Corey Trench's Blog: My Growing Life

A Fortunate Son — A Film By Father & Son

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“You better run, Corey.” Those were the words my father said as I began to run for my life, absolutely terrified of what may be behind me. It was wrong of us to come back to this place. Fun Farm wasn’t exactly what the name implied.

Sometimes the transition from childhood to adulthood can be blurry and ambiguous. But my father could name the time and place where it happened to him. He told me the story as if it was ancient history, but in his eyes, I could see he was reliving it as if it were yesterday.

Fun Farm, Goochland, Virginia, July 20th, 1969. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” My father was 15 years old, huddled with his family around their maroon colored, box-looking TV set, witnessing the United States’ historic moon landing. My grandfather commented on how amazing the whole thing was before he went to the barn to check a lighting fixture that had gone out, as angry clouds rapidly assembled overhead. Moments later, my father and his mother were lying on the barn’s floor, trying to resuscitate my grandfather. My uncle Ed sped up Fun Farm’s long dirt road, on his bike, looking for help. Despite the valiant efforts of rescue personnel, my grandfather died instantly and a young family’s future remained uncertain. My father was now the man of the house.

My parent’s house, Williamsburg, Virginia, December 2010. While visiting my family over the holidays, I had decided that we should revisit my father’s old home. “Why don’t we go back to Goochland and make a documentary film out of it? See what happens?” We had talked about making a film together for a long time. My father, semi-retired and looking for direction in his life, saw the opportunity to live out his fantasy of being a filmmaker. I saw the opportunity to explore some of our family history, including the circumstances of grandfather’s death, and give my father some closure. My father, Goochland’s lost son, was returning home. He told me he had not visited in over 40 years.

We were very excited on the car ride to Goochland, bonding as father and son. However, things began to get difficult once we started to search for Fun Farm. Goochland was a small town, but it turned out to be difficult to navigate with its thick forests. Fortunately, my father remembered the name of the real estate agent who was involved in renting the place to the family. She was 90 years old, Goochland County’s first real estate agent. She was very kind and was able to point us in the right direction. She also gave us a warning that getting on the property would not be easy because the new owner was very reclusive and very mysterious. It was an ominous beginning to our journey.

As we approached Fun Farm, I began to feel tense. The car bounced up and down as we drove down the dirt road. We finally stopped at an old, rusty gate that lay in front of a long, winding path. My father pointed out that the Fun Farm sign that he fondly remembered from his childhood wasn’t there anymore. He peered down the path. I could see in his squinting eyes that he wasn’t comfortable. He was staring down the same path that would lead to nothing but pain and misery. It became obvious that it was up to me to head down the path myself, deep into the woods of confusion and loss. He turned the car around in the other direction just in case I had to run from whatever lay beyond the gate. We decided to stay in contact using our cell phones.

I walked down the long path, alone, clutching my camera against my side. I thought about how ironic it was that I was going down the same path my father walked many times before, the same path that would transport me into his past. My steps were swift, but cautious. I began to get an eerie feeling, like I was being watched.

What happened next would prove to be the most terrifying experience of my life. I heard dogs barking in the background, the wind picking up behind me, and loud shouts from the forest. My father could hear the fear in my voice and told me to run. I did not look back.

Here is the proposal. We request $1,500 to revisit “Fun Farm,” the barn in Goochland, and tell the story of a father and son revisiting the past. The requested funds will help pay for my flight from LA to Richmond, VA; our stay in Goochland; entry fees for 10 – 15 film festivals; and the distribution of DVDs to the contributors.

We thank you for your contribution and putting your faith in this father-son collaboration.


