ENTERS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD
During the summer of 1960 I traveled throughout Mexico with a high school buddy of mine. Before leaving we shopped around for a suitable vehicle eventually finding a used 1951 six-cylinder Chevy panel truck that was in pretty good shape for a pretty good price. Over a period of a few months the two of us outfitted it like a camper with fold down bunks, table, sink, stove, and portable toilet. We got a bunch of new fanbelts, radiator hoses, inner tubes and tools, then, early one Saturday morning we crossed into Mexico at the Tijuana border with no idea how long we were going to be gone.
From start to finish the trip took all but a few days short of the whole of the summer of 1960, with the two of us ending up having seen the pyramids in Mexico City, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, Palenque, and a whole bunch of other Mayan ruins in the Yucatan. We stopped whenever we wanted and stayed as long as we wanted. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. Eventually we made a decision to return home. We headed north along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico through Vera Cruz then westward inland toward central Mexico turning north along the spine of the Sierra Madres and exited back into the U.S. through the Nogales gate just at the end of summer.
Not long after we returned from Mexico my buddy moved from the beach community we both lived in before we left for Mexico to the beach community just north of us called Hermosa, eventually buying a hardware store there, the same hardware store he had worked for part time while in high school. In January of 1961, four months or so after we returned from Mexico, without me even realizing he knew a girl of such high ranking stature, he got married, eventually becoming a distinguished member of the community. As he was becoming more and more distinguished I was doing other things.
On May 1, 1960, one month before I left for Mexico, a friend of my stepmother, a woman infamous in her own right by the way, named Brenda Allen, got married. Three short months later, in September 1960, her husband, Robert H. Cash, reportedly a former U.S. Navy pilot, filed for divorce. Starting during the Spring of the next year, from roughly around the middle of March 1961 to sometime into the next month, i.e., April, Allen was in court in Los Angeles on-and-off related in some aspect to finalizing that divorce. At some undisclosed point in time during those court proceedings Brenda, knowing there was a connection between me, my stepmother, and Johnny Roselli --- because the last time she and I crossed paths was through that connection --- had a letter hand passed to him in Las Vegas asking if he knew how to get in touch with me. The letter contained a business card from a lawyer and a note asking me to contact her.
On the weekend of April 29th and 30th 1961, unrelated to any of the above Brenda Allen stuff, I was in Las Vegas. On Monday May 1st I visited Hoover Dam for a few hours then drove south for a little casino action and other possible extra curricular activities in the El Rey Club located in the little speed trap town of Searchlight. Roselli had one of his gorillas deliver the letter, which had been opened, through to me on the 1st while I was in Searchlight. A couple of days later I called the lawyer who told me Brenda had left a message for me.
Over the phone the lawyer said the message asks that I meet her outside her old place in Long Beach on Wednesday the 19th at 10:00 AM. Well, the 19th fell on Wednesday in April alright, but I didn't get the letter until May 1st, so, as it was, I wasn't in a position to call the lawyer until after May 1st. I presume Brenda got the letter to Roselli sometime before the 19th, apparently thinking I would get it right away. However, while looking at the calendar I noticed that July has the exact same dates for the exact same days, meaning that in July the 19th also fell on a Wednesday. So, although it wasn't likely, not knowing what Brenda was thinking of or up to, just as a precaution I went to her old address on East Ocean Avenue in Long Beach on Wednesday the 19th, but after waiting over two hours beyond the designated meeting time she never showed.
Six months before, in January 1961, Erin Joanne O'Brien sued for divorce from her then husband. By the start of the summer of 1961, she and her husband, if not fully separated, for all practical purposes were, and apparently had been separated on-and-off over a period of time, although their divorce wasn't actually finalized for whatever reason until January 1963.
