Max's Music Place
Who is Max Robinson? I'm old enough to know better and young enough to do something about it. I've been singing in public since I was 8 years old, playing guitar since I was 10 and seriously writing songs since 1992. I don't swear except when I get one of those error messages resulting from the artificial stupidity we call software. I don't smoke and I don't drink. What do I do for fun? I ............... and I get my jollies from writing songs and singing them for people. When an audience appreciates my work it gives me a high no mere chemical can approach. The kind of music I do can best be called folk. In addition to folk music I like Folk-rock, Classical, Bluegrass, Rock-n-roll prior to 1960 and country prior to 1975. I am married to Sue and we have no children. The way I get money to buy such nonessentials as food, clothing and shelter is to collect retirement from the state of Kentucky and Social Security from the Federal Government. I used to teach physics and electrical engineering at Western Kentucky University. I was also known as the Science College Electrical Engineer. Oh, by the way I am legally blind. I have about 2% of normal vision in only one eye. I have been this way all my life so I don't know what I'm missing.
I was born on December 22, 1939 on a farm in Iowa. The nearest little town was, and still is, Laurel. It's about halfway between Marshalltown and Newton. At about 3 months of age the local country doctor figured out that I had cataracts. No big deal today but in 1940 it was. Between the ages of 6 months and 18 months I had three operations, a process known as needling.
At age 5 years I was going blind again so my parents took me to Doctor Wolf in Marshalltown. 5 more operations scattered over the next 6 years left me with 20/400 in my right eye and 20/800 in the left.
Then at age 13 the retina in my right eye detached. There was no treatment. The laser if thought of was science fiction. It wouldn't be invented for another 9 years.
Iowa at that time was ranked 48th among the states in services for the blind. Hawaii and Alaska were still foreign lands. My mother's family lived in Florida and It was ranked number 2 in services for the blind. A move had to be made.
I attended public school some, and was home schooled, my mother was ahead of her time. I passed the GED or what ever it was called then. I entered the university of Florida in 1960 to study electrical engineering. I graduated in 1965 with a bachelor's degree and 1966 with a master's and a minor in astronomy.
I was employed by the University of Florida's radio astronomy department for 2 years and moved from there to Western Kentucky University where I taught physics and electrical engineering for the next 33 years. I retired in 2001.
I met my wife Sue in an astronomy class. Near the end of the fall semester in 69 my department head told me they were likely to be shorthanded in the fall of 70 and he might need me to teach an astronomy course. Astronomy combined with electrical engineering adds up to radio astronomy. All I knew about solar system astronomy I had learned in the 6th grade. I needed to do some serious brushing up before stepping into the classroom as a teacher. Fortunately there was a graduate level course called Astronomy for Teachers being taught in the spring of 70. I asked the professor if I could sit in and he agreed.
The class was taught at night once a week from 7 to 9 with a break around 8 o'clock. One of the members of the class was a future teacher working on her master's degree named Sue Lynn Wade. She and I started talking during the breaks. I didn't dare ask her for a date until she graduated. A colleague was in fact fired for dating a student even though she eventually became his wife.Where was I? Oh yes. After classes were over that spring and just before graduation she dropped by my office. I told her I had ordered a Questar telescope. She wanted to see it when it came in. Safely after graduation I invited her to come over and see my Questar. Since the stars are only out at night, well, use your imagination.
Digression.If Kentucky had an official state joke it would be this. "The reason we all stay here is so we can be here when the world ends. That's because Kentucky is 20 years behind the rest of the world."
We spent the summer dating but she had taken a job in Covington which is quite far away from Bowling Green. That restricted us to weekends for the school year. She came back and we were married on June 19 1971. A marriage made in the heavens and maybe in Heaven as well. It has lasted unlike several of her high school friends.
So where did the music come from? Oh, yes. Rewind back to 1948 when I was 8 years old. I sang all the time. I sang along with the radio or if I was outside playing I just sang. My mother entered me in an amateur contest in Marshalltown. It was held in a large auditorium holding 1200 people and broadcast over KFJB which still exists under that call sign. I still remember the songs I sang. It was a medley of I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover and Zip-a-Dee-Do-Da (phonetically spelled). I won first place. I can still sing those songs today.
When I grew big enough to reach around the ancient guitar that had hung on the wall ever since my oldest brother had traded it for a shot gun, I started lessons. I was age 10.
A year earlier I had gone on an airplane ride with a cousin who had his pilot's license. I was scared while I was up there but after we landed I wanted to go up again. I made up new words to the tune of Take Me Out to the Ballgame called Take Me Up In An Airplane. It was pretty bad but my mother thought it was the best thing since Beethoven's 9th symphony. Well, isn't that part of a mother's job description to think things like that? Copyrights be damned, I sang it on stage, the radio and even early TV. We were Iowa farm folk. What did we know about copyrights?
That was pretty much the end of my songwriting for a very long time. For a time in my late teens it seemed I would have a career in music and my parents were supportive. Then, all about the same time, I bought an electric guitar, a tape recorder and past the test for a ham license. That led me into the world of tubes, resistors and capacitors.
I showed strong aptitudes towards music and electronics but the advice I received at the time was I stood a better chance of having a regular income in electronics rather than music. It's the classic case of the road not taken. What might have happened if I had gone for music rather than electronics. I'll never know, unless such questions are answered in the life after life.
One last little bit, I started writing songs in 1992. Retirement was in sight by then and I started preparing for another career in music after I retired. There is no chance of a real career and there never was. It's just another expensive hobby, something to fill the retirement years. But I'm having fun doing it so I don't see any reason to quit.
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This page last updated January 4, 2012.
This page copyright © 1999 to 2012 and every year in between, by Max Robinson.