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Richardson-Taylor Reunion News

February 13, 1994

David "Bigfoot" Leard wrote to me with a reunion update, so I thought I would pass it along.

As you all may know, there was something of an earthquake down here. Some people said it was God's reaction to the thought that Laurence might reproduce but I take a more charitable view. That big freeway overpass that collapsed that you saw on TV is about five miles from where I live, and I go over that exact stretch of road every morning on the way to work. It woke us up (to be sure, it woke us up) at 4:30. The whole house was flying around and all the lights were out, except for the flashes of the explosions in the distance. We crawled over the junk to get out of our bedroom and located the kids and they were OK, except that Serena had gotten buried by falling furniture but was none the worst for wear. Bonnie evidently got hit in the shoulder by a falling lamp. That is all we can figure anyway, because she did not notice it at the time and did not even report any pain until several hours later.

When these things happens, all the best laid plans go right out the window. We had bought rechargeable flashlights for years and had them all over the house most of the time, in addition to numerous regular flashlights of various types and sizes. In the first two hours we could not find any of them. After that, the sun was up. Luckily, however, we did happen to have adequate supplies of food and drinkable water to last through the next few days. There were no utilities at all for about 24 hours, then we got electricity, and two days later we got running water, but had to boil it or put bleach in it to drink it for about three weeks. There were people passing out free bottled water all over the place and the Miller beer company even bottled up a bunch of water in beer bottles and passed it out, two cases for each person, for free.

There was a lot of damage to nearly everything. The roads were buckled all over the place, and some had inch-wide cracks which I tracked for more than a mile. Water was seeping up through the pavement from the broken water mains and most of the concrete block walls I saw had fallen down. There were several buildings around which suffered severe structural damage and there were three people that Bonnie works with whose homes were destroyed.

Basically, the whole house was trashed. All of the bookcases, entertainment centers, and cabinets in the house fell over. The china cabinet fell on the dining room table and pulverized our crystal, china, and miscellaneous other collectibles. Every television in the house was face down on the floor and we lost a few VCRs and other appliances.

We found out later that the fault ran from Northridge, right up through the center of Santa Clarita and broke the surface just a little north of us. Considering the size of the quake and its proximity to us we were pretty lucky.

The freeway which collapsed was, of course, the only major road into Los Angeles, so that means, naturally, that there are huge traffic jams at that point nearly all day long because they have to steer all that freeway traffic through a bunch of old surface roads. (Not real good planning, guys!) As a result, thousands of people who never would have dreamed of taking the brand-new Metrolink commuter train are now taking it every day. As fate would have, among this crowd was my eldest daughter Alyssa.

As a result of the earthquake, Alyssa was on national television twice in the same day. The second time was when she got back to the train depot in Santa Clarita on her way home. When she got off the train, she saw a Channel 7 KABC television crew and recognized the cameraman as a guy who lives just down the street from us. They interviewed her about the quake (One of those typical news interviews -- "You have just seen half your town destroyed in a few seconds -- how do you feel?") and what she was doing to solve her commuting problems. The interview wound up on the national news feed and was shown all over the US.

But that wasn't the good one.

It seems that, earlier in the day, Alyssa had been waiting on the train platform in Burbank and there was a KNBC Channel 4 crew down there doing a live remote. KNBC was showing the world how all these people were now crowding into the trains and all the rest. While this was going on, the train people started making announcements to the crowd to tell them to move in back of the yellow line, because the training was coming. Alyssa said the television lights were in everybody's eyes so they could not where the yellow line was. So she turned to the cameraman and asked him, "Would you please turn down the lights or point them in another direction? Because we can't see where the yellow line is."

The cameraman did not respond, so Alyssa tapped him on the shoulder (she said he was about 6-2, she says she is a full five feet) and said, "Could you please turn down the lights or point them in another direction? We can't see the yellow line."

The cameraman did not respond, so Alyssa stuck her hand in front of the lens and said, a little louder this time, "Would you please turn down the lights or point them in another direction?"

