[This is Thinking Back, an unpublished “book” Murphey wrote about his and his brother Larry Murphey’s childhoods, requested by Larry's widow after he was killed in a small plane crash on January 15, 1989. All five chapters are here. This autobiography will be helpful to those studying Murphey's later writing, since it sheds considerable light on the origins of his conservatism.]
THE TENDER YEARS: TUCSON AND MIAMI
Larry, whose more formal name was Lawrence Benton Murphey, Jr., was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, southwest of Oklahoma City, on August 27, 1932. The occasion for the family's being in Chickasha, so far as I know, was that our father was working as store manager for the Kress five-and-dime there. Although no mention was ever made of it, I expect that the birth was one day later than Mom and Dad might have preferred, since August 26 had marked our maternal grandfather's 47th birthday. "Pop" -- Mr. Frank McDonough, Jr. -- had been born in Brooklyn on August 26, 1885.
I have no recollection, of course, of the time in Chickasha. I was born some twenty-two months later, on Flag Day, June 14, 1934, in Tucson, Arizona, in the large Spanish-style hospital on the southwest edge of town. Mom had more than one reason to remember the occasion well: the day reached 114 degrees, and that was prior to air conditioning. The thick adobe walls of the building must have been a blessing.
For the first year of my life we lived in a small house across the street from the east edge of the University of Arizona campus. My first recollection of it comes from having driven through Tucson twenty years later while in route to or from Denver on leave from the San Diego Marine Corps base. I had found the house, and then driven through the campus, which I found strikingly beautiful with its stately palms.
There was a time when I had a specific idea of my first memories, but any strict identification of them has long since escaped me. We moved from Tucson to Miami, Florida, when Larry was three and I was about a year old, and lived there until we moved to Mexico in early 1942. Our summers, though, were spent in Palmer Lake, Colorado, a few miles north of Colorado Springs along the front range of the Rockies. So I am not sure whether my first memories are of Miami or of Glen Park, the mountainside community that makes up a part of Palmer Lake. I know, of course, that my heart was in Palmer Lake, year around. My soul is grounded there, as though I myself were one of the mountains or trails or eternal streams.
Come to think of it, one of my first memories has got to be of calling my mother to "come see" after each bowel movement. Just why she wanted to inspect it escapes me, although she would have had to have come to take care of the follow-up work anyway.
Another early memory has to be the one of sitting for long, agonizing stretches after a meal. I'd refuse to eat my soup until there was an unsavory scum on its surface, and Mom made me sit there until I did (or until I hid the bowl under the stove, which almost certainly didn't fool her but somehow earned me a reprieve).
I loved a small rag doll of a floppy little boy when I was quite young, and there was nothing more fun than the little bean bag that I threw about. Mom tried to break me of the habit of chewing the tips of the collars of my shirts.
Larry must have been of tender age himself when he coined my nickname, "Buzz," which originated in his not being able to pronounce the word "brother."
Those were happy years, untouched by the troubles that later boiled between our parents in Mexico. The Great Depression was on, but so far as I know we were never touched by it. The only recollection I have of it was seeing some WPA workers "leaning on their shovels," and of being told that they were paid to dig holes and then to fill them up again. The men came across as disreputable types, certainly not the victims of a monetary crisis (of which I knew nothing). [Years later, my thought is that this was a serious misperception, since the men's unemployment had been due to macroeconomic conditions that had nothing to do with their personal characteristics.] By this time, our father had an import business, bringing inexpensive toys in from Mexico to the Kress, Grant and Woolworth store chains. We never knew the details of his self-employment, other than to use his old letterhead stationery for drawing or coloring from time to time. The garage out back of the house was full of straw items, no doubt inventory or samples, from Mexico. We kids took the means of life for granted.
The house on 98th street in Miami Shores was one-story, white, with a red-tile roof and Spanish stucco architecture. Three small palm trees stood in a row out front. A dirt driveway went up the right side of the lot, back to where the guest house for a maid (which we had on at least one occasion, as we'll see) was located. The guest house was attached to the garage, which was behind it and formed an "L" with it. I remember that there was a banana tree alongside the steps leading up to the guest house.
As someone entered the front door, the living room was straight ahead and to the left, the dining room to the right. Past the living room, in which I remember there was one of those old-time cathedral-shaped radios over which Mom used to listen to opera on Saturday afternoons, was a hallway, which lead, on the right, to the kitchen, and on the left to the bathroom, to a guest bedroom, and then to the bedroom Larry and I shared. Mom and Dad's bedroom was in a porch-like extension to the house behind our own bedroom.
One of the more prominent features of the home, so far as Larry and my enjoyment was concerned, was the giant almond tree that spread out with long flat limbs in the backyard between Mom and Dad's bedroom and the garage. We boys climbed it by the hour, being careful not to be stung more than was unavoidable by the green caterpillars that shared the tree with us.
When we weren't climbing in the tree, I was arraying my multitudinous forces of play soldiers in the dirt under it. The world of fantasy, of war and idealism and soldiers with imaginary but not real blood, absorbed me through much of my childhood. As with many of these recollections, I don't recall whether Larry shared exactly the same enthusiasms. During the later years there in Miami, Larry became quite a model-plane builder. It always seemed impossibly meticulous work to my young mind, but Larry had a love for it and built some good models. No doubt this was the beginning, quite early, of his lifelong devotion to model airplanes and eventually to small planes he could fly himself.
Each birthday was celebrated with great fanfare -- a party with cake and ice cream to which all our neighborhood friends were invited (except that I recall that somehow one scruffy boy came uninvited on about my fifth birthday; just how such a scandalous thing happened, I don't know).
Halloween, too, was a special time, just as it has been with American children throughout my lifetime. We hauled in lots of loot with our threats of "trick or treat," even though we never had any idea just what the trick might be if ever our efforts were unrewarded. Easter was a big day, too, not for its religious significance, but because of the fun of coloring the eggs and because Mom always topped the egg-hunt with a hidden chocolate Easter bunny for each of us.
Not that we were devoid of religion. The four of us were regular church attenders, with Sunday school as a part of it. About the only thing I remember about this experience was that there was a woodpecker in the tree out front and that the church put on a picnic when I was six or seven. I ate a hotdog, got sick, and went approximately twenty years before I could enjoy a good hotdog again.
Most of the neighborhood consisted of vacant lots. Larry and some of his friends created a favorite hangout. They dug trenches, which after meandering around ended in a small square meeting room at the end. They then covered the whole thing with boards and dirt. This was our tunnel, through which we crawled with candles. I played no role in creating it, but certainly shared the enjoyment. The memory reminds me of the boys in London in the Robert Louis Stevenson story that Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes from in his essay "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings." The boys held candles under their cloaks, walking through the fog as secret "pillars of darkness in the night." Similarly, we were in a world of our own down in the secret meeting place at the end of the tunnel.
The neighborhood also had plenty of pine trees, tall with few branches until high up. I fancied myself a master tree climber, and shinnied up one of the trees, taking all the skin off the front of me. Mom was just in the process of taking a First Aid course, and for her part fancied she knew just what to do: wash the abrasions with alcohol. Oddly, I remember the fact of the pain, but not the pain itself. I believe I never shinnied up another pine, although my exuberant athleticism, in trees and out, continued until my early twenties.
Larry must have been quite a tree climber, too, since I remember that in perhaps 1947 Mom looked out the window of our third-floor apartment on Logan street in Denver and saw Larry waving to her from high in one of the giant elms that lined the street.
In all, though comfortable, our childhoods weren't sheltered nearly the way children's are today. We had B-B guns, shooting mainly at bottles and tin cans, from about age five on. The Fourth of July was celebrated with serious firecrackers, cherry bombs and, more tamely, with sparklers. There was no giant public display which thousands attended for vicarious viewing. Each family concocted its own celebration, blasting tin cans high into the air.
Larry and I each spent a week or more in our darkened bedroom with the measles. And I at another time spent several days in bed with a badly sprained right ankle. The sprain came from a simple jump off a two-foot wall. I remember wishing that I had earned it more heroically.
` The beach was a big part of our lives in Miami. We went out to it, at least part of those years, in our little car with the rumbleseat. I remember a long causeway with pontoon planes parked along it, the long beaches of white sand and bending palms, the scrub brush further back from the beach where we often found secret places to hide. It's been almost fifty years, but the feel of the hot sand on my feet, and of wet sand between my toes, is as strong as if that were yesterday.
Early on, I had a pail and shovel, and sat on the beach making sand castles. Later, I got in the water more, enjoying its shallowness out for a considerable distance. Dad would take us on his shoulders and then throw us over his head and into the water; or we would ride on his back as he walked or swam.
There were a few hazards. One was jelly fish, both in the water and upon the beach. We all knew the sting was horrible, although I don't recall ever having experienced one.
Another hazard almost got me. I stepped into a hole and nearly drowned. Some gallant man on the beach saw me and came to my rescue.
Larry, to the best of my recollection, became a good swimmer, emulating our father, who often went swimming for miles. Somehow I never used the occasion to learn. Water fun remained simply splashing around. I finally learned to swim years later at Colorado University, trudging across snow-swept fields to an 8 a.m. swimming class. I thanked my lucky stars for that knowledge when the swimming test was given on my third or fourth day in the Marine Corps (the gentle souls there let one fellow sink unconscious to the bottom of the pool before enrolling him in swimming class.)
Dad prided himself on his physique. In those days, magazines frequently ran the Charles Atlas ads, in which a "98 pound weakling" suffered the indignity of having sand kicked in his face on the beach until he beefed himself up (even before steroids, but not before the Charles Atlas Physical Fitness Program) and could prove himself a man.
Dad was comparable to Charles Atlas in our minds, although generally he wasn't the object of much respect from us. Mom didn't talk him up much, and I came to see certain things about him as ridiculous. One was the way he combed his curly hair straight back; another was the contempt I felt for the smelly straw items out in the garage. I don't recall that we ever gave him any credit for the summers we spent away from him in Palmer Lake. It was only shortly before Dad's death in the mid-1980s that I gave that any thought, and then I realized that the departure of his wife and children for three, four or five months a year had to have been a considerable sacrifice for him. Larry put me in touch with him two or three months before he died, and we exchanged some letters. I am more than a little grateful to Larry for that.
The beach wasn't the only source of our water fun. Dad got a two-seater kayak and we went down with him to a swimming hole on the river (Little Miami River?) a number of times. More than riding the kayak, I remember swinging out over the swimming hole on a rope and tire, and then jumping in.
Christmases were full of yearning, starting right after Thanksgiving. A daily Santa Claus radio show commanded our rapt attention. Christmas eve was almost beyond bearing, as we went to bed knowing that early the next morning we would find the results of Santa Claus' having come. Probably the main present that I recall was a bicycle with training wheels when I was about six or seven. I also loved the B-B gun I received at about that same age.
The hunt for a Christmas tree was a family occasion. We went out in the forest near Miami "looking for Oscar." When we found just the right tree, we would declare it to be "Oscar," and Dad would make it a member of the family by chopping it down. We did the same thing on the back of Lookout Mountain in Glen Park after we returned from Mexico, except that by that time Dad was no longer part of the excursion.
We two boys rarely missed the movies on Saturday afternoons at the Miami Shores Theater. There was a double feature, a cartoon and a serial. You'd think all of this would have been long enough, but it was made even longer by the film's breaking frequently, leaving us all clapping in the dark. One of the serials was "The Iron Man." Larry, being older, could stay in his seat and watch the Iron Man stalk his victims, but I couldn't take it. Although my heart was inside suffering right along with Larry, I escaped to the lobby to stand alongside the popcorn-maker until the horror had passed.
I must have been older when the movie about The Mummy came along, since I sat frozen in my seat for that. As to the main features, I hated any "mushy" scenes and the long song-and-dance interludes that were common to the movies of that day. But Westerns were great (unless they had "singing cowboys," like Roy Rogers or Gene Autry, who obviously couldn't be real men), and I adored Shirley Temple. Laurel and Hardy are enshrined in my Pantheon of memories, too.
Two movies in the early '40's made a particular impression upon me. One was a horror film where unsuspecting travelers would stop at a house, only to be electrocuted by a man peeking through a slit in the wall when they answered a ringing telephone. The other was "Beau Geste," which we saw right before we left for Mexico. There was great romance in all those dead soldiers manning the parapets of the fort.
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was my greatest love, but we didn't see it in Miami. Rather, Mom took us to it in downtown Colorado Springs, right next door to the Exchange National Bank Building where I practiced law some twenty-five years later. I saw myself as Dopey, one of the dwarfs. I'd come into a room two or three times so that Mom could take hold of each of my ears and kiss me on top of the head, as Snow White did to Dopey when the dwarfs left for a day's work in the mine.
