Monday, December 31, 2007

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot...."

Do I dwell too much on the past? Probably. But it is where we all have spent our lives. In a large way, the past IS who we are. And I owe who I am to influences of the past. There are no stronger influences in my life than my parents, my home, and memories of times past. I use photos as time travel, and here I am again, in 1953, at home by the tree with mom and dad and Stormy. I like it there.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Time Skipping, Part II

I've skipped so very many photos in my attempt to be somewhat chronological, that I'll start peppering them through coming entries. Here I am with Dee D'Isa in N.I.U.'s 1958 (my senior year) production of the Greek comedy, "The Menachmae." I'm sure you've seen it; it was a smash hit somewhere around the time of Christ.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Straight men are not the only ones who, as the years begin to add up, seek reassurance that they're still young by being drawn to those who ARE the age they consider themselves to be. And in both gay life and straight, younger people are often attracted to those older than themselves for a sense of stability often missing in their own lives. I met Dev, a really sweet kid, in 1983, just as I was planning to leave L.A. to return to the midwest.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Home, Sweet Home

I came across these photos of the living room of my Kurt St. house in Los Angeles, and thought I'd share them with you. I really miss it, at times. But then, as you may have noticed, I tend to miss a great many things.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

One out of Three

Not sure exactly when this was taken, though undoubtedly around 1979. Not sure where it was taken; I don't recognize the background though it was apparently on an overlook somewhere. But I do remember the Navy Surplus shirt I'm wearing. It was the shirt I had on the night I met Ray on July 2, 1978. Well, one out of three ain't bad.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Friends and Journeys

The journey through life is made far more pleasant when one is accompanied by friends. Few, alas, remain for the entire trip. Here, around 1972, I was joined by Larry Couch (left), Russ Hogan, and Ray on a side trip to San Fransisco. Sadly, all are now gone: first Ray, then Russ, then Larry. I don't like traveling alone.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ghosts of Christmases Past

This accidentally double-exposed photo from 1956 says a lot. Dad, mom, Stormy, home....Forever gone. Forever here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Here's to you, Kid

For Christmas, 1961, I gave my parents a trip to Hawaii...Mom's lifelong dream. Here they are on Oahu, with Dad holding a carved statue he bought Mom.

There can be no Christmas presents this year, but it's nice to remember when there were. So, here's to you both, kid. And Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dark Times and Remembrance

During the holidays, it's hman nature to look back on lost friends, and since the most recent photos in this blog have been of my L.A. days, it's only natural to think of my Kurt St. neighbors and good friends, Bill (right) and Larry. Bill was one of those swept away in the early days of AIDS, and his picture was featured in a special 1987 edition of Newsweek. It would have pleased him to be in a national magazine.

I have many fond memories of our friendship and think it fitting that I remember it now.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lord of the Manor

I bought my Kurt St. house in L.A. in 1973, and was very proud of it. It backed up to the Angelus National Forest (top third of the photo), which was great except for the occasional rattlesnake and wildfires which threatened to (and one truly frightening time did) come sweeping over the top of the ridge toward the house.

Friday, December 21, 2007


One of my favorite movies of all time is Judy Garland's "Harvey Girls", which featured the song "The Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe." One of the soloists in the song was another of my favorite actresses, Virginia O'Brien. She was never a major star, but a solid staple of many musicals. Her trademark was singing with absolutely no facial expression whatever, and I loved her. When a friend told me he knew her, I begged him for an introduction, and he arranged for us to go to her home for coffee. She was charming and friendly, and I was awed. Thank you, Virginia: I'll never forget you!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Man of Taste

Always a man of exquisite taste and breeding, I moved easily among the beautiful people, frequently attending elegant soirees. Here friend Howard Moss interrupts my conversation with a friend. Halloween, around 1979,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Our Day in the Sun

In 1976, when you could still be arbitrarily fired from your job or be thrown out of your apartment or arrested for frequenting the wrong bar simply for being gay, Los Angeles, San Francisto, and New York were already in the vanguard of showing tens of millions of Americans that we had rights, too. I loved attending the Gay Pride parade each year. Not sure if this one was in L.A. or San Francisco...I tried to make them both.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Old West

The pose on this one of me and Ray around 1980 reminds me of one of those old civil war/wild west tintypes. I read into it now two of my basic Scorpio characteristics: protection and possessiveness, the former far more admirable than the latter.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Child's Play

Tujunga Canyon, near my Kurt St. house, was one of my special places in L.A.. You could hike for hours without seeing another person. There was a stream to wade in, with small waterfalls to strip down and sit under, and rock outcroppings to climb---in short, ample opportunity to pretend I was a kid again. The fact that Ramon also still had a lot of the wonder of a child made it all the more fun.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"...if the fates allow"

