I dipped my brush in 1955

    We moved from Date Street to Third Street in Alhambra.
We were living in a house owned by Tony Stuppy, a friend of dad's.
Photo of me and my cousin Gene in sitting on the porch on Third Street.
 They both worked at Narden's Manufacturing in Alhambra.
     Dad rented the house from Tony. Narden's is on the corner of Date Avenue and Mission Boulevard.  Tony later married Margie and raised Gilbert as his own son, Gilbert does not like my dad, Tony is his dad.
      One day I came home from school and my dad's clothes were on the porch, piled up like dirty laundry. My dad was thrown out of our home. Margie had thrown him out. I did not know at that time the reason. Some time later that day, my sister talked to my dad on the phone.  He instructed us to walk to the corner of Third Street and East Woodward.  He said there would be a man in a car there, and he would stop and ask us to get into his car. We complied and left Margie and Gilbert behind.
     A man picked us up and took us to his home in Temple City. When we arrived, we were met by a whole new family. There were three boys and a girl in that family. The oldest boy was named David, and he was my age. The next was Diane, who was Sandy's age. Next were Ron and Jerry, the two youngest boys who were at least five or six years younger than David and I. The woman of the house was Gladys. I did not know it at the time, but I think my dad was having an affair with her. She also worked at Narden's. The man who gave us the ride rarely came back.  He returned only to visit the kids or to take us all horseback riding, a pleasure that we all loved very much.
     My dad moved in with Gladys (or, he had already moved in).  I do not know.  Being there with another family felt different.  It felt better, more relaxed, and not so strict. I had plenty of people to play with and I was becoming a teen.  I soon fell in love with my step-sister Diane.  It was obvious.  This led to more conflict in my mind.  Was this right or was this wrong? In my mind there was nothing wrong in my feelings, but the Catholic Doctrine was saying in my mind that I was committing a Mortal sin. It was wrong, but I was hopelessly lost.  I had no idea who I was and I was hopelessly in love with my sister.  God, what a mess.  This created problems, problems, and more problems.  Words cannot explain the mush in my brain.
     My father had created for himself, by moving in with this new family, a larger family. He had to work two jobs to feed everyone, and Gladys was working also.
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We Were Campers
We saw the ocean at night, we saw the green sand glow in the moonlight.
As the waves swept up to greet us, we sat and marveled.
Young children enjoying the green glow of sand.
We played in the ocean, we knew about the tides.
We watch the seals swim in the ocean, the sea otters work on their backs.
We poked the dead seals laying on the beach.
We gathered wood and picked up broken glass.
We started fires to keep warm on the beaches cool nights.
We slept around the fires.
Our beaches were Huntington, Tin Can, Seal and Long Beach.
Wood and drift wood, tin cans, bottles, broken bottles would always be at Tin Can Beach.
&
The mountains were just a drive away.
The San Gabriel foothills were near.
Our parents took us to ShadyOaks, a pay campground.
A one room store/payup/dancehall/judebox/nightclub.
The days at this camp we spent climbing/poking/building.
We dammed up the little creak during one year.
A swimming hole two and half feet deep and thirty feet long.
We had very small rapids, just right for one inner tube.
We would spin around and bounce our bodies against boulders.
At night we would go up and listen to Fats singing Blue Berry Hill on the jukebox,
as the Christmas lights sparkled year round.
We wound gather pine needles and lay a blanket on our bed under trees and stars.
My dad had Gladsy & Tommy carved into a treeheart with arrow.
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    While living in Temple City we decided to take a  bicycle trip to the foothills of the Sierra Madre which were nearby. We decided to go to the mountains, all six of us decided to peddle our bikes up to those foot hills which were about four miles away. David and I, Diane and Sandy, Ron and Jerry, we always paired ourselves off in groups of age. We rode our bikes as far as we could peddle up Rosemead Boulevard. and headed strait to the mountains. After crossing Colorado Boulevard. We had to walk alongside our bikes the last mile. When we finally arrived at the foothills, the road ended, all that we saw was some private property. We looked for a neat place to go, there was none. We were very disappointed. When our father took us to the mountains we always had to turn and twist up the side of the mountain ending up at some wild campground or private pay park. With no park or camp ground nearby, we were disappointed, we talked and discussed our next move. Nowhere to go, it was decided to go back home. It had taken about an hour to reach the foothills.