I was truly as innocent as the Dopey emulation made me seem, but there were the first glimmerings of infantile sexuality. Probably after I started school, I had recurrent dreams of getting a peek at a certain girl's panties. The only maid I remember, a buxom blonde from Canada, was fired after a motorcyclist spent the night with her in the maid's quarters. And there was something of a furor over Larry's having "played doctor" with a neighbor girl.
Larry was the only one of us who ever got into trouble. He received a particularly harsh switching on at least one occasion for telling a lie. I don't know so much about our father on that score, but Mom, Pop and Grandmother lived life with constant reference to moral and cultural standards that involved being judgmental in all things. This led to Larry's being branded "a liar" in a generic existential sense, which is far worse than just being seen as a boy who had told a lie once or twice. It is possible that this branding affected his self-image and took him over the gulf into the world of lost innocence, since he eventually became a problem teenager before settling down (thanks in huge measure to Joyce, the great love of his life) in his mid-twenties. The moral judgments reacted differently upon me, though. I internalized them, probably learning from Larry's mistakes. I never deviated from a fervent desire to do what I understood to be right. There was an element of fear in it and of desire to be accepted, not of pure reason (certainly not at that age), even though I never felt directly threatened personally. This moral conscience took its roots within me far back in my childhood, and it became basic to my character. Parents and educators take note, for thus can virtue find its origins in early experiences that say nothing about the recipient's original merit.
True, Larry had the rougher part of this moral existence -- but that doesn't mean he wasn't always loved. From the very beginning, he had a happy nature that made him pretty clearly the favorite with both Mom and Dad. Maybe I should have felt bitter about that, but I can honestly say that it was never a part of my emotions. I was too wrapped up in my own enthusiasms, and certainly wasn't neglected. Moreover, my virtues held me in better stead most of the time than his escapades reaped for him. By the time he put himself on the competitive track, we were both well beyond the age for sibling jealousies.
We had many happy times with Dad's family there in Miami. Grandfather Murphey (Robert Murphey), and Dad's stepmother Grace, lived in a frame house with a large porch on two (or three) sides just across the street from a park. Grandfather would sit in a rocker and "twiddle his thumbs." He'd earned the right, since his own father had died when he was thirteen or fourteen, and he had then become the provider for the family. The specifics have long-since passed from my memory, but I remember many a joyous meal around the dining room table.
Our cousins, Robert and Reece and their older sister, born to Dad's sister Mabel, meant a lot to us. We visited them often, and fished off a pier near their house (without catching much of anything). I've exchanged Christmas cards in recent years with Robert, but he never writes a note, and so I don't know anything much about what's become of them, other than to know (or to believe that I know) that Robert became an airline pilot.
One of the joys of our lives was a puppy, a Chow, called "Wham," who was said to have gotten his name from having been born in one heck of a hurry. He was just a fuzz-ball when we got him. Later, he would sit on the front door-step waiting for Larry to come home from school (at that time, I was still too young to go), and then would rush down the block to greet him. It broke our hearts when we had to give him away when we left for Mexico.
It was Wham who was credited with saving Larry and me one night while we camped out under the almond tree. Wham started to bark. When Mom and Dad came out to see why, they found a coral snake right there by our tent.
Dad wasn't so lucky once. He went to put on his slippers, which he had just gotten out of the closet in his and Mom's bedroom, and was stung on the toe by a scorpion who had made himself at home down in the slipper.
Finally, after a couple of years of yearning to go to school with Larry, I was able to accompany him. We walked to and from Miami Shores Elementary School, which was several blocks away. My most embarrassing moment (until an episode at Morey Junior High years later) came with graduation from kindergarten. My job was to go down from the stage, get the box of diplomas from the principal, and bring them back. I fell on the stairs on my return trip, though, dumping all the diplomas into the orchestra pit.
No doubt the most exciting thing that happened to us was the Great Hurricane of 1939. The storm was announced for days ahead, and Dad boarded up all the windows. It is necessary to keep one side of the house open as the wind comes from the other direction, and so I can remember sitting on the back steps outside Mom and Dad's bedroom for part of the time. The winds tore the almond tree up by the roots and dumped it over onto the garage. There was havoc in the neighborhood after the storm, with trees down everywhere. We didn't hear of any injuries, though.
School was fun. The building was pretty, and it had a curved driveway out front, where there was also a tall flagpole. A taffy vendor came during recess and we'd all rush to get a stick. I was a bell ringer in the first grade band, and there was a time we all dressed up in white suits and went down to a local radio station to render a performance. I don't remember whether I wore the same white suit when marching in one of Miami's parades, but I think probably I did.
I recall the running-boards of the cars of that day, and how cars had to be started with a hand-cranking up front. The roofs often leaked in a rainstorm. If I recall correctly, we had a Hudson. The little car with the rumble seat came later, and seemed to lack the defects of the others.
Everyone who lived at the time of Pearl Harbor must certainly remember where he was when the news came over the radio. It seems to me that it was late in the day or early in the evening. We were riding in our car, and news came over the car radio.
The news was electric, and changed our world. I began to collect tinfoil for the war effort, gathering it from old cigarette wrappers and wherever I could find it. The result was eventually quite a large ball. Platoons of soldiers drilled on the streets of Miami, and sentries paced the beaches. I followed the drama at Wake Island closely as news of it unfolded.
It may be a mental projection, but I believe I recall actually having seen a tanker sink off the Miami coast after it was torpedoed by a German submarine. In any event, I'm sure I saw the oil slick that washed in to shore for days afterwards.
All of this was forced into a short span, since we left for Mexico early in 1942. Just why we were leaving under those circumstances, when men everywhere were rushing to enlist, I don't know. I didn't question it at age seven, and haven't heard an explanation since. Dad remained subject to the draft while we were in Mexico, and I remember Mom crying one time in Guadalajara when he received notice to report for a physical. But he injured a knee stepping down from a tall curb in Mexico City, and received a medical deferment, or at least that's what I have understood.
But before I tell about the years in Mexico, I will want to recount the side of our earlier experiences that thrilled me most. Those took place at Palmer Lake.
THE TENDER YEARS: PALMER LAKE
Miami may have been home, but Palmer Lake was the Venusberg of my dreams. During the winters in Miami, I slept on a pillow that Mom had filled with pine boughs, to remind me of the delicious mountain smells.
"Palmer Lake" was more than the peanut-shaped lake at the top of the Monument divide. It included the town itself on the flat, with its dusty streets and the folksiness of Charlie Clark's grocery store. Moreover, it included Glen Park, the community of cabins nestled on ascending zig-zagging streets at the base of the rock-faced Crest. Lookout Mountain, which we (or rather Pop) so proudly owned and cherished, was simply a small protuberance at the Crest's northeast base.
Beyond that, "Palmer Lake" included Ben Lomond, the flat-topped mountain rising from the plains just east of the lake, and which had a cave on its south side from which indians are said once to have observed wagons as they traveled below. It included Elephant Rock, just to the south of Ben Lomond and also out on the plains, around which people often found arrows' heads; and Mount Herman, the huge hulk of a mountain that formed the front range of the Rockies and that extended down toward the south (running past what in recent years has been the Air Force Academy).
There was Mr. Owens' Canyon, south of the Glen and running between Mount Herman and the Crest and which will be a subject unto itself. The canyon was one end of "the Loop," a six or eight mile hike which could start by going up Owens' Canyon to the ruins of Mr. Owens' cabin, then over a mound and down through aspen groves to the headwaters of the Second Reservoir deep in the mountains behind the Crest. Beyond the Second Reservoir, continuing clockwise around the Loop (which circled the Crest), there was the mile or so of winding roadway to the First Reservoir, into which streams fed from the Second Reservoir and from Icy Cave Canyon. The hike down from the First Reservoir was a mile or two to the sandpit and the edge of town. A trail down to the stream from the sandpit led over toward the Glen by passing through "the Lane," a pastoral flat area south of the stream. At that time, there was a curved wooden bridge with considerable charm that forded the stream, and there were swings for children. As the years went by, all of this proved transitory. Periodic floods tearing down the steep mountainsides from torrential summer rains showed their contempt for all that was, and transfixed it in memory.
A path led up from the Lane to the cabins. It was on that path, now grown over and visible only to me and others who loved it, that Pop and Grandmother met sometime about 1905. Theirs was an instant love, like mine with Ginny.
The two cabins that were central to my early years were Ogallala and The Pines.
The Pines was a multi-roomed, two-story structure that housed Pop's brothers' and sister's families when they came up. As a matter of fact, my sole recollection of my great-grandfather, Judge Frank McDonough, Sr., is upon the porch of The Pines. He was a tall, distinguished man, gentle of voice, and loving toward my great-grandmother, Rosie (actually, Rose). The Judge died in 1940 and I remember going to the Fairmount Cemetery mausoleum in Denver, just west of Windsor Gardens where Mom later lived and died, to pay homage in the hall where he lay encased in his drawer. A second drawer was reserved for Rosie, who occupied it after living to approximately age 95 and having served us many cookies at her apartment at about 12th and Vine Street in Denver.
Ogallala was the perfect nook. It was taken right out of Snow White. Made of pine logs, and with a prominent rock chimney just to the left of the front door, it nestled among the scrub oak (pronounced "scrubboak") and pine at the base of Lookout Mountain and right at the head of the path that led down to the Lane. The rooms inside were dark and cozy. Larry and I slept in the little bedroom to the right of the front door and living room. Thought of cozy times in that little room during mountain rainstorms comes to mind fifty years later every time I enjoy the sound of rain on a roof.
Cooking was on a wood burning stove, and great memories surround the enjoyment of soft grits and soft boiled eggs, mixed together with plenty of salt and pepper, in the dining room at the back of the cabin to the left of the kitchen. The main bedroom was at the front of the cabin left of the chimney.
Out back, there was a short walk up to a covered deck, which we enjoyed for picnics. Another short path, leading out from a door exiting from the main bedroom, was to the outhouse. My memories of this structure are all good, strangely enough, despite what were undoubtedly unpleasant aspects that today would evoke a less accepting reaction.
The path around the front of Lookout Mountain on the east, starting above The Pines at the place where Bill and Reba's cabin was built in a joint family effort early in the '40's before Bill's time with the Air Force in England, held special magic, especially since we boys could clamber up a wash slide to the top of the mountain and then come sliding down on our heels and bottoms. The front face of the mountain seemed always to be bathed in sunlight.
As the path reached the north edge of the mountain, it curved west, back into the dark woods amid mossy, dripping rocks that faced the steep northern slope. Many a time, Mom and we boys slid tumultuously down the wash slides that extended quite a precipitous distance to the stream below. We must have gone through shoes and jeans at an alarming rate.
If not abandoned for such a purpose, the path led back to the rear of Lookout Mountain, where an idyllic forest of tall pine created the softness of a pine-needle covered floor. This is one of the world's quieter, more serene and beloved places, and many a time while experiencing travail elsewhere I have reminded myself of that spot, with the calm rustle of a mountain breeze through the tops of the trees. If ever the spirits of the McDonough family have a reunion, it will be at that spot.
It was probably in the summer of '41 that Larry and I dug foxholes among the trees on the northern edge of this hallowed patch, the better with which to defend the mountain from attacking forces coming up the northwest slopes. I remember how delighted I was to see the remnants of those fortifications when we returned from Mexico after what seemed an eternity.
There were many family campfires, with marshmallows roasted on straightened metal clothes hangers, back there in that forest. After we returned from Mexico, Mom and we boys built a lean-to next to the campfire, and slept the night on pine boughs under its shelter. Mom said later that she suffered certain terrors that night, but Larry and I were unaware of them. At dawn, squirrels went their busy rounds high in the sunlit treetops. Many times later in life I have thought back to that serene spot as reflecting the true reality of continuing life, much as one looks at the Milky Way with similar thoughts.
Mr. Owens' Canyon was another hallowed place. The entrance to it was maybe a mile's walk down dusty roads from the cabin. On the way, there was an aspen grove that housed a spring of clear, bubbling water. One of our outings was to take lunches of peanut butter-and-grape-jelly sandwiches to that grove, to eat deep within it. To get into the canyon itself required hiking up along a path that led around "the Point," with maybe a two hundred foot dropoff to the stream below. But it was possible to follow the stream up to the mouth of the canyon, staying far below the path. Some time after we saw "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," Mom hiked up there with us, and pointed out rocks that she knew had once been the seats for each of the dwarfs. Those stone seats are somewhere even now even though they were no doubt swept away or covered over by the great flood of June, 1965.
Close to the same spot, there was a waterfall with perhaps a ten-foot drop, at the base of which was a large swirling pool. One of my best fishing memories comes from a fat, 14-inch brook trout I caught in that pool when I was in my early teens.
