OF THE REDONDO BEACH HISTORICAL MUSEUM
"Fifie Malouf, flyovers by giant unknown objects, Japanese midget submarines washing up on shore next to the pier. Every now and then I get an email from someone who tells me, after having visited the Redondo Beach Historical Museum and carrying on a casual conversation with museum staff mentioning something they recalled from material of mine regarding some aspect of Redondo Beach they came across, it is not always received with full 100% substantiating results --- in other words, it gets pooh-poohed."
WORLD WAR II COMES TO REDONDO
I was pleasantly surprised by an email I received one day in relation to the gist of the contents of the above quote and finding within the email the mention of the name of a person from my old Redondo Union Beach High School days I recognized, Tike Karavas.
In Redondo Beach and beyond, Constantine "Tike" Karavas is a well known and highly regarded member of the Redondo Beach Historical Museum. Karavas has strong connections to the South Bay through a variety of means, but especially so via his parents who established and operated a successful flower business in and around Redondo Beach for many years, something I'm familiar with because at the same time they had their flower business the people I lived with after my mother died owned and operated a flower shop on Pacific Avenue in old downtown Redondo.
Tike's family moved to Redondo when he was in grade school sometime in the early to mid-1940s, taking up residence first on Agate Street then moving to the Avenues. From his early childhood through to his late teenage years he combined his educational school years with working for the family business, and it was through those growing up and working years that he was able to build his Redondo Beach historical strengths on --- and if it is one thing Tike knows, it's Redondo Beach. However, even though the two of us attended Redondo Union High together for four years at the very same time, with both of us graduating from there the very same year, as far as my view or knowledge of Redondo Beach is concerned relative to his and/or Tike and I knowing each other in the classical sense, well that may be another thing.
While Tike was growing up in Redondo Beach I too was growing up in Redondo --- and I did so up to a point on-and-off for a good portion of my life. Actually I started kindergarten at Central School in Redondo and graduated, only a few blocks away, from Redondo Union High School --- although in-between I lived all over the map, only returning to Redondo in time to start the ninth grade.
Then, four years later, the instant I graduated from high school I walked out with my degree in my hands and started my dream job with a major Hollywood studio --- a stint that a few months over a year later ended-up not working out. I returned to Redondo, this time not with my degree in my hand but my hat in my hand and found that all my erstwhile buddies and onetime friends, who I totally ignored while I was gone being a Hollywood big shot, were either well established, married, or off to college. I groveled around until I was able to land a job with a small aerospace firm in El Segundo and slowly began working my way up the ladder as a technical illustrator, falling back believe it or not, on skills that were originally taught, developed, and honed to a fine point of expertise in the drafting department at Redondo Union High, probably the best high-school level drafting department that ever existed in the whole world:
"(J)ust out of high school, I got a job with a company that designed and built the breathing equipment for the U-2, the then super-secret high altitude spy plane. Because of the nature of the secrecy surrounding the plane, working there required me to obtain a security clearance.
"At first working on U-2 related equipment was exciting, like getting to go out to Edwards Air Force Base and Area 51 at Groom Lake fine-tuning, installing, and testing equipment and such, but, after two years, for reasons beyond my control the whole thing started to get stale and I began sleepwalking through my job."
AREA 51 AT GROOM LAKE
Before I really had a chance to do much of anything, either with my job or life, while still in Redondo living at my grandmother's and working in El Segundo, Uncle Sam and the draft came calling, re the following:
"For a vast number of young men growing up around the same time I did, after reaching a certain age, they were uprooted from whatever they were doing by the then in place friendly Selective Service System, otherwise known as the draft, and plunked down into the military. And so it was for me. Following a crowded ruckus-filled overnight 400 mile train ride from the induction center in Los Angeles to Fort Ord I, along with several hundred other potential GIs, at 4:00 AM in the morning, was herded into one of a whole line of cattle trucks and taken to what they called the Reception Company Area. Then, after being issued two pairs of too large boots along with several sets of too large olive drab shirts and pants, and having the good fortune of completing eight weeks of basic without incident I was sent to Fort Gordon, Georgia to attend the U.S. Army Signal Corps School for what they called Advanced Individual Training, or AIT."
THE PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER AND THE ASIAN WARLORD
Unlike a good portion of my peers at the time, except for me meeting the most beautiful woman in the world, and I mean for real, then losing her, the years that passed between my graduation from high school and being drafted, except for travel and any results thereof, were for the most part really unproductive years for me --- at least as far as accomplishing anything very much of value or merit was concerned --- and of which I have given the name THE LOST YEARS in the upcoming Footnote . It was only after I completed my military service and started college that things really began to strengthen for me into what I would call a much more positive light.
When I got out, after receiving a good conduct medal, an honorable discharge, and a small smattering of other medals, while in the process of taking and getting sufficiently high enough ACT and SAT scores to attend major prestigious east coast state colleges or universities, I began investigating the costs. Discouraged by the fees, but discovering even though I had been discharged from the Army in Fort Riley, Kansas, and had spent my last three months living there under their auspices in a holding company at Riley, I was encouraged by the fact that you retain residency from the state you were drafted. Knowing a number of high quality state and private universities were within easy striking distance of Redondo Beach, once again I returned to California and my old home town.
During the process of the above same period Tike was on the road doing battle against the Harlem Globetrotters as a member of the multi-man "visiting team," traveling 100 to 300 miles a day as well as internationally meeting Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, the Pope, and the King of Greece. As for myself, when I returned from participation in international battles abroad, battles not of my own making, I settled in Redondo Beach using it as a central base of operations. While commuting back and forth to college attempting to grab off an undergraduate degree on the G.I. Bill, and of which I was eventually able to do, my personal family ties, which counted at one time four generations deep in Redondo and maybe even five according to my brother, began to thin, including the death of my grandmother, a long time Redondo Beach resident. After receiving a B.A. along with a California Secondary Teaching Credential, which required an additional fifth year beyond a bachelors as well as student teaching, I matriculated into graduate school. Then, with a fresh graduate degree and a teaching credential in my grubbies, rather than doing anything that remotely resembled teaching or teaching high school, nor ever did, I joined the Peace Corps. By then Redondo Beach, at least for me, especially after my younger brother and his family decided to pull up stakes and move a thousand miles away out of state, the last of us by the way, Redondo became more of a place of memories, albeit fond memories, than a place to be. Before that, in-between REDONDO: The Early Years that follows next, there were a number of years that transpired after graduating from high school but before being drafted, as found in Footnote , that I call:
REDONDO: THE LOST YEARS
REDONDO: THE EARLY YEARS
My childhood background and upbringing in Redondo is somewhat similar to Tike's, paralleling his fairly closely right up through graduation from Redondo High in 1956. The day I was born my family was living in a little house they owned on the 300 block of south Lucia. Built fairly typical of the day, it was one of those small two-bedroom wooden clapboard homes with a single car detached garage off to the side. It also had a nice long, or deep as they called it, backyard that ran right up to an adjoining oil field just beyond the fence line and a two-wheel rut dirt road now paved and called Maria Avenue.
The Lucia house is where I was living when on the night of Wednesday, February 25, 1942 a huge, giant airborne object of an unknown nature cruised directly over the top of our house, an object, as linked below, the size of a Zeppelin --- and an episode that brings cries of pain to the Redondo Beach Historical Museum, at least as to how I say I saw it and especially so how I write about it. My take on the infamous Fifie Malouf tweaks them a bit too.
(for more please click image)
The giant object, before reaching Redondo, had overflown a good portion of the whole of the western area of Los Angeles after having paralleled the north side of the Santa Monica Mountains before crossing over them southbound into the basin then turning directly south along the coast near present day LAX and the El Segundo oil refinery and tank farm. In the process it caused nothing but an area wide blackout, anti-aircraft fire all over the city while withstanding some 1440 direct anti aircraft rounds before it escaped unscathed --- an object of which I along with my entire family were clearly able to see that night after it turned diagonally inland over Redondo Beach just past the Edison plant but before reaching the pier. Guns and sirens and searchlights were all over the place and even though it was two or three in the morning almost everybody on our whole block who could, got up to go outside to see it.
MY FATHER WAS AN AIR RAID WARDEN DURING THE
WAR AND HELPED WITH THE BLACKOUT THAT NIGHT
THE OBJECT FLEW OVER THE HOUSES ON S0. LUCIA.
(for more please click image)
My younger brother was only a few months old at the time of the above incident, born while we were still living in the Lucia Avenue house three years after me. It was not long after that, for reasons unrelated to his birth, my mother's health began to deteriorate, reaching a point somewhat rather quickly where she was unable to participate at the full level of care needed in raising three young sons.
With my dad continuing to put in more and more hours trying to make ends meet because of the increasing medical costs, my brothers and I began being farmed out, going from conventional short term babysitting to being with our grandparents overnight or to others several days a week or longer. I had only just started kindergarten at Central School in Redondo, having graham crackers and chocolate milk from a carton before taking a nap every day when my father was offered a suggestion to help ease his burden by a couple that just happened to be visiting our next door neighbors for Thanksgiving dinner, a dinner of which we as a family we had been invited to as well. The couple's offer was to have one of us kids come live with them. After a considerable period of time hand-wringing, at least on the surface, my father agreed and for whatever reason the couple selected me. So, separated from my brothers for the first time --- but not the last --- I was sent by my father to live with the couple on a full time basis. Unbeknownst to him and without his approval, no sooner had I moved in and started a new school under their auspices than they immediately left the country for India taking me with them --- even before my mother died.
The man and woman, who I remember very little or nothing about, even up to the point of not being able to recall their names or what they looked like, with me in tow, ended up at the ashram of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in Tiruvannamalai, South India. The three of us staying at the ashram quite some time, even to the point I ended up missing many months of school. How the visit impacted anybody else I'm not sure, but for me it ended with somewhat startling results.
Returning to the states the couple dropped me off totally unannounced at my grandmother's on my father's side in Pennsylvania --- a grandmother I had never met nor ever even heard of. From there, after surviving a train wreck in the middle of the Arizona desert around midnight one night on my way back that killed four people and injured over 100, I was picked up and returned totally unharmed and without a scratch to the west coast by my Uncle to be with my grandmother on my mother's side, who was at the time living in the mountain resort community of Big Bear Lake. Shortly after that arrangements were made for me to live with a couple that owned a flower shop, arrangements that after a roughly two year absence put me and Redondo Beach back together again.
It must have been just at the close of summer and the start of school in September of 1945 that I found myself getting out of a car clutching a tiny suitcase with nothing but a handful of crummy belongings and sack full of dirty underwear and not knowing how I got there. Standing on the sidewalk not much more than a simple beleaguered young boy with no mother and a father long gone, being taken by a stranger to live with a couple that owned a flower shop in Redondo Beach, a couple I was sure I had never seen or heard of in my life.