Coming back home was going to be a breeze, it was downhill all the way.
We started back, our bikes started picking up speed on our downhill journey,
I finally had to take my feet off the peddles and put them on steel brace, my peddles were moving to fast to brake or peddle.
I flew through red lights, green lights, amber lights, I could not stop for any traffic.
Our hair was flying in the California breeze.
I  never stopped or thought that our lives were in danger.
I guess I was the fool
I left everyone else behind,
I guess that they did stop at the lights.
I finally coasted to a stop,
I waited and let everyone else catch up.
We were all thrilled about our journey.
Our parents never did say anything to us about our trip.
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    We met Pat and Dennis Finch here in Temple City, their dad worked at some prison up north. Their dad said that Little Richard's music would never last and that he should go back to where he had came from. At that time I thought that Little Richard was the pure soul of our generation. I was surprised at what he said! Their dad had always been very nice to us all and he was nice all the time that we knew him.
    Pat and Dennis had model "A's".
Pat had a Blue "A" Pickup,
Dennis had a Black Three window  "A" Cabriolet coupe.
They also had a Cushman motor scooter. There was a vacant lot out back behind their house, with an obstacle course, that they had built.
We took turns riding the Cushman around and around.
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      These were better times for me, even though I was confused.  All the children in this family loved to read.
I learned to read fiction from Diane and science fiction from David there.
     My best memories are there, clouded as they were.  They may differ from what actually happened.  I would not be surprised.  We went to the beach or to the mountains together about every weekend.  We were campers. It was a comfortable family everyone loved the outdoors.
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Our All Redwood Home
Our home in Temple City was not big enough for us all so we moved into a very large, two story all redwood home on about two acres of land in Arcadia.  This place had a one-room combination formal dining and living room.  This room took up the entire front end of the house.  Huge 18" x 10" redwood beams ran the width of the house from front porch to back porch.   They held up the upper half of the entire two-story house.  This place was quite a marvel.  They were no painted surfaces, everything was all redwood.
They told us to leave because they wanted to build some apartment houses.
They tore it down.
Quote " They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."
 1956
    We met Emory Mulchan here in Arcadia, we were still going to Temple City Schools. Emory was a loner. A Jewish boy in Temple City, he was the first Jewish boy I had ever met. Dave, Emory and I hung out together. He had a Hawk and a Owl which turned it's head around to see right through us. He showed us how to use a bull whip.
    Emory would always do laps in the High School pool during P.E. He would do laps until the class was over. He said his parents didn't believe in sports. He out ran everyone on the track and football teams, just to prove a point. They asked him to join, he said no he was not allowed!
    We met Bobby and Eddie Carlson here also, Bobby was a Magician with a Top Hat (he performed at parties). Eddie was white haired little shit. They had a 49 Light Blue Caddy and a 34 Chevy three window coupe. The Caddy would run, but the shocks were gone, we bounced along the highway on three wheels, one tire was always flat. If  you were ever in California during this time you probably saw us.
Four boys pushing a pinto caddie and one hopping into the drivers seat driving. We always got our gas at Midnight Auto Supply.
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    My dad always had things for us all to do during the summer. One job he gave Dave and I was to White wash the fence that divided the back yard from the way back yard. We had helped build the fence made from pallets. The paint wash was a cheap oil based white wash paint made for fences. We started painting the fence, being teens we were not the best painters, but what harm could we do.
It started out simple, a dip and paint.
Somehow a drop of paint came off of Dave's brush.
You have to pause and think a little.
Somehow a drop of paint came off of my brush and landed on Dave's arm.
