first years of life, born in turbulent times

I like Nephi could say I was born of goodly parents. Born in a time of great turbulence world wide, World War II had begun in 1939 and lasted until 1945. I was born during this time,on November 4, 1943 in the Moab hospital. I was the fourth child to be born, but the first child to be born in the hospital. Aunt Barbara Certonio took mom because dad was out deer hunting which was a necessity for food to feed our family at this period of time. Not too long after I was born dad was drafted into the army and stationed in Texas. From there he was sent to the Phillipines; however, on the way there the war ended. The first men that got to come home were those who had two or more children so dad got to be one of the first soldiers to come home. Because dad had been drafted into the army part of the Homestead Act granted soldiers to have a parcel of land from the government. Dad was able to get land in Mustang, another part of this act stated you had to live on the land so dad had got water on the land in order to prepare for the move but before we were able to make the move, this rule changed. Luckily we did not have to move out to Mustang. Wheat was a good cash crop so dad decided to plant wheat on the land to provide money for the family. Dad was also able to go back to school and learn how to weld as part of the GI bill from serving in the millitary. With this knowledge he was able to build a large rake to remove the sage brush from the land. The land had to be cleared in order to plant wheat this took a lot of hard work and time. On one occasion while dad was out clearing the land he accidentally raked up a human skull, this he supposed was from an ancient Indian tribe who had lived on the land centuries earlier. Once the land was cleared dad planted wheat this was a very good cash crop until too much wheat was being planted to the government allowed only a certain amount of wheat to be sold each year.

Another early memory was of Uncle Woodrow and Aunt Beth that moved north of where we lived and would often come to visit. They had a daughter named Josephine who I loved to tease and torment. I was a typical mischievous young boy. We also lived not too far from Uncle Willie and Aunt Barbara Certonio they visited often and during one of their visits I was playing house with my older sister Helen. Uncle Willie say me playing with one of her dolls and told me if I didn’t stop playing with dolls he would sale me to the Indians. He didn’t always day the nicest things! However, one of my fondest memories was being able to go out to Mustang and ride on the tractor with my dad. These were good times! One day while we were out at the field on our property just out of town we ran out of water so dad asked me to feel up his water bag which was by the windmill so he could keep working. I went over to the water pump which was by the windmill, the wind was not blowing that day so the windmill had not pumped any water so that meant I would have to pump the water by hand. I went over and used the pump and went back to feel the bag up with water but no water was coming out so I went back a used the pump again after a few times of doing this and getting no water I felt discouraged and not wanting to disappoint my dad I decided to get some water from the cow trough. As I looked in to the trough there was green moss floating on top of the water so I moved the moss and because I knew there would be cow germs I blew them away and then filled that bag up with water. I returned with a full bag feeling so proud of myself but as dad drank from the bag he immediately spit out the water and asked me where I had gotten it. I told him from the cow trough but reassured him I blew all the germs away!!!!

College Years

After I graduated high school, my friend Bonnie Bentley and I decided to take a couple of classes at Santa Monica City College (now Santa Monica College.) As I remember, I was most excited about being able to wear pants! I didn’t do too well that first semester, but then got serious and graduated with an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education. I really enjoyed working with kids.

After I completed my AA degree, I decided I might as well transfer to San Fernando State College, now California State University at Northridge, or CSUN. My major was Childhood Education. My friend Beryl was going to school there, so it was nice to have a friend there. CSUN was considered a “commuter” school because most people lived off campus and drove to school. After my first semester, Beryl and I and her friend Debbie Nessett, got an apartment together in Northridge. My first time living away from my mom. It was a good way to learn to take care of myself and manage my money! I paid for all my expenses myself!

After I graduated high school, I got a job at Blue Chip Stamps in Westchester. Grocery stores, gas stations, and some other stores would give you “Blue stamps” that you could take home and glue in a small book. The more you spent the more stamps you got. Then when you got enough books you could take them to the Blue Chip Stamp store and redeem them for a variety of things, like a lamp, towels, sheets, clock, toaster, mixer, etc. So my job was to show the customers the products or to work at the counter counting and collecting the “books of stamps” and then giving the item to the customer. I really liked the job and worked there most of my college years. I worked part time and went to school part time. It took me 6 years to graduate college because I had to work to pay my way. No help from my mom or dad. But I didn’t think anything of it. Most of my friends were doing the same and we all managed and had a good time together!

During these college years, I took a lot of trips with my friend Beryl. Our first trip was to Hawaii. Debbie, Beryl and I went. We went with backpacks and stayed for a month! Most of the time we were able to camp on beaches.

Road security

I’ve got a little easier after that first fire fight we went on bridge security highway four ran from Homecare to play to play cool is just a fireplace and we will sleep in Barker‘s lawn care he was very skimpy I have Barge transfer seriously Pam our job is to secure the highway during the day and the ridges at night if the bridges work you are doing ride the vehicle would blow them up and the sinner

Perthies disease.

It was the spring of 1952.  I was 5 years old and looking forward to starting school in the fall  We didn’t have kindergarten so this would my first year of school.  We lived on the farm north east of Wells. I begin having trouble with my left knee and developed a limp.  My parents took me to the doctor in Bennington and he examined me and x-rayed my knee and couldn’t find anything wrong with it.  My patents decided that I was faking to draw attention to myself.  One afternoon my mom was hosting her women’s club.  All of the women would bring their children and we would play outside in the yard while the moms had club in the house.  That day my knee hurt so bad that I wasn’t able to run and play so I stayed on the front porch.  I sat on the porch and played the sheriff.  When dad came home from work mom told him there was definitely something wrong because I had stayed on the porch all afternoon with all of those kids there.

