Loretta Houck – July 12th, 2010

I met with Loretta one evening a couple of weeks ago at her new bookstore in the heart of Boonville – ‘Laughing Dog Books’. A couple of customers stopped by but we were able to have our conversation without too many interruptions at that time of day…
Loretta was born in Prescott, Arizona in 1955, the eldest of two daughters born to Patsy Ruth Allen and Laird McClellan Betts. Three years later sister Nancy was born but when Loretta was four her parents split up, and then another couple of years after that, when her mother had remarried, a brother, Robert was born. All four grandparents were born in the U.S. but Loretta has little knowledge of their heritage other than that her mother was of Welsh descent and had been born and raised in Hollywood, while her father was born in Mississippi and his family had some Scottish blood.
“We grew up about fifty miles north of Phoenix in the hills on the way to Flagstaff. It was a lovely town then, just a few thousand inhabitants, whereas now it has 50,000 and is a bedroom community to Phoenix… My father was a cowboy/ranchhand and competed in rodeos. My mother had been a secretary in Boise, Idaho and after they were married she worked as the ranch cook wherever my father found a job. When they separated, following my father’s affair with the babysitter, the family split up and I went with my mother to Los Angeles where she became a secretary at Lockheed Martin. I never saw my father again. My mother met and married my stepfather, forever known as the stepmonster and the nightmare began.”
Over the next few years Loretta found herself living in Alabama, Georgia, and various other states as her stepfather could not hold down a steady job due to his drinking and erratic behavior and it was not until 7th grade that she completed a full year in the same school. They lived in downtown Detroit for a time in the early sixties – a very tough place at that time. “At the age of seven I ran away and found myself at Tiger Stadium in the center of Detroit. I thought it was a zoo – ‘Tiger’ stadium – not the ballpark and couldn’t work out why I couldn’t get in. My stepfather was a very, very abusive man and this continued for years. Ultimately I was the only one who came through relatively unscathed. My sister turned to heroin and prostitution and my brother also went off the rails. I have not seen her for twenty-seven years and I have seen him every eight years or so and he looks just like his father.”
In October 1964, Boeing in Seattle hired the stepfather – “he must have lied seriously on his resume” – and Loretta’s mother also got a job there. The world seemed to open up for Loretta at this point and she felt it was the beginning of a new life. The family lived in the suburbs of West Seattle for two years before moving to Auburn, Washington in 1967, about twenty miles south where they bought a house in the town, which was about the size of Ukiah. From the 7th grade until graduating from Auburn High in 1973 Loretta went through the same school system.
In 1969, the ‘stepmonster’ left and was later arrested in San Jose. The police called the house but Loretta’s mother did not want to speak to him and hung up. She never spoke to him again, although in 1975 he did come and collect his son, Robert. However, not long afterwards Robert had his arm broken in a fight with his father and returned to Auburn… Loretta did well at school, enjoying math, reading, and languages – Spanish and German. She was for the most part a straight ‘A’ student although occasionally she did rebel against certain teachers, one in particular who reminded her of the ‘stepmonster’. She generally cruised through her studies without much effort while also helping the Principal with some of his paperwork as the local Lions Club Chairman. In her final two years she started to smoke pot and in the end she graduated with a disappointing ‘C’ average although she never got into any serious trouble. She earned a little money as a babysitter then later got a summer job in the schoolbook depository, and between her junior and senior years she worked at the Big Scoop Ice Cream Parlor – her first restaurant job.
“I had a friend, Joan, who grew weed in her closet and I hung out with other kids who smoked and listened to the Rolling Stones. Joan’s dad was a car dealer and so she had a car and we’d drive around town and during that summer of 1973 we just hung out with older dope-smoking guys. My mother arranged for me to have an interview with the I.T.T. School of Business and, as I wanted to travel, I enrolled in a business course for the airlines – hotel work, stewardess training, flight bookings, etc – hospitality and travel stuff. Then at the end of the nine-month course, United Airlines went on strike and the whole industry stopped hiring, not a single graduate from the course found work and I found myself in a few different secretarial jobs for the next couple of years.”
At twenty-one, in 1976, Loretta took a job as the hostess at a new restaurant in Seattle. She got herself an apartment and worked hard in the business for a couple of years during which time she started dating John who worked for the phone company. It was the beginning of an extended ‘on again; off again’ relationship. She was now also bartending and found a new job at Club 401 in the city. “It was a great place to work but in early 1978 John was transferred to Pasco, Washington so I ended up moving there with him and enrolling at the Tri-Cities Community College, studying business accounting and German… On my birthday in May 1979 he proposed and I said ‘Yes’ but then in July he kicked me out. I decided to leave town and hitched across country with a friend to her family home in Tennessee before we continued on to Daytona Beach, Florida. Now the fun started… We lived in a beach house and found work as a cocktail waitresses. It was a really fun time for about eight weeks but then John called, crying and begging me to return. I caught the Greyhound bus to Phoenix where he met me and we took a couple of weeks driving back up to Washington, playing golf at various places on the way. We settled in together and were married on February 14th, 1980… Our whole time together was like very unstable. He’d often disappear for a few days at a time – let’s just say he had many issues.”
Daughter Jennifer was born on November 15th, 1980 – “yes, she was conceived on our wedding night!” – and Loretta became a housewife and mother, taking a few classes at night school which became her social life too… In 1983 they moved to Spokane, Washington with John’s phone company job and were there for two years before the company split up and they moved to Seattle where Loretta went back into office work. “We began to fight a lot and when Jennifer was still in kindergarten, in September 1985, John and I decided to split up and Jennifer spent time between us. We basically let her choose – she was an old soul and more mature than us! John then married a woman who had a son close in age to Jennifer so she moved in permanently with her father and his new family… I went off the deep end…”
For a couple of years Loretta was a ‘wild and crazy girl’ in the bar/restaurant business, earning great money but spending it almost as quickly as she earned it. By 1987 John and his wife had separated and he and Jennifer had moved into a house and wanted Loretta to join them there. “It was a very hard decision. I felt this person could not control me any longer. It was a sort of abuse; different from that which my mother had endured but everything was always on his terms and it was not healthy for any of us. One day in December 1987 I walked Jennifer to school and told her I was leaving town. I then got on a Greyhound bus to Spokane, about five hundred miles away.”
Loretta had a place to stay with a bartender friend and a job at a fun bar/restaurant called Cyrus O’Leary’s. “It was a high-energy place that rewarded the best workers with the best shifts. I did very well there for a couple of years but it had been very hard to leave Jennifer and by 1989 I wanted to move back to Seattle. When I was visiting there for a basketball game between the Supersonics and the Celtics, I applied for a job as a server at Ivar’s Acres of Clams. They hired me and I moved back to Seattle, by which time John and his wife had reunited and Jennifer was living with them.”
