I started out on my own at only 14-1/2 years old, the result of numerous disagreements with my parents. Disagreements over everything from excessive piano practice, hobbies, wild ways.....I could make a list.
I've always had an intense curiosity about anything and everything in life. Some things affected me either strangely; or, well, I'm not always sure. My left eye from birth to age 70 was poor and it caused me a LOT of problems. It got fixed at age 70 when I had developing cataracts bothering me, so they fixed other problems with that eye, well, mostly. Why did the left eye have such an effect on me? The answer is that my distance perception was lousy. Thus, unlike ordinary guys with decent eyes, I could not play ball games competently. I had no good way of identifying distance and thus speed of a ball. I hated trying to do anything I could not be good at.
In place of baseball, football, and maybe tennis and soccer, I substituted nerdy-ness, curiosity, and a rather decent ability to do things with my hands, and occasionally my brain. Some have questioned which came first, hands or brains.
Maybe. My lengthy bio explains how I dealt with that left eye, as I became a commercial pilot, and had two other careers as well.
I tended to always jump into projects …and work .rather intensely. That became even stronger for certain things. Philosophy, mathematics, electricity, engines ....and sports cars and motorcycles. Especially Vincent's and BMW Airhead's. Some of these things, at times too-lengthy, substituted for a lack of social graces. I also had a tendency to speak my mind, no matter the effects from such.
An intense study of woman-kind was not at all that fruitful, at least for nearly 70 years, although more than occasionally pleasurable. :-)
Here, in red, is the shortest version of my bio:
Purchased first bike '51 BSA 500; repairing electronics items since teenager; purchased brand-new Triumph TR-6 in 1956; first BMW brand-new in early 1956; Chief Technician & Head Of The Shop for a BMW dealership during /5 & /6 era; Commercial, Private, & military pilot/instructor; electronics specialist for two Government Agencies (no, do NOT ask). Long military & government Agencies career; electronics design engineer; owned BMW motorcycle repair service and several other businesses. Presently live with wife, Penny, at South Lake Tahoe, California. Semi-retired, but still repairing electronics & doing a bit of engineering. Still riding BMW motorcycles & driving BMW sidecar rigs. ~800,000 miles on motorcycles, ~650,000 of which are on BMW's. Taught, and still teach/help at various Tech Seminars including TechDays & BeemerBash, MOA, etc.; jointly did a Wheel Bearing Seminar at BMW MOA 2004 National Rally; was an Instructor ...and also the Keynote Speaker ....at BMW SuperTech in 2011, ETC. I designed this website, hand-writing the code, MANY years ago ....still do a lot of editing, writing, and hand coding.
For those whose attention span is somewhat longer, read this GREEN section after reading the above RED paragraph, .............and then go do something useful or more pleasurable! Heck, why not go do something else anyway?
I don't advise reading the REALLY long version that follows this green area, as I hate to bore folks. On the other hand, everyone loves talking about themselves, eh?
My real name is Robert Fleischer. I'm often called Bob, or 'bum or 'The Bum' or Snowbum. A few people use Snobum, without the w, but I do not, except on my vehicle's license plates, where 7 characters are not allowable. Searching for me on the Internet with no w may not give you what you want. In most of my motorcycle & sports car racing days, I was called FLASH. Flash was also my trail name when I did the Pacific Crest Trail. A few call me Blinky or Blinkie, due to my habit of riding bikes with modulating headlights (I first designed, built, & installed my own, many decades ago).
I was nerdly since a kid ...long before I was a know-everything teenager. I was a math-physics major in school. I worked for Douglas Aircraft Company (Metrology lab) for a short while in 1956, my first full time job. I then worked for Hughes Aviation (Metrology lab & later as staff engineer). I transferred to the Hughes Research Labs, in Malibu, working on various projects. I was an electronics design engineer for Stoddart Aircraft Radio Company (RFI receivers & secret Government projects, NOTHING for aircraft, despite the name) and received my first Patent when I worked for them, which was for quite a few years. I worked for Telemeter Magnetics (designing driver circuitry for magnetic core memories, this was in 1959), & for a company making medical electronics. I ended my full-on engineering career in the Los Angeles area, where I spent some years being the Chief Engineer of Linear Corporation (the company moved & is no longer in Los Angeles). As the Chief Engineer I was a hands-on circuits & product designer. I eventually burned-out on Los Angeles ....& was tired of the vehicle traffic (& tired of some people). I quit Linear Corp., a GREAT company to work for. I then did some electronics consulting work for a period of time as I got my act together ...before I moved to Lake Tahoe.
The above paragraph hardly says much about what I did during all those years between the last two years of high school/college, and then moving to Lake Tahoe. I retired from 30 years in the military (Semper Fi!) and did a lot of Agency work. That is, while in the military I was assigned to one or another Government three-letter Agency, where I was responsible for hands-on 'technical things'. Seems like our government had need, or thought it did, of some of my ill talents.
My secondary training, education & experience is as a pilot & flight instructor. Some old friends still call me Colonel. I had, since my teen years, my own small repair/sales business in consumer electronics, later adding musicians electronics and industrial electronics. I am retired from commercial flying, including flight instruction. Yes, I had more than one 'career' at roughly the same time & I traveled a considerable amount ...and those careers had a great tendency to mesh together in various strange ways. To explain slightly differently, I had a small one-person electronics repair business when very young. Friends were getting drafted at age 21-1/2 when I was still in high school. All 18 year-olds had to sign up for Selective Service (that means the military) at age 18. I signed-up & as an option, I joined the Marines, with a deferment until I had finished college. I went on to get a MSEE, after which I had to go into the Service. I went to work 'as a civilian' but also for a federal agency. Yes, at the SAME TIME I was an engineering employee of a civilian company doing "special projects" RELATED-TO the company. I also had deployments as a military officer. I was in the military for 30 years, three days, and a few hours. Due to my Agency work my parents and even my own brother knew near nothing about it.
After I moved to Lake Tahoe I began to get more involved with the community. From 1992 to 1996 I was the Chairman of the Ryan White Consortium for two California County's (ElDorado and Alpine) at the same time. I worked with the Special Olympics kids, with a disabled adults group, cancer survivors, and no so surviving AIDS patients.
My wife (Penny) & I live at South Lake Tahoe, California, USA, which is about 100 road miles from Sacramento, California & about 60 road miles from Reno, Nevada.
I had my first real street-address store-front business when only 15; repairing & selling electronics, a real brick & mortar place, not a garage or home type operation. I've owned several businesses, including a BMW motorcycle troubleshooting traveling-know-it-all. I also had a shop devoted to custom work on BMW motorcycles. Other businesses at various times included a machine shop, an aircraft charter service, & an auto stereo sales/installation store. I still have an electronics repair business, initially mostly stereo/hi-fi items, now doing mostly musician's electronics, but I am "nearly retired" (been that way for many years now!, although I'd like to sell & really retire, but hard to sell a garage-based business). Sometimes I repair or design and build really odd items. I also occasionally do a bit of instructing for beginners and intermediates on how to use & maintain and deal with security on Windows computers; even though my knowledge is not at the upper crust end of computer things. Up until early 2014 I sometimes repaired those computers. I still work on MY OWN BMW motorcycles. I spend a LOT of time maintaining the BMW motorcycle technical repairs website you are reading this on.
I have been riding and racing sports cars and motorcycles since the early 1950's. I road-raced (paved tracks) Norton Manx's & Vincent's & BSA's; and some sidecar rigs. I did my share of off-road dirt riding & racing. I set a World Record, in Class A-C-1000, in 1971, at the Bonneville Salt Flats, on my Norton-Vincent. I owned & rode a huge number of various motorcycles.
I was, variously, a wrench, driver, and/or monkey for sidecar racing. As noted well above I was the chief technician for a BMW Motorcycle dealership & I free-lanced as a trouble-shooter for other dealerships. Around 1999 I decided to get back into sidecars; this time for personal street driving, not racing. My prior sidecar experience had been only on paved & dirt racetracks, & some off-road racing. I purchased my first brand-new BMW of any sort, a model 600 car, in late 1955 or early 1956, don't remember which, & way too lazy to find my records. It was a fun little car. A photo + description is near the bottom of this link: http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/photogallery.htm
I have been a rated pilot since 1961 (Commercial; Instruments; Instructor; Single and Multi-engine; Seaplanes; plus various other ratings); am a recognized authority ...whatever that means ....on BMW Airhead motorcycles that were manufactured from the end of 1969 to 1995. Yes, I worked on earlier BMW bikes, but don't consider myself any sort of guru on them. I have a website devoted to maintaining & repairing BMW motorcycles, ~85% of the site is devoted to those mentioned BMW Airheads, the boxer 2 cylinder types. I also include some information on Oilheads, Classic K bikes (K1, K100, K75, K1100), and Sidecar rigs. You are probably reading this on that website.
I built a BMW R100RT-Ural sidecar rig in 2000; now have a K1100LT-EML GT2 rig I purchased (that I have considerably modified to my particular tastes). I've built sidecar rigs for others, and I have built rigs for track racing. I have owned a fair number of Airheads; the latest of which is a 1995 R100RT. I used to have QUITE a fleet of various antique bikes, none of which were BMW bikes. I am probably nearing 900,000 miles on street bikes (I never kept track of racing & dirt riding miles) & have passed the 650,000 mark on BMW motorcycles. I have the BMW factory roundel badges for 100K, 200K, 300K, 400K, 500K and 600K. I'm not putting on miles hardly much at all now that I am super senior with flabby muscles and insufficient mass over-all.
I occasionally get all sorts of 'inquiries' about who the hell I am ...or, some comments about my having 'done everything'. I usually answer, if I take the bait at all, by posting from my files a bit of nonsense. Just so that you can read THAT, it is the first thing below:
< I am new to the Airheads LIST, who is "Snowbum"? Is he kind of like "Bigfoot"? Has anyone ever seen him or is he just folklore? >
"The reports of Snowbum being an imagined character might be true, as a female friend often referred to him as Yeti. Both imagination, & existence, are not necessarily in conflict! BUT....He really exists, at least part-time! There are seemingly creditable witness reports of his being seen at TechDays. Reports of sightings have been received from airheads (small a) at gatherings of various strange folk; bike & sidecar rallies, various technical seminars, & motorcycle races. Rumors are that he uses pen names for articles regularly in some magazines, and has been seen at unclothed social gatherings.
Purported images of Snowbum, even using his real given name, can be found as far back as the 1950's, in several motorcycling magazines; in some electronics magazines with articles supposedly written by him; in old articles in BMW Motorcycle Owners News magazines; in Instrument and Control Systems magazine, & in some government publications ...a few of them marked Secret, or, some-such nonsense. As far as certain Government Agencies are concerned, he has never existed. Under any name.
An image can be found in the October 1999 issue of "AIRMAIL", a publication of the Airheads Beemer Club, perhaps (?) airbrushed into the middle of a photograph of Bob Clement & Matt Parkhouse, who really do exist. A likeness was also published on the cover of an issue of AIRMAIL in 2001, obviously an ethereal appearance, as even the motorcycle he was next to seems not to be a /6 model ....as was described... perhaps the Editor was confused (not altogether impossible nor improbable). Rumors of an ACTUAL picture of Snowbum being in the June 2003 issue of AIRMAIL, wearing some sort of furred animal on his head, seems outlandish to contemplate. Perhaps the picture, supposedly taken at a BMW motorcycle TechDay, was doctored, but it appears on page 7.
You can also check AIRMAIL, for a photo purported to be Snowbum with Matt Parkhouse in the July 2008 issue & in BMW MOA in 2008 as well.
Occasional, always out-of-focus photographs (Snowbum admits to being out of focus in some of his younger years) are to be found in existentialistic publications & it is said one may find his byline in science fiction publications from many years ago.
Mention of "The Bum", or using his real name, & sometimes just Flash or The Flash, are to be found in texts, tabloids, car & motorcycle race books, etc., from the 1950's, 1960's; and 1970's ....and many in more 'modern' publications. Before he coined the name Snowbum for himself in the late 1990's while already a long time resident of Lake Tahoe, he sometimes used his real name. Quite a few motorcycling magazines in late 1971, some in 1972, have pictures & comments by others about his exploits on his Norton-Vincent, while racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats ...and other places. There are even earlier magazine articles about dirt bike racing, sidecar track racing, & closed course paved track racing (Willow Springs, etc.). Snowbum is said to use at least two pen names when authoring articles in various magazines. In the BMW club's magazines, & some other publications, he used his real name; and/or, just Snowbum. Photos of Snowbum in his white leather racing suit, sitting aboard or next to his Vincent Bonneville race bike, are found in the website you are reading this on, in the photo galleries. Snowbum has been trying to phase out the past, and go to the future by experiencing new things. He sold many of his Airhead and other motorcycle parts and tools....and, he finally decided to stop formal racing, stop dreaming of such, etc (lots of ETC), and, at a garage sale in August 2017, he sold his white leather racing suit. It probably will be nailed to a wall in someone's man-cave. Selling it signified the end of an era, at least for Snowbum....and; probably pleased his wife.
There was what appeared to be an authentic image of Snowbum from an earlier time, in a framed photograph on the wall of the Hughes Aircraft Company in Culver City, & then it "somehow" was moved to a wall at the Hughes Laboratories in Malibu, California. Perhaps fellow employees needed a dart board. The photo seems to be showing a frazzled overworked underpaid junior engineer type (see the tousled hair & the pencil protector in my...ooops...HIS.... shirt pocket) standing next to a Purported Mr. Hughes & a Twin-Beech aircraft .....it has been said that they both vomited immediately before AND AFTER the experience ..... Hughes from the association implied, Snowbum from the 'flight'. Rolling in Hell .....was how Snowbum described that day. At that time of the flight with Mr. Purported, Snowbum had NEVER been in ANY aircraft. Snowbum's engineering group had a 'project' for "the government" (guess who was the engineer AND the tester) to test in the water off one of the Channel Islands ....Snowbum won't say more ....other than he learned to pilot & navigate a rented boat & learned, at the Navy's expense, how to scuba-dive to pretty good depths using their, the Navy's, diving equipment. Snowbum says he never asked Mr. Hughes about his design of a special Bra, or was it a Bra-Cup?.... for a certain well-known actress, Jane Russell. Suffice it to say that the experience of the flight alone made Snowbum's own cup runneth over, and he did not need another. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwire_bra
According to Mark Twain, reports of Snowbum's existence were greatly exaggerated.
Verbose postings ascribed as being from Da Bum ...or Snowbum ...to the Airheads LIST or Kbmw or SCT Groups, etc., Facebook, etc., should always be taken with exhausting skepticism; or, at least some salts ...which have the same result.
Snowbum's mottos/sayings/other nonsense, are:
To HELL with whether the glass is half empty ...or half full ...refill my glass! Which is pretty crazy, considering that he drinks very little alcohol ...never did much, contrary to many who think otherwise. All excepting one 'interesting' experience the day after he received a certain emblem/insignia. The 'bum has promoted that he likes good booze ....maybe to better get freebies of cask strength Scotch? ....and a good Cuban cigar?
Student of secret arcane disciplines.
Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
Most folks look intelligent.....& then they say something.
Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Assume a virtue, if you have it not (Hamlet).
Amor vincit omnia (love conquers all.....see Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales).
Meum Dictum Pactum [my word is my bond] (except if I am lying).
Mater Artium Necessitas (necessity is the mother of invention).
Docendo Discimus (we learn by teaching).
Die knowing something, you are not here long.
A large number of good tests and inspections/measurements, are more valuable than most opinions based on personal reports.... Personal Reports are always suspect... except Snowbum's.
A fountain of smart may, at times, be better than a fountain of youth.
Snowbum may not have The Answer, but he has an Opinion.
A life spent in making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful, than a life spent in doing nothing.
Dark Porter, single malt Scotch, REAL Cuban cigars, and mini-bikini-clad girls ...are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
Old age & treachery combined with well-honed experienced skills will always overcome youth & exuberance.
Anecdotal Reports are like candy....sweet, engaging, the seller always wants you to absorb more .....but may rot something or other.
Brevity is the Soul of someone else's wit.
I care not a whit.
Snowbum has a great hesitancy about engaging in any battle of wits with un-armed opponents.
Words to live by: Snowbum's brother sent him this paragraph .....maybe he was fed up with his brother's verbosity:
""Promulgate esoteric cogitations...articulating superficial sentimentalities and amicable, philosophical, or psychological observations,,, beware of platitudinous ponderosity. Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity, pompous propensity, psittaceous vacuity, ventriloquial verbosity and vaniloquent vapidity. Let communications demonstrate clarified conciseness, compact comprehensibleness, without coalescent conglomerations of preciose garrulity, jejune bafflement, and asinine affectations. Let our extemporaneous verbal evaporations & expatiations have lucidity, intelligibility, and veracious vivacity, without rodomontade or Thespian bombast. Shun double-entendre, obnoxious jocosity & pestiferous profanity, observable or apparent.
