Category Archives: Summer 2012 Issue


Zak Starkey (born 13 September 1965) is an English rock drummer. He is the son of the Beatles drummer Ringo Starr  and Starr’s first wife, Maureen Starkey Tigrett. He is also well known for his unofficial membership in the English rock band, The Who,  with whom he has performed and recorded since 1996. He is the third drummer to have appeared with English rock band Oasis as well. Starkey has worked with other musicians and bands such as: Johnny Marr, Paul Weller, The Icicle Works, The Waterboys, ASAP, and The Lightning Seeds.

At age eight, Starkey became interested in music. At age ten, he began teaching himself to play the drums. His father gave him only one lesson but afterward discouraged his son’s growing interest hoping instead not to see him in the same business as his father. Although Starr has praised his son’s abilities he is said to have stated that he had always regarded Starkey as a future lawyer or doctor. The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon, was one of Ringo Starr’s closest friends and Starkey’s godfather, and although they “never sat together at a drum kit”, Moon discussed drumming with Starkey and gave Starkey his first professional drum kit which later sold at Sotheby’s for 12,000 pounds. By the age of twelve, Starkey was already performing in pubs and was later a member of a garage band called the Next.

In the 1990s, Starkey who was now an accomplished drummer, joined two members of the Who, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle on a tour entitled: Daltrey Sings Townshend. This tour developed from a two-night performance at Carnegie Hall to celebrate Daltrey’s fiftieth birthday. In 1996 Starkey then left his band Face to work with The Who on their Quadrophenia tour. He received good reviews in this role and was praised by the music press for a strong drumming presence without trying to emulate the band’s previous drummer, Keith Moon. Both Townshend and Daltrey stated that they felt Starkey was the best match for the band since the death of Keith Moon.

Starkey was not available to record “Endless Wire” (2006) with The Who as he was on the road with Oasis at the time. He was available for the subsequent tour in support of the album however, The Who Tour 2006-2007. Pete Townshend’s official web site declared that Starkey was invited to become a full member of The Who after this tour stating that “Some of you may have noticed in one of my recent diary postings that I welcomed Zak into the Who as a permanent member. This is something he doesn’t feel he needs or wants. Let’s just say that the door is always open to this amazing musician and whenever we can, we will always try to make it possible for Zak to work with the Who in the future.” Starkey declined the invitation from Townshend, however.

On 7 February 2010, Starkey appeared with The Who during the half time show of Super Bowl XLIV. On 30 March 2010, Starkey played withThe Who during their performance of Quadraphenia at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. Starkey performed “With A Little Help From My Friends” and “Give Peace a Chance” with his father and numerous guest stars (Yoko Ono, Nils Lofgren, Little Steven, Jeff Lynne) on 7 July 2010, at Ringo Starr’s 70th birthday party held at Radio City Music Hall. He also made several guest appearances for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. On 12 August 2012, he played with The Who at the finale of the closing ceremony for the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. 

John Charles Julian Lennon (born 8 April 1963) is a British musician, songwriter, actor, and photographer. He is the son of the late John Lennon and Lennon’s first wife, Cynthia Powell. Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, was his godfather. He has a younger half-brother, Sean Lennon. Lennon was named after his paternal grandmother, Julia.

Julian Lennon was born in Liverpool. Initially, the fact that John Lennon was married and had a child was concealed from the public in keeping with the conventional wisdom of the era that female teenage fans would not be as enamored of married male pop stars.

When he was five, Lennon’s parents divorced following his father’s infidelity with Yoko Ono. Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” to console him over the divorce. Originally called “Hey Jules”, McCartney changed the name because he thought “Jude” was an easier name to sing. Lennon had almost no contact with his father after the divorce until the early 1970s, when at the instigation of his father’s then girlfriend, May Pang, Julian began to see his father more regularly. John bought his son a Gibson Les Paul guitar and a drum machine for Christmas in 1973 and encouraged his interest in music by showing him some chords. He made his musical debut at age 11 on his father’s album “Walls and Bridges” playing drums on “Ya-Ya” and later saying, “Dad, had I known you were going to put it on the album, I would’ve played much better!”

Following his father’s murder, Lennon voiced anger and resentment toward him, saying, “I’ve never really wanted to know the truth about how dad was with me. There was some very negative stuff talked about me…Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit more than Dad and I did. We had a great friendship going, and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad.

He was not included in John Lennon’s will, and was annoyed that he had to buy mementos of his father at auctions. A settlement was eventually reached wherein Julian was given “a large but undisclosed sum”. By 2009 Lennon’s feelings toward his father had mellowed. Recalling his renewed relationship with his father in the mid-1970s, he said, “Dad and I got on a great deal better then. We had a lot of fun, laughed a lot, and had a great time in general when he was with May Pang. My memories of that time with Dad and May are very clear — they were the happiest time I can remember with them. Lennon has been quoted as having a “cordial” relationship with Ono while getting along very well with her son, his half-brother, Sean, even spending time together on Sean’s tour in 2007.

In commemoration of John Lennon’s 70th Birthday and as a statement for peace, 9 October 2010 saw Julian, alongside his mother Cynthia, unveil the John Lennon Peace Monument in his home town, Liverpool, England.

Julian directly inspired three Beatles songs: “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, “Hey Jude”, and “Good Night”.  He is also devoted to philanthropic endeavors, most notably his own White Feather Foundation and the Whaledreamers Organization, both of which promote the co-existence of all species and the health and well-being of the Earth. He remains good friends with his father’s band mate, Paul McCartney. Julian Lennon’s sixth studio album “Everything Changes” was released on 3 October 2011.

Sean Lennon, the only child to the late John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, was born in New York City on October 9, 1975, his father’s 35th birthday. Julian Lennon is his half-brother and Kyoko Chan Cox is his half-sister. After Sean’s birth, John became a house husband, doting on his young son until his murder  in 1980. Sean attended kindergarten in Tokyo and was also educated at the exclusive private boarding school Institut Le Rosey in Rolle, Switzerland  and earlier at New York’s private Ethical Culture Fieldston School and Dalton School. He later attended Columbia University,  though for only three semesters before dropping out to focus on his music career.

His parents did not force him into the life of a musician. They intentionally hid their musical lives from their son. His debut into the music world came at the age of five, reciting a story on his mother’s 1981 album, “Season of Glass”. From childhood into his teen years, Sean continued to collaborate with his mother, contributing vocals and receiving production credit on her solo albums: “It’s Alright (I See Rainbows)”, “Starpeace”, and “Onobox”.

At 16, Sean co-wrote the song “All I Ever Wanted” with Lenny Kravitz for his 1991 album “Mama Said”. By 1995 Sean had formed the band IMA (with Sam Koppelman andTimo Ellis) to play alongside his mother on her album “Rising”. Sean also made appearances in film, featured in the cast of Michael Jackson’s 1988 “Moonwalker”, and portraying a teenager experiencing visions of various M.C. Escher  paintings in Sony’s 1990 promotional short-film “Infinite Escher”.

James Louis McCartney (born 12 September 1977) is a British musician and songwriter living in London. He is the only son of songwriter and former Beatle Paul McCartney and the late Linda McCartney. He spent the first two-and-a-half years of his life on the road while his parents toured with their band Wings.  After the band broke up in 1980, the McCartney family settled in Rye, East Sussex, England where he attended the local state secondary school. He has stated his earliest inspiration to learn guitar was Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. As a result, he began playing music when his father gave him a Fender Stratocaster at age nine. The guitar had previously been owned by Carl Perkins.

In 1989 McCartney with his older sisters Mary and Stella again joined Paul and Linda on a world tour. He continued his education with a tutor while on the road. In 1993, at age 16, while surfing with friends, he was swept out to sea. Coast Guard was called, and his family rushed to the site, but he emerged safe on his own forty minutes later.

On 17 April 1998, in Tucson, Arizona, James along with his father and sisters was at his mother’s side when she died from breast cancer, which had been diagnosed in 1995. Later that year, McCartney graduated from Bexhill College  near his home in East Sussex, where he pursued studies in A Level Art and sculpture.

James has contributed to a number of solo albums by his parents including “Flaming Pie”, “Driving Rain”, and “Wide Prairie”. His first solo EP “Available Light” was released in September 2010 to positive reviews. A second EP “Close at Hand” was released shortly after. The solo album The Complete EP Collection was released in November 2011.


Dhani Harrison (born 1 August 1978) is an English musician and the son of the Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison and Olivia Harrison. Harrison debuted as a professional musician when completing his father’s final album “Brainwashed”  after George Harrison’s death in November 2001. Harrison formed his own band, thenewno2, in 2006.

Harrison’s first name is pronounced similarly to the name Danny but with an aspirated ‘d’. He is named after the 6th and 7th notes of the Indian music scale,  ‘dha’ and ‘ni’. ‘Dhani’ is also a raga in north Indian classical music.

Harrison grew up with his parents in Henley-on-Thames in Friar Park, South Oxfordshire, England, the estate on which his father had lived since 1970. One of Harrison’s earliest memories, from the age of six, is receiving a drumming lesson from his father’s friend and bandmate, “Uncle” Ringo Starr. He recalled that before the lesson, he had been an avid drummer. However, when Starr began to play, the loud noise frightened him so much that he ran out of the room screaming and never used his drum kit again.

Like his father, Dhani Harrison showed a keen interest in Formula One auto racing. He accompanied George to Grand Prix races around the world.

Harrison attended Badgemore Primary school in Henley-on-Thames, then Dolphin School, a Montessori method school. He later attended Shiplake College where he showed a keen interest in rowing. Harrison is an alumnus of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, where he studied physics and industrial design. After graduating from Brown in 2001, Harrison pursued a career as an aerodynamicist;  however, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps as a professional musician.

In 2009, it was announced that Harrison was collaborating in the development of “The Beatles: Rock Band” music video game for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii gaming platforms. Dhani Harrison was instrumental in the creation of the game and urged McCartney and Starr to participate. When asked about the game production Dhani stated, “I took the project to Apple and sort of convinced everybody to have a presentation. My job description is being enthusiastic. We’ve been working on it for the past two years. This is the first one that is going to be totally, historically accurate. It’s been a real headache, but it’s been the most enjoyable work I’ve done in my life.”

Harrison told the Chicago Tribune in an interview that he is “working on ‘Rock Band 3’ and making the controllers more real so people can actually learn how to play music while playing the game”.

Posted in Summer 2012 Issue | 1 Comment



 The remaining few phone booths in Coronado signals the end of an era, a technology, and a bygone way of  life.  We no longer have any need to save nickels,  dimes, and quarters or ask for change for the phone.

In Manhattan all phone booths have been removed and replaced with “information centers.”


Posted in Summer 2012 Issue | 2 Comments



By Kimberley Dill Graham

Since my mom passed a decade or so ago, one of the special qualities I wish she had not taken to her grave were her recipes. As all people do, we think we will have time. I’ll get her to write that recipe down or she did, and you have since misplaced it forever only to burn into your memory and your tastebuds with an urge to try to remember all those secret ingredients that were so simple yet so critical to the final scrumptious end. 

My mom, Janet Reller Dill, was an entrepreneur at heart. Raised by parents of direct French and German descent, she had that innate talent to invent and create from the basics of gourmet, traditional cooking. Her parents, Freidrich and Evelyn Reller were also hotel and restaurant owners the entire time of her growing up. She spent many a day after school helping out at their family eateries and dining counters.

At home, off the cuff was the name of the game – if you did not have a specific ingredient, like Betty Crocker, you found a good enough substitute to fill in, especially when you were raised and doing culinary feats during World War II.

These substitutes led to a distinctive style of cooking that took the average American housewife/chefette to invent a new style to a Bernaise sauce or Sauerbraten or Chicken Pot Pie. And from my mother, I learned this unique style of interpretation of the classical recipes to create many a dish, I am not certain that I could recreate if asked to as I learned to cook from Mom – off the cuff. I still try to make her basic dishes for my brothers, who like me, miss “Mom’s cooking”.  

When I asked Mom, how do you make this? She would say a little bit of this and a little bit of that and just taste. So to have asked for that recipe to be written down or taught would be something like the crude yet yummy recipes that follow:  Warning:  Up to your own interpretation and experimentation.

***Testimonial:  What I will say is that every time I have ever concocted any of these “hors d’oeuvres” whether at a cocktail party , 4th of July celebration, or family get together, they have met with huge raves followed by the query, “How do you make this?  I must get the recipe!” Thanks Mom! And could you please visit me in a dream and let me know some of the secret ingredients to your best ever “Pot Roast Stew”?

***Special Note: My mom was in the category of the New Age Donna Reed’s and Beaver’s mother, June Cleaver.  Like Mary Tyler Moore on the Dick Van Dyke Show and the women who would follow, convenience foods and microwaves began slowly creeping into America’s kitchens making life easier and less challenging for the moms and wives — what has now become second nature to us women, men, and children: 10-minute rice, frozen vegetables, instant mashed potatoes, frozen TV dinners (now entrees), Costco, prepared snacks, juice in a box, cake mixes and instant frostings, frozen pies, self-cleaning and self-defrosting appliances, frozen pizza, and on and on ad nauseam. This  was a fantastic trip down the ‘60s kitchen adding huge possibilities and freedom to women who found cooking boring and not the purpose of their life. These pioneers of modern conveniences also found a new enlightenment in preparing culinary expeditions along this line and were re-enthused to play in their kitchens especially with all the new conveniences: garbage compactors, garbage disposals, dishwashers, ice cube dispensers, microwaves, electric skillets, Tupperware, food processors, etc. – what had once been such manual endeavors now only involved cleaning them and figuring out where to store it all.



Package of imitation crabmeat (fresh no longer works)
Package of cream cheese
Homemade Chili Sauce*

Spread softened cream cheese on plate. Flake crabmeat evenly over top. Dollop chili sauce generously over crab.

Serve with crackers.

*Homemade Chili Sauce is in a rounded jar found in the specialty section of all grocery stores alongside ketchup and barbecue sauces.  It is made by Ventura Foods out of Brea, California.  It is the must ingredient.


2 packages of cream cheese
Green onions, chopped
2 cans of canned crab, drained
Lemon juice

Melt butter and cream cheese in double boiler (or in small pan added to larger pan with water on the bottom). Melt add other ingredients to taste.  Serve with crackers &/or toasted points. 

Note:  Also great as a stuffer for baked chicken breasts.


Can of Hormel chili without beans or two
Shredded cheddar
Green onions

Heat chili, top with cheddar, garnish with green onion. Serve in a warmer dish (sterno) with Fritos or tortilla chips. Salsa on the side.


 Package of cream cheese
Salted sunflower seeds, without shells
Soy sauce

Spread cream cheese on plate. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Drizzle with soy sauce. Serve with crackers.


By Suzi Lewis Pignataro

My mother Nancy was a frustrated Bohemian who lived out her fantasies of escape through cooking. As one of the benefactors of her rich inner life and innate talent for concocting all things edible, I grew up dining on feasts normally found in far-away lands. This “tableside traveling” was more than fine with me: savoring other countries’ gastronomical offerings without having to leave the modern conveniences of my parents’ home suited my sensitive disposition.

We had specific dishware and place settings for each cuisine we sampled. Depending upon my mother’s instructions, I knew exactly where we would be supping that evening: chopsticks and lacquered rice bowls meant Japan, large spoons and wine glasses meant Italy, the silver tea set and Franciscan Ware meant England, and Lotus cups with tiny copper spice shakers meant India – my favorite.

I don’t know how my mother came up with her recipe for Curry, but I’m pretty sure it involved some benign form of witchery. She tended to ignore cookbooks, opting for what she called “intuitive cooking”. I know this method and apply it to most of my own efforts in the kitchen, but not without trial and error – and my kids shoveling the latest experiment down the garbage disposal while my back is turned. I didn’t throw away my own mother’s meals. None of us did, including the hundreds of guests who over the years attended my parents’ dinner parties.

Yet, I never once saw her so much as break out in a sweat over one of her creations. I would have known if she had been spending time torturing over a recipe; the evidence would have been in her eyes that hid nothing. No, she truly knew her ingredients and trusted her “intuition” – which, I suspect, was really her high IQ working in concourse with her keen senses of sight, sound, taste, feel, and smell.

When I left for college and set up my first home, my mother offered to help me play hostess: “I’ll just write down some of your favorite dishes to cook for your friends,” she stated in her weekly letter. “Far out!” I enthused back. Two days later she called.  “I’m having a little problem with the recipes,” she confessed. “I’ve never had to think about how I actually prepare a meal.” “Well,” I replied, “just do the best you can. And, please, give me your recipe for Chicken Curry.” There was a long silence on the other end of the phone, then my mother said, “I’ll try,” in a very unconvincing tone.


Servings: Three college girls, two college boys, or one defensive linebacker.

Prep Time: Figure on 45 minutes, but don’t let anyone distract you, especially the linebacker.


1) The Chicken:

Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

2) The Curry Sauce

5 tbsp butter
4 tbsp white flour
2 cups half and half (substitute one cup for milk if you are on a diet and one cup for cream if you’re living it up)
½ cup dry white wine (and a glass for the cook!)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp cumin

As much curry powder as you like – mild, medium or hot – but start with 1 tsp.

3) The Condiments

Ground peanuts
Slightly toasted shredded coconut (use a 325 degree oven and baking sheet to toast, stirring frequently)

Major Grey’s Chutney – the best!

4) The Rice

 1 cup white rice
2 cups water
½ tsp salt


Place water in a pot; add salt; boil.  Add rice. Bring to boil, stir, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Cube the chicken breasts and sauté in butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook thoroughly, but do not overcook. It should take about 12 minutes on medium heat. Set aside.

Blend the milk products with the white wine.

In another pot, melt the 5 tbsp of butter, slowly, over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the salt, flour, white pepper, ginger, cumin and curry powder. Blend thoroughly. If too dry, add a bit more butter.

Using a whisk, add a small amount of the wet ingredients to the butter and dry ingredients mixture  – very, very slowly – all the while whisking to make a paste. Gradually add the rest of the wet ingredients, whisking constantly to create a smooth sauce.

Add the chicken cubes. Stir with a large spoon. Taste. Adjust spices as needed.

Still on medium heat, stir the sauce constantly until it thickens. If the sauce is too thick, add milk.

Serve the Curry on a bed of rice with the condiments served in separate bowls. It’s very nice with a Chenin Blanc, but if your guest is the linebacker, save your money and give him a Coors.


By Aleene Sexton Queen “Queenie”


1 large head Cabbage
1 pound Ground Beef
1 Egg
1 small Brown Onion
1/2 cup Uncooked Rice
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
Cumin Seeds (if you have some)
2 medium cans Diced Tomatoes
1 can Tomato Sauce
2 Lemons


Core Cabbage and place in large cooking pot with 2 or so inches of water
Cover and bring to a boil and steam Cabbage long enough to soften leaves
Leave Cabbage in pot while you …
-Chop onion
-Drain liquid from Diced Tomatoes and mix Tomato Sauce with liquid and reserve
-Mix together Hamburger, drained Diced Tomatoes, chopped Onion, uncooked Rice, beaten Egg, and Ground Cumin
-Remove Cabbage leaves from cooking pot and place on plate or flat surface and put
2 (or so) Tbsp of meat mixture onto firm end of Cabbage leaf… Roll once, fold in sides
Roll again, enclosing meat mixture in Cabbage leaf. You’ll use less meat mixture as the leaves get smaller
-When all leaves are rolled … Cover bottom of cooking pot with small amount of reserved Tomato Liquid and layer Cabbage rolls. Top all with smaller Cabbage leaves and cover with balance of Tomato Liquid. Sprinkle V* teaspoon Cumin Seeds (if you have them) or l/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin over top before covering pot.

Bring to gentle boil then lower heat and cook 45-50 minutes. Keep heat low enough to not burn bottom layer of Cabbage Rolls!

 Let cool for 10 minutes before placing on serving plate.

Serve cooked Cabbage Rolls with Lemon Wedges.

Boiled Potatoes make a great companion.

Good idea to make a slit in top of Cabbage Roll and squeeze Lemon to flavor inside. Top Potatoes with liquid from Cabbage Rolls and Sour Cream. YUM!



