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Reviewing a Lifetime
(A Psychotherapist's Nightmare)
by John D. Sedory

Copyright©2022 by Daniel B. Sedory, Editor. All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 31
California, Here We Are!

 

1972

    On October 11th, we arrived in Anaheim, California, staying at a motel off State College Boulevard while we looked for housing. The real estate company in time began getting pushy, and we felt uneasy with them. So Eleanor phoned her cousin Gloria Pace who told her we should go up to the San Fernando Valley where they lived. They had a friend in the real estate business there. We phoned the real estate company in Anaheim to tell them of our decision, as we'd had another appointment for that day. Our message was not accepted very well, understandably.

    On the 15th, we took Daniel to the Long Beach Naval Station to board his ship, the USS Chicago (CG-11); which was already in dry dock at that time.

    October 17th: Left Anaheim to explore real estate possibilities in the San Fernando Valley. Settled into a motel on Sepulveda Boulevard near Nordhoff, one which offered weekly rates, as we didn't know how long we'd be there before finding a home. It was The Good Knight Inn Motel (there about 2 weeks).

    October 20th to 22nd: Finally found a property in Granada Hills which seemed to fit our pocketbook and needs. It was located at 11131 Gaviota Avenue, and the family was anxious to move on. Coincidentally, they were also Christians who told the real estate salesman "We have to pray about this offer." When telling us what the sellers had said, we told the salesman we fully understood their wish to do that, as we would have done the same thing. He was a bit confused!

  [Editor's Note: Although the author left Illinois to escape snow storms, blizzards and the possibility of a tornado demolishing his home, living in SoCal did come with the possibility of a major earthquke. However, the fact that one had just occurred the year before[1] meant it wouldn't be likely for many years to come; unlike seaonal disasters like tornadoes. Sure enough, although the author had already moved further east before the next big quake hit the Valley, your editor was injured in that one![1]]

    November 1st: A very quick escrow found us moving into our home on this date. It took several days to get all our goods moved in from Global Van Lines, but soon we were settled in. We called Illinois to advise Marie that Dorothy could now be sent to California to live with us. Eleanor's mother was also called to send our dog Princess to us (via air service).

    November 3rd: Daniel moved his belongings (from the garage) into his own room in our house, though he was still on active duty in the U.S. Navy and would remain so until late May, 1974. However, we got to see him during quite a few weekend passes during that time; often driving to Long Beach (or later, San Diego) to either bring him home for the weekend, or visit with him there.

    [Editor's Note: The house had 4 bedrooms, so until it got more crowded, there was a bedroom for Mom and Dad, for Jack, for Aunt Dorothy and for myself.]

    November 8th: An unforgettable experience when we picked Dorothy and Princess up at Los Angeles International Airport. Dorothy's pick up was no problem. But when we finally located Princess, she was in a cage, nervous, sick looking, and full of feces from head to toe. The odor around her cage was nauseating! We tried to find a service in or around the airport where we could have her bathed, but there was no such service available.

    So I pulled out some blankets and rugs we kept in the trunk of the car and tried wrapping her in them to block out the awful odor, and we took off in the car.

    We figured we might try riding along Coast Highway Route One southwest of the airport in the hope we could air things out. It didn't help!

    We stopped for something to eat (my stomach wasn't too hot for food, however), and then we headed north for the San Fernando Valley and home.

    It was at least a couple weeks before Princess looked anything near to her old self. That baggage compartment ride must have found her bumping about in that cage, and that's what most likely caused her condition when she arrived.

New Car

    November 22nd: We bought a new "1973" Chevrolet 4-door (blue) car. It had a 350 cubic-inch engine with a dual exhaust system. We paid cash for this car—the only one we ever bought new and paid for in that manner.

    November 23rd: Took a ride up to the top of Mt. Wilson. Everyone was there except our son Tim. [Editor's Note: I was pretty excited to be able to show my family why I wanted to stay in SoCal: Being able to hike and sleep in its beautiful mountain forests (that I was not allergic too).]

    November 29th: A phone call revealed that Eleanor's Aunt Caroline had died from heart failure. She hadn't been doing very well before we left Illinois, so it wasn't entirely unexpected. She had been very good to Eleanor and our family for years.

 

December, 1972.

Son Daniel, Princess, John (the author) and his wife Eleanor, and son Jack in front of 11131 Gaviota Ave.

