Glenn Maurice Eidemiller - was my mother's father. He was from Covington Ohio (+40.118434, -84.351312) and he married a hometown girl, Bertha Aspinall, who came out to Caldwell, Idaho in 1910, alone on the train, to marry him and homestead. Glenn had come out a year earlier. They homesteaded some newly available irrigated land. That is where my mother Mary Estella Eidemiller was born and where I also lived for about half my childhood - on their farm (+43.6321 -116.902) half way between Wilder and Homedale Idaho (1938-1949). Glenn sold that farm after WWII and bought a larger one near Madras Oregon where I spent most summers (1950-1965). It is where he raised peppermint among other things (+44.679 -121.200). I attended Homedale school for my first academic experience. It was a very small school, three grades in one, so even though I started early for the first grade, when I was still only five, I was thrown in with the third graders. Glenn was president of the local Grange much of the time and the county road commissioner, aside from being a full time farmer, school teacher, and an insurance agent for Farmers Insurance Co. At that time everyone within a mile or so of where we lived was a relative. Many of them, whom I remember from those years, are buried in the Wilder Idaho cemetery +43.668 -116.922. Glenn was lifelong friends with Will Fulker. Glenn's parents were John Eidemiller and Estella Pearson. When my great grandmother Estella was widowed she lived with my grandparents in Wilder, as did I, but she died a month before I was conceived. I never met her, of course, but she was a presence spoken of for many years.
J. R. Simplot - came by Glenn's farm a couple of times during the war buying fruit and potatoes. I remember him as being a really friendly guy and that everybody respected him because alongside of being likable he was honest and industrious. He created one of the largest private companies in the world and everyone thought that was just fine and helped him to do it as much as they could. At that time we had German POWs working on our farm and to me they looked like nice older kids just doing farm work but I wasn't allowed to go anywhere near them.
Thomas Yost - my second cousin lived a quarter of a mile up the road from Glenn's farm. He was my best same age buddy while on the farm in those years and I remember many conversations with him. One, about age ten, was us talking about our life plans. We were sitting high in a poplar tree out behind behind the barn, smoking cigarettes which he had stolen from my uncle. His goal was to become a millionaire and travel all over the world and mine was to become an airplane pilot while young, an artist in middle age and a writer when old. I managed to do most of mine more or less but Thomas got murdered playing poker in Reno, Nevada when he was about twenty-one. The murder was never solved but Thomas always cheated at cards when playing with me and I suspect that was the precipitating cause. One of my most painful memories was running up the gravel road to Thomas's house as fast as I could go. The war had just ended and I wanted to tell him, so I ran on the rocks to the limit of my ability to endure the pain. But, even the old crank wall phones are faster than barefoot boys, sometimes, and he already knew. It was a bit disappointing. That night we all sat around grandad's big Zenith radio and listened with great anxiety to the various stories about the Atomic bomb.
Scamahorn, Charles LeRoy: (birth) 2428077.58125 +47.6637 -117.4328 570m
This is me, disambiguated from all others by using my JulianA time and space indexing system.
Art Linkletter? - I sang My Bonnie lies over the ocean on House Party radio show broadcast from Spokane, Washington ~1948. I was rewarded with an album of 78 RPM opera records. That Art, he really knew what would please a 12 year old boy :(
Rod Funseth - and his brother Ron were my buddies in 1947-9. We played golf together at the Downriver Golf Course in Spokane, Washington and in the evenings we would go out and search the rough for golf balls that other golfers had lost during the day. We would then go up to the putting green (+47.667869 -117.466513 553m) and putt for the balls until one of us had them all. They didn't win every time. At the time I was caddying and "teaching" adults how to putt for ten cents a hole on the practice green and making spending money. I remember putting for fifty cents a hole with Ron and Rod, which at the time was real money for a twelve-year-old kid. My mother would have been horrified, I suspect. He went on to bigger and more lucrative things, but I doubt if it was ever as much fun as we had as pre-teenagers putting by street lights late in the summer evenings.
Deer Hunters - There were two guys I caddied for quite a few times at the Downriver golf course. I was so much their personal caddy at that time that when they went to different courses to play they would pick me up take me along. So I got to do a bit of travel, there in eastern Washington. One weekend they said they wouldn't be playing next week and not to wait for them as they were going deer hunting. Sadly, while in their camp a rifle discharged and the bullet went through one of my golfing buddies and killed the other one instantly. The first one made it to the hospital and explained what happened but he died the next day. I don't remember their names but this was about September about 1948.
Al Mengert - lived just a stone's throw southeast from my house on 2435 N. Park Blvd, (+47.689146 -117.464766) in Spokane and I thought of him as an adult, an older man whom I caddied for several times and chased chip shots for many times. In searching the net for this little essay I discovered that he was only a couple of years older than I but already famous.
Homer Johnson - my stepdad who was President with my mother as Secretary of the Washington State Square Dance Federation in 1958. They ran the square dance scene in southeast Washington state for two decades. Once I came home unannounced to visit for a day or two but they couldn't spend much time with me as they were a bit busy with some 5,000 guests ... having a statewide party in the Tri Cities. The most amazing thing I ever saw was Homer directing about 100 kids, of all ages, to clean up an auditorium and set up a rather complex dinner party. Everyone of them, from age two to twenty, were working like little beavers. Not until Caesar Milan "The Dog Whisperer" have I seen such a potentially unruly mess turn into a joyfully productive pack. Now, I would call Homer a "Kid Whisperer." His methods worked really well in that situation although not so well with me; I don't remember him having any particular impact on my worldview or way of living. I thought of him as a really decent older guy that I lived with for a couple of years. He married my mother when I was a junior in Richland's Columbia high school. In 1952 we lived in a mobile home (46.351282 -119.270009) 122m directly across a big field from the plutonium reactors and I was the closest child to those monstrous inventions of Oppenheimer and his gang. At the time it seemed like a reasonable thing to look out the window and see plutonium reactors and not unreasonable when I walked across the street from my home and went ten steps into a big, at that time empty, field and was stopped within two minutes by a cop.
Josef Muench - of Arizona Highways photo-fame, I met and talked with at the Santa Barbara Camera Club in 1954 and at the time didn't think too much about it other than acknowledging that he took good landscape photographs but then, so did I (I was 17, and silly of course). Once a month that camera club selected three photos taken by club members and at the end of the year from that group of thirty six photos chose the best slide of the year. I visited my dad that summer and he showed me the giant trophy with his name on it. He was proudly displaying it on his mantel. The only problem was that he had won the slide of the year with one of my photos which I had loaned him; a lightning flash taken at the Priday Ranch near Antelope, Oregon. My photo, which he claimed was mixed in with his submissions accidentally, "just to show what his son was doing". Anyhow, a couple of months latter when the club members found out about his "inadvertent" cheating and that it was in fact my photo ... (OOPS!!!). He was literally run out of Santa Barbara. It never really entered my adolescent mind that I had beaten out some of the acknowledged best photographers in the country in an open competition while using only a ten dollar camera. It was a 35mm Edindex, kind of a poor boy's Leica.
Orin Pilkey - now a coastal geologist, who published A Celebration of the World's Barrier Islands was one of my close friends at Columbia high school in Richland WA and at later at Washington State College (WSC). We climbed Mt Hood on June 1, 1953. It was a lot of fun for a couple of high school kids but I didn't wear enough sun screen and got a terrific sunburn. We drove back to Richland late that night and I went to bed after my folks were already asleep. I was in bed the next morning and awoken by my mother's screaming. It was the only time in my life I ever heard her utter a painful vocalization but my sleeping face had startled her so much because it looked so horrible. A couple of years later, while at WSC, Orin and I were walking past the administration building, I remember the spot exactly, when Orin said to me, "You deserve to get a scholarship as much as Walter". Well, that was a memorable shock because I was a poor student and Walter Pilkey was the most amazing scholar one could imagine, graduating in three years with a A++ scholastic rating. I think what Orin meant was that I had a lot of interesting ideas that needed some sort of support and that has been the story of my life. My teachers always gave me poor grades, and always said, "Charles I'm giving you these low grades to encourage you to work harder". What crap! What I needed was some positive support for whatever I had happened to succeed in doing, for encouragement. But I never got any! For example, the highest grade I ever got in an English class was a D-, but the teacher always read my essays to the class because they were the most interesting ones. But they would be graded poorly for misspelling or grammar or something or bad attitude if nothing else would serve.