So mom & dad took me to Minneapolis to see Dr. Foutz.  As I was walking back to the exam room Dr, Foutz said “why that boy has Pertheis disease.  As we learned this is a disease that affects young children, mostly boys age 4 to 10.  It’s a rare disease affecting only 1 -3 in 20,000.  With Pertheis the ball of the hip joint dissolves causing a limp and  pain in the knee.

Treatment involves traction and a brace.  I spent 30 days in Asbury Hospital in the children’s ward flat on my back with my left leg in traction.  For some reason Ray & Fred weren’t allowed to come into the children’s ward to visit me.  The ward was on the ground floor so we were able to open the window by my bed and talk that way.

When I got out of the hospital I had to wear a brace on my left leg and an elevated shoe on my right foot.

 

The “Teen Years” – Randolph New Jersey

Tragedy Escaped

Needless to say, moving away from Niantic was very difficult. Not only were we going to a place I knew nothing about (even though it was only a few miles from Morristown where my grandparents lived), but it would be a new chapter without a father in the house. I also dreaded making new friends. Nobody would match the friends I had in Niantic. Randolph almost started as tragic as Niantic ended. As I mention in chapter 2 (Niantic Years), I came a couple of days earlier than my mom, sisters, and brother. I came with the moving truck which was driven by my fathers’ closest friend from Niantic Mr. Don Hadaway. Don was affected the most outside of the family by my fathers death as they were close friends. The other man in the cab was Mr. Johns and I was in the middle. The ride to Randolph was smooth. We got to our new house where we were met by my grandfather (Pop-Pop) and a good friend of my mother Ann Gantert and her son Doug. Ann grew up with my mom in Morristown and came to see us. As the men worked I remember helping some and hanging with Doug who was my age. As the men were about to leave and head back to Connecticut, Doug turned to me and asked if I wanted to stay with them for a few days and wait for my mom and siblings to arrive. I asked my grandfather and he said no he thought I should go back. Disappointed, I got in the truck and as we were about to back out – he held up his hand for the truck to stop. Apparently he saw the disappointment in my eyes and if you know my grandfather (more about him in later chapter) he hated to disappoint us. He changed his mind but told me I could stay only if I could contact my mom and ask her. Doug quickly pointed out the house next door had a “red hand” in the window which designated the home as a “helping hand” home. I knocked on the door and introduced myself and asked if I could call my mom in Connecticut which they allowed (remember no cell phones back then). Well, my Mom said yes and that answer prevented a possible tragedy. That night on the way back the truck got into a serious accident as it went under a low bridge that ripped the top of the truck nearly off. Both Mr. Hadaway and Johns got hurt but survived. I was told that if I was in the truck I may have gotten badly hurt or killed as the force of the accident probably would have thrown me through the windshield as we didn’t wear seatbelts in those days. I want to think my father was looking out for me from heaven and didn’t want my Mom to go through another tragedy so soon. It would not be the last time I escaped a tragedy as we will learn later in this chapter. Apparently, God was looking out for me and had plans for me in my later years as we will learn in the “Jesus Years” chapter.

Life in Randolph Begins

I don’t remember much about the beginning but I do know the adjustment was difficult.  We lived in another development that had plenty of kids around my age, mostly boys again.  The neighborhood was split between 3 groups of kids that I remember but at first, I mostly hung out with Doug in Mendham and his friends.   Doug lived with his brother, a step-father that was abusive and a Mom that let them do whatever they wanted.  Doug was a drummer and we would hang out listening to rock music and pretending to emulate rock bands.  We even tried to start our own band called “Crystal Farm” but never did much with our rock and roll aspirations.  I was lead singer so I guess that was probably why we never made it big.  Doug introduced me to his friends which were made up of 2 girls which I ended up dating (whatever you can call dating at age of 13-14) – Cheryl Bell and a blonde girl whose name I can’t remember.  Doug’s friends were a bit wild like him, free to do whatever they wanted, mostly rich kids whose parents let them run wild.  I’m surprised I stayed out of trouble but besides your normal teen mischief no big stories to write about.  Doug’s step-father was mean and was abusive to Doug, his brother, and Mom.  They ended up moving out and at one time hide from his step-father at our house when he threatened to kill everyone.  Our friendship ended soon after that when we were down the shore.  My mom invited Doug and his Mom to join us.  Doug brought a friend who I ended up getting into a fistfight with over a girl.  My Mom kicked them all out and that was the last time I ever saw them.

New Friends and Adventure

My days of going to Mendham were over and I started hanging out with the kids in my neighborhood.  At first, I hung out with a group of kids from one part of the neighborhood but after a couple of altercations with a couple of kids, I found new friends on the other side of the neighborhood who would remain my friends for the next few years: Greg & Gary Mezzacapo,  Tim Oloia, Mark Vellosi, Terry and Ryan Straub were my main friends.  Life began to resemble my Niantic days of playing sports, sleeping outside hanging out in each other’s homes.  Greg was the best athlete and everyone wanted to be on his team all the time.  Besides just playing sports among ourselves we would often challenge kids in the upper part of our neighborhood to football or baseball games which were always fun.  Our sleep outs were always fun as we would walk around our neighborhood late at night and jump into neighborhood pools, usually with no clothes on.  That all ended when a father who heard us came running out of the house.  We all went running and I collided with Gary and he fell on the street naked and got caught, so our skinny dipping days were over.  We often would sleep under the stars in backyards.  Onetime it started to rain so one kid

??Empty Nest??

