CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

I was into my tenth year of High School and getting into the subject matter quite well. The realization of World War came to me while sitting in the school auditorium and hearing the details of what had happened the day before - Sunday, December 7, 1941. A thought came to my mind that I think I heard my Mother say, "War happens about every 25 years!" At age 15 I could not imagine what my role might be. It seemed only a few weeks later that I heard that one of the guys I had been in the 8th grade with was a first casualty. He was two years older than I and had dropped out of school early to enlist in the Navy. It made me feel a pang of pain as I thought of what a gentle big man he had become.

Again it was only a short time that passed as we were made aware that all Japanese American citizens were being incarcerated behind the fence at Santa Anita Race Track. This was not far from our home in Alhambra, California. One evening our family got into the car, drove to the track and joined a very upset crowd of mourners trying to make contact through the fence. Some Chinese on the outside and Japanese inside. This was a real heartbreak to see happening.

As news reports came in and everything seemed to be going so badly, I began a process of trying not to respond, but instead hope for the best, praying it would end soon, not realizing it would take years!

The spring of '42, things slowed down as preparations were being made. Two of my cousins in Minnesota were transferred from the Civilian Conservation Corps. to the regular Army. A neighbor boy, Bill Lusk, used to visit our house on a Saturday afternoon and he and my sister Shirley played the piano together. Bill was left handed and played heavy on the base. This made for a very pleasant sound and I'm sure the whole neighborhood was entertained. Soon Bill was stationed in Riverside, about 60 miles away, and would visit home on some weekends. My cousin Warren was also stationed at Riverside and would visit our home occasionally. He was assigned to anti-aircraft. Later cousin Brud was stationed near Indio and trained under General Patton. We visited him at a tent camp once and I was able to touch an M-l rifle and see military life first hand. At 15, I didn't recognize that I would be any part of this, although I knew how important it was.

To understand some of my thoughts and experiences is to know that I was born of an immigrant Father from Sweden, Joseph Lindberg and Mother, Gladys of mixed race, Chipawa Indian, French, and Swiss. Born in Minneapolis, I learned early what cold winters were like. Dad worked in a furniture factory and was soon promoted to foreman because of his talent. Mom was a very good housewife and grateful that my Dad had provided well for her. I had two older sisters, Shirley and Flayvilla. Because Dad could not pronounce Yvonne, my Mom coined the name of "Flayvilla". She had read books about the

Mexican Revolution and this influenced my younger brother's name, which is Ramon. A birth spread of about two years put me in the middle with my name of Harold. The first recollection I had was seeing my brother Ray in the doctor's office having both ears operated on for mastoids. This seriously affected his hearing, even to the extent of some lip reading on his part later in life.

Next, I noticed that my eyes gave me some bad headaches, and at three years old I received my first pair of glasses. My right eye was crossed and so weak it looked only directly toward my nose. Even at the beginning, I was not willing to accept this as a handicap. I was quite a bit like a Cyclops and had to learn distances by size because of a lack of depth perception. I'm sure that this had a profound effect on me as it became important for me to prove my worth to my father.

In second grade I had my first fight after school and no doubt showed more aggression than needed. My Dad walked the several blocks to find out why I was late returning home from school that day. I sensed he was not too disturbed, because of the fact that I won the fight!

During the hardest part of the Great Depression, in 1933, we as a family, moved to southern California. The weather factor became so much more pleasant, it was like paradise to me. Dad's income had changed over the past few years from $5,000 a month to $8.00 a week! This was an extremely hard adjustment to make. I learned never to expect or ask for anything personal. For the next 5 years I only remember havmg one toy truck to play with. We learned very well how to entertain ourselves. Those Depression years taught many healthy lessons of love and relationships, neighborliness, etc. A story should be written to give details not recorded here.

Meanwhile, in High School, I worked summers and even during short vacations in the furniture factory. Working with my Dad was rewarding to me. Again I had an opportunity to demonstrate my worth to him. I started in the finishing room at age 13, doing prep. work. Later, I worked in the mill using all of the machines except the band saw because too many men had accidents and the risk was great for injury. Over time I became faster in production than the regular boring machinist. On vacations, Dad and I would work overtime. I cleaned the mill room and he made plans for further production. I did this work from age 13 to 17. A lot of repetition and a stick-to-it attitude would serve me later in the Army. During this time I had to be careful with my friends and wait until they spent money at the golf range, horseback riding, dates, etc. I had more money and was aware that they might think I was flaunting it. Shirley's boyfriend was a classic, Prince Charming, eager to please and especially good to her siblings. Everett Rassmusen drove a '31 model "A" Ford. In fact, one after the other.

