Anthony Wayne England was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on 15 May 1942, the first child of Betty (nee Steel) and Herman Underwood England. ''My mom's side were English and Irish, but on my dad's side we're not really sure - we think it was Scottish. My ancestors got lost in the Kentucky/Tennessee area.'' He would eventually have three younger siblings; the first was named Ethan, and then came Alice and finally another brother, Michael (who died in the spring of 2002). Tony, as everyone knew him, took his first tentative steps in education at Indiana Public School 49, also known by the less austere title of William Penn Elementary School, situated southwest of Indianapolis in Rhodius Park. A community swimming pool was located in the park and attracted exuberant hordes of neighbourhood kids on hot, sticky Indianapolis summer days.7
His father spent forty-three years as an agent for Hartford Life Insurance, insuring farms, livestock, and livestock transit - both train and truck. ''He worked primarily with farmers, feedlot buyers, packing house buyers and livestock truckers, so his knowledge of farming was extensive.'' Herman England also did carpentry work by night and weekends, and he would buy up and renovate older houses on speculation, which the family would sometimes occupy until they were completed and sold. As a consequence, the family always seemed to be on the move. As England recalled: ''When I was sixteen I'd lived in sixteen different houses. About half were temporary quarters when a house was sold before another was purchased, or when a house that we were to move into was not yet habitable.'' Armed with the fascination of a small boy for such things, he loved watching his father and the carpenters he had hired at work, and there was a meaningful lesson for him in his father's work. Everything Herman England built was built well, and the studious way he approached any project or task was something his son would emulate.
With another family move also came a change of school, and he continued his early education at Public School 82, located west of the city in Christian Park. When he was eight years old, the family moved to the country, twenty miles south of Indianapolis and it was here, at a small community school, that he took his education from fourth to sixth grades. But it was also a time of pre-pubescent rebellion, and he remembers being ''a little unruly'' at school. Looking back, he says he was one of the boys who would sometimes receive a well-deserved paddling from the teacher.
In 1953, Herman England was promoted to Hartford District Manager of North and South Dakota and part of Minnesota, and that winter set up a home for them in Fargo, on the eastern edge of North Dakota. The rest of his family followed in the summer of 1954. The impact on twelve-year-old Tony England was almost immediate. ''Oh, I really enjoyed growing up in North Dakota. I loved it because it was a very
small pond where everybody could try anything - and we were all encouraged to try everything - so it was a great place to be a kid.''
With the move to Fargo came a new enthusiasm for science in seventh and eighth grade at Agassiz Junior High School, where he also studied carpentry. ''I was really very fortunate that my parents pushed education. I probably didn't really appreciate that until about the seventh grade. But that, and I think the freedom to explore different things in North Dakota, were the two aspects of growing up that made the biggest difference to me.'' By this time, he was also becoming, in his own words, ''a fairly decent carpenter'' and helped his father build a new family home a mile south of West Fargo along the Cheyenne River. Betty England was adamant that this would be their last move - she was tired of living in half-finished houses. ''So dad sold his tools and never worked on houses again.''
West Fargo back then was a farming community, and he would often walk out of his door with a single-shot .22 rifle to hunt rabbits and squirrels along the river. ''The Red River Valley is absolutely flat and very fertile. Except for some trees along the Cheyenne River, a person could start walking away from our house and be seen until they dropped over the horizon several miles away. The only hills were man-made road or railroad overpasses, and the bluffs along the Cheyenne and Red Rivers. The stockyards and local packing plant were in West Fargo, as was Dad's office.''
Tony England continued his education at West Fargo High, which was little more than a small country school six miles out of Fargo. In the summer of 1955, he hired out to a farm in southern Indiana. ''After that, until I left for college, I always lived at home, though I always worked either in a lumber yard or as a carpenter during those summers.''
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