I just got back from a visit with my mom and learned some interesting facts that changed the narrative of this installment. It turns out my dad was a bit of a jerk — I never had any illusions that he was perfect, as other stories to come will demonstrate.
The return from Spain
My brother was born in November of 1966, and while I never really thought about it (I was four), I just thought he was born, and we then came back to the states. It turns out my dad had been having an affair with two women (Jolene and Wendy) and at some point at the beginning of 1967, told my mom to leave. At some point, we returned to Seattle (imagine a woman with a four-year-old and a newborn traveling alone halfway around the world. Kudos to my mom.
I am not exactly sure when my father realized the error of his ways, but he received a follow on assignment to McChord AFB sometime in 1967, and we moved to Tacoma. I vaguely remember a neighborhood but vividly recall the fragrance of the paper mills. To this day, that odor takes me back. On January 22, 1968, my dad separated from the Air Force — I only know this because the following day was the Pueblo Incident, and he would not have been allowed to get out.
Joining the civilian sector, my dad got a job at KOMO radio and possibly another station early on. We moved from Tacoma to Renton, to Bellevue, and finally to Kirkland. My dad made a name for himself and became the voice of the Seattle Supersonics. My dad’s prowess in radio and television always impressed me. He rubbed shoulders with several famous people — Adrian Cronauer (said he was a jerk), Paul Harvey (said every aspect of the show was scripted), interviewed Prince Juan Carlos (who later became King of Spain), and many others. I never saw my father be anything more than professional in these scenarios.
Tacoma and Renton
Aside from the paper mill, I have no memory of the places we actually lived, and based on the timeline, it was not long. After my dad separated from the military, we moved to Renton briefly.
With the family back together, we moved to Bellevue. At the age of five (August 1968), I began first grade. My teacher’s name was Miss Walker, so I remember being teased a bit. School is a bit of a daze, and other than the teasing, my only recollection of school is that of twin redheads with bright green slime in their nostrils — they were gross.
The apartment complex, that is. While I may have only been six, I feel like I was much older. I have some memories that seem to be that of someone else, but I remember being there. We lived in a large apartment complex that was made up of several three-story buildings, and from what I recall, they were pretty nice. The complex had a fitness area (even back then) with one of those belt machines that was supposed to jiggle the fat away — it was great fun.
My mom had a brand new powder blue ’68 mustang. My guess this was my dad’s way of apologizing — he showed affection through material things.
A rock, some terror, and good timing
We lived in an apartment complex off a busy road, and every morning we waited for the school bus. A couple of us were bored and decided to throw rocks across the street while cars were zooming by. We were supposed to throw up and over, but for some reason, I opted to throw straight across. Just as I made that decision, a car moved into the kill zone. Bam! With the squealing of brakes, another kid (no idea who) and I made a b-line for the apartment. In my mind, it was a long way off, but given that we were able to hide before the person could turn around tells me otherwise. We hid under the stairwell. We heard a commotion outside, but it soon diminished. Peaking out the window, we noticed the car pulling away and the bus pulling up. We ran as fast as we could and made it to the bus just in time. Nothing became of that, but it would not be the last time a rock and a car met.
This is the last memory I have of Bellevue.