Kevin Crane – June 18th, 2012

Kevin was born on July 4th, 1958 in Long Beach, California, to parents June Manning and Donald Crane. Both sides of the family had come to this country in the mid-to-late 1800’s, with the Manning’s settling Utah and the Crane’s in Idaho. While Kevin’s mother was not a Mormon, his Grandmother Manning was and the community where they lived, American Fork, was one dominated by Mormons since the 1850’s.
The Manning’s moved to McGill, a town in north east Nevada, after World War 2, where there was plenty of work to be found in the huge copper mine that dominated the area around three small towns – McGill, Ely, and Ruth, where the two-mile wide pit was located. “These towns were company towns run by the Nevada Consolidated Copper Company and in total had about two thousand people. Ely had the train depot; the smelter and mill were in McGill, and the open-pit mine was in Ruth. The Kennecott Copper Corporation bought out the company in the thirties and were running things when the Manning’s arrived. The Crane’s also came to town for the work and my parents met and were married.”
Kevin has an older brother, Roger, born in 1954, who lives in southern California, and another half brother, Lane, who died in Vietnam in 1968. “Before she met my Dad, my mother had a child, Lane, in 1949, born out of wedlock. The father of the child was a church elder’s brother and he broke of the relationship to try and save face. For a time she was a single mother and then she met my father and they were married and he legally adopted Lane. My parents and two brothers moved to Southgate, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, where my father’s brother Bill lived. It was a time of great development down there with thousands of box houses in every direction. Uncle Bill got my Dad a job with the Bethlehem Steel Corporation as a structural steel worker on skyscrapers that were going up in the L.A. area. They moved into a house very near to my uncle’s and I was born a year or two later.”
Kevin grew up in these inner suburbs of Los Angeles. “It was a good place to grow up with pretty good schools and I attended Hollydale Elementary for K thru’ 6th grade. It was tough at home and I rarely saw my father. My parents divorced when I was six years old, in first grade. My mother remarried a year or so later to a man by the name of Ed Creedon. My Dad came around occasionally, making his commitments to the family, sort of. He would show up but was not really excited about it. He had alcohol problems, as did my Mom somewhat too. My stepfather Ed was an overbearing jerk; loud and obnoxious. But he did take care of us, I guess, although he basically drove my brother Lane, who could not stand him, out of the house and back up to McGill to live with Grandma Manning. I have very few recollections of Lane – I was nine years younger, but I do remember Ed having a heart-to-heart with him and Lane not buying any of it. One vivid memory I do have is of being in Ely to see him on to a plane after he had gone through basic training and was heading off to Vietnam. His girlfriend was there and she was crying. He told her he would see her later – but he didn’t. He might have been drafted but I sense that he had enlisted. He was a medic in Vietnam for ten months and wrote many letters to my grandmother, my mother, and his girlfriend, Linda. I have them in the basement here and will get around to looking at them all one day.”
“Lane was planning to meet up with my uncle and three cousins in Hawaii for some ‘r & r’ but three medics had recently being killed and they were in short supply so he could not get away. It turned out that not longer after that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I found out forty years later, following my mother’s passing in 2008, that this was how he had died and that he had been adopted – I had no idea. My aunt believes he killed himself in reaction to a ‘Dear John’ letter from his girlfriend. There was a note that said, ‘Sorry for doing this; sorry for what I did to Linda.’ Lane was a smart kid and very likeable.”
In his elementary school days, the family would often visit Grandma Manning in McGill. “She was a grumpy old lady who lived until she was eighty-nine, but we had lots of fun there. There was so much wide-open space for a kid from urban L.A. It was just a little splotch of a couple of hundred houses and we could wander around the old mill buildings and train depot day after day. Up until the sixties or even seventies there was no sewage system there and everything went into the slide ditches, human waste and the chemicals etc from the mining operations. It all flowed down into Steptoe Valley – all sorts of stuff was deposited there for sixty, seventy years. The area was also in the fallout area from the nuclear testing sites in the forties and fifties. My family has lost several people to cancer – my mother had lung cancer, my father throat cancer, my grandfather renal cancer, and an aunt died of breast cancer. They call such a situation, death by ‘cancer clusters.’ May be this was all the smoking some of them did, but maybe not.”