Going around the Point always reminded me of the scenes in the Tarzan movies where a white hunter and a line of native load bearers would edge along a narrow path high up on a cliff. Inevitably, one of the load bearers would slip, falling to a screaming death below. In all, the Point was scary, but we managed it, and then headed south along the west side of Mount Herman until finally it converged with and crossed the stream. That was the place to start fishing. There were some good holes below the crossing for perhaps a hundred yards, but most of the immediate fishing was upsteam in a winding section among willows. A ways further up, the stream rushed down in rapid strokes among ten thousand large rounded rocks -- and the pools formed there were good fishing, too. High up, large rocks made a cave, through which the stream ran and in which I often
caught a trout.
The stream flattened out again above the rocks, with willows, curves and some beaver ponds. Eventually, it came past the crumbled remains of Mr. Owens' cabin on the right. I caught a real beauty one time under the bank of the stream bend just below his cabin.
The fishing wasn't as good further up. Beaver had taken over, and the fish were skittish wherever they could see you, which they could from a pond unless it was raining. Nevertheless, one of those ponds provides me with one of the best memories of those days (or more probably of the years right after our return from Mexico in 1945). Larry and I and Allen McDonough (the son of Pop's much younger brother John McDonough) and perhaps one other boy stripped down to our underwear, went into the pond, which wasn't large, and felt under the bank for trout. There we found the beavers' holes, in which we could trap brookies (brook trout) with our hands. Scrambling there in the muddied water, with one of us up on the bank with a stick to apply the coup de grace, we threw out a grand total of 33 trout! It was a glorious time, at least until it came time to clean the fish after we returned to the Glen.
There were times later, in my middle teens, when I hiked much further up, perhaps five miles or so, fishing along the way and enjoying the occasional peek at the northern face of Pike's Peak a few miles south. The stream eventually bends west back there. It's a no-man's land, full of rock-loaded canyons and a stirring isolation.
Often we wouldn't go up Owens' Canyon, but rather would start up the Loop from the northern end, fishing the stream that led up past the northern face of Lookout Mountain and the Crest to the First and Second Reservoirs. There was an abandoned mine across the stream on the way up the first leg, and Larry and I spelunked joyfully through it, not altogether liking the cold water dripping from the walls.
Once a bear and I came face to face, right along the road to the right of the dam for the First Reservoir. We looked at each other, thirty feet apart, each motionless for the longest time. Then he turned and ambled off up a side gully.
As I've said, the stream and roadway continued past the First Reservoir on up to the Second, which was much larger. Pop and Grandmother and I went fishing at the far end of the Second Reservoir one day, much to my frustration. Pop caught sixteen, Grandmother eight and I none, even though we used the same bait and exchanged places frequently to give me a better chance. I surmise now that I wasn't sensing the bite and setting the hook.
Past the Second Reservoir, there was an aspen grove through which the stream came down into the larger body of water. Mom and Dad carved all of our initials into the white bark of one of the trees back in the late '30's, but I was never able to find the tree later. The road continued back, too, becoming the Winding Stairs Road. To go "around the Loop," though, it was necessary after a mile or so to hook over the mountain to the left, heading over toward Owens' Canyon.
It wasn't necessary to have headed up to the Second Reservoir from the First. At the top of the First Reservoir, a second stream fed in from the right, emerging from under the boulders that hid it within a tight little canyon that went quite naturally by the name of "Icy Cave Canyon."
Those boulders are what formed the cave itself. We could crawl through the cave, stepping around the stream, and then up through a narrow opening in the back. I am amazed now at the extent of Larry and my explorations of the passages down among the boulders, which fortunately were wedged securely together.
There were often wild raspberries and strawberries along the path up the left side of Icy Cave Canyon. They tasted extraordinarily good.
It was a rough trail because of the steep canyon side. After a half mile or so, though, things flattened out, and the stream curved through the willows and grasses of a splendid wilderness. What a fine time Pop and I had fishing the ensuing half mile on many an occasion! Eventually, the stream became inaccessible in a narrow and overgrown canyon, above which towered Dome Rock. A picture album handed down to me by Mom years later shows Pop, Grandmother, their four kids themselves of tender age, and other couples all camping out there at the far point of Icy Cave Canyon back around 1914. Mom says they spent the entire month of September there more than once. It seems strange to look at the pictures and see Uncle Bud at age five, and Uncle Bill even younger. No wonder the place was in my blood.
Those were happy years, upon which little cast a pall. I knew nothing of Hitler and Stalin across the water. The only bad thing that ever happened was when I walked too close behind one of the swings down in the Lane, was clobbered in the lower lip and had to be driven down to Penrose Hospital in the Springs for stitches. (Victoria Lee Murphey became "Baby Girl Murphey" in a refurbished version of Penrose Hospital at the same location years later, at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 13, 1965.)
The stitching was made easier by a shot of Novacaine (a pain killer), but that opened up a whole new chapter. I was perhaps four or five years old, and it happened that my afternoon naps became disturbed by nightmares of chairs chasing me around the inside of Ogallala. This lasted for several weeks and was ascribed to the effects of the Novacaine.
We didn't always remain in Palmer Lake. The house at 835 Logan Street in Denver, three stories of dark lava stone, huge elms, and a dank worm bed where Pop dug with us for bait for the brookies we'd soon be catching at Palmer Lake was special, as was everything else in those days. There was a winding staircase leading to the bedrooms upstairs. A little statue of an Arab with a camel stood on the mantel; back in the library, the Harvard Classics' "five foot shelf" occupied a prominent place. In the basement, a dusty coal room portended work for whoever stoked the furnace. (Larry and I got that job, along with taking out the clinkers to the ashpit out by the alley, after we came back from Mexico.)
A magical week was spent fishing at the Tarryall a few miles west of Ute Pass near Pikes Peak. We stayed with Pop and Grandmother in a little log fishing cabin, and hauled in fish from a stream winding through grassland. A picture shows me holding a long string of fish, which for many years I thought were all trout. It's a shame, really, that I was ever told that some of them, at least, were suckers [an ugly fish that fishermen consider highly undesirable].
There was a time on Logan Street when everyone decided on the spur of the moment to run down to El Paso to visit Uncle Bud and Aunt Carol. The car was of now-ancient vintage and full of people. The main thing I remember was a tremendous rainstorm somewhere in southern Texas.
I should perhaps have mentioned it in the chapter on the Miami years, but there was another time Mom, Dad and we boys visited Murphey relatives in Nashville. My only recollection of visiting an aunt's home there is that there were thousands of fireflies in the night air in front of the house. Separate from that, there was a big family dinner at what seems to have been a farm, and I remember a joke to which everybody roared that ended with the punch line, "Jeb, get your talliwacker out of the gravy!" There was a horse and wagon out front, and after dinner I managed to get in it, starting up the horse. One of the fleeter-footed men in the family had to run about a block to effect the rescue.
Back in Colorado, there was a time we visited Mom's sister, Aunt Virginia and her then-husband, up at Victor, a mining camp high on Pikes Peak. Virginia's husband may have been the camp dentist. On the way to or from Victor, we stopped for a dinner of "bear-meat steaks," or so Pop led me to believe at the time. I found bear meat even better than regular steak.
Aunt Ginny, which I called her, was a pert, vivacious young woman, cute and pretty. She changed later, pulled into bloatedness and slovenliness by too much beer, but there was a time she stood for all that an aunt can be, as she danced with me in her arms.
Uncle Bill, his wife Aunt Reba, Uncle Bud and his wife Aunt Carol, were also part of the overall family warmth, but my relationship with them became much closer later.
My main tie was with Pop, a gentle patrician whose whiskers I can feel against my cheek to this day. He could mix a mean box full of cement, and made stone steps like a journeyman. His arms were as hard as nails. He was the best loved man I have ever known, and the major hero of my life (until much later he took offense at my book Emergent Man, which caused a rift between us for about a year). He was an avid supporter of Wendell Willkie in 1940, sporting a button. I was disgusted with his enthusiasm for Eisenhower, rather than Taft, in 1952, but his columns of wisdom written for the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph after he and grandmother retired to Palmer Lake in 1948 are a treasured collection. In those early years, when we went fishing, Pop would bait the hook for me, bending the worm to and fro, before we crept through the grass to sneak up on the wily trout, for whom Pop had great respect.
It was probably in the fall of 1941 that Mom and we boys stayed over beyond the usual time for our return to Miami. Larry and I attended the Palmer Lake school, over on the flat and up near where the Little Log Church stands. We stayed until November, each hoping to see the first snow of our young lives. Finally we left on a cold, overcast day, and heard on the radio after we reached Oklahoma that it was snowing in Colorado! We didn't experience snow, therefore, until after our return from Mexico.
The trips by car or train to and from Miami were all exhilarating experiences. The partings from Denver, as we separated ourselves from Pop and Grandmother and our beloved Colorado, were tearful and wrenching in the extreme. But drowsing to the click-click of the rails on a Pullman car when traveling by train was a delicious feeling, and there was something special to waking up in the middle of the night to find that the train had stopped and that a ghostly railroad man was swinging a lantern amidst the steam in an unknown world out alongside the car. Meals were always good in the white-linened dining cars, and the conductors jolly or else fatherly and business-like. The world of trains was a world all unto itself.
Going by automobile was even better. Three tornadoes chased us across the Oklahoma panhandle one time, trailing along a few miles back. I remember crossing the Mississippi at a beautiful point: an ancient black iron bridge extended to the greenest of grassy banks on the far side. I looked for the spot when we visited Vicksburg in the mid-'80's, but that wasn't it. Mom, Dad, Larry and I stayed once in a pine-cabin motel among tall pine in what was probably Alabama or Georgia. And I remember a southern town at the base of a sweeping downward curve of a road somewhere.
It was a long, hard ride from Colorado to Miami, but we all had a raucous good time. When one of us had to force a stop, we applied names to each other. Mom was called "three squirt Sadie"; I was called "two button Pete." Larry, I think, was called "two drop Danny," but I'm no longer sure. Dad had a name, too, which escapes me. But it was equally colorful.
There was an emergency outside Atlanta when once we stopped in Georgia's pine country. A metal culvert ran under the road. Larry jumped up onto the end of it, slipped, and cut himself deeply in the shin. We sped into Atlanta to a hospital for care -- or at least I presume we did, because I remember the cut and the excitement over it, but little else.
Back in Miami, in the early part of 1942, we prepared to move to Mexico to follow Dad, who had gone there to set up a small factory to make toys to import. We saw "Beau Geste" about the time Mom took us to a doctor for typhoid shots. The doctor had never given the shots before, though, and made the mistake of giving us all a double dose. I remember our rolling around the house on 98th street in real pain for two or three days while our arms swelled and turned bright red. So far as I know, Mom never thought of suing the doctor, which shows how much the world has changed.
Then early in 1942 we bid Wham a tearful goodbye, and boarded a train for the long journey west and south to the Land of Manana.
OUR YEARS IN MEXICO
Dad went on ahead to Mexico in early 1942, and Mom, Larry and I took the long train ride to join him in perhaps March of that year. (It's possible that he returned to Miami to travel with us, or else he joined us somewhere along the way.) We stayed in Mexico until, I estimate, June of 1945, which made the stay slightly longer than three years. I remember being present at the V-E Day ("Victory in Europe Day") celebration in Chapala, Mexico--and that was in early May, 1945. But we were in Denver when the atomic bombs ended the war with Japan in August.
There was much dark mystery on the night that we boarded the train to leave Miami. The train was delayed, and the passengers were told that the last car of the train contained prisoners, under heavy guard, who had come off a German submarine.
I have a distinct visual recollection of the train's having passed over the long stretch of water at Lake Pontchartrain just before arriving in New Orleans. Since the tracks weren't visible to us as passengers, it was as though we were rolling over a great expanse of water with nothing to support us.
The railroad station where we changed trains, which was probably in New Orleans itself, was overwhelmed with soldiers and sailors coming and going. We had a long overnight wait and spent an uncomfortable several hours sleeping on a wooden depot bench in a large and extremely crowded room.
Once we were in Mexico, the train ride was a long trek south across desert. Since I didn't remember the Tucson desert, this was new to me. When we reached the state of Guanajuato, north of Mexico City, we spent a day or two in a hotel at Celaya. This was eventful for two reasons: because we got stuck in an old elevator, and because Larry and I had a good time putting a rubber spider in bed next to Mom. She screamed when she spotted it, but after settling down took the whole joke in stride much better than I might have, years later when I became the age she was then.
Our destination was the town of Irapuato, also in the state of Guanajuato, a few miles west of Celaya. There, we took up an approximate six-month residence at the grand Hotel Irapuato. The hotel spread out over what in memory seems an entire block. It was just one-story, although it was massive because the rooms' ceilings were so very tall. Once we came in the heavy wooden front doors, the restaurant was on the right and straight ahead there was a large patio with potted plants where dance bands played in the evening. Continuing on back by a hallway on the left, we came to a second courtyard. Our rooms were off to the left of that.
