I’m a native Californian born in the city of Burbank. My home has been in Southern California for the most part, except for three years I lived in Northern California at the age of 12 through 15. There, I lived on a fourteen hundred acre ranch in Marin County on Highway 1. A beautiful stretch between Bolinas and Olema. I had some incredibly wonderful experiences during that time. As I think about it, the problem with that age, though, was not really understanding and appreciating the value of the journey. I mean, does anyone that age really think, “Gee! I sure understand and appreciate this time in my life”?…
Living On A Ranch
Coming from a city life in Glendale California my nearest neighbor’s were just twenty feet on either side of the house. By all means that gave me quite a comfort zone. Leaving all my friends and then having to move to a country environment really didn’t seem all that exciting. In fact, I didn’t want to go at all.
The thought of meeting new people and living in a 100-year-old two story 5 bedroom house surrounded by a mountainous forest of redwood and pine trees gave me the creeps.
With a two-lane highway passing through the property and the nearest neighbor about 1 mile down the road, in either direction, really made me feel as if I were a foreigner in some strange land.
After the initial fright of living there a while, it became like no other place I’d rather live on earth. For instance, in the spring, one of the most exciting things to do would be waking early in the morning, just about sunrise, and go out to the coral to bridle a horse called Lightning for a ride.
Gently grabbing the mane on his neck I’d jump up on his bare back and slowly head out, in the rocking of the horse’s gait, on a trail towards the two lakes about half a mile or so down the road from the house.
I suppose a city person that never had a chance to live in the slow pace of the country might not imagine that kind of excitement. Even at that young age, it’s hard to express what cool thoughts and emotions I had while Lightning pressed through the dew-soaked meadows. Try, if you can, picturing the scene of that morning. Everything was so quiet… steam rising up from the brisk grassy ground as the brilliance coming from the suns rays slightly pierce through the majestic redwoods slowly warming surrounding area’s. Wow! How gorgeous.
Ten minutes into the journey life within the forest would begin. First, a few chatty melodies coming from a family of quail fill the air as they scamper across the trail. A couple of minutes later a sudden rustling coming from within some bushes ahead, startling Lightning and me, out dashes a spooked dear in haste to get up the hill towards the forest and out of sight. While looking up at the silvery blue morning sky a pair of mallard ducks whizz by, probably heading for one of the lakes. A wonderful memory.
Sometimes out of the blue, I’ll find myself reminiscing about those days. The thought of riding the horse around that property or going to those two man-made lakes where I used to fish, one had big mouth bass and blue gill, and the other rainbow trout we had planted, Ah!… the tranquility. Standing on the shoreline of the bass lake watching the fish dart around the tulies was really stimulating. It was my dream to catch this one big mouth that just pushed his nose up at my past attempts to catch him. But one day after a few hours of casting my line out by a tree stump, he always hung out in that spot because little frogs that swum by were his meal, I would finally hook that elusive fat 3 1/2 pounder. It was my homemade popper lure mimicking a frog I carved out of balsa wood that nabbed him. Hee Hee Hee. Wow! What joy.
Going Into Town
Oh, yeah! I certainly can’t forget the fun times of going into Bolinas town, about 20 minutes from the house. The serenity of standing on the mesa cliff and being caught-up in banter with close friends about girls.
One summer eve, I recollect, while looking over the ocean at a breath-taking sunset there came some faint sounds from a bunch of squawking seagulls in the distance. They were sort of lingering above this lone fisherman’s boat and suddenly, like darts being flung through the sky, they dove towards the wake of the boat for fish scraps being thrown into the water from the day’s catch. While all that was going on, one after another, a continuous roaring from pounding waves below the cliff saturated the air as they came crashing on the rocks. What memories. Like the old saying goes, “I remember it like it was yesterday”…
Fishing From Shore
One of my fondest memories and there were many, was the day my Pop took me into the town and to the ocean inlet of Bolinas Bay to go fishing. That’s where the big striped bass (some up to 40 and 50 lbs.) would come in every year for the anchovies to fill their bellies. A lot of fishermen would wade out from shore up to their chest in rubber suits with these long poles and fling their metal lure’s about forty or fifty yards in the midst of the stripers hoping to hook one.
My Pop showed me how to maneuver an extra pole he had bought for me. It was so exciting trying to fling one of those lures out there. It probably took about a half dozen times or more before getting the hang of it. We didn’t catch any that day. However, a short time after, Pop went with a couple of ranchers and finally caught a 10 pounder. That was so exciting to see. Then a week or so after that, a friend invited me to go fishing with him and his brother in their boat. We went just beyond the breakers and started flinging our lures out and within four or five tries I hooked one. So much fun. By the time we got back to shore we ended up with 8 fish. By beginner’s luck, I ended up with three 22 pounders. Ha! Those stripers must have been related. What a time that was. I still see the smirk on my Pop’s face when I brought those monsters home…
Now at age 54, (at the time of this writing) if I was ever asked at this stage of my life, “what was the one span of time on earth I most enjoyed?” I would probably say it had to be the three years I lived on that ranch. I feel so very fortunate to have gone through one of the most envious of life’s journeys and I really wish every kid could have a chance like that.
