My Strangest Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It’s a time of family and food and celebration and the hot summer weather is finally over and it’s replaced by the beautiful fall colors and the cooler weather.

It was late summer 1976 and I was going through a breakup after a 6 year relationship with Joni, a lady I moved to Chico with from LA. She was a very nice lady and I still loved her very much but I was still a young man and going to Chico State where there were a lot of distractions. After getting drafted at 19 years old and two years in the army including one in Vietnam, I felt like I needed to be free. Joni and I were both very busy going to school full time and working and not really spending a lot of time together when one September morning she told me it would be better if I moved out. It was very painful but I found a room a couple miles away and we both started going out with other people.

I met a lady named Sybille one night while dancing with some friends at LaSalle’s. She had a very pretty face and bright blue eyes and long blond hair. She was on a student exchange program from Freiberg, Germany, a city close to France. She had a great laugh, a cute accent and a sexy body. Because of her accent I didn’t realize her name was Sybille. I thought she said “Zabella” with the emphasis on the Z and that’s what I called her until she finally wrote her name down on a piece of paper and I realized I had her name wrong but I couldn’t help myself, I still called her Zabella anyway. At first she didn’t like it but I think after a while she got to like it cause she just laughed every time I called her that. We started going out and doing all the things college students do together like skinny dipping in the creek and biking and jogging through Bidwell Park and spending a lot of time together getting to know each other.

A couple of weeks later she asked me to go with her to an Oktoberfest in San Francisco. “Oktoberfest? What’s that?” I asked.

“Just come with me and I promise you, you’ll have a good time. You’ll love it”

At the Oktoberfest the beer was flowing and the music was blasting and we were polkaing like crazy and drinking German beer and eating schnitzel and pretzels and noodles and drinking more beer. We had a great time and when the Oktoberfest was over, Sybille asked me, ”What are you doing for Thanksgiving?”

“Well, that’s a good question. I don’t really have any plans.” Wondering if I was going to trust my old 1961 VW bug to make the 500 mile drive down to LA to see my parents and my brothers and other relatives when Sybille said, “Good, let’s you and me celebrate Thanksgiving together.”

“Ah…Okay.” I answered and then I asked, “Do you celebrate Thanksgiving?”

“No but I know you do so let’s do it together.”

“Okay.” I said again but I felt a little strange realizing that this would be my first Thanksgiving without being with family except for the time I was in the army and those were not especially fond memories.

“What do you want to do for Thanksgiving? I asked Sybille a week before.

“I’ve got some friends I’d like you to meet and I’ll invite them over and, don’t worry, we’ll have a good time.”

“What should I bring?” I asked.

“Bring some good German Beer.”

“Okay.” I answered wondering if Lowenbrau was good German beer.

Thanksgiving day came and I went over to Sybille’s small first floor apartment. The kitchen smelled good as I handed Sybille the Lowenbrau and she looked at it and said, “What’s this?”

“Ah, good German beer, no?”

She looked at me, put the Lowenbrau down and handed me a beer with a label I couldn’t read and I took a sip. “Whoa, this is some strong stuff. What is it?”

“It’s Weihenstephaner.”

“Ah, it tastes a little bit like bananas.”

“Yes, that’s good, huh? You like, no?”

“Oh, yeah, it’s very good.” I answered as I put it down because I don’t like the taste of bananas and I went looking for the Lowenbrau.

“So, where’s everybody else? Are your friends coming?”

“Well, I’m not sure who’s coming except for this one guy I know named Abdul. He said he’ll be here for sure.”


“Yeah, he’s from Saudi Arabia and I think he likes me.”

“Oh… that’s nice… What ya cooking?” I asked.

“Oh, this is a special day so I’m making a ham with apple strudel and weisswurst and frankfurters and green beans with onions, lots of peppers and lots of garlic.”

“Oh… No turkey?”

“No, this is much better for a special day.”

Sybille handed me another Weihenstephaner and turned on some German music.

There was a knock at the door, Sybille asked me to answer it and this stocky guy in a dark brown suit and bright red tie came in holding flowers. He looked blankly at me and said, “Where’s Sybille?”

I opened the door wide and the guy walked in and handed the flowers to Sybille and hugged her and kissed her on the cheek and told her how beautiful she looked. She introduced us and handed Abdul a beer. We started at each other and both knew that we had some competition for Sybille’s affection.

Sybille was cooking in the kitchen as Abdul and I tried to talk but his accent was so thick that I couldn’t understand him especially when he and Sybille began speaking in French with his thick Arab accent so I opened another Weihenstephaner and watched the football game on TV.

“Okay, dinner’s ready. Come to the table.” Sybille said.

Abdul asked what it was and Sybille said, “It’s ham with apple strudel and weisswurst and  frankfurters and green beans with onions, lots of peppers and lots of garlic. All good German food.

Abdul looked at the food and got some green beans and some strudel and looked around at what else he may be able to eat.

“Don’t you like the food? Sybille asked.

“Ahh, well, I don’t eat pig.” Abdul answered.

“Oh…” Sybille said looking confused. What about you, Phil? I mean, I just remembered you’re Jewish and maybe don’t eat pork either.”

“Oh, I’ll eat whatever you make. You know that.” I answered.

“Good.” she said as she piled more ham on my plate and smothered it with lots of sour kraut and mustard.

Abdul ate his green beans and put some sour kraut on his strudel and tried to drink his beer but he didn’t eat or drink much.

“Sybille, would you speak in German? I’d like to hear what you sound like in your mother tongue.”

“Oh, I’d rather not.” Sybille answered.

“Please. I’d really like to hear you speak German.”

I looked at Sybille and realized I’d never heard her speak German either.”

“I’d really rather not.” Sybille said again.”

“Please. I’d really love to hear you speak German.” Abdul repeated.

“Okay.” And then Sybille said something very quietly and very softly in German and I smiled at her and felt my Jewish hackles rise up on the back of my neck but I only smiled at her as I ate my ham and sour kraut and drank my German beer.

Abdul looked at her and smiled and then Sybille began speaking louder and with more confidence and she smiled and went on for a few more sentences.

Suddenly Abdul blurted out, “Oh my god! You sound just like Hitler!”

I about crapped my pants. I couldn’t believe he said that, even though I must admit I was thinking the exact same thing.

“Sybille immediately stopped speaking in German, lowered her eyes, bowed her head and said, “Oh, please don’t say that.”

I felt sorry for Sybille but I didn’t know what to say as I felt the hackles on the back of my neck finally going down while I looked at Sybille’s pretty face tearing up and I held her hand and hugged her and just felt very uncomfortable not only for Sybille and the evening there but at how my life had changed in the past few weeks. I wondered what Joni was doing and I must admit I wondered what I was doing.

The rest of the evening was quiet and uneventful.

