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


Anonymous said...

Uncle Len,
I didn't know you had a job delivering flowers. You know that was my first job too. Like you, I learned to drive stick in a flower delivery vehicle-- a nerve-wracking experience in my case. I mostly loved the job. Who doesn't love beautiful flowers?? I loved seeing people's faces light up when they saw what I was bringing. I got to help make a lot of people's day. The mortuary deliveries were of course a different story. Perhaps the spirit of the departed smiled upon us as we set the beautiful blooms about the casket?? At the time, I just wanted to make the delivery QUICK and be on my way though.. No lingering there. :-0

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Hi Jenny, Yes, the flowers were so gorgeous and the shop I worked for were famous for updated/contemporary looks..I loved watching them work, pure artistry and the variety of flowers was amazing. I actually worked most of my life as I was always aggressive that way and wanted to have money to spend...I sold boxed soap sets and later boxed all-occasion cards as a little guy in Washington...always selling something and my parents, your grandparents loved High School I sold ads for the High School Newspaper and actually made good money in High School because of that (also got a lot of free clothes from a regular/happy advertiser, Allens of Inglewood). Still, in retirement I am working hard every day in my art studio...I'm the type and so are you and so were my parents and my Dads regular comment/compliment about someone was they were ¨hard workers.¨ They admired that above all other qualities I think.