While working at Ivar’s, Loretta became friends with another server by the name of Dan Houck and over the next several months or more they hung out with a group of fellow bartenders and servers, including Dan’s wife who became a good friend. Then in March 1990 Dan and his wife separated and Loretta took Dan to the airport as he departed for a new job on a crab processing boat in Alaska. The following August, Dan returned and then he and Loretta spent the Labor Day Weekend camping in Ashland, Oregon before deciding to make a trip to Key West they had often talked about.
“I had wanted to take a dog on the trip but as we were hitching that would have been tough so we took a bird instead – Jonathon Livingstone Cockatiel. It was a totally, totally amazing trip with many great memories. One of those is of being invited to stay at the home of a woman who was a park ranger at the Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, Utah. She was a modern witch, a Wicca actually, who lived in an amazing place with lots of dogs and cats. We’d put the cockatiel in the bathroom but then found him drowned in the toilet. I gave him ‘mouth to beak’ resuscitation and brought him back to life. However, the story has a sad ending because he flew into the ocean a few weeks later in New Hampshire and we never saw him again.”
They arrived in Key West in late October with a plan to get work on the shrimping boats but there was nothing available. Instead they both started work in the famous bar/restaurant owned by Jimmy Buffet – ‘Margaritaville’. “We had a blast and lived on a boat for about a month before getting an apartment on Duval Street, the main drag on the island. We made lots of friends and then in April 1991, when Jennifer, aged ten at the time, visited us for spring break, I was at the airport putting her on a plane home when my name was called on the public address system. It was a call from John who told me he would not be picking her up at the other end and so she stayed with us. It didn’t take us long to realize that the Key West scene was not the place to raise a kid so we said our sad ‘goodbye’s’ to our friends and all got on a bus to L.A. where we were met by Dan’s parents who took us to their home in Bakersfield. We were restless and thought about the Oregon coast as a destination with a job at the Rogue Brewery as a possibility. Jennifer and I went there and I found a little work at the brewery and we lived in a tent at nearby campgrounds. Meanwhile Dan found work with his brother’s landscaping business and a place to live in Sacramento. Jennifer returned to Seattle and I joined Dan in the July and found a restaurant job at a comedy club in ‘Old Sac’ with Dan working a second job in the evenings at a gas station.”
“In April 1992, Dan and I flew to London to begin our pre-arranged trip to meet with our Key West friends in Amsterdam for the summer solstice of 1992. We had brought all the cycling gear with us and assembled the bikes in the hotel room and set off for a few wonderful weeks riding around England, camping in people’s fields – everyone was very friendly. From there we caught the ferry to France and despite having difficulties with both bikes we managed to get around, visiting the Normandy beaches and war sites, enjoying the wonderful bed and breakfast places with their delicious bread and cheese, and finally getting to Paris and staying in the dorm room of a college where a professor friend of ours was teaching. That first night in Paris, before we found the room, was magical – playing cribbage all night on the Champs d’Elysee.”
After selling both bikes, Loretta and Dan set out with their backpacks and hitched to Frankfurt in Germany where they heard they of work at the nearby American army base. “Dan worked in the sewing section of the Post Exchange store and I became a waitress at Chi Chi’s Mexican restaurant on the American base in Germany! We also hitchhiked to Amsterdam and back to meet up with our friends for the Solstice on June 21st. I had been calling Jennifer quite often during the trip but she was not interested in really talking. Then in July I called John and found out that he had succumbed to crack cocaine and was totally out of it. His wife had kicked him out and Jennifer was now at her aunt’s house and wanted me to come home. I left Europe and Dan stayed on. I got back to Seattle, collected Jenn and fortunately, as fate would have it, Dan’s ex was moving out of their old apartment so Jennifer and I moved in, with Dan joining us that September.”
For a time Loretta returned to the restaurant business at ‘Merchant’s Café’ but in May 1993 she thought it was time to go back to the office world again and she was hired by the Sharpe Law firm as a legal secretary while she and Dan they lived in an apartment on Phinney Ridge in Seattle. “In December of that year we were at a lawyer’s Christmas party when I proposed to Dan, he said ‘Yes’ and we were married on a ferry boat in Elliott Bay, Seattle on April 1st, 1994. The reception was the next day at our local bar – the Eastlake Zoo…
In August 1997, they bought a house and then Dan became a professional brewer at the Pyramid Brewery in town. Two years later he got a call from the owner of a brewery in Kauai, Hawaii offering him a job there. “He had become a little tired of the routine at the brewery and wanted a fresh challenge so he went over for a couple of weeks and then took the job on a permanent basis in September. I had been at the law firm for six years and felt like a change too and moved over to join him in December 1999 but Jennifer, now nineteen, stayed at home. Once again we made some great friends but the job wasn’t great – the owner was not really a ‘beer man’.”
One of their friends from the Seattle beer community, Fal Allen, was now the general manager at the Anderson Valley Brewing Company. “He wanted to bring the entire Seattle crowd to the Valley but in the end only Dan and I made it. I moved to the Valley on August 14th, 2000 and Dan came a month later, neither of us knowing much about the Valley and its community at all. We moved in to a place in Yorkville but as it turned out there was no brewing job so Dan became the cellar man before taking a job in construction with Jeff Fox who was working on various projects at the brewery such as the tasting room, the horse barn, the storage cooler building, and even the disc golf course. Meanwhile I job hunted and found work with Organic Wine distributors in Ukiah, then I did some marketing at the brewery which lasted a month, before I settled at Yorkville Cellars where I stayed for two-and-a-half years working for Deborah and Ed Wallo. I then worked at Glad’s store in Boonville for a year or so before getting a job as the high school career counselor for about six months in 2004.”
Loretta went on to work at KZYX & Z local public radio in various guises – as the membership and volunteer co-coordinator, running the auction, the underwriting, and then, while still holding these positions, she was the morning voice with the news, as well as starting the ‘woo hoo, it’s Friday’ thing. She left there in January 2007 and in April took a bartending job in Hopland at the Brutacao Restaurant and then later at the Walter Café in Ukiah, before finally settling in a job at the County as an office assistant in October 2007 which she did until July 2008 when she was promoted and worked in the Area Agency on Aging department, a job she still has today, along with running her new bookstore of course. “I guess I’ve always been a ‘gypsy queen’ – always on the move.”
