I am a proud member of the O.F.L.C, which was founded by my lifelong friend Wally Clark. For those of you who are not familiar with the O.F.L.C, it stands for Old Farts Luncheon Club. We meet the third Wednesday of every month at a different restaurant in the Greater Sacramento area.
Membership is quite exclusive. To become one of the 30+ members, you must have at some point in your life become a friend of Wally Clark.
Over the years, many of Wally’s friends have become my friends as well. A few months ago, when I attended my first meeting of the Old Farts Luncheon Club, it was like the proverbial “Old Home Week” as I reconnected with old friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 50+ years.
A little history:
Wally is my oldest friend. Our friendship actually predates my birth, as our parents were longtime friends and shared the glorious experience when each of us was born. Just for the record, Wally was born first and is an older fart than I am.
Wally was the big city kid, the third generation growing up in Californian’s state capital of Sacramento. I, on the other hand, was the country boy growing up in the contrasting environment of Farmington California population 210. On the surface, this was a seemingly unlikely match, but oh, what a strong bond the two of us have had over all these years.
Growing up we shared many adventures. One of our many sagas took place when I was in 8th Grade.
Wally’s family owned W.G. Clark Printing located at 13th & J streets in downtown Sacramento. This is where many of our adventures often began.
Around the corner and down on K street there stood The Magic Store, which sadly no longer exists. This store was a mecca for a pre-teen boy. We weren’t so much interested in the traditional paraphernalia like magic tricks or card tricks, what moved us was the broader spectrum, the genre of “practical jokes”.
One spring day when I was visiting Wally in Sacramento, we visited The Magic Shop.
What caught our eyes were the “whoopee cushions”. Are you all familiar with what a “whoopee cushion” is? A whoopee cushion was an artificial sound devise that when sat upon emitted the loud sound of . . . how do I gracefully phrase this . . . mimicked the release of internal bodily gas.
Also, of great interest were the smoke bombs that you could attach to the spark plugs of a car, so when the driver started the car, a huge cloud of white smoke arose from under the hood.
You may be asking yourself, what would an eighth-grade boy who lives in the small town of Farmington California do with a whoopee cushion and smoke bombs. Well, I took them on Monday to school of course.
My 7thand 8thgrade teacher was Mr. Wells, who by the way, was also the school Principal.
Mr. Wells had a desk at the front of the room with a chair that had a pad on it. When our class went outside for morning recess, I slipped back in the classroom and placed the whoopee cushion under the pad on the chair.
We returned from recess and were all in our places, Mr. Wells approached his desk, but didn’t sit down. Uh! I kept waiting for him to go over and sit in his chair. The suspense was killing me. After making several “passes by” he finally sat down. And there was the loud sound like as erupting from a volcano . . . a human volcano.
The class erupted with uncontrollable laughter. Mr. Wells sat there with a stunned look on his face, and then immediately looked a me. “What” I said, trying not to laugh.
But I wasn’t done. I had more plans for the day that involved our school custodian who was also our school bus driver. His name was Lucky Linton.
Lucky Linton was a cool guy and a friend to all the kids. He was a former Navy guy with the tattoos to go along with that image. He usually wore a T-shirt with a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve.
My friend Buzz Ritchie and I discussed what we should do with the car smoke bombs I had acquired from the Magic Shop. After about two seconds of deliberation, we said “The School Bus”. Just wait until Lucky starts up the bus after school gets out.
As you can see, some of the things we did as kids probably would get us placed on the “Terrorist Watch List” today.
Then there were Wally and my adventures from our High School Years. It was the 1960’s. How many of you remember the movie “American Graffiti”?
American Graffiti created by George Lucas of Star Wars fame, is based on what actually took place in the 1960’s in Modesto, California, where he grew up. Modesto was just up the road 30 minutes from our ranch in Farmington. However, for Wally and I, “American Graffiti” took place in Sacramento.
The place to go on Friday or Saturday night was cruising downtown Sacramento. Specifically, K street which was a one-way street going west, then we would cut across to J street, a one-way street going back east.
After 8 pm it was bumper to bumper cars full of guys looking to hook up with cars full of girls, which, frankly never happened. But you’re young . . . you’re optimistic. Life hasn’t beaten you down . . . yet.
Also, on the K street leg of the route you went right past the state capitol building. There was a little-known roadway that cut across the Capitol grounds that led to an underground garage which was directly underneath the Capitol building. Of course, this was not open to the public, but we weren’t “public”, after all we were 16, so when one of the security guards confronted us we just told them “Oh man, we’re sorry, we’re from out of town and must have gotten lost.
Then after making several trips around the K street, J street circuit, we would head over to Mel’s Drive in at 19th & J for a much-needed break to get some french fries and a cherry coke.
Mel’s was a happening place.
They had hot car hops that came up to take your order. Each parking place had its own individual juke box. And the place was swarming with more cars full of girls.
Life seemed simpler then . . . Frankly, because it was.
Today reflecting upon the many adventures with my friend Wally Clark, I am brought back to the memory of an album titled “Old Friends” which was recorded on March 8, 1968 by Simon and Garfunkel.
The album began and ended with the song “Time It Was”. I always loved the song’s haunting melody. The words didn’t have much meaning to me back in the 60’s; however, today as I share this story, the words are poignant and powerful, and reminds me of what a beautiful life I have had.
Time it was
Oh, what a time it was.
It was a time of innocence
A time of consequences.
Long ago it must be,
I have a photograph.
Memories there all that’s left you.