The couple's shop was located in what was then considered the main downtown business section of Redondo Beach. The front of the ground-floor shop faced west right onto Pacific Avenue, but going the other way, went clear through the wedged shaped multi-story building ending with a working backdoor entrance on Benita. The couple didn't live in Redondo however. They lived in a house a few miles away right on Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach with a whole back lot that ran clear down to Ardmore and the railroad tracks, a backyard in of which they raised a multitude of flowers for their shop. When I lived in Redondo with my family, like I say, I attended Central School, but living with the flower shop people I went to Pier Avenue School in Hermosa Beach, also on PCH. I did, however, spend weekends and almost all other non-school free time in and around downtown Redondo Beach and the front. Interestingly enough, I attended Pier Avenue School at the exact same time as my years later online arch nemesis in things related to the previously mentioned 1942 Battle of Los Angeles C. Scott Littleton did. Littleton, now deceased, who I went back and forth with both online and in emails over-and-over for years, was the avowed expert on the overflight, lived on the Strand in Hermosa Beach at the time.
Although Tike and I were the same age we didn't attend elementary school or junior high equivalent together in that I started Pier Avenue School in Hermosa Beach then left, not returning until the start of high school. When I did, it was Redondo Union High School right at the same time Tike started, graduating in the class of '56. Even though we didn't go to elementary school together, and I'm sure Tike has no recollection of it, he I did meet in those same age years, not in school however, but in and around the flower fields --- primarily because the couple I was living with was in the flower business in Redondo Beach the same as Tike's parents.
While Tike was working in the field for his parents I was selling flowers for the foster couple. A fairly well established western bandleader by the name of Texas Jim Lewis was playing in the newly renovated ballroom on the waterfront near the pier he called Texas Jim's Redondo Barn --- billing himself and his Lone Star Cowboys at the top of the card, with his dance-entertainment-performances easily attracting over 10,000 people on the weekends.
With the way the Redondo front was built in those days, with the flower shop basically being some distance almost directly across the street from the dance hall, it wasn't long before the flower shop people discovered it could be quite lucrative to sell corsages and boutonnieres to couples attending the dances. They also discovered that by putting a tray full of gardenias on a strap around my neck like a cigarette girl and have me walk through the crowds in the dance hall, the cute little kid I was, sold lots of flowers, sometimes to two or three in the morning.
If you have gone through any of my works online you will see as a kid I was big on comic books. The same was true when it came to animated cartoons, re the following:
"Along with the P-40, like so many young boys growing up during my era I also loved cowboy-western movies and the actors that showed up in them. As well, right up there with westerns were Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies, especially Tarzan and the Huntress, Warner Brothers cartoons, Leonardo Da Vinci, astronomy, the cosmos, rockets to the Moon and Mars, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, along with a myriad superheroes, especially the 'mortal' type such as the Spirit and Captain Midnight. But still it remained, the cowboy western movie stars and heroes such as the Durango Kid, Lash LaRue, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers, their horses Champion and Trigger, and their sidekicks Smiley Burnette, Gabby Hayes, and Andy Devine were the ones that in the end interacted in my life in real life."
THE WANDERLING AND HIS HIGH SCHOOL CHUMS
Now, while it is true in the above quote I specifically mention Warner Brothers cartoons, there was a father-and-son bulldog team from MGM's Tom and Jerry cartoons that showed up in 1949, Spike and Tyke. The first time I ever saw a Spike and Tyke cartoon the first person I thought of was the kid I met in the flower fields, the only person I had ever knew named Tike --- and to this day, it remains the same.
I wouldn't say Tike Karavas and I ran around together in high school or even particularly knew each other very well, however there is one thing I remember quite clearly regarding a conversation the two of us had one day in which he mentioned that his uncle owned a casino in North Las Vegas and there was a chance after high school he was going to go to work for him. The problem I have with me recalling that specific conversation is that Tike and I graduated from high school in 1956 and his uncle didn't open his casino in North Las Vegas until 1964. The conversation would have most certainly would have to had happened while the two of us were in high school because I am not sure if we ever crossed paths after graduation.
Although after thinking about it, it could have been a casino in Northern Nevada instead of a casino in North Las Vegas his uncle owned. In either case it doesn't matter much because when Tike mentioned casinos my ears perked up. Even though I wasn't old enough to legally gamble, be it in casinos in Las Vegas or anyplace else close by, I had been in and around gambling and slot machines since I was ten years old, even knowing members of the mob, some on a first name basis. Of course, none of it was of my own making, primarily through the makings of my stepmother.
When I was in high school, the cypher I was, I don't think anyone even saw me, but I had another life. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year at Redondo while staying on my stepmother's ranch I had flown up in a private plane to a casino in Searchlight, Nevada with her for some business she had with the owner when a working girl, otherwise known as a "hostess," threw the contents of a half empty glass of ice water toward her, albeit missing her totally. When it appeared the woman was about to lunge toward my stepmother following the water mishap, Martello, the casino owner, seeing my stepmother was pulling a nickel plated .25 semi-automatic Baby Browning out of her purse and with me ducking for cover, maintained the distance between the two by slightly nudging my stepmother around before she got close enough to use the pistol, saying he would take care of it. When summer was over I was back in school like nothing ever happened.
THE EL REY CLUB: RESORT, CASINO, BROTHEL
THE WANDERLING AND HIS HIGH SCHOOL CHUMS:
--------------------(please click image)
REDONDO UNION HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 1956
"For one of my high school art classes, which was about the only classes I took in those days, I had to design an album cover, so I chose Howard Rumsey. At the time, the girl I was mostly inseparable from, a fellow artist and, although from a staid family, leaning toward a quasi-bohemian lifestyle as soon as she left her house, selected for her album cover Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. I can still remember to this day how little I knew about anything in those days. Here she was, someone I thought as a contemporary and she knew about Scheherazade and stuff like that and I had never heard of it."
HOPE SAVAGE: The Beat Generation's Missing Woman
In the hundreds of pages I have on the internet, not counting my brothers and a onetime semi-girlfriend in the quote above that shows up as well in Firehair, linked below, who dumped me for some hunkering down stud she met in college while I stayed back being a working stiff until being drafted, I only bring up five people I attended high school with. Those same five would also have been by pure default schoolmates of Tike's at the time as well. It he would had known any of them for any reason or possibly interacted with any them one way or the other is not known, but for me in my situation, they played major roles in my life. Re the following:
- The person left unnamed who always made sure my classic 1940s Ford woody wagon was tuned up and running that shows up in OF COBRAS, SCARABS, MASERATIS, AND ZEN in relation to master racecar mechanic Joe Landaker, as well as in my road trip to Northern California and staying at his place as found in STEVE JOBS: INDIA, BUDDHISM, AND ZEN.
- The person left unnamed I traveled throughout Mexico with during the summer of 1960 as found in DON JUAN MATUS AND THE NOGALES BUS STATION MEETING wherein I saw Carlos Castaneda, who I already knew, the same day he was in the bus station and met Don Juan Matus. The same trip from a different perspective can be found in THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB as well. In a sell out to Redondo Beach this same travel buddy of mine moved to Hermosa Beach after our trip to Mexico and eventually became a big whoop-de-doo with the city there.
- The former swimsuit model I call Sullivan, socially way out of my class and who is THE LADY as found in THE LADY ON THE DOCK, THE PBY, BLACK CATS, AND HIGH BARBAREE the day I went to see the skipper of the yacht come marlin sports-fisher called the Twin Dolphin owned by the multi-millionaire oil heir David Halliburton, linked below. Sullivan also shows up in CODE TALKERS about the Navajos and their secret code talking with the U.S. Marines during World War II, again PBY related.
- And of course there's Kent Lentz, former high school hot-rodder who was largely responsible for pulling a wrecked Pearl Harbor Curtiss Wright P-40 off a mountain top in Hawaii and restoring it to full flight worthy status. Kent plays a prominent role in my main P-40 page remaining a strong underlying presence in almost all other of my P-40 and Flying Tigers related pages as well.
- Tike Karavas, although not formally tied in with any or all or even a bit of the above in any way shape or form as it applies to me specifically, when it comes to things Redondo generally, he's the go to guy. Methinks Kent Lentz and Sullivan could use a little more recognition though. So too, Rex Hughes, now deceased, and Barbara Lynn "Bobbie" Brown, who one day in Caesar Hernandez's art class said directly to me, "Fie on you!" Bobbie Brown was the absolute best. She and the aforementioned Sullivan were good friends in those days. There was no two finer people in the whole high school at the time.
THE CODE TALKERS
WORLD WAR II COMES TO REDONDO
THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
ZEN AND THE ART OF WOODIE WAGONS
STEVE JOBS: INDIA, BUDDHISM, AND ZEN
OF COBRAS, SCARABS, MASERATIS, AND ZEN
FIFIE MALOUF: ENTREPRENEUR, SOCIALITE, MADAME
DON JUAN MATUS AND THE NOGALES BUS STATION MEETING
THE LADY ON THE DOCK, THE PBY, BLACK CATS, AND HIGH BARBAREE
If you haven't done so please be sure to see Footnote  REDONDO: THE LOST YEARS
As to the subject of donations, for those who may be so interested 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.
"No sooner had I walked out of high school with my degree in my hands than I started a dream job with a major Hollywood studio, a stint that a few months over a year ended-up not working out. I returned to Redondo this time not with my degree in my hand but my hat in my hand and found that all my buddies, who I totally ignored while I was gone being a Hollywood big shot, were either well established, married, or off to college."
(please click image)
REDONDO: THE LOST YEARS
AND WHILE LOST, ENTERS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD
When I first graduated from Redondo Union 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 me even breaking 18 months, the company, in a preemptive strike to ward off a potential or rumored corporate restructuring or take over, started reducing the level of their work force hoping to show powers that be that they could turn a profit without being taken over. Across the board upwards of around 90 people were canned, and in a classic last hired, first fired scenario, I was caught up in it.
With so many of us suddenly laid off, most roughly in the exact same work related area with many of the last hired having degrees or training from heavyweight places like Chouinard and the Otis Institute of Art, 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. Even though I received strong recommendations, good word of mouth, and a pile of favorable referrals, after nearly wearing holes clear through the soles of two pairs of shoes and discovering I wasn't quite the hot shit I thought I was, I was soon back in good old Redondo Beach searching for other kinds of work, or any work, and staying in a spare bedroom at the home of my ancient and decrepit and over-the-hill grandmother --- who loved me nonetheless.
