I wish it were closer - I'd be right there. When I lived on Castle Heights, Hami was just a fifteen minute bike ride away up through the hills of Cheviot.
Rancho is a magical place! A lot of great things happened at Rancho. As kids we'd swim at the recreational pool. Rancho has a GREAT swimming pool. Me, my brother Paul, cousins Corey, the late Ron, Gary, Eric - we'd be dropped off and jump off the high dive all day long. It was great fun. When we weren't swimming, we'd play ping pong. Then there were the tennis courts - world class tennis courts. Jerry Teegarten, who must've been a tennis pro at one point had a pro shop there. Someone, I don't remember who, introduced me to tennis and what a blast it was! Cousin Corey and I played often and became pretty good tennis players. Then there was little Robert Goldstein who became a great tennis player. Rancho was filled with lots of fun things to do. The grass was soft and as teens, we'd gather on summer days and hang out by the back fence bordering the Rancho Golf Course. Then Officer King would cruise around in his black and white squad car looking for an opportunity to bust us for smoking. Who remembers Officer King? How about the great jam sessions that occurred by the amphitheater? The band mates were the late Mark Caine, Jeff Landsberg, Bob Mizrahi, Barry Squire, my brother Paul on keyboards and sometimes Hank S. singing. What a place!
Rancho will always hold a special place in my heart because this is where I met Annie. I was with my good friend Russ Berger and I'd just ended a long relationship. I'd heard about an event celebrating Israel's 36th birthday. I was living in Santa Monica and asked Russ if he wanted to come. We did go and out of hundreds and hundreds of people, I spotted by future bride. Annie Rosenberg. She was a teacher down in Long Beach. I was 100% West Side. After taking a trip to Israel and falling in love with her, when she returned, three weeks later (she had summers's off (those lucky teachers)); when she returned - I proposed to her. Before I could blink, she had her mom on the phone, who lives in Omaha. They're both hysterical and crying and I'm thinking to myself "what am I getting myself into." I think her mom had the whole wedding plan in her head for many years prior to me meeting Annie. We were married in Omaha on April 21, 1985 and Annie has been the most terrific partner I could imagine. Imagine: someone putting up with me and my shenanigans! It took Annie years for me to finally fall into place and be the kind of partner I should have been all along. The first nine years, it was pretty much all about me - but after moving like a stinger missile from Long Beach to the Twin Cities in 1994, I finally grew up - it took losing a lot but sometimes that's what it takes to "get it." I know without Annie, I'd not have the fruits I enjoy in our lives - two great boys, a warm and cozy house and someone I still enjoy spending time with. I am blessed.
Now for some more Hami stories. The late Steve Goldberg and I became pretty good friends. We both had motorcycles in high school. There were times when we both should have been in class but instead, Steve would invite a couple cute girls and we'd cut class and take rides where the big old abandoned bus was up in Malibu Canyon. He had his very classic British Red BSA 650 and I rode my Red Honda 450. We were great friends and I was really sorry when we lost him. His dad, Goldy, was a great guy too. Goldy rode a big Green Harley Electra Glide. We'd take "supervised" rides with Goldy to places like Marineland in Palos Verdes back in the day. Steve and I had a lot of fun - a quick Rancho story - we'd often go there at night - park our bikes on a residential street and then climb a great big tree by the tennis courts. There we'd hang out up in the trees and just talk about whatever was on our minds, while expanding them at the same time.
The picture at the top of the two motorcycles - well that could be Steve and me. It more likely could be Drew Z. and me on our way to Colorado, at seventeen years and me without permission from my mom and dad to go. Mom counted on never seeing me again. Drew and I were friends and he also had a 450 Honda. He was going to visit a friend named Watkins who moved out of the old neighborhood to Denver. Together, like two easy riders, we traveled through California, Nevada, Utah and made it safe to CO. On the way I got a flat tire at 70 mph and later got run off the road by an eighteen wheeler for passing him and some redneck at a gas station in St. George, UT broke my riding goggles. Other than that, everything worked out good - oh yea - I got a speeding ticket and dumped my bike when hitting oil while exiting too fast in Las Vegas - nothing serious! I also had to call home to get money wired because I ran out and had to panhandle for gas money until my grandfather pulled through (again) and wired me $$$ through Western Union. Lucky to be alive. I really believe there is the element of luck in surviving youth.
You'll never imagine the look on my mom's face when almost forty years later, I pull up into her driveway on my BMW. I told her I was "coming in" but she assumed by airplane. It was 1971 all over again. She wasn't happy and I'll stop there. But dad thought it was funny. Ha Ha!
Anyway, I hope you have a great time today at the reunion. If it were not for the epic voyage I just completed through 12 states and 6,000 miles, I'd be there. Hope you have a really good time visiting, talking story and getting caught up with each other. Hugs!