1973

    May: Eleanor's mother Erana and her husband Clarence arrive for a visit. One thing I remember about that visit took place in a Marie Calendar's Pie Shop in Toluca Lake. We all had a big meal with strawberry pie and all. Clarence insisted he pay for the bill, but I was concerned because I'd heard he didn't tip too well. As we were leaving, he approached our waitress and said, "Here, this is for you!" I watched from the table as the others were leaving.

    The tip he wanted to make sure the waitress received was a whole quarter! The bill was probably over $20.00. So I quickly pulled out two or three dollars and placed them at our table without Clarence knowing of it.

    June: Our neighbors from Hoffman Estates, the Schusters, visited us. Their son Jimmy accompanied them. We had a great time eating out and talking about the years we spent in Illinois while living across the street from them. It seems they were exploring the possibility of a move, but they didn't know if it'd be California or Florida.

    September 1st: Our wayward son Tim visits us for the first time in California. We just had a swimming pool built, and the water hadn't yet had time to filter out the dirt. But Tim and Jack jumped into it just the same.

1974

    January 5th: My brother Ed visited us in Granada Hills.

    January 28th: I was at Jet Air Freight in Inglewood for 15 months when a teletype message was directed to me personally. A friend of mine from the Chicago station was now in Denver as manager, and he wanted to assure the pickup of this shipment by the proper person. The shipment turned out to be pornographic film, and it was to be shipped over state lines. The FBI got their hands on that message and sought me out in California one early morning because my name was on the message as the one to see for the pickup.

    This was my second lifetime experience in dealing with men from the FBI, the first being while at Rex Auto Parts in the sixties.

    Two agents approached me and laid out their plan to me. They said, "Mr. So-and-So will come in and ask for you per the message. Do you have the shipment, and do you know where it is?" I was asked. I affirmed that I did. They then continued to lay out their instructions and plan.

    "When he comes in, go get the film and hand it to him. Then point him out to us, and we'll take care of the rest."

    The man came in; I gave him the film; I pointed him out to the two FBI agents. Then each of them grabbed the man around his arms and flashed their badges saying, "We're with the FBI. You're under arrest! Come along with us."

    The Rex Auto Parts drug bust immediately flashed before my eyes as I watched the scenario unfolding.

    In weeks to come I was subpoenaed to the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to appear as a witness for the Federal Government. I only appeared on the witness stand one time, quite a lengthy time at that. And one I'll not soon forget!

    The accused had ten attorneys who were eager to confound me and my testimony as they cross-examined me. They tried to make a big thing of my memory in saying if I couldn't recall the exact time the man came in to pick the film up, how could I be relied upon to give accurate testimony on anything? Eventually I was dismissed from duty, and I read later in the newspapers that the guy beat the rap and got off scot-free. Maybe my attorney cousin Gene Brassfield would understand how such a thing could happen, but to me it seemed like "money talked" somewhere along the line.

    May: Eleanor's mother arrived for a vacation with us (she came out every year after we moved to California).

    May: Daniel released from active duty in the U.S. Navy.

    July: Tim and Cindy (his Illinois girlfriend) visit us in California. We thought this girl would become our daughter-in-law one day, but it didn't turn out that way.

    December 29th: Tim attended the Redemption Center in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, and said he received the Lord into his heart today.

1975

    June 2nd: My mother-in-law Erana visits us and is on hand to attend our son Jack's graduation from North Valley Jr. High.

    July 2nd: The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church held its annual convention in Anaheim, and my cousin Rev. Bob Novotney, his wife Marge and kids Angie and Aaron visit us while at the convention. I think we may have given them the use of one of our cars while in town. We enjoyed their visit very much.

    On October 14th, Tim moved from Illinois to come live with us, leaving former girlfriend Cindy behind. Now that he knew the Lord, he couldn't continue living as he had, and Cindy wanted no part of "that religious stuff."

 

Another Dog: Peanut

    December 13th: Eleanor noticed a stray black poodle wandering on the street as she drove away to a church affair. When she returned she saw that the dog was still there and asked Tim to bring her in and to see if he could find whose dog she was. She had been wagging her tail as though quite friendly, and Eleanor thought she was just lost.

    Newspaper ads, bulletin board notices and word of mouth advertising aimed at the owners proved unsuccessful. Peanut, as she was named by Jack, didn't bark or whimper or make any sound for at least four or five days, and we wondered if she had a voice. But then one day when she figured she had found a permanent home, she finally began barking along with Princess—who, by the way, didn't take too kindly to another dog invading her territory. But that only lasted for a couple of weeks and Peanut and Princess became playmates.