In 1936 it was possible to buy a model "A" for $35.00 total. Would you believe $5.00 down and $5.00 payments and, of course, no insurance. If the car failed it was written off by who ever was holding the sack.

On one Friday night, Everett drove up to the front of our house displaying his new model" A" with the top down and rumble seat open. I guessed they called it "rumble" because that surely was the effect when in motion. As the sun began to set and evening approached quickly, Everett bent over to examine a wet spot on the pavement issuing from the car. Perplexed, he was unable to decide if the liquid was plain water or perhaps a gasoline leak. His fool proof way to make a judgment was to strike a match. How very soon he found out it was gas! In seconds there was no way to control the blaze. I ran to the alarm box at the end of our street and pressed the button. Others followed and pressed the alarm button several times. Soon fire trucks were responding from all directions, a total of four as I remember. In panic neighbors were running around frantically. The biggest concern was for someone to "Get a camera"! "Get a camera"! If I get a picture the evening newspaper will pay me $5.00 for it. There were other problems, but this one had the highest priority. A camera was not found, too bad (maybe a camera, but no film). Next, several of us pushed Everett's flaming car out from under the trees in front of our house because they were starting to burn also. Success was achieved as the car halted, forever, in front of our neighbors house and we watched as their trees burned up instead of ours! Self preservation was important.

The following Monday morning was bright and sunny as I took my place in the sixth grade classroom. The school was newly built and directly across the street from our house. Looking out the window and viewing the scene was strange, as Everett's car was now collapsed into a heap. The area appeared a war zone. My first assignment was to give a report of the catastrophe to my class as they viewed the scene. Could I speak the truth? Could anyone accept the lighted match trick? Ordinarily I would have enjoyed the attention in front of class, but now I struggled to talk about a hot manifold and all the other car parts I could recite names of.

Everett returned soon with another model" A ". It was the car I learned to drive. One thing I didn't have to learn was about the brakes because there were none. Coming to an intersection I would look in all directions, if any other cars entered the intersection I would quickly make a hard right turn. Sometimes I drove around in circles as I generally headed in the direction of my destination. Frequently we all boarded Everett's car as everyone was included. Driving to "Frys Pies" we were each treated to an individual small pie at a cost of $.05 each. There were so very many choices, banana, peach, apple, cherry, and on and on and it was Everett's treat! Imagine being happy go lucky as we all again jumped in the car with top down heading for Seal Beach, Newport Beach, or Huntington Beach. Shirley and Everett were so very good about including Flay, Ray, and me on these exceptional outings. A place in the sun and sand when Southern California was at its' prime.

Our usual neighborhood kids met one Saturday morning, then we walked a couple of miles to Highland Park theatre. It was 1937, I think, anyway we arrived and I had a special role to play as we entered the theatre. I received two ice cream bars as I paid $.05 admission to see what became a classic movie, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". I never had a better deal. Everett was ushering and the second ice cream bar was for me to control the neighborhood mob. It was easy. So pleasant to recall those old days when life was not harsh, only mellow. Soon this would change.

When Ray was 10 and I was 12 we lived directly across from our grammar school campus. A new school was being built and we could now look from our house directly to the main entrance. Several things happened as we played around the construction sight. The year was 1937. Workmen had finished building a large set of cement (poured) entry steps complete with a landing. After the forms were removed a small hole existed on one side. I crawled through the opening and behold, a large cave was open to me. I had a candle and lighted it. In the glimmering light I saw that this dungeon (cave) was sealed except for the hole I climbed in. It was soon I heard a shovel scraping, heaving, scraping, and heaving as the only hole was being filled. It was all I could do to dive for the opening and escape as the next shovel full of dirt hit my body and face. The workman gasped, said nothing, but leaned on his shovel and I left him as he tried to catch his breath realizing he had come close to burying me alive.