Two drops came off Dave's brush and landed on my forehead.
Two drop's came off my brush. I saw him dip his brush. I dipped my brush.
We looked at each other, we had seen enough of Laurel and Hardy on T.V. to understand what was going to happen next.
It evolved slowly, you can paint the picture in your mind.
In about an half hour we were both covered from head to foot with paint.
It took us a better part of two hours to clean ourselves up. Laughing the whole time.
We did finish the fence and a little of the yard.
Dennis & David 1961
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    My dad had a pair of sheers for cutting hair. Sandy and Diane were out back with David, Bobby, Eddie and I.
Some way we thought it would be neat that some day we could get a mohawk haircut, like some of the other kids last summer.
Sandy said well she could do that. We all looked at each other, Diane left.
Sandy went and got the sheers and I got the stool, David got a sheet. Dad and Gladys were at work.
Bobby said he would go first.
Sandy cut his hair in a great cool looking double mohawk.
So far so good, Sandy did a great job.
I was eager to be next I couldn't wait.
This was going to be really cool. I Smiled.
I said I would be next.
I told Sandy I wanted my hair cut like a clown, bald on top and long on the sides.
So that is what she did.
When she had finished I looked like "Clarabelle the Clown".
Great smiles, good laughs.
Eddie said he was next, he wanted just the opposite of me,
so she cut his hair around his ears just like they do nowadays.
His hair was sticking up on top and nothing below the top of his ears.
Sandy looked at David, David looked at us, David said no way.
I'll have to ask Diane what she saw?
We got the hoses and cleaned up.
We lived close to a mall, just across from the parking lot.
We decided to go to the department  stores in the mall and show off our new haircuts.
All devilish smiles.
Bobby went and got his Black Top Hat.
Eddie got his Dad's leather driving cap, with it's snap in front. I had a plaid English driving cap with buckle in the back.
All four us donned our hats and walked through the mall, dipping our hats to the ladies.
"Good afternoon to you mam".
Mam and a bow and a dip.
We would sweep our feathered hats from our heads, bend and dip greetings to the ladies.
Black and Maroon capes swirled down the department store corridors.
Everyone had a great time. Very nice and a lot of fun.
    That night everyone was getting ready for dinner, the table was set, my dad had come home from work, Glady's was already home. Everyone was moving around the table, busy. Finally everyone sat down to eat. The food was on the table. Gladys said," Dennis will you please remove your hat." Everyone was waiting for this, I thought I might slide on by. "Dennis will you please remove your hat at the table". I removed my hat, smiles flashed all around the table. My dad looked at me, pointed at me and curled his finger in a come here gesture. He walked outside and told me to sit on the stool, he went and got the sheers, he finished the job. I was bald. Bobby got to keep his double mohawk, Eddie ended up bald like me.

( This afternoon ( 5-17-99 ) I came in after working in the garden, I had a baseball cap on, I went into the rest room to wash the salt and sweat from my face.
I looked in the mirror and their was Clarabelle standing before me in the mirror. No matter what the situation, my hair bonkers when I get hot.)
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Combination of the Two, 1957
At Temple City High School, there was a 32' Ford Sedan, a Chocolate brown in color,
baby moons on reversed rims with a picture of  " Alfred E. Neuman " on the rear trunk,
under which it read, ""What - Me Worry?". It roamed the area after school.
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***

Young minds need to be the given time to understand life. In my case, no time was understood to be given. I was a space eating us out of house and home. I was a rebel with no directions, no leathers, belts or black bike. I was without control, mentally, saying what I pleased without regard to anyone.
A foul mouthed, smart assed, "I don't give a damn" ,"don't sweat it!" young man under the umbrella of Atomic bombs. I looked rather neat and normal with a good work ethic. Inside my mind was crying for love and help. Confusing inputs into my brain spelled doom for understanding. It was not until my late twenties when help did arrive. The free flower children of the sixties were more than eager to help me.
