K.C. Meadows, Editor, Ukiah Daily Journal


[K.C. Meadows has been the Editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal since 1997. She talks about growing up in New York, how she landed with her husband in Mendocino County, opines about Donald Trump and the survival of newspapers, and describes her enjoyment of living in our corner of the world.]

I grew up in Manhattan in NYC, on the Upper West Side which in the 50s and 60s was considered the wrong side of the tracks. Today of course it’s a different story. And, even though it was the wrong side of town we still lived in a nice two bedroom apartment half a block from Central Park with a doorman/elevator man all on my single mom’s secretary’s salary. How was that possible? 

My parents were divorced when I was about a year old and my dad lived on the East Side. He was Catholic and wanted my sister and I (she’s two years older) to be raised Catholic. My atheist mom said, fine, if you want Catholics be here every Sunday morning to take them to church and Sunday school. And he did. Most Sundays my sister, my Dad and I would troop over the Holy Name Church on 96th and Amsterdam Avenue for services and then take a taxi to one of my dad’s favorite watering holes for “lunch.” PJ Clark’s was a favorite. My sister and I would have hamburgers and my Dad would have scotch. We later learned that one of my Dad’s good friends at the time loved to join us because as two cute little girls we were the perfect way to meet women. His friend would ask the prettiest woman at the bar to take us to the bathroom as a way to try to pick her up. Those Sundays were lots of fun for us since we got to eat out (something our mom could hardly afford) and we got to ride home alone in a taxi, always considered an adventure. 

My parents were both show business people. My mom started out as a big band singer named Francey Lane who traveled with bands in the 40s and in the early 50s, the age of live TV, she had a couple of local live entertainment shows on NBC where she met my dad, Kevin Jonson, who worked at NBC and eventually became a TV director – directing things like the Milton Berle Show and the Kate Smith hour. She quit the business when they got divorced and he went on eventually to start his own company directing “industrials” such as videos and training films for private companies. 

My dad started out as a ballet dancer. He was a member of the Balanchine ballet troupe when WWII broke out. The Army had no idea what to do with a ballet dancer so they assigned him to Irving Berlin’s This is the Army production and he spent the war traveling in the show. I have his photograph book from those years and there are some wonderful photos of the company – one I especially love is a group of men using the railings of a carrier ship as a ballet barre. 

We went to NYC neighborhood public schools throughout our education. The West Side was a very diverse area, lots of Hispanic – mostly Puerto Rican – and black kids, but the schools kept us fairly well separated, putting white kids in “accelerated” classrooms (for no reason, of course, other than that we were white). 

We got what I figure was a pretty good education. Once high school time came around, it was time to try to get into one of New York City’s specialized high schools. Otherwise it was Brandeis High School on 84th and Columbus, which everyone knew was a complete drug and crime center from which you would never emerge alive. Both my sister and I had been taking music lessons from a young age and we both had good singing voices (thank you, mom) so we were able to get ourselves into Music and Art High School, a specialized school in an old convent on 135th Street. Your academic grades didn’t matter but you had to audition to get in for the music side. The art students had to submit portfolios. It was a wonderful curriculum. Four hours of music lessons (I got in auditioning on piano but was a voice student) every day plus regular school. We were there 8-4 every day.

At graduation I applied to and got into State University of New York at Purchase in Westchester. It was a brand new college in the SUNY group and we were the first freshman class. The dorms weren’t finished yet so our first half year we were put up in empty dorms at the New York Maritime Academy in the Bronx (a bunch of 1972 college kids invade a military school, what could go wrong?) and we were bused to Purchase every day. The campus itself wasn’t finished either so we had classes in the Museum  building (THAT was done) and the administration building. Everything was new and experimental. We didn’t have subjects. We had pods. Each of us had to choose ahead of time one of the three “pods” we would take: Truth, Beauty, or Power. Each pod was taught by a variety of professors from the different academic areas: history, literature, science etc.all aimed at the overarching theme. Frankly it was chaos. We were assigned Karl Marx reading but half of us really hadn’t a clue about the Russian Revolution. One professor had us reading The Story of O. I’ll say no more. After a year of this I couldn’t wait to get out. I quit school and never looked back. Living in the city again, I took some classes at the New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village, mostly writing classes and that was it. 

I was living and working in Washington DC during the 80s for the US House of Representatives. I met my future husband, Bob Meadows, in a local bar and we got on so well we decided to be roommates on Capitol Hill. He worked in a bar near the White House. We had a gorgeous two bedroom apartment which we shared for two years. At about the same time we both got tired of our work and wanted something new. Bob suggested a move out west so we put all of our possessions in storage and took his ginormous Ford station wagon, loaded it up with camping equipment and started driving west. 

Bob had driven across country several times before, but though I had done a lot of traveling over the world and to coastal areas of the US, I had never been to Yellowstone or seen Mount Rushmore so we took a month and just camped our way across America. We had a small amount of savings, no credit cards and also no debt so we figured we’d just find someplace out west to live and get jobs and start our lives over. Our goal was somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. We almost stayed in Bend, Oregon. We loved it there but we wanted to see Eureka which a DC friend had told us was a great place. This was September 1989. We arrived in Eureka on a drizzly day. As we drove around town I kept seeing “No Checks” signs in the windows of stores and thought, Hm.. this place is on a downward spiral. I had no idea we were in the middle of a dying logging town. We parked the car with the intention of going into the Chamber of Commerce and a little old lady, seeing our east coast license plates came up to us to tell us her son lived back East. We asked her how she liked living in Eureka and she said she hated it, that it was a terrible place to live. So we just got right back in our car and kept heading south on 101. 

When we got to Ukiah and passed the Welcome to Ukiah sign, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw it spelled haiku backwards. I mentioned it to Bob who had studied haiku as an English major at Maryland U and we both declared that it was a sign we should stop. We had $500 to our names. We figured that would be plenty to get set up. We went to the Green Barn restaurant off Talmage and sat at the bar with the Ukiah Daily Journal in hand looking at apartments. With first and last, etc. everything was way out of our reach. But there was a little ad in there for a trailer on East Side Road for $100 a month. We asked the bartender for directions and he said to take take Talmage Road east until we got to the City of 10,000 Boozers (at least that’s what we thought he said, wondering what the hell kind of town we were in) and then take a right. We ended up with our tiny trailer with a deck right on the Russian River for $100. We had $400 left so we went right back to the Green Barn and had the full prime rib dinner, the best meal we’d had in a month.

