Paul Race Home Page
Paul is a writer, editor, railfan, and musician who lives in southwest Ohio. Since 1995, Paul has been running web sites for his company (Breakthrough Communications), other companies, and for his own hobbies.
Hi, this is Paul. If you see this page, you probably typed "paulrace.com" into your web browser. I only registered this name because I have had domain name issues with several of my business trademarks, and figured I might as well register my own name to keep someone from doing something unethical or silly with that, too. I hope that isn't an inconvenience to anyone else out there named Paul Race. In fact, if you'd like, I'll put a link to your home page from here.
On the other hand, you may looking for a Paul Race and wondering if you've found the right one. That is possible. As uncommon a name as Paul Race is, I have had people contact me when they were trying to contact another Paul Race in the Dayton area (for a while he had an unlisted number, and that got real interesting). During my stints as an NCR employee, I have also received mail for another NCR employee named Paul Race who lives and works in Scotland. So in case you've crossed paths with a Paul Race in the past and wonder whether I'm the one you met, the following history may help you figure that out. If you think the history is too long, just remember that you're the person who typed paulrace.com into your web browser.
Thus starts a very abbreviated story of a very full life (so far). I hope you don't mind if I go back a little:
Dad's Side - The last name Race is less common in this country than it is in England. I'm told that it's Welsh, and related to names like Rhys. My great-great grandfather was a Methodist preacher who came from Scotland to Springfield Ohio. His son was also a Methodist preacher, but the third generation, Lee Race, was better suited to farming and working on the Nickel Plate railroad. My dad (Donald Lee Race) was drafted during WWII but due to a minor medical problem was not sent overseas. Instead he worked as an MP at several bases including at least one camp full of German POWs. When the war was over, he and his brother Kenneth came home to take care of their mother and sisters - a very necessary task since Lee Race was nowhere to be seen. They bought a house in Donnelsville, Ohio, on the National Road (Route 40) and lived there for several years with their mother Hazel and their sisters, including youngest sister Shirley.
Mom's Side - Henrietta grew up on farms, in Miamisburg, Ohio, and Russia, Ohio. Leo, her father, was a first generation American - his parents had emigrated from Germany in the 19th century. Leo was injuried in WWI (some say he inhaled almost enough mustard gas to kill him), and was sick the rest of his life. Because of his lung problems the government put him in a TB sanitorium. There he was terrified he would actually catch TB in his weakened condition, so he escaped one night, bringing with him a table he had made in "industrial rehabilitation" class, and which is still in the family. He married childhood friend Marie Stang, also a first-generation German American, and started a family. One son, Carl, and three daughters, Eleanor, Henrietta, and Margaret, worked the farm as soon as they were big enough to do any work at all. Leo also attended a vocational school and learned how to make candy. He had a candy store in west-central Ohio (Celina?), which Eleanor helped run when he became too ill to work hard at his craft. When Leo died, Henrietta was only nine years old. By the time she met my father, she, Carl, and Margaret had been running the farm for several years. In fact, that's where my mother met my father.
Carl had married Don Race's first cousin Martha Johnson and moved to New Carlisle, Ohio. So while Dad was looking for some extra spending money one summer, Carl invited him to help harvest hay on his mother's farm. They used to joke that the first time Dad saw Mom she was driving a tractor. High blood pressure runs in that family, and my Mom's been sick with that and other things most of her life, but she always was a very hard worker. That and she had a great tan. They married right after Christmas, 1947, with Dad in his military uniform (wearing his "ruptured duck") and with poinsettas lining the altar.
Our Nuclear Family - Gradually, Dad and Ken's sisters were growing up and moving away, so there seemed to be enough room in the house Dad and Ken owned in Donnelsville for both of them to move their wives into it. There wasn't. Eventually Dad bought out Ken's share (I think) and Ken and his wife Marge moved to Springfield where they had two daughters and a son. Ken stayed in the Air Force most of his life. Dad left a job at Carmichael's, a small factory near Donnelsville, for better a job at Frigidaire in Moraine, Ohio. For many years, he commuted the 40+ miles each way, often in the "wee hours." My grandmother Hazel Race died just before I was born. I recently found her grave in a cemetery in New Carlisle, Ohio.
