Archive for April, 2010

Abolishment…………………..#59 (the 50’s)

April 30, 2010
To be destroyed but never forgotten

To be destroyed but never forgotten

       The fateful day was Wednesday, March 27th, 1957,  it was the morning that Gary presented his earthshaking oral report in Miss Lamping’s American History class and it was the day a 5.3 magnitude earthquake rattled the bay-area and the school.   Seismologist finding  the epicenter’s location to be across the bay in Daly City,  south of San Francisco.  It was the strongest quake along the San Francisco peninsula since 1906.   The rumbling and results of the quake didn’t register with the Youth at the time,  but the announcement that followed would.    Gary’s Mother was a board member on the District PTA and was in attendance during a presentation of an official  seismologist report concerning the earthquake and the Oakland Public School buildings.   She approached the constituency with consternation about Castlemont High School and received an invitation to tour the educational building as a PTA representative  to witness the structural damage.   Upon completion of the school assessment,  she was testimony to the results of the inspection and the Public Schools forthcoming announcement.   The exisiting Castlemont high school buildings would be demolished and replaced with a modern structure.

Replaced by a bridge

Replaced by a bridge

Replaced by a bus

Replaced by a bus

      Gary remembering his early school educational  experiences and the original Burckhalter Elementary building standing vacant and forlorn awaiting removal.   During his final year of  Junior High,  the announcement of another buildings destruction, Frick Junior High would be demolished soon after his departure.   Gary often wondered about the reasoning for removing these well serving institutions, was it in the name of safety,  or the ascension of a trafficking commerce and their political overtones.   Questioning if there was a place for progress with a purpose in his melancholy world, retrieving the adventuress times on the Richmond-San Rafael Ferry,  it too being replaced by an accelerated passageway called a bridge.  No more can one board the Bay traversing vessel to experience the briskness of the breeze entering thru the Golden Gate, communicating its presence as it travels across the deck or the identifying smell of brine nuzzling the bellowing movement of the bow.    The Electric Train, or publicly known as the Transbay Transit  becoming another appliance of the past,  never again to traverse the Bay Bridge,  a person able to sit in its confines,  the speciousness,  absorb the clickety-clack rhythmic sound as its silent motors propel the carriages across the unimpeded  span of track,  another  replaced  by the cramped enclosed quarters of a bus, that continues to stop and go in the congestion of traffic. 

The destruction of beauty

The destruction of beauty

      The teens mother relating that the school had suffered structural damage,  Gary not realizing or comprehending the extent until  word began to spread at school,  Castlemont was going to be replaced.  It was an unacceptable thought, an unspoken topic,  never again the subject of discussion among his classmates,  he  concluded,  it was because his class was living in the present and wouldn’t be subject to the annihilation of this beautiful structure.    Standing before the building as he did on that first day,  heeding the view of ivy covered walls,  majestic ascending  towers,  lily laden reflection pond,  he searched his emotions for an explanation or reason to destroy this emblem of man’s achievement.   If only the structure could speak for itself,  the words would be, ” surely another remedy could be found”.   Gary pondered,  was this the beginning of a new ideology,  expediency is better than reflection,  contemporary  is more desirable than the celebrated,  but knew in his heart,  abolishment could never replace memories.


A Ride To Remember………..#58 (the 50’s)

April 29, 2010


1957 Chevy

    Sitting in Fletcher’s Signal Station,  Gary was ready to call it a night, having  finished his sweeping of the service bay waiting for  Ted to balance the cash draw and place the monetary resources in the stations secret place for owner Ed when opening in the morning.    Departing at 5:oo p.m. for the day Ed would do the daily paper work and remove most of the days receipts  leaving Ted with only operating capital.   Gary concluded that the system was simplistic and worked very well,  then noticing a  red and white 1957 Chevrolet pulling up to the pumps,  ‘oh well’  thought Gary,  ‘one last customer’, having neglected to turn of the station lights  then realizing that this was no ordinary car.
      Both walking out to the pumps where this new arrival set idling,  Gary and Ted immediately recognizing the driver, it was Gary McArthur whom Ted and the Teen knew but hadn’t seen since  McArthur’s Castlemont graduation  in January.   McArthur having been a member of the Bishops, an outstanding high school service club composed of car enthusiast,  but the later membership having difficulties, the  school putting the club on probation,  the reason was never disclosed  but it was rumored that it had something to do with missing hub caps.

Alan Roemer, Gary McArthur & Bishops Club President Jim Pratt

Alan Roemer, Gary McArthur & Bishops Club President Jim Pratt

     Gary looking closer at this 1957 shining example of craftsmanship, its polished body gleaming in the soft glow of the stations lights,  standing  poised like a thoroughbred.  It was identical to the 57 Chevrolet posted on all the billboards across the nation and television as entering and winning the competitive Pikes Peak Race the annual 12 mile, 156 turns,  prestige’s race up the Colorado Peak.   Gary couldn’t believe what he heard next from McArthur, ” This is the car that was in the race”.    He went on to explain that the company he worked for,  Bruce’s Tire Company,  had purchased the car from Chevrolet for display  an  advertisement purposes,  also saying with a tone of indulgence,  he would enter it in competition at Vacaville.   Gary was aware of the drag strip at Vacaville and the planned new raceway soon to be constructed.  

