Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Two days of rain in Los Angeles – and “Forty Lives” continues

It rained hard yesterday and today. I walked the beach this afternoon and it was littered with plastic poop, fast-food wrappers and natural leaves from the storm runoff. They keep the beaches pretty clean here, but they will wait a day or so before they bring out the equipment. They will wait until the runoff has finished flushing and then rake the sand all clean and pretty.

I saw two black-headed seals off the breakwater. The seals in Puget Sound seemed to have a grey color. Here they are pure black – same whiskers though, same curious eyes. You want to say hello because you know they’re looking at you.

“Forty Lives” continues with four E’s

Elaine Kolodziej is my editor at the Wilson County News, located in Floresville, a one-hour drive southeast of San Antonio. I write a weekly column for Elaine on national affairs. A good writer needs a good editor. I am grateful to be working for her. She has beaten the cleverness out of me. No twists and turns allowed. Every sentence must be clear, and must lead to the next sentence. Doing it that way makes the piece stronger and more effective.

Elaine is 59. She is a conservative Republican who admires Condoleeza Rice, and was inspired by the career of Phyllis Schlafly. She has built the Wilson County News almost from scratch – she took over a little, local shopper and, over 20 years, built it into a solid, paid subscription newspaper, with a circulation of 8,000 and a staff of 20.

This is what she has achieved. Now I wonder what Elaine is going to do next? Turn the paper over to her daughter and go see the world? Or, buy another newspaper and build up a media empire, or run for public office? Or...we’ll see.

Everton. Wayne Everton, age 77, is the mayor of LaConner. Wayne grew up a Mormon in Utah, but left that behind with his childhood. He served in the Navy towards the end of World War II, married his wife, Beverly, after the war and made a living publishing free shoppers in the San Francisco Bay area.

Wayne retired in his late fifties, having made a bundle, and he moved up to LaConner and bought a very nice home in 1981 – on Maple Street, just two doors down from Chris McCarthy, the one with the killer bees. I also lived on Maple Street at that time, in a double-wide trailer with my wife and two small kids, a sandbox, a swing set, a garden, some fruit trees, and a wonderful split-rail cedar fence around the lot. In fact I was right across the street from Wayne and Beverly when they moved into their new, luxurious custom home.

Everyday I got to look at what I couldn’t afford – their house. And everyday Wayne and Beverly got to look at my double-wide trailer, which was holding down their property values. It was a challenge for both of us.

But soon enough I sailed across the street and said hello. Wayne invited me in for a glass of wine on his soft beige couch and we talked politics. He was a Reagan man, and soon became very active in local Republican politics. I was a Jesse Jackson man. We argued, pleasantly.

Wayne is very bright fellow, I’ll give him that, and a good debater. But he had this bad habit -- which has little to do with his politics – of having to get in the last word. I confess that I often let him win the point just so we could move on to something else.

I am also pleased to say that, over the past years, Wayne has improved and mellowed, and he no longer has to get in the last word – pretty good for an old dog.

Two years he decided to run for Mayor. I was the ghost writer for his campaign platform and Wayne won in a landslide.

Eugene Owens is my son. He has a round face and a small beard that gets better with age. He’s 28 now. If I call him, he’s usually busy and I get the recording. Then he might call back a few days later and we can have a long chat. Now I’m beginning to realize how smart he is – he’s been gaining on me, doing all that reading of books, and observing the life of streets and cafes.

He goes to graduate school in Boston to get a Master’s Degree in Library Science. Boston is a tough town. Sometimes I worry about him being lonely, because you never hear about graduate school being any fun.

Eva Anderson has been a major friend in my life since 1973, when I first saw here, wading across the shallow Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park. Her long skirt was trailing in the muddy water, and she was carrying a steaming pot of beans in a cast iron kettle. That’s because her hippie bus family was setting up camp in a fallen-down adobe across the river into Mexico.

That place was called Solis, although it wasn’t really a place at all – just that fallen-down adobe hut built into a low hillside, almost like a dugout. But it was cool inside and nobody else wanted to live there.

I had been walking up the river from a bigger, formal campsite near Boquillas. I had just gotten to Solis that same day, when Eva and her hippie bus arrived. So we joined up and made camp. Eva was always cooking, and usually it was beans.

We took the bus into Mexico, had no money and the bus broke down. We sold it for practically nothing, and the party disintegrated. Everyone walked or hitchhiked down their own separate paths and we lost contact with Eva. But eleven years later, when we were living in LaConner (and after my wife had named our daughter Eva in her honor) we discovered that Eva had been living in Anacortes, Washington, only 15 miles from our house – just that kind of cosmic connection that made the 60s so cool. Our families became intertwined again and we always went to Eva’s house for Thanksgiving dinner with blackberry pie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sites like this don't come around very often. You have a great site. I was thinking about a new blob for my free prepaid credit cards website. What do you think?