Archive for February, 2017

Lesson In Integrity…………..#63 (the 50’s)

February 26, 2017

A very frustrating situation for a sixteen year old Gary Willson,  finally having a driver’s license and not having a conveyance to register it with,  the use of the family car was ambiguous at best.  Gary was hoping that his Dad would  establish a set of parameters so he could determine an advantageous means of circumventing the use of the car rules.  He never subscribed to the axiom,  ‘rules are made to be broken’, but  a better aphorism,  “rules are made for innovation ”  or  notably if you find a need to question.  The youth discovering in formulating specifics, there always exist the possibility of alternatives, especially with a little improvising.  His Dad implementing a request and use rule,  meaning you have to ask and you have to state your purpose.


With the advent of his senior year,  Gary discovering himself devoid of a transit convenience to  school.   His portage provider and neighborhood friend Hank Ball having graduated and moved on to college in Illinois.   Gary having  to approach his Dad as his only provisional transportation benefactor, his mother a non-driver, the families 48 Chevrolet sitting idle at home, Dad traversing  to  work in the 41 Chevy pickup.



The senior entering into a father son discussion presenting his circumstance and to his surprise, an agreement coming to fruition.  His Dad laying out two prerequisites that would be augment his use of the family car for school transportation.  The first was to give his sister Kay a ride to and from school if desired, the second stipulation was dreaded,  the car would be parked upon his return from school.  Gary concluding that his Father’s decision was paradoxical,  good in the respect,  that he would have transportation, bad in that he couldn’t cruise after school, at least for very long.


          Dale Spady, a onetime classmate and cohort friend since junior high, having moved to Castro Valley.  Dale had a different a set of transportation circumstances.   The accosting difficulty was, his mother was a driver,  thus limiting his use of her car.   Dale finding a remedy, procuring a two-wheeled motorized appliance, a used 5 horsepower Cushman motor scooter,  which in the proper weather conditions provide dry transportation. When Dale visited, Gary found there was room  to sit on the rear jump seat, not exactly cool, but still a means for traveling between their two homes.  Gary noticing,  although the Cushman speedometer registered as much as 60 miles per hour, in reality,  top speed was about 45,  so when traveling to Castro Valley, they would avoid the MacArthur Blvd and it’s Highway 50 interchange,  taking the back way, up Estudillo Avenue in San Leandro to Lake Chabot road,  and around the lake to the towns back door entrance.


On occasions Dale would spend a weekend night with Gary in Oakland, Gary’s hillside home was one of the older ones in the neighborhood, built in 1927.  his room was downstairs in a heater less once rental area that could be accessed from the back yard outside door, or the stairs down thru an unfinished connecting basement.   For some reason Dale would never accompany Gary down through the darken basement to his room, preferring to go outside and around to the backyard,  entering through the outside entrance.   Apparently Dale had a fixation about walking through a darken basement passage late at night.   Things were different when  spending the night at Dales much newer home in Castro Valley.  His bedroom was just off the dining room and on a Friday night,  Dale could roll their dining room TV to the bedroom doorway and the two could watch Johnny Carson.


The two teens were pretty much compatible, but unlike Gary,  Dale wasn’t a die-hard classical music proponent and for the most part kept his music choice to himself,  but they found  something in common, both admiring Richard Strauss’s Suite from Der Rosenkavalier.  Gary having noticed, Walt Disney’s Fantasia was showing at the Castro Valley Theatre, and being familiar with much of its music, Dukas’s, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mussorgsky’s Night On Bare Mountain, Beethoven Pastoral Symphony and featuring the endowed conductor Leopold Stokowski. Not hesitating,  mentioning it to Dale, the two deciding to attend.  Seated in the theatre waiting for the presentation to begin.  surprisingly the theatres speakers making an announcement,  that fantasia was basically two hours of animated classical music,  and a refund was available for those who wanted to leave.  The two watched as a good portion of the audience, mostly teenagers, filed out.


Gary spending a Saturday night at Dales, the two having formulated a plan to ask for the use of Dales’ Mothers four door 1954 Dodge.  Dale mentioning that he would like to attend the Lutheran Church in San Leandro,  the one the family attended when living in Oakland.  Dale’s parents agreeing to the use of the car for the boys to attend.  Sunday morning found the two sitting through the first service of the San Leandro church, but prior to the start of  the second service, deciding to leave.  With an hour to kill, deciding to do some cruising, so they could arrive back at Dales at the appropriated time.


The two deciding to get somewhat innovative,  telling Dale’s parents they wanted to attend the services of some of the other church denominations,  detecting some skepticism.   The teens finding it easy to verify their church attendance,  upon entering,  they were handed a printed program of the Sunday Service, and when returning to Dales at the appropriate time,  they would casually lay the church service program down for all to see.  All was well with the Sunday morning cruising until Dale’s Dad,  unbeknownst to the boys,  performed an audit of the fuel consumption, and mileage of his wife’s car.   the boys being told,   if they wanted to attend church they could joined the family at their Sunday Service.   The Teens feeling amiss for their deed,  but,  because they were never really questioned, thus no answers had to be given,  they came to the conclusion.  their act of duplicity ended up a lesson in integrity.


Boundary Determination……#64 (the 50’s)

February 24, 2017
A surveyors transit

A surveyors transit

Another Saturday and the 41 Chevy pickup once again loaded with building materials destined for the families Sierra cabin site.   On the previous trip to Pioneer, Gary invited his friend Dale Spady who had spent the night, thinking Dale could help at the building site and later the two could find some time to explore the surrounding wooded hillsides for abandoned mines.   Gary and his sister Nancy having discovered tailings from several sites but never had the opportunity to investigate, he especial wanted to return to the remnant ruins of an old cabin and look for artifacts.   The first chore for the two boys after arriving was to unload the numerous 50lb concrete piers for the risers that would support the floor beams and joist, the boys having to lug the heavy piers over 40 yards.  Gary having loaded them in the pickup and knew from experience that the more you moved, the heavier they seemed, noticing that Dale had stopped and was sitting.   It didn’t take long to discover that Dale was sick, his pallor was pale  and said he was chilled.  Gary’s dad not wanting to waste the long drive, still wanting to accomplish something , telling the boys because of Dale situation they wouldn’t spend the night, but would return home as soon as he had leveled, squared and set the piers in position.   Gary knew the importance of the pier placement as they were the foundation for the structure.  It was late afternoon by the time all the piers were in place, the three returning to Oakland.

Concrete piers – A portable foundation

The raiser and heavy-duty beams,  2 x 6 floor joist, all time consuming task would be accomplished on later weekend trips.  The biggest concern was waiting for PG&E to provide electrical service as service had yet to be provided in this recently opened section of their mountain retreat.  The day finally arriving, no longer handicapped  by the lack of a power,  father and son now able to give their building some definitive presence, the electrical service enabling them to  install the decking for the sub-floor which was expedited with the use of a circular saw, the youth now having a wilderness laden platform to stand on, a real foundation for what was to come.

