Archive for May, 2016

The Phoenix Adventure…………..#194 (80’s)

May 30, 2016

Cruising at 34,000 feet

It was the first day of the Willson’s 16 day journey, enjoying breakfast at 34,000 feet, the early morning flight of American Airlines having soared into the celestial sphere above Kansas,  having departed from Wichita’s Mid Continent airport,  it’s designated appointment,  Sky Harbor International in Phoenix Arizona.   The in-flight family being provided a Skyway Catering service meal of scrambled eggs, sausage and pancakes to sustain their morning appetites during their 843 mile southwesterly flight.   An Arrival in Phoenix finding Pam,  her children Jay C and Summer K awaiting at Sky Harbor,  Pam being Jan’s best friend having invited the family to visit with the Ott’s. Her husband Doug and his twin brother Brad both members of Jan’s 1969 Kiowa high school graduation class.  Pam being very efficient having prepared an itinerary,  the first stop before acquainting their home would be the Desert Botanical Gardens,  a scenic walk presentation of the anthologized flowering cacti species from around the globe.

Desert Botanical Garden

The Sonoran Trail

The Sonoran Trail

The fifty acres of nature’s exhibition included several trail tours,  the Discovery,  Sonoran Desert and Wildflower trail,  providing over 21,000 plants.  The Willson clan enjoying the trifecta tour, but Gary discovering it was better adhered for those persons with an astute desert botanical background.  With the walk-thru tour completed,  the Phoenix calefaction approaching 100 degrees in the late morning hour,  a welcome relief from the elements was found at the Ott’s residence on West Milagro Avenue in the suburb of Mesa.   Gary taking notice and discovering  most of the  homes in the housing addition engendering sand in place of the green lawns for their yards,  the exception being the Ott’s back yards which was seeded in grass and lost golf balls,  the rear of their residence addressed a fairway on the Dobson Ranch Golf Course.

An afternoon journey  to downtown Phoenix,  Pam introducing all to the Engle Homes Towers,  a new 20 story high-rise building,  to meet with Doug, having recently received his law degree securing employment as a new attorney with a prestige’s law firm.  Doug proudly providing a tour of the twelfth  floor law offices,  Gary mostly impressed with the presence of the firm’s law-book library  but also with the view from the high-rise structure.   Returning, spending a quiet evening with the family,  the morning awakening  finding Pam, Jan and the children leaving for a shopping foray,  Gary and Doug remaining.

A discussion of living in the summertime environment of Arizona enfolded,  Doug pointing out the normal thermostat setting in the residence was at 80 degrees,  but Gary noticed upon Pam’s debarkation, Doug walked over setting  the thermostat to 74 and then later upon hearing Pam’s  car in the driveway, reset the thermostat back to 80 before his wife entered.   Gary surmising Doug’s serendipity clandestine action was  a result of his employment being used to a much cooler air-conditioned office.   The afternoon found the kids adorning swimming attire, the two families traversing to a first for Gary, a wave manufacturing indoor swimming facility.  The parents watching the kids experience  the wave producing natatorium,  the swells of water rushing towards them, an enjoyment for everyone.

The late afternoon,  the two families journeying South towards Chandler to experience the Rawhide Wild West Town Theme Park, a replica of an earlier era located  on 160 acres of the Gila River Indian Community, featuring  covered wagons,  buckboards,  a museum, and showmanship characters giving a presentation of gunfights and humorous interaction with members of the audience.   A gun fight between factions ensuing,  Jan being singled out as a hostage, called upon to participate in their production,  the crowd and her family enjoying her concert.

Jan – Captured for The Show

Conestoga Kids

The evening concluding with dinner at the Rawhide Steakhouse, the two families in an outdoor patio setting, enjoying the crowning point of the evening,  a mesquite flame broiled steak.   The entertainment continuing at the steakhouse with an unusual circumstance,  if a patron ordered a well done steak,  upon the servers arrival,  beneath a cover they would discover a well done smoking cowboy boot on a platter,  a novice Rawhide Ranch idea for remembrance.


Sunday morning unfolding, the two families participating in church services at the Phoenix Apostolic Christian Church,  although being nonmembers, Doug and Pam were well acquainted with the Apostolic,  Doug’s father and mother  church members,  having raised their son’s in the Kiowa Apostolic Church.   Gary and Jan having the opportunity to meet many of the Phoenix  Church Brothers and Sisters with relations in Kiowa,  finding a solace in bringing greetings from the Kiowa congregation.

The  afternoon, Pam providing the transportation,  the Willson family accepting an invitation from Jan’s cousin LaVonne and Husband Roy Yergler to visit their home  in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.   LaVonne being the eldest daughter of Jan’s Aunt Lavern and Uncle Raymond Roth,  a minister in the Kiowa Apostolic Church.

Roy, Vonne and the Yergler family

Jan - a farewell to Pam and Phoenix

Jan – a farewell to Pam and Phoenix

A quiet evening remaining, Gary grateful for a very enjoyable time and the  hospitality provided by Doug  and Pam and their family, the visit would be an everlasting memory.  A morning wake-up call, Sky Harbor beckoning, the Phoenix adventure fulfilled, a flight to California with the journey to continue.


Destination – California…………#195 (80’s)

May 28, 2016

The Gallagher and Burk hillside indention

Scott Willson

The Willson’s having arrived from Phoenix and from the Oakland Airport Gary could ascertain the past, viewing the Gallagher and Burk quarry,  its mountain indention still a prominent landmark on the East Oakland hills.  The scene of his youthful adventures,  Devil’s Punchbowl,  the Sulphur Mines,  a remembrance of an audacious childhood firmly embedded.  Gary’s eldest son Scott having awaited their flights arrival at the airport to Shepherd the family to his Aunt Katherine and Uncle Don DaValle’s condominium  in Foster City.  The DaValle’s having departed on a pre-scheduled vacation to Oregon, Gary told to make themselves at home.  Having acquired a  prearranged rental car from Alamo Car Rental, the Willson taking possession of a new Chevrolet Cavalier it’s odometer registering 16 miles.

Foster City, once a landfill

Following his son down Interstate 880, the old Nimitz Freeway,  to the San Mateo Bridge, crossing San Francisco Bay to Foster City.  The city founded in the 1960’s on engineered landfill of the bay marshes on the east edge of San Mateo, the city  named after T. Jack Foster, the real estate magnate who owned much of the land comprising the city.  Gary son Scott having left Oklahoma City taking up residence at first in Santa Cruz but now installing prefab office systems for a company in San Francisco and working for Don and Katherine at Foster City between office set-ups, delineating computer software programs, the DaValle’s having initiated a sideline software business.