57 Chevy fuel injected 283 V8

57 Chevy fuel injected 283 V8

     The was  hood raised,  it was the first time the Teen viewed a Chevy 283 fuel injected engine,  understanding  it was the first year for Chevrolet  used  fuel injections on their V8’s.  McArthur explaining,  in reality, it wasn’t strictly a stock model,  that Chevrolet having changed the rear end gear ratio, but manufacturing enough models with that gear ratio  to justify a stock designation.   Gary walked around looking inside expecting a plush interior,   stepping back,  discovering the  interior was stripped of all normal seats  and fitted with a framework of welded steel  forming a roll cage that encompassed the interior.   A single seat occupying the space behind the steering wheel and a stock dashboard, but with specially mounted cluster of  gauges.   The young teen was taken aback,  this definitely wasn’t  a car for cruising.
          “Get in”   were the words spoken by Gary McArthur to Gary and without hesitation the teenager open the door and then stopped.  No where to sit,  no seats and nothing to grasp or hold onto in front.   McArthur motioned towards the back,  saying to “hunch down and hold on to the roll-bar”,  the youth grasping the metal bar traversing across  behind the driver’s seat.   Gary squatting on the back portion of the floorboard,  raising up enough to see over the dash and have a good view of the road.   The car progressing onto Mountain Blvd.,  the youth  reflecting on his surroundings, the adrenalin flowing as absorbed the aura from the inside this icon of a car.   For an instant he wished that this moment could be capture for visual prosperity,  to be persevered for the agnostic to see.   The car idled down Mountain Blvd. to Homes Ave,  making a  U-turn and came to a stop, the distance between Holmes Ave. and Shone Ave. on Mountain Blvd., the teenagers measured quarter-mile.     Gary was savoring the moment,  the tires screamed and the Chevy exploded forward,  he grasped the roll bar as the G-force ever-increasing,  grasping him in its clutches, pulling him backwards.  He glanced at the speedometer as they neared the intersection of Shone,  it was registering 90 mph.    McArthur shifted into second gear,  the tires squealed again,  the car continuing to rocket down the highway.   He watched   the needle max-out the inscribed 120 mph speedometer.  With compression backing the car down,  Gary felt like a hundred pounds had been release from pulling him  backwards, the journey lasting less than a mile.  The car making a U heading back to the station, Gary concluding,  the ride may have ended,  but the memory would remain.

Earthshaking History 5.3……..#57 (the 50’s)

April 28, 2010
Lewis and Clark Expedition

Lewis and Clark Expedition

       History in school was elementary, the Teen having been grounded in history all of  his exogenous years,  his Mother deep-seating  him in the charting  of the past with the introduction of historical novels, both fiction and none fiction at a very young age.   Gary having discovered the reading of history in novel-form lead to an inquisition of passages’ and an audit of written events providing a never-ending journey of exploration.   School instruction of  historical accounts were never in-depth,  but did present an overview of the timeline.   The Teen enjoying American History,  especially three years prior in Miss Bonham’s eighth grade junior high class presentation of California history, and even finding the abbreviated historical  deliberation of the founding and settlement of the City of Oakland interesting.

 Margaret Lamping - Biology and American History Teacher

Margaret Lamping – Biology and American History Teacher

       Miss.  Lampings’ eleventh grade first semester American History Class parallel past learning sessions,  beginning with the founding of the nation and culminating with the civil war.   The class participation timeline having fought and  won the battle of the revolutionary war and elected George Washington as the first president of the new constitutional country of the United States of America.   Subsequently,  Thomas Jefferson is now the current president,  having just purchasing  over 800,000 square  miles of land from the French,  rightfully  designated as the Louisiana purchase.   The class was instructed to submit a paper or oral report on a historical person or event thus far experienced in this historical travel thru time.   Gary was considering the two options,  long ago having made a homework discovery,  the insertion of illustrations in a course paper tended to contribute to a better grade.   His other alternative was more demanding,  but could attain a higher resolve  if properly structured,  it was an oral report, a standup presentation before the class.   Gary having previously attended  the Charleston Heston movie,  “The Far Horizon”,   the story of Lewis & Clark expedition,  Miss Lampings history class progress coinciding with the theatrical presentation release,  the movies impression still abiding,  the decision was made, an oral report.

Scene from the movie The Far Horizon's

Scene from the movie The Far Horizon’s

       Gary was ready,  having prepared a large map outlining the path of the expedition to be hung on the blackboard,  using color map marker pins to highlight different locations of interest,  with formable information  about each.  With his mounted display and notes in hand,  standing before the class ready to transport his classmates on this exploratory campagne with Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.  The  journey From St. Charles Missouri commenced, the expedition continuing until  the winter weather set in, enabling  the  constructing of Fort Mandan in North Dakota.  The oral report was progressing  when Mother Nature intervened. 

seimograph reading

seismograph reading

       It started with a very familiar sound,  the rumbling having only one meaning,  issuing a warning  before what would evolve.  Gary discerning the movement of the room,  its contents in  fluctuation,  time seeming to come to a standstill,  the building and surroundings giving a deepening moaning cry as if suddenly awakened from inactivity,  sounding an objection to the disturbance.  The classroom inheriting a rhythmic motion that intensified, Gary,  noticing the alarmed look on Miss Lampings face,  her eyes widened,  Gary could sense she wanted to react, but stood frozen as if waiting for instructions.  Looking across the room,  many of the  students attempting to huddle beneath their desk,  other rising with a confused hesitant look questioning whether to remain or exit.  The earths accension continuing for what seemed like a an endless duration before coming to a halt,  for a brief moment an eerie silence prevailed,   followed by the clamor of nervous voices.   Notification soon  followed,  classes would be suspended for the remainder of the school day to make an assessment of earthquake damage to  the building.   Gary concluding,  his oral report was earth-shaking.

