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by Amriel
Rated: E · Article · Biographical · #1389601
a biography of Amriel (Douglas) Simpson artist and painter growing up and living in Oregon
Brief Over-View


Amriel Simpson is an artist living in Oregon who paints and draws. Amriel (Douglas) Simpson was born in Santa Ana, California July 18, 1971; lived in San Juan Capistrano, California from 1974 to 1977 (went to Kindergarten and first grade at Del Obisbo elementary school), and moved to Oregon with family in 1977 to the area of Gold Hill (and finished first grade in Mrs. Goodrich's class at Gold Hill elementary school), living in the Laurels motel near Foot's Creek market. The family moved soon after to Medford (living at 304 Ashland Avenue) where Amriel attended elementary school (Roosevelt elementary), achieving academic success (a letter was received from then~President [of the United States] Ronald Reagan [in 1984] for being in the top 5% academically in the United States of America), graduating from Hedrick Junior High School in 1985, went to Medford Mid High School (living at 62 South Keeneway drive) in its last year of existence (before it became South Medford High School), and graduated from North Medford High School in 1989 with a 3.43 GPA. Amriel attended then Southern Oregon State College (now Southern Oregon University) in 1989~1991, taking basic education courses (as well as Sociology, Music Composition, and Witchcraft [Anthropology]) . In Elementary school Amriel drew self~created art and books, including the "Three Detectives" series (featuring Yoda and two Jawas from Star Wars in a "Hardy Boys" type mystery/adventure[, one example is "The Secret of the Crooked Snakes"]) and~the "Choose it Yourself" series (based on the popular "Choose Your Own Adventrure" series[, comprised of at least 11 books]). During High School and College, Amriel was in an (Miss Anne Parlier's) art class and drew in pencil with (then ink) "mini comic books" under the "Medford Comics" logo, including titles such as "The Kung~Fu Pigs [six issues, including one in 3D ((three dimensions))] the last under the "Penwell Press" logo]," "Revenge Squad [six issues]," "Captain Ctulu [two issues]," "Madland [one issue, a collaboration with Brian Zastoupil]," "Tales of the Death Commandos," and the unpublished "True Dope Comix." Amriel wrote a short story ("Kyle's Story: The Basement") published in "Dark Roads," a Medford "weird tales type" literary magazine (printed by Brent Staley) that also won a high school literary award (the Jonni Six Memorial Writing Award for 1989). Other writings were compiled into a literary magazine "Mysterious Tales of the Arcane" that was to be published by Penwell Press and featured submissions by Kristi Lemon and Ron Brown. Amriel played guitar in bands "Kung Fu Pigs" (named after the comic book) (with Scott Penwell [vocals], Sean Camara [drums] ,and Sami from Finland [lead guitar] "Newcastle" (with Brian Zastoupil) and "Ralphus (with Ron Brown: [vocals], Luke Ferrell [lead guitar], Brian Zastoupil [bass], and Eric Jansen [drums])," moved to Washington State for one year from 1991~1992 to play (guitar) in grunge bands ("Fry Guys" and "Trailer Trash" [with Brian Zastoupil]) and record solo efforts under the stage~name "Hooter." Amriel moved back to Medford in 1992 and worked in a delicatessen (Deli Down), fast food restaurants (McDonald's, Taco Bell, Taco Time, Hometown Buffet), a nursing home (Rogue Valley Manor), fruit orchards (Associated Fruit Company in Phoenix, Oregon), and factories (Harry and David in Medford, Oregon). In 1995 Amriel moved to Bend, Oregon and received a computer degree (with Honors) from Central Oregon Community College (in 2002) while drawing more mini~comics: "This Meager Participation" (written by Ron Brown) and "G.I. Joe C.O.R.E. (Central Oregon Regiment Elite)" (20 issues, under the "Bend, OR Comics" logo). Amriel began painting while living (renting a room from) with Bend, Oregon water-color artist Jean Domergue and began to take painting classes under instructor Bill Hoppe and Felice Koenig in 2003 at Central Oregon Community College. In 2006 Amriel moved to Beaverton, then Tigard Oregon and continued to study painting in 2006-7 at Portland Community College (Sylvania campus) under instructor Mark Smith. In 2008-9 Amriel studied painting at Portland Community College (Sylvania campus) under intstructor Karen Esler. MySpace web pages exist for Amriel, with photos of (most~of) the paintings in the series, and for the bands "Ralphus," "Hooter," and "Amriel Music;" and Amriel is currently working on a series (of paintings) entitled: "1,000 Paintings, a Tribute to Michaelangelo," started in 1976, and continuing to the time of this writing (2008, and updated since); that is based on a quote from artist/sculptor Michelangelo: "everyone has 1,000 bad paintings one must complete in one's life before the masterpieces start coming out" (parpahrased)...


