Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ricky the Raccoon

NOTE: I believe all "editorial" changes have been made and that this version passes the Hambly "Truth in Blogging" assessment... :))

One day my Mom decided that a racoon would make a perfect pet. Off to Sylmar went Mom and Kent. Ricky became a member of the family.

We lived in Sepulveda and we were in high school. We had a tree in one corner of the yard and Kent built a beautiful cage for Ricky.

Ricky was one nasty pet. No matter what you did to be friends, this pet was no friend of yours.
I just remember a lot of teeth and hissing and snarling.

Well, the big Hambly summer Fourth of July party was upon us. My Dad would invite a bunch of people from work to a pool party at our house. The party was in full swing (More about this later) and it turned darkish.

Now the fireworks show starts in the park behind our house! Ricky is going nuts!! Somehow the raccoon gets out of the cage! Kent moved quickly to retrieve Ricky - who had darted up the tree near his cage. The pet was nearly at the top of the tree by this time - and refusing to come down!

Kent came up with a quick plan...remember, this was going on while the backyard was full of my Dad's co-workers in full party mode. He got out the hose and proceeded to train the hose on the top of the tree, above Rocky. In this way he could "walk" the raccoon down. Well, for awhile Ricky was having none of this! He just sat there getting drenched in the water spray.

Eventually Ricky started, ever so slowly, to retreat towards the base of the tree.

When he reached the ground, he made a break for the swimming pool area - where the people were "playing". Kent was in hot pursuit of the pet. He caught him on the backstretch and grabbed whatever of the raccoon he could get his hands on. Unfortunately, the raccoon bit whatever he could get his teeth on!

So there was Kent with a raccoon firmly imbedded between his thumb and forefinger!! The raccoon was literally hanging by his teeth from Kent's hand. What with the claws and tail and other dangerous parts Kent had to deal with all of a sudden... what with all the people who were drunk out of their minds and watching the show... what with the fireworks making the raccoon even crazier (if that was possible)...

Kent is running around the pool (counterclockwise if you are keeping score) and trying to get away from the drunk people.

He makes it to the cage again and double locks Ricky back into his home.

Just another night at the annual Hambly Fourth of July Pool Party!

Eventually we had to depart with Ricky...racoons do not make the greatest pets, as things turned out...

The departure was sad for Kent - he had grown very attached to Ricky. Kent, Ruth and Dave took Ricky to Chatsworth Park to say goodbye. As they released Ricky to the wild, a beautiful movie moment developed - Ricky scurrying toward the bush - another racoon scurrying toward Ricky - their noses touch - they walk together, racoon and racoon, toward the great wild of Chatsworth, only to be met by two other racoons. The sun sets.

We know that life has been good for Ricky!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Seven things you should know about me...

7 Things I plan to do before I die
1. Surf a shoulder high wave again
2. Sky dive from 16,000 feet (With oxygen - just don't tell Sue)
3. Oar paddle the Grand Canyon in the giant rapids
4. See the rest of New Zealand
5. Go to Antarctica
6. Participate in a three day cattle roundup - real, not the dude kind
7. See New England during the fall colors

7 things I do now
1. Organize, organize, organize
2. Enjoy cooking - learning to cook without recipes
3. Own a VW
4. Tell stories - lots of them
5. I am comfortable talking to anyone, anytime, anyplace
6. Remembering numbers for a long numbers, addresses, whatever
7. Love Sue! She is my best friend and has always believed in me!!

7 things I can't do
1. Blow a bubble with bubble gum - no matter how hard I try
2. Sing
3. Drive fast on the freeway - I worry about getting a speeding ticket
4. Run a marathon - I let everyone else do it - I just watch
5. Skiing of any kind - water skiing (can't get up)...snow (can't stop) get the idea
6. Learn how to play cards well
7. Recall everything I read in the scriptures

7 celebrities that I admire
1. Joseph Smith
2. President Hinckley
3. Elder Scott
4. Eddie Edwards
5. Harrison Ford
6. Kent and Gary
7. My kids

7 favorite foods
1. Chili Rellenos (Any mexican food)
2. Macaroni Grill Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Meatballs (Look up the calories...)
3. Aunt Pat's Casserole
4. Perfect PB Sandwich - Peanut butter, tomato and onion (Sweet, pungent, juicy, sticky)
5. Cottage cheese, avocado, Veg-All, mayonnaise - topped with Seasoned salt (Not any more)
6. T-Bone steak and a great salad
7. A really good omelette

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hallway Bowling

The sport originated in the small add-on bedroom Kent and I shared in Culver City. We had just gotten into bowling big time. We were regulars at Culver Bowl, in the Bantam Divison.

