War of the Front Seat


From a letter from Jay from a few years ago

Martha and I didn’t really experience World War One or Two. We certainly both respect the horrors of both those wars, but we know in a visceral way, the “War of the Front Seat.”

The “War of the Front Seat” took place on long automobile vacations between about 1964 and 1969. Constant arguing between mom and dad. I know that mom always accused me of ruining the trip to Canada (this was the one where dad, following the dictates of his inner voice, drove away from a gas station in Canada leaving me standing at the gas station.. Mom would often tell this story later, and she got a big kick out of it.), but mom did her part on occasion in putting a hurt on these car trips. I never understood the big deal over the map. I mean how hard is it to find your way around these big interstates and highways! But still mom and dad would have these tremendous wrangles over directions and the map. It was very odd. If I recall, dad’s general strategy was to kind of take a look on the map and decide, okay, we’ll take 37 and then 120, and then we’ll swing over to 99. Problem was that you didn’t get all the way over to 99. Or, at least, according to Mom you didn’t. Dad would take a look at the map and you take 37 and then 120 and then you swing over to 99. But Mom actually has THE MAP! That was the rub! Mom has THE MAP and if you look at it very closely, 120 doesn’t go all the way to 99. This dialogue would go on for about 10 minutes. Martha and I would be in the back seat kind of like, Oh, well, it’s happening again, I guess. Mom has THE MAP!

This was just one of about nineteen battles in the War of the Front Seat. Martha and I never really kept track as to who was right. Did 120 end before it met up with 99. Was dad right, or was Mom reading the map wrong. I think it was half and half, but I’m not sure to this day.

Martha and I would sit in the back seat with a kind of Ivan Denisovich stare. We never really understood, if truth be told, the War of the Front Seat. I’m not sure Mom and Dad understood it.. In the fog of war both parties stubbornly held their ground.

— They had two radically different travel styles. Dad was kind of learn as you go, don’t worry about it. Map! Who needs a map! Well, okay, where’s the map? I’ll look at the map, fer Chrissakes! This was kind of the instinctive Irish approach. Mom came from the Klausewitz school of travel. You planned it out! You phoned ahead! You had to be prepared! You had to know the enemy and the enemy’s name was chaos, chaos in the universe, around the next corner, right around where 120 does or doesn’t meet route 99. Some of this, in retrospect, was genetic, probably Teutonic, but some of it came from her awful Pittsburgh youth.

Trouble was around the next bend! You did have to prepare for it!

The following is a very recycled story, but it bears continual repeating, because anything that makes me laugh bears repeating. This was the trip to El Cajon, a classic clash of traveling styles and civilizations.

— This was a trip with just Martha and I. Chip and Tim were in college and out in the world. They were now beyond beach trips. We had started out the trip in Newport Beach and I recall it was a nice trip. I was about 14 or 15. This was the last beach trip, by the way. Am I right about this, Martha?. I think it was. Anyway, after spending a week or so at Newport, the plan was to travel to San Diego and spend the night. Okay, no problem. Except in this case, Klausewitz had the upper hand. This was not a time for confidence and spontaneity. This was a Saturday night in San Diego and every motel room was no vacancy, no vacancy, no vacancy, NO VACANCY. Dad, was doing very well as an ophthalmologist/surgeon, and when the family went on one of these car vacations, we generally stayed in fairly civilized lodgings. It wasn’t Mauna Kea, but it was very pleasant and comfortable. There would be a pool, and maybe even a little dining room, where I could order a steak. But I couldn’t help but notice that as we wheeled through San Diego, all of the places that we would ordinarily stay in we’re filled up. One after another after another. Hundreds, literally, were filled up.

Like many cities, San Diego has a very nice part, a nice part, a not so nice part, and a very, very not so nice part. Martha and I couldn’t help but notice that we had gone from the very nice part to the nice part, and now were traveling in the not so nice part. Dad was becoming increasingly quiet as we drove through the not so nice part not only because he wasn’t real happy about having to stay in some dive, but also on account of the fact that his whole travel strategy, which oftentimes worked like a charm, was losing and losing badly to the Klausewitz/Werthenbach school of travel planning and engineering. The representative of the Klausewitz camp was very forthcoming in making clear the deficiencies of the instinctive travel school and calling for a paradigm shift, even if it be somewhat violently imposed. Needless to say, Martha and I could hear the mortars explode– we had put on our helmets. We were back in the War of the Front Seat!

Things only got worse. We all expressed our amazement at just how many motels there were in San Diego, and just how many were filled. I remember wondering as to why San Diego was so popular on a Saturday night. Just what went on in San Diego on a Saturday night? We were soon neck deep in the very, very, very, not so nice part of town. A feeling of chaos and heat and people making up for a bad week with one wild Saturday night.Wild people yelling out of cars, little roadside cantinas where four hours later Rodriguez and Martinez will shoot it out over Rodriguez’ sister. Lots of semi-desert. Much scarier than all desert. We actually were out of San Diego now. We were now in a place called El Cajon. Ever since that night, I have heard the name El Cajon associated with horribly savage crimes. Stories in the newspaper about how the suspect spent the night at a motel in el Cajon, the body later found in the surrounding desert…

We did finally find a place to stay. We wheeled up and parked the car in front of a woman who was kind of stumbling around by the second floor railing. The woman was a friendly but very strange looking sort with the wildest hairdoo I have even seen. She could have raised bees in that hairdoo for a second income. It looked like a Mesotopamian ziggurat after a big storm. She was also very deep in the bag, as they say. In fact, she was waving a very large bottle of tequila around and kind of slurring her speech: “Come on, in!” she slurred. Needless to say, Klausewitz was not terribly amused!

The rest of the night had its moments. Poor dad, from all the stress that goes with completely having your world view debunked by your wife, was suffering some major league chest pains.

And, as you’ve probably heard, there was a funeral home across the street from the motel with a blinking neon sign! About 1:00 a.m., we were all treated to the sound of what sounded like about 12 cowboys promoting a rodeo. I went to the window and saw about three long-legged kind of trashy looking women sitting on these porch- like abutments to the rooms kiddy corner to our wing. They were smoking cigarettes, wearing lingerie, and talking with okie accents to the cowboys who were driving up to the porch-like abutments. It was one of those places old as mankind itself. The cowboys had arrived with only pure thoughts about developing serious relationships with these young ladies. I must say I found myself quite intrigued by the whole scene. I even thought it would be nice to stay in these kinds of places more often!

All in all, it was quite an adventure, and, truth be told, kind of a fun place to stay. That night before we returned to the motel, we went to some extremely hot, non air-conditioned theater in El Cajon and watched a James Bond movie, Thunderball, while munching in the dark on fried chicken we brought into the theater from a Kentucky Fried.

