Moving on to High School

That summer we moved back to Port Angeles. A lot changed for me. Even though I knew most of the kids that I was going to school with, I was an outsider. It had been too long since I had gone to school or lived near them. I was pretty much a loner and stayed by myself. I didn’t follow up on basketball or any other sports that I had played the last three years. Mom and Dad sold the big trailer we had lived in in California and bought a little nineteen foot camping trailer. Not sure how long we lived in that trailer, I know it was well into the ninth grade. I came home from school one day, about the middle of the year, and found a new Bundy Trumpet setting on the table that was also my bed. Because it was the middle of the year for beginning band, I had a lot of catching up to do. Friends of my folks, the Hewitt’s, played instruments.  Actually the Mom and Dad played professionally in one of the local clubs; Dad played banjo, Mom played piano, their son played clarinet and the daughter played violin.  They helped me quickly learn how to read music and got me through the fundamentals of the trumpet so I caught up pretty fast with the rest of the band.  Practicing in the trailer was kind of interesting too.  I would set in the back on the bed with socks pushed up inside the trumpet and practice.  By the time the year was coming to an end, myself and another trumpet player got to try out for the High School music department.  The music teacher, Mr. Free, came to the school one day.  He recommended me for band and the other for orchestra.  I really enjoyed playing in band.  It was primarily a concert band, although we did some marching and played at home sports events.  I eventually moved from last chair, seventh, to fourth chair after a trumpet challenge where we played Tchaikovsky’s Symphony in f minor.  I would have made first chair if I had had a little more time on the trumpet.  During my sophomore year I tried out for football but decided it wasn’t a game I wanted to play.  In fact I stayed out of sports altogether.  I often wondered what direction I would have gone if we had stayed in California.  High school wasn’t very memorable, I didn’t really apply myself for those three years.  It showed when I graduated with a 2.33 average and ended up 133rd of 180 students.

In 1956, when I was sixteen, I got my driving permit.  Mom was not a good teacher.  We were driving through down town Port Angeles.  Mom really was getting on my nerves, until I stopped in the middle of one of the busy main streets, got out and walked home.  Shortly after I went for my drivers test,  passing by one point the first time, surprising everyone.  Pop found my first car, a 1949 Hudson Commodore.  It had been owned by a fern picker, had overload springs with kind of faded maroon paint.  I got a lot of ribbing in the parking lot but it turned out to be a trend setter.  It was the first car on our high school parking lot that had the “California Rake”, that became so popular in the late fifties and sixties.  Took years for me to admit to some of the drags I was in on Front street.  There was one afternoon I was driving past Roosevelt Junior High and had to stop for a cross walk guard.  When he cleared the intersection, I rabbited.  As I did there was a car behind me that started honking its horn and flashing its lights.  At first I thought it was a cop, the car was similar to there Chives.  But it was worse.  The guy who walked up to my window was Pop.  All he said was, “Take your car home.  Give the keys to your Mom.  We’ll talk about this later.”  I took the car home and told Mom what had happened and gave her the keys.  She sort of laughed and told me that Pop was probably mad because I beat him off the stop and couldn’t keep up.  Mom always told me, “Don’t smoke those funny cigarettes.  If you want to smoke, tell me and I’ll buy them for you.”  I asked for a pipe and she bought one for me.  Another trend setter in high school.

In my senior year, the Air Force Academy had just opened and I applied.  I wrote Senator Jackson of Washington and he sponsored me.  Thinking my chances might improve if I joined the Air Force, I went to see a recruiter.  Being only seventeen, a month before my eighteenth birthday, Mom and Dad had to sign for me to enlist.  The day I was scheduled to leave, I took the initial competitive test for the Academy and met my folks at the Greyhound bus terminal to catch the bus for Seattle.  I remember, before climbing on the bus, Pop hugged me.  It was the first time I could remember him doing that.

My Dad, Pop.  Thinking back over the years, I thought of all the things he had done for me and some of the fun things we had done together.  When I was graduating from the eighth grade, he pawned all his camera equipment so I would have a suit for graduation.  I remembered the times I was too cold or tired after fishing to put my gear away and he did.  Or when I talked him into trying out a little eighteen foot boat I had found while playing at the marina in Port Angeles.  He bought that boat because when we tried it out we caught twelve salmon in about two hours, from the time we left the dock and returned.  That afternoon we took Mom out and caught five more.  If my car broke down, he was always there to fix it.  Sometimes, in my teens, I couldn’t be bothered to help.  With hindsight, I often wished I had paid more attention.  Although I think I picked up a lot from him through osmoses.  Over the years we became pretty close.

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