Sacramento Revisited - 2011

50th High School Reunion, Visit to East Lawn Cemetery
June 25, 2011

By Lewis Nolan

Updated July 29, 2011. Please visit again.

Bob Reid (left) and Lewis "Buzz" Nolan at entrance to Sac High Reunion at Arden Hills



Sacramento Revisited – 2011

50th High School Reunion, Visit to East Lawn Cemetery

June 24 – 27, 2011


Part 1: Flights to Sacramento

Part 3: At Sutter Lawn with Swimmers

Part 2: Sac High Reunion, Cemetery

Part 4: Flights home to Memphis


- Updated July 24, 2011


Several photos taken by Betty Nolan of her  and husband Buzz Nolan visits to his Sacramento High School’s 50th reunion, several former members of the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club swim team he coached in the early 1960s, the graves of family and friends at East Lawn Cemetery and commemorative Rose Garden/Vietnam War Memorial near the California State Capitol are posted at in various albums registered under Lewis “Buzz” Nolan’s email address. Email for instructions how to access the pictures those visits. 




June 25, 2011 – Saturday – In Sacramento, CA


Betty and I arose early, at 7 a.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott motel on the campus of the University of California-Davis Medical School and related hospitals. It was at the site that once housed the Sacramento County Hospital where my late father was chief pathologist back in the 1950s. We were back in my old hometown of the California State Capitol to attend my 50th reunion of the 1961 graduating class from Sacramento Senior High School that was a mile or two from the motel.


We enjoyed an excellent breakfast served by an excellent waitress in the hotel restaurant, whose name was Sarah. My heaping plate of scrambled eggs with hash browns and thick slices of bacon was augmented by Betty picking up a sweet roll at the in-house Starbucks café located just a few steps away. Sarah’s dedication to providing quality service to patrons must provide her sufficient income to be able to drive an older model of what she told us was a BMW.


Even though I basically departed Sacramento in favor of college in Mississippi in the mid-1960s, I retained enough knowledge of my part of the midtown area (called “East Sacramento” when I was growing up there) to know my way around much of what is now an upscale area of the central city. We drove to a Trader Joe grocery store on Folsum Blvd. to purchase a couple of bouquets of flowers I wanted to put on the graves of family at nearby East Lawn Cemetery that was only two blocks from the old Nolan family home on 41st Street just a few doors from Folsum.


My mother, Garnett Elizabeth Nolan, died in her own bed at home in 1985 and was buried in nearby East Lawn at a funeral I helped arrange and was attended by my brothers and a few neighbors. Near her gravesite is the burial site of my youngest brother’s wife, Anna Maria Nolan. A short walk from that east-most section of the cemetery is a large mausoleum where my late fraternity brother and fellow U.S. Marine, First Lieutenant Peter Lenhart Siller’s crypt is located next to his parents’ entombments in the El Dorado Building. We placed the fresh flowers purchased at Trader Joe’s on the graves or in provided containers and said private prayers on their behalf.


I learned later that various relatives of old friends with whom I grew up are also buried at East Lawn, a truly beautiful and peaceful cemetery even though bordered by a busy street on the main entrance side and a light rail commuter train to the rear. Among the remains are the ashes of the father of my longtime pal Leslie Crockett, Deane Crockett. East Lawn space has been reserved for her mother, a fabulous ballet dancer and instructor named Barbara Crockett, now described by her daughter and my pal Leslie as “still going strong at 90.” All the Crockett’s were famed members of the San Francisco Ballet Company and central to the founding and success of the Sacramento Ballet Company.


I read recently that over half of all the deaths in California result in cremation today, with that fact clearly resulting in much new columbarium facilities at East Lawn. As a boy I rode my bicycle through the cemetery and slid down the grassy banks of the adjacent railroad line in cardboard boxes. I’ve made it a point to visit the cemetery on my somewhat infrequent visits to Sacramento in recent years. I was pleased to see that cemetery management had evidently changed their minds since my last visit and were now trimming the grass over graves in the central sections, reversing a short-lived policy that had for a while limited trimming to only the closest graves to the narrow vehicle lanes that fan out around the property.


