Archive for March, 2009

We Arrive

March 30, 2009

We have arrived at our destination! Unpacking the car went rapidly as by that time the only thing we had left was the camping gear itself. Us kids (mostly) had eaten huge inroads into our supplies of food and had started on bits of leather torn from our boots.

In order to get us out from underfoot, my parents sent us kids into the surrounding neighborhood to see what could be seen. Anyone who has ever been a kid knows that the first thing you do is check your surroundings for other kids. This particular neighborhood appeared to have several kids living in it, but they were nowhere to be found. We all wandered around the block but found not one other kid anywhere. We returned to our house and resigned ourselves to putting away our things in our new room.

As it turned out, all the kids were up at a community function that occurred once a month up at some local Brotherhood of This or That. We would be invited next month. I found, to my surprise, that there were several kids my age nearby. Across what was later dubbed by us kids as the “little woods” was a family with several boys that approximately matched my brother and me in age. To the rear of our property was another family that didn’t have kids, but the elderly lady did like to pump us full of cookies and candies. That was a sure stop when making the rounds most any day. Note: today she would have been investigated or arrested for child endangerment or something stupid like that.

I also found that right next door lived a girl who was, according to my mom and hers, “just the same age” (Danger! Danger!) When you are nine years old, that last thing you need is a ‘girl’ hanging around when you want to do ‘guy’ things. Efforts were made by both set of parents to keep pushing us together for some reason and so we eventually began hanging around with each other just to please them, of course. Her name was Kathleen, and she was actually cute.

She had light red hair and freckles across her nose. She and I were both what you could call ‘outdoor’ kids. We would join the other kids in community games like Kick the Can, Run Sheep Run, and, my personal favorite, speeding our bicycles down Dead Man’s Hill and seeing how much rubber we could lay when we slammed on our brakes.

This was back in the day of bicycles with fat tires, no gears, and coaster brakes. All one had to do was stop pedaling and stand hard on the back pedal as if you were trying to pedal in reverse. This set the brakes and, if you weren’t careful, the rear wheel would lock and slide out from under you causing a nasty crash.

This was the same hill that, in the winter, would serve as our ‘short hill’ for sledding. The term ‘short’ alluded to the actual length of the ride as the grade was approximately eighty-five degrees or so. All one had to do was sit down on the sled (or belly-flop) and – ZING – down the hill you went. The major problem was that coaster sleds did not have brakes. Add to that, they didn’t have any real means for steering. You pretty much went where the vagaries of the packed slippery snow wanted you to go. Several of us kids would go careering into a row of poplars at the side of the road every winter. It was a wonder, and a testament to the resiliency of any kid, that more injuries weren’t caused by this hill.

As an opposite, the “long hill” was a couple of blocks over and offered a ride that could last as long as several minutes (as opposed to the “short hill” ride of 15 terrifying seconds). Rushing downhill at a more sedate speed allowed you to dodge (mostly) the kids coming back up the hill for another ride. Many times a downhill rider managed to pick up an unwilling rider simply by crashing into this unwary person who didn’t move fast enough.

Summertime was filled with adventures. There was a large wooded area near our house that was called, naturally, the big woods. Many times we faded into the woods to build forts, play hiding games, and generally be kids. Some of the stronger (read: bigger) kids tended to dominate such activities. This made us younger kids wary of entering the woods without sending out scouts. We became adept at sneaking up to the bigger kids camps and spying.

One time, when I was twelve or so, several of us watched the bigger kids leave their fort and head back home. We debated for a while about continuing, but finally agreed to enter the enemy camp. No modern commando had ever approached their objective with more stealth than we did. Dodging between trees, hiding behind fallen logs, and ghosting across leaves, we closed in on the entrance. Giving hand signals to halt my troop’s movement, I approached the entrance by myself and peeked inside.

There was nothing there but some tin cans of food, two packs of cigarettes, and a pile of ragged magazines. I called to the guys and they filed in, making sure to leave one of us as a lookout. They didn’t find anything more than was apparent the first time. One of them opened a magazine and held it up to the rest of us guys. Why in the world would a girl want to walk around in her underwear with her boobies hanging out?

I thought that this may require some more study, so I put a smaller magazine in my back pocket for safekeeping.



