Dad, what do you remember about the birth of your children?
We invited our next-door neighbors for dinner, and Linda prepared an oriental meal to be enjoyed by the four of us seated on the floor. Midway through the meal, Linda noticed that she was sitting in a wet spot and, with a mixture of humor and horror, announced that her water had broken and her time had come. We called the nearby hospital emergency room and they advised that we come at once. Coming without delay was no problem as Linda had prepared her expectant mother’s bag, and was anxious to get under doctor’s supervision for this new experience.
Corina was born the next morning, a healthy 9-pound infant, at Good Samaritan hospital in Corvallis. I was not present in the delivery room, as was the custom of that day. Sitting in the waiting room during the wee hours, I was greeted by the delivering doctor who offered congratulations. After the doctor left, I remember remarking to another expectant father, “Now I must get a good camera to take lots of pictures of this baby.”
Corina was left with Linda briefly after birth. The two of them seemed tired and happy that ordeal was over. I was glad that hospital policy urged Linda to stay for a few days, as a precaution. During the next few days, my strongest memory was padding down the waxed hallway in my moccasins to the nursery windows and then squinting to pick out my lovely pink infant in her plastic crib. Despite being an unplanned baby, she was already loved.
We agreed that we wanted two children separated by enough time to give Linda respite from infant care, but not so much time that the children would have difficulty relating to each other.
Chad was born as planned four years and five months after Corina, at Bess Kaiser hospital, on North Greeley Street in Portland. In the early 1970’s fathers were being encouraged to be present at delivery, but the Kaiser Health Plan didn’t recruit, and I failed to advocate for myself. I felt sad to miss my chance to be present in the room at the birth of my child.
I think that the hospital stay was shorter and that Grammie Thelma came to help Linda during the first few days at home. But the details of these events are not clear in my memory. By the next year, we were decorating our new home on Dale Street in Beaverton. We purchased large wooden letters, C-H-A-D, spray painted them in orange, and mounted them vertically in Chad’s new bedroom.
The names chosen for our children were influenced by entertainment media of the late 60s and early 70s. Corina Rene was inspired by Ray Peterson’s rendition of the 1920’s song “Corinne, Corinna” as well as the cute childhood character Corey Baker, son of widow Julia Baker, in the television serial “Julia.” I think that Rene could have been lifted from the French singer Renee Claude, who sang in French with a memorable voice.
Chad Jeremy was a based on our admiration for the British folk singers Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde who performed “A Summer Song,” “Willow Weep for Me,” and many others. Chad and Jeremy performed together for many years, culminating in their album “50 Years On,” released in 2010.
Dad, how did you spend your free time before you had kids?
After our marriage, we had very little free time and money before children. We lived off campus in Corvallis on Washington Street in a recently-built apartment. Linda worked full time at The Clothes Tree, a specialty clothing store for women, still in business today. She was pregnant with baby Corina and grew over-tired from being on her feet on the sales floor each day.
I was a full-time senior finishing my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. I also devoted time to researching, interviewing, and traveling in search of post-college employment, interviewing in California, Oregon and Arizona. Flying here and there at a company’s expense was a heady experience, but I felt like a poser, not emotionally or mentally ready to enter the world of work. The idea of moving out of Oregon only increased my anxiety.
One of our favorite together activities in that time was to begin walking in some random direction knowing that we would end up at a nearby Baskin-Robbins, in search of Jamoca Almond Fudge on a sugar cone. This fit our limited budget, which did not support restaurant meals and concerts. Movies were a favorite date-night entertainment. We also visited with other couples as host or guest occasionally.
We continued at Suburban Christian Church in Philomath on Sundays but were less involved than when we were single.
Our apartment neighbors were mostly newlyweds. The husband next door had an avid off-road vehicle hobby. I was interested in his Kawasaki and pestered him with questions. He graciously took me out riding a couple of times and let me take turns riding on some vacant property south of town. He liked to jump his bike over bumps and berms, and was working up to a wheelie. I became enamored with getting my own dirt bike, and became a frequent gawker at the motorcycle store in downtown Corvallis. As my college career wound down, I decided to sell a stock investment that I had hoarded and purchased a brand new red Yamaha, a graduation present to myself.