As for her social life here in the Valley Loretta believes that if the Valley opens up and let’s you in then a social scene can happen in a big way. “I had social jobs here in the Valley and have had a fabulous time here. We would visit San Francisco about once a month but that is much less now… I have thought about moving on but Dan is grounded here. I’m very used to moving, obviously, and for a time it felt weird to be in one place but now I’m much more settled and can say to myself ‘this is it.’ I feel very comfortable and happy here.”
“I love this community; everyone knows fun things about each other. I loved Seattle but it was not the same as knowing people here. We are part of this real community and I really value that. My biggest complaint was that there was no bookstore in the Valley so on May 21st this year I opened one!… I actually always thought I’d have a restaurant – I nearly bought Glad’s at one point and twice inquired about The Buckhorn bar/pub. The opportunity here happened so quickly. After I noticed the new patio and thought of people reading outside I went for it and had a crazy few months but it all came together as it needed to and I am very optimistic about its success. I am a pretty positive person and think that perhaps I was always meant to be doing this. I enjoy it very much.”
“One ‘complaint’, I guess, is that I have always been able to catch a bus or walk to where I want to go and here that is hard to do here. I love live music and performance but here we have to drive everywhere – it’s been a big drawback on my drinking life! I have come to terms with it and realize it is one of the trade-offs but it took a time for me to accept and now we live just five miles south of town and it works… If I had to change anything it would be to add a bank, improve the bus system, and a little more grocery shopping choice – the less time in Ukiah the better, even though I still work there.”
I asked Loretta for her views on some of the Valley’s talking points… The wineries and their impact? – “I am disappointed that the Valley has turned into a virtual monoculture at this point. Their arrival, and the subsequent effect on property values, has also totally negated the chance we will be able to buy property here and that is very disappointing. However, the jobs and tourism that come with the wineries keeps many businesses and individuals in work. There’s always trade-offs”… The A.V.A.? – “It’s an interesting newspaper shall we say. I love the local stuff and it seems to grasp the flavor of the community”… KZYX & Z local public radio? – “I love that radio station almost as much as it frustrates me”… Drugs in the Valley? – “The methamphetamine scene troubles me but marijuana is fine. Anything in moderation is fine with me”… Changes in the Valley? – “In my ten years here there have been many openings and closures – it seems to be a place on the verge of becoming something quite big and may be that will happen.”

To end the interview, as I have being doing each week, I posed a variety of questions to my guest.
1.What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “The sun always coming up… A puppy dog kissing my face in the morning… I’d love to do the bookstore full-time and it excites me to move towards achieving that….”
2.What annoys you; brings you down; turns you off creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Negativity.”
3.What sound or noise do you love? – “The sound of the ocean and seagulls.”
4.What sound or noise do you hate? – “An animal in distress.”
5.What is your favorite food or meal? Your ‘last meal’ shall we say? – “My turkey dinner.”
6.If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation, who would that person be? – “My biological father, who left when I was four and I never saw him again.”
7.If you were to be left completely alone indefinitely on an isolated island in the ocean, with unlimited provisions, what three possessions would you like to have with you? – “A photograph album with Jennifer, Dan, the dogs; the complete collection of the works of Edgar Allen Poe; a copy of the movie ‘Harold and Maude’ to watch over and over.”
8.Do you have a favorite film/song/book or one that has influenced you? – “The song would be Tom Petty’s ‘Running down the drain’ – it has influenced me a lot in recent times; the movie I mentioned above; and a book would be ‘The Tao of Pooh’ by Benjamin Hoff – an introduction to Taoism.”
9.What is a smell you really like? – “My turkey dinner cooking.”
10.What is your favorite hobby? – “Reading – mysteries mainly.”
11. What is your favorite word or phrase? – I love the words ‘Anything can happen child; anything can be’ from ‘Listen to the Mustn’ts’ by the poet Shel Silverstein.”
12.What profession other than your own would you like to attempt if you were given the chance to do anything? Your fantasy job, perhaps? – “A movie actress – what might have been if we’d stayed in Hollywood?”
13.What profession would you not like to do? – “A nurse – I admire them but couldn’t do the blood and gore. I couldn’t work in a nursing home either.”
14.What was the happiest day or event in your life? – “Jennifer’s birth… Arriving in Europe and then spending that first night in Paris.”
15.What was the saddest day or period of your life? – “The ‘dark ages’ with the stepmonster from 1961 to 1967.”
16.What is your favorite thing about yourself – physically / mentally / spiritually? – “My openness to the magic and wonderment of the universe.” 17.Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “ Well, if he said ‘Welcome home, daughter’ that would be great.”

Published in: on July 22, 2010 at 3:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Efren Mendoza – July 3rd, 2010

I met with Efren at his home in downtown Philo, the house alongside the beautiful roses that he grows, opposite the post office. As we sat in his lovely back yard and began our conversation, his wife Dary and father Juan served up some truly delicious fresh corn tamales (“I prepared the corn this morning”) with sour cream and homemade spicy hot sauce and sweet corn bread to follow…
Efren was born in 1958 in the rural town of Capilla de Milpillas about twenty-five miles from Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco to parents Juan Jose Mendoza and Maria de Jesus Mendoza – second cousins. The Mendoza’s had been in that area for generations, mainly working in agriculture in the cornfields, sometimes wheat, and with a few cows always around. Efren has seven siblings, three brothers and four sisters and most were raised in the country. However, when he was five the family moved to Guadalajara, Mexico’s second most populated city, where his father got a job as a dairy worker, milking cows by hand while his mother also worked at the same place in the city taking care of the pigs. “Over the years most of the family moved into the city although a few did stay in the countryside and we’d visit them there.”
Efren attended a couple of different elementary schools and then spent three years at a junior high school. He liked school; mainly math, English, and Spanish and he played all the sports – basketball, volleyball, and futbol (soccer). “As is the custom in our culture, the girls, my sisters did most of the housework with my mother and we boys helped out our father. He had to be at work at 2am and we would each take a turn to go with him. That was tiring work; milking by hand and I remember falling asleep against the cow’s warm udder on many occasions. We had a good upbringing but never had much money for toys and things – I never owned a bicycle until I came to the U.S.”
He graduated junior high and went to a two-year high school but after being there for just one year, he quit at the age of seventeen. “I wasn’t a very good student and I had decided I wanted to go to the United States and make some money. My brother Felipe, two years older than me, had gone a year earlier and had found work in northern California in a place called Anderson Valley at an orchard called ‘Gowans’. I also had a cousin who was in Ft Bragg and there was another apple orchard in the Valley at the time, Schoenahl’s, and so we thought we’d get work somewhere. In the summer of 1975, along with four cousins, we paid a ‘coyote’ about $250 each and crossed the border one night at a place called Chula Vista. There was a hole in the border fence and we all just ran through and hid under bushes as helicopters flew above with searchlights. Others were caught but at seventeen I could run pretty fast and moved inland to a place where a car picked us up and took us to Los Angles. We then met a different ‘coyote’ and two days later we left town, slowly driving up to Ft Bragg, which we reached about a week after crossing the border.”