Through a series of connections of my former babysitter, who I mentioned in conjunction with me as a kid being a Junior Air Raid Warden during World War II in Redondo as found in the main text above, and who as well, used to play with a life-size interactive toy Airplane Pilot Training Cockpit when she was a kid, then moved from there into the aerospace industry, worked with and knew a number of high up people in certain segments of that same industry. Through those connections I was eventually able to land a halfway decent --- as well as high paying job --- related to the then super-secret U2 spy plane, and suddenly right before my eyes a previously unforeseen opening on my path of life revealed itself, providing the chance of an alternate unanticipated future.
At first, although I never ranked my new job right up there with my so called previously mentioned dream job, I did rank it right up there as being "exciting," encompassing in its own way a series of weird, covert, and mysterious overtones, even requiring me to get a security clearance in the process. However, after a short time working on the job, then a move within the company to an area that truly required having the so said security clearance, my new direct one-on-one boss, who I worked with regularly at first, began disappearing over-and-over for continuing longer periods of time doing ever more weird and secret stuff and never telling me anything about it nor including me or anything else.
By clicking the image below left, it will take you to some quick information on my boss and the innocuous little aerospace firm in El Segundo I was hired by. Most people who do so come back, after following the links through to completion, complaining about the weird nature of the end results. Others find what my boss got mixed up in, although a little on the way-out side, fascinating. Clicking the image on the right will take you to some just as quick info regarding my early Redondo Beach being-babysat-days and my babysitter Mary Lou who in later years was instrumental in me be hired by the aerospace firm:
With me not receiving any amount of direct supervision on the job and being left out of the loop by other company officials, I was spending increasingly amounts of time with really not much to do --- nor did I have the knowledge, ability, or expertise at the level needed to accomplish projects specifically directed toward my boss. In the meantime, the basically non-essential fill-in tasks I was finding to do started to get repetitive or stale and I began sleepwalking through my job.(see)
With everybody near to my boss seemingly having gone nuts over some discovery, along with him disappearing for days and sometimes weeks at a time, and with the two of us no longer heading out to the Area 51 Groom Lake facility doing U-2 stuff, and especially since nobody seemed to care one way or the other, I found myself screwing off more and more waiting for my draft notice to show up. Sporadically I continued to receive a paycheck, but, since nobody could get into the clean-room without the right clearance and keeping tabs on me wasn't easy, during the interim waiting for my boss I began spending my time doing other things, i.e., like working on-and-off on a marlin boat, going to Vegas, and even traipsing around Mexico for a whole summer with an old high school buddy from Redondo who at the time, basically viewed himself as being in the same boat I was, re the following:
"A couple of years out of high school a buddy and I, tired of our jobs and the directions our lives were going at the time, decided to spend a few months one summer on an extended road trip travelling throughout Mexico. We shopped around and bought a used six-cylinder 1951 Chevy panel truck just for the trip and 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 fan-belts, 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 or where we would end up."
TOMB RAIDER: THE LADY AND THE STOLEN SKULLS
ENTERS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD
Those same years could have been much more productive for me when it came to women too I suppose, but I was finding a good portion of what few old lower level reciprocal wing-man type buddies I had were jumping from the girlfriend stage to the married stage, having met I guess, someone that they wanted to marry or vice versa. However, at that point in my life it wasn't something that was happening for me. For some reason, marriage was something I just didn't want to get into at the time, even if, like for some of my buddies, it meant getting out of the draft.
My decision wasn't made because of a lack of women either. Using the vernacular of the era, the South Bay was crawling with stews (flight attendants) and bikini clad beach bunnies, and now, since I was a few years older --- and with no offense directed toward any of the Redondo Union High School girls of that era --- all seemingly much better than they were during my high school years.
As I was soon to learn, my low-slung British sports car with two rows of louvers and a belt on the hood appealed to one class while my fully restored 40s wooden station wagon appealed to the other class. Where I had been basically invisible to girls while I was in high school, during my post high school years, and a being a little more confident, plus plush with cash and cars, things had a tendency to lean slightly toward being a tiny bit better. It was just that my interests didn't match with most of the girls I met.
That is, until one day when an event of major proportions occurred ---
That exception started out on an everyday regular day when all of a sudden one of those mysterious unexplained flukes that just happen to happen, happened. A friend of my stepmother's who was going through a divorce needed some sort of unnamed help that apparently she thought I could provide. She requested I meet her at a certain time and place in Long Beach. Agreeing that I would, I showed up, but after waiting over two hours beyond our agreed upon time, she never did. Thinking I would come back and check on later, since our designated meeting spot was close to the Long Beach Museum of Art, I wended my way over to the museum when, once inside, the following happened:
"(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
HOW I REMEMBER HER AT THE MUSEUM
She was unlike anybody I had ever met, most certainly not like anything that inhabited the two South Bay coffee houses, the Iconoclast or the Insomniac I hung out in, and totally unlike any of the other females and flight attendants hanging around the infamous Flying Jib in Redondo at the time. I was in heaven. Primarily because of that the rest of the year slipped by, seeing 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. The second I showed her the letter, except for one rare occasion years and years later, I never saw her again. Less than three weeks before I was inducted she 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. It has been said they eventually had twin daughters and from what I can tell she and her husband remain married to this day.
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 some of the summer of 1962 throwing myself into some rather intense Zen meditation sessions that nearly broke me mentally and almost killed me physically. So too, I know that on July 9, 1962 I went to the opening of Andy Warhol's first one man show ever, held in Los Angeles at the Ferus Gallery, although at the time Warhol was not well known nor had I really heard of him. After that I went crawling back on the marlin boat owned by David J. Halliburton to recoup. I spent the rest of the summer forgetting by hooking up with old friends in Cabo, many whom, at least the female variety, worked the hotels at night and sunbathed on the yacht during the day. In the meantime I played the bereaved lover, licked my wounds and wondered why the sunbathing women always seemed to be able to find the bottoms of their bathing suits but never the tops.
(please click image)
When people see photographs of the person I met in the museum, especially so the headshot a few paragraphs back, people that know the gorgeous raven-haired beauty I met in college and took to see my Mentor, swear she is the exact same person. Although she is a near exact duplicate, I can assure you such was not the case, any doppelganger aspects being pure coincidence. As it was I didn't start college until after the Army. As found at the source so cited, speaking about my mentor after my discharge from the military I write:
"(He) really didn't want anything to do with me, saying the military 'had brought out the beast in me.' He mellowed over time, especially so after he reneged enough to allow me to introduce him to a gorgeous raven-haired beauty I had met in college. She had just turned 21 by a few months when we met and I was a little beyond my mid 20s although well shy of 30. He liked her immediately and thinking of the Samsara world that a woman of such enormous beauty could see something in me, I might still have after all, some inkling of redemption left."(see)
To this day, except for the above so mentioned raven-haired beauty --- not counting the female pharmacist at Laguna Drugs in Laguna Beach and possibly a more recent exception --- the museum lady still ranks as absolutely the most beautiful woman I had ever personally met in my life. For those who may be so interested the raven-haired beauty passed away in 2017.
As found in the opening paragraphs at the top of this footnote:
"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."
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 if I so chose, having left my woody with my brother in the South Bay.
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 the movie actress 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.
ELIZABETH TAYLOR, SAME ERA, CIRCA 1961
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 on the weekends, and well before those winding down Sunday evenings rolled around, Don would drag himself home with one or two, or by the end of the weekend several often underage, always broke, runaway Midnight Cowboy types under his wing --- mostly off Sunset or Hollywood Boulevards or some other equally slug infested environ. Finding me there, although I had my own room, they thought I was one of them ending up with me usually spending an inordinate amount of time fending off diametrically opposed lifestyle approaches.
After a basically sunrise to sunrise to sunrise weekend and the weeding out of some of the more undesirables 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.
In the Fall of 1957, after nearly a year and a half living at Don's house, I spent Thanksgiving and the end of the year holidays with family members back in Redondo. The month prior to Thanksgiving, on what I am sure was one of my very last weekends at Don's before moving back to Redondo after being laid off, I watched an episode of Maverick with him titled "Stage West" based on a Louis L'Amour short story called "That Packsaddle Affair." 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 that last weekend with him, he sent me a brand new unfolded crisp copy of a just out Maverick comic book that had an illustrated version of that exact same episode of Stage West the two of us had watched together that last weekend.
Typically such an offer of goodwill and friendship wouldn't carry much weight beyond what it meant between say Don and I at the time. However, neither of us had 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.
Although neither of us knew it at the time, 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 the Stage West episode of Maverick and who showed up as well in the comic book version, albeit drawn more-or-less ambiguously, turned out to be the exact same woman I met several years later in the museum. Re the following:
JAMES GARNER IN 1957'S MAVERICK EPISODE: STAGE WEST. THE ACTRESS WAS THE WOMAN IN THE MUSEUM
(for more on the woman click either image)
HOW I REMEMBER HER, THAT DAY AT THE MUSEUM
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. 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 is a itself a miracle and a little bit beyond comprehension. In Footnote  I mention the Mahasi Meditation Center in Rangoon, Burma --- of which staying there for the full 12 weeks for meditators to this day is still free, including room and board. Phyllis Davis and I were tied together under rather unusual circumstances involving the Mahasi Meditation Center. See:
PHYLLIS DAVIS CIRCA 1980
THE COMIC BOOK
"On what I am sure was one of my very last weekends at Don's before moving back to Redondo after being laid off, I watched an episode of Maverick with him titled 'Stage West' based on a Louis L'Amour short story called 'That Packsaddle Affair.' 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 that last weekend with him, he sent me a brand new unfolded crisp copy of a just out Maverick comic book that had an illustrated version of that exact same episode of Stage West the two of us had watched together that last weekend."
LOUIS L'AMOUR: THE PACKSADDLE AFFAIR, STAGE WEST (please click image)
MAVERICK TRAILS: THE DELL ADAPTION OF STAGE WEST
IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO PLEASE RETURN TO:
REDONDO: THE EARLY YEARS
Redondo Beach is where I really remember the last time my immediate family was together, that is, intact and healthy with my mother, father, two brothers and myself fully together as a functioning family unit. That remembrance circulates around all of us living in our original family home on Lucia Avenue. A happy loving childhood with a mother and father and playing with my brothers and kids in the neighborhood. A house full of toys and my older brother learning to ride a bicycle. But, most specifically for me, remembering one of my brother's birthdays, one of the last ones we had together for many, many years to come, if at all.
My brother's birthday is in October and in 1942 it fell on a weekend. My parents --- the key words here being "my parents" in the plural, that is, both of them --- decided to make it more special than usual. More than special because the future was so unsure in those days, and scary besides, they decided to throw him the best surprise party they could while time and circumstances still allowed it. How do I know it was 1942? Because to pull off the surprise required my brothers and me to be out of the house while it was being decorated and guests, friends and kids secretly arrived --- so my dad took us down to the ocean to walk along the sand. It was not unusual to wander along the beach with one or the other or both of our parents, or even grandparents, so it was no big thing. However, we invariably hunted moonstones on what was called Moonstone Beach in front of the Strand that ran north of the pier in those days. Instead, no sooner had we reached the beach than we worked our way south of the pier to see a highly-muted town event, a two-man Japanese Midget Submarine that had washed up on shore. Even though the sub was roped off blocking any formal access from the front, to get to it my dad took us along a narrow strip between the Horseshoe Pier and the rocks, crossing under the pilings of the straight pier along the water line and onto the beach. When we reached the sub he lifted me up and I was able to look inside through an open hatch.
