A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 1975

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Moving Out, Finishing High School (in that order)
The stress between my father and I got even worse, because I was starting to feel my wings a bit. I felt too much pressure from him (I think he was living vicariously through me, regarding the Boy Scouts -- he never got to make Eagle Scout, so he was pushing me to do it ...). I was working at McDonald's to make a small amount of money. I was basically running the Boy Scout Troop because dad had business meetings on the regular meeting night. I was trying to finish High School. I was stressing out. I was taking tranquilizers when I got home from school to stop the shaking when dad was home.

I had purchased a new camera, an Olympus OM-1, which was one of the hot cameras to have at the time (which I recently sold on eBay to a gentleman in Ireland as a collector's item). I also purchased my class ring, which I wore for many years. When I decided to take a guitar class in the spring semester (which dad was opposed to, of course), I had to purchase my own guitar, as dad refused to pay for such a waste of money.

I decided in January to leave the Boy Scouts to try to get out from the pressure of running the troop on top of everything else.

I was nearly done with attaining Eagle Scout status, having completed the project, just needed the rest of the merit badges ... On a side note: the Boy Scouts decided the year before to change the focus of the organization, and aim it at the "inner-city" kids -- in the process some of the merit badges I had that were required were no longer required for Eagle, and there were some new ones that were required -- add all that to the difficulties I was having outside of the Boy Scouts, and ... well ... there's a good reason I didn't finish the trail to Eagle. A few years later they changed the focus of the Scouts back to outdoors, as they found the inner-city kids they had modified it for were more interested in camping and getting out of the city!
This escalated the stress between my father and I. Over the years I have sort of regretted never finishing Eagle. I think when I quit, and dad quit shortly after, the troop died. I seem to recall that Tim (my brother) made out pretty well, as he had a bunch of the camping gear that had belonged to the troop.

One of the classes I was taking was a guitar class, and I was getting along pretty well with a new student at the school (by "new" I mean that this year of school was her first at West, she started in the fall semester), Jane Jonas, who also was taking this class. We kept challenging each other to do better in the class, and out of a huge class of students, I think we were some of the better ones. (She was also in my archeology and acting classes earlier that school year ...) I was very attracted to Jane, but we weren't "an item" yet.

Somewhere in here I started writing a diary in a small spiral bound notebook. I don't still have it, although later I copied some of that into an "empty book". Re-reading it now (when I'm in my mid-forties) I see a lot of really goofy stuff, but at the time (at age 18) it felt "deep" ... heck, at the age of 80 I'll probably say the same thing about all this. The diary helps a bit as I can at least get some dates from it, and I'll be referring to it for awhile in this bio.

The Ultimatum
In February Jane got sick and missed school. I offered to come over and show her what she missed in the guitar class. I ended up at her place (on a school night) until much later than I should have ... We quite literally were just talking and had lost track of the time -- I know I had a ball talking with Jane because she was a very funny lady, and very bright (this was the beginning of our relationship, I just didn't realize it at the time). I don't think dad would have believed me, even if he'd let me explain.

I came home very late (11ish) and started doing the dishes (it was my turn, and I promised I'd do them when I came back from Jane's). Dad got out of bed, walked up to me (in his underwear -- something you should never have to see is your parents in their underwear), and backhanded me across the face which lifted me off the floor. I was taller than dad at this point, although a lot thinner. I must have been 5'10" or 5'11" (my current height) at that point and 160-170 lbs. As I was sitting on my ass (not crying -- I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction), he told me that since I was so irresponsible I could either move out or drop all extra-curricular activities. At that, he just stumped back down the hall and back to bed.

So while sitting there on the floor, holding my cheek and trying to find my glasses, I decided to move out. I didn't tell him that. I never got a chance to even try to defend myself. When I got to school the next day I made plans with some friends. I would stay at Alan's for awhile, until an opportunity to move somewhere else would work out. Ted Mihajlich and Alan Levy (or someone, can't remember) would come over on the next (Wednesday) night when the family was at church.

Moving Out
I arranged to not work that Wednesday evening, and then made a mistake -- I told mom and dad I wasn't working. They took me to church (if I'd been thinking clearly I would have told them I was working a late shift at work, or left like I as going to work -- hindsight's a wonderful thing).

Ted and company came over, I wasn't there. I was really upset about that. My one chance at freedom, and I blew it. I seem to recall that they actually came to the Church, and dad met them and told them to go away ...

The next day one of my friends (Scott Hardin) in orchestra saw me moping about and asked what was wrong. After I explained he decided that he'd help me out -- he had a pickup truck. At lunch he and I and some others (including Ted) went to my parent's house and cleaned out my room, taking everything that I felt was mine (clothes, records, books, etc.). I think we had something like 8 or 10 of us, which thinking on it was pretty amazing. We left the furniture but not much else. Someone even took the "Ken's Room" sign off the door. I had written a really nasty letter that I was going to leave on the desk in my room but either I forgot or chickened out. It's probably just as well -- things between my father and I would have been even worse. I thought about mailing it, but Jane convinced me not to. We went to Alan's and dropped things off and went back to school. I think we missed a class after lunch.

A day or two later I moved in with another friend (Bob Smart -- he was a Junior) and his mother, who was more than willing to let me stay in the spare bedroom until the school year was over.

