Welcome to Steve's page
Hi! If you know me then you know that I'm more than a few bricks short of a load - and I like it that way! But if you don't know me, or worse yet, you just met me, here is a little about how I got that way.
I was born in Louisville Kentucky in the middle of the 20th century. My mother taught high school English and American History. My father was a practicing dentist who taught human anatomy part time at the University of Louisville. I have one sister - Peggy, and two brothers, James and John, who are identical twins.
In the winter of 1965, a blizzard trapped my father at his office downtown. He knew he couldn't make it home by car, so he took the bus. the bus got within five miles of our home and he walked the rest of the way. Along the way, he had a series of misadventures, and to make a long story short, when he arrived home, he stepped through the back door and passed out cold on the kitchen floor. The first words out of his mouth when he came to were "We're moving!" And we did move to Pensacola Florida that summer. My father became the head of the Dental Hygiene Department At Pensacola Junior college, and eventually became the first Dean of the new PJC West Campus before he retired.
I had a hard time adjusting to life in Pensacola at first. From my perspective, my father had moved me from Metropolis to Mayberry. When I left Kentucky I had just finished eighth grade and in the Kentucky school system that meant that I had been in high school for two years. In Pensacola I soon discovered that I had been demoted to "Junior High School!" I suffered through one year at Workman Junior High School, and got to experience desegregation for a second time. In Kentucky the schools were desegregated when I was in second grade, and going to school in a desegregated school just seemed natural for me by then. But here, the conflicts and the stress was ten times worse, and I was standing on the sidelines saying "what's the big deal?"
The next year I was finally back in high school, but instead of taking an air conditioned city bus, filled with both kids and adults to school, I had to ride a school bus from the 1950s filled to overflowing with adolescent hormones and Mayberry rejects. Three years later, I graduated from Pensacola High School, and I was a different person. Things had always been weird for me in school for a couple of reasons. First, I was always a year younger than those around me because of my December birthday and the Kentucky school system, which had started me in first grade at five rather than six. Secondly, since both my parents were educators, I got educated at home as well as at school and the two education systems were often in conflict.
I went on to PJC where every year my father taught fifty of the best looking women on campus to be dental hygienists. Any normal guy would have exploited that situation to the max, but not me. Nope, I spent my time at PJC trying to hide the fact that my father was the single most admired person in the lives of the most beautiful women on campus. I told you that I was a few bricks short of a load! And believe me, I have kicked myself mentally for being so stupid for years. Of course, I did have a love interest that I met at PHS who pretty much occupied all my thoughts during this period. Her name was Judy Allen, and we were deeply in love from our senior year in high school until our second year at U of F, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
I was hospitalized with Mono of all things while at PJC and missed so many classes that I had to spend an extra semester at PJC. Judy, on the other hand, was always an over-achiever and after she graduated from PJC, she went straight to the University of Florida, starting in the summer rather than waiting until fall. I joined her at U of F the following January, but things were never the same. At that age, I was in a constant battle with my raging hormones, and Judy had much better self control than I did. When June came around again, I had to go back to Pensacola to earn money for the following year at school. But once again, Judy stayed on in Gainesville working hard on her degree. By the end of that summer, I had surrendered to my baser instincts and in a fit of adolescent naivety drove the final nail into the casket of our relationship. When the end came, I didn't handle it well at all, and a year and a half later, I dropped out of college and went back to Pensacola with my tail between my legs and a newfound appreciation for "Mayberry." While I was living in Gainesville, I realized what a great place Pensacola is and my love of the place has done noting but grow from then on.
Of course the end of my relationship with Judy was not the only reason that I dropped out. During my first stint at U of F, I majored in Zoology only because I couldn't major in ROTC. You see, I had dreams of becoming a fighter pilot in the Air Force. In fact, I was in the first graduating class of "Junior ROTC" at PHS. For all of my life nothing was more important than becoming a pilot - with the possible exception of naked women. Then, the Air Force ROTC unit that I was a part of at U of F took me on a field trip to Little Rock Arkansas, where they took me down into a Titan II missile silo. After showing us a movie (yes, this was before video) showing how they could go from sitting around playing cards to "bird in the air" within 60 seconds, they took us out to see the missile itself. There are six levels inside the silo, and they took us to the fifth level, which is just below the warhead. While I had my hand on the side of the missile, a classmate asked the officer if this missile was equipped with multiple warheads. His answer was "I can neither confirm nor deny that," but the tone of his voice said it all. I realized then that my hand was resting lightly on death and destruction for ten million people. I have often described that moment as a religious experience, and that's the best description I can come up with. Epiphany would also describe the feeling, but whatever you want to call it, I suddenly realized that if I went into the Air Force, my new family would include this missile and hundreds like it. At the end of the term, I turned in my uniforms and quit ROTC much to the horror of my instructors, who had seen a promising future in me. I lasted another term muddling through in Zoology, and fighting organic chemistry before I dropped out.
Needless to say, my parents the educators were somewhat less than thrilled with my decision. I went to work at Lock & Gunsmith, Inc. as an apprentice locksmith and moved out on my own as soon as I could afford it. Locksmithing fascinated me and it still does. I had always liked working puzzles and this gave me way to get paid for it! Soon I was spending my days in a service truck unlocking cars and houses, installing deadbolt locks, and changing safe combinations. One day, I went to install a deadbolt for a lady named Patricia Malcomson, and we hit it off right away. Eventually, I moved in with her and we later moved back to Gainesville and the good old University of Florida where we got married and graduated. While in Gainesville, I worked full-time at Rice Hardware as a locksmith and also carried a full-time (barely) course load at the University.
