Becki and I Get Together
This picture of me and Becki was taken at a Pauling Institute party at the Stanford Court on Nob Hill San Francisco in November 1986.
Our 1987 Golden Gate Bridge Walk
The best fireworks display we ever saw. Becki is in the Bay Area for the week.
One of our favorite activities in San Francisco was, and still is, walking the Golden Gate Bridge. Whenever my kids who lived in Odessa TX would visit, we would make a point of spending a day in San Francisco and having a date with the Bridge.
(click to enlarge the small pictures)
In May of 1987, I noticed that the 50th anniversary of the bridge was going to be celebrated in the evening with a spectacular fireworks display and a concert at Chrissey Field (near the Presidio) with the bridge lit up in full view for the ocassion. So Becki and I reserved a room at the Stanford Court on Nob Hill (our favorite hotel in SF) for the nights before and after the event. Six months earlier we had spent 5 days at the Court as the guest of Ryoichi Sasakawa, a billionaire Japanese industrialist who was visiting Linus Pauling.
We heard there was going to be a bridge walk starting at 6 AM on Sunday when the bridge would be blocked off to cars. So we got up early to take a cab over to the bridge because of our uncertainty about parking. Becki stood at one block corner and I went to the next corner to hail a cab; but there were no cabs to be found. Then another fellow showed up at my corner and we discussed the surprising fact that there were no cabs. I said to him that I have a car but I’m not sure where I would park. He responded that he was a VIP and had parking tickets for the ocassion. So his family of four and Becki and I piled into my 4-cylinder Mustang, which barely made it up to the top of Nob Hill, to head over to the bridge.
When we got to the parking area next to the bridge, we realized why there were no cabs. Everyone in San Francisco was taking a cab to the bridge. The organizers of the bridge walk had grossly under-estimated the appeal of the ocassion. Several hundred thousand showed up. Becki took the picture below of shadowy figures at about 6AM entering onto the bridge at sunrise.
We were two of the first to make it to the center of the bridge. That’s me on the left making some wisecrack to Becki. Standing next to me is the son of my VIP friend who was representing Bethlehem Steel which provided the steel for construction of the bridge. That family had never been to San Francisco or seen homosexuals before and were concerned about what they might catch. So they kept close to us thinking that we would offer them some protection. That’s Becki below with the hills of Marin County in the background before the crush. As you can see we weren’t crowded at the center at the beginning. We were oblivious of the happening that was developing. Little did we kow that we would be at the center of the bridge until mid-afternoon. A huge crowd was marching toward the center from behind us and in front of us from the Sausalito side.
…But here’s the scene from the sky.
And guess what! The city had not provided porta-potties at the center or at any location on the bridge…and there was no way to go back. At some point bladders had to be relieved for many (except for Becki and me) and so, out of desperation, the crowd tolerated with sympathy many males and females who succumbed to the call of nature off the side of the bridge.
Nevertheless, we and the rest of the crowd were just happy to be there as we viewed the beautiful scenery of the Bay and Alcatraz to the east and the Pacific Ocean and the Farralon Islands to the west.
Finally sometime in the mid afternoon, the brainiacs that organized this affair ushered the 250,000 or so off the bridge to the urinary relief of some. Our VIP friends were exhausted and had had enough. So they gave us their tickets to sit in the VIP stands for the evening fireworks … and we sat in the stands like royalty ’til late into the night watching the fireworks to the 1812 Overture played by the San Francisco Symphony. We finally made it back to the hotel exhausted but ready for a late steak dinner.
My Most Satisfying April Fools Joke
This was on April 1st 1987. Becki and I had moved into our first house in central Palo Alto. We had only a few pieces of furniture but the winter was warm and we were joined by Becki’s beloved German Shepherd Chewbacka and cockatiel JD. Becki for some reason had concluded that JD was a boy, so we were quite surprised to find a small egg in ‘his’ cage a few days before April. JD’s cage was mounted high on the wall so you had to stand on a stool to see the bottom of the cage. So while Becki was not around on the morning of April 1st, I took a chicken egg out of the fridge and placed it in the bottom of the cage. When Becki came into the living room, I got up on the stool, peered into the cage, and reacted like an academy award winning actor … “my God, JD laid another egg!” Becki rushed over and stood up on the stool to see this new wonder. For a second or two the expression on her face was most gratifying. While I was across the room revelling in laughter, Becki reached into the cage, grabbed the egg, and started chasing me around the house… only then, in the frenzy that ensued, did I learn how successful the prank was. Thinking that the egg was raw, I did my best to avoid the curveball that was thrown which I was able to deflect with a flat hand.