San Francisco At The Beach

San Francisco At The Beach

Old Playland at the Beach

The agenda was in place, the morning finding the Willson’s leaving the condominium,  Gary propelling the Cavalier to San Francisco,  the first of a two-day adventure in the city by the bay.   The inaugural stop being the ocean side Sunset District, the family disembarking off the Great Highway that ran parallel to the sandy beach hosting the breaking waves of the majestic Blue Pacific.  With the famous Cliff House Restaurant within sight, Robert, Sandi and Jan, now shoeless their feet greeting  the waters of the Ocean.  Gary very much familiar with these surroundings as a youth having shook hands with the thundering surf and  the joys of the now departed Playland At the Beach, all fond memories.

a Fulton St. entrance to Golden Gate Park


Continuing their drive up Fulton St to the  10th Ave entrance to Golden Gate Park, the 1017 acre expanse playing host to an array of exhibitions,  the De Young Museum, the California Academy of Science and Natural History with its aquarium and museum,  one of the world’s largest.  Gary finding himself at home in the complex, as a youth having ventured to the park and the Morrison Planetarium at six weeks intervals,  a bus journey across the Bay Bridge and subsequent McAllister Ave. Electric Bus to the Park,  a regular visitor to the changing programming of the planetarium. Not surprising when entering the Academy of Science  to find the pendulum outside the Planetarium entrance still suspended and fluctuating from the ceiling,  giving presence to the earth rotation.   A tour of the Steinhart Aquarium,  the african display with its taxidermy wildlife and across to the De Young museum,  Robert and Sandi  experiencing the vast variety of this realm.

Perpetual Pendulum

Steinhart Aquarium

Steinhart Aquarium

The visit to Golden Gate Park would not be complete without the Japanese Tea Gardens,  concerted in 1894 for the California International Exposition,  its five acres, a  wondrous presentation of walkways thru flowering escapades,  circular bridged paths overlooking the tropical fish laden ponds,  the rising Pagoda and sculptured Buddha’s.

Jan At The Japanese Tea Gardens

Robert and Sandi


Leaving the park, Gary deciding on another landmark visitation, Lombard Street,  the famous crooked street in San Francisco.   The steep incline addressing the ascent, its winding interlude decorated with a panoramic display of burgeoned plants,  the residences inhibiting this visitor attraction,  taking amour-propre in their affectations.  The day waning for the  adventuress family,  Gary directing the Cavalier  onto the El Camino Real to ensue a return to Foster City.

A San Francisco Treat…………..#195A (80’s)

May 26, 2016

Fisherman’s Wharf

Pier 39

The second morning in Foster City finding the Cavalier ascending the El Camino Real,  a recrudescence to San Francisco, another adventurous day for the Willson family and Gary’s rumination with the north bay.   Fisherman’s Wharf still a vista of maritime presence and a historic chronicle of the cities nugatory endeavor.   Arriving at Pier 39, the cavalier finding a statutory residence on Beach Street, an abbreviated distance to the beckoning fanfare of the various enunciated proclamations.

Robert, Jan & Sandi – The Balclutha

Aboard the square-rigged Balclutha

Gary having traverse this wonderland many times before, guiding them on Jefferson Street to the Hyde street pier,  moored at rest in the water was the majestic Balclutha, its presence beckoning an open invitation to come aboard.  The square-rigged whaler was built in 1886,  its presence still communicating a residency of a bye gone era and within it,  an essence of consciousness still remaining of the brazen able-bodied sailors,  the generation who encountered the sailing vestiges of the sea.

Robert and the Thayer

The Eureka

A thing of the past

Continuing on with a tour of the schooner C A Thayer, a lumber bearing wind-driven vessel of sea-going worthiness built in 1895 near Eureka California. Before them a familiar sight for Gary, at berth the Eureka, a member of the  Richmond  San Rafael  ferry boat fleet.   An anamnesis from Gary’s past,  the ferry having spent decades traversing  the bay,  its labor  providing an automotive avenue to Marin County, its tenants bypassing the two San Francisco iconic bridges.  Gary’s remembrance of the Eureka on the Bay, the on-shore ocean breeze buffeting him on the deck of the gallant carrier,  the Ferry’s presence a reminder of the nostalgic memory of his youthful quintessence.

The Pampanito dockside

The Pampanito

Aboard the Pampanito

The decommissioned submarine Pampanito was solace in the water,  a veteran of the Second World War, commissioned in 1943 with a compliment of 10 officers and 70 enlisted men,  receiving a compliment of six battle stars,  a monument to those submariner’s having giving their all during  battle in the Pacific.   Gary perceiving a tempestuous atmosphere  when boarding the battle tested submersible,  a consciousness of immortality reigning from its past duty-bound participation.   Descending into the bowels of the vessel, the family experiencing the circumscribed quarters the crew endured,  the captured ambiance of the surroundings,  giving all who boarded a new perspective of the endurance of a submariner and their dedication.

Marine Terminal 41

The Blue and Gold bay cruise casting its mooring at Marine Terminal 41, the family having been entertained by a gathering of pigeons who conveniently gathered at the first toss from Robert and Sandi’s popcorn bags.  Once aboard, the family experiencing the on-shore breeze that cascaded thru the entrance aperture of San Francisco bay as they passed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.   Its brisk breath-taking coercion giving connotation to all who have passed thru this gateway portal to the affable world beyond.   Gary again sensing the aura, the bouquet of the bay,  the tidal breath aspiring thru the Golden Gate,  the dampening wind engulfing him and son Robert, the only ones to stand at the bow.  Once again engendering a faction of his youth, an anamnesis of a buoyant memory still able to experience a childhood recognition of  acclamation.

Alcatraz occupation

 The island of Alcatraz drawing near, known earlier as La Islade las Alcatraces, the island of the pelican, the 47 acres being named by spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala in 17 75.  Acquiring it’s modern day notoriety in 1934 under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, incurring a reputation as a staunch symbol of discipline for 29 years, gaining the callous name, The Rock.  The Bureau of Prison with a softening of juridical prudence and increasing budget cost closed its doors in 1963.  A 19 month occupation by a fractal group claiming to be native americans in 1969 caused major damage to the landmark before being removed in 71.  The Golden Gate National Recreational Area acquired the island and opened it to the public the following year.

A Pretty Picture

An addition to Panoramic San Francisco

Gary found the skyline of the city by the bay as observed from the aquatic vessel, a panorama vestige of  prominence and heritage.  Tony Bennett having painted a melodious picture with his iconic song,  I left my heart in San Francisco, high on a hill it calls to me.  To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars,  the morning fog may chill the air, I don’t care.   The family stood as the Blue and Gold  floating appliance  edged itself within the brine covered pilings that rose like  benevolent corral,  the crew brandishing the securing rigging,  a gangway in place,  the peregrinations fulfilled.


Ripley’s wax museum

The family deciding on  luncheon meal at Alioto’s, Gary in years past  having been introduced to  an aquatic delicacy native to California, the Sand Dab, a seasonal delight in the spring and summer months.  Upon satisfying their appetite, the San Francisco quest traversing onto the pedestrian filled Jefferson Street, which played host to the enterprising business’s and many street entertainers.  Gary having lost his status as a visitors years ago,  introduced his family to the renown Ripley Believe it or Not Wax Museum, a tour acquainting them with the life-size wax replicas of individuals of historical prominence.

