My Story

Chapter 1

The golden summer days of innocence and freedom walking barefoot around our neighborhood on Cheltenham Way in Citrus Heights, California are my first memories. Our home was across the street from Arlington Heights elementary school where my sister, Leigh Ann, and I attended our first years of school and we knew almost all of our neighbors.

There were frequent walks to the Lovish family home where my parents would have drinks, smoke cigarettes and talk or play cards for hours while us kids played in each others yards or on the street. Cars drove slower then and there weren’t so many of them.

One summer night we all climbed on to the roof for a better view of my dad setting off fireworks and the sparkles landed in the dry weeds of the field across the street setting it on fire. It was exciting and a bit scary when fire trucks had to be summoned to extinguish the result of my parents irresponsible revelry.

My sister, Leigh Ann, is 13 months younger than I and my first memory of her involved a new wall mounted air conditioner from Sears. Houses then rarely included air conditioning so this was a real anomaly for the times. It was installed in the living room wall and I vaguely recall something about my sister having breathing problems as the justification for this great expense. I know I was jealous of the attention she got, and she has always been the smiling happy one that gets along with just about everyone.

Another memory is one day we were in our bunk bed with a blanket draped over the open side and mom came into the room to find us “playing doctor” or something like it. Horrified she got really mad and scolded us strongly. I have wondered for a long time if that incident had a lingering effect on us, and maybe played a role in my fear of physical affection with girls.

A strong memory from those days is of a fight between two teenage boys that I came upon at the schoolyard one afternoon. They were alone in the middle of a big open field and had already been going at each other for some time when I came along. They were both bloody on their face and hands while striking blows in a terribly violent manner. I was really scared and ran away lest I get drawn into the battle!

My brother Mike is 12 years older than I am and his father was mom’s first husband who turned out to be a polygamist and “silver tongued devil”. Many years later I learned that mom had come home from work one day and found him in bed with her mother, which of course was the end of the marriage. However his was not the first tragedy for Bobbie Jo Barnhill.

Bobbie grew up in a small west Texas town called Winters, one of five siblings, a brother and four sisters, and daughter of a barber/artist/sign painter of reputed Indian heritage. Herschel Erastus Barnhill lost his barbershop during the Great Depression and turned into a heavy drinker, eventually abandoning his family to wander. Young Bobbie was fourteen years old when a fiery car crash hospitalized her for years and left her scarred for life. Here is the story as she told it:

“I was sitting around the house, bored, when my friend Emma Belitz came by my house and invited me to a mutual friend’s family reunion. Emma was a very pretty and popular sixteen year old girl, whose parents ran the only bakery in our home town of Winters, Texas.

"Come on!" Emma said, "Charles Dunn’s family is having a big party in Abilene at a night club called 'Charlie Blanks'. It will be fun!" Charles was a friend of ours who had lost one arm. Both he and our other friend, Carl Hancock, would be driving us there. Carl was a 19 year old football hero, who came from Wingate, a small town just outside of Winters. I put on my new pair of socks that I got for Christmas and waited until Emma and the two guys came by to pick me up.

Charles drove the car; despite missing one arm he was supposed to be a good driver. Carl had brought a pint of Four Roses whiskey, and all four of us sipped from the bottle. It turned out that letting Charles drive while sipping the Four Roses was a bad idea.

Abilene was a one-hour drive from Winters. It was mid-afternoon and the party wasn’t going to start until dark, so the four of us decided to go explore the countryside. We visited the Abilene State School, an asylum on the outskirts of Abilene, and talked to some of the residents there. Never before had I seen any people who weren't normal, and to this day I don't know if the people there really were insane, or mentally disabled, or if the truth was that they just didn't have any other place to go.

We attended the party until it was over, and then the four of us left to go back to Winters. Little did I know how much the ride home would change the rest of my life and the lives of all those around me.

On the way back, we spotted two cars parked on the right side of the road, fixing a flat. We moved left to pass them on the narrow two-lane road. What we didn’t see was the oncoming car headed in the opposite direction. The car sideswiped us. We rammed into the two cars parked on the side of the road. All four cars smashed together; two burst into flames.

My friend, Emma, was thrown clear out of the car and died instantly.

What happened to me depends on who you ask. A fireman named Buford Baldwin said I was thrown out of the car and had landed between the two cars that were on fire, where the firefighters pulled me out; yet, according to my cousin it could have been Emma who they pulled out of the fire.

The story told by my favorite cousin, "Skinnie" (C.L.) Mullins, who I used to play with all the time, more likely describes what occurred. He says he just happened to be going by when he saw a wreck, and sticking out of the back seat of one car he saw a foot. He pulled on the foot to rescue the person from the fire, and discovered it was me! (Ironically, Skinnie himself was burned to death many years later in a house fire).

