Archive for January, 2016

Kiowa Manor………..#252 (the 90’s)

January 30, 2016

The recently acquired Kiowa Manor

The summer 1998 bringing a diversification in Gary’s disposition at the Kiowa District Hospital,  Administrator Buck McKinney proposing  the hospital take under their ascendancy the proprietorship of the Kiowa Manor,  a Hunter Care 37 bed skilled nursing facility, the corporate entity going thru a change and closing several Kansas properties.  The Hospital Board of Directors cognizance of a similar situation in Anthony whereas the Anthony Hospital incorporated the Hunter Care nursing facility.  After an open public meeting,  the acquisition process being approved and put in ambulation, McKinney attempting to solicit volunteers from the hospital staff willing to traverse their employment to the Manor,  discovering that not a single employee was willing to leave their employment status at the hospital.

Hanna Watson

Gary after some serious thought volunteered to move to the nursing home, accepting  the safety and maintenance task at the Manor in addition to maintaining  his responsibilities at the hospital.  His first concern was to establishing an office enabling a home for his computer and files,  the only area designated for maintenance was a very small work bench area off the rear entrance door.   A brief search for an unoccupied room was nil but the  discovering  a delightful Hannah Watson offering to share her office.   Hannah was responsible for coding and billing the medicare paperwork for reimbursement  utilizing the 1996 HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).    The Manor, unlike the hospital, hosted a in-house laundry, small but adequate for the facility,  employing a young man with Down’s Syndrome from Medicine Lodge,  the youth chauffeured  by car five days a week,  driven by a staff member of the charitable organization home he was living in.  Gary discovering that  he was sponsored by Susan Luthi with Arrowhead West, a Community Integrated Employment Services (CIE).  The program that  benefits both employees and employers by assisting individuals with disabilities to obtain and keep jobs in the community, while at the same time offering reliable and qualified employees to area businesses.   Buck McKinney in an effort to cut cost for the Nursing Home eliminated the kitchen at the Manor,  requiring Avetta Starzyk and the hospital kitchen to provide the three daily meals.  Gary having to regulate his hours acquiring an additional duty, transporting the meals to the Manor utilizing  the manors electric lift endowed van,  making delivery three times daily during his five-day work week, McKinney’s  daughter Robyn either fulfilling the Manor needs or finding someone for weekends.

Buck McKinney

Robyn McKinney Odell

McKinney and the hospital board coming to a decision to hire a subjective administrator for the Nursing Home.   The ongoing search for an administrator concluded, the Manor staff introduced to the new administrator, Gary having some questioning doubts the board’s selection.    The new administrator in Gary’s realm of thinking was lacking any initiative, mimicking Bucks status quo, McKinney keeping a low public profile and a closed office door.   Gary entering the new manors administrator’s office without knocking,  walking in unexpected, the administrator seated at his desk,  Gary noticing his computer monitor situated behind his desk displaying a Porn web site.  The Administrator immediately began moving his body back and forth of Gary’s line of vision trying to hide the screen with his embodiment.  Gary coming to a stop, with the presentation being displayed on the monitor,  the administrators body movements evidence of his attempted concealment,  Gary  immediately realizing that his surprise entering had intruded upon something he would later regret.   Retreating immediately withdrawing from the room,  knowing that this discovery of the administrators aspersions would someday wreak vengeance and come back to haunt him.

Susan Luthi

An afternoon found Gary coming across Susan Luthi leaving the administrator’s office, Susan approaching saying that he was just the person she wanted to talk to.  She continued with an explanation, that Arrowhead West held an annual recognition dinner in Medicine Lodge to recognize the many handicapped and mentally challenged employees in Barber County for their labors and honor the employers who gave them the opportunity.  Susan relating she had approached the manor administrator had declined to attend and stand be introduced with the youth as his sponsor.  Susan  asking if he could would attend,  with a smile giving Susan assurance of course he would be more than happy to participate.  The night of the event Gary in attendance greeting two other employers he was acquainted with,  Jim Reed from the Kiowa CO OP and Kevin White, the Medicine Lodge Hospital administrator, both having sponsored challenged employees.   Gary seated for dinner with the manor’s  employee and later standing with the down syndrome employee as he received a plaque of recognition for his work accomplishment.  Gary also receiving a plaque of recognition for his attendance in the form of a hug from a thankful Susan Luthi.

 A new maintenance employee was hired, Rory Reed, Gary being told it was hired to make the once abandon large garage outbuilding on the Manor property suitable for use.  Rory’s previous employment was with the Kiowa CO-OP that his father Jim managed, Gary finding that it was good to have a second pair hands at the facility.   With the new administrator and the addition of a new Director of Nursing, he wasn’t the only one who noticed that a different atmosphere prevailed at the manor and of course he realized that the incident of witnessing the porn site could have repercussions.    He sensed a feeling of being watched, also having confrontations with the Manors Director of Nursing, discovering the DON opening  and adjusting the secured thermostats for the facility.   Approaching her,  politely stating that he was responsible for the environmental aspects of the facility and that he would appreciate it if  she would  confine her directives to nursing.

Gay Farney

Lab results are negative

Lab results are negative

A monthly responsibility was conducting and logging a fire drill at both medical facilities, including the clinic,  documenting the sounding of the alarms and the staffs response.   During a morning  drill at the hospital,  Gay Farney,  the Lab Director approached Gary with a concerned look on her face, stating that she had received a call from the Manors administrator  directing her to perform a blood alcohol test on him.  The request raised some suspicion, curious if his recent confrontation  with the Manors DON,  their past disagreements  and  his unexpected walk-in on the Administrator porno-viewing may have given this request meaning.  Gary was comfortable submitting to the lab test,  his concern wasn’t the test results  but the  implication leading to a questionable future.   That evening receiving a phone call from the nursing home administrator apologizing for the administrative misjudgment in asking for the test,  the negative results confirming his aberration.   The administrator stating that  his reasoning for the test was based on statement from the Director of Nursing,  Gary realizing that his tenure at the Nursing Home would not endure, concluding he was now a target for dismissal.


Not A Termination, A Liberation.#252a (the 90’s)

January 29, 2016

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island almost realized

Again the 97 Buick Skylark was traversing the road north to Wichita ,  Mid Continent Airport his point of embarkation,  a United Airlines 737 flight to Chicago O’Hare, then a  flight northeast to Lake Huron and the Tri City (MBS) Airport servicing Midland, Bay City, and his destination Saginaw Michigan.    The traveler journeying to affront an ICQ internet acquaintance whom he had visited with for many months,  a lady of standard whom had recently suffered a major physical difficulty.   Debbie’s occupation,  a transcriber of  recorded court proceedings,   typing the audio transcript  on a computer word processor as a written document,  returning the results to the subscribing court appointed attorneys and other parties.   For some unbeknownst reason her  vision having literally overnight diminished to the point she could no longer decipher the printing on her computer screen,  her circumscribed vision problem now a concern that she would lose her livelihood and source of income.   During her correspondence she related that she had corresponded with her son whom she hadn’t spoken with in years,  the son traveling from Texas arriving, concerned about her health but only accomplished adjusting the resolution of her computer before whisking back to Texas.

Terminal 3 walkway at O’Hare

Tri-City (MBS) Airport – Midland – Bay City – Saginaw


The arrival in Chicago,  O’Hare terminal #3  always enjoyable to Gary,  the underground walkway with the tantalizing chiming stereo sound and the psychedelic lighting giving a presence of entering another world.   He could envisioning the artisans of this production,  unprecedented in their fortitude for this artistic endeavor,  the structure providing a remembrance to all that passed thru it.   His travels continuing,  boarding a 737 for, the Michigan Tri-city Airport and for some reason the lyrics and accompanying memories of the band stopping after playing at a truck stop to eat, a jukebox and the refrain of Lefty Frizzell singing about Saginaw Michigan came to mind.   Disembarking finally meeting Debbie who was accompanied by her friend Vicki who had provided the transportation considering Deb’s recent disability.  Gary was pleased that unlike other inaugural meetings with a new internet acquaintance discovering that their appearance didn’t exactly correspond to a self description or photo was pleasantly surprised that Deb justified the photo she had posted.

Debbie and a Saginaw Michigan Thanksgiving Dinner

The Michigan Thanksgiving was celebrated with a snow covered laden upon the ground,  a norm  for Michigan this time of the year.   The person from Kansas finding the unheralded hostess providing a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and all the trimmings,  her sight not being impaired enough to distract from a kitchen performance.   The following morning the two traversing to the hospital for a scheduled MRI,  hopefully to discover if there were any neurological reasons for her demise vision aspects.  The preliminary results reflecting no neurological problems, but a waiting period for the doctors official reading remained.   Gary having contemplated taking advantage of his Michigan journey to explore the tri-city area and lake front but having never experience the non forecast snowfall from what was called The Lake Effect, when cold air moves over warmer water taking up moisture that later precipitates as snow when the air moves over land, wasn’t too enthused to brave the weather.  Giving it some thought there was inquiring a destination that always intrigued him, one influenced by the movie “Somewhere In Time“  starring Christopher Reeves  and Jane Seymour, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island,  the departure site for the alluring destination on Lake Huron was about a three-hour drive,  but there was a resurgent,  the season for charting an accommodation having just closed.   Further adjustments prevailed as Deb’s car developed a difficulty and would no longer start,  Gary suggesting that they call and have it repaired but Debbie insisted that she knew a mechanic that would take care of it but he wouldn’t be back until after the holiday weekend.  Gary somewhat distressed finding himself stranded in his new acquaintance home, although in good company,  not wanting to be sequestered.

