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What brought your or your family to Fullerton or Orange County?
My Dad was born in Santa Monica and followed in his Dad’s footsteps, farming citrus. His acreage was in La Habra and since the closest hospital was in Fullerton my parents headed down Spadra Road for my birth. Serendipity- I ended up a native Fullertonian.
Life on the farm did not last. The parents had to feed two kids now, the citrus industry was giving way to a huge boom in housing, and besides, the work was laborious, so overalls were traded in for sharkskin suits and we headed West for more cerebral occupations. This was not the Grapes of Wrath, hell, we probably just took Imperial Highway and got there within the hour but it was still something of a pilgrimage and a complete change in scenery and lifestyle.
The move to LA was before my first birthday, and we moved to Buena Park when I was 5, so I did not live in Fullerton until I decided it was the place for me when it came to higher learning. I visited FJC and immediately felt at home. I had attended a brand new Junior High School, then a new High School. Here was a place with some tradition, and I was told there were some great instructors in residence. They were right, big time.
It was mandatory to take a full load and get the grades, otherwise it was off to Vietnam, or for some, Canada. Charles Mason had unleashed his version of hell on earth so all of a sudden anyone with a sprout of long hair or a tie-dye shirt was the antithesis of all that was considered All American.
Forget the fact that I was a 17 year old Business Major and worked at the college along with two other part time jobs, I was a ‘hippie’ and it was accepted behavior to stare at, point at, ridicule, and berate hippies in those days. The like-minded, progressive group I fell in with found ways to deal with the ignorance. Laughter was one of the best ways. Long philosophical discussions in the quad were another. Loud rock ‘n’ roll also worked wonders. I believe I learned as much from these artists, flakes, scholars, winners, sinners, losers, musicians, draft dodgers, and future lawyers, teachers, and actors (‘Steve’ Segal for one) as I did in class, and fortunately, I learned a LOT in class.
Mostly by default, I became Vice President and then President of the Radical Students Union. I studied to be a draft counselor, ran for office, tried in vain to get the powers that be to allow me to produce live concerts on campus, protested the war, got chased away and chased down the street more times than I can recall.
Unwanted at Hillcrest Park, Palm Springs, Hollywood, The San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, Berkeley, Sambo’s Restaurant, even the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland, we all learned how to accept rejection, how to run, but also how to stand our ground. Those were puzzling and tough times but also some of the best times of our lives. In retrospect what we encountered was nothing, a real picnic compared to what those who enlisted or were drafted went through, both in Vietnam and at home once they returned. War and the draft changed everything. The Summer of Love went by in the blink of an eye, peace and love were no longer on the menu, and everyone had to grow up fast. High school is over, welcome to the real world- and get a haircut!
I found a way to include a couple of classes that were not in my major and after I did my first show at the campus radio station, something clicked. Many thanks to Jim Henderson in particular, whose guidance released the shackles of parochial and public schooling, changing my life in very positive ways. As dramatic and over the top as that sounds, it happens to be true, and other instructors also opened windows that I did not know even existed. I learned that learning itself is a goal, thirst for knowledge trumps the almighty dollar and we all need someone to inspire us. A number of people I met at FJC inspired and motivated me then and they continue to do so even today. Friendships that have lasted a lifetime took shape on that campus.
One thing you want is advice? OK, don’t think you have to know ‘what you want to be’ so early in life. Just make sure you get a well-rounded education and I discovered they were right about the finding something that gets you going thing, you know, that passion for your life’s work cliche. There are options to spending 5 days of every week staring at a clock and waiting for the workday to end. Find a path, a road or a fiber optic cable that doesn’t lead to a dead end. If you don’t love what you are doing, do something else!
My many years (ha) at Fullerton College absolutely paved the way for what I have been devoting my time to all these years. After I left in the 70’s I worked in broadcasting, started my own business, started a family and I still wake up every day looking forward to creating something exciting and learning something new, thanks to ‘The JC’.
Once a Hornet, always a Hornet!!!!!!