Saturday, January 27, 2018

One Thing Only You Have Done - Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

It's Saturday Night - 
time for more Genealogy Fun! 

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1)  There has been some posts on Facebook to tell one thing that you've done in your life that your Facebook friends have never done.

2)  For this SNGF, write about something that you have done in your life that your friends have not done, as far as you know.

*  Share your act with your readers (and friends) in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a Facebook post.

Here's mine:

My act is that "I worked in the 1963 San Diego Chargers training camp at Rough Acres Ranch in the San Diego high country."

I was 19 years old, and hanging out with a friend named Randy, whose father was an investor in the ranch just north of Boulevard, California in McCain Valley.  

The Chargers had a terrible 1962 season, and the coach wanted to remove the distractions of city life, so he contracted with the ranch.  The ranch had enough cabins, large fields that could be made into playing fields, and a kitchen and dining area - the plan was for it to be a dude ranch with an air strip.  San Diego was 50 miles west, and el Centro was 50 miles east.  The summer weather was hot with occasional thunderstorms.  There were rattlesnakes and scorpions.

In early July, Randy invited me to go with the family on a Saturday to see the Chargers practice at the training camp.   It was lunchtime when we got there, and Randy's dad introduced us to head coach Sid Gillman, and Sid immediately said "Did you bring me some new camp boys?"  Randy and I looked at each other, and after a bit agreed to be camp boys - we had no other jobs lined up.  This was my first paying job!

Randy's family took us back to San Diego, we packed some bags, and caught the shuttle van to the ranch the next day.  My dad was happy, my 7-year old brother Scott was ecstatic, and my mom was going to miss me.  We got back to the camp, got a cabin with two other camp boys (there were about 8 of us), and got to work.  Our job was to make the beds, sweep the floors, and clean the bathrooms.  It was morning work while the players were practicing, and we got to watch the afternoon practice.  We had two San Diego State football players as supervisors.

Randy hurt himself on about the second day, and went home.  I continued to work and occasionally got to go back home when the team went out of town for an exhibition game, and got free tickets for the home exhibition games.  In the first week, I was given a rattlesnake skin from a 5-foot rattler that had been on the playing field.  They killed one or two every day around the complex.  I took it home one weekend, and gave it to my brother who hung it up outside.  He used it to attract files which he caught to feed his pet turtles.  

The evenings were the most fun.  After dinner at the ranch, the players would gather in the cool of the evening outside (the cabins were not air conditioned) and talk, joke, play pranks, and study the playbook.  The best prank was for the country boys to take rattlesnake rattles and shake them behind a cabin and scare the city boys.  The second best prank was to capture a scorpion and throw it into a cabin just after the players had gone in for the night.

I made friends with a 6-3, 230 pound African-American rookie linebacker named Frank Buncom from the University of Mississippi.  He was intrigued by the white city boys from San Diego and talked easily with us.  He would take us hiking and hunting (for rabbits, usually) in the hills around the camp in the early morning or before dinner.  We usually hiked for an hour and were intrigued by the Carrizo Gorge railway trestles across the canyons.

After about six weeks at the camp, the job ended and I returned home.  I took Scott to the home games at Balboa Stadium, and the Chargers won the AFL championship that year.  

About  midway through the season, I called the Chargers office and got in touch with Frank, and invited him to dinner at our house.  My father wasn't sure about this, my mom was agreeable, and Scott was excited.  When Frank came, we went out front on the sidewalk, and Frank and I threw passes to Scotty in an area maybe 20 yards long and 5 yards wide, and then we played in the street too.  Scotty was so jazzed over this.  We had a nice dinner, and Frank impressed my folks with his life experiences.  It was a memorable night.

Frank played for the Chargers from 1963 through 1967, and was all-AFL for three of those years.  He went to Cincinnati for the 1968 season.  At the start of the 1969 season, he suffered a heart attack and died at age 29.  His Wikipedia biography is at

I'm pretty sure that none of my friends and readers have had these experiences!


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Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

My husband & I attended the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid NY. That was the year of the USA Miracle Hockey Team! We attended several events an loved every bit of it. I also attended the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. I don't know anyone else who has attended any Olympic Games.

Diane Gould Hall said...

Ron and I were on vacation, our first ever trip to Europe. We were in a little town called Maria Alm, Austria during the fall Harvest Festival. I was called up to the stage, during an outdoor celebration, and I got to play an Alpenhorn. You know, those big long horns you see in the Riccola commercials. I competed with two others who were called up to the stage to see who could play jingle bells the best. I won! Quite an experience. I don’t think any of my friends have ever played an Alpenhorn in Austria.

Dana Leeds said...

What a great story! It's wonderful that you have recorded it. I'll have to think about "one thing I've done..."

Janice M. Sellers said...

I don't think any of my genealogy friends has performed at a Super Bowl or a World Series game:

Seeds to Tree said...

In the 1970's, I used a Eurail pass, youth hostels and carrying my backpack travelled throughout Europe for 8 weeks alone! Every third night I slept on a train to save money. I might even go to a destination 4 hours away, and then take a return train to the same town to save money. Before I left I gave my mom an itenerary and I had to write home once a week, a letter that took 5 days to get to the United States. I saw Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Berlin (which was hard to get into), Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, the Spanish Riviera (for 5 days of relaxing), Rome, Pisa, Florence, Vienna, Venice, and several stops in Switzerland and Austria. Plenty of people went to Europe, but not a female travelling alone throughout the continent for 8 weeks. I was 20 years old.

Marie Cooke Beckman said...

Seven yrs ago, I was a resident property manager at an apartment complex in Alabama. While going on my morning walk of the property, I discovered a tenant who had been deceased for a number of days by noticing a bizarre amt of flies in the window and a foul smell in the air as I walked by her apartment. The time was late August and it happened during the week that the property owner was away on vacation in France and unreachable.

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

Great story, Randy! THIS Chargers fan is envious! ;-)

BTW, I hope you will consider adding your post to this month's Genealogy Blog Party: One of a Kind. Would love to have you join us!