Two years later Bob and I were living in Hopland and I was working for The Cheesecake Lady and I saw an ad in the Ukiah Daily Journal for a news assistant. I didn’t know what that was but I had worked in news in the 1970s as news director at WUPY Radio in Ishpeming, Michigan and the start of my congressional experience was as a press officer. So I applied and got the job right away. It was kind of an assistant to the editor but I was quickly put to work writing feature stories and then soon after a reporter position opened up and I got it, covering the City of Ukiah and the Mendocino County Office of Education. I was hired in 1991 and named editor in 1997.

People ask me if I think the Ukiah Daily Journal will survive. Boy, I wish I had a crystal ball, but I think yes it will. Despite all the prognostications that newspapers are dying, newspapers are still the number one place people go for information. A lot of that, of course, is online now and the big problem for newspapers has been that online content was for years free. Newspapers didn’t see the online revolution coming. We allowed aggregating sites like Huffington Post to build huge brands using our stuff. We allowed Craig’s List to completely take the classified ad market right out from under us. 

It’s all about the advertising. If advertising stops, newspapers stop, unless we find a different way to make money. The circulation and online subscriptions don’t pay the bills. If you see an ad in your local paper, thank that local business for keeping your newspaper going. I can see a day when we don’t print a newspaper any more, maybe not while I’m still here but some day. The newsprint and delivery costs are enormous. But will we be there to report the news? Yes. Will we be able to do lots of investigative work and lengthy series on complex subjects? Not as much. Thinking about the fires of 2017 and 2018, our staff worked around the clock to get that news out and that’s what we’re here for… to make sure people get the news and watchdog government and tell stories of local people, and let you know about entertainment and the arts in our town. What we do locally is document the history of our town one day at a time. I always hope that 100 years from now, someone can read old copies of the Ukiah Daily Journal and really get a feel for what it was like to live in Ukiah these days. 

I, like the majority of Americans, was completely blindsided by Trump’s win in 2016. I think he is the worst president this country has ever seen. He is unfit for the job. I am convinced he did not expect to win and really never wanted the job in the first place and it shows. Living in Northern California it’s easy to find yourself in a bubble and forget that there are millions of people out there who have completely different points of view. The dark money in politics has also shaped the world we now live in and it is one of the ways a minority of powerful people end up in charge. The scariest thing for me is the emergence of Fox News and other prominent media outlets that no longer agree on basic facts, that are willing to tell and promote outright lies from people in power and help them shape an alternate world that millions of people see as real and truthful. That will still be the case I fear when Trump is gone. I hope that at least Trump has shown the majority of Americans that real journalism is important and needs to be supported because you never know when and where the despots and tyrants will show up. 

As for my reading habits, I read the New York Times and Washington Post online and I have a subscription to the New Yorker. I also like Politico and Talking Points Memo.

I love authors Robertson Davies and Jonathan Irving. For years my favorite book was The Magus by John Fowles, but recently The Goldfinch blew me away. I am a one book at a time reader and I cannot put a book aside even if I am not really enjoying it. I figure I owe the author at least to finish it. I just finished The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason which was an amazing story and Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which somehow I missed years ago when everyone else was reading it. When I am in the mood for easy reading I am hooked on British detective stories although I have found a new strain of Italian and Indian versions I also love.

As a Hopland resident I love that Hopland has been in something of a revival. I love and recommend The Golden Pig (which we Hoplanders simply call The Pig) for great cocktails and food. Tyler the bartender is a gem and will fix you something you’ve never heard of but which will be your new favorite cocktail. Also the newly opened Hopland Tap for sheer great vibes and beer (which I don’t drink so they have wonderful apple cider from Gowan’s in Boonville).

My favorite winery will always be Graziano Family of Wines. Yes, my husband retired from there but in my opinion Greg Graziano is one of California’s truly exceptional winemakers and he keeps his prices out of the stratosphere.

I hardly go to movies any more but I could watch The Thin Man another 1,000 times and still love it. Gigi because it is charming and I loved it as a girl and I am also a complete sucker for You’ve Got Mail.

I am so glad Bob and I ended up here. We have had a happy life (we were married on my lunch hour from The Cheesecake Lady under the Chinese redwoods on the northwest corner of the courthouse by the county clerk) and made good friends and have had wonderful jobs that we truly love – and how many people can say that?

~~


Jini Reynolds – Mediator, Community Advocate

 

 

[Jini started college when she was 12 years old, has flown rescue helicopters, is on the Executive Committee of the Redwood Valley Grange, has counseled professional Hockey, Football and Basketball players on anger management, acted as a mediator at Standing Rock, is part owner of Down To Earth Landscaping Company and helped get her neighbors through the devastating fires in 2017. She has lived in the same house in Redwood Valley for 43 years and has 2 sons and 7 grandchildren.]

I grew up in South San Francisco. My father never finished the 8th grade and was a Police Officer. He was also a draft evader by gaining so much weight on purpose that they could not take him into the Army. My mother had graduated from High School and went right into the Police Force. So my parents met during World War II when they were both Police Officers. My mother was the first woman on the Police Force to have her own beat at Hunter’s Point which was a Shipyard. When the war was over, my dad bought a Trucking company.

I started taking dance classes when I was 3 years old. When I got to 1st grade they skipped me to 4th grade because I was reading, like, Life On The Mississippi by Mark Twain… and that didn’t really work. I cried a lot and was very uncomfortable. So my father and friends started a school called the Sunshine School which was what was called a Free School back then. It’s now called Nueva Day School and is in Millbrae. So I studied dance, and I had a horse so I studied Animal Husbandry, Science, and Cooking. My parents always believed in me and left me lots of space to be who I wanted to be.

When I was 7 years old I got really sick with Scarlet Fever. I was confined to a dark room with only candle light. My grandmother took care of me and knowing that I loved plants and animals she went to the bookstore and found this book Herbal For Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levy and read it to me by candlelight. I was in the darkness for 6 weeks and recovered. At that point I was obsessed with plants and animals.

While taking dance classes still at 7 years of age I was discovered by visitors and signed 2 contracts. One was with the San Francisco Opera House and the other was to become a model for J C Penney catalog. The Opera House wanted me to do Hawaiian and Flamingo dancing. My parents took all the money I made and put it into an account for me.

In our backyard I started what I called the NAA… the Northwood Animal Association with my next door neighbors Mellanie and took in all stray animals. I documented where we found them, how they got turned into us.

