From the full version of Sunnysides Lousy Book.
Yeah, I do have a past
I've never thought my personal life prior to the fire had much importance to the story, so I spent as little amount of time on it as possible in the earlier editions of this book. However, after handing out some of the earlier 60-80,000 word drafts, I found that the questions my readers asked most were about me, and the life I had prior to the fire. They weren't as curious about the fire or the truck as I expected. They were curious about me and how I grew up to be the person that I am. They'd ask whether I'd ever been married or had any kids; if I had any brothers or sisters; if my father is an inventor; as well as what my parents did for a living. They wanted to know what my friends and family thought about this one man crusade I've found myself dedicated to.
Now that I have built on this portion of the story of my life, I feel it might be best if you read through it and learn about some of the experiences I have had in my life. Maybe it’s because some people say the experiences we have early on in our lives can have a influence upon how we turn out.
I happen to think it has more to do with me being proud of who I am, and for God creating me the way he did. Who knows? Just as some of my readers have discovered, you may find some of my life prior to the fire the most entertaining part of this book. If you feel the thought of reading back history isn't the thing that can turn your crank -- you may want to skip it and read it at a later time.
I was born in Tacoma, Washington on the 22nd day of May 1960, in St. Joseph’s Hospital, shortly after 5:00 a.m.
Ethnically, I was born into a family of mostly German origin. I've heard we're descendants from Southwest Germany’s Baden Wurttemberg territory where they speak the Low German dialect. More pacifically they were from the Black Forest Region (Schwarzwald) which is along the east bank of the upper Rhine River, from Neckar to the border of Switzerland. It's in It's basically the lower hills north-northwest of the Swiss Alps. The sandstone and granite hills are rich in mineral deposits which makes mining part of their economic resources. Another export product is grains for cereals. It's also known for its precision engineering too. From what I've seen in pictures it’s some beautiful country which comprises thick forest land. Its highest peak is Feldberg at 4905 ft. or as some might say 1495 meters.
Just as many of you, I find that I have an urge within me to visit the home of my ancestors someday. Maybe it's something we all feel about when your family's ancestors have lived in a foreign country which you have never been or experienced. It's a feeling of missing a place you've never been.
I happen to be 3/4 German and 1/4 Russian. My grandmother on my father's side was the Russian. Since Germans are known for being good engineers, my ethnic background may very well be why I'm as mechanically inclined as I am.
I happen to be one of three children born in my direct family. I have two sisters. One is a year older than me and the other is younger by two years.
As far as my Family Tree goes
In Minot, North Dakota during the depression, the winters got cold, and to help heat the house, my dad had to walk railroad tracks with buckets in hand to pick up pieces of coal that had fallen off the trains. I think it's safe to say that there wasn't much money in the household. As far as I know, my grandmother Sattler's maiden name was Welk, as in being related to Lawrence Welk whom produced a weekly television musical variety show. It just may be where I got my gift of rhythm from. Other than that, I think grandmother Sattler was just an ordinary house wife.
Back in 1939, my grandfather Sattler owned a Studebaker dealership in Rolla, which was a small town with a population of about 300. Though a new Studebaker only cost about $800.00 in those days, his dealership didn't amount to much since he only ordered 8 for his customers, and of course he did buy one for himself.
My dad's brother, Gus was about the most interesting person I’ve ever met. He was a great story teller if anything else. One of his stories was about a stroke of luck his friend Jim Westly had once. Jim's father owned Westly's Lincoln Mercury and Jim Westly just happened to be at the dealership when a Native American came into the shop to by a new car. The native mentioned that he had just bought a new car, but rolled it. He said it was the kind with propellers on the rear for driving on water.
At the time Native Americans around the Sanish and Van Cook area had received a bunch of money for reservation land the state needed to flood for the reservoir of Garrison Dam. Apparently the native wasn't hurting for money because he sold the title to Jim Westly for 10 bucks. Gus and Westly went out to take a look at the car and discovered that it had rolled over on a deep cushion of snow and it didn't even have a scratch on it.
