Journal of a 77 Year Old Gay Man Coming In For the Final Landing

Archive for the ‘Memory Lane’ Category

Interview With Mom #3

Ronnie Tipton baby

Me on a blanket – I have regressed to this same hairline now

Before Margaret moved in, Mom had her kerosene stove removed because Pop didn’t pay the bill. Pop didn’t pay the rent so they were about to get evicted. They then moved to Towerville. Margaret and the kids moved down the street to a rental property on the Old King’s Highway, PA Route 340. This is where I used to spend a week or two in the summertime when I was older. Margaret’s house didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing either. I still remember the quietness of the night with the ticking grandfather clock.

We lived in Towerville a couple years. Pop got a job at Capital Bakery in Coatesville, PA. Pop had about six dogs in the back but no food for us kids. Mad had to call the SPCA to take care of the dogs so they wouldn’t starve Mom had to call her father (Grandpop) to give her some money to feed us kids. He gave her $5.00 so she could buy milk for us.

Pop was away on a truck trip. Pop was a cross country truck drive and was away for weeks at a time. He had failed his physical for the draft and instead contributed to the war effort cross country truck driving. During this time Mom found out he was “running around” with other women.

During this time, Grandmother (Mrs. Tipton, Pop’s mother who was a widow) was living with them. She took turns living with one of her different eleven sons she had with my paternal grandfather who died of a heart attack at age 54 in 1939.  Grandmother, who had diabetes, would sneak peanuts in to eat which she shouldn’t have because she was diabetic. She did this one too many times and slipped into a sugar coma. She came out of that coma and her doctor changed her insulin injections from three times day to once a day. Mom said she “didn’t last too long on this insulin and went into insulin shock.”  She died same night that it was announced on the radio that President Roosevelt had died. They were listening to the radio on the kitchen table.


Hester Tipton

My grandmother Hester Lewis Tipton (I don’t remember her)

My grandmother died a few months before the end of the war.  She died thinking that her son John had died in the war. After the war was over it was discovered that John was a prisoner of war held by the Germans.  He was a paratrooper captured in Belgium and imprisoned in a castle in Austria. He escaped twice and was recaptured twice. My youngest brother was named after John, who our family thought died in the war. When Uncle John came home he got married and his first born was a son who he named, you got it “John.”  This is why we have three “John Tipton’s” in our family. Unfortunately, Uncle John died young.  He was 39 years old when he accidentally set himself on fire where he worked at the Gindy Trailer Manufacturing Company in Downingtown, PA.  I was a pallbearer along with my two brothers at our Uncle John’s funeral. Both my brothers and I were in the Army at that time and we wore our uniforms to the service. This was the first funeral I ever attended. This was also the first time I ever saw a dead person (didn’t look like him, his hair was combed the wrong way). This was also the first time I was ever in a Catholic Church. Uncle John had converted to Catholicism when he married his wife, Aunt Peggy, who was Catholic.


Uncle John Tipton

Uncle John Tipton (right) – survived the war but not civilian life

Interview With My Mother #2

Isaac Tipton, Sr. Lukens Steel ID card

My father’s employee ID card at Lukenweld

1942 – Pop got a job at Lukenweld. The family (me, Mom ad Pop) moved to Towerville, Pennsylvania. This was a double house. Sally Kitchen lived in the house next to them. This is my earlies memory. I remember someone yelling “Sally! Sally!” Many years later, when I was an adult I asked my Mother who was “Sally.” This is when she told me about the Sally who lived in the house next to their rental house.  This had to be the same “Sally” because I’ve never known another “Sally” in my life.

Mom said she thinks she lived in Compass, Pennsylvania before Towerville. She wasn’t sure.

She said it was an old hotel building that was split up into apartments. The building has electricity but no indoor toilets.

Mom said that Eugene White and his “woman” – not his wife – his “housekeeper” lived in the other side of the house.

Compass is where I fell of the roof. Mom said I had climbed out the second floor window, to the roof covering the front porch of the house. She said I slid down the roof and hit the ground. Mom was in the kitchen on the first floor and she saw me going by and dropping to the ground. She heard me crying.

Ronnie Tipton baby in crib

Me in my playpen, no more falling off roofs

Mom didn’t have a phone in the house. She ran across the road to the neighbors (they had a cow and she used to buy milk from them). Those neighbors called the doctor to check me out. He said that I would have to go to the hospital. Mom said “your insides stopped working a bit but then they started them up again.”

