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Why I Write

the happiest time of my life

When I woke-up this morning, I just laid in bed as I usually do, reflecting on yesterday, today, & things on my mind generally and the idea for this essay came to me. My dear, departed wife, Jeri, had urged me several times over the last several years of her life to write about my life. I thought about it briefly each time she mentioned it but I thought, what can I say about my life that would be interesting enough for others to read about? Then it struck me this morning that perhaps some of my new friends & some of my old friends from many years ago would like to know why I became a writer or why I love it so much? So here goes nothing as the saying goes. 

me, my sister, Darcy on the right,& sorry, don’t remember the other girl’s name?

I was in the second grade and was staying at my grandmother’s house in Salem, Oregon for a few months while my mom was down in California looking for work and a place for us to live. My grandmother was a feisty, loving, funny, hard working, & supportive grama. She subscribed to the Reader’s Digest and one day while looking through it, I came across an advertisement from the Rod Serling School of Writing which asked you to submit a story. Well I did and I got a reply saying that I’d scored an 85 on my story. My hopes were high but when we learned that it would cost $200 for the course, my grama said that we couldn’t afford it. But I believe that was the first time that I ever dreamed of becoming a writer?  

me at the public library in Salem, Oregon

Not long after, my grama gave me perhaps the most precious gift of my life when she took me downtown to the public library & helped me get my first library card and then showed me how to find my way home on my own i.e. the library was right across the street from the capitol building with a statue of a gold man on top of it which you could see from miles. She showed me the street to go to & then follow directly back to her house. From then on I was free to go to the library on my own and I can’t tell you how many hours I must’ve spent in that library, just lost in the world of adventure, fairy tales, westerns, etc. One day, a reporter from The Oregonian, Oregon’s largest newspaper, took a picture of me engrossed in a book from the new collection they’d just added.  

Don Piercey, the only step-father that I ever loved

At the same time, I was always a loner and I believe this mostly had to do with the fact that I’d get crossed-eyed when my eyes got tired from concentrating too long like when playing ball & kids could be very cruel. Therefore I’d often go off somewhere by myself and escape into the fantasy worlds of books. I didn’t realize it until much later in my life but I feel that books became my friends because they never let me down & they never judged me. And I hope this doesn’t come across as a pity-party but when an aunt told me when I was somewhere around 18 or so that my step-dad whose last name I have, used to beat me severely when I was still a baby. As a result, she said that whenever he or any man came into our house, I’d hide behind furniture. Moreover, the only step-dad that I ever loved, my brother Timmy’s & my sister, Tammy’s biological dad but not mine, told me years later that I use to worry him & my mom because when other kids were bugging me, I’d keep moving away from them and if they kept pestering me I’d reach a point where I’d just snap and try to gouge their eyes out, etc. Of course this is mere speculation but I think it may be that I had such a rage in me because of the early beatings when I was just a baby? And this may sound really strange but there has been a sort of positive spin to this inner rage because it gave me the confidence to hitch-hike across the country, around Europe, go into bars with only blacks, Hispanics, bikers, etc.

I’ll never forget my mom taking me aside when we’d moved to San Diego and I was in the third grade, she told me, “Robbie, try everything you can to stay out of a fight i.e. tell them, yeah, you’re the tough guy, whatever, and try your hardest to avoid fighting but if they just won’t leave you alone and they’ve backed you into a corner so-to-speak, then mop the floor with their face!” And that’s pretty much the way I’ve always been. In fact, I’ve played the mediator, peace maker, etc. over most of my life and some friends of mine have never even seen me in a fight.

That is why I have always hated bullies with such a passion and most of the fights I’ve been in over the course of my life have been against bullies, several of which were against classmates making fun of or insulting my sister, Darcy. And I’ve taken on several punks at a time because of the righteous anger I guess that I feel? I now see this passionate anger at bullies has expanded over the course of my life to now include the corporate cockroaches who are bullying their employees, stealing their dignity, robbing us all, etc. and that’s probably what fuels a lot of the anger in my writing?

Another factor may have to do with the fact that we moved so much as I was growing up? Sometimes we’d move a couple of times or more in a single year, if I recollect correctly? And being a loner & shy, it always took me a long time to make friends. I usually had just one close friend. Moreover, I believe all good writers are also great readers and there comes a point where you want to write your own stories because it’s such a joyful experience? My grama had the best classics that she’d given to her children but had on her bookshelf; Bambi, Treasure Island, Robin Hood, House of the Seven Gables, Alice in Wonderland, etc. and I devoured them all before we moved on to San Diego. And when I wasn’t engrossed in a book, I was out “exploring” as I used to call it i.e. the creeks, rivers, forests, canyons, etc. and riding my bike for miles.

