Featured below are a diverse group of classmates whose narratives are just as varied. Some write about high school days and others share their passions since then. Whether their stories are funny, sad or serious, we’ll all learn a little more about what makes the Class of ’62 tick.
While many of us are trying to stay awake for the 10 o’clock news, our classmate Drew Cottril is in his studio creating a new Mask painting for his Master’s in Fine Arts at Georgia Southern University. He also paints and sells beautiful landscape paintings. Check them out http://strl.info/artist-exhibit-drew-cottril.
Not long after I sent in my bio, Kathy emailed me and asked if I would think about writing something for the Voices series. In my book, that makes her one very brave lady. Obviously I said yes, so here it goes. Art has been my life’s passion; I think it was the 6th grade when I knew I would be an artist, and it was in high school that I became fascinated with the human face, with its plasticity, its subtle moves, its ability to elicit such a wide range of emotions–all this fascinated me.
It was here I picked up what some would call a bad habit: staring. It was not really a stare, more a close examination of facial features. I have been approached a few times with “What are you looking at, bud?” I came across this quote by Evins Straume that describes in many ways my search: “People say I make strange choices, but they’re not strange for me. My sickness is that I’m fascinated by human behavior, by what’s underneath the surface, the world inside people. “
So I want to talk about art and the human face and what I am working on now. A few years back I did a painting based on the psychology and sociology inherent in corruption and abuse of power. This painting used the metaphor of the multi-faced politician being controlled by his benefactors, and this first painting leads to so many questions–why do we not look deeper into those in power?
I am now working on a series of paintings exploring the themes of power, evil and corruption. My intent is to illustrate the hidden face, the one behind the smiling politician, the one presented by tyrants and dictators who have presented themselves as caring about ”The people”. What is behind that face? The exploration has led me to my primary content that will be the basis of my theme.
The Mask. Man has used them over the eons. You will find them on every continent, in every culture, and anthropologists have discovered masks used in all levels of man’s cultural evolution. The Mask has power, Masks have spirituality, Masks are fearful, and
Masks can represent our true unspoken emotions. The Mask can be used to conceal true intent. Masks are used to heal and condemn. Masks can be threatening and entertaining. There are many cultures in the world today that understand the power of masks.
We here in Western culture have all worn one mask or another–at Halloween or at New Year’s Eve. These are the metaphors for alter egos. Most of the Western societies have abandoned the carved wood mask, replacing them with paper or plastic, but these too hold a subtle power. The Masks we wear now in Western culture we learned to wear as children, then in business and in social settings. Many only take off these social masks in the company of trusted friends and family. There are some, though, who never take their masks off–it is their hiding place. And it is these faces that I paint, revealing their true faces.
One can follow linear time back for thousands of years and see those who used the Mask to gain power, and this can also be seen as cyclical time, the unending reappearance of corruption and evil which, for all our gains in science, psychology, medicine, and engineering, we still seem unable to solve.
I have done hundreds of drawings and dozens of paintings to create a surface and a feel that works. I paint these subjects in a heavy impasto, let the pigment dry for a day or two then scrape off the surface, I repeat this over and over to reveal
the unmasked face of corruption. As an artist I must get inside myself and create, and becoming my subject is hard work, draining in fact. It is hard to describe. There is one quote that says it best for me. “Adversity is merely the surface on which we render our souls most exacting likeness.”
Wish I could be there with you. Lift a glass for me. God bless you all
Drew Cottril – Lost in the Georgia woods.
Carl Watkins is our reunion-night DJ. We thought you’d be interested in the path that led him to his career in radio and working as a DJ. When you hear him speaking this weekend, you’ll agree he has the voice for it too!
I attended Washington Elementary. One day in third grade during recess, Billy Baugh showed me how he could light up a flashlight bulb with a “D” cell (battery) and a short wire. I was amazed!!! When I got home that night I asked my dad to go to Thrifty’s and buy me a flashlight bulb so I could do the same. And he did. That’s where it started.
When I was in fourth grade, Mr. Orwall brought a Webcor tape recorder into his bungalow classroom to give each student the opportunity to speak into the microphone and to hear it played back. Again, I was amazed! It was another epiphany for me!
I earned $13 per month from my Herald American paper route, and over the next few months I saved up $93 to buy a tape recorder. My mom realized that I was serious since I rarely saved anything. So on December 22, 1955, she drove me to White Front discount store, and she added the rest of the money to buy a “Voice of Music” tape recorder for the wholesale price of $134.75. After that I never saved a penny again. It was three days before Christmas, and I learned how to record my favorite songs off of the radio. I soon had my dad building me small wooden boxes to house extra speakers that I mounted under the eaves of our house. Connecting them with long wires leading back through my bedroom window to my tape recorder, I could play my music in several places outside.
