Dayton man says attitude has taken him a long way
By Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer
He started out to be a jazz musician, but a car accident that seriously injured his hands ended that. So he worked at many jobs until he found his true calling – art and children’s literature.
Fox Carlton Hughes, 79, of Dayton, started many of his activities late in life, and said it never made a difference.
“Your age means nothing,” he said. “It’s your attitude. My wife (Peggy) and I get up every morning and we’re so glad to see each other. We sit together and read something spiritual. We’ve always done that.”
In his early years, he did everything from real estate, selling grave plots, gas station attendant and working in stores – and his attitude has kept him going.
“I’ve never been fired in my life, always rose to the top and became a manager but in a short while I got so bored,” he said.
Fighting off that boredom has helped him become a man of many talents – artist; Disney book illustrator and animator; art teacher; and now a children’s book author.
He wrote a fairy tale, “The Dissatisfied Witch,” which earned him a Writer’s Digest award, and now “Rainbow Rhino,” a story that helps students deal with bullying.
“Rainbow Rhino” tells the tale of a rhinoceros named Homer with an oversized tusk. He gets teased and bullied because he is different, but finds that through helping a troubled Mr. Rainbow he gets through it.
Hughes said the story teaches tolerance, understanding and kindness, and now he wants to help parents and teachers share it with children.
He will lecture about his children’s writings and illustrations as part of the Tuesday Lecture Series at the Gold Hill Hotel at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The lecture is for parents, teachers and concerned adults.
“I would like to cover a lot of ground,” he said. “I’m not going to go into anything religious, but I have a lot to say about the fact that if you believe in yourself, you can do whatever the hell you want.”
Hughes was born in Calgary, raised in Vancouver, and came to the U.S. as a jazz musician.
That goal was cut short when a police car in California, while chasing another vehicle, rammed into his car.
His hands were caught in the steering wheel, and working regular jobs became necessary.
He didn’t let it get him down though, saying “I’m the happiest guy in the world” and, when he was in his 40s, decided to use the art that was inside him looking for a way out.
That way out was the Disney Corp., which hired him as an illustrator and animator. At Disney, he became an American citizen.
“I just love this country,” he said. “I have done everything I ever wanted to do since I came to America, and it keeps getting better and better and better.”
He has also spent time as a painter, and after moving to Dayton three years ago from California, met local artist Steven Saylor, who helped him get shows.
He will have examples of his art and writings at the Gold Hill event, and will talk about his work.
In coming up with the “Rainbow Rhino” story, he said he was walking down the street one day and the word “rainbow” came to him. Then, he said, through alliteration, he thought, “rhino.”
“By the time I got home, I had written the book,” he said.
Hughes will also sign his books and other materials for his audience, and hopes to encourage parents and teachers with his ideas and biography.
“I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun in my life,” he said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 881-7351.
If You Go
WHAT: Tuesday Lecture Series, “Rainbow Rhino – a Rhinoceros for Kids and Grown-ups”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Gold Hill Hotel, 1540 Main St., Gold HIll