The Convoluted Path Part Thirty-Four

12 Aug
Family Photo July 1980.

I was involved at the church when I had time but Kathy was usually stuck at home with the kids. She would go for a walk with the kids to the playground or to downtown Toledo which consisted of a couple of streets with a bar, restaurants, grocery store, drug store, hardware store and a few other businesses. Toledo actually had two Dairy Queens, one at the West end of the turn off from Hwy 22 to the business district cutoff.

A habit that I began back when we were living in Los Angeles and I was going to school, working at the church and working a regular job while trying to raise a family was originally intended to insure that I spent some quality time with each of my children every week. When we lived in LA I’d take them to McDonalds where we’d get an ice cream cone or a Sunday but when we moved to Oregon there were no McDonalds in Toledo or Newport at the time, so we went to Dairy Queen which dominated Oregon.

At first I’d get an ice cream cone or a sundae but then I discovered “Peanut Butter Parfait’s” which were served in a tall plastic glass with vanilla ice cream generously covered with peanuts and then covered with hot fudge. My oldest son Michael had just turned six in April and the other three were all two years apart. I usually started taking them out for ice cream around the time that they turned three and we could communicate with understanding.

We went to the Dairy Queen in town but I used the one on the West entrance to Toledo that all the truckers had coffee at to work on my research paper for Dr. Malik. I had a year to finish it from the final day of class in June.  I had a library of books from all my classes and volumes that I purchased on my own that I was able to use for my research to provide footnotes and well as the Toledo city library.

The Toledo city library had a record album section with 33 rpm albums of many of the biggest music artists of the 1970’s. It was the first time that I heard Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run or Darkness On the Edge of Town album and I was blown away. We had to have cable to get anything on TV so we now had MTV and movie stations for the first time. I had heard about MTV but never watched it before. It was the newest cutting edge way for musicians to promote their music with videos that were like short movies.

Kathy hired a local midwife to deliver Billy our fourth child and her friend Karen Baye who was now a midwife in Washington came down to assist. (I have to put in a parenthetical statement about something that just happened. Today as I write this it is Saturday, July 11, 2020 and I’ve been writing this memoire since last fall and write as I feel like it without any planning. Today as I began to write about my son William Louis Gersztyn’s birth I realized that today is his fortieth birthday. That is another example of synchronicity.) Bill was born in the living room during the day before I headed to work at the “House of Almerik.” When I got home that night after work I went to the refrigerator for something and I saw what looked like a large piece of liver on a plate. As I began to wonder where it came from I suddenly remembered Kathy talking about burying the placenta and quickly closed the door.

Kathy said that she was unhappy living in Oregon because it was too gloomy and compared to sunshine every day in L.A. she was right. We began complaining about things the way that the children of Israel complained in the wilderness when Moses led them out of Egypt. God was providing for us in spite of things not working out as we had imagined they would. I was accepted into the artistic community and was a photographer for hire with Dellinger Studio the most prestigious photography studio in Newport at the time. Anytime that they had more weddings than they could do they would have one of their photographers like me shoot it. Through that connection I was hired as a photography teacher for Linn/Benton Community College Adult Education. At the same time I was regularly hired to do photography for businesses connected with “New Life.”

I wanted to be a minister and I prayed to God to help me be patient and allow Him to blaze the path before me. I re-read my “Letters To Yahweh collection and they depressed me because I was in the exact same position today that I had been in a year earlier when I sat in the library at California State University first writing my “Letters To Yahweh. Kathy told me that I should destroy the letters since they are so negative. We had a fireplace and I built a fire and once it was going I began to place the pages of my “Letters To Yahweh” in it until they were all incinerated.

I was in spiritual turmoil and during my car drives to and from work and while I washed dishes and performed other mundane tasks and even at home I prayed and petitioned the Lord to show me his will. When I thought about leaving Oregon I immediately saw myself as Jonah running away from his calling to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to its inhabitants. I was in Nineveh already but was powerless so what could I do? At the same time Dylan came out with the album that I predicted and it was called Saved and was comprised of hard core gospel compositions which were so obviously Christian that even hard core Evangelicals should be satisfied with his conversion.

In June we drove back to L.A. so Kathy could stand up to Dave Massoratti and Diana Hirter’s wedding with Laverne Campbell and Mark Ballard both officiating. Kathy was eight months pregnant at the time and we drove from Toledo, Oregon to Grants Pass where we picked up Gary Herron my running partner who was living in Oregon again. He squeezed in the Gremlin with Kathy, me and the four kids. After the wedding we spent the night at Denise and Tudy’s and headed back to Oregon in the morning.

Summer came late and only lasted two months before the fall rains began. The transmission on our Gremlin gave out in August, so I began riding my ten speed the ten miles to work. Riding the bike on Hwy 22 with no room for a bike forced me to dodge traffic. It was a seven mile stretch from Toledo to Newport and another three miles on Hwy 101 over the Yaquina Bay Bridge to South Beach. Coming home at Midnight I sometimes took Old Bay Road that ran parallel to Hwy 22 along the slue that extended from the coast inland to Toledo where two lumber mills and a paper mill would float their log to. It was a two lane blacktop road with virtually no traffic as well as no lights and was a couple of miles longer. Both routes were dark and unlit with either forests, farms or the slue on one side.

One of the couples that attended New Life was Frank and Sarah who invited us over to their house for dinner. They had two children that were the same age as ours and they played together nicely. Frank was into music and he lent me an Al Dimeola album since I had never heard of him before. When they found out that our car was broken and I had to ride my ten speed to work and back they offered to lend me their second car since Sarah didn’t drive. After I was driving Frank and Sarah’s car I recalled that we had a Master Card that we had cut up after attending a Christian financial seminar at HPNC with Malcom McGregor and reading his book “Money Matters.” When I called Master Card I found out that we still had an account so I requested a new card. When it arrived, we used it to get the transmission fixed. This violated a principle that we had previously lived by which was never to borrow money to do something. This was my first major mistake.

I was helping out at the church with the youth group and even put together a multi-media slide show for them but the Philomath church ministry still had issues so Greg began to throw out other options but as the rain and gloomy days began Kathy began to grow more unhappy. After I began working for the post office and I realized that I was going to have to quit since the routes were ridiculously large compared to anything that I had ever done before, I began to consider leaving Oregon. My first choice was to go to Georgia and become an associate pastor at Laverne Campbell’s church. The last time that I talked to Laverne he told me that they had purchased an abandoned school building that they converted into a church and that we could live in a couple of the rooms rent free.

For some reason Kathy was completely opposed to going to Georgia so I considered going to El Paso, Texas where Chris Quinn lived since it was a dry climate. I called him on the phone and talked to him about the job potential there and then I could assist in the Foursquare church there. He told me that he could get me a job as a car salesman at the dealership that he and his dad worked at. At the same time I contacted Foursquare International in Los Angeles to see if I could get them interested in my photography ministry and multi-media. I talked to the National Youth Directors, Ed and Ivy Stanton and even wrote the president Rolf McPherson offering my services but was basically told thanks but no thanks.

After we got the Gremlin transmission repaired and I told the post office I was resigning they asked me to stay for another month so they could hire a replacement. I did with the stipulation that when they filled out my separation forms that they give me a good report and recommendation which Gene the supervisor said he would. I later found out that after he filled out and had me countersign my separation form where he gave me a positive recommendation that he added a second form without my counter signature that was negative.

We decided to move to El Paso, Texas for no good reason other than the rain was driving Kathy crazy and my ministry and job prospects seemed dismal in Oregon. My post office paychecks were large since I was working a lot of overtime but to give us extra money to move we decided to sell the Gremlin for $600.00. I would still have a paycheck coming after we got to El Paso and we could pick up a used car since Chris sold cars. After I finished my time with the post office I rented a 28’ Ryder truck and loaded it myself with some help from Kathy but Michael the oldest of the four was only six years old at the time.

After the truck was loaded Kathy and all four kids squeezed into the single bench seat cab (there were no seat belt laws at the time) and we were on our way South to LA where we would hit the San Bernadino freeway also called Interstate 10 to El Paso. When we got to LA we met with a couple of friends for breakfast that included Tudy Gomez and they recommended that we stay in LA and try to recover. However, the humiliation of failure made me not want to return to LA, so we continued our journey to El Paso.

When we got to the halfway point at Tucson, Arizona we stayed at Bill and Andrea Cassidy’s house and he ordered Mexican food for dinner and then after dinner a friend stopped over. When he found out that we were moving to El Paso he was incredulous and said that we should stay in Tucson. I listened to his advice and the next morning we headed to El Paso. As we drove through New Mexico we stopped to eat at a McDonald’s and while we were in line waiting to order an young Indian man came up to me and said that he had some really great heroin for sale and I told him that I had something better than heroin. His eyes lit up and he was all ears, until I told him that it was “Jesus” and then he walked away.

When we got to El Paso it was early evening on a Tuesday in the middle of November and the first thing that we did was to get a motel room. After calling Chris on the phone he came down to the motel and said that we were welcome to stay at his house as long as we needed. We stayed in the motel that night but then went to Chris’s house where he lived with his wife Cindy. His father owned the house and rented it to them, so we parked our truck filled with our belongings in front of his house and slept in the spare bedroom with the kids on the floor in the living room. Chris got me a loaner car to use so I could look for a house and job. We found a nice house to rent on the East side of El Paso and there was even a Calvary Chapel type of new paradigm church named “Jesus Chapel.”

Kim Simmonds (Savoy Brown) Interview

11 Aug This is a link to my interview with Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown in Blues Rock Review.

Drive By Shooting in Detroit

2 Aug
Jefferson East at the Detroit, Michigan, USA to Windsor, Ontario, Canada Tunnel

I had to make a cross country trip from Oregon to my home back in the Greater Detroit Michigan area and while we were traveling to and from as well as being there I took over 600 photographs with my Nikon D7200 using my Nikkor 24-120mm lens. Sometimes we parked and I would walk up to the subject to get the perfect angle and composition but other times I just pointed the camera out the windshield or side window when someone else was driving. Drive by shooting is something that I’ve been doing for decades but in the beginning it was mainly at night to get streaking lights and blurs for special effects.

Traveling Through Montana

When we began to take regular train trips all around the country if you sit in the sightseeing car with the big windows and seats facing outside you can get nearly perfect images if you shoot at a fast shutter speed or point forward or backward to gain a couple of shutter speeds. With the advantage of multiple ISO settings with digital cameras it’s possible to try out a multiplicity of possibilities with different exposure times, aperture settings and shutter speeds if time allows.

Driving Down East Jefferson towards downtown

In a car driving down the street or expressway at 25 to 70 mph it’s best to use shutter priority at an ISO that allows 1/250 sec at an aperture of F/8 or smaller if possible. Since the car is moving it will be difficult to focus unless you have a sharp eye and use manual. Since you don’t always know what and when an interesting building or mural may appear you sometimes press the shutter too late or too soon. Hopefully out of all the shots you can salvage three or four images to add to your portfolio. This is a miniscule amount that I edited out of everything but there are at least fifty or more that are good shots as well.

Driving Through The East Side of Detroit

Dog Walking Group In Royal Oak
The South Entrance To Hamtramck On Jos Campau
Chicago From The Train On The Return Trip To Oregon

Girls in Burka’s Wearing Baseball Caps While Doing Wheelies on 8 Mile Rd With ATV’s

29 Jul
Burka’s and ATV Wheelies on 8 Mile Road

Girls in Burka’s wearing baseball caps as they do wheelies on ATV’s driving down 8 Mile Road in Detroit, Michigan summarizes the most interesting episodes of my trip to Detroit, Michigan and back to Salem, Oregon after a two week round trip by Amtrack train. One day we were visiting Hamtramack, Michigan where I grew up until when at 8 years of age in 1955 we moved to the North side of 8 Mile Road to the suburb of Warren. We’ve lived on the West Coast since 1971 other than a couple of years in the mid 1980’s where we returned to Michigan.

This time we returned since my wife’s  brother is on his death bed in home hospice. We also did some visiting with old friends and relatives and going to Hamtramack. It was a Polish community with a Polish population until they all moved to the suburbs in the 80’s and 90’s and now it is primarily Arab and Muslim with burka wearing women walking in pairs. We were going to visit the Polish museum near the corner of Caniff on Joseph Campau when my wife and sister passed three men standing on the sidewalk.

Three Guys on Joseph Campau

“Hey, I’ll give you $10.00 right now for that T-Shirt,” he told me. I had a Led Zeppelin T-Shirt on so I stopped to talk to them about music and rock history. When they found out that I was drafted into the army in 1966 during the height of the war in Vietnam one of them asked me how many Gooks I killed. I told him that I was stationed in the states at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and didn’t kill anyone. Then they wanted me to take their photo since I had my camera hanging around my neck.

I never refuse anyone who asks me to take their photo and will send them a file if they email me and I try to always give them my card. As I was preparing to take their photo to women in burka’s approached and the same guy who asked about my kills asked the women, one of which was wearing a baseball cap on top of her burka, if they wanted to get their picture taken with them. She promptly answered no and they walked away as I focused and took the shot of the three guys.

The corner of Caniff and Joseph Campau in Hamtramack, Michigan 2020

Another day as my high school buddies Jerry and Dave were returning from a trip to downtown Detroit and Belle Isle in the middle of the Detroit River, we turned off Woodward onto 8 Mile Road. There must have been eight or ten ATV’s all doing wheelies that nearly flipped the vehicle over so I took shots from the moving car. Later I got the idea of merging the burka’s with the ATV’s and the collage is the result.

Mural in Hamtramack, Michigan

Cross Country to Michigan and Back 2020

28 Jul
The Spirit of Detroit at the foot of Woodward and Jefferson.

I was born and raised in Michigan in the Greater Detroit area. I lived in Hamtramack until I was eight years old in the third grade and then we moved to Warren between Eight and Nine Mile Roads and Ryan and Mound Rd. After I was drafted I lived at home until I moved out and had two different places in Detroit between Seven and Eight Mile, Dequindre and John R, until my girlfriend and I moved to Birmingham before relocating to Los Angeles on the West Coast in 1971.

Popping Wheelies on 8 Mile Road.

Over the next Forty-Nine years we lived in Los Angeles and Bakersfield, California, El Paso Texas, back to Warren, Michigan and then Toledo, Eugene and finally Salem, Oregon. We spent eleven years in Los Angeles so we visit there every so many years but our ancestral roots in America are in Michigan and my wife’s brother is gravely ill, so we did the five-thousand mile round trip once again.

Riding on the Amtrack Empire Builder From Portland to Chicago

We took a train and got a sleeper this time but the second bed is a pull down shelf six feet up that had a web net to prevent you from falling six feet down when the centrifugal force of a curve pulls you down, since we were in the last of ten cars. When we got to Michigan we spent time with family and friends and did some sight-seeing that I took photos of both when we were parked and I got out of the car as well as through the window as others drove through the city of Detroit and its suburbs.

Hamtramack, Michigan on the corner of Joseph Campau and Caniff

I grew up in Hamtramack and spent a lot of time there until I went into the army in 1966 when I was nineteen. I attended St. Florian’s Catholic church which said the sermon and all talking in Polish when the Mass was still Latin. Pope Paul II visited Hamtramack and St. Florian’s since it was such a large Polish community even back in the 1980’s. Today it is a largely Muslim community as can be deduced from the collage that I made from outside the Polish museum near the corner of Joseph Campau and Caniff Street on the North end of town.

The Detroit, Michigan skyline with the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, Ontario, Canada From Belle Isle.
Just driving around Detroit streets.
Boarded up houses and the hottest club in town back in the late 1960’s.

When I first got out of the army in August 1968 and returned to Michigan my main hangout was the Duchess Lounge just North of Seven Mile on Van Dyke. “The Naked Lunch” was the house band at the time and I even had my first completely transcendent LSD trip there in May 1969. It became a strip club in the latter 1970’s and this is what it looks like today.

Chicago Train Station Food Court.
Chicago Skyline 2020.
Looking out the back window of the Amtrack as we head West back to Portland, Oregon through Montana.

Article and Photography by Bob Gersztyn.

Goose Lake Music Festival August 7 – 9, 1970

12 Jul

Next month in August it will be the 50 year anniversary of the Goose Lake International music Festival held in Jackson, Michigan. It the biggest concert event to happen in Michigan to date. It was the peak of the hippie era and the festival was a celebration of the youth during the middle of the war in Vietnam and chaotic civil unrest. It was a year after Woodstock and had many of the same performers and ironed out all the bugs without a rainstorm. Here’s a couple of links along with a newspaper article from 2008 and some snapshots that a friend took. My then girlfriend and now wife of 49 years Kathy and I took two of her friends with us and stayed the entire three days. There were more performers that were listed on the poster and the best act of the three days was Rod Stewart and the Small Faces. Mountain at Goose Lake 1970 Iggy and the Stooges at Goose Lake 1970  Article about Goose Lake Festival 1970

Top 10 Kenny Wayne Shepherd Songs

8 Jul Rock Review Published my article listing the Top 10 Kenny Wayne Shepherd Songs. The first time that I saw Kenny was in 1996 at the Roseland Theater in Portland, Oregon after he released his first album Ledbetter Heights in 1995 he was only 19 years old and was amazing. His lead singer at the time was Corey Sterling before Noah Hunt took over on the second album Trouble Is. I saw him three more times over the next couple of decades. One time at LB Amphitheater in Salem, Oregon where he headlined and it was a stellar show in 2001.