Wichita’s Mid Continent Airport from the air

His return flight date having arrived, his experience was somewhat enlightening, confirming that life provides different meanings to different people, arriving with no expectations and leaving with no expectations,  nothing ventured nothing gained except sharing cordial friendship.   A late arrival by Vicki to transport them to the airport garnished some concern,  the three of them arriving as a final call for departure for Gary’s flight was being announced,  approaching the empty departure gate areas, thankful the ticket agent was still there but discovering his reservation had already been given to a standby.   A hasty conference with the agent, the departure was halted, Gary watched as the stand-by person exited.  Once aboard the 737 remained on the Tri-City taxi way for almost an hour, the Kansas bound traveler convinced the providence had conspired to keep him in Michigan, questioning a stewardess to the reason for the delay, her reply,  the problem wasn’t Tri-City but O’Hare,  traffic was back-up because of the snow developing weather.  Because of the delay Gary thought he would miss his connecting flight, but apparently it too was running late, finally airborne on his final leg to Wichita, from the air Mid-Continent would be a welcome sight.  The 90 mile drive, the newborn winter wheat just starting to flourish,  he couldn’t help but notice it’s green a flourishing contrast to stark naked brown of the Michigan winter.   Gary’s visit to Saginaw Michigan somewhat enjoyable,  his acquaintance with a friend acceptable in many regards,  but realizing a person to person confrontation trumps the written and spoken word.

Manor storage structure

A premonition of Gary’s employment termination was forthcoming with the hiring of Rory Reed for what was thought to be for a special project to install a door and park the manor van in an old facility storage structure behind and across the alley from the Manor that Gary had recommended to be replaced.  Rory a long time employee of the OK Coop managed by his father Jim,  informing Gary that he had given notice at the Coop and would be available to assist in the upcoming projects for the Manor.   It was  the last week of December 1998 and payday when Gary was summoned to the manors administrator’s office, the administrator handing him a check and without an explanation given notice that his employment status was terminated effective immediately.  With all the changes in his life in the last year Gary had already come to a decision if this day should come he wouldn’t question or contest his termination,  not because of a lack valor or justification,  but acknowledging it would be better for all not to add to the reflected heresy of aspersions.  Gary wasn’t surprised that the word of his termination at the hospital had spread among the members of the Apostolic Church and that Ron Allenbach and Tom Farney had already made inquiries on Gary’s behalf for employment elsewhere.   The days following his release were spent waiting on the monetary funds from his  closed 403 hospital retirement account, his termination not a dismissal but a liberation, now able to give thoughts to opening other doors of opportunity, recognizing the world knows no bounds.

A Westward Transposition…………….#253 (the 90’s)

January 28, 2016

Gary and the Buick ready to go west

Gary decision was procreate,  an intuitive sense that maybe it was time to turn another page in the book of life,  a westward challenge was about to be ordained.   The 97 Buick was progressing south on highway #281,  a rambling way to state #58 to enjoin Interstate 40 at Weatherford Oklahoma,  a memorable  town from Gary’s musician days.  The  Interstate  journey beginning,  no ambitious agenda,  just a forbearance of a California destination.  The westward trek on Interstate 40,  the highway having changed,  no longer the memory filled meandering historical Route 66 from the past. Gary discovering an omnipresence,  a ferreting endless expanse of highway before him,  his travel being driven for no personal purpose,  exiting  with no self-proclaimed questionable answer.   Gary’s mind-set attempting to contemplate a purpose, the future a masquerade waiting to be discovered.  The droning sound of the Buick on the soldiery road,  Gary a lone passenger,  passing the landmark acquaintances of  yesteryear,  the scenic aura a melancholy  comfort from the past, but projecting an unknown accolade of the future.  A planned overnight stop in Albuquerque abated, the evening hour still a fledgling,  a decision to press onward to Gallup before halting for the night.   With darkness beginning to prevail,  a welcome Motel Room to rest and replenish, a renewed  aspiration to boost his propensity for this California journey.

Route 66 in Gallup New Mexico

Coconino National Forest Flagstaff

Coconino National Forest Flagstaff.

Calif. – Ariz. Stateline Inspection Station

An early morning breakfast,  Gary again acquainting the highway a continuation on Interstate 40,  passing the Indian cliff dwellings west of Gallup,  another postcard vision.  The highway starting its dispersion upward,  the Arizona border on the horizon,  leaving the barren high plateau regions of New Mexico,  entering the tree enclosed mountains, a gateway to the beautiful throes  of  Flagstaff.   A brief stop for fuel,  the Buick continuing its abide westward, Gary’s thinking  becoming resolute,  a 14 hour,  900 mile trip to his sister’s residence in Columbia was deemed a possibility. Intersecting at Barstow, Ca. Highway 58,  departing the Interstate,  the town of Mojave and 100 mile desert trek stretching before him.    It was early evening the Buick arriving in Bakersfield to address a familiar friend,   the well-traveled Highway #99,  the artery north thru the Central Valley, its vestige the length of the state before exiting into Oregon.  Gary finding the highway inhibited mostly with ten-wheelers,  tractor and trailers their drivers performing an unheralded function,   transporting  the commerce that sets the table for America.

Pea Soup Anderson’s Selma Ca.

Bakersfield in the rear view mirror,  Fresno, then Merced and east to the Sierra foothill  his destination all within reach then a trammel circumstance suddenly made its presence known in the failing twilight , a prodigious valley fog beginning its emergence.    The view of the highway becoming obscured,  the pilot of the Buick unable to distinguish road signs, relying on logic,  following the tail lights of a the truckers before him hoping that the teamsters vision was better than his.   The slow pace travel went on for miles, the fog engulfing all signs of roadside life,  Gary looking to remove himself from this dissolute travel,  finally noticing a glow of lighted structures off the highway, the Buick exiting  into an unnamed  fog enshrouded  realm.  The glowing lights projecting the outline of a well-lit complex and its proclamation sign,  Pea Soup Anderson’s.   Gary not seeing or hearing that name for over forty years, a remembrance returning, Anderson’s Pea Soup and their advertised enterprise for some reason initiating the  memory of a journey  in the 48 Chevrolet with his father and two sisters to join his mother at his Uncle Charlie O’Toole funeral in Santa Ana.    The capturing fog curtailing any further travel,  Gary ordained to spend  the night at Andersen’s, not happy with the $120 dollar a night charge for a night lodging  but under the circumstances, when held hostage by fog, what could one do.

Gary's sister Nancy

Gary’s sister Nancy

Gary Mother Betty at the entrance to his sister home

The early morning finding highway 99 still enshrouded in fog, but unlike the Stygian darkness, the  dawning delight providing some visual amenity, the journey continuing.  The fog was still persistent when reaching Merced,  the Buick changing directions,  journeying northeastward on State Highway J-59, finally breaking clear of the fog clouded shroud, the sun finally annihilating its  density , the scenic Sierra Foothills beginning their arrival.   The junction of #108, soon the familiar framework of Sonora coming into view,  Gary’s travel concluding  with the five-mile foray to Columbia,  the home of his Mother and Sister Nancy.    The welcome up-hill  driveway entrance on Parrotts Ferry Rd,  the magnificent tree engulfed log cabin structure with it resume of huge boulders providing a welcome sight.   The arduous 1600 mile journey coming to a conclusion, its purpose still unrealized,  but allowing a serenity,  an atmosphere for reflection, a time for Gary to ruminate on the past and current events that have transpired.

Gary’s mom and Tom Fleming

The time unfolding slowly,  Gary still pondering a direction, the stay of Columbia protruding on, keeping busy with a list of small project that his sister had accumulated over time.   His Mother and her friend Tom Fleming having invited Gary to an all you can eat Masonic Crab Fest in Hayward.  Gary having made Tom’s  acquaintance in Alva Oklahoma when the couple were on their way to the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta, Tom’s son Andy president of the paralympic committee.  Gary enjoyed seeing his mother and Tom together, the two making an exemplary couple.  Tom’s world was one of travel and accomplishment, introducing  the Willson family matriarch to the many amenities that have fulfilled his successful life,  the least including snowmobiling, a first for the great-grandmother.  Gary’s mind-set seemed in a semi-quasi state of limbo, indecision still reigned and with all his possessions still in Kiowa decision time was fast approaching, whether to remain in California or return to Oklahoma or Kansas.

Pine Mountain Lake…………#254 (the 90’s)

January 27, 2016

Old Priest Grade at sunset

 The Buick taking all in stride, old Priest Grade remained the same, Gary deciding to  visit his Katherine and Brother-in-Law Don DaValle, his sister Kay having reverted to her given first name of Katherine when addressing non family members at some point in her life, at their affluent lake front home in the 19 sq. mile gated community of Pine Mountain Lake a mile northeast of Groveland.   The DaValle’s tri-level home with it’s sandy beach affronting a scenic view of the quasi-stellar private lake.  The community with its 18 hole golf course, tennis courts,  country club restaurant, equestrian center, airport and access to Yosemite National Park was  a presidio display of monetary affluence.  His brother-in-law contracted as a computer systems engineer at Loral Space Systems in Palo Alto responsible for programming the meteorological GOES 8 Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite to maintained its geostationary position and likewise was was involved in other projects that because of security classification was not at liberty to talk about.

Brother in-law Donald

GOES 8 Satellite

Gary’s sister Kay (Katherine)







Don’s bay-area commute required him to spend weekdays in San Mateo at his mother Celestia’s residence,  Kay allocated to reside in Groveland alone,  Gary finding the accommodations at the Lake House exceedingly spacious, his sister introducing him to her stay-at- home routine.   Kay and Don having initiated a long desired project,  purchasing 90 acres of rural land on Ferretti Road which was a scenic loop from the town around the gated community and  rejoining Highway 120 7.2 miles from Groveland.  The property eighteen miles from the Big Oaks Flat entrance to Yosemite National Park, and like most of life’s endeavors with its purchase a seed was planted.   Katherine and Don’s master plan for the acreage was to plant forty acres of olives trees,  work having begun on the renovation of an old cabin on the 90 acre property,  its presence having a colorful past,  once  a residence,  a tack house,  even a rural church,   the cabin to be converted into a showcase exhibition room for their product.  The couple having hired Jacque a carpenter from San Francisco who previously provided workmanship at Don’s mother‘s home in San Mateo, providing him with a place to stay at the lake house when available to work on the cabin.

