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I was born John Vincent Prater in 1956 to a Beautiful Italian Girl from the Farming Country of Southern New Jersey. My father was a US Marine who had survived many Campaigns in the Pacific during World War II. He was born and raised in Eastern Kentucky; more specifically, Breathitt County. After my Father retired in 1962 from the Marine Corps, we moved back to Breathitt County. I lived on Hwy 205 also known as ‘Dogwood Trail’ until I was 18 years old. Vancleve is where my older sister and I attended elementary school, and from there we went to Little Red and then on to Breathitt County High.
In late March of 1974, just one week after my 18th birthday I left Dogwood Trail. Two close friends and I joined the Marine Corps and went off to Boot Camp in San Diego, California. It had always been my plan to go into the Marines after High School, but not before graduation. I have never regretted my decision, although I do wish I had graduated with my High School Class. I missed out on many wonderful days and will never know what might have been… Returning to Dogwood Trail two short years later, I was no longer a boy. However, I still had a deep Love for My Family, Breathitt County, Dear Sweet Friends and My Dogwood Trail.
All most immediately, things did not feel the same. I knew I had changed. I had grown physically, mentally and was now considered to be ‘Worldly’. (Much more interested in everyday materialistic concerns than in the spiritual side of life.) I completely disagreed with this assumption, and thought of myself as being; more experienced in and knowledgeable about human society and its ways. After all, I had visited much of the Far East. I had even witnessed the atrocities of War during my participation in Military Operations prior to and following the Fall of Saigon, Vietnam. Those and other experiences during my ‘Tour of Duty’ bred many new emotions. Some of which felt un-natural and others that helped with my understanding and acceptance of others. Although I was now burdened with guilt and helplessness, I was much more spiritual than I had ever been before.
I knew that eventually I would leave My Dogwood Trail again; that I was destined to return to my place in the world, and I did. One year later I enlisted in the US Navy and soon found myself captured by many new and exciting adventures.
I'm sure you've heard the old cliché, "You should burn your bridges and move on." My philosophy on this is much different: ”Bridges are not to be burned. They must remain for those that follow." This quote is on the cover of my book; A Life Chronicled in Poetry, which was first published by Authorhouse on April 19, 2007. The book contains about 100 pages of Poetry, Pros, Journal entries, Letters and Short Stories. Some of the works date back to the late 1970's, when I first started to write song lyrics and poetry. I decided to publish my writings in the form of a book after much thought, as a way for me to 'leave my mark' as they say. I had no intentions of putting a lot of money into getting it published, as I was sure the returns would be zero. The book was to be a gift to my wife Migdalia, sons Juan and Jason and baby daughter Jennifer and other family and friends. As I mentioned; I just wanted to share my writings with others. While the book was with the publisher going through the final stages, Jennifer was killed in a terrible Motorcycle accident. She and the driver, her boyfriend, left us on Saint Patrick’s Day 2007. The publisher was kind enough to add a photo of Jennifer and one of her poems to the back cover. My book became a memorial to her.
I hope to use this site to publish my new works and the works of my daughter Jennifer Tennille Prater. Since her death I have continued to write, attempting to channel my many emotions into something constructive. I have also devoted much of my time to seeking out family members with whom I have had limited to no contact with over the years. Through-out the pages of this site, I will share with you the joy, and the pain I have experienced, and will undoubtedly experience, as I attempt to build new bridges.
It has now been over forty years since I first left My Dogwood Trail to Travel Beyond the Horizon. During this time, much has happened in my life and in the lives of those close to me. So… I invite you to take a journey with me...
(C) 2007 - 2017 John Vincent Prater
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