Larry and I had great fun on the roof of the hotel. We could get up there by a dusty stairway at the back of the building. The rooftop allowed us to look down through the skylights into the different units (although if there was anything to see, it didn't mean anything to me). We were also able to lean over the side of the hotel and drop pebbles into the sombreros of the men sitting on the sidewalk along the street.
Mom tutored us to provide our schooling. I would have been just finishing the second grade, Larry the fourth. The tutoring was a pleasant experience, and we took to it well.
Easter was a big event for us there at the hotel. What I remember most is that we put a raw egg in with the cooked eggs, and then cracked it over Dad's head as a gooey surprise. (Cracking eggs over each other's heads was a part of the Easter ritual. It seems, though, that Mom and Dad took a lot from us in our pursuit of adventure.)
We had two small goats -- white with black spots -- as pets. (The motel must have been more than a little indulgent.) They were kept tied to long ropes in the rear courtyard. The goats were babies when we got them, and as they grew up, Larry and I were delighted to feel the horns that began to sprout from their heads. We were proud that our goats were well treated, since we saw men carrying other goats around the marketplace, slung along by their legs. It's probable, though, that our own pets suffered an undesirable fate eventually: when we left Irapuato, Mom and Dad gave them to a jolly fellow we had gotten to know in the hotel restaurant. He was the cook! It's a good thing we boys didn't know of the disposition at the time, since we'd
have made a real fuss.
Irapuato was perhaps a small place, as cities go, but within its confines it was teeming with people. The outdoor marketplace, off to the left as we came out the front of the hotel, was crowded, and swarming with flies. On what was probably Saturday nights, the men and women of the town would go to the town square. A Mariachi band would play as everybody marched. The men linked hands and walked in one direction around the square; the women did the same, but walking in the other direction. It was a wonderful community event, with everybody having a rollicking good time.
Dad had hired an entire family to work the factory that he had set up for the manufacture of toys for export to Kress, etc. According to Mom, the father had sired 56 children!, and was "on his third wife." Great gobs of family members worked at the factory, which was in a sprawling one-story house somewhere in town.
As time went on, I developed a growing dislike for Mexico, largely because of the dirt, flies and smell, and probably in good part because I wasn't mature enough to relish differences from the way of life I had been used to. There were some personal conflicts that didn't help, either. One of the first took place at the little grandstand out front of the hotel when a Mexican boy, who was up on the grandstand, urinated on Larry and me. I don't remember fighting him, which I would have later, but our just running in, probably in tears, to get the abhorrent liquid off us. Another serious turn-off was when we saw a man torturing a dog, which yelped in pain as people looked on indifferently over by the market.
The religion practiced by the people struck me, at that age, as strange and alien. On Ash Wednesday, everybody emerged from the cathedral with black ash marks either on their foreheads or temples. When we were in Mexico City, there was an enormous bone pile, with what seemed like ten thousand skulls, out behind the Shrine of the Virgin Guadalupe. And we saw one disheveled man shuffling along on his knees with a crown of thrones on his head. The gold in the cathedrals contrasted sharply, too, with the extreme poverty all around.
After about six months in Irapuato, the four of us were off to Mexico City. (I have no idea what happened to the factory, or just what occupied Dad either in Mexico City or in Guadalajara later, although I presume his business was coming along one way or another.) We lived in a boarding house on a wide avenue just up the street from the University of Mexico. In all, we stayed there for six months or a year. Larry and I attended a small American School in a house across the street from a park.
Chapultepec Park was a favorite for us all, blemished only by the feces that people left along the paths and in the caves. (People would defecate anywhere, and men would pull up to trees along a street to urinate.) It was a beautiful park, with forests and lakes. The central feature, of course, is the large wooded ridge topped by Montezuma's castle. The U.S. Marines had stormed the castle a century before (or so I understood and believe to be true), and I refought that battle many times. Pop and Grandmother made a trip down to visit us, and the thing that sticks in my mind about their visit is that a pigeon flying overhead dropped a load on Pop's hat as we walked along one of the paths. His comment doesn't seem all that original now, but the good humor of it made an impression on all of us at the time: "Aren't we glad cows don't fly?!"
We took a trip out to "the Desert of the Lions," which, far from being a desert, is a beautifully lush mountain area with forest and streams near Mexico City. There was an old monastery there, and we saw the places in the basement where the "Spanish water torture" was said to have been applied to prisoners back in the days of Cortez. On the way back into the city, we stopped at a cathedral to see the mummies that were lined up, standing erect, along a long wall in the basement.
We also went out, on another occasion, to see the pyramids. The story about peoples' hearts being cut out made a more powerful impression on me, though, than the structures themselves.
I went through a bed-wetting ordeal for a month or two there at the boarding house. Fortunately, the problem passed before I was too mentally scarred.
Larry and I had good friends our own age who lived on probably the fifth floor of an apartment house across the street. We used to "make tents" with blankets on the bed in their apartment, and then play inside. They left Mexico City before we did, and Larry and I stood on the curb across the street waving up at them in their apartment, knowing that the next morning they would be gone and that we would never see them again (which we haven't). It reminds me of the time many years later, the evening before Mom's open-heart surgery in 1978, when Larry and I came out of St. Joseph Hospital in Denver together and waved up at Mom as she stood in the window of her room. We didn't know whether we would ever see her alive again. She survived the operation, though, and graced our lives for another eight years.
Larry resumed his model-building hobby in Mexico City, and enhanced it by building a large paper balloon that would fly by becoming filled with hot-air from a burner that he wired up beneath it. I went to the top of a building with him to see him fly it, but there was a minor version of the Hindenburg disaster -- a side of the balloon caught on fire, so that what we witnessed was a conflagration rather than a flight. The failure must have turned Larry to other things, since that was the only balloon I remember.
Dad and Larry and I had an exciting time at a wrestling match we attended in Mexico City. The crowd was booing the wrestlers unmercifully, leading to a riot. The wrestlers came out of the ring and threw fold-up chairs at the audience. Dad, Larry and I stood on chairs shouting something about "kick 'em in las bolas!" A policeman came up to Dad to stop us, and took extra offense when Dad told him he was drunk. We were loaded into a paddy wagon along with a lot of other people. For some reason, I was treated as an innocent and was left out in a hallway at the courthouse for an hour while Dad and Larry went up in front of a judge. I was enormously relieved when eventually they appeared, having been released.
I'm not sure just when it was that we made the move to Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city, far to the west and slightly north of Mexico City over in the state of Jalisco. But since we lived in Guadalajara for about two years, I calculate that it must have been early in 1943.
We lived in a white stucco house wedged tightly within a long row of contiguous houses ("row-houses" is what they would call them in Baltimore) two or three blocks from the edge of the city. There was a balcony on the second floor in front, and in the rear there were two interior patios and a back room that, so far as I know, was used only for us kids' capturing flies by the millions and then gassing them with a "flit-gun."
Probably my first memory of Guadalajara (even though it was, overall, a beautiful city) is of killing flies. We stayed a night or two at a hotel. I occupied myself by avidly swatting hundreds of flies along the railing of a balcony. Down in the restaurant at dinnertime, a Mariachi band came to the table, making the meal a festive occasion.
Larry and I attended an American School in a large white building for perhaps a year, but then attended the "Instituto Colon," a Mexican-language school in a small two-story adobe building, for the 1944-5 school year. I was put into the fifth grade, Larry the sixth. I cried long and hard as Mom worked to get me into the school on the first day, but I soon found that the school was OK. I had a dynamo of a teacher--a short, olive-skinned woman with short curly hair, who was full of energy and good spirits. I must have learned a lot of Spanish, finally, that year, since I had to get by in it. There was one school assembly in the interior courtyard where we all represented a country. I had an American flag pinned to my chest, and gave a two-sentence memorized description of the flag in Spanish that I am able to recite to this day.
Out at the back of the school building there was an outdoor shack with a wood-burning stove. It was there that some of the best tacos I've ever eaten were served for lunch. They were soft tacos, made of corn tortillas that Mexican women had patted out with their hands from lumps of corn meal that they had ground with a rock on another larger rock.
It was out by that same shack that Larry introduced me to one of the great mysteries of life, all shown starkly on two "French postcards." I had a hard time sorting out the arms and legs and who was doing what, but eventually formed a clear picture of it all. Those cards were an eye opener!
Larry was an active boy scout, and I tagged along sometimes. The hikes took off from a building downtown before dawn, and Mom would call a cab to take us there. (She told me years later that for one reason or another Dad resisted our going, and wouldn't take us down himself.) I remember one hike in particular, out over beautiful country. For me, though, it was several kilometers too long. I dragged myself the last half!
The big thing with me was my growing absorption in the romanticism of the Marine Corps. Pop and Grandmother sent us a subscription to the Denver Post, and we followed the war closely. Guadalcanal in August, 1942, made a gripping impression on me, although it was the earlier Wake Island siege that held the most fascination for me. When the Marines waded ashore under machinegun fire at Betio in the Tarawa island chain, I was there with them in spirit. I had taken up drawing, and drew one "comic book" after another giving all the gory details of the war in the Pacific, provided it involved Marines. As the war neared its end, we followed the war maps closely that appeared on the front page of the paper every day, and that showed the battle lines closing in on Germany from the west and the east. Just the same, the war in Europe never captivated me, since it didn't involve Marines and islands.
There was a mile or more of broken field, with railroad tracks and oil storage tanks, a few blocks from our house, and we boys, along with several friends, engaged in mock battles there day after day, defending and assaulting, assaulting and defending. I wrote Grandmother, using some of Dad's old letterhead stationery from Miami, complaining that "Larry never helps me with my comic but I don't care because I only have four more pages to do...Pop says that he wants to join my Marine club so tell him that if he wants too to sine here and send the sine up papers back to me...." The back side of the letter contains the sign-up form, and awards Pop the instant rank of "Master Sargegent." It's signed "Gen. Dwight D. Murphey." I would be surprised if Larry's rank was less than general, too, since that was a popular rank among us kids -- and we could have whatever rank we wanted.
The family made frequent trips by bus out to the town of Chapala, which was on the north shore of Lake Chapala, some fifty kilometers (I would estimate) southeast of Guadalajara. Larry and I continued to "play Marines" there. There was a mountain on the west edge of town that was, again, many times assaulted and defended. Larry defended the beach one time from behind sand fortifications while I came ashore in a rowboat to storm his position. The battle ended when one of the rocks he was throwing hit me just to the right of my right eye. The scar was a source of pride for several years, like a scar earned fencing at Heidelberg; but the years have made it indistinguishable among my wrinkles.
There was a brush-covered island, maybe the equivalent of six city blocks long, a couple of miles out in the lake, and the four of us would sometimes take the boat that ran out to it. The fact that its pear-shape was not unlike Iwo Jima didn't escape me. The island became my facsimile for Iwo, except that it wasn't perfect for it: at the wide end the island became a swamp rather than a cave-infested series of volcanic ridges. A cluster of rocks at the narrow end stood in well for Mt. Suribachi, though.
Needless to say, I read everything I could get my hands on about the Marines. It was more the Marines than the United States as such that filled my imagination, although we all yearned for the United States, for a drink of water from a fountain, for an ice cream cone, for the sound of the national anthem (which occasionally we heard on the radio, spurring Larry and me to stand at rapt attention), for Palmer Lake -- and for cherry pie! This was the source of my life-long love of cherry pie, which for me became as much a symbol of the United States as the flag. Until her death more than forty years later, Mom always served me cherry pie when we visited (and, at breakfast, grits and eggs in fond memory of the Ogallala days). In addition, Larry loved lemon pie, and I relished Mom's white cakes with chocolate icing.
There were lots of friends on the block there in Guadalajara, Mexican kids with whom we would play hide-and-seek in the evenings. When anyone had a birthday, all the kids were given poles to smash, while blindfolded, the inevitable pinata that would be strung up overhead. When the jar inside the pinata broke, the candy inside all came spilling down, and we kids scrambled wildly underneath to get as much of it as possible.
Mom took Larry and me downtown one day to a photographer's to have our pictures taken. The picture shows us looking at a book called "El Sueno Aleman" (The German Dream). I imagine it was anti-Nazi, although I'm not certain of that since there was some pro-German feeling in Mexico.
Also downtown, there was a block near the cathedral that had a picturesque covered sidewalk, or arcade, with stone arches. A coffee shop that we liked was located in the middle of the block. The coffee shop's walls were covered with surrealist murals. One had a decapitated chicken hanging from a leafless tree on a flat plain with bare mountains far in the background.