My first memory is of my big sister Theresa and I watching the delivery men bring our brand new Silvertone television into the front room and plug it in. I was about two at the time which would make her about six. The same year my little sister Kathleen was born, and Mom spent more time in the hospital due to reactions from penecillin and other things. When Theresa was in high school, Dad moved us to a new brick ranch near Miamisburg Ohio, and that's where we graduated. Theresa and Kathleen both went to college in the Detroit area, met guys they liked, and settled there permanently. Dad retired from Frigidaire (then Delco Air) under a 30-and-out program, then sold the ranch and moved Mom to a small farm near Blanchard or Edmore Michigan (about 60 miles northwest of Lansing). So, for over twenty-five years of my life, when I went "home" to be with my folks "on the farm," I actually had to drive nine hours from the place of my birth to a state in which I had never lived more than a few weeks at a time.
My Wicked Youth I went to Donnelsville (Ohio) Elementary, then to junior high and high school in Miamisburg, OH. In 1970 I enrolled as a music major at Wright State, a silly decision, really. In fact, I did not have the dedication to keep up with the work load. After my freshman year, I took some time off, and came back with a different major, English, graduating in 1976. I went right from that triumph to a stint at Radio Shack, where I eventually learned how to program itty-bitty computers called TRS-80s. In the meantime, I was taking classes at a local church that was trying to get a Bible college started. The year I accumulated enough credits to qualify for an Associates' degree in Bible, the Ohio Board of Regents decided that the program wasn't rigorous enough and kept the school from offering a degree.
Very soon afterward I married Shelia, a girl I met at Wright State, who had grown up in West Carrolton, Ohio. After a year of trying to live on my Radio Shack income and her bank teller income, I landed a job as a technical writer at NCR, on the strength of my English degree and rudimentary programming skills. Still interested in the Bible, I took enough seminars at Luther Rice Seminary, in Atlanta, to qualify me for an M.Div, my first graduate degree. By the time that happened, though, we had one daughter, and one on the way, and I was working part time as a youth director at a church in Springfield. We were making friends in Springfield, and discussed moving closer to the church, since we had outgrown our house in Kettering. So in 1986, we moved to a house on West National Road, only a couple of miles from where I had lived as a small child in Donnelsville.
We had three children, and I worked at NCR until 1995, although it wasn't called NCR by then. AT&T had taken the company over, gutted it, replaced most of the successful managers with folks they owed favors, and renamed it GIS. In 1995, they laid off thousands, including about eighty technical writers in Dayton alone. This was a problem until I started my own company (that's where the Breakthrough Communications company name comes in) and started "freelancing" for corporations in Dayton, Columbus, and Cincinnati. Then the "high-tech" economy went south, and I took a job at a text book company in Vandalia, Ohio. In 2005, I took a job with a "wholly owned subsidiary" of NCR, so I'm sort of back where I was, except that the company has changed a lot since. Occasionally I do see a familiar face, though.
Music - Dad's voice was so good he was accepted into the Springfield Symphonic Choir when I was a kid, though he couldn't keep up the practice schedule. Mom could barely carry a tune. Guess whose sense of pitch I got? Theresa took piano lessons, and there was always music in our house. In fact the record player got a lot more use than the television, even in the evenings when we were all sitting around reading or whatever. Theresa got a guitar when she was in high school, and I learned to play that. I also played saxophone in High School band, with a year's detour onto bass clarinet. My junior year of High School, I bought a banjo and learned to play that. The "folk revival" was waning when I hit high school, but there was still some interest in folk music. Theresa, Kathleen, and I sang together often while we were working at our chores; the songs were usually folk songs by the Weavers, New Christy Minstrels, Chad Mitchell Trio, and Peter, Paul, and Mary, as well as other less-known folk-style ensembles. When I sang by myself, I often chose songs by Pete Seeger, the closest person I had to an idol at that time. I also sang wherever I could, including writing a song for the sound track of an eight-millimeter gangster comedy made by classmate Wil Stahl.