As I grew older I started attending a regular Junior High School part-time. By 7th grade I had finished Chemistry and Trigonometry, and could play the Saxophone. At 12 and a half years old I was told I could take a College Entrance Exam. I took it and was accepted at San Francisco State College in 1967. Some students left the classes I was in because they didn’t like that I was this little girl there. So I transferred to San Jose State. There I listened to a Stanford teacher named Vi Huerta who gave a lecture about becoming a Development Specialist To Make Aware Your Body, Mind and Spirit. I knew that was what I wanted to study with her and I transferred to Stanford. I was 13 years old.

At 15 years old in 1970 I bought my first house in Menlo Park. I was also a teacher’s aide for an Aphashic children program for the San Mateo County Board of Education in Burlingame, was going to school at Stanford, scooped Ice Cream at Swenson’s, modeled, and played Sax in a garage band called AUM that opened for a lot of bands at Winterland.

I eventually met, worked with, and married Don Howe, a counsellor and therapist who had a group home for children in Sacramento. In 1976 we decided to move our group home to Redwood Valley. We bought a home from the People’s Temple. It was called Awake Home For Children: to make awake and aware the body mind and spirit. Don later died in a canoe accident, the children’s home was closed, and my home is now a 1 acre Permaculture farm with goats.

I opened, as the manager, the first Planned Parenthood in Mendocino County. I have also worked for Trinity School, the Mendocino County Office of Education, Mayacama, Real Goods, and the Rural Health Aid program at Mendocino College. Then I started working for the Mendocino Transit Authority as a mechanic which I had learned being around my father’s trucking company growing up. Meanwhile I met Peter, my next door neighbor, and we’ve been married now for 37 years… and I feel that my biggest accomplishment in life is being a mother and grandma.

The fires of Summer 2017 devastated Redwood Valley. The electricity was turned off and no one living around there could go to the valley floor for 6 days where the stores are and where our Grange is. When we were allowed in, I went to the Grange to check that everything was okay, that the refrigerators were ok and leave a note on the door to call me when PG&E arrived so I could open it and light all the pilots. But as I was closing and locking the door I just broke down in tears. I could not do it. Many homes had been lost and people were driving up and down the road out of their minds. I thought… we all need a place to meet. A lot of people were in shelters, out at the Fairgrounds, the High School, in motels. I had been communicating with friends, family, community members and everyone was in upheaval. Peter was with me and I said I cannot close this door. I have to leave the Grange open. People need a place to come. I said I was going to call the rest of the Grange Executive Committee and ask if I, Jini, can use the Grange. If the Grange or other non-profit opened it up, all the food would have to be from a code kitchen, any money changing hands would have to correctly recorded, any child care would have to be licensed… I just wanted to open it up for what it is. It’s our community hall.

So I called the Executive Committee and said I wanted to leave the doors open. I want to call all young people who have children and had lost their homes and they can go to my shop at my house and gather up all the clothing, easels, books, tables, craft stuff that I had collected from various projects I was involved with, and ask them to set up a children’s area in the foyer because those are the people that need help the most. Then they will know that their kids are happy, and they can come into the kitchen, get some food, get some counseling, find out what paperwork they need to fill out and we will see what we can do in the Hall. I’m going to make some brownies, make some coffee, put some sandwich boards out front that say come on in for support, and we will see what the community needs.

We put flip chart paper on the walls where people could write what they needed, and what they had to offer. You would put your phone number or contact. So if you needed a battery for your car, or you lost all your tools and needed to get back to work. And people posted what they had to offer. This one guy’s wife was a quilter who busied her mind when she was nervous with sewing. They were in a motel and he said that if he just had a sewing machine and some fabric she could calm down. We had a sewing machine there in 2 hours. Everyone took care of one another. We had from 100 to 300 people a day come through there. A massage therapist came in give massages, others gave haircuts. We had games for people to play. One young man lost his truck in the fire and another man said he had an extra truck and gave it to him. Another guy wrote out a $5,000 check and gave it to the young man. We had FEMA and Red Cross there. There was food available all day. I opened it every morning at 8am and closed it at 11pm.

I had a gallon glass jar sitting there in the kitchen. People would come in and put money in it. Other people would come in and take money out of it. No questions asked. No one ever cleaned it out completely. When it got down under $200, I had money in the back I would put in to keep it between $200 and $300.

A lot of people who lost their homes still needed to go to work everyday. People would come in for breakfast and make their lunch to take with them. We had a spread for them every morning. CK gave us free internet so people could set up business meetings there. We were able to do that for 17 days before the Grange needed it back for events that had been scheduled.

After Channel 2 showed an interview I did with them, a man called up and asked if we could use a refrigerator/freezer trailer and said he would bring it right up. Surprisingly, it came chock full of food. Sandwich meats like you would not believe. Corn Beef, Turkey, Amy’s meals… and 5,000, 2 foot-long salamis.

It really restored my faith in people. Our community is really strong and really beautiful.

* * *

Hal Zina Bennett — Author, Creative Writing Coach

 

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[Hal lives in Lake County with his wife, Susan Sparrow, and is the author of more than 20 successful books, including Write From The Heart — Unleashing The Power of Your Creativity (2011), The Lens of Perception — A User’s Guide to Higher Consciousness (2012), and a book of four short novels titled Backland Graces (2012). Hal has taught creative writing workshops throughout the US, and is a personal writing coach who has helped over 200 writers develop successful books.

The Writers Read monthly poetry readings at the Art Center in downtown Ukiah, started by Susan, has been going now for over eighteen years. Susan also started the Poet Laureate program and helped start the Ukiah Haiku Festival for Mendocino County. I asked Hal what he is currently working on…]

I’m writing a mystery story, kind of a classic murder mystery which I haven’t done before. I’ve written fiction before, but this is the first time I’ve stuck to a formal structure. A lot of Shakespeare is in mystery form, and some of the great theater, like Sophocles, is classic mystery. I’d say that in the last four years I’ve tried to do things to recapture the excitement that writing had for me at the beginning. I really enjoy what I’m doing now, in retirement,  because I don’t really care if it gets finished or is ever published.

As a kid, I started writing on my own, but could never figure out how to connect it into my school. I flunked all my English classes, but meantime I’d be excited about writing all the time, and reading adult fiction. Then I spent most of my life making a living as a writer. It got to the point, of course, where it was just work. When it is something that you have mastered where part of the craft is writing for a broad audience, and working under a deadline for a publisher, it is no longer fully satisfying. It doesn’t have the zing in it that you felt in the beginning.

