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The detective who worked with John on the Bradford case – a hard-working, diligent, bachelor –finally found the girl of his dreams, decided to get married and needed a best man. Who else but John St. John? John didn’t do tuxes or shined shoes, bow ties, or cuff links....
The first stop after landing was the document drill followed by watching a parade of suitcases on a carousal go around and around. The lucky passengers grabbed their bags and departed. The unlucky passengers held their breath wondering what it would be like to begin their vacation wearing the clothes they traveled in.
Finally, the day arrived. We hugged our dogs, took one last look at the spacious house and newly landscaped backyard with an aviary, pizza oven and cabana we’d be leaving for a 500 square foot apartment with a dish rack, living room sofa and teensy loft bedroom.
March 1983, I was preparing a quiche for the informant, Scott Fraser, who gave Detective John St. John the piece of critical information he needed to arrest The Freeway killer, Bill Bonin. As I poured the cheese mixture into the dish, smoothing the dough at the edges then crimping those edges, I wondered what it would be like to walk into the same room where Fraser smoked one Camel cigarette after the other and Bonin drank his non-alcoholic beverage of choice: Raspberry Kool-Aid with one ice cube.
There’s nothing like coming face to face with a drooling, snorting, pile of shaggy black fur that looked like a primitive rug from Tibet. Instead, this creature was living on a ranch just an hour and a half from a glitzy gambling mecca: Reno, Nevada.
I can’t remember the year or even the season when I looked out the passenger window onto a grassy field on the outskirts of Calpine (another mountain town) and saw my first Yak. Jim and I were on the home stretch of our two-week vacation on the log cabin we owned in the Lakes basin, tired from a ten-hour drive with our five furry passengers who’d been grumbling and growling, into and out of my lap, thirsty and hungry and generally miserable for all that time.
Why is it the day a dream finally happens is a day like all the rest? I fixed the dogs their breakfast of Farmer’s Dog mixed with kibble, then I headed outside past the fire pit and the red bougainvillea vines draped over a fence. Next stop, the aviary where two hundred Zebra Finches awaited my arrival with fresh water, bird seed and millet. The October sun felt too hot, and the few patches of lawn left in our drought resistant landscape were a dingy yellow. I looked into the blue sky and wished for rain. And maybe a cloud or two.
Lena Wucherer (my husband’s grandmother) didn’t have a college education or athletic skill or any of the advantages women had in the 1950’s. She was born in San Francisco in the late 1890’s, had a high school education, was orphaned at twelve and raised by the family who took her in working as a servant. She met Wilhelm Wucherer at a German Lodge. Surprisingly, they had the same last name, but that’s where the similarities ended.
June 1969. Few first meetings have terrified me more than the one I was about to have with my future mother-in-law, Adria Berniece Howatt - wife of Colonel William J. Howatt, recently retired from an illustrious career in the US Marine Corps and my husband’s father....
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