Friday, March 22, 2019

Contrary Woodrow

Our neighborhood library was in Sharp Park, Pacifica, CA.  From the first visit, we Hagler kids became addicts - of reading and books.  The day we received our Library Cards, we knew we were important! 

We all had our favorites.  I loved Black Beauty, Tom Sawyer, The Wizard of Oz, and Beatrix Potter stories the best. Beatrix Potter was one of my inspirations for drawing. Her illustrations were enchanting. 

 Arlo's favorite was "Contrary Woodrow", by Sue Felt.  In fact, there was a period when that was all that Arlo wanted to read.

This became problematical when Arlo had to return the book. It didn't help that returning books in our family was sometimes a challenge.  The books could get lost in any number of places, and remembering the due dates was not easy, in our often chaotic household.  

But the reason that returning Arlo's favorite book every 2 weeks is that he didn't want to let it go.  It didn't occur to our parents to actually BUY the book.   Thus, Arlo would emulate his favorite character when told that he had to return "his" book....or when he realized that his book had been checked out by someone else.  He became "contrary".  

Luckily, Arlo outgrew "Contrary Woodrow" and went on to other things.  Just as Woodrow did, in the book.  


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Folded Arms of Hagler

Throughout our childhood, one of the ways my father kept us in line was to have us fold our arms. 

You get the idea.  I've been doing our family genealogy, and now realize that we were just following our tradition....the Folded Arms of Hagler! 

Cold Summer in Westview

One of the percs of being an older sister is that I was able to give my younger siblings wheelbarrow rides and airplane rides.  We had a large back yard, perfect for playtime scenarios.  Arlo, Laurie & I would stage little shows for the neighborhood kids, charging a dime for admission, and a nickel for lemonade.  We also served popcorn occasionally.  Arlo was the script-writer for the majority of our plays and scenarios, though we also got to do a little improv.   My best friend Leda remembers attending a few of our plays, and actually thought that they were entertaining.   Arlo & I played the characters of "Sporty and Lynn Nelson", which Arlo wrote and directed. I went along with it all, interjecting a few additions to the script, which Arlo would only accept if they were "in character".  

My brother was a character himself, a true individual, which sometimes got him in trouble with the local toughs. Laurie & I would often find ourselves rushing off to help our brother out, when he was outnumbered by the bullies.  Arlo later told me that it wasn't great for his ego that his sisters saved him a lot of the time!

My brother Tom and I were often at odds growing up, partly because the four youngest continually complained about Tom's bullying.  After one trying day when I was 17, I was stuffing a chicken for dinner, and Tom was being his usual bratty self.  In frustration, I turned around and yelled at my brother, and in a rage, hurled the chicken at Tom. 

Tom deftly dodged the flying chicken, which landed on the floor.  My action was counterproductive, because not only did Tom just laugh about it, but I had to re-clean and stuff the thing.

Arlo didn't like taking baths or showers, when he was young. It was partly because it was so COLD in Westview, where we grew up.  But stink is stink, no matter where you live.  One day, my mom had had enough, and ordered 10-year-old Arlo to take a shower.  He reluctantly agreed, and Mom was content to hear the shower running soon after.  20 minutes later, the shower was still running.  Mom decided to check the situation out, and found Arlo in the bathroom with the shower running, alright.  But Arlo was fully clothed, sitting on the closed toilet seat, reading a comic book!  Mom took the comic book, rolled it up, and started hitting Arlo over the head with it.  She didn't get too far before dissolving into laughter (I found her that way, outside of the bathroom, and couldn't help laughing, myself)!   

Maybe Arlo couldn't be blamed; as I mentioned, Westview in the summer is a COLD place to be, and we all sported the "layered look"....many layers of clothing....and didn't like shedding the protective warmth, unless it was for a good reason.  Among the nine of us, Arlo wore the most layers, they were like tree rings. Conversely, baby brother George didn't see the need for clothes, and he would often shed them and  run outside, before we could catch his little butt.  Occasionally, I'd hear: "Hey, Debbie, I saw your little brother running around naked!" Luckily, George outgrew that tendency....eventually.

Brotherly Love

I have all of my high school yearbooks; bought them myself, saved up my allowances for them.  My Senior year was the most important, and I lugged that green book around, to amass as many signatures as possible.  Arlo (who was a Sophomore at the same high school) asked to sign my yearbook, so I gave it to him to sign.  He had to take it with him, because we were enroute to classes.  Later that day, Arlo told me that he couldn't find my yearbook.  It was the last week of school, so we looked frantically, but never found it.  Arlo worked in the "Annual" class, so he said that he could get me another one.  On the last day of school, Arlo gave me a yearbook that was damaged, and said: "BAD COPY" on the front, because there were no good copies left. 

I wanted my book with signatures!  Most of the people who signed it had left school already.  But there was nothing I could do (strangling Arlo wouldn't bring my book back), so I swallowed, thanked him, and took the book.  To this day, there is only one signature in that book -  Arlo's. I wouldn't trade that signature for any others in the world.  

I also still have the little stuffed shark that Arlo won for me in a high school carnival; he pitched ping-pong balls into fish-bowls for it.  I asked him why he was giving it to me.  "Hell, I don't want it!" he replied. 

