Nov 18, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Five: Catch me if you can (I began running/drinking harder than was good for me)

Fight on for Victory --Fight Hard in Everything you do!

So there I was at the end of my first year at ¨Dear Old San Jose State¨ as a fraternity escapee extraordinaire (innocent yet guilty). I worked during that summer vacation of 1962 in San Jose/Santa Clara Valley (delivering flowers from the Town and  Country flower shop while the regular delivery guy had a long holiday).  I learned how to shift gears in a big white van and shift my eyes when dead people were displayed in coffins around me.

I moved out from my fraternity house arrest (btw, I just Googled Sigma Phi Epsilon/Epsilon Chapter/San Jose State and it no longer exists -- maybe they died from homophobia, R.I.P.) back to Lad Manor.  I even had the same apartment but roomed with only one roomie.  My roomate was Don, who was also one of my ¨Sig Ep¨ brothers, who had recently had his Sigma Phi Epsilon Golden Heart removed and survived the disgrace.  WE WERE FREE. My Bro and I spent the summer looking for heart transplants to fill our voids but mostly I delivered sprays and casket floral pieces through the backdoors of mortuaries by day and busily tried to kill myself  ¨death by drinks¨ at night...¨I Wanna Hold Your Hand¨ (if I am drunk) and ¨Never Would I Leave You¨ (I was gone by sunup) played on and on.  

We discovered a Gay bar in downtown San Jose...the Crystal. It had mainly mature customers but there were a few younger guys mixed in with a few, very/very fun, Lesbians too. It was fine and welcoming as we were still in training to become full-fledged Gay guys.  We had lots to discover. The flattery didn't hurt. The Bar was tucked away just behind the Cathedral and a block away from Hart's Department Store, main branch, Market and Santa Clara, where I would soon work part-time during my second year as a Spartan. Don and I were both very underage but the management of the Crystal Bar liked that (no worries of the police bothering them we were told - it was true).  Craig the Straight bartender kept those glasses filled, with or without payment...¨it's on the house!¨  Lucille, the cranky,  been-around-don´t-mess-with-me cocktail waitress was a smiles, a veteran beat-them-with-tray-bar fighter and more! Touchdown! 

We loved being 19 and we went to San Francisco (just up the Bayshore) whenever we could (often) to further advance our homosexual studies.

Hippies we were not (even though we had brunch every Sunday at the The Cask Bar/Restaurant on Haight Street).  No drugs for me (I figured I was ¨nuts¨ enough already).  Besides, I couldn't wait to get to the Jumping Frog Bar - North Beach around 3:30 P.M Sunday afternoons and I wanted to JUMP and not crawl into the place...and so *it* began.

to be continued

Nov 8, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Four: I escaped from the hetero-bro-ex-Gay rehabilitation program after spending one night under my fraternities version of house arrest!

During the Summer of 1961 I took Pacific Airlines to San Jose to arrange off-campus housing for my first semesterself at San Jose State College. I stayed overnight at the Hotel Saint Claire near the campus.  I had been accepted at several *good* schools BUT I wanted to be away from home, near San Francisco, and go to a ¨Party¨ School. My parents let me decide. 

I no longer wanted to be ¨nice.¨ In fact, I couldn't wait to turn the page on the ¨old¨ me whom I self-appraised as a little too normal/polite (if I was to live an abnormal ¨Gayway¨ of life in a under-cover way I needed a little tarnishing). I knew there was more duplicity coming my way. What's NEW? I was prepared since birth to give them or say to them what they wanted to see/hear! However, I didn't want to keep pretending to be pure and sweet because that was portraying someone I didn't want to be! 

I planned on going through Fraternity Rush and pledge a Fraternity.  Instant friends?

I needed to have a home in San Jose before I moved into the Fraternity House.  Living in the Fraternity House itself, still unknown, would happen in my second semester. I found approved Mens off-campus housing at a new apartment building named Lad Manor.  It was nice.  I was to have two other roomates, full kitchen, big living room, one bedroom, two bunk beds and I would not know my roomates before I moved in.  The apartment manager made the selections as to who would be living with who (if you didn't book with friends ahead of time).  Gasp!

All I knew was my soon to be roomates were Juniors and and they were transfering from St. Mary's in San Francisco.  I never imagined they would turn out to be the well-known, athletic, fun, and handsome super-hunks! Now what? WE would become good friends immediately.

My new roomies took me along and introduced me to their other ¨popular¨ friends (and the dozens of gorgeous women they knew).  I was happy and I was confused...what to do, what to do?  One of their friends I liked very much and he liked me too.  Sort of big-brothered me.  He was on the football team and a member of the All-Jock-All-The-Time Fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega. Clearly ATO was the most desireable fraternity on everyones Rush Party list. Everybody that is, except me.  I thought I would be trapped and/or outted and disgraced in such muscle bulging company, so,  as much as I was smitten with my new BIG BRO buddy, I (thought) needed to say no. They were great guys, the ATO's, I liked them the best.  They kept bidding me back.  I became quietly horrified. They bid me back right up to the end of Rush Week and tried to ¨pocket pledge¨ me too!  

