A Proud Member of The OFLC . . .

I am a proud member of the O.F.L.C, which was founded by my lifelong friend Wally Clark. For those of you who are not familiar with the O.F.L.C, it stands for Old Farts Luncheon Club. We meet the third Wednesday of every month at a different restaurant in the Greater Sacramento area.

Membership is quite exclusive. To become one of the 30+ members, you must have at some point in your life become a friend of Wally Clark.

Over the years, many of Wally’s friends have become my friends as well. A few months ago, when I attended my first meeting of the Old Farts Luncheon Club, it was like the proverbial “Old Home Week” as I reconnected with old friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 50+ years.

A little history:

Wally is my oldest friend. Our friendship actually predates my birth, as our parents were longtime friends and shared the glorious experience when each of us was born. Just for the record, Wally was born first and is an older fart than I am.

Wally was the big city kid, the third generation growing up in Californian’s state capital of Sacramento. I, on the other hand, was the country boy growing up in the contrasting environment of Farmington California population 210. On the surface, this was a seemingly unlikely match, but oh, what a strong bond the two of us have had over all these years.

Growing up we shared many adventures. One of our many sagas took place when I was in 8th Grade.

Wally’s family owned W.G. Clark Printing located at 13th & J streets in downtown Sacramento. This is where many of our adventures often began.

Around the corner and down on K street there stood The Magic Store, which sadly no longer exists. This store was a mecca for a pre-teen boy. We weren’t so much interested in the traditional paraphernalia like magic tricks or card tricks, what moved us was the broader spectrum, the genre of “practical jokes”.

One spring day when I was visiting Wally in Sacramento, we visited The Magic Shop.

What caught our eyes were the “whoopee cushions”. Are you all familiar with what a “whoopee cushion” is? A whoopee cushion was an artificial sound devise that when sat upon emitted the loud sound of . . . how do I gracefully phrase this . . . mimicked the release of internal bodily gas.

Also, of great interest were the smoke bombs that you could attach to the spark plugs of a car, so when the driver started the car, a huge cloud of white smoke arose from under the hood.

You may be asking yourself, what would an eighth-grade boy who lives in the small town of Farmington California do with a whoopee cushion and smoke bombs. Well, I took them on Monday to school of course.

My 7thand 8thgrade teacher was Mr. Wells, who by the way, was also the school Principal.

Mr. Wells had a desk at the front of the room with a chair that had a pad on it. When our class went outside for morning recess, I slipped back in the classroom and placed the whoopee cushion under the pad on the chair.

We returned from recess and were all in our places, Mr. Wells approached his desk, but didn’t sit down. Uh! I kept waiting for him to go over and sit in his chair. The suspense was killing me. After making several “passes by” he finally sat down. And there was the loud sound like as erupting from a volcano . . . a human volcano.

The class erupted with uncontrollable laughter. Mr. Wells sat there with a stunned look on his face, and then immediately looked a me. “What” I said, trying not to laugh.

But I wasn’t done. I had more plans for the day that involved our school custodian who was also our school bus driver. His name was Lucky Linton.

Lucky Linton was a cool guy and a friend to all the kids. He was a former Navy guy with the tattoos to go along with that image. He usually wore a T-shirt with a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve.

My friend Buzz Ritchie and I discussed what we should do with the car smoke bombs I had acquired from the Magic Shop. After about two seconds of deliberation, we said “The School Bus”. Just wait until Lucky starts up the bus after school gets out.

As you can see, some of the things we did as kids probably would get us placed on the “Terrorist Watch List” today.

Then there were Wally and my adventures from our High School Years. It was the 1960’s. How many of you remember the movie “American Graffiti”?

American Graffiti created by George Lucas of Star Wars fame, is based on what actually took place in the 1960’s in Modesto, California, where he grew up. Modesto was just up the road 30 minutes from our ranch in Farmington. However, for Wally and I, “American Graffiti” took place in Sacramento.

The place to go on Friday or Saturday night was cruising downtown Sacramento. Specifically, K street which was a one-way street going west, then we would cut across to J street, a one-way street going back east.