Electronics and pop music soon defined me. I made friends with Dennis Haarsager and Bruce Mueller who were also interested in electronics. When I was attending Hosler Jr. High, Bruce, Dennis, and my next door neighbor, Clyde Clayton, a ham operator, taught me how to build a small high voltage power supply where I could charge up capacitors and short them out making sparks that sounded like exploding firecrackers – definitely fun for boys!
Here is another life-directing event that could only have been inspired by God. In 1948 my parents bought their new house in Lynwood of all places. They couldn’t have known what would happen later. At Lynwood High School, I had the rare privilege of being a student in Mr. Kuklish’s Electronics Shop classes. To our knowledge, no other high school in the Los Angeles area offered such classes. In those four years I learned nearly enough to have received an electronics technical degree at a junior college. I owed the success of my future to Mr. Kuklish. It defined me once again.
However, unlike Bruce and Dennis who went on to become licensed ham operators, my attention was given to radio stations. I loved listening to KPOP, KRLA, KFWB, KDAY, and KHJ. When I was a junior, I came to realize that I wanted to be one of those DJs. As a self-perceived nerd in high school, I thought being a DJ might help me gain social acceptance. My parents encouraged me to become an electrical engineer, which certainly was my desire too, but my greater longing was to become a DJ.
After graduation, I attended BYU, but I just couldn’t get my heart around basic college classes. So I came home and worked some odd jobs still thinking about becoming a DJ. But in the large Los Angeles market there was little opportunity to begin as a DJ. That was done in a small isolated town at minimum wage.
However, with my interest in electronics, when I was 20 I decided to build my own radio station – in my bedroom. Using some familiar tubes and other parts, I built a transmitter of my own design that put out about 7 watts on the AM broadcast band. The antenna was a fine long wire that ran from my bedroom window to the eave and overhead to the tree in our front yard, doubling back to a couple of power poles in back of our house. Alan Coalson (Class of ’64), helped me play 45 RPM records and talk on the air from my bedroom. We called it KLOD – ‘Clod Radio’ – how funny!
We turned it on each afternoon after we got home from work. First we were at 1610, just below the police calls. But some radios couldn’t tune up that high, so I finally adjusted it down to 1210, the perfect frequency! We even got requests from some Lynwood kids I knew. What a blast!
However, the signal was a little too strong toward Pales Verdes – where the FCC monitoring station was located. It only took a couple of weeks at 1210 before a man from the FCC showed on my street with a special direction-finder radio inquiring of my neighbors about an illegal radio station. The neighbors were cool, but he soon discovered the antenna wire running to our front yard tree and knew exactly where we were. I was at work when he knocked on our front door. My mom invited him in and brought him back to my bedroom.
There it was – the boot-leg KLOD-rig, along with my framed 2nd Class FCC license hanging on the wall, which gave me absolutely no authority to operate this transmitter. When I got home from work, my mom informed me that I had a visitor – from the FCC. Ah-Oh! Well, he asked me to explain to him the design of my transmitter. And he informed me of the potential fine of $10,000 per day of illegal operation. But since I was not advertising anything, he would not recommend a fine. He was actually pretty nice, but he told me not to operate it again, or he would confiscate my transmitter and impose a fine. So the KLOD chapter ended. It was fun while it lasted!
From my childhood, I was a religious boy who attended the LDS Church. Since my adventure with KLOD and the FCC didn’t make a felon out of me, I was asked by the church to serve for two years as a missionary in Montana, eastern Idaho and North Dakota. I had some wonderful experiences working with people there, and also had a few opportunities to record religious programs at local radio stations.
After my mission, I decided it was time to make my move to radio broadcasting in little St. Anthony, Idaho while attending nearby Rick College. I recorded some of my early shows, which are painful for me to listen to today. But it was my starting place, and I later worked at Top-40 stations in Provo, Salt Lake City, Santa Maria, San Bernardino, Denver, Phoenix, Fresno, and San Diego. While in Provo in 1971, I married my sweet wife Linda and began a family.
I have worked at a lot of stations in different towns climbing the ladder over the years. I got fired at some and quit at others for a better job. It reminds me of a funny line attributed to Charlie Tuna: “Do you know how you can tell how long a disc jockey has been in the business? – by the size of his U-Haul.” How true!!! We could see that our family life wasn’t a stable one like the one I had growing up in Lynwood. We longed to find a good station in a good town that believed in long term goals, even if it wasn’t the highest paying job – so our kids could all grow up in the same town and graduate from the same high school. Well, that finally happened.
In 1988, seventeen years after we were married and after our 7th child was born, we moved to Blackfoot, Idaho where I worked both as a DJ and the engineer for a good man at a great group of radio stations. I was also happy to be back in Blackfoot as I had served there as a missionary in 1967.
