Chapter 3

A Broken Heart is a Broken Heart…

After years of brooding over working and being under the gun with my Grandfather, Johnny and Tony had an argument and Johnny struck Tony. He felt awful, called 911 and left the ranch. When I came home, there were cops outside. Johnny went down town to the police station, my grandfather didn’t file any charges.

I called immediately my grandfather said he was “Ok, but be careful, your father is violent.” I put the phone down. Devasted at what happened, but saw it coming.

Two years earlier of my parents divorced. A year later my mother and brother Max moved up north with her new husband. After that tornado ripped through the house, Bob & and the Limpkins family entered the picture.

After a couple years of marriage for Bob and Carol, one night, out the blue, a phone call came into the house. It was Carol telling us my grandfather had crossed out Johnny’s name in his will. Her husband, Bob Limpkins, asked Carol to betray her brother and get Tony to disinherit Johnny. Bob parroted from behind Carol on the phone and said it was “for clarity.”

It confused me, because I had just spoken to my grandfather, we were ok. Now suddenly, Carol and Bob have stepped in to take advantage of a bad situation. This threw us off balance emotionally, financially and put us in survival mode after a life of abundance, safety and stability.

Carol was a teenager when I was born. She took care of me- always fun times with aunt Carol. I had never heard aunt Carol cry, until uncle Bob appeared. I knew something was wrong. I just didn’t know there was a playbook and a word for it.

Chapter 2

My father and my grandfather were always working up at the ranch. They had muddy boots on 7 days a week, drilling wells. Tall, red drill rigs in the yard and me with my friend sliding down the sand piles. My brother Max and I sat in the old abandoned mustang, played the radio, pretended we were driving when they worked on the big drill rigs.

When I was alone, I sat in my Grandfathers chair, reading magazines and sending away for buffalo head nickels from ads in the back. We made fires in the morning after it rained, the pasture smelled like cows, dandelions and salty ocean air on Back Ranch Road. Crocodile Rock was on the radio in the morning and hot chocolate in ceramic mugs. School friends were fun, we ate hot lunches and we wore bell bottom corduroy pants with chokers like David Cassidy.

Every March, The Wizard of Oz was on television. When I was out on my own living in New York City, I clicked my heels many times, never made it home. Stayed right there, freezing in the winter, stuck in the Bronx.

Me and my two brothers on Back Ranch Road
Grandfather Tony

Chapter 1

It was the happiest times in 1979, when we lived in a house on Oxford Way near Mitchell’s Cove. There were peach trees in the back and we were close enough to the ocean to hear the sea lions. On weekends we drove up to the ranch to see Grandpa Tony.

The family business was run off the ranch. My father, Johnny, was raised and worked up at the ranch. My Grandfather Tony lived there, before him, his father Francisco. Many Italian immigrant families lived and worked on the North Coast of Santa Cruz. The Ohlone Indians were there before us. It was our sacred safe place in the world.

The pasture had red cows, a pond, oak trees, green rolling hills, covered by orange California poppies in the spring. Salamanders and a chorus of frogs inhabit the pond. We float surf boards out into the middle, drift on our bellies. Big-eyed tadpole, black muck on the bottom of the pond.

With all that bliss around us, enters man named Bob Limpkins. He was a member of the Yacht Club and was dating my aunt Carol. Bob was a nice guy. He kept one hand in his pocket, chit-chat, never sat with us to eat. Just circled around studying us with his glass of Chardonnay. He was perfect, a normal person. Nothing is out of place, not a speck of dust on his blue Mercedes.

Carol and I were close, she is aunt- my father’s sister. At her duplex apartment on Windham Street, I would watch her put on makeup and get dressed up for dates with Bob. She had long, black hair and tan skin. She worked at the bank on Mission Street.

On holidays, when she was single, Carol came with me, my brother, father & mother, in the good old days. She gave us gifts like money trees and make an appoint to have my “colors” done. Every birthday she was there to help open presents and feed the kids cake.

I asked her to “Wear the groovy paisley, purple mini dress.” Carol had a 38 pistol under her four poster bed, and a boyfriend that drove a Porsche and raced yachts.

The princess had found her prince. Carol wanted to marry Bob Limpkins, of the San Jose State Limpkins. Self proclaimed, philanthropists that put their name on buildings and in the newspaper. On my aunt’s wish, I intervened and brokered the deal. I told the Bob, “She will marry the man who gives her a music box.”

He bought a lovely wooden music box for her. The day of the wedding we couldn’t go because we were all sick. A foreshadowing of what is to become.

They went to the U.K on their honeymoon. It was the time of Prince Charles marriage to Princess Diana. Carol & Bob were the Prince Charles & Diana of Santa Cruz (in their minds). Carol told me when they came home from England, that “there is a place for the royals and a place for the peasants.” She seemed upset about that.

Carol gave me a gold and diamond promise ring when I graduated from 8th grade. Years later I would pawn in on 42nd Street and 9th Ave. when I was hungry. At the time of their royal wedding, everything was rosy, we got married, here is a bottle of wine. A perfect image.