In 1953 my mom married a man that I hated right off the bat it seemed like. He'd just gotten out of the U. S. Army after 14 years while the Korean Police Action was winding down. He was doing things such as on the outside of the kitchen cabinets posting a KP list! My little sister and I finally went to my mom and told her that was really taking it overboard doing something such as that. It would make our faces red when friends would come over and see that damn thing posted every week. There was even one next to it about who had police call for the front yard as well as for the back yard. And we were supposed to I guess go out and look for cigarette butts or whatever. He also wanted our beds made every day with military corners on them and a pillow with our top blanket covering it.
There was one thing that he really hated was that my hair was fairly long. We're not talking about anything that was really all that long, I had a waterfall in front as well as a duck tail in the back. There was no way that I was going to cut my beautiful hair that was naturally wavy. All of the girls really like it so of course I wasn't going to cut it no matter what. He had his hair cut every week keeping it in a military style where there was barely enough to even put a part in it.
Every couple of weeks I'd go in and get my hair trimmed at a place called "Bob's Clip Joint." And of course the two of them were buddies where the two of them would have coffee a few times a week at the same cafe. One day I go in to get my hair trimmed and I could not believe what happened. Bob took them clippers and completely cut the sideburns off on one side. It was hard to believe how much of an apology that this man was making, then it was like he told me the only practical thing to do was take the other one off as well. And with that he'd have to cut my hair down pretty good all the way around. The one thing that I insisted was that he leave as much of my ducktail as possible. Could not believe it when I got home it was just past Noon on a Saturday and everyone was waiting lunch on me. As soon as my mom and him saw it both of them started telling me how neat and tidy that it looked the way it was. Of course that was not my opinion by a long shot. It wasn't long before I realized that it was a lot easier to take care of being just a little bit shorter than what it had been for a couple of years. But it still pissed me off what Bob had done to me, the worst of it? I was an adult before it actually dawned on me that he and Bob had set it up to do what Bob did to my hair.
The next thing that they did to me was move us out of town out into what I figured was the boonies where we had a huge orange grove across the road from us. And next to it was a dairy with all kinds of cows and huge piles of cow dung that attracted flies all summer. The good thing was about two years later the dairy sold their land and then they built more tract houses there.
Almost every evening we would all be in the living room listening to radio programs. Most of that time I was also doing my homework from school, and if there wasn't anything good on the radio I'd play some records. One of the 45's that I had was "Splish Splash" and I had it fixed where it would play over and over again. No idea how long it was on but finally he put his newspaper down, walked over to the record player, lifted up the arm on the record. Then he took the record off and walked to the door, he threw it as hard as he could over in the direction of the orange grove like a frisbee. Not real sure how much time that I spent looking for that record but I was at it for several days. It was as if I looked in every place that it could possibly be and coming up with zilch for all of my searches.
No idea now what it was that he thought I'd done but he was really, really pissed at me. When I walked past him he grabbed me by the back of my jacket, pulled off his belt and walloped me as hard as he could. It raised up some pretty good sized welts, but I shocked him with what I did. There was a Base Ball Bat on the other side of the room that I picked up. There were tears in my eyes I hurt so bad from what he did, but his eyes got very big when I picked it up and held it as if it were a weapon. What I told him was that if he ever did anything like that to me again I was going to get the biggest thing that I could and come after him with it. My mom stepped in front of him and told him that he was really out of line with what he'd done. That he didn't even ask me if I'd done whatever it was that he accused me of. It had something to do with money, and she told him that she was the one that had taken the money. She also warned him that as well as she knew me that I meant what I'd said about him ever putting a hand on me again. At the time I was 14, and at that time I was bigger than I am now. LOL, I was also taller as at that time I was '5 8". When I went into the U. S. Army they measured me at 5" 10 3/4" tall, but guess what? Now with all of the twisting and bending in my spine I'm barely 5' 6".
Anyway, he and I tangled a few times verbally, but he never tried to ever hit me again. My whole life I've always fought "dirty" as there is no such thing as a clean fight the way that I look at it. And I don't care what it is from my fists to a board I'm going to use whatever it takes to finish a fight. Several people over the years have found out that I don't have any problem knocking them down with whatever.
When I was 16 he and I were getting along pretty good most of the time. I even showed him how to surf fish as well as how to get crabs as well as lobster. He really always loved having lobster for dinner, and if we were going to have company it was one of those things that he liked to serve to them. One of the things that I did a lot of times to make money was catch fish out on Terminal Island in front of the canneries. At that time I could always catch nice size halibut that I would put in a Radio Flyer that I would haul them in. There were times when it really was heavy with some big ones as well as what's called "chickens" because they were smaller. By the time I'd get home I'd have them all sold except the ones we were going to have for dinner. It seemed to always surprise him how much money that I could make doing some of the things that I always did. It was like on a curve not far from where we lived there was always pot holes in the road. I'd always look in the weeds along the road and find hub caps, they always brought in at least Two Bucks at the wrecking yard. For a long time the guy that ran it thought that I was stealing them until I told him how it was done. And that it was a whole lot easier than trying to steal anything.
When I was sixteen I told my family that when I turned 17 I was going to go into the U. S. Army. It was what I'd always wanted to do, and I was bound that's what I was going to do. At first I was going to go in on my 17th birthday, but my mom asked me if I'd at least stay home for a birthday party. So the day after I turned 17 I raised my Right Hand and swore to protect the United State of America with a six year obligation.
In late 1957 not long before my regiment was getting ready to ship out for over seas I called home. While I was talking to him on the phone suddenly he wasn't there anymore. But real quick my mom was on the phone and she said "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU SAY TO HIM!!!" I told her that I asked him when I was 21 and could sign the papers myself if he would adopt me. My mom said "Oh My God, he just went down the hallway crying." It was the first time she'd ever seen him cry.
When I got in the Army and heard other guys talking about step-fathers that they had I realized how much that I really had it made with the one that I had. He helped me with all kinds of things, mostly he showed me what it was that a man was supposed to do to take care of his family. We always had a good roof over our heads, our stomachs were always full, and he offered guidance the whole time.
After getting out of active duty from the Army there was a very nice young woman that I'd met. And within a year we decided that we were going to get married. When we were talking to an attorney that had been known by our whole extended family for years he told me that if I wanted to be adopted it would be best if we did it before getting married. If I was married I would have to have her permission to get adopted.
It was really great the day we went to court for the adoption. It was a great big court room with it scattered with young couples with either a baby or a toddler, and a guy in a pin stripped suit on. There were actually a number of them in there, and everyone kept looking at us. Lawyers are naturally curious people by nature I believe, and finally one of them had to walk over to where we were at. He said "This is adoption day, what are you folks doing here?" Ted, our attorney stood up and said "This is an adoption, it's an adult adoption." The other attorney reached over and took my dad's hand and shook it and congratulated him. Then he turned to everyone in the court room and said "This is an adult adoption!" Someone started to clap and then all of them did while they had big smiles on their faces.
Everything that was done was in the judges chambers. When we were called in by the clerk the judge got up from his desk and walked around and started to shake my dad's hand. He said something such as "I would hope that in the same situation that my children would think this much of me." We sat there and talked for a little big, and on his desk the judge had two boxes of cigars. One with a pink band around it and the other with a blue one. The judge gave one to my dad and another to our lawyer, then he looked at me and started laughing and then said "I don't usually give the adoptee one of these" as he handed me one of them.
It had some interesting things that happened after I was adopted and took my father's name. Several times running into people that I went to High School with would try and introduce me to someone. And then I would correct them and tell them that wasn't my name that they just used. One guy that I knew fairly well was really confused and could not figure out what was going on. He tried to tell his new bride that I was just pulling his leg. When I pulled out my drivers license as well as a military I. D. card he was really confused. A couple of days later he gave me a phone call and asked me what the hell was up. He'd just looked in our High School annual and there I was with a different name that I told him mine was. So of course I had to tell him what happened.
When I lost my father I was really sad about it as he was one of the best influences that I ever had in my whole life. Every young man should have a good mentor to show them what it is that a man should be like. I'm really glad that I had the one that helped guide me.