When the stations were sold for the 3rd time in December 2003, my employment there ended. We still live in Blackfoot, but all our kids are gone now, and we have 15 grandchildren. I have converted our downstairs den into a recording studio and spend most of my time producing a radio show called the “Sounds of Sunday.” There’s no illegal transmitter here, but the show is carried over 16 radio stations each Sunday from Idaho to Arizona to Alabama and growing – paid for by Social Security. I eventually hope to have some good sponsors to compensate me for my time and to defray expenses.
I am doing something I have always wanted – to use my broadcasting experience to inspire listeners everywhere to have faith in Jesus Christ through some of the most wonderful music and messages to be heard. I get some great emails from a few listeners that encourage me. It’s impossible to know all the good that results from the show, but I hope to continue serving God in this way to make the world a better place. What better thing could I hope to do in my retirement? Retirement? -what’s that?
See my webpage: www.soundsofsunday.com. I invite all to listen any time at www.soundsofsunday247.com or with a “Sounds of Sunday 24/7” smartphone APP
If you read Diana’s bio, you will see she achieved the success her status of Class Co-Valedictorian predicted. Here, though, she shares her passion for the on-line charity she founded and asks us all us to think about joining her cause.
DIANA KOPP (MCDONOUGH)
It is hard to believe that we are old enough to have a 50th reunion; I still feel like I’ve barely grown up. But there are certain evidences to prove that is not the case – i.e. gray hair, wrinkly skin, hearing on the wane and so on and so forth – familiar to everyone, no doubt. One other evidence of our age, my dear husband Pat died two months ago, on July 20. I had actually bought a ticket for both of us to come to the reunion, even though I knew in my heart of hearts it was unlikely he would make it. But that was not to be. And happily my old and best friend Judy Johnson and her husband Tony Krulic will keep me company, and I know when I see all of you I will be cheered up.
But I’m really writing this because I wanted to take the opportunity of sharing with you something I am really proud of – Global Grandmothers. I started this with a few friends two years ago. You can read all about us http://www.globalgrandmothers.org and I hope some of you will decide you would like to join. When you join Global Grandmothers you commit to giving to children in need when you give to your own grandkids, a simple concept, and one I thought would do a little something towards evening up the inequities of the world. Here’s my explanation from the site.
The Birth of Global Grandmothers: Diana’s Story
After my granddaughter was born I couldn’t believe how she captivated me — so perfect in each detail, so fragile, — and so promising! But I was bothered too – by how much she enjoyed when so many children in the world had so little. By an accident of fate my granddaughter was born into a loving family in the world’s richest country while an equally-deserving baby with loving parents was born into poverty and privation. How unfair the world seemed – and how little I was doing about it!
That was when I conceived of Global Grandmothers. The basic idea was simple – give to a child in need when you give to a grandchild – linked giving. Let the world’s children benefit from the pooled generosity of caring grandmothers. A simple method, I thought, would be to establish a website where grandmothers – and other caring individuals – could register their commitment to linked giving, keep track of that commitment, and contribute to organizations effective in supporting children worldwide. Maybe I could also make my grandchild aware of that linked gift, and global need, at the same time. Global Grandmothers would not seek funds for itself. Instead, it would be a conduit. It would generate commitment and facilitate giving to child-centered charities. I purchased the web domains “global grandmothers.com” and “global grandmothers.org.”
On August 23, 2009 I read the New York Times Magazine article “Why Women’s Rights Are the Cause of Our Time” by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDann. The article announced the “Half the Sky Contest” asking readers to write about their efforts to address women and girls’ issues worldwide. Forcing myself to get serious, I submitted the Global Grandmothers’ idea. Although I didn’t win, it motivated me to engage others in this project, to incorporate, and to establish a website! By April 2010 Global Grandmothers was incorporated and by October it received federal 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Our website went live on January 18, 2011.
If you are reading this, you are one of the hundreds, thousands, and ultimately millions of people I hope will become Global Grandmothers. Please join me in linked giving – when you give to a child you know and love, give to a child in need. See you soon, Diana
Kandice is the only classmate (that we are in contact with) that lives in another country. When she sent in her bio, we loved it so much, we decided to post it on our “Voices from the Class of ’62” page so that no one would miss it. Kandice asked us to extend her invitation to all classmates to look her up the next time you go to Paris.
KANDICE BLAKELY (VETTIER)
How does chance and choice shape our lives? I feel like I have led three lives: Mother, hunter, professional.
What happened to me after we graduated from Lynwood High School? The day Kennedy was shot I was just coming out of my biology class at Compton Jr. College. I was sure that whatever happened; he would be saved. What a naïve young thing I was. From August 11 to August 15, 1965 the Watts riots were burning just as I settled in my dormitory on the USC campus. When I was in dental hygiene school at USC, I met my French husband, Jacques, just as he was about to return to Paris and start his medical practice. We dated for three months. I then visited Paris the following summer and we married soon after, just in time for me to arrive in France during a cultural revolution that turned into a national crisis. The May 1968 riots saw General de Gaulle, then president, moving out of Paris with everyone wondering where he was. Some imagined tankers surrounding Paris, so my husband suggested sending me to Belgium and then to the USA where he would join me when he could. This never happened, but it was an exciting time in Paris with tear bombs and students throwing the pavement rocks at the police.