I didn't get to know Gus much until my early teenage years. He was always the one in the family who everyone would lose track of. He would often disappear for several years at a time. One time we found out he'd been living in Brazil for several years. During my teenage years, he kept a home in Spokane, Washington. He set up mobile homes and performed warranty and repair work for a manufactured home dealer based in Spokane. He drove a ¾ ton Dodge truck with a canopy on back. In back the heap of junk usually resembled an electrician's pile of wires and furnace parts. You can bet Gus has rebuilt quit a few water heaters and furnaces in his days.
He was known by most of the state patrol officers in the Eastern Washington region. They knew who he was because he kept in touch with truckers on his citizens band radio as he traveled. He preferred to drive in the middle of the night because there was less traffic. Because of that, the truckers as well as the cops knew he'd be hauling ass. Since they all knew who he was and where he was going, he wouldn't get pulled over.
The strange thing about his style of travel was that we would never know when we would wake up and find him sleeping on the living room floor. (My parents had given him his own key to our house.) He would usually arrive in the middle of the night and leave just the same. When leaving, he’d get up quietly, pick up his things, and leave without any last minute good byes. You might think it was a little strange of him, but we hated to see him go. I guess it was easier for that way because it was hard for all of us to keep the long good byes to a minimum.
When my dad was eighteen years old, he worked for a gippo oil company. He not only maintained oil rigs, but he worked on the drilling rigs too. The oil rigs had engines that ran on propane and since the engines ran drier than conventional gasoline engines, they used high quality oil called Marvel Mystery Oil in special oil reservoirs that supplied oil to the valves of the engine. The special oil came in 55 gal barrels and the oil had an extra slippery property to it. He and his buddies discovered while running their car engines on the special oil, they could get their engines to rev higher.
While my dad was working in the oil fields, my Grandmother had a strange dream. In the dream she was driving out to the oil fields to pick up my dad from work. She dreamt that her son was out in an oil field laying on his back with his leg sticking strait up into the air. The bizarre thing about the dream was that same day, my dad was working on an oil rig and a cable holding up an auger-bit snapped. The bit landed on my dad's foot crushing it into so many pieces that the doctors had made plans to amputate it. A baby doctor came along and decided he wanted to try to save the foot by just moldings it back into shape.
For the longest time my dad had to wear a plaster cast that went all the way up to his hip. He'd bore holes in the cast so he could scratch itchy spots with coat hanger wires. After awhile he would have so many holes in the cast that it would fall apart and the doctor would have to make a new one. As soon as he'd get a new cast, he'd start boring holes into it just as the one before. The pains from his injured foot was so painful, he would often lie on his back and hold his leg up into the air.
My mother came from a family know as Weist. From what I've heard, my great grandfather was a wealthy farmer in Germany. The government came one day and took his cattle away; then a few weeks later they came back in the middle of the night and took my great grandfather off to Siberia. That was the last time anyone ever saw him. The rest of the family tried to get on boats to get out of the country as fast as they could. Most of them became farmers in North Dakota. My grandparents on my mother's side owned a small farm on the outskirts of Esmond, North Dakota. I'm sure they didn't have much money to speak of because my mother got two new dresses each year for school and the slips she wore underneath them were made out of flower sacks.
I heard my grandmother had the idea that cloths smelled fresher when dried outside on a clothesline. So as stubborn as Grand Ma was, she would make the kids hang the laundry outside to dry in the winter time. Then once the cloths were frozen, they could bring them inside to thaw and dry out the rest of the way. My grandfather Weist, was not only a farmer but also a jack of all trades. At least I know he did all his own building and remodelling.
Although the town of Esmond is about 60 miles of dirt road from Minot, my dad somehow met my mother through some relatives. They met when he was 19 and she was 14. I could never understand the age differences, but they say she was quite mature for her age. She was the oldest child in the family and from what I've heard; she had to take care of the other kids. From what I gather the miracle oil must have helped my dad make it there in less than an hour because he said he often drove the gravel roads at a hundred miles per hour.