At that point, the cameraman grabbed her hand and twisted it away rather roughly which hurt her, so Alyssa gave him a few choice words but the crowd held her back from an all-out assault. A few minutes later, the camera crew and the dippy newscaster were looking around for someone to interview and they walked over to Alyssa to interview her. Alyssa was pissed.

"You want to interview something?," she said, "Why don't you interview this finger you almost broke?" And she presented it to them -- on live television. That's my little lady.

The earthquake was quite a shaker but equally unnerving is the fact that ever since the big one we have had other earthquakes, 3 to 5 pointers, several times a day. For the first few days we were having them every five or ten minutes around the clock. It made it difficult to sleep because every time you would doze off another one would come rolling around. It is slowing down lately though. I can only recall a couple of earthquakes today.

The roads were out, the utilities were out, and the phones were out so there was nothing left to do but party. A bunch of Serena's friends came over because our house was in better shape than their condo and they did not want to be in their condo while the rock and roll continued. So we all broke out just about everything drinkable, and barbecued all the fish and meat that we thought would spoil and partied hardy for a couple of days. It was a major inconvenience to be sure, but we'll make it.

Anyway, David sent me a letter, reproduced below, which lays out most of his latest information on the reunion. David always types his letters on a computer, which makes them very neat. He is different from Becky who is liable to write her letters across the face of Ed McMahon to save paper, or Pete who has Sandy write his letters so there will be no spelling errors, or Joanne, who . . . . well, we won't talk about Joanne's letters.

Here's the latest on reunion bookings at Mountain Home Lodge. The Lodge's reservations have gone very well. The rooms at the Lodge were all booked by January 3. I called them and arranged to also use one of the owner's cabins. (They call it a cabin, it's really much more than a cabin.) There were four additional rooms available, now only three. Bud Richardson reserved one of the rooms on January 4.

If all the rooms at the cabin are taken, I have the names of a B&B and two motels in Leavenworth, WA

"Run of the River", a Bed and Breakfast, just south of town, views of the river. 1-800-288-6491.

Ritterhauf, Motel, 55 Units, lower cost, with kitchens in some 1-800-255-5845

Leavenworth Village Inn, newer place, a little more expensive that Ritterhauf. 1-800-343-8198.

There are other motels in and around Leavenworth, I don't have specific information on them. I have no new information on the campground reservations of how they are going. But, this campground is really not any more expensive than others used in the past that were in resort areas. The Icicle River RV Park, 7305 Icicle Road, Leavenworth, WA 98826 (509) 548-5420

Now that the Lodge is filled (and possibly the extra cabin), I am negotiating with the owners next week (January 15) to eliminate the day-use fees for family members who will be eating lunch and/or dinner at the lodge. Drive your own vehicles to the Lodge and save another few dollars. This will keep the costs down. In addition, those folks who are flying up to the area, may be able to share rental car expense by meeting at SEATAC Airport and driving together to the lodge. There is also the option of sharing room(s) at the Lodge or the cabin. Another options is helping out those who are have special financial difficulties with money from the Reunion Kitty and any contributions from those willing to part with a dollar or two. Kids will be welcome now that we have booked the entire lodge.

Kids will be welcome as long as they are kept on chains.

This reunion is a little different from past versions and proving to be more popular than first thought. Give it a try. But move quickly, the accommodations are going fast.

After the letter came I got a call from Michael who said that David had more news so I called him. When I first called he said he couldn't talk right then because Pat had broken her foot while trying escape back to her people and he had to go drag her back into the house before the neighbors saw her, or something like that. When he called back he told me this tremendously long tale about how he was out of work because there had been a lot of securities fraud, and embezzlement, and a couple of liquor store stick-ups by employees of the firm and the whole thing had been shut down by various vice squads. He assured me that he did not steal near as much as the other employees and, therefore, expected to be able to plea bargain his way out of it. As usual, I wish him the best and I will attempt to protect his rapidly deteriorating reputation at every opportunity.