The cabin floor joist


Diane Pine and Gary’s sister Kay

Father and son entertaining the journey to the Sierra Foothills again, only this time in the family car, Gary’s Mother and sister Nancy accompanying them,  his sister Kay remaining in Oakland as was her habit, staying with her best friend Diane Pine.  The Chevy  transpiring down the once bulldozed lane, Gary’s mom and sister to view  the completed sub-floor and the progress that he and his Dad had accomplished for the first time.  The family aggregation  approaching the compiled edifice,  suddenly  freezing in their tracks.  Knifing  across and diagonally dissecting the subfloor what appeared to be a surveyors line marking the property boundary.  The surveyors employed by the realty company having arrived  leaving their mark,  knowing not of the conjectured  tree markings and the lots property line secured by the realty agent when the property was purchased.  Gary’s Dad’s disposition rapidly changing to one of concern,  recounting the words spoken by the realtor indicating the property lines, marking the trees, stating their labeling would be used in determining the actual area size of the property.  A further inspection found another line down the slope towards what was characterized as the federal land boundry that was supposed to bordered the Willson property.  It was apparent that the real estate concern had managed to adjust the line up the hill to justify another lot between the Willson’s acreage and the Federal Land.  Gary visualized the situation,  the marketing agent was cajole in his zeal to traffic the property and used the proximity of trees to master his persuasion.   The salesman recognizing  the  families’  momentary intoxication to fulfill an incessant dream overruled any sound judgement concerning property confines.

The Martell Reality Office at the top of the Hill

The Willson’s concern was negated after visiting  the Martell Real Estate Office,  a discussion of  the adjusted boundary  was productive,  a solution was agreed upon.   Any variations made by the surveyors in the property line would be adjusted to encompass all prior construction,  meaning  the boundary line across the sub floor would be changed to encompass the building project so it would remain within the Willson property jurisdiction.   Gary concluding that if boundaries are determined by trees,  we must live in a forest.

Bestowed Opulence……….. .#65 (50’s)

February 22, 2017

Apotheosis of the Industry

A telephone call from Gary’s  Aunt Loretta to the family,  Uncle Dino was in the hospital.  Gary having questions,  but realized that reciprocation wouldn’t be forthcoming from his family as the circumstances were still unknown.   Accompanying his Father and Mother to join his aunt at the San Francisco hospital,  his two sister’s opting to remain home, the three arriving, his uncle alert and cantankerous,  the teen having never visited an individual in a hospital with the exception of his Uncle Barney in a Sacramento hospital years earlier.  Barney in the logging business,  sustained an injury when falling a tree,  a large branch pinning him for most of the day before being found, the branch  pushing all his intestines up into his upper rib cage.  At San Francisco, Gary standing somewhat aloof  behind his parents in the  hospital ward,  noticing the various IV’s and tubes connected to Dino, the physicians listing his condition as critical  cirrhosis of the liver with major internal hemorrhaging.  Gary understood the seriousness, but his world was still that of a youth, not having to dwell on the complications that life enthralled and in addition his Uncle Dino’s burly physical exterior and personality brought to mind a toughness and a movie script conclusion  that all would end well.   The visit was drawing to a conclusion in the several bed hospital ward, the teen observing as the commotion began.  Apparently Dino was upset with something Loretta had said, because he began shouting in Italian , attempting to get out of bed pulling his tubing loose and with the arrival of the staff the  family retreated,  the weekend visit coming to a conclusion.

Uncle Dino and Aunt Loretta

Italian Cemetery – Colma

The following Tuesday October 7, 1958, Gary coming home from school being informed that his Uncle Dino  had died.  Dino’s 35-year-old son Sylvio from a previous marriage  whom Gary had meant only once,  stepping-in administering the final arrangements.   Gary reflecting on the inference of Dino’s passing having been in attendance for only one other funeral,  that being his Uncle Charlie O’Toole on his mother’s side on April 18, 1956 in Santa Ana.  There was no funeral notice for Dino that Gary was aware of but later discovering that Dino Togozzi was interned at the Italian Cemetery in the small town of Colma south of San Francisco in San Mateo County.  The small two square mile town noted as the City of Souls because of the large number of cemeteries fulfilling the townships area.

On March 26,  1900 the State of California passed a law prohibiting the burial of person on residential and farm property,  no more family members buried on the Home Place.  In 1912 the City of San Francisco made known its intent to prohibit all burials in the city.  In 1914 the City  took the ordinance a step further issuing an order that every  interned body would have to be removed and interned outside the San Francisco city limits.  The removal and transfer of the hundreds of thousands wasn’t completed until 1937, the small town of Colma accepting San Francisco’s departed.

Gary realized that although married to his Aunt,  Dino Tognozzi was an Uncle in name only,  a self-made man arriving in Detroit from Italy, married Marchella Durchi who later passed, his uncle to be moving to San Francisco marrying his Aunt Loretta.  Sylvio his only son born  in 1923,  enlisting in the war effort in 1942,  later married a younger Jacqueline Grey.  Gary having  meant Jackie, her daughter and her newborn son Dino Mario before her unexpected death in a suspicious car accident in 1955.   With Dino’s passing, Aunt Loretta continued her residency on Steiner St.,  Gary’s Dad providing assistance in maintaining some semblance to a disorganized situation.   The closing of the 813 Van Ness Ave.  Dino’s  # 13 Club was on the agenda,  Gary was aware of the chaotic realm that evolved with his uncle’s passing.  The youth was somewhat bewildering to see a lack of orderly progression,  given the impression adults ascend to a higher facet when addressing grievous and important events such as this, but apparently not in every circumstance.  His Aunt Loretta remaining above a grievous condition as expected, the truth being discerned, her relationship with Dino was more of a convenience than a marriage.

Dino and Loretta’s Steiner St. residence

 Parked in the basement garage of his aunts  Steiner Street residence was the Tognozzi’s 1949 Cadillac Fleetwood,  picture perfect,  odometer stating  24,000 miles.  The teen surmising the Cadillac’s low mileage because it was said his uncle never traveled much out of the bay area but when he did he always had someone drive him.  Gary was aware, like his mother, his aunt was a non-driver and in all probability wouldn’t keep the car.  The youth, after some forethought knowing that he had a good relationship with his aunt, in years past, stopping to visit her at the bar on his way to Golden  Gate Park and the planetarium, deciding that he would just ask her his outright about borrowing Fleetwood to drive to school.  Somewhat hesitant he approached his aunt prepared for a negative response but to his surprise she said she didn’t have a problem with him using the car but with the stipulation of dads approval.   Gary relating his aunts decision to his dad who paused before answering,  then said okay but with the same two stipulations that prevailed with the use of the family car, the first being, offer to provide a ride to and from school for his sister Kay and then the  most difficult one to comply with, drive directly home after school and park it.

