Christmas 1987


Greetings from S H A K Y Southern California — this year’s earthquake capital. For us, it was a mild swaying which lasted just a bit too long to feel comfortable — but no damage here.

Hard to believe we’re still living in the same spot seven years later — a housing record for us! Now we know what people are talking about when they say they’re re-decorating; before, we thought it meant changing the kids’ artwork stuck on the refrigerator. Of course, we haven’t actually started doing anything yet, but we’ve started thinking about it.

Cathy has finished her first quarter at UCLA and loves the social life. Like old fogies, we remind her of her true purpose there, but will reserve dire threats till the grades arrive. Jenny’s applied to lots of colleges and we’re praying for an infusion of money from somewhere — do you think we could win the lottery? I’m still plugging along at Cal State Northridge, marking the halfway point to the M.A. with 24 units completed, 18 to go.

Larry took an Artificial Intelligence class through UCLA in the spring; observing the title of the book he was carrying while waiting in a line, a friend reported to her horse-breeder husband that Larry was studying “Artificial Insemination.” We cleared that up in a hurry.

Brian’s in high school, plays soccer on the frosh team, is semi-permanently attached to a computer keyboard, and generally startles us when we hear his deepening voice: Yikes! There’s a strange man downstairs! — Oh, it’s only Brian. I’m told to look forward to a markedly grungy stage of development typical of young adolescent males, but it doesn’t sound like anything you’d want to get too eager about. At least he doesn’t litter the bathroom with cosmetics the way adolescent females do — or is that coming later? Brian has decided to read all of Isaac Asimov (over 340 books, hundreds of short stories and still writing), an interesting career objective.

David’s life is soccer, computer, school, soccer, computer, more or less in that order. He’s following in Brian’s footsteps as a computer adventure game aficionado, although he’s only at the “Ultima I” level, whereas Brian just completed Ultima IV — it only took him 11 months — and he’s anxiously awaiting the release of Ultima V. David had his first cross-country skiing experience with us this year and was a real trouper; of course, he is built somewhat closer to the ground.

Larry’s work at Litton ran out in the summer and after a few weeks of playing house-husband (how I loved leaving him lists of chores to do while I went off to teach summer school!) he accepted a contracting job at Players Club International in Calabasas. PCI does a membership deal for people who go to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, giving them discounts and booking flights and lodging — think of the Telly Savalas commercial on TV. Their doddering Qantel computer system is being replaced by an IBM System/38 which was installed in early December. Now comes the real chore of converting about 200 programs from Qantel-Basic to IBM’s RPG III. The contract was originally expected to be short-term, but now the duration is uncertain.

My work teaching English as a Second Language is about the same, except (as usual) this is the best class I’ve ever had. During the next year, it looks like I’ll be moving back into high school teaching. The pressures of having half the family in college at one time seem to be pointing me in that direction, at least until the M.A. is finished. I guess it’s time to quit having fun and get a “real” job.

Cathy juggled two jobs in the summer: cashiering at a drug store in the Mall and doing clerical work for J. D. Powers (they’re the folks who tell us what we think about various makes of cars). Jenny will be juggling two jobs during the Christmas vacation: her regular job at our dentist’s office and a holiday job at a hosiery store at the Mall. We’ve thought of sending David and Brian out to sell pencils on the street corner, but the neighbors would probably take a dim view.

In addition to our Yosemite cross-country ski trip in February, we got some mini-vacations and trips here and there when we could muster a respectable number of us to go: a couple of trips to Hollywood Bowl to hear James Galway and Lerner & Lowe (not on the same program, of course); a beach-camping expedition (ah — no phones, no TV, no housework — my idea of paradise!), and a weekend trip to Monterey and Carmel, where I resisted the urge to buy a “Go ahead, Clint, make my night” T-shirt. Larry looked up his old Army digs at the Army Language School (now the Defense Language Institute) and swears they’ve moved all the buildings around.

Larry discovered they’re making the print on road maps too small for any normal person to read now, so he got reading glasses to outsmart them. At about the same time, the school nurse decided Brian was overdue for the same thing, so he now has a pair just for distance work (if these two guys could put their eyes together, they’d be dynamite). Looks like I passed down the genes for glasses and orthodonture — isn’t genetic engineering interesting?

Larry and I went to 30th and 25th high school reunions in the summer and were amazed that the “kids” we knew were all grown up: a little older, heavier (a surprising finding, since we haven’t changed at all!), and many are now grandparents. Now, that’s sobering. It was fun to see long-lost friends and catch up on what’s been happening.

Have a happy holiday, and may the New Year bring you all the best!