What follows is not necessarily in chronological order, in fact it flits back & forth with dates & rambles. This goes right along with my method of thinking ...& how it rolled back into memory. I am too lazy to fix all of this rambling and chrono order stuff at one time, although I do look at it once in a while, doing modest clarifications, even a few fixes. Some few facts/details have been warped & twisted some, maybe to my benefit, maybe not; but mostly for reasons of protecting some living folks; and, who knows, maybe to massage my memories and/or ego ...OR ....to keep me out of trouble with various Authorities. There are a number of different photo galleries available from the
HomePage on this website, scan way down to the tables area listing the six+. I invite you to look at them. They may give you some ideas about who I am/was/knew/ and ...played with. You may find these photos interesting, or at least thought-provoking. I have had a very strange life, jam-packed with various adventures; and I started EARLY in life in this regards.
Snowbum's full (?) Bio:
I grew up in Los Angeles with greasy hands from a quite early age playing with most anything mechanical & electrical. I had 'Black' friends from an early age; even though my own childhood neighborhood was lilly-white. I had one of those Little Red Wagons that many young kids had; I put a model airplane engine on it; dangerously. My dad made me put a chicken-wire fence around the engine; the engine could have taken off my finger. I hurt my finger more than once when starting it. It had two speeds, OFF & wide-open-throttle (WOT). From about age four I wore eyeglasses. Weak left eye & far-sighted in both. Wearing glasses does not help with social interactions with other youngsters. I struck back, sometimes viciously. They deserved it. They got the message, but it did not make them friends.
My parents, wanting me to be a well-rounded child...or, maybe it was their reading too many books on how to raise children (I was their firstborn)....had me take piano lessons....and attempted to enroll me in religious training. Jewish. I hated religious training & took every opportunity to either visit a nearby Christian Church & attempt to repair their ancient organ (a complete story in itself)...or, I was just blocks away from there, making great friends with a 'Negro man', who had a wonderful philosophy of life, many experiences, & who ran a junkyard & lived with his family in a house at that junkyard ...which happened to be FULL of VERY interesting mechanical & electrical 'things'. He was a good Jack-Of-All-Trades, a man to learn from, & I cherished the friendship. I ate lunch with them on many Saturdays. His family included a stunningly gorgeous daughter. My crush on his daughter ended when she found some guy much more interesting than I was. ....maybe it was the fact that he was older, a school jock ....and I was just barely into being a teenager, kind of shy and also scrawny at that time. The experience coincided with my voice deepening, fun inner feelings, and I joined an old-fashioned 'gym', and began to bulk-up, some, anyway. It was a very few years later that I started growing up REALLY fast....and met Eartha. http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/photogallery5.htm
As I got into my mid and later teens I had nicknames besides Bob; was sometimes called Flash ...or The Flash, coming from my last name early-on & later, from my racing (cars, bikes, sidecar rigs, sports cars, etc....). Four-eyes occasionally was my name.
At an early age I was fascinated by mathematics & all things scientific. This made up somewhat (???), for my lack of social graces; well, it really didn't. But, I certainly was exceptionally precocious up until my college years, when my failure to study hard enough (from previous lazy habits gained because I easily got away with it) finally caught up with me; perhaps it had something to do with there being quite a few 'smart kids' in college, and I found myself one of the faceless crowd, except for the bushy mustache I had most of the time.
It was still California, ....still the Left Coast ...at least in a some ways. Staying in California would certainly bring calamities upon me, a few said. A friend from my younger days, Dee Jay Sadler, was convinced by his mother & her friends that California would slide into the sea upon the next earthquake. They moved out of California.
My house never slid anyplace. Not the house I eventually purchased in Mar Vista (West side of L.A., towards Venice), nor my house at Tahoe. I usually inform folks that tell me about California Earthquakes that my house has not fallen into itself from any earthquake, & the last war, hurricane, tornado, & drive-by shoot-m-ups were hardly memorable, in fact I don't remember any such in my Tahoe neighborhood. Never had any in West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Venice ...places I lived in; in the Los Angeles area (I was even living in the Latino area of East L.A. for awhile too) ...all those years ago. I will admit to riding my bike to work carrying a large revolver on my hip, immediately after the 1965 Watts Riots .....I then worked at Stoddart Electro Systems in Gardena, California. I had started working for the company when it was located at its original site in Hollywood. That was when it was known as Stoddart Aircraft Radio Company. When I eventually left the company I was a Staff Electronics Design Engineer. When in Gardena, Watts was on my 'to-work' commute. BTW ...Hollywood wasn't mostly all gay then either. I had some close gay friends though; still do.
Here is a lot of basic information on that company: online.sfsu.edu/hl/src.html.Notice in that article: VLF spy radio, Model 289-1. On that page, scan way down to the very bottom, & the first References item has MY name in it. That was my first major published technical article. I did all the work, including some engineering work, all the testing & sketches & writing ...unfortunately, the do-not-do-much bosses got credits too. While most of that Stoddart article is about radio items before my time with them, I was with them for many years, in two parts. I was involved with the 'spy' radio in the article, the 289-1, although that was not my personal project for which I am known in some circles. That radio RECEIVER was for use by submarines for communications from deep water.
It was during the time with this company that I started doing serious type of Agency Work; having been 'recruited'.
Ah, California, land of Sunshine, Land of much city traffic, freeways, leftists, hippies, beatniks, smart folks, not so smart folks, and everything from poverty to extreme wealth. Thousands of miles of 'motorcyclists' roads. Beaches. Well-tanned and toned bodies. Forget Hollywood, it's nearly all fake, including the people.
It took me 35 years to figure out that I was living in an increasingly nasty sewer called Los Angeles...but, then, something triggered an epiphany! I suddenly got smart enough (??) to give up a terrific job. It had been good paying, had really good perks, and the owners were REALLY nice.... and I had reached the position I always dreamed of (since maybe age 13 or 14), as Chief Engineer. That was Linear Corp. I gave up Los Angeles & moved to God's Country, Lake Tahoe, where one has mountains, streams, lakes, ... & several seasons (the seasons are Winter, Summer Construction time, less visitors time, then back to Winter). We also have squawking Stellar Jays, who appreciate the morning peanuts I provide. In 2007 I trained one to eat peanuts out of my hand; could do it again if I still had the patience. Fewer raccoons to be seen now ....perhaps they have 'passed the word' about my liking for 'coon hats. There are sometimes Song-Dogs hereabouts. I hear them howling ....before they get someone's cat (they got one of mine) or small dog for their dinner. I saw a large California black bear (they are usually cinnamon brown in color) in the street in front of my house in October 2005 ....and a smaller one climbed over my shed and fence in late 2006 ....and there was a monstrous-sized one in mid-2007 outside my driveway. In late 2014 one approaching 600 pounds was captured on camera literally steps from my home. Simply HUGE. It was shown in the local newspaper. Bear sightings near my house now happen several times every year. They are eating trash from folks who fail to keep their trash away from the bears ...thus, the bears are getting extremely large, & some don't even hibernate any more. A few misguided folks deliberately feed the bears. That promotes bear break-ins, usually in remote areas.
I can not see nor hear any freeways from anyplace near my home. We do not have freeways here. The Lake Tahoe region does have, sometimes, heavy traffic ...such as at New Years, MLK, or Presidents weekends. The 4th of July traffic is abominable. Most of the car traffic here is from visiting hordes of juveniles, many of which are in adult form.
We have wildlife in 4 legged form too; and, many interesting birds, even eagles.
We have little fog, not too much rain, very little smog. We have snow, typically with long stretches of sunshine between Winter storms. Tahoe has become more touristy, less 'local', less 'personal', but is still a wonderful place to live, God's Country... & in particular when not in Tourist Season. The Tourists are necessary, they are what supports the community.
Time to go back to my Los Angeles days:
One of my mother's two brothers, an uncle, for those of you who are relationships-challenged, was a trumpeter with the Stan Kenton band, I never heard him with the band, but I received some advice from him on how to meet & play with jazz greats, not-so-greats & more importantly (?) ... meet some of the women hanging around them. I actually did play piano with some of them (the musician's, not the women, we had other things for them and us to play with). I early-on dropped any pretense at trying to play clarinet or trumpet, finding them lousy at chords.
I spent a lot of underage time in jazz joints (the California-style milder version of honky-tonks & RedNeck Bars), & also occasionally hung out with Chuck Yeager type folks in the Edwards Airbase (Muroc) area. Interestingly, at that time I WAS NOT MUCH interested in airplanes. For an idea of what those days of Flo (Pancho) Barnes were like, do a SEARCH on Bing or Google or Yahoo for "Pancho Barnes". There are a number of articles, & the URL's tend to change rather often for Edwards, so a fresh search is better than me listing a URL here. Most bio information on Pancho covers more of the era before I hung out with those guys. I had a somewhat strange life for someone in his early teen years ....and even later.
My Jr. High School had a real honest-to-gosh metal working shop class, with a lathe, mill, welding equipment, etc. I LOVED THAT CLASS, and tried to become the teacher's pet . I succeeded reasonable well at that, so I got privileges, such as being able to use the more dangerous machinery. I loved SHOP! By the time I entered High School I could use a lathe, a mill, oxy-acet torch, etc. I was reasonably competent too. I had a car at 14-1/2, so that shop class came in handy.
I went to University High School located in West Los Angeles, known as an innovative teacher's training school. NO shop classes. I managed to get included in a experimental program that allowed sophomore's & seniors to attend UCLA part-time. I took every possible advantage of this; really pushing the limits of what the program was supposed to allow. This program was for 'gifted students'. HAH! I am not at all sure I was truly gifted ...I probably just knew much more at an early age. Very few students, nor anyone else, knew about this program, mostly it was those with rich parents, which mine certainly were not.
I was hardly into high school when I met a middle-aged married lady astrologer down at Muscle Beach, who was separated from her doctor-husband. She taught Astrology (yes, really!) at UCLA, & was a help to me in my misuse of the gifted-high-schooler's-attending-UCLA-program. She put in a good word for me; and, probably pulled some strings. On the other hand, she extracted her price, at least for awhile, & she soon made it clear that she wanted me for a 'housepet'; which included bed privileges on her terms; which I managed to continually put off, but eventually succumbed (and, I guess, reasonably happily-so, for awhile). I met some very strange folks through her, and when Astrology was the subject I kept my mouth shut, as I had absolutely zero belief in that crap. I have mixed memories for that time. One, in particular, was when, together, we ran into her ex-husband at a Party, and I got even more of an 'education'.....& he certainly filled me in about her, and he and I became rather decent friends. I think he was secretly rather happy that I was keeping her happy, and thereby she was much less a bother to him.
Here is a photo taken in August of 2011, I am nearly 74 years old & wearing one of my old letter jackets from High School. It still fits. Yes, those are strawberry plants behind my left arm, this is in front of my house at Tahoe. That front fence is now gone. yes, that is an ear ring in my right ear.
Before I graduated from High School, I had a substantial number of college courses already completed, and taking more, at UCLA. BUT...to my chagrin.. (& a few other things)...I found that I was surely NOT the ONLY precociously High Schooler at UCLA. I also found out that College Girls do not date 'high school boys'. SO ...I dated girls from Beverly Hills High School, once even dating sisters who both lived at home with their parents. One of these sisters was older, in college. I soon found out why it was insanely stupid to date two sisters , especially and particularly when they were living in the same house. I still wonder what became of Harriet, the younger sister. Probably long married & with 3 grown kids, several grandkids, & a large mortgage with some lawyer-husband. I once showed off my motorcycling skills at Harriet's parent's home, by sliding into a pile of maple leaves at the curb, on my thumb, on my BSA B-33. OUCH! My thumb bled some for several days and hurt for a couple of MONTHS.
Backtracking a bit, again: I starting working part time in my EARLY teens. I saved money I earned from mostly manual labor (including toting all sorts of things in another uncle's wholesale paper business after school hours). In my mid-teens I bought a small...really SMALL... barely-operating... retail sales & repairs electronics store. I sold little in the beginning, but did a lot of repairs, a 300 square foot repair center is what it really was, practically at the corner of a mostly residential district that abutted a major street (Pico Blvd, near Sepulveda Blvd, in West Los Angeles, for The Knowing here). As the repair business grew enough so that I almost couldn't do it all myself early in the mornings & after school hours & on weekends, RCA advertised that they would shortly have a mass-produced color TV for sale. I lied my way into receiving a small shipment, & thus was the first dealer in L.A. I sold a fair number of them over a period of time. I also hired a part time go-fer & helper. I now learned, the hard way, about wages, taxes, and bookeeping....etc.
These unreliable (compared to modern TV's) 21 inch color sets sold for $800, a HUGE amount of money in the fifties. I became quite a good TV technician (even going to RCA's color TV repair school). I also saved most of the profits. AH...PROFITS! My viewpoint on life changed a bit.
Not long afterwards, Motorola announced a honest-to-gosh transistor portable radio. I purchased many dozens, sold them quickly. With the TV & radio sales; my thinking seriously changed. I had not, previously, thought very much about ...now I did ...RETAIL PROFITS! ...up until the TV sales point, my real interest in my store was doing repairs. Repairing things has been a lifelong thing ...still is. But, at that time, my imagination grew, a lot. My brain may have swelled a tad; or I was just thinking ahead; probably both. I began to see another side to life.........and to philosophy (particularly classical liberalism, libertarianism, and conservatism....isms, isms, isms).
Needing an inexpensive black & white product line to sell, I took on Muntz TV's, after playing with my parents Muntz Black & White set (& trying to make a CBS-type motorized color wheel for it). Mad Man Muntz. 4 Track Players, 8 Track Players. Muntz Ranch with homemade apple hooch by the gallon in the mountains near L.A....Muntz Lake, near Hughes Lake. SHEEESH........the memories....Ed and I once drove up there, his 51 Ford...(or was it my 49 Ford??)......and bought two gallons. Finished one on the way home. Got sick.
Not much later, after having made my wallet bulge a bit more than its usual thinness, I sold that business. I had developed other interests & there was the strong possibility of being drafted into the Army, etc.
Backtracking to somewhat earlier high school days:
My uncle (my father's brother), of wholesale paper company & Pacific Ocean Park Amusement Pier fame (he was general manager) guess I won't say too much about the Santa Monica Amusement Park and Pier....well, l guess maybe just mention that I had the after-hours keys when in High School. Well, he also gave me instructions on investing in real estate. We eventually did this together, & sometimes with other family members. By the time I was hardly out of high school I owned a modest part of a small 4 unit apartment building at 327 South Union Street in Los Angeles, not all that far from City Hall. Well, I owned the "paper" part that ascribed the property legally to me ...but was Government owned via the HUD loan to us. Until it was paid off. This was my first experience with financing of real-estate, mortgages, etc. I studied some about how banks made money providing loans, & how slow & steady interest payments to them could make bankers rich, over time. In fact, I studied such things as how money was created by banks making loans....even today I am amused (and more) by the FED. I planned to beat them at their own game. I learned about HUD properties & Government financing. I learned a lot. My uncle was a no-nonsense guy, who was only too happy to tell me anything & everything I had questions about, regarding business, taxes, government, etc. It was real practical learning from someone who had more than a bit of cynicism ...& other useful attitudes. When I had been working for this uncle while in High School I was gaining both knowledge & cynicism at an early age. I learned how to deal with politicos, in a way that made them do things that I wanted them to do. I got fairly good at this later in life when I became adept in 'allowing' bureaucrats, to think THEY made the decisions on things. The learning did NOT make me wiser ...or, did it? Smarter, maybe, which is not necessarily wiser???
More reminiscing:After I graduated from high school, & was already in my 2nd year of college, wherein I was, as in high school, hardly a campus socialite, & especially not some sort of Jock, although I did force myself to get two school letters..., I lived in a wonderful big old house in Los Angeles at 1740 South Rimpau Street, with two roommates, Marion Allen & Dee Jay Sadler. Strange trio we were. This house, with its tiny garage and large backyard of fruiting trees, was in a previously upscale WASP (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant) neighborhood of L.A. that was, when we rented the house, occupied by what we now call Blacks, ...or, today, ...African-Americans. I had a past history of black friends, and, yes, had had a black girlfriend...., and with ease I became a 'member' of their neighborhood, making a point of socializing with them, going to & playing piano in one of their clubs, the Black Orchid (aka, The Orchid Room). I even dated a couple of the local girls & danced with them, when not playing the piano, at that & another Club. I also later frequented Redd Foxx's Foxhole. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redd_Foxx, but not much about his Club in that article.
