Friday, February 29, 2008

8th Annual All Class Reunion June 28, 2008


The eighth annual John Burroughs and Burbank High School All Class Reunion will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 28 at Johnny Carson Park, 400 S. Bob Hope Drive, Burbank. There is a $2 donation at the park. Free parking is available at the Providence High School parking lot, enter from Buena Vista Street.

For more information, contact Linda Melton Damarjian, JBHS 1961, at redhead77@ or Pam Zipfel-Kirkwood, BHS 1964, at

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Burbank/Burroughs Alumni Band

Alumni band at Burbank on Parade held on Saturday, April 28, 2007. See anyone we know??

"Back To The 50's Again" is the theme for this year's parade on April 26 which starts at 11 am.


Remember the 1958 sci-fi movie 'The Blob'?

I never saw it... tooooo scary! But whenever I type the words 'the blog', I keep thinking of 'the BLOB' - lol!!

So here is the trailer to the flick in which Steve McQueen made his debut as an actor.

The Blob Trailer


Clip of Steve McQueen in Dead or Alive TV show


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What a TRIPP... KAREN TRIPP that is!

Oh my, it was close to FIFTY years ago I last saw Karen Tripp - it was 6th grade at Miller. Her family apparently moved across town and I never heard from her again... until TODAY!

It all began with an email from Dave White, JBHS Class '67 webmaster... The emails below tell the story:

Subject: Our cross-town rival
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2008

I've traded a number of emails lately with Cathy Palmer who has a site dedicated to the Burbank High graduating class of 67'

With the latest round of pictures from Ron Blom, I'd thought it would be interesting to find out where the dividing line is that sends one student to Burroughs and another to Burbank High. Does anyone know what elementary and junior highs (Luther) went to Burbank?

Did any of us have a choice?


--- end---

The dividing line was Jeffries. It is now Victory. It was changed a few years after we graduated. Mingay students went to Luther and then were split with some the BHS and some to JBHS.

Paula Jetton

--- end ---

Coincidentally, I went to Miller Elementary School with Cathy Palmer (Providencia & Kenneth). My parents lived on the hill until I was in the 6th grade then bought a house on Florence. I went to Luther. The elementary schools that went to Burbank were: Miller, Emerson, Jefferson, Washington and I think Providencia. I don’t know the dividing lines. Karen

--- end ---

Karen, you went to Miller? What was your last name??

A blast from the past!!

Cathy Palmer

--- end ---

Hi Cathy! My name was Karen Tripp. We had Girl Scouts together too. Do you remember me?

--- end ---

KAREN!!! Yes, OF COURSE I remember you!! So you went to Luther and then Burroughs? Wow... I remember you had a cheery smile and we would laugh a lot together - LOL!!

At what grade did you move away? Did we say good-bye???

Looks like you are working for the city of Burbank? What's the latest? I would love to post on our blog a brief update about you with a recent pic and early pic if you have them.

We have lots of Miller folks who are still movin' and groovin' and who came to the 40th reunion: Jeanne Barron, Mary Brotsis, Mary Ogle, Don Ray Ripley, Cathy & Carol Nicholls, Kathleen Dupree, and Diana Ziegler didn't come but we are in touch. Also I'm in touch with Jeanne Sproul who's had a rough go of it over the years. This blog has opened doors for lots of connections - VERY cool indeed!!

BHS is celebrating 100 yrs next Sept and I'll be in Burbank for a few days if you want to connect.

Click here to read about my adventures... golly, it's only been FIFTY YEARS since we were at Miller - YIKES!! Hahahaa!!


--- end ---


I love your website! Cathy Nicholls (Coyle) and I worked together for the City for many years. Her sister Joan still works here. I saw Mary Brotsis about 10 years at the soap opera “Santa Barbara” party. My friend Martie Scribner was a make-up artist on the show and worked with her. She looked so different! Even more so on her reunion photo. I ran into Chris Peterson at the Burbank/Burroughs all class reunion a few years back. I recognized him immediately. It’s sad thinking about the friends I lost by moving. It was in the middle of 6th grade when we moved. My mom drove me to school every day (I was within walking distance before) until the end of the school year. I would love to see you when you come down. Keep in touch! Karen

--- end ---

You left in the middle of 6th grade? UGHHH! What ever happened to Paula Blank?

