Archive for March, 2010

A Second Venture North….. #32 (the 50’s)

March 31, 2010

East fork of the Scott River – Rainbow and Eastern Brook trout fishing

The small town of Etna still remained a garrison positioned before a nirvana expansion of forest flora, namely the majestic Trinity Alps and Marble Mountains Wilderness, their watchful eye and towering peaks forever vigilant.   This was Gary’s, (still known a Mike by his cousins),  second summer venture to Etna and Scott Valley.  This time he would stay, not at his Correct Aunt Bernice and Uncle Sam’s residence,  but  would domicile with his down to earth cousin Geraldine’, better known as Jerry, her husband Fess and their three young high-spirited children, Sammy,  Deane and Trudy.  As on his first Greyhound scenicruiser bus trip north from Oakland’s San Pablo Avenue  station, the trip would  depart at 10:00 p.m. traveling thru the early darken morning hours.  Gary arriving at day-break in Yreka the town of his birth, and as before being met by his Aunt Della at the Miner St depot.  The tired youth finding the morning passing slowly at her residence awaiting the arrival of his  cousins for the trip to Etna.  A car halting in front of the house and to his astonishment it wasn’t his cousins but, his Aunt Bernice providing the journey over Yreka Mountain to Scott Valley.   Gary still impressed with scenic wonder of Scott Valley, arriving at Jerry and Fess’s, their acreage separated by the now vacant Cortez house from his Uncle Sam and Aunt Bernice’s’ home.  Gary curious to the whereabouts of Patricia Cortez and her little brother whom he had made friends with two years earlier.  The first order of business was to establish bedding arrangements, it was  agreed upon that  Gary would bunk with second cousin Sammy,  but after much contemplation it was decided this was unacceptable,  a cot was set-up in a foyer leading to the kitchen, this proving to be a more suitable arrangement.

greyhound oakland

Greyhound Bus Station on San Pablo Ave. Oakland

A Scenicruser Express north

A Scenicruiser Express north

Once settle in with the family, Gary finding little to do but read and play his cousin Jerry’s slightly out of tune upright piano,  it was becoming distressful in some aspects because he had yet to tap his inventiveness, but he found that this was about to change.  The acreage was not without occupants, the Facey’s  possessed a Holstein  cow named Boss and also raised a future dinner enterprise, a well fed hog kept at the end of the pasture adjacent to their house.  Gary was accorded and accepted an opportunity to milk the cow and feed the hog,  but found that this enterprise was mundane, his cousin Fess giving the opportunity of choice.  After experiencing both chores, the youth deciding not to  participate in the early morning and late afternoon milking activity, but would adhere to feeding the hog.  Festus Facey was a mountain of a man not only in size but possessing an aura of sparkling amiabilities that radiated from his persona, his disposition was always like sunshine on a cloudy day.  He could  sense that Gary wasn’t to happy with this visit, the youth being several years older than his second cousins and presented him with an alternative offer.   Fess asking if he would like to accompany him to work with the Scott Valley county road crew,  the youth quickly accepting  this opportunity to  experience a new venture.   The last time he accompanied Fess on a work related mission was two years ago during his stay with his Aunt Bernice and Uncle Sam,  the night of the formidable fire that destroyed Etna’s only sawmill.

The Trinity Alps & Marble Mt. wilderness

The Trinity Alps & Marble Mt. wilderness

Fess and Cousin Jerry

County Roadgrader

County road-grader

The county barn was the name given the large building where the local county crew parked the road maintenance equipment.  The Etna county crew maintained  two road-graders, dump truck and a water tanker with sprayer to service the mostly gravel and dirt roads that frequented the area.  Fess was the primary operator of  the water tanker,  acquainted with all the roadside water supply locations from the numerous tributaries flowing out of the mountainous terrain into the Scott River.  Among the tankers equipment Gary discovered an item that was put in use during the time it took for the pump to extract water from the local stream, a fishing pole, which helped passing the idle time.  Accompanying Fess on the Water Tanker,  the youth getting very  proficient at starting the gasoline pump motor and attaching the filling hose that extended into the water source.   On other occasions when the road-grader driver called in sick, Fess would mount the grader with young Gary, demonstrating  how to operate the grader with its many levers for raising, lowering, changing angles and  pitch of the blade, letting the youngster have a turn at the controls.

A deluge

A deluge

It was a stormy Saturday afternoon when Fess received a phone call requesting that he take the county pickup and check a road for washout water damage because of the thunderstorm.  Fess asking if Gary wanted to  join him, the two proceeding across the valley in a steady downpour while the storm continued to heighten raising to a  crowning peak.  The vehicle being buffeted with high winds and a blinding driven torrent of rain such as the young man had never seen. Fess stopping the pickup, waiting as the lightning blazed and streaked across the sky, the echoing thunder shaking the pickup and the  earth seeming to roll in sequence with the sound.  The roar reaching a crescendo,  golf ball size hail stones pelted the surroundings,  stripping the foliage from the shrubs and bushes and Gary taking notice that dispersed among the hail stones were other smaller animate objects.  Gary couldn’t believe his eyes, the small object descending from the vaults of heaven and covering the ground were frogs.  Hundred of small frogs,  recognizable as tree frogs plummeting earth-bound.  All He could think of was, “no one will ever believe us!”.  The weather beginning to  subside enough for travel on, continuing back to Etna where Fess notified the other members of the county crew about impending road and culvert washouts,  but giving no mention of frogs.

The fish enticing Hellgrammites

The fish enticing Hellgrammites

Fishing on weekends was a given, the rainbow and eastern brook trout were bountiful with a limit of 14,  but Gary discovering that for some reason when it came to fish limits, the residence of Scott Valley couldn’t count.  Gary having only fished for trout once before and not very successful at either bait or fly casting but was anticipating the challenge.   Fess was an avid bear hunter and deer harvester, his work related traversing of the mountainous county road enabled him to securing a bear and his limit during deer season, also ensuring that those that accompanied  him did the same.  When it came to  fishing he preferred bait over fly casting, using the plentiful grasshoppers captured in the field behind the house, but preferring the most trout enticing bait, the hellgrammites, a small crustacean covered larva of the dobsonfly found adhered to the rocks on the shoreline of the small streams. With Fess as in instructor it wasn’t long before the young man felt confident with the rod and reel and more important was the confidence in how to read the water cascades and pools, learning to recognize where the fish forage.   The city youth introduced to another water homage challenge, this time amphibian, frog gigging, the two traveling a short distance out-of-town one evening to where a  rural road bridge crossed a small stream.  Standing at the railing Gary could see the stream having formed an eddy, about the length of the bridge in circumference and was host to a population of bullfrogs, their head visible above the water, beginning  their nighttime communication ritual.  Fess handing the youth a fishing pole with a three-pronged hook attached to the line, directing him to lower it just below the water level, then bring up behind the unsuspecting idle frog, gigging it.  Gary didn’t count the number of frogs taken that evening, but more than enough for a Facey family meal of frog legs.