When I think of it, actually, Klausewitz was wrong! If we had planned it all out, we wouldn’t have had the adventure that night in El Cajon.

— Now, it’s time to reflect on the Emily Post Table Manners Institute, which mom was the director of for about four or five years (I think she gave up after that!) Comedian Bobby Slayton has this little patter that goes like this: “Ya think of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, but ya can’t forget Moe of the Three Stooges” and then he goes off on Moe. Well, you could say Mom had the wisdom of Lao Tzu coupled with the beauty of Katherine Grayson (she told me people would often compare her to that particular actress when she was young), but she had a little Moe of the Three Stooges in her. During the most turbulent moments of the training sessions, mom was good for hitting me straight over the head with a fork or a spoon. Mind you, being a nurse and a loving mother, she would strike you over the hard-shelled front part of your cranium, so it would not cause you any academic harm in the future. But it hurt!

I think the whole manners problem was just very frustrating to her. Chip had briefly attended the institute and graduated with maybe a D minus at best. Tim had done a little better. He left with a straight D. Martha graded out at a C minus. A disappointment for a girl. But I think I clearly wore the Emily Post Institute’s paper hat! I was failing the institute’s curriculum with wild gusto, and it put mom in a frenzy. I’d say three or four times during those years, when the book would be hauled out ( OH, GOD, NO! NO! NO! HERE COMES THE MANNERS BOOK! OH, GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?) The spoon would come flying over head and

it really hurt! Mom would just take a complete dive into the deep end over this whole thing– she went koo koo over it. Still, when I’ve had to go back to my Emily Post roots, I can really bring it. I know all about putting down my fork until I’ve stopped chewing. So the institute worked to some degree. Whether it was the worth the excruciating pain to both mom and to us is another question.

— When I think of mom I think of a very complex person with all kinds of quirks and good points and, yes, some bad points, but she was mostly a very warm and passionately caring soul.

I remember one time in my life when I was in tremendous emotional pain. A lot of you know I had a very dim bulb relationship with an older woman during the fall of 1979 up to the spring of 1980. I took the relationship with operatic seriousness. I was really wearing the paper hat on this one. Predictably, the relationship started to go downhill, and wildly downhill, careeningly downhill like an elephant on roller skates. I was very emotionally out of control. I cried about half the day. My shirts were mildewed.

One leaden afternoon I drove/limped up to 23260 to eat dinner, completely out of my mind. I found myself at one point crying my stupid eyes out in the bathroom. The rational side, through the tears, could look at that stupid face in the mirror and think: God, they don’t make morons like you anymore. They threw away the mold! Still, pain is pain. I will always remember Mom kind of racing in and hugging me during that moment. It is a very tender memory. We all know she would come to help any of us in a nano second.

Before she died in 1988, during the spring, around March, I remember coming up to the house. These were tough visits. We all knew it was not long. Mom and I watched TV one night. It was pleasant, but it was not quite real. The bear was very much in the room. The thing at that point that obsessed her was the house. Would Dad be okay with dealing with all the details in the house. But not only that, she said several times to me: “I’m very worried about your dad. I’m very worried about your dad.” I will always be touched by that. Despite all the battles in the front seat, it was so clear to me how much she loved dad. And this was kind of the ultimate proof of that. She would be very happy that Dad found Liz and has had a nice life following all of this tragedy.

Well, that’s all for now. It’s been painful to think of all of this, but I’ve laughed a little bit, too.

I hope you enjoyed it, beloved family members. The cars are still whooshing by on Mirabel, and Riley is now in a dog’s deep dream.. What a beautiful dog he is!

And mom always, always, lives on in my mind.

But wait! Don’t think it’s over!. I do believe in the spirit world and I do believe that some day we will all be together once again. We will all be piled into the Oldsmobile 88 about 15 or so miles from the center of the world– King City.

It’ll be hot and the sun will filter through a mystic grove of eucalyptus fanning by on the right, and Chip’s shoes will take up about half of the back seat.

When we get to the mysterious center of our journey, we will drink an ice cold 10 cent coke from one of those thick little bottles. That Indian summer Pierce will bring it and Willy will send two of em flying out of there. The Dodgers will lose once again!

And that fall the great Miyahara will once again toss the pigskin around Lancer stadium.

Or, more accurately, he will scramble for his life in the pouring rain!

But dad, you’d better watch out, for it won’t be all a bed of roses, because in the front seat sitting next to you, Mom will have THE MAP!!!!

1962 Was One Sweet Year

From a letter from Jay to the rest of us, written a few years ago.

1962 was one sweet year.