With one of his cousins, Efren moved to Philo but there was no work for them in the apple industry at that time so for a few weeks they found a little work planting grapes for Ted Bennett at Navarro Vineyard for $3 hr, very good money at the time, which was very helpful because they still had to pay the ‘coyote’. “You never paid the ‘coyote’ up front as there would be a good chance you’d never see him again. Of course, if you didn’t pay him later he would not be happy and some people have bad stories about that situation but it never happened to me. Some of those guys are really bad but not all them. They hang around bus stations in Mexico and ask people if they want to go to the U.S. We trusted each other, I guess, and I always paid them… We then had to wait until the grape harvest before James Gowan hired us at $2.10 hr to pick grapes. We lived at ‘La Casa Café’, the brown dwellings on the Gowan property, but after six months my cousins wanted to go back to Mexico so I went too.”
On his return to Mexico, Efren became sick with severe food poisoning and had to spend his $600 in savings from his time in the U.S. on hospital bills. He lived at his parent’s house and couldn’t find work so in April 1976 he crossed the border once again with his brother and two cousins. He arrived in Philo a few days later but there was no work for a couple of months until Gowans hired him to work the harvest. In November that year Efren moved to Fresno for work and stayed with his father’s sister there. There was no work in the fields so he got a job as a dishwasher and cleaner in the restaurant business for $2.50 hr before moving to just outside Fresno where there was a promise of a good job. Once again nothing was available so in April 1977he returned to Philo and worked for Gowans with a 25 cents per hour increase. By this time Gowans had workers from different states of Mexico but mainly Michoacan, with quite a few from Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Jalisco, and a few ‘Chilango’s’ from Mexico City.
By the end of 1977, Efren had returned to Mexico. “My time in the States had not been great but I had saved some money, played a lot of soccer, and even dated a girl briefly. We’d go to Ft. Bragg on a Saturday night and all day Sunday, going to the movies sometimes, but most of my time was spent working.” In March 1978, Efren crossed the border once again, this time in the trunk of a car with four others. “It was a terrible time in that trunk. I thought we’d suffocate, but we got through the Border Patrol’s inspection place in San Clemente and headed up to Philo once again. I worked for Gowans until October then at the Lathe Mill in Philo owned by the Island Family. I got two days off a week there!”
At one point, Efren hitched to San Francisco on his weekend off and made his way to Mission Street where he had cousins. “I had planned to return the next day but they told me there was a good job in construction so I stuck around. A month later and I was still there with the only jobs available being $6 hr in restaurants instead of the $13 hr construction work. Looking back that would have been fine but I was young and ‘proud’ and decided to return to Philo. There was no longer work at the mill so once more I went to Gowans where I worked for the next year until November 1979 when I went back to Guadalajara for a couple of months. During that time I bought a house with some money loaned from my Uncle. Then, once again I paid the ‘coyote’ and crossed into the States with my brother, Felipe, on January 1st, 1980.”
This time Efren stayed for three years at Gowans, apart from one trip back for a couple of months over Christmas 1982/83, and by December 1983 he was basically unhappy with his life and felt he needed a change from this lifestyle of uncertainty. He returned to Mexico and while out in the Guadalajara one day he stopped by the mercado (outside market) where his cousin’s wife worked on a store selling milkshakes, orange and carrot juice, and pastries. “Working alongside her was her sister, Dary Alvarez – she was beautiful. I’d been looking everywhere for such a girl and here she was, right here in my home town. She had recently broken up with a boyfriend and was not sure if she wanted a new one and so after a few dates she broke up with me. I was very upset. It was a tough time for me, and besides that, I felt like a stranger in my neighborhood as I’d been away for basically over eight years and had no close friends there. I found a job in a wood shop and began training as a carpenter. I really liked it and six months later Felipe and I opened our own wood shop. We got lots of work, saved a lot of money, and had six employees. I bought a car and suddenly girls seemed interested in me! In June 1984 I decided to ask Dary out one final time and she said ‘Yes’. I proposed to her in December 1984 and we were married in February 1985 at the registry office and then a real wedding in March in the big church in the city. It had been a dream of Dary’s to get married in that church one day; she had been baptized there. We moved into the house I had bought a few years earlier and for a time everything went well. The business did well and I even had enough money to buy tickets for the World Cup that was to take place in Mexico in 1986. Then over a few months worked dried up and a friend said it would not change and that I should go back to the States. I wanted to stay. I was happy there after being back for almost two years and was finally settling down; plus Dary was pregnant. A cousin kept saying ‘let’s go’ but I was very unsure. But, with work not going well and the chance to raise a family in the States, I decided we should leave Mexico. In August 1985 we contacted a ‘coyote’ once again and with Dary five months pregnant we crossed real slow – there was no running this time. A car met us and we were taken to a hotel, had a shower, changed our clothes and went to the San Diego airport and flew to L.A. Both of us were very afraid and instead of telling the coyote to get us a flight to San Francisco I had just said L.A. without really thinking about it. My brother Pepe picked us up in L.A. and drove us to Philo. I was back in the Valley again!”
Efren and Dary lived on Indian Creek Road for three months before finding a house on the Gowan property just before son Ivan was born in December 1985. In time Dary worked as a baby-sitter for Ivan and other children while once more Efren was back at Gowans and this time he was in charge of the vegetable gardens, a job he held for sixteen years, until he finally left in 2001. In November 1987, now with a Resident Card granted to him as an agricultural worker, Efren, Dary, and their baby boy were able to visit family and friends in Mexico without worries about border crossings anymore, returning in January 1988 with no problems. They have continued to visit Mexico every other year since. Efren’s life became much more settled and routine as he attended mass every Sunday, regularly played in informal pick-up futbol games (cascaritas), and went to many of the weddings, birthdays, and quinceaneras that were more and more frequent as the Mexican community in the Valley quickly grew in size.