The barbershop where we got our hair cut (and where the barber would in fun threaten to slice off the mole on my left cheek with his razor) was maybe a quarter of a block up from the coffee shop. The beggars were so thick in that downtown area that it was hard to go from one place to another. I mention them in connection with the barbershop because I remember one in particular hanging onto us as we left the shop onetime.
We had more than one dog while we were in Guadalajara, but each in turn was killed in one way or another. One that we especially loved was poisoned by an anonymous monster, and made it up the front steps of our house before dying at the top of the stairs. We buried him under the grass in the left courtyard at the back of the house.
At one point, there was a Mexican man or teenager who organized a neighborhood track meet. Larry took a strong interest, especially in pole vaulting. I could never get off the ground, but Larry did well.
He took a real interest in the track, and did well at it, but on the whole I was tougher than Larry in those days. He was overweight, not to say fat (which is strangely inconsistent with his pole-vaulting), and when we got into fights with each other, which we occasionally did, I beat him pretty badly. There were some fights, too, with Mexican boys. One that sticks in my mind involved my fighting a boy who had a crowd of friends around him. When someone handed him a knife, I took off in a hurry!
We took a happy trip as a family over to Patzcuaro, an idyllic little town by a lovely calm lake, and to Uruapan, the town near the volcano Paricutin. The volcano had erupted in a farmer's field not long before, causing tremors while we were in Mexico City, and by now was a good-sized mountain, throwing out fire and ash. As we approached, the vehicle we were in drove through miles of dead trees and black ash, which covered the ground like a heavy snow. When we came to the town near the volcano, we saw how the lava had half covered the buildings, leaving a church tower in one place and some buildings where the lava hadn't quite gotten that far. We were glad not to get any closer to the volcano itself, which was extremely active, shooting molten lava high into the night sky.
On the way over to Patzcuaro, our bus was stopped by soldiers at a small town. Everybody was made to get out and line up at a meat market, where we were all given smallpox vaccinations with the same pin, despite Mom's protests that we had all been vaccinated already!
When we were back in Guadalajara, Larry took a year or two of piano lessons, getting into lots of trouble because he wouldn't practice. Nobody ever considered me as having musical potential, so I escaped. I appreciated the immunity at the time, but have been sorry later.
For a while, Larry and I had a tutor, who was a teacher at the American School and a graduate of Washington State college. I won't give her name, even though I have it on a note Mom wrote at the time, because her service ended when she suffered an epileptic seizure in the middle of one of our lessons at the dining room table. The seizure scared us all, but as I recall Mom caused us to feel some real empathy for the teacher's own ordeal.
It shouldn't perhaps be mentioned in proximity with the other, but there was a time Mom and Dad hired a cook and then fired him in a hurry when they discovered that he painted his toenails. I hope that the statute of limitations has run on this horrendous violation of his civil rights.
One of the pleasures of Guadalajara was that a jicama vendor came down the street frequently with a cart. Jicamas look like potatoes, but have an inner texture and taste kind of like apples. With lemon juice and a generous sprinkling of red pepper, they're a real delicacy. We missed them for several years after leaving Mexico, until finally they started showing up in American grocery stores.
Mom and Dad liked to tell of a time they attended a party. Across the room on a table, there was a cake with white icing that was apparently covered with raisins. When the time came to cut into the cake, the hostess simply shooed the raisins away, and they went buzzing off, no doubt eventually to wind up meeting their fate in my flit-room.
As time went on, a mounting tragedy marred our lives. Mom and Dad had violent arguments, sometimes behind the closed door of their room and often in our presence. The poisoned atmosphere was oppressive in itself, but it was made even worse by Dad's knocking Mom around. It was this, probably more than anything else, that soured me on Dad for so many years, until I felt that time had put all that behind us. I don't know what the arguing was all about, although I do remember that each accused the other of infidelities.
It led eventually to our much-welcomed (by me, at least) return to the United States, where Mom divorced Dad in Denver in late 1945 or early 1946.
Before our return, we happened to be out at Chapala when the war in Europe ended. A Mexican army officer fired several pistol shots into the air and caused a large crowd to gather around the bandstand in the small square near the lakefront. A speech followed in which the boast was made that "Mexico has won the war." In retrospect, the boast seems natural enough, since people look at things from their own position, but we saw it as ridiculous, and credited our own country, correctly enough, with having played a much larger role.
Oddly, I don't remember getting aboard the train to leave Guadalajara. But the sight of the American flag across the bridge at El Paso has long been one of the great occasions of my life. Larry and I, once across, rushed to get a drink out of a drinking fountain; and a few minutes later we had popsicles. Mom bought each of us a small American flag on a wooden stick to carry around proudly.
Before going on north to Denver, we took the train west to Albuquerque to stay a few days with Uncle Bud and Aunt Carol, and their two girls, Carol and Margot. Those were joyous days.
BOYHOOD CONTINUES: DENVER, 1945-1948
When, after the short stay in Albuquerque, we arrived in Denver, we joined Pop and Grandmother in the big house at 835 Logan Street. I loved that house, dark and huge along a shaded street of giant elms. Made, as so many of the old Capitol Hill homes were, of gray lava stone from south of Denver, the outside always had a delightful mossy feel, almost as though we were in the mountains.
Pop and Grandmother wouldn't retire to Palmer Lake for perhaps two more years, so we were all one big family. We boys found that we didn't much relish the strictness of our grandparents' generation. Dinner in the large dining room next to the library was an exercise in good table manners, and Pop often mentioned fondly the "training table" at Dartmouth College years before for freshmen who didn't know good manners from bad. Pop and Grandmother were early risers, and had hot oatmeal for breakfast every morning at about five o'clock. Mom, Larry and I got down at a more reasonable hour -- but then were condemned to eat the cold, leftover oatmeal, a hard and unsavory crust having formed on its outer layer. I was chastised several times for forgetting to lock the back door as I went out that way. I couldn't imagine how I could be such an empty-head.
Coal was delivered to a coal room in the basement, and from there it had to be shoveled daily into the furnace. After the coal had burned, it formed "clinkers," big hardened circular masses that had to be taken out in buckets to the ash pit by the alley. Larry and I were assigned these chores, justly enough.
One of the Sigma Chi pledges at Denver University was assigned to do some work for Pop as one of his pledge duties, and he did an afternoon's shoveling of coal, although I don't remember for what purpose. He made a real impression on me when he showed me the scar on his hand where a Japanese soldier had thrust a knife through it in hand-to-hand combat.
The furnace needed constant stoking in the winter, but that doesn't mean it really did its job. When we got up on winter mornings, the bedroom there in the back of the second floor would be ice cold, and we'd stand on the heat grate as we put on our pants to benefit from the heat coming up.
Larry and I were enthusiastic about starting at Morey Junior High School at 14th and Emerson. Mom took us over for a conference with the principal, Mr. Spitler, who had been the principal at East High when she had attended East in the mid '20s, and it was decided that I would start in the 7th grade, skipping the 6th. Larry went into the 8th. Since I struggled academically in junior high and suffered socially from being smaller and maybe as much as a year to two younger than the other students, my advancement probably wasn't a good idea.
We took Spanish among our first courses, and I have a letter that I wrote in Spanish during the first semester. But the two years of it didn't go well. I had repressed my entire knowledge of the language as soon as we crossed the border! I've studied Russian and German during the years since then, but if I ever get back to Spanish, it should come easily.
Spanish class did leave its mark on me, though. One day, I was jiggling my pencil between my left leg and my desk, and somehow punctured my leg, right above the knee, with the point. I just pulled up my pants leg as this is written and saw the bluish mark, 43 or 44 years old, still there.
Dad came to Denver to visit us in the early spring of 1946. He bought each of us boys a Schwinn bicycle, and the bikes became part of us, like a rifle to a Marine, for the next three years. Those three years were for me a "lost period," of a sort, during which I was completely absorbed in boyhood. I was unaware of the world outside of a few blocks in the Capitol Hill area just south of the Capitol in east Denver. In later years, the period between 1945 and 1948 has seemed like a mysterious void of considerable length. So far as world events during that period are concerned, I am totally blank, except for what I have read about it later. Those years were free and adventuresome as we became street urchins.
Dad's visit, about the time Mom's divorce was final, was the last time I ever saw Dad. There were a few letters exchanged over the next year or so, but then all contact stopped. He never paid anything toward our support, although Mom didn't pursue him about it legally. Larry kept in touch with him over the years and saw him occasionally. Dad remarried within a short time to his second wife, Betty Jo, and they had two sons, half-brothers of mine whom I've never met. One of the sons, Kent D. Murphey, is a minister in Harvey, Louisiana, and sounded like an excellent fellow when he called to tell me, in the mid-'80s, of Dad's death. The other son got onto drugs in college and is spending his life in a half-way house in Florida. I've been in touch with Betty Jo since Dad died, and she seems very nice.
The bicycles made it possible for Larry and me to get paper routes, starting in about April of 1946. I was still eleven years old, but full of determination, and I went through a heck of a spring, since it rained every afternoon about the time the papers had to be delivered. It was the rainiest spring I ever remember Denver having. The newspaper companies didn't supply plastic wrappers for the papers on rainy days the way they do now, which meant that the papers were all soaked by the time I was able to get them to the customers on my route.
Larry's route was somewhere up around Pennsylvania or Pearl streets; mine was down on Lincoln Street, a block up from Broadway, between 7th and 10th streets. Most of that is big buildings now, but at that time there were lots of small homes and a couple of apartment houses. The great snow of November 2, 1946, hit us that fall. Thirty-six inches fell within about two days. I stood at 10th and Lincoln for about five hours for a truck to bring my bundle of Denver Posts. Then it was a matter of trudging through chest-high drifts to make the delivery. It never entered my mind to quit, then or later. It was a matter of Spartan endurance.
OUR DISTINCT LIVES AFTER 1948
Larry and I took substantially different paths after 1948, so that it becomes no longer possible to describe them together.
In the fall of 1948, when I lined up in formation on the first day of the high school ROTC class, I happened to stand next to Jack Deeter. He and I quickly became friends, enjoying lots of fishing and other activities together while we were still in high school and then staying in close touch thereafter. Jack was the best man at Ginny and my wedding in 1963. We had dinner with him and his wife Dee in Denver a few weeks ago (in 1989). It is one of those friendships where no matter how many years we go without seeing each other, the feeling is always as though we've just seen each other last week.
I enjoyed playing Little League baseball during those summers. As I think back, though, we never had batting practice. This fact offers, maybe, some explanation for my complete lack of hitting ability. It's only partly a coincidence that my team was in last place until I went to Camp Chief Ouray for two weeks. When I got back, they had gone on a winning streak and had moved into first place. They played a championship game out at the ballpark at Elitches Amusement Park, and I remember being struck out on three pitches. (One of the pitches was a revelation -- an amazing curve ball. It came right at my head, but when I jumped back it fell and settled in, waist high, right over the plate. The pitcher went on to play for East High School while I was the student manager for the team -- and with his help we won the state championship in the end-of-season tournament down at Pueblo.) Serving as student manager (which amounted to being the equipment handler and ball boy) for the team gave me the inside track for serving as ball boy in the Denver high school baseball all-star game, which was played in the new Bears Stadium.
I was an avid baseball fan in those days, and loved the Yankees--the team of Joe Dimaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Eddie Lopat and Allie Reynolds, and before that of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig -- as much as previously I had loved the Marine Corps. The students at East sat out on the lawn south of school at lunchtime listening to the world series games, and the Yankees seemed always to be in the series. Clarence and I were also fanatical Denver Bears fans. He had taken me to our first game together when the stadium was still at the old Merchants' Park on South Broadway, and we loved the new, sleek stadium when it was built. (It has since become an enormous hulk, which is nothing like what it was originally.) Ginny and I went to our first date at
Bears Stadium in 1963. Hawaii beat the Bears, 15 to 9, but she was so beautiful that it didn't matter.
For Thanksgiving several times, Mom, Clarence, Chuck (who is Clarence's son and my stepbrother) and I drove down to Albuquerque for a stay with Bud, Carol and the girls. Bud was always great fun. One night we were all spread around on the living room floor in the dark trying to sleep when Bud went into the bathroom and urinated loudly into the stool. The stream of water went on interminably until we were all sitting up wide awake, giggling with amazement. It turned out that he had taken a large pitcher of water in with him.
I speculated earlier as to why it was that I caught on in school during my second semester at East. That was almost certainly the semester that I took Mrs. Genevieve Kreiner's speech class. I don't attribute my spurt of inspiration to any direct recollection of her influence, but it is probably no coincidence that she was the finest teacher I had at any time, including seven years of college. She was an aristocrat, a queen among women, who cared deeply for her students, who included all of the more highly motivated ones in the school. Her speech class, and the experiences she gave those who took part in the Christmas Pageants and Woodbury Oratorical Contests under her direction, took on a spiritual quality.
