A novel interspersed with stories of actual events and fictional mysticism of Pat growing up in the San Fernando Valley.
Pat lives on the edge, racing motorcycles and fighting fires, taking risks. He grows up living a Huckleberry life in the San Fernando Valley. Poor, and a natural born entrepreneur, Pat finds ingenious ways to earn money. By Grace he cheats death eleven times. A small mythical Indian boy named Little Fox is a symbol for Grace as it intervenes in his life to rescue him from certain death caused by his own missteps.
Chapter 1 – Little Fox
1792 – Chumash Indian Tum Qua Teh, his wife Singing Coyote, and their son Little Fox live with a small tribe in what is now Chatsworth at the far north end of the San Fernando Valley. Life is hard. Their son Little Fox is adventurous, believing he can fly; he falls from a boulder and is crippled. A major fire in the Chatsworth hills destroys the tribe’s village. Tum Qua’s tribe migrates north while he and his family head south.
They stop to rest for the night at an oak tree-shaded oasis now known as Los Encinos, where they are attacked by hostile Indians. Tum Qua kills one.
They move southward to an area to be named North Hollywood, and set up camp on the bank of a small creek. Heavy rains deluge the Valley and the creek floods. Little Fox is playing on the bank and is swept away. His mother, Singing Coyote grieves for several months, until in a dream the Indian Goddess Grandmother Momoy comes to her with Little Fox. She reassures her that Little Fox was taken from her to protect an adventurous boy like him in the future. Tum Qua and Singing coyote migrate to Santa Monica, then to Catalina Island where they spend the rest of their lives with their new daughter, Little Seagull.
Chapter 2 – Los Encinos
1848 – A stage coach arrives at the San Fernando Valley’s Los Encinos Inn carrying four passengers, a Pinkerton man, a prospector, a prostitute, and Jack Morgan, an entrepreneur who plans to buy land from a rancher to start a carnival, loses his savings in a bogus gold claim. The innkeeper tells of the Inn’s violent history.
Chapter 3 – Mary Cecelia Gay
1914 – Pat’s mother, Mary Cecelia Gay, 18, lives with her siblings in an upscale neighborhood in Saint Louis. She is not happy and wants to quit school but is not allowed by a strict father. She graduates and gets a job. She lives at home with a plan to one day drive to California.
Chapter 4 – Kingdon Harry Hicks
1918 – Pat’s 18-year-old father Kingdon is a navy seaman on board the USS Galeta off the coast of France. He is a victim of a broken canister of Mustard gas and nearly dies. His lungs are desecrated and he contracts tuberculosis. He struggles with poor health to provide for his family until he enters the VA hospital in 1940 and dies in 1945.
Chapter 5 – When Harry Met Mary
1920 – Mary Gay’s story continues. Mary, now age 24 decides to leave home and go to California. She promises to marry a young man if he will take her to California. She deceives him and leaves with him and his family, but says goodbye to them in Pasadena. She heads on a bus for Santa Monica to start a new life. While sunbathing on the beach she meets Pat’s father-to-be Harry Hicks in a comical situation. In 1924 they marry and have five children, Pat being the youngest.
1934 – Pat is brought home to a tiny two-bedroom bungalow where the family lives until his father works odd jobs and saves enough money to buy a house in North Hollywood. The house is situated on a bank several feet above the street, right where Tum Qua and his family had lived and Little Fox drowned in a flood 150 years earlier.
Chapter 6 – Cheating Death #1
1938 – The Flood – Rains deluge the Valley. A dam breaks and 4-year-old Pat’s street becomes a raging river. Pat charges out of his house to the bank and certain death, but he is stopped by the apparition of Little Fox. Later the flood subsides, and playing in the muddy street below his house, he cuts his foot on a shard of pottery left by Tum Qua Teh’s family. On the shard is a petro glyph depicting a stickman holding the hand of a small stick-boy, Little Fox.
Chapter 7 – Cheating Death #2
1939 – Rip Tide – Pat is five. His mom and dad take him to the Santa Monica beach for the weekend. They spend the night in a bungalow on the beach. Early in the morning while they sleep, Pat sneaks away to the shore and is nearly drowned in a vicious rip tide. He calls for help, waking a homeless man sleeping on the beach. The man wakes up and dives in after Pat as he loses consciousness. Pat hears a voice telling him to raise his arms. The rescuer finds Pat’s arm and pulls him to the surface. He had stopped breathing. Pat is given CPR and revives. Pat again cheats death with Little Fox protecting him.
Chapter 8 – Nightmare
1940 – Story of Pat’s life with his father at home. He suffers from TB and struggles to find work. He opens a quarter-midget race car track. One night Pat has a nightmare. Pat screams as a large wolf leaps over his bed. He has had a nightmare. His mom feels bad and takes him to the racetrack that night. There he drives a midget race car and the need for speed is born in him.
Chapter 9 – The San Fernando Valley
1940 – Water is brought in from the Owens Valley, major growth begins. Los Angeles is growing fast. Rock quarries are mined for gravel and sand to build thousands of tract homes in the Valley. Tract homes spring up like weeds. Pat’s father manages to buy one before he goes into the hospital for the final time.
December 7th, 1941 – WWII breaks out. Man’s inhumanity to man begins again. Pat’s mom sees a Japanese aviator next to her bed the morning of December 7th. Hours later Pearl Harbor is attacked. Many sons and daughters never come home.
1942 – Relocated Easterners and middle class families move from the Los Angeles basin into Valley homes. Mothers stay home while fathers who are not drafted work with Rosie the Riveter at Lockheed Aircraft, helping the war effort. Pat’s brothers Don and Charlie enlist in the navy. In
the South Pacific, while fierce dog fights rage above, Pat’s brother Don courageously pilots his landing craft to land Marines on Japanese occupied islands.
While his dad lay dying in the VA hospital, to feed her remaining three children, Pat’s mom sorts mail at the post office for a meager paycheck. She is lonely, weary, and depressed. Pat feels abandoned. Left to his own devices, Pat is a latch key boy. He lives a Huckleberry Finn life in the Valley, playing with his pals in vacant lots, listening to radio serials and sends off cereal box tops for a free prize.
Poignant wartime songs pervade the airwaves. Pat’s house rings with Hit Parade songs from their old radio and his mom’s piano playing, portending a life of music for him. Pat’s poor eyesight causes him to fail 3rd grade, but he is voted “Class Clown” in the sixth grade, boding a life as a mover and a shaker, and a seemingly fearless adventurer in his life.
Chapter 10 – Cheating Death #3
1943 – Lake Leilani – Fictional Jack Morgan III, grandson of 1850 would-be carnival entrepreneur, convinces investors to finance the development of an actual fun park at an abandoned rock quarry in the Valley. He names it Lake Leilani. At age nine, Pat dogpaddles alongside a raft in the lake. Two boys horse-playing force him under the raft. He is drowning when he hears Little Fox’s voice, “Look up.” The two boys dive down and bring him up. He is rescued from certain death.
Chapter 11 – Cheating Death #4
1944 – The Ferris Wheel – Jack continues to live his Huckleberry life growing up in the Valley With his father in the hospital, he is his mother’s surrogate companion. He anxiously awaits the carnival coming to Lake Leilani. He rides the Ferris wheel and falls from his seat and hangs by his small hands. Little Fox says “Hold on a little longer.” Pat ultimately falls but is miraculously unhurt.
Chapter 12 – I Remember Mom and Dad
1945 – His father is near death. Pat’s mom visits him while Pat remains in their 1936 Ford, not allowed to see him. At home Pat’s mother longs for her opulent life back in Saint Louis. She is distant, distracted. He feels neglected and abandoned. He is on his own most of the time. His brother is a paradox – he is mean, but at times acts as Pat’s father
June 1945 – Pat’s father dies. He feels further abandonment, but denies any feelings until finally at his military funeral he cries.
Chapter 13 – The Entrepreneur
Poor and left alone, Pat finds creative ways to earn money, and his life as an entrepreneur begins. With no money to be had, he comes up with ingenious ways to make money. The “benign con man” sometimes steals and is in trouble in school,
Chapter 14 – Cheating Death #5
1946 – Drowning at Los Encinos Historical Park – Pat and his brother Sam sneak into a natural spring-fed pool in Encino, the place where Tum Qua Teh and his family stayed and Tum Qua killed an intruding brave after his wife. Pat and Sam sneak in, but Pat wades into a deep hole. He panics and forgets how to swim and nearly drowns. Little Fox speaks to him. He is rescued.
Chapter 15 – Music, Motorcycles and Mayhem
1949 – Ex Marine brother Sam insists that Pat learns to play the guitar and race motorcycles. At 16 he learns to play the ukulele and accompanies Victor French (later, actor in “Little House on the Prarie) singing in the school Quad. He hangs out with his friends and learns about sex and pot until he meets lifelong friend Billy Rogers. They buy used motorbikes. On weekends they race around the high school track until caught and kicked out. His life as a racer begins.
