Archive for March, 2017

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

March 12, 2017

Seismograph registering 5.3

History in school was elementary, the teen having been grounded in history all of  his exogenous years, his Mother deep-seating  him in the charting of the past with the introduction of historical novels, both fiction and nonfiction at a very young age.   Gary having discovered the reading of history in novel-form lead to an inquisition of passages’ and an audit of written events providing a never-ending journey of exploration.   School instruction of historical accounts were never in-depth,  but did present an overview of the timeline.   The teen enjoying American History,  especially three years prior in Miss Bonham’s eighth grade junior high class presentation of California history, finding the abbreviated historical  deliberation of the founding and settlement of the City of Oakland interesting.

Margaret Lamping – Biology and American History Teacher

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

Scene from the movie The Far Horizon's

Scene from the movie The Far Horizon’s

Lewis and Clark Expedition

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

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

A Ride To Remember………..#58 (the 50’s)

March 10, 2017

1957 Chevy

Gary was ready to call it a night at Fletcher’s Signal Station having finished his sweeping of the service bay, putting the product displays inside’ waiting for Ted to balance the cash draw and place the receipts in the stations hiding place so owner Ed Fletcher could open in the morning.  Ted was just about finish when a new red and white 57 Chevrolet pulled up to the pumps,  ‘oh well’  thought Gary,  ‘one last customer’, having yet to turn off pumps or the outside lights.  Walking out to the pumps  Gary thought he recognizing the driver, it was Gary McArthur who had graduated from Castlemont in January,  McArthur having been a member of the Bishops, a high school service club composed of quasi-car enthusiast.  The school putting the club on probation and finally disbanding it the following semester, it was rumored it had something to do with after school hubcap activity.

Alan Roemer, Gary McArthur & Bishops Club President Jim Pratt

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

Stock model competition

Ted joining the two, the hood being raised, it was the first time Gary had viewed a Chevy 283 fuel injected engine, it was Chevrolet’s first year for  fuel injections.  McArthur continuing that he would enter it in the stock classification but in reality it wasn’t strictly a stock model, Chevrolet having changed the rear end gear ratio, but manufacturing enough models with that gear ratio to justify a stock designation.   Gary walked around looking inside expecting a plush interior,  but stepping back,  discovering the  interior was stripped of all normal seats and fitted with a framework of welded steel forming a roll cage that encompassed the interior.   A single seat occupying the space behind the steering wheel, the a stock dashboard remained but with specially mounted cluster gauges.   The young teen was taken aback,  this definitely wasn’t  a car for cruising.

57 Chevy fuel injected 283 V8

“Get in”   were the words spoken by McArthur to teen and without hesitation the Gary open the door and then hesitated.  Nowhere to sit,  no seats and nothing to grasp or hold onto in the front.   McArthur motioned towards the back,  saying to “hunch down and hold on to the roll-bar”,  the youth grasping the metal bar traversing across  behind the driver’s seat.   Gary squatting on the back portion of the floorboard,  raising up enough to see over the dash and have a good view of the road.   The car progressing onto Mountain Blvd.,  the youth  reflecting on his surroundings, the adrenalin flowing as he absorbed the aura from the inside this icon of a car.   For an instant he wished that this moment could be captured for visual prosperity,  to be persevered for the agnostic to see.   The car idled down Mountain Blvd. to Holmes Ave,  making a  U-turn and came to a stop.  The distance between Holmes and Shone  on Mountain Blvd was known as the teenagers designated quarter-mile.  Gary was savoring the moment,  the tires screamed and the Chevy exploded forward, he grasped the roll bar as the G-force was ever-increasing.  McArthur shifted into second gear,  the tires squealed again, the force grasping him in its clutches, pulling him backwards.  He glanced at the speedometer as they blew through the intersection of Shone, it was registering over 90,  the car continuing to rocket down the highway.   He watched  the needle max-out on the inscribed 120 mph speedometer.  With compression backing the car down, Gary felt like a hundred pound weight had been release from pulling him  backwards, their journey lasting less than a mile, the McArthur making a U heading back to the station.