One evening we, Ray and I, climbed the only ladder to arrive on the roof of the new building. The roof was indeed large I and was of simple hip design. As we casually strolled the length and breadth, out of nowhere we observed the night watchman ascending the ladder. This put the fear into us and with little hesitation Ray and I began to run. The signal between us was accomplished very fast. We were brothers and the bond between us was like no other. We gathered speed and upon reaching the end of the building our short legs continued the running motion in thin air. Upon landing on gravel covered playground, we continued our run quite normally as though we had not dropped 35 feet. I doubted that we had no problems doing this so years later I returned to measure that it truly was 35 feet.

Ray's school teacher encouraged him to take a streetcar, go to downtown L.A. and try out for a boys choir at St. Paul's (Episcopal) Cathedral. Ray was successful as he could sing very well. After a year Ray was off to choir camp and had a lot of fun. I then tried out for the choir and felt like laughing out loud when I tried to sing a solo of "fa, so, la, te, do". The choirmaster accepted me and we practiced twice during the week and performed twice each Sunday in the Cathedral. Some of the inspired words I still hum and will never forget. "Like as a father pitieth his own children, even so is the Lord merciful to them that fear him". "Hear my prayer oh God incline thine ear. The enemy shouteth the enemy shouteth, the Godless come fast, iniquity and hatred upon me they cast. O where shall I fly, perplexed and bewildered oh God hear my cry, oh God hear my cry". Ray and I gathered a lot of information that would serve us all our lives as our faith in God grew. Special singing engagements at downtown department stores in Los Angeles and various service clubs happened. Once in a while we would comprise a smaller singing group and after performing and going to a nice restaurant for dinner we would stay overnight in the choinnasters apartment. Some of the boys on a sofa or a sleeping bag on the floor. The choirmaster invited Ray to sleep with him in the only bed. Happy go lucky Ray was about to jump in when I laughed and pushed him aside as I jumped into the bed instead. Our perverted choirmaster accepted this quick exchange and found out very soon that when he touched my torso I was prepared to go ballistic and kick him where it hurts the most. Mom always insisted we could not hate but on this occasion I learned to hate, as I remained rigid all night. My sex education was just beginning.

At age 13 radios were our best source of information. As a youngster my reading was rather minimal. Radios, even the best ones, cost less that $60 dollars. Included would be a magic eye to help focus on a particular radio station. It was only 20 years earlier that my Mom worked (as a teenager) in a factory to assemble among the first electric light bulbs (The Mazda Co.). In 1927 Charles Lindbergh flew solo to France. We indeed felt we were living in a high tech. society.

In less than 100 years we have witnessed an unimaginable development of knowledge and industry. Is prophecy being fulfilled or am I dreaming?

Listening to the radio in 1939 the first reports came in. "Germans attack the defenseless country of Poland". England responded first to defend non-agression pacts that had been established and W.W.II was begun. Be aware that the enemy would try to rewrite history and the blame would be placed on countries, including ours, as being the aggressor.

Dad had such a limited education and this contributed to his exaggerated respect for educators and teachers. Once I used an analogy and told him that a given school teacher had just shoveled a lot of "tahooca" (Indian word) all over him. Dad, without emotion, said, "Maybe so, but I'll wait 'til his shovel has dug a hole deep enough so I can kick in some on top of him". To me, just a young boy, this was profound as I thought it through.

One you may enjoy more happened one evening as my sister Shirley sat at our dining table doing her homework. She was using mucilage (glue) that was very strong. In those days if you experienced a putrid smell it meant you were using the finest product. Shirley had the best! Her school teacher was to stop by this evening and discuss the important scrap book being assembled. Dad demonstrated more and more anxiety as it was time for the teacher to arrive. First up, then seated back in his chair. The door bell rang and everyone in the family riveted their eyes on the door. Dad, becoming very agile, jumped up and opened the door. When the warm essence of Shirley's glue hit the cold night air the odor intensified. The lady teacher reached out her hand gracefully and my Dad made the same gesture. Both of them at the same moment got a whiff and did a minuet backwards. Their hands didn't meet. The teacher soon left and as the door was closed Dad exclaimed, "Boy, does she stink"! I wonder what the teacher thought. The episode ended as Shirley placed her hand under Dad's nose and inquired, "Is this what you smell"? He winced in pain.

