In my counseling practice, I consult with a physician, Jim Taylor. He provides me with not only his medical expertise but also philosophical insights. His wisdom often finds its way into articles that appear in my newspaper column. At our last consultation, I asked him about people he knew who would provide an interesting interview. The first person to come to his mind was Jim Richardson. I called Jim and within two days, I was sitting with him his living room conducting the following interview. He is a most readily available person. You will find Jim an extremely successful and caring individual.

Al: You have a very beautiful home that is located in a lovely part of Indiana.

Jim: Well, sorry about the construction going on in the backyard. We've got it all torn-up. We are building a small town behind this house. The Standard station, the theater, fire station, and Mobil garage are finished. We are still working on the stainless steel diner and barbershop. It will cover six acres. We are calling the town, Summer Place.

Al: What is your motivation behind building Summer Place?

Jim: My wife and I really like kids. We have devoted our lives to working with children. We hope to be opening Summer Place to the public soon. All the revenues that we derive from Summer Place will go to support Make a Wish Foundation, We Care, Easter Seals, Riley's, and St. Jude's Hospitals. Hopefully, we will be able to raise a lot of money for these organizations. Both my wife and I love children and have dedicated our lives to helping them in whatever ways we can. Summer Place is just one way that we are doing this.

We have also started a foundation called A Home for Every Child. I want to find a home for every child on this planet. That's a pretty ambitious project, but that is my desire. I'm putting together a proposed bill for Congress that I'm personally taking to Washington and see if I can't get them to streamline the adoption procedures. The time and cost of adoptions are outrageous. In most cases, a private adoption in the States costs about $15,000. I just don't think it is right to make that kind of money on adopting children. I've drawn up a plan where churches in each county would facilitate the adoptive process. It shouldn't cost more than $1000 for an adoption.

In addition to the costs and time, we found when we wanted to adopt a child that my age of fifty-six was a deterrent-even though my wife is much younger. My argument was that loving parents regardless of the age of one of them was better than growing up in an orphanage.

Al: I see a playpen, toys, and books around. How did you get around the age obstacle?
Jim: We went to Irkutsk, Siberia, which is five hours east from Moscow. We adopted a beautiful little baby girl that is the best thing that ever happened to us. There are approximately 30,000 children in Russia just waiting to be adopted. There are many more children all over the Earth that need loving homes in which to live and grow. Something has to be done to streamline the process of getting them together with adoptive parents.

Al: You mentioned the $15,000 cost for an adoption in America, what was the total cost to you and your wife to adopt a child from Russia?
Jim: We spent about $35,000 when everything was added together.

Al: Was there any resistance from the Russian people to your adopting a child from their country and bringing it to the States?

Jim: The Russian people were really very good and beautiful people. During the Cold War, both countries tried to desensitize and demonize the people from the other nation. We thought of the them as the big, ugly Russians, and they saw us as the big, ugly Americans. We found out that they are very much like us-most of them good people. As far as the resistance to having Americans adopting, yes, definitely. But you can win them over. If they know that you will love the child and want only good for the child, they will understand and accept the adoption. We told them that she would learn the Russian language and know of the culture of her homeland. I'd learned a few words of Russian before going over there-enough that they know that I'm serious about learning their language and having our daughter learn it also.

Al: How was the Russian economy when you were over there?
Jim: It wasn't good. There is a lot of poverty there along with a lot of Mafia money. We heard a funny story about wealth in Russia. It is a law in that country that you must pick up a hitchhiker if you are driving. A Russian told me that contrary to this country, if you are hitchhiker in Russia, it is probably all right to get into an old car. However, if a new Mercedes stops, you might be in trouble because the person driving might be in the Mafia. In America, most of us would feel safer in the Mercedes.