A Hill Climber

Continuing down Jefferson, approaching Hyde Street,  the clanging of a bell drawing their attention,  it was the Beach and Hyde Street Turn Around for the applauded cable car.   Securing their tickets, the family finding a position in the very front, Robert standing on the running board, leaning out, a glee expounding from him as the trolley proceeded up the steep incline, then descending to the Powell and Market Street Turn About. The family remounting the car for the return excursion to the Beach and Hyde Street conclusion.

Jan going strong in China Town

Jan going strong in Chinatown

A final objective before the resolute return drive  to Foster City, Chinatown.  During his youthful years Gary having ventured thru almost all areas of the city, but never had a purpose to for an in-depth exploration of the realm known as Chinatown.   Grant and Stockton Street extending eight blocks was the designated tourist path to explore oriental expenditures, open outside markets stocked with varieties of fish and meats stayed on ice, fresh vegetables, fruits and endless shops of clothing, knickknacks and trinkets, the sidewalk filled with a multitude of visitors an everyday occurrence.  Jan continuing to enjoy the emporium and boutiques, but with the family noting signs of fatigue and the sun giving notice of the lateness of the hour they were ready to frequent the car and depart for Foster City, a farewell to the city by the bay, a memory forever inscribed, their expectations having been fulfilled.

A farewell to the city by the bay, a memory forever




A Mother-Lode Acquaintance……#196 (80’s)

May 25, 2016

The reaches of Foster City were diminishing in the rear view mirror,  the San Mateo Bridge beckoned a farewell,  the Willson rental Cavalier crossing to the East Bay turning east on Interstate 580 .  The start of a familiar journey through the Livermore Valley venturing the wind-swept Altamont Pass,  a pilgrimage to the residency of Gary’s parents in the tree shrouded Sierra Nevada mountain town of Pioneer.  Traversing thru Tracey then north on highway 99 to Waterloo Road,  the given name for a five miles section of State highway 88.

Continuing east  thru the Sierra foothill gold country,  passing the village of Martel,  beginning a downhill incline towards the town of Jackson,  the family viewing the relic fixtures of two once  prosperous gold mines still present with their stature and heritage,  the Argonaut and the Kennedy.   The Argonaut at its 1942 closing  having the distinction of being the deepest gold mine in North America,  reaching a depth of 5570 feet,  but also having the distinction of losing 47 miners to a fire at the depth of 4650 feet in 1922,  a rescue shaft was provided from the nearby Kennedy mine but to no avail,  the miners were lost.

The infamous Argonault Mine

The infamous Argonaut Mine


raversing Jackson, the legendary gold emporium town on Highway 88,  the Sierra Mountain highway again starting an uphill climb for 16 miles passing thru the hamlet of Pine Grove before discovering Pioneer,  a way-stop from a by-gone era, once christened Pioneer Station,  a stopping point to change wagon horses for the continuous journey over Kit Carson Pass.   The Cavalier continuing  a two mile venture on a gravel road into the forest shrouded surroundings, the pastoral cabin and family members waiting for their arrival.

Pioneer, a remnqnt of the past

Pioneer Ca., a remnant of the past

Pine engulfed Buckhorn Ridge Rd.

The Willson’s sequestered retreat aptly christened “the cabin, in reality was a two bedroom 768 square foot retirement home with a 10 by 32 foot deck.   Gary having fond memories of his youthful days, helping his Dad clear the land and lay the foundation piers for the structures construction and was always mindful of the wilderness,  its eminence of discovery and adventure.  Gary sensing a wave of nostalgia addressing ambiance, seeing his family,  it having been several years since his last endeavor to California.   Sandi and Robert greeting their cousin Sarah and her husband Randy James, their Aunt Nancy, the three having driven from the Sonora area.

The cabin floor joist

Randy, Sarah, Robert, Sandi, Jan

The cabin standing structurally strong and stately,  no longer an addendum,  but a final accomplishment, Gary’s mother the architect and his father the laborer and construction initiator,  the finished product a result of their collective efforts.   The wind in the towering pines giving notice to all that listened,  discovering the message, an invitation,  a beckoning call from the wilderness.  Instinct flourishing,  organizing an outing for Robert and Sandi, a first a journey down the old logging road where as a youth Gary and his sister Nancy discovering a sequestered  cache of dynamite, but on this trek to re-explore the abandoned gold mine with the rusted ore car tracks and its natural spring, the spring at one time the family’s only source of water.  It was no surprised to discover the aqua flow still flowering from the mines darken fissure.   A further expedition,  the three following a well-traveled deer trail in an attempt to discover the remains of the old miners cabin from Gary’s childhood ascendancy,  but the recollection of its location was either amiss or the quondam of history having removed its propinquity.

The dream come true

A returning venture to Jackson with Grandma Willson along, turning on highway 49, towards the town of Mokelumne Hill,  the families destination  the mow call me river and a revered swimming area.  Turning east just before the bridge, then proceeding on the narrow  access road that paralleled the river,  soon reaching a widening area with ample parking among the river shrouded forage.   The river a boyhood memory of  Gary’s dad, able to swim there as a youth in the 1920’s,  one of the few times he was able to share companionship with his father.

Mokelumne Beach - A 1920's swimming experience for Gary's Dad.

Mokelumne Beach – A 1920’s swimming experience for Gary’s Dad.

Mom and Smoky on the Mokelumne River bridge

Embarking to the river’s edge,  finding a large expanse of sand resembling a beach,  its granular consistency reaching out into the water.   Gary briefly reminiscing,  experiencing  a similar scene over three decades ago with his sisters,  recalling their water spaniel Smokey and his Father sharing of his youthful experience of this spot.  Sandi and Robert were hesitant but motivated to venture into  the icy waters of the snow embolden flow that emerged from the apogee of the Sierra’s,  the two soon discovering its temporal aperture unsuitable for a sustainable swimming presence.   With a Mokelumne river memory installed,  the family continuing on  to Columbia,  preparing for the next event of the mother-lode acquaintance.

Robert and Sandi at Mokelumne Beach

Grandma, Robert Sandi, Jan and the river sand

Gary’s sister Nancy providing an opportunity to visit Columbia State Park,  with it 30 original buildings from the 1850 gold mining town, her residence within walking distance of this awe-inspiring exhibition.  The family arriving at the park, experiencing  a journey back in time,  the post office,  bank,  the saloon,  blacksmith shop,  all the conveniences of a by-gone era,  but in reality, a functioning town within a park,  the denizen dressed in character of the historic period.   Among the many exhibits, Sandi and Robert discovering the parks gold panning display the most enjoyable, a unique exhibit with water filled troughs containing sand,  embedded with flakes of real gold to be extracted by the celebrating customers, an experience in California Aurelia mineral history.

Robert, Gary, Sandi panning for gold

  A return to Pioneer a final evening before the family’s departure, Gary anxious in one respect to continue their journey, but an aura of melancholy beginning to filter thru his inner-feeling facade,  knowing that his mother would travel east to visit, but having no idea when he would see father again.