Sybille and I kept seeing each other until summer when the school year was up and it was time for her to go back to Germany. When I drove her to the airport and kissed her goodbye she asked, ”Will you come see me in Freiburg?” she asked.

“Ah…Freiburg?” I answered wondering how that would be and how I’d be able to afford it.

“Yes, please come. You’ll love it. It’s very beautiful and I can show you my home and the Black Forest and we can travel all over Germany and France. Please come.”

“Ah, sure, I’ll be happy to visit you in Germany.” I said as I looked at her pretty face and wondered if I’d ever see her again.

We wrote letters to each other and she asked me when I was coming to visit her. I wrote back that I’d try to do that soon. The following summer, after the school year was up I applied for a writing scholarship to Schiller College, a German school on Paros Island which is a Greek island in the central Aegean Sea. It’s in one of the Cyclades island group. I was accepted and spent the summer in Greece and traveling through Europe. When I got to Freiburg I found Sybille’s house and I excitedly knocked on her door hoping to surprise her. A guy answered the door and said, “Sybille left last month. She won’t be back until late September.”

“Oh.. Where did she go?”

“She went to America.”

Oh…Do you know where?”

“Yes, I told you, she went to America.”

“Ahhh… Do you have her address or her phone number?”


“Well, would you please tell her Phil stopped by?”

He looked at me, shook his head and closed the door.

My ticket back home was for September 23rd. It was a special rate ticket that couldn’t be changed.

I flew home and never saw or heard from Sybille again.

That November I drove my old VW bug to LA and had Thanksgiving with my mom and my dad and my brothers and their families and I wondered what Sybille was doing. I chuckled and smiled to myself thinking she’s probably eating ham and strudel and weisswurst with lots of sour kraut and drinking Weihenstephaner, that banana tasting beer.

My mother looked at me and said, “You look happy, Phil. Are you seeing anyone, Phil”

“Oh… no one in particular.”

“What ever happened to Joni?”

“Oh, she’s still in Chico.”

“Well, why don’t you two get back together? You were both so much in love.”

“Oh…well… she got married last year.”

“Oh, she did? To who?”

“A guy name Robert.”

“Robert? Not your good friend Robert?”

“Yeah, my good friend Robert.”

We were both quiet for a moment and then my mom said, “Why’d you ever let her go?”

“Well, you know how it is. I guess it was just bad timing.”

My mom just looked at me, smiled softly and said, “Well, it’s good to have you home, Phil.”

I looked at my mom and said, “Yes, it’s good to be home, Ma.” and I thought of Sybille and Abdul and the strangest Thanksgiving I ever had and smiled and chuckled to myself some more.

paros Paros Island, Greece

Freiburg-in-Germany_General-view_1655 Freiburg, Germany

East LA East LA


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Richard’s Refer

When I was in the Central Highlands of Vietnam my tent was right next to Graves Registration (GR) which is where the killed in action (KIA) were brought until they were ready to be sent to Saigon to be identified and then shipped back the States. Sometimes a truckload of KIA in body bags would come in all at once. The tent they were kept in was called “The Refer” because there was a small generator-powered A/C unit cut into the side of the tent that blew in cold air to keep the KIA from decomposing too quickly. Sometimes when it was hot, the guys working at GR would go in there to cool off and eat lunch. The name, the Refer, never left me and after I got back home, I wrote this story about a friend of mine and I called it “Richard’s Refer.”

My friend, Richard, was still living at home with his parents and when I’d go to visit him he’d ask me if I was hungry or thirsty and wanted something. I knew he always had V8 juice so I asked for that. Richard would open the door to the refrigerator and say, “Man, it’s a pain having to search all over the place in this small refrigerator to find a can of V-8 Juice or an apple or a Coke every time I open the refrigerator.”

When Richard left home and married his girlfriend Roseanne, he decided he didn’t want to hassle with trying to find whatever he was looking for in the refrigerator like he had to do at his parent’s house.

The crisper drawers were packed-full filled with fresh iceberg lettuce and carrots and radishes and cucumbers and zucchini and fresh tomatoes. The shelves were crammed full of lunch meat and bread and pickles and milk and cold drinks and leftovers with no empty space.

“Man, what a hassle this is!” Richard said as he moved stuff around, taking it out and putting it on the counter trying to find whatever it was he was looking for, so when he got married he bought a huge refrigerator with plenty of room. One of those double-door jobs that uses a lot of energy but always holds a lot of food and it included a big freezer.

Of Course it didn’t take Richard very long to see that he wasted his money once Montgomery Wards delivered the refrigerator to his apartment in El Monte. It was never difficult for him to find anything in that refrigerator because there was hardly ever anything in it. Maybe an empty bottle of catsup missing the cap or some wilted celery or a half filled carton of sour milk but not much else.

Richard could have saved a lot of money by just buying an ice chest. That’s  all the room that was necessary for what was ever in the double-door monster he bought.

But Richard stayed married to Roseanne for 12 years while he was working days full time and going to school at night and Roseanne was taking art, gardening and dance classes at the local college that Richard paid for because Roseanne never seemed to be able to find a job.

Everyone told Richard he looked like he was losing weight and that he was getting too skinny. “Oh, I’m just too busy to bother eating.” he said.

“How are you and Roseanne doing?” people would ask. “Well, you know, we got some issues to work out but we’re doing okay.” he answered.

So Richard starved his butt off (literally) for a dozen years and he’d longingly go over to his mother’s house, open the door of the refrigerator and gaze into that crowded refer in wonderment.

One day Richard came home from work and Roseanne wasn’t there. She didn’t call or come home for two weeks. He called me and asked if I knew where she was. “I have no idea.” I said.

When Roseanne finally did come home late one night, Richard scolded her and told her he was worried sick about her and asked her where she’d been. “I met someone else at my dance class and I moved in with him.”

“What?! Who?!”

“Doesn’t matter who. I’m in love and I’m moving out.”

“At least tell me his name!”

“His name is Danny”!

“Danny? Who’s Danny?”

“A guy I met at dance class.”

Richard was shocked. “What?!” was all he could say. He walked around shaking his head for several days and eventually moved out of the apartment in El Monte and moved back into his mother’s house and never complained again about having to search the refrigerator for a can of V-8 juice or anything else he was looking for when I came by.

And what happened to Roseanne? After a couple of weeks, Danny, the guy she met and moved in with, didn’t come home for six nights. On the seventh night he called Roseanne and although she was happy to hear from him, she scolded him and said she was worried sick and asked him where he’d been.  ”I met someone else and she’s moving in so you’ll have to move out.”

“What?!” Roseanne said.

“Sorry, you’ll have to move out today because she’s moving in tomorrow.” Danny said.

“What?! Who?”

“Doesn’t matter who. Just get your stuff out today and leave the key on the table.”