My grandparents sold the farm eventually and moved into the town of Esmond. I think that's when my dad moved in to my mother's parent's house for a while. I wasn't long after that before my grandfather and my uncle Ugean on my mother's side move out to Tacoma, Washington. Where they got jobs at a place called Woodlam, where they made laminated wooden beams. Soon thereafter they sent money back to the rest of the family so they too could move out to Washington and my father tagged along.
My dad got a job at Woodlam also. There they brushed glue onto the planks of lumber before being pressed together to make the laminated wood beams.
Once settled in, my mom and dad got married and bought a house together. It wasn't long before my sister Disco came along and all I remember about the white house with a picket fence was that my dad put up a swing in the basement for my Disco to play on.
The following year my dad was laid off from Woodlam just as I was about to be born. My parents were scared that they would lose the house, but my dad landed a job driving bus for the City of Tacoma.
Seventeen months after the arrival of Disco, I was born. From what I've heard, I wasn't a very pretty sight. I was one who tried to drop out backwards, feet first or something like that. Whatever I was trying to do, Doctor Bond had to use some kind of tool to set me straight. As a result of my little expedition I started out in this world with a black and blue face.
Around the time I was born, in 1960 and 61, my dad drove a 57 Oldsmobile Super 88. It was white with the inner fender wells painted red. He had it tuned up by a race car driver and it had exhaust gates so he could by-past the mufflers when he felt like racing somebody. From what I heard, back then people used to cruise Pacific Avenue.
A couple years later, my parents bought a larger rambler type house on East 83rd & D Street. Shortly thereafter, my younger sister Dana came along. Once she was up and running, my mother landed a job as a clerk at a nearby Rexall Thrifty Drug store.
One thing I do know about my youngest years is that I was an active child. I guess I was one of those infants who always got into everything, as a result I'd easily find myself trouble. One incident that sticks out in my mind is one night I decide to roll out of bed and help myself to a few cookies. Outfitted with pajamas of the one piece design with built in footie's, I made my way for the kitchen. Unfortunately, my mother had always been on to the desire I had to helping myself to things – especially the sweets. Because of that, she kept the yummies up high and out of reach in an upper cabinet above the stove.
That night I was on my way to one of my first experiments in mechanical engineering. The task at hand was one I've practiced many times throughout my life; that is by getting the near impossible done by figuring out how to perform the task without any help from others. I thought, "Hay --- if I can wiggle my belly up onto a chair, then from the platform of the chair, I bet I can wiggle my belly up onto the stove as well."
Unfortunately I got side tracked in the process of my experiment. While standing on the newly installed platform, I found some black knobs and of course, as usual, I liked things turned up wide open to the max. So I gave a knob a turn, but there was no sound, no movement and nothing to hold my short attention span. So I gave another knob a turn. More of the same; nothing happened. So then I turned another and another..... Then I focused my attention on the next stage of my experiment to see if the newly installed platform could create a gateway to the goody cabinet.
I must have had a guardian angel looking out for me that night because for some reason my mother woke up from her sleep and felt that she had to get up and check out the kitchen. There she found me standing on top of the electric stove with all the burners glowing red hot.
Apparently that wasn't the only late night experiment I had gotten myself into so my folks decided that my late night experiments were best left to the confines of my own bedroom. Although I preferred my recreational experimentation in a wider range of environment, I wasn't as free to experiment the next time because my parents installed a sliding dead bolt on the outside of my bedroom door. From what I've heard, I had an all out shit fit when I realized I was trapped inside my room.