I didn’t have to stay overnight in the hospital. The people in the hospital said I was alright and they sent me home. (Note: here I used another one of the nine lives allotted to me on this go around).

Mom said my brother Isaac wasn’t born when I fell off the roof. Isaac was born in April of 1943 so I was about a year and a half old when I fell off the roof.

Mom’s step-mother Margaret (Hadfield) and her kids (Mary, Bobby and Ruthie) moved in while we lived in Compass because Grandpop (my Mother’s father) threw her out after he caught her with another man. The house in Compass had plenty of rooms since it was a former hotel.

To be continued. . . . . .


Interview With My Mother

Betty Tipton pregnant

My mom pregnant with me – 1941

On September 15th, 2007 I sat down with my Mother at her home at 1075 Hopewell Road, Downingtown, Pennsylvania and interviewed her about my early life of which I had little or no memory. My Mother died three years after this interview. I wish I had interviewed her more often before she died but she was losing her mental capacity.

This interview begins with the date Mom got married to my father:

November 2, 1940

I got married Saturday night in Elkton, Maryland.

I went back to school the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

When Pop (my father) came back to pick me up for a night out (we usually went out Wednesday and Saturday nights), this time I had two dresses packed and was ready to leave home.

The last beating I got from grandpop (her father) was because I took too long to come back from the Morris (grocery) store. It was raining and I stood under cover until the rain let up. When I got home grandpop had the belt waiting. He asked me “Why did it take you so long?” He broke his belt beating me. I told Pop “I want to get away from this mess.” That night I moved in with Pop at the little house he rented on the road next to the Brandywine Creek right off of Route 322 from Downingtown.

Early 1941

We moved to a double house in Mortonville. Ed and Mable (my father’s brother and his wife) lived in the other half of the house. Mrs. Tipton, Pop’s mother, lived across the street.

We only lived in this house a few months. There was no running water in the house, no electric, no locks on the doors and an outhouse for a bathroom.

Pop got a job as an attendant at the Coatesville Veterans Hospital.

Later we moved to Cedar Knoll, in a rented house on a long dirt road on a hill. This is the house we lived in when you were born.

There was no electric or running water in this house either. We heated the house by a kerosene heater. It didn’t heat too much. There was a train track down over the hill.

Pop worked at the Veterans Hospital for about two years.

Mom said she remembers me being in the back seat of Pop’s car in a baby basket. Pop was driving down the hill and took a turn too fast and you went rolling out of the baby basket.

Cedar Knoll

Mom pregnant with me in front of their Cedar Knoll home – 1941

To be continued

My Birth

betty Tipton with Baby Ron Tipton

I had a difficult birth. My Mother told me I had a “forceps” birth. I didn’t want to come out. I was stuck.  My grand entrance into the world and already I was causing a problem. Her doctor had to pull me out with forceps. When I finally came out my Mother said my head was covered in blood. The forceps just missed by less than an inch putting out my right eye. This near accident was the first of many fortunate near misses in my life. For many years I bore a vaccination type scar on my right eye with the pride of individualism. That scar is almost indivisible now on my aged face. And that was the last time I was anywhere near female private parts.


Ike, Betty and Ron Tipton Mineral Springs 1942Introduction

This is the first entry of my autobiography.

For many years I have wanted to write my autobiography but I didn’t know where to start. Do I write a massive tome? One of those biographies that are extensively cross referenced and footnoted? No, that’s not for me. First, I don’t have the time and secondly writing such a biography in that format reminds me too much of a term paper, which I hated to do in high school and during the college days.

I now have the solution.  A few years ago a friend recommended a book by the brother of a former classmate of mine. He wrote his “biography” as a series of vignettes. I loved that format. Viola! This is how I’m going to write my story.

The following is my first chapter. More details will follow.

I was born at a very young age. My place of birth was the Chester Country Hospital in West Chester, Pennsylvania. My date of birth was November 9, 1941.

I was the first born of Betty (Hadfield) and Isaac Tipton. My Mother was a fourth generation American of English heritage. Her great grandfather emigrated from England in 1852 via the port of New York City with his wife and two young children, William and Mary.

My father was an eight generation American. His ancestor Jonathan Tipton emigrated to American from Jamaica in 1692 via the port of Baltimore Country, Maryland. My father was a hillbilly from the Pisgah mountains of western North Carolina.

My father’s family moved from North Carolina to southern Pennsylvania in 1930, along with eight of his brothers to escape starvation caused by the Great Depression in those North Carolina “hollers”. The Tipton Family was cheap labor for his uncle Donald Byrd’s fruit and vegetable farm in southern Chester County.

My father met my Mother on a double date. My father was the driver of a car for his friend Hank.  My 16 year-old Mother had a date with Hank and my father’s date was with Edie Lemon, my Mom’s best girlfriend.  But when my father drove up in his jalopy, my Mother took one look at is tall, lanky 19 year old hillbilly boy and told her girlfriend Edie “You get in the back. I’m sitting up front with him.”  And that was the beginning of one of the greatest love stories that I have ever known.

A year later I was born.

New Start

Good day folks!

I’ve been absent from this blog. Mainly because this was a second personal blog and I’ve been concentrating on my other blog in Google (blogspot).  Also another reason is that I didn’t have a clear objective for this blog. But now I think I have found the purpose of this second blog.

First thing though, you’ll have to be patient with me because I’m not used to Word Press. The older I get I notice I have more trouble navigating a learning curve. I have pretty well mastered my Google blog but this one?  Still a lot to learn.

The purpose of this blog will be to record my memories from my 76 years of life on this planet. We all have a story. For many years I’ve wanted to write my autobiography but kept putting it off because I didn’t know where to start. Of course one starts at the beginning (when I was born) but that’s boring, isn’t it?  Instead I’m going to take a clue a book a brother of one of my former classmates did with his life. He self published a book of anecdotes about his life.  His book was called “Fuzzy Side Up.”  He took the title from his rug business.

His book of anecdotes about his life was funny, sad and most of all, interesting. As I read his book I thought to myself, “I can do this.”  And you know folks, you could too. We all have interesting lives. Unfortunately most of our personal anecdotes are lost once we pass on. I hope to avoid that fate by posting my anecdotes on this blog.

So stay with me folks, while I learn how to blog on Word Press.

Have a great day everyone!

Shopaholic Ron



Do Blondes Have More Fun?


Yes, that is me….blonde hair and all.  What was I thinking?

The year was 1981 and I was at the peak of my Wild Years.  I thought I was pretty hot in the gay scene.  You know, big fish in a small pond (Philadelphia).

Every summer I used to vacation in Provincetown, Mass.  Provincetown for those of you who aren’t aware of the gay scene is the or WAS the gay summertime mecca for gay boys and gals. I always enjoyed my vacations in P-town.  I loved to work on my tan and just enjoy the freedom of being gay and inhibited.  And of course there was always the chance that I would meet SOMEBODY.

So this year, 1981, I thought I would comb a little peroxide in my hair and let the sun bleach it.  That I did and my hair bleached an ugly shade of blonde!  OMG!  What was I going to do now?  I DIDN’T LIKE IT!

I went on vacation anyway just to see how I would make out (so to speak) in P-town.  Well guess what?  I wasn’t mobbed at the P-town airport when I landed with my new blonde hair, I wasn’t sought after at the daily afternoon tea dance at the Boatslip.  I wasn’t even noticed when I slithered into the Atlantic House and Backstreet bar at night.  So much for the new Blonde Ron.  I don’t know whether my reception had to do with my new blonde look or that I was so self-conscious that I turned people off.  All I knew was I wanted my normal dark brown hair back.

My father is a blonde as are both of my younger brothers.  My Mother has dark brown hair like I do.  I guess I wanted to look like my good-looking straight brothers.  Well you know the old saying “Be careful what you wish for.” 



When I got home I couldn’t wait for my hair to grow out. Of course in the meantime I had to explain to my co-workers at the bank where I worked in Philadelphia as an operations manager, why all of a sudden I had blonde hair.  Saying I spent “too much time in the sun” just wasn’t cutting it.

The next year when I went on vacation to Provincetown I returned with my normal, mysterious, alluring DARK brown hair.  I was mobbed at the airport (not really), sought out at the tea dance (sort of) and aroused a great deal of interest at the Atlantic House and Back Street bar (with some guys).

So the moral of the story is “Blonde may have more fun but gentlemen really DO prefer brunettes.”



“You’re Getting a Job!”

Ron's bike

Me and my dependable bike with basket that delivered thousands of newspapers from 1951 to 1956

The year was 1952. I was ten years old.  I was the oldest of the three sons of Ike and Betty Tipton.  Ike, my father, was a transplanted hillbilly. He came to Pennsylvania from the western mountains of North Carolina with his eight brothers (two more would be born in Pennsylvania) when he was ten years old.  He and his brothers were to work as migrant farm labor for his uncle Don Byrd’s farm in southern Chester County.

My Mother was the youngest of a family of Pennsylvania Quaker descent.  Her Mother died when she wasn’t quite two years old.  Both my parents had a hard upbringing.  Neither had an easy childhood.  Both began working before they reached their teenage years.  I was to be no exception.

I came home one day from school and my Mother told me “You’re getting a job.  You’re going to be a paper boy.”  Uh….okay.  What did I know?  We were poor and lived in the poorer section of town.  My father was a long distance truck driver, exempted from serving in the military because of his three sons being born in 1941, 1943 and 1944.  Mom, at that time, was a stay-at-home Mom with her hands full taking care of three rambunctious boys.  Any woman knows that three sons can be a handful.  My brothers and I were no exception.  We kept her busy.

I wasn’t asked if I wanted a job, I was told.  I didn’t even think to protest.  What I did know was that I wasn’t getting an allowance like most of my classmates and that my brothers and I didn’t wear shoes during the summer months off from school because it was too expensive.  I would be earning MONEY.  I knew that.  Up until this time I earned a a nickel here and there running errands to the grocery store for my relatives who lived in the same apartment building we lived in on Washington Avenue in Downingtown.  Once in a great while one of my uncle would give me a whole quarter for running an errand to the grocer store.  Now as a paper boy I would be earning BIG MONEY….up to $5.00 a week!

She told me a Mrs. Lindermann would come over to our second floor apartment at 120 Washington Avenue to explain to me what I had to do.  Mrs. Lindermann arrived on a hot and humid August night (no air conditioning in the Fifties – we didn’t notice).  She told me that I would pick up my newspapers (The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin) at the Sam Charles News stand, which was located on Lancaster Avenue, the main road through Downingtown.  This was only a few blocks away from where we lived in the center of Downingtown.  I would also be delivering a few copies of the local newspaper but the bulk of my deliveries would be the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, about 60 copies.  I would pick up these papers after school.

She gave me a small, hand-size three ring binder. This notebook contain a monthly grid of individual sheets of the customers I was to deliver the newspapers too.  Each sheet had the customers’ address and which paper was to be delivered to them.  There was also an amount listing what I was to collect from the customer once a week.  She turned over this binder of customers’ names and addresses to me.  At ten years old I had my first Real Job.  I now had responsibility.  I felt grown up.  It felt good.

I was a paperboy from third grade until I entered ninth grade, from ten years old to fifteen years old.  Believe it or not the main reason I quit the paperboy job was that I thought I was too big to ride a bicycle.  Remember, back in the Fifties only kids rode bicycles.

I can honestly say from my vantage point now, that paperboy job was the best job I ever had in my life.  The best.  I was on my own, I was out in the fresh air, I got to meet and interact with people (which I love and do to this day as I do at my part-time job as a hotel front desk clerk), and I made money.  If there was any downside at all (and I didn’t and never did consider it a downside) was that I didn’t have time for extra-circular activities at school.  While the rest of my classmates were spending their allowances and getting into trouble or just being bored, I had something to do after school, deliver papers.  And oh the experiences I had delivering those newspapers,  something which I will write about in future blogs.

I don’t have any pictures of me delivering papers but I do have a picture of me on my bike that I delivered newspapers.  My trusty, dependable bike that got me through many a day; hot, cold, windy, snow, rain.

I am so thankful that my Mother gave me this lesson early in my life to teach me responsibility.  She is gone now but her lesson has stayed with me for the past sixty years.  I am working now, albeit part-time.  I will work until I can no longer function either mentally or physically.  I know of no other way.  Mom trained me well.

Thank you Mom, wherever you are. I have no doubt she will have a job waiting for me when we meet in Heaven.