A musician who plays for an audience, or a journalist who has a column, gets feedback. And there’s some real energy in that. Whatever we do, we want to communicate… we want a connection to the other person. Story telling started with people talking to each other, telling each other stories around the campfire. They didn’t study language, but they did study the interaction… “when I’m hooting sounds, when I jump up into the air, everybody’s eyes get wide”… there’s something fulfilling about that communication with another human being.

When you write a book, you may never meet anybody who has read it. In all I probably have a million books in print, and I get maybe 10 letters a year from people who love my books and tell me that.

The average book in the United States by all kinds of publishers sells less than 500 copies in its lifetime. If you include self-published books, it’s under 100 copies. Only 1% of the books sold support the industry.

I grew up in Michigan, born in Detroit. My dad was an engineer of a bank building. When he was in his late fifties, he got fired by new owners of the building and he said that he was not going to go back to that life anymore. He loved wood work and that’s what he ended up doing… making Shaker type furniture that sold pretty well.

The first years of my life we lived in Birmingham, an upper class suburb of Detroit. Everyone in our neighborhood were executives. I never could relate to it. My friend’s dad was a Vice-President of General Motors and they lived a couple of doors down from us. They had servants who were pissed off and his mom was always drunk and un-present. It was a terrible environment. So he spent a lot of time at our house which was more laid back.

I was about 12 when my dad lost his job, and we moved to the country and became really poor, although we had nice real estate. It was difficult, but at the same time, I hunted and fished, and that was part of our food source. There was never any pressure, I just liked to do it. We gardened. That quality of life was a vast improvement to me than what we had in Birmingham. So with what’s happening in the country today, for me, that life is a piece of the puzzle for our future.

My first book was No More Public School (1972) when back-to-the-land was popular. I helped set up a few small cooperative schools in the Bay Area, and people were moving up north and home schooling their kids. It sold pretty well. When I moved here, I met former Supervisor David Colfax — who famously home schooled his kids that were accepted at Ivy League colleges — and he told me that book was really important to him.

The Well Body Book (1973) which I co-authored was my first best seller, ultimately selling about half a million copies.

When I was giving creative writing seminars, the first thing I did was say to the participants that I wanted them to sit, close their eyes if they wanted, and then write in the present… whatever that meant to them. People always have something on their minds, or are hearing something, or some part of their body hurts, or birds singing… whatever that is to them. What ever they feel, whatever they hear, whatever is going on in their mind, write about that. I would then ask them to write about their “essential wound”… that time in their life when they discovered that the world does not think or feel the way they do. Then people would share their writing. There was always a lot of interaction between them. There would be lifetime bonds formed.

I did one here in Lake County where we published a little book of the collective writings. One of the writers did some interviews with people and then produced a theater production in a nice little theater in Lower Lake. She packed the house of about 150 people for three performances each. Things like that would grow out of the workshops.

Writers are nothing if not good observers of life. Crafting the words is no doubt important but without our observer self we are only typists with an attitude. From the observer self we quiet our minds and let our senses take in what’s there, without projecting meaning.

For the first time we may notice patterns of light instead of the shadows of the apple tree’s branches. Or we may hear the rhythm of the old dog’s claws clicking slowly across the kitchen floor instead of that sound only being a signal to feed him. We notice how we are lifted by the scent of our friend’s perfume as she enters the room. When recorded in a poem or story, these observations transport our readers out of their everyday worlds into a world unlike their own, where they become open to new possibilities.

The observer self slows the constant motion of the mind, when instead of simply observing we label, interpret, or are moved to action, obliterating what our senses might otherwise take in. The busy mind fails to hear the quality of the sound made by the dog’s claws on the floor. In conversations with a friend our busy mind looks for ways to insert our own ideas, to say our piece, to argue — never hearing the quality of that person’s voice, the cadence, the musical traces of inflection.

We tend to see the world only through a lens that is familiar and safe to us. When our observer self comes alive, we see through a different lens. Our brains create new connections. We draw closer to our own souls and connect with a deeper part of others. The shortest path to the present, to the now, is beyond the busy mind and through the more open senses of the observer self.

I once wrote this advice to writers:

Writing and the Fine Art of Observation

1. Be Silent. Are you intimidated by silence? Instead of looking for ways to fill the void with music, talking or your own thoughts, become silence. Minimize your personal impact on the moment.

2. Be Curious. Do you feel a need to explain, interpret, tell or exclaim? Let all your thoughts begin and end with question marks. Einstein said: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as though everything is a miracle.”

3. Be Accepting. Do you judge, sort, and exclude? Be discerning — don’t stand in harm’s way — but for now suspend judgments. See neither good nor evil, wisdom nor naïveté, beauty nor ugliness, skillfulness nor awkwardness, innocence nor proficiency. Instead, let it be as it is.

4. Be Open. Are you attached to knowing? Learn to be comfortable with not knowing. Warm yourself in shadows instead of sunlight. Be awed by the beauty of the thorn, not just the rose. Bask in the mystery of your friend’s being rather than limiting yourself to whom you believe they are.
~~

Michael Laybourn — Mr. Red Tail Ale (RIP)

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[Michael Laybourn is an artist and businessman living in Hopland. He grew up in Hanford, Washington where his dad was involved in Atomic Energy. He graduated from Arizona State University with BFA in Painting & Sculpture, then attended graduate school at Claremont Colleges. He worked as a laborer at Little Goose Dam in Dayton, Washington, and eventually trained as a steel detailer there, and then moved to Berkeley. Michael takes it from there…]

In 1969 I was working drawing up plans for BART. One day the President came through the drafting room, pointed me out, and said, “We won’t have any beards here.” That was a little bit before the long hair era. My immediate boss gave me a drafting kit and said you can do your job at home. That job didn’t last very long after that.

I had developed pretty good skills in construction and photography and I crashed a class with Sim Van der Ryn, an architect professor at UC Berkeley. He was friends with Stewart Brand. We created an offshoot of the class called Farallon Design that gave us a chance to go to Death Valley and help design the Last Whole Earth catalog.

We went there with the Ant Farm architect artists who were the ones that buried the Cadillacs in Texas (google Cadillac Ranch). When we arrived, Stewart Brand said: “See this place? It will be cleaner when we leave than it is now.” He was a real hero of mine at that point. We put together these incredibly cheap inflatable buildings for offices. Inflateables are large bubbles of plastic supported by air (google Inflatocookbook).