There was a time when my father was about to buy himself a brand new 66 Chrysler New Yorker. But before my parents went to the dealer to pick it up, my dad took my mother out to dinner. While at dinner he came to the realization that the new car would eventually depreciate to near nothing of value over time. During that time he was also into nice stereos too. He got to thinking that if he bought a new stereo instead of the new car; ten or fifteen years down the road it would still be about as good as new. As a result of his last minute thinking, the two of them went out after dinner and bought a stereo setup he had been thinking about. They pick up on some Altec Lancing A-7 speakers which studio monitors comprised of fifteen inch woofers and some outrageous horns. The cabinetry alone was made as some mighty impressive fine furniture if you ask me; with sliding doors and punched out wooden curved speaker grills.
To go with it he bought a Duel record changer with a direct drive. For the amplifier, pre-amp and tuner, he went with the Dynaco brand because they were more or less considered one of top of the line brands in those days and they were available in kit form.
With my father being conservative as he was, he opted for the kit form because he has always been mechanically inclined at things so it was just like putting a model airplane or something together. I even got to help my dad build the Dynaco stereo components from the parts which had to be assembled and soldered together. He let me cut and trim the wires to the proper length stated in the instruction manual and my dad would solder the wires into the proper places.
Before buying the stereo, my mother couldn't tell the difference in the sound of the high-tech stereo and her clock radio, but once everything was wired up, she was no fool – she could defiantly tell the difference in the higher quality the new stereo produced. My dad liked the ability to be able to put on some music; open up the front door; walk across the street and leave the neighbor's front door open as they would sit down for coffee and still hear the music as clear as day.
With all the musical influences around me, I got caught up in music too, but I happen to be getting into the Beatles, the Monkeys, Pal Revere and the Raiders, and the Rolling Stones. Therefore it wasn't long before I got a record player in my own bedroom.
My next stage of engineering was when I was about five or six years old. I learned how speakers worked by connecting wires together and decided it was real cool to have an assortment of speakers spread throughout my room. I had them hanging from the walls, on my head board, and anywhere I could think of, just as long as I could dig up enough wires and speakers out of any old radio. Soon I was hooking up switches so I could control them. Then I integrated variable resistor pots into my circuits which gave me a knob to turn at remote places to control the volume. I remember looking through Radio Shack catalogs and noticing you could by bare speakers and mount them in your own box. I even spent some of my allowance on a six inch speaker to add to my collection.
One day I got my hand on about twenty feet of additional speaker wire, I got this bright idea to run the wire down the hallway, set the new speaker at the end of the hallway where I could hear my music in the rest of the house. That only lead me to the idea that I could blast out my dad and his friend while they were sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee. I even disconnected the other speakers so the one in the hallway would get all the power and blast extra loud. Of course when I fired the puppy up, I had the thing cranked wide open…. But the fun only lasted about four or five seconds because my dad didn't enjoy my little stunt at all and my butt sure received one hell of a lickin.
My dad used his bare hand whenever I got a lickin and he would put so much punch into it, the it would thrust me forward enough to knock me off my feet at times. Over time I learned to thrust my ass forward as an effort to outrun the swing of his powerful arm. It became an art form for me, but it still didn't help the dread of it coming to me.
My mom on the other hand used a paddle. Since she worked at the drug store she would savage the paddles from the paddle and ball toy once the rubber band were found to be separated. I tried to apply the science of out running her swing to lessen the pain, but she just swung harder. The bigger I got, the better the odds of her breaking the handle right off the paddle. It didn't matter to her because as in Stupid Rule Number 22, there is always Rule Number 42; there was a whole lot more where they came from.
Since my father often worked odd hours, there was a rule that Disco D should have paid attention more attention to. It was: "You don't wake Dad up while he's asleep." The deal is, Disco really liked cartoons and one morning she woke up and went in to the family room and sat her ass down in front of the television set. She turned on the TV and cranked up the volume a little bit too much. As a result, he woke my dad. He crawled out of bed and went out to the family room to find Disco sitting on the floor, right in front of the television with the sound blaring. Dad reached down to take a swat at my sister's rump and miscalculated. His fingers got caught in the carpet and he broke three fingers.