Getting out,  Gary was speechless,  the ride may have ended,  but one thing for sure, the memory would remain.

A Moment of Accession……..#59 (the 50’s)

March 8, 2017

DMV-sign-320

Once achieving the age of 13, capturing the appellation age of teenager,  the next pinnacle event in a  life’s journey is one that every teen awaits,  the moment of accession that is endowed at 16 years of age,  able to  anoint the automotive licensed cadre and obtaining the freedom to abound.  Gary remembering the past when applying for his Learner’s Permit on the way to the San Leandro DMV,  his Dad questioned whether he had thoroughly studied the drivers manual.  The Lad explaining  he had just completed Drivers Education,  which was a requirement to graduate from high school and  the class quizzed on  all 120 exam question prepared for the four variations of the DMV test.   Upon receiving his driving permit prior to his sixteenth birthday, with  dad’s watchful eye monitoring his driving the 48 Chevrolet, since it was the first column shift the youth had driven, allowing him more behind the wheel experience to gain comfort with his road savvy driving.   The pinnacle driving episode for the learners permit driver was when allowed to drive the 41 Chevrolet Pickup from their Sierra Mountain retreat in Pioneer to Oakland,  a 2 1/2 hour drive,  traversing the well-traveled windy Altamont Pass with it’s bay-area’s Sunday night traffic.

1941 Pickup – non sychromesh 4 speed transmission Chevy.

48 Chevrolet – The driving test vehicle

Gary’s sixteenth birthday having been accomplished, awaiting  the opportunity to prove himself worthy of receiving that all important vested document,  a driver’s license.   His audience with the DMV would be the coming Saturday,  asking permission to take the car across Mountain Blvd. on Keller Ave. to a divided pavement area that was a site for a never completed proposed subdivision.   It was the perfect accommodation to practice his parallel parking,  which was a driver’s test requirement.  With the 1948 Chevrolet,  two saw-horses for markers, his dad not accompanying him allowing Gary to take the car for the six block journey.  The added parallel parking practice increasing his proficiency and a sense of confidence that he was better prepared for the DMV.

Gary having heard stories at school about those first attempt failures, having no desire to join the ranks of the abortive. His father having never been critical of his driving,  but did offer some advice as a teamster, always drive with anticipation, never assumption.  During the evaluative drive, the DMV representative with clips board and pencil in hand issued directions.   Gary being very cognizant,  giving correct hand signals, over emphasizing looking behind and checking his mirrors, insuring his attentiveness was noticed.  He was instructed to perform a turn-about in a residential area and proceed back to the pylon for parallel parking. He was absolute in backing the Chevy up,  observing the first pylon was parallel to the rear of driver seat,  he maneuvered the vehicle toward the cub,  executing a perfect park as rehearsed at home.

The ride home was silent, almost anti-climactic, Gary wondering what his Dad’s thoughts might be, his son advancing further into an adult world.   Aware that his father had been on his own since the age of sixteen,  with no home or mentoring guidance,  forced to leave school, a young person reaching for an anchor to moor himself to for a better life. The teen was appreciative of his expanding world and the evolving changes, ever thankful for the security of a caring family and friends.  Gary expectation were fulfilled once arriving home, finding a jubilant family with adulation for his achievement, concluding from the day’s event that milestones in life are sometimes but fleeting moments.

Consecrative Excavation…….#6o (the 50’s)

March 6, 2017

A two seated depository

Gary couldn’t recall reading during the historic settling of the west any mention of what he and his dad were going to undertake but after giving it some thought, in all probability it may have been first on their agenda when erecting structures at a wilderness building site.  Pre-fabrication for the structure that would be transported by pickup began in the family backyard on Greenly Drive. The rather small building consisting of  three enclosing side, the fourth with a door,  a pitched roof,  four cement piers to anchor the floor joist and inside a fixed bench constructed at sitting height.  The sitting bench featuring two circular holes cover by toilet seats,  a simple but functional  design known as an Outhouse.