I was alive, but had been seriously burned on my face and hands, and had a broken arm, a large cut on the back of my head, and other injuries. Of all the people injured, I was the only one burned.

I have no memory of the accident until I woke up in the hospital to hear the doctor say, "Don't bother to set the arm, just wrap it up because she won't last the night." The pain was unbelievable and I kept going in and out of consciousness, and hearing my mother crying "Is she dead?" I remember very bright lights and lots of people running around, and that in the middle of all this I asked about my hair — where had it gone?

Hair was a lifelong fixation for my sisters and me. I was upset when I learned the doctor had to shave my head to treat the wounds. My uncle Guy Mullins said not to worry, and promised to get me a turban to wear to the upcoming Junior-Senior banquet, which I had been looking forward to, especially because I had been invited even though I was just a sophomore. I found out later that the hair would be the least of my worries; it grew back, many times, and was shaved off again each time the doctors went to work on an area of my head. The surgeries went on for the next ten years.

At the age of fourteen the course of my life had completely changed.”

Get her book, When Life Gave Me Lemons here.

Chapter 2

My father, Don Sherrel Castleman, was a good ‘ol boy from Oak Grove, Louisiana and he loved to talk and would spend hours with complete strangers while his family waited in the car. Thin and six feet tall he had a habit of putting one foot up on something like a car bumper or fence while he went on and on about who knows what. We were often bored and frustrated waiting for his conversations to finally draw to a close. Usually they ended with a promise to visit again for some project or another to “help” the new acquaintance. These free work projects annoyed my mom to no end.

Dad was a sort of “jack of all trades” and was really quite genius when it came to fixing things. In fact that was how he began with my mom. After meeting for the first time he returned to fix things around her house and his southern charm caught her Texan heart. He was in the Air Force at the time and stationed at McClellan Air Force base in Sacramento, California. My brother Mike never did really get along with him, but he was a loving father during our early years. Well, he was a bit mean with his belt, but usually it was just a threat because once we had felt the sting of it a threat was all it took to gain compliance!

Dad was also an alcoholic and I believe mom just drank to keep up with him as she did sober up when her health began to decline in later years. The excessive drinking would take a mighty toll on our family over the years and the first big impact happened around 1965 when I was 7 years old.

Dad had fixed up an old printer and was making a little money on the side doing small jobs for people. His regular job was with Sears as an appliance repair man and that plus his GI Bill benefits had secured a nice middle class three bedroom house for our family. But he didn’t really like working for Sears because they were always pushing him to sell service contracts, which he felt were not a fair deal for his customers so he didn’t sell them very often.

Somehow dad learned there was a print shop for sale in South Lake Tahoe so he convinced mom to rent out our home and we moved to Lake Tahoe to buy that print shop. One attraction of the offer was a contract to print Keno tickets for a casino and this turned out to be a real nightmare for them. It turned out that the old equipment could not possibly keep up with the demand so into debt they went for a fancy Heidelberg press that was incredibly complex and finicky. Mom operated the typesetting machine and my sister and I spent many hours underfoot and even staying late into the night as they worked to fill the orders.

They also bought a property that had three houses on it, two that were small rentals and the main house that was our place when we weren’t at the print shop. One of the tenants was an interesting odd couple in that she was a 6 ft tall Texan and he was a 5 foot tall Chinese man that worked as a cook at one of the casinos. They had terrible fights and she would chase him with a butcher knife as he ran for his life. The other rental had shorter term guests like visiting acts performing at the casinos. I remember one group of four young men that in hindsight sure seemed like the Beatles, and it was in 1966 that they had a concert in San Francisco, so maybe it was them trying to get away from all the publicity. I will probably never know, but it is fun to think maybe it was them!

My sister Leigh Ann shadowed me everywhere. One day I found a stack of boards outside the print shop and convinced her to try one as a slide, like at the playground. Trusting me she did it and a protruding nail ripped a terrible gash in her leg. Off to the emergency room we went and the wound required a lot of stitches plus she had to have a tetanus shot just in case. Health insurance wasn’t a thing at this time so that was yet another expense for my parents. Having kids underfoot as they tried to run the shop proved untenable so they tried a daycare thing that we absolutely hated. I led a jailbreak and mom found us wandering on a highway after the facility called her to report us missing.

One day Rummaging in a storage room I found some shotgun shells and used a nail and hammer to set one off. Fortunately I didn’t blow my hand off, but it sure did scare my mom and I didn’t do that again!

After a late night at the shop Mom was driving us home and was pulled over by the police. The officer suspected she had been drinking, which was of course true, but Mom told him that she had been painting at the print shop and that the fumes had made her dizzy. He let her go.