A few days before, within minutes of the midget submarine being spotted 500 yards off the Redondo Beach pier, a half a dozen airplanes dropped bombs from her last known position to all along her suspected path of travel. Two days later the sub, although virtually undamaged, washed up on shore. The date of the event has been reported as being October 4, 1942 although it doesn't really matter much as the bombing occurred in October, 1942 and I personally saw the midget submarine within days of it washing up on the beach --- and I remember seeing it quite clearly with my dad --- and we were there that day because we had to be out of the house for my brother's birthday.
A then Redondo Beach resident named Max Harris and an avowed eyewitness to the midget sub washing up on the beach, who would be well into his 90s now if still alive, was age 26 at the time and, extrapolated from his own words, describes how he recalls the event:
"It was a quiet morning around 10:00 AM and me and my girlfriend were walking along the beach. All of a sudden out of nowhere, six American bombers flew right over us and started dropping bombs about 500 yards from the shoreline. They then circled back and did it again, dropping at least 50 bombs and then flew away. The next thing I knew about 200 soldiers appeared and they quickly closed the beach.
"Later that day radio news broadcasts said that a Japanese two-man submarine had been sighted off the coast of Redondo and it was destroyed. Two days later the submarine washed up on shore and inside they found the bodies of two Japanese Naval officers."(source)
In the above main text I write that a couple who had been visiting neighbors during Thanksgiving offered to take one of us boys in an effort to ease the childcare burden facing my father. My father agreed and the couple selected me, in turn taking me to India first without his knowledge then without his approval. What I am not privy to in such a scenario is what year Thanksgiving we are talking about, 1942 or 1943. If it was the Thanksgiving of 1943, which I have a tendency to lean towards, I would have been with the couple only a month before going to India. If it was Thanksgiving of 1942 I could have been with them for as much to a year IF I went to live with them right away following Thanksgiving.
No sooner had I moved in with the couple following Thanksgiving and started a new school than the two-week Christmas vacation, or winter recess as they call it now, rolled around and they took me to India, not returning until sometime around the start of summer, in the interim me missing the rest of the school year. They chose the end of the year in order to attend a religious convention held December 26-31, 1943, in Adyar, located on the coast of the Indian Ocean near Madras, about 95 miles northeast of Tiruvannamalai. Tiruvannamalai is where they eventually ended up, residing at or near the ashram of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi for maybe five months. Through information told to me by a one time childhood friend, Adam Osborne, now deceased, whose family lived at the ashram at the time, he and I were together during the full moon of April 1944. That would put me still at the ashram proper in early April as the full moon fell on the 8th that month, but, as found out through letters from the woman of the couple to my father, on my way home onboard a ship in the Indian Ocean, by previous reckoning as figured out in British Ship MV Tulagi, toward the end of May, 1944 and most likely back in the states sometime in June, 1944.
On near the very last day of June or so 1944, I was put on a passenger train somewhere in Pennsylvania headed toward Chicago, traveling with who I do not know. If it was or was not the couple who took me to India has never been confirmed. In Chicago I boarded the Number 19 Santa Fe Chief westbound to Los Angeles. After two days of travel from Pennsylvania, sometime around midnight of July 3, 1944, between Flagstaff, Arizona and Williams, on a high speed downhill run and behind schedule, the Chief's locomotive, a powerful Baldwin built 4-8-4 Northern with 80 inch drive wheels and clocking out at over 90 miles per hour, hit a marked 55 mph speed limit curve, with the locomotive derailing and sliding in the dirt on it's side off the tracks for well over the length of two football fields before coming to a stop. The rest of the 14 car train ended up in various stages of derailment and wreckage on and off the track, some cars remaining upright with two actually staying on the tracks undamaged. The fireman and three passengers were killed. 113 passengers along with 13 train employees injured, among them the severely injured engineer.
WRECK OF THE NUMBER 19 SANTA FE CHIEF JULY 3, 1944.
(photo from Chris Baird Collection)
While in India or in transit I ended up missing my mother's death and her funeral. No sooner had she been laid to rest than my father, who had been on a non-stop binge since she died, possibly before, hastily left the care of my two brothers, like he had with me, in the hands of others, with each being sent their separate ways to relatives or guardians. Then, without even waiting to see if his haze-fueled plans would be remotely successful he basically disappeared into the hinterlands for several years heavy into alcohol. My older brother went to live with my grandmother's brother and his family in some small town in the lower reaches of the mountains near Fresno, California. My younger brother was sent to live with a couple I was told were, but of which I am still unsure of their status of who they were really, my father's father's brother's son and his wife down along the California-Mexican border.
After my return to the states, between the time I left the train station in Williams, Arizona but before I went to live with the flower shop people, I stayed with my grandmother on my mother's side on and off for an unknown period of time. During that time two very high impact occurrences transpired in my life. First, following my return my grandmother became increasingly concerned about my seemingly askew perspective on things. In turn, because of her concerns, she contacted my Uncle, who lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to see if he had any idea where my father was. Almost immediately, after being totally unsuccessful in locating my father in any of his old haunts, my uncle came out to assist, one of the first of several trips before he actually remained on a permanent basis.
Secondly, I had only been with my grandmother a short time when I went shopping all day long in town along her daughter (my mother's sister, otherwise known as an aunt) and her daughter's two children (otherwise known as first cousins). Returning at the end of the day we pulled up in front of the garage and I got out of the car opening the two side-by-side wooden garage doors. There, only a few steps from where I stood, right in front of me on the garage floor in the glare of the headlights, in a slowly expanding pool of blood, was what was left of the husband of my mother's sister. The whole back of his head blown out from the blast of a double barrel shotgun he had stuck in his mouth.
With everything in a major turmoil with adults screaming. kids crying, and cops and ambulances all over the place, not knowing how it was done or by who, I ended up somehow in bed that night. The next morning, although I personally wasn't very high up on anyone's priority list considering the circumstances, it was eventually discovered I was not only not with any of the cousins, I was nowhere to be found. Weeks, possibly months went by when my grandmother was contacted by a sheriff from a department in a distant desert community saying they had found me, that I was OK, and basically all she had to do except for some minor paperwork, was to come and get me.
Apparently the night of the shooting a neighbor who was trying to help found me walking around my aunt's property in some kind of a semi-dazed state and without consulting anybody, under her own initiative, carried me into one of my cousin's bedrooms and covered me on the bed fully clothed and in the confusion all but forgotten. The next morning, miles, and miles away from where I had been the night before, I was found wandering out in the middle of the desert by an old desert prospector, with no idea who I was or how I got there. Eventually the prospector, the honorable man that he was, albeit living on his own prospector-like desert time, took me to the authorities who contacted my grandmother, re the following:
"The sheriff told my grandmother that the old man informed him he was driving along Old Woman Springs Road located down and behind the mountains from Big Bear Lake on the high desert floor when he noticed an unusual group of vultures circling in the thermals. They didn't seem to be zeroing in on an unmoving carcass of some kind, but moving their circle as though following something possibly injured but still alive. Reading the signs of the desert like a book and using his intuition as much as his curiosity, the old man turned north on a dirt road that led toward the old Bessemer iron mine thinking he might be able to get closer and get a better look. When he reached a point about even with the general eastward movement of the vultures he pulled over to the side of the road and standing up on the seat of his open top jeep peered out over the desert with binoculars to see if he could see anything. Sure enough, visually sweeping the area under the vulture's circle through his binoculars he saw some distance off the road what looked like and turned out to be, a young boy all by himself out in the middle of nowhere walking along almost if he had no clue as to where he was or what he was doing. However, the old man said, such it would seem, was not the case. It was as though the boy knew exactly what he was doing, but why he was doing it was a mystery.
"If the boy was following the vultures with them acting as guides or they were following his lead it didn't seem to matter as the young boy walked straight to and into, only to then sit down in the middle of, one of the most unusual features in all of the Mojave Desert, a creosote ring. But not any creosote ring the old man said, but a specific one, with a huge diameter the likes of which he had never seen. By all description and location, without knowing it, the young boy had walked to, selected out, and sat down in the middle of what, after it's discovery 30 or 40 years later, turned out to be, and has since been given the name King Clone, the oldest known living thing on Earth, dated as being over 11,700 years old."(source)
Sometime in mid August of 1945 my uncle, as nothing more than an innocent bystander --- and officially proven to be such at a later date -- got caught up in some kind of situation that attracted the attention of the atomic energy folk at Los Alamos. Two men flashing badges and dressed in civilian clothes showed up at his home early one morning and took him without explanation to a secured area inside the Los Alamos facility. After two days of questioning about what he saw he was released primarily through the efforts of famed astronomer and mathematician Dr Lincoln La Paz. In a footnote on the La Paz page so linked the following is found:
"(A) serious radiation mishap occurred at Los Alamos that killed one of the scientists working there. His death did not actually happen until several weeks after the accident, and it wasn't until his death that it was reported --- and then, at the time, the real cause of his death was not released. In any case the accident happened on August 21, 1945. During my uncle's conversation with La Paz over coffee and the fact that it circulated around radiation and it's effect on living things --- such as my uncle's interest on radiation impact on plants --- La Paz let slip that a fellow scientist was severely burned by an overdose of radiation the day before."
One way or the other, however the events involving my uncle unfolded, it must have been just at the close of summer, sometime between that August 21, 1945 date and the start of school in September of 1945 that I found myself getting out of a car clutching a tiny suitcase with nothing but a handful of crummy belongings and sack full of dirty underwear and not knowing how I got there. Standing on the sidewalk not much more than a simple beleaguered young boy with no mother and a father long gone, being taken by a stranger to live with a couple that owned a flower shop in Redondo Beach, a couple I was sure I had never seen or heard of in my life.
THE SPIRITUAL ELDER AND THE SANTA FE CHIEF
SANTA FE LOCOMOTIVE #3774
RIDING THE CAB FORWARDS
Not everybody who reads my works catches on or gets the idea that when I write about the combination of me and my stepmother in conjunction with a ranch she owned, that there were actually two very separate and distinct ranch experiences as well as ranches. Some readers, not realizing it, have a tendency run of blend the two times and ranches together, which is easy enough to do.