Then he told me that Pete had sent him an ungodly sum of money which was left over from the hamburger sales at the previous reunion. He asked me to tell everyone that being poor and destitute and generally socially undesirable should be no impediment to attending the reunion. He said that money is available to help out those who need it. Those who need help should just ask, he said. I immediately made a suggestion as to how this money could be most constructively used but David, thick-headed as he is, did not go for it.

He said also that, because the other paying customers had canceled all their reservations when they heard that we were coming, the day use fee has been eliminated, and children will be granted free run of the facilities, including the deer-hunting range next door.

For those who have too much common decency too stay with the rest of the group, David said that he had discovered a KOA campground half a mile or so away from the road to the lodge, and a pretty dumpy RV place at the bottom of the hill. He also mentioned the Linderhof motel and the Icicle Inn, a particularly inviting place, just from its name alone. He says that the campgrounds are going pretty fast up there so you better make your reservations fast or you will be sleeping by the side of the road as usual.

And now a spot of news for the drug legalizers among you. You will be pleased to know that our Resolution has recently received endorsements from, among others, the LA Times, the Mayor of Minneapolis, the President of the Detroit City Council, a Senator from Colombia, the entire staff of the San Bernardino County Probation Department, the entire staff of the Harbor/UCLA Medical Center, the Berkeley City Council, and every District Attorney in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, just to name a few.

Judge Gray and I have made numerous appearances on radio and television down here and we almost never get even a single opposing phone call. In fact, one of Judge Gray's appearances on radio brought so many favorable letters that the station decided to run it again. Two weeks ago we appeared together on a TV talk show in Palmdale. Prior to the show the producers had arranged for representatives of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the District Attorney, and the Sheriff to come on the show and take the other side. The morning of the show the producers got phone calls from each of the groups and, when they heard who was going to be on against them, they all suddenly remembered that they had conflicting appointments, or could not find a baby-sitter, or something. The real problem, of course, is that they have been getting the snot beat out of them every time they showed up. As a result, the judge and I had about two hours of free TV air time to say what we wanted. They did manage to find a drug abuse counselor to oppose us, but he wound up agreeing with us and volunteered to help with the Resolution.

The major national drug policy organizations such as the Drug Policy Foundation, NORML, and various other groups are beginning to see the wisdom in our strategy and have adopted the proposals I have outlined as their primary strategy. If you were reading the news lately, you know that Surgeon-General Joycelyn Elders stated that the issue of drug legalization should be studied. This remark was a direct result of our Resolution. You may not know that, in a later interview she referred to some things I had written (which someone else had sent her) and said that she had read some of the research on the subject and was more convinced than ever that legalization should be seriously considered. You may expect to hear more from her on this subject in the near future.

H.R. 3100, the bill which calls for a 13-member Federal commission to study drug policy is alive and well and gaining sponsors in Congress. Basically, the bill calls for a panel of thirteen people to be appointed, five by the President and four each by the Senate and House. The panel is supposed to hear all of the relevant evidence on drug policy and make a report on the findings within eighteen months. This is an intelligent, reasonable approach to solving the drug problem and I hope everyone will write to their Senators and Representatives and ask them to support this bill.

We are also producing a television show for local access cable TV. I don't know if you know it or not, but if you have a television show that you think ought to be aired, the cable TV companies are required to show it at no cost to you. (Provided the content is not obscene, etc.) As a result, we have people all over the country showing these shows on television.

One of the most interesting shows is on the history of marijuana. It includes a United States Department of Agriculture film called "Hemp for Victory." The film was made in 1942 and encourages farmers to grow hemp (marijuana) because the US Navy literally could not sail without it. It was so vital to the US military during World War II that farmers who grew hemp were exempted from military duty. Prior to 1937, marijuana was grown throughout the United States in industrial quantities. It was the primary source of durable cloth such as the sixty tons of sail and ropes carried by the average large sailing ship, or the canvas which covered the Conestoga wagons of the pioneers. It was also the primary source of oil-based fuels, paints, and other products. "Hemp for Victory" really makes people wonder how it came to be illegal in the first place.

That's it for now. Call David if you have any questions.

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