A scarry moment when heard but not seen.

A scary moment when heard but not seen.

It was always said: ” if you make plenty of noise you will never see wildlife in the woods.”   Gary was making his way over the rocks on Etna Creek fishing,  when over the amplified sound of the rushing water he heard a chilling sound.   He froze,   it was what he had been told to do,  but then again his instinct said get away from the sound.  The problem was with the roar of the rushing water he couldn’t determine the direction of the alarming source.  He knew what the intonation was,  it was the sound of a rattle snake, a scary moment, especially when heard but not seen.   Which way to go, his mind racing, the decision had to be made quickly,  not into the river,  not towards the woods,  not upstream,  the decision was made,  back the way he had come.    No snake.

Pleiades Nubula known as the Seven Sisters

Pleiades Nebula known as the Seven Sisters

The blonde haired girl’s name was Bobbi Brown,  she was Gary’s age.  She resided one block away on Center St. in a two-story house with her mother,  younger sister and father, who was the editor and publisher of Etna’s weekly newspaper.   The two met after a movie in Etna’s small theatre one evening, Gary introducing himself,  walking Bobbi and her sister home, enjoying the conversation with someone who he found shared many of the same interest.  This was the first of several meetings and he  began experiencing a feeling that being with Bobbi was meaningful, a sense of caring,  someone he wanted to be around.   Fess soon recognized that Gary was spending his evening with Bobbi and kidded him about not wanting to go with him in the mornings, which in many respects was true.  Gary finally deciding to spend the remaining vacation  days with Bobbi and her little sister, the three gathering fishing equipment, hiking up Etna Creek,  fishing or venturing into the wooded mountain area with a sack lunch. The evenings together were transcendent, the clear warm night provide a wonderful view of the heavens, Gary with his youthful knowledge of astronomy  would name the constellations,  planets and those stars he knew, pointing out the Pleiades, better known as the seven sisters, one of the more recognizable groups decorating the heavens.  His conversations with Bobbi were not of boasting but making idle talk of his ventures and of life’s impressions.   This new incongruous experience and emotion played heavy on him,  emitting a secret desire to remain in Etna,  not only because of Bobbi,  but because of the ambiance of Scott Valley,  a Shangri La exponent, a youthful image from Lost Horizons,  a haven from reality unto itself.

The arrival of the family car was expected,   Gary’s Father, Mother and two sisters having journeyed from Oakland to retrieve their family member, he was saddened that his Scott Valley adventure was drawing to a close.  It was homeward bound,  back to school and his Oakland Tribune paper route, Gary in parting, bidding a  farewell to an everlasting enriching experience,  returning  to confront life’s tribulations that awaited, but cherishing the memory of that summer month.


Oakland Tribune – An Awakening…..#31 (the 50’s)

March 29, 2010
The Tribune Tower

The Tribune Tower

In the past Gary never realized the gravity of  insolvency,  money being something you spend when you possess it and abstain when you don’t,  a very simple rule to follow.    Stacking bottles at Koplos Market when opportune was a means of securing unexpected financial returns, but the job was on a “as needed basis.    A more profitable past resource for gains was a lawn  mowing  and grass trimming endeavor that flourished for several months until a month-long vacation to Etna provided an abdication.    Gary was open to suggestion for economic opportunity and as fortune would have it they materialized.    His friends,  Hank Ball and Don Bryant,  after  moving up to Junior High secured employment with the Oakland Tribune delivering the daily paper.    Gary also entertained this train of thought upon entering Junior High.    Before applying with the Tribune he accompanied Don on his paper route in preparation to substitute for him during a brief vacation and to discover the responsibilities of the undertaking.  He considered the responsibility and commitment and also the benefits of employment  versus those of being unemployed,  the bottom line was  financial substance.

Gary’s Mother was upset,  in order to secure a position  with the Tribune as a paperboy,  you must be bonded and for some reason their bank would not provide a bond,  but this setback  didn’t stop the boy’s Mother,  there was more than one bank in town.    With the bond secured, Gary became an independent newspaper dealer with the Oakland Tribune and in reality he was a delivery subcontractor who was billed each month for the papers received.   It was the carrier’s responsibility to go door to door collecting the monthly amount due from each customer and submit payment to the tribune by the 10th of every month.   It wasn’t unusual for a 13-year-old to go out and collect 80 to 90 dollars in one evening.

The Tribune provided a delivery location and a district manager to supervise and distribute the paper bundles to the carriers.  They also saw to the monthly incentive programs for maintaining complaint free service and increasing subscription circulation.   The papers were delivered by truck six days a week at 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon and Sunday mornings at 5:30 a.m. to an old converted garage on the corner of Field St. and Sterling Drive  a short distance from Crest Ave..  The old building was better known as The Paper Shack.   Each bundle of papers came with a route  number on it,  Gary’s route being LW-37,  the LW designating the area district.   Most routes consisted of 40 to 50 customers,  which was about all that newspaper delivery bags could hold.   Most deliveries were made by walking or bicycle,  Sunday was the exception, carts had to be used to deliver the papers because of the comics and advertising inserts that increased the Sunday Edition  size.

Delivery Transportation

The Shack was lined with counters for folding  newspapers and an ancient desk for the District Manager Scotty, whose responsibilities included checking route numbers on arriving bundles for correct quantity  and maintaining a large wall route assignment board with all his carriers listed.   This visual perspective was an incentive score board,  each carrier starting with the same number of points,  but change was possible, losing points for receiving complaints, gaining points for new Tribune subscriptions.  A monthly trip, event or sporting goods necessities would be offered for acquiring a postulated  number of points.  Points could be obtained securing new local customers or by joining Scotty in his company provided car to canvas other areas of the city for subscribers.   Trips included the Santa Cruz Boardwalk by train,  the California State Fair,  Rocky Marciano Training Camp at Calistoga Springs,  Playland at the Beach in San Francisco, and many others,  all meals and transportation provided.   Gary could hardly wait to commence.

The beginning of Keller Ave.

The beginning of Keller Ave.