Propaganda Class…………….#56 (the 50’s)

April 27, 2010
Memorable first year on the school newspaper "Ye Castle Crier"

Memorable first year on the “Ye Castle Crier”

            No more high school english,  it was News I & II  in the eleventh grade and publications in the twelfth,  the quest as a Journalism major having commenced.   Gary’s interest in the school newspaper wasn’t  limited to attaining his goal of becoming the sports  editor,  his query of journalism was more in-dept than reporting an event and he expected  this class to be a conduit to leaning the structure of written expression.   The Teen soon discovering journalism study wasn’t about writing,  but about perception,  determination,  separation and accumulation.    This novice student sensing a new prospective was about to unfold.     Gary was astonished,  he hadn’t expected this,  only twelve students in the News I class,  never having realized  let alone been subject to a class so small.   The current Ye Castle Crier Publications Class was substantially larger with thirty-one staff members.   Remaining astonished,  finding the class instructor Mr Christiansen introducing  himself as Chris,  preferring the journalism class address him by his nick name, his regular english classes s addressing him as Mr. Christiansen.   Gary decidedly finding a place of residency,  a champion assignment,  an environment  of social,  political and entertainment activity, the journalism class opening doors to exhilarate a   world of discovery.

Mr. Roland Christiansen - Journalism Instructor

Mr. Roland Christiansen – Journalism Instructor

       The syllabus for the News Class differentiated from the Publication class,  News Class subject matter included,  terminology,  the five “W”s & a H in reporting (what, when,  where,  who,  why and how) and the insertion of Watch Words.   It was Watch Words that intrigued the Teen.   Chris explaining how to recognize interpolation,  the reading between the lines and the use of opinionated adjectives, watch words,  to slant  a factual sentence in an opposite direction, but stressing that true journalism was  writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.  The class examined various newspapers from different region of the country,  finding examples of influence in all the periodicals.   A strict rule of journalism was supposed to be adherent, no opinion unless stamped with a  by-line, but with the political atmosphere and the rising of socialist,  communists the fringe opinion seemed to prevailing in the days press ,  the rule being overlooked or lost on its trip to a publisher.   Rather than judge what he perceived  he thought it was more suitable to observe, and as a  new journalism students,  Gary sensed a hierarchy was present within the senior publication staff.   Gary was somewhat critical of the sports editor Gordon Reitman, a non-sports enthusiast, questioning his position and reporting assignments, considering the Crier sports page bland,  like the daily city publications  it was nothing more than another statistic page.   He believe it needed personality,  concluding  that the sport arena was overflowing with unrecognized athletic student persona,  it just needed to be publicized. 

Upper classmen sports editor Gordon Reitman

Upper classmen sports editor Gordon Reitman

Mr. Ernest Sparakis - alias Tennisshoe Ernie

Mr. Ernest Spirakis – alias Tennis shoe Ernie

       The Cub Edition of the Crier, the sole responsibility of the beginning news class was in the composing stage and would go to press the following week.   Gary volunteered to attend and write about the Varsity vs Facility basketball game.   The teen realized  his big opportunity and applied for a by-line on his sports article enabling him to  editorialize his game reporting.   He was determined to resist writing a sports column about the game containing only statistics.   Ernest Spirakis was Gary’s Chemistry teacher and in his room,  hanging in perpetuity by the door  was a pair of tennis shoes.   Every Friday Mr. Spirakis would make an announcement asking the owner to come forth and remove them,  and every Friday there was  no results.   Gary jump-shot his faculty basketball story with the cap (headline),  “Tennis Shoe Ernie Scores”.   The article having student antidotes about Mr. Spirakis and other faculty team members,  all mentioned  in good taste.  The article being  the talk of the school,  the sports writer knew,  this was a good beginning.

Mrs. Astrid Laws - Gary's study hall supervisor

Mrs. Astrid Laws – Gary’s study hall supervisor

Yvonne Siedl feature page editor

Yvonne Siedl feature page editor

     The Ye Castle Crier newspaper office was across the hall from Chris’s regular classroom,  it was small with two long tables end to end and two rows of typewriters, the office unoccupied most of the time.   Gary once on the Publication Staff  discovered  it most convenient to no longer use his hallway locker on the other side of the building,  the room providing a home for his sack lunch,  books and papers.   The aspiring journalist  achieved another small reward,  convincing Mrs Laws his third period Study Hall Supervisor that as a sports writer his time could be better spent in the Crier office and her being a P.E. instructor,  she concurred.   Lunch period in the newspaper office followed study hall with his regularly  scheduled News Class,  he accumulated a significant amount of his school day in the Crier’s office which also enabled him to jump-start his other studies, namely homework.   The Teen began to submit other stories relating to school news, presenting a  number of  imaginative prose to the feature page editor for publication,  but soon discovering after her editing,  the focus of the story was  totally lost.   He approached Chris about this subject and other frustrations,  hoping for some understanding , instead of comprehension he received an explanation,  from it Gary concluded, that in the newspaper business there is a hierarchy  it’s called an Editor.

