Growing up in Fort Worth during the 1950s never lacked in excitement for David Murph. In his memoir, Murph recalls a mischievous childhood punctuated by adventures in driving, occasional acts of accidental arson, more than one trip to the jailhouse, and countless other tales. The cast of characters includes not only friends and family but also famous figures such as John Scopes, Bobby Morrow, and Frankie Avalon. Murph details an early interest in politics and an unintentional affinity for troublemaking that had more to do with an active imagination and intense curiosity than any ill will. His adventures included broken windows, brushes with blindness, bull riding, and a pet spider monkey, alongside lessons about life and death and the importance of family. Murph’s story brings to life a time when television was new and exciting, parents sided with the law, and people were to be trusted more often than not. As a close friend wrote in his senior yearbook, “it would take a book to recall our adventures.” Murph fondly recalls his active youth with clarity and humor.
In many ways, though, Murph’s childhood was not all that unusual. Born in 1943 in Shreveport Louisiana, Murph moved to Tyler, Texas at the age of two with his family. He recalls moving to Fort Worth at the age of seven, feeling excited about his new home, and making new friends in the neighborhood and at school. In a neighborhood established around the time of World War II, he and his friends played war in their backyards. The child of a geologist and a homemaker, Murph vividly recalls the strong influence they were in his life.
Murph’s story follows him from early childhood through high school graduation and leaving for college at the University of Texas. His enthusiasm for leaving home is tempered by the reality of what it means to leave his parents and younger brother behind—a sentiment familiar to any college-bound student.