Adventures at ‘Battlecry’

To be honest, I debated with myself as too whether I should post this blog: I am torn between my desire to be a Christ­ follower and my honest take on the situation outside AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants.   Part of me doesn’t want to be labeled  ‘hateful,’ because I’m commenting on what I observed.

This entire weekend has been dedicated to ‘Battlecry ‘ in San Francisco.

The event, which is a Christian get together was picketed by a number of people who included a couple of men, carrying a banner, crying out to the teenagers that they wanted to f*ck them . The men appeared to be homosexuals.

Then there was The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, men dressed in drag as “fake nuns,” their faces painted all-white, with feminine highlights. They made themselves known to the under aged group of kids, by calling to them with more dirty comments.

It is hard to remain in a Christian state-of-mind when something like this occurs. My instinct to protect the kids I was charged of, kicked in when I heard what they were yelling.

They were even accosted by a man on a bicycle claiming to be homeless. He yelled at the boys and girls, chastising them for having a “good time while I have to sleep out on the street.”

He got so close to the group that he nearly run over one of the kids. That’s when I had to tell him to “get lost.”

His response was that the “sidewalk was still free.” Had I been alone I’d have given him something for ‘free!”

Despite of all the protesting and other crap, we had a great time.

Two of Three

It was our eighth grade graduation. I was excited because it meant I’d be going ti high school and getting away from Mr. Fizer.

We were a fairly small class, 25 students total. Of that there were only eight boys so there was pretty good chance I’d walk alongside one of the girls.

I was right and it was Theresa Bostwick with whom I walk with that night.

When it came to confirmation into the Catholic Church, earlier that year we had decided between ourselves that we’d walk down together. Besides we were the only two Klamath kids in the group taking final lessons towards confirmation at the time.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to walk down the aisle at our high school graduation together. That’s because school administrators had the ceremony set-up alphabetically and “B’s” didn’t mix with “D’s.”

 

Old Smoky

It was an all day excursion into the redwood forest. We were going to picnic, hike and enjoy the great outdoors.

It started off as a pleasant day, until someone stole Christine Meteor’s lunch. And even though I shared my lunch with her she wouldn’t stop crying.

She finally wore me out, so I decided to go for a hike along the banks of Mill Creek. That’s where I discovered several girls skinny-dipping.

Naturally I stopped to watch for a couple of minutes. That’s when I was surprised by Lori Stobert as she was also walking along the creek bank.

She alerted the girls who scrambled to cover themselves. I was busted and I had no place to go.

Within seconds another girl from my class, Patricia Bilderback climbed up on the bank and started dragging me towards the water. I managed to struggle free and run for my life.

I spent the rest of my time trying to avoid every one of my classmates because I didn’t want to be teased for having been caught staring and then running away from a girl.

Later on, I was seated across the school bus aisle from Christine, who was still very upset and still crying about her stolen lunch. As embarrassing as it was, I decided to sing “On Top of Old Smoky,” to her, hoping to settle her down.

And what do you know, it worked. Also, I decided that day — I like being in the woods by myself rather than with a whole bunch of people.

 

Like a Basketball

The team was getting ready for a road trip to Eureka for a track meet. And that’s why I was hanging around the gym entrance in the first place.

There were students coming and going as it was the start of class following lunchtime. One of those students was a freshman by the name of Bobby Doerner.

He was pretty good-sized guy, compared to me. But then I was fairly small in stature anyway, so most everyone looked bigger to me.

For whatever reason, Bobby decided he was going to pick on me. Without warning he grabbed me around my midsection, picked me up and tossed me across the gym floor.

I hit the wood basketball court, sliding on my belly, and ending up with raspberries on my knees and elbows.

Instantly, I was angry. I mean how could a freshman think he could do what he had jus’ done to senior and think he could get away with it?

Before he could react, I was all over him, punching and kicking. I was finally restrained by several of my team mates.

The funny thing afterward, all year-long Bobby had thought I was another freshman like himself. At the time it felt like pouring salt into a wound.

Years later Bobby and I ended up talking about that day. He apologized, I apologized and we had ourselves a pretty good laugh at our own expense.

 

Interference

I met Debbie Lohman during my first Friday night high school dance.

We connected instantly and I could hardly wait to see her again that following Monday at school. We became a couple shortly thereafter and we remained together for over a year.

However, Dad was not happy with the idea that I was going steady, saying I shouldn’t get myself tied down. For nearly two years I struggled against his push to have me break-up with Debbie.

Near the end of our junior year, I finally succumbed to his wishes and ended our relationship. I still feel like a creep for having allowed myself to hurting Debbie like I did.

Misidentification

It was somewhere around two in the morning when the telephone rang. There was a traffic accident jus’ south of the Del Norte County line and it would take us less time to get there than the closest unit out of Arcata.

Dad and I rolled up to see one body lying in the roadway. The person was alive and thrashing about.

We were told by a bystander who had come upon the accident that there was a car in the thick brush, over the embankment with a couple of people still inside. There was large burnt spot on a giant redwood tree that was still smoldering.

It was obvious that the vehicle had been traveling at a high rate of speed when it left the roadway and slammed into the tree. The person in the roadway was ejected from the car upon impact.

Dad directed me to start first aid on the person in the road. It turned out to be a teenage female.

Both of her feet were nearly amputated at the ankles. And while her bleeding was minimal, she was in severe pain and would not hold still.

The most I could do for her was to immobilize her ankles and get her off the cold asphalt. She also said she was pregnant and was worrying about her baby.

After splinting her ankles and feet, a woman passerby offered to stay with her so I could help Dad down the hill. In a rural setting like the one we were in, any sort of help is usually welcome.