It was several months into O'Brien's 1961 divorce and separation period, combined with the time and place of Brenda Allen's request for our meeting, that O'Brien and I inadvertently crossed paths at the Long Beach Museum of Art. The spot Allen chose for she and I to connect was right outside of where she used to live, which just happened to be on the same street the art museum was located on, probably less than three blocks away. Although it was atypical for O'Brien to generally be in the area, she was raised in Long Beach and graduated from high school in Long Beach. As she related it to me, on that particular day she was or had been visiting family or friends and was in the process of revisiting old haunts in Long Beach in a nostalgic sort of way when the two of us met. For me it was one of those magic, happen-so-rarely sequences men dream of, that for some unknown, mysterious reason, a coming together of time, place, and universe just happens:
"(A)s I was walking around the gallery in the museum --- and totally unprepared for such an event --- I saw a woman that up to that point in time I think was absolutely the most beautiful woman I had ever personally seen in my life. Unwittingly staring at her almost as though I was frozen in a trance, she turned from the exhibit painting on the wall toward my direction and when she did the two of us made eye contact. The exact moment our gaze connected it was a though my life force had been sucked out of me, my knees even buckling from the weight of me standing. Having lost a total sense of dignity and somehow feeling a need for air I immediately went outside, crossing the short distance across a park adjacent to the museum overlooking the ocean. Within minutes if not seconds, for reasons I am yet to fathom to this day, the woman was suddenly standing next to me saying something like, 'Didn't you like the exhibit, you left so abruptly.' I don't recall what my answer was or how one thing led to the next, but soon the two of us were agreeing to have lunch together, although instead I ate breakfast, at a little restaurant she knew just a couple of blocks away called The Park Pantry.
"She said she may have been to the museum before but couldn't remember a specific instance, only stopping in for no other reason except to do so, then she saw me. She said when I left so abruptly she was overwhelmed with the strangest inner feeling, as though she had found something valuable I had lost and she had to return it --- yet she had nothing except for a strange feeling that felt so real."
FIREHAIR: Queen of the Sagebrush Frontier
THE RAZOR'S EDGE: Eye Contact Sequences
The rest of the year slipped by, and possibly because of that strange feeling that felt so real and the strength of it's strangeness, we were able to override any number or mitigating factors, to such a point we saw each other as much as possible. Then, sometime around the middle of the following year I received a confirmation letter from the Selective Service informing me I would be inducted two or three months before the end of the calendar year and would have to report on a given date at a given time and place. Although I hoped she and I could stretch what we had until I went in, the second I showed her the letter it was over.
Truth be told, it was quite clear I wasn't going anywhere and she was, if she hadn't already. Because of her out of nowhere unexplained rebuff, i.e., if not being dumped, at least being forgotten to death, I instead spent the summer of 1962 back in Mexico on the marlin boat owned by David J. Halliburton and hooking up with old friends from having been in Cabo on-and-off on the boat over a period of time, many whom, at least the female variety, worked the hotels at night and sunbathed on the yacht during the day, while I, playing the bereaved lover, licked my wounds and wondered why they were always able to find the bottoms to their bikinis but never the tops.
On Halliburton's boat the Twin Dolphin I was a general all around crew member, but most specifically a sander of wood. The skipper had seen how beautifully done the wood on my immaculately restored 1940s woodie wagon was one day and loved the craftsmanship, skill, and care that went into it so much he wanted me to do the brightwork on the Dolphin. Ever watchful for the security of his boss, after a thorough background check and vetting process, along with an incident that involved the saving a young girl that fell into the marina and a person I call The Lady on the Dock, the skipper hired me.
THE LADY ON THE DOCK
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"While in Cabo, although the Twin Dolphin was outfitted as a marlin boat it was just as much a yacht as well, with the boat and crew, that is the skipper and I, being at the discretion and whim of Halliburton, and thus then by inference, through requests, his cronies. When one of his non-fishing high-ranking cronies came down on some anthropological mission and wanted to go to a speck of land sticking up out of the Sea of Cortez somewhat north of the city of La Paz called Isla Espíritu Santo along with a few other places, we were tapped to take him. In the process, once moored, being thus then recruited from a sander of wood to an equipment bearer, I in turn was able to visit a number of sites and observe first hand in a controlled fashion in prehistoric settings, the Caucasoid-like elongated skulls and red ochre painted bones of the original inhabitants of the Baja Peninsula, the Pericú."