When I arrived in Paris, weighing in at 95 pounds, I felt like I was home at last. Not that I did not miss my family, but I strangely felt this is where I belonged. So off, to the Sorbonne University to learn French, French history and literature. Later I took classes at the Ecole du Louvre for art history. However, the most amusing classes to follow were cooking of course, and I discovered I could enjoy food rather than just breakfast, my favorite meal. Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was my savior. I would read a recipe, go to the open market and then dig in. My French husband came home for lunch every day.
What next? My husband started hunting in a very serious way, so I said to myself; if I do not join him, then I will never see him, since he works such long hours during the week. I started by learning to skeet shoot from one of the best schools in England: Holland and Holland. My good-looking instructor was Rex Gage; how is that name for a calling? From small game: pheasant, partridge and grouse, I graduated to a rifle. We hunted deer in France, roe deer in England and lots of other game throughout the world. Jacques published his book translated in English called Big Game Shooting in Africa, Asia and Elsewhere. There is a chapter written by me about British Columbia. I think it is out of print now. But this is not what I really want to be remembered for.
My husband and I remained married 25 years, but as all of you who have children know, the wonder of life is the new lives we bring in to this world. My Guillaume, age 40, and Vanessa, age 37, gift me with lots of joy, friendship and intellectual challenges. My new, only grandchild, Lucie, is a pure delight.
While living in Paris I have always been active in the American community. I served as a trustee on the board of the American Library in Paris which gave me the opportunity to chair charity galas at the American Embassy and the Chateau de Versailles. One of my guest speakers was Helmut Newton. His wife, known as Alice Springs, photographed me with Vanessa in her christening gown. This portrait hangs in the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. There is an exhibition of Alice Springs going on right now at the photography museum called Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, de la ville de Paris in the 4th area of Paris. The photograph of Vanessa and I stands proudly next to famous people. If you “Google” my name Kandice Vettier, this portrait always comes up in sales.
From this beginning at fund raising with the ALP library, I pursued a career with the National Museums of France. I was the development officer for the Guimet Museum for a major and very successful renovation campaign. Jacques Chirac thanked me with an award called the National Honor of Merit. My director named
me the most Parisian American in Paris at the awards ceremony. In France I did not have the opportunity to practice dental hygiene since my diplomas were not recognized. However the chance came in August of 2001 when I moved back to California to see more of my family and live with an American graduate from Cal Tech. I updated my license to practice hygiene in six months with continuing education classes. This was a blessing since the events of Sept 11, 2001 overturned the economy and the attitude towards Americans coming from abroad.
The future offers new challenges. I am now retired, living in Paris since 2010, enjoy learning bridge, a bit of squash and am an avid reader. My walking tours of France continue in the South of France when I can get away with family and friends. And yes, the French do take lots of vacations. It is part of your medical health to have a break too. Sounds like a good prescription, doesn’t it?
The only classmate I keep in touch with from Lynwood High School is Paul Reggiardo, who attended USC dental school when I was in dental hygiene school; we had a few classes together. The other friends from Lynwood High I enjoy are Jerrilynn and Roxann Langum, but they were not in our class. My sister, Dianne, is still married to a Lynwood high school graduate, Lance Windsor. They live not far away in Arcadia and have always been our U.S. anchors.
In her book, For Love, Sue Miller writes, “People become what they are over time. There’s a kind of cumulative meaning of life. We are the detritus of our previous lives.” My birth and upbringing in California, becoming Jacques’ wife, and two professional careers shaped what I am today. The best is still motherhood with Guillaume and Vanessa, and now, granddaughter Lucie! And yes, I weigh 110 pounds at 5 feet 3 inches and have met another, really nice, Frenchman. I did not dance with a tiger or play like a whip but I lead an interesting life.
We all like to believe that everybody growing up in Lynwood had an All-American family life. That wasn’t true with our next classmate, but her story has a happy ending. We wanted her to share it because it was made possible, at least in part, because of our upcoming 50th reunion.
JUDI BUCHANAN (GERSTENFELD)
I am still mystified by how I got to this point in my life and cannot believe that I am actually going to our 50-Year Class Reunion! I have never been to any of the reunions prior to this one and only even considered going once, to the ten-year reunion.