1 small container creamy Cottage Cheese
2 small cans Mandarin Oranges (drained)
1 medium can Crushed Pineapple (use juice)
2 small pkgs Pistachio Pudding Mix
1 small container Cool Whip
*you can add chopped walnuts, coconut, etc. if desired

Put ingredients together in a bowl, mix with mixer to blend.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Mom served on top of lettuce leaves



1 cup butter
6 rounded Tbsp Powdered Sugar
2 cups Pastry Flour (measure before sifting)
1 cup walnuts or pecans – chopped well
1 Tsp Vanilla
Pinch of Salt


Cream butter, add Sugar, Flour, Salt, Vanilla, and chopped nuts
Make balls (about 1 to 2 inches) and put on cookie sheet
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes
While still warm, roll balls in powdered sugar. Cool and pack in airtight container. Improve with Age!!


My son, Kev, reminded me that his Nana taught him to make fried eggs without having to turn the egg and breaking the yolk. Here’s how: put raw egg(s) in cup or small bowl and pour into prepared frying pan, add one tablespoon water in pan next to egg(s) and cover until desired doneness. Works every time!

My Mom, Billie Sexton, could make a meal for a houseful of people with just a few ingredients! Her Bridge Club requested her Cabbage Rolls often, and her brothers and their buddies came to our house for dinner every Sunday they could during WW2. My Mom’s Spaghetti sauce was desired by ladies’ past their due date. In fact, two of my grandkids were born within 12 hours after enjoying Nana’s spaghetti dinner (Momma’s secret ingredient was chili powder!). Imagine the food challenges during WW2 when many ingredients were rationed? Momma made a Ketchup sandwich sound like a feast with Sugar sandwiches for dessert as she put fresh-picked flowers on the table and told the stories of growing up in a Utah Pioneer family and how she met my Daddy who was traveling from Coronado to Washington D.C. to work for a year and stopped to have a sandwich at Keeley’s in Salt Lake City. She was his waitress and they just ‘clicked’. Billie and Skip corresponded during that year and married a few years later here in Coronado where they spent the rest of their happy lives and they never stopped ‘clicking!’.

P.S. Will look for Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce recipe to share!


By Helen Nichols Murphy (Battleson)

My Mom was a wonderful cook. Since her mother died when she had just turned two years old in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918, she was raised by her grandmother, Mallie Kelley Carter, who had been born in 1853. My Mom grew up in Texas and cooked by taste. She never followed a recipe. They were all in her head; and now that she is gone, my sister Joan and I do not have anything written down. I did get her to verbally give me some of her recipes when I published my Hewick Cookbook in the early 1990s.

The Coronado Pharmacy Lunch Counter circa 1950

My Mom cooked for a living her entire life. First for both the pharmacy lunch counters in Coronado that Maxine and Lyman Latham owned — one was at 1122 Orange Avenue and the other at 918 Orange Avenue. She cooked the main meal of the day and walked them back and forth between the two pharmacies. She made wonderful meals daily such as Spaghetti, Meatloaf, Pot Roast, Salmon Patties, Chicken & Dumplings, Open-faced Pot Roast Sandwiches with Mashed Potatoes  & Gravy, Chili, Fried Chicken, French Dip Sandwiches, and Fabulous Homemade Soups, the Best Hamburgers in town — something new each day. She and my Dad worked for the Latham’s from the time she and my Dad came to Coronado in 1937 until the new Coronado Hospital was built and opened in the 1960s. Then she was hired in the Dietary Department and worked there another twenty years until she retired in the early 1980s. There were doctors in town who would poke their head in through the door to ask if Mallie was there cooking, and if so they would come in to eat, and if not they went on their way! Many times they would ask what she was cooking and put in their reservations so she would have a meal reserved for them. 

When she was at the drugstore, there were so many movie stars in those days coming to stay at the Hotel Del Coronado, and they would head to the pharmacy lunch counter to get my Mom’s home cooking! I still run into people who have never forgotten her cooking! She was a real Coronado treasure with a kind heart! There were kids growing up in Coronado whom I have now learned who ate only because my Mom fed them and never said a word to anyone. After my Mom’s neighbor, Mrs. Todd, who lived next door to her at 8th & J died, I learned from her son that my Mom had fixed a meal and took it to her every night! I am sure if there is a hot stove in Heaven she is standing there cooking her heart away!

Here are some of my Favorite Recipes of Mom’s Home Cooking:


1 frying chicken, cut up
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 c. half and half cream or evaporated milk

Cooking oil (Crisco)

–Mix dry ingredients together. Wash and dry chicken pieces. Roll them in flour mixture and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes. Did quickly into cream, then back into flour mixture for a crispy crust.

–Brown in hot oil, then lower heat, and cook until tender. Remove lid from iron skillet and cook briefly to re-crisp chicken. Serve at once.


3 c. apples, cut up, peeled and cored
2/3 cup sugar (more if apples are tart)
2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of salt
3 Tbsp. butter

–Layer apples in the crust (recipe below) with sugar, spices, flour, and butter. Drizzle with a bit of cream. Cover with top crust, crimping edges. Cut slits in top to let steam escape. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until top is golden.


2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. shortening plus 1 Tbsp. (Crisco)

–Mix flour and salt with 1/2 cup of shortening. Blend with pastry blender. Add the remaining 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. shortening and blend again. Add 4 to 5 Tbsp. of cold water and mix with fork. Roll out and put into pie tin.


1/4 c. milk
2 Tbsp. butter or oil
1/4 c. water
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. of 1 Tbsp. yeast
1 egg,  slightly beaten
2 1/4 c. flour (about)

–Heat milk, water, and butter. Place in large bowl of mixer. Stir in yeast and let dissolve. Add sugar and salt. Add 1 cup flour and heat 2 minutes. Add egg and 1/2 cup flour. Beat 2 more minutes. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board, knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in buttered bowl, turning to butter top. Cover with a towel, place in a warm place, free from draft, until double in bulk, about 30 minutes.

–Punch down, turn out onto a lightly floured board, cut into 1/2 equal size pieces. Shape into rolls, turning each roll so top is buttered. Let rise 15 to 20 minutes. Bake in 375 degree oven (if glass is used, 350 degrees) 12 to 15 minutes. Butter top of rolls, if desired.


1 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
1 c. cornmeal
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs, separated

–Add salt to milk and gradually stir in cornmeal. Cook in top of double boiler until thick. Cool to lukewarm, add baking powder to beaten egg yolks and combine with cornmeal mush. Mix well. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold in. Bake in well-greased square pan at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes. Serve with a spoon.


1 Tbsp. butter or shortening (Crisco)
1 c. sugar
1 c. milk
1 egg
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Brown sugar mixed with Cinnamon

–Cream butter and sugar, then add sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. Add egg and beat well together. Pour in flat cookie pan and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Dot with large lumps of butter and pecans. Cook in moderate oven, about 35 minutes.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE:  Should you like to share any of your favorite family recipes, we would be more than glad to publish them. Contact us at:  or by telephone at: (619) 435-1038


Posted in Summer 2012 Issue | Leave a comment



 Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
– Hamlet, Act V
William Shakespeare 1564-1616

Death makes angels of us all
and gives us wings
where we had shoulders
smooth as raven’s

– An American Prayer
Jim Morrison 1943-1971


By Alan Graham

At 36 years of age, Sage Moonblood Stallone, the oldest son of Sylvester Stallone, was found dead in his Hollywood apartment. A housekeeper found the body of actor-director Stallone, according to his lawyer, George Braunstein.

Born May 5, 1976, in Los Angeles, Sage Moonblood Stallone was the first son of Sylvester Stallone and actress Sasha Czack. He began his acting career in Rocky V, the 1990 installment of the Rocky movie franchise. As a 14-year-old, he played Rocky Balboa Jr., son of his father’s Rocky Balboa character.

Young Stallone appeared again with his father in the 1996 film, Daylight, and had roles in nine other movies and short films. His most recent appearance was in a 2011 television documentary on the Rocky films.

In addition to acting, Stallone was co-founder with film editor Bob Murawski of Grindhouse Releasing, which specializes in the theatrical and video release of restored B movies from the 1970s and ’80s. The company’s catalog includes An American Hippie in Israel, I Drink Your Blood, and Cannibal Holocaust.  Its latest release was 2010′s, Gone with the Pope.

—– Forwarded Message —–

From: “MichaelWhite ”
To: Al Graham
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 7:08 PM
Subject: Hey AL


I just got in and turned on the computer to see Sage Stallone is dead. I immediately thought of you, I know you two were close.

Sorry man.

Two years earlier I found Sage posting on Facebook and I made contact with him.

April 16, 2010

Al Graham
Hi Sage,
Do you remember me?
I was your bodyguard and soccer coach when you were four years old and you lived on Amalfi Drive in Pacific Palisades. We used to eat breakfast every morning at Mort’s Deli.
Check out my website at:
Al Graham


April 16, 2010

Sage Stallone
Oh my god! ALAN GRAHAM (forget about the soccer). Remember how you would ask me to grab the deli microphone and sing Morrison (who you made me a fan at such a young age)? We got in BIG trouble when I screamed WAITING FOR THE SUN!!!…etc.

Oh man! I always wondered about you. Possibly my only friend at the time. I remember the farm-like place you took me, and there’s only hazy recollections of great times and nice people. We need a phone call.

April 16, 2010

Al Graham
Call me anytime 24/7


April 16, 2010
Al Graham
Wiltz & Waltz
Hi Sage,
Last week I was talking to my oldest son Dylan about you and how we drove all over LA blasting The Doors in that Maserati from
Rocky III. I used to tell you a story about “The Continuing Adventures of Wiltz & Waltz”.  For you, they were real live characters who drove in and out of people’s driveways singing “In and out those darkie bluebells” as they grabbed flowers and hanging plants. You used to yell, “There is Waltz on the back of that truck let’s follow them”

It is very cool to hear from you again, in fact I was in Mort’s Deli a couple of years ago and the owner, Mort’s wife (Mort died) said you came in with some friends and you looked so grown up and handsome.

My oldest son Dylan lives in LA and I am often there, so please call me on my cell anytime 24/7. 



April 18, 2010

Al Graham

Hi Sage,

My son Dylan asked me to tell some stories about you so that he can share them with his children; so I made this video.  Let me know if you remember going to the junkyards with me.  Al


April 18, 2010

Sage is writing:

Going to the junkyards or stopping by the beach with Alan was so much more valuable to me than finding a carburetor on a 71′ Dodge Swinger or looking for a perfectly tanned body in Malibu at sunset…it was my secret life. My real life, in the mansion with loud voices and security monitors beeping all day was a lonely one. Screwing about with Alan, I collected hubcaps on the highway at 75 MPH where he practically came out of it looking like a pancake smothered with strawberry jam. I loved cars, and hubcaps were the closest thing to having one.

In 1969, Dodge introduced the Dart Swinger 340, a two-door hardtop coupe that included a Hurst four-speed, vinyl upholstery, Rally suspension, bumble bee stripes, unique colors, and wide 14-inch wheels and tires.

Back at the old boring Rolling Hills mansion, my friend Alan and I had a typically great idea to build a hubcap mansion of our own (the hills of green were 10 times the size of home, so why not? It was like the friggin’ Sound Of Music in the hills of Amalfi).

When we started, there was already a miniature playhouse, well outgrown. Alan added a window or two along with some spiffy interior/exterior ideas that widened the shack by 3time.

This obscurity became known to me as “Hubcap Palace” covered from wall-to-wall with some of the coolest antique caps from autos spanning 50 years. In fact, I spent so much time sitting in the wooden seat (as if driving a car round the world),

Family friends started donating some of the earliest hubcaps known to exist.

Talk about great logos and original hand-pounded craftsmanship. Although, when neighbor Vin Scully, a local baseball announcer and somehow mortal enemy neighbor of my Dad’s commented on a cap centered with a big V-8, it wouldn’t stop reminding him of the first car he bought.

Anyways, Scully’s kids happened to appreciate what they now called “the piece of art” which now graced an empty, over-sized lawn. This project prompted young Cathy Scully to ask Dad if we could place a long time abandon VW Bug alongside as if really driving.

Oh yes… I could just imagine Cathy climbing over the property line to fantasize about our drive to Spain or Greece. BUT, either way it was never going to matter… her bug, my hubcap wonderland was plowed down to dirt like an old drive-in movie theater by the time we got home from school the next evening. Ok, my credit to Stallone… he did leave a dented cap on my bed upstairs, but I didn’t bother looking at the grounds out my window until a red moon appeared before moving. -Peace & Love, Sage


April 19, 2010

Al Graham
Very cool prose, Sage.

The compound was more like a high security embassy with around-the-clock guards. I came to pick you up one morning, and as I entered the compound, Rocky was standing by the front gate giving an off-duty L.A. cop a bunch of shit as he was leaving. A powerful Santa Ana wind was in full affect. Because the house was not finished yet, the wind howled and whined through all the way to the rest of the rooms, down hallways, and even up the stairs. This was very disturbing to your father and it kept him up all night. At about five a.m., he walked into the kitchen and the cop had his shoes and socks off, feet up on the chair. All of the bullets were sitting in an ashtray and the idiot was cleaning his service revolver. Stallone gave him a ration of shit. “What if someone comes over that wall and you are sitting there with your feet up and an empty gun?” The cop did not respond but gave a sneer. So as he was leaving a little while later, he was given another bollocking and told not to come back ever again.

You came running out of the house, up and ready to go. Your dad came over to talk to me and he was carrying a copy of, No One Here Gets Out Alive. He was almost finished. He was a voracious reader/writer and he literally consumed everything.

I asked what he thought of the book and he said, “I am thinking of portraying this guy, Jim Morrison. The book is badly written, but it is a fascinating story.”

Sasha and he were blown away when they heard you singing Doors tunes because you had an awesome propensity to retain and you knew all the lyrics.

Stallone was even more blown away when I told him that Jim was my brother-in-law.

I would like to send you a copy of my book, I Remember, so please send me a mailbox number.

More later…


May 4, 2010

Al Graham

Happy Birthday, Sage!

“Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.”


In the early 1980s, while shopping the development of the story of my late brother-in-law, Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, I found myself in a situation wherein I became the personal tutor, confidante, and bodyguard to Sage Stallone.  Sage and I developed a relationship comparable to mine with my own children. He thrived from receiving the undivided attention much denied him in his heavily preoccupied home of “The Rocky” era.  My own upbringing in war-torn Liverpool had taught me the importance of improvisational play, and together Sage and I made games and fun out of the elements that surrounded us: To dive in the pool, or make a mud pool?  To buy a new Maserati, or go to a junkyard and collect artifacts – tire rims and bumpers – with which to create art and music? Going to Mort’s in Pacific Palisades for breakky and singing Doors’ tunes to the applause of his fellow patrons, Sage was in a heaven not purchased by his father’s fame but by a wealth only to be found in the freedom of one’s imagination. Sage and Al traversed across the universe together, exploring.


By Alan Graham

(Excerpt from upcoming autobiography)

In 1980, Alan Graham had a lunatic construction crew that worked on many celebrity projects – among them, Richard Widmark, Jack Lemmon, and the megastar, Sylvester “Rocky Balboa” Stallone.

Graham’s men were a tough, hard-working, hard-partying bunch that descended on a job like marauding pirates. Amongst these ne’er do wells were Andrew Lee Morrison – a wandering carpenter, welder, and all around yarn spinner – and Alan Finlayson, one of Graham’s childhood friends who had recently emigrated from England. He and Andy Morrison were the terrible twins and provided much silliness and recklessness to the work environment.

The Stallone mansion sat above Malibu at the top of Amalfi Drive, a choice location with a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean below. Graham had been contracted to build an addition to the already sprawling Tudor-style home.

Stallone’s family was living in part of the house during the remodeling. A massive gate guarding the compound groaned under the steady flow of contractors, construction workers, and rich and famous friends, passing through like rush-hour traffic on the 405.  Recently, the actor had been involved in a major dispute with his co-producers over profits, and death threats had been made. A double cordon of security lent the property an atmosphere of a siege, as friend and foe alike were highly scrutinized.

The first layer of security was rather weak because the personnel were made up of amateurs – wannabe gangster actors, personal trainers, and a few look-a-like Chippendale male dancers – all vying for the chance to get a part in the next Rocky movie.

The second layer was, to any security professional worth his salt, even more terrifying:

Stallone had hired off-duty L.A.P.D. patrol officers as night guards who were stationed in every room and hallway in the house. It seemed that after interactions with Stallone, the word was out that he was a “major dick” to work for, so only the most incompetent of L.A.’s finest showed up; and when they did, they were lazy, dumb, and downright reckless.

The visitors included Stallone’s mother and father, his younger brother Frankie, Mister T, from the upcoming Rocky II and the rest of the cast, high-priced entertainment lawyers, and agents equipped with armfuls of scripts and movie treatments for the superstar to read and, hopefully, finance or produce.

The compound was a beehive of activity. Sawing and banging echoed throughout the surrounding, normally serene, hillsides.

“Oh my God!” A woman’s alarmed voice rang out. “Sage! Come back, Sage! Oh my God!”

Stallone’s son Sage was four years old and beyond the control of the army of adults enlisted by his parents to watch over him. He was hyperactive, to be sure, but like any little boy, he just wanted to run free and be wild. This was not possible considering the current threat to his family from disgruntled business associates, and so the child was held captive in a veritable high-security prison.

A tiny figure darted across the front lawn at full gallop followed by a screeching nanny. In turn, she was followed by Stallone, his wife Sasha, and several house servants. The boy laughed gleefully as he deftly eluded his pursuers – in and out of thick bushes, under cars and trucks, behind the dog kennels, and every other nook and cranny hard to reach. He ran dangerously close to power cables on the ground and the whole compound let out a collective gasp.

Graham caught the youngster as he tried to dart up the stairs to the half-finished addition. Wound tighter than a clock spring, the boy struggled to break free. His little coal-black eyes flashed like emergency lights with a desperate and urgent message: Help me escape! 

Graham returned Sage to the custody of his nanny, struggling like a roped mustang and screaming at the top of his lungs, “I wanna play outside! I wanna play outside!” “It’s too dangerous and you can get badly hurt,” the nanny explained, but the child kicked and gnashed his baby teeth at the exhausted woman.

Normality returned to the compound, but not thirty seconds later the very same hue and cry went up again. Sage was loose, and like the Roadrunner, he escaped capture.

All forces marshaled against the boy were rendered useless. He disappeared behind a huge potted plant on the front porch as once more the entire compound joined the search. Sage stayed hidden as a demented mob called for him. Graham watched with amusement as the little rebel giggled each time a distraught adult ran by.

Grabbing a handful of nails, Graham began pounding them into a thick beam positioned on several sawhorses. With each blow, he exclaimed, “Yeeappp! Zadonk! Yakkamoogie! Ba-Ba-Ba-Boom!” He now had Sage’s attention. Holding out the hammer, he beckoned for the boy to join him. The little fellow beamed with delight, and he emerged from his refuge. The next time the search party came by, they were stopped abruptly by the sight of Sage holding a big hammer with two hands and screaming at the top of his lungs, “Yikka Woopie –Baddamm!” Graham carefully guided his hands over the child’s, and together they drove in the six-inch nails. Stallone and his wife were the last to arrive and were aghast to see their baby boy swinging a hammer wildly and grunting in some primeval language.

Sasha photographed the nailing demonstration while everyone else sat around watching. Sage yelled ecstatically, “Hey Dad, Mom, look at me!” His audience laughed at the tiny construction worker who, in turn, squealed with joy each time he received a great cry and applause.

The next morning, when Graham’s crew arrived, Stallone stood at the front gate waiting. When Graham walked in Stallone called him aside. But before he could say a word, Sage came bursting out the front door, and grabbing Graham around the knees, he yelled, “Kabooooom!” The boy attempted to drag him over to the woodpile. “Come on, Alan! Come On!”

At Stallone’s request, Graham’s job would now be divided. He left his foreman in charge of construction and was now part-time bodyguard, tutor, and playmate to Sylvester Stallone’s firstborn son.