Ronnie Altes, me, & David Randolph, the little guy with the big mouth.

Another significant factor in my mind at least is that probably because of my escapism into the wonderful world of books, I was a romantic from at least second grade. I kid you not! I can still remember my first girlfriend, Connie Hockett (not sure about the spelling?). We’d swing for hours on the swings in the park next to her house & at the end of my grama’s block. And we’d sit on the picnic table and plan on getting married when we grew up. We were going to live up in the Swiss Alps in a little cabin not too far away from a small village and raise dogs. My guess is that I may have seen the Shirley Temple movie, “Heidi” about this time or perhaps it was the college student’s journal that my grama found? She used to rent out the top floor of her home to college students & this journal really inspired me. It was about two young guys who had bought motor scooters and traveled around Europe. And ever since then, I dreamed of visiting Switzerland and when I finally made it there, it was truly like a dream come true!

I’ll basically just leave it at those of you who were there, no who was present e.g. Collete Nipp, Ronnie Altes, and yep, you, Eddie Reed, oh, what a motley crew we were! (me, the dip-shit in the back giving Denny, the rabbit-ears.

my mom, me & my siblings

To resume, we moved to Wilmington in the L.A. area when I was in the fourth grade and then a couple of years later, we moved to Paramount. And Paramount will always hold a special place in my heart because as that Neil Young song, “Helpless” said, “All my changes there.” It took me awhile to decipher that lyric but I believe it means that wherever you live as you go through those major firsts in all our lives i.e. first love, learning to drive, first time getting drunk or getting high, having sex, etc. that will be home for the rest of your life no matter how far you roam or wherever you settle down. I had never lived in one place for so long i.e. from sixth grade through my early 20s and then back again from my mid-20s to the time when I met the love of my life, Jeri, when I was 28. I felt grounded and as I slowly got to know more friends, I developed several circles of friends i.e. friends who were a couple years younger than me then friends who were a couple of years older than me, friends who were “ricky racers,” friends who were “low riders,” etc. And what a long, strange trip it was!  

me & Vicky Nipp (Ronnie Altes’ girlfriend)

I’m getting ahead of myself, and need to return to the sixth grade. I attended Roosevelt Elementary School, and my teacher, Mr. Seal, is one of those best teachers I’ve ever had that I can count on one hand amongst the hundreds I’ve probably had given the fourteen years that I spent in college, as Julie Altes, can attest to. Ha! Ha! Mr. Seal made every subject a game and what a wonderful year that was. My two best friends were Otis, maybe among the least popular kids in school because he was a little awkward socially, and Brian, probably the most popular boy & whom all the cutest girls were gaga about. Anyway, I didn’t think anything of it at the time but they told me that I’d scored on my reading level in the eleventh grade, sixth month level. This fact didn’t mean anything until a bit over a decade later when I wanted to pursue a degree in forestry.

Much to my disappointment, I learned that before I could begin to study forestry at Humboldt State University in Northern California, I needed to have completed courses in physics, trigonometry, calculus, etc. and that most students had taken them in their high schools. Paramount High wrote us off and it didn’t matter how intelligent you were, we were all on the “vocational track.” This infuriated me! Never once all the way through jr. high & sr. high, did a counselor call me into their office and tell me that I should be on a college prep track, probably because I don’t believe they even offered one? How dare they play God with students’ lives! And I apologize if this sounds like bragging but when I learned while I was substitute teaching, years later, that the average high school graduate reads at an eighth grade level, I was again pissed-off!

Okay, I think that I may again be getting ahead of myself. I want to try to explain why I believe Paramount played a role in making me a writer. My guess is that subconsciously as I grew up there, I was seeing how most of us were basically from working class families and many of us really didn’t have a whole helluva lot but there was such a deep sense of connection or loyalty to one another. My first truly rude awakening came one night when a girl I was crazy about invited a bunch of us to a party at her boyfriend’s parents’ home in Downey. Her boyfriend’s parents owned an insurance company, a travel agency, over 50% ownership in Bell Helmets, etc. and after I got drunk, I spent the rest of the evening outside the bathroom and told everyone that walked by, man, ya gotta check out this