Chapter 3

Our time in Tahoe was short, about a year or so. The business was failing and my parents decided to shut it down and declare bankruptcy. My mom has since told me that we were all packed up and ready to go back to Sacramento when at the last minute she decided to go with my dad to Seattle instead. She said that was the beginning of the death of our family. I think the death began when they moved to Tahoe and if we had stayed there on Cheltenham our lives would have been very different.

Our first house in Seattle was a real dump. The wood floor in my room had a hole in it so you could see the ground below. It was drafty and cold in a sketchy downtown neighborhood called Queen Anne. Fortunately we didn’t stay there long but the next house wasn’t a lot better. Our neighbors were the Mendenhall's whose kids were all grown and they were daily drinkers so of course my parents struck up a friendship right away.

Dad had gone back to work for Sears and mom went to work as a bookkeeper so our finances were improving. They got a charge account at Sears and bought a fancy Super 8 movie camera, projector and roll up movie screen so we have a lot of three minute movies without sound from those days. At some point I spliced many of them together to make 30 to 45 minute films and most of these have been converted to digital now.

For Christmas one year we got a shiny silver aluminum tree that came in a box with numbered branches to assemble. We got a lamp with a four color rotating lens to shine on it that fascinated me. I would stare at that tree for hours wondering what was in the packages my mom was piling below it.

By now I was in fourth grade and I really liked my teacher. I was good at reading and to impress her I started stealing “Little Big Books” from a local store. I could read one of those in a day or so but my first crime spree soon ended when the adults found out I wasn’t paying for the books.

Dad met another older couple on a service call that lived on some land between Bothell and Duvall. Ma and Pa Omley sold firewood so our first visit as a family was to buy a truckload. They became fast drinking friends and I loved the wilderness and ponds that surrounded their mobile home. They had a riding lawnmower that I loved to ride under the guise of mowing around their fish pond. They had guns and I learned how to shoot at bottles and cans. My dad enrolled me in an NRA course so I could learn gun safety and I soon had my very own .22 caliber rifle!

With both parents working they could afford a brand new house in a new sub division called Windsor Vista that was built in Kirkland. It was a two story three bedroom with fireplaces on both floors and a nice big unfinished yard. The lower floor was also unfinished so weekends were consumed by projects putting in landscaping, building an expanded rear deck and finishing the lower floor.

One of the big projects involved many trips to a quarry where we loaded up stones that dad then built into a wall and waterfall by the lower floor fireplace. I think the project was conceived after he came home with an old cement mixer that he fixed. Dad always had at least a couple of projects underway like this and they were always fueled with beer. Mom favored a drink called a “highball” which was whisky and water with ice in tall tumbler size glasses. Dad mostly drank beer, lots of beer. As long as he stuck to just beer he mostly just got silly until passing out on the couch. But when he added shot glasses of hard liquor he could become angry and unpleasant, often to extremes and do really embarrassing things.

For example dad had a habit of urinating just about anywhere, anytime. Since he drank so much beer this was frequent and he had very little discretion about where he chose to relieve himself. He had false teeth and would push them part way out of his mouth to get a reaction. At times he would make rude comments, especially about women and usually in front of their husbands. There might be a complete stranger that he would call a “fat old cow” just to get a reaction. One time he had done a service call at a black families impoverished home so he brought them mother and her kids home to have dinner and spend the night at our house. Mom was especially unhappy that he insisted on the black woman taking their bed for the night and complained bitterly about the curly hairs she found afterward. Dad would insist on mom making huge meals, sometimes including a barbecue, and he would invite people over to eat but then he would get too drunk, refuse to eat any of it and finally pass out on the couch.

There was an enigma too, dad was really friendly and people really liked him, at least until they had been through one of his drinking nights or even a weekend filled with some drunken adventure or another. Sometimes it would be a home improvement project for a new friend where he would instigate it and bring us along while the adults got drunk and did the thing. Sometimes we did dangerous things that I am surprised we survived.

At some point dad bought a boat. It was a 19 foot cabin cruiser with a 100hp outboard motor. We took several trips into Lake Union and Lake Washington, and even out into Puget Sound a couple of times. It was exciting and fun to drop carb traps on the way out, catch fish and dig for clams and oysters. When we got home there would be seafood feast of our catch. And of course the adults always got drunk.

My dad talked a neighbor family into going on a trip together in the San Juan Islands for a Fourth of July weekend. I sensed the neighbor was somewhat wary of the plan, but Jim and his wife Trudy agreed to bring their young daughter anyway. They had a really nice Chris Craft cabin cruiser that was a larger and had an inboard engine with a shaft driven prop. I think it was about 32 feet and it was really a beautiful boat.

So we set off into Puget Sound with these two boats loaded with picnic supplies and lots of beer and booze. A few hours later as we approached a place called Deception Pass we needed fuel and as we entered the marina seaweed got sucked into the outboard engine but by this time dad was pretty drunk and insisted on trying to keep going anyway and halfway through the pass the engine overheated and was ruined.

