One of my most favorite gifts of all time was when my mom gave me a Royal typewriter for my birthday when I was about eighteen years old. I had started using hers when I was about thirteen. I became a pretty good typist because I enjoyed writing. While living with Mary Jo in Seattle, I wrote a lot of dialogue and scenes for plays. I loved Warhol's Chelsea Girls and was influenced by that. I dreamed of having a beatnik type coffeehouse where poetry could be read and plays could be performed.
A few years later, I had bought a sound Super-8 camera. I took a lot of the old dialogue I had written previously and put it together and filmed it with my new camera. Mary essentially played the character, Mary, and I played the character, Sylvan. The characters were based on us and our living together to some extent but not entirely accurate. I guess I could have named the characters differently but, for some reason, that just seemed like too much of a bother. The play begins with the words, "I think I'll slit my wrists."
Many years later, I posted "Ennui" on youtube. The owner of the "Catherine Slip" gallery contacted me in 2009 and asked if Ennui could be a part of a show he was putting together called "Sick Love." He said:
"Your piece was actually the thing that inspired me for the whole show - it's somewhat of the centerpiece of the exhibition. I love the naive quality of the film making, the poetic nature of dialogue, and the content that really pushes boundaries. I think it's brilliant, really!"
Catherine Slip gallery showing of "Ennui" 2009.
By this time, I had a little money coming in as I was back at Saint Francis, working as a Licensed Psychiatric Technician.and I had enough for a deposit on a place which was equal to a months rent. Actually, I may have had to have first and last months rent and a deposit. I found a studio apartment on the 13th floor of a small highrise about a block from work. Polk Street was still a gay neighborhood and it was an ideal place to live at the time.
Once I got settled in at the new apartment, David eventually came back down and continued to live with me there. It was a little tight in a studio but we made do. Mary Jo continued to be my best friend at the time and came over to visit regularly.
Mary Jo was taking photography classes at the San Francisco Art Institute and I would visit her there from time to time. I eventually enrolled there in a film making class. I was paying for the class out of my own pocket of course and it seemed like most of the people going there were a few years younger than myself and had rich parents that were paying their way. It was a great school in that they had great resources but for me it was too espensive to continue there. I also had problems with my own self esteem and my film making ability that precluded me from enjoying my experience there.
During the time I was attending at the Art Institute, I was working on a project I called "Ennui." It was dialog I had written some years earlier when I lived with Mary in Seattle. I wanted to make a "narrative" film and so I rewrote some of that dialog and started making my little film with Mary. Essentially we would make que cards and pretty much read our dialog from the cards. We would set the camera up on a tripod and then film a scene. Most of it was filmed in consecutive order so there would not be as much editing required.
My instructor at the Art Institute was totally into non-narrative film. We spent a lot of time blowing out eggs and filling them with paint and then droping them and filming the paint splatter. In these "art" films, there was no story line or beginning, middle or end. They were stoney psychedelica for the most part. This was not the kind of film that I had much itnerest in at all and at the time, I felt inhibited and self consious about the kind of film that I wanted to do. My peers at the Art Institute seemed pretentious and disengenuous to me and so I did not continue there.
I did eventually continue with film making at City College in San Francisco. It was also around this time that I believe I connected with some of the people that would later form Frameline which would be an organization that would do the annual L.G.B.T. film festival. At that time, it was just a few guys getting together to look at each other's super-8 film. I believe Marc Huestas might have been one of those people. I remember meeting in a flat on Guerrero around this time. I remember a couple of years later I would run into one of those original film makers and he had some mysterious disease. Every time I would see him, his health was deteriorating further.
By this time I had made some new friends on the psychiatric unit where I was working. I don't think any of the gay staff remained in the closet by this time. It was a time of gay pride. The staff was also ethnically diverse. I don't think I had ever known anyone from the Phillipines before working there. We had a staff member from Yugoslovia as well Sweden. There were Hispanics and African American's. There were also people that identified themselves as "witches" and "warlocks" and believed in the occult. It became apparent that people that work in the psychiatric field tend to be diverse and interesting.
My mom, Darlene, Chris and Misty came to visit during this period and I borrowed a fold-away bed from Jim over in Hayward and we had people sleeping wall to wall in the little studio. By this time, I had acquired a sound camera and was taking a lot of super-8 sound film and got film of the visit. I got some definitive film of my mom singing, telling a fortune, telling and telling an original story.
She sang some of the lullaby's and songs that she sang to us in our childhood and now sang to Chris and Misty in theirs. She had a beautiful voice.
Mom had been telling fotunes ever since I could remember and people always loved it. She never attributed it to any supernatural but it always seemed supernatural anyway.
While mom was visiting, we spent an evening with my step-brother, Jim, in Hayward.
I got back to San Francisco from Europe with just a dollar in my pocket which was not even enough to take the Airporter bus into the City. Thankfully, my brother Jim, from my mom's first marriage came and picked me up at the airport and brought me to his house in Hayward, which is about thirty miles outside of San Francisco in the East Bay.. Mom had left me some cash there and I was able to rest for a few days before going back to the City.
Leslie was still living at 1150 Sanchez Street when I got back and was kind enough to let me move back in with her temporarily. She was actually going to move to New Mexico to be with Paul, a schoolteacher she had met along the way and fell in love with. She wanted me to stay in teh apartment after she left and be room mates with a friend of hers, named Diane, but I had no intention of doing that. Diane was another druggy type and I was not interested in living that lifestyle by now. I had skills and I planned on getting back to work as soon as possble and getting my own place again.
By the time Leslie was packing for her move to New Mexico, I had got my job back at Saint Francis and one of the secretaries there, Kathleen, was moving from a flat she shared with several gay men and let me know her room was going to be available.
I moved to Guerrero street with Walter, his lover Michael and a physically disabled guy on crutches, named Dennis. I had a room overlooking Guerrero Street.
Walter also worked at Saint Francis as a nurses aid or orderly. Neither Michael or Dennis worked. Dennis was on disability and I think Michael just got food stamps. Even though Michael worked the least and brought in the least amount of money into the house, he wanted to dictate to others what groceries to buy and what household chores they should do. He was one of the most controlling and entitled people I had ever met. Walter and Dennis were pretty easy going but since Walter was Michaels lover, he would always support Michael in his tirades.
Walter and Dennis were both gong to "fashion" school in downtown San Francisco, near Uniton Square and visits to Britex fabrics was a common occurence. I bought several shirts from the two of them, partly to support their efforts but also partly because they did pretty good worrk and their creations were unique.
Eventually though, Michael made it impossible to go on living in the flat on Guerrero Street. He wanted me to buy the health foods that he liked which I think may have even been vegetarian and I had no interest in doing that. I was going to buy food with my money that I actually enjoyed eating. This totally frustrated him.
The Guerrero Street flat was a lovely, huge flat in the Mission District of San Francisco. The Mission has always been a predominately Hispanic neighborhood in all my years in San Francisco. This is when I first discovered La Cumbre burritos. At that time, it was one of the only places of it's type in the Mission and certainly the best place to get a burrito. Over the years, dozens of places opened to compete with La Cumbre, but I have remained loyal to them and their fast food and still visit at least once a year.
I was still pining for Xavier in Europe and we were corresponding. One of the hot bars at the time was called "Alfies" and it was located on Market Street. It had a raised dance floor and was actually kind of dangerous if you were not carefully paying attention to where the edge of the dancefloor was. In those days, it was common for people to use "poppers" on the dance floor. This was amyl nitrate which sould sniff out of a small bottle and it would give you a bit of a rush. You would also use this same chemical when having sex. It was very popular in those days. It's use on the dancefloor stopped with the AIDs epidemic as many thought there might be a connection to it and AIDS before it was discovered that a virus caused the disease.