June 9, 1981: 7:15 a.m. – Alan Graham parked his car outside the heavily guarded compound. Stallone was already pacing the grounds, checking on security guards, maids, houseboys, and construction workers. Perfectly suntanned, and naked except for a pair of red silk boxer shorts, he yelled at a painter: “I told you I wanted white paint, not dark! White reflects the sun! Dark absorbs and makes the room hotter!”

“Well, I’ll paint it over,” said the painter.

“So, I gotta pay twice,” complained Stallone. “That’s theft – outright theft.” He walked away in disgust.

The massive electric gate swung inward, and Stallone looked up to see Graham passing through.

“Morning, Al.”

“Good morning, Sly.  How are you feeling?”

“Ahh!  These people think I am made of money. I’ll be glad when this house is finished.”

They walked together. Two workers were unrolling a 30×60-foot canvas of Rocky II by the noted painter, Leroy Neiman. It was gaudy, and the workers looked nervously toward its approaching subject. But Stallone nodded his approval of the likeness with deep satisfaction.

 “I’m gonna hang it on the wall,” Stallone remarked to Graham. “Whatta ya think?”

One of the workers dropped his end of the canvas. Stallone tensed up, and three other workers ran to the mortified worker’s aid. Five people now buoyed the massive image with trepidation, each convinced it was his head that would be rolling.

“It’s a great portrait!” groveled one of the workers.

His comrades echoed: “Yes! Oh, yes! It’s magnificent!”

Beheadings postponed for the time being, Stallone continued his walk with Graham, passing a ten-foot bronze statue of Rocky I, which resembled a Cecil B. DeMille movie prop. Stallone stopped to admire it anyway.

It was a beautiful June morning. Stallone and Graham sat down on the patio and a maid brought coffee and Danish. They talked back and forth about Sage. 

Graham’s day began at eight a.m., when the five-year-old boy jumped for joy at the sight of him because it meant Fun! Fun! Fun!

The child was high-strung and extremely intelligent. Intense and insatiable – a force to be reckoned with – he could wear people down with the strength of thirty kindergarteners. Graham had worked with hyperactivity in the past, but this case was extreme. Unusual methods were called for.

Graham dug a huge hole in the middle of the back lawn. Sage gleefully filled it with water, and together they made the best mud hole in the world. The maid had the foolishness to pass by as it was being finished and was thrown in. Sasha joined in the fun, bringing a camera and Seth, Sage’s two-year-old brother. Everyone was muddied and photographed. The interior decorator offered to hold the camera and, much to his horror, was also muddied, to the puzzlement of Stallone, who stood some distance away watching the whole episode.

Graham grabbed a plastic bucket, a rope, and a screwdriver. Punching twenty holes into the bottom and sides, he tied the garden hose inside the bucket. Hoisting the contraption over the branches of one of the massive pine trees, he and Sage turned the water on full blast, and everyone had a wild group shower.

Sage had numerous showers, followed by great mud fights, and more showers.

Stallone was even more bemused by the goings-on in his yard. He left the patio, returning in twenty minutes dressed and ready for the office. As he stood by his limousine, Graham and Sage, now washed clean, waved good-bye. Stallone smiled.

“Bye, Dad! Bye, Dad!” Sage yelled.

“What’ve you got planned today, Al?” asked Stallone.

Graham laid out the day’s events: breakfast at Mort’s, a walk in the beautiful hills surrounding the compound, a visit with the secret service agent guarding Ronald Reagan’s old Pacific Palisades home (whom they had met on a previous walk), a run on the beach, a trip to the junkyard in Santa Monica (where Sage would engage in his passion for collecting hubcaps), a movie in Westwood, lunch, a nap, and in the afternoon, more mud. 

Stallone seemed reluctantly satisfied, and as he stepped into his limo, Graham read the title of a paperback Stallone was carrying: No One Here Gets Out Alive, the unauthorized biography of Jim Morrison’s life.

“What do you think of that book?” Graham asked.

Stallone stopped. “Fascinating. Badly written, but a fascinating character. Did you read it?”

Graham had read it, cover to cover. He nodded.

“Morrison reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe,” said Stallone. “I’ve always wanted to do a movie about Poe. Morrison seems like that same tragic poet.”

“Are you gonna do a film about Morrison?” asked Graham.

“Someone sent me a treatment last week, so I got the book to read. I think it would be a smash movie.”

“Bye, Dad!!!” Sage was screaming from the mud pit. “Come on, Alan!! Come on!!!”

The limo whisked Stallone away. Graham stood looking after him. He thought to himself, One giant fucking adventure coming up, Al!!

June 11, 1981:  8:05 a.m. – Graham sat in the luxury Maserati sedan that had been used in the recently finished Rocky III and that was now Graham’s personal company car. The interior was of the finest soft leather, the dashboard resembled a 747 cockpit, and it boasted twelve powerful cylinders under the hood, capable of warp speeds. Graham pushed a tape into the cassette deck, punched up the awesome equalizer, and drove the sleek midnight blue sedan up to the front of the house.

“Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel…” Morrison sang.

Sasha was ecstatic, listening to Sage sing along with The Doors as she helped her son into the car.

“Come on, baby, light my fire…” Her son’s little lungs almost burst with enthusiasm.

Stallone pulled Graham to the side and voiced his pleasure in the changes he observed in Sage. The techniques Graham used on hyperactive kids in the past were now working very well on this violent and destructive child.

“He loves this music,” said Stallone, smiling at his son. “I’m glad you brought it because I can listen to it as well.”

Stallone held the Morrison biography as they spoke. Graham could see he had almost finished the thick paperback.

“I’d like to play this guy, but I hear the rights are not available – some problem with the family.”

“Well, the book was unauthorized and no one inside the family was happy,” Graham said authoritatively.

Stallone looked up with interest. 

“His father’s naval portrait took up a whole page in the book. That’s quite a paradox,” commented Stallone; “the Admiral and the rock idol.”

“Yeah, he was very upset when the book was published last year. Jerry Hopkins, the writer, tried in vain to get anyone inside the family to contribute, but the Admiral wouldn’t have it. Like some unwritten rule, it was never even discussed – sort of like it didn’t happen.”

Stallone looked at Graham, surprised.

“I didn’t read that in the book.”

“It wasn’t in the book,” said Graham.

“Oh, yeah. Where did you read that? I gotta get all the info I can on this character. Can you get me the article?”

“I didn’t read it in a newspaper. I lived it. Jim was my brother-in-law.”

“Try to set the night on fire…” Sage ended the song simultaneously with Jim’s voice. The compound applauded. Sage was still rocking without the music. Time to go to breakfast. Corralling his charge, he buckled him up in the car.

Graham checked his gun, his glasses, and the rearview mirror. In it, Stallone’s face beamed like he had just found uranium.

June 21, 1981:  7 a.m. — The longest day of the year, a Santa Ana wind had been raging all night long and was still in effect. As Graham blew threw the main gate, Stallone was 100 feet away, chewing out one of the hired off-duty patrolmen.

“I don’t want to wake up in the night and find you with your shoes off, feet up, cleaning your gun when you’re supposed to be protecting my family!!!”  Stallone’s face was vicious. The officer left with a scowl.

Stallone approached Graham, shaking his head. “That’s the fifth one this month. L.A. cops are scary, man. I’m not hiring them any more.”

The wind had howled all night long. The unfinished construction contributed to the eerie banshee moaning as it screamed through the unfinished windows and walls.

“I hate this wind, man. I’ve been up since two a.m.”

“Yeah. Thank God, it’ll be over today,” said Graham.

“Is that what the forecast calls for?” Relief shone on Stallone’s face, and for a moment he resembled nothing more than a kid let out of his room.

The two men entered the kitchen, and Stallone poured coffee for Graham. The Santa Ana stopped suddenly. The massive pines in the yard fell silent. Stallone’s eyes were calm and boy-like. Jim Morrison’s face gazed at the pair from his biography resting on the table. Motioning to the book, Stallone said, “I’ve just finished it.”

They talked for two hours about the biography. Graham explained why the Morrison’s were disgusted by the portrayal of their son. Stallone listened to Graham’s every word and in the process swallowed the bait, the hook, the line, the pole, and half of Graham’s arm. It was textbook: Was the dog wagging his tail, or was the tail wagging the dog? 

Graham had his own axe to grind. Ray Manzarek, The Doors’ organist, was running all over town trying to hustle the bio of Jim to anyone who would buy it. Because of the lack of cooperation from the family, no major studio would touch it, but Travolta had come into the picture, and it started to look like a deal might be brewing. Graham hated the book; even though a lot of it was accurate, it was dark and evil, showing only half of the man. It would be a tragic movie. If that weren’t bad enough, Travolta wanted to portray this one-dimensional Jim Morrison. Until this moment, Graham had been powerless to move against Manzarek and Travolta, which had been his burning desire since publication of the book in 1980.

“Do you think you could get the Admiral to cooperate if I put a deal together?” Stallone now asked.

Graham laughed inside.  Twist my arm a little, he thought.

“You’ve seen my movies,” pursued Stallone. “I could promise respect and integrity.”

Stallone had Graham’s shoulder down his throat.

“I hear Travolta is trying to put a deal together with Warner Brothers,” Graham baited.

Hate welled up in Stallone’s eyes.

“Can’t you see me portraying Morrison?” he challenged.

“Jim was intense and powerful like you,” Graham gagged on his own words.

Stallone beamed. 

 Time to reel this baby in, Alan. Graham’s adrenalin raced. Deep in the brain, a Fourth of July explosion sent him into ecstasy.

“I’ll talk to my father-in-law.”

Stallone walked Graham to the Maserati, where they found Sage bashing the dashboard, trying to get the music to come on.

As Graham and the child drove off, Stallone called out, now the one doing the baiting: “Don’t forget to tell the Admiral about the integrity thing!”

Integrity thing – how eloquent! Graham laughed in his head. 

That night, Graham discussed the day with his wife, Anne. Ten years earlier, they had heard the news on the radio of Jim’s death in a Paris bathtub. Anne had cried for days. No one had ever contacted them to let them know what had happened to her big brother. Jim’s girlfriend, Pamela, had been with him when he died and had lied to the Paris officials, telling them that Jim had no known relatives, effectively covering up his death. Three years later, in Los Angeles, Pamela was found dead of a heroin overdose, taking the secrets of Jim’s death with her to the grave.

It was still a very sensitive subject, but it was also Graham’s chance to fight back, and perhaps stop the Travolta/Warner Brothers production. Together, he and Anne could tell a better story about Jim.

“Who is going to portray Jim?” Anne asked.

With suppressed hilarity, Graham said, “Stallone wants to play him.”

Anne laughed loudly. She was very bright and extremely well educated, and she couldn’t help herself when she thought of Rocky doing Jim. They agreed to approach the Admiral anyway. Graham called him.

“Hello, Admiral. This is your son-in-law.”

“Well, hello, Alan. How are you, son? How’s the family? How’s your job with Sylvester Stallone?”

The Admiral was an expert on many things. He was one of the most well-read men in the world and a math genius. He was one of the youngest admirals in the history of the U. S. Navy, and with thirty years experience in dealing with thousands of men, he had developed a shrewd insight to human behavior. He was affable and friendly on the outside, but rigid and narrow on the inside.

Graham posed the question. The Admiral fell silent. Graham didn’t speak. A twenty-second awkward moment suspended itself between the men. This was the first time in ten years that anyone in the family had dared speak on the subject of Jim, and Graham felt as if he was just bringing his father-in-law the news of his son’s death.

Kill the messenger, thought Graham.

“Well, I can’t see what the story is,” the Admiral observed.

Graham patiently explained the Warner/Travolta/biography triangle.

The Admiral responded, “Well, I haven’t read the book, but I’m told it’s bad and wouldn’t make a good film anyway.”

Tell that to Hollywood, thought Graham; then, to the Admiral, “That’s Anna’s and my motivation to get involved and tell the true story.”

“Well, I don’t see how I could sign my name to a project that you may lose control of later and then end up with a bad movie.”

“A project using the biography is gonna be a pretty bad one, anyhow,” said Graham.

“Yes, but it won’t have my name on it,” the Admiral responded confidently. “I’d like to help you, son, but I don’t trust Hollywood people.”

“Would you mind if I went ahead with a fictional version?” offered Graham.

“Well, as I say, I can’t see a story. You have the right to try, but I don’t see people going to see it.”

Is everybody in? Is everybody in? Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin. The entertainment for this evening is not new, you’ve seen this entertainment through and through you have seen your birth, your life, your death….you may recall all the rest. Did you have a good world when you died? -enough to base a movie on??”

Jim Morrison, An American Prayer

The next morning, as he drove the Pacific Coast Highway, Graham analyzed the Admiral’s comments: “I can’t see any story here… what’s the subject… is it interesting enough for a film…”

Strange comments, considering that the smash Vietnam movie Apocalypse Now used The End for its title song and The Doors’ music was now selling faster than when Jim was alive.

Yes, Graham thought, people will go see it, by the millions, just like they are buying the music all over again. It is extremely strange how the Admiral can’t see that when it’s right in front of his eyes.

The coffers of the Morrison estate were swelling. The cash registers were ringing all over the world and still the Admiral asked, “Who’ll go see the movie?”

Graham squinted at the ocean. He scratched on a notepad, The Work Ethic.

Stallone was waiting for Graham. They went upstairs to the study. Stallone closed the door. Graham explained the Admiral’s position and told him of the fictional option. Stallone listened intently, and when Graham had finished, he said, “Can you come up with a script?”

Graham smiled as he pulled his shoulder, arm, pole, line, bait, hook, and sinker from Stallone’s mouth. 

Stallone turned on a tape of Morrison’s song, End of the Night, saying, “I’ll be right back.” As he headed for the bathroom, Graham noticed a long white clay pipe on the table and a bag of hybrid Hawaiian grass. Stallone returned, sat down, lit the pipe, and offered it to Graham. They smoked. That small-boy look flashed on Stallone’s face.

Looking for approval, Graham thought, but for what?

My God, the grass was potent. Graham drifted with the music. Then, out of nowhere, Stallone started to sing: Realms of bliss, realms of light, some are born to sweet delight…”

Graham froze. Dear God! Dear God! Rocky Balboa was singing along with Morrison – singing lyrics Morrison had stolen from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence – like Quasimodo would have!

“What d’ya think?” Stallone asked as he showed Graham the back of his head.  Stallone had woven into his hair a long, 1960’s-style hairpiece.  

Graham’s lungs nearly exploded, trying not to laugh.

Stallone sang along with Jim. He had learned the lyrics and was now pummeling them.

 “Can you do Light My Fire?” Graham heard himself say.

Jim Morrison spoke to Graham from the grave: “What the fuck are you doing, Alan?”

“Stopping Travolta and Manzarek!” Graham responded.

“Not with him!!!”  Morrison shouted.

“Calm down.” Graham whispered, “You’ll wake up the dead.”

Stallone was now moving around the room. A slight deformity in his left leg, arm, and jaw were ever more apparent and pronounced, Graham noticed, with grass-high perception. Stallone’s eyes rolled in ecstasy as he intermittently moved between personas. In the blink of an eye Rocky Balboa was present. Just as fast Sylvester Stallone appeared, then King Richard II – deformities and all.  Rocky Fucking Balboa and Sylvester Stallone were now butchering The Doors’ music as surely as Rocky Balboa bashed in the ribs of that carcass before the big fight with Apollo Creed. The song ended, and not a nanosecond too soon. 

“What d’ya think?”  Stallone asked with childlike expectation.

Graham heard Jim breathing at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

“I was in a trance,” Graham admitted.

Morrison spoke from a long way off as he was leaving: “He thinks you mean his performance put you in a trance, Alan!” Jim’s voice had that Something bad is going to come from this warning tone.

Sage burst into the room. “Come on, Alan!!”

As they played in the mud hole, Stallone’s limo left the compound. Morrison’s voice echoed from inside. Stallone was singing along: “Oh, show me the way to the next whiskey bar…”

Graham laughed out loud – a great, free, happy laugh! Then “Mud Wars III” began.

All that day and night Graham wrote the synopsis in his head. He and Anne sat at the typewriter. In their fictional story, Stallone was a high-priced L.A. private eye hired by Anne to find out what happened to her dead rock idol brother who was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Romance blossomed between the rock star’s sister and the private eye. Together, they uncovered secrets of F.B.I. surveillance, espionage plots, spies, hit men, et cetera, et cetera.

As they finished the script, Graham felt Morrison’s presence, but the ghost didn’t speak. He went out to the back porch and sat looking at the night sky. Morrison was there – just breathing, not saying anything. Graham wondered if the ghost haunted Manzarek, too.

Stallone loved the script. His house was packed with celebs invited to watch the rough cut of Rocky III. Graham was introduced to some of Hollywood’s top ass-kissers and assholes.

“Oh, I think Stallone would portray Morrison superbly! After all, he’s the only one who could bring the dignity thing into play,” said a size-10-sphincter lawyer. A small amount of cocaine rocks were still stuck in his nose hairs. Morrison belched loudly. Graham tasted dead flowers. Stallone handed out glasses of wine in $150 crystal goblets (a bit of info gleaned from the sphincter-10). They entered the recently finished viewing salon that featured an elegant bar and plush pool table. Sasha was about to sink the 8 ball when Stallone “accidentally on purpose” bumped into her. She got to take it over again, but missed. Stallone smiled the smile of a small, insecure person.  Graham did not miss this.

The rights to The Doors’ music were now owned by three different, and hopelessly polarized, groups: the three remaining Doors, the Admiral and his wife, and the dead girlfriend’s parents. The biography No One Here Gets Out Alive had shredded Pamela’s reputation beyond repair, not to mention what it did to Jim’s. Her parents wouldn’t cooperate and the Admiral wouldn’t play.

Nevertheless, a deal was still being considered, headed by Ray Manzarek. In the ensuing weeks, Graham learned that the Admiral could override everyone if he would just step forth and take control of the estate, which was being badly mismanaged.

Graham called the Admiral again, this time to assure him that he could maintain control of the script. Once again, he refused.

Graham wondered why his father-in-law was blocking the deal. Perhaps he knew something no one else did. Graham’s first movie deal of his life had happened accidentally. Within weeks he had a major star, a major studio, and all the money in the world at the ready, and it was all riding on the stroke of a pen. He listened for Jim. He listened for a long time. No ghost. No sound. Nothing.

The deal wouldn’t fly without the music and portrayal rights. All the major hitters wanted the whole package or nothing. Stallone was bitterly disappointed. In the next month, Brian De Palma started to put a deal together using Travolta in a fictional caricature of Morrison called Fire. Every major and minor male star in Hollywood came out in the media claiming to be the only one who could portray Jim. Stars like Timothy Hutton, Richard Gere, John Cougar Mellencamp, Kevin Costner, Harry Hamlin, as well as many not-so-famous actors like Stallone’s own little brother Frankie, was vying for the role of the century.

The Morrison deal was all over town. Every high-priced and two-bit promoter and producer was trying to net it first. Graham watched the events closely wondering the whole time who opened the fucking floodgates. Morrison laughed and laughed from down in the dark tunnel. It was the mocking, daring laugh he had used in life. Graham jumped down into the tunnel. He heard Jim’s footsteps running away.

“I’m coming!” Graham shouted, adjusting his deerstalker and yanking the leash of the straining bloodhound. “I’m coming, Mr. Lizard King!”

The night after the Oscars of 1981, Graham sat at a table in Mort’s Deli with all the newspapers he could find. The L.A. Times reported that Jim Morrison’s brother-in-law was coming out to tell the true story of Morrison and was threatening to sue all other parties attempting to make a fictional version.

Graham received many nasty and threatening calls from people who had been trying to put a deal together, some for more than a year. Then Entertainment Tonight ran a story stating that the family of Jim Morrison was looking for a co-producer to work with Graham. The phones really started to ring. Graham was a producer, by God!

The Admiral was on the phone to Graham. Everyone who ever knew him or knew someone who knew him had called him to find out if he was going to star in the movie – Admiral’s uniform and all. Graham had visions of Jim and his dad performing Anchors Away on stage.

Jim was listening from down in the tunnel as the Admiral said, “This is exactly why I didn’t want to get involved.” He was livid.

Jim’s laugh echoed in the background. The Admiral heard it, too.