Having come so far already, with plenty of food and booze left, it was decided that our boat would be left at the marina and everyone boarded the big Chris Craft to continue to a small island where we planned to set off fireworks. As the day proceeded the adults got drunker and as we approached the destination island around sundown the depth finder was ignored and the Chris Craft ran aground on a rock, severely damaging the propeller and shaft.

The boat broken we dropped anchor and used an inflatable boat to row ashore so we could set off the fireworks and the drinking continued until everyone passed out. The next day we limped into the nearest marina, drive shaft rumbling menacingly. Upon arrival Trudy took her daughter and mom took Leigh Ann home via bus, ferry and taxi. I stayed behind with dad and the neighbor. It took a couple of days for parts to be secured and installed. All I remember is that they stayed drunk while we waited and I was bored.

Finally the Chris Craft was fitted with a new prop and drive shaft and we set off to retrieve the other boat at the marina by Deception Pass. The engine was blown so we rigged up a tow line and as the sun set we were on our way back to the Bellevue marina. By this point both dad and Jim were quite drunk so they turned the boat over to me and they passed out in the cabin below. Fortunately I had taken a navigation class so know how to read the buoy system and compass on the boat and managed to get us back despite the dark night. I was 12 or 13 years old at this time, so it was all just great adventure to me!

Chapter 4

Our time at the house in Windsor Vista was pretty good. It was here that I met Ron Hausner. Their house was right behind ours so that the corners touched in a catty corner way. We became fast friends and spent many hours doing boy stuff around our neighborhood. One of our plans was to mark trees growing in a vacant field and try to sell them to our neighbors for landscaping. We never sold one, but it was a grand plan and we had fun dreaming about what we would could buy. We often had physical fights that were really wrestling matches because he was bigger than me and neither of us really wanted to hurt the other, we just liked to fight. One time we ran away from home together and set up our camp in the woods of a freeway median near our homes. We even took our guns with us but as darkness fell and it started get cold I realized I would miss one of my favorite TV programs, The Dick Van Dyke Show so at my urging we abandoned our escape from parental authority and found the sheriff waiting for us at my house. Oh boy were we in trouble for taking those guns with us!

Ron's parents were strict German Catholics that had moved from Saskatchewan and his mom always reminded me of a wicked witch type of character. She was never nice and always seemed angry about everything. She worked at a restaurant in Bothell and his dad was manager of an auto body repair shop for a local Pontiac dealer. Ron had two sisters, one older and one younger and he was always really proud of his whole family. The part of their house we would call a living room was called the Front room and with plastic covered furniture and highly styled fixtures was more for looking at than using. Ron shared a bedroom with an older brother that I always felt was a little weird as he was obsessed with baseball and was never very friendly to me. The older sister was equally obsessed with her dogs, German Shepard's and a mix of some sort, and I remember she was always really nice to me. The younger sister was deemed the family beauty and treated as such by all. I just remember she would follow us around a lot and Ron was often assigned responsibility for her. Every Saturday was the big shopping day and the whole family would go, no guests allowed.

The Cole sisters were all really pretty and part of the neighborhood gang and they lived just a few houses away on the same street as we did. Sydney was the oldest, Cheryl was my age and Susan was the youngest. I was fond of all of them but especially Cheryl. She was the childhood sweetheart I could only dream of. She had soft brown hair cut medium with an inward curl at the ends and bangs on her forehead. When I look at those old pictures I still think she was so pretty it almost hurts in my chest to look at her and feel the denial. When I tried to kiss her she refused me and made it clear she was NOT interested. Still we were all good friends and they would all come over to spend time in our basement playing games and listening to music. One night we put on a "dance party" and I have a very fond memory of slow dancing with Cheryl to Crimson and Clover played by Tommy James and the Shondells on a record player with our waterfall going and the place dimly lit by white Christmas lights we had strung up for the occasion.

I got a paper route delivering the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in the early morning before school. I used my bike and had a canvas bag that draped over my shoulders with pockets front and rear. There was one house along the way that had a great apple tree and I loved the cold crisp sensation when I picked one and took a bite. I saved my money and when I had about $40 convinced my mom to cover the rest to get a brand new Raleigh Chopper 5 Speed stingray style bike that cost $85 and was super cool but not so great for the paper route. My old Schwinn was actually easier to ride with the paper bags on, so that old workhorse stayed around a long time.

I learned how to drive in my dads old pickup truck. I think it was a 1951 Ford and it had a 6 cylinder engine with a 4 speed transmission. To get the motor started there was a foot activated starter pedal that mechanically engaged the starter motor and a hand pull choke knob. There was a sequence to get it going; pump the gas pedal a few times, pull the choke all the way out, make sure it was in neutral, then stomp on that starter. It was next to the gas pedal so if it didn’t catch right away you could pump some more gas with your heal. When the engine started to run then you would carefully push the choke in as it came to life until the engine was warm enough to idle smoothly. If it was especially cold the choke might be left pulled out a little but would need to be pushed in all the way soon to tame the racing engine.