Joyce and I found an apartment in Brown’s Addition and I started looking for a job, again. That Thanksgiving Mom came down with Pancreatic Cancer, so I was spending a lot of time in Sequim helping Pop until she passed away in January of 1990. In a short time we also lost Oscar and Uncle Alva. I returned to Spokane and a position in Customer Service with Northwest Telecommunications became available. Really thought that this was going to be my next retirement job.  Shortly after starting work, our lease on the apartment was coming up for renewal with a substantial increase in rent.  We had been complaining about a noisy young man that had won an insurance case and was loaded, living above us.  Management wouldn’t do anything about him, so we decided to look for another place and found a duplex on 15th.  While there I was a part time maintenance man for the complex, three duplexes together.  Joyce and I had discussed the possibility of purchasing the complex but decided to look around.  That’s when we bought the house on 29 E. 39th.  Shortly after, my dream of Northwest Telco being my last job, took a turn.  LDDS purchased NWT and they started letting people go.  I stayed on a while as a customer service  representative but their service wasn’t the same as before and I quit.  It didn’t take long, Sprint was opening a Cell Phone Store.  I interviewed and was hired.  During the interview they actually encouraged me to apply for manager but I didn’t feel comfortable, not knowing anything about retail.  Sprint sounded like an ideal company.  They promised to be very employee and customer oriented.  For nine weeks we were flown to Dallas Texas for classes during the week at the Delta Airlines campus and home on weekends.  One weekend, I transferred my round trip ticket to Joyce and she flew down for the weekend.  Spokane had an ice storm while I was  home from training and we lost power.  The neighbors tree actually lost a limb that pulled the cable from our house.  We ended up getting a room at Inn at the Park.  I had to fly back to school and Joe stayed with Joyce until electricity was restored to his house.  I came home later and arranged to have power reconnected to the house.  When school was completed, we returned home and got our store opened.  It was the first Sprint store to open.  The only problem working at a retail store was not getting our work schedule for the week until the Friday before.  I made a number of suggestions to improve that but they got turned down and the promises they made in the beginning went by the wayside.  Sprint needed money, so the employee support and customer service got lost.  The store had been opened about a year and Sprint sold the building.  A number of us, the higher paid ones, were let go.  I was still in contact with some of the employees working there and one of the women told me of an incident that happened when she was on a business trip with the District Manager and one of the commercial salesmen.  I recommended she take it to HR and make a complaint.  I was contacted by an investigator and she won her sexual harassment suit.  I did send out more resumes.  After most of the interviews I went on, I was usually told I was overqualified for the position.  I pretty much gave up.

Mike’s family moved in with us and lived in the basement for a while.  It was actually pretty fun, we had the kids visiting upstairs quite often.  I started getting into meditation and a group I was with, the leader was a Native American.  It was an interesting group, one of the participants claimed to be able to read past lives and it turned out I had been an Indian horse trader and she had been my daughter.  Another interesting episode that took place was when our leader brought her Peruvian Whistles to a gathering.  They were placed in the middle of a circle we formed, and if you got the urge, you picked one up and blew into it.  Soon you could hear music and singing and weird things and visions started happening.  Our leader taught Reiki and I eventually took classes and got my certificate.  Thinking about opening a Reiki business, I learned you have to be a nurse, a licensed massage therapist or a minister to touch someone.  Taking the weekend, on line test to be a minister didn’t appeal to me so I decided to become a massage therapist and signed up at Noetic School of Massage.  To start classes you had to have a massage and I got my first at age 63.  I really enjoyed the classes and working with the other students.  One of our classes was a trip to WSU, where we studied cadavers.  Another was to EWU, offering free massages to students.  On the way back from Cheney, one of the massage tables blew out of the back of our instructors pickup.  Another car of student and I stopped, it was dark, and one of the students was going to go out into the middle of the road to get the table and I pulled her back, just as an eighteen wheeler came along and hit it.  There was nothing to pick up after that.  Close to graduation we went out to a local ranch for a weekend.  One of the students was an Iroquois Indian from Canada.  We had a ceremony out by a bon fire and she gave everyone an Indian name.  Mine was Brave Buffalo, Ohitika-Tantanka.  After graduation I set up an office at home, Stone Shadow Massage, and at a local tanning salon.  I wanted to have more available for mu clients.  A woman I had met, Jenny Ray, was giving a class on hot stone massage up in Canada and I signed up.  She is Native American, Sioux, and started each day with ceremony of stone pipe outside to the four directions and sagging and drumming indoors.  The class lasted two weekends and at the end she had a naming ceremony and gave me Sacred Buffalo, Wakan-Tantanka.  Since I was given two names I can combine them, Brave-Sacred-Buffalo, or, Ohitika-a’-Wakan-Tantanka.  I had been doing massages a few months and injured by rotator cuff and had to have surgery.  Somehow during the surgery nerves were injured in my right arm and I ended up shutting down my massage office.

