When I was dating Kim, her only source of heat was a pot belly wood stove! She had a lot of wood, but it was all in big rounds that needed to be split. So I took my 10lb maul out to her place and I started splitting wood for her. I was just about done, and her brother Bart drove up. He asked me what kind of tool I was using. He had never seen a maul before, he and his dad always used a sledge-hammer and steel wedges to split wood. It looked easy to him, so he asked me if he could try my maul out. I knew it was a little heavy for him, because he is smaller than I am, and he would have better control with an 8lb maul. But I said sure, but please don’t miss because 10lb maul handles were hard to find! He said he would be careful, so I handed him the maul. I set a round up for him, he took a big breath, swung the maul, and over shot the round. The handle hit the round and snapped the maul right off the handle. You should have seen the look on Bart’s face!
Kim and I went from store to store looking for a handle. All the stores had 8lb handles, but nobody had 10lb handles! I gave up on looking for a handle, and I was thinking I would just go out and buy a new maul. Sometime had past, and Kim and I were in Auburn and we stopped at a store to look for a tool I needed, and low and behold I found a 10lb handle! I bought it and took it home and put the maul on the handle. I then put the little wedges in the end, then I soaked it in water for a couple of days. I finally had a maul again. One day Bart was up at Kim’s place, and we were having a good time visiting and listening to some Jethro Tull. He was getting ready to leave, and I walked him out to his car. He saw the maul leaning against the building and picked it up. He looked at me, and I said don’t even think about it! He set the maul down, and with a smile on his face he said, that’s good advice!
When I was young I spent a lot of time over at my good buddy Bob Leary’s house. Bob’s dad, Gordon was a huge San Francisco Giants fan. He told me all about each player on the team, but there was one player he talked about more than the others, and his name was Willie Mays! In 1969 my good friend Mike Brunker invited me to stay with his family in San Rafael for two weeks. On Aug 17 Mike’s mom dropped us off at Candlestick Park so we could see the Giants play! I was so excited, I get to see the Great Willie Mays play! We were in the second deck behind home plate on this sunny day with 25,586 people in attendance. I remember there was this old black guy sitting behind us. He had this rubber chicken, and he would stand up and yell “Chicken” when the Cubs were batting. Mike and I both got the biggest kick out of that guy! Mays made an out his first at bat, but in the 4th he hit a 2 run Home Run over the bleachers in centerfield. The whole place went crazy including the chicken man!
In the 6th, Mays got an RBI single and then somehow made it to second base. While on second, the third baseman went to talk to the pitcher and they didn’t call time out. Mays being the heads up player he was took off and stole 3rd, everyone in the crowd stood up and gave him a huge applause. The Giants won this game 5 to 3, and the Great Willie Mays finished the game with two hits, one run scored and 3 RBI’s. This was my first Major League Baseball Game. Not only did I get to see Willie Mays hit a Homer and steal a base, I was overwhelmed by the size of the crowd, and enjoyed how much fun people can have at watching this game of baseball. I remember Mike’s mom picking us up and how much she enjoyed listening to us talk about the game. Whenever people ask me who my favorite baseball player is. I always say “Willie Mays” then I get these strange looks from everyone because I’m a big A’s fan. But my favorite sports memory is seeing the “The Say Hey Kid” play, and watching that crazy chicken man!
Laurita Gray is one sweet lovely lady, but when I was little, she scared the bajeebers out of me! When I was little we went to Primary at the church on Wednesday afternoon. Sister Laurita Gray was in the Primary Presidency, and one of her jobs was to get all the kids in the Chapel and get started on time. One time some of the boys didn’t want to go to Primary, so we were hiding in the Men’s Restroom! We heard Sister Gray’s voice through the door saying it was time for Primary to start. I yelled back and said, “We aren’t going to Primary, we are staying in the boy’s restroom and there is nothing you can do about it because girls aren’t allowed in the boy’s restroom!” Just then the door flew open and Sister Gray charged in and grabbed me and one other boy by the ear and walked us down the hall and into the Chapel. I remember sitting in the Chapel, scared out of my mind, and thinking that lady is one mean person, and I better be good when she is around!
That next week my mom had a real hard time getting me to go to Primary, but she somehow got me to the church. I walked in thru the kitchen and then into the hall and I saw Sister Gray standing there in the hall. She looked at me, and with a stern voice she said “Go to the Chapel” I turned around and ran out the door, and ran to the fence and climb over it to the trail along the NID ditch and I ran home. The problem was, as I was climbing over the fence, I dragged my hand over the barbed wire, and the barbed wire gave me a 2 inch slice in the side of my right hand! When I got home my mom washed it, then she got some gauze and tapped it up. When it healed it left a scar, so for the past 50 years I have called it my Sister Gray scar! What’s funny is, as the years went by, Sister Gray and I became good friends. After my dad’s funeral I was talking to her and told her the story of the scar. She just smiled at me, then my mom said those famous words, “I’m sure you deserved it!”
