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Chapters of life

A Former Craig resident takes a look back in his autobiography

Liz King

Struggle, survival and finally triumph are themes of a new book written by a man who lived in Craig for 17 years.

Theodore Perry Drake, better known as Ted, is a retired contractor. His book is called “The Boy who Grew Up in the Ozarks.”

In a plainspoken manner he manages to create an autobiography that is both narrow in scope but wide in its appeal to the human condition.



It is a story of hope, of being self-made and the ability to make something of the life that one is given.

The author was born in Strasburg, Mo., the seventh of eight Drake children. His mother and father divorced about the time he was born and his mother quickly remarried another man and had four more children.



Drake and his wife, Harriet, both 80, left Craig about six years ago to move back to Missouri.

The idea for the book came about when Drakes grandchildren said, “Pop why don’t you write a book,” the former Craig resident recalled.

“I did it for my grandkids,” Drake said.

“The Boy who Grew Up in the Ozarks,” was written in two years. As well as text, it contains pictures of places and people discussed in the book, including some of Craig.

“I sent them (the publishers) a manuscript and they liked it because they don’t care about publishing fiction,” Drake said. “They didn’t delete or change a thing.”

Drake possesses a photographic memory, which made the writing of the book an easier project.

“I just pull it out of my computer,” Drake said of accessing his memories. “But my computer is getting overloaded.”

The autobiography, published by Vantage books, was supposed to be published in the in September of 2001, however, it was published one year later in October 2002, because of the terrorist attacks.

“It is a good clean book that anyone can read,” Drake said.

Drake was employed in a variety of occupations during his life, including trapper, hunter and farmhand. He completed eighth grade in regular school and since then has gone through five different trade schools.

“Life experiences are far more useful and rewarding than the theory you read in books,” Drake says in his book.

“Ole Pop,” which is Drake’s nickname, as detailed in “The Boy who Grew Up in the Ozarks,” came of age during the Great Depression. He explains how he and his brother had to hunt rabbits so that their family would have food to eat.

The Drakes helped Craig recover from the slump in the 70s when they moved to the town for the second time.

The couple’s roots to Craig go far deeper as Harriet, Drake’s wife, was born and raised in Craig. Her father, Aaron Twite, came to Colorado in a covered wagon from Michigan when he was five years old.

During second period of ten years in Craig, Drake and his wife bought eight HUD houses and remodeled them.

“We had a unique system worked out,” Drake said of how they went about remodeling them. “Monday and Tuesday we would work on the houses, we would take off Wednesday and head to the lake.”

They would work on their own home on Thursdays and Fridays.

“We are outdoor people,” Drake said.

The author spent seven years in the Navy and served during World War II and the Korean War as a machinist.

“When I went in the Navy, June (his first daughter) was born three days before I left,” Drake said, “The next time I saw her she was three-years-old.”

A contractor for 38 years in Kansas City, Drake was born and raised in Missouri.

In 1971 when Drake received his first heart surgery the doctors told him he had five years to live.

“I’m still here and going strong,” he said.

Drake has had three open-heart surgeries and an unsuccessful angioplasty among other heart operations. All of his original arteries have been replaced as

of 1985.

“I have been living on one vein graft,” Drake said.

People are interested in his book because of the experiences he has had in life and the time he spent in the Navy.

During his time in Craig, Drake wrote articles for the Craig Daily Press.

The book is gaining popularity, according to Drake, and is sold at many bookstores across the United States.

“I had a man call me from Billings, Mont.,” Drake said. “He wanted six copies — one for each of his grandchildren. He told me, ‘I am going to make them read the child-rearing article.'”

Liz King is an intern with the Craig Daily Press. She can be reached at 824-7031 or eking@craigdailypress.com.


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