  • The Giants were in a torrid pennant race with the Los Angeles Anti-Christs. Some people knew them as the Dodgers, but I knew better the source of their evil!
  • The priests, Fr. O and Father S came over to the house. I didn’t quite understand all the issues, but I felt the electricity in the air. I loved to hear the tone of the conversation, there was an excitement to it. Was this just in my eight year old mind?
  • Father O would play a swingin’ piano and Father S would talk about teachingCatcher in the Rye at the seminary. Later, when I taught at Piner High in Santa Rosa, I encountered a man named Don Holden. Don, as it turns out, is a former Bellarmine grad, and we had that in common. Plus, Don spent a year at the Maryknoll seminary. He said Fr. Oliver was like a god. He directed a musical, and Don told me the kids were just in awe of him. He was an unbelievable perfectionist and did amazing things. He vaguely remembered Father S and said he was of a similar Olympian stature at the seminary, though Don still remembers Father O with the most extreme reverence! I remember the mysterious faded orange tower and the eucalyptus trees. The mysteries of Catholicism adumbrated around that image. Even today there is nothing more transporting for me than the smell of eucalyptus. Stanford games, maryknoll, 1962. (Watch it, Jay, nostalgia is a trick of the mind? Or is it a vision that fires the mind as it struggles through the Sisyphean days… Geez, I dunno, you tell me!)
  • The fruit hung ripe on the tree. In fact, we stole pomegranates from Mr. Brown’s tree. One day I wore a white T shirt and we ate about five pomegranates and smashed ‘em on the road. My T shirt had this bloody red look. Sort of OJ after a hard night’s work. Mom was not pleased to see the T shirt looking that way. One time later down the road, we were stealing the pomegranates, but Mr. Brown was out there on tiptoes and holding a shotgun. That weird looking bald headed Mr. Brown. He was expecting to nab the deer who were pilfering his pomegranates, but instead found Kelly and me, and I think, Ricky Gross. He explained to us, somewhat gruffly, and I don’t blame him at all, since we were freely scavenging the fruit from his tree with a kind of biblical energy, that Mrs. Brown made pomegranate pie from the pomegranates. Hmmm. Kind of weird, we thought, pomegranate pie. Would taste a bit tart, wouldn’t it?
  • Mom was more beautiful than the First Lady in those days. Radiant. Funny. Smart as a whip. I was convinced I had the best mom and dad in the world.
  • It was clear that Dad loved me very much. I always felt that. But I think he didn’t quite know what to think of me for a while. He knew I was very fond of one particular song: “I’m gonna leave ol Texas Now” (the song still makes me weep!), and that I was a hyperactive little thing, but it wasn’t ‘til he saw me field grounders that he thought: hey, this is interesting. This kid can do something very important: he can field a ground ball. Let’s face it—how many things are more important than that. What, you’re coming up with a list of 37 things more important than that. Hey, wait a minute, wait a minute. This is my letter!! Hold on!
  • Needless to say I was discovering the cosmic joy of playing shortstop. I only learned to read so I could read every word of that green sheet. I do remember sitting by the heater during 1962 and memorizing every batting average for the day. It was important. Steve Schwartz might start discussing Chuck Hiller, and you needed to be able to bring the average up right then and there. You needed to know Chuck was hitting a miserable 223, but that he wasn’t a bad fielder at all. And remember the grand slam later in that season! Baseball was just intoxicating that year!
  • Dad brought home an Oldsmobile 88. Whoa, Nellie! I’m never excited by Porsches I see on the road, or fancy BMW’s. Hey, I saw the 88, man! Brown leather seats. Aerodynamic design that wouldn’t quit. You could fly that car to the moon. No problem. The Chevrolet, the paleo-packard, the big blue electra, the mercury which overheated just for the fun of it about every 25 minutes or so, none of these cars held a candle to the majesty of the Oldsmobile 88. Damn straight!
  • Dad was jaunty, full of fun, finding his stride as a doctor in town.
  • He’d eat lunch with Dr. McGuire at a place called “Clark’s”. He took me along one time. They ate burgers on redwood benches.
  • Of course, this caused dad to BALLOON UP! The pajamas built special would be waiting under the Christmas tree!
  • Tim was a bumptious 14 year old, reading, riding bikes, playing Avalon Hill games, finding snakes, occasionally letting me pal along. (I think sometimes at Mom’s urging to take your little brother Jay along, too. Mom was always looking out for the little guy. In this case, it was me!) But I think Tim probably often let me come along out of the goodness of his heart. He was often very kind to me. As per Mom looking out for me, you guys have probably heard the story as to how I made the first friend in my life.The story is that mom had to go out on the road and offer little Mark Sherman a piece of cake on his way home. Like any little kid, Mark bit hard for the cake, and so our minor little friendship began. A quick anecdote that kind of sums up the relationship between the surly Mark and me. It’s spring break of that year. It’s Saturday. The birds are singing and all that, some of ‘em getting drunk and flying in to the windows, or just wobbling around on the driveway (Some musicologist should attempt to tape the robins after a full round of pyrocantha berries. I wonder if they start singing Irish songs?) But I digress…

    So I’m flyin down the road to see Mark high as an eight-year old can be. Coulda been Pooh feeling singy. Out of my head, ecstatic. I come up to Mark, who has a severe, kind of what are you doing here look on his face. Undeterred, I yell out: “Wow, we got ten days with no school (geez, I feel even happier these days when spring break comes around!), and the laconic Sherman, preparing for his later days as surly drug dealer, answers: “So?” This was Mark’s favorite phrase. He thought it was magical. So? So? He loved it. He thought it gave him Harry Potter-like special powers. Whenever Mark didn’t know what to say, he’d say “So?” Anyway…