Pine Mountain Lake

Pine Mountain Lake

Downtown Groveland

Downtown Groveland

 Gary being questioned as to his future, his sister putting forth an offer for him to remain and assist in renovation of cabin and their ongoing projects with an overture of residency at the lake house and some financial compensation, but the objective of his venture west was to assess the perspectives of returning to California,  not to make a decision.  His sister introducing an exposure to the world of the stock market and as an avid participant an awakening to the corollary of Day Trading, providing an insight accomplished by experience. The DaValle’s having been active traders,  especially with the gaining appearance of IPO’s   (Initial Public Offering)    inaugurating from the High Tech Companies of the Silicon Valley.  Weighing the perspectives of his sisters offer, moving to California, the pro’s and con’s and the recourse on his family and friends, deciding to efface the numerous questionable complexities.  The only question:  should he to return to the encumbrance of the past or traverse into the uncertain clarity of the future?   The decision was made, he would remain in California, reservations for round trip air-travel to Kansas was coordinated scheduling a pickup date by United Van Lines to remove his possessions from his apartment in Kiowa for the journey west.  Katherine rendering him to the San Francisco International  for a flight to Houston,  then boarding  a 25 passenger commuter jet to Wichita Mid Continent Airport,  the flight concluding with a rental car and the drive to Kiowa.   Gary’s journey from Mid Continent to Kiowa was a melancholy experience,  twenty years of traversing this highway,  scenes and recollections from the past entering his thoughts,  knowing that this drive might never be renewed.  Entering the darken apartment, the fragrance of vacancy accompanying a forbearance of sadness, a sense of being privy to all memories that were captive within the walls and experiencing a hollowed emptiness knowing the past and that one couldn’t change what had  been written in the book of life.

A moving experience

A 53 foot United Van Lines tractor and trailer was parked curbside at the Price Apartments in Kiowa,  three employees embarking to release Gary apartment of it’s contents.   Gary recalling the difficulty in projecting the Yamaha console piano up the stairwell,  Bill Duvall, Mike Pavlu and Roger Robinson providing the muscle and their good hearted comment   “don’t call us to move it down”.   The Van Lines company having a special dolly,  enabling them to move it down the stairs without any difficulty.   The moving experience taking less than two hours,  Gary discovering he would leave several unwanted items,  placing a call to his daughter Sandra,  asking if she would assist in the final dispersing of items left behind,  offering a financial incentive,  if she would finish the clean up,  tossing the left-behind contents in the apartments dumpster.   The loaded United Van Lines contemporary began its trip to Groveland,  the afternoon finding Gary bidding a goodbye to Kiowa returning his rental car, boarding a Wichita United Airlines flight via Denver to San Francisco,  the final move now decisive.  The arrival at SFO,  Gary finding Don accommodating him at the airport,  the two  spending the night at Don’s Mothers in San Mateo before returning  to Groveland.  Surprisingly the furniture accorded Van arrived in three days considering the probability of other stops as his few possessions were minimal in a 53 ft. van, but what was more surprising was the final invoice, the cost of transportation almost exceeding the value of the property.  The driver wasn’t without comment, complaining about traversing New Priest Grade,  having to utilize both lanes of the highway because of  the trailer length, the steep incline and narrowness of the highway, mentioning if he known this a smaller truck would have made the delivery and he wasn’t looking forward to the return trip off the hill.   Gary finding a temporary home for his possessions in the unused partition of the Lake House garage  with the exception of his computer and the piano.

Lake House living room

A full length deck

The Pine Mountain Lake House residence providing Gary with an opportunity to indulge further into the stock market procrastination of investment,  his sister giving him access to her and Donald’s investment accounts allowing him to make short-term day trades for them.  Gary attaining a $6000 portfolio with SureTrade,  a retail branch firm and a $7.95 flat fee per trade commissions for trades executed through their Internet trading platform.  The Day Trader  procuring low-priced investments,  opting his preference for stocks less than $15.00 a share enabling him to dwell in the 100 + share range when buying or selling,  watching for an upward movement of 50  cents or more on several hundred shares able to recoup a hundred or more dollars in a short time frame. The weekday mornings soon became the beginning of an abbreviated  NASDAQ trading day, realizing even with the daily study of the Wall Street Journal, advice from Charles Schwab,  Gary found that in some respect short-term investments were pretty much likened to a casino gamble.

Early Monday mornings were a ritual,  Gary and Kay seeing Don off to San Mateo joining him for store-brewed coffee and donuts  at the Groveland Mini Mart at the corner of Ferretti Rd and the 120 Highway junction.  Most other weekday mornings would find Gary and Kay and her rottweiler Darien, who had a towering physical presence in the jeep his sister drove, would journey into Groveland for breakfast and several nights thru the week would fine them enjoying a prepared cuisine featured in the dining room of the Groveland Golf and Country Club.  The two would frequent the acreage everyday, both participating in the reconstruction of the historic cabin and catering to the two horses which were apropos in the modern stable that had previously been erected.  Sally, Kay’s youngest daughter on her visits from San Francisco appropriating a horsemanship skill with the equine species.  Sally prompting a workout in the fenced circular arena, letting the magnificent breed protruding their prominence and under her direction achieving a showmanship of expertise with the horses excise.   Gary discovering a new direction in life with a family with monetary affluence, his sister responsible  for the introduction.

Yosemite Lake – Merced

Gary having corresponded with California ICQ lady friend whom he had visit with from his apartment in Kansas, the two agreeing to meet.  Pat was in Merced, the meeting was cordial and it was apparent the picture she had sent him was taken years earlier and pounds lighter, but that was not unexpected.   Gary dressed in what he thought was appropriate  for a first meeting,  short sleeve shirt and tie, his internet friend dressing more casually in jeans ,  the two meeting at a Pizza Hut.  He was aware from their previous correspondence that her husband of thirty years had passed two years prior,  Pat mentioning that her solitude being the  reason for her ICQ participation.   Gary finding the lady very congeal, especially when she offered to provide a tour of  Merced in her pickup,  their brief ride ending up at Yosemite Lake, a small lake bordering the town.   Pat relating remembrances,  giving a reflection of  her late husband, the two having spent decades fishing this lake, Gary listening with understanding as she added that the Hmong influx from Thailand and Laos having proclaimed the east side of the lake as theirs and the Hispanics having occupied the west side, sadly expressing it was no longer safe.   Gary not being familiar with the demographics of Merced suspected her concern was warranted, upon leaving thanking her for an enjoyable afternoon.

A&W – Cruise Night Thursday

Another foray from Groveland to meet another awareness whom he had correspondence with from Kiowa, her name also was Pat.  Gary noting that both the ICQ persons in California whom he had corresponded with were named Pat.  Traveling from “Groveland, a long trip to Lodi, the lady having a home in an exclusive gated community, meeting her in for the first time.  Gary finding her personality adherent to her internet presentation, but discovering her physical apparition was new to him.  She was handicapped, not able to walk with out an accommodation, her mode of transportation was a van with a lift enabling her to sit in the drivers seat.  Her conversation was enlighten, very knowledgeable, her aspirations were of reliving the past.  Gary and her journeying to a A&W Drive In to partake of the roller skating waitresses, noting a sign proclaiming Thursday Cruise Night, a warrant of the past, both enjoying the experience.,  Her disability didn’t prevent her from preparing a dinner, asking if Gary would spend the night and accompany her to church in the morning.  She was a consummate Pentecostal, Gary spending the night in an alternate bedroom rising to a prepared breakfast, Pat capable and able to navigate the kitchen.  The Pentecostal Church was experience for Gary, never having attended a Church Service that exhibited such enthusiasm, never before observing a five piece band, drums, guitar, bass, keyboard sax fulfilling the background for the hymns. the congregation standing and lifting their praised to the Almighty.  The sunday morning completed returning to Groveland,  not disappointed at making a new acquaintance but only as an online friend.



Orbital Tech Search, Inc…#254[a] (90’s)

January 26, 2016

Orbital LLC

      Gary’s entrepreneurial sister Kay and brother-in-law Don having opened an office, Orbital Tech Search, Inc.  to a establish legal residency in non-corporate taxing Nevada for a LLC, ( Limited Liability Corporations), that would enable prospective clients a means to diversify and incorporate their income.  Orbital having been established, joining the ranks of their other California corporations, Indian Creek LLC, Morning Dove LLC, Olive Forever LLC.  Gary never one to turn down an opportunity to expand his knowledge accepting an invitation to  accompany his sister to Reno for a three-day conference and seminar on LLC’s entitled The Asset Protection & Tax Planning Strategy Conference, held at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino hosted by the Laughlin Institute of Corporation Studies, Ltd..  The seminar to address what was known in the world of corporate structure as ‘the red ink system’, a means of diversifying their income and transferring it into several LLC’s ( Limited Liability Corporations) showing a loss by means of distribution thus a reduction in taxes.   The three-day conference to start on Wednesday March 24th, brother and sister to travel by car, Don would not be in attendance for the conference because of work priorities but fly into Reno Friday night to spend the weekend.   Joining the seminar group besides the two would be Gary’s niece Brenda McQuary and a friend of Dons, computer engineer Dave Matthews, also a non participant, Jack Lawry.  Gary soon discovering that the Reno journey entailed more than just a three-day conference at the Atlantis, discovering that they would be spending  Saturday and Sunday nights at the Silver Legacy Hotel &  Casino.

The Atlantis Hotel & Casino

Brenda McQuary Gary’s niece.

A departure for Reno and the three-day conference, Gary piloting the Buick with his sister.  A stop for gas at San Andres  before the venture east on Highway 88 at Jackson,  the upward journey over the Sierra’s beginning, Kay asking if she could drive.  Gary not surprised as his sister was the driver in their family, not ever recalling her husband Don in the driver’s seat when she was present.   Leaving the bounds of the sierra’s an afternoon Reno arrival at the towering new edifice still under construction, the Atlantis, the two entering,  meeting with Katherine’s daughter Brenda, Dave Mathews and Jack Smith.   Gary immediately perceiving the beckoning  sound resonating from the casino, its hypnotic voice enticing with the promise of reward.  Kay in a business like manner registered questions about the conference,  the answers were given, the large lobby Venue Directory servicing notice of the conference room location and the 8:30 a.m. starting time.