Another son, Michel, was born in 1988 and then a daughter, Veronica, in 1991. They moved into a seven bedroom, two-storey house owned by the Gowans near to Hendy Woods State Park (the yellow one not far from the entrance) and Efren continued to work for the Gowans all through the nineties. However, in 1993, on one of their visits to Mexico, they discussed whether they should move back there permanently. Dary wanted to and even enrolled Ivan in the school. Efren was then offered the opportunity to run his own ice cream business with other family members working for him. “I really thought this might be a chance for me to make it there and seriously considered it. In the end the investment would have been too much and, even though the kids had been looking forward to ice cream every day, I felt I needed more money to be comfortable with the decision and I was not convinced. We returned to the States. Maybe one day we will return to live there but not anytime soon… My father, Juan, first came to the states in 1953 on a 45-day permit. He came back every couple of years but then was able to work here from 1981 and came every year until he retired. In 2002 he moved into our house here in Philo with us and my mother spends her time in both Mexico and here.”
By 2001 Efren was earning just $6.25 hr. at Gowans and, at that time, a new job opportunity came along, working on clearing a large amount of acreage to plant grapes on the Piper Ranch. It would pay $12.50 hr. “I told the Gowans and they accepted the situation, saying they could not pay me anymore. That was fine and I was given a month to find somewhere to live. I could not find anywhere in the Valley and was very upset. I would have regarded a move out of the Valley as a defeat, as if I had been a failure after all this time. We even began to look in Ft. Bragg. Then, Mary O’Brien, a teacher at the school, said we could stay at her two-bedroom home in Christine Woods until it was sold. We ended up being there from August 2001 until May 2002 during which time, with Dary now working at the lathe mill for Gary Island (she is still there after eleven years), we had saved enough money to begin looking to buy our own place.”
Efren saw a ‘For Sale by Owner’ sign at a home in downtown Philo opposite the post office. After lengthy and often confusing negotiations, in which both Efren and the seller thought the other was doing the paperwork, Efren’s offer was accepted. “I had no idea about this process but we really liked the house, although there was lots of work to be done on it. We borrowed some money from my brother Pepe and added it to our savings for the down payment. I learned a lot about the process and now people ask for my advice on these things. We were so very happy when the deal went through and we moved in on June 1st, 2002. We felt so lucky – this was our house!”
Efren continued to work on the Piper Ranch for three years, getting overtime for any day he worked more than eight hours, which he often did. Then in 2004 his boss, Chris Stone, wanted him to work at his vineyard at the south end of Ukiah. He did that for four years before taking over the management of Stone’s housing complex in Ukiah where he has worked for the past two-and-a-half years. “Chris wanted to buy a vineyard in Chile and I went there twice with him to look around. Eventually he left to live there and his partner, who I did not know very well, became my boss. It was a little strange at first but I pointed out that Chris had trusted me, so he could too. It’s five days a week and I am in charge over there and like my job.”
Over the years Efren has been involved with a few of the organizations in the Valley. For eight years he has been President of Sueno Latino, the Hispanic organization that helps the community in its dealings with the Health Center, the Housing Association, and on other social issues, and he is a member of the Health Center Board. For three years he was the Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus and was a member for nine years. He is vice president of the Church Council at the St. Elizabeth Catholic Church and started the chicken bbq fundraiser at The Fairgrounds and organized many dances for the church. When Gloria Ross became President of the Council she started the spring Crab Feed and for a time Efren ran the Mexican Fiesta Dinner in the fall by the Mexican members of the congregation. “The congregation is about 3% Anglos – Gloria, The Schultz’s and Eva Holcomb – ‘The Beautiful Lady’ as we have always called her. They work so hard and we as a community have to help more at the Church and stop putting all the responsibility on others. We sometimes just go to church and expect all the events to be organized by others.”
For the past three years Efren has taught Spanish at the adult school and for a time he was in the fire department. He attends many Valley events and he and Dary love to dance. He works very hard on his garden and is very proud of his wonderful roses that brighten up downtown Philo for all. “The rose is the most beautiful flower – the most rich and full and most beautiful… This whole Valley is a beautiful place – I thought it was paradise when I first came here. The vineyards look beautiful; I know many people here and have many friends. On the negative side, the fact that there are so few affordable houses is not good. Then there is that terrible building at the south end of town in Boonville – the first thing visitors see. It should be taken down. And the drug situation is a concern. Marijuana has my people involved but that is not nearly as bad as the cocaine and methamphetamine that have come here in the last twenty years or so. It seems to attract outsiders here who do no good at all.”
I asked for Efren’s thoughts about various Valley issues… The wineries and their impact? – “They provide employment for many people but I feel that they should provide housing for their workers. Some do of course but more should do this. They need the people to work for them so they should do a little extra for their people”… The A.V.A. newspaper? – “I read it once in a while”… KZYZ & Z local public radio? – “I listen sometimes – Alma Latina on Saturday at 3pm, and sometimes when I’m driving”… The school system” – “Well, since my son Michel was born on the same day and at the same hospital as Principal J.R. Collins’ son Devin, I am good friends with him. My own kids are proof that the school does a good job. They all graduated and Ivan graduated college at U.C. Riverside, Michel went to Sonoma State, and Veronica is at U.C. Davis.”
To end the interview, I posed a few questions to my guest. Some of these are from a questionnaire featured on television’s “Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton” and the rest I added later…
1.What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Being in good health and saying my prayers every morning.”
2.What annoys you; brings you down; turns you off creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “The continuing battle between the ‘narcos’ and the government in Mexico making it unsafe and leading to the death of innocents. It is so sad.”
3.What sound or noise do you love? – “Music – all sorts. I do love the Beatles; I’m a Beatlemaniac.”
4.What sound or noise do you hate? – “Rap music.”
5.What is your favorite food or meal? Your ‘last meal’ shall we say? – “Birria de Chivo – goat meat with lots of peppers, onions, and spices.”
6.If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation, who would that person be? – “He’s dead, I know, but I’ve always admired Che Guevara and his ideas. I would love to talk to him.”
7.If you were to be left completely alone indefinitely on an isolated island in the ocean, with unlimited provisions, what three possessions would you like to have with you? – “Pictures of my family; rosebush clones so I grow and tend my flowers; and a soccer ball.”
8.Do you have a favorite film/song/book or one that has influenced you? – “I love the film ‘The Gladiator’ and have watched it many times; I cannot of think of just one song; I’m not much of a reader but I did enjoy Homer’s ‘The Iliad and the Odyssey’… I watch too much t.v. these days; I watch Mexican soaps with my wife – they are addictive.”
9.What is a smell you really like? – “Jasmine and gardenia flowers.”
10.What is your favorite hobby? – “Woodworking; gardening – a hobby and a job; and playing guitar – I’m not very good.”
11.What profession other than your own would you like to attempt if you were given the chance to do anything? Your fantasy job, perhaps? – “A civil engineer or an architect.”
12.What profession would you not like to do? – “Underground in a mine.”
