This is the second of an eight-part series on "Driven: An Autobiography" about the life of Larry H. Miller written by Deseret News columnist Doug Robinson in collaboration with Miller. Each begins with Robinson's personal observations and experiences from the project, followed by an excerpt from the book. "Driven" is available at Deseret Book.
As I began to interview Larry H. Miller for the book, we soon developed a routine. I usually showed up at his house late in the afternoon, and we would talk for two or three hours, then I would return to my home and write a chapter using the notes from the day's discussion. For some reason, I found myself doing much of the writing while sitting up in bed with my laptop from 11:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. or so. Without fail, as I wrote, I made a long list of follow-up questions on a notepad next to my bed, and when I met with Larry a couple of days later, I would ask him questions that covered many of the same points we had discussed in our previous meeting, except now I wanted clarification or deeper answers or more detail.
"I see a pattern here," Larry said one day. "We talk about a certain subject, then you write and come back with more questions about that same thing and it gets me to talk more in depth about it. I like it. It forces me to think and to delve deeper into things."
This proved to be especially true in the matter of Larry's childhood. The more we talked about it, the more he seemed to explore it in a way he hadn't previously. There were several incidents in his youth — including twice being hauled from his home by police — that troubled him to the end of his life, even to the extent that he returned to visit with his childhood bishop in a futile attempt to understand them. He felt paralyzed and set adrift by his disconnected feelings at home. He believed these incidents shaped him and perhaps accounted for his driven nature to succeed.
One night during the summer of my 16th year I returned home to find my world turned upside down. It was late, close to 11 p.m., and I had walked home through the summer night on Capitol Hill as I often did after being out with friends. It was a typical evening, with a cool breeze stirring the maples overhead. I counted my steps as I walked, which remains one of my odd habits. As I approached our house, I saw three sacks on the porch and wondered what they contained. I walked up the stairs and onto the porch, peeked into the sacks and was stunned by what I saw. They were filled with my clothes.
I was confused. What was going on?
I tried the front door knob. Locked. I walked around to the side of the house to try the walkout basement door. Locked.
The house was dark, but I knew my family was in there.
Slowly the realization of what had happened washed over me: I had been kicked out of the house.
I didn't know what to do, especially at this late hour. I was moving as if in a dream. I was too wounded to knock on the door and ask my parents what was going on. I did the only thing I could think to do: I picked up the three bags, hugging them to my chest, and walked down the hill to Gail's house. We had been dating for about a year now, and I spent a lot of time at her home. Her parents agreed to let me stay the night on their couch.
The next day I walked to the Haslams' house, which was three blocks from my own home. They had six boys, and I was a frequent visitor to their house. After I explained what had happened, they invited me to stay with them. At some point in the weeks that followed, Mr. Haslam — his name was Dale — sat me down to discuss the situation. He came off as a gruff man, but really he had a heart of gold. He made me feel welcome in his home, and I wound up living there for six months. I slept in a bunk bed on the back porch, which had been walled in.
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