The Trip

March 28, 2009

When we left Alaska, our eventual destination was the East Coast.  Allowing for visits to relatives elsewhere, our entire trip took approximately four centuries.  The century is the measurement of time I used while being cooped up in a station wagon with three younger siblings and an entire camping kit suitable for an expedition into darkest Africa.  Wiggle-room was at a premium.

The first part, down the Alcan Highway, was relatively benign.  We stopped several times during the day and had picnics or fished for a bit to provide dinner. This gave us kids a chance to stretch our legs and run around a lot.

On one memorable nighttime stop, my brother and I reasoned that if you tore off bits of hot dog and threw them into the brush it was a defense against bears, mountain lions, and mooses (meece?) which may want to savage our camp.  By the time we were done, my father had discovered that our entire supply of hot dogs (some six packages) had been dismembered and flung into the woods.  As the saying goes – he was not a happy camper.

As we neared civilization, and only if you call Southern California civilization, my dad reverted to his usual ‘penny saved, penny earned’ mode.  This usually meant driving up and down city streets making note of gas prices so that he could buy gas at the cheapest rate to be found in the county.  Today, I would have screamed something like “you’re not saving a thing by blowing all that gas out the tailpipe to save a penny” but back then, that sort of thing would have brought swift retribution.  Gas prices, as I recall, ran about twenty-seven to thirty-one cents a gallon so what was the big deal anyway?

Visiting various relatives on our trip eastward consumed quite a bit of time and began wearing on our young nerves.  Bill Cosby was right on when arguments such as “stop touching me!” and the like began to appear.  Sitting hip to hip in the back seat the two of us (the third was still in a basket the lucky kid) really learned the fine art of fidgeting.  We could have given lessons in fidgeting.  We each held Doctorate of Fidgeting degrees.  There was no time during the day where at least two of us were actively making the third miserable.  The attitude would spread like a blanket of doom until the car suddenly dove for the side of the road and ‘The Paddle’ came out.

Let me digress a moment.  The Paddle was a stave of wood about two feet long and about four inches wide with a tapered handle.  It was called into play for any infraction of parentally stated rules.  Sometimes these rules were only know to them, which left us kids at a disadvantage, but with several whacks of The Paddle we were soon enlightened.  In later years, my dad bored several holes in The Paddle, either to let air through and give it a nasty whistling sound before the WHACK, or to inflict some really spectacular knots on our ass.  Either way I had to wonder if they took a page out of my Alaskan school principal’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) which was to intimidate the hell out of them before trouble started.

Suffice it to say that when The Paddle came out we knew we were really in trouble.  It must have seemed a rather bizarre sight to passersby on the busy highway as the two of us were alternately whacked with The Paddle and sent back into the car.  Man, that thing really stung hard!  Nowadays, using The Paddle would bring swift litigation in the form of child abuse.  Holy cow, you can’t just hit your kids with a piece of wood.  What were you thinking?  Back then it served a purpose.  A little application of The Paddle could definitely be used on some modern kids I’ve known.

This managed to calm us down for approximately three hundred and fifty-seven milliseconds until the next round of fidgeting began.  Had my dad stopped each and every time we grated on his nerves we would never have made it to our goal.

Camp grounds were always fun for us kids.  We had a chance to run amuck and generally get away from each other.  This also offered many an opportunity to tease each other too.  One time, my sister had wandered into a field nearby and brought my brother and I running to her in a panic.  She was screaming at the top of her lungs holding her hand out in front of her.  From a distance, it looked as if nothing was amiss, but as we got closer we saw that she was holding a large leaf in her hand.  When we arrived, we found that she had picked up a leaf with a large snail on it.  When she did, it apparently pulled in its antennas and went dormant.  Sensing she wasn’t a threat, the snail began waggling it feelers and moving sedately along the leaf – directly towards her hand.  Now, normally, it would have taken a snail about twenty-five minutes to complete the journey, but she was frozen in fear that it was attacking her. (Go, snail, go!)

My brother and I entertained ourselves by alternately asking her if she wanted us to help but making no move to do so.  This went on until our mom arrived.  She smacked us both on the back of our heads and grabbed the leaf from my sister.  Rats.  I found that all good things must come to an end.