For many years I’ve made it a point to visit Pete Siller’s crypt whenever in town. I was told long ago that he was entombed in his U.S. Marine Corps dress blues uniform. An USMC insignia decorates the facing of his marble space in the El Dorado Mausoleum’s second floor. Remembering his frequently expressed admiration for the toughness of the Marines and how his father had served the Corps with distinction in the Pacific Theatre of World War II influenced my decision to join the Marines when the draft board was breathing down my neck in the mid-1960s. I was actually drafted into the Army while a student at Mississippi State, with my participation in the student deferment program expiring. I recall learning that I had an option of several weeks to either enlist in one of the armed services or be subjected to the induction process.


While the fog of my memory of that long-ago period of stress has worsened over the last half-century, I think I happened to talk to a Marine Corps recruiter who was visiting State’s campus in Starkville, MS, and was advised that my prospects of entering the Corps’ officer candidate school scheduled for later in the year were good. Faced with entering the Army as a draftee quite soon or waiting a few months to complete my college Bachelor of Arts degree requirements, I made the “no brainer” decision to go for the OCS option despite being in relatively lousy physical condition and more than a few pounds overweight. I was glad to hear that my close friend Pete Siller had also been accepted into the Marine Corps officer training program. I felt even then that his experience as a member of the high school cross country running team would prove to be an advantage even though he confided in a letter or two of the difficulty he was having with the training program.


Fairly warned by one of the college football coaches, Jim Hilliard, who had been in a Marine Corps potential officer training program when he was an undergraduate, I did the best I could to work out that summer several times a week to get ready for what he had told me was a fitness program designed to “wear me down” rather than “build me up.” I don’t think I realized just how physically challenging the OCS PT (physical training) program would be. Unlike many of the “super studs” in my officer training group who were college football players or stars in other sports, I soon found that the PT training regime at OCS was way beyond what my body was capable of – no matter how hard I tried. I excelled in water sports during high school and managed to make the college swimming team at Sacramento State. But even having to run around the pool several times under a certain time to qualify for Water Safety Instructor certification was nothing compared to the running exercise athletes in other sports sustained.


Consequently, once in Quantico and under all the running and marching expectations expected of officer candidates, I suffered painfully from too much weight from too many years of over-eating and over-drinking and the resulting shin splints and other pains from muscle abuse. In short, I just was not able to keep up with the frequent marches while carrying many pounds of “782” gear like a rifle and small shovel during frequent forced marches on hilly trails. I remember scoring fairly well on some of the mental requirements and leadership evaluations, but fell far short of the physical standards expected of Marine Corps officers scheduled to ship out to tough infantry warfare in Vietnam following additional training beyond OCS.  Unlike some of my classmates, I obstinately refused to “D.O.R.” (Sign papers dropping me at my request from the OCS program even though one of the drill instructors got a little rough with me out of the sight of others while “encouraging” me to DOR).


I was among perhaps the lower fourth or third segment of the members graded in my training company who did not qualify for the gold bars of a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, mainly because of inadequate physical ability and endurance. None of the “drop outs” qualified therefore for the next step in the officer training program called “The Basic School.” Sadly, one of the really good guys who was a physical leader in my class, Herb Ing, graduated near the top of our class and went on to Basic School, which at the time was commanded by his father, a lieutenant colonel. Herb was killed in Vietnam. Happily, a guy ending his enlistment that I didn’t know but who had learned I had been an English major at Mississippi State University had privately encouraged me to aggressively seek assignment as an enlisted writer for the base Information Services Office (ISO), which published the weekly Quantico Sentry newspaper. Most of the college-educated, OCS “wash-outs” like me also ended up with duties as enlisted men in various base units that required fairly high intelligence and the office skills picked up by college graduates. Many quickly became miserable as financial clerks from working under a lot of pressure in the Disbursing unit that was responsible for paychecks and other outflows of money.


