From a Dime to a Millionaire
Conservative Disciplined Thinking Equals Prosperity
Chapter One: A Saved Book
Location: Gallery/Studio Bertram, Texas 1976
The asphalt parking lot was sticky hot, causing ones shoes to snap in the soft areas where tar had filled in cracks. August, three p.m. the hottest part of the day, as I rolled a week’s load of groceries to our waiting oven we called a car. In the back of our Pacer I pulled a well used Styrofoam cooler to the edge of the trunk, opened a bag of ice and dumped the contents. A handful of chunky cold on my neck cause a sigh of relief. Donna started the car. All the cold items were carefully packed and a thick blanket was thrown over the remainder of our purchases for the hour long trip home. The humidity was so intent my shirt was sticking to my skin as if a cow had licked me. Donna’s completion glowed, she complained that her bra was soaking wet. Sweat ran into my eyes forcing me to clean my glasses. Our bubble shaped vehicle slowly cooled to a bearable tolerance level and became cooler as a line of clouds rushed to cover the northern sky. Our silver orb hugged the road as the wind grew bolder josh-ling us on our otherwise smooth ride. I rolled down the window; one could feel the cool temperature and smell in the air. I said to Donna “We’re in for a storm.” She nodded in agreement pointing in the direction of our home to a distant white anvil cloud climbing to its leveling off altitude of 40 or 50 thousand feet. My fingers fiddled with the knobs wanting to get an update on the weather. Radio reception was giving us only cursory reports of hail and lighting to our north.
We turned at Seward Junction heading west, only nine miles from home. The storm seemed to be moving away from the direction of our house. We had only moved to the area two months before and had not experienced any storms but we needed an emergency to-do list when we got home. The moment our tires hit the gravel of our drive we would unload the groceries first, grab some snacks, a gallon of water, flashlight, and put on heavy jackets, gloves and boots. The safest place would be the narrow hall of the studio not the house, too many windows. We would take our supplies, blankets/ pillows and make a safe place of the studio where all our furniture was stored during our remodel.
Only three miles to home, the sky was growing darker. Rain drops the size of fried eggs plopped on our windshield as we pulled up close next to the long porch. “You get inside I’ll bring the sacks to the kitchen.” Only a couple of steps from under the raised back of the car to the porch but the rain drops felt like being hit with water balloons. I raced to the kitchen, and then drove the car into the garage. Light hail pelted my steps back to the house. The rain ceased. We covered ourselves with a blanket carrying our emergency supplies to the studio moving like a Chinese dragon. In the hall way between the two restrooms we made our pallet with blankets, pillows and a small mattress that was in the studio. I tested the flashlight, dead batteries. Donna was intently trying to find a weather report but only static filled the air. I looked out the west window and discovered that the anvil cloud had swallowed the entire county under its canopy. Our trees that had been bending and twisting against the approaching storm when we drove up were now only gently swaying in a stiff breeze. We wanted that to be all there was to our storm, a little wind, hail and a welcomed summer shower.
A clap of distant, rolling thunder announced the summer season of tornado-making thunderstorms. We were just now getting ready for the storm. I remembered from my past when folks stood in their front yards pointing at the boiling clouds before scurrying like mice to hide. The wind had stopped suddenly, my view was obstructed by the giant tree on the west side of the studio and I couldn’t see to the north at all. I needed a look. The afternoon sky filled with even darker cloud cover creating the feeling of sundown. Walking briskly behind the studio toward the north I wanted to check on the approaching weather. Our two hundred year old guardian live oaks blocked my view until I had walked into a clearing that allowed me to see through the trees. The sky looked like globs of gray green boiling clouds hanging dangerously low, starting to swirl in a wide slow circle. I realized I was in the eye of the storm. Boom an explosion so powerful I jumped straight up clawing at the air quickly turning toward the violent sound in time to see a shower of Fourth of July sparklers descending from the transformer at the highway. The wind carried the smell of burning electrical rubber. Our lights went out. Immediately the swirling wind with millions of pieces of hay and handfuls of gravel were being thrown at me. I squinted at the ground. I was scared. I could hear the flopping sheet metal being torn from the roof of our house sounding like a continuous car crash. I headed for the back of the studio that offered some shelter. My hands covered my eyes looking out between my fingers; I used my left elbow to feel the wall on my way around to the front. I groped for the door handle as my life depended upon finding safety instantly. The screen door whipped into the side of my head as I pushed opened the jammed wooden door. The next blast of the storm sent me head first, sprawling across the linoleum floor to the sound of breaking glass. The explosion of glass fell like tinkling wind chimes, descending with musical consistency, as the glass and I hit the floor simultaneously. I was stunned for a long minute, then yelling to my wonderful wife of 4 years. “Donna, are you alright?” She screamed, “I’m ok!”
I looked to see where the window had been. The instant cold wind from the hailstorm made me shiver like a wet cold dog. Now the hail was coming down exploding onto the metal roof like dozens of shotguns going off in the attic. The flimsy curtains were blowing almost horizontally. I was petrified with fear. Something inside of me took over. Jumping to my feet, stumbling across the maze of chairs and tables, I rushed to push a bookcase in front of the blown out window to block the wind and rain. I needed to move the heavy bookcase only four or five feet. It would give protection. I gave it a push, nothing. I put my shoulder to the end of the book case, position my leg against the wall and pushed with all of my strength. Finally the bookcase was in place. The soggy curtains hung limp as the rain ran down the back and sides of the antique bookcase, my precious books soaking up the storm. The light outside was inky blue, pierced by lightning strikes that illuminated the pitch black interior of the surrealistic scene.
My heart was beating wildly, my breath was short. My temple was hurt and oozing. I felt my neck. Thick and sticky blood was trickling down my T-shirt. I tasted the end of my finger, blood. The next lightning burst illuminated the floor. I bent down to pick up a hand full of melting hail stones holding the ice to my throbbing temple. When the next flash came, I saw my books and reached out to pull one off the middle shelf. Quickly it went under my shirt protectively. Donna was screaming for me. I quickly answered her and slowly started moving in her direction. Working through the tangle of furniture and debris was awkward, slowly moving in the blackness toward the hall where we had made our barricade. Donna grabbed for me in the dark she was in hysterics, screaming in my ear, “I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die.” I pulled my head around so her screaming was not so violent in my ear drum. The pounding of the hail storm was deaf ting, I pulled her to the floor onto the mattress and hugged her tightly until she relaxed and quit screaming.
The grinding storm raged on above us. We prayed for our lives. After an hour the storm silently ceased and the rumble of storm moved away growing more faint. What remained was only a light rain pelting the metal roof. We felt as if we had awakened from a nightmare. We held each other and whispered like kids playing “fort” under the dining room table. We exchanged words of love and thanked God we were alive. The whispering continued until exhaustion and warmth took over. My temple had quit bleeding but I had a mountain of a headache.
The cocoon of blankets and mattress in the narrow hallway became cramped. When I turned over, Donna asked me what was sharp. I said, “It’s my book, the only one I saved last night.” I pulled it from under my T-shirt and laid it next to the dead flashlight. I heard her sleepily mumble something about, “Really, must have been special, to have saved that book….” I whispered, “That book changed my life.”
Dad: “Son, if you study this book and learn the secret, you will have a successful life.”
Napoleon Hill: “This book contains the secret, after having been put to a practical test by thousands of people, in almost every walk of life.”
Word count 1,704