Writing a Journal of Memories: The Education of a Teacher

[Publisher’s Note: What you see on this page is the beginning of a publication project Dr. Howard Stein was preparing for David Boles Blogs in the year 2000 upon the celebration of the occasion of his birth — July 4 — when he was 78-years-old. We have unearthed this early draft of — The Howard Stern Journal of Memories — and we share it with you today so you may not only enjoy Dr. Stein’s wisdom, but also revel in the revision process you can see below in an image of his typewritten submission. You may view a larger size of the image on the Boles.com Howard Stein Archive Page.

Howard’s health began to nag him as the days aged, and he never returned to this project, but you may still read a lot of Dr. Stein’s work here, there and elsewhere. Howard Stein died on October 12, 2012 of heart failure. He was 90. We miss him every moment of every notion and it is amazing that 15 years after he wrote this for us, Howard is still publishing with us from the grave. Howard Stein always said he was “born lucky” — and so, too, are we lucky to have this article! — but this is his story.]

July 4, 2000

I have been lucky from the day I was born. My birthday was July 4, 1922, and I entered the world with the incessant booming of fireworks and the dazzling display of colors and lights.  Now I am seventy-eight this very day, and good fortune has followed me like my steady companion.

The most dramatic of good fortunes took place on December 16, 1944, when I, along with my fellow squad members, were ordered out of our foxholes and told to run “that way.”

As I reached out of my trench trying to push myself to the ground above, I touched a 255 millimeter artillery shell, a DUD, which I skirted around as I ran into the Ardennes forest not knowing where I was going nor when I would be there.  But I did know where I would not have been had that shell burst upon my foxhole.

Unlike a host of my army buddies and an even greater number of army strangers, I survived the war by one good fortune after another. But let’s go back to the very beginning.

They day before I was born, the doctor who was to deliver the baby Stein, came to our house in Chester, Pennsylvania, to check on my mother.  Mother was at least forty, ashamed to be pregnant, and did her level best to conceal the pregnancy.

Upon examining my mother, Dr. Donahugh said the baby wouldn’t come until morning and that he was going to his home and would return early the next day.  My sister, age 15, shook her head and said she wouldn’t let him leave her mother, that he had to stay in our home, and that she would sleep on the livingroom sofa and he could sleep in her bed.

Intimidated by the vehemence of my sister’s insistence, the good doctor accepted his charge, the baby did indeed arrive the next morning as he had predicted, and my birth, except for the noise and excitement out of doors, was rather uneventful within our own four walls.

That sister, many years later, explained to me my traffic with Lady Luck by telling me that she visited antique shops and festivals frequently, oftentimes seeing jars that she wanted to buy.

Many times those jars had no lids, but she would buy them anyway just in case on some other occasion she might locate a lid that would fit.

Sometimes the lids she picked up did fit and sometimes they didn’t.

“Your lids,” she said to me, “always fit.”

That sister was one of the greatest good fortunes in my life.  But she was not alone.