It was, in nearly every white circle, scandalous to date a black girl. However, interracial dating and even marriage had been going on for a very long time, and those folks had their own tight circles. This was particularly so on the West Coast. I cared little about such things. I was having loads of fun, & did not much care, still don't, about what people think, or one supposed they thought (in most instances people do NOT think nor have rational thoughts all that much). I also, perhaps, loved to startle people.
To be truthful, I generally made it a point in my early life to be highly restrictive in who I dated ...so I only dated female humans with two legs, prominent boobs, & an attitude. I broadened & modified these seriously detailed requirements later in life to include intelligence and worldliness.
As I had a fair amount of experience with some parts of black west coast society early-on when I was so friendly with my junkyard-owner friend & his daughter when I was a teenager, I greatly enjoyed my life at the Rimpau house & have nothing but the best memories. As noted, I managed to play piano and even dance now & then at The Orchid, AKA the Black Orchid.... that 'black' hangout near the Rimpau Street house. I often played jazz on the piano there. I was almost always the only white guy there, I was still under-age; but got my beer anyway. It took awhile, but I 'was accepted', and knew everyone in the place eventually on a first name basis. I cannot over-emphasize what a wonderful life I thought I had then. I look back VERY fondly on those times. I think my life back then has greatly influenced me, & I have always had an interest in other cultures/races; all over the world; .....especially their foods ...some of which I have tried to duplicate.
I have especially fond memories of one weekend when I asked the local police for a favor. They obliged. They closed off my short street except for residents & I roasted a huge pig in a huge barbecue that I welded together. The barbecue was held in the middle of the street, on a pickup truck load of sand on top of a monster City-Services steel plate...which the City delivered! The Party was for the neighborhood. The neighbors, who had been notified weeks ahead of time, brought 'fixins' ....and ...beer. Things went great, & even greater after the keg was nearly finished ....helped along by one friend who provided a rather large quantity of Pot for all to smoke. I had a stereo system plugged into the house, speakers in the street, and only the best jazz and some dance music was played.
In the mid-fifties I spent a considerable period of time riding motorcycles with what was then ...heck, maybe still, now, ...called an 'outlaw motorcycle club'....the Satan's Boys. We were hardly as nasty as the name implies; although we did, rarely though, have joint rides with the Galloping Gooses; who were, or could be, unpleasant for unpleasantness sake. One of my last events with the Satan's Boys was at the 1957 Catalina Grand Prix Race. I've found out a few years ago that some of the guys I probably knew from those m/c years are still hanging out in a disreputable place in L.A. .....I have thought of visiting some time, but never have. Maybe I will, someday, when visiting my brother in Los Angeles.
....I've dropped all of them...& it. They've also dropped me. Except for one guy, Phil Pszenny, who contacted me in early 2011. That was a huge number of years after my last ride with that Club. Old time remembrances aplenty! We still stay in touch. I had a roommate later on, a member of the Club, nick-named "Rooster". My gal-friend "Corky" lived in the tree house 'apartment' at the front of our apartment complex. A photo of my jacket/colors is in the photo gallery on this website ...and below. I hung out at the Coffee House Positano (playing piano for tips). As noted, on rare occasions our Club rode with the Galloping Gooses; a much nastier Outlaw club. Many of my Club, including our leader, Tom Young, went to Catalina for the second to last ever Grand Prix there, 1957. I did not win, but I finished well ahead of the rear of the pack. For those who lived in Los Angeles during this period (are any of you still
alive???), you may remember other names & places such as Bucky's, Hunter's Lodge, Dopey's Restaurant, A & W on Sepulveda, Johnny O, the Saucy Dog, Sam & Rocky of the G. Gooses, Pardo Beach, etc.
I had three Harley's at various times. One was a 1949 Knucklehead (NOT a Panhead, yes I know I said 1949) that I put an enormous amount of mileage on, then stored it for some years, & got a lot of money for that dead-stock totally worn-out bike. I had one of the first Sportster's. It had ONE white saddlebag. I also had a hopped up '80'. I have not owned a Harley in MANY decades. I am simply no longer a Harley type guy, & today too many HD riders are poseurs & groupies (well, truthfully...there STILL ARE some of the old time guys & gals around...I think).
Since I did all the mechanical work on just about every vehicle I have ever owned, I managed to get a lot of experience.
Yes...this was MY JACKET. This was a custom made jacket of exceptionally heavy cowhide, lined with three thin layers of wool fabric, one layer in the arms. I kept it for decades, although did not wear it after the armpits rotted out. I gave it to a teen, long after I moved to Tahoe ....he had lusted mightily after it.
How does a person with a weak left eye pass Civilian, military, & Agency flying tests? One memorizes the FIVE eye charts! I compensated during actual flying chores quite successfully. The eyes were eventually fixed when I was nearing 70, but that was after the major portion of my flying career had ended ....but, let me backtrack some here first.
My left eye from probably toddler time had been considerably weaker than my right eye. I wore glasses from age 4. I had poor depth perception & very poor ability to quickly change focus to estimate distance; hence, I was always lousy at baseball & football, even volley-ball. SO lousy that I never bothered to even memorize the rules. I had reasonably usable vision with eyeglasses (considerably less on my left eye) when younger, but my ability to focus quickly as things moved (like balls, coming towards me) was not good & got worse as I got into my senior years, & my eyesight got a bit worse in focusing & handling glare, & eyeglasses did not compensate enough. But, back in my 'formative' years, having something moving towards me & trying to catch it was not my forte & still is NOT. It was devilish when I tried boxing. On the other hand, wrestling, while I was in school, was a breeze.
Big horned-rim glasses also made me look like a NERD (I WAS). I had a few problems, as I was not very big; mostly weighed about 128 (early-on) in High School. In my early pre-teen & teen years, the Beat Generation years, whilst I had also hung out at Venice Beach, I also was often in the nearby Ocean Park beach area, where my father & his cousin had an upholstery shop & I was a part-time lifeguard. I met lots of the poets, philosophers, artists, & some assorted low-life's of the day in that area ...Venice Beach to Ocean Park Beach mostly. Later on, I met a lot of the muscle-men who more & more frequented Venice Beach. Try as I did, I never bulked up enough, over-all, to emulate any of them ...except my calves & biceps. I remember one of them telling me something like this: "you gotta funny body, big legs, big arms ...you-been-chasing-the gals ...? "
I was nearly out of high school and already into my college years, that I met some older guys who 'worked out', & several became my friends. I still have my original Membership card, a low number too, in the original West Coast Vic Tanny's Gym that I joined. Vic gave it to me personally. Gym's, THEN, were usually places with smelly locker-rooms, frequented by hairy big muscular guys with smelly feet, & at the center of the always single room gym was always a regulation boxing ring. I loved it!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vic_Tanny. Although that Wikipedia page is accurate-enough, the gym I worked out at was his first on the West Coast, and had no fancy mirrored walls, no fancy chairs and carpets, etc. It was not coed, and was mostly populated by serious bodybuilders from 'downtown'.
There was a totally UNdeserved bad reputation for these early "gyms". They seemed to have the same sort of reputation as a Pool hall with a beer bar attached. Probably the mainstream culture thought that these folks were beneath them ...or, perhaps, were secretly afraid of muscular men. I do think the public lumped gyms with pool halls (SOME of those pool halls WERE bad places back then). I think some of the public were actually afraid of men in good physical condition, & hardly understood that these guys were extremely sweet, gentle & kind; yes, a few were very rough looking. No false Machismo here. While they were not afraid of anyone, they also did not have to show off, & most had a very satisfying family life ...wife, kids, house, the usual. ((They also did NOT take steroids; .... did NOT fly off the handle and get suddenly angry and violent)). We did not have million dollar a month sports players in those days. Not a lot was known about diet, vitamins, protein foods, etc. (let alone the steroids many now use), so the men were generally (with exceptions) not as hugely muscular as today's bodybuilders .....although there were some exceptions. Their bodies tended to be less fleshy and more defined, particularly compared to modern steroid-consuming types. Some of us hung around Muscle Beach, in Venice, CA (south-most Santa Monica beach area), showing off. Typical Southern California sun & fun. Did not matter, much (??), that "my" lifeguard shack was right at that area. What a coincidence ...my lifeguard shack, lots of scantily-clad girls, body builders, .....and I had a key to the Pacific Ocean Park Amusement Pier....which I had used when still in high school, after it closed at night ....& I was bulking up too ....get the idea?
There was a sort-of-hidden subculture there, of gay body builders. To this day that subculture is just about 100% unknown. I had become friendly with a few of them, and that led to me playing piano now and then (LOVED the tips) at a "queer" bar/club in Santa Monica Canyon, near the ocean. Several of them became good friends, and I also got "introduced" to a wider range of the Bohemian lifestyle that was becoming more prominent, and led into the societal changes of the 60's.
At this point in my Bio, you may be getting the impression that, since an early teenager, I had been associating with various slightly fringe areas of society, and having a lot of fun at it. You'd probably be correct.
Sometime in the early 1970's, after moving to Tahoe, I got back into the gym scene again. Gyms now were well-lighted, had no boxing rings, and had interesting machines that would separate muscle groups. Until about May 2003 I was an almost daily gym rat. I still 'sort-of' try for that schedule (failing all the time to go often enough). For my age I am still trim, if now having a somewhat fleshy body from old age. The problem with one's body ...& getting older ...is that it takes more & more gym time, & a more & more restrictive diet, to maintain a really good-looking body. I am unwilling to devote enough time (let alone diet...where's my pastries or dark chocolate?)...& I have noticed that if I only go to the gym only once or twice a week, & indulge in sweets & fattening foods, I look awful (well, to ME). I NEED to be at the gym 4 days a week, for an hour+ each time. The gym time & other exercise not only makes me look better, but, more importantly, I feel better mentally & physically, & my cholesterol, blood pressure, etc., is a lot better. I'm still an active member of a local small gym at Tahoe & I used to be a member of the 24 Hour gym chain, for when I traveled. I made a promise to myself that I'd increase, greatly, my gym time. I have yet to honor that promise.
I like to watch the trim women at the gym. They are not hardly all young. I certainly DO appreciate a somewhat muscular, in-shape, older woman. I've been known to watch a few of the men, too.
Over the last decade or so I have noticed that I have had to exert more & more effort to properly handle motorcycles & other heavier things; & with my bad back, & later my left hip & left leg problems, I finally had to start being even more careful about lifting heavy things. The bad back can be a big bother at times. Since my teen years I had a tendency, per the family doctor ...to eventually get double inguinal hernias ....I did not want to get that condition to worsen, which would require surgery, so I had always avoided lifting to my maximum; ....but, surgery happened anyway, in November 2003. It followed a May 2003 prostatectomy which greatly weakened the area.
Interestingly, the hernia repair surgeon was a long-time Navy Doctor, who I had known from USMC, Camp Pendleton,... now in private practice, & he did an outstanding job on me. I am now blessed with internal bionic plastic mesh gauze with Gore-Tex backing in two places, & should never have any hernia problems again, no matter how much weight I might want to lift (my back problems precludes any heavy lifting, unless lying flat on my back). Doctor said better than new. I look in the mirror & I DO NOT see new, just old. My discs have degenerated. I am 3 inches shorter than I was some decades ago. I do have back problems now & then. I had some in August of 2015. It does not help that I have arthritis too, creeping in, here & there. I now ride less off-road.
In my early gym days I managed to develop my body some ...& nearly every Member of that old Vic Tanny's gym seemed to act as my friend & coach. In particular I concentrated on gaining bulging biceps, no matter that some of the Members said not to get unbalanced (I did not properly work my whole body ...I was more into ego biceps and calves). Even when away from the gym, and working in my uncle's wholesale paper business warehouse, I made a point to visit the gym. Due to my track-running, my calves, already nicely muscled, also became pretty large ...but, my biceps became really quite large for my over-all size. They are not, now, decades later. But, back then, I was not proportionate; my chest was small although it became larger later, particularly when I changed from short runs (like the 220m) to much longer ones & started using later type gym machines ...but, it was years later before I started really gaining any sort of chest size. But, the bulging biceps ..and they really did bulge a lot ....had some effect. This was especially so when wearing tight boys sizes of T-shirts, the type we now call Muscle-T's, with names of gyms or boxing places on them. The girls liked the biceps ....and the more they liked them ...the more I worked on making them bigger. Imagine a young guy, with fairly substantial biceps in High school, and now hardly into college, with huge biceps, 5'10+", having a 28 inch waist, quite large calves....and, unfortunately, a chest in the high thirties ...wearing a sleeveless too-small-for-him T-shirt, and HUGE biceps. The only time I was more proportionate was when I was on active duty, had access to other gyms, and reached 178 pounds of nastiness. ....gone, gone, gone now....given it up, too much, to slothness....well, somewhat.
How I got into flying is another long story; it will be vastly shortened here. I did not become a pilot until the end of the fifties. My eyesight was OK for flying as a civilian pilot, but restricted to having to wear corrective eyeglasses. Later I managed to fly for the Government (in various capacities, unmentionable), with rules that said NO corrective lenses. I memorized all 5 of the eye charts for my military, etc., flying time testings. I wore military-style dark glasses when on duty ....no one asked if they were Rx ....and they helped me to pass the eye exams. I did have to be very careful in my flying, due to my limited depth perception. I overcame that by training. I am not touting my horn here, but I really did became quite a good pilot; good enough to get advanced instructor's ratings ....& began collecting civilian licenses & certifications, NONE of which were EVER, upon private advice, disclosed to the military. They don't like potential pilots knowing anything about flying. I tackled flying the same way I usually tackled new skills, overwhelmingly pushing to be perfect.
Decades later ...Summer of 2007 ...I found that my left eyesight had deteriorated enough over the years & now was just barely good enough to pass the Civilian FAA Commercial Pilot physical examination ....so I had my left eye's lens removed & an artificial one installed. My vision improved VERY markedly. The same surgery was done soon after on my right eye, also for the same cataracts reason. I need eyeglasses for close-up work (I had my implanted lenses focused for distance vision). I still wear eyeglasses all the time, having them optimized for most all distances ...the main reason though is that glasses keep atmospheric dust & dirt mostly out of my sensitive eyeballs.
I did not handle swimming very well. I eventually managed to do OK in a swimming pool. Surfed some too. Was even a lifeguard at Santa Monica/Venice beaches, a long story in itself ....and I've mentioned a bit of that. I did not do great, just adequate, at the diving lessons I took. I took diving courses twice. Once was at a time I did some secret underwater engineering tests (hinted at in my description of work at Stoddart), & the other time was for fun after I moved to Lake Tahoe. PADI Certified. Water & I just do not mix well, overall anyway. How did THAT go with being a Marine? Damned if I know. My answer ....if there is one, is that one can do anything, if motivated enough ("listen, ou asshole ...you wannabee Marine fuckup/screwup ...you either swim or you drown, & I don't give a damn if you are carrying 70# of gear and you weigh 170"...so, JUMP, dammit, NOW!!! ).
Below is a photo of what we disparagingly called a Poopette; a French-made Mobylette. One version of which was somehow left at Camp Pendleton & was handed-down, Class to Class, for 'someone' to use ...to sneak off base & get to town. I repaired it to reliable condition, & it 'became mine'. I returned late one night, ran it into a Honey Pot (don't ask if you don't know!), ...managed to recover it....and I recovered after a long shower and a lot of scrubbing. I passed it on to the next guy that felt he could keep it running. Later, the Mobylette name was distorted in the USA to MOPED...yes, maybe the first ones here. Slow. Reasonably reliable. Good on fuel. Did not have the pedals to get the engine going and that you could pedal like a bicycle ....those were on the lightest, lesser, model.
Speaking of The Service:I was just out of boot camp. My fellow fun-loving-practical-joke-playing-closest-buddies had also ‘just graduated’, & I (who was also one of those fun-loving-practical-joke-playing types), headed for San Diego for a long day & evening of carousing of every sort. I drank too much, something VERY unusual for me .....& might have been slipped something too, not sure. Lots of stuff happened, but simple short version; not much mentioning the tattoo they tried & did not succeed in getting on a certain body part; is that I woke up in what was obviously a motel or hotel room, but there was no bedding, no towels, no soap, NO NOTHING, including no clothes. I was stark-assed-totally naked. I had on only my dog tags. I woke up to a terrrrrrrible hangover. I looked out the door ...yep, hotel-type self-locking, better stay inside for now (I had NO key) ....the sun was overly-brilliantly (for my headache) shining in the windows. I looked outside through the windows. Many stories down was a beach, white, sandy, nice, very pretty, if terribly glaring and hard on my headache ....with the sun rising (it seemed). It took me a while to realize that the sun did NOT rise over any beach in San Diego. I got home by confessing on the room phone to the lobby desk clerk, who arranged for some clothing & a few free phone calls. He got a big tip from me for his help. I got my parents to wire some money for food, etc, then I got on an Air Force plane back to the mainland. It was a bit of fun convincing certain Officers that my story was true. Lots of laughing for awhile...