A first,  driving a Cadillac Fleetwood and driving across the Bay Bridge

 Gary was excited, his dad driving him to Aunts Loretta’s Steiner Street residence across from the Almo Square Park so he could drive the Cadillac back, surprisingly his sister Kay asked if she could go.   Gary could feel the titillation as they opened the garage door.  Inside, resting like an animate gargoyle decked in chrome,  displaying its distinctive tail fins,  the longest Cadillac in production, the four door exuberant mobile Fleetwood.   The teen having experienced luxury before when  his Aunt Grace purchased a new 55′  Buick Century,  but this was a Cadillac, the apotheosis of the automobile industry.   Before leaving Gary’s dad giving a word of caution about ferrying the car across the Bay Bridge as Gary had never driven across the bridge before.  The two siblings, brother and sister seated in opulence,  implementing the Cadillac transport onto the lit-up iridescent glowing  Bay  Bridge in  the early twilight of evening,  entertaining not a trip, but the voyage home.  Gary could hardly wait, the morrow would augment the inauguration of a new status in school transportation for him.

A Wiper embarrassment

The Teen was solitary in his first morning venture to Castlemont in Fleetwood, seated alone,  beginning to sense some reluctance about displaying such a capacious conveyance, choosing to park the car in the same place as the family car,  in front of the apartments on Alvingroom Ct., just before you get to Castlemont on MacArthur Blvd.  It was common knowledge and after school it was a given,  the automotive pretentious students would cruise MacArthur Blvd, their motorized display passing several time in front of the school.   Gary delivering the Fleetwood from its parked area taking residence with the cruising  after-school traffic on MacArthur voyaging past the high school citadel with an expression of certainty.  Making a U-turn at 90th Ave,  he circled back towards the school,  once more to entice the bastion with his presence.  Approaching the school engaging  a control he had never used before,  automatic windshield washers,  the blades of the wipers dispersing  the cleansing spraying water.   The traffic halted in front of the school, Gary reaching down to turn the washer off, not sure of the controls,  a panic, he’s unable to stop the flow,  a  spray of aqueous water continuing with the wipers still activated.  It was apparent, the onlookers having noticed his dilemma, and it was also  apparent they thought the moment humorous.   The slight teenager in the large Fleetwood continued in his attempt to challenge the apparatus, but to no avail.  After exhausting the supply of washer fluid,  the disconcerted embarrassment  came to a halt.   Eyes focused straight ahead,  the reticent youth retired  to the journey home.

Gary wasn’t trouble with the news,  the explanation was plausible.  His Aunt having called propagating the  advice from her attorney,  the Cadillac Fleetwood was deemed property of the estate and would have to remain in storage until settlement.  The use of the Fleetwood was apropos to its name as it was fleeting, Gary drawing a conclusion from his experience,   opulence is earned,  not bestowed.

Garys Dad’s 56 Plymouth Belevedere

It was totally unexpected, Gary’s dad trading in the 48 Chevrolet Stylemaster, a 1956 Plymouth Belvedere V8 taking up residence at the Willson household.  Gary was somewhat elated, but the rules about cruising after school were still in effect, but on occasion he would surreptitiously make an exception.  On one occasion inviting his younger neighbor Milton (Babe) Pepitone, who was his sister Kay’s age to accompany him on a short jaunt after school.  The two heading northeast on Mountain Blvd to the recently completed Warren Freeway section to the Caldecott tunnel turnoff, returning back, Gary noticing the traffic was flowing at 70 mph, turning to Babe asking if he had every been over 100 mph in a car.  Babe answered in the negative, Gary having never driven that fast put the pedal to the metal, watching the speedometer surpass the 100 mph mark, immediately backing down to the speed limit.  Once home he cautioned Babe not to say anything to anybody about what they just did.  It was several weeks later, Gary’s Dad when mentioning his using the car to go to Dale’s house in Castro Valley without asking, slipped in that he also didn’t want to hear about any 100 mph speeding tickets.  The Teenager was amazed how Parents intuitively perceived information about unspoken events.



Exemplar of Character……….#66 (the 50’s)

February 20, 2017

Gary, pen in hand and clipboard…

Gary reasoned.  It’s not an aroma,  a scent or smell,  it’s more than the odor that frequents public transportation. but if you add twenty-five high school football players who have had a prior workout,  it’s an experience.   Key System,  the city’s public transportation company, provided a means for students to ride to school by adding extra buses, and also provided charter buses for school activities.


A designated bus charter for a local Oakland Athletic League football game may have included as many as four transportation coaches,  one for the team, others for the pep club , cheerleaders, and those residual students desiring to attend.   Kick-off  time for all O A L games was between 4 and 4 thirty,  just enough time for a Castlemont students to journey across town for the away games, and like most school athletic activities, there were few parents in attendance.


Capuchino High School was positioned across the bay in San Bruno, and was a high school football team powerhouse.   The discipline school  was a member of the Mid-Peninsula League, which was composed of seven schools situated from San Francisco  to San Jose.  Capuchino was ranked the second best high school team in California, and The Castlemont Knights were scheduled to challenge the Mustangs  in an unusual night game across the bay in San Bruno.


Gary’s position as sports editor and staff photographer for the Yee Castle Crier, castlemont’s weekly newspaper, enabled him to take advantage of the football team’s out-of-town game transportation,  accompanying the Knights on their charter bus.  Mounting the Key System transport, clipboard in hand,  toting the schools ancient Graflex speed graphic, and a Kodak brownie flash 2 camera, this occasion would be a first in photographing the team during an actual out of town game in action.

The reporter have already made a decision, to turn down any request to run the down marker, or chart the teams stats as in the past.  As the bus embarked from the school he was noticeably aware of  something different about this excursion, a quietness, hushed tones prevailing aboard the bus.  This wasn’t the team he knew.   Also aboard were many junior varsity players to augment the twenty five member varsity team, and in attendance was J V  Coach, Tom  Tank  Tancredy.   Gary’s concern about the lack of enthusiasm was building when Coach Carter stood to address the team, and with a minimal number of words, the Players and Game Plan came to life.


Gary watched as the Knights in uniform accessed the field end zone, preceded  by the pep-rallying cheerleading pompom group,  cascading toward the visiting team side of the grid-iron in front of the small, but ardent  group of Castlemont supporters.  Suddenly a cacophonous sound, and the celebrated Capuchino Marching Band entered the field.   Gary reflecting, the only school marching band he had ever witnessed at Castlemont, was the r o t c band accompanying The Core on the drill field. Directly behind the band  followed an exceedingly number of cheerleaders,  leading the throws of the Mustang team,  but instead of rallying to their perspective bench,  they proceeded to circle the field, not  once, but twice to the accolade of their fans.  It wasn’t the action of the team that astonished the sports reporter,  it was the number of players.   Gary didn’t  count, but he estimated their number at more than forty.   He speculated,  that every big over sized male athlete in the school, must be a member of the football team.