To sharpen our skills when we couldn't be at the bowling alley we made up a game called Hallway Bowling.

The bowling pins consisted of bottles of every shape and description. No glass - just plastic bottles. The were arranged in the traditional bowling configuration, backed by a pillow off the bed. The pillow was very important as it provided protection for the wall or door behind the pins.

The bowling ball was the small, rubbery kind that you buy at the supermarket in the tall wire cages. Did you every notice that they will not roll straight?

Now, very important, you only use a two step approach - not much room there...release the ball with plenty of spin...amazing how much you can get the ball to curve in ten feet...

The pins fly - helped of course by the side walls and the ball coming off the pillow - the pins are attacked in two directions really. Pins fall, oh yes - they fall...

We kept score faithfully, well, I kept score faithfully. Scores were usually pretty tight...typically 287 to 277 - something like that...

At the end of the year, after I don't know how many games, we were averaging around 275 for the season...not bad.

For a longer version of the game we moved to a hallway, when we had a hallway.

Eventually Kent and I considered careers as professional bowlers, based on our enormous success at home.

Somehow the real game at the real bowling alley was harder....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Open for Business

Santa Monica...Barrington Apartments...middle complex in a row of about 6 apartment buildings...apartment on the bottom level...Right front apartment, I believe...

I am about 8 years old, Kent is about 5...

On the corner of Barrington and something, down the street, is located a grocery store and an adjacent Thrifty Drug Store.

The grocery store became a gold mine for the local kids because of a unique policy for shopping cart returns. For every shopping cart that you brought back to the store you were given a nickel. A nickel was big money at the time. I remember that you could buy a decent candy bar for 5 - 10 cents. The trick was to go to the shopping cart area in the parking lot and then bring the cart into the store as a "returned" shopping cart. The person would ask you if you brought the cart from outside the store lot, and you would look them straight in the eyes and say "Oh, Yes". They would look you over and then give you a nickel. You had to be very sincere - good acting experience. You couldn't do this more than three times in one day. Every once in a while you would actually find a cart on your way to the store and bring that in...much easier than the acting.

This was small potatoes as we graduated to a much more lucrative scheme. The Thrifty Drug Store had a wide variety of model cars, ships and airplances for sale. They were fully stocked. They even had glue and an assortment of paints. I organized the apartment kids into roving bands of shoplifting professionals. The younger ones were tutored by the older, more experienced shop lifters. Lessons were taught in store management observation, product selection, and of course, exit strategies.

You can't just walk into a store, shop lift and then run out of the store. You have to be discreet and not bring any attention to yourself. No looking around before the heist. Just casually inspect the products, maybe pick them up and read the details on the side of the box, and then slip quietly from the scene.

Now mind you this was very organized. When the "products" were procured (Shoplifted) they were taken to the "Store" under our apartment building. To reach the "Store" you had to go down the side of the building to a little rectangle at the ground floor. The "doorway" was a piece of screen which had to be pulled back. You would crawl through the dirt in the foundation of the building for a short while and then to a "room" where the products were displayed. The models were organized by type (Car, Ship, Airplane) in perfect product display order. A "customer" (A local kid) could purchase the model at a greatly reduced price. The glue, paint, etc. was also available. What I don't remember was how the gang was paid. I know money was coming in and business was good. I remember meetings where I would let people know what products were needed as goods were sold - the marching orders.

It didn't take long for the Thrifty Drug people to start to notice that their inventory was shrinking. They were on high alert. Every once in a while someone would get caught. A casualty of doing business.

One day that someone that got caught was me! I thought I had done a good job of making sure the coast was clear! I grabbed a model and was headed out the door, when all of a sudden, the store manager swoops down on me as I exit and grabs me and drags me back into the store. We go to the back room and he interrogates me. What was my name? Where did I live? Had I done this before? Did I know the penalty for shoplifting? Did I want the police to show up? None of these things felt very good.