The first time that I saw him perform with Noah was in 2008 when he was part of the Experience Hendrix show that I covered for Blues Revue/Blueswax. Then in 2017 he played in the Experience Hendrix tour again that I covered for Blues Rock Review. This is a link to that show review: Both these Shows were in Portland, Oregon.

Canvas Print Display of Rock & Roll Stars

7 Jul

After hooking up with the Dead in 1994 I began a 25 year stint in what would have been a dream gig back in the 1960’s when I was in my early 20’s. I turned 73 yesterday and the last concert that I shot was blues guitarist Walter Trout in December 2019. During the years in between I took tens of thousands of photos both using film and a digital camera beginning in 2012. Out of all those photos I choose one or two of every major “A” list artist that I have in my files.

Before I began shooting rock concerts as a sanctioned journalist with a press pass I photographed the subjects that I had access to. As a minister I had unlimited access to church events and sometimes photographed the gospel artists that appeared over the years. While competing in power lifting competitions during the 1980’s I photographed those events while I participated. The most common subject for novice photographers and even many experienced ones is nature and its scenery. The reason for this is because it doesn’t require special permission with limited access and good scenic photography sells.

I began selling my photographs in the 1980’s when I moved back to Oregon for the third and final time. I live in the state capitol city of Salem and began working as a freelance photographer as soon as I arrived in July 1986. I was shooting weddings like I had done when we lived in Los Angeles, California during the 1970’s. I was also shooting power lifting meets while competing and selling prints to other competitors. Then since Oregon is one of the most beautiful and scenic states in the country I took photos of mountains and waterfalls and sold them in coffee shops and gift stores.

In 1994 I got connected with the Dead through a guy that I worked with on the graveyard shift at the post office and the rest is history. I had my own black & white darkroom and I shot everything in both black & white and color using two cameras. Sometimes I even changed from slide to print film and even infra-red black & white and color. I printed all my black & white work myself and began having mixed displays that contained both scenic shots along with the Dead and other artists that I began shooting.  

I sell limited edition fine art prints of some of the artist that I have in my files. At this time I have them on display at the T-Zone Warehouse located on the North East side of Lancaster by State Street. I also have them on display at North Padington’s Pizza on Pine off Broadway and took a couple of photos of the display there. They are all canvas prints and from the top left clockwise they are John Fahey 1997 – Jonny Lang 2018 – Jerry Garcia 1995 – Keith Richards 1998.

Last Night’s Dream

3 Jul

I never get a solid night’s sleep anymore but wake up regularly through the night to take a leak. Because of this I don’t get much deep sleep and very seldom remember a dream but this morning when I woke up at 9:09 AM I did. The night before I watched a 2014 science fiction film, that I never saw before called, “Interstellar.” The most memorable line from it that I remembered was a robot quoting Newton’s third law that in order to go somewhere you have to leave something behind. The movie itself reminded me of “2001 a Space Odyssey” with the direction that it was going but with a completely different story. The result was a mystical and spiritual message combining evolution with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

My dream had nothing to do with any of that but at the same time it had a spiritual message like a parable or a riddle. I woke up around 7:00 AM and took a piss and then lay back down and fell asleep. In my dream I met a bearded man who led me to his house and we entered his kitchen or dining room where I put my package on the table. The package contained my lunch which was pizza with some dipping sauces. I offered my host a slice of pizza and he took the entire package. When I objected he said that there were too many so he needed it all.

I became angry but didn’t complain instead I told him that I was taking a slice of pizza for myself and took the biggest of multiple pieces. Then I told him that I would never offer him anything again unless I was giving it all to him. After that I woke up and looked at the digital clock and it said 9:09 so I got up for work.

The Convoluted Path Part Thirty-Two

2 Jul

After talking about the moving plans at the staff meeting it was suggested that I get a couple of friends to drive the truck while Kathy and I drive the car so everyone can leave together when we move to Oregon. Diane was now engaged to be married to Dave Massoratti and Kathy was going to stand up in the wedding as a bridesmaid. This meant that we would have to come back to LA a couple of months after we moved to Oregon but I had to come back in the next year to take my final exams for two of the three classes that I was enrolled in. For the third class I could mail my finished paper in to Dr Malik. It was an independent study class that I chose the subject of the second century church for. I wanted to explore why so many ministers called for the church to return to its first century roots by finding out what happened in the second century.