I can’t speak for others who didn’t graduate from the USMC’s OCS program, but in my case it was many years before I could face up to the fact that I just didn’t have the physical skills and endurance that it took to be successful as an officer in the U. S. Marine Corps. But I’m just as proud of my service in the Corps now as I was at the time and grateful for the training as a man and learning the skills required for writing, editing and publishing a newspaper. Those skills helped immeasurably in my later success as a newspaperman for the Memphis Commercial Appeal of Scripps-Howard (1969-1984) and later as a communications executive for Schering-Plough Consumer Operations (1984-1996, which became Schering-Plough HealthCare Products and much later merged into Merck, Inc.), and more recently as head of communications and government relations for the national security services firm of Guardsmark in 1996-1997.


I was bitterly ashamed of my failure to qualify as a Marine Corps officer and was reluctant to volunteer that information for many years. Many of the really nice guys I worked with on the base newspaper were also “losers,” in the scheme of things of that era of military enthusiasm for the war in Vietnam. Those who didn’t “make it” out of OCS successfully had to finish serving two-year enlistments in the Marine Corps, with personnel-hungry functions needing office competence given their choice of the recent college graduates judged to be slow-of-foot or not physically powerful enough to lead infantry platoons.


Most of us lived in the same “Headquarters Company,” brick building of two stories in the middle of the Marine base at Quantico. Our two-tier bunks were arranged in a “squad bay” consisting of beds, standing lockers for uniforms and bedside, locked wooden chests for other belongings like socks, underwear and assorted civilian possessions. We had to endure periodic inspections by battalion and company officers of carefully displayed “junk on the bunk” of our regulation belongings. But being that we were all situational equals in the Marine Corps hierarchy, we all got along with one another fairly well and took many of our meals together and occasional evenings out (at the “1-2-3” club on base where reduced alcohol content beer was sold at the enlisted club for privates, PFC’s and lance corporals. Companionship with lonely females from nearby Washington was provided by the women voluntarily bused into Quantico for company and dancing partnership with young Marines on weekend evenings). Occasionally, some of us would ride commuter train rides into DC to hit the bars and such. 


Our ISO office was a walk through the town of base-surrounded town of Quantico to a small harbor of the Potomac River surrounded by concrete piers. Our open offices were in a suite in a brick building with a nice view of the harbor, where various service-owned boats were docked for check-out by military personnel to use on weekends and after hours. I took a base class in basic sailing and spent many hours relaxing with pals in a small Lightning or Rebel sailboat on the river. The training I received and practice I had led me to the purchase of my own racing-class Lightning several years later once I was discharged from the Marines and eventually relocated to Memphis. More importantly, the training and experience I gained while working on the base newspaper, called the Quantico Sentry (a full-sized weekly my office published with the sacred understanding that a photo of the three-star general in charge of Quantico’s Marine Corps Development and Education Command (MCDEC) be published above the fold of the front page of every edition, proved to be invaluable later.


Among the names and faces I still recall these more than forty years later I worked with are those of our unit’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Tom Mattimo, who was seen only rarely in our midst but was never far from our attention; Master Sergeant Mel Jones, a very-tough Marine who ruled our office with an iron hand but was ultimately discharged after striking an officer and ended up writing for the Navy Times, a privately owned and published weekly; Master Gunnery Sergeant Phil “Top” Kronenburg, a truly wonderful man with the looks and demeanor of a beardless Santa Claus who offered me a ride to work in his Opel most mornings and hosted me and Betty for occasional meals at his and wife’s private home in the nearby town of Woodbridge, VA; Gunnery Sergeant Louis Pescator, a helpful “big brother” with World War II experience in the South Pacific who served as the ISO office “news editor” and assignments chief; Warrant Officer “Gunner” Larson, who stood between us enlisted writers and the high-ranking policy makers on base when there were disagreements about the nature and handling of our news stories; a nice lady captain in the Women’s Marines (WM’s) whose name I can’t recall but who sold me at a good price her portable, manual typewriter for my private use; and a bunch of enlisted guys from our writing staff of about a dozen. Among them was Mike Franks, a sharp, “squared-away” corporal with carefully spit-shined shoes and uniform to match who had been in Vietnam and was considering making a career out of the Marines.