I plotted to disappear into a very medium cool, huge membership, everyday-regular guy-kinda fraternity.  I did (they didn't try to pocket pledge me and I was insulted but joined anyway). I Pledged Sigma Phi Epsilon and got exactly what I wanted...anonymity (soon I discovered membership size couldn´t conceal pettiness, mediocrity and a large bunch of unattractive homophobes who lurked/lived there).  

Second semester college lesson number one for me was: Get the Hell away from these dudes. Amazingly quick, seven of us had already discovered one another at San Franciscos Gay bars (yes, we got in under age). Several ¨brothers¨ were discovered (not me) and confessed under star-chamber-like torture and then were asked to take a powder from the Fraternity. The paranoid witch-hunting-to-look-better when-serenading-sororities coven didn't want a scandal. They wanted ME, the untrapped/clean slater suspect Gay, to move into a new room, hopefully sanitized, and hang out with proven heterosexual brothers for the rest of eternity. Not for me, I escaped their ex-Gay rehab plot after spending one night under fraternity house arrest.

Later, when I passed any of them on campus they sniggered (I didn't blink).

When you got worries where do you go?
to be continued

Nov 1, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Three: Perfect attendance because Narbonne High School wasn't all about education!

I am quite certain you don't know this (unless you are one of the millions of children and young people who attended a school within the Los Angeles Unified School District) but, there is a special break in morning, from classes, of about 20 minutes for ¨nutrition.¨  When I was going to Narbonne High School (Class of Summer ´61) we loved you know why?  It wasn't very nutritious but they did sell FRESH cafeteria baked HUGE spiral frosted Cinnamon rolls and Grilled Cheese sandwiches and they were 10 cents each!  Milk 5 cents.  Yes they did and they couldn't have started my day any better even if they hadn't tried so hard to kill me/us with grease and sugar.  

I loved High School in Los Angeles and I had three years perfect attendance to prove it.  I also received the jeweled ¨N¨ (for most active male, Lynn Carmichael the most active female) at graduation. 

When I became 16 years old I applied for my Drivers Permit...I also took Drivers Education in High School (we all did) because car insurance prices were lower for those of us who were good citizens (little did they know)...about six months later I got my California Drivers License with a perfect 100% written and also a great Driving Test score. Life was good and my friend Ralph and I went off to find out who we really were...we had a strong suspicion but didn't know for sure.  

Top secret we were. 

Ralph was the very first fellow student I spoke with my first day of school in California the year before.  We were waiting in the lunch line, he ahead of me with a battery operated radio pressed to his ear listening to popular music.  I interrupted and said ¨what kind of radio is that¨ and Ralph turned around, looked down at me like the very rich kid that he was, and said ¨Philco¨...end of conversation for a year. 

Ralph, like some of the teenagers I became friends with at school, was from a very wealthy family.  Wealthy friends mostly lived inside the gates at Rolling Hills or in Palos Verdes Estates or Portugese Bend and had horses, elegant cars, extra large homes, yachts and the biggest swimming pools.  I liked that part.  Often I was included in non-stop social activities and I liked that part too.  Life was good.  I was busy at school, very busy and loved Journalism class and worked every year on the school newspaper.

Under Len´s Lid, was the name of the column I wrote as Feature Page Editor for the Narbonne High School student produced/journalism class newspaper (Industrial Arts print shop printed it): The Green and Gold  I was also the Advertising Manager and sold ADS like they had never been sold before (I pitched every one of the small local merchants I could find because I got a 10% Commission and it was more of a part time job)!

As Feature Page Editor (the class and job, along with Advertising Manager, I refused to give up because of the perks. I was Advertising Manager for life and they liked it, the money rolled in) I often received two¨pairs¨ of tickets for Previews and Priemers of NEW MOVIES in nearby Hollywood as Feature Editor. I always went and shared my tickets with various friends who had big ELEGANT cars (we only had Buicks at my house) so we would make grand entrances at The Egyptian, or Graumans, or even big/grand/forbidden Studio lots where they often showed the Previews and introduced us to the STARS!  Yep, there I was, doing my best to TWINKLE amongst the stars (and sometimes I tried to act like it was normal for me to walk down the Red Carpet too). 

As a High Schooler , active teenager and Student Director of Athletics,  I fell in love. I was afraid HE, my love, wouldn't like me anymore if he knew my secret. He was a champion athlete, a brilliant guy, handsome, popular and gifted in many ways including being friendly, happy, well adjusted and he enriched my life.  We were best friends and fellow Key Club/Kiwanis members (I think he got me in as he was a member first). He knew my secret. He demonstrated his fondness for me when we were alone or on a trip. I was afraid and didn't let Nature take its course...something I have regretted my whole life.

Heartbreak Hotel, Johnny Mathis, Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tarzan, Crystal Beach, Avalon, Tiajuana/Caesar Salad, Dave of Redondo, UCLA/USC games, The Nominating Convention of John F. Kennedy, The Brown Derby/Club Sandwiches and other delicious activities followed (or was it simultaneously?) during my High School daze.

I loved Los Angeles

August of 1961:  I took the ¨Daylight Limited¨ to Northern California for Fraternity Rush Week/College in the San Francisco Bay area.

I never came back to live at at my parents home again

I never saw my best friend from high school again.  He went far away to become a father, a PHD and a success. Recently I learned that he died well over two decades ago. 

I have kept him close in my thoughts and prayers for over fifty years...I still feel his friendship deeply..that will not change.

to be continued