my friend, Darci Metzger

bathroom, it has a sunken tub just like in the movies. Well, later on that evening, some of Mike’s friends, (Mike was Darci’s boyfriend–the gal I had a mad crush on) started putting down some of the older guys in our group from the “wrong side of the tracks” Mike’s friends were jocks and we were “long hairs.” The older guys, whom I didn’t really know but was well aware of because they were bad, mother-fuckers and Julie can again attest to this i.e. Mike Beaser (sorry, don’t know the correct spelling?) but Beaser had a reputation for taking a guy and placing his mouth on a curb & then stomping on the back of his head. I had also heard that Beaser and three or four other of his closest friends, had taken on something like 15 low-riders who thought they were going to kick their asses. Julie was good friends with Beaser’s younger sister. Well, needless to say, the party was over for us and we had to beat a hasty retreat before the cops came.

What I’m trying to say is that I believe this was my first awakening to “class consciousness.” And throughout my 20s, I probably had about a hundred what I called “Mickey Mouse” jobs, many of which made me feel like some peasant. It really angered me when for example at some of the factory jobs I worked, I’d see the owner come through with a group of people, giving them a tour but the owner wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence. I felt like I was just some machine or domesticated animal in his factory. (Sorry, another digression, I think I forgot to mention that when I was in the sixth grade, whenever Mr. Seal would call on us to read our stories out loud, many of my classmates would say, oh, read Robbie’s story, guess I’ve always had a vivid imagination?)

Hopefully I’m not repeating myself because I’m drinking beer as I write this? One of the most amazing things in my life was the summer after I graduated high school & before I joined the army in Sept. of 71. You see, all my public school life and up until I met Jeri, I was the typical “wallflower” i.e. I sat in the back of classrooms, never raised my hand, etc. but the summer of ’71 was such a unique experience because of the fact that the front of my mom’s house became the hang-out place for many of us and I believe that’s the time I met Eddie Reed who had just got out of the U.S. Army? It was probably the fact that there wasn’t anywhere else we could all hang out but because when my mom wasn’t working two or three jobs, she was at the local bars. And I had mixed feelings about the situation to be honest with you because many kids wanted to use our bathroom, telephone, etc. and some would raid our refrigerator. So, I had to play the bad guy at times and put my foot down. On the positive side, I became the middle-man more & more as the popularity & notoriety of our location spread i.e. I usually knew who had drugs, so when someone would come looking, I’d connect them and would receive some for my agent’s commission, I guess? Ha! Ha! And Ed can testify to this fact that the cops were drooling at the hope of busting us & especially me i.e. a particular cop by the name of Petit, frisked me dozens & dozens of times but never found anything on me, boy was he frustrated!

And perhaps it was because I was so relatively late to joining the “stoner crowd,” the drugs (pot, barbituates, LSD, amphetamines) never really took hold of me and I’d save my stash for special ocassions i.e. when the opportunity for a romantic rendevous presented itself. On the negative side, this also meant that many of my friends knew that I was usually “holding” and would plead with me to “share” with them. Ha! Ha! I know that I’m being lighthearted here but on a deeper level, friends also knew that they could count on me when the shit came down i.e. fights. And I too took a lot of comfort knowing that they too “had my back.” And we had some serious shit come down i.e. I had my head caved-in by a gang of “chollos” (spelling?), they hit me with tire irons, etc. but I put five of them in the hospital and my reputation really grew after that although I don’t really feel that I deserved that rep because I had taken something like five barbituates and didn’t really feel anything at the time. This was in my senior year at Paramount High and I thought when I woke the next morning, if I don’t go to school today, they’re going to think they scared me & even though both my eyes were black, my nose was tweeked, etc, I went to school. And my “reputation” as a crazy, white-boy spread. Ha! Ha!  

Moving right along, Sept. 1971. I “joined” the U.S. Army, not because of any deluded notion of patriotism but rather because I was in what they quaintly referred to as the “lottery.” And your number was according to your birth date and if I recall correctly? my number was something like 69 so I knew they’d draft me soon if I didn’t “enlist” so I joined the army only because it had the least amount of time you had to serve i.e. two years. The recruiter asked me what job i.e. Military Occupational Specialty (M.O.S.) I wanted to do, and I said, what do you got? And he read through a long list of jobs & when he said “clerk,” I said, yeah, that sounds good and he said, well, you’ll have to sign up for another two years to get that job. I said, forget it, I’ll take whatever you give me.