After 8 pm it was bumper to bumper cars full of guys looking to hook up with cars full of girls, which, frankly never happened. But you’re young . . . you’re optimistic. Life hasn’t beaten you down . . . yet.

Also, on the K street leg of the route you went right past the state capitol building. There was a little-known roadway that cut across the Capitol grounds that led to an underground garage which was directly underneath the Capitol building. Of course, this was not open to the public, but we weren’t “public”, after all we were 16, so when one of the security guards confronted us we just told them “Oh man, we’re sorry, we’re from out of town and must have gotten lost.

Then after making several trips around the K street, J street circuit, we would head over to Mel’s Drive in at 19th & J for a much-needed break to get some french fries and a cherry coke.

Mel’s was a happening place.

They had hot car hops that came up to take your order. Each parking place had its own individual juke box. And the place was swarming with more cars full of girls.

Life seemed simpler then . . . Frankly, because it was.

Today reflecting upon the many adventures with my friend Wally Clark, I am brought back to the memory of an album titled “Old Friends” which was recorded on March 8, 1968 by Simon and Garfunkel.

The album began and ended with the song “Time It Was”. I always loved the song’s haunting melody. The words didn’t have much meaning to me back in the 60’s; however, today as I share this story, the words are poignant and powerful, and reminds me of what a beautiful life I have had.

Time it was

Oh, what a time it was.

It was a time of innocence

A time of consequences.

Long ago it must be,

I have a photograph.

Memories there all that’s left you.

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The Question For Today . . .

 

The question for today:

How do we deal with the divisiveness and hate that is swirling around us?

Perhaps the answer is:

Take a moment to pause, silence your mind and breathe.

 

 

https://mfalstreau.com/product/breathe-prints-and-cards/

 

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The Key To Understanding . . .

 

The Key To Understanding Is Compassion and Patience.

Have compassion and patience for the people and situations that in this moment you do not understand. Compassion will break down the fear and anger, while patience will allow for the time and the space to develop understanding.

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Each Day Is An Opportunity . . .

 

Each new day is an opportunity . . .

The question then becomes . . .

What will you do with that opportunity.

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Kindness

Kindness goes a long way and can change your world!

This day . . . Think Kindness . . . Be Kindness.

If you haven’t already noticed, there is more than enough angry rhetoric and actions in the world.

Play a part in balancing this out by making your legacy one of Kindness.

 

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Be Awake & Aware

 

There is too much harshness and not enough love in the world. Be awake and aware regarding which of these two you are contributing.

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You Can’t Think Small and Expect Big

You can’t think small and expect Big.

Now is not the time for small thoughts and small actions. See beyond what your mind tells you that keeps you small. Smallness is no longer an acceptable alternative.

Remember two things:

  1. Everything is energy – either positive or negative
  2. You are not alone on your journey.

You can’t think small and expect Big.

 

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Be The Example . . . Not The Preacher

Do not dwell in the past or in projections of the future. Be the example . . . not the preacher.

Be in this moment . . . See the beauty . . . Acknowledge the beauty . . . Breathe in the beauty.

Now . . . Repeat again in this new moment.

This will allow you to see the beauty within . . . Your Work . . . Your Plan . . . and most importantly within your Life.

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A History Lesson – The Life Of A Special Friend

The year is 1942.

The Place: A small family farm in Loomis California, a farming community east of Sacramento.

Paul Yokote, age 16, and the youngest of five children, stands in the family’s orchard when his attention is drawn to a large cloud of dust traveling up the dirt road. The dust subsides in front of their home to reveal several cars. Car doors burst open and out jump federal agents who proceed to round up Paul’s mother and father along with Paul and his brothers and sisters. Their next stop, a waiting bus that would take them to Amache Colorado, and a Japanese Internment camp. Their “crime”, being of Japanese ancestry.

Paul’s life changed forever when on February 19, 1942, at the beginning of World War II, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, ordering 120,000 Japanese-Americans to evacuate the West Coast and to be placed in Internment Camps, which is simply a fancy name for prison.

70% of those Japanese Americans being interned, like Paul, were NOT illegal immigrants. They were born in the United States . . . they were American citizens.