Dirt bike riding was not an interest that Linda and I shared, nor an appropriate hobby for a young father — it’s an expensive solitary activity with a high risk of injury. It took me several years to come to terms with this reality and I sold the Yamaha to help purchase our first home on Dale Avenue in Beaverton.
During my Freshman year at Oregon State, I was pledged at the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. My adjustment to fraternity life was poor. I resented hazing by upperclassmen, extra housework, and I had difficulty relating to weekend keggers and parties. I requested assignment to a residence hall, and was assigned to Sackett, an older building on the west side of campus.
At Sackett, I met David Proebstel, a fellow electrical engineering student from Yamhill, Oregon. David grew up in Yamhill and attended Yamhill Christian Church. He invited me to join him on Sunday mornings for Bible Study at Suburban Christian Church in Philomath.
The Bible Study Group was an outreach program led by Mel Byers and his wife. Mel was a gifted storyteller with a deep knowledge of bible history. We met in the Byers’ home, which barely contained the popular group.
During my Junior year, I returned to the Bible Study Group and noticed Linda Young, David’s former high school classmate from Yamhill. I liked her, because she was cute and funny. The college group held a retreat, and I found myself thinking how glad I was that she showed up. I remember her be-bopping across the hall in a broad red and white striped nylon shell with good rhythm and energy. I wasn’t up for dancing with her, but I admired her outgoing nature and willingness to let herself express youthful exuberance.
Back in Corvallis, we met for pizza and I learned a bit more about her. Following high school, Linda attended Bassist Institute of Fashion in Portland. She also worked at Rhodes Department Store and collected outfits that were considerably nicer than other coeds in the Freshman class at OSU. I learned that she was not thrilled with the stodgy training in clothing and textiles from the Home Economics Department, and that she was thinking about moving to San Francisco for better prospects for a career in fashion and retailing.
I remember feeling chagrined, thinking that Linda was interesting and exciting, but not likely to be interested in hanging around OSU, nor interested in dating an engineer like me. I learned Linda’s home address in Yamhill and decided to write her a letter during my long Christmas break. I chose not to call because a phone conversation would have been difficult; I could not match her pace of conversation and uncovering interesting things to say. In my letter, I suggested that I would enjoy seeing a movie together in January.
I searched for an occasion to serve as a date, and picked a science fiction movie. I think the movie was “2001, A Space Odyssey,” a classic film about interaction of space explorers with artificial intelligence built into their space ships, and humanity’s desire for exploration. I was probably trying to up the ante on her idea of moving to San Francisco to pursue a fashion career by revealing my interest in technology, computers, and the future. Fortunately, I had enough romantic sense to later invite her to “Dr. Zhivago” and “A Man and a Woman,” attempting to appeal to her romantic side.
Evidently, the combination of letters, movies, and college courtship met with her approval. There was enough of a spark for us to marry by September of that same year!
What was the best advice you received and from whom?
Luis Volls, MD, my primary care provider, ordered the initial scans that confirmed that I had cancer in my chest and lungs. He called me into his office immediately and I was grateful that Eddy wanted to go along to receive the results of my tests. Along with the news that I might have untreatable cancer, he referred me to Jeffry, Menashe, MD, at Compass Oncology East. With this referral, Luis said, “I talked to Jeff about your case and he thinks there may be treatments that will help you.”
Chad Crouch joined us for the earliest available appointment with Dr. Menashe. While being friendly and reassuring, he recommended getting a biopsy to pin down the exact cancer in my chest. We tried a bronchoscopy and then a mediastinoscopy, when the bronchoscopy was inconclusive. With tumor tissue, the lab was able to clearly diagnose the characteristic pyramid shaped cellular structure of metastatic melanoma.
I had a melanoma skin lesion removed thirty-five years before and possibly this was the original source of the disease in my chest. Doctors say they can’t be sure, especially since metastatic disease usually develops in a few years after a primary lesion is removed, or not at all.