Al: Give my readers some background on you. Where were you born and how did you come to live in Indiana?
Jim: I was born in Kentucky. Right after WWII ended, my family headed to Michigan to pick cherries. We were driving a 1929 Essex with wood-spoke wheels. The car broke down over on US 31 just a couple of miles from here. We looked like people in the movie, Grapes of Wrath or Tobacco Road. I remember that we had pulled over to a rest area. Something was wrong with the car. The men were working on the rear end of the car that was up on blocks. My uncle was under the car when it fell on him. I was around five but can still hear him screaming, "Get this car off me!"

We stayed here and worked picking tomatoes to pay the hospital bills. We didn't have very much money at all. So, we lived in barns along with the rats. We couldn't afford anything else; it was rough back then. One night a rat actually chewed off the end of my finger. But life wasn't all bad. Back then everyone was poor. However, those bleak living conditions planted within all of us a seed to do better. Those experiences provided a real education for me-a far better instruction in life than what you could get at high school or college. It also made the family very tightly knit. We'd work long hours all week, but when Sunday afternoon came along, we'd play ball and have the time of our lives.

Al: How far from where we are sitting did the car broke down?

Jim: Just four to five miles from here. After we paid off the hospital, my family stayed on. My father was a tenant farmer not three miles from here. He won a lot of awards for his farming abilities. I can remember driving to church, and he'd see some weeds. He'd stop and tell us to cut them out of the field.

When I walk around the town that I am building, I think that only in America you can come to a state like Indiana as a tomato picker and wind-up building town in your own backyard. In this country, you can do anything that you want to do.

Al: Jim, tell me about your family.
Jim: I have a daughter who is thirty-one. She is married and has two children. I'm married, and we have Megan who is fourteen months old.

Al: Jim, I ask all interviewees what their favorite movie is. I think that it gives my readers important insights into the person that I'm interviewing.
Jim: I like four movies a great deal: Grapes of Wrath, Tobacco Road, The Swimmer, and The Clown. Everybody knows the first two, but the other two are more obscure. The Swimmer is a very reflective movie about life. The Clown is also quite thoughtful. It's about a man who squandered his wealth and has come to the end of his life filled with regrets. A lot of people come to the end of their lives with only regrets.

Al: You seem very sensitive and philosophical. Has anyone told you that you are right brain/bilateral? Are you artistic? If you are right-brain, you should have a strong streak of creativity in you.

Jim: I painted portraits. Occasionally, I did landscapes, but I really preferred portraits. I liked to capture the expressions on people's faces. However, I haven't painted much since I injured my hand.

Al: You are right brain. That explains why I like you. Being right brain is also good if you were ever to have a stroke. You will be able to crossover to the left side if the stroke effected the right side.

Jim: It's funny that you should mention that. About six months ago, I had a small stroke on my right side of my brain. The doctors told me that I was able to crossover to the left side and made up for the affected area on the right side.

Al: That is one of the benefits of being right brain-aside from everything in life is more interesting and exciting.

Jim: I wake up excited about life, and I go to bed excited about the day. I can't remember when life wasn't filled with possibilities. Even when I'm sick, I look forward to life. I don't feel pain very much; I override pain with the excitement that I have for living. I'm always looking for new things to do or create.

Al: What is the motivation behind this excitement and creativity? What is it that makes Jim run?
Jim: I have always been idealistic and thought that I could change the world and make it a better place. I'm a dreamer. When I was in high school or college, I was always looking out the window concentrating on what I was going to do and not what I should have been doing at the time.

It's like the town that I'm building. I knew that it would be self-centered if I just built it for my family and me. However, we live in a technological time in which everything is changing about us so fast. There need to be places like this where people can to visit the past and reflect. Life is speeding by, and we need somehow to slow it down-if just for a couple hours. This town will do that.