The summer vanished. Sage, now five years old, went to school. Stallone wanted Graham to stay on and work with the kid part time, but the Morrison project would consume him for the next ten years. Sisyphus would now find serious competition in Graham.




Posted in Summer 2012 Issue | 1 Comment


By Helen Nichols Murphy (Battleson)


In 1998, what is probably the most famous case of DNA-analysis was resolved with a Y-chromosome test: “Did Thomas Jefferson have children with his slave Sally Hemmings?” The DNA of five descendants of Thomas Jefferson’s paternal uncle, Field Jefferson, were analyzed, in order to investigate the Y-chromosome profile of the family. Direct male descendants of Sally Hemmings’ son served as the comparison. John Weeks Jefferson, the only living descendant of Eston Hemmings, confirmed with his Y-chromosome that both families belonged to the same male line.

Y-DNA is only for men. This test will uncover your father line and the long journeys made by your ancestors out of the deep past partly because they keep their surnames, and until the age of mass transport were unlikely to move far from their places of birth. Men can discover a tremendous ancestral hinterland by taking a YDNA test. Two central questions can be answered — Where do we all come from, and who are we? So if you’ve been longing to find out who your ancestors were and how they lived, there’s never been a better time to start looking. Your view of your ethnic heritage may be challenged. Are you ready for that?

Even in the deep past when many fewer people inhabited our planet, it appears that mtDNA markers traced great journeys moving vast distances over thousands of years. Your mtDNA marker may well have originated on the other side of the world. Women often left their places of birth to find marriage partners, and significant numbers seem to have been traded, either formally or informally, as slaves.

How is it possible to retrace the steps of our ancestors by analyzing the DNA of living people? Inheritance is the key. Each of us inherits around six billion letters of DNA from our parents, three billion from each. These are made up from four biochemicals: adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. Our genes are read by scientists like very long strings of letters which are sequences of A, C, G, and T.

There are two special sorts of DNA that are particularly useful for information on our history. Our fathers pass on Y-chromosome DNA to their sons while mothers pass on mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA to their sons and to their daughters. But mtDNA dies with men and it survives only in the female line. When people are tested — that means men carry two stories inside them — a Y-chromosome lineage and their mtDNA lineage. Women have only one — a mtDNA story.

Inside all of us is a hidden history: the story of an immense journey told by our DNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid is the biochemical molecule at the heart of the reproduction of all life, plants as well as animals. And since the discovery of its structure in 1953, scientists have pieced together the epic narrative of how human beings populated our planet. Your origins, your ancestors, the people who made you will emerge from the shadows as our research reaches back into the darkness of the deep past – your past. There are stories only DNA can tell. And sometimes these can be startling, changing perceptions of our own identity, making connections we never dreamed of. 

Once your marker has been identified, the scientists and historians will tell its story — your story, the story of your fatherline. They will discover where the marker first arose and how old it is and where it spread to. Some YDNA markers are very ancient, others came into being in recorded history, all can be tracked accurately and explained.

From a simple saliva sample, our scientists can trace your ancestry over many thousands of years; and through new and developing technology, we can answer a fundamental question – where do we come from?

Only women can pass on mitochondrial DNA, and a motherline can carry the story of an extraordinary, epic journey across millennia, across continents. Men inherit mtDNA from their mothers, but it dies with them.

Each of us has inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) along with the mutations that have accumulated in our individual family lines. Geneticists can test for these accumulated mutations. Individual test results are called a haplotype or mitotype. People with the same cluster of mutations belong to the same haplogroup and are descended from the same female line. There are 36 known mitochondrial haplogroups worldwide with more being discovered as research advances.

Almost all Europeans belong to one of only seven haplogroups. This means that most Europeans are descended in the female line from one of seven different women. These women have been called the “Seven Daughters of Eve” although they could have lived at widely different periods in history. Their descendants came to Europe at different times and spread throughout the continent. Of course, because we each have so many ancestors, not just our ancestors in the female line, all Europeans descend from each of these seven women many times over.


According to Oxford Ancestors, the haplogroups most common in Europe include: Helena, Jasmine, Katrine, Tara, Ursula, Velda, and Xenia. Helena is by far the largest and most successful of the seven native clans with 41 percent of Europeans belonging to one of its many branches. It began 20,000 years ago (~1,000 generations) with the birth of Helena somewhere in the valleys of the Dordogne and the Vezere in south-central France. The clan is widespread throughout all parts of Europe but reaches its highest frequency among the Basque people of northern Spain and southern France.

Remains that are said to be those of St. Luke the Evangelist show that he was a member of this clan. He was born in Syria and died in Thebes about 150 CE. Another famous member was Marie Antoinette. Her earliest known maternal ancestor was Bertha von Pfullendorf who died in 1198. Marie Antoinette’s DNA was tested as part of a project to validate the remains of her son, Louis VII.

The remains of the Russian royal family show that they also belonged to this clan. When the Russian royal family was murdered in 1918, their bodies were hastily disposed. In 1991, nine bodies were recovered from a shallow grave near Ekaterinburg, Russia. Experts obtained mtDNA samples from female-line relatives of Empress Alexandra including Prince Philip. The samples matched the mtDNA extracted from the bones proving that the bodies were the remains of the Romanovs. Further tests showed that Anna Anderson, a woman who claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, was in fact a Polish actress.

Jasmine is the second largest of the seven European clans after Helena and is the only one to have its origins outside Europe. Jasmine and her descendants, who now make up 12 percent of Europeans, were among the first farmers and brought the agricultural revolution to Europe from the Middle East around 8,500 years ago (~425 generations).

Katrine is a medium-sized clan with 10 percent of Europeans among its membership. Katrine herself lived 15,000 years ago (~750 generations) in the wooded plains of northeast Italy, now flooded by the Adriatic, and among the southern foothills of the Alps. Her descendants are still there in numbers but have also spread throughout central and northern Europe. “The Ice Man” also known as “Otzi” was a member of this clan. He lived about 3350 BCE – 3300 BCE. His remains were discovered in 1991 in a glacier in the Italian Alps. 

Tara includes slightly fewer than 10 percent of modern Europeans. Its many branches are widely distributed throughout southern and western Europe with particularly high concentrations in Ireland and the west of Britain. Tara herself lived 17,000 years ago (~850 generations) in the northwest of Italy among the hills of Tuscany and along the estuary of the river Arno. Nicholas II, last Emperor of Russia, was a member of this clan as was Jesse James.

Ursula is the oldest of the seven European clans. It was founded about 45,000 years ago (~2,250 generations) by the first modern humans (Homo sapiens) as they established themselves in Europe. Dr. Brian Sykes, Oxford University, believes Ursula was born in a shallow cave cut into the cliffs of what is now Mount Parnassus close to what became Delphi. Her female-line descendants are common among both white Europeans and black Africans. She lived at a time before the emergence of the so-called “races”. Today about 11 percent of modern Europeans are the direct maternal descendants of Ursula. The clan is particularly well represented in western Britain and Scandinavia. “Cheddar Man”, whose remains were discovered in a cave in England, was a member of the Ursula Clan. He died about 9,000 years ago (~450 generations).

Velda is the smallest of the seven European clans containing only about 4 percent of native Europeans. Velda lived 17,000 years ago (~850 generations) in the limestone hills of Cantabria in northwest Spain. Her descendants are found nowadays mainly in western and northern Europe. They are surprisingly frequent among the Skolt Sámi (Lapps) (50 percent) of Scandinavia and the Basques (12 percent) of Spain.

Xenia is the second oldest of the seven European clans. It was founded 25 thousand years ago (~1,250 generations) by the second wave of modern humans, who established themselves in Europe just prior to the coldest part of the last Ice Age. Today around 7 percent of native Europeans are in the clan of Xenia. About one percent of Native Americans are also in the clan of Xenia. An Anglo-Saxon skeleton from the 11th century was discovered at Norwich Castle in England and shown to be a member of this clan. My own haplo-group is H – actually H-3 in the Helena group. MtDNA Haplogroup H3 – H3 is the second most common branch of H. Like H1, it is found mainly in Western Europe.


DNA was extracted from a lock of Marie Antoinette’s hair that was snipped from her head as a child. Her DNA matched a sample taken from a heart believed to be from her son, King Louis XVII. Marie Antoinette’s farthest known maternal line ancestor: Bertha von Putelendorf, d 1190.


In July 1991, nine bodies were exhumed from a shallow grave just outside Ekaterinburg, Russia. Circumstantial evidence, along with mitochondrial DNA sequencing and matches, gave strong evidence to the remains being those of the Romanovs, the last Russian Royals who were executed on July 18, 1918. Tsarina Alexandra, the three children buried with her and Prince Philip’s mitochondrial DNA were an exact match on 740 tested nucleotides.

 DNA STORIES: Excerpts from


More than a century later, DNA uncovers a bout of indiscretion and calls into question a researcher’s own identity – After researching his family history for a quarter of a century, Myrl Lemburg of Virginia Beach, Virginia, got the shock of his life when he took a DNA test. He had collected information on about 10,000 members of the Lemburg family tracing their roots back to Holstein, Germany. Somewhere around the year 1700, the paper trail dried up. He had identified three Lemburg families from the same area, but he couldn’t connect them.

Hoping to link the three groups, Lemburg convinced two distant cousins to participate in a Y-DNA test.The results showed that his test partners shared a common ancestor within 12 to 16 generations. The surprise? Myrl Lemburg didn’t match either of his “cousins”.

Baffled, he asked a first cousin on his Lemburg line to take a Y-DNA test. This time the results matched proving that Lemburg and his cousin are closely related.

So what do these results mean? Somewhere on Lemburg’s paternal line there was a male ancestor who wasn’t biologically a Lemburg. As close as Lemburg can figure, his great- or great-great-grandmother had an affair and bore a son who was raised with the Lemburg name — his mother’s married name.

“Somewhere along the line, the ‘milkman’ got involved,” says Lemburg. “The poor lady probably thought that her secret died with her, and here I am digging up the dirt a hundred years later.” Of course, an adoption could also account for the genetic discrepancies in Lemburg’s family tree.

“There are three generations between my grandmother and the ancestor where the line matches the other two groups,” Lemburg says. He has yet to find a test partner who could help him discover the true origins of his paternal line. For family secrets like this, DNA is probably the only way to get a glimpse at the truth.

“Now I will publish a genealogy book that has all the Lemburg people I can gather,” says Lemburg, “but I have no idea who my forefathers are beyond two generations!”


It started with a census record feeding into one researcher’s theory: that Great-grandpa wasn’t really blood kin. A paternal DNA test turned that theory into fact.

The 1900 census first aroused Barbara Forsey’s suspicions. In it she found her 22-year-old maternal grandfather, Stanislaus (Stanley) Brady, living with parents Francis and Barbara Brady and five younger siblings. But the census stated that the parents had been married only 17 years and that Barbara had given birth to five children, not six. It seemed that Barbara Brady wasn’t Stanley’s biological mother.

Forsey, a resident of Chatsworth, California, guessed that Stanley was Francis Brady’s son from a previous marriage. But she became skeptical when she could find no evidence to support that assumption. She knew Stanley had been born in Philadelphia in 1878, but he appeared to have no birth or baptismal certificate.

On a hunch, Forsey tried searching for Stanislaus under the surname Sylvester — Barbara Brady’s maiden name.”Bingo! I found him on the 1880 census with Barbara and her sister Matilda,” says Forsey. “They were both single.” If Barbara wasn’t Stanley’s birth mother, then perhaps Matilda was.

But Forsey’s relatives found it hard to believe that Stanley wasn’t born a Brady. “The family needed proof that he was not a Brady,” Forsey says.

So she turned to science to confirm her theory. First she reached out to a male cousin who could serve as a genetic proxy for Stanley Brady. Next she tracked down a grandson of one of Stanley’s brothers. She persuaded both men to take DNA tests.Their Y-DNA didn’t match proving that Stanley Brady was not Francis Brady’s biological son.

Forsey hopes that one day she will be able to identify Stanley’s birth father. “I would love to find his biological family,” she says. As DNA databases grow in size, finding a match for Grandpa Stanley’s genetic signature becomes an ever more attainable goal.


A Family Story, Long Hidden!

Joan Tribble of Rex, Georgia held tightly to her cane as she ventured into the overgrown cemetery where her people were buried. There lay the pioneers who once populated north Georgia’s rugged frontier, where striving white men planted corn and cotton, fought for the Confederacy, and owned slaves. rry George, a member of the Shields family, has struggled with the discovery that Michelle Obama is a descendant of a slave owned by the Shields.

Joan Tribble at the grave of her great-great-grandfather, Henry W. Shields, a Georgia slave owner who is also an ancestor of Michelle Obama

The settlers interred here were mostly forgotten over the decades as their progeny scattered across the South embracing unassuming lives. But one line of her family took another path heading north on a tumultuous, winding journey that ultimately led to the White House. The white men and women buried here are the forebears of Mrs. Tribble, a retired bookkeeper who delights in her two grandchildren and her Sunday church mornings. They are also ancestors of Michelle Obama, the First Lady.

The discovery of this unexpected family tie between the nation’s most prominent black woman and a white, silver-haired grandmother from the Atlanta suburbs underscores the entangled histories and racial intermingling that continue to bind countless American families more than 140 years after the Civil War.

The link was established through more than two years of research into Mrs. Obama’s roots which included DNA tests of white and black relatives. Like many African-Americans, Mrs. Obama was aware that she had white ancestry but knew little more. Now for the first time, the white forebears who have remained hidden in the First Lady’s family tree can be identified, and her blood ties are not only to the dead. She has an entire constellation of white distant cousins who live in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas, and beyond who in turn are only now learning of their kinship to her. Those relatives include professionals, blue-collar workers, a retired construction worker, an accountant, a dietitian, and an insurance claims adjuster among others who never imagined they had black relatives. Most had no idea that their ancestors owned slaves.

Many of them like Mrs. Tribble, 69, are still grappling with their wrenching connection to the White House. “You really don’t like to face this kind of thing,” said Mrs. Tribble, whose ancestors owned the First Lady’s great-great-great-grandmother. Some of Mrs. Tribble’s relatives have declined to discuss the matter beyond the closed doors of their homes fearful that they might be vilified as racists or forced to publicly atone for their forebears. Mrs. Tribble has decided to openly accept her history and her new extended family. “I can’t really change anything,” said Mrs. Tribble, who would like to meet Mrs. Obama one day. “But I can be open-minded to people and accept them and hope they’ll accept me.”


The bloodlines of Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Tribble extend back to a 200-acre farm that was not far from here. One of their common ancestors was Henry Wells Shields, Mrs. Tribble’s great-great-grandfather. He was a farmer and a family man who grew cotton, Indian corn, and sweet potatoes. He owned Mrs. Obama’s maternal great-great-great-grandmother, Melvinia Shields, who was about eight years old when she arrived on his farm sometime around 1852.

The DNA tests and research indicate that one of his sons, Charles Marion Shields, is the likely father of Melvinia’s son Dolphus, who was born around 1860. Dolphus T. Shields was the First Lady’s maternal great-great-grandfather. His identity and that of his mother, Melvinia, were first reported in an article in The New York Times in 2009, which also indicated that he must have had a white father. Melvinia was a teenager, perhaps around 15, when she gave birth to her biracial son. Charles was about 20.

Dolphus T. Shields, the son of a slave, was Michelle Obama’s great-great-grandfather.

Such forbidden liaisons across the racial divide inevitably bring to mind the story of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. Mrs. Obama’s ancestors, however, lived in a world far removed from the elegance of Jefferson’s Monticello, his 5,000-acre mountain estate with 200 slaves. They were much more typical of the ordinary people who became entangled in America’s entrenched system of servitude.

The slaveowner was Henry Wells Shields, who inherited Melvinia when his father-in-law died in 1852. DNA testing and research indicate that he and his wife, Christian Patterson Shields, are the First Lady’s great-great-great-great grandparents. Henry Wells Shields is the man with the white beard. His wife, Christian Patterson Shields, sits to his right. Charles Marion Shields is the third man standing from the right.  







In Clayton County, Georgia, where the Shields family lived, only about a third of the heads of household owned human property, and masters typically labored alongside their slaves. Charles was a man of modest means — he would ultimately become a teacher — whose parents were only a generation or so removed from illiteracy.

Melvinia was not a privileged house slave like Sally. She was illiterate and no stranger to laboring in the fields. She had more biracial children after the Civil War giving some of the white Shields hope that her relationship with Charles was consensual.

“To me, it’s an obvious love story that was hard for the South to accept back then,” said Aliene Shields, a descendant who lives in South Carolina.

People who knew Melvinia said she never discussed what happened between them whether she was raped or treated with affection, whether she loved and was loved in return. Somewhere along the way, she decided to keep the truth about her son’s heritage to herself.

Ruth Wheeler Applin, who knew Melvinia and Dolphus, suspected that Melvinia had been raped by her master. But Mrs. Applin, who married Melvinia’s grandson and lived with her for several years in the 1930s, never asked that sensitive question. Melvinia died in 1938.

“You know,” Mrs. Applin said in an interview in 2010, “she might not have wanted nobody to know.” Mrs. Applin died this year at 92.

For many members of that first generation to emerge from bondage, the experience of slavery was so shameful and painful that they rarely spoke of it. This willful forgetting pervaded several branches of the First Lady’s family tree, passed along like an inheritance from one generation to the next.

Mrs. Obama declined to comment on the findings about her roots as did her mother and brother. But over and over, the black members of her extended family said their parents, grandparents, and other relatives did not discuss slavery or the origins of the family’s white ancestry. Nor was the topic much discussed within Mrs. Obama’s immediate family. She and her brother, Craig Robinson, watched the mini-series “Roots” about Alex Haley’s family’s experiences in slavery. During summers, the family would visit relatives who lived in a South Carolina town dotted with old rice plantations. But they never discussed how those plantations might be connected to their personal history.

Nomenee Robinson, Mrs. Obama’s paternal uncle, said he found himself stymied whenever he tried to delve into the past. His line of the family also has white ancestry, relatives say. “All of these elderly people in my family, they would say, ‘Boy, I don’t know anything about slavery time,’ ” he said. “and I kept thinking, ‘You mean your mother or grandmother didn’t tell you anything about it?’ What I think is that they blocked it out.”

Contemporary America emerged from that multiracial stew, a nation peopled by the heirs of that agonizing time who struggled and strived with precious little knowledge of their own origins. By 1890, census takers counted 1.1 million Americans of mixed ancestry.

All four of Mrs. Obama’s grandparents had multiracial forebears. There were Irish immigrants who nurtured their dreams in a new land and free African-Americans who savored liberty long before the Civil War. Some were classified as mulatto by the census while others claimed Cherokee ancestry.

There were even tantalizing hints of a link to a Jewish family with ties to the Charleston, South Carolina synagogue that became the birthplace of the American Jewish Reform Movement in the 19th century.

Mrs. Obama’s ancestors ultimately moved north with some arriving in Illinois as early as the 1860s. Others settled in Maryland, Michigan, and Ohio.

Dolphus’ daughter, Pearl Lewis, moved to Cleveland. Pearl’s granddaughter, Jewell Barclay, still remembers Dolphus, a stern, fair-skinned man with narrow lips and an aquiline nose. There were whispers in the family that he was half white.

“Slave time, you know how the white men used to fool with them black women. That’s what I heard,” Mrs. Barclay said.

Mrs. Barclay said she would like to meet white members of her family. Mrs. Tribble and Sherry George, a great-granddaughter of Charles Marion Shields, said they would also like to meet their black extended family.

Sherry George, a member of the Shields family, has struggled with the discovery that Michelle Obama is a descendant of a slave owned by the Shields.

Others remain reluctant. “I don’t think there’s going to be a Kumbaya moment here,” said one of Charles Shields’s great-grandchildren, who spoke on the condition of anonymity fearful that the ancestral ties to slavery might besmirch the family name.


The discovery comes as an increasing number of Americans, black and white, confront their own family histories taking advantage of widespread access to DNA testing and online genealogical records. Jennifer L. Hochschild, a professor of African and African-American studies at Harvard who has studied the impact of DNA testing on racial identity, said this was uncharted territory.