Kevin went to Alondra Jr and High School for 7th and 8th grades. “These were overcrowded because the school district had very little money and had to combine schools. We did just four-and-a-half hours a day. I then went to Paramount High from 1972 to 1976 when I graduated. That was fun and I really liked it. It was an interesting school and near to the area of L.A.’s early gang activity. It was predominantly white but there was a significant Hispanic presence, a few black kids and quite a few Samoans. Just across the L.A. River from the school was Compton, where the Crypt gang was formed, and beyond that was Watts where the Bloods’ gang began and where the riots of 1965 took place – I remember all the smoke coming from the buildings that were on fire. We were aware of these gangs but just regarded it as ‘just a bunch of black guys fighting each other’ and were not aware of how it was to spread. At that time it was mainly fistfights but guns gradually arrived on the scene and on more than one occasion the school was in lockdown when a gun was found on campus. Certainly by the time I graduated gang peer pressure on the black kids was increasing and a friend of mine and his brother were shot and wounded on a street corner. This was pretty shocking at the time.”
Kevin graduated in 1976 with a grade point average of over 3.5, and among the top twenty-five in a class of four hundred. His favorite subjects had been industrial drawing and mechanical sciences and he had been working part-time after school at a machine shop, running lathes and drill presses. He worked there part-time for three years and during the summers also.
He had done well at school and was expected to go to college. He enrolled at Cerritos Jr College in Norwalk, southeast of L.A. where he studied Mechanical Engineering. He continued to work at the machine shop making parts for the booming aerospace industry while continuing to live at home with his mother and stepfather. After a year or so, through a connection from one of the instructors at the college, he was hired as a drawing room tool designer in Anaheim, where he produced molds and trim dyes for plastics – such as the trays used at McDonald’s. “ I was doing six days a week there and still going to night classes for three hours, four times a week. I was spending my whole life with a pencil in my hand and although it was good money I got burned out after a couple of years.”
In 1979, Kevin started a new job with the Endocrine Services medical laboratory in the town of Tarzana in the San Fernando Valley. His job was a supervisor of the couriers the lab used to collect samples from various doctors’ offices and hospitals. He also ran the medical glassware washing operation. “It was a nice family-run operation that turned out well-regarded, quality work and we soon became a very well-known lab for anything related to endocrine disorders. I moved out of the family home and rented a room with my uncle in the Valley. I made many good friends at work and most of my social life was connected to the extra-curricular activities and functions shared with co-workers.”
The business expanded and by 1990 a new facility of 40,000 square feet was constructed in the Calabasas Hills in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. “This was a custom built structure that was totally built for our operation. I was the representative for the construction branch of our company and was very involved in getting this accomplished. I had continued to take some night classes over the years at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, mainly science and math related with a possible view to a job in forestry or wildlife management. However, I eventually realized that what I was doing at the lab, with its hand-on mechanical type of focus, was going to be my future.”
Over these years, Kevin had maintained the backpacking hobby, mainly hiking and fishing, that he had first enjoyed with the high school and his family. “That was one of the few things that my stepfather did with us. I did a couple of trips at school for which you got credits, and then after I left school the teacher allowed me to accompany the group as a sort of aid. I did that for two years, as the aid with the girl’s group – twenty-three girls, all just a year or two younger than me – damn!”
Kevin rented a house in Northridge area with a co-worker and remained in regular touch with his mother who had split from the stepfather but continued to live in the same family home. (His brother Roger has been a regular substance abuser since he had been sixteen and alcohol was continuing to play a large part in his life. He been married and had a child but in their mother’s will, Roger was isolated from the assets so that the money would not go on alcohol, or child support and hospital bills. Kevin now owns that home and Roger continues to live there). Meanwhile, he had re-connected with the teacher he had gone backpacking with many years earlier who was now into touring bikes. Kevin bought a Honda Gold Wing touring motorbike and for a few summers in the eighties, the two of them took trips on which they visited the western U.S. states and Canada.