According to mom, dad swore after that that I would never get any help from him for anything ever again. When she told me that, I was fine with it. It was at this point, specifically when mom told me this, that I basically divorced myself from my family. I was able to talk to mom, but dad was out of the question, and emotionally I had severed myself as best I could. I still carried around a lot of anger for a few years, but it was the beginning.

Mom, having read this adds a bit more ...

"When you moved out Bill was very hurt and angry too. A few days after you left, you called me to let me know where you were and that you were okay. Bill had reported you missing. I came to see you and to give you a couple of things and get back your house key. When I got home Bill wanted to know how you were and when you were coming home. I told him I never asked you to come home. That shocked him. You were 2 months from being 18 if I remember right. I called the police and told them you were okay. I felt it was not a good idea for you to come home. I urged you to try to build bridges not walls between yourself and your dad. You did this."

I don't remember hearing that I'd been reported missing to the police (mom may have told me back then, but I don't remember it).

Apparently dad wouldn't let my name be spoken in the house for quite some time after that (I heard from mom that one night she said my name at dinner, and he threw a glass through a shelf-unit with glass doors).

I was free, and I was able to relax a lot. The tension levels dropped. After the first few days of living at Bob's house I threw the tranquilizers down the toilet. I didn't need them anymore and have never needed anything like them since. As a side-note -- I am not sure if it's just that I don't have an addictive personality, or what, but I've never really been addicted to anything. I can even go without coffee (not that I want to <g> -- I know people who get headaches if they don't get their caffeine "fix") for a day or two with no ill-effects ... I've never felt a need to take drugs, and while I can and do drink alcohol, I don't drink all that often and can go for a long time between drinks.

Mom called Bob's mother and offered to help pay for food and such. Bob's mother wouldn't think of it. She was a very nice woman and I don't think I ever really thanked her properly for helping me out in that situation.

Jane Jonas
I started dating Jane shortly after I moved out until that summer when she went back east to visit her old high school friends. The relationship was very hot and heavy in a lot of ways, emotionally as well as other. I came to really love this girl in a fairly short amount of time.

Jane was a lovely catholic girl from a very large family. Her siblings were all brothers, and she was the youngest of them. I don't remember the exact number of brothers because they were working on the Alaska Pipeline so I don't think they were all at home at any one time, but they were big and protective and scary. I remember one of them, when I was visiting at her place, offering me a beer. I drank a small amount but found I didn't like it much (I have never liked beer -- it's the taste, not because it's alcoholic). Jane was blonde, very outgoing, very funny. She had a great singing voice, and was a good guitarist, she was a really good actor as well.

I remember Jane was quite a rebel. If it was "expected" she didn't want to do it. That included not having her photo in the yearbook, and it also included not going to the Senior Prom. I sort of regretted missing the prom but, oh well -- we went out by ourselves that evening which made up for it.

Jane will always be special to me because she was the first girlfriend I had where I actually thought I was in love. I might have been. She was my first love, anyway. Jane and I talked, we laughed, we had ups and downs. There was love there. Were we "in love"? I don't know. I thought so at the time. For several years after we broke up (even while I was married to Courtney), thinking of Jane would make my heart flutter a bit. Not very many women have done that to me ...

Meanwhile, Back in School
The orchestra took a trip to Cordova (Alaska), which I spearheaded fund-raising for. I remember we slept in the school on the stage, which was a bit weird. There were enough of us that even if some of us were so inclined, there was no hanky-panky. After we came back, I also spearheaded us getting "Letter Sweaters" -- so we could put our Orchestra letters on them (the choir and band had them, why not the Orchestra?). It seemed kind of odd to me that in my Sophomore year I got a letter, but nothing to put it on, and no one made any effort to get sweaters until I did it in my senior year. I still have that old tired sweater ...

I didn't take German in my senior year -- I had had three years of it, I didn't do that well in the third year. (And of course, not having really used it since, my German is really rusty. I can make out a small amount in movies, but most movies that use German are using fairly basic stuff ...) I helped the Russian club out, even though I didn't take Russian. I helped with various fund-raising activities to help some of them go to Russia. It was a lot of fun. The evening that the Russian Club took over one of the local radio stations was a riot. We ushered the Chuck Berry concert (the only drawback being that I got sick from all the smoke -- you name it, I think it was being smoked). We ran a concession stand for the Iron Butterfly concert (really!).

I remember a few lunch breaks during the last part of the year playing guitar in the "senior court" area either by myself, or with Jane, and just kind of hanging out. I also remember a few lunch breaks with Jane where we left the school campus completely and missed some classes, just to walk and talk ...

I am sort of skipping over most of my classes because by this time I just wanted to graduate and get it done with. I failed Economics in my senior year. It was no biggie except for any effect it had on my transcripts. I took it because I thought I needed it to graduate (needed a "social studies" class). It was taught by an instructor who's last name was literally "Bland", and unfortunately, that's how he taught. When I found out I didn't need it to graduate, I tried dropping the class, but it was too late. This class was the last one before the lunch break, so it was a perfect time for Jane and I to skip out early for lunch.

March, 2004 update: I don't recall everything we did with the Thespians this year, I remember "Up the Down Staircase", and we did "Black Jack Rides Again" I found the poster for that play, with a review still taped to it, and included those with the photos ... (and in November, 2006, my brother sent me a DVD of some of my father's old photos, which included the one of me in costume at the back of the theatre shown below ...)