…it was hard-boiled. John
Our Special Day
On Sunday February 28th, 1988, Becki and I drove up to the Hyatt at North Lake Tahoe and spent the night at the slots ’till about 2 AM. The next day, Leap Day, we drove over to Carson City NV. We found the local court house and a parking place with a meter that still had 40 minutes on it. There was no line at the wedding license desk so we stepped right up, paid 15 bucks, and headed back to our car with license in hand. Seeing that we still had about 25 minutes left on the meter, we decided to take a stroll a block or two down to the wedding chapel shown below. We knocked on the door and were met with a waft of chicken soup as the door opened up. The owner of the chapel was standing at the door along with her toddler son with broken leg in a cast, and he also seemed a little agitated by the situation. She ushered us in saying that she would call the minister who lived a few minutes away. During that few minutes she insisted in showing us the three optional rooms that were available for our marriage. All the while, as we toured the establishment, we insisted that we weren’t interested in an elaborate wedding – we wanted the $20 version plus $5 for the witness. So this was settled as the minister arrived. I hardly remember the ceremony, but after all, our life together had been splendid already. We thanked all for attending our wedding and headed back to our car. The meter was barely out of time. So we headed back to Tahoe and then on to Palo Alto to finish an otherwise typical spring day (where spring arrives in January and February).
Mariah Gets Married and More
On May 29, 2013 Becki and I sent the following letter to Mariah and Zane in Chesapeake VA near Norfolk.
Dear Mariah and Zane,
I thought we would tell you our story about having our first and only child.
In the fall of 1987 we had struck out at getting pregnant. We had looked for the blue color reaction with the pregnancy test many times. When we ran this test I would study it for hours waiting for it to turn bright blue. So Becki scheduled a visit to her ObGyn at Kaiser Permanente in November. He decided on a procedure of forcing a dye into the fallopian tubes to see if they were blocked or open. Obviously, if entry into the fallopian tubes was blocked, we could not get pregnant. This procedure was scheduled for late November and the verdict was that Becki’s tubes were blocked. But the physician was able to force dye into one tube with pressure thus breaking the barrier to entry of the sperm into the fallopian tube so that it could fertilize an egg. Sorry for the brutal truth.
Meanwhile, since I worked for an ObGyn Biotech company, I had a couple of ObGyn physicians to talk to. One told me that many times couples are able to get pregnant right after the procedure was performed. So we got busy because we really wanted a child together as an expression of our love for each other.
Then I was invited to Newfoundland to Memorial University in St. Johns in early January to give a talk. So, both of us left for a vacation. Imagine going to a frozen country in the depth of winter. We were put up at a hotel overlooking St. Johns harbor and looking down at a USSR Navy ship directly below. We enjoyed this strange place and they even offered me a job but we couldn’t imagine living in such isolation. (funny… we eventually moved to Woodstock, a place with fewer people than St. Johns!)
We got back to Palo Alto in the second week in January and bought one more pregnancy test kit. (By this time, I refused to even keep track of my cycle timing because it was such an emotional roller coaster… half the month hoping, hoping, hoping and then the next half month being completely depressed. It was John who suggested I was ‘late’.) This time the test turned bright blue in an instant and startled us into great joy. Now, we had a secret that we would keep until April.