Dr. Menashe remained positive and hopeful when we met to review lab results and plan treatment. Rather than talk about the disease staging or survival statistics, he carefully presented his recommendation: start immediate treatment with Interleukin-2 (IL-2). He provided a printed sheet which substantiated IL-2 as the standard first-line treatment for metastatic melanoma. He said it this way: “IL-2 is your best chance for a durable remission tantamount to a cure. And if it doesn’t work for you, there are other treatments that you can fall back on.”
I was especially impressed with the phrase “tantamount to a cure” which is not often associated with treatment of many cancers, especially advanced melanoma.
Dr. Menashe tried to prepare me for the rigors of IL-2 treatment, including unpleasant side effects, and potential hazards. He emphasized that I would have to establish eligibility by passing tests that prove my health was strong enough to withstand the treatment. By presenting it in this way, I started to see the treatment as a challenge to be surmounted.
Because Dr. Menashe specializes in lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma, not melanoma, he referred me to Brendan Curti, MD, who specializes in treatments for kidney cancer and melanoma. Dr. Curti was in full accord with Dr. Menashe’s recommendation, and I was admitted for IL-2 treatment. Fortunately, as treatment progressed, scans revealed that my immune system was responding to stimulation by shrinking the melanoma. Treatment continued for six week-long hospital stays over an 8-month duration. Two years later, I remain in stable condition.
Since my treatment, I’ve learned that IL-2 is often not recommended nor offered to patients with advanced metastatic melanoma. Many medical centers do not offer this treatment, and tend to talk their patients out of transferring to a medical center that does. They argue IL-2 treatment requires hospitalization, has unpleasant side effects, and frequently does not work.
Dr. Curti agrees with the rationale, but reaches a more nuanced conclusion. The record of all cases of metastatic melanoma and renal cell carcinoma treated with IL-2 at Providence Cancer Center demonstrates complete or partial response for 28% of the patients. IL-2 offers a fighting chance for a durable response, which hasn’t yet been proven for the newer treatments. IL-2 is a rigorous treatment that requires a high-level of expertise from the doctors and nurses who administer it. Doctors and medical centers that are not fully prepared, should not attempt it. For patients fortunate to have access and the strength to qualify for IL-2, it’s still the best first-line treatment.
As a result of the care and medical advice from the doctors, nurses, and staff at Providence, I’ve walked back from the mortality cliff. While I’m awarding the best advice prize to Dr. Menashe, he shares it with Dr. Curti and the staff at Providence Cancer Center who supported his advice and enacted the extensive treatment.
I left home in August, 1985, and our divorce was final in September, 1987. While Linda and I agreed on the terms of the divorce, we did not agree on whether to seek divorce. I, alone, was seeking divorce.
My purpose is not to attempt to justify seeking divorce, nor even discuss the reasons for it. Rather, I’m attempting to describe how divorce was my toughest lesson. Divorce was tougher than I imagined and divorce, by itself, does not solve problems in relating.
Linda and I were married for 17 years and had two children at the time we separated. Our divorce was final 2 years after separation. During the two-year separation, I lived across town from Linda, Corina, and Chad. Linda was generous about allowing me to visit them on special occasions, birthdays and major holidays. I tried to see them every other weekend and this worked with Chad, but not with Corina who had a busy schedule.
Participating in an active life with the children seemed impossible. They were busy with school, friends, and the daily tasks of living. I gradually became a stranger to their day-to-day concerns, their habits, and their lives. The gulf with my children became the main source of my continuing sadness and shame. Driving away from time spent with them left me sobbing over the loss. I consoled myself with the thought that my loss was the price I was paying to protect them from the trauma of living with conflicted and depressed parents.
When I left home, I also left behind a network of friends centered at the Beaverton Christian Church. I tried to keep up with a small group of male friends there by visiting with them regularly, but could not continue because they were intent on putting my broken marriage back together. I was surprised by my willingness to disengage from their friendship as it became clear they were intent on leading me back to my senses. This was not what I wanted.