Yeah, I moved my kids a few too many times and now realize that was a pretty dumb thing to do to a child. I myself was in the same house until I moved out at 18 yrs, but since have moved a GAZILLION times and am ready to stay put for a while... a looooong while I hope - here in Sonoma.

So can I post your emails on the blog??? Along with a photo or two? Are there any pics on the Burroughs website? If yes, I can copy them - just cut & paste the link in an email.

So glad we have connected, Karen!!

--- end ---

You can post any emails you want. Go to our website and click on our reunion - there are a few pics there. I saw Paula about eight years ago at her parents’ 50th Anniversary party. She lives in Pennsylvania now. So tell me about your reunion. Where was it held? We had ours in October at the Holiday Inn. It was in the Crystal View Room at the top of the hotel, appetizers, bar and music. We had the best time! The best ever reunion! I’m on the reunion committee and this was the first time we did everything ourselves. We’ve always had a reunion company help us locate people, etc. It was a lot of work, but definitely worth it. Even the class of ’68 reunion committee showed up. There was a picnic at Johnny Carson park on the following Sunday and a cruise to Mexico the next day. We got a lot more people to go this time because of Dave White and our website. Almost everything on it, he put there. We are now keeping in touch with each other a lot more. One of our classmates, who lives in Palmdale, wants to have a party this summer and invite everyone. We are planning an Alaskan cruise next year when we all turn 60 (and before we all get too old to enjoy it!). Anyway, that’s about it from the other side of town. Karen

--- end ---

Great!! Thanks Karen... I'll email you the link once it is posted. You know, Mary Brotsis as well as others still have our photos from elementary school but she wouldn't part with them so I could scan and post - hahaa! I understand totally.

Anyway, we used a reunion company this year but next time folks are wanting to do it ourselves - maybe a 45th and hey, the cruise sounds fun (how much and when? just curious - I've never been on a cruise, but an Alaskan one sound awesome!)! That was mentioned for us at some point but not sure where it (the idea - not the crusie - lol!) went.

Our reunion was lots of fun which began on Friday with a few small get together's here and there, then Saturday lunch at Toluca Lake Bob's, followed with the big wing-ding at the Sheraton Universal and of course, the Saturday picnic at Johnny Carson park.

More later...!!


--- end ---

We don’t know the details of the cruise yet. We have a couple of people from the committee looking into it. Your reunion sounded fun too. We also went to Bob’s, but we went on Friday night. Because I work for the City, I got a shuttle bus and gave a tour of Burbank for those who hadn’t been here for awhile. We met in front of Burroughs on Saturday morning, and I drove them to see the studios, the new Empire Center (formerly Lockheed property), Burbank High, and the new Chandler Bikeway, etc. It was great fun and everyone had a million questions about all the changes. Very whirlwind weekend, but so much fun! Karen

--- THE END ---

Monday, February 25, 2008

The AMGEN Tour of California ended

And Shari Deuel Nicholls sent us an update which you can read here.

The winner of the bike race was Levi Leipheimer from Santa Rosa:

Burroughs Class '67 Website & Disco Dave

So yesterday I called Dave White ('67 JBHS) just to chat about his groovy website - click here to see - and below is the email he sent me. So if anyone out there is interested doing more with a website for our class, please email me - danke!

Subject: JBHS website
Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2008

Fun talking together today, I guess what I need to do is figure out what you can do to enhance the BHS info without overloading you with work. Maybe you can find someone who can handle the web site and list server stuff. is available but is taken.

Go to and check out what other names are available then secure a web name asap and get on with it.

Disco Dave

Here's the yearbook info

Each page is available in hi-res at plus the whole yearbook in one file. We passed them out to everyone at the reunion because I heard so many stories of absusive spouses destroying them in wild rages.

I guess we've got a pretty motivated group of folks because I had a lot of help putting this thing together.

My favorite photo (nice shoes girls!!!) - that's Sherman Chavoor in the background on the right - the next year he went on to become principle of Burroughs (just passed away)

Real girls wear dresses (submitted by Jan Chronert)(L-R) Diane Merritt, Susan Newman, Paula Silvagni, Jan, Donna Kurtz, Robyn Stewart, Melinda StuckeJordan Graduation 1964

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Reunion Memory Books have been mailed

If you ordered a Memory Book, you may have already received it or will soon.