Less than three weeks before I was inducted into the military Erin met some USC dude who in the following year while I was still in the army, having barely a year of service behind me and being nothing but a lowly PFC, she married --- a play on the old gone off to college (him) while I remained nothing but a dunce working stiff (in the Army) trick.
As has been presented further back in the text, a number of months had passed in Erin's 1961 divorce and separation period before she and I inadvertently crossed paths at the Long Beach Museum of Art. The rest of the year slipped by, and as I have mentioned previously, possibly because of that strange feeling that felt so real and the strength of it's strangeness, we were able to override any number or mitigating factors, to such a point we saw each other as much as possible. That as much as possible was impacted, or at least hampered, somewhat as Erin was heavily into the hurry up and wait process of completing two episodes almost back-to-back of the TV show Laramie during that exact same period and another for the short lived series King of Diamonds. One of the episodes of Laramie aired just at the end of 1961 and the other in April of 1962, at basically the same time as the King of Diamonds episode. It wasn't long after the airing of those two episodes that I received my draft notice.
During that same time frame I had a couple of things on the burner too. Other than mentioning to Erin that I ended up at the art museum because a friend of my stepmother was in the process of a divorce and asked for some sort of undisclosed help in some fashion I didn't go into any details. I did so because not everybody is receptive to the likes of someone with the reputation as Johnny Roselli, and not knowing Erin at all during our initial stages, Roselli or his role of having the letter delivered to me, wasn't brought up.
I continued to remain silent about Roselli all through the period of time that elapsed from the meeting in the museum to the ultimate demise. However, during a good part of that same period, in a pure coincidence of timing in that it never happened before nor happened afterwards, I was, as a go-between, conducting some business with Roselli in behalf of my stepmother, as found in the following:
"(My) first meeting of the series with Roselli was on Sunday July 2, 1961 in Los Angeles with the other two in Las Vegas a few weeks later during the last two or three days of July. I remember the July 2nd date well because it was the same day Ernest Hemmingway was found dead from a gunshot wound first reported as an accident but later a suicide.
"Following the L.A. meeting and consultation with my ex-stepmother with Roselli's conditions, the aforementioned other two meetings in Las Vegas transpired at the end of July, one on the night of the full moon over coffee at the Desert Inn(i.e.,July 28, 1961), the second three days later during the early morning hours in the casino at the Stardust (i.e., July 31, 1961)."
JOHNNY ROSELLI: Mafioso
Any silence perpetrated by me was consciously done based on several co-factors as I perceived them. One, the assistance I was rendering my stepmother on her behalf relative to Roselli wasn't typical of any regular on-doings I would normally participate in --- therefore, in a sense, as a one-off deal, it wasn't anything I would be continuing on any sort of a long term basis so I felt there was no reason to bring him up. Secondly, even though it may have been excessively grandiose on my part to think it so, I didn't want to impact adversely any favorable momentum that might have impeded the two of us from moving forward by having Roselli in the picture. And third, after I discovered who she was, career-wise, I didn't want anything to come back and haunt her in the same fashion as to what happened to actress June Lang and her career.
The second thing I had on the burner during that post-high school pre-draft period was a growing and continued deepening and upwelling of a certain embryo-like spiritual insight, particularly as it related to Zen. It was all forced to a head as the time shortened just prior to my involuntarily imposed departure for the military, the exact same 1961-1962 period as the woman from the museum and the business transactions for my stepmother.
At the start of my junior year of high school a highly unusual man moved into the house next door. The first time I saw him I was set aback by the calm serenity he seemed to abide in. Over time he revealed he had studied under the venerated Indian holy man the Baghavan Sri Ramana Maharshi at his ashram between the wars. As the years passed and I got to know him I began asking him then nearly begging him to "make me like him." Time after time he brushed me off.