On another motorbike trip, this time with a girlfriend in 1985, Kevin drove through Anderson Valley and camped at Hendy Woods. “We did this two years in a row and realized that the Valley was very cool. I had the aim of camping at all of the redwood campgrounds in the northern part of the state and Hendy Woods was one of our favorites. I then started dating a woman who worked at the lab who I had known for a time – Vydell Wetzel. We had dogs so I gave up the bike trips and we came up in 1993 with the dogs and a tent trailer and camped the weekend after Labor Day at Hendy. We went on to other campgrounds but on our way back we stopped at Hendy again and the County Fair was taking place in Boonville. Vydell said that maybe we should start looking for property around here. I had been thinking the same. We looked at Rancho Navarro but didn’t find anything we liked and then stopped at the T.J. Nelson realty office, meeting Chris Hayward the realtor. We gave him our vague criteria for any purchase we might make and he said there was a parcel we might like – 104 acres on Signal Ridge that had been on the market for two years with no offers. We wanted a ridge top, some open land, a possibility of some vines. He showed us the flyer on the property and it was more than we could afford and bigger than we wanted. We returned to southern California where a friend of ours, Dana Weber, asked me if I was intending to die on this property. I said ‘Yes!” and so he agreed to be a partner on the property – we could now afford it.”
A couple of months later, over the Thanksgiving Weekend of 1993, Kevin and Vydell came up to the Valley and stayed at the Boonville Hotel. They visited the property they were going to buy for the first time. “It was solid trees everywhere. I could see maybe twenty useable acres out of the one hundred and four if it was cleared – but we loved it. We would talk more and make an offer. Well, not longer after that visit, a couple of months later, the Northridge Earthquake hit near to our home and work in southern California – we lived on one side of the epicenter and worked on the other side, with the freeways in-between having fallen down, The new building at work suffered severe damage that would take many months to rebuild – there simply weren’t enough workers to repair all the damage in the area.”
By August 1994 their plans in northern California resumed when escrow was opened on the property on Signal Ridge high above Anderson Valley. Due to easement issues with the neighboring property owned by Louisiana Pacific Lumber it took until January 1996 to finally complete the purchase of a legal parcel of land. “For the next few summer vacations and lover many long weekends we worked on the property, clearing an area with a neighbor’s bulldozer to build a house, meanwhile staying in a travel trailer on the property. It was hard work and I don’t think I could do it now – dawn to dusk, sometimes nine days in a row. We had working parties of friends come up and stay, working all day and eating and drinking at night. Over those four or five years, we made roads, put in fencing, planted orchards, built walls, etc, etc., returning to our jobs down south after each visit.”
After the events of September 11th, 2001, the company had been sold to venture capitalists and had turned very corporate. “Many friends of ours were gradually laid off and that December my boss, the President of the company, who I had worked with for twenty-two years, was ‘retired’, his replacement being a real asshole. I was shocked at the announcement and went to my office and Vydell came in. ‘What do you think?’ she asked. I said I thought our three to five year plan to move up had changed and that it was now a six-month plan. I needed to get a job in Anderson Valley. ‘Can we do it? she said. ‘We have to’. I replied. I was forty-four, it was a good time. We decided that the best quickest way to get a house done would be to get a manufactured home and set it on a basement – we had a four-bedroom house down there with a whole load of crap to put somewhere, we would need that basement!”
In March of 2002, Kevin began his job search in the Valley, resume in hand. “On one trip I checked out the brewery and the wineries and then on my next visit, on the way up to the property on a Friday afternoon, I stopped at Jack’s Valley Store outside Philo to get a couple of things for my weekend stay. There was a ‘Help wanted’ sign up and I spoke to owner Bill who said it was just a feeler to see who was out there. They wanted someone a little older and wiser to run the store at weekends so he and his business partner Jack could take a break. He gave me an application and I handed him my resume, showing I was the facility and logistics manager of a pretty big company. He said he’d let me know. I continued on up to the property and found out I already had the things I had stopped at Jack’s for!”
“The following Monday, I was back in L.A. and Bill called. He said we needed to talk and I said I’d call him that evening. We talked and I came up in the April and met with him and Jack and they hired me. I gave notice to my company after twenty-three years and put the house on the market – which the realtor himself bought. It all fell into place. I moved up and started work at Jack’s on May 15th, 2002, over ten years ago now. Vydell stayed on at the house and at the company until the October before joining me up here.”