For those who would like to order a book, go to the Reunion Committee website.

After you log on, click on "Order Tickets and Products" - the cost is now $45.00 plus a $5.95 processing fee.

Forty Year Reunion - Class of '67

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Memories of Carson City

Received this email from Donna Luce... Yeah Donna, ONLY 14 hours away - LOL! Thanks for the update.

Hey Cathy,

Did you know that you guys were only 14 hours from my house, straight up 395!!! Some day all of you will have to do a road trip to Spokane. I'm only 30 miles from Coeur d"Alene, Idaho, which has lots of fun things to do.

Anyway FYI, John Cressaty lives in Minden, NV, where I used to live (1991 to 1993) and is only 15 miles from Carson City. He and his family were very cordial to me when I lived up there. Next time you go to CC you should look him up.

Looks like you guys had a fun time. I loved living up there but had to move back to Burbank when my mom got cancer (non-hodgkins lymphoma). Lots of prayers gave her back to us and she's been in remission for 12 years now.

Anyway, I've been working right now through the tax season at H/R Block. After that's done I've got jury duty, then I'm headed for Burbank to see my family, especially my two granddaughters and hopefully look up old friends.

All for now,


20 Year Reunion Video

A blast from the past.. below are clips from our 20 year class reunion held in 1987! Click here to see photos from that reunion book. Btw, the 40th reunion book should be coming next month.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Road Trip to Granite Bay, Carson City and Auburn

So this past weekend, John and Cathy Nicholls Coyle drove up from southern Cal to visit sister Carol in Granite Bay and I drove from Sonoma to join in on the fun.

Early Saturday morning, we took off for Carson City, Nevada, so John could see his dad while we three girls wandered around the old town, visiting with local folks and enjoying the sights - the recent snow looked so pretty on the hills.

After we returned that evening, we girls had fun watching Cathy on the Dating Game from 1967 (see earlier post)!

Then we watched the video from the 1967 twenty year reunion - will post clips from that soon. PLUS, we stayed up until 2am reading from our diaries (1963-1967) LOL!!

On Sunday, Carol's husband, Wayne, joined us as we drove to Auburn to sight-see and visit antique shops. While there, I got a surprise phone call from Diana Ziegler Larsen! She chatted with the 3 of us and talked about getting together next summer.

It was a WONDERFUL weekend with WONDERFUL friends and beautiful weather, so I hope you enjoy the short 2-part video below...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Visit with Shari Duel Nicholls

Last night I met up with Shari (click here to read more on Shari) while she is working the bike race, AMGEN Tour of California. Click the video below!

Pumping It Up

February 19, 2008

Sporting a large set of antlers, race fan Dore Holte of Seattle paces the pack being led by American rider Danny Pate as it heads up Coleman Valley Road west of Occidental on Monday during Stage 1 of the 2008 Tour of California. The stage ended with three circuits of downtown Santa Rosa. Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat Laura Van Gilder peddled down the desolate streets of Santa Rosa early Monday morning -- preparing for her big race.

At age 43, Van Gilder is one of the winningest riders in U.S. women's cycling history and this day would finish second.

Her muscles gradually warmed as she cruised by homes where Santa Rosa race fans drank their morning coffee and bundled up for the biggest day of cycling in Sonoma County -- a place known for its love of biking.

This year's women's competition in downtown Santa Rosa was a new addition to the Tour of California, the 650-mile men's race that stretches from Palo Alto to Pasadena over eight days. Spectators numbering in the thousands witnessed the debut of the women's one-hour race around downtown and, later, the arrival of defending champion and hometown favorite Levi Leipheimer, who finished in the top group of Stage 1 in the men's competition.

Neither race organizers nor city tourism officials would offer an estimate of the crowd. The California Highway Patrol said about 150,000 people enjoyed the race from its start in Sausalito, to its finish in Santa Rosa and along the coastal stretch in between.

Smaller crowds are expected to attend the kickoff to Stage 2 of the men's competition this morning at 10 a.m. in Railroad Square as riders head out toward Sacramento.

"Santa Rosa has always been billed as a really good cycling community," said Van Gilder as she signed autographs for fans before the race. "I'm happy to be part of it here, and excited to have a women's event at the Tour of California."