We were going to move on May 1, 1980 but since the truck would not be available until Friday May 2 that’s the day we planned to leave. The early move would only affect my oldest son Michael who was in Kindergarten. I went through everything that we were taking with a fine tooth comb and reduced it to only the most valuable and important items that I carefully packed in boxes that I labeled with a marking pen. Two of my friends from the church volunteered to drive the borrowed truck to and from Oregon on the move.

Dave Massoratti and Tudy Gomez were two of my good friends that offered to drive with me. This would make it a lot easier because with two of us in each vehicle we could alternate driving so the other person could sleep during their off time plus they would be there to help unload the truck. I knew Dave the longest since he was part of the Agape Inn staff from the beginning. Then he was one of the main people that helped me with multi-media and even got into photography. He was the model that I used for my second slide show using “Love Song’s” “Front Street Back Seat.”

One of the other people in the slide show with Dave was Alfred Gomez who was one of my good friends since he began attending HPNC around the same time as Kathy and me. His wife Marsha and Kathy were friends and Okie Adams was Marsha’s dad. Tudy Gomez was Alfred’s brother and I didn’t meet him until he began attending HPNC with his wife Denise after Mark became the Pastor. Denise was one of Kathy’s good friends and I really didn’t know Tudy well, but he wanted to help Dave Drive.

Once a month on Sunday night, HPNC met at the Eagle Rock YMCA, where Tom Cram, who was a church elder and music minister was manager. It was called a common meal and was a pot luck that everyone contributed food to and shared with each other. At the same time it had entertainment and a short sermon. Sometimes there were games and if so I was the one who did all the planning and set it up. The last night that we met for the common meal it was a going away party from HPNC and Kathy and I were grateful for the expression of love. They gave us a giant card that was home made with the signature and comments of dozens of people in the church, like in your high school yearbook.

Another regular event that took place every April was the annual church Men’s retreat that it was my job to plan and co-ordinate along with finding instructors for classes and even a guest speaker if required. This year Pastor Mark would be the main speaker and we went up Friday night and came back Sunday afternoon. We stayed at a lodge up in Big Bear and the weather was beautiful. The year before in 1979 Howard Chun my neighbor came and since he was even more serious about photography than I was he brought his 4×5 view camera with him. He took a group shot of over two dozen of us together using his self timer to include him. Almost all of the people in it were my good friends who I loved as much as family or my high school buddies.

The twenty-seven people in the photo are Gary Herron – Mark Ballard – Ernie Moreno – Charley Simons – Farnk Ferrante – Dave Massarotti – Robert Flores – Wally Krootzko – George Shearer – Glen Hernandez – Carl Mendoza – Alfred Gomez – Frank Greer – Jerry Cash – Don Farrer – Greg Jaimes – Bob Gersztyn – Ed Martinez – Jim Mannes – Dwayne Johansen – Ray Wolper – Larry Early – Ted Chan – Amory Parker – Jim Davis – Howard Chun – Mark Heller.

I packed up all the darkroom equipment and multi-media equipment that the church council voted to let me take since I was the driving force behind all the photography and multi-media projects that the church produced. I duplicated a couple hundred of the best slides from my files so the church would have a record of its own. It took me a number of trips using the Gremlin to bring everything to the house to load on the truck when we get it.

On Friday night May 2, 1980 around 6:00 PM Dave and Tudy drove up in a twenty-eight foot box truck. People began arriving to help load the truck so we could get on the road as soon as possible. Everything was either boxed or broken down so when we had over a dozen people carrying thing out it was just a matter of stacking and organizing everything in the truck until everything that we owned fit in the truck. When we first moved to Los Angeles from Michigan nine years ago in 1981, it was just Kathy, our dog and me pulling a trailer. Now it would be pregnant Kathy, the dog and me and three kids in the car with a truck full of our accumulated worldly possessions following behind us.

It was a little after 8:00 PM when we pulled out of the driveway and said goodbye to the house that we first moved into as a couple in 1972 and were now leaving as a family of five with another on the way. Kathy drove at first and when she got tired I took over and drove for the rest of the night. We stopped for gas and since the truck took diesel we were limited to truck stops for fuel. The advantage was that at the time diesel was over a dime cheaper than the lowest grade of regular gasoline.