There was a big giant steering wheel and you had to pump the brakes to build up enough hydraulic pressure to stop. The turn signals had been added on and clamped to the steering column. On the passenger side there was a steel box with a fan and water coil for heat when the engine warmed up. Often the box needed to be kicked to get the fan going, and the holes in the floor made it fairly useless anyway. The levers to open the door often slipped or fell off and it had manual roll up windows with wing vents that opened all the way to direct air into the cab on summer days. That truck was a brute and with sideboards installed we could haul a full cord of split wood in one trip. That was how I earned Christmas money one year. Dad had found a source for split wood at $15 per cord and we sold it delivered for $35 to $65 depending on what we negotiated. Kicked off in the driveway was one price, stacked neatly somewhere was another price and of course how much beer the customer provided seemed to always be part of the negotiation. My dad liked to talk, wheel and deal, and drink beer so I loaded, unloaded and stacked a lot of split wood that winter!

But I got to drive that old truck, I didn’t mind the work, and I loved being with my dad so it is a fond memory that has held the lasting value of a strong work ethic. There is still something very attractive to me about working outside on a cool wet day cutting firewood. I loved the smells, the feelings and the sense of accomplishment. During this time of my life the Vietnam war was on TV every day, along with the Partridge Family and Dick Van Dyke, hippies invented flower power, Sly and the Family Stone, Creedance Clearwater and Tommy James and the Shondells competed with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn and Willy Nelson for our attention. It was also the final days of the family life for us as Ma and Pa Omley became our best friends and role model for my dad.

Chapter 5

In the summer of 1970 I turned 12 and we bought a brand new car, the Ford Maverick for $1,995. It was stylish and simple with a 3 speed manual transmission and no frills, but it was new so the family was doing pretty good by this time and I had been going to school with the same kids for a couple of years. There was a neighborhood bully that enjoyed waiting for me to come off the bus after school and I just never had the courage to fight him. I was so ashamed when he slapped me around I begged him to stop and went home crying. The year before in the 5th grade I also was bullied by a crowd of kids that was lead by a black girl. One day the crowd followed me out to the baseball field and interfered with the game so much that all of my teammates also turned on me and told me to leave. This ongoing disaster was only relieved after I fled to the principals office in tears.

The visits out to the Omley's place had become frequent. So had the drinking and my parents decided to imitate the old couple and bought a piece of raw land on a hillside on a remote country road between Duvall and Woodinville, next door to a dairy farm. It was exciting and raw living for sure as we hired a bulldozer to level off a place for our second hand mobile home and to build a dam to make a pond, just like the Omley's had. One drunken day dad rolled the old truck when he went off the driveway and I will never forget the panic that turned to hysterical laughter as he poked his head through the passenger window that was now facing the sky.

I finished the 6th grade and most of my classmates were scheduled to attend a new junior high school that wasn't ready so we had a few months at Bothell High School before being bussed out to Leota JHS in Woodinville. I did graduate from 7th grade with Ron and the Cole sisters and a few other friends, but that summer we left the nice 2 story home in a good Kirkland neighborhood, Windsor Vista, to live at the property in Duvall like the Omley's. I began 8th grade at Tolt HS in Carnation which is where I met Donna Avery who I considered my first real girlfriend.

Donna's family were devoted LDS members and I visited their home often for a time. I remember being so frustrated with her little sister Paula following us around all of the time but I was crazy about Donna so it didn't stop me! Her older brother Lloyd reminded me of Cat Stevens because he had a dark beard and long hair.

The Omley's son Lynn was an outlaw biker type that had such a charismatic personality that everyone really liked him despite his ongoing criminal activities. I was especially fond of him and at some point he brought a modified Moto Guzi motorcycle out to our place in Duvall and made some kind of a deal for me to have it. He had installed a straight pipe in place of the muffler so it was incredibly loud and I had a lot of fun riding the old logging roads around our property. One day I was riding it on a dirt road between cow pastures at top speed and didn't see a strand of barbed wire stretched across the road as a control gate for moving cows around.

The wire hit my chest and fortunately unhooked and became entangled in the back wheel so that when I went down it just ripped a gash across my chest instead of decapitating me. Alone in the middle of nowhere I had no choice but to untangle the wire and ride that motorcycle to the only place I could think of to get help, which was a friends house in Carnation, about 13 miles away! Judy's mom stitched up a cut in my scalp and they wrapped gauze around my chest wounds. Later on xray's determined I had also cracked a couple of ribs but I was young so I rode that motorcycle back home the same day.

