I was the third and last child. See also my Family Tree Photos Page I helped put together for my first daughter's DNA class project.
Formative Years and Nature, Ages 0 to 6 (1959-1965)
I was born on September 21, 1959, in Little Rock, Arkansas, the third (and last) child in the Prado family. My parents had planned to have two children, and I was an accident. The universe got lucky.
The name they gave me to live with all my life is Mark Evan. "Mark" is a Roman derivative of Mars, the god of war. Evan comes from evangelist, or preacher. I'm definitely not a warrior, and have always avoided conflict (an instinct my first daughter clearly inherited), relying on diplomacy and patience. I'm also wary of egotistical preachers who portray themselves as second in status to God, though I do honor humble leaders trying to help others.
My father, William Manuel Prado, PhD., was a psychologist working for federal government. He was part of an immigrant family who came from Spain to New York City. He didn't learn to speak English until he went to school around age 6. His Moor father separated from his mother when he was a toddler, and he was raised as an only child by his mother and extended family who also immigrated. Born in 1927, he grew up in the worst years of the depression, something he told me about when I was young and which had a clear impact on his outlook. My father did well in school, as the school he attended skipped him up grades 3 times, was encouraged in science and he got a university scholarship to Johns Hopkins University at age 15.
He met my mother, the former Elizabeth Ann Avery, when pursuing his Masters Degree at the University of Alabama. He was teaching a class as a graduate assistant and my mother was a student in his class. My mother grew up in rural Alabama, also from a modest background, old colonial landed gentry going back hundreds of years with Scottish roots in Alabama on the mother's side, with a French ancestry businessman father. Her father died at age 41 when she was young (apparent heart defect, but he was a businessman who worked hard), and she was one of 8 siblings.
My sister Cheryl Ann is 4 years older than me, and my brother Stuart Lee is 1 1/2 years older.
For my first 7 years, our family lived in a middle class neighborhood in North Little Rock, while my father worked for the federal government as a psychologist and had an office in a place called Ft. Roots, which was at the top of a tall hill or small mountain that we could see from our house many miles away. To get there, we had to drive up an incredibly steep hill.
Physically, I had black curly hair like my father's Moorish side and a deep voice for a kid, whereas my brother was blonde until around age 8 like my mother's side, but as we got older I started looking more like my mother. (My sister's like my father, my brother like my mother, and me more of a mix, in my analysis.)
In terms of personality, I was different from my siblings in that I was a child known for being independent and minding my own business, even when others were arguing around me. My brother and sister had lots of friends and liked to go play with them, but I preferred things instead of people. I remember only one friend and no TV, but I remember a LOT of other things, including the following.
Indoors, my great grandfather showed me how to use tools when I was young, and I took to building things (e.g., models from boxes, erector set, even winding an electric motor) and liked to take apart anything I could and put it back together. My parents had a set of Time-Life encyclopedia books, and I loved the pictures. Outside, I explored plants and bugs in the yard, the wonderful rocky area across the street (we lived on a steep hill and in a diverse geology), and the forests around. The most wonderful thing was the small junk yard of automobiles and small trucks just a few hundred meters away. My father also brought me to see war movies at the Veterans Hospital, and I was absolutely fascinated with war machinery, though I couldn't stand to watch the human violence, as I am very sensitive (like my first daughter). I was very much a loner.
I was less than 1 in this photo with my great grandfather the mechanic, my grandmother, and my father holding me here. Across the street is the rocky hill which I spent a lot of my time on, as I loved rocks, and behind it some forest where I explored plants and bugs, plus the street between them was a dead end with a wonderful abandoned vehicle junkyard. This was my environment until I was age 8 and we moved. This photo is in the front yard of our North Little Rock home.
All my father's family here spoke Spanish when they were around each other.
My father had a fascination for war. During World War 2, he hadn't gone to Europe because he was slightly too young, but he did serve in the Army and was quickly promoted to Sergeant. His photo albums had him standing next to blocks of troops, whereby he was the leader. That was the epitome of my father, who could be a tough, dominating man, and a strict disciplinarian. At other times, he was a very warm, joking and playful father, and had very adaptable social skills out in public. All the time, he exercised impeccable moral leadership and guidance. His Latin hispanic roots come out in his personality, especially when his emotions get going.
My mother was the opposite in most respects except that she was also very warm and pure morally. She never joked and was never playful like a lot of other mothers I know. She never lied. She was always calm, never lost her temper or patience, and always had reasons for everything, explained in a pleasant way. My mother was generally quiet. She had compassion for every living thing, and was very sensitive. I was emotionally very close to my mother.
My father and mother were like fire and ice, opposites attract.
I trusted my parents 100%, and pondered morals and "god" and the universe a lot. My parents didn't preach about religion or instill any dogma, but they did talk about the concepts, especially morals. (My mother taught us bible stories when I was very young, but I didn't believe them, like TV and other people.)
In some ways, my formative years were too protected and morally pure. I tend to trust people in person unless and until they prove otherwise, though I don't initially expose or extend myself nearly as much or as quickly as before. Nevertheless, I do recognize the base feelings I have, and try to carefully maintain relationships with trustworthy people like my parents, similar to when I was young and they were, too. My father turns 80 in 2007 and my mother 75.
Some things I remember most in my very early childhood, growing up in the 1960s in America:
- I loved nature, animals, plants, bugs, rocks
- lots of pictures from a Time-Life encyclopedia collection, before I could read
- the space program
- the erector set with tools, screws, lots of parts to put together
- the Kennedy family
- when JFK was shot, my mother crying
- World War 2 movies which my father took me to at the VA hospital
- there was something called Communism which didn't sound bad to me despite what some people expressed, as I was a very young and naive kid who didn't understand why we had a military enemy over that kind of system ...
There are lots of memories, but the above are what I find more remarkable now.
Here are photos of Stuart and I in 1966-67, our last year in North Little Rock.