I never could prove who all were behind my 'adventure'; I suspect they all swore secrecy, but I knew who, of course. I never managed to pay them back, so-to-speak. At least three are still alive & I still have contact with them. Just how they pulled it off is still a good question, but I have some ideas. There is just no way I could 'top' what they did to me.
I had a lot of fun as a member of the Rifle Team in school, for which I received my second school letter. My first letter was for Track & I was on my way to a third, for wrestling. The letters honestly meant little to me, I was NOT the type that was really 'heavily into sports & school spirit'. I almost never attended school extracurricular activities. I just never had time to do these
things...I was way too busy with academics & work....& certainly, later, I never attended any school reunions. I was un-involved & had a good dose of nerdiness & shyness. I also went to college WHILE in High School; which took an enormous amount of my time...not to mention I owned a small electronics sales & service business. BUT, the school letters effect on some peers was quite nice. I would have loved to have had the letters in football or baseball. It was comical when I tried out for the football team.....light weight, small stature, couldn't focus on balls coming or going due to left eye problems.
There are particular reasons I forced myself to do what it took to get the High School letters.
(1) Girls particularly, at least back then, liked guys with letter-jackets.
(2) Advice given to me by a close friend's father, regarding my certain-to-come military service. Some things just look good on a resumé.
I suppose there was a third reason, probably part of reason (1). I got my hands on a letter jacket just like one of my own, but it had a badly stained & damaged sleeve/arm. I cut the sleeves off & laboriously made the sleeve holes look very short; this was the first time I ever used various sewing needles & thread. I wore that jacket at both high school events and just hanging around, and also when at UCLA, over-developed-biceps always bulging nicely. It helped, a bit, with my girl problems....particularly with the more-desirable buxom ones (you can look up that word).
I particularly liked the High School rifle team, as we had many days at OTHER schools, for 'contests' (called "Meets"). I think that I was the only person who joined the rifle team that was not a member of the ROTC. The only reason they allowed me in was likely that I was already tied to some REAL military friends ....&; in particular; ...I was an excellent shot with a rifle. I did not like most of those ROTC guys one little bit, something about the type of personality that most had. I felt it was perfectly OK that they become cannon fodder. They returned the feeling, or worse. I used a custom-made rifle for those Meets, & earned a few medals. The guys on our team may not have liked me, but they WANTED me on the team (during Team Events; ONLY). For me, I simply wanted the use of the underground Shooting Range; & the privileges of being on the traveling Team. Our instructor found me there one day, plinking-away with my .45 Colt M1911. That created a bit of a
problem ...hand guns were not allowed. We compromised, by closing the range to only us two, and our various pistols, revolvers, etc. He made a pass at me. sheeeesh...I was getting far more educated....
I generally hung out with a slightly older crowd ...typically 3 years older. We all had to sign up for Selective Service when 18. Some of my friends were being drafted into the Army at 21-1/2. I did not like that ARMY idea. I had advice, from a close friend's father, a full colonel in the USMC ....that stood me well for my 'career'. For once in my entire life I followed advice (HIS) rather precisely. I fell right into military training, after I joined the Service, with no problems. Well, not exactly. Marines' training was not so nice, nor proper, nor genteel in the late 1950's & early 1960's. My parents hadn't the foggiest idea where & what I was doing ...or even being at Camp Pendleton ....they thought I was staying at my friend's house, perhaps chasing after his sister (BTDT). In fact, after one longish absent period, my parents thought I was shacking-up with my girlfriend; .... the truth .... (yes, I was) .....but I was also at Camp Pendleton which we slangly called Marguerita-ville (Santa Marguerita river goes through there).
Lesssseeee.... backtracking again:
As an early teenager, I played piano some evenings at The Lighthouse ...a jazz joint ....Howard Rumsey's was the house band. I also played at a couple of coffee houses, Café Paisano (as I remembered the name in my old age here, but must really have been POSITANO), & sat in now & then at Shelly's Mannhole, owned by Shelly Mann. I was comfortable in coffee houses, even those filled with cheap Mexican smoke, which cost about $12 a kilogram at the Mexican side of the border. It came in honest to gosh pressed-kilo-bricks. It was hardly the high powered pot of today. I did my share for a short while ...but found it GREATLY interfered with my studies & hobbies so I quit. Considerably later, I once, purposely, went up in a small airplane, with a check pilot, to find out what the effects would be from just two puffs of that low-quality Mexican pot. That cured me of ever again thinking about smoking weed & flying. I was not just 'the kid' at those above jazz places. I was also playing piano at an infamous 'queer' bar ('queers' are now called 'gay') in Santa Monica Canyon, near where it joins the Pacific Coast Highway. I developed some gay friendships back then, later had some strong gay friendships that endure to this day...both male & female. I am comfortable at their social events. Decades later I was, for several years, the Chairman for the Ryan White Consortium at Tahoe, for both ElDorado & Alpine Counties. I've been a care-giver for those with full-blown AIDS & end-stage cancer. I just don't have major uneasiness in certain 'strange' social situations ...sexual, racial, political, religious ....that many folks seem to have. I've also gotten over most of my shyness ....and have found ways to call-upon hidden aggression when needed or desired. So-much-for-growing-up. ...or, something or other. Mainly I have learned how to get what I want in life, and from others ....even doing it nicely now and then! I can be gentle and quiet, introspective and contemplative, learned, philosophical, etc. I can also be awful.
I tend to LIKE off-beat & unusual situations; and, sometimes, I exhibit a very perverse sense of humor; a way of dealing with those things & dealing with the folks that have prejudiced ...let's say, UN-informed ....ideas. I've lost a friend or two, or potential friend, due to being outspoken about such thing. But, I am mellower these days.
When still a teenager, I learned a whole bunch about what is now called "alternative" life-styles. I became relatively comfortable around every sort of Bohemian. The earliest period I remember was when supposedly folks like Jack Keroac & Ezra Pound (or imposters) were occasionally "around" Venice Beach. Venice was a place I knew well ....it was the Beat Generation. With my piano-playing & interest in the serious side of jazz, I integrated these people & their events into my life (and vice versa). I hung out a bit with an artist, no other word for him, who made leather luggage that was rather exotic, & quickly learned his trade. I had fairly close friendships with some folks in the publishing business, as well as with some fairly well-known off-beat (pun intended) cartoonists. I had some writing talent, which I occasionally misused & sometimes I got things published, this being before I became an engineer who got technical articles published. I had a zero regarding cartooning. I generally regard myself as not having much of an artistic side (my wife disagrees). If I do, I cannot find it easily (except that I CAN be very artistic in my cooking). What I mean is that I THINK I am not good at creating original art on paper. Penny thinks that it is because I do not try. She may be right. I am not too shabby at SEEING art. I am very good at seeing the artistry of Mother Nature, in our Great Outdoors. Where I live now, THAT is all around me, and I do notice, but not always audibly to others.
I admit to having some sort of talent for placing wit & satire onto paper. Sometimes in a cynically and/or curmudgeonly way. I have become somewhat even more cynical; or at the least I have taken a somewhat comical view of life in general as time passed. I suspect this began with my early wide-ranging experiences.
I really have done a lot in my lifetime. I even managed to live in a couple of commune's ...... Victor Barranco's "Morehouses". I taught weekend courses there, on such as "Money, Jealousy, Possessions"; AND....." Basic Sexuality". I KNEW some of the Kinsey's crew; & studied with them. .......(I had to live SOMEPLACE!) :-)
I managed to became a part time temporary lifeguard at the beach. Real babe-magnets we lifeguards. I had 2 homemade surfboards, which I transported to the beach in my somewhat rare Mercury wood-sided station wagon, which we called "A Woody". Seldom were the board(s) in the car anyway during the sunny days I was at the beach for ANY reason; ...no, they were leaning up against 'my' lifeguard shack, the one on tall stilts, located between the City of Santa Monica, & the 'City' of Venice, California. I think neither City knew where their border was. I had applied to both, and got meager paychecks from both. The shack was right next to Muscle Beach. My long hair started out getting longer & longer, over several years. Long hair was 'out', short hair was 'in', as far as school was concerned. Make what you will, of THAT. My brown hair was bleached and eventually long enough that went down my back QUITE a bit. I had built my two surfboards (one of Balsa), including a motorized (mini-jet) one. I designed & machined the jet on a lathe & mill, at my old JUNIOR high school, they had such machines in their Shop Class & the shop instructor remembered me from being in his classes & allowed me access. I MILLED the hardwood board! I would occasionally help that shop teacher in return. That lathe was a 12" LeBlond Regal, made in 1937 or 1938. So, that LeBlond was the lathe I learned on when I had actually attended that school, and I used it when I was in High School. I presently own that same model of lathe ...mine was made in April, 1937. Below is a photo of mine, and I still have and use it.
Years later, my friend Dave Furst, who also did strange mechanical contraptions things ...and I ...got into Vincent motorcycles in a BIG way; & I personally then expanded all over the Vincent world; Dave was responsible for a fair amount of the work on the NORVIN (Norton Frame, Vincent Engine) that I used in August of 1971 to set a Class World Record, at the Bonneville Salt Flats. At that time I was already the Chief Engineer of Linear Corporation. By the end of Summer of 1972, I realized that I had reached prominent goals in my life, Chief Engineer, and a Bonneville Record Holder. It was time to completely change my life. I moved to Lake Tahoe. I was approximately 35 years old. I was still dual-employed when I moved. That last for a LONG time.
Earlier, into my twenties, I was into BMW sidecar racing & all sorts of engines work for others; & trying to get sponsored for racing my Alfa (that never worked out). René Pellandini finally HIRED me to race his Morgan Dealership cars. For my own cars, I got some sponsorship from Iskendarian, Joe Hunt, Vic Edelbrock, and a few others. I KNEW these folks personally. Those names from the past included McDonald, Donny Vesco, Phil Hill, Skip Van Leuwen, Al Mark, Art Gerrick, Dick Mann, Doug Bingham....etc. ....were some of the people I knew, some of them very well. Most of the guys I knew back then are dead. I am not .....YET. Once in awhile I rode bikes with some of the movies names of the time, some of who lived in Cheviot Hills & Bel Air, etc. Most, if not all of these folks are also dead. I have noticed that if I know people long enough, they die. I am not taking any extraordinary credit for that, but feel I should warn you.
My cousin Jon, & maybe another cousin or two, looked up to me .....the black sheep of the family ....but I never saw that, nor understood why, at that time. My own brother & I got along like estranged acquaintances. My parents would tell me years later how much he looked up to me. I never saw nor felt that ...as well as a lot of other things I probably was oblivious to. I was FAR too busy very selfishly being ME.I suspect that my outdoors activities, gym time, outlook on life, & often good eating habits (especially in mid & later life, not sure how much NOW), contributed to why I am ...supposedly ....in good condition for my age, & I always ...and constantly ...RE-intend to stay sort-of that way. It is akin to making New Year's Resolutions many times during a year. GOD (so fickle at times; black women are like that, EH?) grants us only so much time. In truth, I have no real depth of belief in a God, a being, or non-being. I probably am closer to a Taoist, a Buddhist; which is a way of life, much less a 'religion' (no formal deity as in others) ...but even those labels do not fit. I do not practice, nor believe-in, any sort of ORGANIZED ...or UNorganized ...religion. I have rather strong views on SOME types of 'religious' folks.
The last few years before I moved to Lake Tahoe were filled with my involvement with working as Chief Engineer for Linear Corporation, occasionally working for a Government Agency, and spending most every spare moment being involved with racing motorcycles. Earl Flanders became a sponsor & kept that status, including being my official timer for the A.M.A.... into 1971+ when I raced at the Bonneville Salt Flats, setting the records I mentioned ....the main one of which lasted 6 years until a FACTORY Harley team broke it. Flanders had become a West Coast BMW and BMW motorcycle parts supplier. The Flanders Company still exists. Butler & Smith 'WAS' BMW in Eastern USA. Here are some photos I scanned from motorcycle magazines.
From here, I am going to backtrack quite a few years, at least for awhile in this long saga:
I also raced two Manx Nortons (I had a rare 350, & also a 500).
I got into dirt biking & had a pair of 400 Husqvarna's ....those were state of the art then. Today they would be curiosity items, being overweight, & with lousy suspensions by TODAY's standards.
I tried to get my hands on the R69S that Penton rode across the U.S. in a bit over 2 days, that must have been around 1960. I thought the R69S was THE bike to ride. This was REALLY strange, since everyone "knew" that BMW's were NOT the 'cool wheels' of that time.
In 1956 I purchased a brand-new Triumph TR6. I was 19. My first NEW bike. I purchased mine after seeing what my friend Ed Nelsen's would do. He never became a real rider. I did, & began putting on tens of thousands of miles, then hundreds of thousands. I have vastly more miles on bikes than in cars.
I dabbled in Ham Radio for a considerable period of time. W6LMN. My exploits in Ham radio would make for an article of its own. I had a Ham Radio station at my home & later on one of my BMW bikes, two tall antennas, dynamotors for power, car battery.
I became a fair wrench on bikes & cars/trucks rather early-on. I had always had a knack for fixing mechanical things, having spent a lot of my pre-teens & teens years 'analyzing what it took to break things.'
It was not long before I started getting more & more involved with BMW motorcycles. I sold the pre-Airheads, and got into Airheads in a big way. I owned a succession of BMW Airheads, putting some big mileage's on them. BUT
...I initially ...and maybe still do...owned the /2 bikes and the Airhead BMW bikes for THESE reasons:
Extremely reliable compared to others; easy to maintain, were 'different'; were very comfortable on long trips; were QUIET; parts did not vibrate off & deposit themselves alongside the road.
Early-on, I initially worked part-time at a BMW dealership. Old gray-haired guys reading this may remember me at Winklemann's BMW. Although it was part-time due to my still being in school, I eventually became the chief technician, and head-of-the-shop. Not long after, I was doing part time advisory things for other dealerships (usually being paid under the counter, by someone who was in deeeep trouble). In various capacities I was seen around Browns BMW & Marty's BMW. I never arranged it so that I could attend Butler & Smiths (or, later, BMW's own) schools. It was a few years later that I first met & became friends with OAK (Orlando Okleshen). It was decades later that I met Tom Cutter at the Spokane BMW National Rally in 2004, when we were all teaching Seminars. I know maybe a couple of dozen really good BMW mechanics. That group includes Ted Porter, Bob Clement, Matt Parkhouse. I have met Anton Largiader, but have not worked with him; ....have not met Bud Provin yet. I think, from reputation and writings, that they are top quality Wrench's.
From an early age, right up to the present, I have been a voracious reader ....and was reading classic literature and also reading much of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, page by page, all by the 9th grade; not much later I was reading vast quantities of technical books. Foreign languages I struggled with, never did become fluent in any. I used to practice my High School Spanish when I would travel to Baja or Mexico. Today, any Spanish is a few words now & then. I likely will take some Spanish courses and culture programs in the near future & study my old materials before that. I wouldn't mind learning a bit of Japanese, either. I seldom read novels, mostly read the so-called Classics (yes, a few were novels). I did like Science Fiction. Nowadays I read a lot on the Internet, where News and even foreign TV programs are available. Sometimes news is blocked, so I use a round-a-bout way of seeing things, defeating censorship. I read technical magazines ....and local newspapers. I always kept up with local, regional, & national politics. Now and then I re-read another Classic or add one I had not read before. I wrote some SF articles/stories. Some got published. At least one is on this website ...might be more in the near future.
Most of my twenty-ish friends were budding Democrats or Socialists. Always wanting to side with the weird, I registered as a Republican, & mostly kept that, although I have been an Independent & a Democrat. My voting has usually had little to do with Party & labels. I still think politics, as life, is laughable. I have always voted since able-to. On local issues, my tendencies are to vote conservatively on fiscal matters, & liberally on social matters. I think the far Right, & the far Left, BOTH generally worth their ridicule. I am probably somewhat of a Libertarian.
I grew up generally having an intense curiosity about everything. The 1960's was a time for every type of weird 'Left-Bank' type person. L.A. was into self-actualization 'fix me' (& folks who fixed those folks problems, for $ or?). I joined a commune (was in three overall, eventually, for short periods) & lived & taught Courses in "money, jealousy, sex", & other courses on controlling folks, to a succession of rubes, who needed to part with their money in order to be able to 'hear the truth' about anything. "Truth" to ME was, and still is, jazz terminology.
