No, not the big guy on high with the white beard with lightening bolts in his fist!
In the event that anyone might be interested in the individual responsible for the creation of this family history website, I plan on fleshing out my biography in the following web page.
To be continued as time and viruses permit.
What’s Handed Down?
I was born on December 3rd, 1947 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Long Beach California. According to the birth certificate, I scheduled my birth so my father could be there on his lunch break. For several years, I lived behind the Blue Room bar on Anaheim, but later moved to a small house on the alley behind 1909 St. Louis Street until my father completed construction of our new house at that address. My earliest “recollection” is behind the bars of a crib in that older house and it was uncomfortably hot. We had a great backyard with an enormous Avocado (Alligator Pear) tree and a great woodpile created from the leftovers of the construction. In the new house, I shared a room with my brother, David. It had cedar closets and hardwood floors. My father’s den had walls of knotty pine. The neighborhood was very 50’s with trees and older style homes. I remember learning to ride a bike on 19th and St. Louis. I also remember my first crash.
I remember an ear infection that put me in the Hospital and my tonsillectomy that nearly killed me. After coming home from the Hospital, I remember puking blood into a plastic bowl until they took me back to the Hospital one more time. They got the bleeding stopped. Later they determined that the surgeon had a habit of cutting too deeply. He later lost his license after killing a couple of kids. As an ongoing reflection, it is amazing that children reach adulthood at all. It is also amazing that adults reach a degree of wisdom in their lifetimes.
I remember I had friends, but not their names. I went to school at St. Anthony’s in Long Beach. Because I was so bright, my parents opted to enroll me a year early. I think this was a mistake. I was always behind physically with the rest of the kids and really couldn’t compete. School was easy, but my clearest memories are of the girls and almost getting in trouble with my 1st grade nun. I was sitting next to the blackboard and was casually erasing words with my fingertip. Because of an innate sense of cleanliness, I had licked the chalk dust off my fingers, so when the nun discovered the misconduct, she called me to the front of the class and asked to see my hands. They were spotless. She apologized to me and sent me back to my seat, still looking at the other children. What lesson was learned here? It certainly was an indelible incident. The two cutest girls were Paula Spuck and Audrey Cassiano. Certainly a defining moment in my life. Why would a seven year old be concerned with having a girlfriend at that point in his life?
Considering Catholic guilt and my upbringing, several house up the street a neighbor had a garden with some water smoothed beach stones. I was fixated on one of them and stole it. I hid it under our house. I wonder if it is still there? The guilt still is.
My father always accused my mother (quite openly) of trying to make queers out of my brother and me. We were generally spotless and presented very well to the family and community. However, I did not learn to comb my hair until I was in Junior High School. My mother always did it for me. That is also why it is parted on my right and not the left that would be more natural.
We were right around the corner from Curley’s Liquor store where I could buy candy. I remember the jet crash a block away and the smell of high-test jet fuel in the breeze and the sound of the fire trucks.
There was a local library on Signal Hill that was on the second floor. I was so afraid of falling that I pressed up against the wall all the way up the stairs. I have returned there recently and the fear returned to me. But the stairwell is neither dangerous nor very impressive.
We were a little late acquiring television, and as I recall, our first set was ten inch or so hand me down from one of my dad’s family. I think “Sheriff John” was the one show I remember the best. I remember singing along with the birthday song almost every day; “Here’s another candle on your birthday cake…” My favorite feature on “Sheriff John” was “Crusader Rabbit” and his partner Rags the tiger. I took this show very seriously and remember crying over several episodes when I thought Crusader Rabbit was in real danger. Another show was “Buffalo Bob.” I can’t remember all of the side characters, with the exception of Clarabelle and Howdy Doody, the puppet. Buffalo Bob was more entertainment, and not real life like Crusader Rabbit.
My father taught me how to swim at a very early age. I remember going to the Lagoon in East Long Beach whaich had a skeleton of a whale and learning the side stroke. That particular stoke is very effortless, keeps your head above water and I have fallen back to it many times when I have been tired in the ocean and need to conserve strength. I also had lessons at the pool at Wilson High School. All I really remember is the smell of chlorine and hanging on the edge of the pool waiting for further instructions.
My earliest nightmares were flying dreams in which I couldn’t quite remain aloft. I loved flying above the landscape. I remember another that took place in an old house with a crumbling floor into a basement filled with wolves. I later had a fear of werewolves and the night. What is the point of origin of these kinds of fears?
The family moved to Cardiff-by-the-Seas in San Diego County in 1956. I was a small, beach community in a largely agricultural area. We lived about four blocks from the beach in an 800 square foot, “Huntsaker” house. My mother always hated it, because it was clearly a step down from her newly constructed Long Beach House. But as kids, we loved it. It was a short walk to the beach and a slightly longer one to the “back country” where we could dig for trap-door spiders and barrel cactus.
We had two dogs at that point, a boxer named Zenda and a dachshund that only answered to the name of “Hey You.”
My brother and I shared a room at the front of the house. We had a playhouse in the back yard. My father had an older 19-foot wooden Cris Craft. It was more designed for water taxi work or operating on a lake, than the ocean. It was in storage a long time.
We always had guns in the house. It was a natural part of life and we learned early on to respect them and leave them alone. My father taught me to shoot a gun at about this time and I became a pretty good shot. I remember going rabbit hunting from the back of my father’s pickup truck. We would cruse the Lima Bean fields and shoot cottontails in the dusk, just as the rabbits were coming out to feed. When you shot one, it would fly straight up in the air as if in surprise and then fall to ground. Outside of hunting for dove and quail, we never much went for any larger game until much later in life. I never minded skinning and gutting game. There was an earthly, metallic smell to the process.
I’m not sure when I got my first bike, but once I had it, I took it apart and put it together a thousand times. It was a simple three speed and it took me everywhere. I would think nothing of riding five to ten miles to visit a friend or go rabbit hunting. It was probably my frist chance at expanded freedoms, although even at eight years old I would go the beach everyday in the summer by myself or with friends.
Christmas time was always the time of year for ambivalent feelings. My father never bought a tree until Christmas Eve, because they were cheaper then. This led to a lot of ornamentation crises and last minute emotional situations. Probably why I don’t like to decorate the tree to this day. Christmas should be a time of freely giving and family reaffirmation and not clouded by the overhanging sense of “we really couldn’t afford these presents this year. But here they are anyway.” I remember my first transitor radio. It had a leather case and was totally cool.