When still a teenager and working at the furniture factory, I was happy to join all the workers as we left for the day in a herd. My Dad walked along side me as were having to go through the building. Without notice he jabbed his elbow into my side while he looked straight ahead. I coughed slightly and bent over a bit. Dad asked, "Do you see that guy"? I quickly answered, "Yes". Dad then repeated this question and elbow treatment twice more. Now I observed his silent rage, feeling of a side ache too. Dad finally let it out as he exclaimed, "He's a bleep"! I thought to myself is this a Swedish word? Just kidding. He immediately left me and went over to "fire" the guy. I found out the culprit had been stealing supplies. I tell you this to explain how passive my Dad was. He was never rattled or showed emotion. This was the first time I ever saw it. I pondered this and eventually would find the answer why Dad was passive and Mom was aggressive. Mom very occasionally would call on my Dad to do the discipline. He would take Ray and/or me into the bathroom and try to use his razor strap (leather strap) as we wiggled and dodged. After each time Ray or I would cut the strap shorter. Soon it was 3" long and further discipline was not required. It surely was hard for Dad to sharpen his razor later. Stay tuned until 45 years later! (it's in the genes!).

Flay's 5th grade teacher was "or lady Romic". Gray hair and certain wrinkles, along with her overall appearance, caused me to see her as a tough "Battle axe". Flay got along very well and accomplished a lot in her class. The next year I advanced and Mrs. Romic became my 5th grade teacher. Flay had impressed the teacher very positively. Would I be so fortunate? One day in class, I put my little finger in my mouth and blew gently. I was having no success learning how to whistle with my fingers. Of course, the whole class was engaged in study with faces in the book. Having no success whistling, what to do? I tried again, this time with two little fingers. The result was shocking, a shrill, I high pitched, nerve wracking sound happened. No one was more surprised than I. All heads lifted, as did the teachers. I put on my very best innocent look. Romic stood to her feet and proceeded to stomp hard on the wooden floor. I watched intensely as she came down the isle of desks. Each step shook the room, as I kept a steady eye (singularly) on her every move. Closer and closer she came until I finally could look no more and hung my head. Stopping right beside me, I could hear her breathe. At that moment, she reached past me and pulled Henry straight up, out of his seat, by his hair. Henry cried out in pain, but he was totally unprepared to defend himself. With me, it was, "Mums the word". Henry forgave me when we advance to 7th grade over a year later, but failed to sit anywhere near me after that.

Feeling extravagant one night we all sat in the upholstered chairs in the theatre and passed our jackets to fill an empty seat. Becoming even more comfortable, this was the life. The theatre filled and soon another group had use for the seat filled with our jackets. All jackets and clothing were being passed back to us and a process of sorting was going on. The process continued with absolutely no conclusion. I mean that I was handed a bundle and soon passed the same bundle in the opposite direction. How long could this go on? My arms were starting to cramp. Surely others must be getting fatigued as well. Finally in the middle of the movie I stood up to announce that we must stop and some how quit passing the arm of a chair back and forth. Amen?

One night Dad was feeling devious as again all six of us attended a movie. We sat spread out and soon I heard a sharp slapping noise. It was indeed brisk and frequent. We discovered later that Dad took Mom by the hand and led her into the more expensive upholstered seats. Not able to see in the darkness, Dads plan was to find two seats and settle in. As he felt a lot of knees along the way, each occupant slapped his hand. Mom was very embarrassed and felt he got what he deserved because there were no empty seats.

Wednesday evening at the movies was a family affair. Because there were six of us we seldom sat together. Many evenings Mom and my two sisters received free dinnerware as a come on (10 inch plates). Mom was happy to collect all three and carry them. The quality was very good and the price was right, protect them with all your might. Having found a seat with brother Ray, we settled down to enjoy the fiIm. Shortly there was a sound throughout the theatre as though a sledge hammer had hit a hollow coconut. It came to mind and I was right, Mom and Dad in the darkness had found seats together and as Mom sat down abruptly, the three dinner plates crowned the man sitting in front of her. Poor man. He simply sat there stunned.

Yes, you're right. There is no end to these movie episodes. There were three theatres in town so one Wednesday night we took in "el cheapo". The floors were sticky and littered with trash. No one would ever attend this place with a girlfriend. The place was packed for a movie rerun and I sat next to the only two seats available. Glancing back down the aisle, I recognized the "Fonze". Every school had one. He had dated this tall string bean gal with matching hair. His hair, of course, was newly s1icked down. As the pair of them came down the aisle, they engaged in conversation about should the girl sit next to me and the "Fonze" on the aisle or visa versa. The final decision was that she would sit next to me. She slowly unfolded the seat and sat down not realizing the hinge was completely broken. Because of this her tall lanky body slid full length under three rows of seats and trapped her. She was almost out of sight on the floor. The "Fonze" was beside himself as we could find no way to help her up and out. When finally, there was no choice but for both of us to pull her gently out by her hair. It now was bath time and they left walking back up the aisle in full embrace.