After that we met some students from Stanford who had a place up in Mendocino County for a free school. I told them that I could draw up the plans, and could design and build. So I ended up here in a Ukiah commune of 12 or so people to help build and start Mariposa School out on Low Gap Road. Billy Jamison and Dan (Buzzy) Hamburg were involved. I taught there for four years. Some of those involved went on to become Doctors and Lawyers and Judges. Dan Hamburg became a US Congressman and is now a County Supervisor.

I got into the construction business for awhile and for fun Norman Franks and I started the Redwood Valley Grange dances which lasted around 4 years and helped to fund the Ukiah Players Theater. We built a small home brewery as a hobby and our bootlegged “Thunder Beer” was a hit. We would occasionally have performers like Kate Wolf, David Raitt, Holly Near, Sarah Baker, Mark Hanson, the Ford family, and Tommy Tutone. Everybody had great fun. And I met a Choctaw woman, Nancy, who became my wife.

At the same time we built a small home brewery with a walk-in refrigerator. I designed labels for our Thunder Beer and we had a small home business for awhile.

In 1976, Jack McAuliffe opened the first US Micro Brewery, New Albion Brewing Company, in Sonoma. My beer making partner, Norman Franks and I immediately drove down and befriended Jack. But he couldn’t make a go of it competing with the large, established Breweries.

Then a new law was passed to allow small Pubs to make and sell their own beer. We (founders Norman Franks, John Scahill, and myself) built and then opened the Hopland Brewery and Brewpub on August 14, 1983. I remember climbing up in the Milone Hop Kiln, drawing the structure accurately, then rebuilding it across the street. I had to do some serious study of old time, traditional San Francisco Bars which became the basis of the Hopland design.

We hired Jack McAuliffe to brew for us, went down to Sonoma and cut up his closed Brewery, brought it up to Hopland, and welded it back together. It was the first California Brewpub since prohibition, second in the U.S., licensed to sell both our own beer and food at the same location. We also brought in nationally known Blues bands on the weekend. Nancy and I figured out the other day that for 22 years we went out every Saturday night. We’re too old for that now.

While we were still brewing at home, driving through Wyoming, we heard Kate Wolf on a juke box singing “the Redtail Hawk writes songs across the sky, in the rolling, golden hills of California.” I said to my buddies, “That’s it! Red Tail Ale!” I designed the labels and that became our signature brew.

We sold the Brewery, now named Mendocino Brewing Company, in 1999 and I retired from brewing. I still have stock in it and sit on the Board of Directors.

I joined the Rotary soon after we started the Brewpub. In 1985 they announced that they were going to rid the world of polio. There are only about 10 cases left now in the world… 2 of them are in Pakistan. They did that by raising money and with Doctor’s teaching people in other countries how to give shots, and they now have new inoculations that you can take orally. Bill Gates gave a lot of money to the effort. That’s one thing I’ve been pretty proud of.

For six years I’ve been bringing small business men and women speakers in to the Rotary weekly… because I’m pretty convinced that the Rotarians of this world need to talk to the rest of us and vice versa before much can happen progressively in our country.

I went solar on our house and am very happy about that. I built a rain catcher on the side of the garage for garden water. Then I got hooked into Community Choice Aggregation, which is about replacing PG&E with sustainable sources of energy like solar and wind. This started in Marin county by a guy named Paul Fenn. In 2002, California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 117, enabling Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). Not only did the Bill allow CCAs, but it mandated that customers be automatically enrolled in their local CCA, with an option to opt out. PG&E, of course, hates it.

I went down to Marin County and got to know some of the people in making that happen. They scared me because they were so smart. I got Dan Hamburg involved. I invited Shawn Marshall, one of the Marin Clean Energy founders and a former Mill Valley Mayor up to talk to Rotary and the Board of Supervisors. Sonoma County then also adopted the CCA plan. You have a choice between clean energy or pay more for dirty energy. What a choice. It is crashing the PG&E business model which is dependent on these huge projects without much payback that are funded by our taxes.

Sonoma Clean Energy provides residents with the option of using cleaner power at a competitive price from sources like solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower. On October 13, 2016, Sonoma Clean Power Joint Powers Authority (SCPA) authorized the expansion of Sonoma Clean Power’s services to the unincorporated areas of Mendocino County and the cities of Fort Bragg, Willits and Point Arena, with the start of service in June 2017.

I read a quote the other day from that Whole Earth guy, Kevin Kelly, on the back cover of the Utne Reader: “There is more God in a cell phone than there is in a tree frog.” That’s about as wrong as you can get. I’ve got a cell phone and I know there’s nothing God-like about that son of a bitch. The publisher, Eric Utne, was going on about how he did not like how technologists say they’re going to fix any problem there is, and that nuclear power is going to be okay. I agreed with Utne and think that some technology people are whacko. They believe in it like a religion. They’re nearly as bad as Christians. Colonize Mars? Who would want to go there? Why send a bunch of people up there who can’t get THIS one right? My own religion is the mountains.
~~

Penny Marchand — Bookseller

 

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[Penny is a fixture at the corner of Perkins and School streets in Ukiah where she has worked over 15 years for Mendocino Book Company. She is surrounded by books and has sold thousands of stories to many of us. And she has been living one of the best stories of them all. Here’s Penny…]

RAISING HAVOK

When you’re a mom with two great sons that are both successful, it’s strange to hear people refer to one of them as a rock star. I think both of my sons rock. So, if anyone had told me that my first born son, David, would actually become a rock star, I would have thought they were crazy.

At the time David was born, there really were no rock stars. There were rock bands, in the sense of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones… with their great lead singers… but Rock Star wasn’t a term that was used back then. Well, little did I know that my sweet, innocent, baby boy, who eventually took the stage name “Davey Havok” would actually one day be referred to as a rock star. It’s still hard for me to believe, and there are many times that I keep it to myself. It can be a lot to carry and a lot to take in.

Raising Havok is not what I anticipated. I assumed that David would be the average young man, smarter than most (that’s what all parents hope for) and that he would become a professor, or an attorney, and of course marry and raise a family. You know, the “normal” thing. Well, the “normal” thing turned upside down on both of us early in David’s life when his dad, my husband Ernie, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Ernie went in and out of remission and died when David was five years old. While I was caring for Ernie, before his death, my parents were helping me care for David, and they had a huge impact on his life, especially my dad. We all called him Dick, and Dick was the first person to put song into David’s heart. Dick was either singing or whistling around the house constantly. He was a tenor, and sang in a Barber Shop Quartet in Rochester New York where we lived. David grew up listening to Cole Porter tunes, Broadway musicals and crooners like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

My Dad planted the seed for David’s singing career, and I nurtured it along. I introduced him to many songs. One of his favorites was a song I learned at camp, called Mr. Moon: “Oh Mr. Moon, Moon… bright and silvery moon, won’t you please shine down on me?” I would hand David a wooden spoon that my mother used to stir the pasta sauce with and he would use it as a microphone and belt out that song. This started when he was about three. My parents, and my extended family always encouraged him, and the wooden spoon came out of the sauce and into David’s hands a lot. My uncles would often slip him a fifty cent piece or a dollar bill after a rendition of Mr Moon.