Vocational Conclusion………..#55 (the 50’s)

April 26, 2010
High School Auto Shop

High School Auto Shop

        Entering the high school vocational shop,  the Teen’s first impression was the automotive smell.   Having completed a first semester of mechanical drawing,  wood,  sheet metal, and  forge shop, during his 8th and 9th grade’s at Frick Junior High,  this class would be his final school vocational effort.   Participating in a semester of Auto Shop to familiarize the basic essentials and add to his already acquired knowledge of the craft.   Most of the students were underclassmen,  but that was understandable as he had declined an earlier opportunity during his first semester at Castlemont to enroll.   The teen breaking stride with his classmate acquaintances and ventured down a different caliber path.  The collegium requiring work apparel, which each student was required to purchase.   When donning the apparel,  sporting the Big Ben coveralls trademark,  once suited noticing a silence prevailed in the classroom and an atmosphere of professionalism seem  to engulf the group.   Gary interpreted the outerwear garment would symbolize a pronouncement of assertive recognition.

Mr Marinelly’s Auto Shop retained the same odor as Fletcher’s Signal Station, one of oil and the solvent used for cleaning.  Like all vocational studies,  the course would start with a classroom  study before getting the students hands begrimed with the extracts associated with the automotive endeavor,  but this was expected.   The class instruction started with the principle of the internal combustion engine and then propagated to its exponents,  the makeup and function of the electrical system,  battery to spark plugs,  the fuel system,  gas tank to carburetor, the drivetrain and all concerning parts  in between.  The Teen inhaled a host of enlighten answers to long unanswered questions.   It was his first introduction to the stator,  rotor and basis of field generation motors and unlike some in the class found everything interesting.   It would be six weeks before commencing the hands-on aspect of the class and a disappointment to some. The only letdown inhibited by Gary was, that the transmission functions were part of a second semester’s  curriculum.

Mr. Marinelly Auto Shop Instructor

Mr. Marinelly Auto Shop Instructor

Gary was no stranger to laboring on a car,  he could readily knew the function of a specific part but now the mystery of its workings was revealed.   His time at working with high school graduate Ted at Fletcher’s Signal Station, enabled him to be party to his friends of his age and their conversations enable a discernment to the automotive hot rod world.   Gary having experience 27 metal pan screws that fastened the oil pan on a 41 Chevrolet pickup,  having counted them, his Dad having held the pan so he could get them started.   It wasn’t his favorite pastime, helping  Dad,  but ever since the 39 DeSoto needed a rod replacement,  he was elected.   His main objection wasn’t the assisting,  it was the timing that the teen objected to, it was always a weekend when  Dad decided to become a mechanic.

The class finally reached the annum to  dwell into the mechanics of the engine and to some in the class there was disappointment,  all the motors were Chrysler product build flat-head six cylinder engines  mounted on  stands.   Mr. Marinelly was adamant on the subject of safety and rumor circulated, during a previous class,  a student failed to torque a rod bearing  properly and the rod exited thru the side of the engine block nearly injuring someone.  The students were paired into teams and the instruction commenced,  learning to set the timing 5 degrees before TDC,  replacing the points in the distributor,  adjusting the carburetor and finally getting disassemble parts of  the engine, exposing  cylinders and valves.   Gary was compulsive in his work,  and similar to his other vocational shops finding the learning experience fulfilling but recognized that he lacked the patience required of a good skilled mechanic but felt comfortable as the final grading period approached with the final exam was on the horizon.

Dodge flathead six

The Teenager and his assistant, it was how Gary silently referred to the other half of the two-man team,  having no difficulty completing the first of the two-part final.   The first part was basic, remove the carburetor and the adjustment screws.  The second part was to  pull the pan, removing the bottom half of a rod bearing cap and insert.   Inserting a gauging strip, replacing the cap and insert,  torquing the rod nuts to the required tolerance,  then  removing  it once again, measuring the gauging strip for tolerance and a final replacement of the cap and insert.  The achievement of measuring the tolerance of the insert and assembly was 50% of their final grade.   The second half would be determined by the number of attempts it took for the engine to start upon total assembly.   Gary having come to the conclusion the real test would be replacing the carburetor air and fuel adjustment screws settings good enough so the engine would start and idle.  It was no surprise, the class finding that no engine started the first time.   The start test grade was determined by when the engine started,   ” A +”  if on the first try,  “A” on the second,  “A-” ,   then descending down to “F”.   The course completed,  Gary confirmed his mechanical skills were suitable, his “A-” a result of having marked the adjustment screws and counting the number of turns when removing them.

His automotive class experience provided the confidence of a measurable shade tree mechanic,  knowing that desire trumps knowledge when acquiring a skill.

Bounteous Contours………….#54 (the 50’s)

April 25, 2010
Lake Chabot Golf Course

Club House at Lake Chabot Golf Course

Gary was at a lost to explain the encounter, life having suddenly become somewhat boring,  it was a new experience.   His continuance was lacking drive and apparently having stalled,  doldrums having become habit having arrived occupying his very existence.  Something was needed to awaken and energize his inner spirit and renew the engagement of inquisition giving closure to this preoccupation stalemate.   School and its aftermath was  time consuming,  but it didn’t galvanize any exciting avocations.   Family concourse and participation was autogenic, never-changing.    His continuance with visits to San Francisco, the planetarium,  as with his attendance at the Little Men Science  Fiction conclave still left a vacuum to his quintessence.   He found some enthusiasm in attending his friend Hank Balls’ participation in Junior Varsity basketball,  but it was short-lived,  Hank suffering the detriment of a broken arm,  occurring during practice and it put an end to his presence on the team.  Gary sufficed with nothing kinetic foreseen on the horizon, he patronized the lack of substance, reminding himself that patience is a virtue,  but what he desired wasn’t patience, but an ingredient to rid this sense of apathy.