Winthrope St. 2 1/2 blocks long ending at a wheat field.

Winthrope St. 2 1/2 blocks long ending at a wheat field.

Gary’s  route was 3 1/2 blocks long and normally consisted of 43 customers,  starting at Keller Ave for one block,  then the  2 1/2  blocks of Winthrope St which terminated at a wheat field and pasture acreage on the south.  The enterprise netted  a little more than thirty dollars profit per month, but it provided capital that he wouldn’t otherwise have.   The biggest benefit was a lesson in responsibility,  he alone was responsible to deliver the newspapers,  do the collecting and transact the payment.  He was obligated every day with no exception to be on time and provide his customers with personal service, whether it’s throwing a paper on a porch, placing it behind a screen door,  or depositing it in a newspaper tube or mail box.  He questioned himself about enduring the long-term undertaking and whether he could be resolute in staying the course, but being a judiciously tenacious person, it was confirmed, he could and would.

Sunday mornings Gary would set his alarm for 5:30 a.m. which would get him to The Paper Shack by 6:00,  do the inserts,  fold papers and start down the hill with his homemade pull-cart,  entering his route on Keller and finish at the end Winthrope St.  On some Sunday mornings, especially rainy ones,  he would attempt to convince his Dad to take him on his route.   The 36 Oldsmobile was superlative for delivering papers, it had full length wide  running boards for standing and  his Dad on many occasion would respond affirmative and a motorized fast delivery was assured.

The view from Crest Ave. -Then the roar of the city awakening

The view from Crest Ave.

Being first frequently has it benefits, and  some Sunday mornings Gary would arrive at The Paper Shack location early before all others.  He would walk  to Crest Ave and  from the hill-top,  gaze and bear witness to the artistry of the panoramic view of the city escalating and stretching below  him.   The yellow glow of lights adorning the bay bridge and a similar aspect shimmering from the distant Golden Gate structure.   The silhouette of San Francisco showered in aphotic shadows of a predawn day.  The landscaped topography with the soft luminous effulgence, the glow of streetlights marking the crisscrossing roadways,  a silent composition  prevailing in the sleeping city.   Ever so slowing like the purple hue of a dawning morning sky, every so gently wakening ,  it began, first as a whisper quietly making itself  known.   Then a disclosure  expressing a sound of movement.   A gaining of momentum starting to build,  becoming louder and  louder, then echoing its boisterous presence.  Then blatantly  bursting forth, giving notice of its  might – the roar of the city, an awakening.

KCBS Radio…What Is It???…#30 (the 50’s)

March 27, 2010

Red Blanchard

“Sounds good”  Gary replying,  Hank having  just asked Gary if he wanted to join him and Don Bryant in signing-up for Police League summer baseball.   The three having played a lot of sandlot baseball in the past.  The sandlot field was on Sterling Drive not far from where it intersects at the top of the hill with Crest.  The field was on a vacant plateau area on the downhill slope between Sterling and Greenly Dr. and large enough for the game and with an added attraction, rusting away was an old model T ford, a relic of the past that provided the boys with a vision of someday of building and having a hot rod.    The vacant field needed  work,  the three boys would bring their push lawnmowers from home and attempt to mow the infield tall grass as best they could.   On many occasion they manage to get enough player to enjoy a game of  hardball.     There was one  major problem,  when a player failed to keep their eye on the ball hit to the outfield,  it would disappear in the unmowed section of tall grass and the game would come to a stop so everyone could  look for the ball.

 One of the fields at Arroyo Viejo Park

One of the fields at Arroyo Viejo Park

The boys signing up for summer Police League baseball, co-sponsored by the Oakland Recreation Commission and the Oakland Police Department  and were given the date to be at Arroyo Viejo field for an organization meeting and team assignments.  The three discovering their  team was sponsored by the Mills Merchants,  a group of merchants located in the Mills College area.   It was Gary’s first association with a sponsored team and all players received a dark blue T-shirt with their sponsors name,  Mills Merchants across the front.   Games and practices were scheduled weekday mornings and afternoons,  supervised by the Oakland Recreation Department.  The sporting event was strictly a student participation activity held weekdays in the morning or early afternoons, Parents and the parental team manager almost never in attendance.   An Umpire for the game was supposed to be furnished by the Oakland Recreational Staff, but on many occasions wouldn’t show up.  Gary was the team utility player, playing three different positions,  relief pitcher, third base, and right field, unlike Hank who was in the starting lineup at 1st base,  he didn’t always start.   On occasion when the umpire was a no-show,  Gary volunteered to take the position behind the pitcher and umpire.  It wasn’t a job he relished,  especially when he had to make a call against his own team, but the gratifying element was that he received the game ball in exchange for his umpiring role.

The journey up 73rd Ave.

The journey up 73rd Ave.

A single counter diner across from the Chevrolet Plant.

The team wasn’t very good and after the second game Don’s interest began to waned, finally deciding to quit.   Gary  wasn’t too surprised as Don wasn’t into sports like Hank and with Don’s departure it gave him an opportunity to borrow Don’s baseball glove as it was an expensive Rawlings a far better glove that his.   Outfitted with his #33  Whitey Lockman Louisville Slugger bat and Don’s professional glove,  Hank and Gary would bicycle the streets of Oakland to one of their three league playing parks,  Arroyo,  Elmhurst or  Brookdale.   When  returning from the late morning games at Arroyo or Brookdale the boys would stop at Pop’s Diner,  across the street from the giant Chevrolet Plant complexes on 73rd and Foothill Blvd.   It was a small lunch counter and fountain  for the plant employees,  no tables,  just a counter with  backless stools.   Hot Dogs .20,  Hamburgers .25,  Bottle Coke .10 cents and a small diminutive gray-haired man behind the counter, known to all as Pop.    The trek up 73rd Ave. grade and then  the steep and tiring dirt path that let you avoid following the roads long switchback  and at times Gary  developed leg pains for the effort,  but well worth the time saved.

With the advent of television, radio still had a captive younger audience especially with personalities like Red Blanchard who broadcast five night a week at 9:30 p.m. on 740 a.m. radio dial.   It was a live audience  KCBS  program from  their studios in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.   The opening dialog, “What Is It ??? ,  Bully, Bully, Bully”,  the password was Zorch,  and Red never-failing to mention his so-called 1916 Jaguar Pickup,  this was the Red Blanchard Show.   Gary was aware that live radio was waning and soon would be an event of the past with television becoming the predominant home entertainment,  but Red was the number one nighttime  radio personality in San Francisco and both He and Hank were devoted  fans.   It was unbelievable when Gary heard the news he couldn’t believe it.   Never had a word been mentioned, not the slightest suggestion,  the name of the program having never surface.   The Mills Merchant baseball team was going to San Francisco for a live broadcast of the Red Blanchard Show.