So, how David went from singing that sweet tune to writing and singing tunes like “Hey Miss Murder can I… Hey Miss Murder… can I… make beauty stay if I… take my life?”

I really don’t know. I can tell you what I do know though… He started in on rock and roll early. He was five years old when he asked for the AC/DC album Back in Black. At the time I was pretty naive about hard rock or punk rock and when I heard the record I was shocked. Why would my sweet child want to listen to this kind of music… the lyrics clearly suggested killing your mother. Of course they didn’t suggest that… but that’s what it sounded like to me. What happened to those days of Mr. Moon? I didn’t get it… and that was pretty much the beginning of not getting it for quite a long time.

After Ernie died, David and I moved to Sacramento where my sister lives and we started a new life together. It wasn’t too long before I remarried, and David had a new dad who adored him. A few years later on his eighth birthday, we gave him a baby brother, and no… he was not thrilled about getting a brother for his birthday. All he wanted at the time was a pet rabbit.

Well, life goes on… And it did. Our family ended up moving to Ukiah in 1986. David attended St Mary’s Of The Angels school when there were still nuns there, and when he reached the eighth grade, during a parent teacher conference, Sr. Elizabeth told me that David was doing very well academically, was kind and respectful, and got along well with his piers. There was just one problem. Sr. Elizabeth was concerned that David was a devil worshiper… a Satanist. During free dress days he wore T-shirts with punk bands on them. He also drew upside down crosses on his notebooks. How she knew who these bands were… or what the upside down crosses meant, was puzzling to me because I didn’t know. But hey… maybe nuns take a course in Satanism.

I did know, however, that it was not a good thing for your child to be considered a devil worshiper at a Catholic School.

As it turned out it was much ado about nothing. David was no devil worshiper, and he graduated at the top of his eighth grade class. He also sang Silent Night like an angel at the annual Christmas Programs. This was the first real indication to me that David was a dichotomy— appearing one way, and in reality being totally different than he appeared. I think the nuns would be surprised to know today that not only is David not a devil worshiper, he is an outspoken advocate of the vegan and straight edge life style— a lifestyle which is drug and alcohol free.

David went on to attend Ukiah High, where he pretty much stood out in the crowd of jocks and goat ropers and all the other various groups. His hairstyle and color varied from week to week. His style of dress was uniquely his own— a lot of it coming from second hand stores. With his love of singing, he signed up for the choir class directed by Rick Allen, and David learned a lot about singing.

In the meantime, he forged friendships with other guys who shared his love of hardcore punk rock and the alternative music scene. One day he and his friends, Mark and Victor, talked about starting a band even though not one of them owned or played an instrument. Mark suggested that his friend Adam join the band because Adam did own a set of drums and could actually play them. David would be the singer, of course, because he had experience singing in front of people. Remember the wooden spoon? So, for fun and for the heck of it a band was formed and they called themselves AFI, code for “asking for it” — later to become AFI, A Fire Inside. The boys wrote all of their own songs most of which were social commentaries like “Mini Trucks Suck.” They’d play their tunes after school at Low Gap Park, and for the High School Talent Shows.

As parents, we all thought it was great for the boys to have a band. We didn’t understand the style of music, but hey, they were all good guys, and they were being creative and soon all of them would be off to college and that would be the end of that. No harm done. When David graduated from Ukiah High, he showed up at graduation with purple hair to match his purple graduation gown. Today this may sound quite tame, but in those days David stood out like a sore thumb, and sometimes it was really hard on me. I should have followed David’s great example of not caring what other people thought or said, but as a parent, we usually want our kids to fit in with the crowd.

After graduation, all of the boys did go off to college. David went to UC Berkeley. I remember the day we drove him down and dropped him off at his dorm. I was so proud of him, but also sad, that his life was taking off without me. Now, Berkeley is pretty radical, but he didn’t quite fit the profile there either, with his skateboard instead of a bicycle, and his multicolored Mohawk. Oh well, surely he would give all that up, blend in, and become the professor I had hoped for. We would often drive down to see him on weekends and take him out to dinner, and let me tell you, the experience wasn’t always great.

One time, in particular, we picked him up and he was dressed in black, had a huge blue Mohawk, a lip ring, a dog collar around his neck, studs in his ears, black nail polish, and chains hanging from his belt — not at all looking like the Deans’ List Student he was. We walked into the restaurant, and all heads turned. I got a lump in my throat as everyone in there was staring at him. Next, the chef actually came out of the kitchen to see David. He stared at him and laughed. My heart ached. I could barely eat. David, on the other hand, went on enjoying his meal and didn’t give it a thought. I cried all the way back to Ukiah, worrying that he would never fit in and wondering what in the name of God he would become.

What his dad and I didn’t know was that while David was keeping up his classwork, he was also constantly writing music and lyrics to songs that would eventually be recorded and lead AFI to fame. The band had been getting together and practicing in the basement of the Delta Chi fraternity house and they were gaining popularity. It was clear at this point that performing was in David’s blood. He announced to us at the end of his sophomore year that he was not going back to Berkeley and that AFI was going on the road. Yep, dropping out of school to pursue his own dream. What the heck? I was crushed and beside myself. Once again, tears flowed. He was clearly screwing up his life.

So, the guys took off across the state in a van that we rented for them because they were too young. They had T-Shirts and baseball caps to sell, but it was rough being on the road. They lived on $5 a day and slept in the van in parking lots for the first two years but they didn’t care. They loved what they were doing. It wasn’t too many tours later that their popularity spread and their hard work began to pay off. They were starting to draw packed houses and selling their merchandise like crazy. At one point I got a call from David asking me to meet them North of Santa Rosa to pick up the money they had made because they were uncomfortable transporting it. When I did I was stunned to see paper bag after paper bag stuffed with cash. The guys were stoked, and we were happy for them too. But we still had our doubts. After all, how many bands go out there and make it? Very few. And who out there doesn’t want to be a rock star? I think I can speak for all of the parents at the time — we were shaking our heads and wringing our hands. I even had my mother lighting candles for AFI when she attended daily mass.

