Jake Gaskins | The Sun Magazine

Jake Gaskins

Jake Gaskins teaches English and directs the writing center at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.

— From February 2004
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

House Proud

I first noticed the house early one spring afternoon as I was driving through Capaha Park in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where I’d taken a job teaching English at Southeast Missouri State. I was new in town and unfamiliar with the neighborhoods west of campus.

February 2004
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


Unlike some of my more mechanically minded eighth-grade classmates, I didn’t know a thing about how cars worked. I’d never even changed a tire. I just liked how cars looked. While other kids drew hot rods in their notebooks, I made “design studies,” trying to predict what changes the Big Three automakers would implement in their new models. How could the designers possibly improve upon dual headlamps? My answer was to integrate them into the grille beneath a pair of “eyebrows ” that sloped toward the center (a design that was, in fact, used in the 1959 Dodge).

August 2000
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

On The Sorrow Of Receiving A Teaching Award

I approached the microphone to deliver my acceptance speech, but the dean held me back while the awards for “scholarship” and “service” were presented. As it turned out, I never was allowed to say anything. So this, without further ado, is my acceptance speech.

March 1998
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

My Parents’ Furniture

Life is a sitcom; our pain is so ordinary, it’s laughable. Almost everybody goes through this at one time or another. The realtor tells me our society is becoming mobile. I agree. But I wish I didn’t have to sell my parents’ house.

May 1996
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Stranger

He continued riding down the hill in front of my house, wobbled a bit, then lost his balance and fell head first over the handlebars onto the asphalt, the bike toppling and twisting behind him.

June 1995
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Notes From The Closet

I’m also a fag. Which means that I regard my accomplishments and abilities and virtues with considerable irony. Not because I think any less of myself in the abstract, but because I know how little my accomplishments and abilities and virtues protect me from self-doubt.

April 1992
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Instrument Of The Immortals

Miss Eva Hodges, my piano teacher for eight years, now deceased, would be gratified to learn that I bought the Steinway. She’d be proud of me.

March 1991
Free Trial Issue Are you ready for a closer look at The Sun?

Request a free trial, and we’ll mail you a print copy of this month’s issue. Plus you’ll get full online access — including 50 years of archives.
Request A Free Issue