Having the women race and mingle with fans was part of the midday draw downtown as the male riders pushed along Highway 1 before their arrival on Third Street shortly after 3 p.m.

"It's awesome," said Lauri Peterson, a cycling devotee from Windsor. "The energy level is up this year because of the women's race."

Cindi Lee, a Santa Rosa resident who participates in an all-women's cycling club with Peterson, was jubilant as she got Van Gilder's autograph.

"We are absolutely thrilled," she said. "These women are just amazing athletes."

In Old Courthouse Square, dozens of vendors sold everything from T-shirts and hot dogs to bicycles that cost as much as some new cars. Some offered cow bells, which rang out along the course as riders passed.

The day's fashion statement was spandex.

"The word of the day is wedgie," said Barbara Pritchard, with a small laugh.

Lots of fans were clad in cycling gear and drank from water bottles designed for racing. Many left bike helmets on their heads as they crowded against the waist-high barriers separating the fans from the professionals.

Pritchard stood at the finish, waiting for the cyclists to fly past at about 35 miles per hour as she has every year since the Tour of California began in 2006.

"It's thrilling to see the bikes go cruising through," she said. "You're right at the spot where they finish."

When the announcement came at about 3:05 p.m. that the cyclists were nearing downtown, fans pressed to the finish line. Some even climbed the trees lining Third Street to get a better view. At one point, three helicopters crowded the skies above downtown. Twenty minutes later, it was all over.

Juan José Haedo from Argentina won Monday's stage of the race. Team Tibco rider Brooke Miller from Cleveland won the women's race earlier in the day. Santa Rosa's own Levi Leipheimer, winner of last year's tour, begins today's stage in fourth place.

The cooler temperatures and overcast skies might have deterred some people from attending. The high temperature Monday was 56.

"If it were sunnier, there would be more people," said Ralph Morgenbesser, owner of Ralph's Hot Dog Stand.

From the vantage point of his stand in Old Courthouse Square, Morgenbesser is probably an expert on the daily happenings on the square.

"I've been here since the race started, and it's getting better every year," he said.

Mo McElroy, executive director of the Santa Rosa Convention and Visitors Bureau, worked to get Santa Rosa selected as host of the inaugural women's race.

"It attracts a whole new audience," McElroy said. "In its third year, the race is really starting to grow."

The women's race director, Laura Charameda, said she hopes to expand the women's race to include other cities.

"I hope we will have more events," she said. "But it's no surprise to me that Santa Rosa is the inaugural place for it."

You can reach Staff Writer Nathan Halverson at 521-5494 or nathan.halverson@press

I asked Shari to send us an update after the race and here it is - thanks Shari!

Hi Cathy,

The T of C was wet and cold. This year I met a lot of new people from all across the country. The driver of the race announcer's car is Nelson Vails-'84 Olympic champion. We had a lot of fun before the race came through. In Pasadena last night there was an After T of C party. Everyone is invited. It's a chance to meet the riders and anyone else the works the tour. I met someone that works setup/teardown of the start/finish line but never saw him during the tour. He drives at night to the start and slept during the day. So last night we finally got to talk again. Met another that I found out lives in Phoenix. He'll come to the Relay Race finish on Sat. He also does Ride Across Iowa and said it's a ride not to miss. So I may just book a flight to Iowa! My teammates invited me to their home in Virginia and ride the Blue Ridge trail w/ them. Meeting all these great people is why I do these.

Oh yeah! One of friends that I met 3 years ago working this was telling me about his daughter's wedding. He's been helping her husband out working on their house. He asked how Ventura was, I told him I lived in Valencia, that's where my son-in-law parents live! Hold on!! You'll never believe who his dad is~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tom Iverson!!!!!!! His daughter married Tom Iverson's son! Talk about a small world.

Anyway, I've unpacked the big bag and started packing my duffle bag. Today I spray painted 6 more large rabbits to decorate our vans. We fly out to Phoenix Thurs. morn, drive to Wickenburg, decorate the 2 team vans and our race start time is 12noon Friday. I'm running the 2nd, 13th and 26th legs of this 190 something relay race. We should finish in Mesa around 4:45pm Sat. Just in time for the big party!