  • I was absolutely thrilled on those occasions I got to go with Tim and his friends.. Wow, this was how the big boys lived. Only problem was that sometimes I would blurt out things that were not considered exactly swift. Embarrassing verbal faux pas that would just come flyin out unedited. (Come to think of it, some things don’t change!). One time I was with Tim and his friends and I called someone a “pud.” “Pud” was a word that I heard bandied around in those days, and I must admit, I liked the feisty finality to its sound, but its exact definition was obscure to me. Tim then leaned over to me and whispered in my ear: “pud means penis.”“Penis!” I was kind of stunned. Why was everybody calling everybody else a penis?
    Mysteries abound in the eight-year-old mind! Later, down the road a patch, I had said so many embarrassing “pud”-like things that Tim (obviously, this was the future president of Palo Alto Software) was forced to come up with some way of finessing the situation. He was a nice guy, and he didn’t want to spurn his younger brother, because, truth be told, he loved me and kind of liked me, too, but he had to find a clever way to stop my unseemly outbursts.
  • This resulted in the now famous “dippish ways” policy directive of 1962. Some people talk about Breton Woods and stuff like that, to me, the “dippish ways” policy directive of 1962 continues to loom large. The first attempt globally at triangulation. In short, this was the policy: whenever I would burst forth with something that was embarrassing to Tim and his peers, Tim would lean over me with a kind of Kissingeresque hushed whisper, and say: “dippish ways.” This clearly meant that I was being a “dip.” A “dip” meant roughly, “pud.” “Dip” was all you need to know in those days. In Dostoevsky’s Russia they might call you a blackguard. In sunny little Los Altos in 1962, dip worked just fine! In fact, “dip” for about two years, carried a kind of eerie, totemistic, power.I trembled at the thought of my own capacity for “dippish ways.” Actually, I think the “dippish ways” policy worked somewhat, though not completely. Point of fact, I believe the “dippish ways” alert system was operative that entire summer, though, thankfully, only activated once. The one time the “dippish ways” boom was lowered, it was as if I had been struck dumb by Zeus. To this day I don’t remember what I said to earn that dreadful whisper of warning.
  • Big brother Chip was not someone in those days with whom I did a lot of talking. I was eight and he was a very serious 16. His heroes were Bobby Fischer and Richard Wagner. He hung out in the back room, played chess games from tournaments that involved people with oftentimes frightening Bulgarian-sounding names. I still remember a lot of the names from that chess era for some crazy reason. There was Mikhail Tal and Petrosian and Botvinnik. That was the fabbest chess name. Botvinnik. Scary. You wouldn’t want to play chess with that guy. You’d have to hose off afterword! I liked the weird sound of the names, though. Even Chip’s friends had weird names. I thought that went with the chess. In fact, I wondered one time why Chip didn’t have a weird chess name. Some of his friends had names like Blasi and Boulash and Balff. Chip didn’t like ya unless you had a slightly off-kilter name, preferably with a patina of the sinister, Eastern European sound in it. I remember Boulash. I recall that Boulash had jet black hair with a lot of oily goo in it, a major-league acne problem, and that he had a kind of Heinrich Himmler-like sensitivity to eight-year olds hanging around the chess board environs. Where is ol Boulash today? Probably picking up radio signals from outer space through the mercury in his fillings. As bits of spittle fly out of his mouth, he’ll tell ya that “cryptography is better than sex!”Chip liked to talk about people first using the phrase “the great.” So it was the great “Botvinnik (right spelling?)” or the great “Bobby Fisher.” Around this time Mom got to Chip and convinced poor Chip into taking little brother Jay to a high school football game. I bet there was some real heavy-duty deal making on that one, something akin to Jimmy Hoffa in the 50’s. It was a rainy football game at St. Francis high school– St. Francis vs. Riordan. We sat in the bleachers Chip and I. I think ol Rossovich might have been in the game, but he was not his epic senior self, he was younger. Chip’s tendency to call people “the great” got a little out of line on this occasion. St. Francis had a tiny little Japanese-American quarterback by the name of Gene Miyahara. Miyahara didn’t have a bad game. He scrambled, and, at times, ran for some yardage. But even at that age, I couldn’t help but wonder if Gene Miyahara deserved to be called “the great Miyahara!” I think the guy was maybe five foot four!
  • One of the coolest things about Chip was the music he played. The Wagner, the Puccini, the Gilbert and Sullivan, and Mussogorsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, a piece I really liked a lot, not only for the intense, evocative music (I liked the Wagner at times, when he’d cut to the chase, and Puccini, absolutely), but for the title. Wow! A night on Bald Mountain. Mr. Brown in Russia. Guarding his pomegranate tree with a shotgun. The wind swirling around. Rimsky Korsakov in the background– making motions to the violin section they are about to be shot for playing so weakly. Nowadays titles are “Song for Heather” or “Heather be a Ho.” Or “Heather be bald on the mountain”. Ya gotta like a title like “A Night on Bald Mountain.” Course, if you don’t, you might be shot like the string section! I will always be grateful to Chip for bringing all that stuff into the house. (Not that Tim didn’t bring a lot of cool music into the house! See how sensitive I am to not hurting either of my brothers’ feelings!)
  • Chip was not always welcoming when I came pouring into his lair/catacomb. His favorite phrase at this time was “beat it.” It was used with a terrific consistency. I don’t blame him for his attitude towards me. I was probably an annoying little eight year old, I suppose. An annoying, vulnerable, psychologically sensitive eight year old. It’s no wonder I wound up serving 10 years at San Quentin!
  • When you walked into Chip’s room he’d be doing three things at once and eating milk duds, to boot. The room always had a memorable odor, I recall. A synthesis of fungicidal size 13 tennis shoes and milk dud afflatus that hung about with a tenacious longevity. Chip would rarely leave the lair, and his attitude to the great outdoors was not exactly Emersonian. It was an attitude that reminds me of comedian Will Durst’s take on nature. “Hey, nature for me is where I parked my car!”
    As for the tennis shoes that ate Chicago, mom probably saw those things in her dreams. Her nightmares! I remember so often Mom yelling for Chip to get his tennis shoes out of the bathroom. After a while the shoes took on mythic proportions.
    They became like living creatures, and mom and dad had angry discussions as to which college they should send the tennis shoes. You were liable at any time to find the tennis shoe/creatures anywhere.While Chip might be ruminating over Wagner’s notion of “gesamtwerk,” or “the great Wagner’s” notion of “gesamtwerk,’” the monster shoes could be left in almost innumerable locations. But Chip’s favorite spot for droppin em was the bathroom, no question about it. And so, like clockwork, came Mom’s blood-curdling cry of complaint, a sound that could slash through a peaceful afternoon like a hunting knife through silk.
  • Martha was the sweetest little sister anyone would ever want. And so I abused her as much as I could! I had no use for her at this stretch in my life, but I would soon learn to love and respect my back seat vacation partner. I love you, Martha. And I’m sorry I abused you so much! I’d say about every five years or so I go through a paroxysm of apologies to Martha over how I treated her. I’m so glad she turned out OK! Problem with Martha in those days was that she was unable to either field or hit. I was an unrepentant fascist as far as judging people in those days. If you could field and hit you were okay, you were of use. I will say that Martha could catch and chloroform a butterfly with the speed of a demon, and I did enjoy occasionally catching butterflies with her on Sunday mornings by the Chinese elm tree.
  • 1962 was the year Chris Thomas joined our class, the Ms. Rice cult.
  • Chris has now been my best friend for approximately 40 years. Pretty heavy. This is why we rarely have a problem finding conversational subject material. It’s a Grand Canyon wide index of topics going back to Ms. Rice. There’s a ton of people who have attained a kind of goofy semi- real status in our minds. All part of sloungerland now!
  • Later that year, and this story’s often been told, Dad heeded my pathological eight year old’s desire to send in for World Series tickets even though the Giants were about 8 games out with about 25 to play. Dad said what the hey, I’ll do it, see what happens. As we all know, the Giants won the pennant. Still the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. It’s been all down hill after that.
    One day Ms. Rice, the angelic Ms. Rice and vaguely erotic Ms. Rice (I was in the second grade, but I knew Ms. Rice was one steaming sex pot!) came to me and told me to go home, and that my dad had baseball tickets. Ecstasy. I’ve never been so happy in my life. Ever. Well, maybe a coupla times when the drugs really kicked in!
    So we saw ol Billy Pierce pitch a shutout. In your face, dodgers. Like a three hitter, and Willie hit two home runs. We were sitting way up in the upper left field reserve seats, the second deck, and everytime anybody hit a pop-up, on account of the visual distortion, it looked like it might be goin out. Oooh, the thought of this game still sends goose pimples down my back. Chillingly beautiful. Ol Pierce brung it that day, boy! So there Wills and Gilliam and Ron Fairly (what kind of a name is that? He had that dorky anal-retentive batting stance. A bad man!)
  • The World Series everyone knows about. Bobby Richardson and all. Peanuts cartoons for years following. Put a hurt on ol Schultz’ bean, I guess. Mom secretly was hoping the Giants wouldn’t win so they wouldn’t have a riot. Mom’s sheer quirkiness is one of the things I will always remember her for. More on that later.
  • My final memory is kind of an image. We are in the oldsmobile 88 (though I’m not absolutely sure that was the year of the 88, but I think it was), and we’re about 15 or so miles from the most exotic place of all time. If you think I mean Paris or Rome or Budapest or Shanghai, then you don’t know me! The very most exotic place in the world, and especially in 1962 was King City! What a wonderful, intriguing, mysteriously little place that was. Mom would always say: “When we get to King City we’re half-way there.” But anyway, the image is of being almost to King City, and the one o’clock sun is angling through a line of eucaplyptus on the right, and you can smell those trees deeply, because the window is open. Everything is mystical with potential and future and the beach and a coke when we get to King City. Not a can, not one of the throw away bottles they made in the 70’s. This was one of those thick little 10 cent bottles that came from the art deco little machine. “All of a sudden you get shown the light/ in the strangest of places/ when you look at it right.”
    And there is laughter in that car. Profuse laughter. Today we still get along, at times a bit less fluidly then one would hope, but in those days, the laughter cleared out everything in its way.
    Everyone, if I recall, was very funny, and I spent a lot of time just laughing and enjoying things. There was Rod Serling skulking around at times, making it hard sometimes to go to sleep, but I do remember Zorba the Greek in the back of that super 88. Somehow squeezing in beside Chip’s shoes…

