Megowan – Megowan…

Posted 11/23/08

-e driveway in my dad’s trusty (though somewhat damaged) steed and, once we launched onto Highway 99 in a Southerly direction, plotted a course for and headed toward Ventura. I knew that, a mere twenty-four hours later, my migration to the netherworld would be complete…

I had been mourning the fact that I was finished with Glad and that I would have to start my senior year at a new public high school (I had actually grown to love St. B’s).  I was pathetic… Poor little Billy… Tough guy Billy…  Going to throw himself a pity party…

But, with a heavy heart, I was ready to pick up my stuff from Scott and head back to exile in Stockton. 

My dad was going to pick up Pat at Shanne’s house and then we would go to Scott’s, and from there, back to Siberia .

But first I wanted to stop by St. Bonaventure.  It was a week before the new school year was going to start, and I wanted to see if there were any teachers, administrators, office personnel or students there – I wanted to say “hello” and “goodbye”.  Dad was in a hurry, so he just dropped me off on his way to get Pat. 

I don’t remember the exact details or sequence of events, but my expectations for my senior year were about to take a completely unexpected turn, and the initiation of that turn was to come in the form of one of my classmates…

For some reason Colleen Megowan was at the school when my dad dropped me off.  We bumped into each other, struck up a conversation and the subject of me not returning to St. Bonaventure came up… 

There were a couple reasons for my untimely departure…

  • No place to stay
  • No steady job to pay rent and expenses – like tuition, which was a bit of a stretch for my parents, and I really didn’t want them to have to pay it just because I wanted to live 1.2 light years from them, though they would have. (money from gigs mostly went to equipment and things like that, and would not cover all of my expenses when you threw in tuition)

When we got past that point of the conversation, Colleen said something that took me completely by surprise –

“Why don’t you stay at my house?”

“Huh?”

“I’ll talk with my parents and see what they say.  It couldn’t hurt!”

“Seriously?”

“Yes, of course!”

I was completely floored that she would even think enough of me to suggest that – We were friends and had been in several school plays together, but we didn’t share that many classes  because she was in all of the advanced classes, and I, of course, wasn’t.  And we didn’t hang out together… 

Sidebar:

Colleen is excruciatingly smart and I didn’t even come close to being in her league intellectually.  As it turned out, she is also excruciatingly gracious and a wonderful friend.  And as it also turned out, she learned that from her parents, and her brothers and sister all learned the same thing. 

Interestingly, in my mind, most of my closest friends in life out-brain me by a factor of about 2  – 1, including Judy, my wife.  (Though I DID marry her, so I can’t be that badly brained.)

End of sidebar…

Well, as grateful as I was for her offer to bring it up to her parents, I wasn’t too confident in the outcome of the conversation.  And even if they agreed, there was still the dollar angle to deal with.  But I was also completely wanting to stay in Ventura, so I said “Gosh, thanks!”

While I was there, I also ran into Fr. Thomas A. Meskill, the principal.  We got to talking and he asked me if I was looking forward to my senior year (which happened to be starting the next week).  I told him I wouldn’t be returning to St. Bonaventure for my senior year, and why. He expressed his disappointment that I wouldn’t be returning.

BUT he also offered me a job on the spot, working after school…  And I would be working with my best friend, Bob Moraga, who had graduated the year before and was going to be attending Ventura College!  Way cool!

“Huh?  Seriously?”

“If you can find a place to stay, I will give you a job working 10 hours a week around the school, mowing lawns and keeping up the landscaping.”

Landscaping?  That sounded a lot like “Gardening” to me…  Old feelings returned… My stomach bounced off the soles of my feet… Please, God, don’t let him tell me they grow their own vegetables for the rectory… I decided that I would not tell Fr. Meskill about my adventure with Mr. Powers’ tomatoes. 

“And I’ll pay you $2.50 and hour,” he continued.

Using, once again, my superior mathematical skills, I quickly calculated that this would get me $25.00 a week.  That probably wouldn’t cover tuition, etc., but it was good of him to offer.

But that’s not where he stopped – He suggested that I go see Monsignor Hurley, pastor of Our Lady Of The Assumption Parish – next door to the school.  That’s because he was in the habit of granting scholarships to deserving students at St. Bonaventure…

“You’re kidding!  Really?”

“Yes, and I will give you a good reference.”  (I had no idea how he was going to do that part of it and keep a straight face, but whatever he said, did the trick.)

“But my dad will be here to pick me up in about 30 minutes!”

“Then we had better hurry…”

Somewhere in there, Colleen must have gone home – she only lived a block away -, asked her parents if I could move in, incredibly gotten a “Yes” response (*albeit with conditions) and come back to the school before my dad returned to pick me up. 

* Mr. And Mrs. Megowan agreed to let me move in until I could find a more permanent place to spend the school year.  And they wanted to meet me.  There wouldn’t be an opportunity on this trip because my dad was pressed for time, but they agreed that our meeting could take place when I returned the next week.