After a Wednesday evening movie our family stepped out of the theatre to discover there was a blackout* in progress.

*(Blackouts {no lights allowed} was practiced at night to protect us from enemy air attacks along our coastline. The need was minimal and soon discontinued.)

Finding our car and then driving two miles home without headlights was something new to live through. Dad noticed a noise and questioned it. I spoke up and told him "That is where the tire is rubbing a newly bent fender". In the pitch dark he jumped out and told me to drive! I hadn't learned as yet, but was ready immediately. Dad was to jog along side as I slowly drove forward. After revving up the motor I popped the clutch and was a full 50 feet ahead of him. Dad jogged as I slowed to a snails pace. He caught up as the motor almost died. Again I pressed the pedal and jumped 50 feet ahead. Three times was enough as he hollered for me to turn off the key and stop. As this was happening another car violated the blackout and shone a spotlight on what appeared to be a midnight track star. In a silent rage Dad drove home fast and ignored the tire completely. On anival at home we were supposed to keep the house in total darkness as we prepared for bed. The blackout was to be observed strictly. Mom especially wanted to cooperate. In the dark Ray called to me and asked "Where is the toilet"? I called back and said, "Stand on the bath rug and you can't miss"! He did so, and he did so in the comer of the room. Mom somehow was made aware Ray had a problem not finding the target so immediately every light in the house went on. Mops and buckets were put into service. Let's clean up the mess. Oh yes, the Block Warden showed up to enforce the blackout. Mom, without hesitation, told him to, "Shut up and mind his own business". Dejected, the Warden withdrew.

Graduating sixth grade made me excited to get on to junior high and join Flay as she was already attending the new school. L.A. was very progressive and education was a high priority. Later Ray said how much he missed me in grammar school as I was his first line of defense. It was more painful for him. The facts are that the area we were living in was tough and it was necessary for me to either be "King of the Hill" or play a sissy role.

At 12 years old I was flattered to be elected "President" of the 7th grade. Instead of 30 students in a class, I was President of several hundred. At Junior High my reputation had accompanied me and I'm not too proud to relate this. Understand that in our neighborhood my friends and I (12 of us) had not done any (many) delinquent acts, but there were allegations.

On the new Junior High grounds I was challenged to fight a group of malcontents. Without hesitation I was in agreement to meet after school in a beautiful baseball park newly built at the river bottom nearby. Rounding up some friends, about six of them, I thought would be enough.

After school we slowly walked to the park and I began to plan our attack. In my mind I began to think that if they are twelve guys, we are only six. Is this fair? Proceeding further I had serious misgivings and was tempted to call off the fight. ..There wasn't time now as we looked down the steep incline and expected to view our opponents. It was very pleasant to observe an empty field void of any of the Dirty Dozen. Next day at school was magnificent as we strutted the halls and proclaimed ourselves victorious.

My duties as President were simple, stand along side a teacher and strike a pose. I did become interested to learn. I understood right away that a premeditated terminological inexactitude is a lie. Also, a prevarication is a lie. I was having fun studying, no lie.

In print shop I made some business cards for Dad. One problem, we were getting ready to move and I printed the wrong street on them. So what's new?

I had attended Sunday school quite faithfully. Mom and Dad attended twice each year. You can guess when. Easter and, couldn't guess? It was Christmas and "The Boys" had been bribed to be in the Christmas program. Ice cream each Wednesday afternoon. I got the largest bowl because I brought "The Boys". The night of the program "The Boys" followed in last as we had not been too successful at memorizing anything. As kids we were seated up front in the first 3 rows. We all stood to sing to the seated audience. Turning around "The Boys" were the only ones visible to the audience. Mom looked up at me with a kind smile. My dad swallowed hard as this loud singing came from behind me. The good kids belted it out. There was nothing left to do except lick our lips and try to lip syncopation (sink?) We were syncopated.