Berry Family History

My dad was born Oct. 2, 1919, in Milford, MA. His father, Frank C. Berry, was the principal of the high school there, the coach of the baseball team, and of the American Legion baseball team, which in the 1930s was a very big deal. They played for the state championship in Fenway Park in Boston twice, one once. Dad was the second baseman on the state championship team. He was also a straight-A student, quarterback on the football team, and high scorer on the basketball team. His mother, Helen, was a Sullivan by birth. The Berrys were very well known and respected in the small town of Milford. My dad was called “Frankie” by most of the people there. Because he was son of the principal, a start on the athletic fields, everybody knew him. He had a sister named Berry, six years younger, and a brother named Paul, 12 years younger.

Betty married John Coniaris, a psychiatrist, and they had three boys, Jeff, Tom, and Skip. They were divorced, he married the daughter of Supreme Court Justice Black, and Aunt Betty went back to college, got a masters degree, and became a social worker. All three cousins fooled around a lot in their twenties but then went back to school in their thirties, several Harvard degrees, they became doctors and lawyers and such. Betty had a 30-year career as a social worker in Boston, she was a wonderful elderly lady when I last had dinner with her in the 1980s. She died in the late 1990s.

Paul married Eveline – crossing local town boundaries because he was Irish of course and she was from an Italian family – and they had two children, Joe and Barbara. I always liked my Uncle Paul, he was very easy to like, quick to have a beer with you and talk about anything. He spent a lot of years in the Navy and later had some kind of job – I don’t really know what – in a local plant of Raytheon, a high-tech manufacturer of the 1970s. He died of Lukemia in the middle 1980s. Barbara became a CPA, I don’t know what became of Joseph. Aunt Evy was at Laura’s wedding with Aunt Betty.

My mother was born June 3, 1923, in Pittsburgh, PA. Her mother, Edith, was born in England in a large family, but raised in the United States. Several of her brothers died in World War I. Her father, Fred Wurtenbaugh, was a newspaperman in Pittsburgh, fairly well known about town, and author of occasional poetry published in the newspaper as well. Edit left Fred for good in 1935 and as far as we know never spoke to him again. He made attempts to contact my mom later in life, but she never forgave him for not trying sooner and harder. Mom had 3 siblings: Fred, a year older, Richard (Dick), two years younger, and Mary, younger than Dick, I’m not sure how much younger. She was always close with Fred, called Buddy, who was our Uncle Buddy, married to Aunt Bruna, from Italy.

Mom told stories about childhood. One of my favorite was the two aunts who, as sisters when they were girls, were always fighting. Aunt Anna was terrified that while she kneeled to pray, something monstrous would be under the bed and grab her. Still, she always prayed first, checked afterwards. Her sister, name unremembered by me, hid under the bed once and reached out and grabbed her leg while she was praying. Anna suffered horribly, and was determined to get even. So she got some fluorescent paint and painted her face with it so that at night, in the dark, she would look like a horrible monster. As she crept towards her sister at night to scare her and win her revenge, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, screamed and fainted.

Another story she told rarely was that her brother Dick shot and killed a playmate by accident when they were both nine years old. She sometimes seemed to blame that horrible even for Dick never growing up right. He eventually committed suicide in his early forties. Dick did marry a woman named Jenny Espinoza, Mexican, and they had three children, whose names were I can’t remember right now. They were divorced, she remarried and spent most of her life in Watsonville, married to the man who ran the weekly paper there, which once won a pullitzer prize. Our cousins visited once or twice in Los Altos, they were good people, but surprisingly – given the stepfather’s success in the weekly newspaper – unconcerned about education. The oldest, Richard, married a very pretty local girl who spoke only Spanish. They had met as day laborers in the mushroom farms in Watsonville.

Dick remarried, they visited once or twice but I don’t remember her name, but they were stereotypical hippies living in the Santa Cruz with flowing clothes, he had a pony tail, and they made candles. Then we learned he had committed suicide, and I don’t know much else about him.

Aunt Mary married Uncle Cal, a dentist, and had Jenny, Matt, Tom, and Patsy, in that order. Jenny was a year younger than me, Matt two years younger. I remember vaguely visiting them in Omaha, NB once when I was very young, and then when I was in something like fourth grade they moved closer to us. For several years they lived in a large old-fashioned house overlooking the second tee at the Los Altos Golf and Country club.


I was born January 17, 1948, in Milford, MA., at night. I was the second, Chip (Frank Dudley Berry Jr.) was born Aug. 1, 1946, which is

I know Milford from later visits, not from memory. We lived on High Street, which was up a hill from main street in a small New England town, about an hour from Boston. We were across the street from Gram, Dad’s mother, a small strong woman who lived into her nineties, was always very politically aware, and was also very religious, especially after her husband Frank C. Berry died in his late 40s of a mole-related cancer on his back.

Sometime before my memories started, we moved from Milford to Park Forest, IL. It was one of the original suburban tract settlements, commuter distance from Chicago. Dad did Ophthalmology at the Illinois Eye Ear and Nose Institute (or something like that) in downtown Chicago and commuted by train. Park Forest was written up by sociologists – Mom told me later – as an archetypical suburb in the very beginning of the generation of suburbs. It was classic 1950s. I can remember the Howdy Doody show on a black and white television at a neighbor’s house – we didn’t have one. The houses were arranged in a circle, and they all looked alike, one street leading out of the circle like the stem of a tree. I remember being outside with a tricycle. Mom said I used to push it, not ride it.

We moved to Camp Pickett, VA, where we lived on an army base in a small house at the end of the row. I had a stuffed dog named “Trick Doggy” that I used to toss in the air and spin, which was the reason for the name. Chip liked trucks, he had toy trucks. Our house was next to a field that was bordered on the far end by a forest (probably just a grove of trees, but to me it was a forest).

