When I began to talk, I went through a period when I called myself “my.” I recount here events important in my life and family before I was born: events that influenced and inspired my outlook, maturation, and eventually a life of discovery. This chapter fixes childhood—mine, but metaphorically a state of childlike curiosity—as a prominent theme throughout my life. Maternally, we were a railroad workers’ family rich in the economic history of that period. My mother married Grover Bougher when she was 16. He worked as a fireman for the Santa Fe Railroad until 1918 when he was killed in a train wreck, widowing my mother at 22 with two daughters under age four. She would remarry and have one more child that she would influence far beyond any reasonable expectations because of who she was.