Around 2004, Mike and the kids moved back in to the basement.  It was fun having the kids in the house again.  Then around 2006, I ended up in the hospital with walking pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer.  Pop had found a girl friend, Thelma, when he was attending an annual BBQ in Anacortes, the trucking he had worked had.  She was from Houston Texas and Pop drove down to be with her in his motorhome.  She didn’t like motorhomes so Pop sold it down there.  A few weeks later, there is a knock on our front and there is Pop.  He had had an argument with Thelma and moved out.  We set him up in the front bedroom.  A couple of months later, took off back to Houston.  He spent a couple of months there and came back to Spokane.  We shifted things around again.  After a few calls, back down he goes.  A couple times, I tried to get him to just get a motel for a few days. His excuse, “You can’t argue with those damn Texans!”  I’m not sure how many times he disrupted our lives moving in and out.  But the last time we said no.  When he came back we told him he had to find another place to live.  He and I found a retirement home about a mile from where we lived.  He wanted a motorized two wheel scooter that you stand on for going around the retirement home but they said know.  So I went on line and found him a three wheeler that he really liked.  He lived there for about three months or so and asked if he could come live with us and we relented.

 

 

A Life Change

With the Vega loaded, I headed to Lompoc. One of Chris’s friends, Glenn, was going to be riding with me , coming up to Spokane for a visit. That poor Vega was really loaded, it actually squatted in back. Of course the springs weren’t all that good and the back may have been a couple of inches shorter. But it clocked right along. I was happy to have Glenn with me because, surprise, I alternated driving with her and we made it in two days.

With hindsight, it wasn’t the best of moves.  Thinking it would hold the family together, it proved to be just the opposite.  We’re a very close family and I’m proud of every one and what they have accomplished.  Do I think of the what ifs and the things I would have changed?  Often, but it’s kind of late now.  After twenty-two years in the military, of going from top dog to one of the liter was quite a shock to  me.  Thinking, with my experience and education I would have no problem finding a job with Hewlett Packard.  It didn’t happen right away.  Shortly after getting to Spokane and moving into our house Mount St. Helen erupted, May 18, 1980.  It was surreal.  The first thing I remember is the quiet.  Normally you hear birds in the trees and dogs barking and the other noises that happen around you.  All of a sudden they’re quiet, not a sound.  Then the ash cloud rolling overhead slowly blocking out the sun.  That’s when you start feeling the ash rain down, slowly at first and then faster, covering everything.  The kids were down at the Suncrest Community Resort, by the lake, and came driving back into the yard, piling out and running into the house.  We turned on the TV to find out what was happening and got the warning to stay indoors.  There was no school for about a week.  Because it happened so fast people started running low of food and everyone close shared.  About three or four days after the eruption, the kid across the street from us rode his bike to the store and bought a bunch of bread for everyone around where we live.  We all survived.   Life went back to normal.  A guy we met through church turned out to be the supervisor at the Montgomery Ward Service Department and he gave me a job in their electronic repair shop.  I almost didn’t get it because at indoctrination at the main store, the HR person told me I had to shave by beard off.  Ha!  No way was I doing that and I walked out.  I called my friend and told him and he went to HR and told them I wouldn’t be having contact with customers.  They let me keep my beard.  I worked there for a few months and then they cut back.  Being the last, I was let go.  I answered an add for a tech position, maintaining continuous playing music tapes in stores, early Muszak owned by PG&E.  This is before internet and cable.  I know it was before Thanksgiving, because we were trying to get the company to get me snow tires on my company vehicle.  I needed to go around and replace the tapes so the stores would have Christmas Music right after Thanksgiving.  I was going to have to do some quick traveling; Eastern Washington, Idaho, Western Montana, to Northeastern Oregon, back up through Idaho and back to Spokane.  PG&E finally got me tires, after Thanksgiving and I headed east.  Most of the customers were not happy getting their Christmas music late.  I was not happy because I was pushed.  It’s not fun driving across Montana at night on black ice and see the white crosses on the side of the road indicating car accident deaths.  But I made the loop and got back to Spokane and got an interview with HP.  My interview didn’t turn out the way I expected.  There weren’t any electronic technician positions available, so I was offered an assembly position.  Hewlett Packard had a really great reputation as a company to work for and I took the position.

Working at Hewlett Packard proved to be frustrating.  Talking to people that had moved up from California with HP when they put the plane in Liberty Lake, this plant was nowhere like other plants.  Instead of people having pride in what they were doing and working together, there was always competition.  It was what I call the “Kaiser Aluminum Mentality”, everyone was afraid you were after their job, especially the supervisors.  One of the first things I usually did when starting to work on a new module or component was to re-do the outdated and confusing instruction manuals.  And I did this on my own time, redrawing and simplifying.  Making them easier to understand and follow.  Supervisors were interested in quantity more than quality.  One particular problem had been evading them for a long time.  After doing some tests on my own, I called the plant where we were getting our circuit boards from.  I found out they had change the process.  I shared this information with our engineers, who were thrilled to finally find out what the problem was.  My supervisors informed me I was to no longer talk to the engineers but to come to them and they would pass information along.  The engineers were not happy with this and informed the supervisors.  Assemblers were allowed to have food at there station, you always were smelling popcorn.  One time the inspectors complained that they were seeing popcorn in the instruments.  I followed up and, looking under a microscope, found it was not organic popcorn but pieces of packing material.  Later, when I was working final assembly, I was working with the government inspectors.  They weren’t happy with some of the quality being put into the instrument line.  I warned management that we needed to improve or the inspectors were going to shut us down.  Their response, “We’re Hewlett Packard, they wouldn’t dare.”  One day the government inspectors shut our line down, until we proved our assembly and testing procedures were improved.  I was pulled off final assembly.  Back on the assembly line, I had stopped smoking and was drinking a lot of water, so I was going to the bathroom a lot.  Unbeknown to me one of the supervisors started a lottery on how many times I would be going to the bathroom.  I found out about it at my annual review.  My supervisor told me an I exploded, he had allowed that to happen and he hadn’t even wondered if there was anything medically wrong.  I went to HR and complained about that and a few other things.  I was transferred to swing shift.  It really didn’t work out and I quit.  I didn’t realize it was going to be so hard finding another job.  Interviewing with other companies, they wanted to know why I would quit a great company like Hewlett Packard.