Dad had been in the army during WWII, but Camp Pickett was about him getting called up while he was in the reserves. This was during the Korean War. I have a memory of him and Mom very disturbed on a phone call late at night, which was connected with him being called up, because it interrupted their plans and he had already served in the other war. That may be an imposed memory, something that came from stories told later.

Somewhere in the early years Mom and a miscarriage, and an operation, which I now know was removing half of her uterus and one ovary. I have a memory of a hospital room at night, city lights in the background through the window, Mom in the bed, Dad taking care of Chip and me.

We moved to California when I was 4 or 5. We lived with Grandma and Grandad (Mom’s mother and Jack O’Neill, who was not her father but who she loved as a father, called Dad, and stayed with Granma, Mom’s mother, from the time Mom was 12 until he died) in Ojai for a few months, during which I went to kindergarten in Ojai. My memories of Ojai are good memories, mixed now with several visits later on, a wonderful small town in the mountains above Santa Barbara. Grandad was tall, born in Ireland, a tattoo on his arm, he had been a carpenter, he liked to fish (took us fishing, Chip and me, when we were a little older) and smoked fish in his own smoker in the back yard. There were Orange trees in the back yard, and paths and a garden marked by wood borders sticking out along the sides. There was a huge oak tree that towered over the house, driveway, and garage. The house had a room that Grandad opened up, pulling the windows off and leave a screen that was most of the wall, which felt refreshing and cool in the evening. Ojai memories are always summer, hot, so the cool room was special.

There was a cottage in the back, where Chip and I slept when we were older. It was a small house, at the end of the road, closest house to the mountains which looked huge and imposing and full of cougars (Grandad told stories about the cougars) and adventure. It was a small house, not expensive, didn’t look expensive.

We also lived in Marysville, in the Sierra foothills, where we had another small clapboard yellow house (as in Camp Picket) that was the last house before fields and woods.

We settled in California in Los Altos, 629 Benvenue Ave., in 1954. I went to kindergarten in Springer School in Los Altos. It was another suburban layout with a lot of kids the same age. I played with Greg Ball, who was best friend (we were all 5 and 6, mind you, but I have a lot of memories by this point. There was also a Mike Cimino, who we liked, and a Johnny Wiss, or Whiss, who we didn’t. I learned to ride a bicycle, with Dad helping of course, running it down the little slope of the driveway unto the wide-open street.

Benvenue was built out of an apricot orchard. We all had apricots in our back yards. Chip and I had to pick the rotting apricots up in the summer, 10 or 15 trees worth, what seems now like hours spent picking the gooey overripe apricots up and throwing them into a bag. They were all rotten and disgusting. I still don’t like apricots very much, I used to hate them.

Benvenue was an open playground. We went where we wanted, back and forth from friends and houses. We played on the lawns, mostly the Ciminos across the street because it was bigger; we played football from September through December, basketball from then until April, then baseball from April through September.

By this time we had a television. We watched Rin Tin Tin and Disneyland. It was small and of course black and white. The three of us, Dad, Chip and I, watched the 49ers on that black-and-white set. Y.A. Tittle was their quarterback. Norm Van Brocklin was quarterback of the Los Angeles rams.

We had a gray Packard, bought used, Mom and Dad respected the brand, but it didn’t always start and I have a memory of Mom pushing it related to a miscarriage.

But Jay was born that April, in 1954. Before that it had been just the 4 of us, Mom and Dad and Chip and me. Chip was there in a lot of my memories, a comforting figure most of the time, a friend brother, although I also remember some fights. Granma stayed with us while Mom was in the hospital. When she came back with the new baby everybody wanted to see him, over and over again. He became a bargaining chip in the group, they might lose favor and not be able to see the baby.

When I started first grade, Chip and I rode our bikes together to St. Nicholas School (now called St. Williams). Mine was a 20” schwinn bike with fenders, I remember it as always old, but it was also red.

My first teacher was Sister Clarissa, who was scary and mean. I can still remember her shouting at a girl named Patty Vance, who had big glasses and was not liked by anybody, as she spanked her and shooed her out of class, some kind of mess on her chair. Chip had had Sister Clarissa too, he was also very afraid of her, she had been mean to him too. When we came back in January that year Sister Clarissa was gone and we had Sister Judith, who was nicer. I learned that Sister Clarissa had been taken away to some kind of asylum or something like that.

I was always good at school, frustrated by waiting for other kids to catch up. One day out of the blue, while my hand was up in the air with a few others offering the answer to a question, she said: “all of you who have your hands up, keep them up. I always see the same hands. We are going to make reading groups today, and you are in the first group.” She distributed the readers to a few of us. Groups and tracks and channeling were good to me ever since.

We were allowed to go places with our bikes. We used to ride to the theater on Main Street on Saturday, where the Saturday matinee cost a quarter, we would see the Flash Gordon serial first – always exciting, always a cliffhanger, always waiting for next Saturday’s next episode, and then a movie. We loved Laurel and Hardy. Chip and I were often together, although also with the other kids.

Chip and I shared the bedroom that looked toward the street. We had fights over the window and the curtain, because Chip couldn’t stand the window open for fear something bad would look in on us. I couldn’t stand the window closed because there were two holes in the curtain that looked like tiger eyes when the lights shined through them. Chip finally ripped the tiger eyes so they became one, but unfortunately that made an alligator on the wall, and I was still scared. I wet my bed several times, at least once while I was awake but afraid to touch all the alligators on the floor.

We doted on Jay. So did the whole neighborhood. He was everybody’s mascot.

In the summer we went to Clint’s on State Street in Los Altos, for ice cream. I discovered butterscotch. Where the Foothill Expressway is now there was a railroad track that connected to Palo Alto, went through where Gunn High School is not. We would all show Jay the train, competing for his attention. Men with gray suits, hats. and briefcases would get out of the train and find their way to parked cars and home. Once we road the train to Palo Alto and back.

We were proud of Dad. He didn’t have to take a train to San Francisco, we was a doctor. His office was on El Monte, less than a mile from Benvenue, between El Camino and the stop sign where Springer ave joined El Monte (which was the stop sign where I got my first traffic ticket).

We didn’t have a lot of money. We lived in a rented house in the flats, like all of our neighbors. I think that at this time there were a lot of debts to be paid. We didn’t think about money, didn’t notice money, and never thought of it related to friends, neighbors, or schoolmates. It didn’t matter. Los Altos was not a particularly snazzy or expensive place, just a small town between San Jose and San Francisco, houses where there used to be apricot orchards, all across the town. It wasn’t too different from Ojai.

We had a dog named Rene, an airdale, that was crazy. When we let Rene out in the back yard she would run from fence to fence, stopping suddenly and changing directions, always looking like she was going to smash into the fence, but never actually crashing.