“Jack’s is a great place to work for someone like me. One of the fun parts is talking to people who are doing what we did – moving here to live in the country. I really enjoy helping them and sharing what I learned. I wish we had everything at the store they want but we are small and we do our best. I used to work more but since last September I have been doing three days a week – Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Vydell got a job in a tasting room. She did not know much about wine but soon learned and settled at Brutacao Winery with Jill Derwinski as her manager. She is now the tasting room manager herself and tries to work the same three days as me so we have time off together. There are still many projects to get done around here.”
I asked Kevin what he most liked about life in the Valley. “Just the general all-round rural lifestyle. I always was a ‘frustrated farmer’ even though I was a city boy. I love having so much ‘room to breathe’ here on our acreage. The seasons here are all good in different ways and I love living up on a ridge top.”
Any dislikes? “Having to go to Ukiah. I realize you have to for some things but we try to limit it to once a month or even less. It always puts me in a bad mood.”
What memories do you have of your father? “He was never there.” And your stepfather, who, with your mother, raised you from the age of six? “Let’s say he wasn’t my idea of a father-figure. I would look at him and think that I hope I never end up like that.”
What comes to your mind when you think of your mother? “She was a good Mom but basically her take on life was not to be a doting, mothering type. ‘You do what you gotta do, kid’ was her philosophy. She did visit this property in it’s very early stages of development but I really wish she could have made it up here in the later years to see what goes on in a community that is probably similar to where she grew up in many ways and to see what we eventually accomplished here.”
I now asked Kevin for his thoughts or comments about these frequently discussed Valley issues or topics of conversation?… The Wineries? – “I know this can be a controversial issue. I don’t have any problems with them; it’s what the economy is up here at this time. It has a fair amount of wineries now and people visit here precisely because it is not Napa with so many. The Valley will not become Napa so people should stop worrying about that. Things will change but not in that way”… The A.V.A. newspaper? – “It has some good articles in it and gives readers lots or pertinent information to the area. Some of the information is simply not true but I do like reading it every week and it comforts me by not being in the weekly sheriff’s log”… KZYX & Z local public radio? – “I don’t listen very much. I try to catch the weather in the mornings but that is my total radio input for the day. I will read the newspaper headlines sometimes at work.”
To end the interview, as I do each week, I posed a few obvious and some not-so-obvious questions to Kevin and asked him to reply as spontaneously as possible…
1. What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing? – “Our dogs – all Springer Spaniels – Echo who is thirteen; Cassie eleven; and Manning four.”
2. What annoys you; brings you down? – “Cell phones – I don’t need to elaborate.”
3. What sound or noise do you love? – “The wind in the trees; the sounds of nature.”
4. What sound or noise do you hate? – “Thankfully there’s nothing that I hear every day but I don’t like the noise of traffic when I am at work.”
5. What would be your ‘last supper’? – “Beef Wellington – done correctly.”
6. If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation over dinner, who would that person be? – “John Muir, the naturalist and early advocate of preservation of wilderness. I love that he would go into the woods or mountains with some bread and a blanket and ‘communicate’ with nature.”
7. If you were sitting at home and a fire broke out in the building, what three things would you make sure you took with you? – “Apart from my personal documents it would be the three urns containing the ashes of my Mom, and two dogs – Skidmark and Peanut.”
8. Does anything scare you? – “Yellow jackets.”
9. Where would you like to visit if you could go anywhere in the world? – “I’d like to visit the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. before I die.”
10. Do you have a favorite book or one that has influenced you? – “In light of current times, I’d say ‘The Creature from Jekyll Island’ by G. Edward Griffin, which examines how the Federal Reserve was formed. It reads like a detective story about the most blatant scam of all history.”
11. What was your favorite hobby as a teenager? And now? – “As a teenager it was certainly back-packing and related activities. That continued as an adult for many years. Now it would be camping, although I don’t go very often these days, or perhaps gardening, which is very therapeutic for me and puts food on the table. We just got some chickens for the first time a month ago and their eggs are delicious.”
12. Do you have a favorite word or phrase that you use? – “Bastards!”
13. What profession other than your own would you like to have attempted if you were given the chance to do anything? – “A park ranger.”
14. What profession or job would you not like to do? – “A t-bar ceiling installer – I did it after the earthquake – never, ever again!”
15. How old were you when you went on your first date? Where did you go? – “ I was about sixteen and I took a girl called Marcie to Disneyland which was about fifteen miles away from where we lived.”
