Many are found in bound notebooks that fill the bottom section of a bookshelf. Others are stored in a wooden file cabinet next to a safe. In front of his desk is a fine chest that has its own stories. Knickknacks nestle on the top of a wind-up phonograph, circa Thomas Edison.
There is room for two: a small chair for a guest and Rudeloff sitting at his desk, his head silhouetted by a stained glass window that used to decorate the First United Methodist Church.
Because of the southern exposure in the 500 block of Hefferman Street, the sunlight streams in, stained and tinted by the window. It illuminates a framed world map, suffering in agony from numerous push pins revealing any place he has stayed the night.
Some are red, some blue; there are scores of them.
Each has its own memory, and it would take hours to share them.
Fortunately, Rudeloff has spent the last decade doing just that.
Today (Saturday), starting at 10 a.m. at the Wicker Basket — five days before he celebrates his 89th birthday — he will sign and sell his self-published autobiography, The Kaleidoscope I Call My Life.
All those push pins exact a toll. The bound book is 484 pages long and weighs slightly more than three pounds. Price: $30.
The index begins with “Acropolis” and ends with “Yucatan” with three pages of items in between. How “Zanzibar” got missed is anyone’s guess.
“Originally, I planned to write the book strictly for my family,” he says, “maybe print only a few copies.”
In his forward, Rudeloff credits the late television journalist Andy Rooney for inspiring him to compile his memories in manuscript form.
“Rooney took the viewer on a walk through a cemetery in Virginia and pointed to out a few of the headstones… he came upon a grave marker that had been obliterated by the weather… Rooney remarked how sad it was that there remained not one piece of information about that person.”
Rudeloff decided to leave something behind.
Much of the work already was done. Throughout his life, he kept journals, describing his travels — a trait he inherited from his mother who kept dairies.
“I always carried a notebook in my pocket. I’d make notes as I walked. If I went to a restaurant, I’d jot down notes while I waited for the food to come.”
He stored the finished notebooks in boxes — boxes upon boxes.
Trouble was, before he could utilize them in his autobiography, they had to be transcribed.
At first, Rudeloff tried to re-type them into his computer.
He soon gave up the idea and hired his wife’s granddaughter to do the work.
“It took her months to finish,” he says.
He then mailed the files to Tiffany Colter of Riga, Mich., who was his editor and proofreader.
It’s all there — his tales of ancestry, growing up in Beeville, college career, a World War II Army meteorologist in China, practicing law during the reign of an infamous sheriff, worldwide travels and retirement.
How long did it take Tiffany to work the chapters into a book?
“Too long,” Rudeloff says.
Writing his book held a few surprises.
“I had to learn all about copyright material,” the retired attorney admitted. “I soon figured out how to get the words turned around so the copyright material isn’t recognized.”
The trouble was that Rudeloff didn’t know when to quit, even when he wanted to.
“My wife kept me going,” he says. “And then, I didn’t know when to stop.”
Tiffany finally persuaded his daughter to get him to quit.
“It felt good to get the thing off my shoulders,” he says. “It was haunting me.”
Rudeloff still is trying to put in chronological order other notebooks filled with material not included in the autobiography.
“No, this is it,” he says definitively, leaning back in his chair where his face is illuminated by sunlight filtering through that stained glass window, with colors almost like a kaleidoscope.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.