Red with Lowell Thomas

Red  in the background with Lowell Thomas

Red's so-called 1916 Jaquar Pickup

Red’s so-called 1916 Jaguar Pickup

The adrenalin was pumping as they entered the KCBS Studio,  Gary looking about, taking in the memorable moment,  the broadcast studio being a large room with rows of seating for about one hundred.   The baseball team was seated in the front row before a raised stage holding an array of musical instruments including a piano and organ.  There were several people positioned behind microphones and directly in front of  Gary sitting at a table,  center stage,  was a man with red hair.  In front of him loomed a large microphone with a KCBS placard on it  and on either side were whistles,  horns,  noise makers and other sundry items.   The show began with his famous,   “WHAT IS IT???”  sequence and then his theme song,  “The Organ Grinder Swing”,  some character impersonations,  followed by an episode of  Tombstone Borgardus with sound effects  blasting  the studio.   Then the unexpected, Red with a hand-held microphone,  coming off the stage,  starting down the row of Mills Merchants team player, asking each their names and positions.  A reverie come true, never in his wildest dreams could Gary imagine an opportunity like this.  The thirty minute live broadcast over.   It was an iconic moment for Gary, a  true radio fan meeting a true radio personality.

Another Discovery……………#29 (the 50’s)

March 24, 2010

Oakland storm drainage tunnel.

Always one in the pursuit of discovery,  rather than be discovered,  Gary was being summoned to Mrs. Jory’s counseling office,  Mrs. Hazel Jory was also Gary’s english teacher as well as the Low- 7th grade Counselor.   He instinctively concluded that something must be forthcoming about his lack of academic achievement in english, having difficulty with the grammar structure aspect.   Never to be judgemental, but known to render an observation,  the seventh grader wondered what he had done to warrant a bidding from this austere iconic looking monument of discipline.   She bore a remarkable  resemblance to Nelda Rehfuss another epitome of chastisement he endured in the 5th grade.   Braving the unknown he stood at her doorway expecting a discipline expression and a commanding oratory,  but instead he received a smile and an  invitation to be seated.

Once seated the interview began, Mrs. Jory explaining the reason for his presence was his academic future,  that this was an initial interview for students concerning their course of scholastic endeavor.  Students could select from three alternative studies,  vocational, business or college preparatory.    The Counselor explaining that  this assessment was preliminary in determining the student’s future course of study.   The farthest thought from the seventh graders mind was choosing class subject,  especially  knowing that in all probability electives would not be a prerogative until  the eighth  grade, but having already come to a decision that college was his objective.  He was aware that before graduating from high school he would have to attain at least two years of a foreign language, chemistry, physic and subsequently four years of higher math, starting with Algebra thru Calculus.   He did bring it to Mrs Jory Attention that he was interested in taking a half semester of each of the vocational shops as an elective in the 8th and 9th grade.   With the interview concluding his train of thought returned to what was really on his mind that day, something he had planned to do when school let out.

Key System – Public and School transportation

After school Hank and Don almost always walked up Foothill Blvd to Seminary Ave. to board the bus for the journey home.   Gary sometimes joining  them, but finding the first bus was always crowded and on many occasion you would have to stand with no empty seats, which was inconvenient with an arm full of books.   Some days he preferred to amble along the path behind the school above a storm drainage canal running diagonally between Brann St. and 62nd Ave and 60th and Camden, then wait for the second bus at the Camden stop on Seminary Ave but on this day his normal  routine would differ.

The light at the end of the tunnel

The light at the end of the tunnel

Leaving the school grounds,  taking his time he crossed 62nd and Brann St. to the path above drainage canal but this time stopping at the open storm drain canals source,  a large cement entrance opening going under Camden St.   Climbing down the embankment, the canal having a small amount of flowing water, the opening edifice showing signs at one time of being gated.  This was not just a large storm sewer pipe  but more like a tunnel and from the chalked markings on the entrance walls he deciphered that many others had entered into this chasm of darkness.  He stared into the black void,  judging that there must be a turn in the darken tunnel otherwise daylight would be visible at the other end.  Making  a decision to access the passage, assuring himself that this wasn’t much different from his entering the darkened sulphur mines on Leona Creek.  Entering, discovering signs of others before him,  empty bottles, cardboard boxes frequented the passage, there being no heavy rain to clear the spewed debris.   Touching the wall and looking back at the entrance opening behind him as a way to maintain a bearing, knowing as long as you can see a lighted opening even if its located  behind you, gives one a sense of reckoning.   It was decision time after progressing deeper into the catechism, giving thought to reversing his direction when the aperture made a subtle turn and he could see the glow of daylight now in front of him.   Continuing  towards the light, finally stepping out into the bright daylight his destination accomplished, gazing about searching for some familiar landmark.  It wasn’t very difficult to find a benchmark, he was across the street  from the entrance gate to Mills College on MacArthur Blvd.   Later upon further investigations discovering the weathered drainage canal originated at lake Alviso, known as Green Lake,  located on the college campus and whose water source was no other than another exploratory that he had experienced,  Leona Creek.

The enlighten seventh grader would share his experience with others,  learning that he wasn’t solitary in his discovery.  Still he felt an embracing perception of nostalgia from acquainting a familiar cohort with this new discovery, now knowing the  disposition of Leona Creek,  it’s inauguration and its final destination.


New Name – New School……#28 (the 50’s)

March 23, 2010

Frick Junior High Oakland California

Mike was no more,  he was left behind the excitation of his middle name at Burckhalter Elementary School,  it was forthwith Gary who was enrolled at Frick Junior High.  Crestfallen was what described it, , not quite a disappointment,  just something a little less.   These were  Gary’s thoughts as he arrived at what would be his new academic home for the next three years.   He reasoned the circumstance that caused a sense of  disillusionment to surface was his midterm graduation which propelled you directly into a new environment, no summer vacation or pause before entering junior high.

