Thursday, September 17, 2009


Listen: My father Ray had a best friend who's name was Lester. They were in the Army together during World War II. I don't know if they fought next to each other, or worked together, or what their relationship in the armed services was, except that they played baseball while serving. There are pictures.
They became very close. I don't know why. My father was a Yankee, hailing from Chicago, and Lester came from the south, or at least his future wife, Alice did, as they would return to Alabama frequently. In any case, they remained life long friends, and guess what? Both of the women they wound up marrying, my mother Susie, and Alice became life long best friends as well. Life long.
Ray and Susie adopted me and my sister while living in San Jose, California, now the heart of Silicon Valley. I don't know how they wound up there, although my father worked as a foreman at a local Safeway candy factory, and used to bring candy home almost every night to spoil us mercilessly. To this day I can give or take candy and sweets. We lived in a Duplex, with my grandparents from my mother's side, Madge and Charley, living next door. Lester and Alice lived somewhere else, not in San Jose, but close enough to take long drives to visit occasionally. By this time Lester and Alice had children of their own, the eldest girl, Bobbie, and the son, a little older than me, Terry.
My father and Lester came up with an idea. They decided to go into business with each other, and we all moved down here to Los Angeles, to North Hollywood specifically, where they opened up a liquor store right across the street from Universal Studios, on Lankershim Bl. Both families lived in apartments on Magnolia Bl., that shared a connecting rear porch, or utility area that entered into each others kitchens. Both families were very close, the children eating dinner in one kitchen, while the grown ups ate in the other. Terry and I were close enough in age to become great friends, though he would take advantage of me at every opportunity. I didn't seem to mind. Bobbie's and my sister's age difference was much greater, and they did not share the same kind of relationship that Terry and I did, but they are great friends now. If I remember correctly Bobbie's best friend was a blond, by the name of Cookie. Lovely woman. Lester and Alice were wonderful people, filled with inner strength, earthiness, humility, and always with great humor, constantly kidding each other, and us throughout their lives. They passed down these traits to their children. My family was rather more serious.
One of my fondest memories of that time is when us kids were served liver for dinner. None of us liked liver all that much, and one night, displaying a streak of independence and defiance, and with all the adult supervision next door, we simply threw our liver out the bloody kitchen window! Now you must understand, Lester and my mother were the authoritarians of our respective families, and the thing we didn't count on was Lester leaving for his shift at the store and walking right by our kitchen window where he spotted all of this discarded liver on the ground.
"WTF!" he must have thought to himself. We were busted! One other time we were caught catapulting our peas up onto the ceiling with our spoons, but that's a story for another time.
Or maybe not. In any case, and for some reason, Lester bought out of the business, which my father ran until his death, and Lester and Alice, Bobbie and Terry moved only a few blocks away, where Terry and I constantly visited each other.
Now Bobbie is an exceptionally beautiful woman, and as nature would have it she became involved with boys. The only boyfriend I can ever remember though of hers was this guy named Leonard. Now Bobbie, being the eldest would sometimes look after me and my sister, and we would stay over at their place for a few days, and Leonard would stop by on occasion. I don't know why. And I'm not sure what kind of relationship this Leonard had with Lester and Alice, but I do remember one time when Bobbie pleaded with me not to tell Lester and Alice that Leonard had been around. I'm not sure if I complied with that request or not, but I think I may have, as Bobbie and I have remained good friends throughout the years, although we don't have all that much in common, and we rarely contact each other now due to the fact the only times that she touches her computer these days is to dust it.
I never dust my computer, just hose it off once in a while.
Anyway, Lester and Alice moved further away to Diamond Bar. My father passed away when I was eleven. My mom got married again twice. I started my career as an amateur alcoholic (I was never good enough to go pro) and went crazy. Bobbie and Leonard married and produced their own child, Shannon, the beautiful woman pictured above (which I stole from her FaceBook page... sorry). They were living close by to me in Glendale, while my mother and sister abandoned me and moved out to Bullhead City, Arizona. At some point Lester and Alice, and eventually, Bobbie, Leonard (presumably Leonard's relationship with Bobbie's parents had sweetened), and little Shannon, moved out there as well.
But while Bobbie was still in Glendale she helped me out of the many jams that addicts tend to get into, and later more while living in Bullhead, and even in 2000, when I, after living in Bullhead a year, moved back to Southern CA.
So, Lester and Alice, Bobbie and Terry, and that interloper Leonard, have always been, and will always be, cherished and loved friends of mine and my sister, and my sister's daughter Keri (although I'm deeply saddened to say, Lester, Alice, and my mother have all since passed).
And Shannon too. I've been in contact a great deal with Shannon lately, as she is, I'm sorry to say, an addict too. That's not my opinion, and I'm not pinning that title on her. She is a self proclaimed FaceBook addict. She can't clean her bathrooms, for God's sake because of FB activity. For her own good I invite her to attend a local Face Anonymous 12 Step meeting as quickly as possible. Tonight if she can manage it, although I'd hate to lose contact if she were to sober up. She puts up with my foolishness.
She's all grown up now and has two lovely children of her own who I've never met, Kelci and Jake. I've never met them because we haven't been in contact until recently, and because they live all the way over in freaking Alabama, along with her mom and dad, and Uncle Terry, who lives somewhere around there too.
Most of my memories of Shannon were when she was a small child and teen, as I find myself being twenty years older than her (but still incredibly good looking). But I do remember this trend, she has always seemed to root for me no matter how much trouble I got myself into and out of. She always asked how my writing was progressing, and about my first book (which she can now read online on this blog in the Salvation Diary series, although I would strongly advise against it. Every woman who has ever read it seems to fall madly in love with me for some inexplicable reason. I've gotten three out of four of my last girlfriends with this ploy, and have forbidden my lovely case manager, Erin, and her friend Courtney, from reading it, and I don't want to be responsible for any divorces). I do remember the last time I saw Shannon though. I was working as an ATM technician in Bullhead, servicing one of the machines there one hot day, when I heard someone call out, "Hi Rick!" I immediately pulled out my 9mm automatic suspecting an impending robbery attempt, only to see Shannon in her car waving at me, then driving off.
Dearest Shannon, although the title of this post is graced with your name, I'm afraid the subject matter is more about the great love and bond that exists between our two wonderful families.
I hope that I and my dear sister will be able to visit out there next year, and eat homemade tacos with my dear life long friends, Shannon, and her beautiful mother Bobbie.

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