The first ranch experience revolved or centered around me as a young basically grade school kid along with my older and younger brothers and several other kids my stepmother more-or-less supported or took care of in some fashion, all living on a ranch she bought just for that purpose. The second ranch experience found me just entering my teen years and starting my freshman year at Redondo Union High School. I didn't live on that second ranch, only spending the summers there during those high school years. My stepmother, after having just returned from a two year absence living and traveling in Mexico and South America, then divorcing my dad after she got back, bought what was a deserted, pretty much failed run down former attempt at a dude ranch. One year later, during my first full summer there, the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, what she called a 'ranch' --- even though as a ranch it was a little on the sparse side in what I would call standard ranch fare --- had been completely rebuilt and refurbished with a rather long fully stocked bar, food service facilities, swimming pool, a dance hall with a stage and live entertainment, along with rodeos and boxing matches on rotating weekends. It also had at least two dozen one-armed-bandit slot machines in a secret hidden room, plus like I always love to say, an ever present flock hostesses.(see)
Even though I was on the ranch during the summers during my high school years as the son of the owner --- and at the time she being quite wealthy --- it wasn't like I was a prince. My stepmother, or ex-stepmother as the case may have been by then, had a whole series of jobs or work for me to do around the place to "earn my keep" as she would often tell me. One of those jobs, besides shoveling horse manure and cow dung after the once-a-month weekend rodeos, was to help the swamper that cleaned up the place following the Saturday night bashes by gathering up and rinsing tons of old beer bottles (usually stuffed with cigarette butts put out in stale beer), emptying and washing ashtrays, wiping down tables and chairs, hoeing out the restrooms and barf and sweeping the dance hall floor and stage with oiled sawdust.
But, it was not all work and no play as the previous mention of me going to the El Rey Club. At the end of one of the boxing days, some Runyonesque types, knowing I was the "son" of the owner and having been ferrying bet money between them on some of the matches invited me to sit down and have dinner with them. My stepmother, circulating through the crowd, after noticing me at the table with some fairly risky types, came over to see if all was well. In small talk one of them said they had come up for the day from Del Mar and would soon be heading back to continue their gambling on the thoroughbreds, then asked if I could go back with them and learn about the horses. My stepmother, having a complementary bottle of wine sent to their table, asked to let her think on it.
Later, when she and I were alone she told me I was welcome to go if I liked but to be aware, despite their appearance and demeanor they were pretty rough types, possibly some even packing heat. That night five of us left together counting me, with me riding in the middle of the back seat of a brand new 1953 Cadillac convertible with the top down, the whole of the trip to Del Mar done mostly at flat out high speed. Cigars, booze, and sometimes shooting at stop signs with .45 semi-automatics. Not me of course, I was just a boy. In the afternoon of the second day, and nearly $500 bucks ahead thanks to their suggestions, I was put on a train to L.A. where I was met at Union Station and taken back to the ranch. Little did I know at the time that for the whole trip I was being watched closely, albeit from a distance, by one of my stepmother's employees.
For more of those summer ranch adventures, the summers between my 9th through 12th grades while attending Redondo Union High School, and some even before when I was much younger during the years between the time I left Redondo and returned, please click the link below:
"One of the sailors said he had seen where a jeep could be adapted to run on railroad tracks so we should take the ranch jeep down there, fix it to ride on the rails, and drive it into Mexico and the U.S. One of the other guys piped in saying that during the war, at least during the early part of the war, 1942 or so, the Army had regular patrols along the railway looking for saboteurs and that he had met a soldier that said that's exactly what they did, fixed up jeeps so they could run on the rails. Everybody figured, what the heck, if the Army could do, so could the Navy and most likely, even better."
(please click image)
THE BOY AND HIS JEEP: ADVENTURES IN THE DESERT
Bobbie Brown, her first name written by her with an annoying little circle over the "I" rather than a dot when she penned her name, and I made a promise to catch up with each other in ten years, which of course, we never did.
During the period of time I was crawling my way through eight weeks of basic training at Fort Ord a few years after high school doing KP, dodging blanks along with a few live ones and cleaning muck and mud off my boots, she was teaching in a small community called Campbell, adjacent to the city of San Jose --- about 50 miles north of where I was taking my basic training. We were never able to work out any sort of a convenient get together during the short amount of time I had before being reassigned, but she did say in a note or letter she thought it was kind of "neat" (or some such thing) that she was educating the country while I was defending the country.
However, the big shot she was and still is (Newport Beach and all) and the lowly G.I. I was, if one read the early part of the text above, it might be recalled the following about me:
"I settled in using Redondo as a central base of operations while commuting back and forth to college attempting to grab off an undergraduate degree on the G.I. Bill, and of which I was eventually able to do.
"After receiving a B.A. along with a California Secondary Teaching Credential, which required an additional fifth year beyond a bachelors as well as student teaching, I matriculated into graduate school."
Who would have ever guessed? Nobody but Helen Sinsabaugh, Caesar Hernandez, Al Brown, and George Demos.
When I was a kid one of my favorite hard cover books, and still is in it's own special way, was on the American Volunteer Group, the A.V.G., or as they were better known, the Flying Tigers. The book was written by a woman by the name of Olga Greenlaw, the wife of the second in command of the A.V.G. Published in 1943, well before the war was decided, the title of the book, The Lady and the Tigers, was actually a semi-clever play on the title of a onetime famous short story called The Lady or the Tiger? written in 1884 by Frank R. Stockton. The connection being, is that in the Stockton story there is no given ending. As to Greenlaw's book, although we know the ending or outcome now, that is of World War II, at the time her book was written and published in 1943, like the no known outcome of Stockton's story, there was at the time no known outcome to the war. The book came into my hands as found in the following quote:
"Just as I was leaving following a several day period in which for the very first time I met the woman who would become my stepmother, she, having observed earlier my avid interest in a book that I had removed from the shelves in her library on Flying Tigers titled 'The Lady and the Tigers,' handed me her personal signed copy to take with me. I read it over-and-over, almost to the point of it becoming a bible or handbook on the Flying Tigers for most of my formative years."(see)
It was only a couple of years after the war that my stepmother gave me her copy of Olga Greenlaw's book. Inside was something Greenlaw wrote that I, as a not yet 10 year old boy, never forgot. Recounting the fate of several pilots she wrote:
"I wonder what happened to him --- probably a prisoner. But the Chinese scouts found a body in the same location or thereabouts where Black Mac bailed out when Jack Newkirk got killed --- in March.
"The body was unrecognizable, as there was nothing left, the ants had eaten all the flesh, but the uniform the bones were covered with was an A.V.G. flying suit with the insignia still on it."
You might imagine what I, as a young boy thought of when I first read about the jungle ants gnawing the flesh completely clean right off the pilot's skeleton leaving nothing but bare bones laying inside the flight suit, all the internal organs gone.
TANGO SQUADRON AIR MUSEUM, CHIANG MAI
So said, when I was in high school, except possibly for a little extra effort on my part in Miss Sinsabaugh's journalism class and maybe art, I probably wasn't the best student Redondo Union High School ever had. However, I still remember in one of my English classes, although I don't remember which grade, we were assigned to read Carl Stephenson's short story "Leiningen Versus the Ants." The story revolves around an owner of a plantation of some kind out in the middle of the Brazilian jungle who had to do battle with a mile wide hoard of army ants devouring everything in their path, with the hoard headed straight toward his plantation. After reading the story we were to write then give an oral report. I combined what I read in Leiningen with Greenlaw's description of the downed A.V.G. pilot and for the first time ever --- and most likely my last for a high school English assignment --- I got an A.
The odd part of it all was the fact that there was this girl named Ann Lopin who showed up in a majority of my English classes that always got A's. Although I disliked that I loved her legs and invariably chose to sit right behind her whenever I could, which was most of the time. What I was never able to figure out was why, when I copied everything she wrote, did, or turned in word-for-word, she always got A's and I never received anything higher than a C.
MISS HELEN SINSABAUGH (1908 - 2000)
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After somehow having been able to successfully finagle my way through the system enough during my first two years of high school that I passed all my classes allowing me to advance to each successive higher grade without hindrance, then spending the months in-between on my stepmother's ranch in a totally un-academic fashion, I returned for the start of my junior year just as the final days of that second summer were closing in. Within a few days of that return I met for the first time a highly unusual man who had moved into the house next door while I was gone.
The day I met my neighbor for the first time, a man who would eventually become my Mentor in things spiritual, 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 in Tiruvannamalai, South India 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.
Years after that meeting my younger brother, who had lived in Redondo Beach steadily since the summer before he started the sixth grade through to his ultimate retirement in his mid sixties, decided to sell his house and move out of state. While cleaning out his attic he came across a long forgotten cardboard box stashed away that at one time belonged to me. Among the contents of the box was a beat up copy of a book titled ZEN BUDDHISM: Selected Writings of D.T Suzuki (New York: Anchor Books, 1956), a book that had not seen the light of day in decades. The pages were faded and worn. Corner after corner of pages folded down. Pencil notes were all over the margins and inside the covers. Sentences were underlined in ink. Whole paragraphs were highlighted in a now barely discernible yellow.
The reason the book ended up in such a weather beaten and worn state was because the last year of high school and several years afterward I barely let it out of my hands. I carried it around with me like an old time western preacher might have carried his bible. Anytime anybody said anything about anything, and much to the chagrin and distress of almost everybody around, out would come my book...always ready with a Zen answer. Then one day, like the ancient classic Zen master Te Shan who out of the blue threw ALL of his commentaries and books on Zen into a pile and set them afire, reducing them to nothing but ashes, something was different. Somehow I just didn't need Zen books much any more.(see)
As I turned those crumbling pages for the first time in over 20 or 30 years or more, the notes, the underlining, the highlights, all at one time seemingly so important, all seemed so odd. Going back I remembered how no longer needing the books that were at onetime so important slowly all came about:
The man next door, apparently thinking I guess, that he would never get rid of me, began making a few suggestions. In an attempt to strengthen my interest through familiarities by tying together something I knew with something foreign to me he brought in Da Vinci from my childhood and connected it with what was called Vihangam Marg, The Bird's Way, gently coaching me through its finer subtleties. It was he who gave me and urged me to read the aforementioned Suzuki book originally. Then one day he came to me and said he would be leaving soon and that I would be on my own. It seemed the pressure of the multitudes were crunching down on him and he sought a more solitary lifestyle. Prior to his departure he informed me that a highly honored Japanese Zen master named Yasutani Hakuun Roshi 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
In Footnote  I mention that I spent a good part of the summer of 1962 by first, throwing myself into some rather intense Zen meditation sessions that nearly broke me mentally and almost killed me physically. So too, I know that on July 9, 1962 I went to the opening of Andy Warhol's first one man show ever, held in Los Angeles at the Ferus Gallery, although at the time Warhol was not well known nor had I really heard of him. After that I went crawling back on the marlin boat owned by David J. Halliburton to recoup. I spent the rest of the summer forgetting by hooking up with old friends in Cabo, many whom, at least the female variety, worked the hotels at night and sunbathed on the yacht during the day. In the meantime I played the bereaved lover, licked my wounds and wondered why the sunbathing women always seemed to be able to find the bottoms of their bathing suits but never the tops.