While I was in second grade we started with the new house, on Eastbrook Ave, distant from Benvenue. Eastbrook was a very small road, quite remote, that ran through a very wide open field of tall grass weeds. The house started in a mostly flat field, and as the months of construction went by we visited frequently. I enjoyed the process, I used to play with blocks made from the cut frame wood we called two-by-fours. The foundations were placed in the middle of the field, in a float part flattened further by bulldozers, above the beginning of an include that then, after our part of it, fell steeply down into a grove of thick trees by a creek. Across from the house was open field, below it was an orchard of Pomegranate trees. The orchard hill was topped by two tall redwoods, which were very climbable, and became a part of my boyhood after we moved.

I started Loyola School at the beginning of third grade. We still lived in the house on Benvenue but we were going to move, so it was Loyola School instead of St. Nicholas. I had Miss Emerson in third grade, liked the other kids, fell in love with her an a girl in class named Nancy Pershing, so much so that I actually liked the folk dancing we did in PE.

In Loyola School, where I did third through sixth grade, we were channeled from smart class to dumb class, with 3 in between (5 classes total), and we all knew which was which. I was always in the smart class. There were a few hours of awkwardness as a new kid but that ended quickly because I was good in 4-square, the playground game, which gave me a place in third-grade hierarchy very quickly.

We moved to the new house on Eastbrook avenue soon after. I missed Greg Ball, but we had overnights, and I got along fine in the new school. Martha was born that December, 1957. Miss Coolidge was the fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Elliott for fifth grade, and Mrs. Sommers for sixth.

I also rode my bike to Loyola School, sometimes with my friend Jeff Noe, who lived on Terrace, usually with Chip. We rode our bikes to Loyola Corners and Blossom Valley, there were no problems. I had a bigger bike by then, and it was black, and not so old.

Living on Eastbrook Ave. in the beginning was like living in the country. From a neighborhood full of kids we were moved to a house in front of a field, with hills and chaparral in back, and a creek down the hill, not far away. We had a sandbox in the new house, and the blocks, and I had several matchbox cars and trucks and a lot of time to myself. Chip and I kept each other company, although he headed towards chess and opera and I was more trucks, pets, and sandbox. I liked to wander the hills, and climb the redwoods, although for that I’d want to have the one neighbor almost our age, Greg Pike, or then later my cousin Matt Burlison, first cousin, son of Mom’s sister Mary and our Uncle Cal – a dentist – who moved in when I was in fifth or sixth grade. They lived across the fields, about half a mile away through the weeds, in a house on a hill overlooking the country club.

The airdale Rene died and was replaced by Lena, German Shepard, who we got as a puppy and became part of the household for a very long time. Martha grew from baby to little girl and by the time she was 5 she was inseparable with Matty, Matt Sherman who lived down the hill, and she also was allowed to wonder the area from house to house as more houses were built and we had neighbors, but always with Lena, who never left her side. Lena would follow me wherever I went until Martha was old enough to follow, and then she was always with Martha. She was a fierce-looking German Shepard whenever a stranger arrived and a house where Martha was, whether it was our house or not. playing with friends in somebody else’s house or

I had lots of pets, aside from Rene. Mom liked pets. Not long after we moved into the new house in 1957 (the earlier version of the same house on 23260 Eastbrook Avenue that Dad lives in as I write this … there was a lot of remodeling through the years) I got a pair of white rats, babies when I got them, that were installed in a relatively large cage in the family room, where our single TV was. Mom liked them a lot. She would feed them scraps and they’d come running. They had a litter of babies, after which we got rid of them. I had a long series of hamsters, white mice, and similar pets. I saved my allowance for a long time to buy a box turtle, which lived in the house for years, not in a cage, just wandering around, which was also fine with Mom. At least once it went slowly pondering through the living room when they had adult company in to play bridge. I had a skunk too, which Mom helped me get, but it was never very friendly and we got rid of it.

I read a lot about snakes and tried to hunt them. There was some foolishness to this, because we had rattlesnakes in the chaparral up above the house and in the fields, but I had read books about them and felt I knew how to avoid them. It took a lot of frustration before I finally caught snakes, but I did eventually catch a few, which became pets. Gopher snakes were scary in the beginning, catching them, because they would bite; but they became tame very quickly.

One of the first times I actually caught a snake was on a warm Saturday, sometime in late Spring or early fall I know because Saturdays weren’t relevant in the summer. I came up the hill from the creek, back home, eager to show the snake to Mom and Dad and the rest of the family. Dad was asleep on his bed when I waked him up to show him the snake. It was pointed at his face, and as he woke up, he rolled all the way off the bed in fright. He was not amused.

We shared a bedroom.

The bus route up Magdalena Ave. Glovie Reider, Penny Tie, Jane Trowbridge.

In Georgina P. Blach junior high school they did the same thing with math, English, and history, and again we all knew. In Chester F. Awalt high school,

Skiing … broken leg

Awalt High School. Mr. Gilette. Miss Elliott. Nov. 22, 1963. The World Affairs Club. Terry McKenna.

Sunset Lake, high sierra. 1994

St. Francis, High School. Meeting George, Tom, and Bill. Friendship.

Camp Unalayee, Janet Bowers. Haight Ashbury.

Notre Dame, Innsbruck, Notre Dame, Julie Castrop, Leslie Granstrom. Steve Tapscott, Pat Clinton, Al Eisenmann, Leo Lensing, Bob Wingerson.

The Innsbruck program started in early July from New York. I flew out of my own, found the hotel in New York where the Innsbruck group was to meet. I was one of a few who went there alone, most of us kids from farther away, whose families didn’t go with. Airfare was relatively expensive in those days, compared to now, so people thought a lot more before flying across the country the way we now do.

Dad’s family came to New York to meet me and see me off. That was Gram, Dad’s mother, and Uncle Paul and Aunt Eveline. There was also a bit of hanging out in bars in New York, a bunch of 19-year-old kids feeling adult. After a long day and a half, we boarded the U.S.S. United States, one of the largest ocean liners in existence,


Dad’s letter while I was in Innsbruck. Go to medical school.

Vange. One night at the Lower Level, February of 1969.

Spring Vacation, Vange.

Summer of 1969. The foot accident. Uncle Buddy, Holly Sugar, Jack what’s-his-name who taught me, shoveling sugar.

The visit, September 1969. The drive to South Bend. The traffic ticket that wasn’t. The house, the weed, Easy Rider, the draft lottery. Planning the marriage.

Christmas Vacation and Dec. 19, 1969.

Jan. 24, 1970. Finding an apartment. The visa problem.