Finally, I guess, thinking he would never get rid of me he began making a few suggestions. As my Mentor he began gently coaching me through the finer subtleties of deeper and deeper meditation; he urged me to read a whole raft of Zen related books; and eventually it was he who sent me to do "real" study under a Japanese Zen master.(see)
He told me he would soon be leaving, but prior to his departure a highly honored Japanese Zen master was visiting the United States for a short time and since what I seemed to be seeking and what Zen is paralleled, suggested I see him. He had taken it upon himself to make the arrangements for me to attend a special week long sesshin under the master, re the following:
"The sesshins ran from four in the morning to eight at night. About thirty people attended and we sat in two rows of fifteen facing one another across the room with our backs toward the wall.
"By the final day our numbers had diminished greatly and though the master spoke in private with the others, he refused to have private consultation with me. When the last day finally ended and we were leaving, thanking heavens we even survived, the interpreter came to me and said the master wished to speak with me. The master told me three of the our group had realized Kensho and berated me for not being among them. He said I had vast opportunities in my daily existence far beyond most and had not fulfilled the expectations of either him or my mentor. I thanked him, bowed, and left."
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds
It should be brought to the attention of the reader that my attempts at study-practice under Yasutani turned out less than successful, eventually in the process returning then to my mentor a few years later, post-military, with much more positive results.
ERIN O'BRIEN AND JAMES GARNER AS SEEN IN THE 1957 MAVERICK, EPISODE 6, SEASON 1, STAGE WEST
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IN THE END, ONE LAST SIGHTING
For a good part of the summer of 2007 I was travelling in Europe. Sometime after my return a friend of a friend contacted me telling me a former college professor of mine, and of who I had worked with as a colleague in the same department after graduation, and who, after retirement moved to Twentynine Palms in the California high desert, had recently died of prostate cancer. His wife, or widow as the case may be, was planning on tossing his ashes in respect to his personal wishes, at a place called Giant Rock, said to be of great spiritual significance to Native Americans and others, that he had become excessively over enamored with after moving to the desert.
The former professor, highly popular with the students wasn't so highly revered by faculty. He was never granted a Full Professorship from his long held Associated Professor position, and although not on an official level but more behind his back, he left quasi disgraced amongst his peers. Hypocrites that they were, he had divorced his first wife, who coincidently, had the exact same married name as the woman Erin O'Brien played in Stage West, and married a graduate student of a much younger age not long after she graduated. From then on it was as though he had a communicable disease. A few short years later he and his graduate student wife separated, and although they never divorced she moved back east and he moved to the desert. It was she who was doing the ashes thing.
Even though he was popular with the students and helped hundreds and hundreds of them in one manner or the other, and even though it had been a lot of years for most of them, I was surprised at how few of anybody attended the ceremony, with only a handful showing up. Some were attributing it to the day, date, and time of it all, but the former graduate student, come wife, come back east widow had selected the timing of it because she said it had some significance to him. In any case the ceremony was held during the middle of the week of the first full week in November of 2007. When it was all over, since a number of the few that had come to Giant Rock were from the Los Angeles area, someone suggested we go to a favorite watering hole he apparently held in high esteem in Palm Springs and raise a drink to his passing.
While I was in Palm Springs, even though it was many, many years after the fact from having seen or met Erin for the first time at the art museum, and although she didn't see me, or didn't recognize me if she did, I clearly saw and recognized her, accompanied as it was by another woman, a woman I guessed to be a younger sister. The last I heard Erin, who at the time I saw her in Palm Springs would have been age 73, lived somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Why she and her sister would be in or around Palm Springs in the early part of November 2007 is something I'm just not privy to.(see)
AND NOW THIS
Because of my rather low profile mundane existence and lifestyle amongst the masses I never expected again to be in a position to be granted or become a second time recipient for an event of such significance or magnitude to repeat itself as the meeting between Erin and myself. However, such was not the case, although it took 50 years or so before any type of a remotely similar occurrence was to transpire. That remote occurrence involved an unusual convergence of the supernormal perceptual state known in Sanskrit as Siddhis, myself, and a woman of exceptional beauty, spiritual acumen, intellect, and natural talent by the name of Phyllis Davis. Why she was able to carve out time for me or did so, is on it's own in itself a miracle, and still for me remains a little beyond comprehension.