Entrance to “Shangri-la”……..#197 (the 80’s)

May 24, 2016



California's Central Valley

California’s Central Valley

Upon saying goodbye to Gary’s parents in Pioneer, the family once again seated in the Alamo Rental Car continuing their California venture,  a northern proclivity was enhanced, the engaged vessel accelerating and arriving at the alacrity speed limit posted on interstate 5.   The Northern Central Valley with no reciprocation, its delineation remaining as Gary remembered it, an expanse of agricultural and husbandry endeavors, frequented with small farming communities.  Once departing Red bluff, the scenic atmosphere began anew, to the east, the towering snow-capped peak of Mount Lassen would remain in view for temporal visit until reaching Redding.

Mt. Lassen








The Valley was now belated, the interstate beginning its slow upwards traverse from Redding, reaching out ten miles to embrace Lake Shasta, the third largest lake in California.  Its shoreline encumbrances 365 miles, populated with a host of evergreen trees, pines, fir, spruce and manzanita.  In 1936 the Shasta Dam project was initiated on the Sacramento River,  a ten-year project culminating in 1946, the completion of the lake reached fruition in 1948, the hydroelectricity plant providing power to Redding and the Northern Central Valley.  In the distance, Mount Shasta’s majestic appearance permeated the north-eastern horizon, but to the west another imposing monument coming into view, Castle Craig’s, it towering peaks arising from an elevation of 2000 ft. to 6600 ft. The Craig’s being formed during the Pleistocene period, the glaciers eroding the volcanic and sedimentary, leaving the solid granite heighten vertex vaulting upwards.




Before them an imposing presence was within reach,  its ascendancy dominating the panoramic landscape,  casting a mystical aura of celestial contentment on its ruling realm, Mount Shasta.  the regal snow-covered peak raising 14,179 feet in elevation,  reaching up to embrace the heavens.    John Muir penned,   “Solitary as God, white as winter’s moon”.  Mount Shasta starts up suddenly and solitary from the heart of the great black forest of Northern California,   its ambiance imposing like a dormant volcanic pinnacle,  standing aloof,  excluded from any mountain range.  Completing the 3 hundred 50 mile trek on interstate 5 to Yreka,  the travelers finding California Highway 3,  the avenue west over Yreka Mountain,  thru the small community of Fort Jones,  his mother’s birthplace and the entrance to a  “Shangri-la”  called Scott Valley,  the family crowning the 12 miles to Etna.

The scenic drive still a masterpiece of unblemished carriage,  an assembly of man’s stewardship and mother nature’s artistry.  Gary marveled at the 4 mile wide-16 mile long valley.  a painted containment of the Trinity Alp’s  and the declared wilderness of the Marble Mountains.  As a youth having journeyed with Fess the length and width of this Shangri-la haven,  experiencing torrential thunderstorms and a raining of tree frogs during a hail storm, but also the serenity in observing droves of deer trooping down from their mountainous sanctuary, seemingly knowing that the hunting season has yet begun.


The rural setting fading,  a residential notification making an appearance,  Gary questioning his memory after a thirty-five year absence.  It was 1953 again, the same road, the same houses and the same entrance into town,  Etna’s population of 500 had remained without change.  Gary piloting the car down Diggles Street, a primary approach to the communities lone business street aptly name Main Street.  The remembrance prevailing, the driver pointing out the previous residency of his Aunt Bernice and his cousin Geraldine Jerry Facey where he had spent summers.

The walk to the front door of the house was a long one, not in distance but one of wonderment, Gary not having seen his aunt since the age of 12, but when she opened the door, again it was 1953, she looked just as he remembered her.  Aunt Bernice’s current home on Woodland Street was illustrious, its beamed ceiling, rotunda walled fireplace, Gary totally impressed, but it was to be expected as his Uncle Sam, who passed in 1981, was a renowned building contractor as was his grandfather Potter who’s bridges and building structures remain, as exemplified by the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Fort Jones that he built in 1921.

Gary finding their visit rewarding, especially Robert and Sandi enjoying the capacious yard adorned with towering trees, one emitting a very elongated rope swing and the yard crowned with a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Trinity and Marble Mountains.     His cousins Jerry and Fess’s dwelling was conveniently adjacent to Aunt Bernice’s residence, a large abode with an attached garage and shop also with an essential spacious yard.

Sandi swinging – Robert in the tree

Robert and Sandi at Great Aunt Bernice’s

A late morning journey found the family following Jerry and Fess and two of their granddaughters south of town then turning at the French Creek bridge onto a mountain dirt roadway in the Cavalier.  The excursion continuing then coming to a conclusion, stopping at what appeared to be a public picnic area with tables and in a tree shaded reach, the calling  sound of the flowing creek.  Jerry, who had the foresight to pack a picnic lunch mentioned it was time to eat.  French Creek that was nearby beckoned, Fess whom on this day like most,  just happened to have fishing poles, Gary and Robert partaking of the invitation, but alas, a catch to no avail.


One extended weekend during Mike’s youthful summer days, his cousin’s family made a captivating camping trip to the Trinity Alps and a fishing expedition to the iridescent Tangle Blue Lake.  The caravan assembly traversing the steep incline of the logging drag trails finding  all seven in an open-air jeep,  Fess’s brother Wilbur sitting on the hood to hold the front end down,  the four youngsters remaining in the back with the camping equipment.  Etna also provided Mike with a young lady encounter, her name was Bobbi Brown, her father was the editor a of the towns newspaper,  they would roller skate,  attend the movie at the Star Theatre,  hike Etna Creek together and in the warm summer evenings  sit under the clear star filled sky and talk,  a new but lasting experience for a 12-year-old.  The summer ended,  Mike returning to his East Oakland Hills home, the two corresponded briefly by mail,  but like the summer,  it also ended.


Aunt Bernice’s Breakfast was déjà vu for Gary and a new experience for the family, his Aunt providing a copious breakfast, making several brands of cereal available, a glass pitcher of milk, its bottle or a carton container never permitted on the table, a bowl fresh fruit, eggs, pancakes, the syrup also in a glass syrup container and to Roberts delight, rainbow trout, pan-fried, their heads and tail still attached, a journey back in time for the eldest Willson.   Gary finding the June mornings crisp at Etna’s 3000 foot level, Fess after retiring from his county road crew employment, subscribed to an occupation that he had maintained as a sideline, an animal processor, harvesting and processing customers personal or vending products.  His previous home on Diggles street sitting on over an acre, with a small barn, pig sty and a Holstein cow providing milk for several customers.

A morning found Robert as an observer.  Fess, backing his pickup to the shop door, the arm of the hoist protruding, its cable lowered,  lifting a hog up out of the bed by its hind legs, then lowering to a metal platform on rollers.  Robert remained watching,  Fess with knife in hand  began the butchering process, a decision to leave was hesitant, but would be  forthcoming, Gary understood, having watched Fess harvest a live steer from start to finish when he was Roberts age.

The allotted time for continuing their journey having finally arrived. saying goodbye was difficult, not so much to his aunt and cousins but to the aura of the past that resided there, deep inside, Gary sheltered a secret desire,  Like Robert Conway in James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon”,   It was to someday return, to  “Shangri-La”.