16. Is there something you would do differently if you could do it over again? – “I guess I wish we had moved out of the city sooner than we did.”
17. Tell me about a moment or period of time you will never forget. – “Watching the forest fires on ridge opposite our property, threatening to come this way during the lightning fires of 2008.”
18. What is something that you are really proud of and why? – “Being able to accomplish, with Vydell of course, what we have done here, and making the move that many people wish they could make.”
19. What is your favorite thing about yourself, your best quality? – “Being able to talk comfortably to anyone I meet.”
20. Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “I’d like to hear him say, “Glad to see you made it. You’ve done a good job. Now here is everyone you had to say goodbye to – family, friends and dogs you have lost.’ That would work for me.”

The next interview will appear on the 2nd Thursday of the month – July 12th, 2012. The guest interviewee from the Valley on that occasion will be
Jim Roberts, formerly of Taylor Roberts, the interior design company,
and owner of The Madrones small business complex outside Philo.

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Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Patrick Ford – May 31st, 2012

I met with Patrick at the Veterans Hall / Senior Center in Boonville a couple of weeks ago. It seemed an obvious choice as we are both Senior Center Board members and Pat is shortly to be announced as the next Commander of the Boonville branch of the American Legion.
Patrick (‘Pat’) was born in 1949 in Artesia, Orange County, in southern California – near to Disneyland and the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park. His parents were John Ford and Georgia Barker. The Ford’s were of Irish/English ancestry and had originally settled in western New York State in the mid-1800’s, leaving Ireland sometime before the famine years of the late 1840’s, and eventually settling in California at some point. The Barkers were English who had also come across in the mid 1800’s, although in their case they settled in the mid-West, with Pat’s mother growing up in Missouri. Pat’s maternal grandfather was a carpenter in the construction industry and he moved the family to southern California for more work and the better weather in the 1920’s. Pat’s parents met and were married in 1945 with son Raymond being born in 1946, then Pat in ‘49, and finally daughter Toni in 1951. In the mid 1950’s, when Pat was seven, his parents split up and the family were rarely to see each other again.
“I went with my mother and sister and we moved to Washington D.C. My life in those early years is very vague to me now. I remember such things as the severe electrical storms in D.C. and all the cars having those rubber strips hanging down from the wheel guards touching the road to provide a ground and prevent shocks to the passengers. I remember fireflies; I remember the weather. My time with family is tough to remember. At the age of nine I came out to California and spent two years in Santa Rosa in northern California with my brother at my Grandfather Ford’s home. My Dad was there some of the time. I never learned what happened to everyone in the family; nobody told us the whole story. I saw my brother for those two years and that was about it.”
Pat attended St. Rosa’s Catholic School five blocks from their home and earned pocket money by running a large paper route with his brother. Then when he was eleven, he moved down to southern California to where his mother, sister, new stepfather, and stepbrother Edward had moved, while his brother remained in Santa Rosa with his father and grandfather. “We lived in West Covina, a newer suburb of Los Angeles and I attended Orangewood Junior High before going to Edgewood High School from 1964 to 1967. I was an outdoors kid, easy going, well behaved, and rarely in any sort of trouble. I did yard work and helped my sister with her baby-sitting jobs. I was really into all sports and was a letterman in the main three – basketball, baseball, and football. I also did track when it didn’t clash with the others – the 440, the 880, long jump and high jump. In between my sophomore and junior years my mother and stepfather moved the family to Chino, which was in a different school district and therefore I would have to go to a different high school. My coaches did not want to lose me and I didn’t want to go either. My case went to court and finally I was allowed to stay at Edgewood but only if the coaches picked me up and dropped me off for school each day – a journey of one-and-a-half hours. The coaches agreed. I guess I was seen as a hotshot athlete back then – these days colleges would be putting money into my mother’s pocket to recruit me! I played varsity basketball all four years at high school, and three years of varsity football and baseball. With all the sports, the traveling to and from school, and my chores at home, I had little time for any sort of social life – my friends were on the teams with me and it seemed that sports was all I ever had time for. I had no time to screw up even if I wanted to! I was six foot, five inches tall and played forward or center, averaging 28 points a game in my high school career. I am not boasting; I was a good player.”