Computer engineer Dave Mathews

Gary having sat through ten years of informative seminar session on a variety of subject with the Kansas Hospital Engineers Association discovered that sometimes you feel like you’re being held hostage.  There was an upside to seminar attendance beside the educational benefit, it was the  dietary morsels provided during a break by the facility catering service, but when partaken of and  endowed sometimes made it difficult to stay awake.  Dave Mathews being a large person and concurrently having a large appetite, plus frequenting the late hours in the casino would eat a copious afternoon lunch,  Subsequently one afternoon during a monotone seminar presentation found no difficulty discovering slumberland.  Brenda and Gary were not distracted with Dave’s dozing until he began to snore, then Brenda took control, quietly furnishing an unwelcome elbow to bring him back to reality.   Gary wasn’t a gambler as such but enjoyed watching others, after accompanying Mike and watching him consistently win and was amazed at how lady luck chooses her partners.  He enjoyed spending the evenings with his niece Brenda the two attempting to show a profit on the uncooperative machines but together discovering a host of mutual subjects to converse about.  The morning would find them meeting at the bar skipping breakfast because of the early conference time, Brenda having discovered if you purchased $10 dollars in coins for the bar’s counter slot machines you would receive a free drink and as regiment would have it, Brenda would deposit the $10 in coins in the slot machine, but toasting the loss with a Bloody-Mary for breakfast.

Silver Legacy Mining Machine

Silver Legacy Mining Machine

Gary’s niece Mary Garrett

The three days of Laughlin asset protection & tax strategies coming to a conclusion, Gary recognizing the big picture of de-facto defrauding the government of corporate tax by setting up a circle of LLC’s,  strategically rotating assets from one to another to show a  loss.   With Don arriving from San Francisco for the weekend, a move being made to the Silver Legacy, a change from the upscale modern motif of the Atlantis to the western mining heritage of the 1700 room Silver Legacy Casino. It was getting to be more like a family reunion,  Kay’s daughter Mary Garrett  arriving to join Brenda, the two to visit their father John Ove who had suffered a debilitating illness and was now residing in Carson City. Gary found the most impressive feature in the Silver Legacy was the giant 180 ft. automated replica of a silver mining rig, its performance set on a timing mechanism with clock watching bystanders waiting to observe its operation..  The Buick was being put to good use, transporting Donald and Kay to their Nevada office and Brenda and Mary asking to borrow the Skylark to visit their father in Carson City, Gary happy to comply with both the request.  The weekend coming to an end, Gary making two trips to the Reno Airport, the first to see his Brenda off and Donald’s return to San Francisco. A farewell to Reno, this time Gary when asked by his sister about his impressions of the past week,  two words came to mind, “an experience”.

 The first of May found a spring snow falling at the lake house, with camera in hand, Pine Mountain Lake a pictorial background,  Gary taking a photo for posterity feeling like he was living in  Currier & Ives pictured postcard.

Gary, Kay and her copious Rottweiler Darian firmly sequester in Kay’s jeep, their destination Greeley Hill a secluded area north of highway 120, the jeep  leaving the blacktop traversing uphill on a non-defined dirt road.  The two arriving at the residence of John Brooks, a retired 74 years of age projector of heavy equipment,  a character of renown, having escalated much of the landscape in the county with his arraignment of bulldozing equipment for the past 50 years. A delightful person with endless stories from another era, his explorations for gold and all the discoveries he had made thru his 70 plus years of life,  his mountain yard filled with the equipment, relics and mementos from another time.  Like monuments, several vintage trucks with a bygone history, an array of paraphernalia from his gold mining endeavors, including a mercury detort tube for extrapolating gold that he had invented,  every conversation entailed an exponent from his life.   The large gray-haired elder was an amiable overwhelming personality,  his presence and vocabulary one of dauntlessness and integrity,  a person that Gary immediately accepted.  Kay proposing John to transport his legendary D-8  385 horsepower, 80,000 lb.  caterpillar bulldozer to break the ground with ripper blades for the future planting of her olive tree endeavor.  John agreeing to cultivate the hillside with the heavy-duty ripper,  but suggesting a first attempt being made with a smaller caterpillar.

Legendary D-8 Cat

John and his son arriving at the proposed site , readied the smaller unit for its task but soon discovering it was unable to break the hardened soil of the virgin hillside terrain,  returning to retrieve the heavy-duty D-8  to accept the challenge,  it’s presence being successful.   Gary watched as a bystander but then called upon to journey to Jamestown in Katherine’s pickup with a 55 gallon drum to purchase diesel fuel for the Caterpillar.  It was also noticeable that John would occasionally stop, dismount and inspect the furrows of the turned over ground during his 40 acre traversing, Gary was reasonably sure that John was looking for the telltale signs of gold.

Under construction

A daily work project

   The completion of the Cottage was entailed,  Mike,  a friend of Katherine’s daughter Sally, (Scelestia) noted for his impeccable carpentry skills  was employed.   A perfectionist  installing the hallmark beam ceiling for the downstairs, his work a paragon display.  Gary working with Mike adding the finishing touches to the roughed in windows and the center ceiling beam.  All was progressing on a rapid scale when Mike developed a personal relationship problem with Sally and his work on the cottage came to a halt.   Gary learning that the young man had a bipolar testament and when on medication was an outstanding person, but when off his meds he could render a confrontational personality change. Brother and sister deciding to put their painting and carpentry skills to task,  the access to the upstairs having required a ladder as the placement for stairs was still undecided.   The two designing and structuring the yet constructed outside stairway to the second floor,  notching and securing  the 2 x 10’s for the steps to be installed,   Continuing,  assuming the mantle where Mike had left off finishing the door facings, painting and installing the Pergo laminate flooring.   Jacque returning,  the San Francisco contractor having completed all the electrical and plumbing projects, his final calling would be the laying of the ceramic tile that would engulf the downstairs floor, the once building relic from the past beginning to resemble a showcase livable entity.

The McConaghy House in Hayward

Gary accompanying his sister the two journeying to the bay area, the jeep venturing to Hayward stopping at an antiquity  home  built in 1888.   The McConaghy House a two-story,  six bedroom mansion now officially designated as a historical museum.   It’s stairway, widows and Victorian widows walk endowed roof for some reason implanted a fascination with Kay, Gary not aware that her obsession with this structural part of history would soon turn into reality. Katherine having set another goal besides the olive orchard and the remodeling of the cottage,  a project that would  fulfill her entailment with the McConaghy House and the purchasing of an additional 120 acres that adjoined their 90 acres.  Gary wasn’t surprised on the rental and move from the lake house, the capital to be invested in fulfilling their goals of purchasing an additional 120 acres.  Don, Kay and Gary visiting the owner of the property, the addition acreage included three houses and high delivery water well, the negotiations beginning in earnest.   This time brother and sister   journeying to contracting home builder George Williams Pine Mountain Lake home, addressing him about his services and the of duplicating a facsimile of the McConaghy House with a Bread and Breakfast concept in mind.   After several deliberations the contractor concurred  accepting  the project,  the timeline undecided but the McConaghy facsimile would be realized.

Don and the Grand kids

The rental of the Lake House was inevitable and the move to the cottage was somewhat unsettling,  the Yamaha console having found a new home. At first Gary was more than satisfied with the large downstairs bedroom with french doors opening onto a porch, Kay and Don claiming the upstairs, but it was the 8 mile drive to Groveland and the habit of eating out that was the consternation.  The stay at the Cottage with its remoteness, serenity and echo’s of benevolent country living was becoming prosaic,  there being no internet, television or outside distractions except for an occasional passing vehicle.  The only nocturnal sound was an occasional cricket or the rustling of the  creatures of the night,  an aura and realizing beginning to unfold that silence could be deafening.  The summer found Kay’s grandchildren visiting, Gary and her erecting  a large tent, the grandchildren to spent a summer month breaking the solemn stillness of the countryside.

Completed project

There was still some remaining work on the Cottage,  the laying of the chimney stones  which needed a professional,  Gary’s labor provocations having diminished,  he and sister having expended their expertise.   The stay at the cottage beginning to seem like a bastion of  isolation,  but a reprieving  call from his sister Nancy in Columbia providing him reasoning to abrogate,  she was in need of a dog sitter for Kizzy,  his sister and mother having planned an extended excursion,  Gary finding a reason to waiver from the solitude of nomadic life,  returning to Columbia.

A Florida Blessing……….#255 (the 90’s)

January 24, 2016

Uncertainty evaporated

Gary’s journeyed from Groveland to his sister Nancy’s residence in Columbia, discovering an aura of tranquility,  just him and a magnificent Border Collie named Kizzie,  the serenity a change from the assembled congregation of grandkids visiting his sister Kay.  The return to Columbia  enabled a return to the internet and a resumption of  his NASDAQ day trading, plus an opportunity to  visit with his ICQ acquaintances.    Gary’s dog sitting duties coming to an end with his sister and mom’s return and with Kay’s grandkids still camped at the cottage, he decided to remain in Columbia for the time being.   Having established over 48 ICQ acquaintances there was an inaugural lady that he had an ongoing repose with since initiating ICQ that really intrigued him, her name was Fran and she lived in Orlando Florida.   The two having maintained a steady correspondence on ICQ,  Gary totally enjoying their conversing, finding the lady captivating with her knowledge of about any subject discussed,  her total recall for dates, places and events and inherent proclivity for the music.  Gary not really giving thought of meeting Fran with the distance to Florida somehow seeming like half way around the world, but taking notice that their online relationship was beginning to developed into something more than conversation,  an inner feeling from within began raising to surface.  Gary still somewhat hesitant about traveling from California to Florida, it wasn’t like he could jump in the car and visit, it would entail planning by both as Fran would have to arrange for time off from work and to keep down the cost he would have to have to schedule airline reservations at least two weeks in advance. It was when he received an email picture of her and the grandkids that all uncertainty evaporated, the decision to fly to Florida was made.