Back To Southern California
We had to move back to Southern California which was really sad. I think the cold foggy days and rainy weather got to my mom. That weather usually lasted about nine months through the year and my pop needed to find work again. The only place He was familiar with was Southern Cal.
After settling into our new home in Sylmar I graduated from High School. Soon after graduation, a friend of mine got a job for me in his fathers gas station. That lasted on and off for a period of about five years. From the knowledge I had learned in the station, little did I know how much it would help me in later years of my life.
I did a lot of moving around in my early twenties, like most other people that age. Always trying to figure out what kind of job would make me happy. Working in a gas station on and off and the many other odd jobs here and there, definitely wasn’t very fulfilling. In my heart… playing music was the only thing I really wanted to do but, in reality, I knew I had to stick to working in some field of labor to keep on supporting myself.
Losing A Parent
I was 24 in march of 1974. All the family members branched out on their own and my parents ended up renting an apartment in Canoga Park. That particular time of year I was out of work while staying with different friends. One day out of the clear blue, after talking with my parents, a decision was made to go live with them for a short time to try and figure out where my future was going. My plan was to get another job, save money, and get back on my feet again. So I thought…
For about two weeks hanging around the apartment brought a lot of contemplating what direction to take. Then on this one sunny weekend morning, my mom and dad went down the road to my brother’s house for a visit.
As the morning went on, probably about an hour later, the phone rang and my mom said my dad wasn’t feeling very good and needed me to get a pill from within his desk and to bring it to my brother’s house. Asking why, but not getting an explanation, while being frustrated, sarcastically I said, “you’re just down the road send my brother to get it!” So stinking selfish and lazy of me. Well, to make a short story long, they brought my dad home. He sat on the couch and said everything is alright then proceeded to the bedroom to rest.
Within 10 minutes or so, the concern for him brought up questions about his condition. I looked into the bedroom to see if he was alright, but he wasn’t on his bed. Creeping into the bathroom I looked in and saw him on his knee’s with his head hanging down drooling and looking horrified. He instantly turned and saw me. With an angry voice, he yelled, “get out of here”!
For a complete lack of understanding, hurriedly walking into the other room and pacing around feeling dejected, anxious thoughts of uncertainty bounced around my head. One of my brothers instantly called an ambulance and a moment later there came a loud moaning cry from the bedroom. Rushing in, there he sat adjacent to the bathroom slightly slouching against the wall.
Screaming for my mom, who was in the living room and thinking she knew what to do, he reached out and grabbed for my hand. Not hesitating, I grabbed his. While looking into his eyes (being terrified) and seeing the angst, it was almost as if he was saying goodbye while squeezing my hand. Suddenly, just like that, he let out his last breath and died in front of me from a heart attack. My recollection was looking up and screaming out to God, “Please help! Don’t take my Dad”! But, to no avail. That was the most shocking moment in all the years of my life.
For sometime after that dreadful day, there came a lot of confusion. This bitter thought continually flashed around my head, “how could God (if there was a God) take my Dad away like that”? He was only 59 years old. In my thinking, he would always be there many years later, at least until I established myself. This period of time was the lowest point of life for me, my mother and four brothers.
Finding Meaning In My Life
About a year later after a quick marriage and divorce, the next seven years consisted of learning new trades, drinking, drugs, and many relations. I was constantly trying to find meaning and direction for my life.
At the age of 32 (the best year of my life), a friend agreed to let me stay in his home. He helped me out quite a bit. I did some odd jobs around his house then he put in a word at his company and I was hired. One night, what I remember anyway, my friend’s father called and told him his mother had a stroke. He quickly rushed over to their house and took them to the hospital, as I stayed in his home.
Since I’ve seen so much death, pain, suffering, and misery within my own family and relatives over the years, a sadness came over me for what my friend and parents were going through.
After the incident that night, while sitting on the sofa, I began dwelling on all the playing around, drinking and failed relationships I’d done. Then I began thinking what is the point of life all about, anyway?
As my friend was at the hospital I began watching TV and for some silly reason turned the channel to TBN (Trinity Broadcast Network) a Christian station. For a brief moment I listened to the preacher talking about Jesus Christ being a real person and not just a name you swear by and that caught my attention. He then said, “He is the son of God who came in the flesh and died a brutal death hanging on a cross at Calvary for my sins.”
After pondering over and over again in my mind about the many things being said, that night, I finally got on my knees and asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. Immediately something started to happen inside my body. I had an experience that cannot be explained in human terms, but I knew it had to be the spirit of God. I have partaken and experienced being intoxicated by all kinds of alcohol and various types of drugs for quite a lot of years and never felt or gone through anything of this nature before. So, I can honestly say that without a shadow of a doubt- this was from God.
As the program went on that night, I got some understanding and finally had a direction in my life. It would involve being a servant of Jesus Christ to tell people about the good news for what He has done for me and what He will do for anyone who calls on His name. Now my biography became a testimony. ?