My next creative form of my engineering was inspired in carpentry. Randy, Tommy, and I scouted the local building sites for scrap wood. One of our first group projects was building a tree fort in a large apple tree in a horse pasture at the end of our dead end road. I didn't have too much to do with the construction because it wasn't influenced by me because it just consisted of a bunch of boards placed as platforms throughout the various tree branches. Apparently the owner of the property didn't like our efforts very much because he showed up one day with a chain saw and cut the whole tree down. As a result of the let down, my parents gave me permission to build a fort on the east side of our house.
Since my dad hated it whenever I got into his tools; he gave me my own hand saw, tape measure, and hammer. Over time, Tommy and I gathered enough material from burning piles at local building sights to build a fort the size of about a 6' by 12' and about 4' to 5' high. I would have to say that for a kid my age at the time, the quality workmanship was pretty good. I installed a door with hinges and everything. I even got pretty good a salvaging bent nails from the building sites and straitening them with a hammer on a block of wood.
My parents lucked out when they found Anna, an elderly lady on a fixed income. Anna was a retired school teacher. She lived less than ten minutes away from our house and would ride the bus to our house during the afternoon and after work my mother drove her back home at night. She was a bargain of a deal at $25 per week. She was an excellent cook and helped with the house cleaning. Although she was a small lady, she knew how to handle kids like me. That’s by a firm grip on the ear. Needless to say she didn't take any shit from us kids.
Every year during the Christmas holiday season, Anna would have us over to her place for a special Christmas dinner. There she treated us to an extravagant dinner and give us each our own Christmas gifts. We could always count on the meal to be well prepared because she was an excellent cook. The interior of her house was overwhelming by the way she had it decorated with Christmas decorations for the holiday season. The thing that was unique about Anna’s decorating was the way table tops and shelves throughout the small house were lavishly decorated. She always had a small tree, but it was set it up on a small table with decorations around the base of it and the presents were placed on the floor below it.
Anna's decorating style had an influence on my mother because my mother took on the same tradition of decorating our own house in the similar kind of fashion.
Although we had a full size tree, my mother used the top of the stereo cabinets and speakers for displays just as Anna did. The ground works for the displays were white snow drifts made of the cotton like stuff. The white snowy surfaces were used as a base for little trinkets knick knacks related to Christmas. Since my mother worked at the drug store, she’d come home with everything from Jesus in a manger to Santa Claus and his reindeer.
I became a musician when I was in the second grade after Santa Claus left me a drum set for Christmas. The thing that Santa never thought about was what was going to happen at seven o'clock in the morning. With the drum set and a new Monkeys album, my mom said I was playing the hell out of, "Mary, Mary." (Where you going to?)
It seemed like I was always in trouble for one thing or another. Although I was a pretty good kid, I'm sure my parents considered me as more of a problem child; at least one that would always be into one thing or another. I spent a lot of my time studying the changes in the wall texture as it entered the corner of the room. About all I can tell you about the texture, is that the splatter transforms into little streaks as the corner becomes tight. I'm sure nobody ever notices the little streaks unless they’ve been in there, and if you've been there – you know what I mean.
Other things my mother acquired from the drug store were a few cardboard suit cases from some of the displays used in the store. She managed to get one for each of us kids. Whenever we stayed overnight at Aunt Rosebud’s or our grandparent’s house, we each had a sleeping bag and our own cardboard suite case for our own clothes.
Even though I was only 6 or 7 years of age, I can remember the desire to run-away from home several times. One day when I decided I had gotten into enough trouble, I decided that I was going to run away; I not only loaded up my suit case, I even put some of my underwear inside a three pound coffee can. My mother stood at the door and held it open for me as I walked out. She waved good bye to me as I went packing across the street to my friends Randy and Tommy’s house. I remember Tommy’s mother answering the door. Randy and Tommy were standing alongside her as I asked their mother if I could move in with them. She said I couldn't because they couldn't afford another person living there. She laughed at me as she said she could tell that I’d packed plenty of underwear because she could see the waistband of my underwear showing through the clear coffee can lid. Randy and Tommy laughed at me too. He said I was being goofy.
