sleeve cut out. I don’t think I ate during the trip because I did not want to get off the train and possibly miss its departure. I was about 165 pounds before surgery and had lost about 20 pounds over the 3 months I had been in the hospital.

When I arrived in Lexington, your Grandfather was at the station, and we went to the see you and your mother. You were a beautiful baby, and your mother was in good spirits. Your mother had been staying with her mother and father, Nancy, Carol and Tommy at 1413 Pine Meadow Road, Lexington, KY, 40504. Here’s a photo that was taken outside that house when your Mother was about 6+ months pregnant, and picture of you taken sometime over the first 30 days of your life.

Enjoy your 51st birthday and your family,
Love DAD

He also included the following from Wikipedia about the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, formerly Naval Hospital Portsmouth, and originally Norfolk Naval Hospital. “It is the oldest continuously running hospital in the Navy medical system.” And it can be found at Address: 620 John Paul Jones Cir, Portsmouth, VA 23708.

note: The “Nancy, Carol and Tommy” referenced above are my mother’s younger siblings.

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18 Comments

  1. Lynne
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Happy Birthday! That is a nice story.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Your dad has a good memory. I can’t remember anything about when my kids were born.

  3. Kay
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing, Mark. I had not heard this story. What a gift from your dad! Happy Birthday

  4. TeacherPatti
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Awww, I love this story! I also get a kick out of the new parent pictures from the 60s/70s. My mom and dad looked the same way (my mom had similar hair)–a mixture of “this is cool” and “holy fucking living shit what is this thing?!”

  5. wobblie
    Posted February 12, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for choosing Ypsi for your home.

  6. Jcp2
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    An Aquarius born in the year of the Boar. Either very auspicious or suspicious, depending on whether you believe Alexis or Siri. I think a bit of both suits you well. Happy birthday, Mark!

    Also, remember our last collab?

    https://www.mlive.com/expo/news/g66l-2019/02/dfd64629314651/schools-would-gain-35m-as-single-washtenaw-county-district-superintendent-says.html

  7. Pedantic Railfan
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I hate to jump in here all uninvited an’ stuff, but I must point out a teeny, tiny little error. In 1968, your father would have ridden on the Norfolk & WESTERN. It didn’t become Norfolk Southern (sans ampersand) until the early ’80s when N&W merged with the Southern Railway. (To confuse matters further, there was a Norfolk Southern already then extant, a “short line” operating in the state of Virginia, which was, I believe, subsumed by the new company.) I realize this is of little import to the world…

  8. Mr. X
    Posted February 13, 2019 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Pedantic Railfan, please don’t stop there. I want Mark’s entire birth story debunked. Do we know that his father didn’t eat on this train trip? Do we know that he didn’t talk with anyone? Please keep digging.

  9. Posted February 14, 2019 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Happy birthday, Mark! Don’t eat too much cake! Don’t think too much about your parents having sex!

  10. Posted February 14, 2019 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    I know it wasn’t your intention, Doug, but now I can’t stop thinking about the moment you were conceived.

    And thank you to all the Mark Maynard Truthers out there, checking train schedules and attempting to interview the doctors who worked on my father’s arm. I hope you’re successful in proving that I don’t exist.

  11. Posted February 14, 2019 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry I don’t have photos of the great event for you. However, here’s a picture of my mother as she appeared in the comic strip “Li’l Abner”: http://ullagegroup.com/2016/06/28/my-mother-on-the-comics-page/

  12. iRobert
    Posted February 15, 2019 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Normally I would make a comment about how all this makes for a good cover story. However, it has recently been brought to my attention that those sorts of comments are wildly inappropriate here on this very serious blog. Any comments made here which suggest Mark is somehow suspect in any way are not to be tolerated, and will be met with the full force and authority of the MM precinct of the ITPD (Internets Tone Police Department).

  13. Todd Spencer
    Posted February 15, 2019 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    My dad, also in the military, looked just like that in ’68 and so did my mom, like same clothes and same hair.

  14. Pedantic Railfan
    Posted February 16, 2019 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Well, just to chime in with more useless-yet-somehow-interesting information…

    I got to thinking last night, and realized suddenly that the N&W didn’t serve Lexington. So I figure the newly-paternal elder Maynard must have changed railroads at some point on his arduous journey. While I don’t have any schedules from 1968 handy, I do have a copy of a 1969 “Official Guide of the Railways,” which contains timetables of every passenger train that ran during that tumultuous time, and I was able to put together a possible itinerary. It is quite possible your father left Norfolk on the N&W’s train #3, “The Pocahontas” which terminated in Cincinnati. Ohio. At Cinci, he would have changed trains, or the coach he was riding in could have been transferred, to the Southern Railway’s Train #3, “The Royal Palm” which ran at least as far as Somerset, Kentucky (including a stop at Lexington) and at one time ran at least as far as Atlanta, Georgia. The late 60s was a period of decay for the American passenger train, with regular service discontinuances and constant schedule revisions the order of the day, so this may all be horribly inaccurate. In any case, I thank you for your indulgence, and hope this little exercise has been elucidating…

    PS: Why yes, I DO live with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Why do you ask?

  15. ChrisG
    Posted February 16, 2019 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Happy birthday, Mark!

    This was a great letter and pics. Thanks for sharing!

  16. iRobert
    Posted February 16, 2019 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    If anyone wants to organize regular meetings of a Mark Maynard Truther group, count me in.

  17. ElsieGal
    Posted February 16, 2019 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Well, I tried to comment on “the day” but got captured in some captcha glitch. Meant to write “what a wonderful gift that was from your Dad and Happy Birthday to you” but got booted. I don’t know anything about Pedantic Railfan but have to say that I find the railroad info kind of fascinating in terms of Life in America looked like at a certain time. Speaking of America in a certain time, I will digress a bit here: I just watched “Little Fugitive” (1953) the other day and it was amazing!! Most of the action surrounds a small boy wandering around Coney Island, and the scenes are just wonderful: pony rides! turning in empty pop bottles for change! and (EEK) the parachute drop ride! What a marvelous depiction of a place and time. Here’s my fave review from IMDB, posted in 1999 (itself another time….). Loved the film, and love the last line of the review below, both worthy. And Happy Birthday to Mark.

    “This movie has great value in so many ways. I’d like to comment on only one of them. One of the things that might make a young person skeptical about this film is that a seven year old could wander Coney Island without fear. The ’50’s was a unique time in American history. The awakening of the social conscience of the 60’s was ahead, and the horrors of WWII were behind. It was, in many ways, a time when Americans lived in relative personal safety and a kind of innocence. One of the things that might make a young person skeptical about this film is the idea that a seven year old could wander Coney Island without fear. About the time this film was made I was living in Los Angeles. I became separated from my mother and lost on the bus system. In the afternoon a man asked what the problem was. He called my mom and waited for her to come for me. I remember I was on Hollywood Blvd., near Vine. I was nine.

    We need to remember the innocence as well as the guilt.”

  18. iRobert
    Posted February 18, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Mr. and Mrs. Maynard,

    I can only imagine the enormous pride that must be felt by those who have brought such a shining light into this world as the folks at Dreamland did when they created the Mark puppet. I hope you can take some comfort in knowing that this wonderful, extraordinary gift to us all was originally loosely based on your son’s personality and likeness. Really, they’ve freely admitted as much. That should bring you some solace, I would think, for all that you have sacrificed and suffered. So when you are plagued by your frequent thoughts of regret, disappointment and shame, try to remember that you did indeed play some role, no matter how small it might be, in the inspiration that brought us the Dreamland Mark puppet. Please always try to remember there is that silver lining.

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