Growing up in Lynwood was not the “Beaver Cleaver experience” for me as it was for a lot of you. I won’t bore you with all the details but my home life kept me from joining in on a lot of school activities. I did have a few friends that I rode bikes and roller skated with in my old neighborhood around Washington Elementary School during the 5th and 6th grades, which is when we moved to Lynwood. I remember more about elementary school than any other time during my years in Lynwood. I recall Mrs. Salmon had a ’55 Ford T-Bird, working in the school cafeteria, being in plays in the Cafetorium, shooting hoops, playing foursquare on the playground and going to summer recreation activities in a little bungalow on Sanborn. Hosler Junior High is kind of a blur to me. I do remember walking back to class through the park after 2nd period swim class….ugh…always a bad hair day there and being in Mr. Funk’s class….who could forget a name like that?
The days at Lynwood High are a bit of a blur also. However, I did meet my BFF Christine Delaby Anderson who was the first real friend I had in my youth. Somehow we have remained close over the years even though we lost touch with each other for a long time. We hung out with a small group of girls back then including Gloria Birtch, Donna Squillante, Pat Reilly, Cheryl Bower, Frankie Clem and Nancy Garcia. Early in my senior year I met my future husband Frank, a man many years older than me and lost total interest in school. All I could think about was getting married and leaving Lynwood. I never had my senior picture taken nor did I buy the Accolade for 1962, but I still have the yearbooks for the three other years….Thank God for that!
Fast forward to January 25, 2011 when my second husband, Steven, passed away after 37 years of marriage. We lived in the same house in Mesa, Arizona for 33 of those years. We never had any children, but we were very close….then he was gone! One month before that I lost my job of 28 years as a Controller for the Volvo dealer in Scottsdale, after they filed bankruptcy and sold to a mega dealer in Tempe.
A girlfriend of mine suggested that I join Facebook and that saved me from the depths of despair. Wow…that sounds a bit dramatic, doesn’t it? Well, it was! Soon I found a couple of groups whose members were from Lynwood and found myself joining in on all the conversations about the past. Most of the members were younger than me but they all enjoyed the pictures that I posted. They called it “the Lynwood that they had missed”. One day as I was scanning pictures from my sophomore yearbook to upload into an album, I saw a familiar face in a sports team photo. I looked him up on Facebook and sent him a private message. “Hi Bob, do you remember me?” The next day he answered back. “Yeah, sure I do.” Of course, he lied. We chatted about the old days, the upcoming 50-year reunion, the book he was writing about his law enforcement career and a million other things. When I discovered that he needed someone to edit his book, I volunteered and he drove the 250 miles from Bullhead City to take me up on my offer. I will never forget that first kiss in my garage…wow…and that is how I got together with Bob Arnold.
Our whole relationship has been a whirlwind, as a lot of you have seen on Facebook. We discovered that we wrote in each other’s yearbooks in the freshman and sophomore years, but don’t recall any details of our relationship…just that we had no “relationship” back then. But we now feel as if we have known each other all our lives. We have finished Bob’s book, are together in Mesa, engaged to be married and are looking forward to the Reunion in October. We are truly blessed that we found each other this late in life and owe it all to Facebook and the LHS ’62 Class Reunion! See you all in Costa Mesa!
Running through most conversations about growing up in Lynwood is the observation that we were blessed to have received such a wonderful education. Today, however, our grandchildren are faced with the reality of America’s slipping education ranking versus the rest of the world. Read Judy Johnson’s bio and you’ll see she’s devoted much of her professional life to school reform and teacher development. She is Executive Director for the Cotsen Foundation for the ART of TEACHING and we’ve asked her to discuss what makes great teachers and how that type of success can be spread to other teachers and schools.
If you are like me, you probably can think of one or two teachers in your lifetime that have changed how you view yourself and the world, and thus, helped change your future. Those ‘magicians’ are the ones that challenge us; encourage us to dream and to achieve. Lloyd Cotsen, Founder, Cotsen Foundation
High school! I can’t say I remember a lot about it, but there are three teachers that I remember well. Mr. Seidel taught geometry as an exercise in logic and I learned from him to love solving problems. In history, Mr. Beals asked us to explore the “big ideas” like whether the American Revolution was actually a revolution or more of an evolution. Off to college I went majoring in history after that. Mrs. Rydeen, with her renowned red pen, showed me how to write well enough that my English professor at UCLA read my first college paper to the class as an example of how she wanted us to write. I continue to use what these three taught me and they remind me of how important teachers can be to us.
I’ve been in education as a career forever and for the last 25 years I have worked closely with teachers of kids in kindergarten through high school. I’ve learned from them about what doesn’t work in “school reform” and what does, what accomplished teaching looks like, how teachers learn to become great in their field and what the effects are on students who have those great teachers. What doesn’t work so well to make schools better is attacking the problems surrounding student learning from outside the classroom. So what we hear in the news or in political arenas about recruiting the best teachers and firing the worst, establishing alternative teacher certification programs, offering pay for teacher performance tied to student test scores, offering vouchers and charter schools, creating high standards for what is taught, getting rid of school boards or putting city mayors in charge of city schools do not solve our problems. Pieces of these ideas can help, but the greatest changes need to occur in classrooms with children and be in the hands of teachers.