    We took Peanut to a veterinarian for shots and a check up. He said she had to be about seven to nine months old because of the way her teeth looked and the fact she had begun doing what female animals do. I forgot to mention that when found she had a totally disheveled appearance. Her coat was twisted and tangled every which way. So if she was lost, she'd been that way for some time. It could be that she just was "dumped" by someone.

    Our swimming pool found Peanut and Princess in it more than the other family members after a while. First it was Princess alone; and then Peanut must have gotten the idea that perhaps she was missing something and joined Princess in the pool. We have many pictures of the dogs in the pool and in the spa. That's where they'd most likely be found pictured with me.

 

Princess and Peanut in our back yard next to the pool with Eleanor's beautiful flower bed and other plants in the picture as well.

    December 25th: Gene and Judy Brassfield, their kids, and Aunt Margaret [Sedory] (Gene's mother) visited us in Granada Hills. Margaret's husband (my uncle) Everette had passed away in July of 1975.

 

1976

Sales not going well for Jet Air Freight

    From the time I came to Jet Air Freight in Inglewood, California, I was made the dock manager, customer service manager, and then finally got into sales. But toward the latter part of 1975 the company began failing financially, and pay checks began bouncing. The hand writing was on the wall, as they say; and soon Chapter 11 was instituted. By the first of 1976 people were being let go right and left, and I knew my day would come, too, as it finally did in January, 1976.

    From that date until the first of March of that year I worked at The Independent Order of Foresters enrolling people into their program. My wife had been a member, and I then joined as well. It's kind of a fraternal group which exists mainly by selling life insurance to members.

    In the last month there (February), I also began working on a commission basis in sales for Burlington Northern Air Freight near L.A. International Airport. I tried to switch as many accounts as I could from Jet Air Freight to Burlington Northern.

 

    March 2nd: Burlington Northern Air Freight offered me a full time salaried position (with auto and expenses), removing the part time commission contract I had worked under. So I left the Foresters.

    April 5th: Eleanor and I and sister Dorothy visit my sister Marie and her husband John in Phoenix, also seeing Eleanor's second cousin Marsha in Scottsdale while there. Ironically, it's a good thing we visited earlier that year, as later in the fall, it would have been too late for Marie to see Dorothy again as the radiant person she normally was with so much zest for life!

    May 3rd: Brother Ed and a friend Sonia—I know; it's spelled three different ways—visit us in Granada Hills.

Author's Sister Dorothy

    July 3rd: My sister Dorothy who lived with us began feeling under the weather, and Eleanor took her for testing at the medical group where we were members.

    September 3rd or so: Dorothy is taken to the hospital for observation and tests to see what is wrong. The doctors take a biopsy of her liver using a long needle which is inserted through the abdominal wall. In time they told us she had a cancer which was of the fastest spreading type known, and they estimated she would have about three weeks to live. I personally was devastated at that revelation, and the other family members were as well. Marie and John and brother Ed (he was in Arizona at the time, but he lived in Illinois then) came to see Dorothy while she was still in the hospital. It would be the last time Ed and John would see her alive; but Marie came back a short time later and stayed with us while Dorothy was in a nursing home.

    September 29th: I had stopped daily at the nursing home to see Dorothy while out in my territory (sales for Burlington Northern), and this day I finally lost all hope she would be able to survive much longer. Dorothy gasped for air and often choked without nurses' aid to clear her throat, and it made me angry. Yet I knew she couldn't last. She'd try to tell me something, and I could understand the first few words, but then it all became garbled and my heart nearly broke when this happened, as she knew I didn't understand what she was saying. But her eyes spoke for her and showed how disappointed she felt about my inability to grasp what she was trying to tell me.

    That day after I left the nursing home, the phone call finally came that she had passed away—exactly three weeks to the day from the time the doctor said it'd be about that long. She was 38 years of age!

    Dorothy had worked at various jobs where handicapped people were employed. They weren't paid much, but it gave them a feeling of being needed. She met a young man, Barrie Sinclair, at one of these places. He was not as badly disabled mentally and was even able to drive his own auto. So he and Dorothy had many good times together. We weren't personally concerned about sexual misbehavior because of the fact Barrie's infirmity resulted from an auto accident which caused him to be impotent. Now that I think of it they may have met at Van Nuys Baptist Church.

    The funeral was held in Mission Hills, and the body was then shipped to Illinois for burial and a service there. Marie flew back to arrange things in Illinois, working with Ed back there. He handled the finances for Dorothy.

    Dad, Mom and Dorothy were now all together in God's mansion He had prepared for them. Their earthly remains were interred at Chapel Hill Gardens West in Elmhurst [now Oakbrook Terrace], Illinois. I have not seen Dad's or Mom's grave since their burial dates back in 1971. But I have never seen Dorothy's!

