Growing up in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Herb spoke Spanish. At least that is what he assumed it was. It consisted of Mexican Spanish from a number of different parts of Mexico, since he associated with workers who came from different parts of Mexico. It consisted of some English words which were mixed in. The grammar was not particularly good, but Herb could communicate.
Herb then went to a school where the instructor spoke good Spanish. She spoke Castilian Spanish. Since Herb had not learned to spell with the Spanish he learned as a child, he had no idea whether or not the Castilian Spanish was spelled the same way. He did know that the pronunciation was different. Additionally, she was a stickler for using correct grammar. When Herb opened his mouth in class, she laughed. When Herb opened his mouth among his friends (he tried to speak Spanish correctly), they laughed, so after all of 6 weeks in the class, Herb quit trying to speak Spanish. This was a mistake, but this is what he did. Herb finished the class, and she passed him because he showed up for every class, but he left without the ability or the desire to speak Spanish.
Years passed and when in Mexico, he spoke English. Then his boss needed to speak to a gentleman in Jalisco. Herb placed the call, and in the best Spanish he could remember he identified himself and stated that his boss needed to speak with Señor Matacia. There was silence on the phone for a little while, and then the lady said, “Is it possible that you speak some English?” Later Herb learned that Señor Matacia had grown up in Virginia, and his mother, who did not speak any Spanish, was visiting. Since the phone was ringing, she had picked it up.
Herb learned that when he let people’s laughter control his actions, he was losing out on many benefits which life could furnish him.
Herb decided to ignore the predictions from his teachers who claimed that Herb could never learn to write a sentence, let alone a paragraph, and proceeded to write a book. The first one was a manuscript titled, Animals I Have Hated, which he used as a Christmas present many years ago. Then there was Stucco Handbook for Builders. He lost the copyright to that because he accepted a verbal contract rather than a written contract.
Then there was We Heard the Wings of Angels and Cancer, An Intense House Guest. These were combined into an E book, Living with Cancer – That Intense Houseguest.
Then there was The Stucco Book – The Basics which became a classic in the industry. That was followed by an expanded version of Animals I Have Hated and then Grandpa, Help! Answers to Questions a Young Lady Would Never Ask Her Parents and Grandpa Helps Grandparents.
The latest is Homes for Jubilee which was published in June, 2016. Kay pou Jubilee, the Haitian Creole edition, will be published in August, 2016.
Several more books are in the process. Each day when Judy reviews the previous day’s writing, she laughs at the errors which Herb has included in his writing. The laughter tells him that she is reading it and correcting it.
When Herb is in a foreign country and meeting someone new, he occasionally tries to start the conversation using the language of that country. Usually the people laugh and suggest that they converse in English. More often, to keep from hurting Herb’s feelings, they say that they need to practice their English.