The  building was three stories high, the upper floors echoing hallways accessed by three stairwells,  the center stairs for going up and the two end ones for descending,  with administrative offices occupying a  center hub  downstairs on the Foothill Blvd side of the building.   The facility also sustained a full service cafeteria, auditorium,  orchestra room, mechanical drawing, wood, sheet metal and forge vocational shops.   A large partitioned gymnasium area separating the boys from the girls for intramural indoor sports and a small array of portable classroom buildings.  The educational structure with its manicured lawn setback a distance from the Foothill Blvd thoroughfare, with the 64th Ave side of the school displaying the shops and gym also with black top,  large tennis practice backboard and an array of basketball backboards with hoops.   The remainder of the voluminous two city square block domain consisted of baseball backstops and dirt flag football playing areas.    Gary estimating the Low-7 class size at close to 150 students, with the rest of the student body class’s much the same, making the total enrollment at Frick around  nine hundred students.

Don Bryant


Henry Albert Ball – III – better known as Hank

He wasn’t alone that first morning, his friends Don already a June 7th grader and Hank in the 8th directing him to the posted home room assignment lists before going their separate ways,  soon discovering he was in Mrs. Bigelow’s home room class in one of the portable buildings.  Most of the faces surrounding him were no longer were the familiar ones  that he saw every school day for the last six years at Burckhalter.  A new experience, a locker assignment, a home for the books and since the Boys didn’t dress for gym,  just the girls, a place for the needed gym class tennis shoes.  His subjects consisted of English,  Social Studies,  Art,  Mechanical Drawing,  Arithmetic and P.E.  each in a different classroom and a different  teacher for each subject.  One of the first things Gary experienced was how fast the school day would elapse in comparison to sitting in one elementary classroom with one teacher for a lingering day.

Key System public transportation to Frick Jr. High

Key System public transportation to Frick Jr. High

His  school day at home starting no different from the past,  awakened to the voice of his mother’s normal morning epitaph,  “if you want any a breakfast you better get a move on”.   That’s where similarities parted,  no longer was walking to school an option,  or even mounting his bike considering the hills and the distance. Frick Junior High was thirty-five blocks or 3 1/2 miles by bus route,  making bus transportation a necessity.  Key System, Oakland’s public bus transportation service  scheduled additional bus’ s before and after school for city-wide student transportation.  The school provided complementary bus tickets in book form at not cost to students living a designated distance from the school.  In the Mornings Gary would meet Don and Hank, the three walking to the Greenly Drive coach stop by the Water Works, catching  the  7:45 bus able to arrive at school with time to spare.   He was fortunate if running late for the bus, from his hillside living room window  having a perfect view of the distant Oak Knoll Naval Hospital 3/4 of a mile away able to see a later second bus pulling into the hospital’s main gate stop, the view provided time for him to walk the two blocks to the bus stop.   The Oak Knoll Bus as it was known, would disembark the students three blocks from Frick on Seminary Ave. either prior to or at the intersection of Seminary Ave and Foothill Blvd.

Foster Freeze across from Frick Jr. High

Foster Freeze across from Frick Jr. High

Oak Knoll Bus boarding on Greenly Drive

Oak Knoll Bus boarding on Greenly Drive

The  school day starting every morning in home room with the Pledge of Allegiance, the remainder of the twenty-minute attendance and student information gathering used at the student’s discretion normally for last-minute homework additions.   The curriculum for seventh grade students was predetermined with no electives.  Besides Mrs. Bigelow’s home room,  Gary started his day with Mr. Tabor’s physical education class, Mr. Alves social studies,  Mr. Noyes Mechanical Drawing,  Miss. Jory’s English, Mr. Templeman’s art class and Mr. Dostones  arithmetic.  The school bell system something new to the junior high arrivals, elementary schools having limited use for the bells, the sounding two bells five minutes apart at the start of school, then  proclaiming the beginning and ending of the lunch period and a singular bell at the finish of the day and of course the continuous bell for a fire drill.   The Junior High bell system similar, a two bell system announcing the beginning and end of each classroom period, the students having five minutes between classes to get to their lockers before the sounding of next bell.   Gary was impressed Frick having an open campus, students able to leave the school grounds during the lunch period.  The school providing a full service balanced meal cafeteria, a book of ten tickets costing  $2:50 or $3:50, the higher priced tickets included a bountiful desert.  Across the street from the school on Foothill Blvd were two student drawing establishments.  The Doggie Diner, a single counter small establishment providing a variety of hot dogs, chips and soft drinks, Gary surmising that  the school was the primary reason for  the business location.  On the corner of 64th and  across Foothill from the School gymnasium, was a Foster Freeze, a dispenser of soft ice cream and fountain accoutrements,  Gary, when not frequenting the cafeteria finding a chilidog from the diner and a root beer shake from Fosters a fulfilling treat for a seventh grader.

Gary becoming comfortable with his new surroundings, a new experience, new name,  new school,  new teachers,  new curriculum,  new friends and the beginning of a new journey on the road of life.

Budding Friendships…………….#27 (the 50’s)

March 22, 2010

Linda Grindstaff

The neighborhood having expanded, the Bryant’s having settled in at the new  house on Shone Ave.  Mr. Bryant a banker,  Bev the eldest of the two children  and Donald Theodore Bryant,  known as Don,  a 1/2 year grade senior to Mike in School.    Don’s Mother was a stern looking lady who wore glasses, the lad never picturing her as a Harriet Nelson as portrayed on television.   Mike having somewhat limited contact with Don on school mornings, the two sometimes riding home together when Don took his bike.    He was a little envious because Don’s bicycle was a three speed english bike with hand brakes, sporting a small hard seat that  he thought looked very uncomfortable.   The captious neighborhood news being the house across the street from the Bryant’s that had been damaged by fire was ready to be occupied.  The displaced family and their son whom young  Mike was acquainted with for some unknown reason didn’t return,. the fire giving a reality  message to the lad, that  life threatening perils do exist and before long  a new family moved in, Mike acquiring a new classmate.

The Bryant’s house on Shone Ave.

Mike, Hand & Don

The Grindstaff family occupying the renovated fire damaged home, the daughter Linda enrolling in Mike’s class at Burckhalter.  Mike having two sister at home feeling  comfortable around Linda and on occasion even walking to and from school with her and found she was attentive to most of what he had to say.  In the spring Hi Flier Kites  alway had a big promotional, Mike enjoyed his kite episodes, especially adding three or four five hundred foot rolls of  string sending his flyer soaring into the stratosphere or so it seemed to him.  The Lad was taken by surprised when Linda accepted an invitation to join him at the open field at the top of  82nd Avenue  where one could experience  the evening ocean breeze journeying thru the golden gate coming alive,  embracing the top of the hill, sending the kite with knotted tail soaring into the sky.   Times like this furnished the young man with moments of reflection,  not to be avaricious,  but to share with someone his own age these credulous experiences.  .

