March 7th, 2012
06:19 PM ET

A fisherman's tale about life without an education

Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week, we introduce you to a 98-year old lobster-boat captain from  Mystic, Connecticut, who had a secret for nearly 90 years.  He shares his story of learning to read in his 90's and then becoming an author. 

My name is James Arruda Henry. I go by the name of James Henry because I have been incognito for most of my life. They called my father Big Henry when I was young.

Back then, everybody had a nickname. We kids went by the name of Arruda until we were more or less called Henry all the time and the name just stuck.

I have also been incognito for most of my life because I was always hiding the fact that I couldn’t read or write.  My father was an alcoholic and really mean. He pulled me and my brother out of school when we were real small because he wanted us to work for him.

We had to do all kinds of jobs like picking up garbage and selling corn. It was tough in those days because we were just kids and he made us do hard work. I guess that’s why I grew up and became a workaholic. I had been working for most of my life. I really liked school and was really sad I got pulled out. I was so ashamed around the other kids because I couldn’t read or write.

You could never imagine what it felt like getting by without an education.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.