My next problem was wearing wool trousers, that itched all over, Sunday morning. I thought I solved the problem as I borrowed Shirley's silk pajamas and wore them under my pants. All went well until, as I walked along dragging the pajamas. They unrolled and I began to stumble. No one made fun of me, but it had to affect them as they turned away to laugh.

Dr. Irwin Moon was a young pastor then The church was an old wooden building built on Ave. 43 on a steep hillside. He taught sermons from science. He was involved in time lapse photography and showed movies of rose buds blooming to full blossoms in a few seconds. He also performed standing on a large transformer with metal clips at the end of each finger. When he flipped a switch his body accepted a million volts of electricity and lightening extended three feet from each finger. He demonstrated that if he was in tune with the electricity he would be unharmed. This was true, he was unharmed. He taught, if you are in tune with God, you will be unharmed. Made sense to me. In 1938 he took his science sermons to the World's Fair in San Francisco. Later, he became involved with Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and taught for many years. I would describe him as a predecessor to Billy Graham. Fifty-five years later I saw Dr. Moon preaching sermons from science on late night TV.

To continue, our family moved from Highland Park to Alhambra, California, a distance of 10 miles. It was a big step as we entered a much better lifestyle, upper middle class. Dad had been successful and Mom conserved the resources. A tile roof, architecture, three bedroom home with a double garage. Who could ask for more? Dad trimmed our new home using a rather bright orange paint. The stucco was pure white. Hey, it didn't look too bad, as a couple of neighbors up the street also trimmed their homes in "orange" too. What they were not aware of is the fact, my Dad is color blind and to him I think it appeared a pleasant shade of grey.

The move to Alhambra had caused me to regress a bit as I returned to Fremont, a grammar school. Advancing to eighth grade put me at the high end of the stick. I expected to again be "King of the Hill" so I elbowed the oversized bully in the school. He did have an appearance of a pitbull dog. Bill Merts didn't appreciate the attention and soon challenged me to duke it out after school. Hang in please, eventually it will make sense. Word was spread and I expected a full audience for the fight around the comer of a building. Plenty of time after school and I would perform at top level. Two girls showed up along with Bill and we hesitated a long time before starting anything. I was indeed puzzled by a lack of attendance of all the students. Bill was in favor of calling if off but I was determined to take my place and defeat the toughest kid in school. My values were indeed wrong. Didn't take long to spread Bill out as the two girls jumped up and down with glee. I helped Bill to his feet and would you guess we became good friends later.

Shortly after this I was invited to an eighth grade dance at the Women's Clubhouse in our neighborhood. We danced a broom dance and passed the broom to any fellow you wanted to cut in on. The girl I was interested in was Irma Mae. She was like my Mom, only shorter. As we danced I remember her hanging on my neck and I knew what it was like to carry her. Noticing Barbara McCoy (she watched me fight) there was a long line of boys waiting their turn to dance with her. I became interested and finally took my turn with her. Very exciting as she danced the "Lombada" before it was invented! As I remember, Barbara was married early. Funny these are names you don't forget.

Very unpleasant surprise as at school I was being totally shunned. Soon no one would speak to me and I was dumbfounded by this treatment. I had tried to clean up my vocabulary but this had no effect. I sat in class ignored, on the playing field as though I didn't exist. This went on for too long as I counted the weeks. Describe it as non-fraternization. What a blow to my ego and self worth. Finally as I had become humbled, Art Stangland, class president, then Jack Meadows, six months our senior, and finally Dewayne Wilson came to me and asked if I would like to attend a slumber party at Art's house. I almost bawled to have such a wonderful opportunity of acceptance. I didn't ask, but isn't it the girls that have slumber parties? From then on there would be no more fights for me as I was going to trade values with, "Who are these guys"? We bonded easily and this would serve each one of us for many years. In time Dewayne rode his bike to my house and I met him on the street in front. He carried his Bible and was shy about asking me to a new Sunday School being conducted at the Women's Clubhouse. I said I would come and he quickly rode off.

Next day, I was in the food store. While at the check out counter I bumped my elbow on a pyramid shaped stack of chewing gum. I told the clerk I would restack them after retrieving the gums packs from the floor. My method was, one for them one for me. The display had shrunk a lot, but the clerk ,was happy with the job I had done. Outside I ran into Dewayne as he reminded me about going to Sunday School next day. I had a sick feeling of guilt. I kept my promise to Dewayne and soon the class learned about Genesis, the beginning, next Exodus, John, Acts, and Ephesians.