PHYLLIS DAVIS CIRCA 1980
It should be brought to the attention of the reader that the eye contact sequence presented in part below and found in full above, was selected for use in THE RAZOR'S EDGE: Eye Contact Sequences from the novel The Razor's Edge by William Somerset Maugham.
"(A)s I was walking around the gallery in the museum --- and totally unprepared for such an event --- I saw a woman that up to that point in time I think was absolutely the most beautiful woman I had ever personally seen in my life. Unwittingly staring at her almost as though I was frozen in a trance, she turned from the exhibit painting on the wall toward my direction and when she did the two of us made eye contact. The exact moment our gaze connected it was a though my life force had been sucked out of me, my knees even buckling from the weight of me standing."
THE RAZOR'S EDGE
EYE CONTACT SEQUENCES
Another thing worth mentioning is that my former high school and travel through Mexico buddy, who I was so close to in those traveling days but lost track of after our return from Mexico and never reconnected, out of nowhere a couple of years ago suddenly and unexpectedly died of a massive heart attack.
I never met his wife, at least after they were married, or any of his kids. Nor do I know if he ever related to them of our travels together or if he ever knew himself how important those travels were to me and my life. In later years I saw him dining with friends or family across the room in a restaurant one night, but never went over to talk with him. If he saw me or not I don't know.
For the full extent of my buddy and my trip to Mexico during the summer of 1960, with us ending up seeing the pyramids in Mexico City, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, Palenque, and a whole bunch of other Mayan ruins in the Yucatan as well as more on some of the early Redondo Beach connections (the first link) please visit the following:
THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
DON JUAN MATUS AND THE NOGALES BUS STATION MEETING
THE WANDERLING: BEFORE ERIN O'BRIEN, WAS FIREHAIR
AND SEVERAL OTHER EARLY INFATUATION EXPERIENCES
LOUIS L'AMOUR: STAGE WEST
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SO HOW DOES IT ALL PLAY OUT?
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
THE PACKSADDLE STATION AS SEEN IN STAGE WEST
The draft was still looming over my head and the fact my long term semi-on-and-off high school and after girlfriend --- who had gone off to college while I remained home being nothing but a dunce working stiff --- hit me with the fact she had met and fallen in love with some hunkering down stud and they were planning on getting married didn't help.
"When I first graduated from high school the job I had lined up as mentioned in the above quote I thought was going to be a life long dream job --- a job I considered would be my career forever. It didn't quite work out that way. Without even breaking 18 months with the company, in a preemptive strike to ward off a potential or rumored corporate restructuring or take over, they started reducing the level of their work force. The area I worked for laid off upwards of around 90 people, and in a classic last hired, first fired scenario, I was caught up in it. With so many of us suddenly laid off in the same work related field, many of them with degrees or training from Chouinard, there just wasn't enough positions available in the industry to soak all of us up, especially for a bottom of the rung in-house on-the-job trainee like me."
TIKE KARAVAS: The Wanderling and His High School Chums
During the roughly 18 month period that I lived in Hollywood following my graduation from high school I stayed at a place owned by a man named Don, a long time acquaintance of my Stepmother. His house, the living area of which was built on top of a two-car garage had no front yard, back yard, or side yards, and was so tightly crammed in between neighbor's houses you could hardly slip a playing card between them. The whole garage door front of the house was only inches off a narrow twisty car-parked congested street a short distance after entering the Hollywood Hills just as the hills began to rise up off the basin floor, and for me, only a short walk to catch a bus to work.
