The Sordid Story of My Life
Looking through the lens at my life.
Cannes, France about 45 years ago!
I arrived October 5th, 1940 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, but I don’t remember much of it. But let me begin this screed by saying that I AM EVER SO GRATEFUL that I was born and raised in the era of the 1940’s, 50’s & 60’s. Kids of today have absolutely no clue what they missed. Or how very, very different it was!
The home mom & dad had built in 1937 on the day it was completed, 460 Edwards Place, corner of Edwards and Gardner.
My first birthday.
We lived in Glenoaks Canyon, Glendale. I lived there, more or less, until 1980. My earliest memories were of the war years [that would be World War Two for you “history challenged” kids], standing in line with mom to get “ration stamps” for sugar, butter, tires, etc, and gasoline [3 gallons per week]. My most vivid war memory was the day the war ended. Anne Ward, our next door neighbor, leaning out of her bathroom window screaming at me “Go get your mother, the war’s over!” Of course I didn’t know what that meant, but I’ll never forget it.
Being a kid back then was way different than it is today. No TVs, no cell phones, no “social media”, no computer games. All we had was our bikes [one-speed Schwinns!], our BB guns and our imaginations.
All us neighborhood kids, I’m the tallest one in the back row.
Our “Social media” was a party line phone with the neighbors!
We weren’t allowed to stay in the house after breakfast. “Go to the park”. “Go hike in the hills.” “Go build a tree fort”. The only caveats were “be back in time for dinner”, “try not to hurt yourself”, and “stay the hell out of Mrs Pierce’s yard”.
My first “bike”!
My first day at Glenoaks. Yes, we all dressed like dorks!
Glenoaks Elementary, kindergarten 1944 though 6th grade 1951. We rode our bikes without helmets or walked to school every day. Class always started with the Pledge of Allegiance and patriotic songs like “America the Beautiful”. We brought our lunches, and if you got in trouble you either got a good “swat” or had to sit on a stool wearing a “dunce cap”. We sat at our own desks and learned by what today’s liberal “expert” teachers now call “drill & kill” [multiplication tables and spelling tests]. And somehow we managed to survive without today’s “nanny state” regulations!
8 years old in 1948
Then on to Wilson Junior High, 7th though 9th grade, which was a rude awakening. Homework! What the hell! I went to Wilson for my first three years at the “old Wilson”, a separate building at Glendale High, and my last year  at the “new Wilson”. Yes, 4 years! Because I didn’t give a shit about academics I had the privilege of doing 7th grade twice!
Then on to Glendale High, 1957 – 1959, where I again academically didn’t give a shit. The ONLY reason I ever graduated was “Vocational Auto Shop”, 4 hours a day for 2 years, and all we did was work on our own cars! My car was a 1931 Ford Model A coupe that I paid $35 for and drove for 2 years at Glendale High.
At this point I have to tell you one of the huge differences between “then” and “now”.
THERE WERE NO DRUGS! NONE.
If we wanted to “live life on the edge” we’d find someone’s older brother to buy us a 6 pack of beer. But drugs? Marijuana? We never saw any, never knew anyone that did drugs, and wouldn’t know where to get any even if we did want some.
Continuing, here’s where it gets a bit complicated. I started at Glendale Junior College September of 1959. Not because I was academically inclined [I wasn’t], but only because it was easier than working. After Glendale College I went in turn to Utah Sate University for one year [1961 – 1962], then to Church College of Hawaii, a Mormon college [I got kicked out for being a “heathen gentile & wicked mainlander”], and to L.A. State College. Then back to Glendale College for a year or so where I ultimately got “asked to leave” because of bad grades.
At Utah State I got into skydiving which was a new sport back then.
During this time frame, 1959 to 1965, I had various summer and weekend jobs; “pumping Ethyl” in gas stations, Hot Shots with the Forest Service, and driving ambulances.
I’m in the bottom row with the blue kerchief holding the McCloud rake.
We rolled on all the wrecks on PCH and Malibu from Santa Monica to the Venture County line, 27 miles!