Hanks house on Sterling Dr.

The new house entrance behind Linda’s Shone Ave residence was on Sterling Drive and from first observation seemed to be  occupied by another Ozzie and Harriet type family.  A family of four taking up residence,  the boy in the family a year older than Mike, his full name Henry Albert Ball Jr. III,  and seemingly a was a very impressive title, but to all that got to know him he was just Hank.  The word was his father was the  Plant Manager at the family owned Ball Cannery,  his mom Marie a homemaker and there was  little sister Jeannie.   Like Mike, Hank was a sports enthusiast and it was evident that possess the physical credentials to support it.    Mike and Hank having common ground, both listened to the radio broadcast of the Oakland Oaks baseball team in the evening hours, the two collecting Topps  Baseball Cards,  both enjoying sports board games such as Parker Brothers Baseball,  Foto Electric Football and even going to the extent of forming teams and keeping stats on player in their Cadaco All Star Baseball game.   When playing under the  hoop on the patio slab behind Hank’s house,  like most young basketball player wannabe’s when playing they would assume the names of their hero’s,  Hank would be Bill Russell and Mike would K.C. Jones,  both All-American basketball players at the University of San Francisco.  Mike finally discovering someone close by his own age to share an interest,  it was a world of sports for the two.

Foto Electric, the ultimate home football game

Foto Electric, the ultimate home football game

Oaks Park – home of the Oakland Oaks

 The two boys entertaining an idea about going to afternoon ball game at Oaks Park, but when mentioning their idea to their parents the first response was no, but the two emerge persuasive.  Mike having been there with his dad and traveled alone on the A train to the San Francisco Transbay Terminal, getting off and taking a streetcar through the Twin Peaks Tunnel, then walking four blocks to visit his Aunt Alice.    It was  rather elementary to the boys, take the Oak Knoll bus to MacArthur,  take the MacArthur bus to San Pablo Ave,  walk the four blocks to the ballpark.  Mike finally convincing his parents and apparently Hank having done the same, the two youngsters were on their way to a Oakland Oaks game at the ballpark in Emeryville.  Twelve year old Hank and eleven year Mike arriving at Oaks Park before game time, once finding their seats and buying a program they directed their attention not to the before game activities on the field  but to the happenings under the stadium,  the two discovering the labyrinth of corridors beneath the structure,  finding the players field entrance way.  With program and pencil in hand, the two waiting patiently for the players to exit from the dressing room to the dugout.  It wasn’t long before the players appeared, the two waving  their programs at the team member,  the minor league players appeared exuberance at being asked to sign,  as were the boys doing the asking.   Hank and Mike relishing more in getting the autographs of the players  than witnessing the game.   This a beginning of many neoteric shared adventures by the two boys.

A-Bomb Witness…………#26 (the 50’s)

March 22, 2010
A Light in the Sky

A Light in the Sky

It was Wednesday June 3rd, a school night but that didn’t matter, Mike gathering what he needed to sleep outside in the backyard.  The most important item besides his sleeping bag was his wind-up alarm clock, making sure it was set before sunrise at 5:42, just in case the official  time for the event  was early .  The weather environment was typical for Bay Area, the low ground fog entering thru the Golden Gate, but tracking north towards Marin and Sonoma Counties, the East Bay getting  some broken overcast but as darkness set in,  the sky coming to life with Venus and Jupiter broadcasting their presence.  From his backyard on Greenly Drive, the damp pacific air filtering in thru the isthmus of the Golden Gate,  Mike settling in for the night,  his alarm set to be a beholder.

Project Climax Nevada Test Site blast.

Operation Upshot project Climax flash lit up the horizon even in the dim slightly overcast morning sky,  this blast was by far the largest Mike had witnessed.    The air dropped device was projected to be over 60 kilotons in magnitude and the atomic blast prodigious impression justified their calculation.    The last verification test  he witnessed was on an  April  Saturday morning ,  it was reported as a 43 kilotons tower detonation and this one from appearance definitely surpassed it.    The news would flood the radio and television broadcast that night,  announcing that a nuclear explosion  rocked the Nevada Test Site desert,  producing a giant mushroom cloud,   bellowing up into the stratosphere,  and being observed  as far away as Las Vegas. He wondered how many people  had taken time out of their life to even acknowledge this page of history.    The youth also having many other congruous questions,  like why  wasn’t  the library frequented more often  by a larger number of people or why didn’t more of humanity attest to the magnificence of a full moon,  or the streaking shower of a meteors plunging earthward displaying an effervescence tail,   was their inquisitiveness imprisoned or were they just jaundiced in their resolve and egocentric in their search.

A living breathing enity

A living breathing entity, the Public Library

Entering this mausoleum like structure was always gratifying with its musty smell that imbued the ambiguous presences of antiquated publications.   The building with its silence was mystic,  concealing its greatest possessions between the folds of shrouded  pages.   The person engaged in employment could only direct,  to acquire and instill content was the responsibility of the procurers.     Some came for entertainment,  some to be enlightened with wisdom and knowledge,  others coming out of desperation,  searching for an identity,  a place or even a reason.    Young Mike finding the library a never-ending resource of what life was about and what it had to offer.    Through books he found that he could experience the perceptions and consciousness as viewed through the mind and eyes of those who substance and knowledge exceeded his endemic entity.


An endless inexhaustible world emerging

Mike discerned, to blame is not to accuse,  accusations are fleeting,  blame is substantive,  he blamed his Mother for his addiction to the library.   Reading was never a school assignment,  it was a cultivation,   his mother handing him a book,  The Oregon Trail by Francis Parkman.    It was the beginning of a road that had no ending.    At an early age he attempted Animal Farm by George Orwell,  but he wasn’t ready for its  social meaning and read the more understandable Walter Brookes, The Freddy Series instead.   His mother again , this time Prince of Foxes by Shellabarger, he preferred Dumas, the Three Musketeers.   Bowen and the Dave Dawson WWII  series,   Kipling’s Jungle Book,  Toby Tyler,  Tom Sawyer,  Treasure Island and then a new discovery,  science fiction .  Robert A  Heinlein, Rocketship  Galileo,  The Red Planet,  Craigie’s  The Voyage of Luna One, and Isaac Asimov Pebble in the Sky, The Stars Like Dust and the continuing saga of Foundation, an endless inexhaustible world emerging.   The ascendancy  from reading,  not  curiosity is what instilled a desire for a boy to sleep outside to view the flash of a nuclear bomb lighting up the sky,  even if only from the confines of his Oakland  backyard.