Others I still remember include Corporal Mike Barnes, whom I succeeded as Editor of the Quantico Sentry after he got out of the Marine Corps to return to work on Capitol Hill and eventually successfully run for a Congressional seat; Staff Sergeant Frank Burke, a Vietnam veteran who ran our base radio station; Corporal Bruce Upton, a Harvard English major who defined the word “grouch;” Glenn Destatt, whose idea of fun was running several miles in recreational race events, unrealized dreams of covering sports for the L.A. Times and idea of great food the oven leftovers from my wife’s great enchiladas; a fast-talking New Yorker named Barney who was an expert handicapper for racing horses and whose father helped run the Rockefeller Foundation; and others. I also remember non-ISO, enlisted pals including an awesome brain named Seymour Hirsh, who was the No. One grad of Harvard Law School now working as a legal clerk in the base law office; another law school grad from Boston University whose idea of a good time was an excellent dinner with fine wine at Washington’s tony Chez Francoise restaurant that was a current hangout of White House staffers; the unforgettable Ed Murphy, whose widow mother in Boston evidently had the political connections to get him a hardship discharge on grounds of “sole survivor;” and a fun African-American to be around named Pfc Clark, who was originally from a very tough neighborhood in Chicago.


I learned a lot about newspapering and writing from my work with the Quantico Sentry. Top Kronenburg and a few others did me the favor of recognizing my potential as a newspaper guy and saw to it that I could attend a week-long, Marine Corps conference on public relations in New York City, where Johnny Carson side-kick and ex-Marine Ed McMahon singled out for plaudits some of my writing in a presentation to our group at a hotel. Their behind-the-scenes work also got me named a PR contact for the Provisional Marine Brigade called into DC to help put down a terrible series of riots following the assignation of Martin Luther King Jr. My only notable experience of that few days was my being part of a small squad of Marines providing armed escort service to a squad car of two policemen in dangerous neighborhood. We all came under hostile sniper fire.


Also on the positive side: A commanding general at Quantico got a Letter of Commendation placed in my file following my PR work on his behalf during a public parade of hand-picked Marines in a nearby town. Those and other positive experiences helped offset the silent indignation I felt when on occasion encountering a power-drunk officer showing off his rank at the expense of some hapless enlisted man on base or nearby.


I regret that I lost touch with everybody in a great group of very smart, patriotic guys I worked with for 21 months. I exchanged a very few letters with Gunny Pescator, whose World War II injury forced him to retire a bit earlier than he had planned; he ended up working in public relations for a Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne Beach, FL, I think I recall. I once wrote Top Kronenburg when working as a newspaperman in Columbus, MS, and got an emotional body blow response from his former wife. She let me know that he had died from a disease at their retirement home in New England after a brief time of civilian life and had enjoyed sailing on a lake near their home. Years later I tried to locate Glenn Destatt but was told by the L.A. Times they had no record of any employment of him. I think I wrote Congressman Barnes but got no response.


My marriage with the oh-so-lovely-and-wonderful Betty was strong and I had reasonable prospects of being advanced to the rank of “sergeant,” which would have been quite an honor for me to have because of my hard work and potential in newspapering. But I had long tired of spending my Sunday’s shining shoes and boots, polishing my brass belt buckle and being ever so careful with my attitude and demeanor around men and women who outranked me. I was looking for a way “back in the world” of civilian life.


My conclusion is that unlike many onetime small units whose closeness survived close combat, our small ISO office didn’t have enough “glue” in their friendships to stay together in the face of an unpleasant experience of many of us failing to achieve the officer rank we had sought. Being the low rail on a split fence is not, as I found, the source of pride for most men with normal sized egos. 