I was then paraded through the store, with the store manager pushing me along, and as he spotted an employee would tell them that "he caught the ring leader!" They nodded their approval, and I moved along. Eventually he called my parents and they came down to the store. I was very humble and said whatever they wanted me to say - I just wanted to go home. They had no idea about the magnitude of the Shoplifting operation or the "Store" under the apartment building.

There was a final Clearance Sale after that because I was threatened with death if this ever happend again. All items must go! Rock bottom prices!!

Closed for business...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Out for a Stroll

Kent and I lived in the San Fernando Valley, in Mission Hills. Mission Hills in the the northern portion of the valley.

It was another summer day and we were bored. Our parents were at work. I think I was about 10 years old and Kent was 7.

I don't know how we got the idea, but we started walking south. We walked down Haskell Avenue for a good while, then turned westt toward Balboa. Balboa runs the vertical length of the Valley.

I remember that it was very hot out, as usual in the area during the summer. VERY HOT!

Next thing you know - we had walked the entire length of the Valley, to the sourthern end and we could see the Ventura Freeway a short distance off.

We were standing next to one of the holes at the golf course in the Sepulveda Dam Basin. I remember the two of us talking and then we went out on the course. It was so hot that no one was playing at that time of day.

We found some sticks and then we found some beat-up golf balls in the bushes and proceeded out onto the course. I remember the innards of my ball hanging out through the white stuff.

We played one hole completely - hacking at the balls and making large divots in the ground. It's not real easy to play golf with sticks!

We went to tee off at the second hole and were working our way down the fairway when a man in a golf cart spotted us. He came over to us and yelled at us to get off the course and look at what damage we had done to his beautiful golf course!

We were scared...I can't imagine us knowing how to get a ride home from we started back up Balboa north towards our house. How we knew directions at that age I do not know, nor can I comprehend. I wouldn't have believed this, but Kent and I agree we did it!

Somehow we got home late in the afternoon. I think that there was an afternoon babysitter or housekeeper or something. She must have been pretty sharp to not notice we were missing for most of the day.

Anyway, as hazy as the incident was...can you imagine in this day and age having two little guys walk across the San Fernando Valley and not have anyone stop or even question what they wree doing?

When our parents asked us how the day went I am sure that we told them that we had just a normal day...normal for us!

Friday, September 12, 2008

World Land Speed Record

We're living in the San Fernando Valley...Valley surfers!

In our early teens and skateboarding is what we do...mind you, this is not the shaped board, poly wheel, tungsten truck type skateboarding, this is skateboarding in its infancy.

This is the get yourself a piece of wood, any piece of wood - find your old skates (you remember, the ones made of metal with the toe and heel pieces that you put on your shoes and tried to stay upright) and proceed to peel the wheel assembly from the rest of the skates. Good, now you have the wheels and the wood (By the way, don't worry about the shape of the wood, although rectangular would be nice)...

Now, hammer some nails to attach the two and you are ready to go...metal wheels were difficult to master - they tended to slip around a lot - limited your tricks! Rails? Are you kidding?? Jumps? For idiots! You simply tried to stay on the sucker!!!

An attempt had been made while we lived in Culver City, much earlier. Sort of like the Wright Brothers and those that followed...

My Brother Kent was selected to attempt a small hill around the corner from our home...we found the perfect piece of wood, a 2 x 6 seem to be our preference, and attached the metal wheels to the plank. Kent estimates that the wood was probably about 6 feet long - he would have only used about 3 feet of it... :))

Well, Kent was selected to steer our pilot attempt...he took off and rode on his stomach down the hill...gained pretty good speed and then was confronted with the prospect of the intersection in front of him - with no braking mechanism other than throwing your arms and legs to the ground...not much chance when you are little...

Well, he could have tried to grab the street sign pole, but that didn't happen...instead, Kent launched himself into the crosswalk on his stomach, invisible to cars and moving very rapidly...he made it all the way across the street and stopped abruptly against the curb on the other side...painful slivers in his stomach proved that the stop was abrupt!

The point had been made and proven! The skateboard had held up under the trying conditions of Culver Hill...