 

    December 25th: Eleanor and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary with what seems to be getting traditional—a lobster dinner. I'd guess that was not a real festive dinner because of Dorothy's passing away.

1977

    March, 1977: A man who rented office space from Burlington Northern Air Freight had talked about opening his own business (air freight forwarding on a not-for-profit basis—want to bet?) and asked two of us in the sales department to join him in the venture. Both of us went for the bait, unfortunately!

    The reason I used the word "unfortunately" will become obvious when I tell you that this man had me representing one price structure to clients while printing a price list which was much higher than that which I was quoting. He said, "By the time they get their billing for their shipments, they'll have forgotten what price they had been quoted." This happened after I was with the company the best part of the year. I told him there was no way I was going to go along with that philosophy and that if he didn't change, I'd have to leave. I started working for this new company on April 1, 1977.

    The other fellow who joined me in this venture and who also left Burlington Northern had already been terminated from employment with this company for falsifying his sales reports (as to where he'd made calls). This may have been the case, though I never knew for certain.

    April 10th: Eleanor and I attended Grace Community Church, pastor John MacArthur, for the first time. Our son Daniel had been attending there for some time prior to that date.

    April 17th: This was our last day of church attendance at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Granada Hills. A couple of incidents led to this decision.

    First, when entering the sanctuary on that Sunday, I told Eleanor I was going to try something. "When the greeter asks how I am, I'm going to say 'lousy, thank you' just to see what happens." Entering the sanctuary and being asked the usual question, I responded as I said I would. The answer from the greeter, "That's good!" I'd just said I felt lousy, and the greeter told me that was good. In other words he wasn't waiting for an answer, and he couldn't have cared less how I really felt.

    The second thing that happened was a verbal confrontation with the church pastor. We'd been ill for a couple or few weeks with influenza and colds in the family, and we missed a couple Sunday services. The pastor sort of chided us for being absent from those services without asking if we'd been away or had health problems. I answered by saying, "We have been ill in the family, but you'll notice that each Sunday's offering envelope has been turned in with the usual gifts." He answered, "I can't preach to envelopes." And that was the breaking point at which I then decided this would be my last attendance there.

    I must honestly admit, too, that for years I'd pondered some of the doctrine of the church, things like infant baptism, holy communion (and closed communion), the church's avoidance of teaching the Bible book of The Revelation by saying it was too figurative in language to be able to understand it, and by using much of what Martin Luther wrote as a backup to the Bible itself (as though it could be used to supplement Scripture). I know Lutherans of every Synod will voice their disagreement with me on that statement, but that's how I saw it then and still do today.

    April 24th: Began attending Grace Community Church (non-denominational) on a regular basis.

    June 1st: Eleanor's mother visits us (at what became an appropriate time).

Heart Surgery!

    Back in May, I began having trouble breathing and getting sufficient oxygen when I walked any distance or climbed stairs. I was in air freight sales, and I often had to walk long distances from where I'd park my car to where my appointment would be located.

    June 7th: I was given a treadmill test to check further into my breathing dilemma. This test revealed that I might have circulatory malfunctions, and an angiogram test was said to be needed immediately.

    June 8th: The angiogram test was done at Granada Hills Community Hospital[2] and showed I was in need of urgent heart bypass surgery. I was filled in on what could happen if I put the surgery off to a later date, like "If you want to live, you'd better have it done tomorrow!"

    June 9th: Four bypasses were done, and there's quite a story of what happened while I was still being "stitched up."

    I awoke to find the surgery still underway, at least the end part of sewing things up. I was on that narrow gurney; strapped in; naked as a new born; freezing—they keep the body temperature way down low for such surgery; shivering so much that I could scarcely control it; my throat was stuffed with tubes which caused a dry and irritated throat; I could not speak to tell those around me that I was awake.

    And I heard the doctor saying to one of his assistants, "Give him some more blood! He's fibrillating!" The answer came back, "I just gave him some blood." "Well, give him some more!" the doctor shot back.

    Having had a couple months of laboratory technique training, I was familiar with certain medical terminology, and "fibrillation" didn't sound too good to me. I knew it to be a racing of the heart (though it's more complicated than that alone), and I knew it could be dangerous... to me.

    When they got me into the intensive care unit, I'm told by family members who saw me shortly afterward that I looked like a "man from Mars" with all those tubes and wires sticking out of and into my body. They also said I looked like "death warmed over," whatever that looks like. But it must have been that way, as my son Jack is said to have been unable to control his emotions when he saw me, and he left immediately in tears.

