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Sample Line Starter, Karen Uehling

Jim Schendel (my dad)

Dad was the sort of person who worked his way through college during the depression by sweeping floors.

Dad was the sort of person who had a dream of being a scientist and escaping the farm, and he did.

Dad was the sort of person who began his career using a slide rule that he called a “slipstick,” before calculators and way before computers.

Dad was the sort of person who was a perfectionist.

Dad was the sort of person who worked extremely hard to support a family.

Dad was the sort of person who absolutely valued a college education.

Dad was the sort of person who was controlling.

Dad was the sort of person who got upset if you left the cap off the toothpaste.

Dad was the sort of person who went to work every day with a plastic pen holder in the pocket of his white shirt full of pens (white in the 50s and 60s at least; colored later).

Dad was the sort of person who was a mathematician and an engineer and a professional.

Dad was the sort of person who liked to go to junkyards on Saturday and look for car parts.

Dad was the sort of person who liked to look for engineering books in college bookstores.

Dad was the sort of person who wanted a study at home and the closest he got was a partially finished room in a cold basement for about five years.

Dad was the sort of person who thought everyone should take calculus and physics “because it’s good for them.”

Dad was the sort of person who got laid off in his early 50’s when aerospace declined but found another job at 55 and spent the last ten years of his career doing maybe the most exciting thing, which was working on the space shuttle.

Dad was the sort of person who saw himself as the coach watching the game once his kids were grown up–he wouldn’t interfere or advise, certainly not unless asked.

Dad was the sort of person who was generous and valued his family more than money, especially as he got older.

Dad was the sort of person who mellowed as he aged.

As my brother wrote on a poster for his 80th birthday, Dad was the sort of person who went from model-T to Space Shuttle in one lifetime.

Comment:  This technique was easy using the computer because I kept copying in my lead in prompt. My list of items was originally in a random order. I revised them into roughly chronological order.  Although the text suggests doing this maybe five times, then “keep going” (which I assume means free write), I found it worked to keep repeating the prompt. I could now take this list and begin developing a profile, filling in more and more details; it might also be a sort of prose poem, leaving the prompt in and maybe culling down the items and adding more concrete detail.

 

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