We would have a flat tire about every two or three hundred miles.  My dad was convinced that recap tires were just as good as new tires.  He didn’t take into account that our Olds 88 Station Wagon was a very heavy car to begin with, but we had loaded it down with approximately twenty tons of camping and personal gear.  Plus, there was the added weight of my parents and us four kids (and our framed copies of the Doctorate of Fidgeting).  In order to compensate for the added weight, he would pump each tire up to around four hundred pounds per square inch.  We would be humming down the road when – BLOOEY – a tire would go flat.  Sometimes it didn’t actually go flat, but would send out fragments like so many pieces of rubber shrapnel.  This was long before steel-belted radials.

In later years I saw a movie made from one of Jean Shepherd’s books called “A Christmas Story” in which Peter (“Ralphie”) Billingsley’s dad (Darren McGavin – a closet swearer) asked his son to help him change a tire.  My mom asked me to help my dad, so I got out and we proceeded to: a) dig out the spare under all the baggage; 2) go even deeper into Jurassic structures to find the jack and handle; 3) find a flat stone hard enough to keep the base of the jack from sinking into the desert sand; and, 4) jump up and down on the jack handle to raise the car high enough to get the tire off the ground.  We accomplished all this with an escalating litany of some really neat swear words.  Some, I filed away for a later time to find out what they meant.  I mean, what the heck was a ‘firblisher’ or a ‘danghedder’ (not the real words as spoken by the Master).

Finally, all the lug nuts were off and, since I had carefully put them into the hub cap, safe.

I maintain to this day that it was HE and not ME that stepped on the edge of the hub cap and spun them away into the sand.  We broke out the camp shovel and began sifting through roadside sand to find them.  Not surprisingly, passersby would slow as they went by to see what we were doing.  I am sure that more than one wife remarked to her husband: “look, dear, they’re trying to find gold right on the road – what tourists”.

Gas stations were few and far between when we started east from California.  Future President Eisenhower was just beginning to start his campaign in 1950.  One of the things he started when elected was a system of high-speed roads called “Interstates”.  Back then, all we had were two-lane blacktop roads.  Across the desert gas stations were completely non-existent.  We had four surplus ‘Jeri cans’ of gas tied on top of the station wagon.  When the engine would begin to sputter, my dad would pull over and stop.  The first thing he did was to check and see if, for sure, we were out of gas.  The gas gauge was very unreliable so we couldn’t count on it for anything.  If the carburetor settling bowl (whatever that was) had sand in it, then it would first have to be cleaned.  This meant that we would be sitting in the hot sun for around a year or so waiting for the engine to cool enough to pull the bowl without melting the tools.

It only took about ten minutes to actually remove, clean and reinstall it, but it took a long time for the engine to cool.  Air conditioning, you say?  What was that?  No car we ever owned had it until I was old enough to drive.  We did have something called a swamp cooler.  This contraption sat clamped into a partially-closed back window and relied on passing air to be cooled by the evaporation of a water-saturated core.  We had to add water about every twenty miles or so.  It seemed to me (back in the fidgeting gallery) that the air was no cooler than that coming out of a blast furnace.

Onward and ever eastward we sputtered.  Eventually the scenery changed from drab (the desert) to just plain boring (everywhere else).  The really big event was crossing the Mississippi River.  Back then, there were a few spindly bridges over it even for a major US highway.  The one we ended up on was about ten feet wide and had, for some strange reason, a yellow line down the middle.  As we rose over the hump in the bridge, my dad was the first to remark on the two tall smokestacks ahead of us.  This was followed by my mom’s frenzied scream “It’s a TRUCK!” as the rest hove into view.  My dad knew just what to do – he had driven up and down the Alcan Highway while it was being built – so his finely tuned instincts kicked in.  He had noticed that about a hundred feet in front of us was a small slot next to the road suitable for use as a turnout.  Apparently, my mom hadn’t seen this as she turned towards my dad and screamed in his ear “what the hell are you doing by speeding up?”

He smirked at her foolish fears and pointed to the tiny, foot-wide, turnout.  He said he was going over there to pull over and let the truck by.  He got up to about ninety (I am only guessing here), swerved pretty close to the guardrail (my mom started climbing into the back seat), and locked his brakes as we executed a perfect slide into the slot (stunned silence).

The truck, meanwhile, had added to the slight confusion about right-of-way by booping mightily on his air horn.  My mom screamed “he’s too close!” but my dad responded that “air horn’s sound closer than they are”.

With a roar, the truck blew by us.  I figure there was at least an inch or two between us as it passed.  It was several moment before we could continue over the rest of the bridge.