Resolving Crescent City……#198 (the 80’s)

May 22, 2016

A meaningful farewell is given to Aunt Bernice,  the Facey’s  and  the eminent view of the Trinity and Marble Mountains from Etna.   The embarkation finding the family leaving the wondrous mountain-locked Scott Valley, christened  Shangri-La,  the Willson family again traversing Yreka Mountain on California 3,  accessing Yreka the city of Gary’s earthly commencement.   Having acquired an address,  the family making a stop to visit of Gary’s cousin  Pat O’Toole and his wife Shirley,  a thirty year lapse since the two having greeted each other.  Pat and his older brother Bud, both retired from military service having seen combat in Korea and Vietnam,  Bud availing the Army’s Air Defense Command and Pat a Sonar Specialist aboard a Naval Destroyer.

Gary’s cousin Pat O’Toole and wife Shirley



Gary’s Uncle Pete and Aunt Ann







One final stop  before the beckoning invitation of the road is answered,  a visit to a relation who’s presence is a remembrance of a 4-year old Mike,  but to this day having never been able to elicit their appearance in person,  his Uncle Pete Potter and Aunt Ann.   Their long time residence a remembrance firmly embedded because of the sounding of a horn at the Yreka commercial laundry, a sounding displayed in the morning,  twice during the lunch hour and at the completion of the work day.  During the last year of world war II , the 4-year old  would visit with his Aunt and Uncles only sibling,  his older cousin Billy.  After his visit he would walk home past the laundry and for an unbeknownst reason the sounding of the laundry horn was intimidating.  Approaching the laundry would find the youngster gathering speed,  running,  success was surviving without a horn encounter.  Gary finding it was a luminous occasion to finally experience and visit with Pete and Ann,  A focal  countenance coming to fruition of a forty-three year family memory


Gary's WW II home in Yreka at 215 Butte St.

Gary’s WW II home in Yreka at 215 Butte St.

Gary’s curiosity was acuminous,  before departing Yreka  he aspired to ascertain the location of the apartment residence he resided in during World War II,  its appearance and location disclosed only in the memory of a then four year-old, but Gary still able to recall the name Butte St.  Instinct  prevailing, driving to Butte St.,  stopping at a residency and taking a picture,  the results would be forth-coming from his mother upon the film’s development, confirming a childhood memory.


The aphorism  “you can’t get there from here”  was apropos,  the Willson’s aspiring to travel due-west to the Pacific Coast and Crescent City,  finding the only applicable highway from Yreka to the pacific coast was U S 1 99, commencing in Grants Pass Oregon.   Once again addressing Interstate 5,  the new Chevrolet Cavalier bounded in a northern aperture,  the panoramic ambiance of the mountainous terrain,  its woodland accession a vestige of nature’s macrocosm.   The first Oregon city of caliber was  Ashland,  Gary remembering visiting Ashland’s Lithia Park the summer he stayed in Etna with his Aunt Bernice and Uncle Sam. The resonant precursor for the remembering was the Parks Lithia Mineral Water drinking fountain.  Not aware of the fountains difference,  its bitter taste not a pleasant experience for a thirsty ten-year old.



The Interstate knows no limits,  Medford came and went,  Grants Pass was rapidly ascending on the horizon and the junction of U S 1 99. With the  crossing of the Rogue River and a course alteration to the southwest,  the scenic 80 mile journey to Crescent City commencing uninterrupted until crossing back into California.  coming upon the Collier Tunnel,  named for the 36 year legislative serving California State Senator Randolph Collier.  the principal author of the 1947 Collier-Burns Act,  which created the California  highway network,  earning him the title , “The Father of the freeway system”.   Gary having heard his name mentioned by his mother as he was a family friend  who was born in Etna,  lived in Yreka, his political astuteness providing Siskiyou County unprecedented stature.




Approaching the Jedidiah Smith National Recreation Area with its towering redwoods and  ambling Smith River,  bringing the travelers to a halt.   A time to pause, Gary Jan- Robert and Sandi disembarking their conveyance,  wetting their feet in the cool clear aqueous Smith River waters ,  a time to reflect on the silent wilderness serenity,  with its majestic aura and absorb this temporal meaning of nature’s opulence.  Gary, self-conscious of the scene before him, the visual majesty of Jan and his two children embellishing the already grandeur of the scenic surroundings, both a  luminous presentation of God’s earthly creations.




The 80 mile extent of US 1 99 was about to be fulfilled,  merging with US 1 oh 1,  4-miles from Crescent City,  the highways final termination.   Gary was surprised with the size of-the town,  a population of 3500,  all residing in an area of less than 2 square mile.    A visual perspective of the towns historic landmarks was enhanced culminating at the  tidal basis of Battery Point.   Taking leave of  the Cavalier,  the family venturing towards a light house built in 18 55,  positioned on a tiny islet across an isthmus only accessible at low tide.  The family discovering a fortuitous reward prevailing,  the isthmus was dry, the ocean withdrawing its tidal gift and being of few visitors.   The tidal basis way to the islet was  a obscured traveled route and once aboard the picayune island  an uphill walkway was found.



The lighthouse Hosts greeting their visitors  introducing themselves,  welcoming them to the beacon structure, their perennial home, elucidating about their life on the islet and providing a tour of their living domain.  With some exceptions, many of the furnishings were in their original surroundings from a quondam era.  A narrow stairway journey upward to view the beacon light, the host couple chronicling its history and picturing folklore stories of the oceans bellowing force,  its crest sweeping across the islet,  at times  a driven tempest,  questioning the fortitude of the occupancy and the anatomy of the architecture.  The lighthouse excursion providing a celebrated capsule of California’s bygone history, the Willson’s enjoying their conversation with the modern-day lighthouse keepers. The family concluding their acquaintance with Crescent City and with the remainder of the afternoon available  the venture was to continue, the cavalier  journeying south.


The Avenue Of The Giants…….#199 (80’s)

May 20, 2016


Highway U S 101 is referred to by a variety of road-signs, in Oregon it is characterized as  the Oregon coast highway, in Washington state it’s identified as plain 101, and in California it’s sometimes referenced as the pacific coast highway,  but the residents of northern California having recognized it’s alluring provocation christened it the Redwood Highway.  It was an amenable designation as the Willson family were about to experience on  their journey conveying south from crescent city.  The itinerary was one without design,  neither Gary or Jan could appraise what points of interest or vista they would engender that might compel an arrest in their journey.  Gary’s curiosity was activated when less than two miles from crescent city they encounter a roadside sign.  Turn on headlights Next 8 miles.