13.What was the happiest day or event in your life? – “The day I was married.”
14.What was the saddest day or period of your life? – “When one of my cousins died at nineteen. He and another cousin grew up together with Felipe and me and we were all very close.”
15.What is your favorite thing about yourself – physically / mentally / spiritually? – “That’s very difficult. I don’t like to say such things… (I pressed Efren for an answer)..Err, that I like to help others. I teach Spanish here because the community has given so much to me… And that I try to be cheerful – I even have a crazy laughing sound on my phone that I play if I feel a little down or stressed.”
16.Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “I think going to church gives you a solid foundation for life. It means that you may be less likely to mistakes and will treat others well. So if I get to heaven I’d like him to say ‘Welcome, Efren, come in’ then I’d know I’d done right and it would make it all complete.”

Published in: on July 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm  Comments (1)  

Tex Sawyer – June 25th, 2010

I met with Tex at the Scharffenberger Winery where he has been the winemaker for the past 21 years. We sat down in the conference room overlooking the vines with some delicious cheeses, prosciutto, and crackers, and began our talk…
Tex was born Willis Frank Sawyer V in San Antonio, Texas in 1950, the eldest of five children born to Willis ‘Bill’ Bruner Sawyer and Virginia Helene Yardley. His grandmother called him ‘Tony Tex’ (‘San Antonio Texas’) and the Tex part stuck, so about twenty years ago he legally changed his name to Willis Tex Sawyer. The Sawyers are of English/Scottish/French descent. “I suspect my grandparents had sex once and the result was my father, born in 1917, who was often dumped off at neighbors’ houses as a child. They separated and my grandmother moved to California and my Dad followed her. He was often fostered out before she arranged for him to be raised by a family in Glendale. My grandmother was a 7th Day Adventist and lived in poverty by choice, giving her money to the Church and the P.T.L. Club (Praise The Lord) of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Because my father was left-handed, his mother and grandmother were concerned that he was influenced by the Devil, tying it behind his back so he had to use his right. He had a tough, strange upbringing.”
After the separation, Tex’s grandfather moved to Kansas, remarried, and had two more children, Charlotte and Tom, but Tex’s father kept in touch, often visiting his father and half-sister in Kansas. Tex’s father attended Pacific Union College in Angwin, California and then went to West Point. Following his graduation with a B.S. in Military Engineering, and a college career featuring lots of fencing, boxing, and developing expertise with small arms, he joined the Army Air Corps where he hoped to be a fighter pilot but ended up flying B-24 bombers in World War 2.
The Yardley’s, meanwhile, were of English/Native American and German heritage and Tex’s mother was born in 1928 in Topeka, Kansas. Her father was a bus driver and then later was employed at the sporting goods store on a local military base. “My mother liked men in uniforms and dated military men. She attended Washburn University in Kansas and was introduced to my father, visiting from California, by his half-sister, Charlotte, who was my mother’s best friend. They had only dated for a week when my Dad went on assignment to China and asked her to join him. My grandparents said no at first but after a proxy wedding using a stand-in they relented and my mother moved to China in 1948.”
Tex’s father, posing as a Chinese Language Student, was working under cover establishing the U.S.A.F. intelligence network there because of the perceived Communist threat. In 1949 the Communists began their takeover and he was responsible for getting many State department and Military families on a ‘requisitioned’ C-47 plane, being captured twice by the Communists. He was released once but then held for five months on espionage charges during which time he was interrogated every day in Chinese but never cracked. Tex’s pregnant mother was evacuated and lost the baby following a stressful voyage back to Kansas.
“My father was by all accounts an excellent soldier, however, he had a hard time relating to his family and communicating with us, He wanted to do the family thing right but couldn’t. On reflection, knowing what he went through, this is perhaps not surprising. He had a very odd upbringing and this meant that he was not good at some of the family and interpersonal stuff. He was trained to get information and if necessary torture and kill for it. With the family he was a very stern disciplinarian and basically talked to us like we were his soldiers, asking for reports and giving directives. He returned to the States in 1950 to a base in San Antonio, Texas and I was born there. We were there for six months, and then Dad was assigned to Japan where we lived for three years while he worked under cover behind enemy lines during the Korean War. We lived on base and my mother had to know all the rules contained in the Air Force Officer’s Wives’ Manual and how to ‘behave’ at tea parties and bridge nights. She pursued her hobbies of the arts and crafts and had assistance from servants and a nanny in raising my sister Cassandra and me. We returned to the States in 1954 and my other three sisters were born in the next few years – Aenor, Claryce, and Virginia Marie.”
For a time Tex’s father taught counter-insurgency and guerilla warfare while attached to the Pentagon in Washington D.C. where Tex attended a Catholic Elementary School but the family were always moving and lived the military life. “People in that world are always learning to adapt to new surroundings. That’s what military brats do, frequently ending up as outsiders. My siblings and I were close but I was unable to develop any long-term relationships with friends as you have no shared histories except with your family and, although you become very resilient, it is difficult to maintain any attachments.”
For three years, from 1958-60, the family lived in Florida where Tex’s father was in charge of the U.S.’s guided missile project. “I had lots of fun there. I’d enjoyed the woods and playing in the snow in Maryland but this was very different and I got into sailing and playing on the beach right next to our house. I was not a good student and didn’t like school but I did a lot of reading on my own and learned that way. I had more freedom and as long as we were there for dinner at precisely 6pm all was fine. My Dad was a Colonel by this time and I was ‘in-training’ to be a military officer myself. If I misbehaved in any way I would get a belt on the ass. We all had to be very correct in everything we did, including my mother – my father’s ‘Efficiency Report’ could contain no negatives.”
In the winter of 1960/61 the family moved once again – this time to Thailand where Tex’s father was one of the U.S. ‘advisors’ in Vietnam and Tex attended the International School in Bangkok. “That was really cool for a couple of years and we lived off-base in a compound. The country was not ‘Americanized’ at that time and Bangkok, ‘The Venice of the East’, was a great city to explore – as long as I was home for dinner at 6pm!… However, my mother was not happy as an officer’s wife and had slipped into depression and began to take sedatives. She left one day and I though she would not come back but she did later that night. She continued to love the arts and drama, becoming involved in community theatre, as she had been in Florida, and enjoying her horses… I loved Thailand and was able to make the first real friends of my life there. I loved swimming and was trained in all aspects of horsemanship at the Bangkok Riding and Polo Club. I was very sad when we were transferred back to the States in 1963.”