What can work is letting teachers see in person the very best teaching done by colleagues who are exceptional and who succeed with students just like theirs. What can work is giving teachers time to plan with each other and examine the effects of their teaching on the children to determine what needs to be done next in order to do better. What can work is to give teachers coaches to help them hone their craft throughout their careers. Many things work well to solve our problem of helping students learn and most of them center around investing in the growth of teachers’ knowledge and skill so that they can be the best they can be.
Accomplished teaching looks different from teacher to teacher, but there are some things in common in great classrooms. Teachers draw the students into the subject and engage them in meaningful, purposeful work. Tasks are challenging and worth persisting in until achieved. Students are active, talkative with each other about the material, and expected to make reasoned arguments based upon evidence and logic. They are taught how to do that well. Great lessons are clear, coherent, purposeful, and meaningful. They are cumulative and build upon a foundation of knowledge and skill. The social setting of the class is cooperative with students working together to add to each other’s learning. With the best teachers instruction can be elegant, efficient and even artful. Most important, those teachers listen carefully to how students think about the material and then design the next lessons just for them based upon how those children think and what they do or do not understand.
I’ve been in hundreds of classrooms and seen what the very best teachers do for students of all ages. I’ve seen a four-year-old boy claim he is a physicist and is good at it; he talked exuberantly about how much he loves kindergarten. Five-year-olds in another school make up their own word problems and then solve them as a class. First graders use negative numbers and fractions with confidence. Third-grade kids pull out iPads and science equipment to collect data from a dozen experiments on how Newton’s First Law of Physics works. Fifth-graders hold “grand conversations” with each other about the themes of novels and the evidence for arguments put forth in nonfiction texts. High school students connect the dots between the history, literature, art or philosophy of the “Enlightenment.” These kids do important work and love doing it.
I remember three of my high school teachers who taught me to think differently and gave me useful tools. What I would love to see is younger generations of students remembering even more of their teachers because they taught with zest and made learning important and exciting. Going back to school with so many of these great teachers over the years has been a tremendous learning experience and great fun for me.
David shares a story about Mr. George Kennedy, his beloved cross country coach and math teacher, and the bittersweet lessons learned as a long-distance runner in high school. David was a scholar and runner-up for Most Outstanding Senior Boy, so perhaps he is a little hard on himself in this account.
Mr. Kennedy and the 1961-62 Cross Country Team
George Kennedy–no relation to the famous Kennedys–was from Boston and had a thick accent. He was very good at higher mathematics and kind of prided himself on his rebelliousness to the established hierarchy of the school social life. He was inspiring because he called students on any phony BS we tried to send his way. In other words he didn’t tolerate any kissing up. In Calculus class, he would do proofs of the math problems that sometimes took up both the front and the side blackboards. He also brought with his move from Boston a history of long-distance running as a young man in high school and college. Back in 1960-62, if you will remember, running wasn’t the big thing it is today. He had done a marathon before anyone had good shoes—there was no NIKE then and Prefontaine was still in grammar school.
The Lynwood long-distance running team was made up of skinny geeks who couldn’t make the football team and a lot of them were loner types. But Kennedy could spot what it took to do the distance and he encouraged some of the boys to try out. Only a few of the track team guys wanted to run the two mile; there just wasn’t any glory in it like you got from sprinting. He told me once after class that I should come and try out for the JV cross country team, saying I didn’t have to be coordinated or “one of the guys” to do well. He said I was such a “plodder and a stubborn little twerp” that I just might do OK. So I ran in the fall everyday after school and he worked us like slaves until dark. The JV team could only run about 14 guys at a meet and I was #14 on the roster. That was in 10th grade, and I was 14th on JV’s in the 11th. In ‘61 the Varsity had two or three good runners and one was Jay Pengra (class of ’61) who always finished two to three minutes ahead of whomever came in second. He got running scholarships to Cal State and some local schools and Kennedy rode him all the time for not being more ambitious and going to a bigger college. Jay took the record for the two-mile run for the whole state of California.
By ‘62 I was 7th on the Varsity roster. Cross country season, like football, was in the fall. As in all school athletics of the time, football was the well-funded, more glamorous sport and even the JV and B level players were given mention and pictures in the yearbook. Our “stadium” was full to capacity for the Friday night games but the Friday afternoon runs were barely attended. The yearbook staff passed our team by, never took pictures of us or even mentioned us in the ’62 Accolade, so most of you probably didn’t know that we won the Coast League Championship for cross country that year. Mr. Kennedy was so pissed off that no mention was made of that accomplishment and no awards given to the team members, he personally typed the words Coast League Champions on every single certificate. That’s the only souvenir I kept from high school. The certificate came with a purple and gold Varsity letter to sew on your letterman jacket, but I didn’t own one.