Before the end of the school year I decided to see if I could have a civil conversation with my father. He worked about half a mile (give or take) from the school. I arranged to meet him during lunch one day. I was scared of him, so I brought a friend along. We had a quiet conversation, but never really said anything important (like "I'm sorry"). I think I took Bob with me but I don't really remember. Whoever it was the moral support was greatly appreciated.

Unsung Heros (Feb. 12, 2003)
There's always talk in the media and other places about the unsung heros of any school system, specifically the teachers. Being someone who has taught professionally, although not in the public school systems (that's where I was headed when I went to college), I thought perhaps I ought to say thanks to the various teachers from West Anchorage High (most of whom will probably never see this, but oh well) that I really remember still after all those years (we're talking 28-30 years later, after all!). Anyway, this is a small tribute to the instructors I can still remember something about after all those years ... The teachers are listed in the order I found them in my yearbooks.

Mrs. Leffingwell -- the Orchestra instructor. She moved over to West Anchorage High from Romig Jr. High the same year I did (totally a coincidence). I took Orchestra each year from her. She always tried hard, and I think she was always disappointed that the Orchestra was never a full symphony.

Ms. Cam McCarrey -- The choir director/instructor. I didn't actually take any classes from her until my senior year, but she also came over to West from Romig the same year I did. The one thing that you knew was that the choir loved her even if you weren't a music student. She was one of those instructors that just managed to do everything right, the kind that you wish ALL teachers were -- inspirational, made things interesting, etc. I worked with her on and off in my Sophomore and Junior years because the Orchestra sometimes did things with the Choir. In my senior year I took a folk guitar class from her and had a great time. This is the class where Jane Jonas and I really hit it off, although I had acting and I think anthropology with her as well.

Mrs. Monroe -- The German instructor. She also taught Russian. She was a really interesting instructor as well. Even in my Senior year when I had stopped taking German, I hung out in her classroom with the Russian students, because I hung with that crowd a lot. Any teacher that has students hanging out in their classroom during lunch must have something going for them ...

Mr. Merlyn Gruhn -- I had Geometry from him in my Sophomore year, and in my senior year I had Physics from him. He looked a bit like the standard "absent-minded professor", but he was really sharp, and knew what was going on in his classroom all the time. I know folk tried to pass stuff by him (cheating, whatever) but he always knew, no matter how sneaky people were. He made Geometry really interesting, unfortunately I was never really able to get into physics ... I do remember one day in Geometry when someone asked Mr. Gruhn what he did during the 1964 Earthquake (the one that did devastating damage to Anchorage), and he said something about being outside measuring the waves in the ground. To this day I am not sure if he was joking, or if he really was doing that --- it wouldn't surprise me if he had.

Mr. Doug Davlin -- the photography instructor. I don't remember him well, but I remember a bit about the classes ... I think I took two, but can't remember. I wanted to be as good a photographer as my father ...

Mrs. Sutherland -- She taught several classes I took -- American Literature, Mythology and at least a couple of speech classes (these were where I got to know Mary Gamble). I remember that even then she was an older lady (and the photo in the yearbook shows this ...). Her final for the Mythology class was pretty funny. She had mimeographed tests, and never took out the stuff we didn't cover (Norse mythology) -- she just told us not to bother answering those questions. I remember going through the test so fast that I was bored. So I read the Norse Mythology questions, and answered those, too. I was still the first person to turn in the test ... I remember her being surprised, and even more so when she flipped through it and noticed that the Norse questions were answered as well. The speech classes were interesting, because I was the only student who did humorous speeches. Everyone else did serious dramatic stuff, I did my best to keep my selections humorous. I also remember in the American Lit. class that we did some dramatic readings in there, and while everyone else just sort of read out loud, I got into the characters, and was always picked to read. I specifically remember reading something like The Crucible and my first speech was someone being really angry, and I jumped on it and people moved away from me ... it's sort of a funny scene in my head.

Ms. Phelps -- The acting instructor. She was really an English teacher who got drafted to teach acting. She also (at least nominally) directed the productions that we did in school. She was a nice lady, but I think she was a bit overwhelmed by the acting students. We did hang out in her class for lunch a lot. It was often either her room or Mrs. Monroe's room ... (although in my senior year we spent time in the Senior Court when there was no snow on the ground, or off campus ...)

Mr. Bland -- unfortunately the only thing I remember about Mr. Bland was negative -- he was the instructor for economics, not an easy class for most high school age kids to really get into, and his teaching style was like his name -- bland and boring. Pity that. His class was just before lunch, and when Jane and I were dating we often skipped out during that class period and took off for an early lunch.

Mr. Baller -- This guy made Anthropology fun. He used marbles to teach genetics, and had lots of plastic replicas of items found in digs. This gave Allen Levy some fodder, and I remember he did a series of articles about a new archeological find, using the instructor for the basis of it. It was funny stuff.

Other teachers -- of course I took classes from other teachers, but none of them stick out in my head, even as I go flipping through the pages of my yearbooks. This doesn't mean that they were necessarily bad instructors, just that no interesting memories are popping up in my fuzzy little brain. High School teachers are underpaid (in my humble opinion) and under appreciated by the system, the students (for the most part) and by parents. It's a very hard job to do -- they are dealing with kids who are going through hell (puberty, all the angst most teenagers go through) and trying to give them an education. Even the best instructors have a hard go of it ... To be fair the administrators and counselors at these schools don't get much credit either -- they work hard.