Somewhere in West Virginia (I think) we managed to miss a turn.  My dad was a true believer in the theory that if you just kept going you would end up where you wanted to be, just not by the same route.  Even at my young age I could read a map pretty well.  The map of the area where we were looked like somebody had spilled a plate of angel hair pasta on it.  Little red roads ran in every direction.  I daringly piped up that we had missed the turn.  There was no response.  My mom reached for my map, glanced at it, and repeated the statement.  After a bit more nagging, my dad responded “yeah, but we’ll get there this way too.”

Now, I’m not really sure when my dad finally gave up, stopped, and read the map but in later years I came to remember this particular incident as the “Deliverance” incident right down to the tune of a guitar and banjo.  There were about five buildings in this town – three of which were falling down.  A stereotypical dusty grocery store was the most modern building and it was complete with a front porch and three bushy-haired guys whittling. This is definitely where Mr. Boorman would make his film.

Having spent enough time parked beside the road for the three guys to notify their kin that strangers were ‘acomin’, I began to get a bit nervous.  Suddenly, a voice hailed us from the side of the car “Hep ya?”  My dad explained that he was trying to get to highway 18 and admitted he ‘might have’ taken a wrong turn.  The guy guffawed and repeated ‘might have’ with another laugh, and added “Yep – ya surely did.”

Between pauses for translations, my dad found that the only way to highway 18 was to go back the same exact way we took to get here.  When asked if this road would continue to where we wanted to go, the guy pointed and said “nah, it storps at the lake over thet ridge and into the holler.”  My dad gave his thanks and we turned around and went back.  Unfortunately, I have inherited my dad’s gene that makes me just want to forge ahead no matter what.  I rarely like to go back the same way I came.  Somehow that isn’t really ‘traveling’.

Finally, after the six or seven thousand miles traveled inside the sardine can, we arrived at the outskirts of Washington, D.C.  We slowed while riding up and down historic avenues and byways.  We visited Rock Creek Park where we stopped for a brief lunch and continued down into town.  We swept southward along Connecticut Avenue until we hit Dupont Circle.  Dupont Circle was designed, probably in jest, with two counterclockwise rings one inside the other.  You were supposed to use the outer ring to circle and peel off into side roads while the inner circle was used solely to get from one side to the other.  We spun around the circle, first on the outside, and then on the inside for approximately a tank and half of gas.  Finally, having had enough, my dad slapped the turn signal viciously, torqued the steering wheel over, and dove through traffic towards the exit for the southern end of Connecticut Avenue.  I am sure that our Alaskan tags branded us with “damn Eskimos should stick to sleds”.

The Washington Monument was our first glimpse of the Mall followed by several other blurry buildings as we whizzed by.  Our immediate goal was the Suitland Parkway which, we were told, would lead us to our new home near Andrews, Air Force Base.  We kids couldn’t have been happier at this news.



March 26, 2009

Growing up, as I did, being a part of a service family, my parents tried to instill certain values into each of us kids. As I was the oldest, I received the initial brunt of these attempts. My dad was not what you would call lovable. He had a penchant towards reacting first, and providing a non-apology later. One of my earliest recollections of him was when we lived in Alaska. I must have been about six then.

One day, he was on the roof using a giant snow scraper to push the drifts that had accumulated off the edge and to the ground. I pestered him almost continually to let me come up there and help. Finally he relented and I shakily climbed the ladder. My eyes were closed all the way up and, when I reached the roof, he had to grab me so I wouldn’t fall backwards.

Together ‘we’ pushed mounds of snow across the roof and down into the yard. When all of it had been removed I suddenly realized that I would have to go back DOWN the ladder. Oh, no, this wasn’t a good idea at all! I was petrified and wouldn’t get near the end of the ladder. Finally, highly vexed, he grabbed me and TOSSED ME OFF THE ROOF!

I fell for several centuries, screaming all the way, until I landed flat on my back in a huge drift. For a moment, I was stunned. I couldn’t utter a word, or cry out. Then, the sides of the hole I had made began toppling inwards and I was buried. I estimate now that the drift was about five feet deep and I couldn’t have sunk more than two or three feet into it but in my young eyes I was buried alive.

I struggled for the surface, gasping and choking, to finally break free into the sunlight. He was still on the roof, doubled over with laughter, at my plight. At the time, I didn’t see the humor at all. With as much dignity as I could (being six years old) I stomped over to the door and went inside to tell my mom about his deed.