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Well, the band continued on the road becoming more and more popular with record sales increasing. They received their first commercial success with their fifth album “The Art of Drowning.” That’s when they got the attention of several Record Labels and they signed a contract with DreamWorks. In 2003 they released “Sing the Sorrow” which earned them a Platinum Record and it landed David on the June cover of Rolling Stone. He was officially launched as “Davey Havok” and the band had rock star status.

When their next album “Decemberunderground” went platinum, wringing hands turned to applause. The boys had made it. They were no longer just the garage band out of Ukiah. They were now known Nationally and Internationally. They appeared on MTV, SNL, at Universal Studios, and brought in the New Year on Times Square. I attend many of their shows and at each performance David does this thing where he walks off the stage across the top of the crowd and the fans literally hold him, and raise him up, stopping my breath— and we dance, we all dance and dance — as we all join in “Raising Havok.”
~~

Will Siegel — Leader of the Band

 

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[Will has been making and teaching music around Mendocino and Lake counties for many years.   He and his various band ensembles can play blues and rock one night out in Upper Lake; then bluegrass and folk music the next night in Potter Valley; and then jazz and swing the next weekend in Ukiah. You’ll see them in various combinations at bars, wineries, weddings, and memorials featuring Will on guitar…]

I was born in Southern California, my family based in East Los Angeles. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley where the living was more serene. My dad had a wholesale egg business. My parents allowed me to take private guitar lessons, but there was a constant start and stop as I was distracted a lot by baseball and beach time… but they always supported me starting again. Guitar was always a lot of fun, but it was always hard to stay with it in the traditional ways it was taught… I would get bored reading the notes of songs I didn’t want to play.

It wasn’t until I started sharing music with my peers that it seemed to get exciting. When surf guitar became popular I had a lot of buddies trying to play Pipeline and Wipeout, typical surf songs in that era. We had a little band in high school and we would cover Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds. I still find myself playing some of those songs at gigs. People gravitate to the music of their youth. It wasn’t until I graduated from high school that the guitar seemed to welcome me back. Within a year after high school, I sold my electric guitar, traded my amp in for a nylon string guitar and traveled cross-country. It was the summer after Woodstock and young people were playing music everywhere. Campfire sing-a-longs especially were a lot of fun.

It wasn’t until I came up to Sonoma State College, taking classes in the open program Expressive Arts, and meeting other people doing music, that I wanted to learn more about finger-picking blues and ragtime guitar. I got myself a dobro and that became my gateway into the folk music realm.

A year after graduating from Sonoma State, I met Kate Wolf. I asked to sit in with her at a local restaurant and after a few sessions she asked me to join her ensemble, the Wildwood Flower. We played all kinds of gigs and concerts mostly around Sonoma County. I was a featured member of the band on her first album, Back Roads. Shortly after the recording was released I left the band and partnered up with a couple of friends and my companion and wonder woman, Ellie Colville. We bought a piece of property and moved to Lake County to begin a new life. I was living and playing, but I wasn’t making a living playing. We got by because it was pretty cheap to live in those days.

When we moved up to Mendocino/Lake County in 1976, we were fixing up and living in our cabin near Lake Pillsbury. By 1979, we rented a room in Ukiah a couple of days a week to practice and look for gigs. I realized that to make a living I had to do something else, so I walked into the old Band Box music store on Main Street with my little card offering guitar lessons and I was just about to put the pin through the card on the bulletin board when I overheard the two owners talking about their need for a guitar instructor. The store was run by Russ Johnson and Dolores Carrick. At the time they had private lessons going at the store as well as teaching band at a couple of schools in the area. When I heard them needing a guitar instructor, I took a breath, turned around and said “I teach guitar.” Russ was very opinionated, a very tall man… kind of intimidating. He said to me, “What makes you think YOU can teach guitar.” I said I had been playing a long time, and had just finished taking lessons with Tony Napoli, a guitar instructor in Santa Rosa. Tony had a good reputation and by dropping Tony’s name, I got the job. Russ and Dolores told me that they had gone “undercover” the year before to take lessons from him to learn how he taught guitar. So they figured that I had learned something and had something to teach. So they took me on but said that they were going to teach me about teaching before I started.

Russ coached me on how to prepare material, what to look for, and how to organize beginning lessons. He taught me about arranging music: voicing, how the harmony should support the melody… that the melody on guitar had to be played an octave above where it is written. I was in my late 20s and had already had lessons from at least a half dozen people… but no one had taught me about these aspects of making music. He created a whole path for me. That was nearly 40 years ago and teaching has been my livelihood. Playing guitar is what I do for fun. We like it when we get paid, but it is really hard to get enough gigs around here to make much money. Living in a small town, you have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.

When we first moved here, Ellie and I got to hang out with Buffalo Bob and the Country Butter Band in Redwood Valley playing bluegrass and folk music. Bob and his wife Carmen were an institution. That’s where I first met my long time friend and music companion Les Boek. At the time Gus Garelick was their fiddler and they had a disagreement. Ellie was taking violin lessons with Gus and asked him to join our band, Late Night Radio. We played bluegrass, folk, and western swing music at all the little bars and benefits in and around Mendocino and Lake counties. We also traveled and competed in fiddle contests throughout the region. The band broke up around 1980 and I became more curious about playing jazz. I joined the Mendocino College Big Band and learned more about playing jazz chord progressions. I sat in that chair at least 4 years, maybe 5. I also played popular rock n’ roll with piano player Paul Kemp in the Lake County band Full Moon in the early 80’s. This was a period of transition from acoustic back to electric guitar styles.

In 1982 I met Barbara Curtis, a jazz pianist who had a jazz quartet at the time. I approached her to take a lesson in jazz and gradually became a part of her group that became a quintet. I learned a fantastic amount being in a working jazz group. I played with that group for 20 years. We recorded a record album entitled Long Overdue and I developed a strong musical bond and friendship with bass player and vocalist Steve Baird.

Then came rock n’ roll and some rhythm and blues with Willy and the Nighthawks. We played constantly through the 1990’s and recorded an album of original tunes. The Hopland Brewery was a favorite spot for us to play. Now we usually go by Will Siegel and Friends. We play an extremely wide range of styles, kind of a Tango-Motown fusion band. Our new CD “Panamerica” has ensemble arrangements of milongas, choros, boleros and waltz’s with some nice vocals from Steve. Tom Aiken plays piano and keyboards with us now and loves the variety of styles. Woodwind wizard Paul McCandless adds an incomparable depth to our project as does special guest pianist Elena Casanova.