I kind of laugh, now, when I think about our family.  It is really hard living in a home where everyone is an Alpha.  Over the years, Joyce and I had brought up the kids to be pretty independent.  It was a way to cope with always moving, at least every three years, they had to fend as a family together.  And you can see it in their families now.  It has been a bumpy travel for all four of the kids.  Eventually they found a strong partner.  One they could share life with, not dominate.  And the grand kids.  Like I’ve said all along, “If I’d know how much fun they are, I’d of had them first.”  Of course we had our own bumps traveling through time.  Chris was using the Vega to drive to school.  When they were redoing Big Sandy, she had to drive on a rough, unpaved road and somehow knocked the flywheel cover off.  Rather than fix it, we sold the Vega for $300.  Which meant that Chris drove that car for the better part of a year or more, free.  Another occasion, Joyce and I had left for a short trip and before going had told Chris to leave the Toyota parked.  When we returned Chris’s boyfriend, Shaun, was trying to saw a stump down in our back yard.  The problem was the Toyota was stuck on top of the stump.  With some finessing and going through accouple of chain saws, we got the car back on the ground.  Since I had an eighty mile round trip to Liberty Lake and work, I decided I needed a more reliable car.  We went shopping and I found a Chevy Luv pick up.  While shopping we decided to make it a double deal and found a nice Plymouth Duster for Chris.  It was a pretty sporty little car.  I had made a deal with Chris, that if she could go till she was thirty six, same age as I when I got my first ticket, I would take her anywhere she wanted to go for dinner.  The Duster had some pretty good pipes and really rumbled with you put your foot down.  She di one day, just as a sheriff was going in the other direction.  I won, and I was smart enough not to offer the others the same deal.  Joyce got a call one morning from the Sheriff’s Office, wanting to know if we owned a certain Ford Pinto.  They had come across it in a ditch on the way to Mead High School.  The Pinto was Tim’s first car, and on his way to school after a snow fall the night before, they slid in to a ditch.  By the time we got to the area, Tim and some friends had gotten it out of the ditch and on to school.  Later he got a Toyota Celica that he used while at WSU.  We got a call late one night, he was broke down at a rest stop near Moses Lake.  We ended up towing the Celica back to Spokane.  We use to keep the keys to the cars on a board by the back door.  Joyce and I were gone one day and had left the Van Home.  Kelly decided to take it for a drive.  As she was driving around Suncrest, she saw Mike.  She ducked down, but Mike saw her.  I guess he got a lot of mileage out of it for a long time.  After she got her drivers license, she browed the Luv one Saturday night.  Monday as I was going to work I was having a really hard time, the clutch was slipping pretty bad.  On the way home I had to finally pull off at the Seven Eleven at Seven Mile and call home.  Luckily Mom and Dad were visiting and he came, adjusted the clutch and I got home.  When I asked Kelly if she had hot rodding with it on Saturday.  She told me, “Not very much.”  Chris graduated from high school and moved to California with Shaun.  Tim graduated and started college at WSU.  Kelly ran away and we sign a letter of Emancipation for her.  More as a scare tactic than anything.  The attorney explained it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, that until she turn eighteen we were still responsible.  We sold the house on Greenfield only to have to repossess it when they couldn’t complete the deal.  The House we rented on Rowan turned out to be unlucky.  Mike had so many tickets and had wrecked a Buick we had then that the insurance company made us take him off our insurance.  Joyce and I got a legal separation and she and Mike moved out and found an apartment together.

I was still with HP at the time, and found an apartment out in the Valley that had a garage.  I emptied the house on Rowan and stored everything in the garage.  Being on swing I was able to get a day time job as maintenance man for the apartment I lived in and two others they owned, as well as a medical building.  This was when I quit HP.  Because it was hard finding another job I looked into the possibility of starting my own.  It was going to be a Manufacturing  business.  I had talked to Eastern Washington State Hospital out in Medical Lake.  I was going to be utilizing their patients, so they were going to lease me an empty building on the grounds.  It feel through, I couldn’t come up with the financing.  I answered an ad and found work as a car salesman at McCullum Ford.  Then decided to move back to Sequim, staying with Mom and Dad till I could find my own place.  I found a job working as a car salesman in Port Townsend and later for the Toyota dealer in Port Angeles.  I came to realize, I was not a car salesman.  During that time Joyce and I were meeting for weekends in places like Leavenworth.  We were leaning toward getting back together again.  First I drove down to Ventura California, where Chris was living, and tried leaving some resumes there.  Having no luck there, I returned to Spokane, where Joyce and I got back together.