Following a wonderful six-week family trip through Asia and Europe when he was about thirteen years old, they settled near Dayton, Ohio at the Wright-Patterson A.F.B. “My father was by now very high up in military intelligence in what was a very volatile period, and he made sure that we as his family knew we were vulnerable. I started to carry and sleep with a knife at all times. My mother was now an alcoholic and addicted to sedatives, bordering on the suicidal. At some point in my mid-teens she went cold turkey on the drugs but kept drinking, although she still functioned as our mother very well and kept the family together. My father away so often and not really there for us even when he was around. She still was into theatre and her horses and much later she succeeded at A.A. and was sober the last fifteen years of her life. Meanwhile my Dad did what he thought was right and was certainly a good provider.”
Tex progressed through Junior and High School in Fairborn, Ohio, where he played a little soccer, enjoyed the drama class, and lettered in Band where he played trombone, although he had been playing the piano since he was six. “To my father’s chagrin I did not play sports to any significant degree and was a ‘C’ student. However I was a Boy Scout, progressing to the Eagle Scout rank and so my father’s ‘plan’ to see me continue the Sawyer military tradition was moving along nicely, I guess. He was always telling me little rules of life such as ‘2nd place is the 1st loser’ and ‘Don’t get close to your men as you might have to send them to their death the next day’.”
As a senior in high school, Tex took and passed the West Point entrance exam. Despite poor grades at school his father had arranged an appointment for him but the day before the entry physical he told his mother he did not want to go. His father was in hospital for high blood pressure and she said he would have to tell him personally. “I told my father and left the hospital immediately. We had a very estranged relationship after that; lots of long silences existed between us.”
Tex graduated in 1968 and attended Wright State University in Ohio. His father retired as a full Colonel and moved the rest of the family to California’s central coast where he had bought property many years before. “I wanted to be a veterinarian and went to study at Kansas State University. My father said if I also took the R.O.T.C. (reserve officer training corps) course at college he would ‘loan’ me money for school. It was legal to drink at eighteen and I really partied and did terribly on my pre-vet’s course, failing chemistry and biology. However, I ace’d the R.O.T.C. courses because of what I’d learned in my years in the scouts. I was also becoming politically aware and into the new music of the time – The Doors, Santana, the whole Woodstock thing, and had worn a badge of the peace symbol after High School – ‘the footprint of the American chicken’ my Dad called it.”
In May 1970 the Kent State Massacre took place in Ohio and Tex began demonstrating against the war, being on the periphery of the protests at the R.O.T.C. building. “I protested with an American flag that had peace symbols instead of stars on it and one night in a bar with friends I burned my draft card. I was prepared to go to Canada if I’d been drafted. I told my father I was applying for conscientious objector status, telling him I did not want to kill people. He told me the family would not support a C.O. and hung up the phone. Our relationship remained very strained for a long time. I credit my mother with keeping my humanistic side to the fore during that time although she was very worried about me – I had become sort of numb with all that was going on in Vietnam and the protests around the country. After my sophomore year at college she drove out to ‘rescue me from the Communists’ and took me back to the California coast where I found a job at the W.T. Grant’s sporting goods store in San Luis Obispo.”
At the age of twenty-one, following an unrewarding year in retail, Tex was laid off and began to pick up small carpentry jobs, using some of the basic skills his father had passed on to him. He returned to college at Cuesta College and continued to live at home. “I finally focused on school and supported myself through the carpentry and some work at a pizzeria. I signed up for pre-med at Cal Poly with a Biochemistry major and did very well. My father mellowed somewhat and co-signed my student loan, slowly accepting my not going into the military… In my senior year I took some extra electives including meat processing, archeology, and most significantly, making beer – with plans to make my own and save a lot of money!”
Tex graduated college in 1974 and was still planning on going to medical school. He had been working at high end restaurants and working in carpentry to pay off loans. At one point he thought his grades might not be quite good enough to get into medical school, a point also made to him by a med school interviewer. “I appreciated his honesty but was not sure what to do. Winemaking seemed to fit somewhere between my interest in beer making and my science degree but getting my contractors license was another option. I was very unsure. I applied to U.C. Davis, and it could have gone either way, but they accepted me to their Food Sciences program and that’s where I went.”
He married Diane Weaver, whom he’d met at college, and he worked at their rocky relationship for several years. “My father had always said that ‘if you make a promise you die before you break it’, so I stuck it out… After graduating from Davis, I got a job in the cellar at the Hoffman Mountain Ranch Winery in Paso Robles and learned a lot in a nine-month spell there before being laid off. The money was very poor ($3.50 hr) when I could have been earning $10 as a carpenter but I needed a job in the wine industry if I was to progress.”
Tex returned to carpentry as a cabinet-maker and homebuilder, living in San Luis Obispo, before hearing about and applying for a job at Navarro Vineyards in Anderson Valley. “I had never heard about the Valley but came up for an interview and immediately thought I could live here. Owner Tex Bennett checked my references, a very bad one from the people at Hoffman who I had not got along with, but a classmate from Davis, Don Baron, who was vineyard consulting for Navarro, put in a good word for me and I was hired as consulting wine maker in February 1979. Diane’s parents had bought a cabin on Holmes Ranch Road and offered it to us to live in. However, we split up and Diane moved out, but her parents kindly let me stay on there. That was a tough winter and I learned a lot about myself, but I did think, even then, that I’d never leave this place.”
“I was an emotional basket case and Ted and his wife Deborah were very good to me. I soon made friends with Rainbow Hill and her husband Henry, with whom I would go to black powder shoots. They had formed ‘The Clowns’ a forerunner to ‘The Magic Company’ who performed at The Philo Café (now Libby’s Restaurant) and over time I expanded my social scene to include the crowd whom regularly played ‘Jungle Ball’ (a version of Volleyball) at the Cheesecake complex on the Philo/Greenwood Road, which included people such as Doug Read, Don and Judy Smith, Buckhorn Bob, Captain Rainbow, and Steve Tylicki. Around this time my divorce from Diane was finalized.”
Tex had seen Lynne around the Valley with her friends at Jungle Ball and particularly at the Cafe with her husband. They had split up in 1980 and Tex’s friend Dan Baron told Tex about this – “Ted Bennett, Deborah Cahn, and Dan are responsible for the happiness in my life. I thought it was too soon but then I heard a David Bromberg song with the words, ‘If you don’t do it somebody else will’ and I called Lynne and asked her to a concert in Ukiah. She said ‘I can’t talk now but can you call me back tomorrow?’ A little later I asked her to brunch at The Boonville Hotel when it was owned by Verne and Charlene Rollins and we had our first date on September 7th 1980. A few weeks later I moved into her mobile home on Whipple Ridge Road in Philo and thirty years later we’re still here. I have always thought that if you get it correct in terms of whom you live with, where you live, and what you do for a living, then you will be fine – it’s the secret of happiness in a simple way.”