Parents need to watch and nourish the child at your feet, don't let ms-dos teach your child values.
I am using the computer to let you know, a paradox.
***
Where does the rebel begin?
In High School I refused to do my home work.
I failed everything.
What created a creature that refused to do his home work.
Was it a fear of being not as bright as the next fellow?
No one was answering the questions I wanted answered. I didn't ask, I should of asked.
Who?
I was lost in a world of turmoil, internal turmoil. I was creating my own rules deep in my mind, rules that did not apply.
No one was answering questions that were not asked.
I was lost in the shuffle, a child pushed along with the crowd, passing the doorways and grabbing at straws.
At an early age I found comfort in the rhythms of Bo Diddley.
While others are hawking and selling their software, we are cutting and pasting our dreams.
***
     I muddled through schools, totally lost, not knowing who I was or what in the world was going on.  Things came to a head when I quit going to school.  By this time, we were living in La Puente.  I was becoming a terrible problem with my smartass attitude.  I never was very good at learning in school.  I was always mentally somewhere else from first grade to eleventh grade.  In grammar school, they would pass me because I was getting older.  In the eighth grade, I had to go to summer school with counseling.  In the ninth grade, I failed everything but band and physical education.  In my sophomore year of high school, I had Freshman English, Sophomore English, Freshman Social Studies, Sophomore Social Studies, ands other courses.
I failed them all.
My Junior year of high school was no better.
I was totally lost with no direction, in love with my sister, which was a sin.
What a pisser!
Someone had had enough!!
It sounded like everyone to me.
1959
My father was told to do something, so he had me enlisted into the Navy.
     The Navy did not put up with any bull.  They gave me no time to think.  They worked me hard, and I was able to work hard.  I never had a problem working hard.  I had no time to feel sorry for myself.  I forgot my past. At that time, the Navy didn't give a shit about my past.  The wanted a body, a body to behave and do what it was told.  Period!  I did not grow up in the Navy.  I grew older with no time to think.  I met some nice people and some assholes, although I liked the nice people better.  I rediscovered that if you hang out with nice people, it rubs off. I met William Hermann , a German from Minnesota.  He was a good man who rarely made a mistake.  He was good, pure, and simple with a brain.  He was clean and neat like Margie.  He was smart like Diane and he loved to read like David.  I never loved this man.  I just learned from him.  He was a sailor and so was I, so we worked together as a team.
He went home and I moved on to another ship.
     "Ship ahoy, mate" went the Kingston Trio. Hawaii was my duty station. I was moving into rowdy songs and then into jazz.  I'm was wearing suits and looking good.  It was time for me to leave the service.  I went home to Los Angeles where the smog burned my eyes. 1962 It was time to leave Los Angeles and I headed for San Francisco.  A Navy friend lived there, and he said to look him up when I got out of the service.  I did, but he was busy painting new homes and I went about my business of finding work. I was there with a new goal.  Get a job and settle down.  At the first job interview, I was asked, "Do you have a high school diploma?"   No?  Sorry.  I kept trying and got a job cleaning floors with a space agency.  They sent me near a clean room to clean up.  You need a college degree to clean up in the clean room.  I have hope.  I have a good paying job with a space agency. The future is here.
***

    I lived in San Jose, worked in Palo Alto and visited San Francisco on weekends. One weekend I went to see Cal Tjader a jazz musician I had heard in High School. There was a section of San Francisco that catered to jazz. This one club on the corner was black outside and inside. I would see Cal one weekend and Dave Brubeck the next weekend. Every weekend I would spend hanging out at these night clubs. Cannonball and "the hungry i " were close by, but I loved the music Cal and Dave better. I would sit lost in their sounds and rhythms, nursing my drink. (drinking made me sick, drunks make me sick)
Somewhere in here. I do not know the time frame. I read all of the John Steinbecks books that I could find, I went from book to book eagerly soaking up the characters. Lamenting every time some poor man was cheated, abused or taken advantage of.