Then it's back to reality! Heavy training schedule for the King of the Mountain series that I've signed up for. April 12 and then every 2 wks after. 3 100+mile rides e/ 12,000' of climbing each.

It was great to have dinner w/ you.
It was a REAL SHOCK to see myself in the video. It's "funny" how you see yourself.
Let me know if you're down this way.


Monday, February 18, 2008

The Dating Game - June 26, 1967

This past weekend, John and Cathy Nicholls Coyle along with myself met up at Carol Nicholls Lebrecht's beautiful home in Granite Bay near the Folsom Lake - what a BLAST we had!

I will be posting more but to start off below is Cathy's recently obtained video of her Dating Game appearance. Here's what I wrote in my diary for June 26, 1967:

"Spent the night at Nicholls after staying up till 4am talking with Carol. Today Cathy was on the DATING GAME on T.V. It looked good! Manny Rose (her date) & his friend, George, came up to see it too. Boy, they ARE tall! Just goofed off there tonight."

LOL! Well, here it is so check it out for yourself:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ken Moore

Thanks, Ken, for your kind words and so glad to receive your email!


Thank you for all your efforts to bring this to me and others. Your BHS site brings this man good feelings for his past. So much, so long ago. You did real good.

Ken Moore

Friday, February 15, 2008

House of the Future is Coming Back

Disney announced this week that it's bringing back its “House of the Future Exhibit” in May 2008 to the Anaheim park.

Remember seeing it in Tomorrowland? It opened in 1957 and closed in 1967.

Here are a few fun links to take you down memory lane:

Microsoft, HP to Resurrect Disneyland's House of the Future - Gearlog

Daveland Disneyland House of the Future Photo Page

YouTube - House of the future - part 1

Email from Dona Foy Porcaro-Bruckner

Received this email today - thanks Dona!


Debbie went by Deborah Spaulding Milton. Debbie decided on her 40th birthday she did not want to be a Debbie any longer and wanted a more refined Deborah. It was very difficult for me to change but I finally did! Deb was truly one of the most wonderful, creative people I have ever known. Her daughter is graduating from nursing school in May and that is a tribute to Deb.

Oh, BTW, I love the blog and I look at it everyday-Don Ray is a great writer and I really enjoyed his letter. You have done so much to bring all of us together.

I definitely would want a 45 year reunion and yes, I feel it should be much simpler than the 40th. I think most people don’t want to spend 100.00 plus per person to attend. I would be more than happy to work on it with Cathy and Carol or anyone else. Scott’s class had light snacks and open bar at the castaway and it seemed very well attended. Have you had a lot of responses?

I wrote to Glenn Cowan and we have corresponded a few times. I was so sad to hear he had passed because I have known him since grade school. He got a chuckle out of that!

Take care and have a great weekend.



Thursday, February 14, 2008

Baby Cat & Stuart McCleod says "Happy Valentine's Day!"

Cathy Nicholls Coyle sent sweet pics of granddaughter, Baby Cat, as well as her little Scottie, Stuart McCleod, and I had to post 'em both - LOL!!

Happy Valentine's Day

John 3 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

May your day be filled with joy, peace and love!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni awards have been created in an effort to recognize graduates of Burbank High School who have succeeded in their personal and professional lives.

Distinguished Alumni will be honored with a photo and brief biography and achievements displayed permanently in the Burbank High School Library and on this website.

You may submit a nomination form online, or contact us and we will mail you a form. Nomination forms are also available at the Burbank High School front desk.


The Distinguished Alumni Award shall be given annually to recognize past graduates of Burbank High School. Awards for alumni may be given for various fields of service which may include, but are not limited to, the arts, business, education, entertainment, law, medicine, military, music, philanthropy, politics, public service, religion, scholarship, science, or any other area of achievement.

Burbank High alumni who graduated ten or more years ago are eligible for recognition. Awards may be given posthumously.

Return the completed nomination form to: Burbank High School Distinguished Alumni Committee 902 N. Third Street Burbank, CA 91502., CA 91502.