please read the other item in my Writing.com portfolio first, entitled "The Simpsons a Chronological Perspective" at http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1601356
then return here


Amriel Simpson Biography
By Amriel Simpson

1971-1973 The Golden Age

This Golden Age of my life I actually remember some-what well. My mom and dad (whom I called “Doug and Chris” like everyone else did) and I lived in Santa Ana, California in a duplex. The Strona family lived in the front house, consisting of Pat Strona and Karen Strona and their child Lynn Strona, whom I always thought I would marry! The back house (that we lived in: Doug Simpson, Christine Simpson, and myself [Amriel] “Dougie” Steven Simpson Jr.) had two bed-rooms (my parents’ was the one on the left (hand-side of the hall-way to the left of the living room) and mine was the one on the right, the one closer to the kitchen) in the back of the hall-way to the left as you enter the living room from the front door (with a bath-room immediately to the left on the right-hand side of this same hall-way [and my room after it]). There is a kitchen/dining-room behind the living room with a door leading to a back-yard. The back-yard had a circular brick barbecue pit in a concrete area then a grass lawn with a large tree in the back. My parents have lots of photo-graphs of me playing with the garden hose, in this back-yard. I had a swing-set against the right-side of the fence, that I can remember my Uncle Donnie (Simpson) doing “pull-ups” on when visiting! To the left of the left-side fence was a garage and I can remember my dad working in such with material called “Bondo” that I always though smelled like heaven. Once when my dad was using the Bondo on some car part, my dad said what I thought was: “Aw, I made him a steak!” as eyes rolled what it looked like towards the neighbor’s back-yard and I thought it referred to making our neighbor a steak on the round brick barbecue then regretting it after getting hungry! (It turns out it was “I made a mistake”!) My dad says the neighbor is a Vietnam veteran. My dad also had an air-brush and air-brushed lots of things in that garage, including designs on a VW bus, a scuba tank, and later a guitar. Some of my earliest memories are of playing with colored blocks (stacking them) and having Legoes and Matchbox cars (that said “Made in England” on the bottom). My mom and dad had a black-light poster of Jimi Hendrix on the wall of their bed-room. My mom used Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo that showed a girl with long hair in a water-fall with a bunch of flowers on the front label, and also used Ultra Brite tooth-paste. My favorite baby-food was Gerber “Blueberry Buckle” similar to modern Gerber “apple blueberry”. My dad had a motor-cycle and I seem to remember hanging on to the back of my dad as we rode around, maybe? SCARY! Or possibly I dreamed this happened later? My dad assures me it did not actually happen! I would spend a lot of time underneath the dining room table, as I would tell my parents I was a cat! I would repeat this at my grand-parents house (in Anaheim, California), crawling under Grandma June’s table in the living room, saying “I am a cat”. My parents even said they gave me food on a plate on the floor, just like an actual cat! My dad tells me that I had told my parents I wished my name to be changed to “Cat Simpson” ha ha! I also remember having dreams where I could fly by “cupping” my hands to control air flow beneath them. I would fly mostly through the kitchen and living room of our home, near the ceiling, and then drift down toward the carpet where I would then sleep curled up in front of one the two large speakers of my dad’s stereo system. My favorite records of my dad’s were “Apostrophe” and “Over-Night Sensation” by Frank Zappa, and “Brain Salad Surgery” by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. I could picture the girls singing clearly on the Frank Zappa album as if they were right-there, and they sounded like angels. We also listened to Jethro Tull and Stevie Wonder, and I listened to AM radio in my mom’s VW bug while going to and from the grocery store (“Ralph’s”). AM radio played what is now called “Northern Soul” and to me it has that eternal sound that conjures (when the treble is turned all the way up and the bass and mid-range removed completely) images of grocery store frozen food aisles. (For reference: Peggy March “Losin’ My Touch” and “Your Girl” and Doug Banks “I Just Kept on Dancin’” and The Supremes’ version of “Stormy”). Once, I fell asleep while the Emerson, Lake, and Palmer album was playing and had a dream I was in a world where everything was white concrete with upraised smooth and curvy (about the size as a person) pools, each filled with different colored-water and running through the land-scape that never changed, (hundreds of the standing white concrete pools of colored water staggered across an infinite land-scape) with a scared thought I would never escape this place! I was glad to wake-up! The first vivid dream I can ever remember is I was running through a forest of jungular trees then hearing a loud buzzing noise and seeing my mom in a dark green four wheeled motorized cart with an open top that had white hoses with spinning saw-blades whirring on the ends of (each-of-)them, maybe seven of them, each chopping down a tree, and my mom smiling and saying “this is my forest machine!” and then driving it toward me! I ran and ran as fast as I could over a bridge then when I saw I could not escape the forest machine, I jumped into the water over the left side of the bridge and swam down and down and although it looked like just a river from the surface, it went deep like a lake, and I swam down to the bottom, where I saw my bed. I swam down into the bed (and under the covers) and immediately woke up. Later on it became harder to wake up from bad dreams and I would have to grab my eye-lids and force them open in order to wake up. My dad says once when I was in a crib, I reached out (through the bars) and pulled a box of reel-to-reel tape out and proceeded to cut my finger open against the edge of the tape! OW! Our neighbors next door were Karen and Pat and their daughter (close to my age) Lynn, whom I thought I would get married to one day. Another girl with blond hair next door or two houses down one day asked me to fill a (plastic) margarine cup (and lid) with water for her to drink, so I went inside the kitchen and filled it up in the sink and took it out to her. She took a big drink and spit it out and said “blechh!” “I meant Sparkletts water!” I guess there was a difference, so I went inside and was filling up the margarine cup with Sparkletts water (a paid [drinking-]water-jug service in Southern California where large plastic jugs were delivered and the empty ones picked-up) and my dad saw me and asked what I was doing and told me not to fill objects with Sparkletts water, as it cost extra money! Our next-door neighbor kids (also) on the right-hand side of the back-yard called to me from behind the fence one day and said to me “We’re moving, can you help us?” and pushed a cat through a hole they had dug under-neath the fence. They had said they couldn’t take the cat and wanted me to take care of it. I said “okay” and their family drove away in the moving-van, and I went to show my mom and dad the new cat they gave me. My parents were perhaps not immediately thrilled about the idea, but did let me keep the cat (Tweeter?)! Our cats were Phineas (named after “Phineas Freak” of the Fabulous Freak Brothers comic book!) and Tweeter. Another time, after playing with the same blond girl (who wanted the water) I went into the back yard and sat on the large tree and noticed hundreds of ants climbing all over the large roots and branches! How mysterious! They climbed all over me and I thought that was just strange. I had birthday parties and Lynn and other neighbor kids would come and we all had cake. Once during another party, I saw my mom’s camera on the kitchen counter-top and picked it up and pushed the red button on top and saw a flash! I quickly put it back and did not think any one would ever know I did it, but to this day, my mom has the photo-graph of the top of a blond head! (I was aiming the lens the wrong way!) My dad worked at Porter’s Direct Mail Service on Saint Gertrude Street in Santa Ana, California then worked for six months at “Dino Dinosaur’s” selling racing parts for Volkswagen auto-mobiles, then went back to Porter’s Direct Mail Service. Our family went to some of the first “Bug-Ins”. “Bug-In”s were events in the Southern California area featuring Volkswagens both classic, for show; custom for show, and races! At one Bug-In I got a neat hat that was white with an orange under-front rim, with “Bug-In” in black letters and maybe a year? I also had a red calico “train conductor” hat very popular in the early 1970s and a t-shirt that said “Sun Bum” on it with an orange sun on a yellow t-shirt (with an auto-mobile? A “woody”?). At Porter’s Direct Mail Service, my dad’s co-worker Howard Hondera bought a donut shop that my mom then worked at. My favorite thing as a very young child was each day when my mom would come home and she smelled like donuts!!! Often, she would bring a bag home with some donuts in it! We as a family of three often visited friends Sam (Scarcello) and Robin’s house to “hang out”. Sam also worked with my dad at Porter’s Direct Mail Service. I maybe remember they had a dog? I remember going there often and loved Sam and Robin almost as much as my parents! I can remember going to Knott’s Berry Farm at an out-door fair and seeing tents with items for sale for “hippies” inside, like black-light posters, incense, and lanterns. My dad has a neat old lantern with colored panes of glass and a system of chains that allow the bottom to be pulled out, so that a candle can be put-in to it. I always thought it must be from an old castle, but my dad says it is just “imported” and probably purchased at the Orange County Swap Meet. We also went to “the Sawdust Festival” that was another out-door event with booths of sellers, where I got a “pet rock” that was a rock painted white with a blue elephant painted on top, out-lined in black. When my teeth started coming in, I can remember chewing on Legoes. I had Legoes that were colored mostly yellow, white, and red with a green “base piece” that was larger. Most pieces were “two bumps wide” and one, two, or four bumps long. Later on, single bump pieces became more prevalent, and (also) fancy pieces, such as windows. I would take a Lego piece from a bucket and lay there chewing on it until it became pock-marked with teeth marks, then throw it across the room and grab a “fresh” piece! I can remember driving through Santa Ana in My mom’s Volkswagen bug and looking up at the white ceiling that had tiny black dots in the fabric that would make my vision “go blurry” if I stared at it (AND I DID!)! I was glad every time we drove by “In ‘N Out” Burger, I am not sure why, it was just a very recognizable place with a big sign, and I knew when I saw it that we were near home! At the Orange County (Fairgrounds) Swap Meet (and also at the Orange Drive-In Swap Meet), I encountered a very fear-ful situation as I would be walking along-side my parents, look at something some-one had laid out on a blanket for sale, then turn around and see a multitude of people with long blond hair! From the back, every single person looked like my mom, and I would poke at them and say “mom” and they would turn around and be some-one else! I had to make EXTRA sure not to let my mom out of my sight, but it was not easy when distracted by all of the vendors’ merchandise! A big fear I had at the time was getting lost and everyone looking just like my mom and me not knowing who was my actual mom! This may seem funny to people, but I assure you, it was a very real fear for me! My dream was always when we went to be pushed around in the stroller, but the strollers were rented at the door, and I was not able to be “strolled” as often as I would have liked!.

(1974-1975) Ian Levi Simpson and moving

I remember one day out of the blue my dad saying “c’mon, let’s go” and asking “where?” and my dad saying “to pick up your brother”. We drove in a VW bus, my dad and I, and I was in the back standing up. I had no idea what a “brother” was, and when we got to the Santa Ana Community Hospital my dad and I walked up to the delivery exit in the rear and I can picture this scene completely vividly. My mom was in a wheel-chair with the biggest smile I have ever seen holding a tiny baby wrapped up in a blanket and there were towers of baby food formula cans on each side of her! What was strangest was not that here was my mom with a baby, but how did the doctors and nurses stack those cans of baby formula in that quantity so tall and perfectly so they did not fall off the sides of my mom as they wheeled her across the parking lot!!! My brother, Ian Levi Simpson was born on August 27th, 1974. We continued to live in Santa Ana for a short time longer, with Ian in a crib. I can remember family outings to the San Diego Zoo, as well as camping. I remember being at an early out-door “hippie gathering” event, with lots of long haired people in sleeping bags, somewhere out-doors. A camp site we visited was in some woods and had a large rock that we would, every-time we went, climb up and then eat lunch on. Also, we went to a lake area with a park surrounding. The lake had “floats” that were like large white floating platforms the size of a house’s living room, and I would swim out to the floats and hang-out with what-ever people were sitting/standing on it. At one of these visits, I was very thirsty as it was hot out and I kept drinking from everyone’s cups. It turns out I was drinking beer and got very drunk, and threw up inside the back of the Volkswagen bug on the way home! I remember going with my dad to look at a 1959 VW bus for sale, that my dad after returned and bought. My dad re-painted the van lacquer black (it was already this color) and it was later featured in at least two VW magazines. Soon after Ian was born, however, our family moved to a condominium on Paseo Carolina in San Juan Capistrano, California. To get there, you drive pass an old Spanish mission that is famous for the swallows, birds that return to the mission at the same time every year. We visited the mission and I loved it very much, it was so old! I couldn’t believe people built it hundreds of years ago and it was still there! And how did people know all about it? The guides had lots of information about it. The first condominium we moved to was on the upper level, and I remember the day we were moving in, our new neighbors down-stairs were washing their big red dog with Prell shampoo and I laughed and said “look they’re washing a dog with people shampoo” and my dad told me it was not a nice thing to make fun of people like that. We lived at the first condominium and my mom baby-sat some girls there while watching Ian and I. What I remember most about the first condominium is that if the girl being baby-sat by my mom was good that week, her mom would pick them up, bringing a new Breyer horse for her as a present! I remember also my mom going to the doctor what seemed like a lot and that scared me very much when my dad would take her and I would ask why she had to go to the doctor all the time. My dad would look at me with a “don’t even ask” expression and say “it is a girl thing!” I learned not to ask about that. We didn’t live at that condominium long and soon moved to a down-stairs one at 32254 Paseo Carolina. My dad built a wooden planter box out in front that was still there years later. At some point my mom worked at Carl’s Jr. in the drive-through and she said one time a naked person came through the drive-through ordering French fries! My parents liked to go to a record store near-by the new condominium, called “Licorice Pizza” (a clever name for an LP record).



(1975-1977) KINDERGARTEN, DISCO, and STAR WARS

The new condominium’s front-door opened into a living room that we had furnished with a couch and fish-tank to the left, against the wall. In the back of the living-room is a stair-case leading up-stairs. To the left is a dining area, then a closet, then a kitchen. In the freezer would always be found my favorite two things in the world. The first was Morton brand honey buns, a frozen cinnamon roll type of thing, kind of similar to modern “Little Debbie Honey Buns”, but bigger. The other thing I liked were these miniature kid-sized frozen pizzas that came in a stack! I never ate meat as a child, as I couldn’t do it, understanding where it came from POOR ANIMALS! I did however enjoy my brother’s Blueberry Buckle Gerber baby-food whenever I could, even after a kid made fun of me for it (“EW! You’re eating BABY FOOD!”). Upstairs were first, my parents’ room, and I believe they had a water-bed. Next was the bath-room and then my brother and my room. In my brother and my room was a “bunk-bed” and I slept on the top. I can remember one time rolling off in my sleep and impaling my back on a large plastic castle that was on the floor beneath! OW! I had a Mickey Mouse record-player where Mickey’s arm was the arm of the turn-table and Mickey’s finger contained the needle. My favorite records were (my first record) the 45 RPM single “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” by Elvin Bishop that I liked after hearing it in my aunt Laura’s VW bug on that Blaupunkt AM radio. I also liked a 45 record “Red River Valley,” a country type song, but now that I think of it, it is odd that my dad would allow me to have some-thing so “red-neck” ha ha. Later on, when disco was a new thing, I found I liked it very much and so did my mom. My mom had the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack on a 12” LP record and I had just about all of the disco Bee Gees 45 record singles on RSO records, whose logo was white letters written on a red cow. My favorite Bee Gees 45 records were “Night Fever,” “Tragedy,” and “Stayin’ Alive”. My favorite toys at first were a View Master Projector (that I would shine on the wall), a Lite Brite, and Spirograph. My bed time was always 7PM, when “Family Affair” with Buffy and Mrs. Beasley was over. I watched it on our tele-vision set, a new compact model in black plastic with fake wood trim, with my mom every night. If I watched “the Brady Bunch” my mom would let me stay-awake until 7:30 so I did every single night! On Saturday mornings, I loved “Scooby Doo” the most, but also watched the Flintstones and Land of the Lost and later “Wacky Races” with Ian (that we called “Penelope Pitstop” after one of the racers). I remember my grand-pa Donald giving me a polished rock and telling me that if I kept polishing it, that there was a gold nugget inside of it like Great-grandpa Chester Nagel. I polished that rock and polished it and never saw any sign of gold inside and when I asked my dad why I never saw the gold nugget, my dad said that there was no gold inside so I dropped the polished brown rock into the fish-tank! One time I went on a camping trip with my aunt Valerie and Uncle Gene and remember kind of wishing they were my parents even though I love my parents very much. Uncle Gene scared me when I was sitting in Gene’s lap as Gene steered the van on the road and Gene put my hands on the steering wheel and let go! The experience of being responsible for a large rolling motor vehicle and the lives inside was deathly frightening! At the camp site, my aunt Kelly and I went with other Pathfinders (a Christian camping group, like the scouts) to make plaster-of-paris molds of animal tracks by putting aluminum cans with both ends cut out over the animal paw prints and pouring liquid plaster of paris inside the can (and letting it dry). Near a sign that said “no shooting” that was itself full of bullet holes (I noted the irony) was a pile of bullet casings. I saw them and immediately thought they were made of gold (they looked like it to me!) and gathered up literally more than I could carry and took them back to the camp site where I placed them in a plastic lunch bag. When I showed my Uncle Gene, Gene told me they were not actually made of gold, so I threw them away. This camping trip was also the first time I had ever heard of or tried a “Bear Claw” donut. Back home at the condominium, our neighbors were the Dwyer family. Julie and Tim Dwyer had a daughter Jocelyn Dwyer, whom I called “Jocie” and was also sure I would marry! I remember their bath-room had the neatest color-ful psychedelic flower print wall-paper. What a strange thing to remember, but I do! Jocie had a Malibu Skipper doll and when she was good, Julie would buy her a new Skipper outfit as a reward. I remember clearly the Skipper outfit “Fancy Pants” that was blue floral print and made of a shirt and pants with “ruffles” that I thought must be the most embarrassing clothes to ever actually wear! What I wanted for Christmas were dolls of my own, “The Sunshine Family,” because they looked like US! The dad’s name was even Steve just like my dad’s middle name and looked like my dad with long dark hair. The mom had long blond hair just like my mom and the baby had blond hair just like me! It seemed like “they” were watching my family and made the dolls of us! I did get “the Sunshine Family” for Christmas and I recall it started a small argument between my family as my grand-pa thought I shouldn’t have “dolls”! The other toy I wanted a lot was a “Green Machine”. I got this also, but it was soon presumed stolen. My mom baby-sat two girls who were sisters, two pretty girls with brown hair, Diana and Jade. Diana was closer to my age. One day Diana and I were painting on paper with water-colors and Diana showed me a neat trick. If we dip the paint-brushes in lots of water we could “flick” the paint rapidly onto the paper and make splotches. Well, we did this for a while and then noticed on the wall behind the dining room table were hundreds of paint splotches also! OOPS! We tried frantically to wash it, but the paint splotches would not come off the white wall! Finally Diana found out we could “peel” the paint marks off the wall with finger-nails so we did this, and the good news is that the paint splotches went away. After a while we began to notice that there were now pock marks in the wall from where we “peeled” and we knew we were in BIG TROUBLE! We both hid in the closet trying not to ever be found while Diana complained about the smell of the cat box, also inside. After what seemed like two hours, my dad came home from work and yes, we were in big trouble! I also at the time loved to do “paint by numbers.” Later on, as a birthday gift, I got a neat “paint by number t-shirt” that was a white t-shirt with a sail-boat on it that I painted myself, then wore! I went to three major weddings when I was a child. The first was my Uncle Donnie and Elise Simpson’s wedding, that was out-side, in a park. The next was my Uncle Gene and Valerie Oswald’s wedding. I was to be the “ring bearer” and carried the wedding rings on a purple velvet pillow down the aisle of the church walking next to the “flower girl”. The “flower girl” was older and taller than me, so she walked faster, so it was hard to keep up! I still got a chocolate Easter Bunny as a present to eat after the wedding! The next wedding I was in was my Grandma Beverly and Grandpa Ken’s wedding. I remember going to a birthday party for one of the girls in our neighborhood, or maybe Lynn? that had a piƱata in a back-yard. When some-one broke it open, candy and Skipper doll outfits in packages came out! I grabbed a Skipper out-fit then was told “those are for the girls” and was made to put it back and ate candy instead! WHOOPS! When Diana and Jade moved, I got Jade’s old bicycle and I would ride it up and down the side-walks of the condominium complex. There was a girl about my age past the Dwyer condo whose mom only spoke Spanish and the girl would say mean things and then run into her house. When I would knock, her mom would speak in Spanish and I couldn’t understand her, and the girl my age would laugh. Neighbors who lived by the Spanish girl always listened to “Queen” albums very loud, especially “News of the World” that was brand new at the time. Further down the side-walk lived Tara and her brother. In Tara’s garage was a coconut that Tara’s little brother always was hitting with a hammer to make a hole in it, as they told me there was milk inside. They never did get it open. Tara’s little brother used to hit rolls of caps with a hammer until a fire started one time and the parents forbade rolls of caps. The children in our neighborhood I did not know by name played with cap guns, and I was not allowed to play with them with a cap gun, my parents forbade me to have (“no war toys”). One of these kids stopped me one day while riding my bicycle (that had a banana seat and a flower basket in front) and would not let me pass. “Why are you riding a girl’s bike?” the kid teased. It was my friend Jade’s bike originally and I loved it. Still, it left me with the impression that I was weak or some-how inferior to “normal” kids who played with cap guns and were afraid of “girly” things. My parents played Frisbee often on the grass lawns of the complex and I got a lot of bee stings (I counted fourteen) as a kid running across this grass bare-footed. When I got my first kite, it was black with yellow and red “eyes”. My dad had shown me how to get it to fly the first day. The next time when my dad was at work I went out and flew it myself. I let a little slack out of the string and ran fast in circles in the grass around the complex until it went up and then I let the string out up and up and up until I could not believe how high I got it! Neighbors were coming out and staring in disbelief! It was waaay up there, and then all of a sudden, the wind stopped and the kite just fell. It landed way over near Tara’s house but the weird thing is that the string had gotten wrapped around the bars of the iron gate surrounding the swimming pool. I tried but could not un-wind the string and kite from the iron bars. It is just not possible for it to have done what I remember it doing and my dad had to help me untangle it later. Another kid lived on the other side of the pool, near a sand-box with jungle gym for kids. This kid was older and always wore a “TWA” t-shirt and talked of flying on TWA air-planes all the time to Michigan. I would visit and the person would show me books and books about pirates. Books were read about Bluebeard and Blackbeard. I wanted to read a book and my mom gave me “Love Story” by Erich Segal, that I found boring. I always read Dr. Seuss and other books. I had “I Like Spiders, “Where the Wild Things Are,” ” “Mr. Pine’s Mixed Up Signs,” “Andrew Henry’s Meadow,” and “Mickey Mouse in Outer Space” Golden book (borrowed from Valerie). My favorite Doctor Seuss was “I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew” because I loved the art and story! Especially the rain part! I remember it raining a lot in San Juan Capistrano but it was like heaven, because it was always so hot, and the rain so cool. It was dark and cloudy but warm outside and I loved to just stand there and get rained upon. I wished it would just last forever and I still miss this experience perhaps most of all about San Juan Capistrano. Those hot summers where it rained. When my mom went to Ralph’s grocery store I always like to go along so I could read the magazines. We would travel in the VW bug along the free-way that was super scary, going under over-passes made of giant concrete columns, that I would just be praying would not fall on us! All the while my mom and I would listen to that Blaupunkt AM radio and that Northern Soul music and to this day, it is probably my favorite! Time cannot take away those moments, that wonderful music and just being with my mom. At the grocery store I would head immediately toward the magazine rack and my mom knew she would find me there when she was done shopping. I usually read Mad magazine and every time we went, there was a new issue. Once in a while my parents would buy me one off the stands or sometimes we would find them used at the Orange County Swap Meets. My dad had also read Mad magazine as a child. We both considered “Cracked” magazine to be a poor quality imitation, but I made the effort to try to read some of those as well and found it sometimes alright. I began to take swimming lessons at the pool there and wound up “dog paddling” mostly. As I was afraid of the deep end of the pool, hearing I could drown, I once tried to dive head-first into the shallow end. As I was up-side down my head hit the concrete at the bottom of the pool and the world went dark. It was everything I could do to keep from breathing in the water as a reflex action and some-how swim to the surface. I never dove a lot after that and when I did, it was in the deep end, but I was always afraid I would never swim back up to the surface fast enough before the air ran out. Another time Ian fell in while walking too close to the edge! I don’t remember if I was the one who pulled Ian out? My ears had trouble draining water and I had a lot of ear infections and ear operations as a kid. “tubes” were put in my ears on about three occasions where I would go to the hospital for the operations. I was so afraid of the operating room, they would wheel me in on a cart and put this black rubber hose over my nose and mouth and make me breathe until I went unconscious. I can still smell that smell of the combination of ether and rubber, just nightmarish! Each time I was afraid of not waking up again, but I would, eventually, and be groggy after the procedure. Once, my brother and I had our tonsils and adenoids taken out in a surgical procedure and I thought it was funny how they took my brother’s temperature! This time I got an injection rather than the black hose, so I was glad but when we woke up, I can re-call looking over at my mom and then Ian, who was waking up. Blood began pouring out of Ian’s mouth and I screamed “mom!” The nurses quickly wheeled Ian back into surgery. These experiences did not stop me from wanting the “Operation” board game, and my plan was to be a pediatrician when I grew up! One day my parents registered me for school at Del Obisbo Elementary and I can remember my mom and dad driving me to my first day of Kindergarten. I cried “I don’t want to go to school” and my dad said “you’re going!”. I got out of the car and went to my class. Mrs. Mulhaupt was nice and we were given a tour of the class-room. I saw shelves upon shelves of books, I had never seen so many! I can clearly re-call my very first day of public school because on a break, I went to the bath-room and a kid made fun of how stupid I was that I didn’t know how to use a urinal. What I did wrong was that I pulled my pants all the way down, when what I guess people are supposed to do is to pull them only down as far as is minimally necessary. A new jungle gym was put in in the play-ground area and we were all allowed to put our initials into the concrete before it was covered in sand. I wonder if the jungle gym is still there at Del Obisbo and if the initials “DS” are still scratched into the concrete beneath the sand. One day as Mrs. Mulhaupt was reading a book to the class, I was talking to a kid next to me as I had already read the book. Mrs. Mulhaupt said “perhaps YOU would like to read the book to the class” so I said “OK!” and got up and read the book to the class. I thought nothing of it, but later that night my parents got a tele-phone call saying “did you know your kid can read?” We kept a journal during Kindergarten, of activities we did such as when I went to the “liker store” (liquor store) to get “Fonzie cards” (Happy Days Topps trading cards with bubble gum) or when we walked to a pumpkin patch for Halloween. We also made black cats out of black construction paper that we carefully tore to look like jaggedy cat hair. I was so excited about giving the black cat to my mom that night when we got home, but on the bus, the Spanish girl tore the head off the cat! She said “ha ha, you can’t tell on me, my mom only speaks Spanish!” I was so mad that as we got off the bus, I hit her on the back with my metal lunch pail. She cried and ran home and that night, my dad yelled at me and said I should never hit a girl no matter what she does. It was very scary when it rained, as the side-walks were covered in slugs and snails walking to the bus stop in the morning. I would jump over the snails and slugs, but sometimes would accidentally step on part of one. Nothing scared me more! It was a night-mare. One time a kid suggested we not wait for the bus as they knew a short-cut to school. We walked across the street through a gas-station where a police officer saw us and took us home and told our parents what we were doing. Another time I had gotten roller-skates that may have been Diana’s, the metal kind that clamp onto the bottom of your shoes. I was too afraid to roll on the side-walk so I figured I would practice inside on the carpet. I fell forward and put both of my arms out to brace my fall and the arms jammed into the floor straight-on. They hurt so much that even two days later I was in class and they hurt and they called my dad who was upset to have to leave work to pick me up from school. A girl I liked very much at school kissed me one day outside on the grass and I was in love with her immediately. I looked forward to seeing her again and was living like in a cloud of love. The next day the girl did not show up to school, and I asked the teachers where she was. The teachers said she was sick. After two weeks the teachers began to tell me that she moved away. Years later, I found a news-paper article at my Grandma Beverly’s house that told what actually happened to her (front page news). For Christmas we made ornaments of dough for our Christmas trees. We were told they would last up to five years. I made one shaped like a star with painted colored macaroni impressed inside before baking that my mom as of 2008 still uses! It has been at the top of our Christmas trees every single year from 1976 on-ward. My teacher Mrs. Mulhaupt’s assistant stepped on a sting ray and had a paralyzed leg for an entire month! After that, whenever we went to the beach at Doheny Point I would wear shoes when walking out into the water, afraid of stepping on a sting ray, but then my parents would be mad I got my shoes wet  1976 was not only my first year of Kindergarten, but is the United States’ bicentennial. What I can remember about the bicentennial was that everything was magical and “United States-esque”! We learned a lot about the American Revolution and everywhere one went could be seen “American flag” decorated everything! The pinnacle to me was at the store, the cereal boxes had American flag designs and even the ketchup bottles had American flag painted metal lids! I always liked the quarters made that year, and still save them whenever I am given one as change. Our family went to Disneyland often, and my favorite ride was “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” I liked to pretend I was driving my mom. My brother and I also liked “Haunted Mansion” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” a lot. We went to this place called Lion Country Safari, where we would drive the VW bug through an African safari and giraffes would come up and lick the windows with gigantic tongues! SCARY! I liked paddling in the “hippo boats” boats shaped like fiber-glass hippopotamuses with pedals on the floor to propel them across a lake. I still have a View Master from this park. We would see movies at the drive-in movie theater, and I can remember going to “Jaws,” “the Deep,” “The Spy Who Loved Me” and sometimes R rated movies I was not allowed to watch (my dad would park back-wards and put me in the front seat and close the partition so I could not watch, but I could just watch in the rear-view mirrors, but I didn’t (much, I had to strain too much to see). My mom also took me to movies at a theater I wanted to see, usually the new Disney ones. My favorite was “the Rescuers” but I also liked “Candleshoe,” “Escape to Witch Mountain,” and “Pete’s Dragon.” One of the movies Ian didn’t go to because Ian was sick so my dad stayed home and watched Ian while me and my mom went. At Burger King they would have Pepsi glasses of the movies like “The Rescuers” and one time I remember my family returning with bags of French fries and I was trying to open a ketchup packet by squeezing it as hard as I could and ketchup exploded all over the VW bug interior! OOPS! My brother and I got our first skate boards while living in San Juan Capistrano, mine was blue plastic and Ian’s was red plastic. They both came with “safety handles” on the front to hold on to, but my dad removed mine. We would ride them down the side-walk. One time Ian returned from the play area with a hole in the top of a foot! A kid had poked it with a stick, gouging out a huge piece! Ian was very calm about it. I remember it being about an inch in diameter and about half an inch deep. My brother and I like to slide up and down the carpeted stairs while sitting on pillows. Another time, Ian, Jocie, and I rolled each other down a grassy hill in a large card-board box. I remember going to my mom’s family’s house in Yorba Linda, where Grandpa Donald was teaching either my Uncle Donnie or Eddie to play the violin. Also Donnie and Eddie had “dirt bikes” that they rode in these dirty fields across the street from the house. When they were building new houses in those fields, I remember Donnie and Eddie climbing up on the roofs of them and yelling across the street at me from up there! At Halloween, they would play records of scary sounds as people walked through the scary garage! I also remember going to Laura and Ron’s apartment. It had stairs. Back at the condominiums, things were changing by 1977. The neighbor girls started having posters of Shaun Cassidy with a shirt open to reveal chest hair EW! Disneyland got a new ride: “Space Mountain”. Our family went to Sea World, and my brother and I liked sliding across the ropes. Going to the beach was getting scary because people kept littering and everywhere one walked, you could step on a soda can or bottle cap and cut your feet! I remember going to Knott’s Berry Farm with Gene and Valerie and visiting the replica of Independence Hall, and we rode horses. As my teeth began to fall out, I got money from the Tooth Fairy (whom I still believe in, by the way!). A toy I liked a lot was Richard Scarry’s “Puzzletown”. I had “Set A: Doctor Lion’s Medical Center” at first and then later got the “Set D: Mayor Fox’s Town Hall” set. Ian got “Set E: Lowly Worm’s Railroad” set for Christmas. My aunt Kelly took me to her elementary school as a “show and tell” item and would give me math problems to work on as she studied. I did multiplication problems as addition problems because I thought Kelly accidentally made the plus sign crooked sometimes, but then when I told my dad as we were driving in the VW bus down the free-way, my dad explained multiplication to me and I immediately got it! I was glad to be a six year young individual who understood multiplication! The best nights were when my mom made “Appian Way” pizza, that I still enjoy (it is sold at “Winco” in the Portland, Oregon area). My mom and dad had gone to see a new movie called “Star Wars” and thought me and my brother would like it, so we all saw it at the drive in theater. We all as a family liked the part with the cantina creatures at Mos Eisley space port the best, but also where Darth Vader fights Obi Wan Kenobi with the light saber, and whenever the Millennium Falcon made the jump into hyper-space. I started first grade in 1977 and remember most reading a book about space travel to the moon in stage rockets and landers. When my mom and dad took a trip to Oregon, my brother and I stayed at Grandma Bev and Grandpa Ken’s house, where I remember at Christmas time, Uncle Gene had dressed like Santa Claus. We had pizza with hot dogs on it and I tried picking off the hot dogs, and Grandpa Ken said: “You don’t know what’s good, kid!” In Kelly’s room she had a poster of a skeleton sitting on a toilet on her door that said “grin and bear it”. We listened to records, but Donnie and Eddie did not like my disco ones. When my mom and dad returned from Oregon, they had bought me a t-shirt of King Tutankhamen, very popular that year. We were going to move to Oregon, so we went to the Swap Meet and sold a lot of our things, then packed up the VW buses (two of them) and moved to Oregon! On the side of the free-way I remember seeing a van that was upside down (with a family screaming inside?). I couldn’t believe we just drove right past. It made me very sick.

1978 - On the Banks of Foot’s Creek

Traveling to Oregon in 1978 in two VW buses full of possessions was I thought very much like the pioneers traveled to Oregon on the Oregon Trail and I could identify with the Ingalls family from the “Little House on the Prairie” tele-vision show very much. Here we were, travelling to Oregon! way far away from San Juan Capistrano and city life to the middle of nowhere in the “big woods”! We stopped at the Laurels Motel in Gold Hill, Oregon and I can remember watching tele-vision our first night in Oregon in the hotel room. It was a Sunday night and the Wonderful World of Disney showed a brand new film “Child of Glass” that night (I liked it sooo much that I looked to watch it again for twenty years before finally someone was able to find me a copy in 1998!) The movie was about a ghost girl who haunted this kid and she glowed blue and I was mesmerized by the fantasy of being haunted by a ghost girl!
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