Best Friend - Hank Ball

Best Friend – Hank Ball

Benediction comes in many forms,  but an unforeseen endowment is paramount,  his best friend Hank having acquired a car.   This acquisition was actuated by Hanks dad,  but the initiator was of no consequence,  only the result,  transportation was at hand and that changed the  modus operandi for the two Teens.   Gary never having the responsibility of automotive indulgence soon realized the number one requirement for administering it was a financial one,  gas money, the two boys realizing that the internal combustion engine requires fuel and that necessitates monetary substance,  which the two having limited resources.   Gasoline was purchased by the gallon and patrons normally would purchase amounts of 5 or 10 gallons,  or fill their tank.   On occasion it wasn’t unusual to find  the two teenagers pooling their resources and buying as little as 22 cents worth of gas,  especially after one of their extended trips,  commonly known as cruising.

The view of Oakland/San Francisco from Lake Chabot Gold Course

The view of Oakland/San Francisco from Lake Chabot Golf Course

Ned Bellinger - A golf pro in training

Ned Bellinger – A golf pro in training

Chabots 676 yard Par 6 18th hole

Chabot’s 676 yard par 6 – 18th hole

Ned Bellinger was on the Castlemont Golf Team,  Gary being acquainted with the red-haired golf enthusiast younger classmen and was just made aware that Hank had been introduced to the game by Ned.   Gary deciding to join the two at Lake Chabot Golf Course,  the eighteen hole public golf course bordering lake Chabot.     When first starting this sporting endeavor,  the teens were without clubs,  but finding inexpensive club rentals were available and this collection of miscellaneous used heritage clubs could be purchased.   The Club House Management consisted of Mr Fry and Mr. Ross, Gary discovering that Fry was a by the book person, whereas Ross took an interest in the teens ambition to golf.   proclaiming that the collection of miscellaneous used heritage clubs could be purchased.   Gary taking advantage of the bargain price acquiring ownership of  two woods, four irons and a putter and a well used bag.  The teens finding an untapped experience, never having attempted to pendulate the different enumerated irons and woods and discovering it was more than a novice participants game, but one requiring exacting skill and personal attributes of discipline, confidence, ability.   The two novice were  immediately diligent and appreciative to the instructional discourse given by Ned who had obtained not only the knowledge but had  already acquired a professional aptitude for the game

First set of used clubs, old but a bargain

First set of used clubs, old but a bargain

Hank and Gary endeavored to hone their sparse skills and with Hanks new-found transportation, extending an invitation to Don Bryant to joined them.   The teens becoming golf enthusiast, but soon discovering that depending on who was behind the counter at the clubhouse could make it be cost prohibiting.   Mr. Fry was a stickler for charging the teens if they were to tee off from the first tee, whereas  Mr. Ross, who was most congeal , mentioned that because of the lateness of the day they could skip coming by and  start at the No. 10  tee out of sight of the clubhouse and play the back nine.   Gary suspected that Fry wasn’t privy to  Ross’s conversation.  Mr. Ross also mentioned that if the teenagers were interested there sometimes was a shortage of caddies and ball retrievers on weekends.  The teens taking heed of two primary opportunities , the first was retrieving balls from the marked driving range area.  Unlike a commercial driving range, Chabot utilized a hillside marked section of the course and upon contracting  buckets of ball for use, the golfer would be responsible for retrieving and returning them to the clubhouse,  not always but often the golfer would hirer a retriever, but what really interested the Hank and Gary was to caddy.  The procedure involved arriving  before weekend tee-off time,  signing up on the caddy list and unlike Private or Country Club  courses that had a caddy master,  Chabot left it up to the person announcing the names for the tee off times.    Gary and Hank soon discovering that because they were  the newest and  also the youngest they were usually the last to be called as most golfer wanted the same caddy every weekend,  but this didn’t defer their enthusiasm.  The reimbursement  for a three or four-hour round of golf, the time depending on the number of participants,  ranged between five and eight dollars, the amount at the discretion of the golfer.  Hank at over six-foot of stature  was able to carry doubles, something that Gary never envied because of the weight of the larger bags, many of the weekend duffer having over sixteen clubs but using only seven and realized the gratuity sometimes was  based on the results of the golfers round.   The teen concluding that this new-found endeavor was business with pleasure,  finding the two raising early Saturday and Sunday mornings to meet the golfing world, Gary reasoning benediction can come in bounteous contours.

Dynamite Power………………#53 (the 50’s)

April 24, 2010
Findings by the case

Findings by the case

  The aromatic evergreen shrubs endemic to California was botanically known as Chamacbatia Foliolosa and was prevalent in the lower Sierra beneath the Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir but was commonly referred to all as Mountain Misery.   Gary could tolerate the creosote like smell  and  gummy resin texture foliage,  but the adverse consequence of a dry dusty surroundings made for an uncomfortable carnal environment.   The only available water for cleansing at the family Sierra retreats prospective building site two miles from the  highway #88  waystop of Pioneer was from the free flowing spring exiting an abandon mine about 200 yards down what was an old bulldozed logging road.  These first trips to the Sierra retreat erecting the prefab storage and makeshift sleeping platform were spent clearing the area of brush,  mountain misery and never ending raking of years of accumulated pine needles.