Full Circle

After graduating from DeVry, I packed up the Toyota and headed to Point Arguello.  As I crossed Vandenberg I was thinking about having spent my first four years of military service in the Air Force and now, here I was,  almost attached too an Air Force Base for my last four years.  Coast Guard Loran Station was not a part of Vandenberg Air Force Base even though some thought it was.  I checked in and would be living in one of the duplexes for a while.  The family was still in Glendale.  Until the kids finished school and we could make arrangements about the house, we were considering moving back after I retired.  In the mean time Joyce and I would commute back and forth periodically.  Every month the District Office held a Commanders meeting, where all the Officers in Charge of stations and boats, would meet and discuss what was happening in the District.  At my first meeting, I was introducing myself to some of the officers and a Lieutenant, aid to one of the Captains in the office, thought he had heard my name before.  Then dawned on him, the Captain he worked for had been the one that had not wanted to give me the loan for a house.  The Lieutenant remembered he had heard my name in what he call vain, not in a good way.  We had a laugh about it.  After these meetings, I usually drove over to Arizona for the weekend.  A couple of times Joyce and the kids came over to Point Arguello in the motorhome.  Later, I picked up a used Plymouth station wagon, much easier to drive around.  Joyce was working in the business office for the Arizona Highway Patrol and had one of their “Bear” t-shirts.  When driving across, she wore the t-shirt and made it across the state in record time.  One time after doing some work on the Toyota, I was driving through Lompoc, like at 5:30 in the morning.  I saw this police car setting in a parking lot so I held it at thirty five MPH, the speed posted the last time I had seen a speed sign.  As I went by he pulled out and stopped me for doing 35 in a 25 zone.  It was my first ticket.  I went down for the Commanders call where we discussing complaints from people being boarded by armed Coasties.  I made the suggestion that we should advertise that the Coast Guard was an armed service.  The Admiral at the meeting said, “Come on Sparks, that won’t work”, he was thinking it was a bad idea.  Before I left I told the District Office that if they wanted me at the meeting for a specific reason, call me, otherwise this was the last I would be coming to.  When I left, I headed to Arizona.  Around Riverside California, I had been cruising with the trucks and hadn’t notice they had back off somewhat.  All of a sudden a California Highway Patrol was behind me with lights flashing.  I pulled off and got out of the car shaking my head.  I was still in uniform and he asked me what was wrong.  I told him I hadn’t had a ticket in twenty years and this was my second stop today.  He asked to see the ticket, looked at it, and said, “Hell, I would fight this.”  He gave me a warning, because of my bad day, and I drove on to Glendale.  When I went to court they told me to go to  the California driving class and if I passed the ticket would be removed from my record.  I later gave Chris the chance of going anywhere she wanted for dinner if she could go twenty years with out a ticket.  I won.  Through an inter service agreement with the Air Force, married couples could get housing on the base.  Being senior enlisted they were opening housing in one of the Officers Housing areas.  We got a field officers house on a corner on Cataldo.  There were still Air Force Officers living around us and they got the option of staying or moving to Officers housing else where on base.  They stayed where they were at.  At first we rented out the house in Glendale but sold it about a year later.  The people had had a baby and didn’t realize when they went in the house, the baby had fallen in the swimming pool and drowned.  We just couldn’t see our selves moving back.

Like I mentioned before, some in the Air Force thought that my station was part of Vandenberg.  One day a semi truck and trailer along with a caravan of cars came driving on to the station.  I stopped them and they told me that the Vandenberg Public Relations Office had given them permission to use Point Arguello.  I explained that they couldn’t give permission, that this was a Coast Guard Station separate from Vandenberg.  Talking to them a little more, it turned out that they were with Ford Motor Company and that they wanted to use the Lighthouse for pictures of their new Ford Escort.  The Escort was going to be introduced the next year.  They had three or four proto types here.  I went ahead and let them.  They would unload the proto types, which were on VW frames, take pictures.  Load them up, drive them to Los Angeles, where they would be given a new paint job and brought back.  The film crew was there for about a week.  One day, when they were filming, whales were breeching just off the point.  The professional film crew got so excited, not one of them had thought to take pictures.  I later made sure the Air Force was aware that they had no control or say about my station.  The 1air Police tried once, coming on to the station wanting to see one of the guys who had illegally parked his car on the Air Force Base.  One, I called Wyatt Earp, tried ordering me around with his hand on his gun.  I told him the get his Sargent of The Guard down there.  When the Sargent got to the station, I point to the Air Policeman and told him I want that man off my station and he was never to set foot on it again.  I cleared up the problem of the parked car and they left.  One time Joe Deviend and his wife, Beverly, Joyce and I were driving across Vandenberg.  I got stopped by the Air Police, they said I had made a California Stop.  We all agreed I hadn’t.  But the next day Joe and I were on Base, picking up the mail.  There is or was a law on the books,  that when a horseless carriage came to an intersection, the passenger was to get out and direct traffic.  We came to an intersection, there was an Air Policeman setting near, Joe got out, went to the middle of the intersection and directed me through.  Then got back in the pickup.  The looks we got were priceless.