So, in review, in the hour that passed between my dad dropping me off and picking me up, I had

  • Found a place to live
  • Found a job
  • Found tuition assistance

And the final part of the miracle was:

  • My parents agreed to allow me to come back to finish high school in Ventura

(This wasn’t the last miracle that year in which the Megowans would play a major role.)

A few days later I returned to Ventura, ready to begin a new year of school, start a new job, meet my new “family” and pick up in the band where we left off. That’s when I discovered that I had been replaced in the band by a new lead guitar player…

That was sort of a shock…

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Bill’s Bio – Chapter 22

November 15, 2008

What happened to Chapter 21?

Posted 11/15/08

“Huh? What happened to Chapter 21,” you’re probably thinking. Well, the fact of the matter is that:

  • There wasn’t anything that really applies to this biography that happened in that chapter
  • I didn’t feel like writing about it
  • I thought I would just go directly to Chapter 22 to skip having to write chapter 21 and still feel like I have been keeping relatively current when I look at the list of Chapters on the page (meaning Chapter 21 makes a good place holder for the nothing I have written lately, and I don’t feel so negligent about the vast spaces of time that have been passing between chapters)

OK, if I must, here it is…

Chapter 21…

 How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Early the morning after the last day of school, I woke up on a Greyhound bus bound for Stockton, CA. I had all of my worldly possessions with me, except for the two most important ones – my guitar and my amplifier… I had left them at Scott’s house because I couldn’t fit them into my suitcase… or my other suitcase… or my pocket.

It was bad enough that I was leaving the band, but not to have my pride and joy was nearly intolerable… More on that later…

That summer was somewhat, though not a lot, interesting… The “highlight” was a hitch-hiking trip to Lake Tahoe. My sister’s boyfriend, Danny Johnson, and I took off one day to get jobs at Lake Tahoe. We brought everything I owned (somehow Danny didn’t actually own anything himself except a car that had a great 8 track sound system, but not a working transmission – which explains why we were hitch-hiking in the first place. But it was awesome for “cruising” the curb in front of my parents’ house – which was where it was stuck – and listening to really good music, well presented).

List of what we had with us:

Five suit cases

One suit bag

Two sleeping bags

One duffel bag

One $15.00 Sears Silvertone acoustic guitar that my brother, Bob, owned.

Seriously, that’s what we were dragging along with us. We must have looked honest (or pathetic) because we actually got a ride all the way to the lake within thirty minutes of the time we stationed ourselves on the Hammer Lane onramp to Highway 99 North…

The unfortunate part of “everything I owned” was the cash part… We had exactly $11.00. And with nothing more than that $11.00, a dream and everything I owned, we headed out.

We weren’t complete morons, though. We had a plan… A plan of action… A financial plan… And as a public service to those of you who need to know how to develop a financial plan, I would like to divulge, in sub-atomic detail, our plan for financial solvency for the rest of the summer…

It was simple, really – a two step approach:

Step One – Make my $11.00 last as long as humanly possible.

Step Two – Get jobs as quickly as humanly possible.

In order to get to Chapter 22 sooner rather than later, I will now summarize what would have been the rest of Chapter 21, had I decided to write it:

Got to Tahoe

Found a place to “camp” on the beach

Found (literally) something to eat

Went looking for jobs

Didn’t find jobs

Kept our (my) belongings in an old beached boat

Slept on the beach

Put on some slacks, ties and sport coats

Went looking for jobs

Didn’t find jobs, but got complimented on the improvement in our appearance (if not our smell) since the last time we went into the same places looking for jobs

Ran out of money

Drank the lake water – reputed to be 99% pure – I must have found the impure 1% because I –

Ended up in the hospital

Got “adopted” by two families with cute daughters who felt sorry for us

Hitch-Hiked home after three weeks of basic starvation and scuziness

Got home, expecting to find a refrigerator full of food

Had to break into my own house because nobody was home when we got there

(How can a house with 13 people plus dozens of neighborhood kids living in it be devoid of all life except the dog?)

Figured out where everybody was when we opened the refrigerator – they were grocery shopping

(I’m not kidding – there was literally nothing in the fridge or the cupboards)

Almost got into a fist-fight with my dad when they got home because I was starving and wanted to eat something and he made me wait for dinner!!

Danny’s Powerglide Transmission fell on my face when I was under his car helping him work on it

End of the summer…  On to Chapter 22

I wasn’t too worried about never seeing my guitar and apmplifier again because my sister, Pat, was spending the end of the summer with the family of her friend Shanne Dickfos**, and my dad was going to be driving down to pick her up and bring her home. I would come along and pick up my gear.

Well, the day finally came and my dad and I hopped into the family station wagon (I left out the part about the dent we put into the front of the car… It’s better that way…) to go fetch my stuff… Oh yeah, and Pat…

We pulled out of th- Whoa… Look at the time! I guess I’ll have to pick this up later…

 

 

** Shanne’s is an interesting name, if for no other reason than the fact that she had four siblings, all of who’s names rhymed with “an” – Dan, Fran, Nan and Jan. Collectively they were the Dickfi (plural of “Dickfos”).

Bill’s Bio – Chapter 21

November 15, 2008

 Nothing To See Here…

Move along… Move along…