Fran’s House on Granada Drive, Orlando

  The circumstances were rather unusual, Gary having made reservations with United Airlines to fly out of SFO at 10:00 a.m. on Monday July 16th., what was unusual was that July 15th was Fran’s birthday as well as his sister Kay.  Gary addressing the occasion wiring Fran flowers but somewhat curious that his brother-in-law Don was at his mother’s in San Mateo rather than in Groveland for his wife’s birthday.   Don having offered to drop Gary off at the San Francisco airport on his way to work,  Gary driving late Sunday afternoon to San Mateo to spend the night at Don’s mother residence,  the Florida bound not  wanting to leave the Buick at the SFO long-term parking.   The United flight to east coast having a plane change in Houston arriving after dark in Orlando.  Gary disembarking walking down the United Airlines galley-way into the terminal not knowing what to expect having never met Frances Marion Wilcoxson.  Watching the debarking passengers clear,  standing by a post was the picturesque lady  looking absolutely like her photograph.  The long acquainted two finally getting to meet, on their way to the car rental, Fran mentioning how her daughter Jeanette gave her a lecture about meeting someone whom she met on the internet and was reluctant to leave her mother alone at the airport.  Gary assuring that he understood her daughter apprehension, questioning if she had received the flowers that he had sent the day before for her birthday as it was a Sunday.  The two newly acquainted proceeding to Fran’s residence on Granada Drive in Winter Park a small suburban town northeast of Orlando.  Arriving Gary introduced and accepted by Sammi, Fran’s ‘deer ‘Chihuahua, discovering  the lady was an inherent canine person which was a plus, he soon realized that she was everything and maybe more than he had expected.

Fran – everything & more

Liz Loreti- Dollar Tree Manager

Gary was just as impressed with Fran in person as online, finding comfort in her demeanor and address to life. Her employment responsibility at Dollar Tree was put on hold to accompany his stay, Gary being introduce to the store manager Liz Loreti,  whom had nothing but accolades for her.  Gary very much aware of the round trip ticket date, an urgency building within to convey to Fran who and what he was as a person, it was difficult but searching within he found a solution.  Driving through the business district of Orlando,  he took notice of a sign, Orlando Piano, parking, the couple entering,  Gary asking the proprietor if it was alright to try out some of the models,  the two venturing thru the displayed pianos,  the sales person nodding his approval to play any of the stores inventory.    Gary seated before the keyboard of a baby grand, the music of Andy Williams hit More coming forth, followed by the Impossible Dream, the pianist at ease with Fran standing beside him  performing his proclivity on the keyboard.   The pianist giving her a presentation of the inner feeling than only music can express,  songs of remembrance from their youth, the storied epics of love, a grand finale with the Chariots of Fire.  To his surprise the staff and customers at the store applauding,  Gary suspecting that they knew what he was up too, acknowledging the couple  on their departure.  Gary was surprised when discovering  Sunday Church was an integral part of Fran’s life,  the two attending the local Baptist Church,  Gary finding solace again,  having neglected this most important celebrate of life,  because of his inherent life  in Groveland and Columbia.    Both his sister’s, Katherine and Nancy proclaiming to be agnostic,  using this for his failure to attend church during his stay at both premises,  recognizing he had become abortive of his faith.

Laney, Jeanette, Trent and Corrina front and center.

Space Shuttle Discovery – July 27, 1999 ST-96 launch

Gary’s round trip reservation return trip date about to arrive, a decision was made to postpone the event, an overwhelming desire to spend more time with Fran.   The ensuing week found the two engulfed in conversation of reality, both experiencing a inner feeling that they were destined to be together plus her family an added influence for Fran to move westward.   Her oldest daughter Jeanette and two grandchildren having made a decision to move to John Day Oregon, another daughter Donna and family having already taking up residence there.  The dawning  Florida evenings would find the two sitting outside exchanging memories of years past with each other,  a coherent understanding of life being accorded and during one night attention given to the night sky,  the glowing fiery trail of a launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Spaceport could be observed in the Orlando July 27th night sky. Gary now quite positive having seen a sign in the sky,  a proposal of matrimony being extended and with Fran’s acceptance, Friday July 30th was decided upon.

With this ring I do thee wed

With this ring I do thee wed

The July 30 1999 morning sun welcomed the inauguration of a special day for Gary Michael Willson and Frances Marion Wilcoxson.   The couple leaving the Winter Park Granada Drive residence journeying to 325 North Orange Ave., Suite #355 in Orlando’s Orange County Courthouse.  Entering the matrimonial office, Fran’s employment store manager Liz waiting their arrival,  her enthusiasm blossoming for the event that was about to unfold.  Gary seeing that the  formality of contractual papers and license fee’s were fulfilled,  the couple not the only ones to be joined in matrimonial union, a waiting period commencing for two other couples..   A door opened and a joyous couple accompanied by several guests who exited , Gary, Fran and Liz entering the specially designated room for the ceremony,  a state authorize matrimonial clerk with the title Justice Of The Peace introducing herself informing them she was to perform the acceptance of the wedding vows.   Gary and Fran standing on a raised arbor platform before the Justice of the Peace, with the banding of rings, both emitting the effervescence  of the  ceremony as they were pronounced husband and wife. Surprisingly Liz was the emotional one, Gary realizing that Liz valued Fran friendship far more than just a loyal employee.   The climatic ceremony fulfilled having no other functions to proclaim the couple returning to their parked rental car,  but upon approaching the car Gary noticed a slip of paper beneath the wiper blade discovering a police citation, the rental having  been ticketed for an expired license tag , the two finding a little humor to start their first hour of marriage.

County Courthouse Orlando

You may kiss the Bride

You may kiss the Bride

Gary, Liz & Fran

Gary, Liz & Fran

The couple having discussed the pro’s and con’s of remaining in Florida or moving to California,  Gary letting the decision rest with Fran, but knowing that  Fran’s  daughter Donna and her family was now residing in Oregon and her eldest Daughter Jeanette and her two children having just left for the eastern Oregon town.  Gary was understanding, realizing that Fran was sacrificing years of effort, leaving her home, friends and an established life placing a blind trust in someone she had corresponded with for over a year but in person for only two weeks   Fran having acquired many friends during her employment at the Dollar Tree store,  among them were those which she called the scooter brigade,  a proud group of elderly people whom traversed in electric scooter chairs to provide their shopping chores.   Upon hearing of Fran’s Marriage and that she would soon depart the scooter brigade made an appearance, the couple being invited to Richard and his friend Christie’s small apartment for dinner.   The elderly couple providing a delightful meal,  Gary couldn’t help but smile noting the jars filled with individual packaged condiments,  salt,  pepper,  sugar,  mustard, ketchup and other complementary supplements provided by fast food establishments,  lightheartedly understanding there  were many with disabilities and retirement age stressed with deficit financial burdens.

24 Ft. Budget Rental

The moving endeavor beginning in earnest the newlyweds deciding on a yard sale to reduce some of Fran’s accumulated household item.  The yard sale having little response from the ad placed in the paper, Fran’s landlord purchasing the appliances and yard equipment.  Gary proceeding to the Budget Rental Complex north of town, judging that a 16 ft box van should hold all the household goods.   With the help of Richard, who conveniently rose from his motorized wheelchair to help,  the loading began  but there was a problem,  Gary had misjudged the amount of furnishings, it became apparent  the 16 foot truck was too small.   The only alternative was to get a larger truck,  the 16 ft. rental already three-quarter full would have to be returned, the Florida hot August afternoon temperature influencing his decision.  Gary driving the partially loaded truck back to budget, explaining the situation, the Budget complex manager agreeing to have the load transferred to a 24 ft truck, but for a loading price, but what could one say, it was the only game in town.  Loading the remaining articles, Gary understood what it was like to say farewell to a part of your life.



A Six Thousand Mile Journey…….#256 (the 90’s)

January 22, 2016

Leaving Orlando on I – 75

The 24 ft. rental transport loaded,  the late afternoon finding the couple and Sammi,  Fran’s Deer Chihuahua who wasn’t use to riding in a  car, let alone a truck as Fran didn’t drive, all three prepared to proceed west.  With the exertion of moving, the lateness of the hour and Gary’s aversion to driving at night in unfamiliar surroundings  it was decided to get a bite to eat and spend a final night in the Orlando area.  A morning awakening at the Best Western Mt. Vernon Inn in Winter Park  a suburb of the Orlando Metropolitan area,  the 24 ft. rental truck discovering Interstate 75,  the north- south central corridor of Florida.   As the hours passed Gary not fathoming the length of the sunshine state,  the drive finally intersecting Interstate 10 in the Florida Panhandle providing  a westward turn.  The Budget rental truck with its 55 mph governor,  the sun beginning to wane in the west, a day long drive about to be completed,  Mobile Alabama  designated for the nights stay.  Gary taking notice of the seaside products of Mobile,  a panoramic view from the Interstate,  having never before viewed any part Alabama let alone historic Mobile.  He soon discovering the distance  to travel across Alabama in this part of the state amounted to about 50 miles.   From the interstate the  only scenic sight of note was that of the bay,  its ship loading capabilities and a view of the modern high-rise of the city giving a projection of the new, the view of  the bay  a remembrance of the past.

George C Wallace Tunnel, Mobile

Modern Day Mobile

Modern Day Mobile

The threesome once again traveling west on Interstate 10, the 70 mile sprint across the lower part of Mississippi at 55 mph,  Baton Rouge and the  state of Louisiana looming ahead.  The highway and traffic consuming  the driver’s attention, Gary determined to make Houston estimating that eight hours of  travel remained.   An early arrival at the junction of interstate 45, the truck able to travel north of Houston,  the travelers deciding to park it for the night in the very quaint town of Conroe Texas as the eventide darkness settle in.  A feeling of home, the congenial lady behind the motel counter addressing him with that slow Texas southern draw, Gary having traveled for many years in Texas from his band playing days,  recognizing the commonality of these gracious people.    The couple spending their second night on the road before resuming their trip north on Interstate 45,  Gary appreciative of Fran’s knowledge diversity, there being no lack of conversation because of subject matter.  The driver with the pedal to the metal or a reasonable facsimile , happy to be back on familiar turf as they journeyed thru Dallas,  boarding interstate 35 towards the Red River with  Oklahoma looming ahead.