About two miles south of Point Arguello was the old, abandoned, Point Arguello Lifeboat Station.  Although we had nothing to do with the station, it was an interesting place to visit.  The barracks and office were still there as well as the boathouse docks and breakwater.  Vandenberg did have plans to bring recovered rockets back through the old station.  We did have the responsibility of maintaining Point Conception Lighthouse.  Most of the buildings that had been associated with the station had been torn down.  Remaining were the Lighthouse, with a First Order Frenzel Lens, one hundred and eighty two steps down from the top of the cliff.  One of the crews quarters that the games keeper for Jalama Ranch lived in.  Most of the old garage and an abandoned, concrete house on a bluff east of the light.  We cleaned up the concrete house, boarded up the access to the upstairs portion and used the house as a getaway.  In fact, Joyce and I spent a couple of nights there.  Two other couples had spent a weekend there and swore there was a ghost in the house.  The guys were over at the game keepers house watching TV and the wives decided to try to get up stairs.  As they were trying to pull the plywood down, someone told them they shouldn’t be doing that.  they kept on trying and someone yelled, “Don’t do That”.  They found their husbands and asked why they had yelled and the husbands denied it.  Later, when one of the wives was climbing into her sleeping bag, she thanked her husband for getting it warm, he told her he hadn’t touched it.  And a radio they had on a window sill, started playing.  Nothing like that happened with Joyce and I.  Later a movie company came to Point Conception to make part of the movie, “A Brave New World.”  I had an Indian Blanket that had been in the movie, until it wore out.  We may still have a couple of rags from the blanket.

One thing I did while at Point Arguello was act as a public relations person.  When the guys were on base, even in uniform they were asked for ID at the Commissary and Exchange.  Normally, in uniform, you weren’t asked.  I ordered a bunch of hats with, “USCG PT ARGULLO” on them.  I placed magnetic signs on our vehicles with U.S. Coast Guard Loran Station Point Arguello.  I even tried coveralls with Pt Arguello batches.  The District Office didn’t approve of them.  A lot of the local fishermen, military and civilians from Lompoc knew about the station, but that had been it.  We got invited to a Mason’s dinner one time to give a talk about Point Arguello to the wives while the men had their meeting.  It turned into a question and answer talk.  One of the ladies there had been the Post Master, she emphasized Master not Mistress, of the Post Office at Arlight.  It had been a little community that had grown up around Point Arguello.  I still has a zip code on file.  While we were there Joyce and I went on a Marriage Encounter with a group from Vandenberg and Lompoc.  That got us pretty involved in both of the communities.  We also got very involved with the Catholic Community in the base Chapel, where I was baptized and became Catholic during Easter services.  The party after, they had a big sign with a guy holding a baby over his head like Kunta Kinty.  Between Marriage Encounter and the church community, we like to play jokes on one another.  Joyce and I were down town visiting one time when the kids called.  The Air Police were at our house, someone had Tee Peed the trees in our front yard.  Talking to the Air Policeman he mentioned a lot of that going on around base.  In fact his First Sargent had had it done to his house the week before.  I told him that I knew about it, we had been the one’s to do it and most likely it was his boss that did ours.  Guess they left, shaking their heads.   We had traded in the motorhome and Joyce’s station wagon for a Plymouth Volare, thinking we would reduce our monthly gas bill.  It didn’t work out that way, it was small and very crowded with the whole family. So Joyce and I took the Volare down to Oxnard and found a  large Chevrolet Van.  We were at a fair one time and as we were leaving we noticed a bunch of our friends decorating a Van that looked just like ours.  We honked and waved as we pulled out of the parking lot.  Chris got her drivers license and we found a Vega station wagon for $500.  One day she called the station from Lompoc, she had been the middle car in a rear end fender bender.  When I and my exec got there she was standing around with friends she had in the car with her.  Insured that she and all her friends were ok.  After the police investigated the accident, I made Chris drive everyone home, I sat in the passenger seat.  If I remember right we got $500 from the insurance company for damages and we never got the car repaired.  To me those four years were fun years.

We got word that the Coast Guard was going to decommission Point Arguello and make it an unmanned light.  Figured it was a good time to go ahead and retire.  I still had a year left for having accepted Senior Chief, but when I had called the detailer at Headquarters, he was going to send me to Long Beach, where there was already a Chief.  I had talked to the Captain in charge of overseeing the building of the new 270 foot ships in Seattle and they could use me there but the detailer said no.  I finally offered to let them take me back down to Chief, to retire early.  He recommended I write and ask for a waver and I got it.  Joyce flew up to Spokane to find a house and I started arranging for packers and movers.  When she got back we were ready to leave.  We packed up the Van and hitched up the Toyota and headed to Spokane and Nine Mile Falls.  In Spokane. while we waited for our household goods to arrive, we stayed at a friend of Joe’s house.  Joe was a priest at St. Thomas Moore church in Spokane.  The church had a hilly parking lot and it had snowed.  I took Chris out in the Toyota and we drove around in the snow, climbing the hill, spinning around, everything I could think of to get her use to driving in the snow.  The one piece of advice I gave her was to feel the car through the seat of her pants.  It would tell her what to do.  She later proved it by driving home up Big Sandy, going around a bunch of other cars stuck in the snow.  When our household goods arrived,  we moved into the house on Greenfield in Nine Mile.  I flew back to Point Arguello for the Decommissioning.

I got back to Point Arguello the night before the decommissioning.  Joe Devriend, my Executive Petty Officer, and the crew had everything ready.  We were expecting quite a crowd.  The next morning the Admiral, Commander Eleventh Coast Guard District, and his staff were arriving by helicopter.  Vandenberg Air Force Base, Base Commander was attending as well as a number of friends we had made over the years.  One I was particularly happy to see attend was the former Post Master of Arlight.  The Admiral was impressed with the turn out, he had been to decommissioning of the two other Loran Stations in his District and they hadn’t had the turn out or were they as prepared as Point Arguello.  He gave a speech, covering some of the history.  I also gave a speech, also covering some of the history but also what the station had accomplished over the last four years and the closeness of the crew as well as with the Air Force Base and Lompoc.  Then the crew, as Honor Guard, lowered the American Ensign and Coast Guard Ensign that was flying that day.  They folded and brought the flags to me and I presented them to the Admiral.  He did something he hadn’t done for the other stations, he presented the American Flag to me.  We broke for a reception in what had been my quarters for a long time.  The Admiral and his staff took the guest book and the station copies of our scrapbook and departed.  One of the problems all the crew had orders to be someplace else and departed.  I have to say we left quite a mess and the Air Force didn’t appreciate it when they took over.  I packed all I wanted in the Vega and reported to the Coast Guard station in Oxnard, where I stated until my retirement in April.