Gary’s dad – familiar surroundings

Gary and his Dad loading the disassembled structure  in the bed of the families 41 Chevy pickup, starting on the  2 1/2 hour easterly excursion to the Sierra’s.   Once on the road Gary’s Dad divulging  a detour was in order, they would go by Mountain Ranch which was about 20 miles out of their way to pickup Sterling (Pop) Graham,  his Dad’s closest friend.   Gary having been made aware that Pop was no longer working, not able to navigate his Interbay Lumber Co.  authoritative Ten-Wheeler.   His Dad’s friend was amiss with a debilitating illness identified as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,  ALS,  better known as Lou Gehrig Disease.   The Youth’s Father having disclosed Pops first indication was an inability to muster the  strength to properly turn the non-power assisted steering wheel on the big rig.  Gary aware of the iconic Lou Gehrig, the New York Yankee Hall of Fame player nicknamed the Iron Horse, playing in 2130 consecutive games with a lifetime batting average of 340 and dying at the age of 36.    The scene from the Lou Gehrig motion picture, Pride of the Yankee’s being brought to mind,  when Gehrig first noticed he had difficulty swinging two bats in the batter’s circle before stepping up to the plate.  He also remembers shedding a tear at the conclusion.

Gary Cooper playing Lou Gehrig “The Pride of the Yankee’s” with the real life Babe Ruth

The amazing Lou Gehrig

Gary was no stranger to moving dirt, as a youngster in the past having dug a 4 ft. deep excavation covering it with a makeshift roof to use as a command post when playing army. In junior high he volunteered to turn the ground over for the family garden and more recently at their Sierra site, extricated the entrance to an abandon mine in hopes of  discovering gold.   This time the digging was somewhat different, not a youthful project but having a meaningful purpose. The earth was cooperating,  the real estate soil was in transit as the shovel lifted the terra firma from the deepening cavity.   Gary continuing his labor, his Dad and the frail Sterling Graham sitting,  each with a bottle of beer in hand observing his progress.  There was no asperity performing this task,  satisfaction came from seeing his Father and Pop together, advocates sharing this consecrating moment of a soon departing friendship.  The soil extrication completed,  the Teen and his Dad  removing the prefab structure from the pickup proceeding  with the assembly.   The structured edifice now above the freshly turned small earthen crater.  once solidly affixed it stood as a monument,  the outhouse beckoning it services to those in a hasty need of  bodily disbursement relief.

The project completed, Gary taking a long-lasting look at his Father and Pop Graham sitting together,  concluding a cherished memory is a perpetual gift.

Indelible Conduction…………#61 (the 50’s)

March 4, 2017

The Linotype

Gary reasoned,  unlike the spoken word,  the written word is indelible,  for an articulate to obtain an analogous caliber,  a person of some intellect  must be the directive.   Expressive  journalism only requires the transformation of thoughts to paper,  no personality involvement and Mr. Christensen’s publication’s class opened varied paths of opportunity.   Gary was subservient as an assistant sports editor,  but in name only,  the  editor,  upperclassmen Gordon Reitman’s was indeed a very capable person,  but wasn’t a proponent of sports.  In most journalism classes, the females outnumber the males and He suspected that Gordon was appointed to captain  the sports page on the Ye Castle Crier because of his gender as all other editor positions were held by the  opposite sex.  Gordon  prevailed,  his personal demeanor wasn’t exactly befitting the summary of a sports enthusiast and with his milquetoast mannerisms and pullover sweaters he seemed somewhat out-of-place in the athletic environment of the gym.

