I am Hardie Meade, technically Joseph Hardie Meade, Jr. I was born in Birmingham on September 21, 1940. Gosh I’m old!! Just glad to be here.
Soon our country got involved in WWII and my father was drafted into the army. My older sister, mother and I were forced to move into my grandfather’s house because we could not afford the expense of living in our house. Grandfather had a big house on several acres so it was really a great place to live. After dinner every night, my sister and I had to leave the living room where my mom and grandparents listened to the war news on the radio. My sister and I heard enough to know things were scary. Hitler was on the news daily and it scared me so badly that I got under the bed at night after I was put to bed. I always ended up in the bed when I woke up because my grandfather got me out from under the bed after I went to sleep and put me in the bed. I loved that man so much and kissed him goodnight every night before bed. He was always kissing me on the cheek. I can still feel the brush of his mustache on my cheek.
Just after the end of the war, my father came home and found me very skinny and timid. He proceeded to get me fattened up and spent lots of time with me. If I had to eat to get his approval, I would eat. Very soon, my little brother was born. He was very cute and sucked all the air out of the room whenever he came in. I was so jealous I wanted to get rid of him. I was the cute son and grandson until he was born.
To get attention from my dad I overdid the eating and became a fat roly-poly, and was very uncoordinated because I couldn’t deal with the weight. I never got chosen to play on sports teams, was teased about my weight, and bullied by all the other kids. In high school, I realized I could play football by pushing other guys around with my extra weight. I hit 195 at age 12 and held it there all through high school.