In addition, I see life in four increments of twenty years each. From zero to twenty, you are in your youth and getting your education. From twenty to forty, you are adjusting to family life and responsibilities. From forty to sixty, you are trying to pay off all the bills and get ready for some leisure time. In that last increment, you either don't get it or you get a little bit and then you die. When you are young, you have just a small percentage of your life behind you and nearly all of it ahead of you. That's why summers go by so slowly in your youth. You live in the present. As you get older, you have more and more time to reflect on your past and to ponder the brevity of your future. This causes you to be concerned as time speeds up for you. So that is one of the reasons that I'm building the town. It is a place where you can remember and reflect about where you have been.

For me, the town also provides something that I never experienced when I was growing up. Money was tight, and my brother and I worked all the time while in school. We didn't have a lot of free time to have fun. Because of Summer Place, everyone will have a place to have fun, relax, and reflect. You will be able to come to Summer Place and consider where we have been and where we are heading.

Al: When will the town be ready for the public?
Jim: September of this year.

Al: Tell me about your educational background?
Jim: I went to college it Indiana University extension at Kokomo and majored in psychology.

Al: What have you done to earn a living during your life?
Jim: I started out in high school working at a grocery store and gas station. From there, I went into the music business and was on the road for five years. I have written over five hundred songs. I started out as a session musician-playing for other people. One day, Billy Sherrill, who is now president of Epic Records, said that I should be cutting my own records. So, I did. I cut twenty-seven. I like to say that there are lots of people who cut a record and sold a million. I cut a million and didn't sell any. Actually, I got one of my records got to thirty-nine in the Top Forty. It was called "You're Just Teasing Me." It was kind of a rock 'n roll ballad.

We did a lot of little TV shows and traveled for about five years. During that time, I became close friends with a lot of people in the music business.

Al: What made you come off the road?

Jim:Two reasons: I got homesick, and we weren't making a lot of money. We had great times, but we often couldn't find the owners of the places in which we played after we finished our performances.

richardson11.jpg (34201 bytes) Al: After getting tired of being on the road and getting ripped off, what did you do?
Jim: I came home and got my pilot's license and did a little crop dusting and farming. I worked at the local GM factory for awhile. By that time, I had a little baby, and I needed the income and insurance. I have also started thirty businesses in twenty-six years. Only one didn't make any money. I worked midnights at the factory so that I could work on my businesses during the day. However, the factory job paid well and had good benefits, but it held me back from becoming everything that I dreamed that I wanted to accomplish. The security of the job slowed my creativity. They say that we use a small percentage of our brain, but I was using a small percentage of my potential. We need to be more confident in our abilities and not play life so conservatively. If we love life so much, why do we squander our time? Because time is life.

We also need to be committed to our dreams. I heard a story about an attorney who was defending someone accused of murder. The attorney in his closing remarks said that the defendant did not murder anyone. In fact, the person he is accused of murdering will walk through the doors of this courtroom in thirty seconds. The judge and the jury stared at the door, but no one came through the door. However, the attorney ended his closing statement by saying that he had proven his point and that the jury had to find his client innocent because of reasonable doubt. After all, the judge and jury looked at the door waiting to see the murder victim coming through the door. The attorney thought that he had won the case until the jury came back finding his client guilty. After the trial, the attorney asked the jury how they could find his client guilty because they all looked for the person to come through the door. They told the attorney that they did look, but the defendant didn't.

Al: In addition to risk-taking and being more confident about ourselves, what have you learned about life that would help others on their journey through life? Give me three salient ideas from which others can benefit.

Jim: First is to find a mentor who can be an inspiration and encourager. The second is to always make yourself available to opportunity with an open mind. The third thing is to love people and serve them.

Al: What haven't you realized yet in your life?

Jim: I'm disillusioned with the leadership of our country. I would like someday to see if I could make a difference in public office.

Al: Are you considering running for public office in the near future?

Jim: There may be a time in the next few years.

Al: After you have run the course of your life, what would you like to have written on your epitaph?

Jim: I heard Roy Rogers say, "To love children is to love God-to love God is to love children." If I can remembered for having loved children, I would be pleased. So, have my epitaph read: "He loved children, he loved his family, and he fought to the end."