A boyhood friend & I, made friends with Ed Kolpin & helped his business by purchasing tobacco & briar smoking pipes. We liked good tobacco. Never hardly ever inhaled the stuff, but liked the taste/smell. We helped Ed run Tinder Box #1 & then we helped Ed open Tinder Box #2, which turned into a chain that his boys took over years later. I attained a life-long appreciation of good tobacco & good cigars. Nowadays, I have lost much of my taste for smoking, but I still have a rare pipe or cigar. I think I probably don't smoke more than a couple dozen cigars a year (80% of which are small thin short ones) ....& always OUTside the house. I am also only too well aware that no one, including ME, likes to be near a smoker who reeks of stale tobacco. I won't let anyone, including myself, smoke inside my house. When I purchased this house the prior owners were VERY heavy cigarette smokers. They smoked in the living room, which has a massive beam-supported ceiling and the ceiling is all wood. Using a Coolee-hat, I spent 6 months +-, cleaning every square inch of that ceiling with rags, hot water, detergent, & brushes, inch by inch. Where did I ever get such energy?
I took piano lessons before & during my teens, pumped iron at the gym I've mentioned from long ago, & continued to do some wrestling, and, later, gave up any thoughts of boxing & quit wrestling. For a long time, I played 'kid' with budding musclemen boxers at that old, sweaty, smelly, dirty, original, Vic Tanny's basement Gym in Santa Monica & also the Westwood gyn near UCLA. I hated it when those gyms closed. Vic himself gave me a life membership. My Membership was D23. 1957. I can't find the one that Vic gave me, about two weeks before his Manager gave me the one shown here.
I hated the closing for two reasons, the first because of the inconvenience of traveling to the new foo-foo gym I now had to attend (foo foos came into being just prior to Vic's places closing). Secondly, I now had to spend MY money for my gym time, or whatever the place was, & most of the guys, who had long been friends at Vic's basement boxing gyms, did not go to modern gyms, nor BSA nor YMCA places. UCLA had a fledgling gym though. I remained friends with a few of the guys for many decades.
In 1998-1999 I worked-out very hard for quite some time; & restricted my diet. The idea was to enter the natural (no steroids, etc.) body building contest that was coming to Lake Tahoe. Haven't done anything so restrictive since that contest. I wish, however, that I'd had gotten some photos of myself!
In a way, I miss the guys & those old gyms ...but, in truth, today's gyms are FAR better, in every way, except, maybe, the friendship qualities. Gym's now have carpets & showers that are clean & actually work (usually). That was primarily done to grab the businessmen & WOMEN. These gyms are often considerably filled with older graying folks trying to maintain ...or attain ...some sort of shape ....or other. Some of the girls (& young men) look very good; they SEEM ...to me ....to be GETTING VASTLY YOUNGER. Maybe it is more that I am getting vastly OLDER! I spend time every visit, seeing if any trend with the gals has begun or continued ....one should keep up with trends, trying as that may be! At one time two well-known local plastic surgeons frequented my gym regularly ....I made a point of seeing which women seemed, somehow, to know them, & if their appearance changed during that 'knowing-time'. Especially certain prominent forward parts of their appearance.
Watching others of all types in the gym sometimes gives me a bit of a push towards watching my own diet & exercise program a bit more. I have not yet reached the point of giving up to total sloth. BUT.... In 2017, looking into a mirror, naked, it is hard for me to identify my body, with the body I inhabited, so long long ago.
OK ...time to backtrack to a very important time for me ....in my mid to later teen years:
There was one person who meant a lot to me. I mean that almost literally, as the only one. He was the father of a close friend. He was a Marine Colonel. He was direct, honest, a stand-up kind of guy. I looked up to him. A lot. I thought his manly qualities were to be emulated. He knew instinctively, or more likely from lots of practice and experiences, about mistakes, life, whatever. He knew exactly when to be soft & vulnerable; when to be hard as nails; when to be 'understanding'; when to reveal if he was smart or not; & he was a very loving husband & father. He knew what it meant to be a man, not a mouse, yet he knew when vulnerability, softness & loving kindness was appropriate. He was also a true gentleman. Perhaps in some other life I will be able to come close to what he was, but I doubt it. I particularly liked the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman", & sometimes imagined myself in the leading role.
In any case, my friend's father, The Colonel, had a BIG influence on me; and I tended to follow his advice, which I ASKED FOR.
The Vietnam war/situation was a very unpleasant time. End Vietnam commentary.
I always hoped to find the right woman for me that I would love greatly, & with whom I could play the lead role in that movie, in real life. Hopeless Romantic in some ways (which may surprise you!). However much as I have failed to meet my own standards at times, I have won mightily in some areas of life ....in particular I surely am close to having what I dreamed; Penny has been a big BIG part of my life. I won't get into our relationship much in this bio.
I studied a lot on my own at various times; this has continued throughout my life. In particular one of those times was during the late 1980's to about 1991 (I had a new fresh 'government' situation, in which I had a LOT of free time). It was not necessarily a very pleasant time. I studied law for awhile, for curiosity & a modicum of knowledge. I also studied a LOT ...intensely ...about world religions. I found them fascinating. Well, I found the HISTORY fascinating. The book-learning did NOT make me religious. I learned WAY too much about the Greeks & Egyptians ....Horus, Osiris, etc. Makes for problems with Christian's relationships sometimes, ....with those who ARE BELIEVERS ....and who refuse to recognize that many of their beliefs in 'historical' happenings, actually came from hundreds & even thousands of years earlier. Best to keep my mouth shut. Especially with those believing in the Trinity.
WAY backtracking: My parents originally wanted me to be a Doctor. A year of medical school at UCLA was not of help (to them). I wanted to be an engineer. My parents said they would settle for my being a concert orchestra pianist (but confused that with Headliner pianist ...where the orchestra is there to back up the pianist). I wanted to be an engineer. They offered to pay for advanced piano lessons. I said I wanted to be an engineer. They said;... >>.
Things got more intense when I did the second of two piano playing adventures; the first was in 1952 I think. The last one was a public piano recital at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium ...in June 1955 I think it was. The program was 100% classical music and featured three pianists, of which I was the 'final course and "Wanna-Be Star'. Amidst clapping, and at the request of my front row seated Teacher, I did an encore ....of a personal jazz composition (yes, I composed it) that was something like 'Turned-On Bach, a-la Dave Brubeck'. My piano teacher, very traditional & strict, went nuts; never saw me, nor spoke to me, ever again. To try to appease (?) my parents, I told them I would be OK for living expenses & paid education & piano instruction at Julliard. With the enormous cost of that in their minds, we compromised (??) by me more fully using my status of "Emancipated Juvenile", in Kalifornica, thanks to Leo Freud, a judge (in 1952, I think it was) .... I became an electrical engineering student at UCLA. I moved out of my parents home (more than once), in my teens. Once this was a bit earlier (by a few weeks) than I had planned; my planning was upset by having a physical altercation with my brother. I do not remember why. My parents did not approve of that. My brother & I made up later. He is still exasperating & sometimes terribly boring. I think his social skills are a couple of levels below mine, & mine are not good. Still. Maybe. Maybe not. I am not a good judge.
I had been a fairly rebellious kid ...that was NOT common in those days; at least not in my lower middle-class family's circles. By the time I was in high school I was enjoying quite a split personality ...one part was getting into every type of kids' troubles, the other part was the oh-so-serious student of everything ...and I mean EVERYthing. I would jump into something, try to master it ...at least to the PRACTICAL usage point, then try something new. Great substitute for not catching balls. Never a dull moment. One of the reasons for becoming 'emancipated'.
The final split came about after my dad, who almost never opened his garage, found 7 motorcycles inside. To make matters more intense, 'the finding' was at about the same time he found out something else. THAT was that his eldest son, that's me, had violated his personal space.....I used his and Mom's bed with some girlfriend of mine; this was while they were on a well-deserved 'vacation' (most likely to be away FROM ME). My dad HATED motorcycles. He was also afraid of flying. Funny ...everything my father hated, disliked, or was somehow against ....well, nearly ....I managed to enjoy ...hmmm. Maybe some day I will ponder upon that more. Likely not.
I did become an engineer. Electrical & Electronics Engineer. I was admitted to Membership in the Institute of Radio Engineers in 1961 ...it was the IRE then, & later called the IEEE. The Agency (I eventually worked for two), via the military, offered to pay for an advanced degree, MSEE. I accepted (Thank you, Colonel Turner, for advising me long before, to long afterwards!!). Later came some very specialized 'education' at a government institution located on the East side of the USA. But, these folks also wanted me to keep hidden who I was, and so on ...and ON. My own family & friends knew zilch about all this. I was Mr. X at college. I once tried to get a copy of my own records. What a hassle! ...had to go through two departments of the government! I went to a lot of short term 'schools'; even took extra courses at City Colleges, even two at Trade Tech; numerous seminars & such. All this time I still had that electronics repair business of mine (since a teenager, & still have it), my mechanical interests, & wanted to keep up with things. Can you say 'burning the candles at both ends'? How about a box of candles all burning at every end of each one?
The particular Agency I ended up being associated with for the most time was very interested in someone with a really big & varied background in many things. So, I became not only an engineer & a Military & Commercial Pilot; but, an Agency troubleshooter/specialist.... of sorts. We won't get into what types of troubleshooting and what 'troubleshooting' can mean. Some of my fellow Agency types said, somewhat paraphrasing here, that I was not a trouble-shooter, but someone shooting for trouble ...& I occasionally managed to do that. That was a triple play on words. YOU figure it out, I've said enough. No, I have NO intention of saying anything more about Agency work, or my time with USMC. Do you know Latin? Non Timebo Mala.
My electronics repair business originally started as an early teen, in my parents garage, & I continued it when I left home ...& still have that business. I had it even when in the Service, even when working as an engineer for others. Today that business is down to quite part-time & is back in my garage. It is still a Warranty Repair Station for a few major brands, mostly musician's electronics now. I use the small income to pay for frills, occasionally some thrills. I don't advertise the business any more, although I made a website. I have pretty much let the business slow down ...preferring my various hobbies & time with Penny. I have the business up for sale for $12,000 to $15,000, but have not seriously done any advertising.
Way back when, I obtained HAM licenses, Radiotelephone licenses & endorsements, all sorts of licensing & certifications. I even got Coast Guard type training. I had Competitor's licenses. I could cover walls with these pieces of paper. Some I treasure, some I don't much care about. Some I can't even display nor discuss.
I managed to get a few patents, worthy for talk, not much money. I wrote & was published for Electronics things, as well as some forms of instrumentation ...heck, even some things on motorcycles. I think I mostly treasure the off-beat articles I managed to get into some strange publications .....Chick Young illustrated with his cartoons one of my off-the-wall articles. I wrote, & still do... under a pen-names for some magazines.
I've mentioned, early in this long piece, about my getting civilian flying certificates...here is some background on that:
Somewhat before the 'Bay of Pigs' time, a friend who taught helicopter flying at Ft. Wolters, took me up in his T-28. It took me bare seconds to get hooked. Horsepower and aerobatics! Airplanes!! I started flight lessons immediately (NEXT DAY!!) at Santa Monica Airport. BUT;....it soon became apparent that this time it was NOT going to be any short-term apprenticeship. I dove into the learning process with both hands & feet (sometimes my head followed those). I ended up with a whole bunch of flying certifications ("licenses"), such as Commercial Pilot, multi-engine, instruments, instructor, seaplane ....etc. I actually went all the way & became a truly quite good & competent pilot. I was a Member of the original Baja Bush Pilots International, & have owned a few airplanes over the years. In the Service, & for the Agency, I flew some interesting aircraft & situations. I cannot presently afford to own a plane. Actually I COULD, but don't want the constant truly large financial drain. I no longer have flight privileges with the military. I am sure they are happy about that. I am not. I had some fun with the Blue Angels one weekend, .... another fine story to tell some time.
In my travels, most always by motorcycle, I often visit small out of the way airports. This is almost always when Penny is NOT along. I often beg a flight or rent an airplane for awhile. It is also a LOT of fun to play 'wistful' at a small country airport while touring on one of my bikes; maybe even getting a free airplane ride. My military flying is unmentionable.
Now & then I 'rent myself out' as a pilot or Second in Command.
I bought a brand-new 1968 VW Squareback ...it had the first electronic fuel injection that was available on any popular vehicle. I found interesting ways of defeating or modifying things in its system computer box. I found the electronics interesting, but not overwhelming. I used my knowledge of its F.I. to add such to a R75/5, with a hidden supercharger. There is a description about that heavily modified R75/5 on this website, here is a direct full link: http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/sleeperr75.htm
I had owned & tinkered with a long list of interesting vehicles by the time I moved to Lake Tahoe. While at Tahoe, in the early 1980's, I purchased a beat up 1968 Dodge Power Wagon. I was very fond of it. I restored it, with extensive modifications, such as a gas guzzling hopped-up 440 engine. I sold it .....too much constant tinkering with it; and, it was time to get more reliability & a conventional vehicle (a Miata sports car!!). When I started on that Dodge project, always being the practical person (?), I bought into a gas station. That is, I loaned the owner a lot of money, for which he paid me monthly interest at a high rate...when I could catch him. He ran a Ponzi scheme, then killed himself, I think he was murdered actually. I lost the principal amount of the money. So much for my excellent good business sense & for any hope of early retirement. That owner also had a used car business .....he paid me to handle the registration & other paperwork. I got good enough at that; there are plenty of complications, particularly with not-allwed-to-be-imported sports cars; .....& familiar enough with all the folks at the DMV office ......that I got a reputation ...& started doing that same sort of paperwork, for a price, for other dealerships. I quit that, long ago.
I had more than a couple of logbooks full of flight hours ...& my dad had died (he of motorcycles-hate and flying-hate) .... before my mother felt it was OK to go flying with me. I still cherish that flight with her. At Tahoe. Over the Sierras. She had a grin from one ear to the other, until she fell asleep from the altitude she was not used to. She was in her seventies. My brother was along. He was white as a sheet. Maybe he wasn't. I offered to take him up in the Pitts aerobatic plane after we landed (we were in my Cessna 182). He wisely declined. I hated cleaning-up vomit anyway.
When I was very young, maybe 2 to 6 years old (I don't remember exactly!), I lived over a bakery. The bakery, which specialized in premium pastries for the best restaurants & hotels, was owned & operated by my grandparents on my father's side. At that young age, I learned something about premium pastries. I also learned about EATING them! I actually became a fairly good cook/chef later on in life. Back in those early years I learned about fresh baked goods, minutes old, every morning with breakfast. Strange then, that my father would go to work for a baking company ...that made, generally, products of only fair to good quality for the masses. My father was some sort of executive at the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco now)...& gave me, when I was perhaps not yet a teenager, inadvertently, quite unknown to him, an education on money, power, & corporate policy-making. He also brought home "samplers" that Nabisco made for its executives. These premium items were not available in stores. They were not like my grandparents pastries from my early years, but very acceptable to kids ...including my friends. The 'education' mentioned here was not the more intensive and useful one I got from my father's brother, later, when I worked for him, afternoons, my first year of High School.
I grew up living in West Los Angeles. I still remember 'the red cars' ...the passenger train ...a high speed trolley ...that traveled at a goodly speed, from the 'station' nearest our home ...Exposition Blvd at Sepulveda Blvd, south of Pico Blvd ...to 'Downtown'. In the mornings my dad would walk two blocks to get on it ...& it sped to near 7th & Mateo, downtown L.A ....where he worked at the National Biscuit Company. It was just about the last train-type transportation in that area ...the tracks being torn up elsewhere's, except for freight tracks. Rumors had it that Texaco & Standard Oil (Chevron now) were the culprits. Later on, in a fit of pique over some nothingness (I think), my father quit Nabisco, weeks short of a 20 year retirement, & opened an upholstery shop in Venice, with a distant cousin. What I remember most about distant cousin Sol were TWO things. FIRST, he had spent a lifetime cutting upholstery materials.... & in shaking hands with him, his hands were so muscular that he could crush your bones. Second, I had my own crush problem ....a simply terrible crush on his daughter, Miriam. THAT did not work out, although we did go out some. Eventually Dad went to work as General Manager at the Lindy Pen Co. Ballpoint pens were a big time novelty, then. Lindy was #2 in Ball Point Pens. Lindy's brother (Lindenbaum was the actual family name) owned a jewelry store. I learned something about jewelry. I also learned about Swiss machinery used in making ball-point pens. I learned that no matter how tiny it was, the Swiss could figure out a way to make it smaller, more precise, better.
