Luckier Than Most
If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that each of us has at least one “day of infamy” lingering in the murky depths of memory, a day in which it did not pay to get out of bed. I am luckier than most: I have two such days, January 10th, 1972 and July 23rd, 1985.
I entered the military on the first date, having been drafted in the final year in which a draft was held. I rolled into the Armed Forces Entrance Examination Station (AFEES), Los Angeles, just before six o’clock in the morning, and before the day was done, I was in Missouri, in total misery.
For many years this particular date loomed in my mind as the one day that I would just as soon forget ever happened. The depths of my despair, as I embarked on this particularly unwelcome adventure, had no measurable basis in reality.
Talk about being on automatic pilot.
Possibly to instill a sense of balance in my life, fate then decreed that I should have a second “day of infamy,” as President Roosevelt referred to December 7th, 1941, this one set in the dead of summer, July 23, 1985.
On this day while I was straddling a roof at Jeff Bath’s place on Bell Springs Road, installing a new roof, a helicopter landed on my property in the big field where the pond now exists, and commando-style, paramilitary thugs disembarked.
I call them thugs because they found it necessary to kick in our unlocked gate, they ransacked our house, they crow-barred off the unlocked lid of Annie’s Hope Chest and they confiscated $900.00 that Michael Ferretta had pre-paid me for construction services that were still to be rendered.
I had to work ninety hours over the next couple of weeks, just to break even, before I could start bringing in income again.
Additionally, the thugs left notification on the destroyed gate that my home and twenty acres were now the property of the United States Government.
CAMPed on, facing prosecution for the dastardly deed of growing thirty-three cannabis plants and looking at the prospect of losing my home and property, I would say July 23rd, 1985, trumped January 10th, 1972, as my personal worst day of infamy.
I remember sitting around on the redwood deck over at the parents’ house that same night, a residence located ten minutes’ walk from our own home, and one clearly in the line of vision for all of the events of that most eventful day.
In an effort to lighten the mood-a weak effort-but an effort nonetheless, I opined that “we would all get a good laugh out of this, ten years down the line.”
I remember wondering how Annie’s folks were going to handle the whole debacle. Would they condemn me for leading their daughter into a life of crime and debauchery? I needn’t have worried.
|My father-in-law, Tom, drew this for me afterward.|
After presenting the facts to them, Annie’s dad Tom presented me with a little something he had been doodling on, as the whole sordid saga was being unfolded. It was an illustration of a character with an apple on his head, and an arrow shot though his forehead. The dude is smiling, and below is the caption, “Smile and have faith!”
Solid advice. That paper still resides on our cork-board.
I never did see the humor in the whole thing but I did learn how valuable a good lawyer can be, and I paid the $17,500 with a smile on my face, once the decision had been made to withdraw the allegations of cannabis cultivation.
Lawyers get a lot of bad press, and much of it deserved, but when you really face injustice from the powers-that-be, regardless of the infraction, and you have to enter the arena, they are worth every penny it takes.
The grow was a joint (no pun intended) effort on the part of my then 63-year-old father, Robert, and myself. Defying all logic, Robert, the most conservative of individuals while in SoCal, turned into a pot-growing rebel when he hit Mendocino County.
I exaggerate, of course, because like all of us who moved to the mountain in the late seventies/early eighties, he worked to keep the home fires burning. It’s just that he grew a few plants on the side to ensure that there would be enough money to make it through the rugged winters.
In 1985, that number was 33 and we grew them in the middle of a manzanita grove, in a series of little patches with maybe a half-dozen plants in each little plot. I guess it was a slow summer for Sheriff Bill Stewart that year because he came after us with a vengeance.
I never came into contact with any individual involved with the entire process, except my lawyer. There were no charges, no finger-printing and no mug shots. It was all rather antiseptic.
Just hand over your house and twenty acres and disappear, along with your old lady and three brats.
That was then-this is now.
We had that nice Mendocino County Sheriff Dan out here one week ago, to inspect our site to ensure that we were practicing clean/green procedures with our plants, and to sign al the necessary documents of compliance.
We now frequent cannabis farmers markets, offering our medicine to those with proper documentation, and accepting in exchange, donations to our collective that help us stay afloat in the farming business. It is all so civilized and could even be described as joyous.
And yes, the subject of that infamous day in 1985 surfaces frequently, and inevitable comparisons are made.
And I do smile a lot, so I guess that constitutes seeing the humor in it all.