“Where Hustle's the Name of the Game, and nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain. It's been a load of compromising, on the road to my horizon, but I want to be where the lights are shining on me!” – Like a Rhinestone Cowboy! Glen Campbell.
Can you guess which one I am??
- Grew up in Upland, California. Basically grew up in a $75,000 house within walking distance to our local high school (Upland High School). My mom was a mom (team mom, and all that stuff, and is literally the greatest woman alive), and my dad was an accountant who had learned his accounting skills through the military and worked for a variety of companies in the potata chip and wine industries (which meant we moved around alot as a family, moving from New York to Texas, to California).
- When I was young, life was great. There were four boys in the family, and we each did our own thing. Mine interest were playing sports, mostly basketball and baseball. Those were the two things I loved more than anything.
- I had a pal that I met when I was about the age of 13 or 14. His name was Casey Clements. His dad was an English professor at Chaffey College (where Casey and I coincidentally both later played a year of College baseball). You can read about my COMPLETE BASEBALL JOURNEY here.
- Casey was an interesting guy. I still remember when I first met him. It was in Pony league in Upland California. I was a pitcher and he was a hitter and I always remember having the hardest time getting this guy to make an out. Now, I was bigger than most of the other kids (probably about 5 foot 8 or 9 at the age of 13) and he was kind of scrawny, thin, but had a lot of grit in him. At any rate, I ran into him after one of our pony league games, and he was riding his bicycle, had his cleats hanging over his handlebars and we got to gabbing. How it transpired from there I really don't recall, but we were like peas and carrots we started hanging around all the time. Mostly exploring everything and every place on our bikes (my bike was a mock motorcycle style bike) and I think he had a Green Schwinn.
- At any rate, we would ride all over the streets of Rancho Cucamonga where he was from (his dad had a real nice place up on Redhill) and we would cruise all around Upland and into Claremont. We spent a lot of time cruising around the amazingly beautiful campus of the Claremont Colleges. We spent hours upon hours playing street basketball with the locals, practicing batting at any baseball field we could find, climbing the fences of memorial park when no-one was around and taking more batting practice (until someone would eventually find us and kick us out).
- We also spent alot of time at the library when we weren't playing sports. We would spend hours in there just reading books, dreaming, and talking with other people. It was truly a great life, and all this cost nothing.
- I still tell people that when I was young, I could stretch a $20 bill and make it last a month. Perhaps I was exaggerating but I did not waste any money. Thrifty ice cream cones were like 35 cents and we had a lot of those. Other than that, a local taco place had 69 cent tacos and we ate a slew of those. Life was really good and we did not need much money to enjoy it to the fullest. This is an important lesson for people. It is not money that makes you happy. Now that I have money through my law practice, yes, it expands and offers more opportunities, but money is not the end all be all. At the end of the day, give me my friends, a good meal and some quality laughs and all is good!
- Work – When I was young, and again hanging out with Casey, from the youngest of ages, (not sure if it was 15 or 16) but we started deciding it might be nice to have some extra money in our pockets and so we signed up with three or four “temp agencies” (for young kids today, if you are looking for direction, trying to see what the world has to offer this is a great way to do it).
- We got calls for jobs all the time. Pay, as I recall, was about $6 to maybe $8 bucks an hour. Good enough for us. We worked all kinds of jobs. Sometimes together, sometimes separately. We met a ton of people, mostly good people working hard for their families. We were actually offered several full time positions (people seemed to like us back) and we turned them down as we were just having fun going from job to job. We worked in factories, on assembly lines, cleaned gas stations, cleaned latex out of tanker trucks, hauled trash, worked construction, worked moving jobs, you name it. We really got a taste of what they world was all about, and at a young age. Not like it is today where you don't get your hands dirty until you are out of college $50,000 in debt.
- So we worked, and we played baseball and basketball, and went to the gym all the time (we enjoyed working out). We spent a ton of time up at our local high school. Especially on the weekends when no one was around. We would get into the swimming pool because we were friends with the maintenance guy. He would let us use the pool all to ourselves. We would high dive, and low dive, and swim. Nobody ever usually bothered us. Then we would go play pickup basketball with the local and do a lot of “trash talking” which is how it went down in our neighborhood. People of all colors and races and we would have some great, great games (and some good shouting matches). We were able to get into the basketball and gym through our “connections” as we were never afraid to try to make friends with the maintenance staff, and they were some really good people who gave us these opportunities to basically do whatever we wanted on campus. I'm not sure this happens much any more with all the liability issues but back in the day (say this was late 1970's) it was all good.
- So that is basically my younger years. My first beer was “Henry Wineharts Private Reserve.” (It just sounds fancy doesn't it)? Casey's dad always had some of those in his refrigerator. ICE COLD. And man, one or two of those (usually we could only sneak one and get away with it) and life was good. At Casey's house we also played quite a bit of ping pong and pool. I had a hard time beating him at pool, but I think I got the best of him in ping pong. Casey's dad had a really nice record collection, and we would go through his collection and play everything (making sure not to leave a single scratch as we knew he would find out). We loved his Bruce Springsteen Born to Run and Atlantic City, and Pink Floyd Time. This song had us pondering and asking philosophical questions such as what the stages of our lives were going to be and how our lives might play out. I think we both secretly hoped we could be professional baseball players. We also listened to the Doors, Led Zeppelin and the Eagles.
- As for scholastic activities, this was not really my thing but I attended all the classes like a good boy, but never really had much of an interest in school. My grades were average at best, and my parents were cool as long as I was bringing home “C's or better.” Well, let's just say I came pretty close to meeting that goal. My parents never went to college, so it was not as if they we going to force me to do the same thing. They just always insisted I showed up and try to do my best. And I think that is about what I did.
If you want to continue reading about my story, you should jump to my Baseball Diary. After that, read my “How on Earth Did I end up a Lawyer Story.”