I grew up in a small town of Cooksville, Maryland, current population 424, which is quite amazing being that it has grown so much since I have left there. Growing up in Cooksville was a wonderful experience, it was rural, farming community, open spaces, and plenty of places to ride bicycles, play baseball. My family grew produce, raised hogs, cows, we had chickens for a while, and we ate well growing up on our farm. I attended Cooksville Elementary School, a four room segregated school, for five years before desegregation.
As a child I found myself able to drive a tractor almost sooner than I could ride a bicycle. As I matured more responsibilities came to me, opportunities to operate bigger equipment, to be out all day working the fields. Many of the other farms had equipment, but sometimes lacked the workers to operate equipment, so when I was finished with my chores I would work, or help out on other neighbor farms. At the age of twelve or thirteen I had a savings account, and was able to support myself.
Mr. Mullinix was a farm equipment dealership whose kids attended school with me, was always looking for hired help. I saw a great opportunity to work on a large farm, and operate a lot of new equipment; I jumped on this excellent opportunity. It wasn’t pretty right away, because all I initially did was stack hay and/or straw on the bale wagon; however if I arrived early enough I would help milk the cows. Milking was done long before daylight, but the reward was usually eating a good meal of chocolate pancakes. Mr. Mullinix treated me like one of his sons in most cases. He would visit us in the fields almost every morning, but never leave without checking the weight of the bales. We would put away roughly 1000 bales per day, which sometimes took the entire day.
I graduated from Glenelg High School in 1971and began work at the Howard County Police Department as a dispatcher. Working on shift work with numerous police officers, I found most were veterans of the Vietnam War. I joined the U.S. Army in 1972, leaving the state of Maryland and traveling the world and enjoying a wonderful life of adventure and excitement. I tell most people I served in the military for two days, the first and the last; everything else for me was an adventure. My adventure lasted for thirty years bringing to the great state of Kansas, and my home in Junction City. Junction City is my home, where my wife Erin and I live and are very involved in our community.
Jim Sands is very active in the community as shown here. He stopped by the museum to give a great presentation on the History of the Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Riley.