Dr. Stanley Bennett - professor of anatomy at the University of Washington, Seattle had a daughter Anna with whom I was romantically interested in 1956. I sent her several questionable letters ... for her eyes only. But discovered when visiting their family in Seattle and having an extended conversation with her father that she had been reading them aloud to the family over dinner. Much to their amusement and much to my chagrin. He and I spent an evening together developing photographs in his home lab and talking about science. I had been reading Human Destiny by Le Comte du NoŁy challenging science and especially Darwinian ideas and I was quite concerned over coping with its various invalidities. He went through many of the arguments presented and I felt much comforted. We also talked at some length about the J. Robert Oppenheimer controversy, which was raging at the time, only to discover that he had met Oppie a few weeks before and that when I shook his hand I was touching something that had touched Oppie. I remember having that thought while talking to him and being sort of amazed. I didn't know it at the time but Dr. Bennett was a major scientist himself.
Algernon Black - and I met in his office at The Ethical Culture Society at 33 Central Park West, overlooking Central Park in New York City. I had just hitchhiked to New York from Pullman, Washington, and had gotten there a couple of days quicker than expected and didn't know where to go; so I went to the head office and talked to him. He suggested the YMCA in midtown Manhattan where I went and slept for fourteen hours straight. Later at the Encampment for Citizenship at Fieldstone school 3901 Fieldstone Rd, Bronx, (40.8910 -73.9092) Algernon and I had several conversations. For some strange reason I remember our personal conversations being about whether the Encampment was a Communist front organization or not. Really, at the time, I didn't know, or care much but it gives me some remembrance as to the social ambiance at that time. One day we were out in Brooklyn with some kids doing something and Algernon had some problem to attend to there and asked me to drive his car, with some students, back to the Fieldstone school which was located somewhere just above upper Manhattan. It was some twenty miles through the middle of a strange big city in a strange car with some adolescent kids. He must really have thought highly of me to have risked loaning me his car. But his life goal was to bring out the best in people and I guess he felt he could do that best by challenging their responsibility nerve.
Eleanor Roosevelt - met a group of "Ethical Culture" people attending the "Encampment for Citizenship". When it was my turn to be introduced she looked at me and said, "You know our family has a close relationship with yours?" I said, "Yes, I know". and squirmed away in childish embarrassment. At the time I didn't realize that Caroline Schermerhorn Astor's son Vincent Astor had put her husband Franklin Delano Roosevelt into the White House. He also gave Franklin a yacht "The USS Potomac" to vacation on and cruise about in to impress the big wigs of the day, like Winston Churchill. What a silly fool I was not to cultivate a correspondence with Eleanor. Caroline Schermerhorn and I can trace our family name back to Jacob Schermerhorn, the creator of the name, who emigrated from Holland as a child to what is now Albany, New York. As a young man he helped found Schenectady and his son single-handedly prevented it from falling into a French army's hands in 1690. Unfortunately for me my branchings of the family tree were consistently the youngest son of the youngest son several times over, which cut me out from any inheritance from one of the wealthiest families in America.
Princeton emeriti - A few weeks after meeting Eleanor, one of the strangest encounters of my life occurred when I rode up to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and just happened to be riding in an ice cream cart. I was hitch-hiking from New York city back to Pullman, Washington via Princeton. It was Sunday, about noon, and no one was about when I knocked on the front door of this old building set out in a park. A person answered the door whom I thought I recognized from a picture in Life Magazine. I asked to see Dr. Oppenheimer, but he said Oppenheimer wasn't there and pointed me to a phone and departed off into the unlit murk. I was then alone in this very large main room of a very empty and very famous building, having just talked to some unknown famous person and about to phone the most famous scientist in the world. The irony of a simpleton teenager from a small cow college in the West being there was not totally lost on me.
J. Robert Oppenheimer - I visited at his home on my way back from New York where I was at the Ethical Culture Societies' "Encampment for Citizenship" the summer of 1957. It seems strange, but we had many things in common to talk about. I was there to ask him to speak at Channing Club at Washington State College where at the time I was president of the club. Later, it turned out that our Channing Club adviser, a professor Wells (at one time president of the US Philosophical Association or some such) would not support me in that quest so Oppenheimer's speaking at Channing Club fell through. I felt betrayed by Wells, although from his point of view it would have been professional suicide to have supported me; this was in the midst of the McCarthy Era after all. Visiting with Oppenheimer was of course a high point of my life, and I remember quite a few little vignettes, but one curious one was when he left me in his study to fetch me what he seemed to think was an obligatory drink. When he returned with a Coke I was looking at some paintings on his wall and he asked which I preferred. I rather liked one but it was kind of weird so I said the other one which was a more prosaic portrait. He said he liked the one I was looking at, and that was the end of that little conversation. About a year ago I happened to pick up an article and there was a photo of Oppenheimer standing in his study in front of his favorite picture. It was obviously a Van Gogh. It looked something like this. At that time I had not the slightest knowledge of art because I had been living at a remote western town attending a cow college and thus mostly out of touch with the modern world. He told me a story about his picking up a female hitchhiker in California and taking her to Las Vegas. He said that they had a decent enough conversation until they got there and then she started hitting him up for money, essentially blackmail, because he had transported her across state lines for illicit purposes. That was a laugh. Later when it was time for me to continue my journey we went out into his garden and he picked some strawberries for me to snack on, on my trip back to Pullman. I ate them.
John Furth - is Ted Lander's nephew whom I have now known for some twenty years and now consider an old friend. His father, Harold P. Furth, was the director of the Princeton Tokamak project many years after my visit with Oppenheimer at Princeton. I was also was friends with Janice Urey at one time and with Gail Lawrence at another, and Sue Cunningham, who were all offspring of very productive and famous scientists who founded the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It is strange how often my path has crossed with people of the atomic community as I never made any attempt to seek them out.
Captain Haviland - an USAF/RAF Battle of Britain pilot who was my first Air Force flying instructor at Pullman in 1957. I also had an academic class from him where he referred to me as having done really well on the USAF pilots entrance exam. But I didn't know he meant really well and blissfully went on my distracted way, thinking everyone else was just as confused as I was and that's why they acted so dumb. He had a unique and somewhat unusual face and he appeared briefly once in a Battle of Britain documentary which I happened to see on TV. We flew a Beechcraft Bonanza, out of Pullman (Washington) Airport and it was my first time on airplane controls. Another strange event with him was when he took our advanced ROTC class to a machine shop on WSC campus and showed us a pile of junk. He asked if anyone knew what it was, and I said it looked like a V2 rocket engine to me. He rather astonishedly asked why I thought that, and I said because of all of the high temperature metal piping, what else could it be if it couldn't be attached to a big airplane engine?
Jack Swigert - astronaut of Apollo 13 fame was in a student pilot class ahead of me at Malden Air Base. I was in 59-H. I could never have met him there but the classes weren't very big, about 30 students each. At that time I had aspirations to be an astronaut, but I never told anyone because at the time, 1959, it would have seemed weird and I wasn't being very successful at playing the obedient soldier role, anyway. I did try but everyone seemed to think I was just being a smart aleck. While there at Malden air base I took up playing the pinball machine, for five cents a game; after a month I was sufficiently successful so as to be making money by running up the free reward games and selling them for half price to the other student pilots.
Captain Chard - was a Korean War fighter pilot now assigned as a USAF check pilot to Malden Air Base whom everyone but me dreaded, (I was too dumb) because he had busted eight guys in a row out of flight school, when I got randomly assigned to him for a check ride. He was late getting out to the flight line to the T-28 I was assigned to, and since flight school was very stressful I was tired, typically sleep deprived, and more or less fell asleep lying under the wing with my head propped up on my parachute waiting for him. After a while, I was abruptly awoken by this maniac trying to rip the propeller off my airplane. I'm not kidding - he was literally trying to rip it off! Then he approached the more delicate parts such as the ailerons with the same dedicated malice. This is enough to distract a delicate youth, such as myself. Anyway, after taking off and flying up to 10,000 feet or so and doing a few of the basic things, he said, "Put your head between your knees". What?? "Put your head between your knees"!! So I did, and then Captain Chard immediately pulled the plane into something like seven Gs and shoved the power to maximum and was more or less corkscrewing straight down in a couple of seconds. Well, in a few more seconds we were over red line air speed, then pretty soon some 100 mph over red line and the airplane is shaking like mad, like it is going to come apart any second. "Crash Landing!" he yelled in a panicky tone. So I take control of the airplane and rather quickly go through the crash landing procedures and pick out a decent emergency field and make a good approach. Official Air Force policy, at the time, was that the check pilot would call out "I have it!" when you pass through 100 feet above the terrain. At that time the check pilot would take control of the plane and push the power in and fly away and back up to a safe altitude. The Air Force apparently thought that the one hundred feet altitude and the pull out procedure was reasonably safe. What happened with Chard was that he didn't call out "I have it" at 100 feet and we went on down to about three feet altitude, just above the wheels touching, if they were down, which they weren't for a crash landing procedure with a T-28. We were still going 105 knots, but at only three feet, and pretty soon, with the power being at idle, we were close to 85, and headed for a stall and he hadn't said a word; so I pushed in the power and began to climb on out. Then the real hell broke loose and Captain Chard started screaming at me with the same malicious attitude that he had been giving the propeller a bit earlier, about my violating official procedures and violating his personal responsibilities, and how I was the worst pilot he had ever encountered etc. etc. "Take this plane home, You're DONE !!" After a brief silence I said, "If you want to come out here and crash this airplane do it without me in it." Neither of us ever spoke another word. ... I passed. ... Then he went ahead and busted several more of my buddies out of flight school.
Buzz Aldrin - astronaut of Apollo 11. I met him during the dedication of the Aircraft carrier Hornet, to which he returned after landing on the Moon. We were walking up the stairs just inside of the ship where I asked him, if just when he landed on the Moon he spoke the words, "Contact Light". He said "Ya" and I said well then you were the first person to speak on the Moon. He said, "Ya". An hour earlier I had taken a photograph of the Hornet and needed some people to give it scale. When I got home and was looking at that photo it became apparent that Buzz, then unknown to me, was that composition filler person. How perfect.
Ron Pelosi - became president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He was my landlord at 360 Kearny St. San Francisco (Scamahorn Color Photo). At the time I was barely aware that he had political aspirations but a few years later he became a Supervisor in San Francisco. I talked with him each month when I paid my rent and he once asked to use the second story front window of my business as a viewing stand for his family to watch the Columbus Day parade. But I told him I couldn't for some silly reason. How stupid of me because it was an opportunity to meet some really influential people of San Francisco. Later his niece Nancy Pelosi was elected to Congress and is now Speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington and she is third in line for the Presidency of the United States, right after the Vice President.
Bill Murray - Madalyn Murray's son. He was the child who didn't want to say the pledge of allegiance "Under God" and he and his mom took it all the way to the Supreme Court and got that phrase removed from much of American life. He was sort of my partner for a while at Scamahorn Color Photo Lab. In 1969. Later, I understand, he became a Christian minister. Part of the reason I didn't want the Pelosi's coming over is because they would have met Bill and that couldn't have been good. Or maybe it woud have ... how knows?
Marty Schwartz - professor of near eastern linguistics whom I have known since 1961 when we both hung out at Robbie's Cafeteria on Telegraph Ave. He has a coy way of relating stories when in a coffee shop setting and in a quiet but very forceful way is profoundly humorous. He frequently makes peculiar little cartoon sketches on napkins. Marty flies around the world quite a lot to give lectures about middle eastern subjects or klezmer music ... whatever.
Julia Vinograd - Is the Poet Laureate of Berkeley and Telegraph Ave. whom I have known since the early 60s at Robbie's Cafeteria, at that time next door to Larry Blakeís Rathskeller. She was a resident of the Berkeley Inn when it caught fire in 1986. I was never enough of a distraught loser for her to write a poem about but she should have. We find each other a bit boring because all she ever wants to talk about is herself and her poetry and I like to talk about other things occasionally, such as myself and my doings.
Marty Horowitz - hung out at Robbie's Cafeteria in the early 60s along with Julia Vinograd, some crazy poets, Marty Schwartz, Dirty Al and some other bikers. They were strange and interesting people but nobody ever came close to Marty Horowitz; he was the true mad scientist strikingly like Dr. Farnsworth on the TV show Futurama. He said that he worked on radar and the Manhattan project during the war; but also, he did time in prison for loaning a gun to another crazy Berkeley person, who then went out and shot somebody. That was back in the 50s before I got to Berkeley. Everyone said he was convicted, not because he did anything particularly bad but rather because he looked so weird that even if he didn't do anything he should be put away. So they did. He wore the thickest glasses I have ever seen! They made him look like he was wearing coke bottles ... the long way. Julia Vinograd wrote a long poem about Marty.
Bob Westerburg - (Birth: 17 Nov 1928 California Death: 18 Aug 1996 - SSN 572-38-5979 ) was a close friend of mine throughout the 60s. He had the good fortune to grow up in Berkeley, the son of a sea captain, near Holy Hill and right next to the Graduate Theological Union. Thus, he was exposed all his life to higher religious thought and thus he had a natural intellectual air about him. On top of this early background he purposefully cultivated a profound patina of importance about himself and especially with his social relationships but this always seemed a little bit phony because although he always talked about great philosophers, he never seemed to understand them very well. It would be kinder to say, he took those philosophies as a point of departure for his own philosophy and used them to shape his own world view. He was particularly fond of Swedenborg and Vedanta and could talk endlessly about the father-mother principle and how it permeated everything. Most people got bored with him in a few minutes but I was fascinated by Bob and how he could hold forth with his own unique ideas and develop them so consistently. Since that time I have come to feel that everyone does that, a bit less contrived perhaps, but we all have that quality and actually seem to cultivate our personal blind spots. In fact almost the entire world is a vast field of blind spots for individuals. As profound as Bob's particular blind spots were he somehow kept his ideas founded, at least to some degree, on major philosophies and thus he seemed more profound than everyone else around him but still not wholly in contact with other people's understanding of reality. As I now perceive all people as being profoundly blind to what is around them I am trying to understand how and why they function at all, why they even survive. It seems that individuals function effectively only in their tiny local worlds where they have brief moments of unique environmental problems demanding immediate action and are forced by circumstance to develop effective habits from coping with these short term threats. Individuals seem to function in the grander world only because they are part of a society of individuals each functioning as micro participants in the society and each living circumspect lives of unknowingly self created habits. Society is like a vast volume of human psychic bubbles each of which is safe because it is contigious with and surrounded by other bubbles and only the ones which are on the periphery are in danger of popping and being destroyed. One time, about 1965 Bob said to me, "get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding". Well, I took that well known Bible quote and really worked at it for several years.
Lenny Talmy - professor of linguistics and a close friend since about 1965. He has become quite famous for his analysis of time and space in human languages and is often quoted in this most distinguished of fields by its popularizers such as Steven Pinker and George Lakoff. His uncle with the same name was a very prominent Communist in the 1920s through 1950s in the US but unfortunately for him, he went back to the USSR and Joseph Stalin didn't like his form of Communism so he murdered him. Of course Stalin murdered millions of people but Leon Talmy who in the early 1920s helped to found the American Communist Party was one of the few persons he singled out. One of Stalin's famous quotes is, "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic". So, I guess even by Stalin's definition Len's uncle's death was a tragedy for him, because Stalin knew Talmy by name. Leon was honored by President George W. Bush on the fiftieth anniversary of his murder, August 12, 2002 with a commendation. Along this strangely morbid line I just discovered yesterday that Lenny carries a couple of asprin in his wallet because of my blood clottheory.
Ralph B. Raphael - One of the great Med personalities, a bon vivant, flaneur and lady charmer. He wrote The Book of American Indians which I read long before I knew him and a children's book Water, Water Everywhere. I still say "Fantastic" when somebody asks me how I am, in memory of Ralph, because that is what he said, no matter how untrue it was. He went with me on vacation, up to Lake Tahoe for a week in September of 1994, but the altitude bothered him a lot and when we went for a drive up to Ebbetts Pass 8,730 ft. (2,661 m) was in real trouble. He said that he was never going to die! And his motto was, "Keep breathing" but he died anyway, of emphysema.
Bob Orsor - Used to help me at the lab and he was the organizer of the first seven people to protest the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in San Francisco which soon turned into the famous "riots", which challenged Nixon, and helped end the McCarthy era. He also helped found "The Society for Creative Anachronism" and helped write its bylaws and history. I lived with him and his wife Jerry for a while in Toad Hall on Alcatraz Street just below College Avenue. That household was an attempt to live the Medieval life style the way it should have been lived ... with lots of garlic and other spices. They had a one-eyed Pekingese dog which got into a typical dominance fight with my dog Tiger and in the excitement their Pekingese dog's other eye popped out and became blind. They didn't blame me or Tiger but it was so sad I moved out; but the blind dog remained a favorite with the Anachronistic household for many years.
Jean Magron - whom I have known since the 70s and who was the first King of "The Society for Creative Anachronism." He was a perfect model for Homer Simpson because he looks and acts like that character. He worked at the time at the Berkeley Radiation Lab, still says "D'oh" just like Homer, his wife Jewel at the time had an incredibly high mound of blue hair, and his daughter Rami was just about the right age at that time to become the ageless Lisa Simpson. At the time Lisa was created Rami was sporting the curious pyramid like curls. etc. Jean claims to have never watched an episode. The BART metro system was under construction at the time and accounts in my fantasy for the other Simpson child. One of our mutual friends Marty Schwartz claims to have known Matt Groening at that time the Society was coming into being ~ 1964. In 1991 while much of the city of Oakland burned, Rami came to the Med and I talked with her for several hours while some 3,000 houses went up in smoke including hers, we thought at the time. Fortunately for her, her house was saved but the houses all around hers were lost. I did know some other people who were burned out.
Kevin Langdon - whom I knew from Channing Club. He also lived with Bob Orsor for a time. He became famous for creating the world's highest IQ test, the "Sigma 4 Test" which was published nationally in Omni magazine and after which he founded the Four Sigma Club. I thought of it as sort of a Channing Club spin off. I attended their three day conference held in San Francisco and met some really smart people and later went to a few of the local meetings of thePolymath club. Kevin is intelligent, creative, hard working and willing to promulgate his ideas but he annoys people with his demanding behavior and thus they tend to avoid him.
Pamela McCorduck - came to some "Wednesday Night" meetings held at my house on 1413 Allston Way, Berkeley in 1982. These meetings were organized by Kevin Langdon. She was writing a book published in 1983 titled The Fifth Generation. It is now a quarter century later and in some ways the world had gone beyond that book's expectations. The book begins and ends with a quote from my book Tao and War, the last section on how difficult it is to get accurate information because so many things and people conspire to prevent one from knowing the truth.
Richard Hodges - a friend from Channing Club who made and sold a brain wave monitor called "Extended Digital Concepts" which was a big seller in Popular Electronics magazine in ~ 1974. He was a computer professor at UCB. I lived at his house on 1813 8th St. Berkeley, CA 94710 for a year before moving to 1413 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA. One time after Channing he challenged me to a race and the two of us ran at top speed for a couple of blocks down University Avenue to the International House of Pancakes.
Kurt Rutherford - a friend of Richard Hodges whom I didn't know very well but really liked because he talked all the time in profundities sort of like reading from H. L. Mencken's personal quotes or from his book of Dictionary Quotations. The last I heard of him he it was rumored that he was technically crazy. He designed the (1st_US_ecology_flag.gif) Green American Flag which gained national prominence for a while back about 1970. I remember being offended the first time I saw it. The new Ecology Flag has green and white stripes and an earth symbol for the stars, but Kurt's original had American style five pointed stars.
Silvia Forman - Sam Kingsley's girlfriend, upstairs in the house in front of my residence in 1963-9 at 1923 Stuart Street, Berkeley. She was the first person to contest the right to set up a table in Sproul Plaza, which was challenged by the University authorities and was subsequently within the week picked up by the lefties and turned into what became the Free Speech Movement.
Jerry Rubin - was a Viet Nam war opposition leader and occasional Med person whom I talked to several times but we didn't like each other much; I thought he was an agent provocateur or a stupid radical and that there was something fishy about him and told him so, and so we generally found other people to talk to.
Brad Cleveland - whom I still talk with every month or so at the Med. He still reminisces about the Free Speech Movement and the Sproul Plaza confrontations with the authorities and prefers to talk about Hannah Arendt's political philosophy as much as possible. He was one of the speakers from the roof of the car that Wineburg was held captive in by the Berkeley police on October 1, 1964. A few days later, I was the very last person out of Sproul Hall being pursued by the police as I escaped down a rope from the second floor balcony to the cheers of thousands in the Plaza. I didn't want to be arrested because they would confiscate and destroy the photographs which I had been taking inside of the building during the arrests. There wasn't anything particularly interesting going on to be photographed, just people sitting around and being lectured at by lefties but all the same I didn't want my film and possibly my camera, a Leica M2, to be ripped off by the police. Brad wrote a letter challenging the rights of the University which later developed into a group called the "Ad Hoc Committee to End Discrimination".
George Pauly - (I took this uncredited photo of George) (born Manhattan NY 1933, high school Camp Hill, PA - died August 27,2007, Berkeley, CA) was a shooting victim of the Alameda County Sheriff's department's Blue Meanies during the riots. I barely knew him at the time of the shooting although I did work for him one night when he could find no one else to watch his theater. He lived across the street from People's Park about fifty steps behind where this photo of the park was taken. Some years later, after a severe beating from a disgruntled patron, he closed the Telegraph Repertory Cinema and walked the streets of Berkeley for ten years without speaking to anyone. Then one day he started coming back into the Med, and was a quiet raconteur for the remaining years of his life. He and I had Friday night dinners together for several years with pleasant conversations about our lives, lives in fraternities, lives with our old girl friends, his 17 years as a movie man, his life in Camp Hill, his life as an architect and life in general. He was very proud of his father who was the architect for the New York Panhellenic Tower building which is considered by architects as a seminal design. I did some web based research about Camp Hill and his properties there, which he inherited from his father, and which I printed up for him. In the last year of his life George was frequently beaten by his ninety year old landlady because he didn't pay enough rent. Berkeley was under rent control and George had lived in his ideally located rooftop apartment for so long that his rent was legally rather low and he didn't want to leave. So his landlady's recourse was to try and drive him out by beating with a steel rod every time he tried to go out or come home. He asked me to witness this typical encounter so he could contact the police and get her to stop. I made a movie with my Casio 1000 still camera movie function. Shortly after this movie was made George entered the hospital and never really recovered and a few months later died. Before he died, when this movie was shown to various lawyers and police authorities they said they couldn't do anything and she couldn't be sued for the attacks because they were voluntary. The lawyers said that if George had slipped on the faulty stairs he could have sued her. The most that ever happened to the old lady was that he got a restraining order placed against her not to beat on him. Is that justice? Actually, the restraining order came after he was already recovering and living in Elmwood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and so was futile and worthless. George was a fine man and believed that the best way to get along with people was to always be kind to them, no matter what. May he rest in peace.
Steve Jobs - whom I talked to a couple of times at the Buttercup Cafe 3201 College Ave. (37.851199 -122.253103) when I lived at "The Society for Creative Anachronism's" Toad Hall, (37.851175 -122.256002) on Alcatraz. I thought of him as devious because all he wanted to talk about was how to make fake telephone ringers and other such creative but questionable activities. He thought I was stuck in the mud of legalities. Well, with his more flexible can-do attitude he has gone on to make a lot of really neat things. But, this questionable personality trait still shows through in what I consider rather sleazy ads for the Mac verses PC. His Mac and iPhone are fabulous things though, so he has done much better as a creative adult than a coffee shop raconteur, at least by my lights.
Charlie Brown Artman - who at one time in the late 60s considered me his best friend and gave me the last cent he claimed he ever earned through honest work. I glued it to a card and have it saved somewhere. He was the first hippie, although he never called himself by that term, and by far the most original of them all. He did some really stupid things, like paint his van by pouring old abandoned paint he found over it. That was a first. He sponsored the first LSD party in Berkeley by buying a 100 pound bag of Heavenly Blue Morning Glory seeds and feeding them to UCB Folk dancers late one night after the dancing had ended. He ran for Mayor of Berkeley in 1966 on the marijuana ticket. This was a first I think. He created the "Teaton Tea Party" which was a folk music/Senior Men's Hall folk dance/Channing Club event for several years sometimes followed with a KPFA after midnight song fest. One night about 4AM he called me and said he was in great pain. I took him to Highland Hospital with an apparent inflamed appendix. It turned out that it had been burst for nearly three days and he was practically dead. That had to be very painful! Because Charlie looked so very disreputable they didn't admit him for several hours, and he said he nearly died lying there on the hospital floor. Later he was poisoned while in prison at Alameda county which he said was very painful also, but he said the most painful event of his life was two months alone in the Teton Mountains expecting his friends to come up there and be with him for the summer, which none did, but every day he was harassed from an airplane by the authorities. I had some 8x10" format color photos of him but they were burned up in my storage fire at 2506 Milvia Street, ~1970 while I was living on my 30 foot cabin cruiser Princess at Pier 28 in the Berkeley marina.
Miriam Berg - changed his name and his sex from a quite masculine John Fitz to what appealed to him more, a rather doughty old lady, Miriam Berg - John was the primary organizer of folk dancing in Berkeley for much of the 60s, also a key member of Channing Club. We developed "The Editors," a magazine of some 20 issues. He totally changed his appearance and identity when he became Miriam but not his social circle, which greatly confused us all for quite a while. She is now listed as a folksong collector.
Howie - is an old B-47 navigator, who hangs out in the Med sometimes. We joke about the those olden golden flying days occasionally but now he is into studying all things Chinese and lately is usually seen with a pile of Chinese texts on calligraphy or philosophy. For years he could be seen riding his BMW motorcycle around Berkeley with a dog, a German Shepard, perched on the gas tank. He got interviewed by the FBI when it was discovered that he had rented a room to Ted Kaczynski, alias The Unabomber. I parked my car in front of Ted Kaczynski's cottage apartment for many years and in fact had been in that building to a party once in the 60s before he lived there. But so far as I know I never met him, although I do know people from the math department who did know him. But they are all weird themselves, so Kaczynski didn't stand out as peculiar. Those other math folks are not secretly homicidal we hope.
Minor White - whom I knew but never got to know very well because he wasn't very talkative, at least not with me, and a little too closet-gay, a very decent person and I went to his apartment a couple of times with Wellpot. The most striking thing about him was how beautifully he kept his plants and everything else he did. He did what he did perfectly.
Clyfford Still - I took a class from this famous abstract expressionist and spent the entire time just talking to him and doing very little painting.
Ansel Adams - whose giant house I went to a couple of times down a cliff face in Big Sur. He seemed to be threatened by me and didn't seem to like me, because of my interest in color photography I thought but it seemed deeper. Maybe it was because I liked Wynn Bullock so much.
Wynn Bullock - and I were very much on the same boat intellectually. We were trying to find new ways of representing reality. He was into time and space at the time and I was exploring the idea of the missing person in the photo. The missing ego from where the meaning of the photo exuded. We had some really good conversations. This was back in the days when I got so excited in some conversations I thought I was going to faint. I never did but since then I have seen nacroleptics just drop when they get too excited. Like Donny Osmond on "Dancing With The Stars" October 2007. Conversations with Fred Garfield and Jim Connors can sometimes be pretty exciting but they aren't doing any art and my artist friends aren't very intellectually compelling.
Fred Padula - photographer - and I were good buddies in the mid to late 60s. I owe him a lot - he got me two jobs, one at Lick Observatory, which we shared and another at Jones Photography in San Francisco. These were both very helpful and meaningful to me. Once, he was driving down the freeway returning from my house when he saw me sitting out in the Emeryville mud flats. He had driven all the way over from San Francisco to offer me a job. He spotted me just sitting some eighty yards from the highway. It seems impossible. Anyway, that was where I later had my funeral, including a coffin and funeral pyre. It was there that Charlie Brown Artman, pronounced a few words, lit the flammables inside of my coffin, and I ascended on a pillar of flame and smoke and was reborn. Bob Fernbach, Grobman and Sue Kastor were there also; later we went down to the edge of the mud flat where I beat on the water and it retreated. Also, within fifty yards of that same spot I owned a whale for a brief time. It had come ashore and died so I claimed it as mine. I thought of it as some sort of flotsam ownership: but then I thought there might be some huge expense in removing my whale I decided not to own it anymore and called the authorities and let them take care of it.
Lawson Jones - operated the Jones Photocolor lab at the foot of Mission Street in San Francisco in the 1960s where I worked for him for a couple of years while going to grad school. It was a best possible quality color print lab, catering to the advertising trade. After a couple of years he offered me a partnership in the business but I wanted to do my own thing and set up Scamahorn Color Photo, which never really took off. There is much to be said for joining up with an ongoing operation and much to be said about the unknown risks of setting up your own. We all have lacks which we don't even know but a single unknown lack can prevent you from succeeding. My great failing is that I don't really like putting my productions up for public view until I am satisfied with them, which I never am, and rightfully so because they are generally unfinished.
Debbie Grobman - a Channing Club person for many years in the 60s and 70s. She was an excellent artist and did the covers for our mimeographed publication "The Editors" and later gained a wider audience in the San Francisco publication "The Oracle". History is strange, because she may have had more square inches of that publication than almost anyone and yet the Wikipedia article and the web in general write almost exclusively about those who later became famous. It is a winner take all situation like what is described in Nicholas Taleb's book "The Black Swan", but the reality, when you are there living it, is quite a bit different - much more complex and much more interesting than what the poets and historians present. They give us a distilled cartoon of life which is nice enough but it isn't as much fun as the real uncanned full dimensional life experiences.
Jefferson Poland - was a buddy from Channing Club in the 60s. We did a lot of outrageous things together such as going for swims in the ocean naked. He later made such natural and easy going silliness into a political thing. Somewhere, there are some movies of us and Ina Saslow out on a San Francisco beach romping around but this was before he got into the habit of being arrested for his socially challenging acts. I did all of those things just for the fun of it but he started making these fun things into some sort of political outrage. It was about this time all we went swimming nude in the Hurst Gym pool (37.869883 -122.258779) late at night after folk dancing with some twenty girls participating. Usually we got chased out by the UC janitors without much ceremony. Jeff always lived a just little bit past the edge of respectability which generally got him into mild trouble. I haven't seen him since about 1970 and since that time he has gotten into much bigger trouble. I knew him as a very friendly mild mannered guy who liked to do a couple of strange things occasionally, like legally change his name from Jefferson Poland to Jeff Poland then to Jefferson Fuck Poland because his middle initial was F I think. From there it was Fuck Poland then onto a number. I don't know what number he chose but the authorities wouldn't permit him to have a number so he couldn't change it legally. - Jeff was always trying to stay just barely within the law so he chose - "Just Plain Fuck". He didn't think that was quite right so he moved on to Jefferson Clit Lick. Back then all of his friends just called him Jeff but I have no idea of "who" he is now.
Bret Weston - and Cole Weston, are famous photographers - We spent New Year's Eve together, two years to the hour after their dad Edward Weston died. It was a kind of macabre celebration. We were at Cole's place, a funny little cabin up a canyon in Big Sur, that didn't even have remotely near level floors. We had a few drinks, wobbled around with Cole's girlfriend, and had a great time.
Jack Wellpot - photographer - teacher and friend in the mid 60s. He was a photography instructor at San Francisco State College whom I studied with and through him I met quite a few of the local famous photographers and artists.
Jean Varda - a Sausalito celebrity at the time Jack Wellpot set up a meeting with him. I spent an afternoon on his fairly large but very old boat he shared with another guy, Alan Watts who wasn't there at the time. I am not sure that at the time the boat was even floating. We had a great time but I don't remember much about it. The present boat has been massively upgraded and made into a tourist attraction but from what I remember it was a wreck when Varda lived on it.
Judy Dater - photographer - whom I knew for a couple of years but more as an acquaintance than a friend because she didn't seem to like talking to me much so we rarely spoke together except in formal settings. Like at photo critique parties at Wellpot's house.
Carla Kandinsky - and I were close friends in 1962 and I helped her get into the modeling profession which she did for many years (to support her writing) and her nude form now graces the walls of many art museums.
Steve McQueen - movie actor. I was exiting the elevator onto the plaza in Washington Square in San Francisco, on Kearny and Washington when it became apparent that it was a movie set and a person I sort of recognized was standing before me. I said,"Paul Newman?...?". And the person rather icily said, "James Caan...?" or was it Steve McQueen?
Alan Kay - creator of the personal computer. I chatted with him for a bit at the IBM center in downtown Berkeley about applying layers of analysis in a feedback web like Jeff Hawkins writes about in his book On Intelligence.
Jeff Hawkins - creator of Palm Pilot gave a lecture at Cal last year. I had read his book On Intelligence and Debbie has his Palm TX. I talked a bit about Probaway-Script and gave him a copy of it but he wasn't interested as he is working on some new way for input.
Vint Cerf - creator of the Internet who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Debbie called me one day and said a lecture that she thought I would be interested in was beginning in twenty minutes at the IBM center in downtown Berkeley. I ran to BART, exited at the building's front door in downtown Berkeley, ran to the elevator and onto the top floor where there was a room full of expectant people; fortunately the lecture hadn't quite started yet. There were no seats so I walked along the side toward the few empty seats near the front, ((37.869726 -122.270894 425m) where a distinguished looking gentleman came up to me and said "My name is Vint Cerf"; I replied "My name is Charles Scamahorn". and we chatted for a bit. Then I said, "I think they are saving these seats for the speaker". He said, "I am the speaker". So there I was knee deep in the sticky goo again. He was standing there with his fresh Presidential Medal of Freedom in his left hand and I was shaking his right hand, and I didn't even know who he was. Oops, again. He started his lecture by telling a story about how the day before, when he was in the White House after shaking hands with President Bush when he met a guy in the hall who had just got one of those things, and they didn't recognize each other either. It was Buzz Aldrin, whom I met last year on the USS Hornet. "What did you do?" "Oh, I was the first person to land on the Moon. What did you do?" "Oh, I invented the Internet". There are these degrees of separation conversations but they don't mean much because lots of times we aren't even aware of them, even when they are incredibly famous and important people.
Wavy Gravy - member of the bus tour, famous comic, founder and philanthropist of Camp Winarainbow - He attended my 60th birthday party with Sharon, a close friend of both of us (Sharon and I share October 1st birthdays), at Bonnie Power's apartment but he didn't talk much, if any.
Kevin Powell - mathematician and IBM programmer in a previous life, a modern day John Muir living in the natural wild lands of California as much as he can. A well read and exciting conversational companion who documents his conversations from one day to the next with beautifully prepared proofs of the previous day's conversation. The last I saw him, in late November 2007 he was very happy because he was taking care of a homeless woman, Jena, whom he said is the most wonderful woman in the world. I told him I thought that was a difficult and probably thankless task but he was ecstatic about the challenge.
Marin Fischer - artist, Channing Club, Med friend since the 70s. We are part of the current Med crowd, which the local high school students call the wax museum because we are older than they and always sitting there. She is currently managing the Channning Club which is still meeting in private homes since the Berkeley Unitarian Church was moved from Cal Campus
Ove Ofteness - author, word player, musician, and friend since the 70s. We were talking the other day and I was complaining about the lack of modern Christmas stories and music; it seemed to me that everything was from the 40s or earlier, that the last new thing was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Gene Autry and that was from the 50s. I said those originals had been cleaned up beautifully and sounded better in some ways than I remember them but the newer songs and newer versions of the old songs being played by modern artists with fantastic production values were essentially boring because they lacked soul and true emotion; that they lacked creativity, that they were all polish and no substance. Ove, replied, "They'er all polish and no wood". I really liked that phrasing; it's brief and poignant and I thought it must be an old Norse bon mot, but I was unable to find it on Google that night. So the next time we met I asked him where it came from and he said, no we just made it up so far as he knows but he wants credit for it. He has my problem; a lot of talent and productivity but no venue or podium and thus no clout, no respect and no money. Read the Black Swan for the winner take all recognition problem of the artist.
Debbie Foster - my life companion and true love since the summer of 1984 when we met. She was the librarian behind the big desk at the main reading room in Doe Library at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the most widely informed person I have ever met, which for me is great because I don't have to be so precise to find out something as when doing a Google search. Sometimes, when on our daily constutional walks I'll ask her a weird question like, "without looking, What is the symbol for the accounting company H & R Block"? She answered, "Is it a green box? Ya, I think it is, ... green for money and the box is for the block. Ah it's a symbol for a green money box or block". That was her immediate response, without looking. I just Googled "H & R block symbol" and got nothing much except their ticker symbol. In fact if you go to their coperate site you find the symbol all over the place, but without a clue as to what it means. Maybe it doesn't mean anything but I liked her answer.
Eric Strauss - a Med friend since the 80s and a Boalt School of Law graduate. He has a droll sense of humor that would make a great stand up comic; sort of like a pouty and dry Larry David. He has a book site which publishes a mystic known as Bo Yin Ra.
Nina Jablonsky - and I had a memorable, for me, conversation walking across Cal Berkeley campus where I described the motivations for human evolution as I wrote up in Probaway Zanzibar. She seemed to like hearing my theory because she walked a block past the place where she was giving a funeral oration at Faculty Glade and had to double back.
Donald Johanson - I have had a couple of brief encounters with him. But one time he spoke to me repeatedly at a Cody's bookstore reading. Mostly he said, "Next slide please". Once he was lecturing at his "Institute For Human Origins" when I asked why his Institute wasn't called The Institute for Hominid Origins or The Institute for Mammalian Origins or The Institute for Dinosaur Origins. Human Origins are about 50 to 150 thousand years ago, not 10 million years ago and receding, which is where he seems to be headed. It was an embarrassing question and soon after he moved his institute from Berkeley to Tempe Arizona. I sincerely hope it wasn't anything I said. In fact those same paleoanthropologists seem to be looking now for human origins in a more reasonable time frame.
Leslie Aiello - spoke as a group member at the California Academy of Science and I spoke to her afterwards for a bit and liked her very much. The next time I spoke with Nina Jablonsky, the director of guest speakers, I asked her to invite Leslie back for a full presentation. Well, I have zero clout with anyone anywhere but Nina did have Leslie back a couple of months later and I got to talk with her for a while longer. She was somewhat amazed at how her career has taken off recently.
Ian Tattersall - talked with me briefly after a California Hall of Science presentation he let me pick up a Neanderthal skull to look at the ridges near the but all of the buzz at the time was Homo floresiensis, Flores Man and the Herto man. Here is a more current interview with Tattersall.
Ray Kurzweil - was giving a lecture at Stanford in April of 2001 along with Bill Joy and other famous people, when during the break I found myself standing near the front of the waiting line in the men's room and he was in back of me. Without saying a word to anyone I left the line. For me it was a sign of respect. "No man shows greater respect to another man than allowing that other man to piss first!"
Andy Clardy - who has been in the Med since 1980s has been an announcer for the last ten years at College of San Mateo radio station KCSM doing mostly Jazz progaming but he said he is moving over to KPFA in November 2007.
Ray Nelson - was one of the more engaging Channing Club people and a successful science fiction writer. In the Wikipedia article he professed to have created the propeller beanie. This is strange because another friend of mine, George Kalmar, claims that his father, also a writer, made his fortune selling beanies and that he invented the propeller beanie and sold them in the 1940s. One of Ray's personal stories is how he swapped out a famous painting in the Chicago Art Institute with one of his own and his hung there for two days before anyone noticed. Needless to say he got into trouble. Ray frequently averred that he was a skinny kid trying to get out of a fat old man's body but at Halloween parties he would dress up in a super fat person costume. In other words a fat kid trying to get out of a really fat person's costume.
George Kalmar - known in the Med as Little George because of his short stature, has been a Med person for years. He may have the bushiest eyebrows on the planet. He escaped from Nazi Germany just before WWII traveling in utero to Sweden and on to Ellis Island. He is a great raconteur and seems to know everyone in Berkeley. He moved to upstate Vermont a couple of years ago but still comes by The Med once a year or so. He told me that a German newspaperman was looking for strange Berkeley people to interview and he told them about me; saying that I was the strangest person he knew. He said, "Everyone else in Berkeley is trying somehow to be someone unique, but that [I] was just trying to be ordinary". He seemed to think that trying to be sane in Berkeley was a bit peculiar.
Sue Cunningham - was my girlfriend in ~1964 we were considering getting married after my month long summer school thing with some famous photographers at the University of Indiana in Bloomington. When I returned from that rather eventful excursion she had decided to return to a previous suitor Robert T. Moore, a chemist, whom she later married. Her father, Burris Cunningham, who was a chemist, and her mother came to visit us at our new apartment a few days before I left for Bloomington which was the only time he and I had an extended conversation. At the time I was interested in photography, and the consciousness enhancing philosophy of Gurdjieff All and everything and was paying a lot of attention to my awareness. Perhaps they all thought it was a weird religion and that figured into her choice. I never found out. Later, Bob and Sue got more seriously into that work. Bob was an occasional Channing Club member and close friend of Bill Handley. Bill was my best friend early in the 60s and he was sharing a place with me on Dwight Ave. when Sue and I were together. Bill was a great man with philosophy and with words in general but he died young. Burris Cunningham was an ultra-micro-chemist but I didn't know that he was the one who first isolated Plutonium. That was the material that made the first atom bomb at Alamogordo, New Mexico and which was made in quantity in the pile directly across the street and a field from my home in North Richland, Washington. "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes, Burris Cunningham page 320+ photo 52 at the moment of discovering Plutonium. Description of this event is on pages 409-15.
George Pastor - lived in the house in front of where Bill Handley and I lived. He was an ex-marine and was so excited by my stories about flying jets that he re-upped into the Marines so that he could fly them. I saw him once many years later after he had done a tour in Viet Nam and he was saddened by the fact that he knew he had destroyed fishing boats that he knew weren't spies or anything else bad, but just fishermen trying to catch a meal. He went up to Richland, and Madras with me one time, and on the way back he saw a road killed beaver lying on the road near Boardman, Oregon. He insisted he wanted it and that we go back and pick it up. When we got to my uncle's farm in Madras he skinned it salted it and when we got back to San Francisco he had it professionally tanned. It made a exquisitely beautiful blanket .
Charles McDermid - a Channing Club member and a well known artist in the 1960s who had one man shows in the Berkeley Student Union and in the SF MOMA. He still lives in Berkeley and we talk occasionally a bit at Black Oak book lectures.
Craig Becker - first came to the Med in the 80s and fell in love with the place. At the time he was earning a living as a wholesale jewelery salesman and traveling all over California. He was a world traveler to find suppliers for his coustomers and while on tour in Thiland met his future wife, Benjawan. He had grown up in part in Quito, Ecuador and studied at The University of Mexico. Long before esoteric drug trips were available to the "civilized world" Craig hiked several days journey up into the mountains to visit with Maria Sabina and did it the right way with the original master tour guide. Craig and Benjawan's multi year trans Pacific romance finally resulted in their civil marriage in Oakland, where I was the best-man-witness. A short while later they did a big religious wedding with her family back in Thailand but all I saw of that were the fabulous photos of Benjawan in all sorts of incredible outfits. After they were married they wrote several books together about sex and Thai language. Then much to the surprise of us Med denizens he bought the property and the rights to the existing business and has endevored mightly to bring it back to glory.
Benjawan Poomsan Becker - is the most industrious author I ever met. She is always working, even when sitting in a coffee shop having a conversation, she will be constantly writing in her notebooks, or perhaps it's on her final drafts for books for publication. On a current Amazon Bookstore search she has sixteen books. Although English is her third language she was the Thai national Scrabble champion in English. One slightly embarrassing encounter for me was when we were discussing the definition of the word thunder. I was of the opinion that thunder was exclusively the sound heard after a lightning flash but she thought that it also included the luminous flash. The Free Dictionary agrees with my definition for thunder but we may have been discussing the word thunderbolt, I don't really remember but I suspect it was Thunderbolt because I remember associating it with the WWII airplane. She was right for thunderbolt.
Rory O'Merry - Doctor Smog and My Wife in Bangkok are books by a Med person whom we haven't seen for a couple of years but have talke with many times. When he does show up he is filled with wild and interesting stories usually told with a humorous and scatological twist. He grew up in the English public school tradition which seems to show up in constant hard work at being productive.
Louis Cuneo - a long time Med personality with such a strange laugh that it has been used in many commercial recordings. He and I have a joking relationship and make outlandish gestures and conversation whenever we meet. For example when he approached our table at the Med window this afternoon I rather conspiciously picked my nose, very deep appearing from his viewpoint by folding my finger, and then, holding out my middle finger, offerd him a bite. Then, picking between his front teeth he said no thank you, he had already had a bagel and cream cheese; would I care for some. We always do that kind of stupid childish stuff.
Anne Richardson - is a Berkeley native with a PhD from Harvard who taught English literature at Yale, (possibly to George Bush) and is presently a research scholar publishing work on William Tyndale the original translator of the English bible. She has been my adopted sister for the last thirty years and her family has been my family for the holidays. During that long time my genetic family was too far away for many routine holiday visits. She published, William Tyndale and the Law and references; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,.
Fred Garfield - is a Med friend since the 80s and one of the most unique personalities there. Ask him a practical life question and he will give you a wiser and more usable answer to your problem than almost anyone. However, when talking with him he always seems a bit distracted, like he is preparing a speech for an audience. He would probably do really well on a comedy talk show, like the Colbert Report, which requires funny repartee on wide ranging subjects.
Dale Burger - was a Med friend of the 90s who spoke much of the time in sensible profundities. He claimed that Bob Dylan was a great inspiration to him and he could quote substantial passages of Dylan upon request. One day he and I divided up the World into spheres of influence, rather like the Church did in 1500 for the Spanish and Portuguese. We did it as a mockery of such a silly thing. He was a biologist who couldn't seem to get a decent job here in Berkeley, so much to the chagrin of the Med People he moved up to Spokane, Washington to be with his family. Only Sara still keeps in touch with him.
Skip Dayton - won the California Lottery for $17 million. I had known him for several years before this event and one evening just before Xmas I was debating the good sense of gambling on the lottery. I was and still am of the opinion that it is a very foolish, as if one can be more foolish than foolish, way to squander money. Little did I know, or he know that he had the winning ticket in his pocket while we were having this argument. Maybe he did know and was just trying to decide how he was going to cope with his new set of problems. The money did bring a lot of problems but he said that he much preferred his life with all the money than without it. He bought a ranch up in Sonoma with the winnings and lives the life of a gentleman cowboy. I said to Skip, "The world lost a great carpenter and gained a mediocre cowboy".
Isaac Maleh - was a Med person since the early 80s, at least, because I had known him for quite a while before I helped him buy a Commodore 64. He owned a small apartment house in the 90s which I helped him manage for a couple of years. This place, at the corner of Dana and Dwight, was where I lived in 1962 with Don Cooper, long before Isaac owned it. We had some Channing Club meetings there including the infamous Romilar Party: Bill Handley said, "One tenth of a normal dose of Romilar is good for a cough". Fortunately for me, I never had much interest in those out of brain experiences, once being enough even for the relatively benign things.
Dr. Tim Lawler - practiced emergency medicine for a quarter century here in the SF Bay Area and is now retired but he still holds forth mightly upon health-related subjects at the Med. He has the curious quality of being very helpful and very annoying at the same time. He lives up to the medical tradition, "Doctors think they are God but emergency room doctors know they are".
Bonnie Powers - is a close friend for many years whom I met at the Med. She has been working as a teacher for the Berkeley Public Schools for most of that time helping with the special children. She reads a lot and writes excellet book reviews. One time walking her to her apartment from the Med I was trying to explain something about how if Sherlock were looking at the Drake Plate he would check the local newspaper for clues ... but what date? Obviously, the date on the plate June 17, 1579, or with a simple inversion 1957 or 1975. Well, that isn't it but it did lead directly to the correct date.
Max Scherr - the owner of the famous Steppenwolf bar, whom I had known since 1961, came to me a couple of times the summer of 1965 saying he was going to found a newspaper. He seemed to value my advice because I had helped get "The Editors" going which at that time was an ongoing monthly organ of the Channing Club. I remember a conversation where I told him to make it radical, and abrasive and sexy, sexy, sexy. Not that I was any of those things but I thought that that is what would sell to the Berkeley community; which it did. I had some short stories and helped get an events page going and did a few reports. These were in the first issues and I remember going into the Med and trying to sell the very first printings of the first issure for ten cents, not very successfully I might add because every sale required a ten minute explanation of what the Barb was about. I gave Max back all of those copies which I didn't sell. Today they are collectors items and probably worth a lot more than ten cents. Max and I had a falling out when he completely rewrote an article of mine in flagrant running dog lackey style with my byline on it. The article was about a professor McCaffree over at San Francisco State College who was doing a lot of very radical things in his classroom (37.721501 -122.478706). I happened to be there when S. I. Hayakawa came in and formally told him he was no longer an employee and that he was fired and had to leave. Some time later Max invited me to his house for dinner which happened to be with Susan Hesse. He said that he founded his Steppenwolf bar based on her uncle's book and had founded his newspaper on the ideas we had discussed at the Med. He broke out what he claimed was the last bottle of wine from his first case of wine from the Steppenwolf for the occasion and we cheerily drank this rot gut down. His Barb lasted for several years and became quite famous but like many high minded radicals Max treated his friends, lovers and employees terribly.
Susan Hesse - was a member of Channing Club for a while in 1967. She was a beautiful and very intelligent girl at the time and I had romantic interests in her and went out to dinner a couple of times but she wasn't interested in me. However, she did turn me on to theSynanon games which were aimed at rehabilitation of convicted criminals. I have never been into drugs or crime and went to about a dozen of those emotionally challenging meetings for entertainment value. It was sort of a standup comic training studio atmosphere. It was sort of like Channing Club but with not very bright intellectual quality and a very nasty rehabilitation spin. Susan said that she was the niece of Herman Hesse and as her parents died when she was young she was raised by her uncle Herman.
S. I. Hayakawa - and I had a couple of very brief encounters. The first was at Professor McCaffree's public firing which I wrote up for the Berkeley Barb. The second was taking a class from him, in which he made such an ass of himself that I walked out in the middle of the class and walked over to the admissions office and dropped his class. That was the only time I ever did such an outrageously contemptuous thing. The third was when I was technically in the wrong about not taking the graduate admissions test, which I hadn't done. My contention was that I had completed all of the requirements for a Masters Degree, proving that I was qualified to receive one, and therefore shouldn't have to waste time taking the silly GRE test. He playing the role of College President to the extreme and said, "Take the test immediately or I will see to it that you will NEVER get a degree from this institution!" So, I took the silly ass test and attempted to answer every single question wrong. Apparently I failed because although I answered every single question I had one point above the absolute minimum score and so must have gotten one of them right. My advisor, Jack Wellpot said, "I thought you were smarter than that" ie, absolute idiot. I don't think he knew what I did and I never told anyone for years. Hayakawa later gained further fame when he called in the riot police during the 1960s to brutalize his student body and was rewarded for that disgrace by being elected as California's Senator to Washington. He was quite old by that time and gained further infamy by sleeping through senate hearings.
Geoffrey Cook - is a Med regular, writer, historian and world traveler, like his famous direct ancestor Captain Cook. His special area of expertise is the politics of Southeast Asia. He has sometimes been called upon to be a voting overseer for various governments which has led to many scary stories relating to even scarier events.
David Brower - spoke at Cody's Bookstore here in Berkeley one evening and being a dark night and questionable neighborhood I offered to walk him to his car. He then drove me to the BART metro station along Channing Street and said, as we passed a house that he lived there as a Cal student in the 1930s and that he had planted that particular redwood tree (+37.865198 -122.263832 62m) which had now grown to some two meters in diameter. That redwood tree was his personal symbol for the Sierra Club which is still used worldwide. There is a building a few blocks away from there now under construction (November 2007) at Oxford Street and Allston Way (+37.869486 -122.266128 60m) in Berkeley which is named in honor of him.
Duke Campbell - CAPT Duncan A. "Duke" Campbell USN (RET); was a member of the PCC computer club and often came to my Money-SIG group on computer investing to hear me rant on various stock possibilities. He told me about his flying his PBY Catalina back and forth between Manila and Singapore on December 7th 1941 with high ranking officers and not sleeping for several days. When he returned to Manila he was told to get out, go anywhere but just leave; which he did and it probably saved his plane and his life. He told me of some of his other adventures, one of which I had heard of when I was still a child; that of accidentally flying his PBY between the masts of a ship on a very low overcast day. There is a book by Dwight Messimer "In The Hands Of Fate" about Duke and his buddies' experiences of December 1941.
Jan Fagerholm - has been the chief of the PCC computer club for years and he is also a jet airplane pilot, so we had lots of stuff to talk about during breaks at the meetings but generally we didn't get very far into anything because he always had business to attend to. We never met outside of the club or the SIGs.
Georgianna Ziegler - the Head of Reference at the Folger Shakespeare Library, on Capitol Hill Washington DC right beside the Library of Congress 38.888888 -77.004500 who spoke with me for a quarter hour 13Nov07 as I attempted to explain why I wanted to look at their "Shakespeare Folios". Just King John" Act IV, Scene III, I said, where Hubert (HB) encounters Arthur (Arthur Conan) to poke his eyes (D'oiles) out. Unbeknownst to me they have 79 of the surviving 250 or so Folios and she couldn't see bringing out their entire collection for me to go fishing through. She did a little research however on any possible linkages within their collection and Conan Doyle but came up with nothing. However, if I found a specific linkage to any of them it appeared that I would be permitted to check them for possible manipulations of the text. While Georgianna was gone searching the database I sat under "The Sieve Portrait of Elizabeth I" 38.889340 -77.003030 sipping happily away at some coffee and "conversing" with the Queen about the Drake Plate and his claim to my homeland in California and of Doyle's remake of that claim. Since that time I have discovered that Doyle's public school, Stonyhurst College, 53.847101 -2.471274 in England has a copy of the folio.
Ted Landers - is a data polymath who seems to know all of the details of everything substantial. He has a particular depth of information about cars and cameras and loves to talk at great length about them and their specific qualities. One time just for fun I picked a random subject and studied up on it for an afternoon; the subject was mustard. My motivation was to talk about something concrete in greater depth than Ted. I totally failed ... he didn't stop talking for an hour until I called it quits. We have gone up to Don Davis's cabin in South Lake Tahoe every September since about 1970. Don died in ~1976 but we made arrangements with his family and have continued going up the week after Labor Day since then with John Anderson and Laurie Hart.
John Anderson - a long time friend and engineer who worked for Convair on the B-36s, which was the biggest major propeller driven airplane ever made. It was so big that in the 50s it was called the aluminum overcast. Later John worked at the Stanford Linear Accelerator 37.414 -122.221. By the time I knew John he was living back in Berkeley near his childhood digs and largely retired. He spent his time just helping people whenever and wherever they needed help. This trait seemed to culminate most often in his helping people keep their cars running. He is now living in the Yountville old soldiers home 38.395 -122.365 in Sonoma valley but he still spends most weekends in the Med visiting Laurie and me.
Laurie Hart - is presently a retired chemist having worked a long career in the spice trade for Schilling. He goes up to "our" cabin on Los Angeles Street, South Lake Tahoe, 38.937936 -119.989952 with John Anderson and me every year in September. It is the week of the Reno Air Races, so we often go to that event. Generally, I tell Laurie about my various ideas long before they are related to anyone else. He is a good listener who asks good questions rather than trying to debunk things before they can be fully explored and developed as most of my other friends are so prone to do.
Sally Wolfer - is an art teacher at Berkeley High School with students who went on to win Oscars in Hollywood. She is naturally a very lean person and a natural distance runner. I helped her get started in her first San Francisco marathon because she was so anxiety stricken. At the time I was running a lot and that event was my third marathon but all the same she passed me, out at about twenty three miles. She later ran in the Boston marathon.
Fletcher Oakes - is an artist photographer who said I got him started in photography back in 1964. He started off looking for what he termed "photo-worthy" subjects. I liked the term and ought to apply it more to my stuff. I remember our early conversations about the photographer of the American scene Robert Frank. I was the only person he had ever met who had heard of him at that time but now every social photographer knows Robert Frank. Here is a site that shows his influence on photography. It was about the time I first met him that I was becoming disgusted with the photography scene because although I was getting things into shows and museums they were keeping them but never, never paying me for them, and then "losing" them. I was doing color photos and at this time that required major efforts to create each print. After one has lost maybe twenty of one's best one-of-a-kind prints anyone would lose interest. Take the twenty best prints of any photographer and see what they have left. I still take digital photos, like everyone else, but strictly for my own pleasure.
Hardy Jones - M.D. sculpture artist and part of my adopted Berkeley family since the 70s.
Marin Fischer - artist, Channing Club, Med friend since the 70s. We are part of the current Med crowd, which the local high school students call the wax museum because we are older than they and always sitting there in the late afternoon. She is currently managing the Channning Club mailing list which helps keep the club meeting regularly in private homes since the Berkeley Unitarian Church was forced to move from its beautiful log cabin (N 37-52.123 W 122-15.679) on the Cal Campus.The door on the left was Channing Club's room when I first came to Berkeley in 1960. The current church is now called the Unitarian-Universalist-Church-of-Berkeley but it was forced to move to a Kensington hilltop some six miles away because the University wanted the property and was able to exercise eminent domain laws. Channing Club met in the new church a few times but many of us were students at the time and it was too difficult to get to the new locaton which required carpooling at private homes. We started meeting at private homes and saved the trip up the hill. Many people think Channing Club is some sort of chanting group but it has always been the University-level student discussion group of the Unitarian Church and its meetings consist mostly of open forum conversation of personal relationships to interesting social and philosophical issues. The name Channing Club is based on an influential Boston Unitarian Minister William Ellery Channing, an ardent slavery abolitionist of the pre Civil War era. There is a statue of him in Rhode Island and a portrait in the Britannica.
Ted Freidman - a long time friend at the Med published this obituary article about our mutual friend George Pauly. He is an abrasive raconteur who adds energy to conversation by challenging almost anything you say and it becomes annoying when he doesn't let you develop an idea beyond one sentence. He seems to take pleasure at annoying his interlocutors and is one of the few people in this world who has ever made me angry. He is very proud of his son in law, Keller Autumn, a biologist at the Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, who has gained fame through his work on the adhesive qualities of the gecko's foot.
Brian Rowning - biologist at the University of California, Berkeley.
Sara Frucht - is an artist working with mirrors to create Kaleidoscapes.
Peter Mutnick - is seen in this photo of mine taken in the Med back in 1999. He is a regular who studies metaphysics in his own special way. Here is an interview with him about Heisenberg. He died of cancer on July ~14, 2008. He was a strange man who was always on the edge of something profound and maybe crazy but always just a little bit too interesting to be believed.
Christina Ramar - artist and in her youth a close friend of famous musicians.
Paul Rogers - is a Unitarian buddy who actively promotes worthwhile things like the PCC computer club and the Unitarian church in Kensington.
Ted Kaufmann - a Channing Club friend since the 60s. At that time he was making a living as a psychological encounter group guru but later he became a computer programmer and then went on to other things.
Greg Gomer - a Med friend since the 80s. He is huge at 300+ pounds at 6 foot 3 and very athletic with the most sensitive emotional tonalities of anyone I know. Being of such huge size and booming voice he easily dominates conversations but almost always in a friendly way but he does get very emotional when he feels that he has been wronged.