The line I like best from the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is "Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow..." And I look at this photo, taken around 1962 at my parents home with my best friend Russ Hogan, longtime family friend Marg Scott, me, and my folks, and think of that line. Unfortunately, the fates will not allow.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tour Guide

People who live in large cities, particularly like Los Angeles, frequently act as tour guides for visiting relatives, and I always enjoyed it because it took me to places I would not ordinarily go very often. Shirley Fearn visited several times with her sister, Lois Rector...who took this shot at the Hollywood Bowl probably around 1974, with her husband Ken. All are gone now. It's not fair. I'd love to have them visit me in Chicago. We'd have a great time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Once and Always Me

Just like the character in "The Madwoman of Chaillot" who read the same issue of a newpaper over and over every day because she liked the news in it, so this photo is me, to me. I hate and have always hated photos of myself (oddly enough, for someone with a photo blog), but this one, taken about 1968 in Los Angeles by top L.A. photographer Glen Embree (as a favor to my boss) is who I am, and who I will always be.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Home Life

I think I mentioned how much I loved my first home, in North Holywood. Here's a domestic little tableau taken in 1970, featuring Mom (left), my cousin Fat's wife, Shirley Fearn (with cigarette right), my dogs Boy and Cindy, and me in the corner, apparently not paying attention. It appears the photo has been damaged, per the lower right hand corner.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

And "Now"Turns to "Then"

When this photo was taken at a get-together at my Kurt St. house, probably around 1979, these people were all part of my life...some more peripherally than others. And now, because I did not write their names on the back of the photo ("Hey, why bother? I know who they are!" Uh huh.) As a result, I regret to say that the only name I can remember of all the above is my good friend Lee Brown, second from left, with whom I have also lost contact. And from this fact comes a cautionary tale: do not take those people you know, or your friendships, for granted. They will not always be there.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Same Party, Different Guy

In one of my Dick Hardesty mysteries, I have Dick Hardesty refer to his "slut phase". While I wasn't quite that bad, I have to admit to frequently failing my application for sainthood. I have always had a weakness for Latinos, and when Ramon came along during one of my break-ups with Ray while I was working at In Touch for Men magazine, well... (Come on...spare me the raised eyebrow! You'd have done the same.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Good Life, 2 noted for its party life, and I did my share. Here I am with friend Don Stohl at a get-together at my Kurt St. house, probably around 1978. Odd how friends come and go. I totally lost track of Don. Pity.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

And ThenThere Was Ray

Hard to imagine I didn't meet Ray until I'd lived in Los Angeles for twelve years! We met, if memory serves...which it often doesn't...on July 2, 1978, at the Silver Dollar Bar. We were together sporadically (his alcoholism caused frequent breakups) until 1986. He died from AIDS in...1990? I often wonder why, with all our problems, I consider him the love of my life. But I do.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Last Photos

I had no way of knowing it, but mom and dad's visit to Califonia for Christmas of 1966 gave me the chance to take the last photos I'd ever have of the two of them together. Dad died of a heart attack in 1968 at the age of 57; mom three years later of lung cancer. And I look at this photo, and wish I'd told them more often just how much I loved them.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Good Life

Why are humans seemingly incapable of fully appreciating what they have while they have it? Again out of chronological order, this is me standing by my "wing" of the Tareco Drive house I shared with Uncle Bob (Bob Combs)in 1967 before I bought the Troost house in North Hollwyood. Set high above the Hollywood Freeway, the Cahuenga Pass and the slightly-smogged city spread out below. A good life, indeed.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

First Home, L.A. Style

I really loved my first home in L.A., on Troost St. in North Hollywood. I felt very...uh..."L.A.". It had a pool (how California can you get?)and it was comfortable and spacious and...well, I loved it, as shows in this back-yard photo. (The sliding glass doors led to my bedroom).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Early L.A.: Terry

I met Terry not too long after I moved to 1966. One night, at a crowded party, he asked me to dance. (I do not dance.) Needless to say, that's all it took. We remained friends until I moved from L.A. I heard Terry moved to San Francisco, and we lost track of one another. I've tried to find him, but to no avail.

The photo above was taken at Venice Beach in 1966. As you can see, I have always been an expert at concaling how I feel about things...and people.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Early California

I arrived in California in 1966, and not too long thereafter was dating a guy whose best friend, Bob Combs, was from Chicago. We met and Bob and I became friends. When Skip, our mutual friend, moved to Texas, the opportunity arose to rent a large house in the Hollywood Hills, and we took it. We each had a separate wing of the house and shared the common areas. Bob, about whom I've written in my Dorien Grey and Me blog, remained my dear friend until his death, at 90, earlier this year.

Monday, December 3, 2007

And the Years Rush By.....

The rosy-cheeked innoence of babies and youth are all too soon trampled by the onrushing years. The photo above was taken at my second L.A. home around 1983. I am no longer who I was, but not yet who I will become.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

First House

Doing a bit more time-skipping here, but I bought my first house, at 6445 Troost Ave., North Hollywood, CA, in 1968. At that time, a single man could not buy a house without a parents did the honors, bless them. Here I am with my mom and cousin Shirley Fearn, in 1968. I think I'll write a blog about it ( one day soon.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Working World

I tried, but I don't think I was ever cut out for the working world. As with team sports, I never did quite catch on to what it was all about, what the rules were, or why I was playing, other than to pay the rent and eat. Anyway, here's an example of the old (post) college try, from my days at Duraclean, International (circa 1960-1966).

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Aloha Kid

The chronology of the photos will be wandering from now on, since it is so difficult to pin down exact dates. This one, though, was taken on a tip to Hawaii with my parents in 1962. I look happy. I was.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friends and Family

The years blur, so I'm not sure exactly when this was taken...before or after I left for the Navy. But here is Russ Hogan, my best friend from college, long-time family friend Marg Scott, with my folks and I at our 1720 School Street house in Rockford (the house in which my mom was born, btw). How can I be the only person in the picture still alive?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Two Grads

My two graduations...high school and college...were six years apart, but only the flick of an eye when looking back. Sorry the college photo with Aunt Thyra was damaged. I treasure every photo I have of her.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mother and Child Redux

From the moment I joined the Navy, I was away from home more than I was there. I lived at home during college breaks,and tried to get home weekends whenever I could, as in this 1957 photo with my mom on Hutchins Ave. Dad, as usual, was behind the camera.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Time, time, time.....

The feeling of love, and of being part of a family, is truly priceless, and this photo, taken in 1951 or 1952 with my ousin Jack, his wufe Veda, and my beloved Aunt Thyra and Uncle Buck show it clearly. Uncle Buck died in 1953, Aunt Thyra in 1975 or 1978, but Jack and Veda are still major anchors to the past. Veda has never forgotten my birthday in nearly 60 years. That alone, to me, defines the word "family."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Backing Up a Bit

So many photos, it's impossible to keep them all in chronological order. Backing up a bit here, it's Christmas, 1951 or 1952 at my folks' home at 2012 Hutchins Ave.,Rockford, IL. And Stormy and I are sharing a little quality time.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Holding Court

Another college-gang-at-the-lake shot, and another sadly forgotten name, made the more frustrating because I knew these people: they all were my friends. How can one forget the names of friends? I remember Louise Emenheiser, behind me, and Ken Swanson to my left. But why can't I remember the girl to my right? She was a good friend. Shame on me!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Why Some?

Though I like to think of my memory as being sharper than this cottage sleepover photo from 1957, I am ashamed to realize that names fade over the years. The fact that I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the guy here with me and Dee D'Isa disturbs me: especially since I can't imagine I could forget someone so good looking, on whom I undoubtedly would have had a crush.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Have I mentioned how much I loved college? Here I am with part of the gang at a sleepover at my folks' cottage last weekend. (What? It wasn't last weekend? It was 1957? You could have fooled me!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Old College Gang

College is friends and fun, and I loved every minute of it. I had a "gang" of friends mostly revolving around the drama and English departments. Here a group of us are at my folks' cottage in 1957, though for some reason I look like a teenager again. But then, I've always felt like one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Civilian Life

Released from the Navy in August of 1956--an honorable discharge, in case you were wondering--I returned to college (newly renamed Northern Illinois University)in September. I was, as indicated by the look on my face while greeting an old friend at the Gilbert Hall dorm, glad to be back.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Athens Redux

A cropped version of this photo of Lloyd Meyers and I at the Acrpolis appears on the cover of my Dick Hardesty Mystery, "The Paper Mirror." The fact that the Navy does not look kindly on homosexuals within its ranks kept both it and Lloyd (who was hopelessly straight) from knowing how I felt about him.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

All Roads....

There are, on reflection, worse things than spending 8 months on an aircraft carrier in the Mediteranean. I took advantage of a group trip to Rome in January 1956. and the memories it provided are priceless. The group posed in St. Peter's Square before going in to an audience with Pope Pius. I'm the one kneeling in the right corner.