My Math Teacher, The Rock Star

I sucked at Math in high school. It was by far my most boring and frustrating subject. I always felt that my Math teachers were just making stuff up as they went along. Things like the Quadratic formula sounded more like something out of Star Trek to me. Instead of paying attention to numeric drivel, I was much more content day dreaming about being a rock star. I had just joined a band that and got to sing and play drums (I was stuck with the former because the other guys were scared to sing). We weren’t the most popular group in school, but we had fun. My parents, however, were much more interested in the C’s that I was getting in the unsexy world of numbers. I wondered if Kurt Cobain’s parents forced him to do his homework before he could practice with Nirvana. Like it or not, my shortcomings in “Mathletics” placed me in remedial Math. This was also known by my esteemed colleagues as “dumb Math”. To make matters worse, none of my friends were in my classes because they could do trigonometry in their sleep. I was in a room full of people and never felt more alone. I didn’t say a single word in class and I’m pretty sure most of the kids thought I was mute. It seemed like I was doomed to spend the rest of my days in Mathematical purgatory. And then I met Mr. G.

"Shall we implement the Quadratic formula, Captain?"

Mr. G was my Math teacher my Junior year. He was new and very young. He had thick black hair and a well-trimmed goatee. I’m sure his facial hair was just a ploy to cover up his youthful looks. The man was the epitome of cool. In class, he would talk to us in a very casual manner. He even let us call him Mr. G (I could give his full name, but he preferred it this way). What teacher would allow that? He would also crack jokes. Our class was like stand up comedy hour. I had never met another high school teacher like him. I almost forgot I was taking Math.

Despite Mr. G’s casual vibe, I was still very uncomfortable speaking in class. I was a really nerdy kid and thought it would be best for me to stand clear and not get in his way. I hadn’t talked to him aside from occasionally raising my hand to answer a question. However, all of that would change the day he brought in something to show the class. When he passed it around the room, my eyes widened and jaw dropped. It was a picture of him playing guitar in a band.

Wait a second, my Math teacher plays guitar…in a band?!

Ladies and Gentlemen, my Math teacher.

Just when I thought the man couldn’t get any cooler, he did. And for the first time in my life, I had something in common with a Math teacher: rock and roll. After class, I went up to Mr. G and told him I played in a band too. The conversation quickly turned to music. He was a classic rock guy who loved Pink Flyod, Zeppelin, and The Who. He said he performed “I Wanna Rock N’ Roll All Night” by Kiss at a another school where he used to teach. We were on a roll. Then he dropped a bombshell on me and asked if he could come see my band. I tensed up. I couldn’t believe it. A teacher who wanted to see my band? I didn’t think teachers went to rock shows. I imagined them quietly grading papers at home while listening to Jimmy Buffet or Kenny G. I told him we had a gig next weekend. He said he’d be there.

The band was set to play a show at a place called “Happy Endings” (No, it wasn’t a masseuse place). The night of the show, I scanned the crowd for Mr. G. When I couldn’t find him, I was disappointed, but somewhat relieved. What if he thought my band sucked? I put it out of my mind when we hit the stage. That night, we covered “Here Comes The Rain” by CCR. I had trouble singing the high notes and sounded like a cat stuck in an accordion. Despite that, we finished strong with “Big Bottom” by Spinal Tap. The crowd really loved it and gave us a big applause.

After the show, I saw a familiar figure wearing a leather jacket. It took me a second, but then I recognized him right away. It was Mr. G! He told me that he saw the show. I thanked him for coming out and we talked for a bit. I smiled at the thought of him teaching class in his leather jacket. The Fonz knew his Algebra.

Check your answers. Ehhhh!

On Monday, we took our seats in Mr. G’s class. I knew that the other night would be our little secret, one that I would cherish forever. Then a funny thing happened. He told the whole class! Everyone turned around and looked at me. They were just as surprised as I was. For all they knew, I probably just sat quietly in the corner of my own room on the weekends. My mind raced. I thought, “What is this guy doing? Putting his coolness in jeopardy by associating with me?” One of the kids asked what Mr. G thought of my band. He said we were awesome! The cool guy stamp of approval. Another kid asked me when we were performing next. I was on cloud 9. I had finally understood what Mr. G was doing. I was now one of the cool kids in his class.

Mr. G had given me a chance to live the fantasy of being a rock star. And whether he knew it or not, he taught me that it was okay to be yourself, especially around teachers. They’re people too, you know.

On the last day of school, I got to return the favor by seeing him perform. I can’t remember what songs he played, but he looked cool. Really cool.