Mountain Misery

Mountain Misery

Gary and his inherent sister Nancy were on a discovery  mission, the two gaining access, proceeding down the once navigable dirt road toward the abandoned mine passing what appeared to be small storage structure resting against the hillside bank among some shrubs, Gary having given it no notice past but this time pausing.  Approaching the small storage structure finding it empty, but behind it was a four-foot opening accessing the hillside. Having to stoop, the two entering the hillside cauldron,  discovering what appeared to be the beginnings of a mine, but the recess abruptly ended, but what caught their attention were wooden boxes.  Upon examination finding the boxes accommodating several 1 X 8 inch paraffin covered tubes, Gary immediately suspecting in all probability it was dynamite.  Having heard his parents talk about history of this parcel of land and a man named Dozier who was the owner, his family  having inaugurated settlement in this area generations ago and was responsible for many of the mining endeavors and  he still resided  in the vicinity.

Remains from a previous era

The discovery filed away to highlight this venture when returning the two continued down the access pass the mine.  Branching off on a deer trail hidden in the wooded landscape they discovered the remains of a cabin,  long since removed from service and blending with the generations of wildness surrounding  it.   Most of it long departed, but the walls of this domain still at attention, baring witness to its seasoned past. The cabin would be worth researching for evidence of its genealogical history,  acknowledging that in the past,  one person’s discard,  could be another’s treasure.  Gary determine that the cabin area retained refuse of yesterdays contents, and might be productive.  Before commercial logging was instigated,  gold was perceived to be the only presence of value in this domain, the teen able to recognized the billboard signs of  past mining activities.  The tale-telling sign of tailings,  which can be  easily deduced on the sloping hillside from their deposit embodiment.   He searched the foreground of the tailing at the cabin site looking for signs of penetrating or collocation activity in the hillside,  meaning  a  possible mine entrance and without a dobout now hidden.  The effort was to no avail.

On the return up the sloping ascent,  approaching their only water source,  they stopped at their aqueous sourcing  mine, indulging in the cool water.   Gary again taking notice what appeared to be rails sunken below the water that trailed  out of the mine,  the rail  ties having rotted away in by-gone-years.   He removed his footwear and enter the horizontal quarry,  without light he could only travel a short distance.   The blatant odor and darken dampness accounting from the mine presented a contemporaneous aura of deja vu as if expecting an encounter.   He paused straining  to visualize what lay behind the dark void,  but to no conclusion.    He would traverse another time with another  light source,  save the flow of  his compassion.

Gary concluded this first trip revealed the unlimited prospect for seeking the undiscovered.  Aware of previous expeditions searching expecting redemption thru mineral acquisition in this world but like many failing to administer spiritual acceptance  for the next.   Gary reasoned,  dynamite is not the only power that can move mountains.

Menagerie of Patrons…………#52 (the 50’s)

April 23, 2010
Dino & Loretta's Steiner St. residence

Dino & Loretta’s Steiner St. residence

It was a Sunday and a San Francisco phone call served the Willson’s noticed that the 1949 Cadillac Fleetwood would soon be arriving with Gary’s Aunt Loretta, Uncle Dino and their array of the pilferers of plunder.   Dino Tognozzi seldom traveled without an entourage composed of a group representing the menagerie of patrons from his Van Ness Ave drinking establishment, Dino’s No. 13  Club in San Francisco.   Uncle Dino not only provided the food, but his group sometime glisten with enlightened entertainment too.   Dino was an excellent Chef, preferring to import his own cuisine when visiting,  the San Francisco cartel would always provide a pasta appropriation, but that’s not what delighted Gary and his sister’s,  it was the imported soiree of luncheon meats,  the array of cheeses and the ciabatta, baguette, including penelle breads.   To the young family who dwelled on tuna fish and peanut butter sandwiches for their school sack lunches, this was a gourmet experience.   It could be said as was the quality so was the quantity,  upon the group’s departure a host of remnants remained for lunches channeling into the next week.   Gary’s mother was dismayed the first few time the guest  arrived, having performed the hostess duty  preparing a large Sunday afternoon meal as was the tradition in the Willson household,  only to have it displace by the culinary celebration arriving from across the bay.    Gary and his sister’s were never disappointed over the adjustment in the Sunday afternoon menu, looking forward to a gourmet surprise..

Dino’s 49 Cadillac Fleetwood

Dino, Loretta, Dino’s son Sylvia, wife Jackie in Italy

Gary having been privy to his parents discussions concerning Dino’s financial stability, aware that Dino own a Villa in Montecatini Italy, San Francisco investments properties and was acquaintances with the Iconic San Francisco Alioto family.   The teenager always picture his Uncle as Chicago underworld figure moved west, although he was from Detroit, mainly because of his Italian appearance, broken English and the association with the Alioto’s,  who have Silesian ancestry, but to a teenager it was more like fantasy speculation.   In addition to his Aunt Loretta,  Dino’s entourage includes two of the regulars, Chief, a retired Naval Petty Officer whose appearance  and size made him suspect as a bouncer, but was very congenial when visiting.   Chief would often visit a friend at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital a quarter-mile foray during his stay.   The other regular being Dave McCurdy,  a pleasant-looking somewhat elderly person,  who sometime tended bar but also accepted most of the business operating responsibility.   Another returning visitor was Jimmy,  an over-the-hill vaudeville  performer from a bygone era.   Jimmy was a slight person, his specialty was tap, only most often he was without his dancing shoes having deposited them at the brokerage firm that exchanged money for merchandise, better known as a pawn shop.   Gary having witnessed Jimmy’ performance at his uncle’s establishment to the delight of those in attendance, hoofing to supply his need for liquid beverage.   The last person of the festive group was a bosom,  rather large blonde haired middle age lady with ruby-red lipstick and pancake make-up.   Gary making the observation that  her appearance was similar to many of the ladies frequenting the saloons in western movies,  but he adjudge she wasn’t a movie star, not venturing to question what she did for a living.