Once at the car, I could see a male body in the front passenger side of the vehicle. It was obvious that from his injuries he was already dead.

In the back seat though, was another male. Dad was trying get the injured man to hold still, but he was having a difficult time.

He was alive and talking, but what he was saying made no sense. When asked how many people there were in the car, he gave conflicting amounts.

Obviously he had a severe head injury and needed medical attention quickly. This caused me to several minutes searching for others that may have been tossed from the car.

I didn’t find anyone else, fortunately.

Shortly thereafter an ambulance from Crescent City arrived. The two person crew along with Dad and I were able to secure the injured man and with a lot of effort get him up the hill and onto the highway.

With everyone but the dead man accounted for, we hurried to get the injured teen and the man loaded and en route to Seaside Hospital. That left the removal of the dead guy to Dad and me.

When we finally got him up and in an ambulance, I took a clear look at his face. He had no identification on his person — but I knew that I knew him.

A California Highway Patrol officer asked me if I knew who the dead man was. I answered, “A kid I go to school with by the name of Alan Wilson.”

However my identification would soon prove to be wrong as officers in Crescent City located Alan. Thankfully he was alive and well.

The following day a positive identification was made and it turned out to be Lesley McCovy. He had graduated the year before and was dating Kim McKail.

Years later, I was working part-time in a one-hour photo lab in Crescent City when Alan came in. He recalled the night the cops came to his parent’s door.

Luckily, Alan took what had happened as an everyday part of life. As for me, I never again made an on-the-scene identification of anyone, even if I knew darned well who it was.

Driving Lessons

Learning to drive from my old man was difficult to say the least. He didn’t care that I was pretty skilled at steering Pa Sanders old tractor around in a field while making straight plow lines.

No!  He wanted me to learn to drive stick-shift and that was all there was to it.

Earlier I had bough an old 1963 Chevy Biscayne for 300-bucks. It was in good shape with a good engine, but it was also a three-on-the-tree.

For whatever reason, I was intimidated by the car’s clutch. I never seemed able to get the vehicle going without jerking myself and Dad half-to-pieces and it frustrated him to no-end.

In fact, he’d get to flustered by my lack of coordination between the clutch and the gas pedal, that he’d pop me in the back of the head when the car started to jerk. This made the situation worse.

I never did get the clutch down properly in that old Chevy because I sold it for a Dodge Charger with an automatic transmission.

It wasn’t until I was in the service that I finally got the interaction between the clutch and the gas pedal down. I have Dave Barber to thank for letting me tool around Cheyenne in his Nova as practice and later Nancy Jessop for driving clear across Nebraska in her brother’s truck.

Neither one slapped me in back of the head either.

Graduation Night

It was the day following graduation from high school. The night before had been a fairly wild evening for me as we were sequestered in the Crescent City Elks Club until two in the morning.

First was the fact that I had even graduated. I never expected to complete my schooling on time as I had very little interest in many of the subjects offered and furthermore I skipped so many classes, it seemed I’d never get my diploma.

During the after-graduation party, one of our now-former classmates, Debbie Oscar had some sort of emergency. When I got down the stairs to help our chaperone, Joel Barneburg, she was on the floor writhing around.

I knew enough by then to know it was something much stronger than beer or wine that had caused her fit.

She had to be taken away via ambulance. I never saw Debbie again after that.

Afterwards, we were carted by the bus-load back to the high school where we were dropped off with the idea of having someone there to pick us up. My folks were supposed to come and get me and Ida Philips after the party ended, but they were late.

So Ida and I decided to entertain each other for the next two hours by making out. It was also a great way to stay warm since it was a normal chilly, foggy night along the coast.

We were nearly home when a huge glow could be seen coming from the direction of Sander’s Court. Both Mom and Dad were instantly concerned that Ma and Pa Sander’s home was ablaze.

Since Dad was the fire chief and I was an EMT with the Yurok Volunteer Fire Department, we naturally pulled in to help fight the fire. Fortunately, it wasn’t Ma and Pa’s home burning, but one of their rental properties directly across the narrow gravel road from their house.

And that was jus’ between the hours of 7 pm and 5 am.

 

The Long Season

Finally, the Little League Baseball season was over. It had been a tough three-months for me and I didn’t want to go through another one like it.

First I had caught a hardball in the crotch when the batter hit a line-drive at me during practice. It wasn’t you usual line-drive either.

For some reason Coach Gillespie put me on the pitcher’s mound. I knew I couldn’t throw the ball well enough to be a pitcher, but he had the idea of rotating everyone during practice to see what sort of hidden skill we had.

I threw the ball, a long, arching pitch right into the batters zone.

The ball came flying back at me and out of instinct I stepped back and off the mound. The ball struck the pitching rubber, a white strip of hard rubber that the pitcher has to be in contact with when throwing the ball.

It was a bad bounce and I knew it. I tried to get my mitt in front of it, but my reaction was far too slow.

Later in the season I was smacked with a fowl-tip as I was standing in the doorway of our dug-out. I reached down and picked up the ball that had knocked me on my butt and handed it to the catcher of the other team, whereupon the umpire called our batter out.

Finally, I was in right field, daydreaming because no one ever hit the ball in my direction, when the ball was hit in my direction. I saw it and had my glove up to catch it.

It seemed like it was taking forever for the baseball to arrive, so I moved my mitt to see where it was. The hard leather wrapped ball smashed into my left-eye, knocking me out momentarily.

When I came too, everyone was crowded around me. This gave me a start and along with the pain developing in my face, I took off at a dead-run, screaming and crying for home, jus’ up the hill from the ball field.

I don’t think Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio or Willie Mays ever had it so rough.