I never did find out why she started laughing also but I suspect that it had to do with all the snow that was packed into my snowsuit – and where it was packed – since it was open down the front the whole time.

Another snow-related event: I was walking home from school one dark day (this being winter, darkness fell around two in the afternoon) and made the decision to cut through a back yard. As I began wading into deeper and deeper snow I finally realized that the snow surface was beginning to meet my gaze directly ahead, not at my feet or knees. I panicked a little and began flailing away with my arms trying to make headway, but those efforts only made the snow fall on top of me. I began to cry.

An unseen person began talking to me in a calm voice: “Hi, little boy. Are you all right?” I tried to turn, but my entire body was stuck fast facing forward. I wailed louder.

The calm voice floated closer to me and I began hearing crunchy footsteps approaching. In a moment, I felt the snow falling away from my back. Soon I was free to turn around and begin clawing back the way I had come.

After several lifetimes, I was free. As I mumbled my thanks, the kind person said “lucky you didn’t get much further.” I didn’t ask why, but only went on home – using the streets instead of any old shortcut.

Reflecting on this event years later, I have come to the conclusion that if I had managed to get farther, I would have probably sunk into a very smelly depression. Being Alaska, it simply wasn’t possible to make a hole deeper than about two feet or so because of the permafrost. Permafrost makes common dirt as hard as granite and to make holes, you had to use dynamite. This was expensive and most people couldn’t afford it. Community sewer lines didn’t exist so any house where I lived had to have a shallow pit out back to contain ‘leftover people products’. Need I say more?

One of our neighbors kept sled dogs all year around. At night it was somehow comforting to hear them sing to each other from their doghouse roofs. I could fall asleep to their soothing, low, long drawn out howls.

One day, my mother told me that she had talked to the old guy who lived around the corner that had the dogs. He had invited us (her and I) to come over and see them.

Up close, a sled dog was terrifying; especially to an eight year old. We went to each one in turn and they were allowed to snuffle our gloved hands. Once this ritual was over, the lead dog was unchained to come see me. At first, I thought he might just think I was food and snap my hand off at the elbow but he turned out to be just overly friendly. In short, he smacked my chest, knocked me flat on my back and began tasting me. Perhaps he was aiming for a much larger meal.

His name was Bruno and he was pure Malamute. A Malamute is a descendent of dogs raised by the Mahlemuits tribe of Western Alaska. Their appearance is very similar to a huge wolf. They are immensely strong and are still used today as sled dogs.

Back then, I knew nothing of this, only that I had found a new friend. Bruno and I began a relationship. I would come over most every day and feed him bits and pieces of beef or moose carcass Jed (the old trapper who owned him) had gotten from the butcher. He, in turn, would let me harness him to the small one-person sled and we would mush our way around the block. Words such as “gee” (right) and “haw” (left) entered my young vocabulary. The word ‘mush’ itself wasn’t in Bruno’s repertoire; instead, Jed had used the more popular “hike!” “Easy” (slow down) and “whoa” (stop) almost completed the commands. A slight kissing sound was the opposite of “easy” and meant for the team to speed up a bit.

As I gained more experience in controlling Bruno, Jed allowed me to make friends with the rest of his team dogs and eventually I worked my way up to a three-dog team. Bruno was always the lead dog. He had the rest of them well trained and once he started running it was sometimes very difficult to get the team to stop.

One day I surprised my mom by inviting her for a ride in the sled. She climbed in and wrapped up in the bearskin comforter. I shouted “hike!” and off we went. Over the fields we went. Wind whistling past my ears, laughter erupting from my lips, and icy snow flying everywhere. We careered around corners in controlled slides, me stomping (jumping up and down, actually) on the brake to prevent tipping, and zooming down the straightaway. This was probably the first time my mom and I had had a completely private time between just the two of us.

We zipped up and down the semi-plowed streets for probably an hour, occasionally passing Jed’s house to see if it was time for us to stop. Finally, he stepped out on his porch and held up a hand. I shouted “easy” when I first saw him and “whoa”-ed to a stop directly in front of his walk. I felt like a real drover right then. Jed and I unhooked each dog in turn (never unhook more than one at a time – they tend to get into brawls) and took them back to their huts and fed them. Bruno was the only one that was allowed to run free. He knew where to go though and stood ready for his praise from all three of us. He seemed to say “thanks for letting me please you”.