    I was in the hospital for 13 days, having great difficulty in clearing my lungs of fluids and phlegm. A machine which forced a terrible tasting chemical into my lungs was attached around the clock every few hours. I dreaded to hear the thing being wheeled down the hallway toward my room.

    Once home, I felt very weak and sick. But I was told I'd have to begin walking every day and increasing the length of time each day. So I did walk around our swimming pool lap after lap, finally then progressing to walking on the sidewalks near the house.

    This surgery took place after I'd been at this new air freight forwarder (I don't want to use names, as those people are probably still around—though not that company itself). I didn't know what to expect, as I'd only been in their employee about 2½ months. As it turned out, I was most grateful that they paid me for all the time I was off recuperating. It seems I didn't go back to work until the end of July or so.

 

    August 28th: Eleanor and I were baptized by Dr. John MacArthur at Grace Community Church (baptized as believing adults). There were something like 2,500 to 3,000 people present at the service, and I was so nervous that when I was baptized and made my statement, I could hardly get the words out of my mouth. That same thing happened to me when making my first speech at the Fundamentals of Speech class I'd taken at Harper College. But God knew what was in my heart, and that's what really counted.

    November 6th: Eleanor and I accepted into membership at Grace Community Church.

    December 15th: Daniel's obligation to the U.S. Naval Reserves ended today.

1978

    March 17, 1978: At the air freight forwarder (the one I'd left Burlington Northern to join) for almost a year now, I finally told the owner I couldn't go on with the rate situation as it was, and that I was leaving his employment.

    Driving me home from the office in Torrance, a distance of maybe 40 miles or more, the owner of the company kept saying what a great opportunity I was giving up, two new cars in a year, a good salary, and an expense account.

    My answer to that was that I'd called on those accounts while with three different companies and that I felt I wanted those people to be able to believe everything I told them and that I couldn't do that with the pricing hoax going on in his business.

    Eleanor kept pushing me to file for unemployment compensation, but I told her I couldn't collect because I'd quit the job. And I kept watching the want ads and sending out resumes all over the place. However, I didn't get even one response!

    Now I began to wonder what my former employer was telling those who may have phoned him to ask why I left his employee. "Could it be he's black-balling me with these people and telling falsehoods?" I thought.

    Having three kids living at home, and having expenses coming from every side, I soon realized I was going to have to do something, and Eleanor's insistence that I go to the Employment Development Department [EDD] finally got to me, and I stopped in.

An EDD First!

    Filling out all the forms, and then being interviewed, I was told what I'd expected to hear. "When you quit a job, you can't collect unemployment compensation." The lady then said, "But you can file an appeal if you like; but I doubt it'll do any good."

    Reaching home with that news, Eleanor said "File the appeal as long as they say you can. "Naturally, I rejected that idea as a time-wasting experience. But in the next couple weeks of unemployment, I found myself going back to EDD to file the appeal.

    The lady accepting the application told me I was wasting my time but she'd gladly file it. She concluded by saying "You should get a response within the next couple weeks."

    All this while I was looking for a job, filling out applications and going to interviews. I never got beyond that, except with one company—and that was to be a training period of a week or so and then a strictly commission job. So, having nothing else to go with, I accepted the challenge.

    While in that first week of training (and I can't for the life of me recall what I was to sell at this place) we got a response from EDD listing a certain date I and my former employer would have to appear before a judge to rule on the appeal. But I was now training and couldn't go, so Eleanor went in my place.

    From this point on it's almost unbelievable. Eleanor said the judge questioned her and the former employer. He asked Bob why he'd raised the rates to Hawaii something like fifty to sixty percent. His response was, "Well, your honor, we do have to make a profit you know." The judge said, "I thought you said you were a not-for-profit air shippers cooperative? Why did you need to make that kind of profit?"

    He then and there ruled in my favor. Incredible. He told Bob he'd be charged from his account to pay me for something like ten weeks of back compensation, a healthy sum of money. In case you didn't know, employers have an account with EDD in which they are refunded if no claims are filed. So this was going to cost Bob quite a bit!

    When I went into my local EDD office to show the letter the judge had written in my favor, the girl who had been telling me I was wasting my time by appealing, suddenly burst out after reading the two page statement, "Come here! Look at this!" She called several other girls in the office to read the statement, and they were awed by it, too. I was told it was the first time in that office's history such an appeal had been reversed in the favor of one who quit his job.