Pat was an above average student and particularly liked history. He graduated in 1967 and was offered many basketball scholarships by colleges, but choose Mt San Antonio Junior College near to his home in Chino. “I was done with all the traveling and several coaches advised me to go to this college where I would be playing with bigger, older guys, and therefore get a better idea on any pro prospects that I might have had. Going to a more established program was not as important back then. After two years there, during which I averaged 26 points per game, in 1969 I received a full scholarship to transfer to a small but highly regarded basketball school with plenty of exposure to scouts of pro teams – South West Louisiana in Lafayette, the sister school of L.S.U.”
This was when fate played a major role in Pat’s life. The Vietnam War was at its height and the draft lottery system had been introduced. Because Pat had transferred, he would have to sit out of sports for a year but the conference he would be playing in allowed him five years to complete four years of college so he would still get four years of basketball. This worked well from a basketball point of view but it meant for that first year he was eligible for the draft. He had registered in Pasadena, California back in 1967 and had drawn #52 in the event of a lottery. The lottery began and, with such a low number, after just one semester at college, Pat was drafted into the military.
“I refused to join the army, which you could do if another branch of the military would accept you. My brother was in the marines and my grandfather Ford had been also. I joined the Marine Corps in late November 1970 and so went from being a ‘Ragin’ Cajun’ (the nickname of the college team) to a Jarhead (the navy’s name for the marines) in no time at all.”
Pat tries to put a positive spin on this setback to his basketball dreams. “I didn’t like the food in college anyway! And it was colder in Louisiana than I thought it would be too!” However, one ‘perk’ of his college days in Louisiana was that he met Sonya Dell Ryland, whom he married on March 6th, 1971 in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Pat was sent to Camp Pendleton in southern California where he went through boot camp and then on to advanced infantry training. He was a platoon and company leader for the recruits – “that basically means you are first up and last to bed.” He then moved to Lakehurst, New Jersey where he spent six months training as a parachute rigger – working with safety and survival equipment and specifically the packing of parachutes. “I was to be assigned to an F4 squadron of attack planes and would be responsible for the gear, helmets, safety equipment, and parachutes of the two-man crew – the pilot and his radar operator. To graduate from the class you had to jump out of a plane wearing a parachute you had packed yourself. I did that several times.”
At the end of 1971, Patrick was shipped to El Toro, California where he was assigned to the F4 fighter planes of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons 212 and 235 before receiving orders to go to Vietnam for three months from April to June 1972. “Sonya was with me in Lakehurst and El Toro and when I went overseas she stayed in California. On the flight to Vietnam we played cards the whole way and then landed at Da Nang Air Base in the northern part of South Vietnam – just eighty miles south of the D.M.Z. I can still remember vividly the heat and humidity when we arrived at the Da Nang base. They took away our real money and gave us ‘funny money’ instead – Vietnamese ‘dongs’. It was seven days a week; twelve hours on, twelve hours off. We were short a few men and so two of us were doing the work of four. Security at the base and for the surrounding area was quite something. If anything or anyone came near us that shouldn’t, it was dealt with immediately. Anything. There was a kill zone and if anything unexpected over fifty pounds entered that zone it was killed instantly. The North Vietnamese would try to get close with mortars but they were given no chance. It always amazed me why other places in Vietnam could not be as secure – we had such lethal weaponry.”
Patrick was promoted on merit through the ranks to sergeant. He was highly regarded in his field and led his team of parachute riggers well. So well that when volunteers were asked for to go on search and rescue teams he was not allowed to apply – he was needed at his job. After his three-month stint in Vietnam, he was posted to Kaneohe Marine Base on Oahu, Hawaii where Sonya joined him and they were allowed to live off base. There he was responsible for the safety equipment of the marine pilots and crew of fourteen F-4’s – “lots of them were college graduates, just a year or so older than me. Those F-4 attack fighters did a great job in Vietnam. Even when they had fired all their rockets, ammunition, and napalm, they would then do a mock climb, straight up in the air with the after-burner on and then ‘boom!!’ – it could perforate your eardrums if you were not expecting it. They would fly so low to the ground too, although you could tell the married guys – they flew maybe not quite as low as the more carefree bachelors! …. Because of my particular skill and the fact that the job I had was one of high security, I didn’t get out to see the really gruesome side of the war, but I did get to know the smell of burning flesh and hair and that’s something you never forget.”
