It’s been almost three years since I’ve decided to write this next installment. A lot has happened but thats another story. So lets close this chapter up so we can move on.
I discovered that being married was not much different from living together. We both did our thing and at the end of the day we were together at home. It worked out to be a really nice groove. Carol worked at the restaurant and I did odd jobs and surfed. Then one day Carol told me she was pregnant. Yep pregnant. I was stunned. I had been living in the bliss of ignorance for a long time. I’d never gotten a girl pregnant in my life until then. I thought I was shootin blanks. “Yeah thats it blanks.” Well you idiot you’re not shooting blanks she’s a very fertile catholic girl.
Carol was elated by her new-found condition. I on the other hand had to let it all sink in for a while before I could decide what I was feeling and I don’t think Carol liked that. It took me a week of soul-searching to come to grips with the whole situation. So out of necessity I warmed up to the idea that “I” was going to be a father. We told our friends about the blessed event including my in-laws which were “kinda” cool with it. So here we were 6 months into the marriage and with child. Things were changing faster than I could even imagine!
Having a new baby on the way meant it was time for me to really step up to the plate and get a good responsible job and maybe even a career. I never really knew what I wanted to be except when I was around seven years old. I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot flying F-86 Sabre Jets just like Steve Canyon. Well I was along way from that dream. So a meat cutter was my next option. At that time there was a large meat-packing facility just up the 101 freeway in Carpenteria about two miles from where we were living. I decided I was going to put in an application and try my hardest to land a job as a union working apprentice meat cutter. So I went in and filled out the long application and turned it in to the receptionist. “We’ll call you as soon as there is an opening.” She said to me. “OK thanks!” As I left the building I really thought I was on my way to a new career. So I went surfing. For about a month. I kept checking back with the meat-packing house calling on the phone, showing up personally but I just kept getting the same answer. “We’ll call you as soon as there is an opening.
Then one day I was looking through the want ads in the Santa Barbara News Press. “MEAT CUTTER WANTED WILL TRAIN RIGHT PERSON” I called immediately. “Hello?” “Yes I’m calling about the position you posted in the paper for a meat cutter. Is the position still available? Great I’ll come by today to fill out an application.” I spruced up and jumped into my Rambler wagon and sped off to Percals Meats on Milpas Street in Santa Barbara. I met Jim the owner. Jim was a big thick meat cutter of a man wearing a blood stained apron. Percals was a retail and wholesale butcher shop supplying meats to the public as well as many restaurants in the area. Jim took me to the back office and we talked. I told him about my wanting to get into the packing house in Carpinteria and how much I wanted to break into being a butcher. He liked my dedication not to mention I was a 21-year-old man-child with a new baby coming. I got the job without filling out an app.
I had been working at Percals for 6 months learning the ropes. I mostly learned to chop up chickens on the band saw. Then I learned how to de-bone chickens with a boning knife. Then I learned how to make ground beef with different percentages of fat content. Then I learned how to make sausages. I also drove the delivery van to the restaurants with their orders. I really liked my job and felt like this was what I wanted to do. Then one day the swell got really, really good. I hadn’t missed a day from work in six months and I was never late. So I decided to take a day off to surf. I called in and told Jim that my car had sprung a leak in one of the freeze plugs so I was going to stay home and fix it myself. He said “OK” So I jumped into my car and headed down the coast to my old stomping grounds the pier at Mussle Shoals.
The surf that day was soooo good! I surfed with some of my buddies that lived at the Rincon Cliff House Johnny, Dave, and Chuck. We surfed all day till dusk. I got home exhausted. Carol asked me how the surf was “Awesome!” I said. Then she handed me the note that had been stuck on our front door earlier that day. “Came down from the shop to take you to work. Didn’t see you or your car. Must be running OK. Surf looks really good too!” Mike was another surfer that worked at Percals. He knew what I was doing and he was jealous. “I hope it was good enough to lose your job over.” Carol said. “I’m not going to lose my job. Shit I haven’t missed a day since I started working there. Fuck! all I did was go surfing!” The next day I was fired.
