MY MOTHER BEGAN dating Doc right after she separated from Howard, the dad with the choking hands. Doc had once been a practicing medical doctor in the San Diego area, but he hadn’t worked since he surrendered to his daily drinking. Now living a subsistence life at the bottom of the economic scale, his home was an old, small trailer in a broken-down mobile home park.
Doc was an avid rock hound who loved going out in the desert areas in eastern Southern California. Next to smoking and drinking, he enjoyed collecting unusual rocks, mineral specimens, and, when lucky, gemstones.
He and my mother had a set of tools used for splitting and shaping rocks, which they kept rolled neatly in a deerskin cloth. I inherited these tools after my mother’s death, and I shivered every time I saw them. Doc was also a shortwave radio fanatic. This was a popular hobby during the 1940s and 1950s for people who were keenly interested in news broadcasts from various locations around the world. Here Doc heard frequent UFO rumors, as the sightings and reports came so often in 1952. Doc also read science fiction magazines, which I remember seeing strewn all over the inside of his junky car. He paid no attention to the empty beer cans, candy wrappers, crunched-up cigarette packs, and dirty clothes, and there were always empty peanut butter jars in there, too, which seemed to be his mainstay.
Doc, just like Howard, was a drunk. The biggest difference was that Doc didn’t get mean-tempered when he drank. He opened his first can of beer and popped a cigarette between his lips every morning the second his feet hit the floor. In those days, if one functioned, even if minimally, nobody thought they were an alcoholic. Doc and my mother had many good times hanging around together, and for a long time he was good to us kids.
Along with his .22 rifle, Doc would take Mom and us kids out for a day of shooting. Not really a day of shooting, it consisted of driving toward the mountains, stopping at a bar for a couple of hours of drinks, then proceeding to shoot a box of shells at tin cans. Then heading home, which included a stop at another bar for several more hours of drinking. We sat around, waiting impatiently, or sometimes played shuffleboard. No one had reason to imagine the impending danger.
Picture: UFO photographs, 2004-Taipei, China
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