George C Wallace Tunnel Mobile

Approching Houston

Approaching Houston

The Budget rental truck arriving in Oklahoma City, a surrogate  home to Gary for almost twenty years.  The drive to  3019  S.W.124th Street was second nature,  his daughter Marlo’s family  sharing the rental half of her mother’s duplex.   Gary ringing the doorbell, not receiving a response  stepping next door, Marlo’s mother coming to the door.  Kaye somewhat startled to see her ex husband at the door presuming that he was still in California having no idea that he had journeyed to Florida and was now married.  Gary briefly explaining the situation that he had detoured to Oklahoma City so Marlo could meet Fran before continuing on.  Kaye briefly saying that Marlo, Chris and the Kids were at a house they had purchased in Moore,  giving him directions.  Gary thanking her and asking if you would care to meet Fran who was sitting in the truck, her answer was blunt, “I think not”.  Upon arrival at the Moore location, discovering his daughter and son in-law Chris had purchased a storm causality home, a victim of the May 3rd  F5 tornado with winds of 318 mph that destroyed over 1780 residential homes.  Gary being no stranger to Oklahoma weather he had witnessed time and time again that the homes on either side could be destroyed but missing one in the middle, this was the case of his daughter’s purchase.  Gary at a loss for a means to communicate his unexpected marriage in a way to initiate some understanding from Marlo, but she brushed aside his words without any acknowledgement, instead directed the conversation to the talking  about the deluge of damaged homes and all the devastation caused by the tornado. He had hoped for a better introduction but realized it was futile ending the visit, they still had long trip ahead of them.  Gary having planned to continue northwest to Kiowa, his home for 20 years and to introduce Fran to some of the special Kansas people he had worked with, but because of the lateness of the hour there was a change of plans,  deciding to spend the night in Oklahoma City.   A passing thought crossing Gary’s mind about calling Marlo, telling her about remaining in the city for the night and a possible get together  but decided against subjecting Fran to his daughters contemptuous attitude.

Chris, Garrett, Allison and Marlo

Damage from the May 3, 1999 OKC tornado

The morning finding a  journey that Gary had made numerous times for more than 22 years,  a sense of  melancholy filtering in,  his explanation was knowing that it might be a long time before traversing this roadway again.   The drive thru Kingman, Dover, Hennessy and Waukomis, crossing the Cimarron River, the dampness bouquet of the  pasture land,  the many memories all being way-stops in road of life.   Crossing the Stateline, the water tower marking their arrival in the 12 square block community of Kiowa,  the driver proceeding, showing his bride  his past place of residences then halting at the Kiowa Hospital.   The two entering the medical facility,  Gary greeted with smiles,  introducing Fran to the staff,  giving  notice to special friends, Glenda Holdaway,  Gay Farney and a pillar of healthcare, hospital Director of Nursing Sharon Ragan.   Having spent seven years of his life titled as a Plant Services Manager  and additional 16 years on the Kiowa Ambulance Service,  Gary experiencing a loss almost like he was departing family.   Having made a prior phone call to his daughter Sandra who was in Kiowa, making arrangements to meet and have a lunch at the Ranch House restaurant.  Sandra was the exact opposite of Marlo,  Gary choosing to remain somewhat silent during the meal, witnessing Sandra’s acceptance of Fran as family, the two carrying on a conversation like they had known each other forever.  A two lane Oklahoma blacktop drive awaiting, saying goodbye to his Princess was difficult.   The road was unfamiliar, the rental truck pilot having never traveled the southwest rural route to intersect Interstate 40 from Kiowa, their late afternoon goal was to attain Amarillo before dark but noticed a marquee, We Accept Pets,  at the Irish Inn at Shamrock Texas deciding they had traveled enough for one day.

Glenda Holdaway & Gay Farney

Sharon Ragan Director of Nursing

Gary’s daughter Sandra

The Ranch House Restaurant – Kiowa


Famous Amarillo Steak House







Spending the night, the August Texas morning sun in Amarillo greeting the voyagers, canine Sammi finally comfortable with riding in a truck.  It was  the beginning of another long drive on the Interstate, saying goodbye to Texas entering New Mexico,  skirting metropolitan  Albuquerque on the Interstate 40 bypass, Gary remembering 37 years ago when old Route 66 traveled through the downtown business section.   Traversing the high plains of the New Mexico, the dry expanse of seemingly endless four lane Interstate, Grants then Gallup, the small citadel still remaining a one side of the tracks town.   Crossing into Arizona they could see the cumulus clouds building giving notice of a desert thunderstorm, Gary hoping that it would pass, not looking forward to driving in the rain.  The echoing sounds of thunder and the accompanying lightning from the darken aura of the circular accumulation in the sky giving notice of  the storms presence.  The wind buffeting the truck, the wipers having difficulty in adhering to their job, Gary debating whether to continue or to stop and wait out the downpour.  His indecision  was answered as the cloud cover and rain-diminished and like the lifting of a blind the sun appeared reflecting on the glistening pavement.   The twilight in the west beckoning them into Winslow Arizona before dropping below the horizon, the way-stop of a town in the middle of nowhere was given a nationally known address by the iconic Eagles Band with their song Take It Easy.  With the nightfall calling a halt to their journey the weary travels stopping at the Winslow Inn on the west side of town.

The High Plains of New Mexico

An overnight stay at the Winslow Inn

A Winslow morning and breakfast, the couple once again on Interstate 40 and the incline to the elevated scenic city of Flagstaff.  Most travelers associating the mile high domain with  the setting for many episodes of the Bonanza television series with its  ponderosa tree-lined summit,   but Gary a novice student of astronomy always associated Flagstaff as the home of Lowell Observatory.   A historic premier observatory built in 1894 and named after its founder Percival Lowell, the observatory marking its place in history with the discovery of the planet Pluto in 1930.   A brief stop in Flagstaff , a panoramic view of the San Francisco Peaks before  beginning their  downhill trek.   The couple enjoying the tree-lined descent when something that sounded like hail began hitting the windshield, its intensity briefly rising in volume and as sudden as it began it stopped.  It was then noticed,  the evidence of its cause,  below the bottom of windshield and pasted on the hood were the remains of numerous bees, apparently a swarm of bees  crossed the highway,  their pelting impact sounding just like hail,  a new experience.   Crossing the California Stateline passing through Needles,  a stop at the fruit inspection station and entering the  expanse of the 54,000 square miles of the Mojave Desert which stretches north and east thru four states.   Continuing on to Barstow, departing  interstate 40,  progressing on CA. 58 now in a northwestern direction,  the barren flatness of the Mojave desert still providing flora,   cactus, and renown Joshua trees, a beauty only perceived by those with an inward recognition of nature.

Flagstaff scenery from I-40

Needles California State Agriculture Inspection Station

Not the only ones to traverse the Mojave


Runaway Truck Ramp

The desert soon giving way to the rise of the Tehachapi Mountains and the notorious highway pass once known for runaway trucks, often made famous in the cinematography productions of a past era with scenes of  truckers losing their brakes a reflection of the past remains, the highway still dotted with turn-off’s as a precaution.   The 24 foot rental discovering highway 99 at Bakersfield, with the sun waning and a 4 1/2 hour drive yet remaining to Columbia,  a decision to halt for the night was made to late, Gary not wanting to turn around and go back to Bakersfield.  Continuing on, the familiar beckoning signs of motels once again began appearing,  the weary travelers would spend the night in the small town of Delano.   The morning finding the couple resuming the remaining 240 mile trek north, first through Fresno, and Merced, turning northeast on State 59  to its junction with  Highway 108 into Sonora.  The journey about to experience closure,  the final five miles of travel to Columbia coming swiftly,  the furniture laden rental truck traversing up his sister Nancy’s drive,  Gary and Fran’s 6 day 3189 mile journey coming to a conclusion.

The 40K Canine……#257 (the 90’s)

January 20, 2016

Sammi – the 40K canine

The 24 ft.Budget rental truck and its wayfarers mission from Orlando to Columbia fulfilled, the lyrics of the familiar Dave Dudley  song  Six Days On The Road sung by band member Kenny Kannada no longer abetting in Gary’s head.   The unloading began, his sister  Nan providing an enclosed area adjoining the garage,  capable of adhering all of the furnishing,  enabling a return of the 24 ft moving appliance to a retail Budget dealer in Jamestown.   The couple occupying what was affectionately called the Sleep Shack,  a two room building with a kitchenette, restroom and sleeping accommodations for friends or family when visiting overnight.

Jamestown Budget Truck Rental

 Gary’s first order of business after returning the rental truck was to retrieve his 97 Buick that remained at his brother-in-law mother’s home in San Mateo.  The second order was not one of self, but one of acceptance by others that his decision to marry was made from the heart and to dispel any doubts about his love for Fran.

54,000 acres of wind farms

The Keller Ave. exit on #580

The Keller Ave. exit on #580

Gary's home as seen from Shone Ave.

Gary’s home as seen from Shone Ave.

Looking up 82nd Ave & its summit

Looking up 82nd Ave towards its summit

  The six lane traffic laden interstate a replacement for the memorable Mountain Blvd,  the two lane blacktop the wandering entry through the East Oakland Hills.   The Buick navigating the Keller Ave. exit, voyaging up the four blocks to Greenly Dr. and over one block to his corner lot boyhood home at Shone Ave then traversing up Shone to its summit where one could look down on the vista of Oakland, San Francisco Bay, the  Bridges and San Francisco itself in the distance.   Gary pointing out the steep incline of 82nd Ave. that dwelled down to MacArthur Blvd and Castlemont high school,  pointing out that the walk to school was always more enjoyable than the return.  Once again continuing on #580 toward the bay,  approaching the toll booths for Bay Bridge, noticing the toll price was $2.00  remembering when it was only .25 cents.

Hills Brother Coffee

Golden Gate Park Amphitheater

Red and White Bay Cruise

Red and White Bay Cruise

The happy couple boarding for a Bay Cruise

 On the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge one is greeted by a familiar landmark, not the Ferry Building that was built in 1898 but the aromatic bouquet emitting from Hills Brothers Coffee on the Embarcadero below the bridge, a welcoming to the city by the bay.  Gary having found long ago the most direct way to Golden Gate Park was to follow the familiar overhead power  lines  of the No. 5 McAllister electric-powered bus he had taken as a youngster.  The couple arriving at the renowned Park,  with the Natural History Museum,  the Aquarium, and the de Young Museum, the two touring the exhibits, marshaling their time, Gary deciding to move on,  traveling west down Fulton Ave, coming into view were the cascading  white tips of the breakers announcing the presence of the blue pacific.   A brief stop at the ocean having one more objective before returning back to Columbia,  North Beach and  Pier 39,  the traffic laden haven for tourist better known as Fisherman’s Wharf.  The couple enjoying the sundry shops,  the abundance tourist activity,  the showmanship of the street vendors, but before departing deciding to board a Red & White fleet Bay Cruise boat.  The journey out under the Golden Gate Bridge, experiencing the leeward rolling  swells from afternoon incoming tide bucking the boat,  Gary once again as in the past absorbing the sea breeze,  the slight mist and in some way sharing a moment in time like so many before him.   The boat turning about but not retracing its course back but casting  itself towards the infamous  Alcatraz, the island presence still foreboding,  the cruise heading back Gary wondering if others aboard shared thought of another time.