“Academics” wasn’t my thing,,,, but staying out of the draft was! Remember, the Vietnam War was “full blown” and they were drafting everyone! The ONLY way you could stay out of the Army was either to enlist in one of the other services [who sent you to Vietnam anyway], or stay in college as a full time student. A number of kids I grew up with went to “Nam” and either didn’t come back, or came back with no legs, etc. You cannot imagine the immense pressure that all of us were under during those years, afraid every day that the mailman would bring your draft notice. It was very, very scary times.
My venerable 1952 Chevy.
I ultimately got drafted in 1965, but managed to get a 4F deferment [don’t ask how!]. The day I got the deferment it was as if a huge load had been lifted from my shoulders. I was free! I became a “surf bum” and lived for two years in my 1952 Chevy Sedan Delivery car in the parking lot of the County Line Cafe [now known as Neptune’s Net] and surfed all the breaks from Malibu up to Rincon. My beach-name was “Super Kook”.
I had “abs”! No frigging short boards back then!
In 1967, having decided that being a bum wasn’t conducive to a comfortable life, I became motivated and went back to school, to Valley State College in Northridge [now known as CSUN]. I didn’t have a dime to my name but I knew how to live “on the street” and I was motivated.
The venerable 1959 VW windowless van
I lived for two years in my 1959 VW van, the “Mule GT”, on the corner of Plummer & Lindley at Valley State, and became Valley State’s first and only “on campus resident student”. I graduated in 1969 with high grades and two Bachelor of Science degrees in Experimental Psychology, majoring in Innate Behavior and Human Factor Engineering. All with no money! Which is why I have absolutely no patience at all with people today who say the can’t go to college because they don’t have the money. How I did it is a story for another time [The Valley State link].
After getting “degree’d” I started a career in Real Estate. Why? I don’t even remember. I got my license and worked for Stevenson/Edwards Realty in Glendale, 1970 to 1974. While I did rather well, managing to buy several homes and a Tri-Plex with my commissions, I soon found the 99% of real estate agents are as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. I was very disillusioned.
I did exactly 50% of all the listings and sales in Glenoaks Canyon.
During this time I had a guy working for me [I was office manager] who was a Reserve Deputy Sheriff for Los Angeles County. I was totally “anti-cop” back then. But he challenged me to go on some “ride-alongs” and see what it was really like. I did. A number of times at different stations and with different crews. And found that they weren’t beating people, etc, for no reason. I was impressed.
So while I was still doing my Real Estate thing I joined the Sheriff Reserves, successfully went through through the Reserve Academy [Class # 27] which was all day Saturday & Sunday, & Mondays from 6 PM to 10:30 PM, and became a Reserve Deputy.
In 1974, being totally disillusioned with lack of ethics of the real estate people I had to work with, I quit Real Estate and joined the Sheriff’s Department as a full time Deputy. I went through the Academy again, Class 167.
Working mountain rescue in Angeles National Forest
After the Academy I was assigned to various stations, most of the jails, the courts as a bailiff, and ended my “career” [November 1, 2000] driving the prisoner buses. Being assigned to the jails gave me the opportunity for a flexible schedule which allowed me to get seriously into flying, to build a home [by myself] in Angeles National Forest, to spend lots of time in Idaho, and to sail my boat, Cimba.
The Idaho thing came about from my friend and Sheriff’s Academy classmate Bill Wernicke. In 1976 we flew my plane up there and stayed with his “Grandma Vi” in Shoshone, Idaho. I loved the simpler and more conservative lifestyle. I got into bow hunting elk, did rather well at it, and spent lots of time in the Ketchum & Sun Valley area hunting and hiking.
Elk hunting high up in the White Cloud Mountains
Because by then I had a bigger and much faster plane it was only 4 1/2 hours from So. Cal. to Idaho and my Sheriff’s work schedule permitted it, I flew up there every other weekend for 23 years [except during the winter]. I eventually bought a condo in Ketchum which I still have. I spent the alternate weekends on my boat, “Cimba”.
The view of the Sun Valley Ski Mountain from the deck of my condo. It’s only a two block walk to the lifts and gondola at the River Run Lodge.
Since retirement it’s been all about flying, Idaho & hunting, going back to College, and traveling.