“At least tell me her name.”

“Her name’s Susan.”

“Susan? Who’s Susan? Not the Susan in our dance class.”

“Doesn’t matter who, does it?”

“Just tell me who. Not that Susan.”

“Yes, that Susan. Now pack up your stuff up and move out.”

Roseanne called me up asked if I knew where Richard was because she couldn’t reach him and the apartment where they lived was now occupied by some other people. ”I think might have made a mistake with Richard. Do you think it would be okay if I asked Richard if I could move back in with him. Do you know where he is?”

“Ah, I wouldn’t ask him that if I were you.” I said.

“Just tell me where he is.”

“Richard moved back into his mother’s house.” I said.

“Oh, really? Is that what happened?”

“Yes, that’s what happened.”

“Hmm… Oh…Well that’s nice…. but I need a place to stay until I can find my own place again. Do you think Richard would be okay if I asked him if I could move back in with him?”

“I wouldn’t ask if I were you.”

“Ahh… would it be okay if maybe I stayed at your place for a couple days until I find someplace else?” Roseanne asked.

“Sorry, I don’t think that would be a good idea either.”

“Just tonight, please.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that.”

Last I heard was Roseanne moved in with her mother and was still taking art and dance classes and Richard had put on 25 pounds.

Empty_refrigerator  A_Colorful_Cartoon_Hungry_Man_Staring_Into_an_Empty_Refrigerator_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_100818-146511-280053

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Coming Home from the War part 4

Coming Home from the War

Phillip I. Elkins © 2006

Chapter Five:

Coming Back Home Ain’t All Its Cracked Up To Be 

(People have been asking me to read my stories again on my radio show, “LA Sounds” on 7:30-10:00 every Thursday night) which I may do some other time, meanwhile I’ll post some of it here. This is the cleaned up version. The original version is on Amazon under the same name)

Saturday we dove over to Watts in my car and couldn’t find parking nearby so we parked several blocks away from the park where the Watts Community Music Festival was being held.  As I was parking my car I noticed a group of black people sitting on a porch of the house I was parking in front of.

“Hey, don’t worry; we’ll keep an eye on your car. Go ahead and enjoy the festival.” A big guy sitting on the porch said.

“Okay, thank you.” I answered as we got out and I noticed the guys checking out Marissa in her short mini skirt and little tank top getting out of the car.

“Hey, sweet lookin’ lady you got there. Hey, look bro, you wanna trade?” a guy on the porch asked as he checked out Marissa and pointed to a girl sitting next to him.

“What?” I asked.

“You want to switch? Come on up here and check out one of these ladies. They like white boys.” He answered as he stood up and began walking toward us with a big old shit eating grin.

“I’ll take your old lady. She’s lookin’ good, baby!”

“Ah, I’ll have to talk to my girlfriend about that.” I answered nervously as we quickly walked away.

“Yeah, those black guys like what they see here.” Marissa said as she laughed and looked herself up and down with a big smile on her face.

Needless to say I felt less than confident that my car would be there when — and if — we ever got back from the festival.

As we walked the streets of Watts I noticed everybody’s eyes following us. I didn’t see many other white people around. Maybe a few brown people but mostly we were deep in the heart of town where you don’t see anybody other than black people.

As we walked to the park I tried to act comfortable like I was back home with my homies or back in Vietnam with the brothers but I did feel pretty out of place.

I kept thinking I saw Johnson, my captain who was with me in Bien Hoa. I’d look carefully at his face and almost say: “Hey, Johnson!” but it was never him.

We checked out the scene and ate some BBQ ribs and drank a couple beers and grooved to the music blasting in the hot sun.

After a while I began to relax and began dancing with Marissa. By the time the Temptations came on it was getting dark and the pot was being passed around. I noticed a few other brown and white people in the crowd. Marissa was talking to a couple of people who were being friendly. She seemed to enjoy being checked out and basically ignoring me. I was beginning to feel like I wanted to get back to see if my car was still there when suddenly someone tapped me on the shoulder and said: “Hi, Drummer Boy.” As she gave me a big hug.

“How come you never called me?”

“Oh, hi Rainbow. How you doing?” I asked as I held onto her and felt like sneaking out of there and making out with her like we did at the love in.

“Been fine. Good music, huh?”

“Oh, yeah, great music. Want to get a drink?” I asked as I tried to get away from Marissa.

“Sure.” Rainbow answered.

We walked several feet away to get some lemonade when Sioux and Luke came up to say hello.

“Hey, guys, how you been?”

“Good. What you been up to?” Sioux asked as Luke just basically looked bored and ready to leave. He lit a cigarette and looked away yawning.

“So, how you been?” Rainbow asked again.

“Yeah, I’ve been fine. I couldn’t remember your phone number or I would have called.” I said as I noticed Marissa looking around.

“Give it to me now before they decide to tear gas this place too.” I added as we all laughed at the fond memory of the love-in at Griffith Park.

Rainbow opened her purse and wrote down her phone number and stuck it in my shirt pocket. “Don’t lose it this time. I want to see you again.”

“You will, I promise you that.” I answered as I noticed Marissa looking around for me and I tried to nudge us away in the other direction.

“Look I’d better get going but it’s good to see you.” I said afraid that Marissa might see us and blow the whole thing worse than the cops did at Griffith Park. I hugged the girls and walked away in the opposite direction of where I last saw Marissa.

“Don’t be a stranger Sioux said as she came up to me, gave me an open mouth kiss and stuck her phone number in my shirt pocket next to Rainbow’s.”

“I won’t be.” I said as I hugged her and forced myself to leave before it was too late as I forced myself to walk away as fast as I could.

“Phil! Phil!” Marissa yelled as I walked in the other direction. “Hey, man, why you ignoring me?!” She yelled again.

I turned around and acted dumb as I said: “Oh, there you are. I was looking for you.”

“You’re lyin’! You knew I was looking for you! And who are those girls you were talking to?”

“Huh? Girls? What girls?” I played dumb.

“Yeah, what girls. I saw you and you know I saw you trying to hide from me. Those girls over there looking as us. That somebody you’re working on, trying to get with? Want some white girls now?”

“Huh? Oh, those girls? Oh, yeah, they were just asking me if I knew where Compton High School was. They’re looking for a friend there.” I answered saying with the first thing could I thought of.

“Compton High School? You liar.’  You were hitting on them and they’re wondering who the heck I am. I ought to go talk to them and tell them what a jerk you are. Is that Sue?” Marissa said as she smiled and waved at them and said: “Hey, Sue; He’s a jerk. Don’t go out with him. He’s no good, Sue!”

The Girls looked back and waved goodbye as they walked away.