Well, I picked the wrong time to runaway because it started to pour down rain. I walked down to the end of our street and realized I had no place to go so I decided to seek refuge underneath the overhang on side of our house. I'd wished that it could've been possible to live in a garbage can like Felex the cat, the cartoon on television.
I'm sure the neighbor lady was quite amused about my running away and I wouldn't doubt she called my mother and told her of my whereabouts. After walking back and forth underneath the overhang for a while, my mother opened a bathroom window and asked me if I wanted some hot chicken noodle soup. I told her that I didn't, but after about five minutes, she opened the window again and said, "The soup is done. Do you want to come in for some hot soup?" Well of course, I was cold, hungry, and I wasn't going to turn down a free hot meal in a warm house.
Whenever I felt like running away when Anna was around, she wouldn't even fuss over it one bit because she knew I'd be back when I got hungry.
My dad had flown around in crop dusters when he was younger and he had the desire to get his own private airplane license so he decided to take pilot lessons. He had the desire to become a commercial airline pilot someday. Once he got his pilot license, he rented planes every now and then to take us flying with him. The first time was with the whole family in a plane that could seat six, but the second time it was just us three kids along with him in a smaller four passenger plane. I got to sit in the front as his co-pilot. My feet couldn't even reach the flap pedals very well but since you don't really need to use the peddles while cruising in the air, he let me fly it by the steering wheel which only operate the flaps on the tail of the plane.
From looking through all his Flying magazines and with the experience of flying in the airplane, I pretty much figured out what most of the gauges displayed. Although the gauges would indicate that I was gaining altitude when I was supposed to be just cruising along, I felt more comfortable knowing I was ascending instead of descending. My dad would have to correct me every once in a while and he mentioned that I had a tendency to climb.
The most fun part of the plane rides were when my dad would make the plane climb real steep, then crest and pull it into a dive. It was fun to look in back of the plane and see my sisters flouting around weightless as if we were floating in outer space. One time my youngest sister, Diane almost floated over the back of the front seats and I thought I would have to push her back where she belonged, but she caught herself and bounced herself back into her own seat.
My dad let me try to do the climb and dive thing myself, but since I had unfastened my own seat belt earlier to experience the weightlessness, when it came time for me to pull out of the dive, I pulled back on the steering wheel and all I did was pull my little body towards the steering wheel. I had to reach out and braced myself so I could pull back on the wheel, but my dad beat me to it and pulled us out of the dive before I could.
My mother became friends with Irean who worked at the same drug store. She and her husband often invited us out to their house on Spanaway Lake on the weekends. We found ourselves spending a lot of time out at the lake and for my next birthday, my parents bought me my own row boat. We enjoyed the lake so much my parents became interested in buying property out there too.
Jay and Irean told my parents of an empty lot only a few houses down from theirs. The lot was pie shaped with the dead end road running over the back smaller portion of it. It was said to have been too small to be a building site, but my parents researched the plotting for the property and learned that since it was originally plotted as a building site, they were able to get a building permit for the property even before even paid the $8,000 for lot.
For a year or two we'd spend the weekends hanging out at the "Lake Property" as we called it. Somehow my mother's indirect family members, (I think Gerom was her uncle), were invited out to the "Property" one day. They seemed to enjoy the play and asked if they could bring their RVs out to the property for the next weekend and camp out overnight. One weekend with Gerom and his drunkered friends was enough for us to put up with, but the surprise was we arrive the fallowing weekend and discovered pitched tents, travel trailers and campers had filled the lot. Apparently they thought that the "Property" was open for their use whenever they wanted. There wasn't even any room for us to park our own car on our own property. Gerom and his drinking buddies were drunk and obnoxious. That weekend my parents had about enough of them. Though my dad was a little passive, my mother didn't back down one bit. She got all riled up and put an end to it by chasing them out telling them that they were not welcome anymore.