What do I mean when I say the Zen meditation sessions "nearly broke me mentally and almost killed me physically?" The quote below follows-up almost immediately after the previous quote above regarding my participation in the meditation sessions in the first place and is found at the same source. Although maybe a little out of context it still provides a good explanation of what I mean:
"Going home my mind was in a whirl. I was sore, I ached, I had welts all over my back and some shrimpie little jerk was telling me to realize my growth. Three people had Kensho. Big deal! Nobody's mind exploded. It wasn't India. For seven agonizing pain filled days I had sat inhumanly contorted under the aegis of a certified Bodhidharma successor, beat with a stick like a dog, nearly starved to death on nothing but turtle food, and probed ceaselessly day after day to practice into the wee hours of the morning...and nothing."
Not long after the end of the above named summer than I was drafted into the military. When I returned I sought out my now ex-neighbor come mentor once again with the intention of at least a semi-return to practice. What he saw he didn't like, saying the military brought out a beast in me, plus all I really wanted to do was use my college time to party and chase girls. He agreed that my unsuccessful foray under Yasutani should have ended somewhat differently and was unsure why it didn't. By spring he had pretty much mellowed and so had I. Thinking I needed something in between Yasutani and his own teaching he arranged for me to go to Connecticut and visit a nearly invisible man of great spiritual prowess by the name of Alfred Pulyan. Just as spring was reaching its final count down I showed up at Pulyan's wooded rural compound and began a most unsual almost non-study study --- the visit growing through to well past the middle of summer because, I'm sure, of my mentor as well as Pulyan's own graciousness. Inturn I was introduced to Pulyan's Teacher, a woman of extreme attainment who lived close by and the person fully responsible for Pulyan's transformation. Before I could return the following year Pulyan died. I never learned if my mentor knew him personally, however he was visibly set back on news of his death.
As I gained insight into some of the teachings afforded me by my mentor, in addition to his recommendations, and not always with his blessings, I began to widen my search for answers on my own. Sometimes the search came to pass by my own volition, other times by powers beyond my control. I had spent months and months half a world away nearly on the roof of the world Doing Hard Time in a Zen monastery as well as the Mahasi Meditation Center in Rangoon, Burma --- of which staying there for the full 12 weeks for meditators to this day is still free, including room and board.
SO HOW DOES IT ALL PLAY OUT?
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: THE PATH UNFOLDS
RESTITCHING THE HOLE IN THE FABRIC OF SPACE-TIME
HOW ONE BOY'S FASCINATION WITH A TOY LED TO SHAMBHALA
TOMB RAIDER: THE LADY AND THE STOLEN SKULLS
The high school buddy I went to Mexico with was born in the midwest the same year I was born. Around the start of World War II, just like Tike's family, he and his family moved to California settling in Redondo Beach as well. And again, as with Tike, the two of us attending kindergarten and possibly elementary school together. After the death of my mother followed by the break up of my family, then me moving away, the two of us never really got to know each other. Fifteen years later when I moved back to Redondo after having lived with a number of foster couples during the intervening years, we both graduated from Redondo High the same year. Around our junior year he discovered I was restoring a woody wagon after he found one being used as a chicken coop in a barn out near Riverside he wanted to fix up and in doing so someone sent him to me. The wagon was a basket case, but working on it and the wood for hours on end we learned we had a lot in common, especially jazz and started hanging out together, especially during our senior year.
During high school, and more so the last two years after I got my drivers licence and car, I would go to my stepmother's ranch just for the heck of it. Sometimes I might stay for the weekend, other times, say like spring vacation or something, maybe longer. One day I asked my high school buddy to join me in what turned into being a precursor to our several years later trip to Mexico. Instead of using my woody to go to the ranch we borrowed his dad's pick-up truck that had a camper installed on the back called a Telescopic Tuck-Away, a pretty much fully equipped camper with a stove, sink, table, lights, bunks, and fridge. It was built in such a way that the height could be adjusted up or down using a crank. While driving the top could be kept in the lower position, the same height at the truck cab. When in use as a camper it could be cranked up making all kinds of head room and interior space. After borrowing the pick-up camper the two of us headed out to my stepmother's place in the high desert, borrowing the ranch jeep. Without even staying overnight, we took off toward Nevada and a little town called Lovelock, about 350 miles north of the ranch. Why Lovelock? Because of something really quirky I overheard my dad say:
"(My dad) was always reading pulp western and science fiction magazines and in the process came across a story one day that said located way out in the middle of the desert wasteland near Lovelock, Nevada, there existed an ancient cave that had at onetime within it's cavern depths the skeletal remains of giant humans, red haired humans of a huge size, eight or ten foot tall or more. He said the women would have been twice as tall as my mother at 4 foot 11 inches who also had red hair. We, the near to graduating and deeply educated super-bright intellectual powerhouses that my buddy and I were, after hearing the story, like someone driven to see the world's largest ball of yarn, decided we couldn't live quietly the rest of our lives if we didn't go see the caves and its contents ourselves. So, with no real clue as to what we were doing, off we went, using the camper for comfort and the jeep to traverse the wasteland to find red haired skeletons twice the height of my red haired mother."
The next day after arriving in Carson City we were having breakfast in a local Denny's type restaurant when a woman sat down at our booth saying she had overheard why we were in Nevada. She told us she worked for a local brothel and in her line of work she met all kinds of people. In the process of that work she knew a man who could show us the artifacts we were interested in, artifacts that nobody else would ever get to see. In the middle of the night, driven by an incredible naivete as much as an overwhelming sense of a young mind seeking pure adventure, after meeting in some noisy cowboy-hat infested honky tonk bar outside of town, using the jeep we traversed across some rather rough terrain to an abandoned miner's shack on the side of a remote desert mountain.
LADY FROM THE BROTHEL, LOOKING EVERY BIT
THE SAME TO ME AS LARA CROFT, TOMB RAIDER
There, while being shown the artifacts, the woman grabbed what I would consider one of the more important ones and took off in the jeep with me right behind her. While being pursued we suddenly screeched to a stop and she switched to a dirt bike, escaping out across the desert leaving me sitting there like I was an accomplice. Before I had a chance to do anything somebody took shot over my head telling me to lay face down on the ground. As soon as I did I had dirt and rocks kicked in my face, with the kicker's heavy boot making hard contact against the side of my head as I turned away as best I could. Re the following from the source so cited, with me remember, still being in high school and only 17 or 18:
"Sometime later, after being out, I groggily came to, sitting up with the blazing hot sun burning down on me, all my clothes gone, dried blood matted in my hair on the side of my head. After a quick search there was no sign of my clothes. I figured he must have gone through every stitch of them searching for the keys, but why he didn't just discard them somewhere close by I have no clue. Bloodied head or not I was glad he didn't just up and shoot me, or worse yet as I viewed it, in that I was still alive, find me amorously attractive in my unconscious and nude state. I dug around for the keys, started the jeep and headed in the direction I thought the main road should be, sitting all the while on a super hot sun heated drivers seat with my bare butt."
THE JEEP, NEVADA, AND THE RED-HAIRED GIANTS
THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
CASTANEDA AND DON JUAN MATUS
THE NOGALES BUS STATION MEETING
"After we returned from our trip to Mexico my buddy and I basically went our separate ways. He got married and bought a hardware store and I returned to work sanding brightwork on a yacht come marlin boat owned by multi-millionaire David Halliburton Sr."
The above quote is found at the Carlos Castaneda and the Nogales Bus Station Meeting site. Our "separate ways" didn't happen instantly in the matter of a second overnight, but more of a slow drip, drip, drip widening of interests --- i.e., girls --- as we each began concentrating and narrowing more and more of our efforts on single specific members of the opposite sex over a several months to year or so period. Then, with one of those specific girls, in the January of the following year after our trip he got married. The year after that I was drafted. By the time I returned from the military he was expanding his family with newborns and my focus had diverged to such a place we just never reconnected.
I write the above because it has been brought to my attention that my travel in Mexico buddy, who I was so close to in those days but lost contact with upon our return and never reconnected, out of nowhere a couple of years ago at age 73 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.
In the latter part of February 1942, during the early morning hours just a few months into the war --- and with me still a very young boy --- a giant airborne object came in off the Pacific flying over the Los Angeles area for several hours causing a basin-wide blackout. After paralleling the coast southbound from El Segundo it turned diagonally inland over Redondo Beach, and when it did I clearly saw it, together with my whole family and neighbors, as it cruised at a very low altitude directly over the house I lived in on South Lucia.
My uncle often stated he felt the reason for my fascination with flying and flying things in later life, the venerable P-40 Warhawk notwithstanding, went clear back to that incident involving the fly over of the giant airborne object I saw as a child. The object, said to have been as large as a Zeppelin at over 800 feet in length, was seen in one form or the other by literally thousands and thousands of people besides myself in the L.A. basin and along the Southern California coast.
Known variously as the UFO Over L.A., The Battle of Los Angeles, etc., etc., or as I call it The Battle of Los Angeles: 1942 UFO. Even though the object was able to withstand over 1440 direct anti-aircraft rounds and still escape unscathed, the incident is mostly forgotten now except by maybe myself and a few others. Actually, with no disrespect toward my uncle, although the L.A. UFO no doubt had a major impact on me, I personally think what really opened up my fascination regarding the ability to fly, flying machines, giant flying creatures, giant feathers, et al, that seemed to dominate in later life, was born from a germ initiated from me building, flying, and watching a comic book superhero toy called the Flying Captain Marvel. It wasn't a plane construed as flying, but a man.
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1942: THE GREAT LOS ANGELES AIR RAID
THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES: The Radar Dilemma
WORLD WAR II HAND CRANK PORTABLE AIR RAID SIREN
JUNIOR AIR RAID WARDENS
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Living in the house next to the house I lived in on South Lucia was a girl named Mary Lou who used to babysit my brothers and me. While at the time I wasn't sure of her age, that is, if she was into her teens or not, old or young, as my mother saw it she was old enough to babysit us. She lived with her parents along with her curmudgeon old grandfather. He was a sort of Rube Goldberg inventor type guy that seemed like he could fix or build anything. He had set up a junk filled workshop in the detached dirt floor single-car garage on the back of their property collecting, working on, and making stuff he said was to thwart the "impending invasion," meaning of course, by the Japanese.