“There goes my chance to be with some nice, white, hippie chicks.” I thought to myself as I gave Marissa an angry look and said: “Look, you’re crazy. they just wanted directions and I was nice enough to try and help them out and probably gave them the wrong directions. What do you care anyway? You were busy ignoring me and flirting with someone over there anyway.”

“Hey Sue, he’s a jerk!” Marissa said as she pointed at me.”

They don’t know what the heck you’re talking about. They think you’re crazy and you know what? They’re right. You are crazy. They were just asking me directions.”

“They know what I’m talking about. You’re an jerk.” Marissa said as she gave me a look of hate.

After a minute of silence between us I asked: “So, you had enough of hanging with your friends here? You ready to get out of here and see if my car got stolen yet?” I said as I began walking in the other direction.

“Yeah, I’ve had enough of being here with you. Let’s get out of here. And you’re going in the wrong direction, you stupid jerk.”

I turned around and noticed Rainbow and Sioux were out of sight now and I hoped if we walked slowly enough we wouldn’t catch up with them and things would be cool.

“You’re a jerk!” Marissa said to my face as she looked at my shirt pocket and tried to grab the papers with the girls’ phone numbers on them.

“What the heck you doing? You’re crazy and you’re gonna tear my shirt!” I said as I pulled her hands off me.

At that, Marissa ripped my shirt open and scratched my chest while I fought to keep her from getting the papers with the phone numbers on them. “What the heck you doing, you crazy girl!?”

“You jivin’. I know you got their phone numbers. Let me see what you got in there!”

“Look, nutball. I’ve had it with you. Tearing up my shirt. Even if I had their numbers, no way I’d show you now, you crazy nutball! You’re gonna have to buy me a new shirt now.”

At that Marissa tried again to reach into my pocket but I fought her off. A minute later as she was looking in the other direction, I took the papers out of my shirt pocket and put them deep into my front pants pocket. A few minutes later when she noticed I wasn’t watching, she grabbed into my shirt pocket and ripped it open only to find it empty.

I acted like I couldn’t fight her off and said: “You are one crazy nutball. If I flirted around half as much as you do, you’d go crazy and freak out just like you did but you might actually have a good reason to and you might actually find something then. You owe me a shirt now, you crazy nut! I ought to look in your purse to see what you got in there. Who knows what you’re up to? Probably full of phone numbers.” I said as grabbed for her purse and I laughed thinking to myself that I’ve got to get away from this crazy girl and catch up with those hippie chicks as soon as possible.

We walked back to my car and I must admit I was very happy and a little surprised to see that my car was still there. As I opened the door to let Marissa in, the folks who were sitting on the front porch were there again but this time they were smoking and drinking and listening to some loud music blasting from a boom box. “Yo, white boy!” The guy who spoke to us before yelled.

“Hey, there you are. How you folks doing?” I called back as I went to get in the driver’s door.

“Yo, man, so you wanna trade old ladies? Come on, man, my old lady here knows all the tricks. She likes you and she’ll take real good care of you, man, make you real happy. Anything you want.” He said as he got up and waved us over.

“Ah, I don’t think my old lady’s ready for that.” I said as I got into the car and fired it up.

Marissa opened the window on the passenger side and yelled out: “Ah, this jerk’s afraid to do anything like that. He’s just chicken.” as she laughed.

I had to force myself to not turn the engine off and get out of the car and drag Marissa up there just to see what she might do but I guess I wasn’t sure what she might do and who the hell knew what they might do. So, yeah, maybe I was too chicken but somehow it just didn’t seem worth it to go up on the porch and find out.

As I pulled away Marissa yelled out: “See, he’s chicken.” And laughed as she gave me a look of disdain.

“Yeah, like you wanted to go up there and be with that guy. Heck, you’re more chicken than I am. That black girl looked pretty good.”

“You’re the chicken who drove off.” She said firmly.

It took all my strength to not turn around right then and drive back to the front porch where the people were sitting but the truth is they all looked pretty crazy and I’ve had enough craziness in my life for a while.

Then, as I turned on the radio, I remembered the phone numbers in my pocket and I realized that maybe I haven’t had quite enough craziness in my life just yet after all. I might need just a little bit more.

Watts Watts Community Music Festival

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Nov 22, 1963 Flashback 50 Years

I just got a phone call this morning from my buddy, Peter, who I grew up. He said, “Man, can you believe it’s been 50 years?”

“No, I can’t believe it.” I answered.

“Do you remember what you were doing?” Peter asked.

“Yes, I remember. I was sitting in my history class.”

Peter and I talked for a while and then I flashed back to 50 years ago today:

I was in the 11th grade at Wilson High School in East LA and I wasn’t paying much attention to politics. I was more interested in hanging out with my buddies and checking out the girls when suddenly an obviously upset vice principal came into in my 5th period class and said, “The president has been shot.”

What’s she talking about? I wondered. The teacher went to the front of the class and said, “Class dismissed.” That seemed strange. We walked out of the classroom and everybody seemed to be lost in confusion and not sure what to do. The loud speakers announced, ”Please come to the assembly hall.” I started looking for my buddies when I noticed some students crying and I thought about what the vice principal said about the president being shot. “Can that be?” I wondered as I made my way into the assembly hall.

Where were you on that day?

Dallas, “The Big D”

Dealey Plaza

The Grassy Knoll

Jack Ruby

The Texas School Book Depository (Suppository)?

“The President Has Been Shot!”

“JFK is dead.”

The Parade in Dallas or the “Motorcade”

Camelot (Harmonious, perfect society)

Who Did It?

The Conspiracy theories.

The Mafia?

The Secret Service?



The Military Industrial Complex?

Big Business? The Oil Industry?

The Soviet Union? The KGB?

The CIA? The FBI? (Hoover?)

It couldn’t possibly be that a nobody, a nothing like Lee Harvey Oswald could take down our glamorous , beloved president Kennedy. How could that possibly be?

More than 70% of people today believe that the Warren Commission was wrong and that there was a conspiracy of more than one shooter.

Hard to swallow The Magic Bullet: One bullet zig-zagged through both through JFK’s head and then into Gov. Connelly’s lung, his rib and through his wrist and then the bullet be practically unscathed.

Questions about the commission’s failure to interview some Dealey Plaza witnesses; review the discrepancies between the conclusions of the Parkland Hospital physicians’ examination and the Bethesda [Maryland] Naval Hospital’s autopsy photos; investigate the destruction of the presidential limousine, a vital piece of forensic evidence; evaluate the Dallas Police Department’s interrogation of Oswald; and other concerns,
have led many assassination researchers to reject the Warren Commission’s conclusions, either in whole or in part, and argue that
more than one person fired gunshots at President Kennedy that day as part of a conspiracy.

The Legend:

Very likable, charismatic personality with the promise and excitement of a young, 46 yr. old leader who was from a wealthy family but who was loved and admired by most everybody, including the well to do, the middle class and the underclass, including everybody I knew in East LA.

