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The ultimate penpal

July 14, 2021
Even when I was a teen, I was immediately impressed with Karl's wit and intelligence. 15 years ago when I moved to North Carolina for my second degree, Karl started sending me well thought out, clever, beautiful cards. I know he had many penpals but he still seemed to use his penmanship and excellent writing skills to perfection in each one. They have brightened my life and have helped me through dark and stressful times. I feel so grateful to be able to look through them and feel a little closer to him.  He was someone who no one will ever forget. I miss him and feel so grateful to have had him in my life. 

Figgy Pudding...

July 4, 2021
...that's what Uncle Karl used to call me or, simply "Figgy". When I was growing up in LA during the 1960's, "Big Karl" would meet us - my dad Dan, brother "little Karl", and sister Erika - up the coast in Manzanita, Oregon where Karl owned small cabin near the beach. We'd hang out there doing absolutely nothing for a week, three kids and these two fellows, sailors at heart, who were linked through our mom. They made all the meals and let us wander the driftwood-strewn beach. A big outing might be visiting the vast local garbage dump or a nearby logging factory.

One year (1964) we were about to enjoy a blow-out dinner of fried chicken, corn on the cob, and fudge, when an air-raid signal in the village began blaring: an earthquake in Alaska had generated a tsunami that was heading to our beach. Everyone in the then-teeny town was quickly evacuated to nearby Neahkahnie Mountain  where we all waited breathlessly, Big Karl with his camera, to observe the giant, devastating wave.

After maybe an hour shivering in our nightgowns and robes, a puny swell was all that materialized. It was pathetic and we were very disappointed. Our fried chicken was cold by then, Karl never got the shot he hoped for. But the Great Manzanita Tidal Wave of '64 entered family lore.

Mellow yellow

July 4, 2021
I met Karl at the Book Bargain Center when I was probably 14. After school I would wander Westwood village. Karl would always listen to my stories perched on high behind the counter. When the banana peel craziness happened my friends and I had to try it. Karl wanted to know every detail. I never did know what was going on in the back room. 

Short story 1: My father wasn't much for rules

July 2, 2021
My dad had an affinity for old firearms.  At about 10 he bought me my first .22 rifle and taught me to shoot.  That was one of our favorite activities... to go up into the Los Padres National Forrest off a dirt road call West Camino Ciello that runs the ridgeline behind Santa Barbara and shoot our recyclables right next to the 3/8 inch thick steel sign which read "NO SHOOTING".
My dad had and old British .303 #5 Jungle carbine; it used to belong to John Metzenberg.  It was by far the largest and most unpleasant rifle we had to shoot.  Naturally, as a young teenage boy, that was the one I wanted to shoot.  The only problem was .303 ammo was painfully expensive, so I started reloading my own.  
After I had made a few rounds with no real guidance short of what the guy at the gun store told me to do in passing, I aske my Dad to drive me to our illegal shooting spot so I could test them.  He said something to the effect of "that's an awful long drive just for one shot" and then told me how they used to test their revolvers in Chicago in a closet with two city phone books....  But this was a rifle and Santa Barbara phone books are more like a magazine than a phone book. We decided the back lawn of our house in the Santa Barbara suburbs was the place to test it.  My Dad argued that just one shot no one would know where it came from, they'd just be startled by a loud bang.
With a thunderous crack, a cloud of dirt and one small crater in the unfortunate back lawn, my father was proven correct.  No one went to jail.

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