The living arrangements, with no charge to me, had been set up by my stepmother the summer before when I was working for no pay as an intern or "gopher" or a "runner" as they are sometime called. Don was a gay guy about 45-50 years old whose primary claim to fame was that he knew Elizabeth Taylor, and according to him, when she was in town they would have private little out of the way luncheons together regularly. Every time I asked if he would take me along sometime he would always tell me she wasn't comfortable with new people or people she didn't know.
Weekdays were always filled with work, at least for me, while the weekends went pretty much nonstop around the clock, that is until Sunday evening. By then everything sort of wound down or stopped. Invariably, after a basically sunrise to sunrise to sunrise weekend Don would quiet down and sit back and watch TV and always at the top of his list was, after the series started, Maverick. Since the next day was Monday and the start of the workweek for me, after the weekend I would typically join him kicking back, in the process I saw most if not all of the early part of the first season of Maverick, all in order and when they were first released.
On what I am sure was my very last weekend at Don's house just before I returned to Redondo after being laid off from my job I watched an episode of Maverick titled "Stage West" based on a Louis L'Amour short story called "That Packsaddle Affair," written by L'Amour under the pseudonym or pen name Jim Mayo.
One year later, although I hadn't gone back to see Don nor been in contact with him since I left, on the anniversary of me having left he sent me a brand new crisp copy of a just out Maverick comic book that had an illustrated version of that exact same Louis L'Amour episode of Stage West we saw together on that last weekend.
Typically such an offer of goodwill and friendship wouldn't carry much weight beyond what it meant between say Don and me at the time. However, with neither of us having a clue as to the downstream outflow that was to follow, nor did Don ever learn of it in later years that I know of, it just so happened that the woman who co-starred and received equal billing with James Garner in Garner's own series as found in that Stage West episode of Maverick and as well in the comic book, albeit drawn ambiguously, was the exact same woman I met several years later in the museum. Re the following:
"At the time the Stage West episode was being filmed O'Brien was being groomed by Warner Brothers for greater things. The studio held her in such high regard that she was billed alongside James Garner at the beginning of her first Maverick episode in 1957, a gesture shared by very few actors during the entire five year run of the series."
LOUIS L'AMOUR: THE PACKSADDLE AFFAIR, STAGE WEST
Although I didn't really have a chance to follow Erin's career very closely over the next few years because of doing military stuff, she, after marrying the USC dude seems to have pretty much wrapped it up.(see)
Be sure to go back and see IN THE END, ONE LAST SIGHTING
MAVERICK TRAILS: THE DELL ADAPTION OF STAGE WEST
I have to admit, as found in the ONE LAST SIGHTING section of the above main text and linked back to below, I was more than surprised seeing Erin O'Brien in Palm Springs in 2007, especially after having not laid eyes on her in person in 45 years. Although fully aware everyone pretty much has a tendency to age over time, it's just in Erin's case not only was I not expecting to see her, I never really thought of her other than how I had seen her last in 1962. It reminded me a great deal of seeing Margaret Runyan Castaneda, the ex-wife of Carlos Castaneda, a couple of years before I saw Erin as found at the source so cited:
"Where I had stayed the night before there was a crime drama on TV in which the lead detective said a suspect's car was 30 years old. In my mind's eye I pictured something like a big black 1940s four-door Ford with big bulbous fenders and long running boards all along the sides. Instead, the suspect's car turned out to be a 1975 Chevy. A similar, albeit reverse misconception transpired when I first laid eyes on Runyan. While it is true years had passed since her heydays with Castaneda in the early 1960s I was actually set aback seeing her being 84 years old."
MARGARET RUNYAN CASTANEDA
Be sure to go back and see IN THE END, ONE LAST SIGHTING
THE BEST OF
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THE BEST OF THE MAUGHAM BIOGRAPHIES:
SPIRITUAL GUIDES, GURUS, AND TEACHERS INFLUENTIAL IN THE RAZOR'S EDGE:
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POST-HIGH SCHOOL: NEVER HIGHER THAN AN INBETWEENER
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