Dino, Loretta, Dino’s son Sylvia, wife Jackie in Italy

The assembly never stayed long and their presence presented the teen a perspective that abounded in futurity,  concluding that to Uncle Dino and the visitors, their Sunday afternoon  was an escape from the binding engagement of their  profession that sometimes included catering to a communal dissident order who frequented the Bowery of  San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue.  Gary surmising that everyone needs a breath of fresh air.

Inflicted Deception……..#51 (the 50’s)

April 22, 2010

Mr. Larry Darling

Gary experiencing a hundred and eighty degree difference between first semester english teacher Larry Darling and second semester english teacher Marian Petray.  “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”.  Sir Walter Scott  assertiveness didn’t have high school studies or homework in mind when he penned the famous quote.  The circumstance that occurred in the second semester weren’t drafted as a plot to  deceive, but more of a happenstance,  because deception is planned and calculated or so thought the fifteen year old Castlemont High student.   A convenience was a more descriptive designation of why this had transpired.   With high school studies,  assigned homework,  the pursuit of employment,  a growing list of priorities confronted him, This event made Gary realizing  it was time to organize his activities.

Mr. Darling’s english class besides being his first period and home room  was unlike any class the young man had yet experience.   Mr. Darling was also Castlemonts drama  instructor, his classroom being a stage and the students all having walk on parts.   The Instructor was very demonstrative in class subject matter and presentations, one could find the same small elite group of students participating in class discussion and response, Gary having a suspicion they were all auditioning for future drama parts.   The English assignments were always brief, involving  little or no homework.  The teen attributing the assignment leniency to Mr. Darling’s overwhelming commitment to the drama department.  Gary’s optimism concerning Mr. Darlings class was not underestimated,  it was more of a drama class,  with readings of literature and actual drama enactments rather than productive english grammar instruction,  all to the delight of the students.

10th grade required reading..

10th grade required reading..

The second semester of english discovering Mrs. Petray  class a totally different portrayal of studies.  Gary having noted from his friends Hank and Don about the reputable Mrs. Petray and this very thick,  boring, classic literature novel assigned as required reading and discussion for her class.   When  handed the book, Gary was astonished, A Tale  Of  Two Cities by  Charles Dickens, the  classic that frequented Mrs. Funnells bookcase in his 9th grade junior high Latin Class.   Gary, during latin studies having taken the liberty to borrow and read  “Two Cities” and “David Copperfield”  which also was occupying the  bookcase next to his desk  during that final semester of latin.  Mrs. Petray was disciplined about the reading, every student  required to submit a list of prospective books to read and  submit at least two book reports for each report card period from their list.  Gary being  an avid reader, concluding the english class requirement wouldn’t be a problem,  but soon discovering other studies occupying a good portion of his school evening homework time and with weekend activities he found he had the desire but not the time to readily explore the world of literature as before.

Main Public Library on 14th St. in Oakland

Main Public Library on 14th St. in Oakland

The Youth was normally  punctual with  his book report assignments,  but on this occasion overlooking an assignment due date, discovering he failed to finish the book let alone write a book report for Mrs. Petray’s class which was due in the morning.   This the first time  but not the last that he would call upon innovation to prevail to tender and turn in a  synopsis of a novel  to the tenth grade english teacher on the due date for grading.   It was only later when Mrs. Petray approached Gary, addressing him about scheduling a conference.   The day arriving, Gary entering the vacant English Class trying to conceal a look of consternation as he approached,  but it was futile.   He could discern from her expression,  his well disguised work of convenience was finally exposed.   She was subtle,  complimenting him on his well written book reports and then the subject turned detrimental.    She revealed,  while grading student’s book reports, she would sometimes find interest in a novel and a desire to read it,  but discovering the last book Gary had written about was not to be found, adding that even with continued research,  to the point of  inquiring  at Oakland’s Main Downtown Library,  was to no avail.   She confirmed what Gary suspected, having discovered, some of his book reports were factious.   Gary’s literary documentation was always very inclusive listing the  publisher,  copyright and revision dates,  author,  but there was a truism, the arresting storyline always regarded something the aspiring author desired to pen  in the future.  Mrs Petray admonition  was  stern,  but a commiseration   filtered through,  complimenting on his captive pretense,  but giving no quarter to his endeavor.

The Teen was not consumed by the discovery,  discerning this would be his final high school english class,  an enrollment in an alternative  journalism class and the school newspaper where a belletristic talent would be welcomed.  Gary reasoned,  Sir Walter Scott was correct, deception can be self inflicting.

Hidden Treasure………………#50 (the 50’s)

April 21, 2010
Pioneer, once called Pioneer Station in another era.

Pioneer, once called Pioneer Station in another era.