One night around Christmas the neighbors had a party and my dad got so drunk they had to carry him home. I remember him crawling around the house breaking things and this event was the end of my mom's patience. I don't remember the exact sequence, but I know she committed herself to a treatment center called Olalla and it was during this time that my sister was sent to live with my dad's family in Oak Grove Louisiana. I remember a cold month living mostly alone at the Duvall trailer and when mom got out of the treatment center we got an apartment in Kirkland. They let me enroll in Juanita High School to finish the 8th grade and I loved it because it was a new type of school with very few teachers and a "self study" program that didn't require attendance at any particular classroom. Soon I was selling drugs in the schoolyard and the only time I went inside was to listen to music at one of the "study" desks.

Mom started attending AA meetings, and dad even went to one or two of them. I was sent to attend the Alateen meeting and there met a really cute girl named Laurie. There was a big Alateen conference in Canada and we road together with a group in a car. When we arrived our lodging was with some young men that had an apartment and there was a large number of kids there. Soon there was a stack of cases of beer and everyone proceeded to get very drunk. Late into the night Laurie and I tucked in to a sleeping bag but I was too drunk, and nervous, to have sex with her. She left and joined the adults in the kitchen playing cards and I went outside to cry. She spent the night in one of the bedroom with one of the adult men and we rode home in uncomfortable silence. I never attended another Alateen meeting.

One day mom came home to our apartment with one of the characters she had met at Olalla, a rotund fat man named "Red" and they had been out drinking together. Red tossed me the keys to his big red Caprice convertible and gave me a six pack of beer to get rid of me. I happily drove directly to Donna's house and begged her to go driving with me. Her dad intervened and told me to leave. I angrily sped away down the gravel road and crashed through about 100 feet of barbed wire fence that belonged to their neighbor. I think I ran out gas on the freeway and vaguely recall police impounding the car before taking me home. Red was really mad and he took that ford maverick to Baltimore!

Chapter 6

Mom and I moved again, this time to an apartment in Redmond where I soon got busted for breaking in to the neighbors apartment and stealing a bunch of stuff. Exasperated by it all mom decided to move us back to Sacramento and she borrowed some money from my brother Mike to rent an apartment on Hurley Way. I was enrolled in Encina High School but really didn't go to many classes. I was more interested in finding the "cool" kids that drank and used drugs and we just hung out in the parking lot. Amazingly at that time the adults turned away from all this activity going on right there in plain view.

At Hurley Villa I met two young men from Michigan that were here to attend the Glen Fishback school of photography, Clay Tinham and Wally Candler. I guess they were around 19 or 20 years old and they were also very into Tennis. They invited me up to their apartment we became friends over shared interests in Chess and smoking pot. Soon they were providing me pot to sell at school which went well for a time and made me fairly popular among the "cool" kids. That is until one day the vice principal busted me which ended that friendship and sent me to a "continuation" high school.

By 1973 my dad and sister had rejoined us. Dad wasn't actually living with us, but he was around. He used to his GI Bill to help mom buy our house on Laredo Rd. I helped pick it out because it had a little hobby room that was separate from the main house so that became my room. It had power but no plumbing so I used the bathrooms in the house. I only lived there a few months and while I was gone to the army dad added plumbing and converted it into a full service apartment, which mom rented out and that revenue paid the mortgage on that house!

Around this time Lynn Omley came to see us from New York and he brought his girlfriend, Joy, with him. The plan was that he and my dad would start an appliance repair business named C&O Appliance. They rented a space in downtown Sacramento on "S" street that had an apartment upstairs for Lynn and Joy and their big Bull Mastiff, "Duke". One of the first "service calls" we went on was to look at a dryer that was making noise. I remember taking it all apart and we told the owner we had to get parts and would be back when we had them. Lynn noticed a 5 gallon water bottle full of change that we came back later and stole when they were not at home!

That venture soon failed and by this time I was completely out of control. I gave up school entirely devoting myself to running around with Lynn and even had an affair with Joy while he was gone on drug business to New York. When he found out that was the end for us and I was on my own drinking and living at the river in an old Ford van.

One day I was jailed for public intoxication, I was 17 years old. My dad came to get me out of jail. He and Mom decided I had to do something different, so we agreed to send me to the army.

At first, I did really well. I scored high on the admittance exam and got to choose my training. With the help of my dad I chose a Heating and Cooling Systems Specialist (51L20) as my job. I did well in that school also, graduating at the top of the class. I managed to get an Article 15 while in school, and it didn't take long for my drinking habit to affect my military life also. My duty station was in Colorado Springs, at Ft. Carson. Soon I had a DUI in Denver. I also had a strong desire to be a big shot and live off post. All this high living was expensive, so I decided to get back into the drug business. I got busted, on post, doing my very first deal. I was caught trying to sell 5000 hits of speed and a pound and a half of magic mushrooms to an undercover CID agent.