Even the Press loved him.

He was like a rock star, (but not like Michael Jackson).

Men and women loved him. Hell, he was apparently a Casanova. Marilyn Monroe and his romantic liaisons.

We all loved his relaxed, James Bond style. Sort of like how young people love today’s Hip Hop, Rap music stars. (P. Diddy, J-Z, Eminem, 50 Cent.) Except instead of saying he’s the baddest dude on the block, he was actually trying to make the world a better place.





He started The Peace Corps, began the government working with Civil Rights leaders. He defused the Cuban Missile Crisis which, in the wrong hands could have very easily been WWIII.

(Which really was the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union).

He was a great speaker and a WWII hero.

Besides, he was young, good looking, sexy and had a great smile.

Today he’d be 96 years old. And probably not as well thought of or loved.

The gruesome Zapuder film footage and our fascination with it.

Botched autopsy and all the unanswered questions.

The end of our innocence.

Soon after came Vietnam leading up to today’s mistrust of government and

Iraq and terrorism.

JFK represents to me what could have been

but for greedy, selfish people.

Sadly,  it seems that’s what our entire socio-economic system is still based upon greed and selfishness.

Enron, WorldCom, Wall Street scandals, the bank bailouts – and their cronies in The White House, Big Business, Big Oil, HMO’s.

That all got worse when JFK was assassinated.

And like vultures circling above, power hungry politicians and their big business special interests cronies went for the throat of our society and are still feasting today on the power vacuum created by JFK’s assassination.

dealey-plaza-2003-wikimedia-brodie319 Dealey Plaza

Grassy_Knoll_2003 The Grassy Knoll

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA Texas School Book Depository

jfk-funeral-capitol-rotunda-1963-wikicommonsThe body of President John F. Kennedy lay in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 24, 1963.

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Coming Home from the War Part 3

Coming Home from the War

Phillip I. Elkins © 2006

Chapter Three:

The Summer of Love

(People have been asking me to read my stories again on my radio show, “LA Sounds” on KZFR which I may do some other time, meanwhile I’ll post some of it here. This is the cleaned up version. The original version is on Amazon under the same name)

It was 1967. I had just gotten back from Vietnam a couple of days before and met a few new friends at a love-in at Griffith Park in L.A.

The crowd seemed excited as it pushed toward the band. There was a thin guy holding a microphone and staring out at the crowd. He was wearing tight, black leather pants with long, wavy black hair and was seductively checking out the girls in the crowd who seemed to be swooning back at him. There was an electric organ playing, a drummer, a guitarist and the guy in the leather pants just standing in front must be the vocalist but he wasn’t singing. Hummm… these hippies sure got funny ways.

The music seemed to go on for quite a while with the guy in the leather pants just standing there and just looking kinda angry.  But the crowd didn’t seem to mind. They were excitedly dancing around and looking like they were in a trance or another world. Well, maybe it was the marijuana they were smoking or the “grass” as they called it, smoking it right out in the open like it was legal or something but they sure were grooving’ as they put it.

Finally the guy holding the mike began moaning and groaning and singing: “Oh, yeah, I’m a back door man…. No you don’t know what the little girls understand….”

Man, he must have known what he was talking about because the girls sure were screaming back and hooping and hollering. “Yeah, baby, yeah, we understand,”

“You men eat your dinner; eat your pork and beans…. I eat more chicken than any man ever seen…. Well, I’m a backdoor man….”

Rainbow, Starshine, Sioux and Luke were singing right along with the guy wearing leather pants and shouting into the mike. “Wow, you know the words. Groovy.” I yelled into Rainbow’s ear. She looked at me and said: “Of course I know the words, Drummer Boy, That’s The Doors, man!”

“The what?” I asked.

“The Doors, man, that’s The Doors. Where you been?”

“Oh, The Doors….” I mumbled having no idea who the they were.

“Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name….” The guy began shouting into the mike.

“Hello, I love you… Let me jump in your game.”

“Groovy, baby.” I sang out.

“Love me two times, baby. Love me twice today. One for tomorrow, one just for today.”

“Yeah, baby. Love me two times.” I sang into Rainbow’s ear. Hey, why not. Everybody’s talking about free love. I can dig that….”Yeah, love me two times, Rainbow….”

Man, everybody was yelling and screaming their hearts out.

The guy in the leather pants then got real quiet and began singing: “Riders on the storm. Into this house we’re born….”

“Groovy, baby but I still want to love you two times.” I mumbled to myself while I looked at Rainbow.

“Yeah, baby, “Gotta love your man….” I sang along with the guy on the stage.

Suddenly the whole crowd, all 20,000 or so of them began screaming like they were going crazy when the guy began singing: “Come on baby, light my fire…. Try to set the night on fire….Yeahhhh….” and the electric organ began ringing out as loud as I’d ever heard any music playing. The crowd got so crazy I actually thought maybe I ought to get out of there even with Rainbow holding onto me and pressing herself right up against me, which by now was without the An Khe jacket on. It seemed a little too intense for me to hang around to see what might happen next but I wasn’t about to leave.

The guy singing tore his shirt off by now too and was slithering around on the stage while the organ played on and on and on…. The crowd was going crazy and calling out: “Take it off, Jim, take it all off.”

I was screaming along with them, “Yeah, Jim, take it all off.” Thinking maybe Rainbow and Sioux and Starshine might do the same. Luke had his shirt off too and by now was down to his boxer shorts. We all had lost our shoes and socks a long time before. I tried to keep my eye on my silk An Khe jacket but by now I was more interested in watching Rainbow dancing around and yelling.

Suddenly, Jim, the guy up on the stage began screaming: “We’re all jived up! We’re all jived up. We’re all jived up.” As he began crabbing himself and then flashing the peace signs with his hands.

“Wow, these hippies got it all over the rest of society” I heard myself say. Suddenly Rainbow began kissing and holding onto me.

Then Sioux, spelled like the Indian tribe, came over to me and held onto me too and began kissing me. Then, believe it or not, Luke and Starshine came up and joined us and we’re all hugging and dancing together in a group. Starshine began kissing me too but when Luke tried to kiss me, I guess my “uptight hang-ups” as the hippies called it, came into play. I couldn’t bring myself to kiss Luke. “Guess I’m not that hip yet.” I said to him as I went from Rainbow’s lips to Sioux’ face and lips to Starshine’s lips, making sure to avoid Luke altogether with each go round.

Jim up on the stage might be yelling about how jived up we all are but personally, things never looked better to me. Anyway you look at it; this sure beat the hell out of what I was doing only a few days ago for the past year in Vietnam.