 The journey from Oakland to Jackson, the town being the county seat of Amador County, situated in the heart of the mother lode ,  a gateway to the gold country claims filed by the prospectors of a bygone era, the drive taking about  2 hours.   Gary realizing the family stops at the real estate office in Ione,  a small hamlet on highway #88 just before descending  into Jackson were more than coincidental.  The family having tentatively come to an agreement on a piece of property in a recently opened section of east of Jackson on #88 towards Kit Carson Pass named after one of the icons of western history.  The ensuing journey east with its rising elevation and the majestic tree shrouded Sierra’s painting a picture, the roads winding upward travel making the two lane highway seemed longer than 16 miles.  Their destination  culminating at what the teen consider a wide-spot in the road,  the town of Pioneer and from all appearances the village  looked to be nothing but a  way-stop for those traveling to and fro from the high country of the Sierra Nevada range and eastward on to  Nevada.    The roadside business encompassing a curio shop,  service station,  small general store on one side of the highway and on the other side the tired remains of the old Pioneer Station,  now an adult  beverage dispensing establishment and a small US post office.

Ground covering blanket of Pine Needles

Ground covering blanket of Pine Needles

The property the youths parents  acquired was about three miles from the stagecoach-stop of a town, in a secluded section bordering on what was said to be federal land property.  The family meeting with a representative of the realty company,  Gary watching as the real estate agent paced off the property boundary,  observing  as the man journeyed over the ground covered blanket of pine needles, residue from years of shedding, the agent marking trees to designate the property line.   The observant teen pondering a question , when a professional survey was  performed would the results be within reason of the tree markings?   He wasn’t alone with his questioning, his Dad getting assurance from the agent that he had done this before and that his marking would pretty much hold true.   Gary very much aware of his Dad’s dream and  long time desire to build a cabin retreat away from the bustle of city life and especially the throes of its populace.  Standing before his new-found surroundings the young man inhaled the ambiance of the secluded area,  the pines,  douglas fir,  red cedar and madrone, tall sentinels all standing watch over their domain.   He perceived the gold country lore,  knew of the history, the past invasion,  the many who had humbled themselves beneath the wilderness with its forest canopy, the youth was ready to renew the effort of those before him and search out its hidden treasure.

One could feel the stillness and solitude of this wilderness, an atmosphere of  isolation, the  property without amenities having  no source of electricity,  water,  or sanitation facility, its only access  a narrow dirt road bulldozed at some point in history.  There was a sense of adventure, an ere of the  previous inhabitants of a by-gone era,  those itinerant individuals of a hundred years ago prospecting, laboring for a bonanza to provide a station in life.   The introductory weekend finding the  family spending the night in Pine Grove, returning in the morning for an agenda of exploration and discovery during this initial visit. Upon discovering what appeared  to be a widen path or road nearby, following it down  they came upon the remains of past mining sites and a most needed treasure,  a free-flowing water source just a quarter-mile away.  A spring running out of an old abandoned mine on the side of the hill,  someone in the past  having positioned a pipe into the flowing water, the pipe extending out over the mines tailings and below, a person could kneel beneath the available  flowing water from the pipe.  Gary sampling the very cold water, discovering it having a mineral taste, the family deciding to supply their own drinking water, but there would be other uses for mother nature’s provision.   The  accommodation of temporary sanitation would be remedied, but electricity was out of the question,  Gary’s Dad’s improvement agenda would be measured in years rather than months.   The family’s newly acquired project was somewhat aloof,  there being no time-table or schedule,  a  weekend visit at the most once a month or six weeks during late spring thru early fall, the winter months prohibitive because of the snow.    Gary’s  dad  prefabricated  a large shed at the family’s home in Oakland,  its purpose was to house tools, a sheltered sleeping area, when completed to be  transported and erected .  It was a beginning,  Father and Son, the two venturing to make a wilderness inhabitable, Gary’s sisters and mom joining the two on many occasions.

40 chevy 4 speed pickup

41 Chevy 4 speed pickup


A recently purchased 1941 pickup soon found added responsibility with its new family.   It wasn’t a street attractive pickup,  it was working truck with a heavy-duty bed and a four speed non synchromesh transmission giving it stature, and very able in transporting material to the sierra site .   Father and son having made a trip with the prefab shed, during the assembly they needed some additional materials deciding to journey to the small Hamlet of West Point some  twenty miles distance.  Just after entering the turnoff on State #26,  Gary’s Dad halting the pickup on the side of the country road,  opening the driver side door,  walking around to the passenger side,  motioning  for Gary to slide over.   Gary somewhat perplexed couldn’t believe what was verbally delivered next , “It’s your turn  to drive”.    The youth was silent, for the first time in his life he didn’t know what to say.    Gary slid across the seat,  posturing himself behind the steering wheel.   His Father starting to  explaining the how to release the clutch and shift the gears,  Gary never hearing a word,  he knew the shifting pattern and how to double clutch when shifting gears in a non-synchromesh,  having been a student of observation for years,  his truck driving Dad being the visual instructor.   The main concern for the youth wasn’t the mechanical aspect of  making the pickup go,  that wouldn’t be difficult but the  espousing of  judgement,  steering,  where the truck was in relationship to the white line and the meeting of oncoming traffic,  these he never experienced and would be something that could only be acquired as a driver.   He found it  a different situation sitting in the driver’s seat,  this was reality,  not the passenger side pretext, but now focusing,  maintaining his confidence,  this being his first time to demonstrate a yet proven skill and briefly thinking, depending on the outcome,  possibly his last.  Easing the clutch out, the movement began, and with it so did his driving experience, his dad nodding an approval.   With his first time  driving experience under his belt, it would be time for a learner permit, the youth discovering,  responsibility is always being in the driver’s seat.