Fast-forward to “Basic Training.” The first week they give you a battery of tests. Guess I did pretty well because they kept taking me and about three or four other guys out of our company to special meetings with high-ranking officers ( I was always confused about their ranks i.e. the chicken scrabble on the bill of their hats, etc.”) but they basically promised us the moon i.e. we’ll station you wherever you want & we’ll train you in whatever you want. I didn’t tell them this directly but in my mind, I said, I don’t even want to be fuckin’ squad leader, I hate this whole fuckin’ program. And for the record, I was not politically aware, but perhaps the rebellion in the air during that wonderful decade of the 60s had somehow permeated my thick skull? But I knew that I didn’t want any part of Vietnam. And I pissed-off some of the gung-ho dick-heads in my platoon and one night a skinny-ass guy got in my face, one too many times so I invited him into the latrine and said, Look, if you want to play G.I. Joe, more power to you but if you keep fuckin’ with me, let’s go to town right now! He didn’t want none.

To place a period on this time of my life, after being sent to San Antonio, Texas, I was allowed to be a clerk typist, remember, what the recruiter told me I had to sign up for another two years to get, and everything was hunky dory for a few months until orders came down that half of us were going to Vietnam & the other half were going to Germany. Well this is when I realized that the shit is getting serious. So, I started going AWOL so they couldn’t ship me out because I’d be tied up in their court-martial process. I must thank the U.S. Army though for making me appreciate my freedom like I’d never realized before.  

at a logging camp on Olympic Peninsula

     After feeling like a piece of property for nearly a year in the army—by the way, G.I. literally means “government issue” and you are a piece of property i.e. technically, they can bust you if you get a tattoo because you’re defacing government property—I hit the road to revel in my regained freedom. That summer after graduation from high school, every now & then when we’d be partying in front of my house, two of my fellow classmates from Paramount High would stop by & tell us about their latest hitchhiking adventure & I remember how captivated we all were with their stories. One day it struck me, Wait a minute! I’m just as smart, as strong, etc. as they are so if they can do it, so can I. I started off by taking a Greyhound bus for $5 to Santa Barbara to a nude beach my friends had told us about. Then I started hitchhiking to Santa Barbara and with each, successive trip, my confidence in my ability to hitchhike grew. I then hitched all the way to Oregon and my cousins in Portland, OR were so proud of me as they introduced me to their friends that my ego grew. I must’ve hitched up to Oregon a dozen times or better over the course of the next several years and in between working all those Mickey Mouse jobs i.e. I’d work long enough to get a couple hundred bucks in my pocket and then think, okay, where would I like to go now?

Debbie on left, Maureen with dog, & me

Maureen, grama & me

     By the way, I’m including a few pics here of me, Debbie Levine, & Maureen Shaw whom I talked into hitchhiking from L.A. to my grandfather’s house in Hoquiam, WA and let me put your curiosity at rest, no, we didn’t have sex though most of my cousins refused to believe so. I knew that if I made a pass at either one of them and if they’d turned me down, it’d be very awkward & uncomfortable traveling together from then on. And I must’ve been a sight i.e. I was in my Billy Jack phase at this time and wore a Bowie knife on my side because I took their protection seriously.

my Billy Jack phase at 4 bedroom house i rented

     Well, in the summer of 1974, I took the big leap and ended up hitchhiking across the U.S. (and only spent $26, mostly on beer & wine to share with people who went way out of their way & gave me long rides). I say ended up because it wasn’t my original intent. I had hitched up to Spokane, WA to check out the world’s fair there & then thought, what the hell? I’ll go visit my cousins in Flint, Michigan. And after spend a week or two with my cousins & earning a little pocket money by working some crap, temp agency jobs, I thought, hey, why not go visit my friend, Bobby Martin who lived in Somerville, Massachusetts right down the street from M.I.T. (I had no idea at the time that my future intellectual hero, Noam Chomsky, was just a couple of blocks away). Oh yeah, before getting to Michigan, I got let out in the South Side of Chicago and boy was that an interesting experience!