Mike reasoned, television was captive,  radio was captive,  even movies were captive, but a book was emancipating.

Diminutive to Capacious……..#25 (the 50’s)

March 21, 2010
The fog rolling off the hills

The fog rolling off the Oakland  hills

The new downstairs accommodation having been vacant for what seemed like an eternity.  The inevitable question being put forth, the request having  been made many times in the past, his parents answer always the same,  NO.    This time  Gary was prepared with a litany of affirmative reason to present his case,  but all was unnecessary,  this time the answer was.  YES!  The downstairs  rooms, better known as the apartment,  would forthwith known as Gary’s  Room.

At the age of 13 Gary discovering life could be a paradox,  exuberant and remorseful,  confining but at liberty,  conjecture vs procrastination and from diminutive to capacious.   The ambiguities in life were characterized by changes,  having been demonstrated with the procurement of his new domicile in the family household downstairs.   Gone would be the ambiance of his old small  8 x 10 cubicle of a room adjoining the kitchen with its morning vista, the fog rolling off the hills and the damp fragrance of new cut wheat traversing through the open window.   Also gone would be the tranquility enveloping the room at night with the effervescent glow of a full moon casting its efflorescence on the wall.    The morning aroma accompanied with the crackling sound of bacon frying, the bustle of his Mother in the kitchen preparing his Dad’s breakfast, the event no longer a prerequisite for the start of a school day.   .

Moon rising over East Oakland Hills

Moon rising over East Oakland Hills

There were two entrances to the downstairs, one through an upstairs dining room door leading down thru the basement laundry room, entering through a bathroom and kitchenette.  The other means of entrance was the an outside door that provided an entrance from the backyard.   Gary realized it would take some time to reconcile that he was no long a full-time segment of the enduring habitants presiding upstairs.  A display of independent accountability provided a sense of  propriety and with it a discussion about him moving back upstairs coming to closure.   The room granted the young man much of what he couldn’t attain upstairs, but also ordained more responsibility.   It provide an island of solitude where he could read, listen to his music and have the room to work on project without family interruptions.   It provided a station where he could entreat his friend, even if for only  a short period.   The outside entrance gave him a prestigious feeling that he could access and depart  without notifications,  but because of the veneration instilled by parents these were just entertaining thoughts not ready to come to fruition.

Gary found the freedom from the distractions upstairs could also be somewhat disdaining,  acquiring a sense of  waning family closeness but deciding it was because of  youthful maturity and his diversity of activities and interest,  not because of his downstairs severance.   He was a visual example of the individuality developing within the family and concluded it normal as sibling aged and reasoned he was not alone in this thoughts.    Reality was present, it wasn’t families influence but the discovery of a new sphere of acquaintances and the reflection of their interest that would  kindle his ambition and  accord an effulgence to the  future.

Apartment Opening……………#24 (the 50’s)

March 20, 2010

Polly Spears

Mike and his sisters enjoyed the covenant downstairs portion of the Willson residence when the family first moved in serving as a play room.  Besides the one large room with its outside entrance,  it had a walk-thru kitchenette, with a small gas stove, sink, cupboard and a fold down wall table leading to bathroom consisting of a stool and shower.  The other bathroom door opened into the basement washroom which housed mike’s mother’s wringer washer, concrete double sink and the very steep stairway upstairs opening into the dining room.   It was when his mother introduced him and his sisters to a couple and their two children and that they would be staying downstairs,  he realized the loss of the playroom.  The Spears,  Roy, Polly,  Bobby and the youngest, Judy, were a military family.  Roy     having served in the Army Air Corp during world war II, now a First Lieutenant would be leaving on assignment to Okinawa with the family to join him.  The outbreak of the Korean war dictating a change plans,  the family no longer able to join Roy in Okinawa,  Polly and the two children to remain in the  downstairs room, now designated as “the apartment”,  until other arrangements could be made.  Mike was surprised at the longevity of their stay, Polly and the kids becoming  like part of the family.  It was when Polly’s friend Dorothy came to visit that everything soon changed, Polly giving notice that they were looking for a larger rental  in San Francisco.  With Polly’s Plymouth Station Wagon and Dorothy’s car, the moving experience was swiftly completed and the downstairs apartment was once again vacant.

The only way to travel – san Francisco Muni Streetcar

The two families having become close found the Willson’s visiting, Mike and his sister accompanying their Mom and Dad,  Polly noting that Bobby whom was just a year younger than his sister Nancy, really enjoyed the older kids visit,  Polly extending an invitation,  asking if  Mike would spend some time with Bobby.  Traveling by bus alone across the Bay Bridge to the Muni Terminal was nothing new to Mike, the youth familiar with the Transbay Terminal having made the trip visiting his Aunt Alice.  Once disembarking the A Train, Mike Boarded the L Taravel Muni Streetcar at the Terminal for the extended ride to the ocean side of San Francisco,  disembarking at 42nd street,  walking the two blocks to Polly’s house.  Polly’s ocean-side  two-story house was similar in structure to his Aunt Alice’s when she lived on Garfield St.    What Mike discovered, unlike his Aunt’s neighborhood house,  this one came with a majestic view of the ocean, the vista from Bobby’s room was nonpareil.   The view west,  the sunsets,  the ship sailing  to and fro, passing  thru the Golden Gate and foremost,  the windows opened wide, enabling an onshore breeze bringing  the sounds of the ocean waves breaking on the beach through wind-blown curtains, the atmosphere  providing a heightened sense of adventure.   Another plus was the 6 block proximity to the ocean with its washed ashore spoils dotting the beach waiting for discovery making seaside the excursions an inevitable treasurer.  Mike spending a week, but longing to remain longer  in this new environment, but his return to Oakland was shortened when his parents appeared.