“This is a whole new social arena,” Professor Hochschild said. “We don’t have an etiquette for this. We don’t have social norms.” “More or less every white person knows that slave owners raped slaves,” she continued. “But my great-grandfather? People don’t know what they feel. They don’t know what they’re supposed to feel. I think it’s really hard.”

Mrs. George, a hospital respiratory therapy manager, struggled to describe her reaction to the revelations. Her grandfather, McClellan Charles Shields, and Dolphus Shields were half brothers. They both lived in Birmingham where Mrs. George grew up.

“I’m appalled at slavery,” said Mrs. George, 61. “I don’t know how that could have even gone on in a Christian nation. I know that times were different then. But the idea that one of our ancestors raped a slave…”

She trailed off for a moment, considering the awful possibility.

“I would like to know the answer, but I would not like to know that my great-grandfather was a rapist,” she said. “I would like to know in my brain that they were nice to her and her children. It would be easier to live with that.”

Mrs. Tribble, who began researching her roots before Mrs. Obama became the First Lady, said she was shocked to learn that her ancestors owned slaves.

“My family, well, they were just your most basic people who never had a lot,” Mrs. Tribble said. “I never imagined that they owned slaves.”

Her mother, Lottie Bell Shields, was an orphan who picked cotton as a girl and was passed from relative to relative in a family that could ill afford an extra mouth to feed. She never got past the seventh grade.

Yet even before she took the DNA test, Mrs. Tribble had a strong feeling that her family and the First Lady’s family were related. She still remembers the moment when she laid eyes on an old black-and-white photograph of Dolphus Shields. She was sitting at her kitchen table in her house in the Atlanta suburbs when she saw him staring out of the pages of The New York Times: this stern, bespectacled African-American man who happened to share her mother’s last name.

Mrs. Tribble never had any doubts about her family’s ethnic background. Yet when she stared at the photograph that day, she said she felt something entirely unexpected: a strong stirring of recognition.

“I just thought, ‘Well, he looks like somebody who could be in my family,’ ” she said.

This article is adapted from “American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama” by Rachel L. Swarns, to be published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


I would love for you to Like what my multi-talented daughter, Rachel has done to my facebook page on Hewick, please go there and Like it, OK? Rachel has used her graphic arts degree and her expertise from her own company “Print Candy” ( to re-design it for me! I am thrilled & would love to have your input! Helen

Helen Nichols Murphy (Battleson), Coronado, CA 619-694-9415 Robinson Rootsweb :

(Helen’s daughter, Rachel Battleson, is the creative artist behind the cover of this issue of The Coronado Clarion as well as The Fingers poster featured on the Back Cover.)

Posted in Summer 2012 Issue | Leave a comment


By Alan and Kimberley Graham

The Old Curiosity Shop can be found at 13–14 Portsmouth Street, Westminster, London, near the London School of Economics. The building dates back to the sixteenth century. Constructed from the wood of old ships, it once functioned as a dairy on the estate given by King Charles II to one of his many mistresses. In Victorian times, it received its current name, as it was thought to be the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ description of the antique shop in his novel of the same title. There is also an establishment in Broadstairs called The Old Curiosity Shop, where Dickens rented a home.

Today, Coronado has its own “old curiosity shop” – Treasures From The Heart.

It too is enchanting and filled to the brim with many curious and delightful gifts.

Jeanne Jordan and her son Joshua purchased Treasures From The Heart in 2007 from its original proprietors. They chose to keep the name, yet gave it a complete facelift. Conveniently located between The Brigantine and Miguel’s Cocina, as well as across the street from the Hotel Del Coronado, Treasures serves as ambassador to tourists and locals alike.

“Enchanting and filled to the brim” is no exaggeration. In every nook and cranny there is some fun souvenir special to the island experience, as well as collections of hand-carved Mahogany sculptures of planes, trains, and automobiles, Christmas tree ornaments and the latest in Island apparel, such as Aloha shirts for the men and handcrafted handbags for the ladies, not to mention the cutest kids’ clothes ever. There are signature flip-flops called Switch Flops (my favorites), tea sets, books, handmade jewelry from around the world, wind socks, wall hangings, paintings, a wonderful Beanie Babies collection, kids’ toys and craft sets, holiday specialties, sunglasses, visors, bonnets and hats, and even cozy wintertime slippers (a very hot item). There is literally something for everyone in this charming boutique. It is the perfect one-stop gift shop.

In 2005, Jeanne retired from a 19-year career as a schoolteacher. Instead of taking some well-earned R&R, she decided to go into business with Joshua and they bought Treasures From The Heart. Since then, they have not taken a day off: besides working seven days a week in the shop, they travel six times a year to trade shows, perusing one-of-a-kind goods for their unique inventory.

Upon graduating from high school in 1974, Jeanne moved to California from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to attend college. She met and married her wonderful husband, Doug Jordan, who is a pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Lemon Grove. They have six married children and sixteen grandchildren.

Growing up, Jeanne worked at her family’s store, Rhoads Pharmacy and Gift Shop (, where her father and mother are pharmacists. Dave and Jeanne Lutz have owned the establishment for over 38 years. Located in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, it is the largest gift shop on the east coast. Jeanne’s parents were great mentors in the gift business, teaching her how to carefully select the many distinctive curios for her own shop.

The Switch-Flop: If for no other reason, you must visit Treasures From The Heart to start your switch-flop collection. I swear by them and have six pairs. Basically, a Switch-Flop can be either a flip-flop or a sandal, with Velcro or ornamental buttons that can be interchanged with switches. It is so much fun! It is like having several pairs of shoes in one. You can create a shoe to match every outfit. So get yourself to Treasures From The Heart and start your Switch-Flop addiction. They are priceless yet affordable!

Treasures From The Heart is located at:

1349 Orange Avenue
(Across from the Hotel Del Coronado)|
Coronado, California 92118
(619) 437-1825

Treasures From The Heart is open seven days a week (Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.; Sundays 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 pm.). Stop in for your own pair of Switch-Flops and a gift for that special friend or family member. It is ideal for all those last-minute presents as well as carefully planned treasures!!! Plus, the service does not get any more friendly or accommodating. Jeanne and Joshua Jordan are the best in the business!!!



Posted in Summer 2012 Issue | 1 Comment


Magnus “Erik” Karlsson graduated from Coronado High School in 2007, he then attended LMU where he graduated in 2011. At 23 years old, Erik is experiencing life as a CEO of his very own company, Torka Dry Bags with its headquarters right here in his home town of Coronado. Besides running his own company, Erik serves 40 hours a week as one of Cornado’s Finest: A Lifeguard.

After graduating from college, Erik went to Costa Rica to enjoy his lifelong love of all things water and especially his passion for surfing. One day, he was hit by a sudden downpour there ruining his telephone and drenching everything else. Thus sprung his idea for a “sling style” drybag.

Magnus “Erik” Karlsson, CEO The Torka Dry Bag

The drybag is not a new idea but the Torka dry bag employs a special design created by Erik in the form of a sling-style backpack. Ideal not only for surfers but also for all water sports women and men: kayakers, sailors, hikers, rafters, paddlers, skiers, and scuba divers, etc. Few have ever been introduced to dry bags. Surfers all know about them and camping river rafters. The ones that know the importance of keeping your things completely dry: it is an essential.

Stylish, it can be used as a tote for all your fundamentals for a day on the water or near the water (lunch, cold drinks, dry clothes, cell phones, wallets, car keys, etc.) Many will love its convenient size. This summer the junior sailors at the local yacht clubs love to keep their belongings dry in their Torka dry bags as the boats always have water in the bottom of them.


In Torka terms, our dry bags are messenger bags that have a sling that rest over your shoulder while the bag itself hangs on your back. The bag is made out of PVC material. PVC is short for a type of plastic rubbery material. This keeps the bag from soaking up water. All of the seams on the bag are heat-sealed. This makes it so no water gets in and no water gets out. There is also a small zipper pocket located on the outside of the bag for easy access to the necessities. Now, this might confuse some people, but the bag unlike the outside pocket does not close using a zipper at the top of the bag. This style of dry bag pays homage to an older way of closing and securing the bag, yet we believe it is still the most effective. The Torka bag is longer at the top. The sides can be pinched and rolled tightly downward. Using the buckles at the top, after rolling it down three times, the buckles are turned toward each other and in a secure fashion are then clipped together to fasten the bag shut. This is how old sailors and travelers closed their sacks. This is how it was done for many years, and this is why Torka wants to continue the tradition. The Torka bag represents a lifestyle of the old ways with new technology that gives it a sleek design that is both functional and reliable to whomever chooses to use one.

Special Note:  Also available are Torka t-shirts, hats, and jackets. You see kids all over town in Torka shirts!

VISIT: for more information and easy ordering


Contact : TORKA DRY BAGS (Ask for King Magnus)
Phone: (619) 961-5321
MON – FRI 8 AM – 8 PM PT;  SAT 9AM – 6 PM PT

“It’s not just a bag it’s a lifestyle. Join the movement. Stay dry with Torka.” – Erik Karlsson, Founder & CEO

Posted in Summer 2012 Issue | Leave a comment


He is an “Old School” mechanic, and he runs the Union 76 gas station at 9th and Orange in Coronado.

He deals with his customers as if they were part of his family, and he does quality work at a very decent price. His name is Basil, and he prides himself on running a family business, employing his sons and his son-in-law, who also provide superior service and good manners. After all, this crew is Old School and the very best that comes with all things good.

9th & Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA
(619) 435-0076

Posted in Summer 2012 Issue | Leave a comment


Compiled by for the Hotel del Coronado

What California governor and 40th President of the United States was a frequent guest at the Hotel del Coronado during the late 1900s?

W.H. Bentley was a Coronado businessman who was known for breeding what type of bird native to Africa?

Name the famous United States Marine Corps General that served as the mayor of Coronado from 1928-1930?

What was the preferred method of mail delivery in the early 1900s by Postmaster William Chadwick?

Known for his trademark bowtie and thick rim glasses, what famous popcorn businessman was a resident of Coronado for twenty years?

What bicycle store owner in Coronado organized the first Coronado Cycle Club in the early 1900s?

What famous actor and film director lived in a 1925 Tudor home on Coronado in the late 1920s?

What famous folk music group was the first started in the late 1950s by Coronado resident Nick Reynolds?

What popular children’s book published in 1900 was written by American author and Coronado resident L. Frank Baum?


Ronald Reagan – The Reagan’s enjoyed vacationing at the hotel. Reagan attended a state dinner as well as hosted talks with the Mexican President-Elect. The hotel’s “Governor Suite” is named in his honor.

Ostrich – Bentley owned the Coronado ostrich farm that was equipped with incubators during the early 1900s. The farm had 39 animals and only bred superior birds.

General Joseph H. Pendleton – Pendleton was responsible for pioneering Marine Corps activities in the San Diego area as well as on the North Shore on Coronado. After his 46 years of military service, Pendleton settled in Coronado and served as the mayor for two years

Horse and Cart – Chadwick’s “chariot” became well known because the horse was so familiar with the route she could have made it blindfolded. In 1919, he bought a motorcycle and tried to deliver mail for six months but gave up and ended up just walking the route.

Orville  Redenbacher – Redenbacher was known for appearing in dozens of commercials for his famous popcorn. He retired in Coronado in the 1970s. In 1995 at the age of 88, he suffered a heart attack and drowned in his Jacuzzi.

W.E. Holland – The club equipped a race track on the grounds south of Tent City and organized the “Greatest Bicycle Parade in Southern California” on May 6, 1922. Holland’s store is still located on Orange Avenue today.

Charlie Chaplin – Chaplin was a British film comedian, director, producer, writer, and composer whose work in the motion picture industry consisted of 81 films made between 1914 and 1967.

The Kingston Trio – Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane first met while attending college. The two friends start to hang out, drink, and chase women together which ultimately led them to playing music at parties. Reynolds died in 2008 at the age of 75 but the band still performs today.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – The book was the best-selling children’s book for two years after it was first published. Baum went on to write 13 more novels based on the places and people of the Land of Oz.

Posted in Summer 2012 Issue | Leave a comment


SeAnna VanBrunt, Tiger Technician Extraordinaire

What a special treat for these veterinary technicians – not your usual everyday animal patient – Who would have thought these gals would be kissing and caressing a tiger today?

Well, that is exactly what happened when Natasha, resident tiger of Lions Tigers and Bears, a wildlife sanctuary located in Alpine, California booked her appointment. She came in for a “tigerectomy”. Natasha had cysts on her ovaries and was here to have a literal ovarian hysterectomy. In good hands at Veterinary Surgical Specialty Group in Kearny Mesa, Natasha survived her procedure and recovered with flying colors. Thanks at least partly to the “kit gloves” she received from her caring veterinary technicians, SeAnna VanBrunt and Katie Hassell.

Katie Hassell, Tiger Technician Extraordinaire

These lucky professionals are both from Coronado. SeAnna VanBrunt is the Referral Coordinator for the VCA North Coast Animal Hospital and has lived in Coronado with her daughter, Kadence, for several years. She hails from Salt Lake City, and after visiting our lovely emerald isle, packed up her life and settled here.  Katie Hassell is the daughter of long-time resident, Kathy Campbell and is a veterinary technician at Veterinary Surgical Specialty Group. Together they prepared and assisted Natasha, the Tiger, on this her very special day.





Natasha is a Bengal Tiger. She was born on September 5, 1997 and weighs 350 pounds. She became a full-time resident at Lions Tigers & Bears* in Alpine in September 2002. She was brought to LTB with Raja, her mate. “We thought there was a possibility that she was pregnant. With the stress of the move and her deplorable previous living conditions, we were worried about her health. She soon began showing small belly bulges, and started to look and feel much better. At the height of her pregnancy, she looked like she had a bowling ball on each side of her belly! On November 8, 2002, Natasha gave birth to two beautiful girl cubs, named Tabu and Sitarra (AKA “the Girls”). Natasha was a perfect mom to these two girls and they have all flourished. Natasha now spends her days lounging in and on her den, splashing in her pool (she loves splashing her caretakers when they walk by), and playing with her toys. She is also very vocal when it comes to food. We have yet to find anything that Natasha won’t eat – she loves all foods.

Raised with Raja in a small enclosure in Texas, without affection, without any hope. if she had not had her mate, Raja, she may not have survived.


Raja, Natasha’s mate is also a Bengal Tiger. He was born on September 5, 1996 and weighs 550 pounds. Raja and Natasha both came to Lions Tigers & Bears from Texas in September 2002. Their previous owner had kept both of these full-grown Bengal Tigers in a 6′ x 12′ cage with no shade or shelter. They had spent their entire lives in that small enclosure stepping over each other just to turn around.

Raja’s owner was unwilling to give the cats up to the authorities nor was he willing to provide adequate protection for these beautiful cats. After much coaxing, he was finally persuaded to give Raja and Natasha to Lions Tigers & Bears. The authorities gave Lions Tigers & Bears one month to get the cats moved. In less than one month, LTB was able to raise two-thirds of the money necessary to build a suitable enclosure, construct a new home for Raja and Natasha, obtain all the necessary permits, and transport both cats from Texas to Southern California.

Since acclimating to his new surroundings, Raja has made himself at home. Raja was neutered on March 28, 2003 so that he can continue living with Natasha. He loves playing in his pool, splashing and batting his ball around. Raja is affectionate, sociable, and loves to be the center of attention.

Raja and Natasha now have the opportunity to run and play in our exercise area, Tiger Trails. Raja loves to play in the cool grass with Natasha and splash around in the pool. Raja’s favorite food is turkey.


Lions Tigers & Bears is a federally and state licensed non-profit 501(c)(3) rescue facility dedicated to providing a safe haven for unwanted and abused exotic cats. We are one of only twelve Big Cat Sanctuaries in the U.S. We are a NO KILL, NO BREED, NO SELL rescue and educational facility that allows cats in our care the opportunity to live out their lives with dignity in a caring and safe environment. Our goal is to provide a safe haven to rescued cats and to educate the public about the growing population of abandoned and unwanted exotic animals and where they come from.

Our primary concerns are for the health and comfort of our cats and the safety of those who share these precious natural resources. We will protect and provide these animals with a lifetime home realizing that environment, exercise, and personal attention are key to their well being. Every attempt will be made to provide healthy diets, medical care, immunizations, and whatever else is necessary for the physical and psychological welfare of each animal in our care.

In addition to our current family of cats, others in need of medical aid and rest are welcome to this facility, limited only by the extent to which we are able to provide adequate help, shelter, and safety. Our principal obligation is to our rescued cats, but we are concerned with the welfare of all captive big cats.

Sadly, in many areas of the United States, there are countless unwanted, abused, and abandoned big cats in captivity. In fact, the number of animals bred and born in captivity is greater than that in the wild. In most cases, cats born in captivity must endure horrific neglect and abuse due to the immense responsibility in their upkeep. In many states big cats, most commonly lions, tigers, cougars, and bobcats are acquired by roadside zoos and then eventually become surplus animals, are retired from entertainment, are purchased as pets when young, or are sold and bred for profit.

There are far too many stories of abuses suffered by captive cats. The most common is neglect and for this there should be no excuse. A large cat, be it bobcat, serval, leopard, lion, or tiger cannot be a pet. Many people do not realize that in many states a baby lion or tiger can be bought just as you would buy a pet dog or cat. What starts out as a novelty — that cute, little 10-pound cub — soon turns into a 500-pound wild animal that is expensive to manage and dangerous to have in your home.

How many tigers live this sort of terrible life? We believe there are about 10,000 exotic cats living in captivity in this country, bought and sold through this exotic animal trade – and remember, only about 5,000 are left in the wild! There are more tigers in backyards across this country than in all the zoos together. The exotic animal trade is a 17-billion-dollar-a-year industry, second only to drugs and weapons. These exploited Big Cats are crassly used for silly entertainment, and when they don’t sell tickets or make money anymore, they are dumped and desperately need places to live. Then the exploiters buy another young cat and the same sad cycle begins again. It’s so heartbreaking. LTB receives calls every week from people who need to find a home for exotic cats because they can no longer afford them or no longer want to care for them. Owners of these cats soon find out that zoos and sanctuaries, already filled to capacity, have no room for them. These throw-away Big Cats can live 20 years or more. Don’t they deserve a secure and happy lifetime home?

When our founder, Bobbi Brink is asked why she started LTB she often replies, “After witnessing the heart-breaking phenomenon known as the ‘exotic animal trade’ and seeing the victims of this business, I was compelled to do what I could to help these animals. I have spent many sleepless nights picturing the tortured lives these cats end up living. The disgusting places where these marvelous animals are kept – sometimes in places you would least expect, in miserable holding cells with no sunlight or windows, living in cages so small they barely have room to stand up or turn around. Many live in basements, never seeing sunlight or smelling fresh air. I have seen 10 or more cats crowded together in a small enclosure, where they restlessly pace in filth and fight each other for scraps of food — Some starve to death. A full grown exotic cat costs about $15.00 a day to feed ($450.00 a month-just for food!)”

Lions Tigers & Bears strives to:

Rescue a limited number of cats that have been abused, confiscated, or are in danger of being destroyed for lack of a suitable home and provide them with a permanent home.

Provide comfortable shelter, nutrition, health needs, and caring attention to the cats currently in our care.

Maintain a clean habitat for the animals using the highest safety standards.

Participate with others to help promote legislation to ensure captive cats receive responsible life-time homes, prevent the breeding of captive big cats without special purpose, and reduce the abuse that so many endure.

Arouse community interest and awareness. Educate the public about the plight of all cats both captive and wild by providing information about how we can help them survive.

Besides Tigers, These are Our Animals:

To animals born in captivity, and fated to be ignored and abused, we dedicate this organization.”

Bobbi Brink, Founder



African Lion – Male – Born: 3/16/2007 – Weight: 500 lbs.

Bakari came to us with his two sisters, Suri and Jillian, at the age of four weeks. We were contacted by the only big cat sanctuary in Louisiana. Due to overcrowding in their facility they were unable to keep the cubs. Lions Tigers & Bears stepped in and accepted all three lion cubs.

Bakari is definitely the “boy” of the litter. He is really laid back and lets his two sisters do all the work. He is definitely bigger than the “girls” when it comes to size. He is also much darker, and you can almost start to make out what will someday become the distinctive markings of a male lion.