The game began as the cool damp night air filtered in from the Bay.  Gary realized from the inception, this was no quotidian team.   The Mustang’s players physical weight was considerably more than members of the Knights and it was soon apparent, this game would be a callous contest.   The first casualty of the game wasn’t on the field,  it was on the sidelines.   Unfortunately Gary, in his role as a photographer,  wasn’t  fast enough in removing himself from a collision course with an oncoming locomotive named Herm Hutchinson.   Gary leaping aside at the last instant, avoiding direct contact,  but the speed graphic didn’t.  In his haste he left it deposited in the path of destruction.  He considered switching to the Flash 2,  to finish his photo project, but concluded that a clip board and the written word was Safer.


The beginning of the second half,  the Mustangs leading, found a new player in the game.  this performer could definitely influence the outcome.  When this uninvited competitor entered the field of play, those attending were oblivious to the competence it displayed.    A stillness prevailed as the faction moved into the pigskin arena,  a damp cold chill engendered the meteorological atmosphere.   This player,  a member of mother nature’s team,  would change the whole complexion of the contest.  The all-encompassing dense ground fog rolling in from the bay.   Its presence obscuring the playing field visibility would be a game changer.   Castlemont was  stopped at their end of the field,  a punt was in Order.


The ball rising in accession disappearing into the fog enshrouded vault,  only to reappear,  the Mustang recipient dropping the catch, and the Knights Gary Rodgers recovering the pigskin.   The crusading Knights scored, and on the ensuing kickoff,  the advocate obscuring mist once again enveloped the ball, and as before Capuchino fumbled, a hustling Gary Rodgers once again recovering,  the Crusaders Herman Hutchinson adding another six.  Gary was amiss-with the circumstances, and remained fervent that this atmospheric settlement would continue,  but to  no avail,  the enveloping fog began lifting to its normality in the heavens, and the advantage returned to the Capuchino Mustangs.


The San Bruno home team prevailed 35 to 19, but Gary concluding,  the Castlemont   score may have reflected a deprivation of points, but in reality the game was a win for all,  because both teams were Exemplars Of Character.

Resounding Conclusion………#67 (the 50’s)

February 18, 2017


January 29, 1959 was Graduation Day, Gary not a person to dwell on lyrics enkindled the Four Freshman song,  but a reminisce of the opening line “there’s a time for joy and a time for tears”,  and it’s implication of appropriateness regarding tonight’s commencement exercise.  The Graduate having witnessed a display of emotions from classmate’s during a rehearsal for the graduation ceremony.   His immediate attention focused on the syllabus  for tonight’s event, Gary having just discovered he was the solitary entertainment listed on the program, providing you discounted all the scheduled speeches.

Graduation Program


No one perceived, neither family or friend about his inquiring to Mr. Martin, the newly appointed senior Class Counselor about being a on stage participant in the formal scheduled program. Reaching inside, searching for an intrinsic reason of why he desired to apply, questioning himself, could it be he wanted to discern a statement of his integrity making a final memorable revelation, or maybe another reason coming from deep within, a tribute to the person responsible for acknowledging this gifted attribute, his mom.

Mr. Martin seem to query Gary’s request, especially when inquiring to what piano piece he would perform,  the answer to the question didn’t resonate very well with the educator, an  “untitled composition” was the reply.  Not many persons outside of  Gary’s family were aware he could applaud the enduring cornucopia of pastoral intonation that  emitted from a standing musical entity known as the piano, and with this program appearance, his expertise would be unveiled.  Mr. Martin asking with a deserved petition for a demonstration of the students musical capability, the Teen accepting, gracing the keyboard in a second floor music room, the accession was accorded,  Mr. Martin acknowledging that Gary would perform.

Castlemont Pepsters

The final graduation rehearsal was in progress, Gary couldn’t help but notice a display of remorse by many of the girls.  He understood the emotional aspects of what was about to transpire,  attempting to discredit the actuality of the moment,  immersing his train of thought in the expectations of his piano debut.  Still the reality of this secure and auspicious environment, an educational bastion would soon be reduced to  a memory,  the  substance of what was about to take place filtering thru the facade of resolution.   He could appreciate those whose entire world revolved around the discourse found within ivy shrouded walls of Castlemont and would be at a loss when it was removed.

Gary was also cognizant of the guidance and concern exhibited by teachers during these bountiful years of school,  and the memoir would forever remain displayed in nostalgia.  With the completion of High School,  a continuance of a higher level of education would find no nurturing teacher, but knowledgeable benefactors interested in fulfilling their contract to explain the information of study.  The unforgiving world of commerce silently awaited the commonplace, accepting those without assaying  ambition.

Annette Mullen Class President

He was listed third on the program schedule to follow Class President Annette Mullins welcoming address. Gary having decided to enact a classical composition structured from variations of  Chopin and impressions from Rimsky Korsakov.   The perfection was in F sharp, with a step up to G and a fortissimo back to the sharp,  the coda depended on the savoir of the performers inner quintessence.   The auditorium was consumed,  the graduating senior having taken notice of his parents and sisters adorning the balcony.

The performer was not taken back by an audience,  his concern was the nine foot Steinway sitting in position,  awaiting to voice its proclamation to all,  the concernment wasn’t the physical attributes but the audio.  The senior having demonstrated his dexterity of keyboard finesse earlier during ceremonial rehearsal and was totally enthralled with the overwhelming volume that reverberated throughout the auditorium from the piano.  He rendered it would vibrate the foundation of the forum, adding an unsurpassed climax to his presentations.


The memories will remain forever

Seated with this waiting captive audience with a largo of emotion,  The youth advanced the diminuendo keyboard progression, his fingered touch insulating the enraptured audio sculpture.   Continuing, the crescendo escalating to a mezzo forte, his finger adroitness fleeting up the keyboard,  the composition heighten, the audience awed with the final resounding voluminous conclusion.  The auditorium coming to life with tonitruous applause.  Gary hesitating,  then rising,  pausing not to acknowledge recognition, but to experience the wondrous grander of Jordan Hall,  the resonance of his grand finale echoing an emotional farewell to Castlemont, sadly abolished, but will remain in the memories of its students forever.

Castlemont (1929 – 1959) A Eulogy….#68 (the 50’s)

February 16, 2017
To be destroyed but never forgotten

To be abolished but never forgotten

“Forever lost, forever changed, we care, so we remember.”   Previously on Friday March 22nd, 1957 at 11:44 a m.  Gary having commenced his oral report in Miss Lamping’s third period American History class,  when an seismic aberration rattled the bay-area imposing a sempiternal judgement on Castlemont High School.  Seismologist finding  the epicenter location to be across the bay in Daly City, south of San Francisco, a moment magnitude of 5.7 and a maximum Mercalli Intensity of 7 (Very strong).  It was the strongest earthquake along the San Francisco peninsula since 1906.   The rumbling and results of the quake didn’t register with the Youth at the time,  but the announcement that followed would forever be inscribed.