Note to law enforcement: the Principal at my grade school kept a paddle the size of a ping pong paddle (only made of leather) that was used for most any infraction of her law. It was used on me a bunch of times, but I suppose I deserved it; I was kind of unruly and would punch guys – hard. “But, I was only kidding” is not a viable excuse in the Territory of Alaska in the late 1940’s. Alaska didn’t become a state until after I left. The Feds would have stopped her I bet.

Summers are very short in Alaska. Ours fell on a Tuesday in July I think. Just kidding. We had been planning a camping trip up to a place called Circle. It is about 150 miles North of Fairbanks, but, back then, there was no real highway that went that way. What everyone used was called a highway, but was really just a muddy cow path. My dad owned two vehicles. One vehicle was an old surplus Army Jeep and the other was a Ford Model A. The Model A was chosen for the trip. The Jeep was nice, but it sat much lower to the ground than the high-wheeled A; especially when we packed it up.

Circle, at that time, was the furthest North you could drive on the North American continent. The “road” stopped dead at a small parking area a mile out of Circle because the mighty Yukon River swept by on its way to the Bering Sea. At this point it was said to be over two miles wide – and three feet deep.

There is an adjoining township (back then it was a simple camp) named Circle Hot Springs. The hot springs back then consisted of a smelly hole in the ground with green algae growing on its surface. We kids weren’t interested in dipping nary a toe into it.

We set up camp in a flowery field and walked to the Yukon. My Grandmother and Grandfather made the trip with us so she showed me how to skip rocks. I get pretty good at it too. I could make them skip seven or eight times before they lost enough momentum to sink. My brother only made huge splashes because he couldn’t figure the angle of entry correctly; and, I suppose it would have been easier if I told him to use flat rocks.

The next morning we discovered that several bears had invaded the town dump overnight. My brother and I amused ourselves by throwing rocks at them for a while but got bored when we couldn’t make any one of them eat our baby sister. Bears are no fun.

The Chena River flows close to where we lived and, in the winter, it is completely frozen over. Bridges are not needed as roads would simply drop down to the bank and cross to the other side. I don’t recall any vehicle ever falling through the ice while we were there. In the dead of winter, at noon, the brightest part of the day, a Winter Jamboree was held. This consisted of all sorts of games and contests out on the ice. My absolute favorite was the jalopy race. Twenty or more cars, stripped to chassis, engine, and seat for the driver, would race around a huge oval which was made by scraping the snow down to the ice. Straw bales were placed at strategic points (i.e. corners) so cars would crash into them if they lost traction; which would be guaranteed since they used completely bald tires.

Another ice-related event was the Ice Alarm. This was a small hut out in the middle of the frozen river that was connected to the bank by two long wires. When the ice began to melt in the spring, the hut would begin to move downstream (forgive me) glacially. When it moved far enough to trip a switch attached to the wires an alarm would go off and the exact time was written down. A great amount of bets would be placed on the exact date and time of breakup. The purse for the couple of years I was there ran around half a million dollars – and in the late forties that sure wasn’t hay.

The closest my dad came was almost two weeks late one year and four days early the next. We could have used a gold-plated dogsled or something like that.

As regular as the clocks in the Ice Alarm, when the ice finally broke, the river would rise and flood the surrounding area. We lived high up on a bluff, but we had friends down lower to the river. When they began to get flooded out, we would invite them to stay with us until they could go back to their house. We were pretty crowded but, since we were close friends, we endured. They had a daughter named, I think, Bitsey or Betsey. She and I had to share a bed (she snored) but, hey, to a six year old it’s no big deal. I love the double-takes I get now when I tell people that I slept with non-family girls when I was six.


The Old Man

March 26, 2009

As I approach the years where aches and pains, fuzzy eyesight, and making sure I am ‘regular’ are a way of life, I am overcome with an urge to share some of my life’s trials and tribulations I have experienced.

Some of these brief glimpses into my past will contain language that may give offense to some. I offer no apology as I am recalling events as they actually happened – straight from memory banks. No attempt has been made to alter the past. As one moves from adolescence through puberty and beyond, life’s learning curve begins to entwine with the sexual learning curve. As it is said “life happens”, and we move on; richer now by that experience. I hope you enjoy these little vignettes. Some may be funny, some may be sad, but all of them are real.