Looking back, I realize that in those days, distance running was not yet recognized and given its due glory. In the seventies the American Heart Association, the Olympics, and Prefontaine’s record-breaking runs in Eugene helped to draw attention to the sport and spawned the phenomena of nationwide marathons, ultra distance competitions, thousands of jogging fanatics and of course, Nike and their competitors in the sales of running shoes.
I was always a non-athlete type but Mr. Kennedy brought something out of me that gave me confidence in myself that has lasted my whole life. He probably isn’t still living; he had a heart condition even way back then, but he taught me something I’ve never forgotten. In math, sports or anything else, if you plod along and don’t give up you will eventually succeed at what you are meant to be. Yes, Mr. Kennedy and Jay Pengra have both been a lifelong inspiration to me, a non-athletic lay-about musician. They are proof that with hard work and desire a person can excel in life without the hype associated with success as an incentive.
Our Senior Class President was Al Martin. If you’ve read his bio, you know that he’s accomplished much in the fifty years since high school. He sure doesn’t take himself too seriously, however, as you’ll see in his humorous recollection of events in his life.
After reading a few of the bios and comments I feel that it is no wonder that we are carrying on for the greatest generation. When I was asked to write something besides a routine response to “what have you been doing these past 50 years” I had to think about the turning points I’ve experienced. Like many of our classmates my life has been one of some down times but also many great times. Growing up in Lynwood gave me a sense of security and a belief in the basic goodness of people. That feeling has carried me through life because I found that people are good.
My life has been enriched by teachers such as Mrs. Rydeen who taught me that if I applied myself I could become somewhat competent in English. The DI in basic who lifted me off the ground with a swift kick in the butt taught me to check and correct my position relative to others often. The patients who have taken me into their lives have shown me a better way to live. The mentors that I have had have taught me how to succeed in many ways. My wife has softened me with her love and concern. Now for a few good stories from my life.
That same DI who kicked me in the rear came into my life again while I was in the hospital at Clark Air Force base in the Philippines. One of the nurses was telling me of her husband who was in another ward. He had broken his foot a few years earlier when he kicked a recruit in the rear. When I asked his name I nearly fell out of the bed laughing because it was the same DI who had kicked me for not being in line. I hobbled up to his room and we both had a great time telling stories about our lives in the USAF.
Dental school also provided Renee and me with some wonderful times and many laughs. One day while on rotation at San Francisco General Hospital I was sent into a treatment room to evaluate and treat a patient. This was in 1973 and although most of the people from the Haight were gone, this guy was obviously still living the high life. He was dressed in hippie garb with several garlands of garlic around his neck. Before he would let me perform an examination he insisted that I take a bite of his garlic. When I asked why, he said he wanted me to eat some because then he would be sure I was not a vampire. Not wanting to fail at the task in front of my peers I told him to eat some and then he could ward off any lurking vampires. I then removed his abscessed tooth and he gave me a garland to ward off evil.
I would be remiss if I did not talk about all the great patients I have encountered over the years as a dentist. As I said earlier they often took Renee and I into their lives to share special moments. Sometimes they shared some very personal feelings. One young boy came in early (7am) one morning to have a filling done. He was very nervous and his dad wanted him to have laughing gas so he could have an easier time with the treatment. After about five minutes he bolted upright and projectile vomited orange juice. While cleaning him up I noticed a whole pickle lying on the floor. I picked it up and noticed that it did not have a single bite mark on it. I asked Tommy what he had for breakfast and he said he and his dad were running late so his dad gave him a pickle for breakfast but he did not like pickles that much so he swallowed it whole and gulped a cup of orange juice. You never know what to expect as a dentist.
Best to you all.
By now most of you know that I was in Law Enforcement for 37 years but you might be surprised to know that I had a second job during most of that time. Yes, a second job aside from being a cop! For 21 years I was a college referee and belonged to the PAC 10 Referees Association. I had been a referee for high school and junior college games for ten years and had been a member of the PAC 10 Association for five years, just waiting for my chance to referee a college game.
In 1982 I was finally called to replace an official that was killed on the way to referee a game. They asked me if I could be at the airport in one hour to fly to Phoenix, Arizona and referee a football game between ASU and USC at Sun Devil Stadium. I caught a plane into Sky Harbor Airport where I was met by a limousine driver holding a sign with my name on it. I was taken to a fancy hotel in downtown Phoenix and escorted to my room where I had a message to call Room #1024. I was surprised to hear that it was the head referee who had requested that I fill in for the deceased umpire. I had previously refereed with this gentleman for a game at Shasta Junior College that was played on a frozen field with blue line paint and I had to drive through a blizzard to get there. Now here I was in Phoenix going over our game plan and how he wanted me to officiate during the game. He said to keep the flag in my pocket until he told me when to get involved in the game. I was the umpire on the defensive side of the ball. He wanted me to talk to the players about penalties rather then throw the flag, something we called “preventive officiating”. I was the smallest person on the defensive side of the football, but all the players were very respectful and followed my instructions. At half time the head referee said that I had done such a great job that if I saw penalties to throw the flag. His confidence in me was the beginning of a 21-year love affair with college football. From that point on I was on a squad of 8 referees who traveled all over the country for 11 weekends during the year. We all stayed together and retired together after the National Championships playoff game in 2003. What a great experience!