The Amache Internment Camp was located in the south eastern corner of Colorado, a very bleak landscape that is prone to high winds and severe dust storms. The camp, where over 7000 Japanese Americans were crammed, was surrounded by barbed-wire fencing with eight machine-gun towers overlooking the camp.

1942 was also a year when the dreaded disease polio was at epidemic proportions. Polio was extremely contagious, crippling or killing mostly children. And in 1942 there were no vaccines, so keeping away from someone who had polio was the only way to prevent getting the virus.

The Amache concentration camp became the perfect storm, the perfect place and circumstances for spreading the polio virus. This is where young Paul contracted polio and was to spend the next decade in one hospital or another undergoing treatment.

It was not until 1955 that Paul would be able to return to his home in Loomis California. And it was there for the next 40+ years where he was to live, in a wheel chair.

Paul Yokote was a very special human being. Even though he had been through horrific circumstances, “handicapped” was not a label that would define Paul.

His life purpose became clear in 1959 with the opening of Del Oro High School in Loomis. From that point on, Paul, who never graduated from high school because of being sent to an Internment camp, became an integral part of life at Del Oro High School.

He lived in a modest home on the main street in Loomis just a few blocks from the Del Oro High campus. Paul’s Place, as his house was to become officially named, became a meeting place and unofficial hangout for students from the high school. Paul had an open-door policy and provided a safe haven and sage advice for the teenagers. My wife Marylou was one of those students, which years later, was how I met Paul.

One of Paul’s loves was photography, and he used that love to reach out and connect with the students and faculty at Del Oro. Paul could be always seen in his wheelchair with his camera at football games, basketball games and many other school activities. The photos he took were used to help document life at Del Oro, not only in their school newspaper, but for area newspapers as well.

In 1986 my wife Marylou, along with former Del Oro students, established Paul’s Place Association, a nonprofit organization in Paul’s honor, that has since provided tens of thousands of dollars in college scholarships for Del Oro graduates.

As a living memorial to Paul, and to honor all he had contributed to the youth of the area, in 1997 the School District named the gym at Del Oro High School “Paul Yokote Gymnasium”. Today a bronze plaque with Paul’s likeness adorns the entrance to the gym.

When Paul died, an overflow crowd of more than 1,500 people attended his funeral. The Placer County Sheriff’s Department provided a color guard, the Del Oro choir sang. The Varsity football team signed a ball that rested in Paul’s arms, as he wore his prized possession: A Del Oro letterman’s jacket.

One of the many speakers at the funeral told the crowd: “It is often said that the best way to measure a man’s wealth is by the number of the friends he has. If that is true, then Paul Yokote was the richest man on Earth.” 

Former Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner, one of Marylou’s classmates, counts himself as one of Paul’s friends, and in a tribute said: “Paul was one of the most influential people in my life and I will be forever grateful for his wise counsel. I knew Paul to be a humble man, a tender person who desired nothing more than tranquility, happiness and success for Loomis, and especially its young people.”

My friends, that brings us to today, where I am reminded that we are a land of former immigrants. My roots go back, by way of Canada to Germany and France, and no telling where else beyond that. Like Paul Yokote’s family, my ancestors came here looking for a better life for themselves and their family.

Today when I hear the news stories of the young Dreamers, who were brought here by their parents for those very same reason . . . that they may be deported . . .  it makes me angry . . .  but most of all, it makes me sad.

It is my hope that by sharing the story of my friend Paul Yokote, that the next time you hear the label “Dreamers”, his story will help you put a face to that label. Because I know in my heart, that within those 700,000 plus kids, those “Dreamers”, there are many young Paul Yokote’s.

And like Paul, they came here to make life better for themselves . . .  and in the process . . .  they will make life better for all of us.

We need more Paul Yokotes.

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Make Today A Worry Free Day . . .

 

Make today a worry-free day. Acknowledge the challenges; however, do not be defined by them.  This does not mean however, that challenges will not appear. What it does mean is that when they appear, if you quiet your mind, listen with your heart, you will be guided.

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