     I met my next door neighbor at my apartment in San Jose.  We talked, had fun, and drank.  Three months later he said to me, "Ya ever been to New Orleans?"  I said no.  He said, "I'm going, ya want to come along?"  I said why not and went off to New Orleans with him.  We had a good time on the road.  When we got there, we moved into a trailer.  Then his wife moved in and I moved out.  I didn't know he was married.  She was already there in New Orleans.  When I started looking for work, a problem emerged.  If you're white, you're a boss in New Orleans.  If you're black, you work for the boss.  There was nothing in between.  After two weeks of looking for work, I was down to a few dollars, and I realized it was time to leave.  But where?  California was too far away.  Hey, my sister lived in Kentucky, I thought.  I left New Orleans with three dollars in my pocket.  It took four days to get to Kentucky and my sister's place.  The trip was not pleasant.  I ate fruit off trees along the way.  Sometimes a trucker would feed me a bowl of chili in a diner.  I noticed that when we went through Birmingham, Alabama, no one was on the streets after six P.M.  At that time, I did not know what was going on.
Charlie & Inez Foxx were singing "Mockingbird" on the radio.
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Get this; I went over to Yahoo maps and figured out how many miles per hour I traveled from Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, La. to Cynthiana, Ky. in 1962 or 63. I had no job in New Orleans; I did not know what dropping out was? I had three dollars in my pocket with no future of any kind and no money coming in. I had to go somewhere and Kentucky seemed like the easiest place to go. My sister had just moved there from California. It is 789 miles from Lake Pontchartrain to Cynthiana. It took me four days with three dollars, some kind help and a lot of apples to get to Cynthiana. That is eight miles per hour with barking dogs in the middle of the night moving you away from barns and homes. I caught rides when I
could but mostly I walked.
See Walking
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     I arrived at Lexington, Kentucky on a Sunday morning.  I found the directions to Cynthiana, Kentucky, where Sandy and her husband Jimmy lived and headed that way.  My first ride said he knew my sister's husband and he took me to my sister's mother-in-law's house. When I arrived, everyone was having Sunday dinner.  I arrived starving and happy to be somewhere.  We said our hellos, glad to meet ya, sit down, have some dinner, tea?  To say the least, Mrs. Hatcher, Jimmy's mother, was one of the nicest women that I had ever met to that point.  (My Aunt Lucy was the same way.  She would fuss over you, smiling, and saying have another piece, I'll just have to throw it away.)  That is what happened when I arrived at Mrs. Hatcher's house in Cynthiana and what happened every Sunday while I was living in Kentucky.  This was an example of true Southern hospitality.  I would have dinner there every Sunday and she was always the same. She was the women everyone wanted as a parent, she is one of the reasons I came back to Kentucky. Women like that stand tall, they give the fall colors meaning, they give the spring flowers a wonderful fragrance.
This is the first time in my life that I get to see first hand the changing of the seasons. The beautiful fall colors, the wet leaves matted in layers, waiting to be turned by the worms and creatures of the earth. the pumpkin and cushaw pies, warm on the mantel of thanksgiving. The winters of white snow, green firs covered with snow, a picture post card outside the window, the snowman with a nose of corn, acorn eyes, straw hat and a jellybean smile. The new spring growth, warm spring rains washing the new green leaves and minds. The hot dry summer turning the country roads into four inches of dust, caking your eyes, blinding your eyes and clogging your sinuses. The hot humid summer, so wet and air so heavy that you have to lay on the ground to breathe. Lemonade and coke so cold that when you drink it in huge quenching gulps, you eyes and body water.
My favorite time in this ever changing world is the late spring rains that wash the leaves and air of pollution, clean and crisp in colors are these days, fresh air.
     Jimmy got me a job working for a plumber, but when winter came around, he laid me off.
I was at one of those plumbing jobs, digging in solid rock, the day that President Kennedy was shot in Dallas (November 22, 1963).