But I couldn’t go this far without telling you about the most famous college football game of all time. It was called the “band game” and I was the umpire for the November 20, 1982 game between Stanford and California. California was ahead by 19 to 17 with 53 seconds to play. Stanford had the ball on their 13 yard line with John Elway as their quarterback. He drove the team down the field to set up the winning field goal. Mark Harmon (not the famous actor) kicked a 35-yard field goal with 12 seconds on the clock. The kick was good and the score was now 19 to 20 with 4 seconds remaining on the clock. At this point Stanford had to kick off to California, even with 4 seconds remaining, so I handed the ball to Harmon and he squib kicked it to the Cal 35 yard line where it was picked up by a Cal player and all hell broke loose. There were a total of seven laterals as Cal drove down the field to score the winning touchdown. But it wasn’t quite that simple. The band had come on to the field thinking that the game was already over and I ran into the tuba player as I continued to follow the ball into the end zone. There was bedlam everywhere and the crowd was waiting to see who really won the game. The head referee called all seven of us officials together and asked if anyone saw a forward lateral, to which we all answered NO. He raised his hands to signal a touchdown and said “Let’s get the hell out of here”! The final score was California 25 and Stanford 20. If you don’t believe me, here’s the link:
Watch closely at the beginning…the first two people you see on the screen are Mark Harmon and me, just before the kick! If you look real close you might even get to see me running into the tuba player.
Hello everyone. I was invited to share a little more beyond the bio that I submitted. Life’s journey pretty much began in Lynwood. It was there I attended K through 12, as probably most of our classmates did. Lynwood was a great place to live – good schools and teachers, good churches, etc.
I was part of a small church in Lynwood, and it was there I became aware of missionary work. And it was in college that my wife, Lynn, and I decided to become Bible translators for a people group without the Bible. I would like to touch here a little on that experience. After Cal State Long Beach and Bible College, we completed our training in descriptive linguistics and were assigned to work among the Tolpan of central Honduras.
The Tolpan people were a rather primitive people numbering about 300, and they had successfully secluded themselves from the outside world, maintaining their own culture and language. They preferred isolation. Modern conveniences, such as electricity and potable water, were entirely non-existent. It was a 100% illiterate society. Shortly before we arrived, however, they became aware of modern medicine. Based on a desire for relief from illnesses, they allowed us to live among them and provide medical help. We did provide this help throughout our many years with them. The fact that people were at our house all day, every day, provided a perfect opportunity to learn their language (Tol), and gradually begin translating the New Testament into their language. It was a great experience.
They provided us with a home – Tolpan style – thatch roof, mud floor, and mud walls, about 20 feet square. It even came complete with rodents! There we settled in with our 7 week old son, to begin a 24 year ministry.
For various reasons the Tolpan often lacked basic necessities, such as food, clothing, medicine, etc. As a result, they came to us for all kinds of needs. They had the mistaken idea that we knew everything and could do anything. (We did our best to set them straight!) That led to many interesting experiences. We fixed corn grinders, radios, extracted teeth, etc. I remember that soon after we arrived, a neighbor chopped his foot with an axe, and came to us for assistance. It needed suturing. So, suture it I did. (We love the Bible verse, where the Lord promised to, “give grace in the time of need.” We sure needed it.) That was the beginning of many such experiences, for their lives revolve around machetes and axes, and accidents did happen. Lynn devoted many hours each day helping the folks medically – treating respiratory and skin infections, malnutrition, parasites, etc.
We traveled in and out of their area by 4-wheel drive vehicle or by motorcycle, for the roads were marginal with rivers to ford. On one occasion our car almost slid over a ravine and into the river. The Tolpan scurried to cut down a pine tree and make a barrier to keep the car from falling off.
There were local conflicts. There was a period of several years when some outsiders wanted to take over the Tolpan land. We sided with the Tolpan, and as a result these outsiders armed themselves, stopped us on the road, and ordered us to leave. (We decided it wouldn’t be wise to confront them at that moment, but instead to let the regional authorities get involved.)
In time the Tolpan considered us one of them, and lamented the time when our work was completed among them and had to leave.
Since they were an illiterate society, we completed the development of an alphabet and produced reading primers. We taught the first Tolpan to read and write. It was an exciting day to see the first readers developed in this language. Eventually we completed the New Testament into their language.
Well, that is just a little about our experience after leaving Lynwood. It has been very enjoyable to read the bios of our classmates, and I look forward to catching up even more when we see each other in October. See you all soon!