Chapter 16 – Cheating Death #6
1952 – The Crash – At 18 Pat enters his first race on an unsafe motorcycle and wear no helmet. He learns the hard way “Your bike goes where your eyes look.” He is nearly killed, but Little Fox saves him. Recovering from his crash, he fails to graduate and continues to race.
Chapter 17 – Racing the Gran Prix
1955 – Pat races on Santa Catalina Island. His bike’s engine seizes and he nearly slides over a 1000 foot cliff, he thinks he sees an Indian family on a hill looking down at him. Little Fox may have saved Pat. Later he meets, dances with, and falls in love with Nancy McGrath at the Catalina Casino. He marries her at 21.
Chapter 18 – Cheating Death #7
1955 – The Nightmare – They honeymoon in San Francisco. Pat sleepwalks and crawls out a hotel window ten stories above the street. In a dream Nancy hears a voice, “Wake up.” Nancy wakes up and pulls Pat back into the room, saving him from a ten story fall.
Chapter 19 – Cheating Death #8
1955 -Watch It! No headlights – After the wedding, brother Sam and family join Pat and Nancy in San Francisco. After dinner they go for a walk. Pat steps off a curb as a speeding car with no headlights comes straight at him. “Grab him!” Sam hears. Sam yanks him back from certain death.
Chapter 20 – Cheating Death #9
1956 – The Pacific Bell Building – After their honeymoon, Pat and Nancy return to Van Nuys and rent a cheap apartment. He works different jobs and ends up in the family roofing business. Sam and Pat stand at an open space on the 10th floor of the new Pacific Bell Telephone building in Santa Monica. Pat reaches out for a dangling electrical cord. An I-beam falls and strikes him on the head. He falls forward to certain death. Again Sam hears “Save him!” He grabs Pat’s collar and hauls him up and back into the building.
Chapter 21 – Cheating Death #10
1957 – The Wedding ring. Pat is laying tile on a hospital roof when he slips and slides over the eave three stories up. His wedding ring catches on a roofing nail. He dangles helpless by one finger until the foreman hears, “Save him!” He grabs Pat’s arm and pulls him up to safety.
Two of Pat’s four children, Jim and Linda, are born in the same year – ten months apart. He works for Nancy’s dad as an electrician until Andy has a heart attack. Work is slow. Pat loses his house but continues to race. He crashes hard and is spotted by Nancy’s uncle Bud, a Captain on the LA County Fire Department. Bud tells Andy, and they conspire to get Pat to join the Fire Department.
Chapter 22 – Birthed, Raced, and Busted
1959 – He takes the civil service exam and is placed at the bottom of the fire departments list of new recruits. Later he is called and cheats on his eyesight exam and is accepted. He trains in boot camp and faces his fear of heights.
Chapter 23 – Cheating Death #11
1960 – The Chatsworth Hills Fire – Pat becomes an LA County firefighter and is assigned to Station 65 in Agoura, California His first alarm is a comical story of his myopic vision
A horrendous conflagration erupts in the Chatsworth Hills. High on a ridge, Pat assists his Chief spotting water drops. The fire consumes the oxygen and his truck will not start. They are trapped, about to be burned alive. Little Fox says, “Try the engine again!” The truck starts and they escape being burned alive.
Chapter 24 – Betrayal
1960 – Nancy and Pat divorce. While he has them on weekends, Jim and Linda fall from his moving car and live. A huge lesson is learned. Pat thanks Little Fox.
Chapter 25 – Needy
1961 – On the rebound, Pat meets Mary Lee Bailey and after six months they marry.
1963 – Pat and Mary Lee have twins, Dan and Amy, born dangerously premature, but survive.
Chapter 26 – Rescue
Pat is reassigned to Station 8 Rescue in West Hollywood. Little Fox leads me through smoke and fire to rescue a woman from her flaming apartment and receives a commendation.
Pat resigns from the department and opens a music store in Northridge, California.
2015 – That is the last of his Cheating Death stories. He forecasts the rest of his story to be published in his upcoming book titled “Conversation with a Pelican”. He’s tired and wants God to take over his life. He longs to see his mom and dad and his siblings on the other side. He longs to meet Little Fox there. He wants to wake up and cross over, not cheating death, but awakening to the Awareness that I AM.
He explains Awareness and what a profound impact this awakening to the Truth has had on him