I tried remaining in the faith of my youth by visiting other large bible-oriented churches around Portland, but found that none of them interested me despite their rich programs, powerful speakers, and beautiful music. I moved on to churches in the tradition of Unity, which kept my interest, but I remained mostly on the periphery. As the years passed, I found a deeper interest in the Unitarians and the Buddhists.
Finances had usually been strained as a single family, mainly because we over-invested in real estate in an era of relatively high interest rates. As two separate families, finances were impossible. My lifestyle took a dramatic nosedive and I reduced my living expenses by renting rooms in a series of co-housing situations. Linda expanded her work to full-time sales and was able to keep the home we had built together.
It was a financial strain for everyone when Corina and Chad entered college. Corina really wanted a private college, and we visited a couple of those in the Seattle area. Gradually it became apparent that such small colleges weren’t going to offer enough aid to equalize the cost with state colleges and that I did not earn enough to pay the difference. I decided to handle this by committing to an annual lump sum payment of about half of the yearly cost with the expectation that Corina and Chad would handle the rest. Both of them worked hard to supplement their financial needs during their college years. Fortunately, both graduated from the University of Oregon with Bachelor’s degrees.
I had sought divorce with the idea that life would be better when I found my soulmate. Entering into the world of middle-age dating was a rude awakening. My attempts to enter romantic relationships were mostly disasters: Poor choices, unrealistic expectations, and unskilled behaviors. These relationships were all memorable and valuable because I was learning.
I spent a lot of time, money and energy with organizations and individuals oriented to helping individuals live better lives. Some of these were the Quest Fellowship, the Excellence Series, and the Hoffman Institute, in addition to individual therapists at Kaiser Mental Health, Bonneville Employee Services and private practitioners. Gradually, I was helped to heal and develop enough character and strength to make commitments for a future that would not perpetuate all the mistakes of the past.
What were your first few jobs? What did you do and do you remember how much you earned?
My first job was helping Dad with farm work. Normally, I was not paid for this work, as it was like doing my share as a family member. On a farm with livestock, there are chores to be done year-round, and, traditionally, all family members help as they are able.
One exception was hay hauling, which was best accomplished by the efforts of a team of two or three strong boys. Dad needed to recruit one or two from the community and these boys needed to be paid. As I grew to be the same age and ability as our community helpers, Dad realized it was “complicated” if he paid the recruits, but not me.
Hauling hay meant loading the hay bales in the field, driving them to a barn, and stacking them to about 20 feet high for winter feeding. We would try to move 1,000 bales a day at $.07/bale, which allowed a crew of two to each earn $35/day. Hauling hay usually lasted about a month each summer.
Dad provided the equipment, normally a truck for hauling, a mechanical field loader for lifting the bales onto the truck, and an electrical hay elevator for lifting the bales from the truck into the hay loft. Several members of my class at Oakland High School (Eddie Wood, David Little, and Ron Sanderson) worked with us for one or more summers of hay hauling.
After my Senior year in High School, I wanted a chance to earn more money for college expenses. Dad reluctantly agreed to this plan, although he would have preferred having my help at home.
I asked for and got a job at Roseburg Lumber in Dillard, Oregon. My job was to pull and stack lumber from the planer chain, and it paid $3.75 an hour. This work was unskilled labor, although it took some practice to do it well. The problem for me was that I didn’t fit in with the regular mill workers. One of them pulled me aside an said, “Slow down your pace, because working too fast will make the rest of us look bad.” As an older person, I can appreciate that working too fast will wear me down and increase my chances of injury. To have staying power, I need to pace myself.
The work lasted for three weeks, whereupon the whole mill shut down for two weeks of summer maintenance. I hadn’t been told that the shut down was expected, and was discouraged. Neighbor Bob Monett told me about a job opportunity in logging. The pay was $4.50 an hour and I jumped at the opportunity.
The new job required rising about 3:30 a.m., driving to Roseburg, meeting the van at 4:30 and traveling about 75 miles up the North Umpqua with the crew, arriving at 6:30 a.m. Travel time was not paid time, so the net result of this job change was a demotion.