My dad had drawn-up his own blue prints for the house they wanted to have built on the lot. When they went looking for a contractor to build it, they came across a company that was into building prefabricated housing. Unfortunately as an effort to save about $5,000 my parents were talked into one of the home designs the company had already built before. It happened to be one with a split level entry. The drag about the split level entry was that the main entrance was placed between floors and that you’re stuck with going up or down a set of stairs every time you go in or out of the house.
My parents own design would have had the kitchen and family room downstairs instead of upstairs and it wouldn't have had a split level entry. My parents would tell you today that the compromise wasn't worth it. I've heard them say, "Only if we would've known property values were going to go up so much."
Our new house was being built while I was between the third and the fourth grade. Once the foundation was in they were able to show up with the wall partitions stacked laying flat on a trailer. With the use of a crane they had the shell of the house framed in two days and on the third day another truck showed up with the trusses and they put the roof on. Bam, three days later we had the shell of a house standing there with the siding and roof on it.
Although our child hood times turned out to be much more enjoyable because we had a great recreation area right outside our home, I've always missed those airplane rides. With the expense of the new house, my dad lost the ambition to succeed with his dream to be a commercial airline pilot. I wished my dad would have carried on with his dream. If only he thought the way I do; he would have realized that a commercial airline pilot can afford a house on a lake much easier than a bus driver. The sad thing is he hasn't flown since once or twice. I guess that's the price you pay when you are married with children. But then again, kids don’t stay young forever.
We moved into the new house on Spanaway Lake before I entered the fourth grade. The neighbors' right next to us had three boys and two of them played guitar. This sparked my desire to take up the guitar too. I began taking lessons from Niles, the oldest one. I started out using my dad's Harmony acoustic guitar, but for Christmas I got a twenty dollar Tesco Del Rey electric guitar. Every morning before school my mom would suggest I practice while my sisters got ready for school.
Niles had taught me how to play melodies so he could play the rhythm cords along with me. Although I was playing pretty well, I had two problems: One was that I depended on the sheet music too much. When I would make a mistake, I would have to start all over again. Another thing was that the electric guitar I had was flat fretted and was hard to do bar cords on it, therefore I never got very good at playing rhythm. I enjoyed playing it and kept at it for a few years until I fell on my motorcycle and tore the meat off the tip of my left index finger. I had to get a butterfly clamp on it and by the time it healed I was way out of practice. By the time I got motivated to practice again and went next door for my Thursday guitar lesson; Niles said he didn't want to give me lessons anymore. I couldn't blame him because he was older than I and you know how teenagers are, they have other things to do. Since I had no other friends to play with, I more or less dropped interest in it.
Over time I learned that bringing home friends would end up being a mistake because no matter who they were, my parents would end up thinking they were a bad influence upon me. My mother would always insinuate that my friends were the reason behind most of my wrong doings. It seemed like it was never very hard for my mother to find something to put me on what she called, "restriction." Reason being is that I had two sisters that were sure to let my mother know of anything I had been up to. I'd always refer to my little sister as a walking tape recorder.
Being the problem child, my parents had their minds set on making me wait until I was eighteen to get a driver's license, even though my sisters were getting theirs at sixteen. Thinking that it might straiten me out; my parents had threatened several times to send me to Marymount Academy, which was a private Catholic military school. Looking back, I feel it would have been better for me if they had. I feel I would have learned more and without having to live in the same household as them, I think we would have gotten along better when we did spend time together. Another way I could explain why I wish they had done so is that it would have been like running away and getting free room and board. I'd bet they would have sent me there if it wouldn't have had a price tag attached to it.
Another thing I would get in trouble for is using my dad's tools. He had to keep his tools locked up so they would be there when he needed them. As a result; when I was about 10 or 12 year olds I received my own electric drill and jigsaw for Christmas. I'm sure my parents thought it was a good way of keeping me out of my dad’s tools.