I’ve always gravitated to being in a band and I haven’t always been the leader. Being the leader is sometimes by default because, for some reason, you want the gig more than anybody else in the group. The mutual enjoyment of the experience of playing with other musicians is the main motivation. Music is more than the sum of its parts. It’s not always easy to find musical partners. Generally speaking, musicians want to play with someone better than they are because they want to get better… they want to be inspired by what that person puts out. They want to be around it and absorb it. I’ve had many, many fortunate instances where people wanted to join a group I was playing with or asked me to be part of their ensemble… and sometimes they are very long-lasting relationships. We have had some wonderful musicians come and go in our community.

To teach for a living you have to have a steady stream of students coming from somewhere. An association with a music school or music store is to your advantage because people are calling there. The students that I have had for the longest period of time generally start very young and stay with you all the way through high school. I haven’t had many of those in the last decade or so because I’m out of that loop. It’s the youth that grow musically fast and furious. Sometimes you’ll have them on track and they’ll get distracted by soccer or little league. If they have a good foundation they will not lose what they’ve learned. They can always come back to their instrument.

I enjoy teaching my guitar class at Mendocino College. It is a real challenge to get 20 students at different skill levels to stay engaged. It’s a lot of work for the beginner so I try to make it fun. When I teach, students learn chords and note reading. The mechanics of playing involves developing a knowledge of musical patterns. Everybody learns differently. I’ve taught a lot of people and each one has a different reaction time. For some, it’s just a few seconds to get information off the page through their visual senses and have that filter all the way down their arms to their left hand and then have their right hand fire. Some people are gifted and go right at it. There’s a lag time for most people, especially adults. Kids are more tactile and grow faster. We adults have all these filters in place… and we want to be good right away. We don’t want to make mistakes.

With music becoming less important in our school system, and the resulting lack of feeder music programs to the college, there seems to be less interest in music at Mendocino College. Hopefully there will be a renewed interest at the lower levels where they are beginning to hire music teachers again. The private sector has to pick up the slack when this happens. It’s a bit of a struggle.

Then there is the fewer gigs to musician ratio…. less gigs and more musicians wanting that gig. As you get older, the people hiring are getting younger, and they want to hire in their age group, younger people who play newer music. We used to do a lot of weddings… now we do more memorials.

Sharing music with a large group of people gives me the most joy in life. We try to practice as a band once a week, but getting a group of people to show up at the same time and place is always a challenge. It’s the set up of equipment and the shlepping that kills you.

I am so grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to make music around here. We are lucky to be here.
~~

Herb Ruhs — Pediatrician

 

Herb Ruhs photo

[Herb and his wife Vicky, practicing Pediatricians, have lived in Boonville for about 4 years…]

My parents were both active duty World War II. My mom was a Marine when she conceived me. My dad was a Navy Corpsman. When I was little, my really nasty paternal grandmother told me that my mom had me in order to get out of the military. When my parents divorced, I went to live with my mother and her family in Chicago, which didn’t go well. My grandfather, Eddie Carr, had run a speakeasy and was a straight up mobster. I was told that “your grandpa, Eddie, is sleeping at the bottom of the Calumet canal with his friends.” That turned out not to be true… he had escaped to Pennsylvania and had lived and died under an assumed name.

When I was a second grader I was sent to a home for disturbed boys run by the Catholic church. I was a lot younger than the mostly high school age incorrigible boys and was the official “chase, catch and torture” boy. It was horrendous. I learned to hold my breath because one of their favorite things was to stick my head in the toilet. So I learned to hold my breath for 3 minutes and to go limp. That’s how I survived. I got really good at evasion, which came in handy later when I lived in Vietnam.

My dad, who lived in Louisville, was never really together. He came from a horrible family and came by his emotional imbalances honestly. I was able to get out after a year and refused to go back, so he found a foster home for me which began a series of informal foster homes I lived in. Being a foster kid, I was a target of all the bad kids and right through high school I was known as a trouble-maker although I got very good grades, was a merit scholar, and received a full scholarship to Goddard College where I studied Drama.

In 1966 while I was about to start my senior year, they started drafting college kids. I was looking at the bus schedule to head for Canada and somebody asked me if I was interested in getting a deferment by going to Vietnam to work as a community developer for International Voluntary Services. I lived in a refugee village in South Vietnam with a 2,000 population. They were a village in North Vietnamese Catholics that had moved together to South Vietnam. I learned the language and was there for five years.

Then I was briefly with ABC News before being hired as a Field Director by The Committee of Responsibility bringing war-wounded kids back to the United States and Canada then returning them to Vietnam when they were rehabilitated. I left Vietnam in the late 70s.

When I got back to the states, I decided to become a Medical Doctor and took my pre-med studies at UC Berkeley. I had to wait for a year to get into a medical school so I attended the Seminary there, Starr King School (Unitarian Universalist) for the Ministry at Graduate Theological Union.

After completing medical school in Pediatrics, I did my Internship at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco. There I met wife Vicky and we moved to Davis where they had a shared job program at the Medical Center so we could complete our residency programs.

Meanwhile, I had acquired a huge debt with the National Health Service Corps for my medical school expenses. The program required me to pay them back, year for year, by working in designated low-pay, hard to fill service jobs for 4 years. I only ever wanted to practice service anyway. It’s a spiritual thing for me. So I was working in juvenile halls and Vicky was working in county health clinics in San Bernardino, both making next to nothing.

In 1983, Reagan was really cutting into things and they cut back on our service positions from 3500 to 1500… so 2000 of us were left high and dry. I was invited to this lawyer’s office in L.A. who asked us to come up with $50,000. It was a shakedown. We had actually done our service time, but they refused to honor that agreement. We told them that we weren’t that kind of doctor… that we didn’t have money. So I now have the worst credit than anyone else you could meet…$40,000 from 1974 with added compound interest. They have pursued us ever since.

Since then I have worked for Kaiser, then did private practice, then the Feds said that if I would go to work in a health clinic in South Carolina for 2 years they would call it even. It was a scam. The doctor in charge made us sign over all our billings to him. It was a horrible, horrible place. When I tried to raise issues, he reached in his drawer and brought out this huge chrome plated revolver and shoved it into my chest.

We left there and went back to San Bernardino, then on to Northern Maine, and then to Missoula, Montana, practicing Pediatrics. Four years ago we moved here in Boonville and Vicky is working in Ft. Bragg.
~~