you aughta

You Aughta Write a Book is an interesting and intriguing read from start to finish. At the age of 81 the author looks back with honest and candid memories of a colourful life filled with struggle, pain, happiness and hope sprinkled with humor. After hearing from a variety of friends the phrase ‘you aughta write a book’, the author has done just that. 

And what a story it is, from running away as a three year old with his sister from their drunken father, who had beaten up their mother, to being cared for by his grandpa, who taught him proper values, then onto the life of a street kid learning a whole set of new values that led to an “assisted” enlistment in the US Navy. This story covers a breadth of experiences suggesting a very interesting read. It has it all. 

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ISBN:   978-1-921919-74-9
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 104
Genre: Non Fiction


Author: Edw. S. Kohler
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2012
Language: English


The author resides full-time in this motor home, spending five months a year here in Upstate New York with friends and family. His wife – Marilyn, dog – Maggie and he travel the other months throughout the United States, visiting friends in Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina and, sometimes, California.  

The Kohlers stay active and live life to the fullest. The author exercises daily and is recovering from a hip fracture as a result. They have no intention of slowing down and are presently planning the next trip to visit several mentioned in this book.

“You Aughta Write a Book”  

Yes. That’s the name. Here’s why. I’m now 81 and so many times people have said “You aughta write a book.” I dabble a bit, mostly political stuff between friends. I keep hearing this and, I would imagine, you do too.  

Then the question arises: Who would read it other than myself? Who would read a book that’s loaded with nothing more than a bunch of “me’s” and “I’s”? You’ll never know, Ed, unless you do it.  

About two or three presidential campaigns back, I thought I’d write an article and send it out to a few friends. It’s called “As Ed Seas It” (a take on my love of the sea) and it continues up through this day. This is kind of nice and the response is positive because most of my friends are of the same political bent. 

I’m a “right-handed leftie” and always have been. This has worked fine until it was forwarded to their friends… and on and on it went; not always falling into the hands of those that thought as I did. I was accused of “blogging” without the so-called “rights” of a blogger, whatever the hell that meant. 

Then it spread further and a huge list was accumulated as it was forwarded through various Chairmen of Political Districts. I guess this list became attractive to a hacker somewhere in the Orient because now I had real problems – problems that could only be solved by the best of nerds and AOL in general.  

So, I invented the PLOG (personal BLOG) and then took this political stuff to a new level. Been having fun with that since and it goes out only to my select bunch. This does include a couple of Republicans, however. As this goes on I keep hearing “You aughta write a book.”  

A few years back a little English trawler tied up at a dock just in front of where we stay in Upstate New York. It was learned that the person aboard was writing a documentary about the Erie Canal. She learned that I was the builder of a few tour boats that occasionally floated by and introduced herself. This led to several recorded interviews centered around the Baldwinsville Boatyard, the vessels built there over the past 30 or so years and how I got involved in its ownership. 

She advised that she needed her compass swung… on the trawler… and I did so. Sounds a bit risqué but I can assure you it only involves compasses. During all this conversation she said “You aughta write a book” and she would like to “ghost” it. 

She finished her work in our neck of the woods and returned to Manhattan to do her documentary. A couple of emails later regarding revisions to my notes, etc. she asked me to jot down an outline of a couple of chapters about my early childhood. I did so with a little coaxing and then a few months passed without hearing from her. I decided to call a magazine interested in this documentary and learned that she’d taken off on a sailboat with a Puerto Rican half her age and hasn’t been heard from since. 

That was my first attempt, so please bear with the second. It will start exactly as the first; following along through the years. No outline, no real plan. Just will put it down the best I can remember. Here goes.

Chapter 1   


 I was just three years old and running down this dirt road in the country near Pulaski, New York. It was summer and I was barefoot as was my five-year-old sister running way out in front of me. I was crying and trying to catch up. I was losing ground and knew that I had to return to this dingy little house where we lived.  

My father had just, again, beaten up my mother in a drunken rage. My sister, Betty, went on to my grandfather’s farm about a half a mile away. This was always her safe haven but just beyond my reach.  

A year later my mother was dead, killed in a drunken car accident caused by my father, Edward Samuel Kohler, Sr. The story starts here, at the grave, as they lowered my mother into this “hole.” I tried to peek in this hole and was struck by my grandmother’s cane and was reprimanded toward better behavior.  

Later, at my grandfather’s farm on Tinker Town Road, a group of family members gathered at the dining room table. Betty and I were in “earshot” but not “in view.” We could hear them discuss the future of these two rag-tag children.  

It was clear that Betty would be raised by my grandparents. She was truly favored by my grandmother, being a girl, and could possibly look after her as she aged. As for me, at the age of four, I heard my grandmother say that I had to go, maybe adoption, orphanage but she was not going to raise another “with a dink on it.”  

My grandfather, Earnest John Kohler, a mild, reserved man who considered himself a gentleman, put his foot down and in no uncertain terms clearly said no. Bobby would stay here and be raised with his sister, Betty. Yes, I was called Bobby. It sounded better with Betty. It became abundantly clear that I had a friend as well as an enemy. Bobby became the bone of contention between my grandparents for all that I can remember. I stayed in lockstep with my grandfather and steered clear of the one with the cane; the one who didn’t like little kids with “you know what.”  

I called my grandfather E.J., by his initials, as this was what everyone else called him. He taught me so much… so much that still guides me through this life. At just four, he taught me how to read, to print, to count, but mostly he taught me that everyone has someone to count on. As it’s said today, he had my back. 

This was in the mid ‘30s and times were hard but E.J. was a prominent and respected man. He had worked his way up from being a stowaway orphan from Germany to being a retired Yard Master of the Union Pacific Railroad. He had a monthly retirement check coming in that set him apart from the average back then. 

He would take me upon Moxie, our horse that also pulled a buggy. Moxie was another of his prizes that he took immaculate care with. We would ride down to the creek bed with gunny sacks of potatoes, bacon and other food stuff to give to the hobos that camped there on his property. He would hire them to cut firewood and tend to the farm. Yes, and even hoe; the origin of “hobo” short for “hoe-boy”. I had a life. I had love. I felt something that tried to fill the emptiness of the loss of my mother.

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