Monday, February 11, 2008

BILL BRIC, BHS '67 (1949-1968) "I'm a better person because of what Bill gave to me." - Don Ray

Below is a touching letter Don Ray wrote to the family of Bill Bric back in 1989 - thank you, Don, for sharing it with us. And many thanks to those like Bill who gave the ultimate sacrifice - may the Lord bring comfort to the families and loved ones we pray. (Memorial Page)

(PFC William H. Bric III was born on March 11, 1949. He died on August 23, 1968. This is a letter to his older brother.)

Don Ray
September 16, 1989

Mr. Stephen C. Bric

Dear Steve:

I'm writing to you because you're the most senior member of the Bric family that I could locate without actually talking to anyone directly.

This is the letter I've been meaning to write to you and your parents for 21 years -- but couldn't. Many times I hesitated for fear of the pain it might trigger in your parents. But it was just as much for fear of my own pain that I held back.

I'm sure you've never met me. You probably knew my sister, Nancy, from school. I went by the name of Don Ripley then, but that still shouldn't ring a bell. Suffice it to say I knew of you at John Muir Junior High as Bill Bric's older brother. That made you special in my eyes.

It's a long walk from Capitol Hill to the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial -- but there was no other way for me to get there. It was February of 1988. I was in Washington D.C. to cover a congressional hearing that involved a Los Angeles news story. I stayed an extra day with a fellow journalist who lives a block away from the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol. I was glad he had a prior engagement the next morning. That meant I could go off on my own without having to explain. I knew I had to go to the Memorial -- but also I knew I couldn't say the words aloud. It wasn't on the Capitol Mall maps posted here and there. It was obviously too new. I knew I couldn't ask for directions or even tell a cab driver where I had to go -- I knew there was too much of something in me that was pounding to get out.

So I wrapped my wool scarf tightly around my ears, jammed my hands in my overcoat pockets and I walked.

The only person I was going there to see was Bill.

As I walked through the snow in the direction of the Washington Monument I tried to remember as much as I could about Bill. I remembered a rainy morning, also in February, but in 1966. A girl I had been seeing called to tell me her brother Steve had died. Steve was about 13 at the time and had been confined to a wheelchair his whole life. Steve had enjoyed chasing his sister and me up and down the sidewalk in his wheelchair. He could maneuver himself so quickly. I remember feeling how he had been cheated in life. His sister said Steve didn't have a lot of friends -- not even enough for a full complement of pall bearers. She was three short and asked if I'd help out.

My mother heard my half of the conversation and waited for me to hang up before she asked me. "Why did you turn her down?" It was one of those questions that didn't require an answer. I thought about it for less than a moment and called my friend back.

"That's nice of you," she said, "but we're still two short. Do you know anyone else who will help?" The funeral was the next day. I called every close friend and then started calling kids I knew from school. Of course, Bill Bric didn't hesitate for an instant. He had never met Steve. In fact, he wasn't sure who Steve's sister was. "Sure, I'll be there," he said. "But I don't have a suit. I'll see what I can do."

The next morning Bill was there, as promised, in an oversized Navy pee coat I believe he borrowed from your father. I learned altruism from him that rainy morning.

Bill was a quiet and gentle person. That made it all that much more surprising the following year when word buzzed around Burbank High School that someone had taken on the heretofore meanest guy at school and won -- and it was Bill Bric that did it. The guy I'd never seen angry apparently stepped forward when the self-proclaimed bad guy picked a fight with someone Bill thought was much too small. Bill wasn't a whole lot bigger, but he stepped in anyway. He taught me about sticking to one's beliefs -- even when the odds were drastically skewed in the other guy's favor.

One day Bill told me about his involvement with the Burbank Police Explorers. By now I really looked up to Bill. It didn't take any coaxing to get me to join up. We had a lot of fun directing traffic during events at the Starlight Bowl. Bill had me convinced I should be a policeman.

When we had outgrown the Explorers program and graduated from high school I didn't see Bill for a few months. Then he resurfaced as an Army trainee. I told him I had taken the test for the Air Force and was hoping that when I enlisted I'd get a good assignment. Bill spent a good three hours explaining why I was fool to join the Air Force -- a four-year commitment, no job guarantee. He was in for only three years and there was no question that he'd wear a green beret one day. He asked if I'd go with him to his recruiter and listen to what the man had to say.