Ray's closest friend in high school was Paul Carlson. My friends were, of course, Art, Jack, and Dewayne. All six of us decided to take a vacation at Big Bear Lake, a mountain lake at about 6000 ft. elevation and 60 miles from home. What a surprise, Mom gave her pennission and so did the other Moms. I was not old enough to drive so Art borrowed his brother's new Dodge coupe. On top of the car we had Jack's homemade paddle board (forerunner of a surfboard). It was hollow with a cork at one end to empty seepage water. Painted bright blue most defects were concealed and, yes, it did leak. I was in charge of the menu and, thank the Lord, Art's Mom furnished a gallon bucket of spaghetti already cooked! My menu consisted of fresh fish at almost every meal. Of course we would first have to catch them out of the lake.

Arriving at our campsite in late afternoon, we pitched a tent and rolled out sleeping bags. Dewayne was the most adept camper next to Art. A decision was made to eat a light supper and perhaps conserve some of the spaghetti for a second meal. I think the six of us scarfed up all of the food in six minutes.

Next morning we decided to skip breakfast, so we wouldn't have to brush our teeth. A hike was suggested but Art and I were the only ones interested to go. While others lay around the camp and lake, Art and I took off on a grand adventure. We trudged miles through woods and rocks and saw magnificent nature views. On our return trip we talked constantly about peanut butter sandwiches, cookies, milk, and maybe cake. Returning back to camp salivating and drooling I ran up to Ray and asked about supper, as it was late in the evening. Art and I had not eaten all day. Ray was in charge of meals that day and it was his responsibility! One fish only head and tail had been caught and it really was too small to eat. It was then that Ray explained with a happy smile (Lindberg laugh), that the "Magnificent Four" in camp had met a cabin full of young girls nearby. All afternoon they had played "Drop the handkerchief'(really) and in the evening joined the "family" in the cabin dining on a full course meal. Tears welled up in my eyes as I prepared to light the Coleman stove. Using a heavy skillet I filled it a quarter full with uncooked rice and dumped in a whole can of chile powder, nothing else. Heating the two ingredients for only a few minutes, it was time to eat. Art declined, so I ate alone. Flavor was not too bad but, of course, it was just like chewing toenails. Good that I had healthy teeth.

Next morning we arose and made our way to a small bait and camp store. While there it seemed as though choices were slim and none, but I did buy a gallon of milk. Returning to camp I gradually heated all the milk and added an entire box of oats. This was a major batch and cooked up very thick. Taking it off the stove I offered portions for everyone and was offended that there were no takers. The first spoonful I tried slid down my throat and bounced on the bottom of my stomach. It was then I turned the bucket over and deposited the contents on a tree stump. In a day or two it had hardened to a consistency of solid concrete. Why was I surprised that Paul Carlson decided to hitch-hike home and left us?

I remember when the five of us returned home later. Mom was confused as I ran up our driveway embraced her and maybe sobbed a little. Time for home cookin'. From then on I paid close attention and learned cooking skills.

I should mention Dewayne flirted with a girl and took her for a boat ride just off shore. In that evening we sat around our fire singing "Row, row, row way up the river, he would row, row, row. A hug he'd give her. Then he'd drop both the oars take a few more encores, and then he'd row, row, row". Too bad our serenade interfered with further boat rides.

The use of the paddleboard was divided and one day it was my turn. I had planned to paddle across Big Bear Lake. It's big! Sitting on the board I began to paddle. A single oar with a paddle on each end was all there was to it. Half way across the lake the board was obviously leaking pretty good. The board became submerged and I became a bust with a paddle. No evidence of support. In those days a large slghtseemg boat passed in front of me and the passengers stared at me. They watched as I used the paddles at a quicker pace. Arriving on the far shore I tipped the board up on end and waited a long time to empty all the water from it. If I had to do it again I would have walked back around the lake. I did return by paddling back across. My movements were greatly accelerated all the way. Did I say, I made it? Sleep was good. Don't tell Mom I wouldn't want to worry her. She knew I couldn't swim. Reminds me, I always wanted to please mom. One day she asked me what game my 7 year old buddy and I were playing. I didn't want to tell her we were playing cops and robbers, so I said, we were playing two cops.


Chapter 2

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