Graduation Day - June 1974

I include this picture not to demonstrate my pride in having completed the laughable graduation requirements of the Burbank Unified School System, but to show the plaster cattle skull we hung on the chimney. I doubt if cattle are indigenous to Polynesia, but that didn't stop us from hanging a cattle skull in our back yard.

See how nicely those big pines hide that ugly chimney? Mom, fearful that "Those roots are going under the house and tearing up the foundation!" ripped them up completely one day, and Dad and I never forgave her. (This section of the house was built on a cement slab.)

Near the upper right hand corner - out of the shot - was a commercial parking lot arc light someone to gave us. We used it to illuminate our back yard at night. It lit the yard up very well, and everyone else's, too. The neighbor's dogs would start barking when we used it, and of course this brought the neighbors out to investigate, thinking that there was a prowler loose somewhere. (This could have been a dangerous situation as the dotty old lady next to us once fired a shot at what she thought was a burglar.) Mercifully the arc burned out, and we never bothered to replace it, but as long as we had it I had some fun rousing the neighborhood.

Note that the chimney is built with bricks held together by mortar that was allowed to ooze. As a kid, one of my greatest athletic feats (in addition to leaping off the roof of the back house) was to remove my shoes and climb up the side of the chimney using the mortar as finger and toeholds. I was eleven or so; this was before we hung the cattle skull. The first time I did it I got all the way to the top and made the mistake of looking around behind me - and froze up realizing that I had climbed perhaps 18 feet up the side of the chimney with no way to get down save jumping or inching my way back down again. Realizing that the amount of time I could hold on was limited, I began my decent and made it safely down. After a few more ascents and decents the feat became more or less commonplace and I lost interest (and, probably, the ability). But for a while I was proud to have wall-crawling in common with Spider-Man.

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