Fire5 Phil getting ready to leave Vietnam

On leave Phil home from Vietnam on leave

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Coming Home from Vietnam Part 2

“So, ah, you hear anything from Marissa?” I asked my mom anxiously and she and my dad picked me up and were driving me home from LAX.

“Oh, yeah, she’s been calling everyday. Where’s Phil? When’s Phil coming home?” My mom answered also with a disapproval tone.

“Well, guess I’d better give her a call when we get home.” I said as I felt myself getting excited about seeing her again and thinking about making up for lost time in the bedroom.

As we drove home I could feel myself getting excited about being my home and getting back into the swing of things. My dad turned on the radio and the music sounded like sugar to my ears and damn if they weren’t playing the Byrds singing “Hey, Tambourine Man.”

Things looked the same and yet they looked different as we turned right at the intersection of Valley Blvd and Almansor Drive. I felt this sudden urge to run out of the car and jump into my sweet 57 Chevy and drive as fast as I could to see Marissa but I restrained myself.

As we drove up to the curb in front of the house I forced myself to get out of the car at a reasonable speed and carried my heavy duffle bags to the door and I felt the tears in my eyes as I breathed in the old, familiar yet somehow older, smaller and dirtier neighborhood than I remember since the last time I saw it. My heart was beating fast as I threw my bags on the porch and looked at the front door. My brother Richard opened the door, smiled at me and yelled: “Well, what the hell you know? Soldier Boy Phil’s home.”

I grabbed Richard and gave him a big hug. “How the hell you doing, Rich?”

“Hey, you know, I’m doing okay. Good to have you home, Phil.”

“Yeah, I’m home. Man it’s good to be home.” I said as I looked around and set my bags on the living room floor. It felt surreal and dreamlike to actually be home and at the same time it felt anti climatic like I was expecting the place to look like fireworks were exploding or like I expected to feel like a kid riding the Matterhorn at Disneyland for the first time.

“Marissa just called a minute ago.” Rich said.

“Oh, yeah? Well, I’ll call her back in a minute.” I said as I tried to act like there was something else I’d rather do. Hell, I was ready to jump in my car and fly over there instantly but I thought I’d better wait a little while. I’ve done that too damned many times before only to find that she was out running around with Toni or chasing around doing who knows what.

“So, Phil, you gonna try and do something else while you’re home on leave or are you gonna just do the same old thing you’ve always done, chasing after Marissa?”

“Ah, well, I guess I still want to see Marissa (holding myself back from running over there immediately) but I don’t want to just waste time doing the same old thing again.”

“Good, maybe you can think about what you’re gonna do once you’re out of the army and going to school with the GI Bill.”

“Oh, yeah, I plan on going back to school. Not exactly sure what to take but I plan on going back to school all right.”

“Hey, Phil. It’s Marissa. She sounds kinda angry that you haven’t called her yet.” Richard said as he handed me the phone.

“How the hell god damned long you been there?”

“Oh, hi Marissa. Just walked in a minute ago.”

“You lying son of a beach! Tell the truth, when ya get there, last night?”

“Na, I just walked in the door. What you doing, chasing around with Toni?  Going out drinking and making trouble?”

“I’ve been here waiting for you to come over here and take good care of me.”

Just the thought of doing that got me excited. I looked around at my mom and my dad and Richard and said: “Yeah, I’ll get there pretty quick. Just give me a few minutes.”

With that my mom rolled her eyes and gave my dad a look of “here we go again.” And said: “Tell her to wait a little while. I want to make you something to eat.”

I nodded my head as I said to Marissa: “Give me a few minutes. I’ll be right over. I just got here.”

“I’ve been waiting for a year, you fool. Why the hell ain’t you here yet?”

I’ve been home five minutes and already I felt torn between all the people I missed like crazy for the past year but what felt like ten years — and suddenly now seemed like it’s only been ten minutes.

Mom heated up some chicken soup with matzo balls and served it up nice and hot. Man, it never tasted so good.

“Damned good, Ma, damned good soup. Boy, I sure missed your home cooking.” I said between gobbling it down and thinking of all the C rations I had to eat since the last time I ate my mom’s cooking.

“I’ve got the fridge full of your favorite food, Phil. Got corned beef and rye bread, cole slaw, potato salad, corn on the cob, salad with home made dressing and gonna make barley soup and cabbage soup, got lamb chops and T bone stake and baked potatoes. Gonna put a few pounds on you before you have to leave again.”

“Good. I can use a few more pounds.” I said as I tried to not make it so obvious that I was in a hurry to run over to Marissa’s.

I stalled as long as I could but as soon as I was done with my third bowl of soup and ate two handfuls of my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies I got up and said: “Well, I’d better get over there.”

“Okay, Phil, you held out for an hour, that’s pretty good.” My Mom sighed and I ran out the door and fired up my 57 Chevy and burned rubber down the road.

Back from Nam



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Coming Home from Vietnam Part 1

I had just gotten back from a year in Vietnam and my uncle Monty picked up and at the airport in San Francisco and said, “You gotta see this.” He took me to Haight Ashbury, the zenith of the hippie movement. We walked up and down the streets for a half hour with me in my army uniform and my eyes bulging out in disbelief. Young people were sitting on the sidewalk, singing and chanting and eating and smoking pot and dancing and some of them hardly had any clothes on. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was seeing or if I could believe my eyes but I felt a sudden surge of excitement going right through my body. I wanted to get back into Uncle Monty’s car and wanted to run from Monty at the same time and tear off my army uniform and join the hippies.

But who were these hippies? Were these the people I’ve always dreamed about who might come to rescue us — rescue me — from going down that lonesome road of selfishness and caring only about ourselves? Have they come now to show us a new way of life where we work together in a society of cooperation? I mean they were saying: “Hey, brother, what you doing in that uniform? Why don’t you come join us?” Were they serious? “Come on now, look at this beautiful young lady who’d love to be with you right now. You know you want to join us.” Could they be serious?

“Peace, brother, peace.” they kept saying to me as I walked quickly by and that lovely, long haired girl kept saying: “Make love, not war.” as she held her hand out to me. Did she really mean that?

Monty drove us back to his house and put me up in his basement. Could I go find that beautiful girl again who asked me to be with her? Hey, I’m willing. I got out of my uniform, shoved it back into my duffle bag and got ready to leave.

“You want to go with me tomorrow to see about getting a job selling insurance like I do, Phil?”

“Ah, gee, thank you, Monty, that’s a nice offer but I think I’m ready to go see my mom and dad and make up for lost time. I’ve been away a long time. Maybe I’ll come back up here after a while and think about that though.”

“Well, now’s a good time if you’re interested. I’m in pretty good with the boss and could probably get you a job right away. Might be a good idea to wear your uniform tomorrow morning.”

“Ah, well, thank you, Monty but I gotta go home and visit my folks before I do anything else. I’ll be leaving in the morning. You think you can give me a ride to the airport?”