When I met Pat, she was a gold and jewelry buyer for a chain of catalog jewelry stores. She graduated from U of F as a dietician and now works at Baptist Hospital. We were married for about fourteen years, the first ten of which were amazing. The last four slowly morphed into "Hell on Earth." One marriage counselor told us that he thought he would "be doing us a service to help end our marriage." the reasons for the problems were many and varied, and there was plenty of blame to spread on both sides. We both made bad decisions and we were both under a lot of stress. We separated in 1996, and finally got divorced late in 1997.
I had a near death experience during the "Hell on Earth" phase of our marriage that probably didn't help either. In 1995, I apparently inhaled some fungus spores and developed a condition known as Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis. This disease was described by one of my doctors as being like "having poison ivy in your lungs." The tricky part about treating this disease is that they have to make absolutely sure that the diagnosis is correct, because the treatment is to basically shut down your immune system. If the diagnosis is wrong, the treatment will probably kill you. One part of the process was to do surgery on my right lung to remove a portion for study. During this surgery, I stopped breathing and they had to resuscitate me. I went gradually downhill for several days before I hit bottom. I was too weak to speak and had tubes going into and out of me as well as an oxygen mask that was set at the maximum. All I could do was gasp for breath and think. I did a lot of thinking about what really matters in life. I made my peace with God, and accepted that I was not going to see another day on Earth. As it turned out, I was wrong. They administered a treatment that had me out of the hospital within a week. But, my outlook on life was changed forever. Now I look at each day a gift from God and try to live my life accordingly.
After Pat and I returned to Pensacola, she went to work first for West Florida Hospital and then Baptist Hospital. I went back to work at Lock And Gunsmith, Inc. and learned that my degree in Zoology was best put to work covering a stain on the wall. I had planned to go on to Veterinary School or Dental School, but soon learned that Hell would freeze over before I would be accepted into either. My best chance was with the University of Louisville Dental School, with the help of my father. But their admissions information summed it up very nicely: "percentage of graduating class over age 30 - zero." Basically, because I dropped out of college, learned to make my own living and then put myself through school, I was now considered too old to attend a post graduate school. I settled back into locksmithing at Lock & Gun, or as we affectionately called it Block & Blunder. Now however, I became a safe and vault technician. For those of you who have never opened a safe with nothing but your intellect and a few tools, the feeling when that door swings open is a lot like an orgasm.
After a few more years at Lock & Gun, I landed a civil service job as a base locksmith at the Naval Complex Pensacola, which we normally just referred to as NAS For the next six years, I was the highest paid and most bored locksmith in the Florida panhandle. Most of my days were spent changing safe combinations and fighting with the union. The massive stupidity that was on display every day there ground me down like a millstone. I was just not cut out to be a tiny cog on a tiny gear inside a giant machine whose main purpose seemed to be to find new and better ways of wasting the taxpayer's money. If I had stayed there, I would now be retired, and living on a healthy pension. Instead, I started my own business - I told you I was a few bricks short! I went from working four days a week to working seven days a week. I traded 40 hours a week of boredom for 80 - 120 hours a week of fascinating work that also allowed me to travel all over the US and occasionally overseas. Eventually, the number of hours away from home took their toll and were one of the contributing factors in my divorce.
The business that I started in 1987 was called Tech-Train Productions. Basically, I started out making training videos for locksmiths, primarily on automotive locksmithing. I caught a lucky break or two in the beginning, mainly because I was in the right place at the right time with the right product. Of course the biggest break of all was meeting Bill Reed, who took me under his wing and helped this naive kid become a businessman. Soon, I was producing tools as well as videos and had a great run. In 2002, I negotiated a deal with Lockmasters, Inc. to sell them Tech-Train and to become a Lockmasters employee. There were a lot of factors involved, but I think the deal has worked out well for all concerned.
During the period after my separation and before the divorce was final, I was sitting alone in my apartment wondering how my life had come to this. I had realized that I had a lot of friends, but they were scattered all over the county; very few of them actually lived in Pensacola. I was in the "Pensacola" chat room on AOL reading a bunch of drivel written by a gaggle of pre-pubescent kids who thought they knew everything just because they could log onto AOL. Out of pure boredom, I checked to see who was in the "Alabama" chat room, since I had to go to Mobile the next day. One of the profiles that I checked out was for a lady about my age. Her profile sounded interesting, so I sent her an "Instant Message" (IM) That read: "Are you as bored as I am?" Little did I know that I was making "First Contact" with the woman who would not only become my wife, but my entire world as well.
Karen and I met in the "real world" the next day and from that point on, we've been together. I proposed on a dinner cruise off the island of Maui while we were watching dolphins playing in the bow-wake. We were married in Pensacola in 1998, and we renewed our vows on a beach on Maui in 2008. I can't say enough good things about Karen. She has made me a much better man than I would have been without her. We have never (knock on wood) had a "real" argument. Of course we have had our differences, but thank God they were all minor, and easily settled. She too had a near death experience before I met her, when she almost drowned, and her outlook on life is a lot like mine. That is just one of the reasons that we get along so well.
Karen has been my guiding light through times of trouble, like when my mother passed away and when Bill Reed died. I've helped her through rough times like when her mother's house in Biloxi was destroyed in hurricane Katrina. Together we make a great team, and I'm so very proud of her. I'm constantly amazed at how smart she is, and baffled at how such a smart woman could come to love a man like me. But whatever the case may be, we're in it together and our love knows no bounds.
We bought our first sailboat, Forever Young - a Hunter 30, in 2003. Hurricane Ivan severely mistreated that poor boat, but all in all, we did a lot better than a lot of the folks around us. We eventually sold the Hunter and bought our current boat, Escapade - a Morgan Classic 41 in 2005. Our plan is to retire and just sail away - at least for a few years. Check out our photo album for lots of photos of our boat and why we love to sail.