My term of enlistment was two years, but I got out early on a “school cut” after Betty put her foot down and insisted that I not follow up on an opportunity to get out of the service three months early in order to become a policemen in New York City, part of a national program to strengthen law enforcement during the so-called “hippie rebellion” against the forces of law and order. Unlike the experience of the Armed Forces in recent years which held troops way beyond their enlistment to maintain “all-volunteer strength” in Iraq and other Mid-East countries in conflict with the U.S., the Marines were actually “thinning out the ranks” when it came to Vietnam service in the late 1960s. Those with less than 13 months remaining on their enlistment were “hands off” when it came to deployment to Vietnam, a policy that nullified my orders to MACV (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam) when a cast on my leg kept me from going; I had broken an ankle when I slipped on wet grass while helping to unload a truck of big boxes. The service looked for plausible reasons like medical or family situations at home, higher education and law enforcement needs for personnel to release enlisted personnel early back when Vietnam was a hot war in the late 1960s and more than 50,000 Americans came home in a box and the live ones quietly slipped back into civilian life.


The times made military service toxic in the eyes of many Americans and citizens of other Western countries. I recall knowing several Marines I lived with in the Quantico Barracks who actually purchased male wigs to wear into Washington on their weekend passes to avoid confrontation with anti-military protestors in bars they patronized.


Once I was out of the Marine Corps, I didn’t even retain the Expert Rifleman’s badge I had earned by shooting the highest score in my battalion the first time out on the qualification range. Unlike a lot of guys from the Deep South, I didn’t grow up with a firearm close at hand so it didn’t mean to me what it did to some sport shooters. I gave my badge to a neighbor of ours in Triangle, VA., a Mormon who graduated from OCS only to find that he had to go through an appeals process to avoid having dues to the base officers club where alcohol was served automatically deducted from his pay. He was a fine man and red-blooded American who actually signed up for training and service with the Marine Corps without first discussing the matter with his very sweet and capable Mormon wife. Betty and I kept in touch with Scott and Linda Hardy - who eventually returned to home in Utah - several years after we returned from Virginia to Mississippi. The relocation “back home” was to allow me to enter Graduate School at Mississippi State University, where my “drop-out” pattern continued, this time with me failing to complete my Master’s Degree in English in favor of working full-time as a reporter and bureau chief for Columbus, MS and area for The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis.


Even though it’s very old history now that my age is 68, I remain proud of my brief service in the U.S. Marine Corps and am grateful for the base newspaper training experience that stood me well during my working life. I don’t have the medals or the military souvenirs that many of the guys collected. But to this day I continue to stand at public events out of respect when a band plays the Marine Corps Hymn “Halls of Montezuma” and continue to visit the burial site of my longtime friend, Pete Siller, who gave his life for our country. I’ve taken special pride in my son’s distance running feats like being on the state championship cross country high school team and completion of assorted marathons and triathlons, which were way beyond my physical ability.


Fast-forwarding to 2011, Betty and I drove down Folsum where it became Capitol Avenue and from there to the beautiful grounds of the state Capitol. We found a convenient place to park and walked across the street to a Memorial Rose Garden filled with dozens of well-cared for varieties not familiar to even plant expert and Master Gardener Betty. Adjacent to the garden is a small memorial to the California citizens who were killed in Vietnam. We found the name of Pete Siller listed.


A remembrance written by Lewis Nolan about his friendship with Pete Siller and some of their good times together in the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity at the old Sacramento State College (now called California State University – Sacramento) is posted at Lewis’ website at (scroll down to the remembrance toward to near the end to see a photo of the two or go directly to to see a photo of Pete wearing his SCUBA equipment. Also, several websites about the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington that includes his name inscribed on the list of more than 50,000 casualties may be accessed through the Google website search service.


Semper Fi, Pete. I’ve a religious feeling that your spirit is in our Christian ideal of Heaven and among the U.S. Marines guarding the streets there. One day in the hopefully distant future we’ll march together.


My other close friend from my Sacramento days I continue to stay in touch with, Bob Reid continues to be a member of the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club. It was an honor given him by the club’s board of directors whereby he has use of the facilities but is not expected to pay dues. He does some volunteer work there and graciously organized a lunch at the club for the next day in my honor with onetime standout member of the AAU swimming team we taught and coached, Peter Anderson, a longtime legislative analyst for the California state government.