Bay Area Faults

Gary’s Mother was a board member on the District PT A  and was in attendance during a presentation of an official  seismologist report concerning the earthquake and  the Oakland Public School buildings.  She approached the constituency with consternation about Castlemont High School and received an invitation to tour the educational building as the district PT A representative,  to be a witness to the structural damage.   Upon completion of the school assessment,  she was testimony to the results of the inspection and the Public Schools forthcoming announcement.

The existing Castlemont high school buildings would be demolished and replaced with better lateral resistant structure.   The teens mother relating that the school had suffered structural damage,  Gary not realizing or comprehending the extent until  word began to spread at school,  Castlemont was going to be replaced.  It was an unacceptable thought, an unspoken topic,  never again the subject of discussion among his classmates, concluding  it was unspeakable, his class living in the present and wouldn’t be subject to the annihilation of this beautiful structure


Gary remembering an early school experiences as a first grader with the original Burckhalter building standing vacant and forlorn, awaiting removal.   Then later during his final year of  Junior High,  the announcement of another buildings destruction, the three-story Frick Junior High would be demolished after his departure.   Gary often wondered about the reasoning for removing these well serving institutions, was it in the name of safety or the ascension of a trafficking commerce and their political overtones.

Frick Junior High Oakland California

Questioning if there was a place for progress with a purpose in his youthful melancholy world, retrieving the memory of adventuress times on the Richmond- San Rafael  ferry,  it too being replaced by an accelerated passageway called a bridge.  No more can one board the bay vessel, able to experience the briskness of the breeze thru the Golden Gate, commanding its presence as it travels across the deck, or the enhancing smell of the bay,  its swelling movement demonstrating the power of the sea.

Replaced by a bridge

The Electric Train or publicly known as the Transbay Transit  becoming another appliance of the past,  never again to traverse the Bay Bridge,  a person able to sit in its confines,  the speciousness,  absorb the panoramic view, the clickety-clack rhythmic sound as its silent motors propel the carriages across the unimpeded  span of track,  replaced  by the cramped enclosed quarters of a bus, a victim of the traffic signal  with its continuous  stop and go in the congestion of traffic..

Replaced by a bus

The foundation being poured June 1928

The steel supports for the auditorium and towers

Castlemont under construction summer 1928

The second floor walls showing a presence.\

In 1920 after a study the Oakland Board of Education determine because of the expanding population the necessity for another high school in the southeast section of the Elmhurst District.  In 1927 they initially purchased 10.2 acres of land between 84th Ave and 88th ave west of Foothill Blvd.   Architects Chester Miller and Carl Warnecke submitting blueprints for a 15th century medieval castle of the elizabethan and gothic architectural design with cast cement, brick,  half -timber, slate, leaded glass and arches for approval, the foundation being poured in 1928.

The main entrance, 2 lions and  copper & brass 50lb mounted lights

To the southeast of the main entrance, the leaded glass door of the administration suite

To the north another entrance

On August 12th 1929 East Oakland High School opened at a cost of $670,000, but the name was short-lived, by a vote of the students and faculty in 1930 the name Castlemont was officially brought to prominence prior to being nationally designated the most beautiful school structure in the country.   The buildings main entrance accessed from Foothill Blvd down six steps to the reflection pool then ascend six steps to extended terrace and the four entry solid redwood doors.  The full length of Castlemonts grounds adjacent to Foothill having been magnificently landscaped.

View from above MacArthur Blvd.

Steps down from MacArthur Blvd to the entrance and reflection pool

Looking northwest the reflection Pool

A landscaping marvel

The southwest wing adjacent to the tower  provided separate slate roof offices for the vice principal with the principal’s office having a side entrance to an extended terrace, the second floor finished in Tudor half-timber.  To the northeast was the covered gate entrance to the rear of the property, lined with the shops.

The second floor Tudor half-timber

Covered entrance to the rear of the school

Shops on the northeast

The auditorium with balcony seated 1500, equipped with a theatre projection accessible stage, dressing room, lighting and a 9ft. concert grand piano.  The extremely spacious library housing books numbering in the thousands with beam ceiling and windows bordering the open air but enclosed south court, accessible through the full service cafeteria.

School auditorium “Jordan Hall

South auditorium corridor better known as Camelot Way

A treasure of knowledge – The library

In 1939 because of additional stringent earthquakes precautions the original gymnasium was replaced.  1941 found the same enacted requirements dictating the removal of the classic gothic slate and brick,  leaded glass shops and replaced with a commercially accepted substitutes.   In 1949  acquired additional property, installing a full service certified heated Pool, and with the criteria of competitive sports expanding, Castlemont, a member of the O.A.L.  (Oakland Athletic League)  acquired and dedicated new turf for its athletic field in November of 1950.  With the blossoming  increase in student population, a large connecting two story academic classroom facility was constructed on the southeast of the school that same year.

The replacement Gym

Castlemonts new turf

New Castlemont Pool

In January 1960 this remarkable Oakland landmark was taken from us.

Gary’s January nineteen fifty nine class would be the second from the last to graduate from Castlemont.  His tenth grade gym instructor Mr. Clarence Street was a member of the first nineteen twenty nine teaching staff, the student could only imagine how despondency he felt.

The inaugural 1929 teaching staff at Castlemont, the arrow pointing to Mr. Clarence Street.

Mr. Clarence Street – 1957

Standing before the lily laden reflection pond as he had that first day, heeding the view of the ivy covered walls and the  majestic ascending  tower,  Gary searched his emotions for an explanation or justification to destroy this emblem of man’s historical artistry and meaningful achievement.   If only the structure could speak for itself,  the words would be, ” surely another remedy could be found”.

Gary pondered,  was this the beginning of a new ideology,  that expediency is better than reflection,  contemporary more desirable than the celebrated.  The first two lines of the school song coming to mind… Hail, Hail Castlemont, Crusaders honor thee, long may thy classic walls and inspiration be.  Gary realized that these words would be forever and would never replace the Memories..

The memories will remain forever

Optimistic Volitions…………..#69 (the 50’s)

February 14, 2017


Castlemont High School

The teenager having graduated from high school this past  Thursday,  you would think elation would have prevailed, but it didn’t.  The first weekend found congratulatory accolades according an impression of accomplishment,  commanding his presence,  but an over shadowing consciousness began to emerge.  A sense of loss beginning to envelop him as he watched his sisters depart in the morning for their appointed educational task.  Depletion was provoking a feeling of emptiness in the pit of his stomach.   His morning no longer possessing a purpose,  the inception of a daily agenda, the engagement of projects,  all having vanished with his secession from school.

