My name is Joel Eutaw Sharpton. Eutaw with an E at the front a W at the end and a long story behind it for another day. I was born in Morehouse Parish General Hospital on the morning of September 21, 1981. 37 years ago today as I release this podcast episode.
I am, and have always been a poor southern red-faced white boy. I’m the son of a carpenter and a school teacher, the grandson of a preacher and a cafateria supervisor. I’m a podcaster, a writer a father of four and twice-married husband of one beautiful redhead. I love Jesus and justice and Lebron James.
I like Nintendo, and I love Nina Simone and I NEED to watch The Godfather series at least once every couple of years. I grew up on Alfred Hitchcock on Nick at Nite and 80’s comedies on HBO and country music on my parent’s radio. I love K.T. Oslin and Ricky Skaggs and Elvis singing gospel and it’s my Nana’s and Daddy’s and Mama’s faults respectively.
3 years ago I started my own business, 3 years from now I’ll be 40. To say I’m in the thick of it, is an understatement. But I love my life as much now as ever before, and every day is an exciting discovery.
I’ve been writing publicly since 2004, podcasting since 2012 and I never shut up. I’ve told my story a bunch of ways to a bunch of people but I’ve never told all of it, and I’ve never told it like this. I want my own voice, my own story for my own recollection if nothing else. Maybe someday my kids will enjoy the ability to stroll through dear old dad’s mind, in this snapshot in time.
So, here’s what you’ll get, if you’re along for the ride. 37 stories of me. One for every year so far and all before I celebrate another trip around the sun. The people who made me, the things I love, and how I got to where I am, in my head, in my heart and my home. 37 Sharpton Stories, Joel flavored, every one. And all starting now.
When I think of “my mom’s car” I picture two, no matter what she’s driving currently. I think of a Mitsibishi Expo “the marshmallow” which I might have a story for another day, and I think of the Grand Prix.
It was gold. Or champagne, or sickly yellow depending on who you’re asking or what picture you’re looking at. It was a two door, and it was (in my memory) roughly 30 feet long. In reality, I think it was a bit less. An early 80’s model, 81 or 82, it was Mom’s pride and joy before her loving children destroyed it slowly with “love” over the rest of the decade. But the destruction started that very first year, with my head and the dashboard trim.
I of course remember none of this, but I retell it as a reminder that I (and most or many of you likely) grew up at time when such a thing could happen.
Mom was carrying me (carseats weren’t mandatory) in the front seat (airbags didn’t exist) of the grand prix when she and dad had an accident and baby Joel was flung into the dashboard. Thankfully, driving while holding a baby was frowned upon even back then. So, I didn’t encounter the steering wheel. The dashboard of the early 80’s Pontiac Grand Prix was expansive, faux wood grain in this model and broken up only by a thick shiny silver plastic piece of trim right down the middle horizontally. My noggin, cracked the plastic trim dead center of the passenger side.
We rode that car to Alabama and Arkansas and all over Louisiana for more than a decade and the trim was never replaced. Thankfully, my noggin didn’t need replacing and other than a bruise and a minor scratch I was left with no permanent damage...that we know of.
Of course, I’d be lying if that was even the worst time they dropped me on my head! But that’s a different story. For a different episode.
These aren’t in order of importance, so if I don’t talk about you yet, don’t get your panties in a twist, I’m sure you’re coming further on down the road. For now, I’m Joel, this is my story or one of them anyway, thanks for listening.