I was born April 24, 1944, in Greenup County, Kentucky, up George Trockter's Hollow. My parents were Estill and Ruth Ann Allen Belt. I was the seventh child. Seven is God's perfect number and I feel good about that. Soon we moved to Mt. Clemens, Michigan. Dad had always been a house painter; but there, he worked for the Hudson Automobile Factory. After work, he played guitar at a couple of honkey tonks. One day; while riding the public bus, a woman looked at me in Mom's arms. She said, "This child will be a preacher." Mom never forgot this; but as the years went by, it seemed to her that I would never amount to anything, let alone a preacher. I didn't talk until I was three. A Cousin hurt me. I jabbered tattling to Mom. She was fed up with me not talking and spanked me. I started talking and haven't shut up yet! It was in Michigan that I fell through the ice. My brothers Estes and Edward and my cousin; Helen, and I saw an airplane crash. We heard the fire trucks and life squad. We ran toward the accident, across the field and over an icy pond. The ice broke and I fell in. It was zero weather, but they were able to get me out. Satan had been stopped in his tracks to take my life. Later, we moved to New Richmond, Ohio, across the river from Kentucky. When Mom got a job at Ball Cranks in Cincinnati, we had a better life. But she had her hands fuller than ever, then. Mom would read us Bible stories and send us to Sunday School, some. I hated school and really made my teachers earn their pay. I was the class clown and always misbehaved. I liked to tell the class funny stories. The kids would laugh, not only at my story, but at my stuttering and speech problems, too. Sometimes, they would ask me to say a word that I couldn't pronounce, so they could laugh. I went along with it. It was attention and that's what I wanted. A better way to get attention was art. I painted pictures and the PTA sold them. I also made a big papier-mâché dummy for the class play and called it the Man on the Flying Trapeze. I swept a barbershop to get hair for it. The school kept it for years. I failed grades, so many times, because I didn't take learning seriously. Mom would try to help me, but I was so far behind and was discouraged, easily. I quit school in the fifth grade. I figure I have a second grade reading level. To bring some peace to the class, the teacher would sit me out in the hall. That was fine with me! As soon as she went back into the classroom, I would get up and walk out of the building.
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