I mentioned earlier that over many years l apprenticed myself for short periods with a fair number of folks that did things like machining, welding, metal working, generally various types of repairing. I had a fascination with the old-world idea of apprenticeship, but I was
in a terrific hurry. I certainly did NOT want to spend YEARS studying JUST ONE trade. I wanted immediate, fast BASIC knowledge; in many trades. I never got into woodworking though ....I sure wish I had! Some of these apprenticeships were not only quickie, but quirky. I found ways of getting those short apprenticeships & often getting paid a little bit. During this time I had various competition licenses approvals, which I exercised. I LOVED motorcycle racing of every type. I liked weekend hill climbs on Lankersheim, the track in Gardena, road racing at Riverside, Pomona, Willow Springs, etc. I also developed a real liking for cross country riding, such as the Baja races, & the Barstow-Baker-Vegas (we had OTHER names for THAT). I purchased a new BMW 600, the cheaply priced & slightly larger version of the BMW Isetta teeny-car. Cheaper than a VW bug. Front opening door. Going to work one day, someone ran a stop sign, totaled the car, broke some of my ribs. Car got repaired, insurance company
insisted. Traded car for BMW motorcycle with 560 miles on it! ....AND he gave me some cash too!.....outrageous deal! I REALLY got into BMW bikes after that. A photo & description of the BMW 600 is here:
I always had a car from an early age, sometimes a sports car. I found that girls LIKED guys, or at least liked to be SEEN with them, even those with dirty, greasy hands & fingernails, who had a sports car, top down. To have a SPORTS CAR was, well, obviously you had rich parents. I did NOT have rich parents. I did not need rich parents. I made good money. I could purchase a new sports car with the profits from my sales of RCA color TV's and Muntz TV's. etc. I loved owning a convertible sports car, having the top down ...& resting my left bicep on the top of the door, in such a fashion that my already oversized biceps looked even more huge. I had a perverse sense of humor, & would watch girls eyes, and guys eyes, as they looked, and tried not to show they looked. I did not weigh much, but I had almost massive arms. ME BAD! Those muscles have sure faded now.
Earlier I had purchased a brand-new Jeep using my 'wages' at the after-school warehouse job ($1.20 an hour) This was when I was early-on as an Emancipated Juvenile. I financed the balance after my down payment, to gain a credit rating ...lots of fun with the bank, me being underage. Later I purchased a well-used 49 Ford Business Coupe. I built the flathead V-8 engine to the max., getting nearly 300 hp out of its supercharged engine. The car went nicely, it was grossly stripped to reduce weight. I took hundreds of pounds of weight out of that already light car. Navarro custom made me the heads, Joe Hunt gave me the magneto, & some other names of the day, Ed Iskendarian, Vic Edelbrock, ETC.... gave me some other race parts. Yep, GAVE me. It was fun to drive...but there was no seat for a passenger. The only seat was an 18 (I think) pound magnesium seat from, if I remember correctly, an F86. I got tired of that car, sold it, built up a 52 MG-TD with that same engine & had lots more fun. Having 300 hp in a light weight MG was REALLY exciting. I well remember the effect my Morgan, MG, Triumph, or my Porsche 550RS1500 (yes, the same as the James Dean car) had on some of my 'friends'. Photos of that Porsche, some with me and my first wife, Johnny (Jonnie) (Mary Ellen) in it....are in my photo galleries on this site. Years later, much better read and wiser (?), I understood more about such friends, and about MYSELF for having those THINGS, and those types of friends. There are photos of SOME of my various vehicles, even some motorcycles, in my various photo gallery articles on this website. For access, go to the homepage, and scan way down for the box with the links to the 6 photo galleries. Homepage: http://bmwmotorcycletech.info
My Alfa Sprint Specialé, only a few were ever made, was a particular favorite ....a real Ferrari-look, & performed well. My wife & I looked terrific in that car. We looked even better, to Motor-Heads, in the 550RS1500. Photos of those cars are in the photo galleries on this website.
One of my closest acquaintances was a late middle-aged man named Art Gerrick. Art lived about a mile from my parents home, taught me a lot, & I hung out with him at his home-shop for many hours at a time. It was Art who taught me about fine mechanical craftsmanship. Art had a 28 Essex-frame with a T engine that was Rajo equipped, had a very high CR, alcohol burning (rumor is that he was the first to use it), what we called a Lakes Car (for top speed runs on dry lakes, such as Muroc). He was a TRUE old-time MASTER mechanic. That I was not with him at his death-bed ...and the same, much later, for old friend, Donny Vesco, continues to haunt me a bit. Mostly this was because after I moved to Lake Tahoe in 1972, I rapidly ...way too rapidly (?) ...stopped staying in touch with many folks, including my own relatives. Of course, they did the same to me. Out of sight, Out of Mind.Maybe it was 'good riddance.'
After moving to Lake Tahoe, I begin to get more seriously into outdoors things ...backpacking in particular. I also began to shape up again. I was watching my foods, & getting exercise. It was good for me. I had a lot of energy, & used it constantly. I still watch the types of foods I eat ....unfortunately many I watch I also eat, and they are not good for me. I do like all sorts of ethnic foods, & I like the taste of foods that are called healthy ....I liked them LONG before it became fashionable. I, unfortunately, also like sweets, especially chocolate, cookies, ice cream.... & pastries.
In my young days in Los Angeles, I was studying electronics, mathematics, physics, chemistry, ...& trying to study girls.... with a minor in motorcycles & race cars. No matter how much studying, I never fully understood girls, let alone, later, women. Actually, I DO understand them, ....they usually did not understand ME! Maybe they DO understand me! ...or, see no point in doing so. Penny understands me. We have a great relationship, stemming from a seriously deep love for each other. I really try to be kind, caring, & a quality husband; at which I fail now & then ....but she still keeps trying to reform or train me...with some success.
Let's backtrack again....a lot of years...
I drove some interesting cars for awhile ...as I sometimes managed the use of an occasional car from some of the several dealerships I was doing things for. I was re-introduced to René Pellandini, & became a PAID race-driver for his dealership's Morgan cars. I purchased the previously mentioned, & brand new, Alfa Sprint Specialé ....A Bertoné bodied mini-Ferrari. Bright Italian Red ....of course! I began to take an interest in a girl who worked at a dealership. Being INTERESTED did NOT mean I was dating her. I was truly & suddenly smitten, this was one educated, smart (MENSA) ...a sassy & interesting woman. I plotted & plotted. In a while she ....horrors upon horrors ...went to work for a Citroen dealer, doing registrations. CITROENS?!
I learned about dealers, their shenanigans, paperwork, & more dealer shenanigans. I learned LOTS more of this, in much greater detail, decades later, at Tahoe, when I worked part-time for a someone in the used-car business, doing registrations.
Unfortunately, "she" was also dating a friend of mine! 'She' eventually left the Citroen dealership for a Honda motorcycle dealership. Hapco Motors. Owned by Harry Pokras. I decided to work for the same Honda dealership, part-time, as a salesman. Can't imagine why I would want to do that (perhaps YOU do ...certainly SHE did). The Honda 750 was about to be introduced. BIG deal that was going to be. The 'You Meet The Nicest People On A Honda' was in full swing. I couldn't get HER out of my mind. I thought about HER even when I was selling a motorcycle to one of the Beach Boys & she was out of my sight ...in the Office. It got worse. I was definitely hooked. I had to get rid of her boyfriend, his nickname was
Richard, used 'Sterling' as his nickname, as coined by him. A sterling person he was not, however.
But, as far as she was concerned, in my mind it was no matter that he and I were friends. Friendship stops at the door when two friends want to date the same girl and one wants to be THE person. HE had to go. But ...HOW? I learned. Well, maybe not... it wasn't pretty. And, so it was. I did my usual thing, I looked into the mirror. I decided that HIS friendship DID NOT REALLY matter, & that a VERY direct approach was THE answer. I rode my motorcycle to where he lived. I purposely wore a gym shirt that exhibited my biceps. He & I had a 'little talk', in his tiny apartment (that I then took over after he moved out, at my, well, 'suggestion') ...whilst I 'played' toss games with one hand on his rather heavy dumbbell that he would struggle to lift, & "the rest of the message", much left unsaid ....got across. Just in case the message was not clear enough, I made sure he understood the situation. Truth was, he did not like her enough to want to try to keep her, & I wanted her, badly. I got HER & the apartment. I lost HIM as a friend. Was a great deal for me. I never missed him. I took over the lease on that bachelor apartment, in a MOST unusual movie-set-looking building, now one of those historic buildings type of places; a hobbit house in this instance. I can't find my photos of the bachelor apartment, but photos of my wife and my larger apartment in the same building after we were married are in my galleries on this website. So, yes, I moved him out permanently. I began to date, well chased her, ....until she caught me. We divorced a long time ago, we were both too immature at that time ...eventually we became friendly again, ...of a slightly distant sort.
Penny and I run into her other now & then, typically at the local college. Penny and I used to run into her at one of the Old Estates (Valhalla) at Tahoe; where she used to be the blacksmith (yes, really, this wee small gal!). She is also a pretty good artist in various mediums. Hard to live with a Mensa type, actually. I am sure she felt the same about stubborn & technical me. If we had both been more mature, we'd likely still be married. She lives at Lake Tahoe (daughter & son are out of college & on their own). She ended up marrying my closest boyhood friend. I married again, later, to that old boyhood friend's half-sister. These two ex-wives of mine LIVED TOGETHER at Tahoe for years. I stayed a bachelor for many years after the last divorce, until I met Penny. She's a KEEPER.
While at the Honda Dealership, the Honda 750 came out. One of my earliest sales of that model was to 'The' Beach Boy, Brian. Wife-to-be & I got invited to one of their private parties. They found out I had a solid electronics background, knew & understood Club Sound, which led to all sorts of work for musicians. I met the Monkeys, sold one of them a bike, partied at their place in Laurel Canyon. I worked with the Jefferson Airplanes for a long time. I started to get a reputation as someone who knew musician's sound & equipment and I learned a fair amount about Moog electronics, & became a factory service center for Moog ...which came in handy. In those years, there were NO huge high powered outdoors audio equipment that one could purchase from a store, so I designed & built some.
I purchased the last Porsche Speedster ever made, from Vasek Polak Porsche dealership. This was a used vehicle, a 1958 with many factory trick goodies. I won the first race I entered with it. I did not care, I had beaten Phil Hill, who I considered my personal rival ...that was ALL I cared about. Once I beat him, I stopped racing it. I raced my RS1500RS Spyder too, three times, but always worried about wrecking it, which I never, luckily, did. Photos are in my photo galleries on this website.
I sold some more Honda's to entertainment industry folks. I found THAT type of sale to be surprisingly easy. NEVER figured out why the other sales guys did not catch on. For ME, I was sure why ....I was not overwhelmed by show biz folks, never ever in awe; & I was not pushy; I 'fit in'; &, I played jazz on the piano at various places ('joints'??). I also found show-folks super-vulnerable to the correct sales approach ....homey, friendly, never ever being pushy for them to buy something ...."...let's party, if ya wanna bike, we can talk, if not, I don't care if you don't care; ...heck, let's party...." We did, too. They never once had any problems, nor dealings at all really, with credit departments, loans, etc.
As for the Honda's that we rode ....I think she still has hers. She sold Ed's Honda 450. I used one of my small 175 Honda's as my pit bike at Bonneville in 1971, my 'helpers' were the two co-owner's, & an employee of Linear Corp, where I was Chief Engineer.
OH....that first ex-wife: about her 2nd Husband (me being 1st), my old friend Ed from my teen years, ....Ed killed himself. So much for growing up with a silver spoon in your mouth. He took a lot of years getting around to killing himself. Jean, his half-sister, my second wife, we divorced around 1986 or so, but never separated until ~1991, ...died in early 2014.
Perverse sense of humor:
Before I officially proposed marriage to Penny, I had the opportunity to go on a mostly-free 2 week vacation, touring the Norwegian Fjords, etc., on a ferry ship. I promised Penny I 'would DECIDE about proposing', after my return. My intention was to drag the Proposal out very cleverly for a couple of weeks after that trip, just Mr. Perverse, riiiight? I had intended to do an interesting psychological number on Penny in how I actually did the Proposal. Perverse. Teasing. But, I was worried she'd 'get away', & I KNEW long before my Mid-June departure that I wanted to marry her. So, after 10 months or so of dating, I proposed to Penny BEFORE that vacation, & we have been VERY happy ever since she said YES. So, two Senior Citizens met, fell in love & got married. ((Truth: She told me that if I did not propose before I left on that vacation, she would feel free to date others...)).
We arrived & departed the wedding using my sidecar rig. The wedding & potluck reception & picnic was held at the Genoa State Park (Nevada). I rented the entire Park for the affair. Below is a photo from early that day. The wind was blowing my hair & the tree foliage. That shows a Tux-T that I am wearing. The photo was taken early, by a passer-by, later all our friends and their children showed up & filled the Park. We were married by a Buddhist practitioner friend of ours.
I've changed a fair amount since I met Penny. I've mellowed. But, I am also more lazy now. I even find little reasons to not go riding, or flying. Some of it is undoubtedly due to aging. Overall I am a nicer person (??). I sometimes find myself going out of my way to do things to please her. Sometimes I am a total ass.
I'm not as selfish, nor as self-centered. Strange how things sometimes happen. I both THINK-KNOW-FEEL, that I am married to the right woman for the rest of my life. Before we met, I had decided, after trying some Internet Dating, to just stay a bachelor & play with my motorcycles and other toys. I had spent most of my life, up until that time, in indulging ME, & not always in the best relationships. After we met I've matured & mellowed a whole bunch; whatever those words mean.
I said, much earlier, that I was not going to discuss Viet Nam, & so it will be. BUT....I no longer sleep with a .45 under my pillow. No nightmares. I don't have a little fragment of metal in my spine anymore. The V.A. did not take the metal out, they refused, so a doctor friend did. I still suffer a bit, not too badly nowadays, though I've had one exceptionally nasty bout of Sciatica in August 2015. I have what is called Degenerative Disc Disease ....I've shrunk, & my back can act up, causing pain in my back, left leg, left foot. Sciatica can be quite painful at times. I had thought I'd have to give up 2-wheeling in 2012, but have managed to hang-in-there, & my reflexes & eyesight have remained very solidly good ....but, as I type this paragraph update in January 2017, the Sciatica is not very bothersome now (and I hope it remains so) due to certain exercises I do daily....and the arthritis and other back and left leg fun and games is under control, usually without drugs, just exercise.
Between my quitting at Linear & leaving for Tahoe, I did electronics consulting work. I disposed of my Vincents, various dirt bikes, cars, trucks, garage full of weird things such as my Norden Fuel Injectors & hopped up MG-TD;....just a lot of various time- consuming projects went away. I sold my airplane too, a Comanche 250. Well after moving to Tahoe, after I built a few hangars in a commercial project at Carson City Airport, I began using one hangar as a safe place to store some of my re-growing stable of antique bikes. I ended up with 52 at one point. They are gone. So is my mortgage. So is the money that paid for hundreds of hours of flight in a variety of interesting craft. I probably over-paid my ex-wife, Jean, during our divorce, but she's dead now, and, anyway, that was a long time ago. I purchased several airplanes during the many years here at Tahoe. At various times I had two Cessna 182's, a Twin Comanche, & the Pitts. I had an interest in a C-206 & a C-210. I had a short term interest in a military jet. I don't own airplanes anymore, they are very costly to own. I pretty much lost interest in flying, particularly since Penny isn't into sport flying. I have gone flying occasionally.
Since the end of 1972, when I moved to Lake Tahoe, I have lived mostly at my home at South Lake Tahoe, CA. I rented a house here for the first 4 years, then bought my present place when still married to my ex-dead-wife, Jean. It was one of the smartest things I ever did, purchase this home. Probably extra smart in keeping it as my share, when she & I divorced. She died in early 2014 in a nursing home.
My common nickname, 'Bob' became "Blinky" to some few of my friends, originally coined by a fellow rider, the Road Captain of a Club I rode with, who was quite annoyed by my headlight modulator, that I designed & built. To keep him even happier, I also installed a commercially made headlight modulator on my other BMWs. I owned several businesses. An aircraft radio sales-installation-repair did not work out. I still have my childhood business: HiFi, musician's electronics, & industrial electronics repairs (now located in my garage-shop). I had a precision machine shop; & next door to it I had a motorcycle repair service, mostly doing custom BMW work, rather than mundane stuff. I owned a few aircraft over the years, I also did a part time charter flight business. I went back to work for The Agency on a couple of updated old projects, & a new one. I am now completely separated from the Government. I am not a welcome figure in some other Countries. I had a truly bad experience with government in the late 1980's, it somewhat messed up my life for awhile. It was due to my own stupidity, trusting someone I should not have trusted. It is all mostly behind me now. I still think about it. Too often.