    The crux of the statement was (I have the letter to this day) that all a salesman has to offer is his credibility, and if that is lost, his accounts won't stay with him. Amazing!

 

    June 11, 1978: We'd been having trouble with our son Jack and the company he kept whereby he figured anything they did was fine with him. The problem was that it was a large family where the parents drank, and the kids did much of what pleased them, and this was where he was getting his ideas—from them and their friends.

    That night he came home on the tipsy side, and he cried as he spoke with Timothy about how he'd been living, and he then and there invited Jesus Christ into his heart. I know both Tim and Daniel were instruments of the Lord that night to get Jack to come to his decision. There is a long story of that night unmentioned.

Leaving Granada Hills

    June 17th to June 23rd: No jobs forthcoming, slipping behind financially, having five others dependent on my income (to a degree), these factors weighed heavily in our decision to accept General Development Company's offer to take a trip to Florida to see if we wanted to exchange our lot for a home they'd build for us. We already had our home in Granada Hills up for sale, so we needed to decide where we'd move if the house sold.

    We'd been in touch with Eleanor's high school girlfriend Ann and her husband Bob Buer. They lived in Nokomis, Florida, about fifteen to twenty miles from our lot location in North Port. Bob said, "Whatever you do, do not sign to buy a house or exchange your lot with GDC without first seeing what we can show you in building possibilities!"

    In taking the tour at GDC (they paid for just about the whole trip), they kept us under constant surveillance and kept us busy so we couldn't get away to check out other options in housing. It was one of their preplanned methods of overwhelming the potential buyer. But on the third day when we refused to do anything until we checked with our friends, they belligerently gave up on us—at least "temporarily." I'm sure they thought we'd be back to close a deal with them.

    Bob and Ann introduced us to a real estate company, South County Realty, and one of their salesmen, Dave Geimann (sp?). Dave had a lot for sale in what he said would be a nice and growing community. He also said he knew a builder who would build us a nice, solid home (he had brochures on the home) on the lot at a price we couldn't turn down.

    We looked at the lot, read the brochure, and met the builder. We then decided we'd be getting much more for our dollar from him than we could from GDC, and we put a deposit on the lot. We intended to then sell our home in California and to move out there to Englewood (just south of Venice), arranging for building one of his homes after we were back in Florida.

    Somewhere in here our home in Granada Hills sold, and the buyers wanted to take possession in mid-July of 1978, so our kids began going here and there. They didn't intend to go along with us to Florida. Tim already had a job with a branch of the company he worked for in Illinois, and Daniel had a job as well. Jack intended to find a job, but we weren't too keen on leaving him behind at age 17 unless we could be pretty sure he'd be under proper supervision.

    July 2nd: Jack is baptized as a believing adult at Grace Community Church, pastor John MacArthur. His testimony and delivery of it far exceeded the one I'd given eight months earlier. He was putting into practice what he proclaimed earlier.

    Tim had moved to Orange County, the City of Tustin, some months before, and he lived in an apartment there. He agreed to take Jack on and watch over him while we were away. Daniel in the mean time had found an apartment somewhere, too. [Only a temporary location in which he also had to watch the lady's dog.]

 

The front of our house at 11131 Gaviota Ave. in 1978.

 

[Editor's Note: The beat up old "Oldsmobile" in the driveway was purchased by my brother Jack shortly before he moved in with brother Tim in Orange County and our parents moved to Florida.]

Saying Goodbye to Tim and Jack

    July 14th: After nearly six years in Granada Hills, Eleanor and I pulled away from what was our second home (owned, that is) and headed to Tustin where Tim and Jack lived. We intended to say our farewells there, staying a day or two. We left our 1971 Olds with Tim, as his hot rod car had broken down. Daniel [already] had his own car [since completing his US Navy Active Duty in 1974].

    We had given away many items we couldn't sell at our garage sale, and all that we didn't need for everyday use was packed for a moving company to transport to Florida for us. To this day I could kick myself for having given away so many valuable books to which I've wanted to refer for various things on many occasions. Books are heavy, however, and movers charge by the pound.

    We stopped at a Chevron gasoline station for an adjustment or belt or hose change just before leaving, and Jack asked the owner if he needed any help. As it turned out, he got a job there after we left for Florida. And that job led to a courtship with the owner's stepdaughter and ultimately to marriage. The station was in Tustin.

Our Adventurous Move to Florida

    July 16, 1978: On our way to Florida, we stopped at Glendale and Scottsdale to visit with my sister and brother-in-law, Marie and John. We also visited with Eleanor's second cousin Marsha. We stayed until the 19th of July.