group of beautiful souls who gave me long ride to Chicago

     My ride let me out right on the freeway and before I could even get my backpack on, a cop swooped on me and wrote me a ticket. I tried to tell him that it wasn’t like I had a choice or something but tough shit. He then drove me to the next off-ramp and I was in the “bad part of town,” of which I had no idea. And this is where growing up in Paramount came in useful because you learn to not show your fear. I was walking down the street and a black man was sitting on a fire hydrant drinking a quart of beer, he said, “Hey you, traveling man, look like you could use a drink” I thought, if I don’t accept his offer, he might think that I’m racist and won’t drink after a black man so I took a drink & we spent the afternoon drinking beer and shooting the shit. And the one thing that I remember from that afternoon was his telling me that he’d watch—can’t remember exactly if he said Rocky Marciano or Rocky Graciano, I don’t know a lot about boxing history— but he said that when Rocky hit his opponent, you could hear the leather a block away. Oh yeah, he also told me that his two best friends were these crazy, Irish guys. Anyway, it eventually got dark and my friend wanted to introduce me to his mom & sister so we walked quite a ways to this tenement slum, no disrespect intended, and he introduced me to them and then walked with me all the way to the Greyhound bus station (sorry, must be early Alzheimer’s? this visit to Chicago was on my way back from Boston & I was so burnt out on hitchhiking that I was going to catch a bus to Russellville, Arkansas to visit an old friend from Paramount, Mike Moore, no, not the filmmaker) and along the way to the Greyhound station & I hope this doesn’t come across as racist but there were black guys on just about every corner and they were rapping stuff at me that I couldn’t understand but my friend basically said to them, “Don’t fuck with this white boy, he’s alright.” [it may sound goofy as Hell, but simply retelling these experiences is funny & makes me feel good] Oh yeah, this Mike Moore that I mentioned, was the lucky dog that married, Maureen Shaw, one of the girls I hitchhiked to my grandfather’s house with.

a spiral staircase I helped to install in Haslemere, Surrey (England)

     I love to share my traveling experiences with others because a part of me likes to think that maybe by sharing these tales, I might help inspire some other young person to go for it and live life to the fullest? Skipping ahead a couple of years to the summer of 1976, I really took a leap of faith, so-to-speak, when I bought a ticket on a charter flight to Europe for the summer. I landed with $400 in my pocket, and I had to stay for three months because there was no changing your return date. I went hungry for three days once & a strange looking Arab guy offered me a sardine sandwich & though I hate sardines, it tasted great because I was starving. I slept on park benches, in train stations, etc. I worked for some people whose address I got from a stepdads’s daughter, I helped install four skylights, a spiral staircase, dug ditches, and learned a bit about restoring antique furniture. I took the train to Tangiers and was going to hopefully sell a pr. of my Levi’s but had a scary night & stayed up all night in the central plaza with a guy from England & we caught the bus to another ferry station to cross back across the Straits of Gibraltar and almost lost our backpacks. It was one helluva summer but I don’t have any regrets whatsoever about having done it.  And my dear mother who was proud of me for having the courage to go for it, had bought me a Eurail Pass which was good for two months i.e. starting a month after my arrival. (by the way, I sincerely believe that this first great adventure of mine to Europe inspired my mom to start traveling because soon after, she started going to the Bahamas, etc. and eventually to England). Well, I’m going too far afield and these tales are for another day. But, I just want to add that in between all those Mickey Mouse jobs and travels, I kept signing up for community college courses and I attended many of them half way or even three quarters of the way through but then got either bored or restless and left. And this was no big deal in my book because in those days, you paid something like $10 to register and for your books and that was it. I went from Business Administration, which I started with simply because I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to major in & thought it might come in handy sometime in the future. And by the way, business was the most boring subject I’d ever studied & after several courses, including two semesters of accounting, I surmised that all you needed to do to “succeed” in business was have no conscience & be a greedy mother fucker.

     By the way, in 1976 while I was attending Cerritos Jr. College, I saw some literature classes that I wanted to take but was told that I’d have to take the English Placement Test. I did so terribly on it that they placed me in what we used to call, Bone-head English i.e. I had to sit at a desk with headphones on & listen to “See Dick and Jane. See Spot. See Spot run.” I took that for a week and said, the hell with this bullshit and dropped out of the course. Five years later I was attending Long Beach City College and again wanted to take some literature classes and again had to take the English test but lo and behold, this time they told me that I was in the top 10% and could take any classes I wanted to. The only thing I can figure is that in the intervening five years, I’d been to Europe three times and had met some very intelligent people whom I started asking to recommend books for me to read. And I was devouring classics like Hemmingway, Dostoyevsky, Hesse, etc. etc. etc. Furthermore, I sent Noam Chomsky one time and told him about this and he laughed and told me, “Rob, the only class that I flunked in high school was grammar.” This is so precious because if you know anything about Chomsky, you know that he “revolutionized” the field of linguistics. And Noam also told me that he argues with the editors of his books all the time. Ha! Ha! So, in effect, I went from bone-head English to earning my B.A. in English literature and corresponding with Noam Chomsky. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t do something if you have your heart set on it!