Bakari was named by two of our wonderful supporters at Lions Tigers & Bears: Janice and Gary Freiberg. They bid to name him at the “Wild in the Country” fundraising event in June of 2007. After doing much research on African names, they narrowed it down to a list of five and finally chose Bakari. Bakari is an African expression which translates to “one with great promise”.


African Lion – Female – Born: 3/16/2007 – Weight: 357 lbs.

Jillian came to us with her sister Suri and brother Bakari at the age of four weeks. Like her sister and brother, Jillian has received daily training which included verbal commands. These commands help LTB staff to provide care.

Jillian was named at our Wild in the Country event when the highest bidder Robert Cox named the cub, Jillian, after his wife El Cajon City Councilwoman, Jillian Hanson-Cox. The name means “youthful” and “bright light” which he says depicts the personality of the cub and his wife alike.


Our Suri

African Lion – Female – Born: 3/16/2007 – Weight: 350 lbs.

Suri came to us with her sister Jillian and brother Bakari at the age of four weeks. Suri is a little smaller than Jillian and Bakari but is growing daily and might even catch up soon. She is the sweetest of the three and is very playful and loving.

Like her brother and sister, Suri was named at the Wild in the Country when Yvette Davis won the rights in an auction. What is unique in this instance, however, is that Yvette is one of our long-time volunteers and has been helping care for Suri since she was a cub. She just fell in love with Suri and wanted to contribute more than just her time.



Mountain Lion (also known as a “cougar,” “panther,” or “puma”) – Weight: 138 pounds.

Conrad was a young male caught in late 2006 (and tagged “502″) by California Fish & Game while roaming near an elementary school in Redlands. LTB adopted him so that he would not be euthanized. Because we had no enclosure for him at the time, he had to live in quarantine for several months while we constructed his habitat.

After a vigorous health examination, Conrad was finally moved to his new home. At first, he tended to spend most of his time inside his “cave” venturing outside only at night as mountain lions are naturally timid. But with the patient encouragement of his care-givers who spent hours each day talking and reading to him, he soon began to leave his cave to explore his new enclosure. Soon he was sleeping in his hammock, enjoying the huge logs which he claws to keep his nails trim, playing with his rubber ball, and relaxed in his waterfall pool.  However, he’s still rather shy and emerges mostly at night and early in the morning.

Conrad adapted so well to his new home that we decided to teach him some important commands to help us better care for him. The first command he learned was to “go up” which means to stand on his hind legs and stretch his body up against the fence. This allows his care-givers to see the underside of his body to safely check for any problems without having to tranquilize him.

One of our long-term goals at LTB is to construct a “Conservation Station” to serve as a home for rescued Southern California wildlife such as mountain lions, foxes, owls, and others. This area will house animals that have been injured or caught because they might pose a threat to humans, and for whatever reason, cannot be returned to the wild.

This new facility will also include an Education Center providing programs to inform and instruct the public – and especially children – about animal conservation and living in harmony with our native species. As a very intelligent mountain lion, Conrad will be a superb ambassador for these programs once the Conservation Station is complete.




Bengal Tiger – Born: 11/8/2002 – Weight: 300 lbs.

After rescuing Raja and Natasha, we discovered that Natasha was pregnant. Sitarra and her sister, Tabu, were born here at LTB November 8, 2002. Sitarra (which means “Star of India”) weighed just 2 lbs., 12 oz. at birth. She is incredibly intelligent and just like her sister, Tabu,  has mastered commands such as sit, lay, stay, and come. These commands help us everyday to be able to work safely around these animals, and if we need to treat them, we have a safer way to achieve this goal.

Sitarra loves playing with her sister and is fascinated by people. She is usually the first to greet anyone who approaches their enclosure. She is more independent than Tabu but still loves her sister. You can usually find them cuddled up together sleeping or romping and playing. Sitarra and Tabu spend hours watching the farm animals at LTB. Sitarra is lighter in color, like her father Raja, and lazier than her sister.


Bengal Tiger – Born: 11/8/2002 – Weight: 300 lbs.

Tabu and Sitarra were conceived in Texas and born here at LTB in 2002. Tabu weighed 2 lbs., 7oz. at birth. Both girls live together in a habitat that includes a den, pool, toys, and room to rough house with each other. They love to play in their pool and show off for anyone paying attention. Tabu has shown great intelligence and has mastered the sit, lay, stay, up, and come commands. We do not train the cats to do tricks but rather to do certain commands so that we can safely work around and treat them if needed. We call Tabu our ‘circus cat’.  If you watch her playing in her enclosure, she is always balancing on the edge of the pool. When resting, her paws are always hanging over the den or pool.

Since Tabu was a baby, she sleeps on top of Sitarra, even if it is just her paw resting on top of Sitarra. Tabu takes great comfort in having sister Sitarra around. Tabu was in need of a large area to run and play with her sister. In October 2008, thanks to our generous donors we were able to complete our Tiger Trails, a large habitat dedicated to letting our big cats run and play. This grass- covered habitat includes wooden platforms for jumping and shade from the sun and a large waterfall and pool for cooling off on a hot summer day. Sitarra and Tabu have enjoyed many days playing with each other in Tiger Trails.



Black Bear – Female – Born: July 4, 2009 – Weight: 96 lbs.

Liberty was brought to Lions Tigers & Bears on July 4, 2010 by Fish and Game Field Agent Kevin Brennan. Liberty was living in the Angeles National Forest and had to be removed because she had learned how to get food from the campers. Each year, yearling bears, like Liberty, leave their moms in search of food and their own territory. Many of these bears wander into camp grounds where their chances of survival are doomed. “A fed bear is a dead bear,” says Fish & Game Agent Brennan urging the public to use restraint, “Enjoy seeing the bears, take pictures, but please don’t interact with them or feed them.”

Once dependent on humans for food, these bears continue to frequent the campgrounds and become a danger to campers. At this point, Fish and Game is called in, and since most bears are not able to be re-located, they are euthanized. Each year 6 to 12 bears are euthanized due to human contact; but thankfully, Liberty’s story will turn out differently.

*Thanks to numerous donations and efforts, Liberty will soon have a lifetime home at Lions Tigers & Bears. She is already making herself at home in her temporary habitat. Liberty is an omnivore which means she eats meat, fruit, and vegetables. Her favorite foods are salmon, avocado, eggs, and anything sweet. Liberty loves to lounge around in her hammock and takes a dip in her pool to cool off.

*The “Black Bear Habitat” is now complete and Liberty is joined by Blossom and Delilah as well as The Three Little Bears.


Bob, Gizmo, RJ, and Mia


Bobcat – Male – Born: 2/20/1996 – Weight: 40 lbs.

Prior to being rescued by Lions, Tigers & Bears, Bob had been kept in a rabbit hutch for many years after being caught in the wild. He had bald bloody spots, was anemic, covered in fleas, unable to stand and all four of his canine (“fang”) teeth were broken off.

Fortunately, he has made a full recovery at LTB. He runs and jumps and plays and will always run down to greet you for food. Bob lives in the same enclosure as his fellow Bobcat Gizmo and their pal, Tuffy the Serval.


Bobcat – Male – Born: 5/20/99 – Weight: 38 lbs.

Gizmo is probably the smartest cat at LTB, and he knows it! He likes to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and especially loves trying to outsmart the volunteers. He came to us from Texas at the age of six weeks and has been “the boss” ever since. Gizmo has adjusted well to his new large enclosure. He is most active in early mornings and enjoys playing ball, lounging in the hammocks, and annoying his roommate, Tuffy the Serval. Gizmo’s favorite food is rabbit.


Bobcat – Male – Born: 3/8/2008 – Weight: 22 lbs.

A professional truck driver spotted RJ in the road while driving near the Los Angeles County town of Acton. The bobcat appeared near death and he brought it home thinking it was a domestic kitten. Once it was realized that the kitten was actually a bobcat, authorities were called, and a volunteer from the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach picked up the bobcat who then turned it over to Fund for Animals – an organization that rehabilitates and releases animals back to the wild. They determined that the cat had too much human contact and would not be safe if released and decided that the best future for this cat would be a lifetime home at Lions Tigers & Bears.

LTB caretakers are a bit skeptical of the trucker story in that RJ was very used to people and his physical characteristics did not resemble those of a local bobcat. The thought is that RJ was the result of needless breeding, a huge problem in the US. Nonetheless, he is fortunate to be at LTB — and lucky for this little guy, one of our very generous donors – Jillian Hanson-Cox – stepped up with a contribution which allowed us to keep RJ and give him a lifetime home. As an anniversary gift to her husband Robert Joseph Cox, Jillian named the new cat “R.J.”


Bobcat – Female

Recently Bobbi received a call from a man in Wyoming who needed to relinquish his pet bobcat, Mia, due to his ill health. He had no contingency plan for Mia and was unable to provide for her lif- time care and her transportation to Lions Tigers & Bears. Bobbi flew to Wyoming and rented a vehicle to transport Mia back to Alpine where she will lives her life being well cared for.

Mia’s owner kept her in his house as a pet and had to adjust his lifestyle to accept not being able to go on vacation, shredded curtains, scratched and clawed furniture, and scent marking in the entire house. This is a perfect example of why exotics do not make good personal pets. Mia will now have to make the adjustment to her outside habitat. We have great hope for her as we have already seen her jumping around, stalking birds, and watching Gizmo, Tuffy, and RJ who are soon to be her new friends.

The previous owner mentioned to Bobbi that even as much as he loved Mia, he felt that Wyoming really needs to stop issuing permits allowing these wild animals as pets. This is an issue that Lions Tigers & Bears has been working towards, and we will continue to push for legislation that prohibits the private ownership of wild animals.



Serval – Male – Born: 4/12/98 – Weight: 40 lbs.

Unlike most of our cats, Tuffy came from a good home where he was well cared for. Unfortunately, Tuffy’s owner passed away and he was taken to a facility in Texas. Due to the abundant number of cats already at this particular facility, LTB felt we could provide him with a much better home. A new enclosure was constructed here complete with large trees, lots of grass, boulders, a simulated creek bed, a small pool, dens, and lounging hammocks.

Tuffy and Gizmo the Bobcat were both introduced into their new enclosure at the same time and soon became friends. They love playing together although Gizmo is usually the instigator! Tuffy is very vocal when it comes to food and like Gizmo, rabbit is his favorite food.



Leopard – Born: 5/1/2004 – Weight: 80 lbs.

Conga had a rough start in life. She was a captive-bred pet that was abandoned by her previous owner at the age of five weeks. Fortunately, thanks to the support of our members, LTB was able to adopt her. Conga was moved into her new enclosure at the end of July, 2005 where she loves playing with her ball and climbing on numerous large rocks and logs. She has her own pool and waterfall and several hammocks to lounge in. Conga is clever, seemingly fearless, and has limitless energy. She loves to “perform” for any audience pulling off amazingly acrobatic moves with incredible grace.

Conga loves to have her caretakers squirt her with the hose on warm days. Looking into her gorgeous green eyes, you can see the sparkle of mischief, and her grin lets you know she is happy and appreciative of her lifetime home at LTB. Her favorite foods are beef bones and chicken.


Lions Tigers & Bears is a grassroots, mostly volunteer organization, and we rely on the donations of members and local supporters for our annual budget – most of which goes to the animals. Animal care, administrative functions, and fundraising are done mostly by a dedicated group of over 100 volunteers. And we need your help !

There are many way you can assist Lions Tigers &  Bears provide a high level of care for our rescued cats and other animals:

Bobbi Brink, Founder of LTB


Donate Online
Donate Through the S.D. Foundation
Purchase a Commemorative Brick
Donate a “Wish List” Item
Stay Overnight at White Oak’s Private Suite
Setup an Educational / Group Visit
Purchase LTB Merchandise
Donate a Vehicle
Become a Volunteer



Adopt a rescued animal
Set up a monthly donation through your bank
Sponsor a portion of an event
Apply for our Capital One credit card
Have your next party at Lions, Tigers, & Bears
Register your Ralph’s and Albertson’s card

Just call the office (619-659-8078), and we will tell you how.

And don’t forget to TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT US!

Remember, we are a 501(C)(3) nonprofit corporation, so your donations are tax-deductible.


Instructions – All visits* are by appointment only and are included in all annual memberships for your membership year. Call (619) 659-8078 or email us at to make a reservation. Membership is required to visit us. Visitors and additional guests may take advantage of our Member-For-A-Day option. Call us for details at (619) 659-8078 for visiting hours.

September 21 – Wild Nights Camp Over
October 26 – Spooky Camp
November 17 – Thanksgiving Feast for the Big Cats & Bears
December 8 – Christmas Party

*Special events are included in some, but not all, annual memberships.
call (619) 659-8078 for more information.

Help Us Celebrate LTB Birthdays:

February 15 – Conrad (Mountain Lion)
February 20 – Bob (Bobcat)
March 8 – RJ (Bobcat)
March 16 – Bakari, Jillian, & Suri (African Lions)
April 12 – Tuffy (Serval)
May 1 – Conga (Leopard)
May 22 – Gizmo (Bobcat)
July 4 – Liberty (Black Bear)
September 5 – Raja & Natasha (Bengal Tigers)
November 8 – Sitarra & Tabu (Bengal Tigers)

*Many times when Lions Tigers & Bears rescues an animal, we receive very little information on their age, date of birth, etc. So we celebrate their birthday as the day that they arrived to Lions Tigers & Bears.


Lions Tigers & Bears Big Cat and Exotic Animal Rescue
Telephone: 619.659.8078
Fax: 619.659.8841

Mailing Address:
24402 Martin Way
Alpine, CA 91901

Posted in Clarion Causes, Summer 2012 Issue | Leave a comment


By A.R. Graham (Excerpt from upcoming autobiography, The London Dialogues)

Admiral Morrison was summoned back to the United States to begin a new assignment at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Andy returned to his homeland with his mother and father, but Anne chose to stay behind much to the disappointment and distress of her parents. Their eldest son had disappeared without a word, Andy had tried to run away to find him, and now their typically sensible daughter was throwing caution to the wind to be with me. Except for a vacation in Europe the summer before, Anne had never been any significant distance away from home. It was time. She was growing up.

After the Morrisons left, our days went on as usual. Anne never seemed to miss her family. Life was good. We were very happy.

Anne had become my soul mate and my tutor. Barely able to read and confounded by even the simplest of math problems, I was defensive and hard to reach. My primary school teachers often admonished me for daydreaming rather than focusing on my studies. While everyone else was engaged in the math lesson, I would hop on a magic carpet and escape to my favorite and only school interest: story time. I loved Robinson Crusoe, Moby Dick, The Wind in the Willows, Sweet William, and all of the other wonderful adventure stories told by my lovely sweet teacher as we sat around a blazing coal fire. Anne was her reincarnation and rekindled in me that long-past blissful state I had occupied as a child.

Anne read out loud to me with great enthusiasm. We did not watch television much. Instead, I would listen for hours to her vibrant voice create images and action out of words. Sometimes she read me to sleep like a child. Through her gentleness and patience, I began to read and construct sentences on my own without sounding like a Neanderthal. 

Prior to moving to London, Anne had lived in Gainesville, Florida, where she was a student at UFG (University of Florida, Gainesville). When she moved to England, she maintained her study level by attending classes at an extension of the university located on a military base north of London. We would ride the tube at night into the English countryside. Anne would sign me in as a guest, but it was more the equivalent of “Take Your Child to School Day”. 

I would sit next to Anne and listen to an American professor speak in a language that was my own save for a few opposing slang terms such as “knock you up”. This was an old English phrase – “Please knock me up in the morning” – derived from a service to the poorer working class that could not afford such an important item as an alarm clock. Instead, a man would walk the streets with a long pole and arrive at your home at a prescribed time at which point he would knock loudly on your bedroom window until you responded with,“I’m up!” Hence, knocking you up. To an American, asking that a perfect stranger come to your home in the morning and knock you up would be an awfully misplaced and embarrassing request.

For example, if an English girl, saying goodnight to an American G.I. was to ask him, “Would you knock me up in the morning”, the poor guy would be floored by the lass’s invitation to an intimate dalliance resulting in dire consequences. His first instinct would be to say to himself, “Boy, did I get lucky or what?” — soon followed by the perhaps not-so-fortunate prospect of fatherhood nine months later. Even though he may be disappointed after learning the true meaning of the young woman’s request, he would supplement his loss with a rollicking good laugh at his own naiveté and the wildly comical double entendre.

Returning to London one night after class, it dawned on me that I was moving away from my rolling-stone lifestyle. I was most certainly gathering moss – lots and lots of moss. Instead of being a hunter-gatherer leader, I was now being led. And I was beginning to like it, very much.

Each summer, a new crop of American students came to experience the British music scene. American performers like Bob Dylan and The Byrds were very popular, but British music was dominant now. The television series The Monkees was the most interesting export American could offer, but it was still decidedly light.

We loved to gather with our friends to sit in a room lit only by brightly colored candles listening to all of the exciting new acts: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, The Animals, etc.

One evening I came home from work to find Anne surrounded by our companions. They were listening to some brand new tunes. Anne sat on the floor clutching an album cover as if it were a sacred object. Everyone in the room turned and stared at me. They knew something that I did not, and they were not forthcoming. It was like some weird game of Charades without clues – indeed, not a single one. There were, however, conspiratorial signals, restrained glee, and twinkling eyes daring me to guess what it was. It appeared to be an invitation to participate in a cruel television game show of Guess What I’ve Got in My Pocket. Having no telepathic skills, I became flustered and was about to blurt out, “Well, at least give me a f–g hint” when Anne turned to me.  

Her face was illuminated by the many candles, and I could now make out the tears flooding from her eyes falling in torrents down her cheeks. I realized they indicated not sadness but joy. I had never seen anyone cry so hard except at a funeral. Still no one in the room revealed the secret not even Anne. Perhaps she had found the new music so overwhelming it moved her to a highly emotional and ecstatic state. I slowly sat down and listened. 

The song combined poetry, theater, and classical with modern music. It was funky 1920s jazz, hard-core rhythm ‘n’ blues, and old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll with a dash of Greek theatre. Unlike anything I had ever heard before, at the same time it felt like an amalgamation of all music, old and new. 

The singer, a cool baritone, was recounting an epic sea voyage across forbidden waters where sea monsters leapt up from the ocean floor as the ships tried to navigate the perilous depths. He sounded much like Orson Welles or Richard Burton reading lines from a Shakespearean drama accompanied by a chorus of shrieking, torturous, ghostly sounds issued by unseen phantoms.

 (In 1980, Jim Morrison was nominated for a Grammy for “Best Speaking Voice” along with none other than Richard Burton — Burton Won.)

Each song was utterly different from the last. Anne’s tears seemed to fall faster with each new note. There was no doubt about it: the music was profound and moving. The singer was now reporting on some tragic loss of a loved one. Then, a mournful dirge swelled around it all. 

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Moonlight Sonata could affect me deeply but certainly not to the point of tears. I had never been so overpowered by a composition that I would cry like a fountain. Anne’s behavior puzzled me. I had never seen her so absorbed by or dramatic about anything since our acid trip. She cried until I thought her eyes would fall out. In the song that was now playing, a killer wearing a mask from an ancient gallery carried out the mass murder of his own family. I began to understand why she was crying so hard but was still perplexed by the sweet smile visible even through her Niagara Falls visage.

Our grinning friends shed no more light on the riddle. They just sat there like a pack of hyenas, their eyes twinkling devilishly at me as if they were waiting for my campfire to go out so they could attack and devour me. I thought I was having an acid flashback and started to freak out a bit but then the longest song I have ever
heard in my life came to an abrupt end. And not a moment too soon for I was about to break out into a couple of verses, myself of They’re Coming to Take Me Away, the popular song by Napoleon XIV:

“They are coming to take me away, Ha-ha

They are coming to take me away, Ho-ho


To the funny farm
Where life is beautiful all the time
And I will be happy to see those
Nice young men in their clean white coats and
They are coming to take me away, ha-ha!”