Middle and High School

I attended middle school, or Junior High as we called it back then, at Orville Wright Jr. High in Westchester, CA. It included 7, 8, and 9th grades. High school was 10,11,12.

Things I remember: Paper drives. We all would collect newspapers, bundle and tie them and then bring them to school. They would all be stacked on the blacktop according to grade level. It was a contest to see which grade brought in the most papers. I believe it was a fund raiser for the school, as the papers were sold to someone?! It was always an exciting time at school to see all those paper stacks.

I started playing the clarinet in 7th grade. I loved it! I played till 10th grade and then became more interested in boys, so gave it up. 🙁 After my first year, my dad bought me a clarinet so I didn’t have to rent one.

In Jr. High, PE became a real class with a grade! I loved PE and always got A’s. However, one year, it might have been 8th grade, I chipped the bone in my right hand little finger playing basketball, AT SCHOOL! The doctor said I couldn’t participate in PE for about 4 weeks. My teacher was young and new to the school; Ms. Stone. Ugh. Everyone called her “stone face” and no one liked her very much. Well, when grades came around she gave me a D! I was shocked! She said it was because I wasn’t participating in PE. Hello, I had a splint on my hand and a doctors note! And, I still showed up everyday and helped in the PE office. I ended up talking to my favorite PE teacher, Ms. Brown. She was shocked too, that Ms. Stone had given me a D. I know Ms. Brown talked with Ms. Stone, but I don’t remember if my grade was changed. It wasn’t a final grade, so there was that.

Occasionally, we had Sports Nights. It was Friday nights from 7 to 10 pm. Kids could play basketball, and other activities, and there was also music and dancing. Our favorite dance? The twist! When I was 13 the Beatles song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” came out and I loved it! I remember watching them on the Ed Sullivan Show and being so excited! I also went to their concert at Dodger Stadium when I was 16.

Another sobering event happened when I was 13. President Kennedy was assassinated. I was at school and we were all called back to our Home Rooms and they told us what happened. Very sad.

Jr. High is where I met my best friend Nancy Blankman.  We met in PE class as the “squads” lined up alphabetically; Biggs, Blankman.  We were best friends all through Jr. High, High School, college, and still to this day! Another good friend was Beryl Kahel.  She moved in just around the corner from my house when we were in Jr. High.  We stayed close friends through college and after, but as adults, lost contact.

When I was 13, I had a crush on the boy next door; Joe Caruso.  He was 16.  We liked each other and hung out a lot and, of course, played games out in the street.  Nothing ever became of the “crush.”

My first boyfriend was John Armstrong.  He came into the Broadway department store, where my mom worked, to buy paint.  He was 20 years old, and painted homes to support himself.  His parents had both died and he had a sister, but was living on his own.  Anyway, my mother asked him to come and paint our kitchen. One day he brought a friend, Ed Mandel, with him to help paint.  Ed was 16 years old.  I would talk to them after I got home from school and really liked John. He was funny and cute!  Well, Ed asked me out on a date and I said yes.  It was my first date!  I was 15.  John drove us as Ed did not have a car.  We went to a carnival in Long Beach.  When we got there, John asked me who I wanted to be with; him or Ed. (I guess he could tell I liked him!) As I look back now, I know it was mean, but I said I wanted to be with John.  So I spent the date with John and on the way home, Ed drove.  John kissed me.  It was my first kiss! We dated for about 2 years. In January 1968 John was killed in a car accident.  My first funeral.  I was very sad and the funeral and beyond was very hard for me.

Fashion. Bellbottoms and crop tops!  Also mini skirts! The skirts had to hit right above the knee.  Girls had to wear skirts/dresses from kindergarten thru 12th grade.  I hated it!

My dad taught me to drive.  He took me over to Loyola University (later Loyola-Marymount) because it had a long driveway/entrance.  I could drive straight and not have to turn.  The car was a stick shift on the steering wheel coloumn. My dad also helped me buy my first car; a red Volkswagen.  I loved that car! I also got in my first accident in that car.  I was driving and looked behind me to talk to my friends in the back seat, and rear-ended the car in front of me.  No one was hurt, except my car.  But it was repaired.

In the summer my friends and I would go to Manhattan, Redondo or Hermosa beach to sunbathe and swim.  That only happened if someone had a car to drive.  Sometimes I would take the bus to Nancy’s house in Playa del Rey and then we would walk to the beach from her house.  Good times.

We were all becoming boy crazy and often went to Loyola University “mixers” (dances).  Since Loyola was still an all boys school, there were no girls to compete with! 🙂 After meeting some boys, we got invited to their fraternity house in Hermosa Beach.  So, many weekends that is where you could find us!

I did lots of babysitting and other odd jobs to earn money. That helped pay for gas for the car.  Before I had my VW I used my mom’s car, if she had one.  Often times she didn’t because it wasn’t working and Jerry would come over to work on it.  My mom would take the bus to work.

I graduated high school in January 1968. One month before my 18th birthday!