    One thing should be told about that trip, and that's the fact we had the trunk of the car and the back seat piled high. Our two dogs had very little head room when laying on top of the pile. And it was hot!

    Leaving Phoenix we headed for Tucson. It was while enroute to that city that strange car noises began showing up. In time we determined it was nothing more than a lopsided tire which was the cause. Trouble is it worsened as we continued driving. And by the time we got to Tucson we knew we had to find the first gas station to stop in and check things out.

    The owner didn't have the right size tire, and he said he'd be back with one soon. The bad one had a bulge in it and was near to blowing out. After getting the price for the job, I sort of wished we had waited until it did blow out. The guy was after arms, legs and whatever else he could get. And it was some off brand name tire I'd never heard of on top of it!

    Things went well until we got to Texas, a really wide, desert-like state—especially when it's in the hot part of the summer. The air conditioner was going full blast after we left El Paso which is on the west side of Texas. But as we continued driving, we didn't seem to feel much relief, and in checking we found the air coming in was as hot as could be.

    So we opened the windows to let some fresh air in. Wrong move again! The air outside was even hotter as it was being driven into the car while we sped into it. We thought, "We'll just stop at the next shop or service station someplace and have it taken care of." But that shop or station wasn't showing up. Not even a town or anything resembling one came into view.

    By now the dogs were panting heavily with tongues outstretched. We stopped to give them some water to try alleviating some of their discomfort, but it didn't help much as we continued driving in all that heat.

    I don't know the exact mileage it turned out to be before we found a repair shop, but it seems it was something like 80 to 90. And that's a long way in a fierce, burning sun and windblown heat when you're beginning to wonder if the dogs or the humans will die first.

    The repair shop was a typical desert-type facility, a shack with a shed with one stall for repairs and little else. I was contemplating getting shafted again as I had been in Tucson as the guy checked wiring and fuses, etc.

    Soon he said, "You see this little thing? It's a ----- (can't remember what it was called). I just put one in the line. Start the car up and turn the air conditioner on." It worked! Praise God!

    "How much do we owe you," I ventured, expecting to hear the worst.

    "That little gadget costs $3.75," he said, "and there's no charge for installing it." I couldn't believe my ears.

    "Do you have another one?" I asked, "in case this one goes bad." "Sure," he said, "but I doubt you'll ever use it."

    We enjoyed air conditioning until we nearly froze to death, and we finally cut back on the blowers after a while. It was like leaving hell and entering into the gates of heaven—I've been to neither and can't really say, but it just seemed fit to insert that. After all, the Bible relates the extreme difference in those two places.

    I'm pretty sure we stopped at San Antonio for the night, having a most terrible time trying to find a motel which would allow us to keep the dogs inside with us. They'd had enough of heat and loneliness as it was when Eleanor and I would stop to eat somewhere. It was also nearly impossible to get them to perform normal bodily functions when we couldn't find a place where there was grass around. And they continually whined and barked when we'd leave them alone.

    But we did find this one place, and we prayed the dogs wouldn't bark and disturb other guests in the place.

    When we got to Houston I stopped to phone Don Thresher, a guy I'd worked with in Chicago at Jet Air Freight. He moved to Houston some years earlier and was in business for himself. I got to talk to his wife, but he wasn't at home, and I didn't want to take the time to search him out. I don't think we were lavishly invited, for that matter.

    As we drove through Houston it began raining real hard, and we were concerned if the trunk seal we had installed was keeping the water out of the trunk. Checking later we learned it had not. Another great revelation which made for additional joy on the trip.

    By the time we got to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it was dark and raining hard. We tried to find a motel, but everything seemed to be shut down (you know, the sidewalks are rolled up after a certain hour). We had no choice but to continue driving.

    The highways were great, at least, four lanes, two in each direction with a wide median strip covered with high grass. We'd heard the highway police in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were pretty touchy about even a single mile over the speed limit, so I stayed right at 55 MPH and in the right lane. Everyone was asleep, even the dogs (Eleanor always slept on trips).

Crazy Driver Incident

    Soon I noticed a pair of headlights in my rear view mirror. I thought, "He'll soon be pulling into the passing lane around me, and I won't have to be concerned about him." But as the distance between us closed, I began wondering what this guy was doing.

    Pretty soon I realized I could no longer see his headlights, and he was right on my bumper just about. I swerved to the right not knowing what was off to the side of the road, as the grass was about a foot to a foot and a half tall. But what choice did I have? This guy was about to bang into the rear of our car! And I was afraid if I swerved to the left or center lane, he'd do the same thing at the same time.