Carol was getting pretty big with that baby in the oven and I was pretty pissed off at the world after that SOB Jim fired me. I had to find another job pronto. I looked, and looked, and looked. Nothing. We were just getting by week to week. Carols parents helped us out with some cash to live on. Then I found another job in the paper. WANTED LIQUOR STORE CLERK Oh yeah! I jumped on it! My interview went very well and I got the job. In retrospect I think people kinda feel sorry for you when your young and have a baby coming so sometimes getting a job is easier. Anyway I was now working in retail as a liquor clerk and I was also in the Retail Clerks Union. I was making $8.50 to start which was pretty good in 1976. I really loved working at Miratti’s Liquors. They had several stores throughout Santa Barbara and I worked at the main store on the corner of Mission and De la Vina streets. The clientele were awesome, my boss was cool, and the hours were great 3pm till 11:30pm friday through thursday. I was to be employed there for 5 years
Life was getting pretty darn good going into Carols final trimester of pregnancy. I was holden down the fort with my income from Miratti’s I was surfing in the mornings and on my days off. Everything was flowing. Then it got really, really sad
It was mid February and I had the day off from work so I walked down the road from the house to surf Rincon. It was late afternoon and I was starting to get a little edgy about leaving Carol alone this close to her due date. Then one of my water buddies told me that my wife was on the beach calling me. I looked back down the point and saw Carol in the cove wearing her Hawaiian moo moo waiving her arms and calling for me. “uh oh looks like it’s on.” Right away I caught a wave and rode it to shore. Carol had a really bad look on her face. “Are you OK ? Do we need to go to the hospital? Did your water break?” Carol looked at me I could see tears welling up in her eyes. “Whats goin on honey?” “Your sister is up at the house.” “Yeah so whats up?” Carol started crying. “your brother Guy has been in an accident.” “Now what?” I said. “Did he get into another dirt bike crash?” “No” “Did he do something surfing?” “He was hit head on by a drunk driver.” she could hardly get it out. I could not believe what I was hearing. Instead I thought “Oh boy he’s gonna be really banged up for a while.” We walked back to the house where my sister Gail was. When I walked into the living room and looked at her she looked like she’d been through the ringer. She gave me a hug and started crying really hard shaking in my arms. Thats when I started to grasp the reality of the situation. “How bad is he?” “He’s really bad we need to go to the hospital.” So we all got in the car and headed down the coast to Thousand Oaks crying the whole way. As I was drivng I asked Gail what happened. “Guy and Joe were coming back from a high school basketball game when a drunk driver in a four wheel drive truck hit them head on.” “Hows Joe” I asked. “Hanging on by a thread” Gail said. “Then hows Guy?” no answer. I knew then how bad it really was. I went into the emergency room where my brother was being kept alive with machines. I held his hand and told him how good the waves were that day. Then I kissed his forehead and told him how much I loved him. We buried Guy Leslie Miller a few days later with a stone that read. “May the Wind Always Blow Offshore”
Four weeks later Carol gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Olivia. In 18 months I had got married, lost my brother, and had a child. I was only 22 years old. Then Carols parents decided we needed a bigger place so they put down a down payment on a house in Ventura CA. five whole blocks from the water. All we had to do was pay the mortgage. I left Carol and Olivia after two years to march to the beat of a different drummer. Or so I thought.
A lady stands before an open window
Staring so far away
She can almost feel the southern wind blow
Almost touching her restless day
She turns from her window to me
Sad smile her apology
Sad eyes reaching to the door
Daylight loses to another evening
And still she spares me the word goodbye
And sits alone beside me fighting her feelings
Struggles to speak but in the end can only cry
Suddenly it’s so hard to find
The sound of the words to speak her troubled mind
So I’m offering these to her as if to be kind:
There’s a train everyday leaving either way
There’s a world you know
There’s a way to go
And you’ll soon be gone — that’s just as well
This is my opening farewell
A child’s drawing left there on the table
And a womens silk lying on the floor
And I would keep them if I were able
Lock her safe behind this open door
But suddenly it’s so clear to me
That I asked her to see what she may never see
And now my kind words find their way back to me
There’s a train everyday leaving either way
There’s a world you know
You got a way’s to go
And I’ll soon believe — it’s just as well
This is my opening farewell.
“Jackson Brown” This is My Opening Farewell