Initially, I was up for something like 25 years in prison. However, upon analysis, it was found that the speed was actually ephedrine, a non-controlled substance, and the mushrooms had thawed and become brown vegetable matter. I was convicted anyway and sent to Leavenworth for 3 months, and given a Bad Conduct discharge. When released from prison, I was 19 years old.

Returning to Sacramento, and not welcome to live with Mom anymore, I survived the best I could. Drug dealing was no longer an option, so I started to be a junk dealer. I met my first wife at the place I was peddling junk. She was a 15 year old run away. I took her in to be my "housekeeper", which lasted about a day before I was sleeping with her. I did manage to convince her to go home and to finish high school, but this was more for my own selfish desire to be free to do whatever I wanted than anything else.

We ended up married after a couple years, and even had a baby. I had a decent job by this time and had settled down some. But my drinking continued, and I abused her badly. Not so much physically, but emotionally. She finally left me for someone who treated her better.

Chapter 7

Depressed, I drank harder and got a couple more DUIs, fearing jail, I left Sacramento to return to Seattle. Surely that would solve my problems!

I looked up an old friend, with hopes of having a romance with her, named Cheryl. She had joined the church and encouraged me to join also. I did and was baptized at age 25 into the "Born Again" Christian faith. It was here that I met my second wife. She was a very pretty single mom with no money and a broke down Plymouth. Perfect for me. I decided to return to Sacramento and face the charges that were pending there. Soon after, Wendy joined me in Sacramento and we were married.

I started my own business selling used appliances and we joined a church. We had my daughter, Melissa. Things were going pretty good, except I still wanted to be able to have a few beers, daily. Leaving the bar next door to my shop one night I was pulled over and arrested for my 5th DUI in California. This meant a mandatory year in jail. I decided to run again. This time to Phoenix Arizona.

In Arizona my drinking escalated and I quit attending church. Wendy and the kids kept going anyway. I managed to make a decent living and provided a nice home and two new cars for the family. I was also a drunken slob most of the time. I was abusive to everyone. I was miserable.

On New Years eve, 1989, I called an old friend in Seattle. He had married my first girlfriend, Donna. At this time they had separated and he suggested I give her a call in Utah. I did, and this began a series of calls that eventually led to a meeting in Las Vegas in March of 1990.

I restrained my drinking that weekend, and fell in love with her. I saw the lie I was living with my wife. I decided that what I needed was to divorce my wife and marry Donna. However, the reason her marriage had come apart was drug and alcohol abuse. I knew that I would need to quit drinking if I wanted to marry her.

I tried to stop, but kept finding myself drunk. I looked in the yellow pages and called around to the various treatment centers until I found one that would work with me on my terms. I attended group therapy 4 nights per week and graduated the program. I was told that I would need to go to A.A. meetings or I would most likely drink again. I didn't believe that applied to me, maybe it applied to those other people, but not me.

I lasted about three months. Then life got real, Donna disappeared in Seattle for about a month with very little contact. I went crazy wondering what was up. I had no tools for dealing with that so, I drank again. I continued drinking for about eight months, and it got way worse. I drank to overcome depression, and got more depressed. I drank to overcome anger, and got more angry. Alcohol had quit working for me at all. It just made everything worse.

During this eight month period, I moved to Utah and lived in a twenty one foot travel trailer. I left my kids in Phoenix. I managed to pick up another DUI, this made seven. Things weren't working out with Donna, so I moved back to Phoenix. I married a girl from the office. We were married about a week when I told her it had been a mistake. We got divorced right away.

On my birthday, August 4, 1991, I invited my neighbors out for a drink at a local bar. A few hours later I had convinced them to go to Mexico with me. On three separate occasions that weekend I had contact with the police. Amazingly, they didn't arrest me. When we got back from Mexico, I was convinced I had "Valley Fever", a local illness. What I had was a really bad hangover. I treated it with NyQuil cold medicine and wine.

That turned out to be my last drunk. On August 13th I sobered up. I started to attend A.A. meetings daily, sometimes many times in a day. I got a sponsor and worked the steps. I got involved in service, cleaning the meeting hall, making coffee, serving on the monthly speaker meeting committee, joined a home group and went to lots of meetings. I have been continuously sober since August 13th, 1991.

I didn't marry Donna. As a matter of fact, Donna joined us in November of 1991 and has been sober since. I haven't married anybody, gotten any DUIs, been arrested or suffered a hangover for a long time! I have only moved once since I sobered, and it was up, instead of down this time. I have my own business again and my life is mostly pretty good today. I still make mistakes, I'm human, but I am Dad to my kids and participate in their lives. By the grace of God and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

11/27/1999, almost two years since I wrote the proceeding. A lot has happened since then. The seven year cycle continues. This most recent overhaul of my life began in early 1998. I was on-line researching a question about the use of LSD in the treatment of alcoholism. Bill Wilson and others had experimented with LSD through a California University. Bill even brought some home for his wife to try, and the last word I found on the topic was that his opinion was that while it was an effective tool, by itself it could not offer a long term solution for alcoholics.