When I moved to Tahoe, it was initially on one of my R75/5 bikes. On that trip, I found out, whilst camping in the mountains overnight, that raccoons understand how to undo leather saddlebag straps & are attracted to peanut butter cookies. I've three nice Raccoon hats though! One of these hats is full mandible, & looks alive. There is a photo of me wearing my pet raccoon Rocky in this website.
I have belonged to many organizations & clubs, quit most of them. I actually became a member of the local business & social community & other groups. I left some clubs because I did not feel the members were really helping the community. I found one Club that does help, children and disabled adults is its focus.....the Kiwanis Club of Tahoe Sierra. Our group is a Hands On type ...not a type that gets grants and doles out money. We have a famous Octoberfest fun-raiser, called the Septoberfest, because it is held in September every year. I have participated in many ways, including being the Programs Chair and running the MassKrug Stemmen stein-holding contest. Penny and I were on the Board of Directors. Penny was next in line to be President of our Kiwanis Club, and was the chairman of the Septoberfest for 2017, a huge responsibility. Penny resigned from that, and resigned from the Club in 2017. I am still a Member. I may or may not stay in the club after the Sept. 2018 Septoberfest. Penny is working with children at a local school, having also given up being a Court Appointed Special Advocate for kids.
My most favorite dog, a Malamute, did hundreds of miles of backpacking/camping with her, got cancer; I had to put her down. I have not had a dog since. Maybe in the future. I've been saying that for years now. A cat arrived, walked into the house and adopted Penny & me around 2006 or 2007, but eventually got taken by the coyotes. We eventually got another cat, from the Animal Shelter, in late 2011. Cats have wildly different personalities, sometimes can be quite entertaining; but certainly are not the companions that dogs can be. I WANT another dog, but do NOT want to put out the energy/time to have one. So far.
In May of 2001 (or was it 2000?), I sold my touring motorcycle, a 1983 BMW R100RT. I had purchased it brand-new in 1985 from a dealer-friend. My intention in 2001 (2000?) was to purchase (BMW said they would sell me the bike) a brand-new BMW Oilhead Police Bike. I did not buy it, I got cold feet. I just could NOT see myself on a HEAVY R1100RTP or; later, a R1150RTP. A short while later I borrowed a 1970 R75/5 from a friend, with the agreement that I would restore it somewhat, & could ride it. It was that bike that I rode to the 1st of the MOA National Rallies in Redmond Oregon. That R75/5 bike has since gone back to its owner. BUT....in the months of that bike being ridden by me as I restored it, I re-acquired the Airhead bug. BAD. It had been a mistake to sell my R100RT. Luckily, the owner decided he was not an RT kinda guy, & he contacted me. I purchased back that 1983 R100RT & eventually converted it into a sidecar rig ....riding it as a solo until the sidecar attachments were all completed & ready. Along the way, I purchased another R100RT, a 1984, for a solo ride. In late 2005 I added a K1100LT to my garage, with an attached EML GT2 sidecar. I sold the R100RT with its sidecar, but it remained here until the owner picked it up in Spring of 2006. In May of 2006 I 'visited' it, & Penny & I took a full day's jaunt on it, along with the owner driving his other rig. The rig I built is now owned by someone else again.
I kept the 1984 R100RT solo bike. I sold it & the owner picked it up after maybe a year & a half! He did some touring on it for quite awhile, & left it at his North Carolina residence when he had to go "home" (Australia). In late September 2012 (??), the bike was shipped back to me. I serviced it, & rode it occasionally. Yes, we shared the bike during all this time. On January 7th, 2014, the owner picked up this bike (and the BMW HP2 that was also here); he also took all the Airhead tools & parts that I had sold him two years previously along with the bike.
I might not ever leave Tahoe, except as ashes in a container to be spread over the mountains;.....I LOVE Tahoe. But, it was not too many years ago that thoughts of a gentleman's ranchette someplace....with huge workshop space; especially on a residential airpark; were still interesting, but never seriously acted up ....BUT ......one never knows what life will bring .....the big thing is to remain open to new possibilities. I traveled with Penny in May of 2006 to look at a home on a private grass airstrip in Oregon. I liked the place, Penny did not (too isolated from any city for her ....mostly I THINK, too far from her old friends) ...the cost would have busted my financial situation (which I WAS OK with). One must give in to one's future wife .....yep, I knew...., even before then, before I proposed to her. I also turned down my old friend/mentor Oak who offered me a situation with his 'Indiana ranch' location, to work with him on BMW bikes; ...in Indiana. I really wanted to quit working on bikes for other folks, and Oak's situation would be just that. I am also just a Westerner at heart ....who loves Tahoe. As it is now, Penny and I plan to sell out totally at Lake Tahoe...house, furnishings, electronics shop, motorcycle, sidecar rig, most of my instruments and tools, etc....probably in late 2019...and move to Milwaukie Oregon, to a small cottage, for the last years of our lives.Prostate cancer:
In early 2004, during my yearly Flight Physical, I reported to the Government, just like the rules say you must, that I'd had prostate cancer (the prostate surgery was May 2003). The FAA changed me to a Third Class Medical Certification, not good for Commercial flying. In January, 2005, I got my Commercial returned to me. I kept it until 2007, when I needed my cataracts fixed; after which I could apply to regain the Commercial again. I did so, & still have my Commercial certificate, unrestricted. The prostate is gone. Regular PSA testing shows no sign of any specific large recurrence; although the PSA is not zero, and is rising slowly, which is worrisome. Because it is not near zero, and is rising, I KNOW that some sort of prostate cancer tissue cells are still in me, someplace, or many places. It does not show up on the usual expensive imaging tests. I had a re-work-up of my over-all health and 'why the PSA' in late 2014 ...a huge battery of $$$$ scans/tests. No cancer was found on any of these pricey imaging tests, but the elevated and rising PSA means some cancer cells are scattered here and there, just can't be found even with $$$$ scans of various types. Since there is no sign of the cancer in my bones (a very good thing), and the PSA rising curve has not steepened, I have not had to take drugs for the cancer. Hopefully it will remain so.
I've greatly mellowed...well, slowed down, with my two surgeries (prostatectomy and dual inguinal hernia) in 2003, my selling of my share of the condo I co-owned in Palm Springs, & generally retracting into some sort of Tahoe-guy, Tahoe-life .....while trying to decide on how I wanted to live the rest of my life. For certain, I wanted to continue riding bikes & doing other physical things ...but found myself doing those things FAR less than I would like to, just did not feel like it as much as I did many years ago .....I simply had less energy. Luckily I recovered fairly well from the two 2003 surgeries. If I had not been in good physical condition then, things might have been vastly worse. BUT....the prostatectomy took a lasting toll on me. I have increased my community involvements. One thing that is apparent, is that my tolerance for heat is somewhat worse. I found this out the hard way in 2016, when, in the Summer, I left on the sidecar rig for the USCA National Sidecar Rally, which meant a lot of miles in hot weather. I finally gave up, and returned home (mostly at night, when it was cool!). The handwriting is on the wall, so-to-speak, for hot weather riding and driving. Still, I am going to see if I can get in more 2-wheeling by changing my hours of travel.
I still go to a local gym, but hardly often enough. This was especially so in 2016, when I did not felt well a lot of the time. I work in my electronics repair shop or on something else, often that is many hours at this computer on my BMW techsite. The Shop income is quite small but it pays for utilities and a FEW frills, & I have the ego satisfaction of doing something useful. I have a considerable number of customers from years ago that would never think of going to anyone else. I have the experience, the talent, & I do very high quality work. My business is now primarily repairing musician's electronics, although I still do a bit of HiFi, Industrial, and weird stuff. I also collect a rather modest amount of Social Security & have a small income from investments. My military pension, a considerable sum, goes to charities; and always has. I sold or closed all the other businesses over a period of years. I have MUCH LESS energy, and find myself rather slowed-down at going about upkeep/repairs/etc., on my motorcycles, and on the house and property. I get to it all eventually. I chalk it all up to advancing age.
Penny & I did a 5500+ mile trip on the sidecar rig before the lack of energy began to be seriously notable. There is a story & photos on this website about it: http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/tripphotos.htm
I don't promote the electronics business much any more; ...no display advertisement in the Yellow Pages, as an example. I don't even have a business telephone listing now. I pass out a business card once in awhile. In January of 2014, I finished making up a website for the business: http://fleischerelectronicsservice.com. The business is for sale, but I'm not pushing it, it is listed on that site. $15K. I will have to start pushing the disposition of the business, and selling things here that are from the business and personal stuff, and I intend to start doing this in mid-2018.
My closest friend from the 'Nam days told me some years ago that he wanted to build an airplane with my help ....or we could build TWO at the same time. That will never happen; not enough time nor energy nor desire for either of us. His two sons are my Godchildren (well, one is officially, but I regard both as Godchildren). One son joined the Army National Guard, in 2007, but is not going to make the military his career, and left the Service in 2017. My bud was, for awhile, the Managing Editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He lives in Bakersfield nowadays ....an "OK" place to visit, except in the Summertime, when it is very hot. I don't handle high heat well, as I've noted. My last trip to see him by motorcycle was to be in late 2017. I didn't make it.
I had my own mid-life crisis; well, not really, but ....in early 2000 I purchased a new Mazda Miata sports car. I dared not to drive it wearing a beret (even someone like myself has SOME standards). I did break-in my first new Schuberth motorcycle helmet. In the car. Top Down. Always creating a scene, EH?
In March of 2003, a couple months before my prostate surgery, & needing to start making my life less hectic, fewer responsibilities, less outflow of money, and so on; ....I sold my super-hopped-up Dodge Power Wagon truck & sold my huge collection of parts for it. No more constant messing-around with that truck; ...and in November of 2003, right after my hernia surgery, I traded the Miata for a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder 4 wheel drive and he included a nice bit of cash. The Pathfinder is a nice vehicle, perfectly suitable for my present & likely future needs. Older Pathfinders are one of the best SUV's, & not too big. As I type a wee bit of an update here in March 2018, I still have that SUV, my only car.
When Penny and I got married, she had a 2WD Subaru sedan (yes, Subaru did make some 2WD cars). We were going to sell it in late Summer of 2012 & get her a Subaru Forester AWD. We decided to sell it & not have a 2nd car. After January 2014, when the last two 2-wheeled motorcycles left, we had the Pathfinder, plus bicycles, the sidecar rig, and our feet. I have since acquired a 1995 R100RT which I have done a lot to, and it will be my last-ever motorcycle. I probably will sell it towards 2020, when I probably will hang up my motorcycling keys, as I will be well into my eighties.
Up through the 2015-2016 Winter season I would ski once in awhile ...but 2016 was rough, with low energy much of the time, interspersed with a day or two with much higher energy. That's when I got my chores, etc., done, although I did manage to get something done every day. MUCH of my time is spent on the computer, on my BMW website, and, helping others with BMW problems. That has been going on for MANY YEARS.
I play the piano a bit, ride bikes now and then, & do all sorts of other stuff from the past, just less often, & less vigorously, although I still ride the motorcycle hard, occasionally, especially when testing tires for the website; but that is MUCH less, after 2017, by choice.
I am getting slower, sometimes a bit forgetful, quite a bit more tired, sometimes more than a bit lazy, etc. I do not wrench for others anymore except very rarely. I play guru at Airhead TechDays. I do a Technical Seminar once in awhile. Didn't I just say that I am getting lazy? ...heck, I am also getting more conservative; well, in a FEW ways. I do remember, not all that long ago, when I rode over 150 mph (well over 150) testing a VFR & two Hayabusa's, one of which was turbocharged. Nowadays there are fewer times where I purposely slide a motorcycle in a corner; ...usually it is when testing tires ...but I now have, finally, stopped personal extreme tire testing. I'm getting older; no need to show off my skills anymore ...and, I am tired a lot of the time; which I keep mentioning here. I know what I can do, did do. I don't feel any need to demonstrate or show off to young punks ...or even non-punks. Even though my reflexes and eyesight are still quite good, I just don't have the energy to go riding much. Together with the lack of energy, I am more cautious, more conservative in motorcycle riding; slower & especially I am more careful. I am plainly more conservative. However, I am still ...I THINK ...a competent safe street-wise rider; although not as smooth & can't hold the tight line as well. I still love 2-wheelers; guess that is why I had to get the 95 RT for touring. My sidecar rig continues to be a LOT of fun, very addicting, but is NOT a motorcycle. I do rather like spirited riding on these mountain narrow roads. I keep the aggressiveness down more nowadays.
My eyesight is excellent, as far as clearness/focusing/ and so on....but not as good as what I'd like when suddenly transitioning from shaded roads to brightly lit road. Thus, another reason I am more conservative most of the time. I have a friend with interesting bikes to borrow, my favorite twisties burner is his Ninja 250; not overly powerful, but light & an excellent handler; but by mid-2016 I was not up to riding it much, nor his Ninja 500. I like VERY tight twisties ...turns that might be posted "10 MPH", narrow, bumpy, nasty....especially the very narrow ones that are not on highways. I have a friend who has 'extra' dirt bikes ....I can see a time coming, soon, when riding them will be done more than street riding. I LOVE dirt biking. UNfortunately my back does not.
I STILL spend WAY too much time involved in responding on some Internet mailing LISTS; and BMW groups on Facebook, & keeping up the website. I still go to the gym, once to three times a week, do some electronic repair jobs, work on motorcycles, sidecar rig & house, get into the outdoors some, & work too much on this website. As noted previously, Penny & I were married in late 2006. Following the marriage came some remodeling. This included brightening & slightly feminizing the house, updating the kitchen counters & floors, major remodeling of one of the bathrooms, some remodeling on the second bathroom, fencing and yard things, & doing many things, especially outdoors, that Penny, my love, l likes to do ...as I do. By the end of 2016 I had finished a new lower house roof, I had done it almost entirely by myself back in 1986, designing it as a double roof, which gave a lot of insulating qualities. The 2016 roof continued that idea. The year before I hired roofers to do the upper roof. We then had only one major remodeling thing to do: new front fencing. I decided that no front fence would please Penny more, and with some use of the old brick and mortar fence supports, and some (a lot) of my labor, I could make the front area look truly nice, with posts, LED solar lights, etc. I did it all, if slowly, and completed it in 2017.
I would like to remove the ancient living room rug and install hardwood flooring, in a curved ship-like design of my own. Maybe someday; but likely not ever since we plan to sell and move in a couple of years.
I sometimes will to do almost anything that puts a smile on my wife's face. If she mentions something, I typically just do it immediately.
The over-all trend is to complete 'projects', and not gain more projects, after all, we are nearing the end of our lives, and somewhat less responsibilities are a good thing now. The last major project ...and one that is being dealt with presently, is to repair and service the sidecar rig; I'm doing it all myself, of course. I test drove it again just before the beginning of Winter of 2017; and maybe I will be physically able drive it for a few more years. My guess is that I will be riding bikes and also the sidecar rig into my early eighties, which is now here!
I have set up a Trust, and work on it every January, to keep it current. Main thing is to make things easier on Penny if I die first.
I have been known to get embarrassed on the dance floor, having three left feet sometimes. Penny convinced me to attend ballroom dancing classes at the local Community College in 2006-7 & we still go dancing, a bit more rarely now though, at the monthly Senior Center dances. There is a 17 piece ballroom-dancing band. I still have three left feet sometimes. We tried to learn the Latin Dances forms. I am actually ...SOMETIMES .... if not good, maybe OK.... at Rock 'n Roll dances, Texas two-step, Swing, Tango, Rhumba. For whatever reason, not very good at the Waltz. ChaCha? Salsa has always been difficult. Penny & I were once at the point where I think we could be, if we practiced, have our own personal form & steps. It became fun for me. I am comfortable enough now on the dance floor to occasionally take Penny to the dance floor as the first couple out there when the band or DJ starts playing. Sometimes we are the only couple dancing. All of this is not to mean ANYthing like I am really good at dancing. I'm NOT. More of the time I am embarrassed (at my memory lapses on the correct form and rhythms). We don't go to these dances as much as we used to. Probably it is time for another dance class for us. If I had the energy.
I volunteered to fix the computer network at the local Senior Center, and keep the computers up. It takes about 3 hours a week. I have been doing that for some time.