Gordon Reitman

Gary understood the assistant sports editors position on the Crier and was ready for the challenge,  Chris asking if he would accept an added position of Staff Photographer.  Hesitant at first, his thought being a lack of qualifications, his only camera experience with was with his parents ancient Anasco box camera, but soon discovering that photography  was more than just taking pictures but in reality an art form.  Once accepting this premise, he approached the task adapting and capitalized on flavoring the anomalous, not just the subject.  Promulgating the papers sports page forum,  he assumed an interviewer’s role in a traditional school sports column,  ” The Athlete of the Week”.  The weekly bio column providing him access to all the sports coaches and team members.   Gary made a concerted effort to attend every games he reported on, unlike some who he wouldn’t name and would just gathered statistics and never were in attendance.   He was endowed with the respect of the coaches and team members and felt somewhat privileged when permitted to join them on the team bus when traveling  out-of-town.   On occasion he was asked to participate in officiating, in charge of the down marker at a football game or as the school’s official team statistician.  He soon developing a rapport with the sports desk at the Oakland Tribune,  after a game phoning in the results,  highlighting  players and performances, their names to appear in the Tribunes high school sports page the next day.  With the Giants major league baseball team having recently moved from New York City to San Francisco,  interest was thriving in their new home at Seals Stadium.  Gary now a senior, deciding to add an additional column,  “Following the Giants With Mike”,  resorting to his shortened middle name used in elementary school, concluding,  because of already writing most of the sport page, he deemed it best not to give that appearance.  Chris was surprised at the notoriety of Gary’s opinionated ‘Following the Giants’ column, the school publication receiving correspondence from sports editors on many of the bay-area school papers that were on the circulation departments mailing list.

Inking a Galley

Inking a Galley

The student body of Castlemont had little knowledge of the Ye Castle Criers preparation,  except that it was available to the student  body every Friday afternoon.   A typical agenda for a reporter would entail  receiving a subject assignment, the copy submitted on typed forms to the Page Editor,  the article edited for content and column length and a cap (title) with the final approval coming from Chris who as the class instructor read and graded everything printed.  Each article having two grades, the first was for grammar/sentence structure as the news/publication class was an english curriculum substitute and the second was for news worthiness or content presentation.  The accumulation of four Crier pages of copy and pictures were ready to be processed and printed at the Laney Trade School.   Twice a month, alternating with other editors, Gary’s as Sports editor would be able to leave school mid-morning,  travel to the Laney Trade  located on 7th St. in downtown metropolitan Oakland for the assemblage of the Castlemont Ye Castle Crier newspaper.   It was at Laney the Teen was able to attained the important aspects of the mechanical attributes involved to providing a finished product.   He watched as the copy handed to a linotype operator sitting at the keyboard controls of these purveyors of indelible conduction spewed forth the embossed hot lead alloy.  The molded lines of typesetting traversing into a collection area, placed in a page galley for espousing a proof, the inserting the cuts ( photos)  into their proper place in the galley.   The sports editor developing a skill to read the backward print,  checking for misplaced  slugs (blank spacer), then finally inking the galley, a proof being made, making a final assay of the proof before according  the printers.  The experience of Laney giving Gary another perspective of  world of journalism with an insight to the mechanical aspects behind this profession and the hidden participation makeup of others.

Donald Cherrington – Trig   &   Roland Christensen – Journalism

Gary having developed into a student of analogy, coming to recognize there was a corollary between Mr. Christensen’s Journalism class and Mr. Charrington’s Trigonometry class  although the  subject matter were totally estranged they shared much in common.   In trig you are given the final solution but have to determine the  perplexity and structure that gives you those results.  When composing a written itinerary it is much the same,  one had determined the contingency, but it’s the perplexity, structure and how you tincture the words that determines the intellection.

Well Kept Secret……..#62 (the 50’s)

March 2, 2017

The fragrance’s location – Hills Brother Coffee

Crossing on the upper deck of  the Bay Bridge to San Francisco always provided a better scenic view, the automobile traffic delegated to the top deck and commercial traffic charged to the lower deck of the span.   Off to the right one could distinguish the reaches of Alcatraz,  the foreboding enclave for the malefactors of conviction, the harden criminals.  Soon approaching was Yerba Buena with its endowed man-made landfill known as Treasure Island,  once designated as the future home of the romanticized China  Clipper but the navy thru necessity during WWII  established a beachhead and a military invasion establishing an electronics radio communications  school, the military occupational force securing the island for national purposes.   Continuing on,  the denizens within the trafficking would have no difficulties identifying their present location once they traversed the landfall approach of  the populated citadel, San Francisco.   All who arrived by this commanding bridge were greeted by recognizable  fragrance, but most not knowing the aromatic bouquet was the product produced by Hills Brothers Coffee, a redolent San Francisco welcome,  its domain domiciled at Harrison St. and the Embarcadero below the bridge.

On this day Hills Brothers again proclaiming a welcoming as Gary  accompanied Ruth and Jeff Salo on a journey amongst other representatives of the Science Fiction enclave knowing “Elves’, Gnomes’ and Little Men’s’  Science Fiction,  Chowder and Marching Society”.   This time the three science fiction prevaricators were traveling to the preeminent Twentieth Century Fox’s  Theater on Market Street to participate in an invitation only presentation.   The celebrated group of authors,  publisher,  educators and editors who formed the concert of the Little Men’s’ science fiction alliance and other relative organizations having received an invitation from the producers and studio executives at twentieth century fox.  The invitation was to attend ‘A Preview’ , a before release screening of the science fiction cinematography   “The Fly “.

The Iconic Fox Theatre in San Francisco

The Fly - staring David Hedison and Vincent Price

The Fly – starring David Hedison and Vincent Price

Once seated, Gary taking notice that there was a rather diminutive number in attendance, a twentieth fox representative walking on stage welcoming the group and announcing that upon the film’s conclusion, pencils and forms would be distributed for their participation in a critique of the viewing.  The large screen presentation beginning,  a good-natured Gary noting to Ruth Silo that something was missing, she turned with a quizzical expression, the youth  adding “popcorn”,  wondering if she appreciated his humor.  With the movies conclusion,  Gary questioning if his opinion would really be of any consequence, the movies premise somewhat of a reach.  The Hero disassembled, transported,  then reassembled only to find there was a fly joining him during the process, discovering they had interchanged body parts.   Apparently someone thought there was a message in the script and the casting was questionable, who is David Hedison?   He found that he could associate  Vincent Price in his role as it somewhat  resembled his character in The House of Wax.   There were many  Science Fiction movies  deserving merit,  War of the World’s,  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, or Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer’s,  When Worlds Collide,   these story penned and then skillfully adapted to the screen.  This was his thinking when he and those in attendance were asked to submit a critique of the movie.   Setting aside a critique of the plot and acting but acknowledging the special effects,  writing something promising, he abridged his concordance of criticism.  Gary acknowledging the San Francisco journey was time well invested, his association with this group of like-minded interest, and his acquaintance with inspiring authors amplified a sense of self-esteem.   His perception  would never be something he could relate to peers,  most would lack the understanding of the uniqueness of association with these individuals,  their ability to condense emotion and promote the derivative of the living equation by the means of the written word.

A remaining traffic signal sign from the past

The shadow of  evening darkness beginning to descend,  the coolness of the fog that is San Francisco  enveloping the three travelers as they maneuvered to the bay bridge on-ramp.   The traffic signal on Bryant Street wasn’t the modern-day elevated signal light with the familiar red, amber and green lens, designating the stop and go for the  traffic.   This traffic authority was a relic of the past, a vertical street mounted stance, small in stature,  sounding  a loud bell,  an arresting arm would appear with either the word Stop or Go posted in large letters, and red and green lights for after dark,  a remaining  wonderment waiting to be replaced.  Continuing onto the approach, the amber glow of the bridge lights enveloped by the thickening fog giving off a mystique that emulated  a scene from a motion picture and the forlorn echo of the fog horns on the bay moaning in the night added to the chasm.    Gary having always delineated San Francisco with an aura of contingency,  it was a city that heighten one’s senses,  it’s alive,  you feel its pulse,  you can smell its exhalation,  an entity able to nestle you in its fog enshrouded bosom at night and release you for motivation to a sunlit sky in the day.   Gary often wonder if he was alone in his perception of San Francisco,  or just maybe it was another well-kept secret.