     I fear that I’m once again veering off course? But, I then switched to the study of Oceanography while attending Fullerton Jr. College in the heart of Orange County which they said at the time was the most conservative county in the U.S.? But once again, a rude awakening i.e. to get into one of the two schools of oceanography, Scripps Institute, San Diego or Woods Hole, Massachusetts, you had to speak four foreign languages fluently. You see, I dreamed of either being an oceanographer and working on the ocean or being a forest ranger and working in the beautiful solitude of the forests. And again, perhaps coincidentally or maybe not? but it was about the same time that I met Jeri that I also stumbled upon the subject of philosophy. This academic discipline rocked my world! And I said to myself, now this is something I can sink my teeth into. I’ve never been so intellectually challenged in my life and I know that I’ve only scratched the surface of this profound discipline to this day. {I have to interject here that I’m adding a lot here today, the next day, because I thought I was finished yesterday due to intoxication but this morning I thought no, I have more, so this isn’t going to be a smooth segue to the following paragraph which originally was related to my “undesirable discharge from the U.S. Army”, my apologies}

How does this relate to my becoming a writer? It showed me yet again how the poor are fucked by this society i.e. if you’re not born into a rich family, you don’t have a clue. I didn’t even know about the option of a “college deferment” because of where I grew up. I felt backed into a corner and that it was either enlist or flee to Canada and I was so close to pursuing that path that if it weren’t for a friend losing his entire paycheck playing pool, I would’ve gone, because he was going to give me a ride to Canada, along with my friend, Randy Bell, who was in the Marine Corps.  

I really hope that no one takes this as disrespectful of my dear friend Randy, he was just joining in the fun.

Above all, the spirit of the 1960s was intoxicating and was like an ambrosia that you wanted to follow to the imaginary nirvana of free love, peace, justice, & equality for all. At least we gave a fuck and every time I hear that decade dismissed so casually, it fires up my blood! So many lives lost in Vietnam, in the Civil Rights marches, student protests, etc. that it truly breaks my heart. Compare that to the 80s which Reagan dubbed the “Me Decade,” and the present time of “smart phones,” “reality T.V.,” “Selfies,” etc.  

Tony Baye on the left, me, & Keith (Tony was a fuckin’ bulldog in defense of his friends)

I have long felt like a sort of modern day Don Quixote and wouldn’t mind if that were written on my tombstone now that I think about it. Yes, I have chased windmills all my life in that I’ve always dreamed of justice, fairness, equality, peace and if that makes me a fool in your eyes, it’s your loss and you aren’t worth the sweat off my balls because you are blind to the true power of life which is love for your fellow man.

I am going to attempt to wind-down though believe me, I have a helluva lot more to day—like I’m ever short on words?—. Unquestionably, the greatest force in my life was my wife. Jeri was like a Vitamin C boost to the stars for me. Perhaps because of my low, self-image at the time that I met her, but her attraction to me & her love for me gave me the confidence to believe I could conquer the world. Why do I say this? I speak these words because from the moment I saw her walk across that nightclub’s floor, I could tell this is a woman who is confident, gracious, classy, and intelligent. And when she agreed to dance with me & I immediately felt totally at ease with her, I knew that I’d struck gold. And hopefully you will forgive my bragging but we went to the beach to fly a kite the next day and from that day on, we spent every night together until four years later when we married.  

before returning home from our 2 month honeymoon in Europe, we spend a week with Jeri’s cousin in New Jersey, this is New York City!

In conclusion, my meeting Jeri, coincided with my political awakening.  And no, she wasn’t politically active but as our love grew, she joined me in anti-nuclear protests and she eventually joined N.O.W. ( National Organization of Women). At times, she believed more in me than I believed in myself.And until the day that I die, I swear on all that is holy that I will sing Jeri’s praises and strive to share with the world that she was my guardian angel. Even the encouragement of Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, Charles Derber, Andrew Bacevich, etc. doesn’t hold a candle to the belief in me that Jeri honored me with.

     I write because the bureaucracy here in Oregon won’t allow me to teach but in L.A., I was allowed to be a substitute teacher both short & long-term and I taught night school to immigrants who wanted to learn English and I had students cry when I had to move on & I had students get a petition together to try to convince the administration to allow me to continue teaching them and writing is another form of teaching that the bastards can’t stop me from doing. I write because I feel the pain, the humiliation, the degradation of so many of my fellow human beings and I want to wake people up to this unnecessary suffering. And I want Jeri to know that her love wasn’t wasted on me. 

family portrait

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