Everyone stared directly at me as if I was supposed to make a statement or acknowledge something or someone. Anne kept on crying. The candles kept on flickering. The hyenas kept on grinning,flashing their beady eyes. Just when I thought my head would explode, one of the hyenas hissed slyly, “What do you think of this music?” I responded with hitch-pitched panic, “Wonderful! Weird! Cool! Fantastic! Out of sight! Mind blowing! Take your pick!”

Anne sobbed out loud in response to my praise of the group whose album cover she kept crushed against her chest. She must have dropped a bunch of acid with these other crazies, I concluded, and they were in some strange, cult-like state that only one tripping on excessive amounts of LSD would even try to comprehend.  

Another one of the lunatics asked, “Do you know who the singer is?” I looked at Anne whose eyes widened with anticipation as she waited for my answer. I had no idea who the sullen and mournful crooner was. He sounded like a young Elvis or even a Sinatra singing a torch song of lost love. The music itself was peerless and I said as much.

Anne fell back onto some cushions sobbing even louder. I could stand it no longer. As I stood up to tend to her, a third mental case yelled out, “It’s her long-lost brother, Jim! It’s her brother! He’s the lead singer in a group called The Doors! It’s Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors!”

I picked Anne up from the floor. She was now laughing and crying with great big gleeful tears. Everyone joined her. I was welded to the floor. Although I was now in on the secret and the mystery had been revealed, I still felt as if I was on another planet. It took quite a while for it to finally sink in how very special this day was for my beloved. Jim had disappeared in 1965 after graduating from UCLA. His father had been very disappointed with his choice of career direction. Jim wanted to be a filmmaker. In his parents’ world, this was nothing short of reckless gambling in a dangerous game of Russian roulette – a socio-economic suicide.

Jim was highly intelligent. He could easily have excelled in the corporate business world but absolutely rejected its trappings, its restrictions, and its rewards. The Admiral’s response to his son’s aspirations was so negative that it sent the young graduate into self-imposed exile. Never again would he return – or even call – home.

Earlier that day, Anne had received a package from her mother in the United States. Among other items was a 12”x12” brown paper parcel. Inside were the first and second Doors’ albums. The first one showed a photograph of the band with Jim in the front. His resemblance to his sister was both stunning and chilling. 

Later, Anne held the front cover next to her face. The candles flickered wildly across both images. Anne’s happy tears fell again. I just stood there unable to speak. I was overwhelmed by her joy at having found her long-lost brother.

Posted in Summer 2012 Issue | Leave a comment


By Linda Moody, The Advocate

Even though Tom Everhart considers himself a local yokel, he is officially an author. His book “0-60 in Five Minutes” with the subtitle of “My Stroll through Rock-n-Roll Music” has been published and available thanks to the assistance of Alan Graham, brother-in-law to the late Jim Morrison of The Doors and author of “I Remember Jim Morrison”.  It is published by Graham’s company, Clarion Press out of Coronado, California, a division of The Coronado Clarion.

Even though the two men have never met, they became acquainted after Everhart contacted Graham about his newest book on Morrison at “He asked me how I got his book because he took it off the Amazon website,” Everhart recalled.  “So I have the first copy of the book. He wanted me to read it and wanted to know what I thought of it. I read it the first day. I told him it was the best book on Morrison. I know because I have 24 of them.”

Subsequently, Everhart asked Graham about looking at his own writings, which he had been doing for years. “A lot of people told me to write my story,” Everhart said. “Graham was hot on this. He said no deejay ever wrote a book. I wrote my stuff on legal paper, and my second cousin typed it out and put it on disk to send to Alan.”

Everhart remembers everything he has done and kept notes of those events. “I never went to Woodstock which was two years after I saw The Doors in Monterey,” he said. “I didn’t know it would be a part of history. Alan’s promoting my book on You Tube in California. I already sold 19 books, and he thinks it will go over big out there.” He added, “I didn’t expect this to go this fast. I happened to be a lot of places at the right time.”

Morrison was part of Everhart’s favorite group, The Doors, and he had met him on December 10, 1966 in Monterey, California at the fairgrounds during the time Everhart was on permanent profile with the military. “I was in the military for only nine months and three months on permanent profile,” said Everhart, whose favorite artist is Elvis Presley. “I was having hearing issues, but I didn’t know it.”

The book, according to Graham, chronicles Everhart’s life as a disc jockey. In recent years, Everhart lost his son, Donny, in a car accident and then suffered a heart attack.

Having had worked for Tri-Village Schools when he retired after 20 years, Everhart was helping move file cabinets from Palestine to the New Madison building. “I looked in it and found my file; and the principal, Paul Limbert, said I aspired to be a disc jockey,” Everhart said. “That was in 1956 or 1957. He never told me he did that.”

His love for Rock-n-Roll began in 1954 as soon as he got his first record player. “I always went to Richmond to the Special Record Shop,” he said. “In 1968, it was like someone dropped a bomb in Richmond. There was an explosion.” It took out many businesses including the record shop he patronized. That’s when he began getting his records from Jerry Dulin in Greenville, who was a disc jockey at the White Shrine, where Everhart competed in a Jitterbug contest. “I could also do the Stroll,” he said.

Everhart, whose favorite song is Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock”, said even though his is using more technical equipment, he prefers the vinyl. “They’re bringing it back,” he said. “I like to hear the pop and crackles. Then I know it’s in original form.”

Everhart turned 68 on March 29. A graduate of Westmont High School, he worked for Mercury Records and Hill’s Roses in Richmond, at American Agg in Phillipsburg, and at Sheller-Globe in Union City for 16 years before he went to work for Tri-Village schools. The son of the late Orville and Beulah (Onkst) Everhart, he is married to the former Becky Smith, whom he married on March 16, 1968. “I met her when I got home from the service,” he said. “She was celebrating her birthday at Jim Hile’s house and we got together.” The couple had two sons, Lee, 44, named after Tom’s best friend and Donny, who was 33 at the time of his death on February 20, 2005. There are three grandchildren: Tommy, Sammy, and D.J.

Everhart belongs to the Greenville Moose and the Elks, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and Eagles Lodge all in Union City, Indiana. When he’s not listening to music, he mows 33 acres of grass, which he has done for two years now.

A comment best friend, Max Lawrence of Union City, made about Everhart appears on the back of the book. It reads, “The ramblings of a genuine hippie. I only wish I knew what he can’t remember.”

Everhart plans to have the books available at businesses in Greenville and at Hastings in Richmond.

Those interested can e-mail him at:

 or through The Coronado Clarion at:

The Clarion Press, A division of  The Coronado Clarion is proud to announce the publication of a new book  ” Zero to Sixty In Five Minutes” By Tom Everhart.

 In this chronicle about the life and times of a Rock-N-Roll D J, Tom has  preserved a piece of street level history which would have been forgotten.

If you would like to publish your own book, please contact :

Clarion Press at (619) 277 1552; (619) 435-1038

Posted in Summer 2012 Issue | Leave a comment


By Suzi Lewis Pignataro

I’m gently palpating Chilean avocados in Whole Foods when I receive the text: “Mom. There’s a dead rat in the pool. WTF.”

“Rat!” I exclaim.

The woman standing next to me fingering Israeli tomatoes yelps and flings her body against the display stand. Mashing a pulpy orb in her fist she cries, “Where?”

“Not here!” I yell. “In my pool!” And as proof, I hold out my cell phone and point to my son’s text. It doesn’t matter; clutching her heart, she staggers through the greengrocer section like a hunted animal, red tomato guts staining her left breast.

I shouldn’t be surprised by my son’s message. Eight years ago, the city annexed acreage adjacent to my small neighborhood, and the tidal wave of construction that followed left at our doorstep the flotsam and jetsam of rodents displaced by $800,000 homes. My cocker spaniel, Roscoe, picked up the first scent of the refugees. He tore at the walls, scratched at the heating vents, and tried to squeeze between the washer and dryer in the garage. I hadn’t yet learned of the rodents’ mass exodus from the fields. I attributed my dog’s antics to the neighbors’ retriever being in heat. It wasn’t until the rats made a bold move that I realized their presence. Having grown up on an island (Coronado, California) invaded by their Norwegian cousins, I knew exactly what the late-night skittering and scratching in my bedroom walls signified: a mama and papa rat were moving in, building a nest, and making babies. And if Roscoe smelled them in the heating vents and garage as well, there was more than one family of squatters. This called for action.

Led by Roscoe’s nose, Sieg, the Swedish rat catcher, followed the rodents’ trails and laid eight traps over and under our home. Within a few days, he’d caught an equal number of the largest rats I’d ever seen, even fatter than my brother John’s pet rat Elvoid, who defied even R.J. Crumb’s perverted imagination. We celebrated the catch by treating Roscoe to a filet mignon and mashed potato dinner.

I arrive home from Whole Foods to find my son flanked by two bikini-clad, navel-pierced girls on the den couch. They wave their hands in greeting, delicate fronds floating through the warm Indian summer air. My son, his arms crossed over his chest and hands tucked under his armpits, grunts. Clearly, the rat has spoiled his plans. Taking in the lack of clothing on his guests, I’m not sure if I should feel sorry or thankful about that.                  

The heavy taffeta curtains have been conspicuously drawn against the offending sight in the back yard. I can’t blame them; a dead rat under any circumstance strains one’s sensibilities. I draw back the fabric, open the sliding glass door, and venture outside.

It’s floating face down in the deep end, near the row of volcanic rocks laid down by the original owner of our home. I walk over to them now, and sitting on the largest one, I study the body more closely.

An adult female – no well-endowed male this one – she measures approximately one foot, from head to tail. She’s black and noticeably emaciated. Her delicate feet dangle below the surface of the water, suggesting that she’d been swimming and then… what? Grown tired of the effort and given up? Considering her undernourished state, she might have lacked the strength to save herself. Her mouth hangs open, not with a scream but a whimper. Something about the expression on her face tells the story of her last moments before swallowing the water that took her life. Despair? Regret? Worry?

“What happened to you?” I ask her. “How did you end up like this?” 

“Mom! Seriously? You’re talking to a dead rat?”

My son’s voice startles me and I nearly fall into the water. Shaken by the thought of landing on a drowning victim, I leap off the rock and walk away.

“Aren’t you going to take it out?” he shouts after me.

“No,” I reply. “I’ll let the pool guy do it.”

“But, he was here just yesterday!”

“Don’t worry,” I call out as I enter the house, “the week will go by quickly.”   

Ten days after the extermination of the eight rats, I came home to something fetid in my bedroom. I thought it was the toilet in the master bath. Holding my breath, I opened the lid, peered inside – and let out a gust of relief. The bowl was full of clean water. Nevertheless, I grimaced as I depressed the handle, expecting feces to gurgle up from beyond the drain like some creature rising from a murky lagoon. But, no, the water swirled down, disappeared briefly then bubbled back up, all with punctual, pristine efficiency.

When the odor failed to dissipate, I called for Roscoe, whom my husband had dubbed, “The Nose That Smells All Things Unmentionable.” When he didn’t come, I went searching for him and found him in the side yard engaged in terrorizing a vole. His front legs had disappeared into a hole he’d dug. His muzzle was covered in clumps of moist dirt and flecked with grass.


He looked up at me, not with guilt but with a deep resentment that made me take a step back. I’d interrupted him and he didn’t appreciate it. “Come on,” I coaxed, patting my thigh, “let’s get you cleaned up. Your hunting skills are required elsewhere.”

After giving him a quick bath in the kids’ tub, I placed Roscoe on the floor and picked up the dirtied towels to put in the washer. He followed me out to the garage, and as I loaded up the machine, he stuck his muzzle in every nook and cranny. When he got to the furnace, he growled and began scratching at its wooden platform in earnest. I crouched down to his level and smelled it, too: the same fetid odor I’d caught a whiff of in my bedroom.

“Right,” I said, feeling slightly nauseated. “Let’s get this over with.” We headed into the house.

Upon reaching my bedroom, Roscoe went nuts. I had to hold him back by the collar to keep him from breaking into my husband’s closet. I sat down beside him, our bodies tense and still. Together, we stared at the louvered doors, one of us anxious to have them opened, the other anxious to keep them shut.

I was sure there was a dead rat stuffed into one of my husband’s rain shoes he’d crammed in the back of his closet at the beginning of summer. We must have missed this one and the one whose scent Roscoe had picked up in the garage. Obviously, they were dead and decomposing.

There was no way I was going to be the one to open those closet doors. I grabbed Roscoe and carried him out of the room. He voiced his objection. I ignored it in favor of my own opinion on the matter.

“Let’s call Sieg.”

She calls to me. Day and night, as if by an invisible force, I find myself being drawn to her, a dark, cold, hard magnet in the pool; a negative attracting my positive. The oil in her coat joins the water in creating rainbows too pretty to be dancing upon a corpse. In the insomniac hours of the night, she disappears into the shadows of my neighbor’s redwood trees; yet still, she pulls me in and I stand at the kitchen window with strained eyes. My mind seeks her out, restless and disturbed. “Who are you,” I ask, “and why did you have to die in my pool?”

For three days, she floats, still and silent, unmoving even when the late afternoon wind tickles the surface of the wat

Then, she’s gone.

“Oh, no,” I groaned, burying my face in my hands. “Not that.”

Sieg pulled off his cap, scratched the thatch of graying blond hair on his perfectly round head then tugged the cap back in place, nice and snug. We stood in front of my husband’s closet. Roscoe sat by the tall Swede’s leg, his face taut with anticipation. He was in for a big disappointment

“There’s nothing we can do,” replied Sieg. “Well, nothing that makes sense. I mean, you could get a contractor in here and open up the wall, but – ” He finished his sentence with a shrug. “It only takes about three weeks for the whole process, and you’re already into it by almost two. Might as well save your money and wait it through.”

Three weeks. That’s how long it would take the orphaned baby rats, stranded inside the closet wall and behind the furnace platform, to starve to death and decay into benign sacks of dried tissue and bone. This reality assaulted me, and not just through my nose. Sure, I had the right to protect my home and family from disease-carrying “vermin,” but to sentence baby anythings to days of abandonment, fear, and starvation ran against every fiber of my being.

Sieg saw the remorse on my face. He gave my shoulder a sympathetic pat, while giving the same to Roscoe’s head, and left.

We were imprisoned in a mass grave. The sense-around stench of death repulsed us; our bodies instinctively sought to repel it, but the circumstances lent no means of escape. Winter was coming and the nights grew frigid. The forced-air heating system blew the decomposing scent into every room. We were bathed in rot. I couldn’t sleep, knowing that just yards away babies had met their death because I had taken their mother’s life. My vocation was all about saving children, no matter what the nature of their parents. Wiping out entire families ran counter to everything I stood for. My son thought I was overly sentimental, and just a little bit crazy, equating rats with humans, but my husband understood. He, too, found the infant rats’ fate upsetting. We lay awake at night, holding hands and silently sharing the blame.

As Sieg predicted, after three weeks fresh air once again circulated through our home. With all of the outside vents and crawl spaces now fortified by heavy mesh and wood, we no longer shared our house with uninvited guests. Soon, we forgot all about the deaths, and the stone of guilt lodged in the back of my throat slowly dissolved into minute granules of absolution I could easily swallow and shit out.

It’s the need to be free once more of all culpability that drives me to the delusion that the rat in my pool has been resurrected. Some deity has chosen her to carry out its grand design to bring the end to the human race through the destruction of our Babylon – board by board, wire by wire. Raised from the dead, she will walk among her kind, collecting disciples, establishing congregations and recruiting soldiers to do her bidding in a holy war against the infidels determined to exterminate them.

“Here she is,” shouts the pool guy, pointing to the bottom of the deep end. “She’s just sunk is all.” He dips a long-poled net into the water and I turn away. I can’t watch. I’m so disappointed.

Five days later, decay wafts into the garage, hitting me like a kick to the womb. I jump off the treadmill and run into the house, holding my breath and forgetting to turn off the machine. For the rest of the day it hums blithely to itself, diligently counting miles covered and calories burned, until my husband comes home and unplugs it.

Her face haunts me. Despair, regret: now I know what her last thoughts were. They were about her offspring waiting for her return that night in their nest behind the furnace. Her emaciation I know well: nursing does that to a mother’s body as the babies suck the calories out of her. Most likely, she was just trying to nourish herself when, weak and exhausted, she slipped off one of the lava rocks and fell into the pool. The water level was summertime low, the tiles a slick impediment to finding purchase. She didn’t have a chance.

I avoid the garage as I would a death camp. Laundry piles up in hampers. Floors accumulate dirt and dust bunnies as mops and brooms hang neglected on the garage wall. My car sits parked at the curb, exposed to the elements and bird droppings. Roscoe scratches at the garage door with indefatigable will, and I pull him away by the collar. We go through this mutual exercise in frustration at least five times a day, until my son announces that the garage no longer stinks.

Some weeks later, I’m sitting at my computer in the den when my son calls out from his adjacent bedroom. “Mom! Come in here!” “What it is?” I ask. “Just come in here!” he shouts back. I open his bedroom door and peer in. He’s standing on his bed.

“There’s a rat in my room,” he says, pointing to the space behind his bookcase.

I slam the door shut and keep my hand firmly on the handle. When my son pulls on it from the other side, I resist with the strength of Hercules.

“Mom! What the…? ”

Roscoe sits on his haunches at my bedroom door. He’s incensed that Sieg is laying traps at the back of the house while I confine him to the front. He turns to me, white-eyed and curled-lipped, begrudging me. I lie on my bed pretending to read, but, really, I’m holding my own court, with me in the dock and a judge and jury of rats ready to hang me. A gallery of rodents, all teeth and nails and whipping tails, squeal and squeak at me, the traitor.

When I’d finally let my son out of his room, he’d accused me of child endangerment and quickly shifted some clothes and bedding into the den so as not to spend the night with something capable of scampering over his unconscious body. A moment later, he screamed from the den, “There’s another one!” As I tore through the house to barricade myself in my bathroom, he called out, “No! It’s the same one!” This didn’t improve my state of panic; nor did his addendum, “It might be a mouse!”

“Okay! I’m finished here!”

I drag myself off my bed and join Sieg by the front door. The Swede attempts to mollify Roscoe with a chin scratch and words of encouragement. “Don’t worry, buddy. If I catch it, I’ll let you have a good sniff.” Oh great.

To me, he says, “It’s most likely not a mouse but a young rat who got into the house and now can’t get out. He’ll either go for the peanut butter in one of the traps and die, or find his way back outside and live.” As he heads for his truck, he shouts over his shoulder, “I bet it was his mother in the pool!”

I consider self-flagellation.

We avoid checking the traps. My son walks around his room with his eyes averted. I do the same in the den, which is also my office. We pretend. We close our eyes, ears and noses to the possibility of murder inside our home.

A week goes by and we haven’t seen, heard or smelled anything to either suggest a rat living with us or a corpse lying squashed in one of Sieg’s instruments of torture. I tell my husband and son that I’m going to take a look. They ignore me in their respective chairs, hunched over computer keyboards, plugged in and tuned out.

With false bravado I peer behind the bookcase, file boxes, chair and plastic bags full of clay in the den and my son’s room. No rat. I call Sieg.

“That’s good news!” he enthuses. “The little guy escaped!” I want to ask Sieg how can he do his job when he’s secretly rooting for the other team, but I decide to spare him the same moral challenge I’ve been grappling with. “Go ahead and collect the traps and I’ll come by later in the week and pick them up,” he continues. “And tell Roscoe better luck next time,” he adds with a chuckle.

I give my family the “All clear!” and walk back into the den to retrieve the first trap.

“AHHHH!!! HOLY HELL!!!” I’ve trapped my own thumb.

The doctor assures me that nothing is broken. I’ll lose the blackened and crushed thumbnail, but a shiny new one will grow in its place. For now, I use it as a reminder – no, not to be careful when picking up a set trap, but never to lay one again. It’s the most poignant comeuppance of my life.

Another reminder sits on a stack of hot-pink post-its on my desk. My son makes a face each time he sees it and asks me when I’m going to throw it away. I tell him perhaps when my nail falls off. With something akin to maternal pride, I say that it’s a message not to be forgotten from a child with heap-loads of chutzpah.

He says it’s just a friggin’ rat turd.

