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Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 9

We are about to make a head-on collision with the facts. We are going to get this said, like it or not. We will tell the truth and share several unexplainable occurrences. Miracles? Miracles that happened. Oh yes, I can already feel some losing interest. Doubters and skeptics. They—possibly you—want to flip the page and move on. But then again, maybe there is something here that you need to hear.


You may not like my version. True enough. Yet, my version is factual. It happened. It’s all too true. Go ahead and put it past your politically and or culturally correct filter. Let me, let it flow uninhabited. Let me pour the story out exactly how it happened. After all, why not?


The Making of a President, in a Borrowed Tent, Early 1980. “How big is that tent you are livin’ in?,” asked my foreman. “A 10×10 square of canvas” was the answer, but I could barely put that simple sentence together and reply. I was eating lunch with a group of tradesman, but the situation was much too hard to swallow. It was one of many slices of humble pie I was force-fed during that humiliating period. I’m not even sure I answered the question.


What foreman? Am I starting all over again? Yes! Except this time I am trying to resurrect myself, out of a grave like hole with a little help from a friend. More about my friend and that hole later.


I was living in a borrowed tent in a KOA campground, with my wife and (by now) three children. There would soon be a fourth child, the president. I could stop here and elaborate, but let me go on and we will circle back to this later as well. For now, just know this: That tent is where the now-president was conceived. President of what? As I said, I’ll get back to you on that or if you know my writings well, you may be able to speculate your way to the correct conclusion.


It was pouring down rain. It was one of those rare wet Southern California winters and the skies were dumping on our little piece of dirt as the five of us huddled together. I reached up and lightly pressed the tip of my index finger on the inside of the roof of the tent and learned another lesson I didn’t know and would never forget. The rain began to fall inside the tent, in the form of a drip falling continuously into the otherwise dry 10 x 10 space. It dripped perpetual drops as long as the storm continued.


I had lost my first business and everything else too. Truly, as long as that rain fell, a drip continually dropped inside the tent. There are consequences to our actions. Did you hear that? I don’t care who you are or how high you may be flying at the moment, if you aren’t extremely careful, you can quickly crash and burn.


There I was. In those early years I felt somewhat indestructible. Now, everything I had was gone and my reputation was destroyed. I was desperate. I opened the Bible and began reading it with a flashlight. A single verse seemed to jump off the page and into my heart. The verse was from Proverbs 14:11 (New Living Translation): “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the godly will flourish.”


That verse was like a spark of hope that ignited my heart. I thought to myself. How many people in the United States could that verse could apply to? It certainly fit my situation. All of my earthly belongings including my home had been ripped away. But there was hope. Hope to rebuild “if” the biggest little word in the world. “If” I would simply, be godly. At least, that’s what the good book said, and the good book was one of the few earthly possessions I still had.


We have quit walking now, we are running. There is too much to say. I can’t type that fast enough, nor can you listen close enough. The next few paragraphs have been completely redacted by my then and now wife. You may never see them. Ever! Unless they are diluted and the details darkened. I will leave it to my muse, that ghost I referred to earlier. The poet, sticking its wily head up now and then. That ghost of a poet that has always been sleeping within, except when it’s awakened, out of sheer necessity.


Nevertheless, there is no time now for him to fully express himself. The curtain is closing on this chapter. Whatever he had to say in that moment of disillusioned hope, that dichotomy which was pulling me and my emotions apart, left me and my story in pieces, and that is how it must be told.

Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. Contact him at

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