As I neared the long reflective pond that stretches its way like a blue carpet up to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I realized that back then I was able to actually do something for Bill -- he got a three-day pass for signing me up in the Army. I remembered how he coached me in how to prepare for basic training. He said that if I took control of things during the reception period -- showed some leadership and all -- that I'd surely be appointed as a squad leader. He was right about that.

Even though Bill enlisted months before me, we were both still in training in the spring of 1968. I was at Military Police School at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Bill was in a nearby training unit -- getting closer every day to wearing that green beret.

With both of us being in training, it was difficult for us to get together. But on April 4th, the eve of my graduation from M.P. school, Bill got word to me to come and visit him at his unit. He showed me around his company area in the darkness of the evening and then we went to a movie together at one of the theaters on the base. I don't remember the movie, but I'll never forget the images that followed. Word was spreading throughout the area that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had just been killed.

I remember that a lot of guys were happy about it -- practically cheering. I also remember not knowing who Martin Luther King really was. It was just a name in the news -- a lot like Vietnam.

That was the last time I saw or spoke to Bill. The assassination of Dr. King would result in nearly everyone in my unit having their orders changed. Everyone would be shipped immediately to Ft. Dix, New Jersey for riot control training. Only a handful of us who had been arbitrarily designated as sentry dog handlers would be shipped overseas.

We were given a few weeks of leave before we were shipped to Okinawa to be assigned dogs to train. My mother tried to convince herself that we'd train in Okinawa and then be assigned somewhere safe. It did no good to spell it out for her. Mother refused to drive to the airport with us. She walked as far as the car and then turned and ran back inside, holding her hand over her mouth as if it would somehow keep her from crying.

I walked up the steps that led up to the giant, seated statue of Abraham Lincoln. I still hadn't found the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. The Gettysburg Address is etched on one of the inside walls of the Lincoln Memorial. I had memorized it in the third grade, but it didn't mean anything to me until that cold morning. I held my hand over my mouth -- as if it would somehow keep me from crying.

We landed at Kadena Air Force Base. While were waiting for someone to pick us up, a couple hundred tired young soldiers landed for refueling on their way home from Vietnam. It was an ominous message they had -- more images that would be forever etched in the human mind. "Good luck, guys," one of them said. "They're really taking names down there."

While we were training in Okinawa we heard about the assassination of Robert Kennedy. What was going on back home?

On July 1st, my group landed, dogs and all, in Cam Ranh Bay. On the 4th of July we were flown to Saigon and eventually driven to Long Binh. Within a month, the demeanor I'd learned from Bill helped get me shipped out earlier than normal to Soc Trang, a detachment in the southern part of the Mekong Delta. By August I'd settled in and become familiar with the sounds of incoming mortars and snipers' bullets.

When I turned to walk down the steps I was amazed at how far away the Washington Monument seemed -- and how much farther still the Capitol was. I'd walked a long distance. Then I noticed the people walking off to the left, toward statues of three soldiers in jungle fatigues. I had -- maybe instinctively -- found the Memorial. As I walked to it I did everything in my power to not look anyone in the eye.

If you took all of the discomfort, danger and fear I experienced during my year in Vietnam and combined it into one horrible moment, it wouldn't come close to the devastation I felt when I read the words my mother wrote me. She didn't send the clipping from the Burbank Daily Review. That would have been too easy. She mustered up 19 years of accumulated motherhood to try to soften the words she knew would hurt me so much. My friend was dead.

When I finally located panel #47 west, line #38 I was surprisingly composed. Maybe it was because I was among others who had somehow come to terms with their losses -- losses of actual family members.

I was able to take a taxi back to my friend's place, but I was never able to tell him, or anyone, about that morning. But I vowed I'd track down Bill's family by his birthday. I couldn't do it. I decided to make contact on August 23rd of last year. I guess I still wasn't ready. Then I froze up again the following March.

This June my girlfriend and I went to Washington, D.C. on a business/vacation. We visited the Memorial. It was Cindi's first time. She never asked about the name I again looked up. She stood silently as I stared at the wall. Then she quietly handed me her camera so I could take a picture of Bill's name. When she had the film developed she gave me the print -- again, without asking or saying anything.

Last night I was sorting through some boxes and found an old record album. I cranked up the stereo and listened. Now it was time.

This letter is an awfully long way to say a few simple things to you and your family . . .

I'm terribly sorry about your loss and mine.

I am a better person because of what Bill gave me.