“Well, tomorrow’s a busy day for me. I might be able to give you a ride Monday morning but I’m pretty busy for the next few days.”

“But today’s only Thursday!”

“Well, you can come to work with me tomorrow and see how you like it until then. What do you say?”

Next morning I was up and out the door by 5 AM carrying my duffle bag without even saying goodbye to Monty, his wife or to her mother who also lived with them. I asked the first person I saw on the street how to get to the airport. He said to catch the streetcar to the Greyhound Station and take the Greyhound to the airport. I asked  him how to get back to Haight Ashbury. He told me it was several miles in the opposite direction. I walked carrying bags to the streetcar and a few hours later I was being picked up by my parents at LAX.

“Man, it sure feels good to be home. It feels funny to not have to worry about snipers and booby traps now. It does seem a little strange to see how the  hippies wear the wide bell bottom pants that kinda looks like what the Vietnamese wear, not to mention everything else that’s weird about the hippies. Are there hippies in LA?”

“Oh, yeah, they’re all over the place. Dad likes to go to the beach and watch the girls skinny-dipping at Venice Beach.”

“Yeah? Really? Hey, that sounds like fun.”

“Yeah, nice to see young people enjoying themselves like nature intended.” my dad answered with a smile.

“Yeah, that’s what nature intended, huh? Going around and showing the world your naked body?” my mom asked as she gave my dad a look of disapproval.

I guess not everything had changed after all.

Phil Coming Home

Part 2 coming up


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The Beatles and The 60’s

I remember driving my 50 Chevy on my way to pick up my girlfriend early one morning to get us to Wilson High School without being tardy when The Beatles song, “From Me to You” came on the radio and I felt this sense of excitement shoot through my body like a bolt of lighting.

I thought to myself, “There’s the sound I’ve been waiting for!” I could feel my heart beating with inspiration and passion.

As I pulled up to my girlfriends house I couldn’t get myself to turn off the radio before I heard the DJ say who sang that song. Getting to my first period class on time suddenly wasn’t important. When I heard it was The Beatles, I promised myself I’d go out and get that record as soon as school was out for the day.

The Beatles were not only a musical but also a global cultural phenomenon influencing everything including the hippie movement and the sexual revolution that promoted free love.

The Beatles influence on rock music and popular culture was, and remains to this day, immense. Their commercial success started an almost immediate wave of changes—including a shift from US global dominance of  rock and roll to UK acts, from soloists to groups, from professional songwriters to self-penned songs, and to changes in fashion. It was called The British Invasion.

The Beatles were influenced by black music, notably by rock and roll and rock and roll musicians like Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, Isley Brothers, and the “King of rock” Elvis Presley (surprisingly it was a white man who was dubbed the King of rock and roll).

Prior to The Beatles’ influence, records albums were of secondary consideration to singles (“45s”) in mass marketing. Albums contained largely “filler” material (unexceptional songs) along with one or two hits. The Beatles rarely incorporated singles as part of their albums, thus defining the albums as more important. Back then people knew the name of the song and not the name of the artist. The Beatles changed all that.

And the Beatles films, “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964) and “Help!” (1965)and the revolutionary camera techniques together with short lines of dialogue and rapid editing cuts to the beat were all seen as the precursor to the modern rock video.

The Beatles were the first entertainment act to stage a large stadium concert. At Shea Stadium, New York City on Sunday, 15 August 1965 the group opened their 1965 North American tour to a record audience of 55,600. The event sold out in 17 minutes. It was the first concert to be held at a major outdoor stadium and set records for attendance and revenue generation, demonstrating that outdoor concerts on a large scale could be successful and profitable. The Beatles returned to Shea for a very successful encore in August 1966.

The Beatles electrified culture so much that it became known as Beatlemania. Theiy style including The Beatle haircut, also known as the mop-top because so popular that it was widely imitated worldwide between 1964 and 1966.

Their hair-style led toy manufacturers to begin producing real-hair and plastic “Beatle Wigs”.In late 1961. Paul McCartney said in a 1979 radio interview: “We saw a guy in Hamburg whose hair we liked. John and I were hitchhiking to Paris. We asked him to cut our hair like he cut his.”

George Harrison explained in a 60s interview that it was John and I having our hair cut in Paris which prompted him to do the same.

Up until the Beatles hair style became popular, men’s hair was kept so short that in 1963 I was kicked out of school and sent to a barber shop because my hair was maybe an inch and a half long. I remember going to a barber shop and seeing his sign placed right across from the barber chair saying: “Doctors recommend getting a hair cut every 10 days for sanitary reasons.”

Soon after that my English teacher sent me to the princapal’s office and the princiapl took me to the bathroom and handed me a razor because evidently I needed to shave but I hadn’t even begun to shave yet. I had no idea what I was doing but I had to learn to shave right there and then.

Nowadays nobody thinks anything of long hair or a beard on a man but back then it was seen as an act of rebellion.

During the psychedelic era of 1967-1968, The Beatles popularised bright colors, and wore paisley suits and shirts and pants with floral patterns. The Beatles also popularised Indian-influenced fashions such as collarless shirts and sandals.

By the late 1960s, The Beatles had adopted trends toward more casual fashions, with t-shirts, blue jeans, and denim jackets. Lennon also popularised wearing solid white suits, reflecting an interest in minimalist design that also influenced the cover of the album “The Beatles”. This mixture of casual wear and unconventional formal clothing could be seen in The Beatles’ later years as they grew beards and drifted towards more hippie and Indian clothing including Chelsea boots (with the addition of Cuban heels) that were soon called Beatle Boots.

Unlike most artists and musical groups of even today, The Beatles music covers everything from pop to rock and roll to blues and experimental avant guard music. From vocal harmonies to playful country solo songs sung by Ringo. They were one of the first acts to do their own music and the excitement they expressed in their sound was electrifying. They became the de facto leaders of the global youth culture. They influenced everything from fashion to education. From social thought to political ideas and action.

To this day, I don’t think anybody comes close to doing what The Beatles did musically or any other way. I call them the gods of music but they influenced a lot more than music. As far as I’m concerned, The Beatles sparked “The 60’s.”

I was heartbroken when The Beatles broke up in 1970. I thought I heard the news wrong. What?! How could that be?

The Beatles were probably the most important influence on me changing from being a who I was as a cholo to becoming part of the global phenomenon that was set to change the values of society from selfishness to cooperation. It felt like the most exciting, invigorating, dynamic time of my life. “Here we go. Now life is going to be a whole lot better for everybody!” I thought to myself – but instead today we have Tea Party Republicans who just want to make sure they get theirs and couldn’t care less about anything else, the direct antithesis of what The Beatles represented to me at the time.