Bob was kind enough to drive me and Betty to the site of an elegant, private club where our class reunion and dinner was scheduled. I had been to Arden Hills quite a few times for swimming meets long ago, but with all the real estate development in the plush, neighborhood well to the east off Fair Oaks Blvd. I no longer knew how to get there. There were 146 paid reservations made by our classmates who graduated from Sacramento Senior High School in 1961. Actually that was a pretty good number considering that our class graduated more than 500 of the 1,000-plus who started out with us three years earlier.


I didn’t recognize but a handful of my classmates, many of whom like me had much expanded waistlines since our high school days, with many showing gray hair if any. Among attendees were Gerald “BuzzyChernoff (whom I did not see), Bruce Fletcher, son of the owner of a very large drug store; Richard Lattimer, the elected organizer of the so-so event; Dennis Ghisletta (who sat at our table with his wife and who had been a terrific baseball player at Sac High who was drafted by a major league team but didn’t play because of an injury); Nancy Hoos (onetime girlfriend of Bob Reid whose uncle Earl Hoos taught swimming lessons and coached the AAU swim team at Sutter Lawn) who is now married to a man who looks to be in his mid-30s and who wears a mustache and goatee; Kathy Howell, a once a stylish, young beauty now showing her age but still rather aggressive and loud; my lifelong friend and onetime business partner Bob Reid; Pete Price, son of onetime District Attorney John Price who pulled him out of Sac High in our senior year and put him in a private school after Pete, yours truly and others were caught up in a crackdown on truancy; and Doug Sykes, a great athlete I went through elementary, junior high and high school with who earned an M.A. in history from Cal-Berkeley).


Among the missing were several of my onetime pals who were quite popular in our high school years including “cheerleader and drop-dead pretty” Merry Millward, “queen bee” Marty Klinefelter, Judy Sherman, Vicky Perry, Dan Dittman, Dick Hyde, Harry Singer and Bob Zanders. I’ve tried several times to locate my good buddy and school football player Zanders on the Internet and at his supposed employer at one point, the California Highway Patrol, but failed.  We parted company after I stupidly said something I shouldn’t have mentioned about a brief relationship with his girlfriend whose company I once enjoyed.


The class reunion event organizers put up a poster listing the names of 18 classmates they had found out about who had died. The names included several I knew. Among the deceased were Jim Hunt, who sweet-talked away my onetime girlfriend Diana Doody at Kit Carson Junior High; musician Elwood Orr, baseball standout Robert Belden; Eddie Sizemore; and my date for the senior ball Judy Wessler, a tall and lanky looker who was brave enough to stop me in a school hallway and ask me to escort her to the blowout dance on short notice.


Back during our times at Sac High, the school operated a “classification” system later thrown out by a California court. Based on results of an IQ test, the smartest students were assigned to tough, college prep classes designated “X;” average students were assigned to general classes designated “Y;” students needing remedial help were assigned to special education classes designated “Z.” I was fortunate enough to somehow qualify for the extra work required of the X students, even though I only rarely did any homework at all. My writing ability seems to have helped me “bluff” my way through the usual “bluebook” essay tests given in the tough classes like algebra, chemistry and Latin I took and just barely passed. It also sharply limited the contacts between me and those X classmates with the low-achieving portions of the African-American and Mexican ancestry students in academic subjects.   Here it was a reunion a half-century later and very, very few onetime classmates with African and Mexican backgrounds or heritage were in attendance.


While I was familiar with the Arden Hills club on the distant outskirts east of town because of swimming in meets in the early 1960’s hosted in their big pool (the team was the best in Sacramento at the time and coached by Sherm Chavor, the club’s developer) who later sold it. The club has since gone ga-ga with pretentious facilities providing expensively decorated and furnished public areas but no golf course. The charge for a buffet, self-serve dinner was $75 each, with extra high-priced charges for fine wine and cocktails served at the tables by waiters. A DJ played records of hit songs of the late 1950s and early 1960s, but I didn’t see anybody dancing. Instead, the onetime classmates mainly stood around in small knots talking about old times and what they’ve done in life since graduating in 1961.