When I was a young lawyer ten years later, I went to an East High assembly to debate a representative of the Young Socialists. The socialist didn't show up, so I had the assembly all to myself. I took the occasion to pay tribute to Mrs. Kreiner. No one who was touched by her needed to be reminded, of course, of the special quality she had.
None of this is to say that I ever proved to be one of her stars. My role in the Christmas Pageant was as one of the shepherds, and I rendered my brief lines there without conspicuous ability. I gave Patrick Henry's "Liberty or Death" speech in the prelims of the oratorical contest, but didn't survive the cut to go into the finals. It took me a long time to relax as a speaker. During my college and law school years, I was too alienated from the leftist academic environment to do anything other than, in effect, tell my audiences off. The first extended experience I had at persuasive speaking was when I ran for the Colorado University Board of Regents in 1960, a year after I graduated from law school.
In the debate program, in which I had started as such a novice as a sophomore, my partner Neal Blue and I did pretty well. We came in third, as I recall, at a forensics meet at Regis College.
I don't remember what first got me started with the Young Republicans, but it was in the fall of 1949. Jack Deeter and I and several others started the East High School Young Republicans. We had the thing revved up enough to play a major part in the reelection campaign of the great conservative Senator Eugene Millikin in the fall of 1950. On one particular evening, we covered 90 blocks in north Denver with door-to-door literature. Jack Deeter, Ed Zall and I had had a great time at the Lincoln Day dinner in February, 1950. We stripped down to our underwear and then wore barrels, which were labeled with signs about how taxes had left us bare.
Bill Secor and Ed Farr, who were perhaps ten or fifteen years older than we were and were active in the main YR organization in Denver, took an active interest in us. We all dressed in black and carried a casket through downtown Denver to demonstrate how the welfare state was burying freedom--and would continue to do so unless Gene Millikin was reelected over the Democrats' John Carroll in the election. In later years, Bill Secor's life story became tragic. He was a lawyer for the government for a few years, but in the mid-'60s came down with a severely crippling disease that confined him to his home in Longmont, where Bud and Carol knew him well, until his death not long ago.
My first formal speech was to the Women's Republican Club in a church basement in Limon, Colorado. Ed Farr and I drove out there together, and I put on a pitch for setting up a high school club in Limon. By early 1951, we'd managed to organize six clubs besides the one at East High, and I was proud to be "the first state chairman." (It's odd how ephemeral such honors are. A few years later, somebody organized the TARS, for "teenage Republicans," and forgot all about our already having had a state organization.)
In East's debate program, a couple of very British and exceedingly snobbish young Erudites sneered at "conservatives," a label that I noticed they attached to Brad Allen. Somehow my association with them didn't cause me to adopt their perspective. I was influenced profoundly by the intense devotion to the United States and its ideals that had grown inside me in Mexico. As I became politically conscious during this period, I identified the United States as the citadel of individual liberty, and of people worthy of it. This made me an instant opponent of the welfare state and of socialism. I felt, too, that Americans as I had seen them since our return from Mexico didn't, on the whole, live up to the ideals of our history. I didn't identify with the mainstream as I saw it, since I wanted a deeper commitment than most people seemed to have and a more elevated spiritual sense of life.
I was on a city bus taking me out to my first summer job, which was as a car-washer and morning engine-starter for Uncle Bill at his Jeep car lot out in the 3300 block of South Broadway, when I heard the news of North Korea's June 25, 1950, attack on South Korea. As the war went on, I followed it closely. It was like a thunderbolt when President Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur. The entire student body, assembled in the school auditorium, listened in rapt attention to MacArthur's "Old soldiers never die..." speech to the joint session of Congress after his return from Korea.
Accordingly, when I became seventeen on June 14, 1951, I felt no impulse to run down to join the Marines to fight in the war. I was a thorough-going MacArthur supporter, and was disgusted with the Truman administration's lack of commitment to win the war. I remember thinking at the time that it was better to live for freedom than to die for it under those circumstances. Instead, I joined the Marines three years later, after finishing my pre-law, more with a motive of getting my service obligation out of the way than anything else.
During the summer of 1950 while I was working for Uncle Bill I entered and won an essay contest about "good government" sponsored jointly by the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Young Republicans. The prize was an all-expenses-paid trip to a Republican "school of politics" at Hamilton College outside of Utica, New York, and then a weekend of being shown around New York City by the president of the YR group there.
Two other high school students from Denver went, too, and we rode in the coach section of a train for most of three days to get to Utica. One of the others was a certain Zach Davis, an ebullient extrovert. On the night of our arrival, he threw an all-night party in the dormitory room we were assigned. About three in the morning, dead tired from lack of sleep on the train, I grabbed the mattress off my bed and headed out into the cemetery, where I lay down next to the grave of Elihu Root, the old Secretary of War under President McKinley. Things went OK until dawn, but then a Sheriff's patrol found me and made me return to the dorm. They told me a girl was also missing from her room. She must have been on the other side of the graveyard.
Upstate New York in July was one of the prettiest places I'd ever seen, and I was fascinated with New York City. The fellow who took me in tow had never been to the top of the Empire State Building or out to the Statue of Liberty even though he had lived in Queens all of his 19 years. So we did those things, as well as going over to Coney Island. I was staying in the Roosevelt Hotel (to my chagrin until I found it was named after Teddy, not Franklin), and I was shocked when two ham sandwiches, brought up by room service before my guide and I headed out to see the city, cost $13.50. Remember that that was the day and age when a really fine meal could be gotten at Rockybilt (a small hamburger grill) for a quarter.
On the way home from New York, I stopped for a hot afternoon in Washington, D. C. I remember coming out the imposing front of Union Station dressed in a suit and seeing the Capitol straight ahead. Since I only had a three or four hour layover, I took a tour bus to see as much as I could.
I should say some more about that first summer job, the one at Uncle Bill's. He and Aunt Reba had an apartment on the second (and top) floor of the building next door, and we ate our lunches there. Somehow we discovered we all liked pickled pigs' feet, and we ate them many times that summer. We had a lot of good laughs remembering it in later years.
I had turned 16 in June, and Uncle Bill taught me to drive. I bought my first car--for $75--, a black 1935 Chevy that had huge iron fenders and narrow slits for windows. It was my pride and joy for two years, and the only repair it ever needed was a new fan belt.
Journalism continued to fascinate me, and I worked diligently to become editor of the East High Spotlight. I wasn't chosen, though, and became a columnist instead. (It was a source of real pride, then, a few years later when our daughter Vickie became editor of her high school paper, the Heights High School "Highlighter" in Wichita.)
At some point, Pop and great-grandfather's influence predominated and I decided to become a lawyer instead of a journalist. Probably the deciding factor was my desire to go into politics to save the country from the welfare state. Law seemed the better springboard.
As the time arrived to begin thinking of college, I applied to Dartmouth, Pop's old alma mater which he loved so much. I was accepted, but no scholarship was offered. Accordingly, I pointed toward Colorado University in Boulder. Mel Coffee, the nephew of "Joe Awful" Coffee who owned a steakhouse in downtown Denver, and I set our sights on being roommates in Fleming Hall. Mel went on to become a tax attorney in Denver. He was a heck of a roommate, though, being very much like Zach Davis in his love for all-night parties, at least until he settled down after a year or two.
My summer job in 1951, between high school and college, was selling men's furnishings at the Gano Downs department store on 16th Street. That summer was perhaps the high point of my religious experience. I had taken an active interest in Warren Methodist Church, where Mom and Clarence went, and had eagerly been baptized a couple of years before. But now I was beginning to question things. I remember standing in a crowded bus on 16th Street on my way home from work one day and telling myself, "From now on, I'm not going to believe anything without evidence." This concern for proof, and, as I got into it, for epistemology, was a formative experience, coloring everything I've done since. And yet I don't remember what triggered it.
For a while, I became a pantheist, believing that all of existence is God. This belief supercharged the sunsets, which could be seen in Cheeseman Park from Pike's Peak clear up to Wyoming, with extraordinary meaning. I went up into the park to see those sunsets all that summer, and have continued to love nature in the same way ever since, even though I came to believe that it didn't really mean much to equate nature with God if I didn't believe in a divine consciousness. I have always remained deeply religious in the non-theistic sense.
These have been my main recollections of my own development during those years. It remains to follow the path that Larry was taking -- and then to gain a larger perspective of his life as a whole.
Larry was full of energy and of zest for life, but he didn't catch the same fire that I did about school. He had a job in a filling station for a while, and loved to work on cars. Joyce reminds me that he had a gray Plymouth with dark blue windows, and most of the time the hood was up on either his own car or that of some friend while he took the engine apart and put it back together again.
At East High, Larry went to sleep on the couch in the student lounge one morning and slept the entire school day. Not only did he lose the day's attendance, but the event was symbolic of his disdain for school. He wasn't passing many courses, and he eventually dropped out to try his hand at other things.
Larry and I both had experiences with Mr. Brierly at East. Brierly, armed with a bristly mustache, prided himself on his severity. Mom recounted for years afterward how one day he took Larry aside and demanded to know, "Who in the world cuts your hair?!" Mom gave up being our barber after that. A year or so later, I signed up for a class taught by Brierly, but he spent the first three days telling us what an ordeal it was going to be, and when someone from the school office came into the room and asked for volunteers to shift to another class that didn't have enough students, I was quick to raise my hand. (I was reminded of Brierly years later when I entered Denver University's law school in the spring quarter of 1957, only to be told by the dean that nobody who entered in the spring had ever survived. Or Brierly and the dean were a lot like the drill instructor who told us we'd all be dead in Indochina within six months. They are among the earth's more delightful creatures.)
Despite what may have been lousy haircuts, Larry was by that time trim and good looking. I had a close friend, Glassell Scott, who lived at 5th and Franklin. Glassell's older sister took a real liking to Larry, and invited him to a dance. I remember how nice he looked when he was all dressed up for it. Somehow the chemistry wasn't just right between them, though, to make that the beginning of anything serious.
It wasn't long, however, before Larry's romance blossomed with Barbara Lou Evers, a classmate of his at East who became his first wife. They were married after Larry came back as a Marine. Larry had decided to move to Miami, where he took classes at a vocational school for a short time. Mom accompanied him on the drive, going halfway down through Texas with him.
He decided to join the Marines in January, 1950, and went through the swampish, chigger-infested boot camp at Parris Island in South Carolina. The Marine Corps made him a drill instructor out of basic, which was extremely fortunate since that was the same year that the North Koreans launched their June 25 attack across the 38th parallel. Larry said that within a year he was the only member of his boot camp platoon (of about 80 men) still alive. The others were all sent to Korea to hold back the onslaught, and were probably killed in defense of the Pusan perimeter. (It was a desperate situation in Korea until MacArthur's leap-frogging landing at Inchon recaptured the entire southern half of the peninsula.)
Larry and Barbara were married in Denver in April, 1950, right after Larry got out of boot camp. Their son, Larry Frank, was born in Denver on June 4, 1951. But the marriage didn't last. My understanding afterwards was that Barbara was too much of a mother's girl, maybe because she was still so young. She went back east for a while to live with Larry, but didn't stay with him; it wasn't long before she came back to Denver to live with her parents. Their divorce became final on January 8, 1954. Larry Frank was adopted later by Barbara's second husband, Horace Edward Lynch, and grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he is now a police detective.
It was natural that just about everybody had warned Larry and Barbara that they were too young to get married. But they were fixed on it, and their determination was bolstered by the song that was popular at that time, "They Tried to Tell Us We Were Too Young." As with the rest of us so much of the time, they had to learn through their own experience.
Mom relished her grandson while the marriage lasted and while Larry Frank was still in Denver. She often took him to City Park to see the swans. I went with them sometimes, and my own recollection of Larry Frank is as an adorable, beautiful baby. Mom thought of him often in later years. She rarely spoke of the hurt that she felt from losing her first grandchild that way, but I know she felt it deeply.
Since I don't expect to carry these recollections beyond my own completion of high school in 1951, it will be a good idea to give at least a brief summary of Larry's later life. The years I've just recounted don't do justice to a man who later made so much of himself and served his country so well.
I next saw him again early one Saturday afternoon in the fall of 1954 when he shook me awake in my bunk in the barracks at Tent Camp #1, Camp Las Pulgas, which is a God-forsaken outpost at Camp Pendleton. I was on combat training, and the entire company was sleeping in on that Saturday, exhausted from 20-hour days and a week of long forced marches. Larry was on his way down from Bremerton, Washington, where he had been serving, I believe, as an M.P. He was to become a drill instructor at the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), which is the Marines' west coast boot camp (and is the boot camp that I had just gone through that summer). It was a delight to see him, and I immediately arranged a week-end pass so that we could go up the coast together to Long Beach.