My first year of college, I watched my roomate play rock and roll on his guitar and thought "I could do that." I bought a cheap electric guitar and a cheap electric bass. I then went through a number of rock bands, few of which stayed together long enough to have two gigs in a row with the same members. During the height of the "Jesus Movement," in 1972, fellow bandmate Mark Magee invited me to several "Christian" concerts where I heard the likes of Phil Keaggy (with Glass Harp) and Larry Norman. The songs and Mark's "witness" spoke to me over many months, and in November of 1972 I dedicated my life (including my music) to Christ. I soon learned that creating and sustaining "Christian" bands or other ensembles was just as tough (if not tougher) than doing Rock and Roll. For one thing, in those days, you could still get kicked out of many churches if you had a noticeable backbeat in your music. Still, I wrote and performed solo for many years. In the late 1990s, I even did concerts in several "secular" coffeehouses, as a way of reaching out with a mix of musical styles and spiritual themes. I also went from writing "just" songs to writing musicals, but nothing has quite gotten onto the stage yet. Stay tuned. :-)
About Trains - Dad and I did trains when I was young. Mostly American Flyer (S gauge) for years, then I migrated to S Scale and Dad started an HO railroad. By the time I had been married a few years, my old AF was worth some money as collectors' items, and wasn't in any kind of shape to run anyway, if I'd had the time and room to set anything up. So I sold it to a collector friend. When G Gauge trains began to be popular, I liked the idea, but I couldn't feel comfortable with European trains with American paint schemes, so I held off. Eventually, Bachmann released an affordable battery-powered set that I could afford, and I bought one "for the family." We moved from Kettering not long after that, to a house with two acres, but I was working two jobs most of that time, and had no time to start a garden railroad. Eventually I did start one, in 1998. To some extent, model railroading is the only thing Dad and I ever really communicated on, so you could probably say that starting a railroad had at least partly an "if you build it, he will come" aspect.
In the meantime, I had gotten to know many of the "pioneers" of Garden Railroading, and had begun writing "FAQs" on the subject. The business web site I started in 1995 had room for a few "hobby" pages, and Family Garden Trains was born, although it took a long time to get to its present stage of usefulness.
About College Teaching - In the early 1990s, when I was working for NCR, I asked my manager's permission to get a Master's Degree in Writing. They didn't like to provide tuition reimbursement for anything other than MBA students, but my manager made an exception for me. So in 1995, I received my MA in Composition and Rhetoric from Wright State University, only a few months before most of the writers were laid off. While I was on my job search, and occasionally when I was between freelance contacts, I would attempt to get on with local colleges as a professor. Finally, in 1998, Clark State (a two-year school in Springfield) brought me on as an adjunct to teach a course called "Technical Report Writing." In 2001, UD brought me on as a "part time instructor." Between then and May, 2006, I taught two Freshman comp sections and several upper-division courses in professional and technical writing. I am not teaching in the fall of 2006, and where it goes from there remains to be seen. I love teaching college, and if some university out there needs a "renaissance man" with lots of different kinds of experience, including university teaching experience, let me know.
About My Writing - If you've looked over my web sites, you'll see that writing doesn't come hard to me. I've also written articles for magazines and church publications, started several novels, and finished two, on wildly different topics (go figure). At the moment, I have written most of the Garden Railroading articles I ever plan to write, and may be going on to something else after the ones I'm still working on are done.
My Life This Week - To tie up some loose ends: Mom and Dad have moved to a senior's apartment near Theresa in the Detroit area, so it's a lot easier to get up to see them than it used to be. Last year, my mother's first cousin, Sister Dorothy Stang was murdered in Brazil for standing up for the rights of native farmers. My uncle Kenneth died of natural causes. My own sister Theresa is a music teacher in the Detroit "Downriver" area. My other sister Kathleen is a lawyer for the State of Michigan, handling mostly civil actions against tax evaders who are also criminals.
Our oldest daughter is married and is an English teacher in a system near Cincinnati. Our middle daughter is in her Senior year of an English program at Anderson University, and our youngest is a high school soccer player who wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up (go figure). I have spent most of 2006 writing about retail software for NCR. I have spent about half of our Sundays since 2004 teaching adult Sunday school, something I find about as fun as teaching college (although it doesn't pay as well). In fact, when a local Christian university advertised a position teaching technical writing, a couple of my "students" (a school administrator and a professor) were only too happy to write letters of reference for me. Unfortunately, the school seems to have decided not to fill the position, since enrollment is way down, but who knows. . . . ? I may be teaching Acts this fall. It's not too late to sign up. :-)
Shelia and I still live with our youngest daughter on National Road in an older house that we have worked hard on for decades and still have only marginally "under control." My garden railroad is still in the back yard but hasn't seen a train actually running for months.
Conclusion - Obviously I have too many interests. (If you don't think so, click on any of the web sites at the left). I used to tell my friend Wesley that my life might not be long, but no one could say that it wasn't "wide." If nothing else, you now know why my name comes up on the World Wide Web in so many different contexts. On the other hand, if you think that putting a 2900-word bio on this page was overkill, may I remind you that you're the person who entered "paulrace.com" on your web browser and clicked "Go."
Updated April 3, 2012
For more information, E-Mail us, or write: Breakthrough Communications,
4923 W. National Rd., Springfield OH 45504.