Unlike on previous visits to my old home grounds, I just didn’t have the time to drive by our first family home in Sacramento at 816 Robertson Way. We lived there in a small house in a nice neighborhood there when my mother was in a local hospital in 1950 giving birth to my youngest brother, William Ray Nolan. She had hired a housekeeper to cook and take care of me and brother Patrick Thomas Nolan while she was hospitalized. I also did not visit the town’s wonderful Land Park near the Robertson Way address, which contained a zoo and horseback riding trail and Easter egg hiding and hunting grounds during my time there. It was out of season in June, but I still remember the fabulous times we would slowly drive up and down nearby Christmas Tree Lane, where houses tried to outdo one another with the quality and quantity of Christmas decorations and residents in period dress. I also remember being pulled out of the nearby, public Plunge pool near Land Park by a lifeguard and having to sit on a bench in the hot sun as punishment for jumping into deep water. I had mistakenly thought I could swim since I’d had lessons at our former home of Charleston, WVA. I also have a very old memory of being afraid of the occasional tramps walking by our home while carrying gunny sacks, which my mother warned me they would use to kidnap and carry loose children like me or our young girl neighbor who taught me “bad words.” I used to shout out some of those words, to the dismay of my mother. On the 2011 trip, regrettably I also didn’t have time to arrange a dinner or drinks session with onetime Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity brothers from the early 1960s who are still in the area. The college fraternity was kicked off the Sac State campus -  which I did not visit on this trip - for a cafeteria food fight after I transferred away, but I still find time to attend periodic Sig Bust reunion gatherings when I can that are generally held at the farm of a former fraternity president near Lodi, CA. The Victorian classic, onetime frat house in Midtown has been renovated and turned into law offices.


Also missed on this trip were visits to the Sacramento homes of my brothers, Pat at 6933 21st Avenue, and Bill at 3054 34th Street (I regret we didn’t take their photographs nor see Bill’s daughter, Kate Nolan, who is working as a registered nurse in Crescent City, Calif., far to the north near the Oregon border), and the onetime thriving commercial district of downtown Sacramento on and near K Street including such familiar places as Sam’s Hofbrau House and its fantastic hot turkey sandwiches and nearby Mel’s Drive-In that was a magnet for guys cruising to show off their hot rods.  Our trip to California for a fraternity reunion and other reasons in September, 2009 (URL to the seven-part series of travelogues from that trip is at – the travelogues detail some of the places either missed or re-visited during my short walks down Memory Lane in 2011, with links to about 85 posted photos and also to an earlier trip to the area in 1995.  I have in my Memphis home office shelved binders containing my travelogues and photos from that and other trips in the U.S. and elsewhere; many of the trip accounts are posted on the Internet and indexed at Unfortunately, much of my early life’s memories have been blanked out, part due to age and part due to my confused memory of being a casualty of the nasty divorce wars between my parents in the mid-1950s.


While still at Arden Hills during the 2011 trip, one of my former classmates whom I had not remembered quietly suggested that Betty and I stick around even though the crowd was beginning to thin out by 7 p.m. He had something to do with the organizing committee and had once been an FBI agent. He advised that it was probable that a special prize for the class member who traveled the farthest to attend the 50th reunion would be awarded to me. However, tired after standing around and shaking hands for much of the evening, we decided to head back to our hotel, with Bob Reid doing the driving. It was ironic that we again drove on a bridge over the American River near the old Sacramento State campus. Bob and I remembered riding our bikes to the bridge and climbing down to sit on one of the massive, concrete bridge pillars of concrete to smoke cigarettes and watch the flowing river current. I remember once paddling to the point of exhaustion a Navy surplus, bright yellow life raft with fellow fraternity brothers during the annual race of 5-to-10 miles down the river in the race organized by the Interfraternity Council. I also remembered spending an hour or more in a thick patch of poison oak one evening at a later time while I was hiding from some policemen who scattered a college beer bust on a nearby sandbar not far from campus. Driving by my onetime neighborhood First Christian Church at 39th Street and Folsum I remembered my long-ago romance with fellow youth group beauty Pat Schrout and how she ended up with a church pal, David Picke, who much later spent time in prison for an auto theft crime. 


(Continue with Part 3, Lunch with onetime Sutter Lawn swimmers  /  Return to Nolan Travels)