I don’t recall that we ever discussed together which sex we preferred because we could not control the outcome. But we both secretly wanted a girl. Becki had had her name picked out for many years… “Mariah” after the song in “Paint Your Wagon” – the wind they call Mariah. (I had always assumed I would have a girl… it wasn’t until about halfway through the pregnancy that it occurred to me that I could just as well have a boy. I had to apologize to the little baby inside many times hoping that if it was a boy he wouldn’t be upset by being called ‘Mariah’ for the first few months.) We only learned for sure that we had a girl when you were born shortly before midnight on October 11. At 2 AM I delivered you to your exhausted mom telling Becki “We had Mariah.” (Then he cried.)
On Thursday February 25 we were driving down Cowper to our home on Maureen in Palo Alto and Becki said, “Why don’t we get married on Monday? ” (Monday was the 29th of February… Sadie Hawkins Day [where its okay for the girl to ask the guy…] After all, he had given me the engagement ring a couple of months earlier, on December 16th.) I said something to the effect “Oh…Okay.” So on Sunday the 28th we drove up to North Lake Tahoe and stayed at the Hyatt, gambling the night away. (It took me all night to lose $40 in nickels.)
The next morning we drove over to Carson City NV. I knew things were running smoothly when we parked at a meter behind the town hall that had 40 minutes on it. We went in and got a marriage license. When we left the town hall we found that we still had 20 minutes on the meter so we walked a block to the Victoria Wedding Chapel. The place smelled like chicken soup so we opted for the lowest rate marriage in a very small room (it was a large, wallpapered closet). Now, we had a second secret to keep.
At a dinner party for Becki’s birthday at the Linden house in Burlingame CA, I told a long, tortuous story about driving up to Tahoe… which ended with getting married. Jim, Becki’s brother who was sitting next to me, jumped up and said, “Welcome to the family!” I stood up, shook his hand and said, “Welcome to my family, too!” which made him pause to think . After that, we all lived happily ever after. Here is our annual Halloween party in Palo Alto in 1991 to prove it.
Love, Dad/John Mums/Becki
Postscript from Becki
On Mother’s Day, I received a package from Mariah and Zane with baby clothes and a grandparent’s handbook in it as an announcement of the coming arrival of a baby. Though we were very excited, we were sworn to secrecy and not allowed to share this news on FaceBook. One of the reasons was that it was early in the pregnancy and the other is that they wanted to tell certain individuals personally. Well, I couldn’t help myself and told Mom fairly quickly, but swore her to secrecy as well. I have been anxiously awaiting the go ahead to share the news ever since.
Just this past Tuesday (the 18th, Jaxson’s 4th birthday) Zane and Mariah finally connected with the last person they wanted to tell personally and then made their announcement on FB. I posted a photo that I had made up that night. I should have sent all of you an email at the same time, but I didn’t. I’ve been here at Mariah and Zane’s in Chesapeake since the 14th and figured I’d send everyone a note when I got home. I know Dave and Glo heard the news from Tiff and I apologize that you didn’t hear it from me first.
So… The baby is due on December 10th… lots of nearby birthdays and holidays… early delivery could be Thanksgiving or Hannah/Veronica’s birthday on Dec 8th…. after the 10th…. birthday’s abound… Zane, the 16th… Barbara, the 17th… Robbin Neighbor (Zane’s mother), the 18th… Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (Remember… Mariah was three weeks late, so the holidays are a possibility, though remote!)
Also, they have chosen not to know the baby’s gender. Of course, that may change, but for now we won’t know. They have also decided to choose family names. So if its a boy he will be called Leland Charles Hornsby (Leland – John’s maternal grandfather, Charles – Zane’s grandfather and great grandfather’s middle name). If she’s a baby girl she will be called Ellisyn Grace (Ellis was Zane’s grandmother’s maiden name and they’ve added the ‘yn’ to feminize it, Grace is for our grandmother) Of course, the names could change as well, but knowing these two no nonsense, practical people… I don’t think so.
In a move reminiscent of my marriage to John, Zane and Mariah tied the knot, getting married on April 5th here in Chesapeake by a Justice of the Peace. Here are Mariah and Zane on their wedding day. Zane’s wearing the shirt that he was wearing when he met Mariah – no fancy duds. We are both thrilled to have a new son and his child, 4 year old Jaxson, as a grandchild. Life is good.