AIMCO Columbia Village Office

With their stay at his sister’s in Columbia, Gary becoming keenly aware of his employment status keeping abreast to  opportunities in the Sonora Union Democrat, hesitant about returning to a EMT or  hospital contingency but still willing to allocated his maintenance experience.  Noticing in the paper the woodland Columbia College was in search of a full-time maintenance person,  decided to investigate, submitting a brief resume’ being informed he would be contacted by phone.  Being summoned to the college campus just over a mile from his sisters,  on arrival being directed to a small frame conference building off a tree-lined path, the setting was unexpected as was the academic committee who was assembled for the interview.  While waiting, the 58-year-old couldn’t help but notice that he was much older than the other applicants, during the interview he found the job wasn’t for a maintenance person but for a on-call custodian who would do routine cleaning and set up chairs for school activities.  Receiving the perfunctory phone call the position had been filled he continued to monitor the paper,  noticing  the Columbia Village Apartments having placed an ad accepting applications for a management position in a soon to opened AIMCO complex.  (AIMCO),  Apartment Investment & Management Company being the largest owner-operator multi-family apartment housing company in the country.

Apartment Investment & Management Company

   Gary approaching Fran with his recent discovery, pointing out that with her bookkeeping and business management skills,  his maintenance experience  they would make an ideal team for the position.   Fran somewhat hesitant then agreeing,  the couple setting about documenting their resume’, Gary traveling to the Columbia Village location just over a mile east them on Parrotts Ferry Rd leaving the resumes’ being told he would notified.  The couple expecting a long wait, but to their astonishment receiving a phone call the following afternoon asking them to meet with the complex manager for an interview.  Gary and Fran arriving,  the interview going well but as expected the result was indecisive, informed there were other applicants but  they would be notified as to a decision.  The phone rang and it was the expected call,  requesting the couple meet again, this time scheduling a meeting  with a corporate representative at a recently opened AIMCO Apartment complex in Sonora.  An ensuing  evening trip to Sonora, their AIMCO host began by providing information about the responsibilities and duties of facility manager,  the security of the building and residence, questioning Gary about his maintenance capabilities and referencing the company’s belief  it was  beneficial to have a husband and wife team with both fiscal management and maintenance skills.  The interview was completed, the couple leaving  but still no employment confirmation.

The following morning the couple received their third phone call from AIMCO  notifying they had been accepted for the position and to meet at 2:00 p.m. that afternoon at the Columbia Village office.  The afternoon arrival  finding a conjugal hostess introducing  them to the paperwork that accompanied new employees and handing them an itinerary for a two-week training course that was to begin in three days.  Gary was about to mentioned  fiscal compensation when the lady  brought up the subject, their position  would of course provide an apartment and monthly salary, their total employment package in excess of $47,000 per year.   She continued that their new working environment would not be in Sonora or Tuolumne County,  but a new complex in Roseville,  18 miles northwest of Sacramento, it was about to inaugurate a Grand Opening and there would be an influx of new tenants.  The drive back,  Gary elated,  he and Fran having found a once in a lifetime opportunity where they could both work together and begin a substantial life.

The schedule was set for the training sessions to begin,  Gary making a phone call about their first session time, Fran asking him to  inquire about pets at the new facility.  Gary interjecting the question during his phone conversation, being told that upon initiating a new opening the policy was no pets allowed.   Upon hearing this, Gary knew Fran’s response,  Sammi being her companion for several years there would be no way Fran would give up Sammi for an employment opportunity. She was ironclad in her disposition about Sammi, Gary was shaken with the loss of opportunity, but having been through many disappointments in life, had learned something more meaningful than disappointment, that was understanding.  Gary thought it best to drive to Columbia Village,   giving an amazed management the explanation that they would have to decline the $47,000 position because of the corporations pet policy.

Fran’s cousin Rhoda Turner

Gary noticing that a hint of animosity beginning to build between the couple,  not serious but problematic because of the lack of intuitiveness and their failure to obtain a mutual goal.   Fran needing some free time from the confines of living in Columbia, deciding she would like to visit her cousin Rhoda in New Jersey,  Gary agreeing that it might  give the couple time to recoup from this their first constricted altercation.  With a one way airline reservation obtained, they made a late afternoon drive,  the two spending the night in Oakland rather than San Francisco for the early morning flight east.  The return drive home was an enduring one for Gary, questioning himself about his actions and feeling a sense of lost opportunity, but still a hope for the future.

In Search of Opportunity…..#258….The 2000’s

January 18, 2016
1217 Blue Daisy Way

1217 Blue Daisy Way

With Fran back east, the weekend found a new amortization,  Gary’s sister Nancy asking him to accompany her to Modesto,  having  recently evicted tenets from her single family rental house at 1217 Blue Daisy Way after receiving several phone calls from neighbors about their conduct.   The last phone from Dr. Eric Ramos,  Chief of Staff at Doctors Medical Center who resided next door, it was his call that resulted in the eviction action.  The two upon arrival discovering the  house and yard in disarray, the walls and ceiling of every room having been spray painted with yellow paint, the carpets having been neglected to the point of replacement,  the backyard swimming pool filled with algae resembled something out of the movie “the Creature From the Black Lagoon”.   The original longtime renters were an elderly Hispanic couple but apparently several family member of a younger generation had replaced them at some point in the past.  It was reported they parked cars on the lawn,  had outlandish loud music and parties, with come and go traffic at all hours giving cause for the neighbor to suspect a crack house.  Gary considering the condition could see that it would take more than weekend trips to rectify all the damage, mentioning to his sister that he would be willing to move to Modesto and work at restoring it and giving thought to the possibly renting it.

 Driving to Groveland to inform his sister Kay of his intentions, then borrowing her pickup to transported the bare necessities, a bed, table and chair from his Kiowa move that remained stored in the garage at the lake house.  The only appliance in the Modesto house was the stove,  the refrigerator that came with the rental had been removed, Gary running across Aaron’ Used Appliance on S. 9th St. that sold old refrigerators for less than nothing.    With the utilities service,  internet and phone turned on and the purchase of a used refrigerator  the daily remodeling process began with painting every room including the ceiling in the three bedroom house, plus repairing the hinges and guides on all the cabinets and draws of the built-ins.  The final project was having new carpet install in the bedrooms, hall, family and front rooms.  With the project reaching a conclusion Gary approached his sister about renting the house, the two coming to a satisfactory agreement.  Once again borrowing Kay’s pickup he began a two-day ordeal, making several trips per day,  relocating all of Fran’s furnishings  transported from Florida to Columbia and his remaining  possessions from Groveland with the exception the piano.  Gary having just completed his moving endeavor, the furnishing and boxes yet to be organized when Fran who had never seen the house called giving notice of  her impending return flight to SFO.  Her timing was impeccable, Gary having no desire to arrange the furnishing at 1217 Blue Daisy Way, more than satisfied, confident their move to Modesto would provide a renewed genesis.

Sierra Aviation , Oakdale

  Once again Gary began the pursuit of employment scanning the help wanted section of the Modesto Bee  searching for suitable vocation discovering a sundry of opportunities.   Finding an interesting prospect,  journeying to Oakdale to submit an application and interview for a flight cargo coordinator position with Sierra Aviation, an air freight carrier based at the Oakdale Airport.  The Oakdale audience was a formality, filling out an employee application, submitting a resume’, being briefed that the post entailed preparing manifests, coordinating airport pickups and delivery for arrivals and departures at various destinations.   Gary having experienced this coordination with the John Deere Company,  having provided custom cutter customers on the Harvest Trail   from Texas to North Dakota,  communicating by phone with them and with John Deere in Kansas City, arranging shipping carriers and pickup times for machine down parts.  The interview coming to a conclusion, the outcome coming as expected, “we’ll get back to you”.   The following morning an unexpected call for a second interview but this time with the operations manager.   Arriving, Gary related his past John Deere experience in preparing manifests,  inventory paperwork, coordinating and confirming pickup and delivery and highlighting the number one priority, customer satisfaction.  The interview completed, leaving with a feeling of  confidence that the prospects for acquiring the position was beginning to look good,  but a phone call the next morning brought disappointment, he would have to look for another employment opportunity.

Fran's Dollar Tree employment on McHenry Ave.

Fran’s Dollar Tree employment on McHenry Ave.

The search for employment endured,  Gary’s savings in the bank still a lone provision for their livelihood,  Fran joining the pursuit of employment discovering a help wanted ad for the McHenry Ave. Dollar Tree.  Acknowledging her prior years of service in Florida she was immediately hired working the early morning shift commencing at 4:00 A.M. accepting incoming freight, restocking the shelves.  Fran being a non driver and no public transportation at that hour,  Gary found himself on the morning shift providing her early morning transportation to  work and her return in the afternoon.   Following up on a newspaper ad driving to nearby Empire,to submit an application for a custodial job with the Empire School District,  but from his school employment past he knew that in all likelihood they would only hire a person who resided in the school district.   Continuing his search he interviewed with a company accessing inventory, putting a team of inventory data people together to count shelf items in stores.  Continuing his employment search in the morning paper,  discovering a notice for a maintenance position at the Modesto Parkway Plaza Wal-Mart store.  That afternoon found him driving across town to the Park Plaza store seeking out the Human Resource person attaching his type written resume’ to a filled out Wal-Mart employment application.  The next morning he received a call from the inventory company notifying him of his acceptance and scheduling a meeting day and time.  No sooner had he got off the phone,  he received a second call, it was Wal-Mart, the  Human Resource lady asking  if he could be available for an interview at 2:00 p.m..   The afternoon Wal-Mart  interview with HR was brief and as before received  the standard answer  “we’ll notify you”.  Returning home he was undecided whether to just go ahead and follow up with the inventory position when the phone rang again, it was Wal-Mart,  his orientation and employment would commence in the morning.   Gary was amazed,  two job confirmations in one day, but more amazing was the expediency of Wal-Mart’s hiring,  neither position high paying but at least a working opportunity.

Wal-Mart on Park Plaza

 Wal-Mart’s process for hiring was new experience,  a drug test,  a signature for permission to acquisition his DMV and law enforcement records, accompanied with a scheduled computerized maintenance and safety test.  Gary discovering the test somewhat inefficacious having to watch four hours of safety videos,  then an a five-part, ten question test about interactive maintenance procedure skills test, most which were not relative.   The orientation completed,  Gary finding his hours would be from 11:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. in the morning in the 24 hour accessible store.   The first evening on the job, discovering the crew of eight wasn’t contingent for performing actual maintenance, they were custodians responsible for floors, restrooms and clean-up duties,  such as vacuuming the offices and trash,  all plumbing, lighting and other repair requirements were subcontracted out.   Wal-Mart having a single custodian person on duty during the day and early evening  hours responsible for cleaning up spills and cleanliness of restrooms and  the lunch room.   The Crew Chief assigning the night crew their work responsibilities,  stripping and waxing various section of the floor,  vacuuming the vast store area carpet,  which could entail four hours, followed by a low-speed buffer top scrubbing of the carpet for stains and riding the propane driven powered buffers over the vinyl flooring.

The custodial experience was nothing new, having worked five years at the Kiowa Grade School as a custodian/driver, but he was more impressed with the work ethic of the other department employees,  finding the managers of the various sales departments would arrive during the early morning hours,  some as early as  4:00 A.M. to ready their department for the days expected traffic, filling inventories, rearranging and stocking the departments shelves.  The executive  management also impressed him,  the store manager  arriving some mornings  at 5:00 A.M. to inspect the store,  pulling a trash bag out of it’s container making sure the interior of the container was clean.  The store also prevailed a representative Safety Committee,   meeting once a month to discuss workman’s comp. and safety issues.  Wal-Mart also offered as a benefit stock offerings and medical insurance for all associates.   The only two disparity being the employees were designated as associates and the hourly wage earner were required to clock out for their two 15 minute breaks,  their off the clock time compensated, the company allowing a two-minute leeway clocking back in.  A 30 minute lunch being a normal clock-out situation for employees, Gary discovered that clocking in and out for breaks as well as a 30 minute so-called lunch  was to his advantage.   By not taking any breaks he was able to combine the two 15 minute break allowances with his 30 minutes lunch,  providing him an hour to clock out, stop at Jack in the Box drive thru, drive home and have Fran at the Dollar Tree at 4:00 a.m and clock back in with his return.  He realized that his Wal-Mart $7.75 per hour employment, which was a dollar more than minimum wage, was just a stop-gap measure, determined to continue his search attesting it was just a matter of time before he would encounter a more applicable precedence.

A Destiny Fulfilled #259 …( 2000)

January 16, 2016


Colony Park

Colony Park

 Six weeks had expired when destiny made its  appearances in the form of a help wanted section in the Modesto Bee.  Colony Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, a 99 bed skilled nursing facility located less than two miles from Gary’s Blue Daisy Way residence on E. Orangeburg Ave was in need of a full-time Maintenance Supervisor.  Gary jumping at the chance,  submitting an edited resume’ to Colony Park  deciding not to  include he was currently employed at Wal-Mart,  discerning it might be a detriment considering  the other positions he had held in the past.  To account for his employment time in California he listing his last employment reference as working for Sierra Management Corporation in Groveland, the company name of one of his sister Kay’s LLC, calling to give her a heads-up that she might receive a call from Colony Park.  His notification  wasn’t in vain, Kay having received a call from the Administrator at Colony Park,  giving her brother a notable but honest recommendation.   The call from Colony Park to Gary was forth-coming, requesting him to be present for an interview the following afternoon.

Arden Bennett – CEO of Healthcare Management Inc.

Gary was somewhat apprehensive but confident arriving at Colony Park, appropriately attired in a sports coat and tie at his appointed time.  Entering  he noticed two others who appeared to be waiting applicants dressed in jeans seated in the lobby awaiting their interview opportunity.  Gary directed to the administrator’s office being introduced to three gentlemen,  the Colony Park administrator Dave Yarborough,  Brad Kikuta, a corporate vice president and Arden Bennett, the CEO of  the eleven facilities that comprised Health Care Management Corporation.   Gary soon found his questioning being conducted, not by the administrator of the facility or the corporate vice president,  but by Arden Bennett, the Corporate CEO.   Bennett explaining the facility had some difficulty the administrator having hired four maintenance supervisors in the past year, none proving satisfactory and that the Colony Park was entering a new phase, it was to be the first Health Care Management facility to apply for JCAHO, (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization) membership.   Gary couldn’t believe what he was hearing as was very familiar with the organization having worked with JCAHO representatives during his tenure as president of the Kansas Hospital Engineers Association.    He related his experience to the CEO,  that as a member and president of the KHEA Association he attended many JCAHO seminars and had written hospital maintenance policies to JCAHO specifications.  Questioned about his maintenance experience, he concluded he was versed in all aspects of healthcare facility maintenance from the operation and maintenance of the physical plant to the intricacy of servicing patient care equipment.

Gary leaving the interview confident, his answer coming after a two-day wait, David Yarborough calling asking how soon he could start, that he could commence his orientation immediately,  then the disappointing news,  Gary’s request for $16.00 an hour was rejected relegated to  accepting $12.50 as a starting wage.   The afternoon found Gary traversing to Wal-Mart to address his departure, meeting with the congeal Human Resource lady,  turning in his time card, apologizing for such a short notice of his departure,  explaining that he had found a better opportunity,  her smile relieving his displeasure for not fulfilling his obligation,  her reply “this happens to us all the time.”

Gary at his home away from home —– work

Gary’s vista having risen,  his employment at Colony Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center giving him a contingency to affirm his twenty years plus experience as a hospital engineer.   He soon  discovered the healthcare facility void of anyone with comprehensive knowledge of the structural plant systems including his acquired maintenance assistant Reyes Hernandez, who directed him on a tour of  the building and premises.    The 99 bed skilled nursing facility maintained a staff numbering over 120, with a continuing 90 plus residents census.  The building encompassing  four wings in the shape of an X,  one wing  a locked down certified Alzheimer’s unit equipped with a keypad exit but also with a fire alarm release mechanism for the door and the units patio gate.   The building  encompassing 32 restrooms and six shower stalls,  plus the  department offices,  dining and activity rooms.  Gary finding his only disappointment, expecting an updated facility,  but discovering the building was built in 1964 and lacked few improvement since that era.  The upside to his work environment,  the yard work was contracted out,  no mowing and the total lawn area was on an automated sprinkler system.    His designated office was in  16 x 42 ft. shop northeast of the building accommodating a storage area for maintenance, housekeeping,  custodial and laundry supplies.  The shop was in total disarray without organization,  an electric wall heater for winter and a swamp cooler for summer.   Gary’s first priority was to make it presentable,  giving a semblance of organization, inquiring and receiving a computer for the virtuous tasks that he knew were on the horizon, Reyes, or Ray as he preferred Gary’s maintenance assistant had been called upon to provide the maintenance duties during the interim between employment of the many supervisors was an asset.

    The first requested major application upon Gary’s arrival was the painting of the kitchen and walk in refrigerator, which could only been approached in an after hour situation.  Gary conferring with Administrator David Yarborough about the overtime hours that he a Ray would incur,  surprisingly David volunteered to help with the painting.  The first night finding the three working with a diligence,  the second night Gary and Ray working alone, the facility administrator failing to appear.  Gary as a new employee having respect for David,  a retired Army Officer with a college degree in business administration but soon finding the other department heads had little regard for him and for some reason  the corporate entity, Healthcare Management had put him probation.   Within two months of Gary’s arrival he was relieved of his position and transferred to the Merced facility as temporary administrator then relieved of his employment,  Brad Kikuta, Corporate Vice President assuming a temporary position of Administrator.

Brad Kikuta – Corporate Vice President and temporary Administrator

Brad, fluent in the Japanese language,  his parents American citizens,  their Valley farmland confiscated during world war II,  then being placed in an internment camp, the youth growing up in the San Joaquin Valley,  a graduate of Fresno State University.   Gary finding the corporate vice president an inquisitive personality,  Brad as a person was a confirmed bachelor with a regimented life,  dawning the day with a 5:00 a.m. calling  at Gold’s Gym every morning,  arriving at work at 7:00, conducting the department head staff meetings at 9:00.   Most mornings  finding him departing the building for his corporate duties at their offices in Madera or visiting one of the other 12 facilities,  entrusting the everyday management of Colony Park’s to the Department Heads.   Most of the department supervisors were somewhat apprehensive of Brad,  but Gary arrival at 7:00 a.m., an hour earlier than the others,  provided an opportunity to discover an insight to Brad they would never encompass,  able to discuss  subjects other than work,  a mutual respect developing.


The Department Supervisors, a diversified collection: (From l to R) Brad, Admin; Kathy, HR; Marvin, So Serv; Bob, Med Equipment; Gary, Env. Serv; Ruth, QA; Joanie, Office Manager; Sashi, Dietary; Carolyn, DON; Julie, Activities; Brenda, Med Records

The Maintenance Supervisor having  progressed three months into his duties when Brad entreated him to his office asking Gary if he would be willing to expand his responsibilities by accepting a position appropriating the addition of the Housekeeping,  Custodial, and Laundry departments,  while still concurring his maintenance duties.  It was  Déjà vu, Gary recalling the very same circumstance happening 10 years earlier following his employment at the Anthony Hospital in Kansas.  Brad conferring his new job description as Environmental Services Supervisor, Gary accepting,  but not without experiencing an inner feeling of compassion as Shirley the housekeeping and laundry supervisor,  given notice, exited in tears.  Included with the added responsibilities was a substantial pay raise,  discovering he and the Director of Nursing,  Carolyn Hauser were the only two salaried staff employees.   The new responsibilities made for a longer day retaining his 7:00 A.M. appearance, on most days  his eight-hours extending sometimes into a ten-hour day.