The forestation had begun,  the two lane Redwood Highway was  blanketed by a disposition of prismatic earthen foliage and majestic ascending trees. the asphalt roadway carving an artery thru the labyrinth of coppice,  providing an uninterrupted avenue of empyrean observation.  The travelogue amongst the Redwoods was halted,  a large parking area and pavilion was entrenched on the left side of the highway.  towering upwards and adjacent was a giant 49 foot likeness of the legendary Paul Bunyan holding an ax, and Babe his renown blue ox.  Gary  without hesitation  structured the Cavalier into the Parking dominion,  an aura of curiosity and enthusiasm resonating from the cars back seat.     Robert and Sandi acknowledging the display,  discovering something of real interest to their youthful perception


Trees of Mystery is a privately owned exhibit bordered by The Redwood National Forest and State Park,  what started as a fishing camp by Carl Bruno in 1931 evolved into an attraction named Wonderland Redwood Park, then named the Kingdom of Trees after a rustic highway 101 was opened for more public use by a WPA highway project.  It was then sold to Carl Lewin and re-branded with its current name Trees of Mystery.  In 1946, Ray and wife  Marylee Thompson,  the first woman to serve on the board of the redwood empire association,  became the principal benefactors, expanding the affectation to encompass the redwoods anomalous aperture..

Jan, Sandi and Robert with the stone serpent

Sandi and the tired Logger

Robert and Sandi before a redwood

The Willson’s beginning,  Robert and Sandi leading the procession, exploring the stated stone,  wooden sculptures and carvings viewed along the winding path.  Gary taking notice,   even in their demise the redwoods insured a survival,  many with six Herculean trees rooted from a fallen ancestor, its new growth springing forth from its branches,  at times the redwoods blanketing the Trail of Trees in a semi-darkness

The Brotherhood Tree,  a specimen of endurance,  over 2000 years of age and when losing 74 feet of it skyward reach, still remains standing at 215 feet of stature.  Continuing on to another  cluster of designated trees,  “The Cathedral“,  a hosting location for weddings.  The evening hour was approaching,  a meal at the dining establishment adjoining the Trees of Mystery was fulfilling, Gary realized it was a 70 mile journey to Eureka,  the family feeling the fatigue from the long journey.  It was time to still the night, but their lateness finding no vacancy’s, a final resolve successful.  a catechism of tomorrow’s venture would begin with the celestial essence of an Eureka dawn

The morning found  a gentle ocean affectation filling the atmosphere,  the aurora of the sun brushing the landscape with an advancing effulgence.   Humboldt Bay,  the second largest bay in California,  it position virtually undiscovered from the sea,  because of  its  obscure narrow harbor entrance  and a similar circumstance from the terra firma east, explorers finding northern California and southern Oregon land routes to the pacific coast non-existent because of the 2 million acres of densely forested Redwoods.  In 1850 gold was discovered on the Trinity River, the miners initiating a compulsory path to the coast and an  uncovering of Humboldt Bay and bringing settlers and Eureka to propinquity.


Eureka waterfront

A morning tour of the city,  viewing the celebrated Victorian Mansions built by the 1884 lumber baron William Carson, first viewing a pink Victorian, a wedding gift for his son Milton, then the monolithic colossus home of the redwood empire architect.  Continuing with the exploration, the harbor wharf granting the sound and aroma of the lapping water, finding a magnitude of fishing sorties and  lumber enterprises  still flourishing.  Their heighten assemblages  of branched timber addressing the waterfront awaiting shipment to the mills.   Another assembly of history gathered and filed away for recalled.



Once again acquainting the Highway,  the travelers continued south,  traversing the small burg of Fortuna and finding a distinctive name change for this extension of 101,  now proclaimed as  The Avenue of the Giants.   Halting their progression at Myersflat,  again finding an opportunity to experience the continuing breath of the redwoods, the shrine auto exhibit of the drive thru tree,  the cavalier idling thru the standing giant redwoods hollowed out passage way, and to the delight of Robert and Sandi, Gary stopping, camera in hand to record the event for prosperity.   The family once again embarking  on foot, traversing another trail to consume the essence of the redwood giants,  finding The Founders Tree,  a 346 foot colossal dedicated as a tribute to the save the trees league, formed in 1917,  responsible in preventing the redwood groves destruction


Jan’s interest having accumulated, discovering a gift shop which displayed cuts of redwood, some sculptured to adorn a place of dignity in a room and others that would prevail as a backdrop for a clock or picture.   The uniqueness of the shop included free shipment to any location, enabling the purchasing excursionists to continue to journey without having to arrange a provisional space for their acquisitions,  thus tempting the travelers to increase their expenditure.  With the afternoon approaching and their previous motel accommodations in Eureka unsuitable,   their late arrival finding the better establishments void of a  vacancy,  Jan having vowed, this would never happen again, inaugurating a call to the Best Western in Garberville,  a reservation was accomplished and with a satisfied Jan,  a better night’s rest was assured for continuing their journey


California 1 – The Coast Highway……#200 (the 80’s)

May 18, 2016

The beginning of the end

The Eel River bridge

The Cavalier with its valued cargo  acquiring the Leggett junction of US 101 and California Highway 1,  it was a beginning of the end.   The end of State Highway 1 and its 655 mile northern trek,  but a beginning for the Willson’s to view its wondrous scenic itinerary,  traversing the Coast Highway in a southern proclivity and returning to the bay-area province of foster city.   A quarter-mile into the journey experiencing the eel River Bridge,  the first of over a dozen bridges they would ford during their progression along the Pacific and their venture down its picturesque coastal byway.   Retreating on the acclivous avenue,  finding that they were still amongst the abounding redwood forest,  the roadway a gradual descent to the picture perfect blue pacific,  its scintillating effervesce and officiousness a presentation of staidness already coming into view.



The morning sunshine bathing the highway,  the cresting waves breaking leeward with the oncoming sea breeze arriving from the earthen expanse of the seas profusion,  but a sense of unanimity prevailing.  One found the northern California coast is isolated from its inland entourage, encountering  just two easterly flowing highways in 250 miles of southern sentinel journey.   The lunch hour acknowledging travel abeyance at Fort Bragg,  a short-lived military post established in 1857 to maintain order on the Noyo Indian reservation,  the post closing in 1864,    the ensuing years finding the Forts remnants were accomplished by the lumber entrepreneurs and once again an inhabited presence acknowledged.   Continuing south the family hesitating adjacent to where the Navarro River enters the pacific,  an expansion of shoreline enabling all to experience the cresting waves breaking on the sand adorned beach.  Robert and Sandi shedding their shoes and embracing the cool receptive waters of the Pacific.



Once again the Cavalier journeyed on The Coast Highway,  addressing Fort Ross, its history one of Russian occupation, the northern neighbors seizing an opportunity to lay claim to coastal areas north of San Francisco.  In 1806 a joint effort in the seal hunting commerce initiated the RAC Company,  Russian-American Company.  The Russians supplying the Seal hunters, the Americans the sailing vessels and by 1818 the seal population had been depleted.   The Russians having established themselves building Fortress Rossiya and a harvesting station on the Farallon Islands 30 miles off the California Coast.  The Fortress Ross settlement,  their personal and agricultural enterprises remained until 1842 venturing as far south as Bodega Bay,  the scenic location for Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic movie the birds and Gary’s youthful abalone fishing adventure with his Grandfather Marvin.   Continuing south with resolve,  the bay-area’s accession of 60 miles still remaining,  the travelers quiescent with their Highway 1 accomplishments,  the closing miles providing a panoramic view from the overlooking cliffs winding path, the driver of this road course ready for its conclusion.

Historic Fort Ross

Bodega Bay - location of Alfred Hitchcocks "The Birds"

Bodega Bay – location of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”


The shoreline California highway 1  providing  another encore meeting with u s 101,  the location,  three-mile from the Golden Gate Bridge.   Gary and Jan finding they could somewhat relax even in the traffic of the multi-lane Highway 101 after experiencing of the narrow cliff hugging coast roadway for the past hour.   Accessing the suspension structure, the travelers finding the six lanes on the Golden Gate Bridge moving swiftly,  its presence an effulgent beacon of San Francisco,  a poised landmark for 50 years,  proclaiming its stature.   The day prior to its 1937 inaugural automotive opening,  200 thousand participants gather to traverse the bridge on foot and roller skates,  each individual to autograph the journals of history and with embarkation of automotive propinquity,  the city of San Francisco enacted a week-long celebration .

Crossing the Golden Gate

A return to foster city and Gary’s sisters condominium, Scott, Gary’s oldest son welcoming them back after their prolonged travels and with one more day remaining before their return flight suggested a trip to Santa Cruz and the Boardwalk,  questioning if they were in accordance for another short journey.   Gary was weary of driving,  but Robert and Sandi hearing Scott’s description of the Boardwalk and the amusement rides  were ecstatic,  especially after having endured as  spectators during visits to relatives they had never knew existed.  Gary mentioning an additional  venue that wouldn’t be out of their way, a visit to the infamous Winchester House in San Jose.




      The morning found the rental Chevrolet making its final vacationing journey,  Scott accompanying the family,  once again on 101 this time to San Jose.  The Winchester House was once the personal residence of Sarah  Pardee Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester.  After her husband’s death from tuberculosis in 1881, Sarah inherited more than $20.5 million,  also receiving nearly fifty percent ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.   In 1884 she moved from New Haven Connecticut purchasing an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley and began building her mansion. It was reported that a Boston Medium told her she must continuously build a home for herself and the spirits of people who had fallen victim to Winchester rifles.  Sarah complied until her death in 19 22, there are 161 rooms, including 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms as well as 47 fireplaces, over 10,000 panes of glass, 17 chimneys, two basements and three elevators. The property was about 162 acres at one time, but the estate having been reduced to 4.5 acres.  Gary finding touring  the mansion and the exhibits an excursion into the yesterday and the aberrant world of a Sarah Winchester.


    Highway 17 and the Santa Cruz Mountains was acknowledged,  Gary having a brief flashback, this being the first time on the precipitous road since his youth riding on the back of a Cushman 5 horsepower motor scooter,  the teenager and his friend Dale Spady experiencing an adventurous voyage to Los Angeles.  Recalling the uphill ascend,  finding the Cushman in first gear,  having to fall in line behind the ten wheeler semi’s,  a slow but steady gate to the crest


The Big Dipper

    Scott directing them on a side trip to Aptos,  pointing out his aunt Kay and uncle Dons  previous residence and an area where he and his surfer friends socialized.   It had been over thirty years since Gary having walked the boardwalk at Santa Cruz remembering that he last assailed this copious amusement park, a train ride trip sponsored by the Oakland Tribune for submitting a required quantity of new subscriptions.  The noon hour found an appetite for fish,  finding the assemblage frequenting a seafood establishment on the Pier,  the remainder of the afternoon acquiring the escapades of the entertaining attractions.    The trek back to Foster City found an enervated crew,  it would be their final night in California



       The morning bidding a melancholy farewell to Scott,  the cavalier traversing the San Mateo Bridge to the Oakland International Airport and a return of the Alamo Rental car, having deposited over twelve hundred  miles on the odometer.   The American Airlines McDonnell Douglas 80, a version of the DC-9,  taxied to runway two-niner,  the airliner’s  pilot giving power to the tail-mounted twin JT8d200 turbojet engines,  the plane lifting off the runway,  banking east,  reaching an altitude of 35,000 feet, cruising at 504 knots,  Wichita Kansas Mid-Continent the winged carriers ambition.   The smartly dressed stewardess providing a complimentary lunch, its cargo of passengers lulled by the nutritional substance, a pacifying composure evolving and the whispering sound of the jets projecting aura of contentment.  The flowing aero flight above the revolving  earthly firma below projecting a temporal passing of forward progress, it’s nebulosity giving essence to the watchful heavenly domain, its silence displaying a gentle caressing of the strata.  The solace was interrupted with an announcement,  the flight was descending to Wichita.  Gary having mixed feelings, happy to be home, feeling blessed that his family was able to share the vibrant sixteen days together, even though a hint of melancholy remained with its conclusion


An Anthony Preamble………#201 (the 80’s)

May 16, 2016

Kiowa School Board – (L to R) Glen Piper, Bert Gillig, Tom Farney, Ron Allenbach, Walter Fry, Kathy Grant, Wanda Eckert, David Wolgamont, Larry Mc Cart6y, David Meyer

.  An  influential ingredient inaugurated life’s equation,  Jan having recently obtained a full time RN position at Hospital District #6 of Harper County better known as the Anthony Hospital and with it came the prospect of the family relocating the thirty miles to Anthony.  Gary in a quandary, his five years of school employment a blessing, a long existing Board of Education policy was relevant,  all non-certified employees must reside in the school district.   A decision to confer his dilemma with the school superintendent Glen Piper,  expressing his ardent desire to remain as an employee of USD 255,  questioning the possibility of the School Board making an exception on his behalf to the long standing protocol.   Leaving the Central Office meeting,  demarcating his possibility,  waiting for  the colloquy,  Glen notifying Gary of the board’s decision,  his out of district employment at the Grade School approved.

.  Jan’s Toyota Tercel Wagon having acquired an additional 30,000 miles during her daily 2 year journey to Pratt Community college demonstrated its reliability but Gary’s Isuzu Pickup with its 100,000 plus odometer reading wasn’t as trustworthy.  Gary very much aware of a possible 60 mile daily commute to Kiowa from Anthony and at the same time would like to find Jan more suitable transportation.   Accessing Bill Bogner’s Chevrolet-Buick Dealership, the couple abridging the multiple selection of Bill’s inventory down to a 1987,  blue,  six cylinder Buick Skylark..  The bartering trade-in, the 4-wheel drive Isuzu now a historical remembrance,  Gary inheriting Jan’s well-traveled 4-wheel drive SR5 Toyota,  the newly acquired 1987 Buick to fill Jan’s highway peregrinations.

.  Gary’s knowledge of Anthony Kansas was limited to the location of the John Deere Dealership and the Anthony Municipal Hall.   The Muni-Halls carriage,  the host of an ambitious craft expositions twice a year, an experience from Jan’s past ceramic business labors.   The prospects of a move to Anthony becoming a certainty with Jan’s avocation at the Hospital. Jan taking the initiative,  arranging  a weekend appointment with Dan Bird Realty,  the agent to acquaint the inquiring family to the available realty prospects their agency represented.  The two traveling to Anthony for the meeting, not with Dan, but a lady representative,  discovering most of the prospective metropolitan residency’s unsuitable. The itinerary included an introduction to rural property north of town and to the availability of several small houses addressing the Anthony City Lake,  but to their disappointment all retaining an absence of approbation.  The afternoons quest for a applicable home was about to conclude when the Realty Lady acknowledged a vacant residence on North Springfield that wasn’t on the market because of an ongoing foreclosure,  volunteering this house was her personal favorite, one she would love to have as her own.

.  Arriving at the unavailable house at 602 N. Springfield,  a revelation was discovered,  it was the second largest in Anthony,  a historic residence,  a placard stone embedded in the outside brick chimney-rise  dating 1904.   The couple waiting on the front porch to enter, the realty lady possessing only a back door key.  The front door opening to a large foyer and a wide carpeted staircase with solid oak banister pavilion to the second and third floors.  The three-storied structure presenting six gables,  1500 sq. ft. addressing each of the three levels,  with the second floor bedroom providing an added  large window enclosed sun-room over the south entrance portal porch.   A total of 4500 sq. ft. of living area,  composed of six upstairs bedrooms,  4 on the second floor, and two on the third. The third floor hosting a  ‘The Ballroom‘,  a very large one room pavilion where in a previous era dances were held, and from the kitchen an entry downstairs to  a open full semi-finished 1500 sq. ft. basement  with an outside door.

.  Without a doubt the residence was an empyrean domain.   The walk-thru acquaintance concluding, leaving the realm of this bounteous structure appraised as inaccessible,  Gary finding the words of a meaningful song resonating within,  “to dream the impossible dream” and the verse,  “this my quest,  to follow the star,  no matter how hopeless,  no matter how far”.   Seeing the expression on Jan’s face,  the coveting glow in her eyes,  the N. Springfield house was her desire,  Gary realizing his quest,  the acquisition gauntlet having been raised.




Always Believe In Miracles……#202 (The 80’s)

May 14, 2016


.  The residence searching journey from Anthony to Kiowa found a colloquy of aspirations, the house on N. Springfield’s emergence presenting an illustrious canon, Gary having never  witness Jan’s enthusiasm for something elevated to such a degree.   The Bird Reality representative, although having indicated she had no knowledge of the N. Springfield properties disposition,  except it was in the modus operandi of foreclosure, Gary attentively noticed  she had inadvertently mentioned the name of the person who garnered  the house’s backdoor key.  Gary relating his attentiveness to Jan,  asserting he would further his inquiry about the house to  the person she  mentioned and with a ray of optimism hopeful the results would be encouraging, quelling some of Jan’s receptive disappointment.

.  A Saturday morning Gary again traversing the highway to Anthony to the Jim Gates Agency at 316 W. Main,  the name that the realty agent had inadvertently mentioned, Gary trusting he could acquire more information on the complexion and disposition of the house on N. Springfield.   Gary introducing himself with an explanation of how he and his wife arrived at discovering their interest in the house.  Jim cordially explaining his current concert with Railroad Saving & Loan, the foreclosing bank,  and as a CPA he was their local representative.   His cardinal concern beside allowing an occasional display by a realty agency, was the properties security and his ongoing attempt to contact the responsible party holding the mortgage which had falling into default.

.  Unfamiliar with the financial world of mortgages, Gary questioning Jim about assuming the current loan, and the difficulty he would encounter.  Jim responded, once in foreclosure, it would be impossible for an assumption until the bank took possession.  Gary again questioned, under what circumstances could the proceedings be halted?  Jim acknowledging it was not probable but possible,  if the defaulting owners came forward and relinquished the property.  Gary not conceding defeat, quarried Jim  about the owner, their current address and phone number, Gates replying, he had both an address and phone number, but the person refused to return his correspondence or calls, adding that he was well acquainted with the departed party, because when living in Anthony,  he also was a CPA..

.  Gary leaving Anthony with LaVerne and Wilmetta Miller’s  address and phone number,  the default mortgage holder now residing in Colorado Springs.  Jim Gates giving an assurance, if the Millers in Colorado were willing to sign a release for Gary to assume the loan,  Jim would notify the bank of the impeding action,  and would help administer the contractual paperwork.  The return drive to Kiowa,  Gary reviewing in his head the uplifting conversation with Jim,  a message of encouragement not only for him but also for Jan.   A letter was immediately dispatched to the Colorado address,  expounding the Willson’s desire to purchase the North Springfield property,  willing to secure the mortgage holder’s obligation by assuming their loan.   A week having passed with no answer,  the time having arrived to place a phone call to Colorado Springs.  To Gary’s astonishment,  it was answered,  the conversation with the Miller’s confirming their interest in the Willson’s proposal.   A return visit with Jim Gates ensued, and the negotiations between the litigants began, but finding complications.  Ten years of the original 30 year mortgage having been indemnified,  Railroad Savings not wanting to yield to a loan assumption,  requiring Gary to obtain a new mortgage to meet the outstanding balance for the property.

.  The problem arising was the bank couldn’t loan the money for a house not yet  contracted for.   At a loss, not wanting to inform the Millers, the bank would not let him assume the loan,  Gary turned to Jim Gates,  who had a slide of hand solution.  The current Colorado owner could relinquishing the property to the Willson’s with a quick claims deed for one dollar and Gary would obtain a mortgage on the house for the balance owed on the original contract,  contractually satisfying all concerned.

.  The acquisition was transpiring,  a loan approval needed,  an interest rate to be agreed upon for a 30 year loan in the amount of $46,000.  Gary visiting on the phone with a member of the bank’s loan committee for the first time,  expressing he would only consider a monthly payment of less than $400 dollars,  with the insurance premium and property tax included,  the loan officer was taken aback,  replying he would have to confer with the committee at their next conference.   Another temporal waiting,  then a call from Jim Gates,  the bank in order to keep the monthly payment down as Gary requested,  agreed to a variable interest of 3% above the federal discount rate,   which was the rate that banks paid the Feds when borrowing money.  This was more than acceptable to Gary, considering the current conventional mortgage rate on thirty year mortgage was over 10%.   A second call from Jim Gates, espousing another major problem,  the bank somehow failing to notice that the Millers had secured a second loan for $25,000, the equity in the house serving as collateral,  a balance of $5,000 still remaining.  The earthshaking news bringing the N. Springfield transaction to standstill.

.  The news was devastating, coming so close to completion, the time and effort, the hopes and dreams,  all seemed for not,  an aura of despondency hovering over the family.   Another conversation with Jim Gates, once again Gary asking his advice.   Jim suggestion that they  contact La Verne Miller and simply ask if he would renew the balance of the note as an unsecured loan,  removing the house as collateral.  Gary always believed in miracles, but the past months of events confirming his faith in prayer and confirmation of his conviction, Railroad Savings & Loan accepting the Millers renewal of the note without collateral.   A signing ceremony was held at the Jim Gates Agency, Gary very conscious of Jim Gates role in the acquisition of the property,  his undertaking and guidance forever an unpayable gift of a blessing.  With their signatures,  Gary and Jan Willson ,  now title holders of the stately monolithic structure at 602 N. Springfield Ave,  its infinity having stood dormant thru a winter and spring would once again thrive with the presence of vivacity.