Graduation, Making a Life For Myself
During the last few weeks before graduation I was getting weirder around the edges. I kept mumbling about how after all the work and all the hype about graduation that they should at least sing the "Hallelujah Chorus". I guess Greg heard that remark at least a dozen times. For some reason I was starting to stress a bit. I guess some of it was just the usual stuff you might expect -- being a senior in high school isn't easy, and my senior year was a bit weirder than most. Somehow I had the money to pay for the stuff -- cards, announcements, cap and gown, all of it -- I'm pretty sure my parents were not involved in paying for this.

Graduation night occured. Mom convinced dad to show up. I was surprised and a bit taken aback. After the ceremony, still in cap and gown, holding my diploma, I was talking to mom and dad (it was a tense conversation, because Dad was still not happy with me), when Greg came running up and said that he had something I had to see outside. He hauled me outside (my parents and brothers left at that point). I got circled by a bunch of friends and they sang the "Hallelujah Chorus"! I laughed so hard I nearly cried. They weren't in synch, they were out of tune, but it was the most glorious thing I heard all week. Greg ... what a pal.

Job ... JOB!!! Ack! I had to find a way to earn some money. McDonald's wasn't going to cut it, and after I moved out I had stopped working at McDonald's anyway.

Bob's mother was cool about all this and said I could stay until I was ready to move on. A few weeks prior to graduation I had really pissed Bob off. He wanted to throw me a surprise birthday party after I had said (quite truthfully) I didn't want a party. (He was one of those who believed that if someone protested that they didn't want something, that they really meant the opposite -- I think he really thought he was using reverse psychology properly.) Jane and I conspired to just not be there. We went out and saw a movie and had dinner, I think we borrowed Ted's VW. Bob decided from that point on he hated me, so life was a bit uncomfortable at "home".

On a general note: I was starting to become fairly secure/confident in who I was ... the next year I visited with a couple of friends from school (who were still in school) and they told me Bob was saying all kinds of nasty things about me. I asked them point blank if they believed the rumors. They said "No", and I said something like "That's all that matters, then." They were a bit nonplussed, but that sort of ended the bit about Bob. I clearly remember this, but I can't remember who it was I was talking to ...

Since I had my swimming certificates, and Senior Lifesaving from the Red Cross, I got a job almost immediately after graduation as a lifeguard at East Anchorage High School. This job lasted until the end of the year. It was a good job. Being a lifeguard isn't easy -- it's not just sitting on a chair and yelling at kids. The job included teaching, cleaning the pool, and a lot more. There were perks as well. For example I doubt my health was ever more at its peak -- I swam a minimum of a quarter mile a day (that's what was required, I often swam more than that), I rode a bike to and from work (except in the Winter, when I used public transit to get there, and walked home at night). I started in the afternoon and worked until the pool closed (and after most nights), five days a week.

This job meant coming home fairly late, because it included a bunch of maintenance (cleaning the filters, scrubbing the edges around the pool to get rid of mold, etc.).

Broken Relationship
Jane decided after graduation to go back east and see some friends that she knew before moving to Alaska with her family. She decided to break off the relationship we had at that point, to make things "easier". Sigh. I wasn't very happy about that, as Jane really did mean a lot to me, but it appeared there was nothing I could do to change her mind (lord knows I tried). There's a lot of angst/pain in my diary from this period, but there's no real need to go into it here -- suffice it to say that I was really hurt at the time.

A Place To Live
In order to have even more control of my life I moved into an apartment with Ted (from my high school), and Sidney Makar. This was a basement apartment in a fairly nice, quiet area of Anchorage, within walking distance of the Northern Lights Mall.

This was a real lesson in the facts of living in the real world. I had to have a real job (see above), then I had to budget my money so I could pay bills, and so on. Responsibility. Being an adult! There are a lot of things my parents never taught me. I had to learn a lot the hard way.

Ted was the one who set it all up. I think he found the apartment and if there was a deposit, I have a feeling he may have fronted it. I was added as a "third" as it was a three bedroom apartment, and of course three people meant less rent each.

We did a lot of the "usual" things -- brick and board bookshelves, got some cheap or free furniture from various friends. I think the sofa came with the apartment, but don't recall for certain. We hit up Salvation Army or Goodwill for pots, pans and dishes.

Sidney and I hit it off from fairly early on. Sid is half-Alaska-native and half-caucasion. He grew up in Bethel, Alaska and in Chicago (at least that's what I remember him telling me) in the not-so-good parts of town. He claims to have won a black-belt in karate by beating his father. He wasn't bad at it, so that may have been true. I am no martial arts expert. I know he had some incredible reflexes, and slept with a knife under his pillow. (I remember the knife from one morning when Sid hadn't gotten up when his alarm went off, I went to wake him, touched him on the shoulder, and suddenly there was a knife in my face, and Sidney, standing there holding it and starting to wake up ... very scarey! I never woke him up that way again ...)

In the process of all this, I got to know a bunch of Sidney's friends from Dimond High School, including John, Nancy, Chris, Jim, Chuck ... fun people to hang with and we saw a lot of them, even though they lived across town (some of them had cars).

John McKay adds his version of 'getting the apartment' in an email from him on January 18, 2003:
"I graduated in 1974 from Dimond. I knew Ted through Karl and Adrian (I went to Romig with Karl before going to Mears and Dimond). During my senior year (1973-74) I introduced my Dimond friends to my West friends, with an amazing amount of resulting confusion.
     "Sid had regularly beaten me up at the bus stop in ninth grade till I got pissed one day (when he was stoned) and flattened him. This is one of my wife's favorite stories about my teen years. I'll give you the long version someday. Anyhow, we became great friends along with Chris Cushman, Jim Curran, and Jeff Forbes. We were in the theater crowd. Somewhere in there I met you, though I'm not sure when. Karl, Adrian, Ted, Jeff, and I were all class of '74. You, Chris, Jim, Sid, Chuck, and Nancy were all '75. After my first year in college, I came home to look for a job. Sid either left home or was thrown out at graduation so I invited him to stay with me. My parents and little sister were away on a road trip for most of the month. Sid got me a job at La Mex where he worked, and we walked or biked together every day. We often tried to out do each other in sort primitivist macho by walking barefoot on the gravel roads, not wearing coats, and stomping out Sid's cigarettes with our bare feet. About the time my parents were to get home, I met you and Ted. Ted said you were looking for a roommate. I think he had me in mind since he barely knew Sid. I sort of forced Sid on you guys even though it was a very weird match.
     "Many of my memories of summer and Christmas for those years revolve around the apartment. It was one of those legendary places. Sid once offered me five dollars to hit you with a cream pie. He supplied the pie. Jeff and Jim lured you up to the front door where I was lurking. You were too quick for me. I didn't get paid."

My recollection of both John and Sid's story about John "taking Sid out" (I remember both of them stating this) is that when Sid got back up he said something like "You're my hero", because John was the first person to beat him up.

I think John's probably right about the apartment having a sort of legendary status -- we had people over all the time. Of course, I think part of that is because we were the only ones of our "crowd" who had their own place.

One Saturday morning, at way too early in the morning (probably 8 or so -- I was getting home around 2 in the morning), I heard a knock at the door. Our friends knew I was not up that early, but ... The door was around the back of the house, so unless you knew where it was you weren't going to find it. I threw on some jeans, and answered the door. My hair was long and I was growing a beard. I wasn't wearing anything except the jeans. It was the youth pastor from Anchorage Baptist Temple,and he wanted me to come back to the fold! Ack! Mom! How could you?!? Okay, I know how she could, she was concerned about my having drifted away from the church. At the time I was quite annoyed, though. (My mother knew where I lived, she was the obvious answer as to who told this guy where I was ...) I was not very polite, but I wasn't rude (I wasn't awake enough for that!) either. I just stood there in the door and didn't invite him in, and let him talk. I was very non-commital, and that was that. I know what mom was trying to do, and in a way I appreciate it, but I had completely broken from the church, and was agnostic at the time (I wasn't sure what to believe), with atheistic tendencies.

Another incident that involved my family -- I was sort of interested in the equal rites ammendment that was being sponsored by some city councilman in Anchorage (this was one of my only efforts to "be political"). The reason was really just that I thought some fairness was needed when dealing with people and housing and such. I felt it was my civic duty, so I tried to get involved. I've never really been much interested in politics. The issue that the ammendment was being written for was aimed at unwed mothers, but the wording was pretty open ended (I think the term "sexual preference" was used), and the churches included gays in the definition (who would have been covered by this ammendment, but they were not who the councilman was thinking of -- he said so several times). Not being gay, and at that time in my life not having any experience with gay people, that wasn't a big concern of mine. I had a sticker on my dresser with the "Equal" sign on it that was being used for those folk who were for the ammendment. Mom and Tim came over one day to chat. Tim saw the sticker on the dresser and tore it off and ripped it to shreds saying I didn't need that. I almost creamed him. If mom hadn't been there I would probably have punched his lights out. This is one of the reasons I don't get along with him ... (It was the principal of the thing, not the specific item that he tore up -- it wasn't his decision to make. This kind of attitude is one of the biggest problems I have with organized religions in general ...)

Invariably when someone finds out if I was a lifeguard, they ask "did you save anyone?" Actually, yes, I did. There was a very young girl who jumped off the diving board without knowing how to swim, or at least not well. How she got on the board I don't know, because I was at the wrong part of the pool to be monitoring who got onto the board -- I was in the chair overlooking the deep end of the pool opposite the diving boards. She jumped off the board and immediately I could tell she was floundering. I followed procedure and reached with the pole and she was maybe six inches out of reach with me fully extended. I went for the ring (the ring with rope that is always on the side of a lifeguard's chair ...) -- someone had messed with the rope and I had no time to untangle it. I jumped in and pulled her out. No biggie -- she was small. I got jumped on by the manager of the pool for not using the ring. I was never congratulated for saving the girl ... Whatta life.

The door to the apartment was in the back of the house, and not easily seen from the street. Or so we thought. We thought it would be funny to put a red lightbulb in the porch light. One night a ... gentleman ... we didn't know came to the door and wanted to know where the women were. After explaining to him that this was a joke, and we didn't think anyone could see the light from the street, we got him to leave without beating us up. We changed the lightbulb right away, and never did that again!

Somewhere either by the end of the year or early in the next, Sid and I decided that Ted was being difficult and asked him to move out. I am not sure at this point (things blur a lot in the old memory banks) what the reasoning or timing was. It was too bad, as Ted and I had been pretty good friends in school. I got to read a lot of classic science fiction because Ted had a lot of the classics (and the main reason I don't own some of them is that I didn't need to buy it if Ted had it, and now many of these are not in print so you can't find them unless you really search and are willing to pay through the nose). I guess my Science Fiction/Fantasy obsession sort of stems from this time -- while I know folk with more books than I have, a lot of folk are blown away by how many are on the shelves when they visit.

After Ted moved out, the landladies let us paint one of the walls of the apartment in the living room black, and put the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon album cover there. That was pretty spiffy, and I'm not sure why they let us do that.

That summer I got laid for the first time with a young woman who's name escapes me completely now (Donna? Diana? I can't recall). It was awkward. It got better, really. We had a very short relationship (maybe two weeks). She was a nice girl. She had the deepest blue eyes -- you could fall into them! (It turns out they were colored contact lenses -- purple lenses on blue eyes ... pretty spiffy ...) Her father was a commercial fisherman, he took a couple of boats out into the Anchorage Inlet at specific times (there were very strict regulations), dropped nets, came back and pulled the fish from them. I went out with them once. It was an interesting experience. I got bit by a salmon, the wrong way -- my fingers up through the gills into his mouth. I don't think I need to ever go out and do that kind of fishing again, but I honestly think I learned something about it.

Of course, being the ones who had a real apartment away from our families, we had a lot of friends dropping by, sometimes crashing over, and a lot of parties. We were young. I could say we were young and stupid, which in some ways would be true, but ... All in all, it was a pretty good year.

Christmas was spent at my parents, at my mother's urging. She was really trying to reconcile my father and I. It was a bit of a weird day, but I hung around all day. I brought my guitar, sang a bit with Tim. Mom wasn't feeling well (flu or something), so Tim and David made Christmas dinner. It was a bit uncomfortable, but apparently dad appreciated it (although again, I never heard it from him). Mom drove me home (it was a bit of a hike from where I lived ...).

Like the previous year's entry, I thought I'd try to mention some of the friends who had some impact on me in my senior year and beyond. Of course, after school it's harder, because I don't have the yearbook to look back at ...

Greg Gadberry -- again with the Greg. Well, he really was important to my life. In my senior year he was a sophomore, which meant I saw him in orchestra every day, and usually at lunch, and often after school, even if we didn't have any other classes together. After I graduated Greg is one of the few folk from West High School that I kept in touch with.

Jane Jonas -- my first real love. I had some real emotions with her. It's very important to note that this was not just a "sex" relationship (among other things we never went "all the way") -- Jane and I loved talking, singing together, doing things together ... Of course, the hormones were there and running rampant, but we really did have more going on. She had one hell of a sense of humor, with a cynical bite to it, which was and always will be important to me.

Unfortunately I have only the one photo of her (see below - it's not a great photo of her), and the paragraph above really doesn't do her justice. It's been many years, but I still remember Jane with great fondness.

It was good while it lasted. After graduation she went back to visit her friends from the school she had been at before moving to Alaska, and I didn't see her most of the summer. She decided to break off the relationship before she left. I was bummed at the time, but that's life. The last time I saw her must have been in 1984 at a Renaissance Faire in Anchorage, she was with her husband and a child. I was in a strange frame of mind, and wasn't comfortable seeing her ... sorry, Jane. I was rude for no real reason.

Laurie Steele -- she was my standmate in orchestra this year (at least part of the time, looking at the Christmas concert photo I was in the second chair position), and was in orchestra with me for a couple of years there. She was a very nice girl, who unfortunately put up with a lot of ribbing from us -- she had small square "granny" glasses. Everyone called her "granny". I don't think she liked it much, but she was pretty stoic about it and put up with it. I don't think most of us gave her credit ... heck, looking at her photo in the yearbook, she was actually pretty cute. Hindsight is grand, isn't it?

Adrian Dube -- Adrian was still around this year of course (being in the same 'class' I was), and she and I still hung around in the same circles. As noted in the previous part of this autobiography, Adrian and Karl (Jacobs) were at least partially responsible for getting me thinking about things outside of schoolwork, questioning things. This was very important, and made some real changes in my life. It's hard to say sometimes how important some people were in your development ... some folk are always just "there", people to talk to, people willing to help no matter what, and my rememberance of Adrian is that she was one of those folk.

Lyle Austin -- he was an interesting guy. I was never quite sure what to make of him. I think he had at least a bit of "manic depression" -- if he was happy, nothing in the world was wrong, and if he was down, nothing in the world could make him happy. There was not much in between. When he was up, though, he was a lot of fun to be around. I saw him on and off after high school.

Cindy Dunham -- she was good friends with Vera Phillips, and a nice girl, but part of the "in crowd" and there was a bit of a barrier there. It turns out she was born in the same hospital I was, a day apart -- can't remember if she's a day older than me, or a day younger, not that it matters. Talk about a small world. She was actually very nice when she forgot about that "barrier" ... Oh yes, she was also a thespian, forgot about that until flipping pages in the yearbook. That's probably how I really got to know her.

Alan Levy -- not a lot to add to what I said earlier, except that when I needed help, he came through in ways that were surprising. After graduation from high school I don't think we ever really saw each other again.

Linda Lockhart -- even more of a babe as a senior than as a junior, and always nice to everyone. If you have to have a crush on someone, you could do a lot worse ... the photo I have of her was her senior photo that she handed out to friends, and it's taped into my year book.

Vera Phillips -- thought I'd mention her again here. We took several classes together, and as always she was very sweet. She used me as a "demo model" for a demonstration speech on shaving. Luckily she didn't have a real blade in the razor -- I think my face would've been ripped to shreds. I was never sure if there was a chance of a relationship with Vera. I liked her, she liked me. It was hard to tell. Maybe I was just being dense.

Barbara Adkins -- She was a nice girl, but I don't think she had a lot going on ... she was really someone who just wanted to get married, have kids, etc. She had been dating Eric Johnson (one of the photographers that hung around with Karl and Adrian and I), they broke up at one point, I had mascara all over my shirt from giving her a place to cry. I dated her briefly after I graduated. The "Ken and Barbie" jokes were a bit much, and the relationship didn't last (although it wasn't the jokes that killed our short-lived relationship, it was her lack of depth - a nice girl, but as noted, not a lot going on, and I definitely wasn't ready to settle down and get married or anything). Barb was one of the folk from High School (like Greg) that I kept in touch with ... (Note: in the 1977 page of this bio, I add some stuff from Barb, as in March of 2004, I heard from her in email ...)

After-High School
After graduating my circle of friends changed a lot. I didn't see much of the folk from High School. Some of them went off to college in the fall. I saw Greg on and off for the next few years, but most of the folk from High School became part of my past way too quickly, unfortunately (I say this now, at the time I didn't think about it). I think mostly I was concentrating on making a life. I met/made a bunch of new friends because of my roommates. Many of these folk went to Dimond High School together, and I got to know them through Sidney who was in their school, and Ted who knew them. (Details on how they met in the information provided by John earlier in the bits about the apartment ...)

There were others in this group of friends but I cannot remember a lot of names and faces. This particular crowd was amusing -- they were all bright, and we had a lot of fun hanging out together, laughing a lot about ... whatever. There was a pizza place -- Pizza Plaza -- run by some Greek folk pretty close to our apartment. Before "Dr. Pepper" became a big thing (there was a fad for awhile) we were all drinking it. We always ordered the same thing at this pizza place (Canadian Bacon). So, we'd walk in, and all they had to ask was "How many pizzas and how many Dr. Peppers?" These folk included (the ones I can remember):

Ted Mihajlich -- Roommate, high school chum, former Thespian, Science Fiction fan, nice guy. Dunno what went wrong here.

Sidney Makar -- The other roommate, we were good friends for most of two years ...

Nancy B Tileston (The 'B' is not missing a period after it, that was her 'middle name' ...) -- She and her sister Anna were really sweet, interesting people. She was dating Jim Curran, who I don't remember much of, but I think he was always jealous of all the guys who Nancy just liked being friends with. I don't think she ever had any intent on anyone but him ...

John McKay -- John was a not-very-tall, possibly hyper (thinking back, I don't know that he was specifically "hyper-active", but he was always fidgeting and always busy and ...), VERY bright, thin guy with a SHOCK of brilliant red hair. I mean it was thick (unlike my fine hair, which I'm losing as I type ...). He was always fascinating. He's the one who introduced me to Larry Niven and to Harlan Ellison (science fiction authors). We were having a small picnic at someone's house (might have been Nancy's), and he did a reading of Ecowareness by Harlan Ellison, which has a hysterical ending; and then he did a reading of Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex by Larry Niven, reading the footnotes and everything, and we couldn't stop laughing. John is one of those people who always has to be doing something, so he was fun to be around. When John went off to college, we had a surprise when he first came back. He'd let his beard grow. So he had a big thick red beard to go with the hair. Then he went back to school. When he came back again, he had muttonchops. He played with that beard a lot ... we never knew what he'd look like when he came back from school.

(January 16, 2003) -- John just got in touch with me having read this far into the bio, and provided me with some last names that I couldn't remember for folk, with a small amount of detail:

"Jim Curran teaches at East High's alternate school. A few years ago he was starting a new semester. He noticed two very large native guys sitting in the back trying to look cool and uninterested. He began to go through the class list calling roll for the first time. When he got to two males named Makar, and one answered, "Here," he asked him, "Say, are you related to Sydney?" They both dropped their carefully cultivated cool, blinked, and asked, "Do you know Uncle Sydney?" "Oh, yeah. We went to high school together." After digesting this one, one of them asked, "So, when you knew him, was he as scary as he is now?"

"Jim Curran - Now Mr. Nancy and the father of Erin, their daughter.

"Chris Cushman - Still makes women sigh. Looks like he is thirty (dammit). Generally clueless about his affect on women. Has a business at http://www.geocities.com/penguinarms/

"Charles Hart, Jr. - A mailing address can be found at Classmates.com (Dimond 1975 - We should all take advantage of this site). I haven't seen him since 1982. I think about him a lot, and really remember him with a lot of respect.

"Sydney Makar - I last saw him in about 1987 (not long before the last time I saw you) with his third wife. She was good for him.

"This is the year I get back in touch with the people I have let drift away. I'm in Seattle. I'll fill you in on the rest when I hear from you. I think I can add a lot of details to the 1975-1979 years." -- John

John has a blog at: Archy, in case you want to catch up with him. He's pretty active over there.

Chuck (Charles) Hart, Jr. -- he was another person who couldn't sit still. I don't think he was as focused as John, but he was always interesting. He had one of the first Honda CVCC cars that were available in Anchorage, and loved it. He was always telling us about how it never ran out of gas. Of course, one night on a weird little escapade (we were doing car chases in Anchorage ... not races, we were chasing each other, long story -- see below) and with four people in the car, WHILE he was expounding about how it never ran out of gas, it did. Good thing it was small and we could push it easily, because the nearest gas station was a ways off. Anyway, Chuck eventually went to Cordon Bleue (yes, the Chef school) in England. He was a damn fine cook. He was around a lot for a few years here. More later ... Chuck had a big sense of humor, but he sometimes didn't know when a joke was "Funny once" (Robert A. Heinlein in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress). Example -- I once (bragging) told him that I had a really good sense of balance (which is still true), and it was hard to trip me. So for a couple of weeks he kept trying to trip me. Once would have been ok. After that it got irritating, and eventually I warned him if he tried it again I'd kick him in the shin so hard he'd have a hard time walking. He tried again. I kicked him. That was the end of that bit. Despite that, we got along pretty well. He was always helpful, ready to give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

(March 7, 2003) - Long Story - car chase - shortened a bit, but the gist of it:
So, one evening we're at Pizza Plaza (mentioned elsewhere) having dinner. Sidney had this lame joke he wanted to throw out, and decided that evening was the time to do it. He was talking to Chris's girlfriend Faith (see below), and got Jeff (one of John's friends who I don't remember much of) to go out with him, and he cued Chuck and I, and Samantha (Sid's girlfriend) for this, and slowly we all wandered out the door (our table was near it that evening).

So, we got folk in cars, Chuck and Sam and I were in Chuck's car, Jeff, Sid and Faith in the other. I don't recall how many other cars were involved in this silliness, but ... The reason for Sam being in our car is that she and Faith both had long black hair and from the back window in a car you couldn't tell who was who.

Sid ran to the door, yelled out "Chris! I've got faith!" (that was the joke, really!) and took off. We then took our cars off in different directions, starting off slow so that we could be followed at least a bit.

We literally went all over the place, and this is when Chuck's CVCC ran out of gas, and Sam and I had to help push the car to a gas station. Figures. <g>.

Somehow we had lost our tail, or they gave up, and eventually we all ended up back at the apartment. It was fun and quite silly.

Chris Cushman -- a bit of an intro. I was told about this guy long before I met him. I was told that he had an incredible physique -- he could walk down the hall at school and you could hear an audible sigh from the ladies. He has red hair. I didn't believe it, of course -- no one could be that good looking, right? I met him -- it was true. Sheesh. And the physique was real, not exaggerated. Worse, he was a NICE guy (which meant you couldn't hate him for it). He was a fencer, and probably worked out a bit. He was smart, he was interesting, and he never let his looks get in his way. I don't know if he was even aware of the effect he had ...

Faith -- Chris' girlfriend, at least when I first got to know him. She was a nice girl, but very very shy and quiet.

A Few Photos
(These are thumbnails, click on them to see larger versions with text explaining them)

The Anchorage Inlet

Greg Gadberry

Ken and 'The Monster'

The Apartment Wall


Nancy B

Playing with Camera

Ken (me)

Ken (me)

Jane Jonas

Ken and
Linda Lockhart

Poster from
Black Jack
Rides Again

Review of
Black Jack
Rides Again

Yearbook Photos -- 1975 Yearbook (Ken's Senior Year of High School).
These photos are ones that are of folk mentioned in the text above ...

(Note: These are not thumbnails -- clicking on them won't get a larger version -- the larger versions look really bad ...)


Laurie Austin

Patti Irwin

Vivien Maynard

Sam Rose

Seniors (Ken's Class)

Lyle Austin

Jody Bochenek

Adrian Dube

Cyndy Dunham

Mary Gamble

Laura Imlach

Allen Levy

Linda Lockhart

Don McCauley

Kathy McCaw

Ken Mayer

Colin Maynard

Vera Phillips

Anita Severson

Laurie Steele

Greg Wolfe

Other Photos

Linda Lockhart
Senior Portrait
(this wasn't a
yearbook photo)

The Thespian Troupe
Back Row: Patti Irwin, Sam Rose, Laura Imlach, Jane Jonas,
Allen Levy, Ken Mayer, Bill Cameron (putting headlock on Ken)
Front: Cyndy Durham, Mary Eddie, and on the right Mrs. Phelps,
the acting instructor and advisor for the Thespians.

Thespian Club Officers
Adrian Dube, Patty Irwin, and
in front (left) Cyndy Dunham.

Greg Wolfe and Greg Gadberry from
a photo of "environmentalists" ...

Ken Mayer and Scott Hardin --
"officers" of the Orchestra.
(Ken was President and Scott
was Secretary/Treasurer ...)

The Orchestra. This was the largest it got ...
Ken and Greg (Gadberry) are next to each other in the second row on
the left. Ms. Leffingwell is standing behind Ken. The person with
"Me Again" pointing to her is Joanie Stassel, a sophomore ...

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