Tex was offered a substantial pay increase to go and work for the Cloverdale Wine Company and with Ted’s blessing made the move. He and Lynne moved there for a year during which time, as they washed dishes one evening, he proposed. “She was shocked that I asked because I had said I wasn’t go to do that again. She said ‘Yes’ and we were married on July 31st, 1982 in a Native American-style ceremony with Henry Hill as the officiant…I was in the Cloverdale job for two years but it didn’t really work out so when the winemakers position opened up at Edmeades Winery I jumped at the chance to return to the Valley, becoming their winemaker a few months later. However, by 1986, the winery had gone out of business here and I was unemployed.”
During that time Tex and Lynne’s two sons arrived – Justin in September 1983 (“the middle of harvest!”) and Aaron in February 1985, both born in the same midwife’s house in Caspar, while Tex’s parents continued to visit them in the Valley over these years. Lynne was the bookkeeper at Handley Cellars and as a result Milla Handley graciously offered Tex a job driving a tractor and installing pipes, later helping in the winery construction with local contractors Dennis Toohey and Kurt Morse. A few months later Tex started a new job as the winemaker at a winery in Los Gatos with another healthy increase in pay, although it meant him living in a hotel for a time. Eventually the family joined him in Blossom Hill and stayed for three years before, with sales dropping, he was once again laid off.
In April 1989 Tex heard that John Scharffenberger was looking for a production manager in Ukiah where he was making sparkling wine. Tex got the job and a few weeks later he became the winemaker too when the person in that position quit. The family now moved back to the mobile home in the Valley and the boys attended the A.V. Elementary School. In 1990 the winery bought 640 acres in Anderson Valley, right next door to where the Sawyers lived, and the first harvest there was in 1991, a few months after Tex and Lynne completed their new house. Ted could walk to work!
John Scharffenberger left the winery in 1994 to make chocolate and in 1998 the new ownership decided to change the name to Pacific Echo. Following a significant drop in sales, in 2003 Roederer bought them out and re-instated the Scharffenberger name and things began to turn around. “That was a wise move. The Scharffenberger name had come to mean quality in both chocolate and wine and sales increased. I have been the winemaker since 1989 and this will be my 22nd harvest – I think it is the perfect job for me.”
“I was involved with school activities for many years as the boys went through the school system and have been active with the Education Foundation too. We socialize and have traveled with the Mike and Susan Addison and Lanny and Sandy Parker, visiting Kauai all together on a few occasions. We also like to go to various Valley events such as the Crab Feed and Lions Club bbq’s, and for about six years I was an E.M.T. volunteer and I’m now the Ambulance Board. I also play poker monthly with a great bunch of guys. I love the natural beauty of the Valley and the wonderful sense of community. It is so diverse, yet tightly knit and very supportive.”
I asked Tex for his responses to some of the Valley’s issues… The Wineries and their impact? – “I believe the wineries have been responsible for the economic renaissance of the Valley, The logging and apple industries were in decline and now everybody’s ‘boat’ has risen with the success of the wineries. I will say, however, that at this point we may have set aside enough land for vines, particularly with regards to water usage, and the addition of any more is not the way to go”… The A.V.A. newspaper? – “I have always enjoyed it. The writing is good and perhaps one day I will actually subscribe. Bruce used to push buttons for the sake of it but it has changed in recent times and it’s a good thing to have a community paper without a doubt”… The School System? – “It is great. It’s amazing what is accomplished here and we have an extraordinary group of teachers. I think it is misguided of parents to pull their kids out of our school and send them elsewhere”… KZYX & Z local public radio? – “I like some programs such as ‘Humble Pie’, ‘Lunch on the Back Porch’, and Fred Wooley’s show. Mostly I listen to KOZT – The Coast”… The changes in the Valley? – “It hasn’t reached a point that concerns me. I can’t see Napafication happening here, thanks primarily to the natural ‘defense’ we have in the bends and curves of Hwy 128.”
To end the interview, I posed a few obvious, and some less obvious, questions to my guest…
1.What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “When my wife says, ‘I love you’, and the same from my kids.”
2.What annoys you; brings you down; turns you off creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “The constant news that we humans are still fighting all of these ridiculous wars.”
3.What sound or noise do you love? – “The sounds of the ocean – large and small waves.”
4.What sound or noise do you hate? – “The screech of metal rubbing metal; dripping water from a faucet.”
5.What is your favorite food or meal? Your ‘last meal’ shall we say? – “My wife’s mother’s ravioli with her Grandmother Nonnie’s sauce; rare beef, warm in the middle; roast potatoes with sour cream and butter; hearth-baked bread and sweet corn-on-the-cob; chocolate decadence cake or strawberry shortcake…Or the carnitas plate from Libby’s Restaurant in Philo would be a very good option.”
6.If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation, who would that person be? – “President Jimmy Carter – I always liked the guy.”
7.If you were to be left completely alone indefinitely on an isolated island in the ocean, but with unlimited provisions, what three possessions would you like to have with you? – “A sailing boat, a knife, and a musical instrument that I could learn to play – such as a ukulele or a harmonica.”
8.Do you have a favorite film that has influenced you? – “That would be ‘The Great Santini’ – it provided me with a view of what I’d experienced growing up in a military family. It spoke a lot of truth to me and helped me start to review what my life had been like… A poem that has had a great effect on my life is ‘Look To This Day’ by Kalidasa. He was an Indian poet and playwright from 370-450 AD.”
9.What is a smell you really like? – “Plumeria blossoms; roasting meat; rosemary; and wine of course!”
10.What is your favorite hobby? – “Surfing and working on the house.”
15.What profession other than your own would you like to attempt if you were given the chance to do anything? Your fantasy job, perhaps? – “A marine biologist”
16.What profession would you not like to do? – “A sewer worker in Mumbai, India… Or an executioner anywhere.”
17.What was the happiest day or event in your life? – “When I married Lynne and when our sons were born.”
18.What was the saddest day or period of your life? – “I was lost for a time after my first wife and I split up. I had no idea what to do… And I was pretty down after I left Kansas State and moved in with my parents, working in retail.”
19.What is your favorite thing about yourself – physically / mentally / spiritually? – “I like to think that I have a positive effect on people’s lives. That I enjoy my friends. My dedication to my family, which is the primary thing in my life.”
20.Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “I am an atheist but if he is was there and said, ‘You’re not done yet; I’m sending you back’ that would be fine with me.”

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment