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BUILDING MY EMPIRE
CHILDHOOD -- A FOUNDATION FOR LIFE (1965-1969)
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WHERE I STARTED
It's been said that your parents can be blamed or credited for anything that occurs in your life. While I wouldn't quite take this statement as gospel, I do believe that the two people who had the greatest impact on making me what I am today, and therefore deserve my highest respect and accolades, are my father and mother. They brought me into this world, but more than that, they provided the very foundation of values, education, and experiences that would allow me to grow into a successful adult.
Me at age 5½ mos. -- 1965
My life began on April 14th, 1965 in Schenectady, New York, but the foundation for it started long before. To truly understand me, it is necessary to understand how I was brought up. In order to understand how I was brought up, it is necessary to understand who my parents were. My father, William (Bill) Grayson Adams, was born and raised in upstate New York. Having been born in 1944, he landed just short of the post-war baby boomers and graciously missed being sent to Vietnam by marrying and having a child before the worst of the draft call-ups began. My mother, Rebecca Roderick McQueen, was originally from Texas and relocated to New York in the early 1960's. She was born two years younger than my father, and was much more in tune with the times throughout her life. Whatever the fad, whatever the year, my mother was with it. From Elvis to bobby socks to Beatlemania to free love to anti-Vietnam demonstrations, she was always at the forefront of the "hip" scene -- and she usually dragged my father along with her. They met in 1963, married in 1964, and gave birth to their only child a year later.
Showing that dapper early 60's look
Garfield High School senior picture -- 1962
Throughout my life, I have prided myself on having a photographic memory. Unfortunately, it doesn't extend back to the early years of my childhood. Most of my earliest memories tend to revolve around things I heard, and in our home, that was mostly music. My mother had a real affinity for music throughout her life, and I believe that to be the source of my own musical inclinations. While my father was working a second job in the evenings to support us, my mother pursued her musical interests with a local folk band called "Sugar and Ames". I can vaguely recall sitting in on band practices in the basement of our home in what must have been late 1968, and picturing myself on stage in front of thousands of fans when the band finally made it big. They never did, of course, going no further than developing a small local following after playing a few clubs and outdoor festivals in the Schenectady area.
Both of us sporting earthy wear -- March, 1969
THE SUMMER OF LOVE
The first year where I really start to have memories in their entirety is 1969. I really must credit my parents for making sure I did remember many of the important events in my life that year. As a rather hyperactive 4-year-old, my idea of fun was certainly not staring at the TV, long into the night, to watch two men hop out of a capsule and trot around on what, as far as I was concerned, could not possibly be the real moon. But, to my parents' credit, they made me sit down and not just watch but ensure that I knew how historic this event was. I may have disliked it then, but I'm very thankful now that I can sit back and honestly say I remember seeing that great moment. Another significant historical event that I had no interest in was Woodstock. Living in upstate New York and with my mother's musical inclination, she nearly demanded that we attend. It was my dad, however, who seemed to realize the potential historical importance of this great event and made sure that not only did I attend with them, but saved all sorts of memorabilia so that I could remember being a part of it. Honestly, it worked only partially. I still have my ticket and a slew of pictures from those crazy 3+ days, but my only really clear memory is sitting with my mom, with the sun finally out and shining, listening to Jimi Hendrix perform "Hey Joe". I'm sure I'm not alone in being at Woodstock and having few clear memories of what transpired, but I may be the only one who can't use intoxication as an excuse.
He looks like he's having far too good of a time, I just look bored.
This is one of my favorite pictures... these signs are so absolutely Woodstock.
MY CORE VALUES
Though my memories of my early years in the 60's may be influenced more by the keepsakes and photographs that I can look back on, these five years really formed the foundation of my life. My parents made sure that I was far from sheltered. In fact, I think I experienced more of what life then was about than most children my age were allowed to. I may not remember it all at a conscious level, but I'm quite sure it still lives in my subconscious. I learned that I should relish all experiences, try all sorts of new things, and accept all people, all lifestyles, and all forms of expression... at least until I know them enough to honestly form my own opinions. My father, through his diligent support of our family and his watchful eye towards my future, taught me the need to take care of myself and my family. He taught me, in these crucial formative years, what it takes to be a man: doing whatever was necessary to provide for your own, and accepting, and always supporting the interests of those around you. My mother, with her love of society and the arts, taught me the need to be more than just a provider. I learned that it was important to do things you enjoy, to have fun, and to chase a dream. I count myself lucky to have two such diverse, yet similar, people as parents. I'm grateful that they understood enough about themselves and life to instill in me these fundamental building blocks that have served me well through the years.
We were some of the few that actually paid to get in.
This was saved by my Dad until I was old enough to appreciate it. Now it's mounted and hangs in my "music room".
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Text is © 1999-2004 Steven Adams.
No reproduction without authorization.
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