    The grass slowed me down considerably, but the car behind was now spinning in circles violently in the two lanes, mostly toward the center one. And as he did that I began easing our car back onto the highway.

    He must have turned around three to four times at high speed, and suddenly he came to a dead stop. Eleanor and the dogs were all awake by now, and I asked her if she thought we should stop to see what happened to the driver. She advised he might be drunk or on drugs and we shouldn't stop.

    We must have gone about two to three miles and here he came! It was a Pontiac Trans Am. We noticed that when he was spinning and again now as he shot past us. We breathed a sigh of relief that he was OK and that nothing more came of that scenario than had (like being shot at, for example, as he passed us again).

    In the moments all that was taking place, my heart was racing for all it was worth. I felt I was as close to death as I wanted to be on that night, and a nice relaxing remainder of our trip would be welcomed. But there was still more trouble ahead. A tire noise similar to what we'd experienced near Tucson showed up again, only this time it sounded like more than one tire.

    Reaching Pensacola, Florida, the next a.m., we stopped to eat somewhere and to look for a place to rest and relax for that day and night. Our cash supply was short, and we looked for a place to use our charge card for a cash advance. It was no easy task to find a place where "outsiders" could be trusted. But after a couple hours or so we finally did find a bank willing to take the risk.

    Now having cash, there were two things I had to do. One was to find a motel room we could keep the dogs in, and the other was to do some researching for a place to buy some more tires.

    Having been in the Navy, I wanted to drive around the base at Pensacola, which we did. And then we looked for a motel room. The place we finally found was more like a hotel, a taller building with many rooms. It wasn't too far southwest of the naval base. Whether they permitted animals or not, I'm not sure. We may have sneaked the dogs in after dark somehow. But we did keep them with us inside.

    Finding a larger tire distributor, I learned that the tire I bought in Tucson had gone bad (bulge in it), and two of the others also were ready to go. So we had to buy three more tires. It's at times when you least need more expense that these things happen, or at least it seems that way.

    Rested and fed we left Pensacola for Venice. Eleanor's girlfriend and husband expected us somewhere around the 23rd, and today was the day. All we had to do was drive the approximately 450 miles and we'd be there.

    Around Tallahassee the scenery is very eye appealing for quite a stretch, but then it levels off to flat land and less interesting sights. We did follow along the coastline as much as we could to keep the Gulf of Mexico in view. And soon we were in Tampa.

    From Tampa heading south one crossed a long, narrow bridge (Tampa Bay) which was constructed with metal strips which gave a weird tire sound. Worse than the sound was the fact you could see the water underneath as you drove over it. It was a rather scary bridge even in nice weather, but in later months we drove over it when it was stormy, and that really gave it an ominous appearance. That's the bridge which years later collapsed when rammed by a ship. Many lives were lost [35 died] when cars [and a bus] on the bridge plunged into those choppy waters.[3] As I heard the tragedy being portrayed over television, I remembered the times we'd crossed over and I had wondered about the possibility of such an accident.




 
 
 

Chapter 30

TOC

Chapter 32

Footnotes

1[Return to Text]  This had been the 1971 San Fernando Valley Earthquake on February 9th, during which the Lower Van Norman Dam had come close to flooding the Valley; 80,000 people were evacuated for 4 days until the water level was sufficiently lowered! Almost 23 years later, on January 17th, during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, the author's son, Daniel, living in Granada Hills, was knocked unconscious by falling furniture.

2[Return to Text]  This hopspital closed its doors in July of 2003 when it went bankrupt. A Sunday, February 8, 2004, Los Angeles Times ad, page 55, stated the hospital was for sale. The ad was still running in the Sunday, April 11, 2004 paper. In March, there had been talk that the L.A. Unified School District might purchase the property. Eventually, as can be seen in old Google Maps views, the hospital was definitely demolished by 2006 when the construction of a new building on the flat land can be seen going up.

3[Return to Text]  The following are just a few of the many references which can be found online regarding this May 9, 1980 disaster: Skyway Bridge Accident And Collapse May 9, 1980, Tampa Florida and The Skyway Bridge Collapse Disaster. There are a number of photos in the Tampa Bay Times article which follows. Title: "See historic photos from the Sunshine Skyway bridge disaster 42 years ago" Beginning of article: "On May 9, 1980, a freighter struck the bridge, killing 35 people in one of the worst disasters in Tampa Bay history." (from: Tampa Bay Times, May 6, 2020).