I sincerely hope my contact is not intrusive or overly painful for you.

I'm sure my letter can't do much to help any of you -- but I truly believe it is somehow good for me.

Sometimes it takes a long, long time to work through things. It makes a person tired.


Don Ray

February 11, 2008

Hi Cathy,

I'm doing fine -- busy as usual.

I didn't write the "Bill Bric Letter" with the intent of sharing it with anyone outside Bill's family. Bill's older brother, Steve, responded warmly when he first received it, but there was a bit of cautious distance or something in the air. I thought maybe that he still hadn't come to grips with Bill's death. I had tried to find Bill's parents, but it turns out they had both died by the time I finally got around to writing the letter.

Many years later, Steve tracked me down to tell me that his daughter had wanted to know more about the Uncle Bill that she had never met. Steve asked me to resend the letter that he had misplaced. Again, years later, he found me again to tell me that his daughter had written an essay or paper about her Uncle Bill and had used some of the contents of the letter I had written. I can't remember the details, but somehow that paper or essay helped her get into the college of her choice.

About two years ago, Steve found me again to tell me that he was actively looking into the circumstances of Bill's death. I was so touched and honored when he told me that he had shared the "Bill Bric Letter" with some of the veterans who had known Bill in the few weeks he was in Vietnam before he died. Bill was part of a very secret unit and so his comrades were reluctant to believe anybody who said they were related to one of the members of the unit who had died. Apparently my letter convinced them that Steve was really Bill's brother. After that, Steve and I met for the first time in person. I now feel like I'm a member of his extended family -- at least in spirit.

I asked him if I could share the letter. He said the he would like that.

With that, I hope anyone who reads it takes a minute to silently thank Bill and all of the other men and women who gave their lives for this great country.

An interesting side note. When I wrote the letter, I had no idea what post-traumatic stress disorder meant -- much less that I could be suffering from it. But the letter, it turns out, displays many of the signs of PTSD -- especially my inability to talk about Bill or even say aloud the words "Vietnam Memorial" at the time. Now I'm getting wonderful treatment from the Veterans Administration.


Don Ray

PS My son took the recent one of me at the Movable Vietnam Memorial Wall when it came
through Burbank recently at the Valhalla Cemetery.

My dog's name was Ralph.

Mari Bindman (1949-1985)

Today, we sadly add another classmate to our Memorial Page... Mari Bindman. Apparently she died in 1985 but that's all we know, so if anyone has more information on her or any other classmates listed, please email - thank you.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

Here's a video clip of them doing their 1967 Hits Medley (Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, I've Got You Under My Skin & Bye, Bye, Baby, Baby Goodbye). Click here to see more of The Four Seasons and other Music From The Past!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Teri Troxel

Today Cathy Nicholls Coyle sent me this email she just received from Teri Troxel:


Punxsutawney Phil is the woodchuck that they bring out to see or not see his shadow. He saw his shadow and 6 more weeks of winter....Yuk!

Yes it is a big thing here. My daughter and I have an antique/salvage shop so was busy working and watching grandkids for the week.

Take Care & God Bless,


Email from Alan Singer

Thanks Alan for taking us on a stroll down memory lane!
Subject: Don Ray's email

Hi Cathy,

A few comment on Don Ray's email today.

I remember the same kind of movie theatre ticket prices as Don mentioned. Also, I remember that at the Cornell theatre they charged an extra 10 cents per ticket if they were showing a Disney movie. At that theater I believe there were stars, as well as large water stain, on the ceiling. Don mentions "loge seats", which I also remember. The loge seats were in the back of the theater, had different color upholstery (I think they were green), and they were more plush than the regular seats. I never got to sit in them. I do recall that some people who had bought regular seats tried to sit in the loge seats, and the ushers would evict them and make them go back to the regular seats. Like Don, I have no idea why they were called "loge" seats.

I can't remember the "no photographs" signs at Lockheed, but I do remember the "Sky Room", which was a restaurant that was elevated (I think it was located in the control tower). My dad took my brother (Shel Singer, BHS '65) and meI to eat there a few times in the 1950s. It was real exciting for a young kid. It burned down, I think sometime in the 1950s or 1960.

Thanks for your continuing work on the blog. I really enjoy it.

Alan Singer