After the Arab oil embargo in the mid 1970’s the price of gas has been rising and now it was a dollar a gallon. When we moved to California in 1970 you could get gas for as cheap as thirteen cents a gallon at SUNOCO for their cheapest grade in Michigan and it was only thirty cents a gallon everywhere else. We read about how in Thailand gas cost $4.00 a gallon and they said that it would eventually happen in America and everyone freaked out. Now it was three times what it was just six years ago.

After Richard Nixon resigned Gerald Ford took over and other than the Mayaguez Incident debacle where dozens of marines were killed because of bad intelligence. After celebrating the Bi-Centenial in the Summer of 1976 Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in November. Carter was president during what seemed to be a fairly tranquil period for the country as the drug of choice moved from marijuana and LSD to Cocaine as Disco was born and took everything over in the secular world.

It was election year once again and Carter was running against B movie actor Ronald Reagan who the last time I saw him he was hosting the “Death Valley Days” TV program after the old ranger. Reagan was a hard core Republican who supported the Pro-Life position and was fully embraced by Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority. Carter was a liberal Democrat that was popular with the growing left wing media and all the hip people, musicians and otherwise. The coup de grace of his chances for a second term was the botched Iranian hostage rescue which looked like Ford’s Mayaguez Incident.

We stopped in Redding to eat at around 7:00 AM and we all went inside a Denny’s for breakfast. The I-5 freeway extended from Mexico to Canada and we were about to begin ascending to the highest elevations which would mean steep grades and the box truck fully loaded with a governor restricting it would make the worst time thus far. The first six-hundred miles was flat and we made it in eleven hours but the next four-hundred was made up of steep upgrades and windy side roads.

Kathy took over driving after breakfast and I tried to sleep and actually dozed off for a couple of hours. When I awoke we were driving through a beautiful wooded area north of Mt. Shasta in the Siskiyou mountain range and across bridges that spanned over drops into a wooded valley with a lake the winding river snaking through it. Everything below had clouds of fog floating through it as the rain drizzled just enough that the windshield wipers needed to be turned on and off regularly. Sometime after noon we hit the Oregon border but the rain didn’t let up, it just continued with floating clouds of fog habituating the hills going up and the valley down below.

Kathy said that she wishes that the rain would stop because it was making her depressed as we pulled into Medford, which is the biggest city right across the border about thirty miles from the border, to eat lunch. We stopped at a McDonald’s and talked about the plan once we arrived at our rendezvous’ point at the T & R truck stop on I-5 just before we reach the exit for a city called Corvallis where Oregon State University is located. After the truck was unloaded Dave and Tudy would lay down to sleep before they drove back to LA. I was listening to the radio and the most memorable music that I recall from the entire trip was by the Pretenders but I can’t recall the song.

We arrived at the T & R Truck stop around six and I called Greg Romine on the phone to tell him that we were here. An hour later a car drove up and told us to follow them which we did all the way to Toledo, Oregon. Toledo is a lumber mill town located seven miles inland from the Coast and a larger city named Newport. We pulled up to a house in a town in the middle of a small city that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere because it was night and everything was black and dark with rain pouring down.

When we arrived there were a dozen or more people there to help with unloading the truck, because I told Pastor Romine about the truck return time situation. He told Dave and Tudy to go in the house and have something to eat that was prepared for them and then they could sleep for a few hours before heading back to LA. They thanked him and did and we said our goodbyes because we would be asleep when they left.

The next morning when we woke up it was Sunday, so we got ready for church and found “New Life Center,” where Greg Romine was Pastor. The scenery looked totally different during the day than it did at night and was gorgeous. There were wooded hills surrounding the town and a slew that extended seven miles inland from Yaquina Bay right up to the two lumber mills and paper mill located in the heart of Toledo. At this time one of the lumber mills was shut down and the other was at half production and the paper mill was also at half production.

Times were bad in Toledo which is the only reason why we were able to move into our house with no questions asked. I later found out that another minister who was brought up to Oregon like me was going to work at a church in Bend and Eastern, Oregon city and had lived in our new home with his family until the night that we moved in. The entire family was on a trip and the same crew that unloaded our truck emptied the house and loaded everything in another truck that was gone by the time that we arrived.