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By Helen Nichols Murphy Battleson

Lily came into our lives in November 2002 when she flew across the highway in front of our friend’s truck as we pulled out of our driveway at “Hewick Plantation” in Urbanna, Middlesex County, Virginia. We checked her tags and called the owner to tell them that we had their little Jack Russell dog. When he came to retrieve her, he told us that his wife was expecting and that they also had a black lab and with Lily running off so often they were looking for a new home for her. I immediately told them that my daughter Regina would love to have her! They gave her to us along with her kennel, her blankets, her toys, her toothbrush and toothpaste, everything that belonged to her, LOL!

Since we had a sixty-six acre plantation outside of town, and Lily was supposed to be an indoor dog, she had a way of escaping and heading for town. It was only 1.08 miles away to the Urbanna Market where she would be running around the store parking lot, and eventually I would get a call from someone asking if I was missing a little white dog with a brown face.

Lily had a wonderful life at “Hewick” with our family amid our black lab, Sammy, his daughter Trixie, our cat Sumatran, our geese, chickens, goats, and horses. When the time came after the girls had left for colleges in Virginia and Hawaii, I hired a transport service to take the horses, dogs, and cat out to California while I flew back home. I decided to live near my mom, Mallie Nichols, in the little town of Penryn near Sacramento.

All of the animals adjusted well to the new house. However right after we moved in, I discovered “Lily” missing. I looked everywhere for her. She was nowhere to be found! After a couple of hours, I received a call from a lady who asked if I owned a little white dog? I said, “Yes”, and she said, “Well, I have her now. We picked her up on Highway 80.” We lived in Penryn off Highway 80 and Lily was now in Ophir. She was now 3.62 miles from home, and I immediately hopped in the car to go pick her up! She would go anywhere with anyone.

We moved back to Coronado in April 2008 to the Coronado Cays, but it was not long until my “escape artist” was on the run again, but luckily by then she had two micro-chips in her, tags and a city license; so she was always returned home to me after a few phone calls.

After I moved back up to Coronado into the Coronado Bay Club, Lily only escaped one time, and alas she ended up in the “Doggie Jail” in the Paws Facility on 2nd Street on July 7th, 2011. By the time I got there to see if they had her, they were in the midst of washing a very muddy and dirty little white doggie!

Lily was a little Jack Russell who had a very interesting life! She went to live temporarily with my oldest daughter in early 2010 and somehow managed to again escape. When I learned she was on the loose somewhere in Salt Lake City, I called the Petsmart in Roseville, California where she had her two different micro-chips inserted. When I had them try and trace the numbers and my ownership they found her under another person’s name and address!

The Banfield Hospital vice president called me personally to ask my name, where I lived, and where did I think Lily was at??? I told her as far as I knew, Utah. She told me that Lily had been found, thought to have been abandoned, and her micro-chip had been updated by the new owner with their name and address. I told her that Lily was mine, and I wanted her back as soon as possible. She put me in touch with the lady who had her and after contacting her, I made arrangements for my daughter Rachel with her two little boys, Grant and Colt, to drive with me to Salt Lake City to pick her up! When we drove up to the house and Lily saw us, she almost jumped over the six- foot fence. I think the time she was lost and abandoned in Utah, took its toll on her!

In January 2012, I took her to her vet here in Coronado where they found she had a tumor under her right shoulder. She was put on an antibiotic and a special diet, but the cancer was spreading; and although she kept her spirit right to the end, she finally reached a point on March 30th, where she was in pain and she was suffering and having difficulty walking. We were told by the doctor to let her go when she was suffering and in too much pain. I truly believe and can cope with her death because I believe that their souls and spirits live on and that I will be reunited one day with her.






Lily Bell with her best friend Franky

It is the nature of dogs to live much shorter lives than ours—just eight years on average. So in a way we were lucky to have had her loyalty, love, and devotion for ten years. Lily had turned ten years old on March 21st! 



Thursday, August 2, 2012  posted at 8:33 p.m. by Suzi

Roscoe passed away this evening at 6:00. Dani, Hans, and I were with him. He went quickly and peacefully. He really was ready to let go.


I’m sobbing. I will so miss the Roscoe & his spirit & what he meant to you & your family & all those kids he gave of his benevolence to them. Roscoe was such a special soul & you & your family were to him. Give your boys & yourself huge Lilly Belle hugs & cocker hugs from all of us. Love, the Kimmie & Family xoxo  We miss him so.


His is the next story I will write.

Kimmie, his body was so ravaged. The night before, he stood on my bed and
looked into my eyes, and I swear he was telling me he was done. I knew
then and there that the next day would be his last, and that it would be a
vet-assisted suicide and that he would be relieved. It didn’t make it any
easier at the moment of his passing, but it makes it easier now.








The hardest part was calling my boys and telling them.

Hans rushed to the vets’ from work to hold his dog’s paws as he was put to sleep. Thack was walking down Market Street in San Francisco to meet up with his old Sonoma pal and fellow city transplant, Patrick Sean Gibson, when I called him. He asked me to hold my cell phone up to Roscoe’s ear; and even though he knew Roscoe was stone deaf, he spoke loving words to him as the doctor injected him with the fatal dose of anesthetic. Later, he and Patrick went to an Irish pub where everyone in the establishment drank a Guinness for our dog. Later that night, Hans and his best friend Becca hiked up to the cross on the hill behind town and drank a bottle of 20-year-old champagne and told stories about Roscoe. Becca’s first dog was a blond cocker, so she understood.

For now, the dog bowls, shampoo, ear rinse, cans of food, leash, beds, and
rain gear are stowed away. The food expires in a year. That should be plenty of time.

Love, Suzi


By Suzi Lewis Pignataro

Yesterday, I gave an eleven-year-old client four tablespoons of my dog’s ashes. Handing him a cylindrical wooden urn, I reassured him that it might have seemed like too small a bit of the cocker spaniel who had become his best friend, but that it was the most important part. “It’s his heart, Charlie, and you, of all people, deserve to have it.” That quarter cup of dust and bone was no small measure of the love my dog felt for this child.

Roscoe had already proved himself a valuable asset to my work with abused children when, back in May of 2011, Charlie walked into my reception area resembling more a mummy than the energetic ten-year-old who loved monster trucks, motorcycles, and racecars. My first thought was that he’d taken a tumble on his electric scooter. But the pain in his sky blue eyes told another story. His mom Jenny stood behind him, her hands positioned on his shoulders as if ready to catch his head should it begin to roll off his neck. Clearly, her son had been seriously injured.

Without a word, I steered them into my playroom and sat them on the couch.

“Okay, what happened,” I demanded.

From behind the layers of gauze and adhesive tape wrapped around his skull and face, Charlie cleared his throat. “I was mauled by my great-grandmother’s dog.”

“Ogden?” I shouted in disbelief.

“Yes,” replied Charlie, his voice shaky, “and they killed him for it.” He folded his slim body into Jenny’s lap, and they both wept.

The attack came on Mother’s Day when Charlie accompanied Jenny and her mother to the family matriarch’s homestead in the Mendocino hills. Five years before, Charlie’s great-grandmother had found a Rottweiler puppy abandoned on a country road. For Charlie and Ogden, it was love at first sight. They had been steadfast pals ever since, always eager to romp around on the great-grandmother’s property. This day was no different, and after hours of playing fetch, charging through creek beds, and wrestling on the front porch, it was time for Charlie and Jenny to head back home. As Charlie hugged the massive dog one last time, something wholly unexpected happened. Ogden grabbed Charlie’s head with his jaws, sinking his teeth into cartilage and flesh. Stunned, Charlie made no sound. When Ogden momentarily loosened his grip, Charlie pulled away and ran screaming for help. But Ogden chased him down, fell on him and tore at the other side of his face. It took the three women, kicking and hollering, to get the dog off the mangled boy.

A Ukiah plastic surgeon left his wife’s Mother’s Day dinner to put Charlie’s face and right ear back together as best he could. Meanwhile, Animal Control had been called, and Ogden was now under observation at the pound. A week later, he was euthanized and his body destroyed.

Charlie sobbed, “I killed him. I killed him.”

During the next month, Charlie worked hard to accept that he had done nothing wrong; that his beloved Ogden had made a tragic mistake for which both had paid dearly. When the bandages came off, it was hard not to break down in front of the child who had once had the face of an angel. “The scars are purple and deep, but the doctor says they’ll fade over time,” Charlie reported with characteristic optimism.

With no body – not even ashes – to grieve over or bury, we settled for a letter to Ogden. Charlie poured his heart out, his tears leaving black smudges on the paper as he sat hunched over my playroom table. That Sunday, Jenny drove him up to his great-grandmother’s where he and his family held a memorial service. Charlie burned the letter over a grave filled with the Rottweiler’s favorite toys, bedding and food bowl, letting his words fly up to doggie heaven: a smoke signal of love and absolution.

The following Thursday, Charlie was attacked again – this time by his grandfather’s terrier. The physical injuries were minor, but the emotional ones were catastrophic.

Charlie refused to leave the house except to see me. Neighborhood kids ran through sprinklers, Charlie’s brother and sister laughed as they played in the backyard. At first they would call for him, but after a while they gave up. Charlie had nightmares, bloody scenes of his face being eaten off by a pack of wolves, or of Ogden’s body, riddled with police bullets, being thrown into a garbage heap, and set on fire. He slept with his mom, wet the bed, and couldn’t hold down a meal. His play in therapy was chaotic and violent and spoke to his fear of this unpredictable world where even the most loyal dogs – the very two who had grown up with him and had always made him feel safe – could turn on him, scarring him inside and out.

The new school year was just weeks away, and Charlie was no closer to being cured of his PTSD. Jenny and I were afraid that he would refuse to go back to class. One day, I called her up and said that I had a bold, and possibly crazy, idea. “I have this 15-year-old cocker spaniel. He’s deaf and arthritic and has a gimpy heart, and half the time he acts as if he couldn’t care less about us. But there’s something about being in my playroom with a child who’s been emotionally hurt. It’s as if some primordial instinct to protect the youngsters in the pack gets triggered, and whatever it is, it helps.”

 “At this point, I’ll try anything,” cried Jenny.

We ran it by Charlie. He pressed his tiny frame into the back of my couch and stared at me as if I’d just suggested tying him to a tree up in the hills and leaving him for the mountain lions. But then he got up, walked over to me, and looked long and hard into my eyes. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Suzi, if you think it will help, bring him.”

Charlie hugged the urn to his chest. On the table lay his constant companion, the memory book I’d given him the day I told him Roscoe had passed away. I’d lied to him, saying that he’d died in his sleep rather than admitting that my dog had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer just weeks after introducing the two of them. In a way I wish I had been straight with Charlie because it was a miracle that Roscoe had survived ten months. The vet had given him only three. It was as if the dog knew he had to stay alive until Charlie was completely healed, and through sheer will prevented the tumor in his right lung from killing him before his job was done. Standing over his ravaged body as the vet prepared to put him down, watching his ribcage heave as he struggled for breath, my first thought wasn’t of my own loss but that of Charlie’s and how much I didn’t want to bring him this news.

“We have to have a memorial for him in Charlie Town,” the boy whispered. Moving to the sand tray, we began.


Charlie created it; all of “Charlie Town” attended and spoke. Some of Roscoe’s ashesare in the wooden cyclinder. They are my gift to Charlie.

When Charlie met Roscoe for the first time, I thought that he would keel over in a dead faint. Out of all the people in our waiting room, Roscoe made a beeline for the boy, sniffed his pant leg, and sat on his feet. Facing out, the dog scanned the room with quiet vigilance.

Jenny gawked. “What’s he doing?” she whispered

“Protecting the pup,” I replied, feeling pretty impressed myself; then to Roscoe: “Come on, Rossie, let’s go.” Roscoe turned his head toward Charlie and furrowed his eyebrows. “It’s okay,” I said, “we’re taking him with us.”  Reluctantly, the spaniel stood, releasing the boy from his pinned position. Charlie was feeling his own reluctance, but he allowed me to walk him down the hall to my playroom, his hand clutching mine. Roscoe stuck to Charlie’s left flank like sticky tape, the expression on his face so serious I could have crie

It took a while before Roscoe felt it was okay to leave Charlie’s feet. Sitting together on the couch with Charlie immobilized by the dog squatting on his sneakers, we looked through every book on my shelves featuring a canine – and I have quite a few. Roscoe never left his post, his eyes focused on the door, ready to charge at any threat that might burst through. During their third meeting, Charlie reached down and rubbed his guardian’s soft blond head while I read to him. When Charlie stopped, Roscoe bumped his hand with his nose, and the boy laughed. Roscoe studied the child for a moment then climbed up on the couch and with a sigh of relief fell asleep between us. I will always wonder if Roscoe knew all along that the danger was not on the other side of my door, but, rather, inside Charlie.

Gradually, Charlie developed a more natural and relaxed relationship with Roscoe graduating from sharing space on the couch to sharing snacks and naps on the floor. The day Charlie placed a treat inside Roscoe’s mouth without flinching, we shouted for joy and danced around the playroom like lunatics. The old dog gave us a white-eyed look of disapproval, but we didn’t care. By the seventh week, Charlie could hardly contain his excitement at seeing the spaniel trot into the reception area to escort him down the long hallway to my room. He began referring to Roscoe as “my dog”, and to prove it he incorporated him into his longstanding fantasy world, “Charlie Town.”















From then on, after snack time, Charlie and I would go to the sand tray, and with Roscoe lying on the floor between us we would build the town and play out the latest segment of Charlie and Roscoe’s mythical adventurous life together. His fear of dogs overcome, I returned Charlie’s therapy to those issues that had originally brought him into treatment. Roscoe helped him with these as well, simply by providing the boy with unconditional love and a warm, furry body to hold onto in trying times.

The residents of Charlie Town gathered in a circle around the urn. “Roscoe” sat atop the cylinder, looking out over the tray’s landscape crowded with houses, trees, and racecars. Charlie’s and my “alternates” stood at the front of the group of mourners. Charlie turned to me. “Would Suzi like to begin?” he asked.

I don’t know how I found my voice beneath the clot of grief. “We are here to pay our respects to the greatest dog that ever lived. But we are also here to recognize the special relationship he had with our founder, Charlie, without whose need and love for this dog none of us would have ever known what a generous and noble heart Roscoe possessed. For it was not until Roscoe met Charlie that he came into his true self: that of a protector, savior, healer, and best friend. I think, perhaps, that the whole purpose of adopting Roscoe all those years ago was to come to that moment when he walked into my waiting room and sat on the feet of the boy who, above all others – ”

My words stopped, and all there was in the world was Charlie and I – our arms around each other, our tears falling into the sand.

NOTE: A client’s right to confidentiality is sacrosanct. The true identities of “Charlie”, “Jenny”, and “Ogden” have been protected, and the locations of the matriarch’s homestead and the plastic surgeon have been changed.





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Concerts in the Park, Sunday, June 10, 2012

By Alan Graham

In 1982, I produced a live musical in Hollywood called “Morrison: The Rock Opera”. The musical was centered around the seven ghost clones of the late singer, my brother-in-law, Jim Morrison of The Doors. In the lead, I cast a twenty-two year old garage mechanic, David Brock. Brock went on to start his own band called Wild Child; and some thirty years later, he is still playing the Doors music at concerts all over the globe.

Rock-n-Roll is here to stay.

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Kimberley & Al Graham

Albert Robert Graham celebrated his 68th birthday on June 9, 2012 with his family and friends making a weekend of it. To top off the celebrations, we dined at Mistral, the fine-dining restaurant at Loew’s Coronado Bay Resort. Hosted by our son and daughter, Ariel and Austin Graham, we were treated to the best of cuisine d’arte all graciously served by none other than my son, Austin, who was our waiter extraordinaire!




Chef Patrick Ponsaty, who was recently named Maitre Cuisinier de France (Master Chef of France), personally prepared our savory Mediterranean faire.  Master Chef Patrick joins an elite group of chefs honored by this appointment, a title that is one of the most envied in the culinary world. As a fifth-generation French chef, Mistral’s Chef de Cuisine, has the recognition of many awards over his 30-year career.

So as you can imagine when Chef Patrick rolled out the red carpet of culinary excellence just for our celebration, we were ecstatically thrilled – our palates dazzled by the cuisine d’faire.  Course after course were presented to us each personally selected from the Master Chef’s favorites in a showcase of culinary delight. We sampled almost everything on the menu paired with the finest aperitifs, libations, and wines culminating our experience in the most delectable selection of desserts from the patisserie d’Mistral.




Amongst our samplings included these starters: Dungeness Crab Salad with Tomato Water, Avocado and Herb Salad ; Tuna Tartar with Sea Weed, Citrus and Avocado Mosaic; Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Port Wine Sauce; Followed by these select Entrees: Brandt Beef Tenderloin Hickory Wood with Chestnut, Cardamom and Poivrade Sauce; Squid Ink Risotto with Calamari Steak and Pimiento; Sea Bass Geranium with Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cannelloni and Pearl Onions; Slow-Cooked Kurobuta Pork Loin Stuffed with Sweetbreads; Grilled Colorado Lamb Chop with Eggplant Caviar; and our collective Sweet Tooth was more than satisfied by desserts such as: Strawberry Consomme Lime-Geranium Ice Cream; Tahitian Vanilla and Rose Crème Brulee; Bisou au Chocolat (A French Kiss from Chef Patrick); and Rose Velvet with White Chocolate Mousse and Saffron Raspberry Sorbet.

Ingredients Par Excellence for a Wonderful Celebration, wouldn’t you say? Thank you Chef Patrick for making Al’s Birthday so wonderfully memorable!

Plan your special celebration at: 

Mistral Restaurant on Coronado Bay
Loews Coronado Bay Resort
4000 Coronado Bay Road
Coronado, CA  92118
(619) 424-4000


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Original Members: 

Bill Thompson: guitar, vocals

 Joey Harris: lead guitar, vocals

Paul Kamanski: guitar, vocals

Paul “Vic” Vicena: bass
Chris Sams: drums

 “When I was young, I always thought that if I could just write a song that would get on the radio, all the good stuff would just happen,” says founding Fingers guitarist Paul Kamanski, probably best known perhaps for writing hits for the Beat Farmers, a San Diego cow-punk band of national stature. Fingers also included Billy Thompson and future Beat Farmer Joey Harris (with whom Kamanski also played in the Electric Sons).

“A lot of good stuff happened, and a lot of bad stuff, too, which is really interesting about the whole trip. But it really started out with the dream of if I could write some lyrics, and if I pay attention to detail and I’m not afraid, if I write and I get over the fear of saying exactly what I feel and take the criticism. I started writing songs, and the next thing I knew I had one called ‘Bigger Stones’ that the Beat Farmers picked up.”

Not that the music biz has always been a goldmine. Says Kamanski, “I made a little bit. There were royalties for a while. When you get your first check for $700 you go, ‘What? For writing music? Are you serious?’ Then one day you get a bigger check and you go, ‘Oh, my, I could actually make some money.’ But you watch it go up and down. The weirdest thing about the business is that when you go into it, you’re hyper and scared to death and excited about getting signed but what you don’t know is how you’re gonna get screwed. You know you’re gonna get screwed, you just don’t know how.”

The Fingers played L.A. and San Diego from 1979 through 1981, during southern California’s punk rock years. According to Joey Harris, “The Fingers stood out from other bands of the time, with three lead singer/ songwriter guitarists. More pop than punk, the Fingers tunes showcased melodic songwriting and three-part harmonies, but the band’s secret weapon was now legendary guitar master, Billy Thompson, spraying the stages of So.Cal. with a barrage of fully automatic guitar blasts.”

 As of 2012, Kamanski still makes music, most notably with ongoing side project Comanche Moon and with the Rock Trio, alongside Joey Harris and Caren Campbell. The Fingers reunited July 3, 2012, to play the Coronado High School All-Class Reunion party, with a lineup that included Billy Thompson, Paul Kamanski, Vic Vecina, Joey Harris, and Danny Campbell on drums.

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In keeping with the legendary Surf Dog Max with his Surf Pop Dave Chalmers:

And with fondest memories of Jimmy Reilly, whom we honor every year with his very own surf contest, the “JIMMY REILLY MEMORIAL LONGBOARD CLASSIC”, which celebrates its 25th year in 2012:


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Summer Edition 2012 – Back Cover

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Summer Edition 2012

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