Although Pat’s basketball career had been derailed by the war, he still played pick-up games while in the military. In such games he twice broke an ankle and he decided to take a medical review. This was a year after he had arrived in Hawaii and it was decided to give him an honorable discharge as a result of his injuries. This was June 1973 and he had served for “three years, seven months, four days” during which time he received a Bronze Star and a good conduct medal. “I was never sick for a day. I hadn’t missed a day at school or college either.”
Following his discharge, he and Sonya clashed about their very different views of the war. She attended numerous anti-war protests and Patrick knew their major philosophical differences would never allow the relationship to work. “Neither of us was willing to change at the time. It was too bad. We kept in touch vaguely over the years although in recent times we have been in contact quite often. She is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she is a lawyer.”
After his discharge from the Marines, Pat left Hawaii and settled in the San Diego area where he rented an apartment and worked in construction, painting, and wall covering for a number of years before later doing the same work for a real estate company all over southern California. By the early eighties he wanted a break from the hard physical labor and moved to West Covina once again, near to Pasadena, where he went into sales at a car dealership. He soon took on a second job at a competing dealership. “For two or three years I was selling Fords and Pontiacs – in competition with myself!”
With Pat holding two jobs of one kind or another over many years he did not find the time to develop his personal life. “The divorce certainly left scars and I didn’t want to make any sort of commitment to anyone. I was out of touch with my family and remained very leery of any in-depth relationships.” From the mid-eighties for the following ten years or so, Pat worked for Bakery Industrial Services, installing baking equipment in the southern California area. He enjoyed the job but he had to quit in 1995 when his old ankle problems surfaced once again and he had to have a fusion operation. The time off did allow him to further his education and he took a course to become a medical assistant in Glendale, California, graduating in 1997. The course also provided him with two-and-a-half years credit towards medical school. “I applied for jobs in hospitals but for one reason or another, mostly the need to fill quotas, I was not on the ‘right’ list.”
During his recuperation from the surgery, Patrick rented a room from the mother of a friend of his. This was Barbara Lamb, a woman who had owned property in Anderson Valley for over ten years and who would visit the Valley for months on end. “She decided she wanted to move to this Valley permanently in 1997 and I helped her move here, to her property in Yorkville. I had never been here before and really liked it. I returned to southern California but with jobs so scarce down there, within six months I decided to move up and live on Barbara’s property in the Yorkville Highlands. That was in 1998. For a time I moved off Barbara’s land (I listened to Rush Limbaugh, she didn’t) and stayed on the property of her neighbor, Abby Maxsom’s property and then at Kevin Owen’s place nearby. I did move into Boonville for six months when I worked at The Buckhorn Saloon when Urs owned it and I lived in the house behind the pub. I left there and returned to Barbara’s place in Yorkville, this time to the flat land on her upper hills.”
Over the years Patrick has used his many skills learned in the construction business to be the handyman and perform maintenance on many of the properties near to where he lives. “If it was broke, I fixed it. I ran phone lines, repaired fences, fixed plumbing, etc, etc. and as more jobs were completed in Yorkville I did stuff in Boonville too. I started to go to the Senior Center for lunch and then, following a D.U.I. I did some community service there. This led to me doing some projects around the place, which, as the Veterans Hall, is also home to the local branch of the American Legion. I continued to volunteer there and got more involved. I had been a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in southern California and the Legion down there also. I transferred my membership to Boonville and next month will be the new Commander of the post – one of the smallest in the country.”
Patrick joined the Senior Center Board in 2009 and his work behind the scenes for that organization is invaluable. He works on the garden there and fixes whatever needs fixing. “I love the Valley in that it gives me so many opportunities to grow plants and trees, both at home and at the Senior Center. I always have something to do. It is very peaceful where I live and there is so much to keep you positive – the birds and bees, the fruit trees, the constant lifestyle around nature, and of course my dog, border collie Taff. I go to bed at sunset in the winter and get up at sunrise. I have my coffee and start my chores and work projects around there, raining or not, and only stop to kick a ball around for Taff. In the evenings I do like to watch college sports on television, mainly basketball. What’s not to like around here? Well I guess we don’t have a convenience store! It is tough sometimes to live high up in the hills with my bad knees and ankles. I just had knee surgery and there is another one in the future but I am hopeful of a good recovery.”