Gary’s Mom & Dad

Oregon State College

Forestry ?

Gary yet to make definitive volition about the future, his parental communications having never included a  consequential   conversation as to expectations after high school.   There was a mention of college,  seeking employment in the private sector and a possibility of the military,  but no serious conversation evolved.   He was alone in his thoughts of which direction to channel his efforts.   Higher education was the key, but to what door?   A dilemma was present,  financial ascendancy was essential,  an another obstacle to address.   Gary having received an answered to an inquiry to Oregon State College concerning forestry curricula,  his thoughts of abiding in the wilderness were those of younger adventurer experiencing new and abounding wonders.  Maturity adds a new epoch to a resume.

KROW Studio 464 19th st. Oakland

Red Blanchard

Gary’s interest in radio having since waned as had the broadcast programming of the past.   He recalled his visit to KRON Radio during a school Business Education Day, traveling to their upstairs studio on 19th St,  A opportunity to once again observe a live broadcast, the station not exactly what he expected, a series of small broadcasting rooms, not a large studio Pavilion like the KCBS studio in San Francisco he  experiences visiting the Red Blanchard Show.  His journalism interest was beginning to  peaked  after discerning its many aspects depended on the competency of editor,  a question of  pervasiveness.

Bud O’Toole

Gary’s cousin Bud’s Missile – A Nike – Ajax

Another protracted avocation was the military,  it provided educational options,  but the youth was unsure of the scope of opportunities.  The youth took notice of his Cousin Bud O’Toole,  assigned to a firing  battery with  a Nike-Ajax Missile unit near Los Angeles.   Gary’s affinity for science fiction and his association with Elves’,  Gnomes’  and Little Men’s Chowder and Marching Society,  induce him with an  extreme interest in space, rockets and adjoining germane subjects all enveloped by the military.  The final contingency would be to postpone a decision and seek employment,  entering the world of commerce, time being no longer an imminent factor, mid-term college enrollment was already finalized.

Dale Spady and his 5 Hp. Cushman

Down Shone Ave to Mountain Blvd.








Gary pondered, no longer would there be a discipline of authority to instruct the path of decisions, to council and deliver confidence, the world having become a stage and it was time to walk on and perform.   He heard the revives of an approaching motor scooter echoing from the street,  his friend Dale Spady dismounted from the two-wheeled transport and it was then Gary took notice, Dale had purchased a new 5 Hp Road King Cushman motor scooter.   Climbing aboard, Gary on the rear jump seat, the two rode down Shone Ave,  cruised along Mountain Blvd and it was during the ride that an adventuress notion  began to formulate.  It would encompassing the two of them, the 5 horsepower Cushman and a round trip ride that could  approach 1000 miles.

Journey marked on 1959 CA road map

  The idea for this journey all stemmed from Gary’s desire to visit his career minded military cousin Bud O’Toole in Conoga Park, not far from Los Angeles and  question him about his missile related army assignment.  Gary briefly laying out his plan to Dale, they would start south on the Nimitz Freeway to #101 and San Jose, then take #17 over the Santa Cruz mountains to scenic highway #1 along the ocean until it converges back with #101 at San Luis Obispo and from there on to Conoga Park, about a three-day sight-seeing journey.  Gary adding from his cousin’s house they could  tour  the fashionable star-studded homes area , the Hollywood Hills and other attractions in Los Angeles before returning home.   The two concluded,  it could be accomplished,  a three day, two night venture,  spending their nights camped adjacent to the blue pacific on the beach and once arriving from their escapade south they could  lodge with Gary’s cousin Bud and  family at Canoga Park, leaving the path and time for the return open.

A coming expectation

A coming expectation

Gary informing his parents of their intended excursion as did Dale,  the parents of the two prospective traveler first displaying non-belief that the two would even attempt this endeavor.  Once accepting the premise that they might really go forward with this foolhardy venture, they asked the inevitable question why.  The recent high school graduate having anticipated the parental question remembering a quote from author Andre’ Gide  “man cannot explore the oceans unless he loses sight of the shore”,  the journey south would demonstrate a new-found sense of independence, but they had to be realistic giving a  more plausible reason, that of seeing the scenic California coast and Gary wanting to visit his Cousin.   They thought it best to begin as soon as possible before their parents could persuade them otherwise, the two having much to do in preparation, some detailed planning but more important the acquisition of their needs for the trip.  Gary concluding, optimism before volition makes for reason.

The Start of An Accentuated Journey…#70 (the 50’s)

February 12, 2017

Preparation was cardinal, the two recent high school graduates about to invoke on a possible thousand mile round trip on a single 5 hp.  Cushman Road King motor scooter and to stipulate a journey of this magnitude Gary Willson and Dale Spady would be diligent in selecting provision.   Passage to an army surplus depository established some unique procurement’s not on their agenda.   Gary regarded it as pragmatic, it might appear extrinsic, but a  flight helmet liner was in order.  It was olive drab in color, nylon cloth like material, tight-fitting and to accompany this world war II relic, both boys acquiring amber tinted goggles.  The googles being a necessity, shielding their eyes from the insect domain of the open road,  Gary feeling especially venerable as he would be sitting on two sleeping bags, raised up  behind Dale on the rear jump seat.  Also on order was a saddle bag with several compartments to accommodate changes of clothing and rations for meals if necessary.  A discussion concerning the extent of travel that could be accomplished in a day was soon dismissed as impractical.  This journey would be to experience vibrancy and freedom from the constrictions of responsibility including mileage goals.  Gary placing a well received telephone call to his  Cousin Bud residing in Canoga Park northeast of Los Angeles, arrangements being made for the two to stay with him and his family.

WWII  liner and goggles a necessity

The Cushman Road King was saddled and ready as were the two adventurers as the earlier morning fog shrouded atmosphere encasing the bay-area.  Gary and Dale mounting their oracle of transportation venturing to the Nimitz Freeway entrance on 98th Ave.   The entrance sign notification was significant  “entrance for vehicles less than 5 hp. Not Permitted”.   Heading south on the freeway, the scooter traversing along at 40 mph when Dale began slowing to a halt at the side of the road.  Gary question him if there was a problem, his reason was a resounding  “I’m cold”.   Gary understood, realizing that they both hadn’t considered the wind chill and failed to dress appropriately.  The jackets were non insulated windbreakers and likewise the leather gloves they both adorned were also non insulated, but more for show.   Gary could ascertain from Dale’s voice that he was hesitant to continue, especially at that speed on the freeway,  Gary rationalizing,  it was the damp fog that was the culprit.   Once again they continued their journey stopping once more before reaching the junction of the Bayshore Freeway and the San Jose City limits.  On West San Carlos St, they found a twenty-four hour bowling alley deciding to stop and kill some time and discuss the situation and regenerate some discernible heat.   Relaxing and warming the adventure was still somewhat questionable but a decision was delivered from above as they walked out of the of the bowling alley, discovering a bright sunlit morning.

Highway #17 over the Santa Cruz Mountains

Highway #17 over the Santa Cruz Mountains

The truckers were amiable, Gary acknowledging their patience, the Cushman with two dauntless adventurist aboard was in the slow lane, lugging up highway #17 over the Santa Cruz Mountains, having fallen in line with the tractor and trailer burden laden eighteen wheelers.   Second gear and 20 mph was the most speed attainable by the  loaded scooter, but once cresting the grade, it was fifty plus going downhill.  Santa Cruz, the boardwalk and the beach was tempting,  but their limited finances of $75 between them, the wind-blown duo foregoing temptation deciding to continue, soon finding themselves on Highway 1, the coast highway, eager for a Monterey lunch.

The marina at Monerey

The marina at Monterey

The entrance to 17 Mile Drive

The entrance to 17 Mile Drive

Pebble Beach Club House

The marina at Monterey spiked Gary’s interest,  the slips filled with sailing crafts of every imaginable size.   The seagoing vessels nestled side by side,  dancing every so slow with the gentle rise and fall of the ocean basin.  The invigorating fragrance captured by the shoreward breeze was  beckoning its invitation, luring those susceptible to its enticements.   Something about the sea made pause,  but this was nor the time, its voice acknowledged,  finding Gary returning from thought joining Dale the two once more posted on the motorized transport.   The sign read, 17 mile Drive and Gary immediately reflected, Pebble Beach, the Cadillac of all golf courses.   He noticed that Dale’s interest hadn’t peak,  but Dale wasn’t a duffer, with a little insistence Dale relented turning towards this legendary course.  Gary was disappointed,  the course as seen from the road was like most links, uninspiring until you teed off and traversed the course did one absorb the scenic wonders that most non-players are unaware of, experiencing the manicure foliage, the waterfalls,  fish laden ponds, and all the scenic wonders embedded in a  golf course.   Gary like many found the game not always about competing and placement of a ball,  but the substance of a fresh breeze, the quiet sculptured solitude and the aura of enlightened  serenity.  It was noticeably apparently the golf course was out-of-bounds but the haven of  wonders on the rest of  17 mile drive  were more than enriching, and with the afternoon  waning it was  back to the highway 1,  Carmel a very short distance beckoning.

A town of quaint village shops

Beach at Carmel

Carmel was picturesque, it reminded the youth of an alpine village bundled amongst a tree laden enclosure.   What astonished Gary was the ambulation down the main street,  seizing on the quaintness, up a gentle slope, then suddenly reaching a crest, before you as if on a Cinerama theatre screen appears an expanse of sparkling white sand and beyond the crisp tops of breaking water ebbing onto the beach.   Gary having frequented the beach at San Francisco and walked along its sandy mire, but never having experience the pristine  polish of Carmel’s consort.   The evening was approaching  finding the teens once more on the two lane path of highway 1, but a new companion joining their  company,  the ever-present Pacific  keeping watch over their progress.

South of Carmel

The first nights nocturnal view

Captivating Scene

On the left side ,  just ahead,  a turnout area that rose on a gentle slope.   Gary speculating,  it having been used as a scenic rest,  one could gaze across and below at a small white sand cove with a protrusion of  wave encrusted rocks  silhouetted against  the glowing sunset ebbing in the west.   It was time to lodge for the night.  Disembarking the Cushman, the two removed their sleeping expertise and making  station for the night.   An open pit was present,  some previous spectator having succumbed to building a warming fire,  the invitation accepted.   The  evening drew nigh, with the sound of cresting seas breaking and rushing to meet the accepting strands of firma,  a nocturnal repose was greeted, a welcomed rest.

In Search Of Destiny…………..#71 (the 50’s)

February 10, 2017



Sunrise overlooking the Pacific isn’t as prodigious as a sunset, Gary’s astute observation  amidst this extended journey,  he and Dale having spent their first night on their venture camping on the side of scenic Highway #1 .  Gary was entertaining thoughts of breakfast and a rummaging thru their provisional supplies,  withdrawing a small box of Maypo,  maple flavored oatmeal  and with a little water added,  a morning snack was entertained.

The Wayfarers of Highway #1

 The two youths being uncertain about the availability and the location of the next roadside service convenience, but fuel was never a concern,  the Cushman having a mileage range of more than two hundred miles.   The weather was in cooperation, a clear morning sky for motoring south,  the waters of the Pacific ever pristine,  providing a scenic wonder view from their open air jitney.   A hesitation, a cigarette stop, dismounting gazing with admiration of the preternatural outcroppings, carved by the incessant sculpturing from the continual sea.   Man’s mark was encountered, the bridges stretching over the exiting ambulating  water flow from the mountain crest in search of destiny,  returning home to the sea.   Traveling on,  a wandering vacancy prevailed, the adventurers meeting few travelers to share in the  beholding of the spectacular array, Gary concluding ,  February was not the month for tourist.

San Simeon, penned Hearst Castle

The library conference hall, a missed opportunity

The indoor/outdoor pool, no longer part of life, forever an exhibit

The access road sign read San Simeon but underneath in bold print was “Closed for repairs”.  Gary having read the history of this iconic historic landmark. William Randolph Hearst having spent a good portion of his life fulfilling a dream penned by the press as Hearst Castle. With his death in 1951 he left this magnificent estate consisting 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world’s largest private zoo.  Gary realizing another missed opportunity, disappointed but not discouraged,  there would be other expositions yet to be realized.

Morro Bay Rock as seen from Highway 1

Morro Bay Rock as seen from Highway 1

morro bay 2

The Channel Islands








Continuation was perpetual and solidarity,  the constant disquieting from the scooter’s muffler it’s droning ever-present.  The diurnal course progressed and eventually  signs of inhabitants, a small community advancing into view,  a picturesque town with  a famous monument jutting from the sea,  Morro Bay.  Gary, having explored the realm of abalone fishing, finding this location noted as the abalone capital of the west,  renown for capacious harvesting.  The natural inlet, the standing Morro Rock a monumental pavilion,  establishing  shelter for the many small fishing crafts that lay nestled at anchor.  He noticed when approaching this diminutive  community a rock spewed coastline but just out of sight fared the Channel Islands of Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel staunch providers for the mollusk fishing industry.  Departing the somnolent community, the aura of graphic surroundings would fade and the well-traveled mechanized world would once again present itself in the form of  highway #101 with San Luis Obispo,  a thirty minute destination.