This interested me as I had experimented with LSD and most other psychoactive substances in my earlier years. Further research led me to one report of a project in Russia using Ketamine to entice the "psychic change" many believe to be a key component of recovery from the insane state of mind required to maintain active alcoholism. Success rates reported were encouraging in the light of my experience with AA.

Curious, I followed links to topics that appeared, and soon found that certain cacti contained significant quantities of a natural, rather than synthetic, psychoactive substances. Initially, of particular interest to me was the San Pedro, trichocerrius pachanoi.

Since Arizona has lot's of cacti, I reasoned that this one must also be growing somewhere and determined to seek one out, in order to conduct some experimentation with it. (Remember, I have studied Emmet Fox, Carl Jung etc.)

This soon led me to discover the existence of The Peyote Foundation, in Kearny, about 60 miles from my home. I sent an e-mail to the founder, Leo Mercado, and he replied with an invitation to visit. Thus began a journey that has led me here. Obviously, The Foundation has been an important part of these past two years. And my use of both San Pedro and Peyote, mostly in the context of all night ceremonies, has had a profound effect on my life. I will attempt to share that expansion of my mind in the following pages. God help me to communicate with you, the reader.

After Y2K passed and the lights stayed on I began three Hemp related projects. Fuel and Fiber Company was a plan to process hemp biomass, Hemp US Flag produced 500 US Flags using hemp fabric and Arizona Industrial Hemp Council promoted AZ SB1519 to the Governors desk where it was vetoed on 4/20/2001.

I traveled to my home town, Sacramento, to visit my mom on the way to the Santa Cruz Hemp festival where I hoped to find some buyers for the flags. Mom was very sick, smoking 2 packs of Salem longs every day, and a parasite had moved in to help her order discount cartons from the reservation. I ran the parasite off and moved in to the apartment out front. It had been vacant and neglected for years so required a great deal of rebuilding but it was home for me and was able to watch after Mom and helped her quit smoking. She lived another 12 years and we helped each other a lot during this time.

In addition to the hemp projects I had a small website development company and published a few medical marijuana related books. None of these efforts made much money, but I was just trying anything to avoid going back into the HVAC business. I even tried growing cannabis and had some success with that, but not for long as I found the act of selling it to dispensaries difficult and humiliating, and of course I was really afraid of getting caught and going to jail so I gave that up after a couple of seasons! Here are the books, still available from Lulu:

In 2008 I got a small settlement for injuries from a bike crash and a diagnoses for prostate cancer. In late 2009 I had a 9 week proton radiation treatment and during this time I resolved to remove myself from the cannabis reform movement and sharpened a business plan I had begun for a bike business that became Practical Cycle.

My last effort was to coordinate a petition drive that got picked up by a network of professional full time signature gatherers because it drew support from so many people that could then be convinced to sign other petitions. "The Tax, Regulate, and Control Cannabis Act of 2010" (California Cannabis Initiative, CCI) was filed and received by the Attorney General's Office July 15, 2010, assigned 09-0022 that would have legalized cannabis for adults 21 and older and included provisions to decriminalize industrial hemp, retroactive expunging of criminal records and release of non violent cannabis prisoners. It did not make it onto the ballot.

In March of 2010 my Son Cassidy and I opened a bike store in Old Sacramento.

Timeline added in 2022:

Late 1957 Conceived out of wedlock, born in 1958

1963 - Kindergarten age 5

1965 - Witnessed bloody fight between 2 older boys in schoolyard age 7, 2nd grade

1966 - Tahoe age 8, 3rd grade, first “job” putting cardboard on hangers

1967 - Seattle 1st house, age 9 Stole several “Little Big Books” to impress teacher - 4th grade

1968 - Seattle Gray house, age 10 Next door neighbors drinkers, Super 8 Camera, 5th Grade

1969 - Kirkland - Windsor Vista, age 11, Ronnie, The Ross family, Bills Dairy, Cheryl Cole 6th grade

1970 - Kirkland, Age 12, Bothell HS & Leota JH, 7th grade

1971 - Duvall, age 13, Tolt HS, Donna, Forest Theater 8th Grade

1972 - Redmond, age 14, Juanita HS, Sold synthetic THC

1973 - Sacramento, Hurley aptartment, age 15, Encina HS, 9th grade

1974 - Sacramento, Laredo Rd, age 16, Encina HS part of 10th grade, Lynn Omley

1975 - Sacramento, Laredo Rd, age 17, No school, appliance biz

1976 - US Army, age 17, Article 15 in AIT, BCD and Prison

1977 -