At age thirteen I entered the working force by the way of taking on the responsibility of a paper route. The paper route not only offered me benefit of having money, but it also made it possible to get out of being on restriction for a few hours after school. It was nice to have money but I found the money easier to spend than it was collecting it. Collecting it was a good excuse to get out of being restricted to the house after six o’clock; the time when my mother would get of work and return home every other week. The problem with it was that I’d find other things to do, never the less it added to my freedom. As a result of my quest for freedom, my paper route manager would always ask me to quit because he would have to come around a couple of weeks after I was over due for the payment owed on the papers from the month before.
I'd met Rocky because he lived on the end of my paper route. He and his buddies would get together on the weekends and ride dirt bikes out on the Fort Lewis Military Reservation. I admired Rocky and he became somewhat of a big brother to me. I'd always hang out at his place and do things like pull him waterskiing. I was like a fixture around his place, even to the point where I'd answer his phone with… "Hello, this is the paper boy."
I remember one time Rocky wanted to go water skiing after work so he came over to my house and picked me up and asked if I’d pull him around the cove behind the island a couple times. The sheriff stopped us for not having a spotter and I got a kick out of how sincere he sounded when he tried to convince the sheriff that my pet poodle was trained to bark if a water skier fell. Whether the sheriff believed him or not really didn't matter, because we got out of a citation, and that’s what mattered anyway.
During that summer, I took a trip back to North Dakota with my parents. Why I didn't just stay home with my sisters, I don't know. I guess it’s because I've always enjoyed traveling and I never got the opportunity. I had only been there when I was a toddler so I wanted to see what was out there as a teenager. I guess the best way to put it is that I'm the kind of guy who likes to experience different cultures.
When I got back, I happened to be walking through the garage and stopped to sit on my dirt bike, just to get a feel of it. I noticed the new grips I'd just put on before leaving for North Dakota were torn. Then I went to turn the handle bars strait and the bars were bent. The seat was torn, the fenders were messed up. SOMEBODY HAS BEEN RIDING MY BIKE!
No doubt my sister Dana had let her boyfriend take my bike out for a spin. I guess the little RM 125 was too much for him. It didn't run good either. After disconnected the expansion chamber and inspected the piston through the exhaust port, I noticed that the piston was scorched. The seal had been bad from me knocking the exhaust chamber loose and I'd known that going through deep water was a no-no. Well the jerk sure had to try a deep mud puddle too.
The bike was beat and needed a new top end. Then the surprising thing about it was that my little sister lied to my parents. She said that nobody touched it, and get this; -- they believed her. I was getting screwed and there wasn't anything I could do because my parents believed her word over mine. I didn't have the money to fix it, so the bike just sat there. Then a few weeks went by and my parents had some film developed which contained some pictures they had taken of me the day before they were leaving to go back to North Dakota without us kids. I had my dad take a picture of me doing a wheelie down the street so he would have some current pictures of me to show my grandmother. I even had him take a closer shot of me just sitting on my bike sideways at an angle; posing you could say. In the picture there were brand new shinny hand grips and a seat that looked like new.
My parents knew I hadn't ridden the dirt bike since and it proved my sister of a lie. My parents ended up forking out the money for parts to rebuild the top end and such, but I got stuck with all the work repairing it. Then there were cosmetic things like the seat and fender that were never fixed.
The situation with my bike getting beat up was the only time I was ever able to prove that my sisters had lied to them about me and successfully defended myself. Otherwise, if it was my sister's word against mine -- they would always win and the girls knew they would. They could get me in trouble just by making up things. The main reason I couldn't have friends was because my sisters would usually make up lies about them too.
One time I tried to snitch on my sister just as she would on me time and time again. I told my mother that a friend Ray had seen Disco D. smoking pot with her friend in the car at the local strip mall’s parking lot. Disco said it was impossible because she was allergic to smoke, and of course my mom believed her. About a year later, Disco took up the habit of smoking cigarettes.
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