Eventually, I met a hot man at Alfies that was deaf. I don't remember his name but he was very cute and we had a brief affair while I was living in the flat on Guerrerro. I tried to learn a little sign language but the relationship was ultimately doomed because we just couldn't communicate very well. We were also young and at that time, nobody was ready to settle down.
Michael would also make arbitrary household chore assignments. Since he didn't work at all or really do much of anything, he had no understanding of why anyone that did work might want to relax or rest when they were not working. I think I might have been working nights at the time but I do remember that he had assigned me to do some housecleaning on a day that I was off and I felt that sleep was more important and so he went on one of his tirades. That was when I started looking for another place to live.
While I was having me affair with Albert Trevino, he told me about a trip he had taken to Europe. He had a lot of pictures of his travels and it looked very exciting to me. I had been at Saint Francis for almost a year by that time which had seemed like an eternity. I was going to get some money back on my income tax and I started making plans for spending the summer of 1974 traveling from London, to Amsterdam, to Berlin, Munich, Athens, Rome, and Paris. I was supposed to go to Spain and Morocco too but I thought I fell in love in Athens and I ended up going back to Athens and spending the time there that I would have in Spain and Morrocco. Altogether, I would spend about two and a half months in Europe. It was a great time but it never ocurred to me to take a camera!!
Before I left for Europe, I let David know that I was leaving and he was not going to be able to keep the apartment by himself on Larkin and so he went back to Washington State. A few weeks before leaving, I gave up the apartment and moved into a spare room with my old friend from San Diego, Leslie, at 1180 Sanchez Street. It was stressful staying with Leslie again but she was always very generous to me when I needed a place to stay. She had a new toy called "Pong" which connected to the television and was a rudimentary video game. I think it was either the first video game or one of the first. She also had something called a "blue box" for making long distance telephone calls for free. I am not sure where she got these devises at the time, but I learned some years later that these were some of the same devices that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs of what would become Apple Computer eventually, were playing with around that same time.
Leslie was always the outlaw. By this time she had lost a hundred pounds and looked quite a bit different than when I had first met her. She had been strung out on heroin at one point and had decided if she could kick heroin, she could also lose weight. She actually told me that she kicked heroid by taking seconals for several days and sleeping through the withdrawals. She had also fallen in love by this time with John, a man that would later become her husband.
When Mary heard that I was going to Europe, she wanted to go too but I had already made my reservations on a charter flight to London and so she booked a flight to Amsterdam and I was going to meet her there.
I had booked a bed and breakfast in Clapham Common outside of London which was pretty easily accessible by "the tube," London's subway system. The room was upstairs, in a family's home. I believe they had one other guest in another room at the time I stayed there. I remember that I had brought some marijuana joints with me, hidden in my suitcase. I don't think it was very much and when I reflect back on this, I can't imagine what I was thinking, going through customs in a foreign country. I was just young and foolish I guess.
While in London, I went to a couple of plays. I saw James Stewart, a famous
souvenirs American actor, in one of his signature roles, "Harvey." I had always loved live theater. Although my seat was in a balcony, the theater was relatively small compared to some American theater's I had been in. After the show, I stood by the exit and waited to get Jimmy Stewart's autograph. That autograph has been one of my "treasures" ever since and one of the few of my first trip to Europe.
Another night, I would attend a fairly new London hit, called "The Rocky Horror Show," starring an actor named Tim Curry at the Kings Road Theater. It had won the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical in 1973. A short time later, (1975), this musical would be made into a musical film, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
I had a Eurail pass and which allowed you to travel with a group to Amsterdam. I met up with the group at Victoria Station and was told that I could sit anywhere on the train and they would let us know when to get off. An English guy and I ended up sitting together and no one came to tell us when to get off the train and we missed our stop and missed our ferry and had to find our own lodging for that night until we could catch the ferry the next day.
I don't think that Mary had arrived yet in Amsterdam but I was going to initially stay in a youth hostel there to save money but it was way too youthful and loud and there was too much light to sleep. When I met up with Mary, we got ourselves a room at a little pensione on one of the canals. The stairs were very steep up to room. I don't remember very much about our room but we did see all the usual sites. I would also leave Mary in the room while I went out to the gay clubs. She was not particularly happy about this but her happiness was not my main concern as I would have been perfectly happy traveling by myself. She had actually intruded a bit on my freedom by insisting on coming on the trip. I met the d.j. at one of the clubs I went to and went home with him and it was interesting to see the inside of an Amsterdam apartment. I insisted on looking through all of his cabinets to see what products he purchased and to see if anything looked familiar.
From Amsterdam, we travelled together to Berlin. The Berlin wall was still in existence and we went over to East Berlin. The thing that struck me about Berlin is how depressed everyone looked. It was what they called a "bummer" back then. East Berlin was especially depressing as all the buildings seemed to be the same shade of gray. In neither West nor East Berlin were there very many black people and it seemed like people were curious about Mary. Somehow we did wander off somewhere in East Berlin where we were not supposed to be and were corrected by a policeman. Although we had planned to stay in Berlin for a few days, I was ready to leave within about fortyeight hours.
We travelled together to Munich and got another room in another pensione and here I would leave Mary and go out on my own seeking other gay men and it didn't take me long to find them. I met a guy in Munich and we panhandled for extra money so that we could get another room for him and I as I didn't want to take him to the room where Mary was and did not want to go too far off my budget for the trip either. I can't remember why it was that he didn't have any place to take me, but he didn't. My funds were pretty limited and I thought I knew how much to budget for each day. As it turned out, I would be way off on the budget anyway. Mary and I stayed a few days in Munich and saw the sights and visited the concentration camp at Dachau in between my having a torrid affair with the German I had met. At one point, on the train from Dachau back to Munich, I think Mary told me that she had terminated a pregnancy or was pregnant or something pertaining to gynecological problems. I don't remember exactly what it was now and it seems like she was a little faint or something but it didn't last long.
For some reason, though, we did not travel together to Athens. It seems like it might have had something to do with the affair I was having in Munich. Maybe Mary wanted some time to herself. I traveled down through Italy to Brindizi and took a ferry from there, while Mary travelled an entirely different route down through Thessaloniki, Turkey. She had stopped along the way in Thessaloniki and had her own brief romance apparently but then the guy she had the tryst with, tried to steal her camera or did steal her camera. Mary was very interested in photography back then and was taking pictures on the trip although I don't remember ever seeing any of those photographs. I would like to have seen them or had copies as it hasn't even occured to me to bring a camera but I don't think Mary ever offered.
Mary and I had arranged to meet up again in a hotel room in Athens. As it turned out, the hotel had no air conditioning and was stifling hot. From our window, we could see the police station where the young policeman would sit out on their balcony in tighty whitey underwear which I didn't mind at all. I found the local gay bars and met a young Greek man that didn't speak any English. I thought I fell in love but now couldn't even tell you what his name was. He had grown up in Athens and so he knew it well and we spent all of our time together for the most part. We communicated through an English to Greek dictionary. He considered himself a communist and thought America was a terrible place where everyone had guns and there were shootouts in the streets. He referred to Americans with the one word he seemed to know well, "gangsters." I tried to describe to him what Castro street looked like at two in the morning as the bars were closing with literally hundreds of hot, horny gay men lined up along the sidewalk looking for someone to go home with but he didn't believe that was possible and thought I was exaggerating. I wasn't.
My young anti-American friend took me on a bus to a nude beach outside Athens one day and we rented on of those small paddle boats that you paddle with your feet. It was a beautiful day and the rocky beach was covered with Australian men in tiny speedos or entirely naked. We paddled out into what must have been the Aegean sea toward an island we could see from shore. It seemed the closer we got to the island, the further away it bacame. After paddling for quite a while, we stopped to have sex on the small paddle boat. When we were done, it looked like we were so far from where we had begun that we would never get back. We paddled and paddled and paddled some more. It was one of the craziest things I had ever done in my life. What did I know about currents in this sea? Had it even ocurred to me that one could drift out to sea and never be heard from again? We had no food or water on our little paddle boat. Who but the owner that had rented us the boat would even know we were out there? We paddled and we paddled. It was truly a miracle I think that we ever made it back to shore but we did. Miracles do happen.
One day I noticed a discharge from my penis that by this time was not totally unfamiliar during the short era of "sexual freedom.". I told the Greek boy and he brought me to a Greek doctor that didn't speak English. I don't think that a prescription was even required in Greece for antibiotics but he did give me one anyway. He also sprayed my penis with some red stuff which was certainly not part of any treatment regimen I had experienced back in the states. Don't judge. If you didn't live during that period, it will be hard for you to relate to the sexual mores of the time for young men like me.
For some reason, again which I don't remember, Mary and I traveled separately from Athens to Rome. The day I was leaving to go to Rome where I was to meet up with Mary again, there was a riot in Athens. I am not sure what the riot was about but my Greek friend and I got caught in it. We were just walking down the street when we came to an intersection. Looking one way was a mob of angry people coming toward us yelling in Greek. Looking the other way, there were small tanks heading toward the mob. A cannister was fired from the tank which went zipping across the pavement. We ran into a storefront just as they pulled down the metal door door behind us. I was worried about catching my ferry back to Italy and when it seemed a little quieter outside, we opened the metal door and ran through the streets for a couple of blocks and just that far away, you would never have known there was any protest going on that day at all.
In Rome I met up with Mary and saw the ruins of the Roman Empire. I loved Rome but I could not find any gay activity there and this frustrated me. I went to Naples and Pompeii one day but nowhere I went did there seem to be gay men that were interested in gay tourists from America. One night while watching the opera Aida at the Baths of Caracalla. a beautiful Italian man of about twenty started talking to me. He was sitting next to an overweight, unattractive middle age Italian man. After the opera they offered me a ride back to the part of town where my hotel was and I took them up on it. I had been flirting with the young man and thought that we were going to hook up. They said that they needed to stop for something and so we stopped and went into an apartment. They young man disappeared and left me with the middle aged troll. I was not so naive that I didn't realize what was up. I went along with what they would call "mercy" sex, which is sexual activity but not necessarily intercourse you had when you were young and hot with someone that was not so young and hot and you just did it as a generous gesture to the "old toad." It really wasn't all that difficult or hard on me and sometimes it just seemed necessary. It was kind of like when I had to sell my body for money earlier in my life but now I wasn't getting paid. Charity work.
Back at the pensione I had with Mary, I stepped out onto the balcony and romantically looked up at the moon, thinking that my communist boyfriend was looking at the same moon. Corney, I know. The next day I was supposed to meet Mary at the train station to catch the train to Paris... or was it Madrid? All I could think about was the young man in Athens that I had to communicate with through an English to Greek dictionary. I just wanted to get back to the communist boy that had given me an std. I did go to the train station. I did wait for Mary the time that I said that I would wait. While waiting, I noticed there wa another train leaving in the opposite direction, back to Brindizi. That train could take me back towards Greece and back towards romance. The minute Mary was late, it gave me the excuse to get on the train going back to Brindizi. I would feel guilty for this later and sorry to Mary as when she did arrive at the train station, she waited for me for an extended period of time. But I was selfish and didn't really consider her feelings at the time. I was young and thought I was in love with a communist boy in Athens.
Back in Athens, I received my punishement for the way I had treated Mary- where it had been sunny and beautiful during my previous stay, it was now dark and raining. I found my infatuation and we continued our romance for another week or so but without the sun, there really wasn't much to do and I soon grew board with the inability to have conversation. Sex is great but even in one's twenties, you must take breaks in between sex. You can only say so much through an English to Greek dictionary. What once seemed romantic, now just felt strained and tiressome. . I had taken my antibiotic and had cured the clap that he had given me previously, but apparently he didn't get treated at all for some reason and so I got it again and had to get more antibiotic. He didn't seem to comprehend that just because he didn't have any obvious symptoms, he still required treatment. I finally realized that I must let it go and move on. He came with me again to Patreus to catch the ferry once again to cross the Ionian sea to Italy.
As the ferry was departing from Patreus, and I was waving goodbye for the final time to my little communist, I noticed a few feet down the railing, a young man on the deck with a group of friends. His eyes were dark and his hair was curly and wild. He smiled at me and had a beautiful smile. As soon as we pulled away from the dock and I was no longer waving goodbye to my friend, he asked me if I had a cigarette or maybe I asked him for one. His name was Xavier and we would travel together to Paris, London and Venice. And again, I was so in love! He would be the one I would remember for all time. All the others were just summer romances in comparison but Xavier was the name that I would remember from that summer. His is the picture I would carry with me the rest of my life. He is the one that I made contact with again over thirty years later through Facebook and it would turn out that he had saved a picture all those years of me too.
Xavier was from Venezuela and had a beautiful Spanish accent. His was living in London and going to design and art school. His traveling companions didn't kow he was gay but by that time in my life, my "gaydar" was working very well and it only took a glance and the meeting of eyes that would set it off. I went to his cabin on the ferry that he shared with his companions and when we were alone, we made love and then one of them walked into the cabin and discovered us in a compromising position but by that time, I think Xavier was ready to come out to his friends or just didn't care in the throes of lust. We got off the ferry on the island of Corfu and slept in his sleeping bag on the beach. We frolicke in the crystal clear blue waters of Corfu before getting the next ferry and traveling to Paris and Venice and then on to London. I stayed in his apartment in London and he saw me to the bus that would take me to the airport for my departure. I swore I would be back to Europe the next year, but of course it was many, many years before I returned. Life happens. Other priorities take over.
From the journal I kept on my trip:
I have been planning since February for my first trip to Europe. I am about ready to begin. My planed leaves on the 17th of this month. I am flying on Pan Am Fl. 0617 which I made reservations for through Char Tours. It is a chartered group flight and dost $439 round trip. I have my Eu-rail Pass which is good for 2 months of unlimited travel in 13 countries of Europe. I have my passport. I have my travelers checks. I am packed. I am ready.
I have to work until the 4th. I have a Psychology final at City College on the 11th. I'm going to take the midnight flyer to L.A. and a week with my Mother. I will return to San Francisco on the night of the 16th. I leave for London at 6am on the 17th.
I've been wanting to go to Europe for years. Many people I have meant have been there and related exciting experiences to me. So many people I have met have told me about their travels that it was becoming obnoxious and finally when my friend, Albert, would show me pictures of Europe to my brother and I and be rambling on about what a wonderful place it was, I became extremely agitated. I had heard enough. My brother would encourage Albert to tell him more and finally I would have to leave the room.
I began making realistic plans at that time. It was late February and I had estimated how much money I would be getting back from the Internal Revenue. I had not claimed myself until the end of the year so I figured that I would get over $400 back. (Later I discovered I would only get $360 plus a $100 rebate).
My brother, David, was paying me $90 a month which helped with the $230/month rentI had to pay.
My salary was approximately $600 per month and I figured if I saved and worked at it, I could actually have everything together by June.
In early March, I contacted several travel agencies and asked about low fares. I discovered Char Tours and their charter group flights for $439. I discovered Eu-rail Pass. I discovered Frommer's Europe on $10 a day.
With charter group flights, you must have your ticked completely pain for 60 days before your departure date. I had chosen a flight for June 17th which made my final payment day April 18th. I started payments in early March.
Several days before rent was due, my brother informed me that he was moving out. This threw me into a panic. It meant I would have to pay all the rent by myself. I paid the rent for March.
On the 12th, I told my landlord that we would have to wait until the 24th for the rent money. On the 25th of April, I moved in with a friend.
During the month of April, I discovered information about getting a passport. I had to sent away for my birth certificate.
I finished paying for my ticket by Friday the 18th.
I forced myself on a budget of $4 a day spending money.
The 1st of May, I bought a “fast pass” which would cover all bus rides in San Francisco for a month and help me stay on my budget. I was laid off from work on the 5th. Another panic.
I took my final paycheck and bought my Eu-rail Pass. It cost $270.
I filed for unemployment.
By the 26th they had called me back to work.
During this month, I wrote letters and made reservations at several hotels in Europe to avoid a frantic search once we get there.
Oh yes, I am now using the word “we” because my friend, Mary Jo, decided to meet me in Amsterdam.
ON June 3rd, I put most of my belongings in storage.
I bought $400 worth of American Express travelers checks on June 6th which brings us to today.
6/7/75- at home
I woke up late this morning and the mail had already arrived. I realized my tax rebate check means I can buy another $100 worth of travelers checks. That will give me $500 to spend until I get toRome.My regular tax check for $360 will be cabled to me there by my mother.
I tooth a bath and sitting here drinking coffee, thinking about my trip. Planning the last minute details. Obsessing over what to pack.
We are only taking back packs and want to travel very light.Besides the clothes I'll wear on the plane, I believe I will only take one other pair of pants- my green cords. I will take two other shirts- my Hawaiian and plain gold; on sweater; one long underwear t-shirt; one tank top; socks and three pairs of underwear. I want to buy those fancy kind of underwear which can double as bathing suits and which are light and will take up very little room. Also I'll be carrying one towel and miscellaneous toiletries. Also several books: “Let's Go Europe,” “Frommer's Europe on $10 a Day,” and a “Eu-rail Guide.”Also reservation confirmations and several pamphlets. \
It's already 2:30 and time to leave for work. I made my bed andI'm ready to go.
6/11/75- at home
I'm through with work. I got my final paycheck. I was surprised. I hadn't expected an extra $200. That will give me close to $700 to start my trip.
Yesterday, I went to Marin with Pat Holder to say goodbye to Larry Lewis. We had dinner and went out dancing. I got home sometime after 1am.
I was supposed to have taken my Psych final this morning at 8am. I didn't make it, soI called my instructor and was told I can take it Friday. I was very disappointed in myself, although it will give me more time to study and possibly pass the test. I haven't had much time or enthusiasm for study lately.
I called my Mother to tell her not to expect me until Friday night.
I attempted to call Mary, too, but she gave me the wrong number for her Mother and I was unable to a hold of her to tell her not to meet me at the airport tonight.
At this time, I am planning on taking the midnight flyer and returning Monday. I'm leaving for Europe on Tuesday. Six more days after today.
I wish I had some valium to relive the tension of waiting.
I continue to add and subtract from my pack. Obsessively.
6/12/75- at home
I continue with repacking.
Today I went and cashed my tax rebate check and my last pay check and bought $200 worth of travelers checks and $50 worth of English pounds. I also bought a pair of Boulet underwear which are suitable for beach wear.
Tonight, my brother,Jim Tarbert, is coming over from Hayward to pick up my stereo. That will leave me with a box of possessions and my pack.
Tomorrow I take my Psychology final and will probably leave for L.A. around noon. That will give me the 13th through the 16th to visit my Mother and everyone in Southern California.
At the moment, I am home by myself, laying on the waterbed. I don’t' know what to do with my time.I suppose I can watch t.v.. It seems I have no energy the past few days. I believe they tension of waiting zaps all my energy from me.
I called my dear, sweet, aunt Ole in Spokane to tell her to try and come down to Southern California while I am there. I hope she can make it.
I feel like calling people everywhere but really can't afford to.
I'm going to Europe. Hooray!
I was extremely anxious waiting for my plane to L.A.. I thought about taking a valium but decided against it. The night of the 12th I had gone out with my brother from Hayward for a drink which turned into several drinks. On the morning of the 18th, I took my hangover to school and had my Psychology final. I came home from school, packed for the final time and Louise and Paul drove me to the airport. On the plane I felt miserable.
I arrived in L.A. at approximately 2pm and still felt unrested. After some time period, I found Mary Jo or she found me and we went over to her sisters. We went and ate and I called my mom.
Mary Jo drove me to my Mother's house through heavy smog and L.A. traffic. I was exhausted when we arrived in Brea and my thoughts were scattered and I left my sweater in Mary Jo's car and she took it back to L.A. with her.
Mom had a good dinner prepared. We ate and socialized about my trip, psychology and my brother, Jim.
Mom and George went to bed early and my sister, Darlene, and I went out to Pamona for a few drinks and dancing. I saw an old acquaintance and asked him to give my regards to old friends.
Darlene and I got home at about 1am. We had an enjoyable evening. It was an exhausting day and I slept well that night.
My Mother is living in a suburban apartment complex with screaming kids everywhere. As I write this, I can hear everything the neighbors say. They plan on staying for another 10 months and they are hoping to go to Europe for 6 months shortly thereafter.
Darlene and I spend the day shopping for a bathing suit for her son Chris. I also bought some shaving cream and cologne- Jovan Musk Oil. We also bought a pecan pie for George and Fathers day cards.
I called my friend, Albert, this afternoon, who is staying with his mother in the city of Orange until summer school starts. He said he is returning to San Francisco Monday and offered me a ride which will save me plane fare.
George gave me $100 for my trip. It blew me away.
Ole should be arriving tomorrow at L.A. International Airport. I'm eager to see her.
Another day draws to a close.
I enjoyed my stay in L.A. I went out with my sister Darlene although she wasn't feeling well. I saw old friends. We danced in Pamona.
I called Albert and arranged to fly back to San Francisco with him last night. I enjoyed his company immensely and enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of his friends upon arrival in San Francisco.
Today was hectic. Pat Holter brought me to the airport and I took a valium. I checked in early with Char Tours and Pat bought me lunch.
The plane departed late. WE waited and waited. And finally said goodbyes and I was loaded on the plane.
I had checked my bag and only took candy bars, books and magazines on the plane with me.
We flew over lakes, rivers, mountains and clouds at 37,000 feet. I read Norman Mailer's “Marilyn.” It became dark. We were served a fine but sparse dinner of steak and potatoes. There was much turbulence and my coffee spilled.
The woman sitting on my left, a teacher from Berkeley, who's name I can't remember, offered to buy me a drink but I declined, explaining to her my fears of air sickness. She is congenial and I enjoy her company.
The woman on my right is pleasant but quiet and is from Paris.
We landed in Duluth Minnesota for refueling. We are told we will not be allowed to leave the plane during this process, which many of us had hoped to do to buy cigarettes. This was at 10:30pm, San Francisco time. We have yet 4032 milted to London. People are taking sleeping pills and getting situated with blankets and pillows for the remaining 7.5 hours. I'm given a Dalmane. I'm told there will be no movie and I'm very disappointed.
A snack, another valium and a Dalmane to follow. Over Greenland, Iceland and Scotland. On to London.
At 1am in the morning, San Francisco time, and the sun is rising. I attempt to sleep. At 1am San Francisco time, I awake, turning and twisting, impossibly trying to find a comfortable position. I was extremely thirst and requested a can of 7up and inquired about the time to London. I supposed that I would be exhausted upon my arrival. There seemed to be others on the plane with the same problem. All I could see below were clouds. White billowing clouds. I wished that I could stretch out on one of them and take a nap. The aircraft has lurched forward in time and has left my body behind. It is approximately 10am in London. The sun was up. Were were served breakfast.
6/18- In London
I arrived in London and made it through the airport chaos. Char Tours had a bus waiting to whisk us to downtown.
I called about my reservations and am staying somewhere I hadn't anticipated but which is fine. I am exhausted and will write more about my arrival and accommodations later. Probably tomorrow. I'm suffering from jet lag I'm sure and my body doesn't quite know what to do. It's probably late at night in San Francisco. I hope I can sleep the night through. London time 7:40pm.
6/19- In London
Well I didn't sleep the whole night through. London time 3:15am.
More about my arrival- My flight had been a pleasant one. Upon arrival I heard my first English accents in England. It was quite exciting.
Upon arrival at Victoria Station, it seemed to be rush hour. About 4pm in the afternoon. Everyone was rushing about so much that I decided to wait before checking out my reservations. I also wanted to buy a pen and write a bit.
I asked directions and people were quite friendly. I found a local drug store and bought a pen and then went back across the street to a small cafe and ordered a cup of coffee and had my first opportunity to spend English money. I had not idea how much I was spending. I must start figuring that and keeping track.
Everyone is so kind. I called Mrs. Zurita, who told me that she wanted me at Mrs. Joan Moynihan's Guest House at 42 Francoina Rd in Clapham Common.
I walked across the street from the cafe to Victoria Station and took the tube (the subway) to Clapham Common. The ticket cost me 20p which is approximately 40 some odd cents.
I got lost in Clapham Common but soon found my way. It's a friendly neighborhood with children playing along the streets that gave me directions.
My first impression of London is that is's quite wonderful. The buildings are mostly brick and I passed many nice parks.
Mys. Monhiham is very nice and showed me to my room. It's a double room with tow beds but she said she will only charge me for a single. It is clean and pleasant and I shall probably remain here for my stay in London.
I was unpacked and hung my things in the closet and put things in one of the dressers. It is quite homey. Mrs. Moyniham told me she would wake me at a quarter to 9am for breakfast and that I should call her Joan.
I suppose I shall try and sleep until 9am. Tomorrow I shall see London.
6/19- In London
I awake at 7am. I can't sleep any longer so I get up, wash my face and shave. It’s a cold morning and I don't know how to work the heater in my room, so I get dressed, wearing my green cords and Nik Nik sweater. I make my bed.
I'm waiting for someone to come and get me for breakfast.I don't want to go wandering about this families home until I'm more oriented. I'm not sure, but I believe I may be the only paying guest at this time.
Outside my window, I hear the proprietress saying “naughty boy.” … “Your a bad boy,” to one of the children, a dog or something.
As I write, is is approaching 8:40am.
Today I will buy a tourist ticket for the tube and buses. Four consecutive days of unlimited travel will cost Pounds 2.90 or about $6.00. I am also planning on taking the “Round London” sightseeing tour which will be another 65 P. It's definitely difficult to keep track of how much money I am spending.
At a quarter to 9am, Jean called me for breakfast. I had a bowl of cornflakes, English bacon, sausage, an egg and toast and coffee and some very pleasant conversation with my hostess.
After breakfast I am started on my first day. I want to write about everything but probably wont' be able to get it all down.
I'm in a residential area on my way to the underground station. A milkman delivering quarts of milk with cream passes by. European small cars. A street sweeper. Brick houses. Black Austin cabs. Double decker red buses.
I have no problem reaching Victoria Station from Clapham Common and board the
“Round London” sightseeing bus. It is quite comfortable with ashtrays and adequate ventilation (little blowers from above).
The tour was com
prehensive and our guided was quite good with a fine sense of humor. He gave us many interesting tidbits of information such as that it is a law in London that taxicabs be built so that gentleman can walk into it without knocking of his top hat.
We saw the Royal Hospital, h
ome of the aged, (pensioners) built by Wren between 1682-1692; Battersea Power Station which provides most of London't electric power, located on the Thames River and has chimneys over 300 feet hight; Tate Gallery of British Art; Lambeth Palace, dating from 1450 and which is the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury; Houses of Parliament, which architecturally is called “sham-gothic” designed by Barry and Dugin and opened in 1852; The Victoria Tower is the largest isolated tower in the world; the law courts; Saint Paul’s Cathedral which has the second largest dome in the world; The Parrish Church of the Commonwealth; Nelson and Wellington are entombed there; Central criminal court surmounted by Justice holding a sword and scales; Bank of England; Royal Exchange; The “Monument, 202 feet hight and commemorated the G
reat Fire of London of 1666- erected in 1671-1677; HMS Belfast- largest cruiser ever built for Royal Navy; Tower Bridge; Tower of London, “The City's ancient fortress built by William the Conquerer; Cleopatras Needle, from her city of Heliopolis and over 3,500 years old; Parliament Square' Westminster Abbey, founded by Edward the Confessor in 1065 and which has seen
every coronation since it's foundation; The National Gallery; Admiralty Arch; Piccadilly Circus; Speakers Corner- Hyde park; royal Albert Hall and many others all in about 2 hrs.
I spend the afternoon in Piccadilly Circus wandering about. I came back to the guest house and took a nap from about 6-10pm. Still suffering from jet lag. I went out for a bit by pubs are closed at about 11pm so I came back to the guest house. It is no 1:30am.
6/20- In London
I awake at 7am, unable to sleep any longer. I smoke a cigarette. I contemplate my day. I must call a “switchboard” and find out where I can get some tetracycline. I can't figure out where I picked up my present need for the medicine bu I know that definitely is a need.
I hear others awake in the guesthouse. Although I haven't seen the other guests, Joan has told me she has four at the moment. I hear a radio playing “rock and roll” or “pop” or whatever.
I get dressed. I walk out into the hall to see about taking a bath but someone is in there. I return to my room and get back into my bed with my clothes on. I smoke another cigarette.
Today I am wearing my green cords and Hawaiian print shirt. It looks as if it will be warm enough.
I am writing. I am passing time until I can use the bath. I am planning my day. I am waking up.
Things I must do today: see a doctor; exchange some money; make reservations or plan my trip to Amsterdam. I would like to see the Tower of London in depth and changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. I will probably do a lot of walking.
I eat breakfast with the other guests. There is a woman from West Africa and English gentleman who is on “Holiday.” I have a fine breakfast and after breakfast, I have a fine conversation with Joan's son of about 16 or 17 about rock music, school and tourist sights.
I'm on my way shortly thereafter and it's a beautiful day. Birds singing. Sun shining. Crossing Abbevilla Road, I am almost hit by a car. I walk up Elms Road to Clapham Common. I notice the red tubular mailboxes, the big red telephone booths. I sit for a minute at the corner of Elm and Clapham Common across the busy street of Clapham Common from a spacious park. I need to find a 2P piece to put in the telephone to call the switchboard.
I notice that many of the young boys wear black suites with emblems and ties.
I get change and call the switchboard and am told to go to Hyde Park Corner, Saint George's Hospital, but to call first being that I am an American.
I buy some mild in a strange, light, collapsable plastic bottle. It costs 7P for a quart. That's about twenty cents.
I call Saint George's but am told to call back later. I decide to wanter for a while. I exchange $53.00 for 14.22 pounds at the exchange rate of $2.32 per English pounds.
I try Saint George's again and am told to come into the outpatient department at 4:45pm.
I'm off to see the Tower of London.
After arriving at Tower Hill station, I went to a drug store and bought some air pillows for my shoes.
I went to “All Hollows By the Tower” built in A.D. 675. A collegiate foundation of Richard III (1483-1485). The Saxons built the 1st church over a Roman villa, the floor of which may still be seen. Kings and Queens of England from earliest times have worshipped here. The holy ground was the last resting place of many victims of the …. It looks very old, but the inside has been restored quite nicely. Organ music is playing as I enter through a revolving door. There are sculptures and museum pieces. Model ships. There is a tomb of George Snayh 1602-161 and Phillip Thomas Byard Clayton 1875-1972 and a lot of other commemorations to other Londoners. There is a plaque which says that this is the most ancient parish church in the City of London but was restored after being destroyed above ground by two air raids in December, 1940, and rededicated in the presence of Queen Elizabeth by the Lord Bishop of London in July, 1957.
There is a pleasant little plaza with benches, people sunning themselves and flowers in blood outside the church aND a few steps to the left as you go toward the Tower of London.
As you go out of the plaza, there are vendors selling soft drinks. I buy one.
The Tower of London is circled by a black iron fence. Taxi cabs line the street waiting to pick up tourists School children come and go in large groups.
I pay the entry fee and join a tour led by a “Beefeater,” who tells us many interesting stories. Many beheadings. The grounds are quite interesting and will take a while to assimilate. Very impressive.
After the tour, I pay 5P to see the Regimental Museum of the Royal Fusileers. I wander off to White Tower. Much too much to write about here. Armour dating from centuries ago. Weapons, spears and beautiful rifles. I saw the chopping block and other attractions and bought post cards and a pamphlet.
After the Tower of London, I wandered somewhat aimlessly until I came across the “Monument” commemorationg the Great Fire, previously seen on my tour yesterday.
I was becoming extremely hungry and shaky but went on.. I came to Saint Paul's. It was fantastically gigantic! I bought more post cards and another pamphlet.
I went on until I came to an ABC restaurant and ate some sort of strange food. It was cheap, though.
Then I just had time to make my appointment at Saint George's Hospital.
They did the usual routine of drawing blood except with different methods. It all came out the same and everyone was pleasant.
Yesterday was extremely busy and extremely exhausting. I certainly didn't get it all down in this book! I entirely forgot to mention the impressive “Crown Jewels.” I particularly liked the Star of Africa diamond.
After Saint George's Hospital, I went for a walk in Hyde Park and bought some juice to take the tetracycline which had been prescribed. I bought a copy of the magazine, “Time Out.”
I decided to go see a play and headed for Piccadilly Curcus on the “tube.” By the time I got there I was sneezing a lot and bought some Dristan.
I bought a ticket to “Harvey” with James Steward and wandered around waiting for 8:00pm. I continue to have a runny nose like hay fever.
James Steward was fantastic. Harvey was much fun and afterward I got James Stewars autograph and talked to some girls from Ohio.
I went home and fell into bed at about 12 midnight and immediately was sleeping. It is now another day.
I eat breakfast with an elderly lady and gentleman from Northern England. They seem to be good friends of Hoan's. Joan's younger son joins us.
After breakfast, I'm off. Wandering Clapham Common and I gointo a bit of sneezing. It's practically impossible or, rather, at this time IS impossible to find any real fresh orange juice. I take some dristan I have with me. I need to buy a handercheif!
I decide that if I'm going to actually spend money for a handkerchief, I might as well get one I like. I decide I want a red, Western type hankerchief which turns into a search of several hours taking me to Brixton and then to Bond Street and then to Carnaby.
Carnaby has a lot of street salesman and the street is actually for pedistrians only. I find a shop that has something like what I want.
I then went to the tube and went to Baker St. station whereafeter I walked a block to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. It is better than any other was musems and was very interesting.
After Madam Tussauds, I went to Chelsea to buy tickets to “The Rocky Horror Show” for the evening.
I went and ate at a “Pot” and then went back to the guest hourse and took an hours nap. Went to the play-- went to a club, “The Napoleon (dull)-- came back to the guest house. Exhausted.
When I got out of the hospital, I think I went home to Larkin Street. I don't think there had been that much to move from the hotel room and maybe David moved what there was by himself or maybe Mary helped him.
The place on Larkin was very convenient to work as it was only about two blocks away. I sold my red V.W. stationwagon to one of the psychiatric patients with the permission of his psychiatrist. I immediately went and bought a stereo. As soon as I had got home and hooked up the stereo, the psychiatric patient called and wanted to call off the deal but it was too late.
At work I was starting to go without wearing my short haired wig and would tie my hair in a pony tail with rubber bands. Everyone was accepting except for the Director of Nurses, Mrs. Weber, but even she came to accept the long hair too.
As it happened though, styles were changing and long hippie hair was not is as much favored. It was no longer the hippie sixties. It was the gay disco seventies. Men didn't just go to barbers, but instead were now going to "hair stylists." I joined in and got a haircut at the popular hair stylist on Polk Street at the time. I learned to use a blow dryer. It was a time of platforms and hip hugging bell bottoms, rhinestones and glitter. I was reading a new magazine called Gentleman's Quarterly that just went by G.Q.. Even straight people were having promiscuous sex and meeting in what they called "fern bars."
Polk street was really the gay epicenter of San Francisco at the time. We would often go to Buzzby's on Polk Street after work or The City in Northbeach which had a huge dancefloor upstairs and The Cabaret downstairs where Sylvester would often perform in his torch song phase.
During this period, I was cruising on Polk Street one night, looking for a prospect, when I passed this handsome hispanic man and after a few steps I turned around at the same time as he was turning around. This was often how one would meet others. As you passed, you gave eye contact and then turned around to see if the other person had turned around. Very often, in those days, they did.
We started talking to each other and I found out his name was Albert and I brought him home. Of course we had sex but then I found out that he was not really sure if he was actually gay yet and he was guilt ridden as he was Catholic. He brought me brochures from his church about the sins of masturbation and we had an affair for a couple of months until he told me that he was infatuated with my brother David more so than me. That hurt me quite a bit and our affair ended. I saw him a few years after this and he had come to terms with his gayness and had a lover. I think that it was not long after that when I discovered his lover had Aids.
It was because of Albert that I went to Europe the first time. He had gone with a group at some point and had all these photographs. Although, I had seen European cities in movies, I had never known someone that had actually been there. Maybe I had and they hadn't told me that had been or maybe they didn't have pictures, but Albert's pictures caught my imagination. I realized that Europe was not just in movies and was a place I could actually visit. I started making plans.
I lived in a ten dollar a week room in what was essentially a hotel above the gay Rainbow Cattle Company at the corner of Duboce and Valencia. It was full of hippies, drag queens and drug addicts.
I was putting applications in for work as a Licensed Psychiatric Technician at various hospitals around town. My hair came down to the middle of my back but when I went on job interviews, I would pin it all up on top of my head and wear a short haired wig. I don't know if it was obvious to anyone or not but I thought it looked pretty realistic. Eventually I got a job on the psychiatric unit at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. I don't think most people were expecting a twenty-something year old to be wearing a wig and so they didn't tend to look very close.
The phone at the Rainbow Cattle Company was a communal pay phone down the hall and I remember being shocked when I received the call from Saint Francis that I had actually been hired. Somebody would have come to my room and I would have gone down the hall to the communal phone to discover I had been hired. I was 24 years old.
My room was probably about ten feet by ten feet. I bought an electric skillet to cook in but I mostly ate out. There was a communal kitchen in the hotel but I never used it. Each floor had a bathroom and showers that were shared by everyone on that floor. Bands would play in the bar below on Friday and Saturday nights but I never went to sleep before three in the morning anyway. I was working from about three in the afternoon until midnight and then would go to the bars or the baths.
Initially, I pinned up my hair and wore the short haired wig to work every day at Saint Francis. Nobody said anything about it initially. Finally, after working for about six months, I took it off at work and people were shocked at how long my hair really was. The manager of the psychiatric unit they called 4-East at the time was a woman named Pat. She seemed to take a liking to me and even invited me to go see The Who at the Oakland Coliseum. Here is some video that I took that day:
There were several people on the unit that were into paganism and referred to themselves as witches and warlocks. For being relatively educated people, they were into a lot of superstition and other nonsense, but they were all accepting of homosexuality. The American Psychiatric Association had just decided that homosexuality was not a mental disease and San Francisco was becoming a magnet for gay men.
4-East was a locked psychiatric unit. Some of the patients were there voluntarily but many were there involuntarily because they were a danger to themselves or others or could not provide food, clothing or shelter for themselves. Some of the patients were so depressed that the only thing that was thought to be helpful was electro-shock therapy. There were two doctors that specialized in this type of controversial therapy. Some of the patients were violent and there were three rooms called "seclusion" rooms where patients could be isolated from the other patients and locked up and restraned if necessary. It was often left up to the males to handle the violent patients. Most of the female staff wore high heels at that time.
It was while living in this small room that my sixteen year old brother came to visit. Actually, I think at the time he was running away from the police in Washington. I think his girlfriend was with him. She left but he stayed and we got some wood and built a loft in the room. One of us could sleep above, while the other slept below. I would come home from working and find my sisteen year old brother partying with transvestite, transexuals and other various freaks that lived in the hotel.
I was finally getting real paychecks for the first time in my life and David was going to stay in San Francisco with me and so we started looking for a bigger apartment and found a two bedroom on Larkin Street. I think that it was about the same week that we were going to move, that I was hospitalized with Hepatitis B. I had continued to be promiscuous and made regular visits to the "clinic" for antibiotics but wasn't sure what was happening when my eyes and skin turned yellow, my stools turned white and I had no energy. One of the guys in the hotel knew what it was immediately. I was hospitalized on the same day that my healthcare insurance had kicked in at my new job.
As I mentioned previously, live bands played in the Rainbow Cattle Company and so it never got quiet before the bar closed at 2am. Most of the time it didn't really matter since I got off work at around midnight. After David came to live with me, he would sometimes have a little "party" going when I got home and I had to throw out the drag queens and freaks he had invited in.
The band that I remember hearing the most while living over the Rainbow Cattle Company was Pearl Heart. He was essentially a Janis Joplin impersonator... although I guess impersonator is not really quite accurate. He mostly sang Janis Joplin songs at various venues around San Francisco at the time. He was also in the Bette Midler film, "The Rose" in a brief scene with Sylvester. I have some video of him on a float at one of the Gay Pride parades of the seventies. After all these years, I found these videos of him on youtube from 1989 which was over ten years after I had last seen him in the seventies. Apparently he had passed away a couple of years after these videos were taken at the Full Moon Saloon.
My first psychiatric aid job was at Pacific State Hospital on a developmentally disabled childrens ward. Pacific State Hospital was a pretty big place with over a thousand patients. I think they even had their own dairy at Pacific State or horses or farm animals. On the unit where I worked, the children were between the ages of about six to ten years old. The day that I was given an interview, while the supervisor was giving me a tour, children started climbing on me. One boy proceeded to take off my belt. The Supervisor acted as if there was nothing wrong, maybe watching for my reaction.
I was resposible for maybe twelve to fifteen kids and followed a regimented routine. I would supervise them while they played in a playroom, some screaming and drooling and others banging their heads on the walls or on the floor. Then at a certain time I was to bring all of them to a dining area and get them seated in their chairs and then bring them their trays. Some would need to be fed.
After we left the dining room, I brought them to the bathroom where there was a row of low, childrens toilets. I would put them on the toilets and there was a platform that I was taught was a place I could put a child to hose them off if they were filthy. I don't think I would ever use it, though, as I think the water than came out of the hose was usually cold and it just seemed like torture.
After toileting, they were all brought to the sinks to wash their hands. I think they were allowed to play for a little while longer and then I would bring them to where they got their medications and then to where they slept and get them all into bed. Once they were all settled into bed, I was responsible for mopping and polishing the floors with a huge floor polisher. It was hard, exhausting work. I lasted only a month or so before I found a job at Doctors Hospital in Montclair.
Doctors hospital was a brand new faciliity and their psychiatric unit mostly catered to depressed, menopausal women or others that had private insurance. It was an open unit and only rarely were there any actual psychotic patients. I worked the evening shift with another psychiatric aid, who's name was Booker and it turned out he was gay also and we became close friends. We were both in the closet at that time but both had the "gaydar" even then and we had gravitated to one another and became close friends. Booker was black and had not really reconciled being gay as much as I had. He also had a daughter. The charge nurse on the unit that I was working on and the licensed psychiatric technician were both very religious. It was the year that the movie "Jesus Christ Superstar" had come out and they discussed it being blasphemy. They also discussed homosexuality being an "abomination in the eyes of God." There was no way to be out of the closet in those circustances.
You can't go anywhere in Southern California without driving and I really utlized my little red Volkswagon stationwagon. It was really my first car that I actually drove and I loved having the mobility but I knew nothing about cars. I didn't know anything about having to change the oil. Eventually, one day while driving on the freeway, the engine would freeze up and I would learn about why it's necessary to change to oil. By that time, the mechanic told me that the oil was thick and clumpy. I couldn't afford to have a mechanic fix the engine though and so I had the car towed to my apartment complex and somehow got the engine out of the car and into the living room of my apartment where I thought that I could follow directions in a book and could take the engine apart, fix it and then put it back together.
I had never worked on cars or had any interest in cars in my entire life but there were books about the Zen of Volkswagon Repair or something like that and I thought that it wouldn't be so difficult. I was actually able to take the engine apart with the pieces spread out on my floor. I had a friend from school come over to help me try to put it back together but eventually I had to hire someone to actually put it together.
The year at Valley Vocational was intense. I was constantly on the go when my car was running and then when it was broke down for a while, I carpooled with friends from school. On the weekends I would often go to West Hollywood by myself or with Booker to go clubbing or go to the baths.
I had a serious crush on a hispanic guy in my class named David and we spent a lot of time together. Even though he was straight, he seemed to like having me for a friend and he was one of the funniest people I ever knew. He could always make me laugh. He was a big Alice Cooper fan.
David had a big crush on a girl in the class named Cheryl but Cheryl had a crush on me. It was a triangle of unrequieted love. I would never have David and he would never have Cheryl. She was able to get me into bed after plying me with wine and pot but that was another dismal, miserable experience for me. She had a daughter who was about five or so and would call me daddy and that was a little disturbing too.
I was desperate to have a maketable skill and I stuck with the Psych. Tech. program through a lot of unpleasantriess. Some days we were in the classroom and others were spent in facilities, getting real world experience. We went to medical facilities, private psychiatric facilities, a Montessori school, various units at Pacific State Hospital with various types of developmental disabilities and then various Metropolitan State Hospital units with the mentally ill. We spent a week or two at California Rehabilitatio Center in Norco. It was a good program with a wide variety of experiences. Doing bed baths and cleaning up urine and feces and taking care of the basic needs of others can be a humbling growth experience.
I’m a Clandestine nigger-
don’t look at me.
I’m a clandestine nigger-
nobody can see.
If nobody knows,
then I can still be free.
I’m oppressed and in hiding-
you would never know.
I’m oppressed and in hidding-
don’t think you know
I just do my song and dance
And be part of the show.
I’m a clandestine nigger-
don’t have no soul.
I repress and depress myself-
my story never told.
I’m your actor friend waiting,
to play the martyr’s role.
I’ve been oppressed and in hiding-
just sliding by.
I’ve been oppressed and in hiding-
just sliding by.
I try to keep laughing,
so you won’t see me cry.
I feel that I should tell you
Why I got the blues.
I should come right out and tell you
‘stead of leaven clues.
But honey you is so tired,
Aint’ ready for the news.
So I think this song is finished
Nothing left to say.
I declare an end to my blues now
No more dues to pay.
From now on, baby,
My blues songs will turn gay.
While I was in Washington, mom and George had moved to Upland California and my mom had remembered the program for Psychiatric Technicians and apparently she had done some research and found a program that was within driveable distance from where she and George were living. She called me and let me know about it and said that if I wanted to do this, that she and George would help me out with a car.
When I came to Upland, I was initially living with my mom and George in a small house they were renting at the time. I was sleeping on the couch and getting enrolled in the Psychiatric Technician program at Valley Vocational at La Puente. Mom and George would eventually get me a small, used, red Volkswagon stationwagon and we were looking for an apartment for me to live in as George and Mom would be going back to Washington State before long. I would attend La Puente Valley Adult Schools, Valley Vocational Center Psychiatric Technician Program from January 29, 1973 to January 15, 1974.
There was absolutely nothing to do in Upland and there was no real transportation system to speak of. The only way for me to get anywhere was to hitchhike. I missed other gay people and by this time, I was used to having sexual partners on a fairly regular basis. I was restless and bored while waiting to start school and sometimes I just had to get out of the house.
One evening I was hitchhiking, I think just for something to do, hoping I would meet someone more than anything. I was on the corner of desolation and desperation in the middle of nowhere dead suburbia with very few cars coming by. I don't think there were any pedestrians. A large boat of a car from the 1950's came up to the light. and I could see there was a man checking me out. He wasn't really my type or attractive but he did seem interested and that was really all I needed. He pulled over and I got in.
I think he must have asked where I was going and I probably told him that I was just out and about and not really going in any particular direction. He asked if I wanted to come to his place. He was probably in his late twenties or early thirties, white and thin. He was definitely not a hippie. I think he had his hair combed back in a fifties style and gave me a trailor trash or appalachia impression. He was not what I would think of as hip at all but what could I expect in Upland California?
I agreed to go to his place. I think he said he had some grass, too and that would have even made the offer better back then. We drove out into what felt like the country on a two lane hightway or rode. Suburban houses gave way to open feilds and fog. It was dark and I wasn't sure at all where we were or where we were going as we made awkward small talk.
We arrived at a small cabin surrounded by fog and occasionally through the fog I could see a cow or two. The cabin was very small. There was a door which led to a small galley kitchen that was probably about five to seven feet. On the other side of this small galley was a doorway that led to the only room. I think the bathroom must have been on the other side of the wall from the kitchen. The main room, though, was probably eight by ten if that. There was a small, twin bed on one end of the room and a space heater on the floor. There was a wood chest of drawers next to the doorway that led to the kitchen that was probably about five feet high. The place was messy and tattered.
Either we smoked a joint on the way there or smoked it when we got there. We had a little more small talk and then got undressed and got into bed. We kissed and made out and rubbed our naked bodies together. When two men come together like this that are not familiar with one another, there is sometimes a question as to who might be "the top" and who might be "the bottom" if there is going to be intercourse. At that time in my life, I usually preferred being "the top" although I tried to be versatile. He did not seem to be making any move to take a dominate position though, and so I started in that direction.
Suddenly this strangers body froze and became rigid and pushed me off and jumped out of bed and in the darkness, I heard silverware rattling. I didn't know what was happening but it frightened me and so I jumped up to and had my pants back on as the light came on and he was standing there, in front of the only exit by the kitchen door with a large butcher knife. I picked up the small space heater. He said "put it down."
"I'm really sorry," I said. "Whatever I did, I'm really sorry."
He replied, as he stuck the knife into the top of the wood dresser, "You have to be hurt to understand."
I continued to apologize profusely and I put down the space heater. I rambled on about wanting to go to school to help people and that I was a good person and he just kept repeating, "You have to be hurt to understand."
I told him that I would walk home, that did did not have to drive me back to town. Something seemed to click in his head and his facial expression seemed to relax a little and he said, "no, I will drive you back." Then he asked if I wanted some coffee as if nothing had happened. I think that I accepted his offer since it seemed to have distracted him from terrorizing me and we might have even talked for a minute or two before we left for the drive back to Upland.
I had him let me off a block or so from where I was staying with mom and George and then ran to their place after he pulled away. I was shaking when I came in and I guess I made some noise or something and mom came out to see what was going on. I think she must have seen how shook up I was and sat with me as I drifted off to sleep.
I did make a call to the police the next day but I didn't really want to give details about my identity and I didn't know the guys name or where it was that he had taken me so I didn't really have a lot of information to give and it was obvious that the officer I talked to wasn't interested anyway. For years I have wondered how many bodies were buried in that cow pasture that I visited and felt that I had only narrowly escaped in 1973.
After Jim's suicide notes, I went to Spokane and stayed at my aunt Ole's. I remember being at Ole's and telling them of the last few months in San Francisco, with Kenny overdosing and drinking the drano and Jim disappearing. I also told my mom about the flyer I had seen at the employment office about the training program for Psychiatric Technicians and told her that it sounded interesting. She and George were heading back to Southern California.
I think I wound up going over to Toppenish and bar tending for my dad which I really hated. Dad was hard to work for because he expected more from his kids than his employees, yet wanted to pay them less. The bar was a pretty rough place with derelicts, winos and Yakima Indians always wanting to fight with Mexicans for some sociological reasons. It was bitter cold there in the winter which would make it hard to breathe for me in the mornings because it felt like it was freezing your lungs. There was absolutely nothing to do in Toppenish for entertainment and even less to do there if you were gay. Occasionally on the weekends I would drive over to Seattle.
After one of the trips to Seattle, I was giving my father a ride. I'm not sure who's car it was since I don't remember having one of my own so it must have been his car or a car he let me drive while I was visiting there. He was drunk in the back seat. It seems like David might have been with us. He started rambling on about knowing what I had done in Seattle and that he had a private detective follow me there since I was his employee and he had to check out all his employees. In his drunkeness, he told me that he knew all about me and that he loved me. He rambled on about his being the best "actor" in the world. It was all pretty incoherent but apparently he had someone discovered that I was gay and knew where I had been going in Seattle.
There were several times that I worked for my dad at the Brunswick and it is all pretty sketchy in my mind. Before I was twenty-one, I could only work in the restaurant side of the establishment as a waiter and dishwasher. After I was twenty-one, he had me working behind the bar. It was a pretty awful place and at one time, I think it was open twentyfour hours a day. I was fired from the place one time because I left for California without my dad's permission but there was no way I could live happily in this dying small town.
By 1973, mom and George had moved from Washington to Upland, California, which is outside of Los Angeles. Mom had looked into training programs for Psychiatric Technicians and had found on in La Puente, not far from Upland. She must have called me about the program and offered to let me come and stay with her and George in Upland. I was eager to get out of Toppenish. I am not sure if she bought the ticket or if dad did. I doubt that I would have had any money saved but I guess that is a possibility as I was living in dad's house and probably didn't have many expenses. Regardless, I got the money together from somewhere and got out of that hell hole and made my way to Upland, where I would get enrolled in the Psych. Tech. program at Valley Vocational.