Beatles John, Paul, George and Ringo, 1965

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An Assualt on the Nervous System

I  grew up in LA where all the traffic and hustle and bustle and gray skies seemed normal to me. When I heard the term, “blue skies” I didn’t know what that meant until I was 11 years old and my mom and dad took me and my older brother Richard along with them to visit Yosemite National Park.

Once we were outside of LA and into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, my mom turned around in the front seat and asked me, How do you like the scenery?” “Huh? Scenery?” I answered. I guess being an 11 year old kid, I hadn’t noticed. I was more interested in me and Richard sticking out stocking feet out of the back windows to feel the cooler air rush through our toes and filling up our pant legs. “Yes, look at all the trees and the blue sky.” my mom said. Suddenly I took a look at the wide open space and tall trees and the blue sky and I felt this overwhelming sense of peace and quiet.

Naturally we only vacationed in Yosemite for a few days and were soon back in LA where I noticed that there were no tall trees or open space or blue skies. Instead there was a lot of concrete and pavement and buildings and traffic and noise and smoggy skies.

When I was 13 years old my mom and dad and my brother Richard went back to Yosemite for a vacation and again I felt the overwhelming sense of peace and quiet. This time we stayed for two weeks and when it was time to go back to LA I felt myself not wanting to leave Yosemite and promising myself that I’d be back.

Ten years later, when I was 23 years old, I had a girlfriend named Judy who also grew up in LA and I asked her if she’d like to go with me to visit Yosemite. She said yes and we jumped in my VW bug and drove up into the wide open spaces of Yosemite. This time Judy and I both felt the overwhelming sense of peace and quiet. We decided to move out of LA as soon as possible so once we both graduated college we moved to Ventura, next to the ocean. It was 1972 and there was still a lot of open space with strawberry fields and tall eucalyptus trees and blue skies in Ventura but we could see the area was being built up quickly with millions of people moving into the area and away from LA.

Although it hurt me to move away from my mom and dad and friends and relatives and my roots, Judy and I moved to Chico, CA in 1975 to continue our education. Judy went to nursing school and became an RN and a public health nurse. I took art classes until my GI Bill ran out. During that time, Judy and I broke up but we both stayed in Chico and shared raising our 2 year old son, Joshua.

Eventually Chico, much like Ventura, was busy filling in every open space and cutting down the orchard trees and getting more traffic and crime and smog as bad as LA’s smog so in 1992, Sweet Lady T and I moved to Forest Ranch, about 15 miles out of Chico, up into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada where there is still a lot of open space and trees and blue skies. Now that I’ve been living here for close to 12 years I find myself so accustomed to the peace and quiet and the beautiful trees surrounding us and the blue skies that I find it not easy to leave even for the day to drive to Chico, not to mention going to a bigger city like Sacramento or San Francisco or the 8 hour drive down Highway 5 to LA.

Noise pollution causes several health hazards. Doctors have concluded that noise pollution is the biggest cause of several diseases. This can harm individual’s ear drums leading to listening problems. It causes hypertension, high blood pressure, headache and stress.

I find the noise from motor vehicles, horns, loud parties, radios, barking dogs, construction, airplanes and leaf blowers an assault on the nervous system and research shows that although people might not be consciously aware of it, noise affects the human nervous system enough so that it causes illness and disease, not to mention actually making people do rash things such as the article reported in the paper (Oct, 29, 2013: The headline reads: “Barking Dogs May Have Sparked Arizona Family Slaying That Killed 4.” The article states that in Phoenix, Arizona: ”For months Michael Guzzo complained to neighbors about the incessant dog barking.” The neighbors didn’t quiet the dogs so this past weekend, police say “Guzzo went on a rampage, methodically killing four members of a family and their two dogs and lived next door before killing himself with the same shotgun.”

Yes, this may be an extreme example how noise does affect people but it does affects all of us and probably even affects deaf people because they can feel the sound waves hitting their bodies and are also aware of the assault on their nervous system.

So I, as well as millions of other people have moved out of the cities and many other people are looking for an escape from the incessant assault on our collective nervous system.

I hope sometime in the near future that we as a society will learn that our environment, including our air, our water, our land, our food and peace and quiet are as important, if not more so than whatever we get out of disturbing our collective nervous systems.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Is this what we want to do to our nervous system?

traffic What about this?



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Sibling Rivalry

Parents usually try to teach their children to treat each other fairly and that’s a good thing but I was the youngest of four children, all boys. One of the first things I had to learn was that there were 3 older, bigger, stronger and faster kids than me in the household. So I learned it didn’t pay to try to fight them because I wasn’t going to win, especially when a parent wasn’t within earshot. And I think I remember hearing my dad say to my mom that I needed to learn to fend for myself.

I remember the older kids “teaching” me games that I thought was going to be fun but since I always seemed to have to lose, it may have been fun for them but it wasn’t so much fun for me.

I was always the little kid brother and I felt cheated because I rarely got anything new. Instead, I got hand-me-down clothes and discarded and usually worn out and/or broken toys. I didn’t really mind much because whatever my three brothers were playing with or were wearing, would usually sooner or later become mine. Toys were a little beat up and the clothes were usually a little worn and baggy but I didn’t have to worry about breaking or ruining anything that was new.

I was a lot smaller and younger than the older boys were, which made me the little kid who didn’t get to go with the big boys much but I guess in the end, it all equaled out because now that many years have passed, I’m still the youngest brother and suddenly it’s not as much fun to be one of the older ones. I’ve got more years left to do what I want to do and now, I may not be older than they are but I am bigger, stronger and faster.

Of course as we all got older our relationships changed. I grew up closest to the brother who was only 3 years older than me. We pretty much did everything together, shared the same room, had the same friends, went to the same school at the same time (until he was transferred to different school when I was in the 1st grade and he was in the 4th grade. That changed things for us).

My oldest brother (10 years older) and I have been very close. He was like a surrogate father to me and took me places and did things with me that my father didn’t have time to do. We’re still close today. My brother who is 8 years older than I am seemed to always be too busy to spend time with me. Once we got older and all moved out and found ourselves many hundreds of miles away from each other, we’d all get together a couple times a year for the holidays but that was pretty much it. Once our parents passed away we were lucky to see each other even that much.

Now that I have children of my own, I realize that siblings are going to fight and sometimes they’re going to feel that they’re being cheated and treated unfairly. I guess that gives them some life experience to be ready so that when they get out into the real world of work, relationships and bosses it won’t come quite as much of a shock when they feel that their bosses, colleagues and relationships are treating them unfairly.

At least for us younger siblings that might be the case. And the older ones? Well, they just might have to work at it a little bit harder.

They say time is a healer. I think that’s true. I also think time is a teacher and maybe that’s the same thing.

Bob, Paul, Me & Rich at Hazard St house @ 1949I’m the littlest one on the front left.

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