My own duty station after combat training was also at MCRD, San Diego, which meant that we were stationed at the same base for about a year and a half until I got out in June, 1956. After he fell in love with Joyce, I visited them in their mobile home for many happy occasions. I remember especially the tacos Joyce made. One time, we all cooked a huge steak out over a fire in Balboa Park.
Joyce's son Bobby was just beginning to talk. Larry Frank had been a precious baby, but so, too, was Bobby. He ran on his tiptoes, and had the cutest whimsical smile I ever saw, which went along with his dark, expressive eyes. We all had a great time together.
Larry eventually served ten years in the Marine Corps before switching over to the Army, going to Officers' Candidate School, and serving twelve more years before retiring as a major in 1973. Ginny and I visited Larry and Joyce, who by then had both Bobby and Cindy, in Marina, California, near Monterey and Carmel, while we were on our honeymoon in September, 1963. Larry served a tour of duty in Korea after the war had ended there, and in the fall of 1968 went to serve in Vietnam.
Around Thanksgiving, 1968, we sent him a package full of cheeses and other goodies from Wichita. A mortar attack hit just after he picked the package up from the camp post office. He dropped it and ran for cover. When he got back to it later, it had been broken open by one of the shells.
He survived Vietnam, but not without first having undergone a number of terrible experiences. Larry and Joyce were intensely religious when we visited them on our honeymoon in 1963, but Joyce later told me that the war had taken away Larry's ability to believe in a God. He couldn't believe there was a God in a world that had so many horrors.
I believe that it was later that Larry and his family were stationed in Europe, both in Berlin and in northern Italy. He slipped and fell on some marble stairs in Italy and later sent us a picture of his back, which was solid bruises from top to bottom.
Larry's service as an officer gave him excellent experience that he put to good use after his retirement in January, 1972. At first, his and Joyce's plan, as I understand it, was to take life easy, seeing the country in their travel trailer. They stopped to visit us at our Richmond Street house in Wichita as part of those travels. It wasn't long, though, before that sort of life palled on them -- and in addition they wanted horses, which required a fixed location. They picked Tucson as their place to settle. We visited them in 1972 while they were living in an extraordinarily nice mobile home court there. Later they bought their home at 11255 E. Sundance Drive, way out on the northeastern edge of the city. Larry took on major responsibilities, and wound up managing thousands of apartments, first for Lincoln Properties and then for Cottonwood Properties in Tucson. More recently, he oversaw the development of the enormous and beautiful La Paloma hotel-golf course-condominium project in the northwest part of Tucson for Cottonwood Properties.
All of this, even though highly abridged, shows what Larry made of himself. He cast about during his late teens and early twenties, but he overcame that. He lived the life of a doer, and showed great aptitude for everything he touched. More than that, he was a man of infectious good spirits, reflected in his happy whistling, even though his knowledge of life gave him the profoundest reasons to be otherwise. We all loved him -- and to be around him.
Larry was happiest when he was absorbed in a hobby, accompanied by Joyce, who was truly his soul-mate. The hobbies started when he was a child with his model airplanes and hot-air balloon, continued through adolescence with the Platte River raft and the Cushman motor scooters, and went on through years of scuba diving, remote controlled airplanes and finally ultralites and a gyrocopter. The latter was a trim-looking craft that amounted, really, to no more than a seat with a motor behind it running an overhead rotor blade. When I talked with him on the phone sometime around Christmas in 1988, he told me he was getting a motorcycle again. He had given up riding one years before when he was almost killed on it. Half-joking and half-serious, I told him, "I'm going to get a call from Joyce one of these days, and you'll have done yourself in."
He died doing what he loved -- and while still a young man, younger than most at 56. On Sunday morning, January 15, 1989, he took his gyrocopter up high over the desert on the eastern edge of Tucson. He was where he preferred to be, and doing what he loved most. But then his motor sputtered out. The gyrocopter came down into some power lines in the Pantano Wash near East Irvington Road before crashing to the ground. It was the crash, not electricity, that killed him.
Early the next month, Joyce took me to the spot in the Saguaro National Monument, just down a few feet from stop #2 on the circular drive around the park, where she had spread Larry's ashes around the same giant saguaro where Bobby's ashes were also still visible. Bobby had been killed a year and a half earlier while on a bicycle outing in South Carolina.
It was a sign of the illimitable good humor and down-to-earth sanity that Larry and Joyce shared together that she hadn't put all of the ashes at the base of the saguaro, but had put some of them in one of the woodpecker holes in the side of the cactus. No doubt Larry was there in spirit, and shared a good laugh with her about that.
Nothing seems sadder than the gradual emptying-out of the world of the people we've loved. Larry's gone now, and little Bobby. Pop and Grandmother are images from an age that has become golden in my memory. Reba, and young Carol and sparkling Margot, and Uncle Bud are all gone. Clarence preceded Mom, who passed away just three years ago after eight months of pain and radiant beauty. The solace is in the young who follow in the successive replenishment of life, and in the knowledge that we ourselves still live, with the potential that that brings. "For all things," we have learned, "there is a season."
I had a good friend among my customers. He lived in a large room on the second floor of a rooming house at 9th and Lincoln. He had cerebral palsy or some such affliction, which made him appear drunk when he walked. But we had many a fine visit as I finished my route with his building.
After a while, the trucks stopped bringing us the papers. We had to go to a "station" in an alley after school to await them and then fold them. From there, we'd ride the several blocks, with the papers bulging from cloth sacks under our handlebars, to our routes.
On Sunday mornings, Larry and I had to be at the station at 2 o'clock. A Rockybilt hamburger stand was just a block away at Colfax and Ogden. There was a time we went over and got 35 hamburgers for all the carriers, who chipped in for the cost.
There was a chilling event one Sunday morning before the sun came up. I was between 9th and 10th on the east side of Lincoln, and had carried papers up the steps of the slopes to put on the porches of the homes, which were elevated several feet off the street. A taxicab pulled up to the curb down below and let out a woman, who then started up the steps to her house. When she sensed my presence in the shadows, she let out a blood-curdling scream. I yelled "I'm just the paper boy!," and she went sobbing into the house.
The gatherings at the station after school were a bad thing part of the time. One or two boys, who came along but who I don't think actually carried papers, were bullies, and made life miserable with threats. Larry's presence, as an older brother, was a life-saver.
After I'd carried the Post for a year or so, I joined Larry in switching over to the Rocky Mountain News, the morning paper. My route was on Pennsylvania and Pearl between 13th and Colfax. The News delivered the papers to each carrier's home, and then it was possible to do the folding on the kitchen table.
Part of the carrier job was collecting from each customer once a month. I remember going door to door on nights that Joe Louis heavyweight championship fights came over the radio. I'd get a report on the progress of the fight at each stop, and sometimes stop and listen. It seemed during those years that Joe Louis would go on forever. Larry, two years older and becoming quite a handsome lad, would tell stories of women who would try to seduce him as he went his rounds.
One morning, a black and white dog tailed along behind me as I carried my route. I took her home, where she was instantly adopted. She was a dear companion, going on the route with me every morning, until about a year later she came down with distemper and had to be put to sleep. On one of our trips down to Palmer Lake when I couldn't point out a certain feature about the mountain range south of Denver, Pop had told me "you've got to be more observant," and the one thing I had consciously observed after that was a veterinarian's office over by 13th and Acoma. Well, I later somewhat regretted having made the discovery, because that office is where our precious dog died. For many years, I remembered her name, and am ashamed that I don't now.
Sometime midway between the time we joined Pop and Grandmother and the time we moved from Logan Street after Mom and Clarence Trichka were married in March, 1948, Pop and Grandmother moved to their retirement home in Palmer Lake. Their new home was one that they pieced together from two other cabins a few feet up the road from Ogallala. They called it Chapala, after the town and lake in Mexico.
Mom and we boys were set up in an apartment fashioned out of the third floor of the Logan Street house. A stairway went up there from the middle right side of the house, and it was rarely visited until we moved into it. Mom got a job with the Occupational Rehabilitation office located down at the Denver Vocational School. She began to date Clarence, whom she had known before marrying Dad, sometime in 1947. We kidded them for driving up Lookout Mountain to a restaurant for a sandwich, since we knew that sandwiches could be had much closer.
One cold winter's night, Larry and I attended the operetta that was being put on at Morey. Afterwards, we decided to take our sleds over to Nob Hill at 7th and Washington, about four blocks from home. We'd come down the precipitous slope headfirst on our sleds, and at the bottom of the hill turn into the alley, where we could slide on for maybe another fifty yards. After several such runs, though, I didn't quite get the turn made into the alley. I ran headlong into a telephone pole. My glasses were smashed, and I received a long cut down my right cheek and another above my right eye. (In all, I was darned lucky I didn't lose an eye. I had the scar reduced by a plastic surgeon years later after I started practicing law, at the same time I had the mole taken off my left cheek.) Larry and I were scared to tell Mom that we'd been out sledding, since we weren't supposed to be, so we lied. I told her I'd slipped on my bike, hitting a curb. She rushed me off to Denver General Hospital for stitches. I never did tell her what really happened. It wouldn't have made any difference years later, but I didn't want to tell her I'd ever lied to her.
Larry and I made some extra money, over and above our paper routes, by raking leaves and shoveling snow. For Mom's birthday one of those years, Larry used some of his money to delight her by giving her a silk pillow embroidered with the word "MOTHER," with each letter matched by a word of praise that started with the letter. She prized that, and never stopped cherishing it.
Even when I was carrying the Post, we boys managed to be home every afternoon in time to listen to a series of four quarter-hour radio serials. They started with Terry and the Pirates, then went to Superman, Captain Midnight (to whom you could send away for his secret decoder ring), and Tom Mix. On Saturday mornings, if I remember rightly, there was "Grand Central Station," "The Shadow" and "The Thin Man." In the evenings, "Inner Sanctum" enthralled us with its ominously squeaking door, and there were "Gangbusters" and "Can You Top This?" (a great show that had three or four expert joke tellers topping each other's jokes, using appropriate dialects). Then, too, there was "Henry Aldrich." "Henreeee!," his mother would call out at the beginning of each episode. "Coming, Mother!," he'd call back. "Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy"
and "The Green Hornet" were also favorites of ours, but I think they were probably before we went to Mexico. And, of course, everybody enjoyed "Amos and Andy."
For some reason, movies weren't important to us during those first postwar years. In Mexico, we'd seen "Phantom of the Opera," "Guadalcanal Diary," "Wake Island," and "Bataan." And "Sergeant York" ranked high with me, although it might have been from the Miami years.
When we did go to a movie, we'd ride our bikes downtown to the Denver or the Paramount. Larry was finding that movies did have one outstanding attraction -- girls. After all, he was all of 14 or 15 years old by then. He'd sit down next to a girl in the dark and put his arm around her shoulder. If he ever felt any shyness about going further, he never revealed it in the reports he gave me later.
We did like comic books a lot. "Captain Marvel," "Superman" and "Batman" were our favorites. Larry had a good baseball card collection, and I think he collected stamps for a while.
One of Morey Junior High's prettiest girls, who shall go nameless, lived right across the street at 9th and Logan. We courted her collectively, and one time Larry, I and a friend all escorted her to a movie.
The relationship with her was exciting, though only vicariously physical. She was reading "Forever Amber," and put us onto the better passages. And then somehow she came into possession of a long typewritten poem called "The French Stenographer." It has to be one of the great porn classics of the pre-teen underworld.
Elitches amusement park, or Sloans Lake for fishing, seemed a light year away over in north Denver, but occasionally we'd take a trolley, which ran on tracks and was hooked up to overhead wires, across town to one or the other of them. The fishing never seemed very good, so we didn't do that often. But Elitches was plenty of fun. What sticks in my memory, though, is a time I rode one of the whirley-bird rides, got sick, and had to get off the trolley three times on the way home with Larry to throw up.
Larry got the idea of going down the Platte River in a rubber life raft. I don't know where he got the raft, but he did; and we hauled it several blocks west to the river a number of times for river outings. I don't know whether Mom knew anything about all that while we were doing it. The main excitement came one time when we went around a bend in the river, only to find a ten or fifteen foot waterfall a few feet ahead of us. We paddled like crazy to get over to the bank (successfully) before we would be carried over it.
Cherry Creek, which also runs through Denver, was cased in by walls on each side. Large storm sewer pipes fed into the creek every now and then, and the ends of the pipes appeared as circular openings along the wall. We explored the pipes, crawling up perhaps fifty or seventy five yards until the opening became just a small circle of light behind us. Happily, no storms occurred while we were so engaged, or I wouldn't be writing this today.