After going to Bell Hill School for five years, I finally got to go the Hennessey School for my fifth grade year. Fifth grade was a really fun year for me. My whole class was full of really cool kids, and we had one of the greatest teachers ever, Mrs. Merchant! The boys played a lot of four square, and I remember the girls playing Tetherball. I remember watching two girls from my class play Tetherball, Margie Rogers and Kathy Hinrichs. Those two would beat every girl they played. One day I was standing there watching them play, and in my head I had this game of Tetherball all figured out. I was also a boy, and being a boy I knew I wouldn’t have any problem beating them at this game of Tetherball. So being the cocky boy that I was, I challenged both of them to a game! I played Margie first. I gave her a good fight in the beginning, but after about 20 seconds she got the ball to go high over my head. Now Margie had the ball out of my reach, and within seconds she had the ball wound up tight against the poll.
I had just lost my first game of Tetherball. I was embarrassed, but that was OK because I knew I would beat Kathy. The next game with Kathy lasted 5 or 6 seconds. Kathy’s first hit got the ball going high over me and she kept it out of my reach the whole time. In a blink of an eye, I had just lost my second game! Now let’s go to the end of my eight grade year. The eight graders were having a Chess Tournament in Mr. Kartozian’s class. I remember we drew names to see who we played in the first round, and Kathy was the person I was playing in the first round. Again the guy thing kicked in and I thought I would beat her without any problem. All I was thinking was “Revenge” was going to be nice! I remember feeling pretty good about my first eight moves, then Kathy took her ninth move and said Checkmate! Then she stood up, smiled at me, and went over to Mr. Kartozian! So did I learn my lesson? “Nah” I can’t wait to sit down and play cards with them, I will beat them both!
May 12, 1974, was a beautiful day in Nevada County. My brother Stan and wife Janet picked Ralph and I up and we headed up to Reno to see the Grateful Dead. During the ride, all we talked about was the Dead. We were so excited; this was our first Dead concert! We arrived at the University of Nevada and entered into the Football Stadium. Frist thing we saw were towers of speakers, and the roadies were still in the process of setting everything up. This was one of the first times they were using this new sound system, and had taken a lot longer than they thought to get everything ready. To kill some time we walked to the entrance where there was a large water fountain. Phil Lesh was up on stage testing his Bass out, but you couldn’t hear anything. I looked over at the fountain and each time he hit a note on his Bass, the water had surface waves that vibrated toward the edges in response to the low Bass note. The band walked out 90 minutes late, and Bob Weir said, “What; we are right on time, Grateful Dead Standard Time!”
They played two songs, and then Weir said we are going to take a short break, pointing to the sound system, saying one of those speakers is not working! Twenty minutes later they came out and played their first set! The sound was great from where we were standing, but the Piano was a little loud. I worked my way up front by Jerry, and I yelled “Garcia” and he looked up and flipped me the bird. I took a picture, but that was one of the pictures that didn’t turn out. Then Joe Taparo and I tried to sneak behind the PA system and get a picture of how they wired everything. Just as I was going to take this picture, security was right in front of us escorting us back to the field. We went back to our group of friends and I remember enjoying hot versions of “US Blues” “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Deal”. I just remember standing there really digging my favorite band playing through this giant Sound System that was very clear, but the volume wasn’t real loud. The band ended the set with Garcia’s “Deal”, and said they would be back in a few!
Second Set started with Chuck Berry’s “Around and Around”. This song really got the crowd going. Next song they slowed it down a bit with “Mississippi Half Step” then the crowd went nuts when they started to play “Truckin’”! Since the concert got started late, it was getting to be late in the afternoon. By the end of “Truckin’” the wind started blowing and was blowing right in the face of the band. They played four more songs and then went into Sugar Magnolia. Wow! What a rockin’ version of Sugar, and then the band walked off the stage. The crowd was really into it and wanted more, but the wind was blowing really hard and the band never came back out. We walked out of the Stadium talking about how much fun we had and how good the band sounded. We said bye to everyone, and got in the car and headed for home. We were still talking about how much fun this concert was as we drove up to my parents’ house. As Ralph and I were getting out of the car, Stan looked at us and said those famous words. “There is nothing like a Grateful Dead Concert”!!!