Well, one afternoon I was reading the latest Surfer Magazine and noticed a small article in the back of the magazine which reported that someone had set a new speed record for skateboards...35 miles per hour!

Only 35 miles per hour??? Nothing!!!!!

My brother and I went to work immediately with our plan...we found ourselves an eight foot length of 2 x 6 wood...perfect! Next we needed all the metal skate wheels that we could get our hands on...scoured the neighborhood and got about 4 pairs of skates...nobody really wanted the things anyway...

We took the wheels off the skates and prepared the World Record Holder Skateboard with skate wheel after skate wheel...the thing looked like a centipede!

The amazing thing is that the board actually rode pretty straight! It was about twice as long as we were, but it was pretty straight...

Now, for the plan to come together...summer day...parents not home...we start carrying the beast to the Land Speed Record location...Woodley Hill...some day they will probably mark the spot with a bronze memorial (On this date the world land speed record for skateboards was broken by the Hambly boys...something like that)....

Woodley Hill, for those of you not familiar with the area, is located across the street from the VA Hospital in Mission Hills/Sepulveda/whatever they call the's a steep hill - and long...perfect for our needs...

We arrive and prepare for the attempt. No helmets in those days! No elbow or knee pads, no protection at all!

Are you ready? Yes, I'm ready!! (Interestingly, no way to record our speed either...that will have to wait until we can get a parent to come home to verify the attempt - after we perfect the technique!)

I push off and start down the hill...slow at first, gentle slope down...

Whoa, gaining speed quickly now...cracks in the sidewalk are starting to make the board jump a bit...faster, faster...

Now at some point I am aware that I am going really fast! The cracks in the sidewalk start to feel like canyons - remember, there are no shock absorbers on this baby! Takes everything I had just to keep the thing on the sidewalk!!

Houses are whizzing by now...I remember a lot of ivy on the right - the whole side of the hill leading up to people's houses...only problem, they have sprinkler heads in the ivy - that could get nasty real fast!

By this time I can see the bottom of the hill...Not many options if I should get that far down the hill...Remembering Kent's splinters and the street crossing...things didn't look good...

Never really had to use any about the time I was making plans - the board is behaving so violently that I am looking at bail-out opportunities was like riding a bucking bronco that wanted to throw me...the metal wheels were sparking furiously and starting to come apart from the intense friction of the sidewalk!!

Abort! abort!...probably going about a 100 miles per hour now (probably 10 miles an hour :))!

Took the ivy option and said goodbye to the World Land Speed Skateboard as I disappeared into the hill of ivy...saw the board heading down the hill and certain death...

I managed to escape with only major cuts and bruises...but alive! The board would need extensive work to repair - and a new rider!

Surfer Magazine would have to wait for someone else to break that stupid record...the Hamblys Skateboard Racing Team was now officially through...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Backyard Olympics

I've been known to be a bit of an organizer in my lifetime... :))

One of my earliest organizing feats was the creation of the Backyard Olympics.

I had just watched the Olympic games on TV and, of course, was quite impressed with the whole show.

Why not put on our own Olympics? Right in the backyard of our home in Culver City? So I went to the drawing board.

We had an area for the sprints, 2 or 3 different lengths, if I recall...

The shotput was a big rock and the discuss was a pie tin...

We had to dig a pit for the long jump, with a board in the ground to mark the spot where you took off...

Long distance races were started in the backyard, but continued down the side yard into the street, one race even going around the block...

The highlight of the events, probably because I was pretty good at this, was the high jump and pole vault area. I found two trees that were close enough together for our purposes and tied some cord across them. It only took me one gigantic rope burn to learn to tie one end of the rope in a slip knot so that it would give way when you missed - I think I still have the scar...

We found an old mattress to land on - twin size, of course.

The pole vault pole turned out to be a challenge - what could we use that was light enough to carry down the approach, yet strong enough to support our weight - all 80 pounds of us???

We found a length of 2 x 2 wood that worked just fine...not much bend in the pole, mind you, but it did the job...

Now for the Games to begin...

Events were announced and the particpants (actually, just Kent and I) went to their marks...

I remember posting the results of each competition on paper on a tree for all to see. Results were carefully recorded for future Backyard Olympics competitions...

It was a day of glory for the Hambly boys...we captured the Gold and Silver in every event...