My next job was working with Brother Herron, a Nazarene minister, who also owned a hardware store, sanded floors, remodeled kitchens and baths, installed some storm windows, and performed a few other odd jobs around town.  I learned to sand floors from him.  He had a three-man crew always working, Summer or Winter.  In addition, he had two employees selling in the store.  Brother Herron was crippled at a young age, so he walked kind of funny with his hands up to one side of his body.  He could look so pitiful that people would always buy something from him.  Needless to say, he was a wealthy man.
     I lived with my sister most of the time I was in Kentucky.  There was a brief time that I lived in one of the rooms in the old building behind the Nazarene church.
***
On our way toward Paducah, Ky. Laurel said, "What is that man doing?". She pointed to a
field at the edge of the Cumberland River (bottom land). It had just rained  five inches of
rain and this man was walking in a muddy plowed field, with his hands in his pockets. I
knew exactly what he was doing. When I first had arrived in Kentucky in 1962-63, I had
lived with my sister in Cynthiana, Ky. with her husband Jimmy. Jimmy was an avid
sportsman, good enough to try out or play for the Cincinnati Reds. Jimmy had a collection
of arrowheads displayed in his living room. I had asked Jimmy where he had gotten them,
he explained each arrowhead is called a point. He pulled out a worn and tired book. The
book separated time into periods of time. Times that Indians wandered and hunted with
spears, bows and arrows. He showed me mortars and pestles, axes, spears, clubs, bird points, fish
hooks made out of bones. I said,” Jimmy where did you get all this stuff?” He said,
“Dennis, after a hard rain, go to a new plowed field and walk. The flint will shine and
sparkle in the sun. Most will be just broken flint, but if you look carefully, you will find
tons of arrowheads.” Kentucky is surrounded by rivers, The Cumberland River to the west
and south, The Licking and Kentucky Rivers to the east, and the Ohio River to the north.
The Mississippi to the west. The land adjacent the rivers were called bottoms, this land
moved/washed toward the Gulf of Mexico. That is why these rivers are muddy and the
bottoms are quite fertile. Indians roamed Kentucky, it is a glorious hunting ground with
these fences of water. Bison, bear and deer roamed these areas, before that mastodons,
as eagles, owls, falcons, heron and ducks fly overhead.
James (Jimmy) Hatcher
***
     I loved my stay in Kentucky.  People would say hello to you, something new to a city boy.  Yeah, they would say hello even if they didn't like you.
I heard the Beatles on the radio,
"I want to hold your hand" was playing. 1963
     The colors in Kentucky are only matched with the colors in Hawaii, it is that beautiful.
     I left Kentucky in the Fall, with wet rain coming down and cold, around 45 degrees.  I left because I again was too trusting.  Some guys that I was running around with wanted me to host a party in my  room behind the church.  Somebody called Brother Herron and said that there were three cars behind the church and it wasn't Sunday.  Anyway, the shit hit the fan and I left for California. It took all my money to get to Needles, California.  I had to hitch rides the rest of the way.  When I got home to La Puente, I stayed for a week or two, then found a job in Alhambra.  My cousin Ron said that if I put his name on the job application that I would get a job at FTF.
     When I went to FTF to apply for a job, I was interviewed by John who was the foreman there.
He looked at my form, made small talk, said that if and when they had a job opening that I would be considered.
As he was looking at my job application for the third time, he noticed Ron's name on the form.
He asked whether this was the same Ron that so and so?  I said yes.
He said, "You can start on Monday."  This man knew that Ron was a fun guy.  A smile to be around.
If you're going to be with someone, it might as well be Ron.
Ron could make you laugh, a pleasure to be around.
 ***
We did not know James Brown, but James, Ron and I would glide across the floor....
"He ain't no drag.
Papa's got a brand new bag
He's doing the Jerk....
He's doing the Fly
Don't play him cheap 'cause you know he ain't shy
He's doing the Monkey, the Mashed Potatoes, Jump back Jack, See you later
alligator."
Lyric by  James Brown

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