Penny and I travel some, sometimes together, sometimes separately, & we bicycle some. I think my backpacking days are nearly over. Probably my downhill skiing is also nearing its end. We do continue to do XC, together, as Penny does not like downhill. I think she pretty much dislikes being on ski lifts; and, the crazy uncontrolled skiers and boards we see sometimes. We live adequately on a limited income. We would have more money than to know what to do with if I had kept my pension. I attend an occasional Airhead event ...such as a campout or TechDay. A Rally now & then. Do a Seminar now & then. A sidecar event now & then. Penny sometimes accompanies me. She prefers the sidecar rig over any two-wheeler ...and, in fact, will not ride behind me on a 2-wheeler at all. She likes not having to swing her leg way up to get on any 2-wheeler & not having to move her head to see what is ahead of us, nor bump her helmet against mine. She prefers the car ....or the large sidecar, where there is a comfy seat, seatbelt, LOTS of room, etc. I keep up my website, do some customer work, learn more about computers & software, enjoy life most of the time (not so much enjoyment with the aches and pains of getting old). I am well aware that we were VERY lucky to meet & fall in love at our ages. Penny is an active type of person. She has been a very ardent bicyclist for many years. She, too, has slowed-down ....we all get old eventually .....but, at age SIXTY (before I met her) ....she did a tandem bicycle ride across the USA ...from Seattle to Maine ....mostly camping along the way.
I love her dearly. These are not just words.
I am still toying with the idea of total retirement. I probably will 'toy' with that until I die. But, maybe not.
I have cut my work load down. I have, at rare intervals, been disposing of things at garage sales, on Ebay; from my website SALE page; etc....things that, gone, give me more room for finishing old projects & having more convenient access to my 'stuff'. I expected to continue this for a few more years, but my deterioration in 2016 was more than I expected. SO....there is a SALE page on this website; that's not exactly the same as the BargainBasement page on my electronics business website: http://fleischerelectronicsservice.com/. I had thought that I probably would never fully retire until some illness forced me to ... or someone bought the electronics business. I think we may well move and retire anyway. See next paragraph. I turn down a considerable amount of the more involved (well, headachy) jobs now. UNfortunately, sometimes a real headache job gets by my mental filtering here anyway. People know I will doggedly handle tough & unusual jobs. I have not really advertised that the electronics business is for sale, except on its website and this website. $12,000 to 15,000, depending on what is included; & some training by me, if need-be. I look forward to more traveling with Penny, & lots more activities with her.
Penny talks of us selling out, and moving to a planned old-folks community, but I couldn't see ME doing that....but, we've placed a deposit to be on the list for a cottage at such a place in Oregon.
Near the end of 2014 I applied for the BMW factory 600K badge; finally received it in 2015.
Penny is, and has been, VERY active in our community, she recently discontinued her involvement with the Bring Arts to the Schools program and she quit helping at the Juvenile Treatment Center; but still is involved with many other things, including at the Skilled Nursing Center at the local hospital; and her extensive Ukulele groups, and helping elementary kids with reading. We joined the most active local Kiwanis group, which meant working together on programs for young folk. I dropped my membership in the Sons In Retirement, which is not involved with helping others, which is what Penny & I wish to devote our spare time to (or, MAKE some spare time for!). More on the Kiwanis situation was earlier in this article.
Here are some quickie things that you probably did not know about me, some of which are in my above bio:
I'm not really all cynical & curmudgeonly. I have strong tendencies of a classical romanticist. I'm a pretty good cook; even capable of making exquisite yeast pastries. I seldom need cookbooks for anything. I can cook fancy ...or simply. I am especially interested in old-time cooking & presentations as done by expert chefs. My first-ever paid job, besides cutting lawns as a kid, was repairing the pump organ at that Catholic Church mentioned very early in this article, which was next door to the junkyard. I was about 14. I spent some time, when stationed at Vandenberg AF Base, at the Dairy owned then by the Base, getting a cream separator working, it had never been previously connected into the milk system. They had a lot of cows, & in calving season, there was a lot of colostrum collected by the dairy folks they could not use. I saw to the proper installation of the cream separator, & I personally made the first batch of ice cream the dairy had ever made, using that cream separator ... with a VERY generous amount of the colostrum, ... using military-furnished vanilla/chocolate powder. The butterfat content must have been atrocious. It was the 'richest' ice cream I ever ate, & probably that anyone there ever ate. It bordered on greasy. I made the second batch lighter, but still it was very high in butter-fat. I used Mexican liquid vanilla for that batch, very pungent. DELICIOUS!! It was French Vanilla ice cream taken to extremes! I did custom electronics repair work for Willie Nelson....and his Baldwin amplifiers are a story all by itself. If you see it, with its powder blue control panel, that is my work, cosmetically, and, of course, the electronics. I had a fun & games time when, after finishing Basic Training, I awoke one morning after being WAY too drunk the night previously (celebrating living through BT, well, not exactly!), in, I thought, at first anyway, San Diego, ....and....finding the SUN rising on the beach ...a long story. The Sun does NOT rise on the beach in California. I finally put some of the details in this bio. A MAJOR REASON I managed to do so many things in life, besides starting out on my own at age 14-1/2, and combining college and high school at the same time, was that most of my career in the Service and in Agency work was such that I had rather long periods of 'off' time, between 'assignments'. There were some early ones with weeks off, and the trend was to longer and longer periods of time being off, yet 'on the payroll', so-to-speak. Penny & I are quite familiar with organizing & running a motorcycle rally .....we were the organizers for the 2009 National Sidecar Rally at Lake Tahoe. It is a tremendous amount of work. It
went quite well, with wonderful write-ups in the newspaper, on local TV and radio ....and from many attendees .......but I did not like the lack of appreciation from the United Sidecar Association's Board of Directors. I didn't like their early-on comments about things either. We bent over backwards to accommodate all of their wishes, ....except; and the problem the Board had;..... we could NOT allow dogs, due to Forest Service requirements. Some members insisted that they HAD to have a venue that allowed dogs in the future. Feeling put-upon, after a year of hard work, & unappreciated, I dropped my membership. I did not thereafter attend ANY of their events. I still recommended the organization. By the end of 2013, I had mellowed some, ... and with the death of the head of the USCA (Joyce Canfield) (with whom I had feuded over not allowing dogs at our rally) in early February of 2014, I rejoined the USCA. I STOLE Donny Vesco's ride (Donny KNEW ahead of time I was taking it), a factory Honda race bike, that he was testing ...and ...well...helping publicize for Honda ....at Willow Springs Racetrack. I rode it around the track for a few FAST laps, then left it near the Pits, and then high-tailed-it out of there! I was very familiar with racing on that track. I may have been the earliest Emancipated Juvenile in the State of California. Just before age 15. I like elk meat, sushi, pickled fish heads soup, pastries, dark beer & single malt Scotch such as Lagavulin. Maybe these things don't surprise you. I had a serious near instantaneous crush on Eartha Kitt when I was in my teens ...and met & danced away a weekend with her. Photos of her are in my photo galleries on this site, and, some of that weekend, cleaned-up, is discussed early on, in this article. My 'fashion consciousness' was & is not much. I guess THAT has continued, as my wife, Penny, does feel it necessary to sometimes point out how much of a sloppy dresser I am. I prefer old worn comfortable clothes, particularly in my shop. She sometimes helps me make decisions on what I should be wearing when we go out someplace. I'm quite happy in comfortable old shirts & pants with holes (naturally worn) in them, at least around the house and shop. We had an agreement that I wouldn't wear my old, torn, greasy, first ski jacket, except in my shop (and, she'd prefer I throw it out...after all, customers come here; and her friends too.......). I finally did throw it out.
I have some close friends, 3 of which are gay. I have a wickedly perverse sense of humor at times. I used to play piano at gay events in Palm Springs, and I personally opened the Gay Pride Parade there one year ...on my Vespa Scooter, sporting a rainbow sunrise decal, and a USMC emblem, which drove a few guys crazy. I no longer own airplanes; they are a huge expense, particularly if not being used to generate income. On top of which, Penny (wife) has had her fill of flying in small airplanes, carrying babies, back and forth across the USA, between military bases/assignments, and does not wish to flying in small airplanes, babies or not. I, of course, manage to have fun now and then, doing aerobatics in borrowed 'toys'.....which I NEVER tell Penny about. I am going to quit flying, eventually, been saying that for some time.
I'm a pretty good cook; even capable of making exquisite yeast pastries. I seldom need cookbooks for anything. I can cook fancy ...or simply. I am especially interested in old-time cooking & presentations as done by expert chefs.
My first-ever paid job, besides cutting lawns as a kid, was repairing the pump organ at that Catholic Church mentioned very early in this article, which was next door to the junkyard. I was about 14.
I spent some time, when stationed at Vandenberg AF Base, at the Dairy owned then by the Base, getting a cream separator working, it had never been previously connected into the milk system. They had a lot of cows, & in calving season, there was a lot of colostrum collected by the dairy folks they could not use. I saw to the proper installation of the cream separator, & I personally made the first batch of ice cream the dairy had ever made, using that cream separator ... with a VERY generous amount of the colostrum, ... using military-furnished vanilla/chocolate powder. The butterfat content must have been atrocious. It was the 'richest' ice cream I ever ate, & probably that anyone there ever ate. It bordered on greasy. I made the second batch lighter, but still it was very high in butter-fat. I used Mexican liquid vanilla for that batch, very pungent. DELICIOUS!! It was French Vanilla ice cream taken to extremes!
I did custom electronics repair work for Willie Nelson....and his Baldwin amplifiers are a story all by itself. If you see it, with its powder blue control panel, that is my work, cosmetically, and, of course, the electronics.
I had a fun & games time when, after finishing Basic Training, I awoke one morning after being WAY too drunk the night previously (celebrating living through BT, well, not exactly!), in, I thought, at first anyway, San Diego, ....and....finding the SUN rising on the beach ...a long story. The Sun does NOT rise on the beach in California. I finally put some of the details in this bio.
A MAJOR REASON I managed to do so many things in life, besides starting out on my own at age 14-1/2, and combining college and high school at the same time, was that most of my career in the Service and in Agency work was such that I had rather long periods of 'off' time, between 'assignments'. There were some early ones with weeks off, and the trend was to longer and longer periods of time being off, yet 'on the payroll', so-to-speak.
Penny & I are quite familiar with organizing & running a motorcycle rally .....we were the organizers for the 2009 National Sidecar Rally at Lake Tahoe. It is a tremendous amount of work. It went quite well, with wonderful write-ups in the newspaper, on local TV and radio ....and from many attendees .......but I did not like the lack of appreciation from the United Sidecar Association's Board of Directors. I didn't like their early-on comments about things either. We bent over backwards to accommodate all of their wishes, ....except; and the problem the Board had;..... we could NOT allow dogs, due to Forest Service requirements. Some members insisted that they HAD to have a venue that allowed dogs in the future. Feeling put-upon, after a year of hard work, & unappreciated, I dropped my membership. I did not thereafter attend ANY of their events. I still recommended the organization. By the end of 2013, I had mellowed some, ... and with the death of the head of the USCA (Joyce Canfield) (with whom I had feuded over not allowing dogs at our rally) in early February of 2014, I rejoined the USCA.
I STOLE Donny Vesco's ride (Donny KNEW ahead of time I was taking it), a factory Honda race bike, that he was testing ...and ...well...helping publicize for Honda ....at Willow Springs Racetrack. I rode it around the track for a few FAST laps, then left it near the Pits, and then high-tailed-it out of there! I was very familiar with racing on that track.
I may have been the earliest Emancipated Juvenile in the State of California. Just before age 15.
I like elk meat, sushi, pickled fish heads soup, pastries, dark beer & single malt Scotch such as Lagavulin. Maybe these things don't surprise you.
I had a serious near instantaneous crush on Eartha Kitt when I was in my teens ...and met & danced away a weekend with her. Photos of her are in my photo galleries on this site, and, some of that weekend, cleaned-up, is discussed early on, in this article.
My 'fashion consciousness' was & is not much. I guess THAT has continued, as my wife, Penny, does feel it necessary to sometimes point out how much of a sloppy dresser I am. I prefer old worn comfortable clothes, particularly in my shop. She sometimes helps me make decisions on what I should be wearing when we go out someplace. I'm quite happy in comfortable old shirts & pants with holes (naturally worn) in them, at least around the house and shop. We had an agreement that I wouldn't wear my old, torn, greasy, first ski jacket, except in my shop (and, she'd prefer I throw it out...after all, customers come here; and her friends too.......). I finally did throw it out.
I have some close friends, 3 of which are gay. I have a wickedly perverse sense of humor at times. I used to play piano at gay events in Palm Springs, and I personally opened the Gay Pride Parade there one year ...on my Vespa Scooter, sporting a rainbow sunrise decal, and a USMC emblem, which drove a few guys crazy.
I no longer own airplanes; they are a huge expense, particularly if not being used to generate income. On top of which, Penny (wife) has had her fill of flying in small airplanes, carrying babies, back and forth across the USA, between military bases/assignments, and does not wish to flying in small airplanes, babies or not. I, of course, manage to have fun now and then, doing aerobatics in borrowed 'toys'.....which I NEVER tell Penny about. I am going to quit flying, eventually, been saying that for some time.
Dave Brubeck died yesterday.
Dave's death hit me harder than I realized. I went to bed thinking about that, and I woke up very early in the morning, still thinking over what his music's influence had been on me .... & thinking about my own life back in the fifties. Few know that I studied piano for a very long time, and could have ended up as a featured player or a concert pianist. I did not have the talent, nor drive, to become a big headliner, I knew it; & all the forced-practice caused me to rebel more & more against my parents.
Brubeck's use of interesting time signatures; not to mention the smoothness, polyphonic, polytonality, & polyrhythmics he is so known for ....the ideas in his (and Paul's) compositions, ....all were very influential on me. His duo with Desmond, 1953 (??), was recorded, and I obtained a copy, & played it over & over. I still have it. Desmond wrote a goodly amount of Dave's music, & hearing the two of them together was a thrill for me. I was ~14 to ~19 when his influence was at its maximum on me. I did my second piano recital when in my mid-teens at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. I played two classical pieces; & then used Brubeck's influence on me quite heavily in my encore (which I wrote), which, today, might be called something like Turned-On-Bach. This had quite an effect on the audience; which was there, they thought, only to see & hear classical music. I'll bet 99% of the audience were siblings, parents, relatives & friends of the three of us teens that had our time on the stage. The audience was thrilled. My piano teacher was not. But, for awhile, I had a very swelled-head from the applause. I had been classically-trained, except for a scarcity of musical theory. My parents had me headed for a career as a doctor or a concert pianist; the thoughts of which were quite unpleasant for me & were largely responsible for me leaving home (several times!!) when a teenager. The '52 & '55 concerts resulted in a lot of applause, which stroked my ego mightily ....but the last one (where I did the Brubeck influenced Bach) also resulted in my piano teacher never talking to me again; & shortly afterwards a final turn away from a possible musical career. I had always wanted to be an engineer since quite young, much to the chagrin of my parents who strived mightily, after the piano fiasco, to get me to then go to medical school, which I ended up doing to placate them, at least just for my first year at UCLA. I also was attending a college for two semi-private courses not publicly available. "Medical School" at UCLA was then in some out-buildings, & was nothing too much more, the first year, except an extra course in biology. Well, a bit more.
One of the highlights of my teen years was going to a small "Club" (The Malibu Cottage), to which only musicians went, it was not open to the public. I got invited through the efforts of my mother's brother, Samuel Tenn, who had been a trumpeter with the Stan Kenton Band. I had been moonlighting, as we call it now, at The Lighthouse (see the link, & Howie Rumsey's band info) ....I was the scrawny underage kid at the piano. It started when I was too young to drive, so I would often bicycle the 24 or so miles round trip. I had legs of iron then. See: http://www.thelighthousecafe.net/history.html. I was also moonlighting at a large 'coffee house' on the top of the Malibu Hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean.....and....at an infamous queer (gay) bar in Santa Monica canyon.
Dave dropped-in late one evening. It was WAY late, & my parents (who had nearly resigned themselves to my being an engineer) & uncle had conspired to get me there, knowing ahead of time. At least I THINK my parents were in on this. WOW!!!! Brubeck was there!!!! He wasn't the only famous, or nearly famous, jazz artist there. BTW ...my favorite that evening was Brubeck playing something Bach originally composed. I had a terrible time trying to play what I could remember of Dave's interpretation, the next day. I later furnished a recording to him of my 1955 Recital attempts at emulation. I was WAY too shy to speak to Brubeck about those Bach improvisations attempts, but eventually did so. The Malibu Cottage, long gone now, was an interesting place. I spent a very satisfying amount of time there, and especially a very satisfying weekend with a very sexy woman named Eartha.
I suppose this is what old guys do, reminisce about their younger years.
Side note: Oak (Orlando Okleshen) & I had many telephone calls, typed letters, & sketches, back & forth on the Railsback effect on piano tuning...that was many years ago now. I will bet less than 1% of pro piano players have heard of Railsback.
© Copyright, 2014, R. Fleischer
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Last check/edit: Tuesday, March 20, 2018