Mike’s aunt, Alice O’Toole

Mike's Aunt Alice taking him to see the first full length 3-D movie

Mike and Aunt Alice attending the first full length 3-D movie

Aunt Alice and Uncle Charlie O’Toole having sold their 538 Garfield St. residence of many years, Mike’s cousins now  both grown having enlisted in the Military, Pat in the Navy and Bud in the Army.   Mike always enjoyed spending time with his Aunt Alice  at the Garfield St. residence provided many lasting memories. From the Garfield house he could hear the roar of the lions at Fleishhacker Zoo at feeding time and his Aunt a non driver as was his Uncle Charlie would  venture on the Muni to Golden Gate Park,  downtown to the theater, acquaint the blue pacific, wading in the surf across from Playland at the beach Mike and his aunt having the opportunity to see the first 3-d movie,  Bwana Devil.   These moments would always be retained as lasting picture of a caring fostering  Aunt.  The change in lifestyle having taking a toll on his Aunt and Uncle, their current residence an apartment in an unsightly neighborhood on Castro two blocks south of Market St. and the entrance to the Twin Peaks Tunnel.   The Castro street abide was a rear apartment on the second floor of a very old building, Mike still visiting his Aunt traveling on his own, enjoying a San Francisco adventures.   The only indoor attraction was the variety of  characters in the neighborhood,  including  a elderly man on the first floor,  a resident who had an extrinsic notion of the exploits of Christopher Columbus especial when abiding with an excess amount of “vino”.   Aunt Alice always  characterized the neighbor as   “1492”,   because he frequently mentioned that year in his long loud dissertations in his Italian accented broken English.

Best Pinochle hand - a double run

Best Pinochle hand – a double run

Something was going on, an  afternoon Mike and his Dad in the car journeying across the bay to San Francisco,  stopping at the Castro Street address of his Aunt and Uncle.  Mike having overheard a discussion that their phone had been disconnected, his Dad mentioning that Uncle Charlie had been unemployed for several months and that their life was in disarray.  Mike was surprised, the elder Willson not making an offer, but stating they were coming home with him until they could get their situation organized.  Alice and  Charlie recognizing the opportunity accepting the offer of moving into the downstairs apartment, Mike realizing he would have to set aside his apartment vision.  With their arrival  he discovered a side of his Uncle Charlie that he never knew existed, his uncle actually having a conversation with him, Mike finding he enjoyed his company, discovering that he was an amazing card player,  demonstrating many slide of hand tricks and introducing the youth to the game of Pinochle, the boy spending many hours playing the challenging three-handed fascinating diversion with his aunt and uncle.  As months progressed Mike could sense a conflict between his parents and his aunt and uncle,  Alice and Charlie making no effort to find work or change their ongoing  status.  Words were exchanged, suitcases packed, the couple announcing their son Pat had made arrangement for them to move Anaheim.  Mike having mixed feelings,  he would missed them,  but now the apartment would once again be vacant, opening the opportunity to convince his parents about moving downstairs.



An Old New Arrival…………….#23 (the 50’s)

March 19, 2010

The family car 37 DeSoto

The  37 Desoto was no longer a member of the family,  in its place taking up residence in front of the house on Greenly Drive was the new family car,  a 1936 Oldsmobile four door sedan.   It was powered by a straight-eight engine,  entertaining more power that it’s six cylinder predecessor,  much heavier,  plus having a very impressionable simulated wood grain dash and complimentary interior.   The demise of the Desoto was predictable,  taking two incidents to resolve the cars nemesis.   The first episode indelibly marked, the family embarked on the long trip north traversing on highway 99 to Yreka,  the soaring summer heat in the Sacramento Valley reaching 105 plus degrees.    With the air-flow vent  cranked open,  all windows down and  wind buffeting the interior,  the unimaginable suddenly happened.   The in-rushing cataclysm of air causing a small rent in the headliner to evolve into a large tear.   The headliner began to flail in a torrent  of promptitude,  causing the fabric glue,  which long ago had digressed into powder,  to explicate out from its metal roof entrapment forming  a cloud,  choking and covering everything,   including the occupants.   Continuing on for a short distance,  the boy’s Dad finally stopping and setting about in the removal of the remaining loose headliner.   Mike could tell that the mood of those traveling had changed and to further add to the carnage,  his Mother complained of a shortness of breath.   The boy’s mother looking distressed,  but in the stifling heat so did the remainder of the family.   A stop was made in Red Bluff and a brief retreat from the swelter was achieved.   A reassurance from his Mother that she would survive,  enabled  them to continue  traveling to Yreka in the maimed DeSoto.


36 Olds – A car with a “Joey the Jeep” Heart

Beautiful wood grained dash

Beautiful wood grained dash

From the headliner event Mike knew the days of the DeSoto were numbered, not having long to wait for the final deciding factor to seal the fate of the automobile.   The family was returning from an overnight visit to his grandparents in Sebastopol when the handwriting on the wall made its presence known.   Having attained Oakland, just  past the Park Blvd. intersection his dad unexpectedly asking for complete silence and when this was not achieved,  in a stern voice he make the request again.   Everyone was quiet, wondering and waiting for a response from the driver.  The answer soon coming,  a problem in the engine,  his Dad conjecturing that the very slight knocking  resonating from the engine saying it sounded like a rod bearing insert starting to go.    Slowing the car, they continued on in silence, if for some reason it would make a difference, finally achieving their destination,    Later the youth observed as his Dad consulted the Motor’s  Auto  Repair Manuel  for the DeSoto,  his Dad certain of his rationale of the problem and began his labor of repairing the car.    The was car parked on Greenly Dr. in front of the house and for Mike it was the first time his Dad had asked him to help. He watched the ongoing process his job was to hand Dad the necessary tools when  beneath the car  but being observant with a new-found interest, the draining of the oil,  dropping the pan, removing the rod cap that grasp the crankshaft, replacing the bearing insert.  All a new enlightenment, discovering  the mechanical how and why complexity of an engine, their conterminous components, a curiosity fulfilled,  initiated a decision to explore this new-found realm.

The do-it-yourself auto mechanics Home Bible

An unsuspecting pitfall on Shone Ave.

Shone Ave. was a steep road with a 36 inch wide, 24 inch deep open cement culvert that snaked down the incline along the Willson’s  property line, and with no Stop Signs at the intersection of Greenly Dr, its presence having never presented a problem.  A recent decision by the City to place stops  sign on Shone Ave’s steep incline changed all that.   Drivers would stop on the hill,  forgetting to slip the clutch to remain in place, sometimes killing  the engine and while trying to start-up they would frequently roll back not realizing that there was a deep culvert present.  Mike would watch as they attempted to drive out, but with one wheel spinning in the Culvert, there was no traction, the only recourse  was to call a tow truck.  On occasions there was one exception, a 3421 lb. 1936 Oldsmobile, with a 121″ – 59″ wheelbase & track, having  7.00 x 16″ tires,  240 cubic inch engine, solid chromium steel bumpers and a logging chain in the trunk that could be used for extricating cars from culverts.

The Boy lost count of the number of people who were thankful there was a 1936 Oldsmobile with a   “Joey the Jeep heart” and a teamster both living at the corner of Shone Ave and Greenly Drive.