Sister Rita and the job. The red Volkswagen. Sleeping in the library. Laura’s visit. German speakers annoyed with Spanish. The trip to California. House sitting, the cottage first, then the bigger house, working at Pittsburgh-Demoines steel.

The trip to Mexico and back in 1970, by car. Crossing the border with the visa.

Eugene and University of Oregon. Westmoreland, job problems, John Crawford and Dean Rea, switching to Amazon. Painting the apartment.

Job search, the news, going to Mexico. The group at the News. Jaime Plenn, Patrica Nelson. Carlos. Marty the mustached man, ex-hippy, New Yorker

The car broke down, get it fixed, on to Mexico.

UPI supplente, Pieter Van Bennekom, Denny Davis, David Navarro, Victor and Benjamin Ferretiz.

Laura marries Raul, in 1971.

Vange announces she’s pregnant, some time in December 1971. Christmas 1971, we went with the Lillies.

Jay comes for a spell.

Laura is born. Perugino. July of 1972. The new baby. Living with the new baby. Introduction to Dr. Mario Lasky. Parque Hundido, ratas que son del campo.


The Orbis Nostrum, May of 1973. Where are those slides? Diego Becerra. The ball in the middle of the glorieta. Sabrina is born.

UPI Journalism. The Hermosillo story. The Leonhardy story in Guadalajuara, Geraldo Rivera and the other guy who later had an NBC show interviewing. George Natansen, Tony Halek, Carl Hersch. Paul Wyatt. Norberto Swarzman. Matt Kenny, his wife Vera. Chess tournament at the foreign correspondents club. The clubhouse in the Hilton, Insurgents and Paseo de la Reforma. Taking peseros. Pick pockets in the bus.

Orbis Nostrum again in 1974. Vange and Laura the month after, I stayed with Nana and two kids. Good times.

Raul is born. We moved to Boston 34, in Colonia Napoles. One floor below Laura and Raul. Mom and Dad visited, mom proposed taking Sabrina.

I switch to Business International. Hurricane Fifi in Honduras, May of 1974, just when I was leaving, but the peak of confidence.

Colonel Sandino and the necesitamos helicopteros.

McGraw-Hill World News, freelance.

Weekends … Nana took the kids, we went to Camomihla in Tepoztlan, Las Estacas, San Jose Purua.

I finished my thesis, got my master’s degree, traveled to Oregon, degree with honors. Mom and Dad paid the debts. Acapulco for a week with two girls, Sabrina about one year old, calling me “Mama.” The stint in the ad agency.

1975. We discovered Vange’s pregnant with Paul. Rosemary’s comments about abortion. We were able to buy the Rambler stationwagen, a milestone for all of us (notwithstanding Raul’s LTDs briefly)

Sick kids, Lasky, el Hospital Infantil Privado.

The land in Cuernavaca, my $1,000 to Nana back when it was a lot of money to us.

Dias del Campo on the highway to Cuernavaca, or the Ajusco. Weekends in Ixtapan de la Sal. More camping in Tepoztlan. Saturday nights we’d go to La Pergola.

A beautiful weekend at Las Hadas, on the west coast of Mexico, guests of the Alfa Group. Flight back on the private jet. More thoughts about journalism.

1976. I’m going to night school, learning macro and micro-economics, marketing, accounting, finance. My question to the finance minister in Acapulco. The story on devaluation in March of 1976. We buy land, we failed to buy a house in Lomas del Sol, the story of Nuestro Pedazito de tierra. The peso is devalued.

Nilda Morell, Ralph Diaz, the round tables. General Facho, Orville Freeman, Bob Wilson. Working the turismo brochures, giving up smoking.

Summer of 1977. I went to New York for Business International and 3 weeks with Business Week. Vange and the kids staying in California. When we returned we lived up Desierto de los Leones, in the Ramos house. In the woods, above the city, I liked it a lot. Laura broke her leg. Charlie’s Angels on TV, the first Sabrina.

I bought the green volkwagen sedan from Patty Moreno. Luis Moreno and the inauguration of Jose Lopez Portillo.

1978. Chip Married Kathy. Dick Conlan from Business International San Francisco liked me, got me a junket for the wedding. Dallas also, and we lost Vange’s visa to an inquisitive customs agent. December of 1979 we took the green volkwagen through Oaxaca, Chiapas, Palenque, Tabasco, and Veracruz. Paul had tonsils out. The kids stayed in Cuernavaca.

1979. January I visited Mom and Dad in Los Altos, for my second nose operation opening a passage (removing polyps). One morning I was up early, doing pushups in the sunny spot on the living room rug, thinking nobody was up.

Dad walked out into the living room, in a bathrobe and pajamas, slippers, cup of coffee in his hand. He was 60 that year, a good-looking 60, pretty much bald by then already, but still at the top of his game in his profession, and on the tennis courts too.

This was the quintessential Dad in the morning. He was dressed in a dark green plaid bathrobe, pajamas of some unidentifiable color and pattern, and the brown slipper he had forever. This was his uniform for non-work mornings, what he wore to go out into the driveway and get the morning paper. He had his coffee in one hand, a plain solid yellow cup of instant powdered coffee softened with milk. And he had his newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, folded under his arm.

We all grew up with the Chronicle. It was a piece of our life everyday, an important ritual for both Mom and Dad, our whole family window into the rest of the world. The green sections were particularly important to Dad, and, as we grew up with them, to me and Chip and Jay; the green sections had sports and business. We all read the sports, and Dad also read business. And they were green, as I was growing up, the pages were printed on green newsprint.

On this particular morning, a very sunny January morning with me back and home for a rare visit, Dad shared some thinking and advice, along with a front-page story in the green business section.

“I’ve been thinking,” he began. “You should get an MBA degree at Stanford. You already said you wanted to get into banking but you weren’t getting anywhere for lack of the MBA degree.”

I agreed warily. I had flown to San Francisco a week earlier than required for the operation because I wanted to switch from business journalism to business. I’d been set up for an interview with Wells Fargo thanks to the Help of Hugh ____, who had become a friend because of Business International ties in Mexico City, where Wells was a client. Before Hugh ___ there had been Dennis Nathan, who left for Wells Fargo in New York, and I liked them both. I thought I could be a banker, and I

The trip to New York that followed. What’s her name the co-editor. The Hong Kong offer. Crumbacher back in Mexico City. The trip to Hong Kong.

The decision, the trip to the U.S. arriving, Escondido Village, Stanford as wonderland. The first fall, first quarter, nerves about money, followed by the dinners on the porch, crab, bicycle to Creative Strategies.

Larry Wells and Creative Strategies.

Summer of 1980. Consulting for Grupo Alfa, traveling, the houseboat vacation, the backpack vacations.

The second year. Living in the anticipation of money, working with