My duty was to “set chokers” for a “cat skinner” named Wayne Rader, who was pioneering a new rough road for the U.S. Forest Service. Setting chokers meant placing a cable around a log and hooking the cable to a winch line on the bulldozer, so that logs could be “yarded” and “decked” for subsequent loading onto log trucks. Doing this job well included directing the cat skinner on how to position his machine so that a draft of logs could be gathered efficiently. An older choker setter worked with me for the first few days to help me learn this skill.
Terrain in the Umpqua National Forest is mountainous and wooded. To properly outfit myself for this new line of work, I needed proper logger boots. I went to the Sutherlin Golden Rule Store and purchased a pair of Wesco Calk Boots, with sharpened points embedded in the soles.
Dad suggested that I pour diesel oil in my new boots to soften them and prevent blisters. (Nowadays, diesel is considered a hazardous substance.) I discovered that diesel-treated boots raise a painful red rash on the feet and ankles, as bad as having foot blisters. I wore the boots intermittently during the first week until the hydrocarbons had mostly evaporated. I learned to value the extra traction of calks, especially when walking atop fallen logs.
After the first week on this job, I decided that riding the van from Roseburg was not for me. With Dad’s help, I took the Coleman canvas tent to the job site where we pitched it in the woods overlooking Wayne Rader’s travel trailer. With the tent, I could stay all week at the job site and sleep in until 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning. This gave me plenty of time to read and gain experience with cooking meals and packing lunches.
The work with Mr. Rader lasted about a month, whereupon I joined a crew of choker setters that were working a “high lead” logging show on a steep mountain side. This type of logging relies on a 2-inch cable stretched from the top of the mountain to the bottom to transport logs downhill to a landing. An operator at the landing controls the direction of cable motion, the tension on the cable, and starting/stopping the cable.
The crew of choker setters were tasked with manhandling 3/4-inch choker-cables around the logs and then connecting the ends of the chokers to the large, overhead high-lead cable. To survive, choker setters need to stay above and away from the commotion that logs create when yanked from their resting places and dragged thrashing down the hillside.
I found myself using high school physics to mentally estimate forces and trajectories, which helped work out nuances of where and how to set chokers. Obviously, it was important to set the choker close to the end of a log, but not too close, because it might slip off. Not so obvious, it was important to wrap the choker around the log in the direction that would take up slack if the log was predisposed to roll toward a side-slope. The foreman of the crew noticed that I was a thinker, and teased me about being “a fraternity boy.” I felt smug about being enrolled at Oregon State and relieved that my future would not include a career in logging.
Following my sophomore year at Oregon State, I fell into a fishing job with Nels Otness in Petersburg, Alaska. His son Alan was my roommate and Alan’s stories about commercial fishing in Alaska sounded too good to be true. Promptly after final exams, we drove my car north to Prince Rupert, Canada, and boarded the Alaska Ferry to Petersburg.
Petersburg, population about 2800, is a village on Mitkof Island in Southeastern Alaska between Wrangell and Juneau. Native Americans in this area are members of the Tlingit Tribe who inhabited this area for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Immigrants from Norway and Sweden populated this area in the early 1900s, because of similarities to their ancestral habitat.
The Otness family was kind to me, providing a rental room in their home, and orienting me to life in their world. My job was that of deckhand on the Boat Seanna, fishing for halibut, and later for salmon in Frederick Sound.
My experience as a farmer/logger did not prepare me for the rigors of fishing. As someone said, halibut fishing consists of hundreds of small repetitive tricks, which seem automatic — after you have mastered them: Sharpening knives, cutting bait, baiting hooks, coiling long lines properly, hauling gear, gaffing fish, clubbing fish, cleaning fish, icing fish, not to mention navigating, and living in a claustrophobic space on a small vessel for 5 to 10 days at sea. In retrospect, I think that halibut fishing is good training for being a NASA Astronaut.
Fortunately, Boat Seanna did venture westward to the Pacific Ocean and I avoided the big groundswell and sea sickness. The crew was more or less accepting of my ineptitude, Alan was very supportive, and Nels was patient with me. With their help, I avoided causing major problems for fishing season and wound up the summer with $2500 to help pay for an airplane ticket home as well as college tuition for my Junior year at Oregon State.