Amongst the junk in his shop was a portable hand held, hand-crank air raid siren similar to the one pictured above in conjunction with this footnote. It wasn't unusual to find Mary Lou's grandfather out in his shop at all hours of the day and night for one reason or the other. On the night the giant object flew over our house he was awake during the early morning hours working in the garage while at the same time monitoring emergency-band radio frequencies like he often did when he became aware something big was going on. After hearing gunshots or anti-aircraft guns in the distance he grabbed his air raid siren and went out on the street. It was his siren that woke my father and it was he that gave an early warning to the rest of my family and other residents on our street.
The old man and the babysitter figured prominently in my early life, several times as a matter of fact, some major, some minor. In a way the old man was sort of a progenitor or prototype of things to come, being there teaching and showing me things and laying the groundwork in my young life long before my uncle or mentor came on the scene or I was even old enough to start school. The sun, stars, electricity, pneumatics, the speed of light, time. They were all there in an embryo way.
One of the interactions, and ranked right up there as one of the ones I was most fond of, and of all things, believe it or not, turned out to be nothing less than a radio premium offer, albeit one from an era long before I was ever aware of them.
If by pure happenstance you were an unknowing person who just stumbled into the old man's seemingly ramshackle shop, taking no more than a quick glance around, the junk pile dump of a place it appeared to be, you would think he would never be able to find or keep track of anything. However, he had his own way of doing things and in that own way had some things he considered to be of a high personal value and because of that they were treated and kept in a special way.
One of those valuable things --- at least to him --- was an item I was absolutely fascinated and intrigued by, except he would rarely let me touch it. The item was a 1922 antique called an Ansonia Sunwatch, designed to fit in a pocket with a folding lid that covered a sundial and compass. On a sunny day, following the instructions and placing the Sunwatch in the right direction, a person could discern what time it was.
As an alternative to his prized Ansonia he let me use an item of similar intent anytime I wanted, an item that he didn't hold in nearly as high esteem, but for me I loved it. As I viewed it, it just as good if not better. Actually, it was a radio premium offer from Ovaltine like the later-to-come Captain Midnight Code-O-Graphs, only from the year 1938 called a Little Orphan Annie Miracle Compass Sun-Watch:
Another around her house toy, although really belonging to her grandfather and out in the garage, that I loved and when given the chance I played with practically incessantly, was a just before the war nearly all paper box top offer, only through the Ralston Cereal Company called a Tom Mix Straight Shooter Telegraph Set.
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DOT 'N DASH ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH SET
THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES: The Radar Dilemma
WESTERN UNION STANDARD RADIO TELEGRAPH SIGNAL SET
To my dad my older brother, the first born, was like a prince. In my young mind as I saw things or how I felt it in my bones, my dad lavished, if not all, an inordinate amount of his affections and care towards him, leaving me feeling shortchanged in the bargain. In order to counteract that lavishness and have my dad aim some of that affection in my direction, I did everything I could to gain or establish an equal level of worthiness. The difference was that my older brother received his worthiness, at least as I saw it, with no effort on his part, but I had to continuously prop up mine diligently, making any outcome dubious or short term without my constant input. Thus entered into my young childhood me being a Junior Air Raid Warden.
During World War II, on our block and for several around, my dad was an air raid warden, a position he not only relished, but a fine one at that. My older brother didn't care about it one way or the other, but I saw it as a window of opportunity to upgrade my status in my father's eyes. If my solution did or didn't work relative to my dad is nothing I have any real recollection of, however I liked it. On my own initiative and a little help from my mother, I became a Junior Air Raid Warden primarily on the basis of responding to an ad similar to the one below and reading comic book stories such as Edison Bell. In the process of doing so, even though I was, at age 10, by building a Flying Machine and flying it, still trying to impress my dad for the same reason as a Junior Air Raid Warden should have. Amongst my peers and adults on the block, I did however, raise my importance beyond any recognition simply from just my dad, making me understand for the first time, sadly though, that there was a much wider world of significance out there.
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JUNIOR AIR RAID WARDENS
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The aerospace firm that hired me as a trainee technical illustrator not long after high school did so with me having only two years of high school drafting experience. It basically meant in an off-hand way, if you skewed it enough, I was being paid for my drawing abilities.
Not long after I was hired I met a few other employees in the same department doing technical drawings who, like me, fancied themselves as 'real' artists. Soon some of us began hanging out on Friday nights after work, usually at some little out of the way place like the Iconoclast Coffee House just east of the Horseshoe Pier on Wall Street in Redondo Beach or the Insomniac on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach, and depending where we were, order some wine, beer or coffee talking way late into the night. In general, at work, it seemed all we ever talked about was girls, cars, and sports. As artists of course, even though most of us didn't know what we were talking about, in either case, our conversations always seemed to lean toward the heavier side of things. Philosophy, religion, existentialism.
A couple of miles from my job was the Mattel Toy Company. Some of the people in the group knew some people at Mattel who also fancied themselves as artists and some of them joined us as well. One of the people that used to show up at those get togethers was Carlos Castaneda, who just happened to be working at Mattel at the time. Now, most people, especially those who know little or nothing about Castaneda's pre-Don Juan background, find themselves at a total loss as to why Castaneda would even bother to show up at our small, unprestigious, under-the-radar, and unheralded group of so-called artists. Over and over it comes up: Why would a person in their right mind, of such stature as Castaneda, entertain the possibility of participating in such a group of nobodies? The answer is quite simple. First, at the time of the meetings Carlos Castaneda was NOT the Carlos Castaneda he came to be AFTER he met the mysterious and powerful Yaqui Indian shaman-sorcerer he came to call Don Juan Matus. Secondly and most importantly, in those pre-Don Juan days, Castaneda likened himself as an artist --- and truth be told, our group was openly receptive to artists that had not made it simply because none of us had.
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As for Castaneda being an artist, it is weaved throughout his early personal history and background. According to his own words, on Monday, July 24, 1961 in a conversation with Don Juan and published in Castaneda's third book Journey to Ixtlan (1972), Don Juan admonishes him for never assuming responsibility for his acts and Castaneda writes:
"He (Don Juan) dared me to name an issue, an item in my life that had engaged all my thoughts. I said art. I had always wanted to be an artist and for years I had tried my hand at that. I still had the painful memory of my failure."
THE INFORMANT AND CARLOS CASTANEDA
THE BEST OF
<<< PREV ---- LIST ---- NEXT >>>
After returning to Redondo the job I eventually landed with the aerospace firm in El Segundo certainly didn't approach the equivalent of my dream job.
It did however, require a certain level of technical drawing expertise and understanding, of which I had, but really nothing truly spectacular or beyond the norm considering what we were doing. In an extra added plus, as far as I was concerned, for whatever reason, in those days relative to what I was used to receiving as just compensation for work or services rendered, they handed out, at least as I viewed it, buckets full of money. The thing is, after a short time with the firm, for reasons unknown to me, I was moved within the company from working as a technical illustrator which I was good at and knew how to do to working directly under the auspices of a person everybody called "Harry the Man," a job that encompassed no drawing or drafting skills or anything else that I had in my youthful repertoire of skills. Harry the Man was the top-rated high altitude breathing equipment specialist in the world and worked exclusively on the high altitude oxygen breathing systems for the then at the time super-secret U-2 spy plane. The first time I ever saw him he reminded me a great deal of Captain Marvel's arch rival and foe the evil scientist Dr. Sivana --- albeit not his personality or demeanor necessarily --- but his looks, bald head, glasses, lab coat and all.
I wasn't the first or only one to have ever drawn an analogy or noticed a similarity between the appearance of Harry the Man and that of Captain Marvel's rival Dr. Sivana. I say so because hanging on the wall next to Harry the Man's primary oxygen chamber was a very well done and beautifully matted and glass covered framed page from a Captain Marvel, Marvel Family story published in 1949 (The Marvel Family #41, Fawcett Publications, November 1949).
Years before, at another job site and long before I ever heard of Harry the Man or started working for him, some anonymous person, apparently as a joke or possible snide remark, taped the page to the wall of his work area. Instead of being upset or throwing it away he framed it and mounted it on the wall in a highly visible spot for all to see, and has since then taken it with him every time he moved from one job to the next. Below is a copy of that page:
(The Marvel Family #41, Fawcett Publications, November 1949)
High ranking generals and pilots from all over the world would come by and pay him homage. Kelly Johnson of the Lockheed Skunk works was his friend as well as Howard Hughes. After I worked for him several months and gone to Area 51 with him several times, always traveling together, I suddenly found myself being left out of the equation. He started disappearing over-and-over for continuing longer periods of time doing ever more weird secret stuff, with everybody near to him and upper echelon people seemingly having gone nuts over some discovery or some such thing. You can get a pretty good hint if you read the following comic page --- then if you like, for more, clicking the image:
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THE TIME PILL PARADOX
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CAPTAIN MARVEL: HIS ORIGIN
One of my fondness memories of growing up during those early Redondo Beach being-babysat-days was that my babysitter Mary Lou, who lived on South Lucia Avenue right next door to my house, had a life size cardboard toy fighter plane-type cockpit --- colored on one side with dials and printed only in black and white on the backside --- with a movable square cardboard joystick. It was a Quaker Oats mail-in offer called a Capt. Sparks Airplane Pilot Training Cockpit, and although I didn't have one myself, I played with hers so much it might as well have been mine. Of course, like many of the toys of the era, because of the war, it was made out of cardboard and paper, something kids in those day got used to quickly.
Because I enjoyed the Capt. Sparks Airplane Pilot Cockpit toy so much, and played with it so often Mary Lou decided to downsize it from our or her use to my use exclusively. She did so by upgrading to a different much more sophisticated model. Where the Capt. Sparks Pilot Cockpit was a cereal box top offer, and a good one at that, the new one was a big bucks go to the store and buy it model called an Einson-Freeman Pre-Flight Trainer. She didn't actually give me the old Capt. Sparks one per se' after she got the new one, but for all practical purposes it became mine --- although she never allowed me to take it home. I remember specifically the new one because it didn't have a square joystick like the one I played with, but a circular steering wheel. I also remember she didn't allow me to use it much, leaving me relegated to the use of the old one, which I recall was fine by me.
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Te-shan burning the Sutras in a rant of liberated ecstasy is the image of Te-shan in the moment of having appropriated and internalized the Sutras. Once internalized the physical properties on which the words were exhibited were no longer necessary.
His destroying of his Buddhist texts and Zen commentaries, in essence subverting their authority, was not because his Realization was in conflict with what was projected by them, but because in an instantaneous flash it became clear that HIS Realization was an actualization of the same 'way' that gave rise to the Buddha's Realization --- an attempt of which toward understanding and coming to internalize the Way for all, at least the reasoning behind it, had been put down by the followers of the Buddha in Sutra after Sutra after Sutra in hope of that someone, somewhere at sometime, their mind would become ripe and for them, the veil of the Samsara world would dissipate.