The sun was devaluing in the west,  its brilliancy  diminishing to a fragmented amber and attentiveness was put on the agenda,  a station for tonight becoming foremost.   A stop for fuel at a commercial location found the two  accosting the pacific.  Across the highway,  an expanse of beach protected from view  by a raised sand dunes stretching for as far as the eye could see.  Reaching the dunes knoll,  casting a gaze towards the sea,  a sanitary restroom station building stood and beyond,  a scattering of stationary cooking grills.   The beach was deemed desolate, the fog beginning to filter in, nor a person present.   The two determined that this bleak area was famous Pismo Beach, its emptiness was similar to San Francisco during the winter months,  especially in the evening hour when the beach is embraced by the incoming fog.   The travelers approved and the appointment was made,  they would repose on the beach with the dunes blocking the view from the highway and solitude could be observed.








A gathering of driftwood and a warm fire benefited as the two surveyed their accomplishment thus far.   The adventure having materialized and Gary finding the aura difficult to believe, to experience  sitting before a contingency of glowing embers,  the sound of the breakers discerning their way to the  beach and to embrace an inconceivable journey with no benefaction except to be present.   Bundling in his mummy sleeping bag,  burrowed on the beach sand of the Pacific, the rhythmic sound and slight of the ocean spray providing a concluding audience for a mellowing  rest.


Mission Accomplished……….#72 (the 50’s)

February 8, 2017

Gary and Dale Spady

The view from Pismo Beach was redundant, especially in early morning fog, the view from sea level in no way matches the panoramic composition experienced from the hillside escarpment when venturing on Highway #1.   After packaging their repose bedding and utilizing the full equipped sanitary station to cleanse the curtains of sleep, Dale and Gary again mounting the Cushman,  hasten for a conveniences depot to partake of a cup of  hot coffee and some solid dietary substance.   The two not being familiar with Southern California, their map presiding on the table of the diner, they conspired a course of travel.   Passing through San Luis Obispo, the two adjudging it best to remain on the conservative wandering two lane highway #1,  the busier direct #101 could  be accosted later where the two highways junction north of  Santa Barbara.

The Wayfarers of Highway #1

Conoga Park Exit


Gary position on the rear jump seat provided him with a panoramic view while traversing on scenic highway #1 but the view on the traffic laden #101 was more of a concern that an enjoyment, especially at 40 mph.   Continuing what  Gary’s dead-reckoning reflected as going south,  but actually were headed east out of Ventura.  After some thought he realized because of the coastal shape of California,  if you were to transit due north from Los Angeles to the Oregon border you would cross the border not in Oregon but 75 miles inside Nevada.   Passing through a town with familiar sounding name, Thousand Oaks, less than hour til they ascending their destination, Canoga Park.

Bud O’Toole

Gary's cousin Bud's Missile - A Nike - Ajax

Gary’s cousin Bud’s Missile – A Nike – Ajax

Arriving in Canoga Park, Gary having been given direction by his cousin before leaving Oakland,  the two travelers having no difficulty finding the O’Toole residence.  Cousin Bud, wife Gayle,  youngsters Alan and Patrick all smiles, Gary suspecting they were somewhat surprised the two made it on a Cushman Scooter.  It was good to see his cousin, Gary’s childhood memories of Bud were those of admiration, he was the one when visiting on more than one occasion provided him with a new cap pistols, taking the time to spend with him.  Later when Gary’s interest spiked about war stories he provided his collection of the Dave Dawson series by Bowen, his cousin someone he always looked up to.   Bud having joined the National Guard upon high school graduation would bring the youth old flight instruction manuals and a supply of K and C rations,  an example of a soldier’s battlefield  provisions.  When war broke out in Korea he was a member of the initial military units call to duty,  entrusted Gary with his treasured collection of classical music records.  Continuing his military service he was posted as part of UARADCOM,  an acronym for United States Army Air Defense Command,  deployed at a supposedly undisclosed location,  but known to the community as LA-88, Oat Mountain,  in the Santa Susana Range six miles from  Canoga Park and  assigned to a Nike-Ajax Firing Battery.  Canoga Park being a close-knit community with most of the resident  incorporated in furtive government projects.   Gary’s  raising to a higher echelon of interest with many questions for his cousin to  answers.

The Rocketdyne complex in the Santa Susana Range

The Rocketdyne complex in the Santa Susana Range

Rocketdyne static test stations

Rocketdyne static testing of rocket engines

It started with a sound, then a  rumble,  the house beginning to vibrate,  Gary immediately concluding it was an  earthquake,  but the rumbling  endured,  not for seconds but minutes, the sound was directional from an outside distance source.   He glanced up catching a ‘know it all’  grin on his cousin’s face as he beckoned for Gary  and Dale to step to the window.   A condensed orange-red glow was reflecting on the bare mountain backdrop of the Santa Susana range to the west.   The question in Gary’s mind was  Where and What?  His cousin answering, it was Rocketdyne,  Pratt and Whitney’s/North American Aviation,  having 18 static test stands at their jet and rocket engine developing testing  facility,  established  five miles from Canoga Park.  His cousin reflecting it was an ongoing program of the Redstone, Thor and Atlas missile engines along with other classified static tests including a nuclear program  all entertained at the 2558 acre complex.   Gary dramatically impressed with what was taking place, a desire to explore this new-found discovery, but a realization, in all probability it would be for not.

The morning bringing forth the planned tour of the Hollywood Hills and acclaimed residences.  Gary finding a new sitting position  on the back of the Cushman,  previously perched upon two bundled sleeping bags during the interminable three-day voyage, the perch enabling him  to see over Dale’s head,  but now with the sleeping bags removed he was slung low in the saddle,  having to survey the road around the body of the motorized operator.   It was a sightseeing day, but Gary knew that this occasion would not provide the scenic wonders of the majestic overture performed by the coastline and the sea.  Dale was more rhapsodize in this venture to Hollywood and Beverly Hills than Gary and it became apparent that Dale’s promulgation was over extended and the exhibited billing was aggrandized. Beverly Hills was mainly an interest for those mired in luxury and the presences of such, Gary bore little interest the luxurious accumulations of the rich and famous.   The journey beginning but the evoking venture was short-lived,  the scooter suddenly in regression,  the motor revving  as if the transmission was in neutral,  the Cushman slowing coming to halt.  The two disembarking, Gary not being a two-wheel motorist enthusiast immediately reflecting the worst.  Dale remaining calm,  manifesting  confidence with little concern, immediately knowing what the problem was, the drive chains master link had come off.  Gary was relieved, Dale having included amongst his possessions,  drive chain master links, the scooter operator having experienced this equation before, not with the new Road King,  but with his first older Cushman, his resourcefulness having provisional foresight.

Master link

The incident finding both of the traveler somewhat disquieted,  never while on the journey had the concern of scooter problems been consigned and now this minor event  causing a  distraction in their planning, the touring journey no longer a priority.  The itinerary time schedule was for a three-day stay,  but when the newly installed link also departed leaving the chain in-operable for a second time,  a decision was accorded to limit the mileage and bid a farewell a day early.   The two boys thanking their host, griping for the journey north,  Gary with some thought concluding , the journey south having revealed one important entity,  it was called resolve.