No Cure for Curiosity with Joe Sharp (2018) 

Pages: 194, Printing: CreateSpace, Editing: Marjorie Toensing

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Joe Sharp, age eighty-five, approached me after a talk on memoir writing that I gave at Charter House. “Will you consider helping me write my life story?” he asked. “You were too busy when we talked previously, but I hope you can find time for me now.”  I agreed to help, and in August 2016 we began in earnest. After half the book was finished, Joe’s life took a bad turn. In the latter part of January 2017, rather than take an indoor skyway route for his walk, he chose to go outside, not realizing that the street was covered with glare ice. He slipped, fell backward on his head, and severed his spinal cord from the C5 through the C7 cervical level. With that fall, his whole life changed; his arms and legs were paralyzed, and he would never walk again. We put his memoir on hold for several months during his rehabilitation, resumed work in May, and completed it in January 2018. What a journey it was.

Contents

  • Who Is Joe?

  • My Memoir

  • A Quick Look at My Life

  • All I Am and Hope to Be I Owe to Dad

  • Exploring San Francisco’s Surrounding with My Father

  • A Tenacious Defender of the Underprivileged

  • There’s No Cure for Curiosity

  • Families Are Hard, Hard, Hard

  • To Aspire to New Heights, Don’t Look Down!

  • Early Loss of Dad—a Big Shock

  • My First Look at Psychotherapy—Dianetics

  • The Best Career Advice I Ever Got

  • The Bonfire Caper

  • Beauty and Ambition

  • Success at Burroughs

  • Back to Berkeley

  • The Fulbright Program—a Great Honor

  • Our Wonderful, Sharp Son

  • My Crowning Accomplishment—the GE CT Scanner

  • Joining the Personal Computer Revolution in Silicon Valley

  • Oliver Chooses a New Path

  • Divorce

  • A Second, Bliss-filled Marriage

  • Toastmasters Saves my Life

  • Even when I’m Flat, I’m Sharp

  • Postscripts to my Family

  • Life Events Chronology

  • Acknowledgments

  • About the Author

Excerpt

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge lies magnificent Marin County. My favorite hikes with Dad were on Tamalpais Mountain in Mount Tamalpais State Park, a nature preserve protected by law from hunters, housebuilders, and businesses to be kept as a natural park. It was a genuine paradise with its flowers, fauna, and tall redwood forests. A rough, two-lane road went up past Bootjack Camp and on to the Toll Gate parking area, where we parked. Often, the road over the bridge at the base was completely shrouded in fog, and partway up the mountain we would emerge from the murk into sunlight, which would seem to blossom in front of us. Driving from dense fog into bright sunlight is a glorious, surprising experience. It’s unforgettable! 

          Hiking with Dad was like being in a nature class. He knew the names, peculiarities, and histories of nearly every tree, plant, and animal we encountered and enjoyed sharing the information with me. The mountains were covered with towering redwood trees, plants, and flowers. We would often see an entire hill blanketed with golden poppies. Even the dandelions were pretty. Birds flew, and animals scampered over and around the trails. Because the park was a protected area, neither hunters nor motorized vehicles were allowed in the hiking areas. It was a paradise and likely still is; words can’t fully describe its awe-inspiring beauty.

           These Saturday afternoons and Sundays with Dad were special. Simply being with him filled my heart because I felt protected, instructed, and loved. He and I discussed every important matter you could think of: politics, philosophical topics, science, technology, law, his legal cases, and sometimes even sex. As I grew older, I began to know more about science and technology than he did, but he got up to speed quickly so that we could have meaningful discussions about them. I could present problems to him that confused me, and he was able to analyze them, understand them, and help me understand what it was that confused me. Our talks while hiking provided me with education and companionship, and these times with Dad shaped my entire life. They inspired me to do worthwhile things and understand as much as possible about everything that happened—not just to me but in the United States and throughout the world. I acquired the equivalent of a college education in all I learned from Dad.