When it comes to reading, my page Zen Enlightenment in a Nutshell offers several suggestions, otherwise most if not all of the books that had been found in the box, including a few others, can be found graphically presented on the following list:
BOOK LIST: ZEN BUDDISM
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
There is a continuing discrepancy lodged against me on a seemingly regular basis by what I call the number crunching nay saying sect when it comes to the timeline regarding my use (or possible not being able to use) Suzuki's book while in high school. The implication being my senior year and the book's publication date don't coincide, Suzuki's book not being published until the same month I graduated.
It becomes grist for the mill because of having written that my brother reminded me of how I used to carry the book around with me like a bible my last year of high school and several years afterward. Anytime anybody said anything about anything out would come my book...always ready with a 'Zen answer.' Of course, in writing what I did I am repeating what my brother said, how accurate or how well he was able to remember or recall what actually transpired relative to the time period we are talking about here, that is, me being in high school, is another question.
Many people cite that the book was not published until June 1, 1956 giving me absolutely no time to carry the book around like a bible in high school, thus me doing so just couldn't be so. Disregarding any possible error in my younger brother's ability to remember accurately what I did or didn't do in high school, an edition of the book WAS published and made available January 1, 1956 (see) to the general public --- giving me at least half a school year to carry the book around with me 'to always be ready with a Zen answer.'
I wrote what I did about my brother saying what he did because, in the fact that I had a copy of the book, there was no need to question his accuracy. However, for the number crunching nay saying sect, even though copies were available from January 1, 1956 onward, my mentor received a complimentary copy from the publisher well in advance of any official publication date, be it either January or June of '56. It was his advanced copy, of which he gave me, that I carried around with me all those months prior to graduation from high school and for so many years afterwards.
NOW RISES THE BEAT GENERATION
"(T)he fact my longterm semi-on-and-off high school and shortly thereafter 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 my buddy, who was in much the same boat I was, suggested an extended, open-ended trip to Mexico I decided to take a leave of absence from my job on the boat and go for it."
THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
"For me however, by the time I reached my junior year on into my senior year I had long since morphed outside the fringes of high school haute cultures into more of a Maynard G. Krebs bohemian type, hanging out, at least after graduation, in places like the Iconoclast Coffee House on Wall Street in Redondo Beach or the Insomniac on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach."
HOPE SAVAGE: Footnote 
A year or so before I started high school and unknown to most of my peers and me, a semi-bohemian literary movement began taking root in various parts of the U.S. that eventually grew to such a point that by my second year in high school I had become more than peripherally aware of it. The movement, given the name The Beat Generation, was mainly centered in and around San Francisco's North Beach, Venice West in Los Angeles, and Greenwich Village in New York City. Two of the top movers, both of whom would become renowned poets in their own right, were Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso.
In the South Bay just around that same time, but mostly after graduation, and even though Ginsberg read "Howl" there, and although never reaching anywhere near the level as the other aforementioned Beat places --- and me not really knowing a whole lot about it in those days --- I started hanging out at the Iconoclast Coffee House just a few steps east up the hill from El Paseo and the Horseshoe Pier on Wall Street in Redondo Beach and/or the Insomniac on Pier Avenue just across the street from Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach hoping to be or at least think I was "cool" and possibly even absorb or learn some of the movement trends. The best part for me was taking home to my place an extraordinarily fabulously beautiful young redhead, an Iconoclast regular, regularly. Or at least once in a while, or on occasion. Or maybe just once or twice, by the name of Jolene. Unfortunately Jolene, who was highly polyamorous, loved speed even more, and sadly dead from Bennies before having even reached the end of the 1960s. By the time I was out of the Army everything had changed. When I went in it was Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. When I got out only a few short years later it was the Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, and Bob Dylan.
Before that though, in a letter from Corso, then in New York to Ginsberg in San Francisco, dated August 23, 1956 (two months after I graduated from high school) and published sometime later in An Accidental Autobiography: The Selected Letters of Gregory Corso (2003), Corso tells Ginsberg in so many words that after leaving Harvard in June 1955 he met a girl-come-woman he called a beautiful female Shelley --- Shelley being Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of England's major Romantic poets (1792 - 1822). At the time of Corso's letter to Ginsberg he would have been around age 25. Corso writes:
"(She) dug me and gave me a place to live and has been with me up till a month ago when I decided that I wanted to go to California. She went back home and expects to join me soon. She sends me money and delightful letters and I love her very much. Was she, who taught me. She has fantastic memory, only nineteen, can recite and feel all of Shelley, yes all, Prometheus [Unbound], Alastor, [The] Revolt of Islam, and also fifty stanzas of Swinburne's The Triumph of Time --- but more! She is going to kill herself on her twentieth year. She planned her death two years ago. The year that I lived with her was all her ... she'd lock herself in a room and would walk up and down up and down ... spoke to no one but her Gregory ... weep, she'd weep and weep ... I can't really inform you about her, but I tell you she is the greatest person I've ever met, and if ever you meet her, I doubt if you'd disagree. Her name is Hope Savage."
Her name is Hope Savage! The following, regarding Hope Savage and yours truly, that is, me, as found on the Hope Savage link below, I write:
(On) a couple of occasions I had gone into the village some distance down and below the monastery with several of the monks. On one of those occasions a man in the village who had a rudimentary use of English had tried to tell me something I wasn't getting the full grasp of. He signed me to wait while he went to get something, returning with a well worn magazine, possibly German or Dutch, and pointed to pictures of the women in the advertisements. What he was trying to say, showing his hands with his fingers up and counting, that 10 to 15 --- what I determined to be months before --- a western woman had come to the village. When I asked what happened to her he pointed toward the mountains. At the time I didn't quite know what to make of it and for the most part quickly forgot it --- that is until that night sitting there and I began wondering if there wasn't an element of truth to it.
Some months after the above village incident found me first searching for then finding a certain man of Zen that lived well beyond the walls of the monastery, high in a remote section of the mountains. Part way into my return trip on that journey I took glance of what appeared to be of all things, a western woman along a stream some distance below the trail. When I called out to her she disappeared into the woods and totally gone by the time I reached the stream.
The next morning just as I was waking and trying to shake off the morning chill as well as get the kinks out after a night of sleeping on rocks and hard ground, I looked down toward the trail and saw the woman standing there looking at me. This time rather than disappearing she gestured for me to join her. She had made a small fire and was in the process of making hot tea, a truly welcome delight. She apologized for her behavior the day before saying she was so shocked to see anyone, especially so a person of Caucasian descent, she sort of lost it.
She said her name was Hope Savage, and after learning I was an American, told me that she was from South Carolina and had been travelling alone in Europe and Asia since she was 21, or as she put it, roughly five years or a little more. She also said she had stayed at a village for a few days months back many miles down the mountain trail but wasn't aware of any monastery. She had seen what looked like ruins of what may have been a monastery at one time but didn't seem habited from the distance she saw it. Wanting to stay away from any religious context or involvement she said she kept her distance. So too, she had not seen the Zen man, although she said she had been left stuff on occasion, but didn't know from who.
ALLEN GINSBERG'S HOWL
DOING HARD TIME IN A ZEN MONASTERY
DR. MARGARET "MOM" CHUNG: FLYING TIGER RECRUITER
"After she noticed my interest in 'The Lady and the Tigers' my stepmother told me that she had been on vacation in Mexico and while there had gone down to Mexico City. In Mexico City she had dinner with a 'former physician to Chennault's Flying Tigers named Dr. Margaret Chung.'"
Below is a page from an illustrated article, read comic book, published in the early days of World War II when things for the U.S. and her allies in the war against the Axis Powers were pretty gloomy. The whole of the article, which can be found by clicking the page or going to the link below and where the quote above comes from, is about a woman named Dr. Margaret "Mom" Chung, who throughout the war "adopted" and supported at least 509 pilots in her effort to contribute to the war effort. The fourth panel in the article shows Dr. Chung with two pilots, one of which is going to the Flying Tigers. The fifth panel, the one that runs clear across the bottom of the page, implies but doesn't state anything about the Flying Tigers specifically. However, the caption has within its context that "Moms" boys got their wish and joined the Chinese Air Force flying over all parts of the world, even the Burma Road, the implication being that Dr. Chung recruited them into the Chinese Air Force, i.e., the Flying Tigers,
(please click image)
DR. MARGARET CHUNG
COLLEGE BRINGS THE RAVEN-HAIRED BEAUTY:
"(He) really didn't want anything to do with me, saying the military 'had brought out the beast in me.' He mellowed over time, especially so after he reneged enough to allow me to introduce him to a gorgeous raven-haired beauty I had met in college. She had just turned 21 by a few months when we met and I was a little beyond my mid 20s although well shy of 30. He liked her immediately and thinking of the Samsara world that a woman of such enormous beauty could see something in me, I might still have after all, some inkling of redemption left."
The above paragraph, as found in the main text, has more-or-less been extrapolated from the paragraph below, being paraphrased in it's present form above and thus then presented by me in various places on the internet after having been extracted from it's unabridged original source as so cited:
"After returning from a stint in the military I sought out my mentor again after a two-year plus absence, intending to attempt at least a semi-return to practice. What he saw he didn't like, saying the military brought out a beast in me, plus all I really wanted to do was use my college time to party and chase girls. Two more years passed. Then one day for the first time I took a girl to meet him. He liked what he saw. The following year I was married. The year following that, on Saturday night May 31, 1969, reposed effortlessly in deep Samadhi, the crystal clear light of the second full moon in a two full moon month gently crossed my face. When the moon's pale-soft beams fell into my eyes unaware of my existence nor me of it, the light thereof poured on it's own down through my pupils and lightning like, a fist size feeling of something akin to bliss began to build and radiate, then blast throughout my body from somewhere in the pit of my stomach. I wanted to bolt and run and try to shake it off because I LOVED the feeling so much that I thought I wouldn't be able to survive if it continued to grow, but was frozen, afraid to move, feeling if I moved even the slightest I would lose the moment and possibly my life. Self-locked in that frozen state which felt like and seemed like both an instant and an eternity, there transpired the barest whisper of a body shudder, like shaking off a chill, and in an orgasmic-blast of glowing dark light throughout my mind, body and the universe, suddenly I wasn't."
DARK LUMINOSITY: An Enlightenment Experience in the Zen Tradition
To this day, except for the above so mentioned raven-haired beauty --- not counting the female pharmacist at Laguna Drugs in Laguna Beach and possibly a more recent exception --- the museum lady still ranks as absolutely the most beautiful woman I had ever personally met in my life. For those who may be so interested the raven-haired beauty passed away in 2017.
JANE MARTIN: WW II WAR NURSE
MEETS THE FLYING TIGERS
FLYING CAPTAIN MARVEL
ZEN AND THE ART OF FLYING MEN