I asked Patrick about his estrangement from his family. “I am not sure if my parents are dead or alive. I have been out of touch with them for thirty, forty years. I’ve not seen my father since I was in high school. I last saw my mother when I was in the marines, forty years ago. I saw my brother just after that, briefly in Hawaii when we were both in the marines, but not since. My sister I saw thirty years ago. I do think about al that sometimes, but not often. We were never really a family, at the most for just a couple of years when I was very young. I do wonder sometimes if I should have been more motivated to keep in touch. I never disliked them and there was never any falling out to speak of. It was just not a caring, close-knit family situation but I never went hungry. My mother would be in her mid-eighties if she were still alive. Sometimes it can depress me but not for long. I am realistic about what happened although there is no real explanation other than we were just not a family to start with. By my early teenage years I hardly knew them and had spent very little time with them. It just happened that way…”
I asked Patrick for his thoughts or comments about these frequently discussed Valley issues or topics of conversation?…The Wineries? – “How many do we have here now? How many do we need? I do think the Hispanic speaking winery workers could really help better themselves if they learned more English. They could perhaps get different jobs, better jobs. I am not against the wineries, in fact I am a member of the Claudia Springs wine club”… The A.V.A newspaper? – “I do not buy it anymore but occasionally read other people’s copies”… KZYX local public radio? – I don’t listen much; we get poor reception where we live and they don’t play the music I like. I tend to listen to San Francisco and Sacramento stations and sports radio in particular. I am something of a conservative politically, but no matter what I am I have to listen to the stations that come in up on the hills”…
To end the interview, as I do each week, 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 came up with myself.
1. What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing? – “A warm sunny day.”
2. What annoys you; brings you down? – “The biting cold wind we can get where I live.”
3. What sound or noise do you love? – “Running water in a stream or creek.”
4. What sound or noise do you hate? – “Woodpeckers.”
5. What would be your ‘last supper’? – “T-bone steak with mashed potatoes and asparagus.”
6. If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation over dinner, who would that person be? – “Albert Einstein.”
7. If you were sitting at home and a fire broke out in the building, what three things would you make sure you took with you? – “Just me and Taff – there is nothing else worth saving.”
8. Does anything scare you? – “Very little.”
9. Where would you like to visit if you could go anywhere in the world? – “Ireland, and Stonehenge in the U.K.”
10. Do you have a favorite film/song/book or one that has influenced you? – “A film would be ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’, and the song in that movie – the River Kwai March. It reminded me of the military – building the best thing in town and then destroying it. ‘Dig a hole; and now fill it’.”
11. What was your favorite hobby as a teenager? And now? – “As a high-schooler I liked to work on cars. For a time when I moved to the Valley, I enjoyed being a roadie for some local bands. Musician Christy Wells used to call me the ‘Special Needs Guy’ because I was always able to come up with something to fix a problem. These days my hobby is gardening.”
12. Do you have a favorite word or phrase that you use? – “I find myself using the phrase ‘Oh, I see, selective memory’ when I find that people have conveniently forgotten something.”
13. What profession other than your own would you like to have attempted if you were given the chance to do anything? – “Pro athlete. Basketball put me on that road but it didn’t work out. I was very disappointed to have to stop playing after suffering serious injuries in the military.”
14. What profession or job would you not like to do? – “Cleaning out horse stalls – I did it as a kid for a time.”
15. How old were you when you went on your first date? Where did you go? – “I was seventeen and took a girl named Gidget to a sock-hop dance at high school.”
16. Is there something you would do differently if you could do it over again? – “I probably have stayed in the military for twenty or thirty years. I would have had a new trade and pension when I got out. I got out to rehab my ankle so I could get back to playing sports but it turned out there was too much trauma in the joints and that was it. If I had not asked for the medical review and stayed in the marines, who knows?”
17. Tell me about a moment or period of time you will never forget. – “My high school years and all the sports I enjoyed. I was a top prospect. I never shot less than 90% from the foul line and won several tournament M.V.P. awards.”
18. What is something that you are really proud of and why? – “That I have been helpful to many people. I have physical problems with my joints but I am still doing a lot for others.”
19. What is your favorite thing about yourself, your best quality? – “That I am a very positive person.”
20. Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “It’s not your time yet, go back and continue to serve.”

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment