Thursday, March 26, 2009

WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING TO JOHN WATKINS

After making a planned escape from Acalanes, Diablo Valley College offered an enjoyable two years before landing in the electrical engineering department at Cal Berkeley. A not entirely enjoyable two year interlude in the U. S. Navy preceded my Cal internment, providing me with the opportunity to see foreign lands and the lower rungs of American humanity. After graduation the fun started with an engineering job designing toys for physicists at the Lawrence Radiation Lab in Berkeley and with continued study at Cal to complete a master’s degree. Liberal but na├»ve political beliefs were radicalized by associating with bright politically active friends and a stint in CORE picketing auto row and participating in other activities to fight racial discrimination. Marriage and children were not upper most in my mind at this time but love relationships were wonderful in the days of free love and monogamous cohabitation. 9 years in engineering, relationships, travel and eye opening experiences, including sampling psychedelics and marijuana, coalesced into a desire to work with people rather than electronic devices. Three years at San Francisco State provided a master’s degree in psychology followed by a half-time school psychology position in the Oakland schools and half-time work in an Oakland community mental health clinic. A penchant for avoiding full-time work led to more study to obtain a Ph.D. in psychology and a still born attempt at private practice.

Life continued to be very rewarding with several more opportunities for travel to various parts of the globe. A chance meeting with Diane Robertson of modern dance fame at Acalanes, who returned to the Bay Area after a dance career back east, offered dance lessons in one of her classes and then to years of amateur jazz ballet classes. In one of these classes I met my present wife. Barbara wanted 2 children in contrast to my choice of none. A compromise led to the birth of our son who is now 13 years of age and a source of much happiness. Having Miles late in life offers the experience of both fatherhood and, due to creaky joints and other rewards of age, grand-fathering. The relationship with my twin brother has broadened over the years in part due to sharing college studies, military service and a men’s group that has evolved into a mountain bike riding group. This improvement has reached the point that on rare occasions he will accept my opinions. Rental property acquired in the 70’s and 80’s has allowed for only partial retirement, offering continued duties as a maintenance man, tenant problem facilitator and panhandler begging for rent due. The blessing of good health, the perfect wife, an adorable kid, good friends, adequate wealth and good memories (not memory) incline me to feel very fortunate.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

THE LIFE AND LOVES OF BOYD WATKINS


After graduating from Acalanes, I attended Diablo Valley Junior College with a science major and plans to attend the University of California in Berkeley for my additional studies in Electronic Engineering. During this time, I joined the Navy reserves in order to safe guard against being drafted in to the Army. I didn’t get drafted but the navy had a clever (undeclared) scheme in which they could draft people that signed up if they needed more personnel. So instead of attending UC Berkeley after graduating from junior college, I had the privilege of serving two years in the Navy (first on a aircraft carrier in the Pacific and then at a data center in the Mohave Dessert) and then I attended UC Berkeley. After graduation I worked as an Electronic Engineer in Silicon Valley for a year, then returned to UC to get a Masters degree. Following that, I joined a series of start up companies, in Silicon Valley, and did research on and development of microelectronic circuits. I did this for 10 years and then, following the sale of a small technology company I co-founded with several other people, I started a consulting company to assist technology companies to address socioeconomic problems. The company morphed into a small manufacturing company, Interel, Inc., that still produces a line of Action Learning Devices used by consultants who do employee and organizational development.

After one year in Silicon Valley I moved to San Francisco with my wife and one year later had a daughter. Several years later I was divorced and doing the serial monogamy dating game and still living and loving San Francisco. I am now married to a wonderful woman, who I met 19 years ago, and I have a wonderful relation ship with my daughter and I still live in and love San Francisco. I am able to maintain Interel working part time and so I have time to ride my many bicycles, enjoy the cultural resources of the city and occasionally travel.
Richard & Lylas’ Life Story

After high school Richard tried to be a pro football player at UC Berkeley. That life style ended quickly. Lylas of course went to Cal doing her thing for four and one half years and received her degree. Richard ended up at University of Oregon and received his degree in 1960.
With two degrees between us and no jobs we decided to get married.
We then moved back to Eugene, Oregon so Richard could do his graduate work in Economics while Lylas worked as a librarian in a specialized library on campus. After several years of graduate work Richard finally finished his degree and we moved to Salem where Richard took a job working for the state of Oregon as an Economist doing the revenue forecasting.
By the end of our first year in Salem our son Joel was born. After another year of so we purchased land and started working with an architect on a design of a house that Richard and Lylas would build. Upon completion of our house Kirsty was born. Lylas most vivid memory of our first building project is standing on scaffolding, pregnant with Kirsty, shingling on the roof in a snow storm. We did have quality times together.
Richard’s career kept advancing. He first became head to the Research Section as he worked with the Governors and the Legislative revenue committees. He them was asked to create a new research office in the Legislature. Thus he created the Legislative Revenue Office which administers the House and Senate Revenue committees and analyzed all bills for their revenue affects. Since Richard’s hours were very long during a Legislative Session the children and Lylas would visit him at times during the evenings or weekends at the Capital. Every family member has interesting stories to tell of these days in the Capital.
During this period Lylas worked as a volunteer at the preschool and the grade school that our children attended. She also started a life long passion with spinning and weaving. As the children grew Lylas’s spinning and weaving activities grew. She became a state fair demonstrator in spinning, a teacher in natural dying and an organizer in the Sheep to Shawl program in Salem.
After ten years of working for the Legislature Richard’s career turn again. He was appointed by the then Governor to be the Director of the Department of Revenue and Fiscal Policy Advisor to the Governor. This would continue of the next four Governors.
Our son finished high school and received his undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon in Philosophy. He then went into the Peace Core in Paraguay.
After returning from Paraguay he worked for the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs where he met and married Lisa Watts a Native American from the Seneca Nation in New York. Lisa is a national consultant on Native American museums. Joel, after receiving his MBA, is currently the Data Base Administrator for Oregon’s largest fire district.
Kirsty went to the Northwest College of Art and received her Bachelors degree in fine arts. She currently has her own business in Portland doing various types of design work for businesses, dance companies, movie and many non profits.
Richard and Lylas retired from the State of Oregon and then got a call from the Federal Government asking Richard to be the Fiscal Policy Advisor to Uzbekistan. After we settled in Tashkent, Uzbekistan Lylas was asked to help on a UN project in teaching Uzbeks how to dye silk with nature, native products. After a year in Central Asia we returned home content to travel to see the world rather then work as we saw the world.
Upon returning home we took up our second large building project. We had owned a large lot for years at Black Butte Ranch in Central Oregon. We finally decided to build a second home on the sunny side of Oregon. Again we worked with and architect on the design. This time with the help of our children we built an interesting structure in the ponderosa forest of Central Oregon where we spend a lot of our time when we are not traveling to see and appreciate other cultures of the world.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Richard Munn’s Senior Ball?

Two Christmases ago my daughter, Kirsty, gave me a book she had created. My daughter has her own design business in Portland, Oregon and loves to do art projects about our family. She took all the family photos from my birth until my graduation from Acalanes High School and digitized them. She then worked to enhance those photos she wanted to use. She then arranged them in a book that told my early life story. It was a wonderful present.
As we were reviewing it together that Christmas morning she asked me why I did not have a picture of my Senior Ball. I did not know why. Later I looked through all the family photo albums we have and I could not find any photo record of my Senior Ball.
Thus I started to think who would have a picture of me and my date at the Senior Ball. I called my sister to see if she could remember such a picture in the family album. She only scoffed at me for even asking since she had given me all of my family pictures after the passing of our parents. I then thought well why not write to my date and see if she had a picture of us at the Senior Ball.
So I sat at my computer and typed up a very pleasant letter about all the wonderful things I remembered about my date to the Ball that year. I asked if maybe I was too broke to afford a picture that night. I also asked if maybe her family had taken a picture before I picked her up that night. I was seeking any photo record of that final formal high school dance event.
I then looked in the reunion directory for Jane Rogers Sturgeon’s address. I had not seen or talked with Jane for twenty five or thirty years at least. I assumed she was happily married playing with her grandchildren while living in Moraga, California over these many years.
So with not a single qualm in my heart I sent my letter to Jane.
I waited and I waited for a reply. I received no answer. What happened? Is Jane mad at me for some reason? Did I do something inappropriate that night at the Ball? As I recall I only saw Jane once after high school. Did I hurt her feels that summer we met a couple of years after high school? I was getting paranoid about why no response.
As you can tell I can over analyze these things. Well I was finally able to let it go. Jane was not going to respond and there would be no photo of me and my date at the Senior Ball.
Then something unexpected happened. John Sullivan and his wife had planned a river cruise on the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. They emailed about seeing if they could drop by and see us before the cruise. So John and his wife came and stayed a few days with us at Black Butte Ranch in Central Oregon where we have a second home. We of course talked about old times in Walnut Creek. Grade school, Boy Scouts, Acalanes were part of our conversation for the entire visit.
Upon returning to Minnesota John, unbeknownst to me, continued his search for old friends from these early days of his life. We would call each other once in awhile and on one of these calls John mentioned that he had finally found Jane Rogers Sturgeon. Well what a surprise.
John explained what had transpired in her life over the past twenty five or thirty years. As it turned out she had not lived in Moraga, California for many years. So I asked John if he would share her phone number and street address with me so I could contact her about the Senior Ball. After checking with Jane to be sure it was alright he emailed me the information.
I called Jane and we had a very pleasant conversation as we compared life stories. At one point I asked if she had ever received my letter. She said that she had not. Since I had written this wonderful letter about the Senior Ball I did not want to discuss it over the phone. I wanted her to receive the letter as I had originally planned and read it. So I told her I would resend the letter. No, I would not discuss the contents of the letter until she received it and read it.
So after sending the letter I waited about four days and I then got an email from Jane. It succinctly read “Richard we did not go to the Senior Ball together”.
Oh no, that cannot be true I thought. How could Jane have forgotten? I so clearly remember going to the gym late that afternoon to see if I could help with the decorations. I can remember asking one of my classmates if I could spike the punch that was being made. (My dad was a general contractor and he received gifts of liquor from subcontractors but my family never drank alcohol so we had lots of bottles of booze in a kitchen cabinet going to waste.) I then drove home and asked my dad if it was alright and he agreed. I grabbed a couple of bottles of some kind of liquor and headed back to school and spiked the punch. In addition I remember being invited to two parties after the Senior Ball. One party was at Ann Rowland’s home and the other was at Faye Davis’ home. After the dance I went to both parties.
Jane has to be wrong. I then picked up the phone and called Jane. Jane, I said, how can that be that we did not go to the Senior Ball together. I have all these specific memories of the event. She responded “but Richard I have a picture of me and my date Bob Eberhart at the Senior Ball”. Did Jane doctor a photo so she did not have to admit that we went to the Senior Ball together? Knowing a little of Jane’s computer skills that seemed very unlikely. Thus there was hard evidence that I did not take Jane Rogers Sturgeon to the Senior Ball. What an embarrassment. I am standing there with the phone in my hand not knowing what to say. I had to admit defeat and gracefully hung up the phone.
Since confronted with this evidence I have tried and tried to recollect that Senior Ball so I could remember who I took to the dance. I have looked at every girl in our yearbook. Nothing strikes a bell in my memory that says that was the one. In fact most of the time my memory is saying who is that person.
So here is the deal. I need your help. Please look though your photos and your memorabilia from Acalanes and see if you can remember who I took to the Senior Ball. I will be forever grateful and Jane will be relieved.


(Since I have discovered my memory lapse I have been doing an unscientific survey of our classmates. I have found that males overwhelmingly do not remember who they took to the Senior Ball unless they were going steady. Women seem to be just the opposite. Jane Rogers Sturgeon thinks that women remember their Senior Ball because of their beautiful dresses. My wife, Lylas Lynn Munn, thinks it is because women are just smarter.)

Football Practice


Thursday, March 19, 2009