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