We loved playing football on the Capitol grounds at 14th and Lincoln. Most of the time it was tackle, although later, in Little Cheeseman Park between 7th and 8th on Williams Street, touch was the main thing. We hit lots of fly balls to each other there, too. My glasses were forever getting broken. Larry and I were playing catch with a baseball on the parkway out in front of 650 Williams St. one time, and the ball, thrown hard, got past my glove, hitting me squarely in the right eye.
There were lots of organized activities that the papers put on for their carriers, usually as rewards for having gotten certain numbers of subscriptions. We went out with the circulation manager on lots of door-to-door subscription drives in new parts of town.
I always carried a pair of pliers in my hip pocket to cut the wire that bound the paper bundles, and on one of the roller skating parties put on by the News I fell down hard, and put a bruise on my right buttock that was the perfect imprint of the pliers. One of the outings was down to Colorado Springs to take the cog train up to the top of Pikes Peak. It was 85 degrees in downtown Colorado Springs that day in late July, but at the top of the Peak it was blizzarding so hard that we could hardly see more than fifty feet.
Larry really took to roller skating, going over to the rink at Colfax and Ogden in the evenings. His main incentive was the girls, little nubile teenagers who dressed in colorful skimpy skating dresses. He had more than one girlfriend there over a period of time.
It was sometime during this period that my shyness toward girls manifested itself. (Before that, I'd never thought about them one way or the other.) It lasted until my mid-twenties. Mom put on a party at the upstairs Logan Street apartment, and it took all my courage to phone a girl in one of my classes to invite her.
At Morey, lunch periods were spent playing base tag out on the playground. My most embarrassing moment, eclipsing even the dumping of the diplomas at the kindergarten graduation, came as a result of gym class. I forgot my gym shorts one day. Mom had been making me wear some long-johns with a button-down opening in the back for doing "No. 2." When the gym teacher found that I didn't have my gym shorts with me, he commanded that I go out in my underwear. So I had to spend a mortifying hour outside, including crossing 13th street to go to a playfield over on the other side, wearing nothing but those ridiculous long-johns and tennis shoes. The other kids, of course, showed me no mercy.
My literary career, begun with my Marine comic books, picked up some during the years at Morey. I became a columnist for the News' carrier paper; and when my 8th grade English class undertook a project of writing and then pasting up a typewritten mock-up of a school newspaper, I was chosen editor. I remember interviewing the printing shop teacher, who was completing 25 years of teaching. The story began, "After a quarter of a century of teaching at Morey...." Twenty five years seemed like an incredibly long time then.
When the Denver Post announced an essay contest on "The Advantages of Five-Cent Airmail," Mom encouraged me to enter, and I won an airplane ride (along with a bevy of other winners) from Denver down around Pikes Peak and back.
In the 9th grade, I looked forward to becoming a sports reporter for the East High "Spotlight" when I started at East. I went up to Boulder for one of the East football team's games, sat in the press box (because, after all, the perquisites are definitely a part of it!), and wrote a practice story afterwards.
I mention these things as glimmers of light in an otherwise early-adolescent twilight. A big part of my life in the 7th and 8th grades -- not because I liked it, but because I wasn't about to capitulate to anybody -- was fighting. I never did fight the bullies in the alley at the newspaper station, probably because they were older and out of the question. But there was one surly character who tried pushing me around in the lunch line. We hostilely agreed to meet after school at the southwest corner of 13th and Emerson. There, for about an hour, we smashed at each other and rolled around in the dirt, each bleeding profusely from the nose. For reasons I don't remember, I counted myself the winner of that one. But I didn't fare so well in another fight. I found a ring with a Marine Corps insignia on it about a block from school. One of my classmates claimed it was his even though friends told me that he freely admitted it wasn't. So I wouldn't give it to him. He beat me up pretty badly out by the bicycle rack one day. But I never gave up the ring and have it in a memento box to this day.
Larry and I got into a good scrape in June, 1947, on his last day of school at Morey, where he had just finished the 9th grade. We were arguing over something. Larry yelled "F--- you" at me, and I in turn "gave him the finger." All of this, unknown to us until right after we'd done it, was in the immediate presence of Mr. English, a bulky teacher assigned to patrolling the school grounds. He hauled both of us in before Mom's beloved Mr. Spitler.
I don't remember whether it was still while Larry and I were at Morey, or whether it was maybe after he started at East, but Larry often came up with a Cushman motor scooter to ride around on. I almost got us killed on one one time. I was driving, with Larry hanging onto me from behind, and I came to a red light at an intersection, only to realize that I didn't know how to stop. Panic! I swerved the scooter sharply to the right, dumping us both. Neither of us was hurt.
I think maybe Larry was stealing the motor scooters. He and a friend, who again shall pass without identification, turned out to be stealing cars and going for joyrides. The police chased them one time while the friend was driving, the boys' car turned over onto its side, and the friend did a really smart thing -- he popped out of the window now on the top of the car on the driver's side, brandishing a pistol at the policemen. All of this gave rise to a serious crisis in the family. I remember when we all traipsed down to Juvenile Court, where Pop prevailed upon the judge to put Larry on probation. For one summer back there in the late '40's, Larry took the trolley across town every day to put in "community service" work in the park at 44th and Sheridan over by Lakeside Amusement Park. Well, we all loved Larry, but there was a certainty that he was a "bad boy," probably never to amount to anything. At least he was alive, a condition the continuation of which can never be guaranteed when a gun is pulled on police.
In the fall of 1947, I came down with a bad case of the flu, which after a while created an oral herpes crisis. Thirty or forty white canker sores infected my mouth and tongue--and I was miserable. Then the illness transformed itself into a mastoid (earbone) problem, and I spent a few days in Children's Hospital. Dr. Curfman, with the Denver Clinic, was our doctor, and remained so for many years.
I was in the 9th grade at the time, and struggling with Algebra. The month or so off from school killed me in that class. The rest of the year, I would get up at four in the morning to study, trying to catch up. But I never did, and other than an enjoyable course in Geometry at East High, that was the end of my mathematics education. I took logic, and then symbolic logic, at Colorado University when I got there.
The Rockybilt hamburger stand provides me with one of the enduring memories of the period. The hamburgers, for which a small ball of ground beef was smashed flat and then covered with onions, were greasy -- perfect! (No antiseptic, tasteless treat there!) For a quarter, we could get one of them, a piece of really good cherry pie, and a bottle of grape pop. That place sustained me for lunch during most of the 8th and 9th grades.
I don't remember exactly what year it was that Larry and I started going to Camp Chief Ouray, up near Granby, for a week each summer. Mom would take us down to a bus that left from in front of the YMCA at 16th and Lincoln. The camp was a great experience, especially the time we spent three days camping out over at the Arapahoe Peaks. One year, the special outing was over to Long's Peak. We were given a choice of climbing the Peak (a prospect I found frightening) or of fishing in Chasm Lake at the base of the east face. I chose the fishing, but didn't catch anything.
One of the counselors at Camp Chief Ouray was Bradley Allen, who was already a student at East High School. He was a prince of a guy who reminded me of Pop, dignified and controlled but a leader and well-loved. (After he was killed in an automobile accident a few years later out in southern California where he was a Marine officer, I chose his names as the first two names for our son, Bradley Allen Murphey.)
Those were years during which there were a great many happy family gatherings at Palmer Lake. The family was quite large. Other than Judge McDonough's death in 1940, there had hardly been a death in the family in fifty years. (We've made up for it since.) Bill, Reba, Bud, Carol, cousins Carol, Margot, Nan and Mary Pat, Allen McDonough, cousin Johnny Porter (son of Pop's much younger sister Ruth Porter) and his sister Julie, Great-Grandmother Rosie, Pop, Grandmother, Mom, Clarence (when he came on the scene), Larry and I--usually the gatherings involved all, or almost all, of us. The eating was great, and there were many hikes around the Loop or up Icy Cave Canyon, usually combined with fishing. I still use the green worm can that Pop gave me to hold worms in.
Larry and I prevailed on Mom to let us buy a rifle, a .22-410 over-and-under, and we went out east of Palmer Lake several times to hunt prairie dogs. It was during this period that the hand-fishing in the beaver pond took place, resulting in the 33 trout! Pop and I often fished together, and one time we huddled in a small cave formed by rocks a few feet up from the north side of the road between the First and Second Reservoirs when an afternoon thunder shower came up.
My love for the Marine Corps had gone onto a back burner, no longer having a war to stimulate it. It was there, though, in quiescence, to last until I'd actually been a Marine for half an hour.
In March, 1948, Mom married Clarence in a simple ceremony over by Pop's Lincoln library in the Chapala living room. On her wedding night, Mom threw her back out while pulling out a drawer, and had to go to the hospital for two or three days!
I got a News route over near the new house, which was at 650 Williams Street, just south of Cheeseman Park and a few blocks east of the Logan Street house. Right after we moved out of our 3rd floor apartment and into the new house, there was a four-to-six inch snow, and I remember the pristine beauty of the morning as I went down the streets delivering my papers, the first person to add a track in the white blanket that covered the streets and made the trees hang low.
Larry was already in East, but I still had three more months of 9th grade to attend at Morey, so I would ride my bike across Cheeseman Park and down 13th Street to school. On the last day of school (one year after the episode in which Larry and I were taken in to see Mr. Spitler), my class's "home room teacher" decided to make the whole class stay after school. I was among three or four who forced our way out past her, and left. A week later, I received a call from a teacher at school. An investigation was underway into who had taken down a fire extinguisher and sprayed the entire room when the home room teacher had left temporarily. It turned out to my benefit that I could say I hadn't been there.
Shortly after we moved into the Williams Street house, four or five friends and I decided to get Mohawk haircuts (which means having the head shaved except for a tall strip down the center from front to back). I was the first one in the barber chair. When the others saw the result, they all chickened out, giving me a glimpse of the human nature that one observes so often in life. Mr. Spitler made me wear a cap in school for about six weeks until my head was restored to good order.
In the fall of 1948, I became an entering sophomore in the class of '51 at East Denver High School, a gloriously beautiful school with classical architecture over by City Park. Larry was already a junior there (or would have been if he'd been passing his classes). We were following in the footsteps of Pop and of Mom, both of whom had attended East. Pop's attendance had been in the original building downtown, but Mom was in the first (or one of the first) classes in the new building.
I didn't do all that well my first semester. I gave up being a paperboy (mostly because it got harder and harder to get up at 4:30 in the morning to do it) and got my first "real job," working as a janitor after school. My assignment was to clean the north end of the third floor. It paid 45 cents an hour. I had long been "saving for college," so most of the money was stashed away.
Then something happened. I don't really know what, even though I've pondered it many times, since an understanding of it would have great significance and practical utility as a parent and educator. Maybe it was participating in the debate program, where I was a complete novice. (We went up to a forensics meet at Colorado University in Boulder when I was in that first year at East and I was handed a slip of paper with a topic about "Technology in the Modern World," about which I was to give a five-minute speech 45 minutes later as part of the "extemporaneous speaking" competition. But I didn't know what "technology" meant! Who makes up those topics?) Maybe it was joining the Congress Club, of which Bradley Allen was a leading member. Maybe it was the pride of knowing that I was finally at East High School, where I was quite conscious of being in the third generation. Whatever the reason, my whole orientation toward life changed near the beginning of the second semester. I developed an instant passion for excelling, for studying four or five hours every night, doing special assignments, and for mastering each subject.
For me, boyhood was over. I'd entered a new and wider world.
APPENDIX: SOME ADDITIONAL NOTES
Chapter One: Miami. I don't have the detail about Larry's birth, but my own babybook shows that I was born at 6 p.m. on June 14, 1934, at what was then St. Mary's hospital in Tucson. I weighed in at 6 1/2 lbs. Our home address just east of the University of Arizona campus was 928 N. Campbell Avenue. The babybook asserts that my first words were "See dat!" at age 12 months. It also reports that my first haircut was given to me "by big brother Wawwy" on February 14, 1937, causing Mom to "almost have hysterics." I took no time in getting to Denver, making my first trip there in August 1934. In April 1935, we went to visit Pop and Grandmother and stayed until September.
Larry and I took our first airplane ride when I was about a year, and Larry three years, old. It was a plane from the Admiral Byrd Antarctic Expedition, and we flew over Tucson, no doubt near where Larry was eventually killed in a gyrocopter crash on Jan. 15, 1989.
Our home after we moved to Miami was at 52 N.E. 98th Street in Miami Shores. The Miami Shores Elementary School was located at 10351 N.E. 5th Avenue, and it was there, on June 7, 1940, that the memorable but embarrassing kindergarten graduation ceremony took place. The principal I was to take the diplomas to was William A. Lang, and my teacher for kindergarten was Anne Griffin.