Arlo helped my family & I  move years ago, and we loaded up his truck before he told me that he truck wasn't running well.  I guess this should not have surprised me (knowing Hagler cars), but I wish that he had told me sooner!  I asked him what we should do, after several attempts to start the car failed.  "Well, it will start if I can roll it down a hill...."  We looked around. No hills. "Where are the hills?" Arlo asked.  "None close by that I can see!"  We got a neighbor to jump-start the thing, then shoved off.  Soon after we got going, we       heard something fall off the truck, and crash to the ground.   But all we lost was that full-length mirror, got everything else arrived intact.

Brotherly love is a strange and wonderful thing.  Arlo always sent me funny cards for my birthday and other occasions.  This was his comment in my 7th grade slam book:

 One year, I got a real flowery Mother's Day card from Arlo.  On the envelope was Arlo's usual greeting: "To a Real Mother...From her Soul Brother".  Inside the card were saccharine sentiments about the preciousness of having a sister such as me.  Brought a tear to my eye. Then I read Arlo's signature: "Don't look at me - I didn't write the damned thing!"

Arlo passed away from stomach cancer on October 5, 2002.  Prior to his death, his community planned an event to raise funds.  Arlo was not only a radio personality, he was the community's electrician, and also helped put on the Kate Wolf Shows each year - for starters.   

Many memories were shared at Mateel Community Center in Redway CA., during his Celebration of Life. As I told him the last time I saw him: "You are leaving the world a better place for having been here." It just wasn't long enough.

Randon Axxes

Arlo loved to sing, and would often solo for school programs. His favorite song to sing at the time was: "Blue Moon", which he sung in a high-pitched voice.   He was braver than I was; he sang in the Westview School lunchroom/auditorium on several occasions. Some of the kids would snicker, which made me mad, but Arlo was oblivious.   In his later years, Arlo was a musician and radio personality. 

Arlo also enjoyed listening to late-night radio, long after the rest of us had gone to bed.  I would get up in the middle of the night, look downstairs, and see a light under his door.  He liked to listen to far-off stations, like XERB in Tijuana, Mexico, with Wolfman Jack.  

We used to put together simple crystal sets, mostly for the novelty of being able to produce our own radios.  They didn't pick up much signal, but they were fun, nonetheless. 

Arlo enjoyed messing with electronics.  One memory that stands out is when he was about 10, and I asked him to test some Christmas lights for me.  When he plugged them in, a huge spray of sparks flew out of the socket, sending my brother reeling back with several loud shrieks.

Arlo's interests in electronics and radio continued; as an adult, he was a licensed electrician. His business was called: "Watt's Happening!", He was also the originator of KMUD radio in Garberville. Soon after the small station was built, Arlo also became a radio host for KMUD radio in Humboldt County, California, hosting the "Random Axxes" program. 

All of that is only an example of Arlo's contributions.  He was heavily involved in cleaning up the environment.  He worked for the Southern Humboldt Recycling Center, while hosting KMUD's Environment Show, with issues ranging from cleaning up our oceans, to forest destruction to be dealt with.  Saving the redwoods was one of his prime concerns, and he was instrumental in helping save the Sinkyone Wilderness from clear-cutting and development. 

The concept of clean energy was also a favorite topic.  It was on KMUD radio that Julia Butterfly's story first broke, the "girl in the tree" - who, for 738 days, lived in the canopy of an ancient redwood tree. She was called Luna, and wanted to help make the world aware of the plight of ancient forests.  She and Arlo were friends (I think he had a serious crush on her), and they shared a common mission.  
So, there was more than entertainment in his programming - updates on community news, activities, environmental concerns and how his listeners could help, etc.   With his soothing deep voice, he kept his listeners tuned in.  My mom loved the show, never missed one.  

Arlo passed away from stomach cancer on October 5, 2002.  Prior to his death, his community planned an event to raise funds.  Arlo was not only a radio personality, he was the community's electrician, and also helped put on the Kate Wolf Shows each year - for starters.   

Many memories were shared at Mateel Community Center in Redway CA., during his Celebration of Life. 

As I told him the last time I saw him: "You are leaving the world a better place for having been here." It just wasn't long enough. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


My brother Arlo had a boat docked in Sausalito years ago -  it was the eyesore and scourge of the harbor. The Sausalito Harbor Association members signed a petition to get rid of the monstrosity (this was saying a lot, seeing as to how some of the ships were made from old planks and chicken-wire), but before the fateful day arrived for Arlo to vacate the watery premises, he left to go out shopping and for dinner. Arlo decided to leave his companion on the boat whilst he was out. His companion was a big, black dog named Maynard. 

Maynard didn't like being left alone, and at some point, he tripped the switch to the bilge-pump, which flooded the boat, ruining Arlo's extensive record and comic book collection. The boat was last seen almost completely submerged, Maynard standing forlornly on the roof, hanging ten at the edge. 

Arlo's screams could be heard all throughout Northern California, and it was the talk of the family for many years to come.   But Arlo was a good and decent man; he let Maynard live.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

My brief hairstory:  At some point in my early 20s, I decided to let my "freak flag fly", and stopped cutting my hair.  I was curious to discover how long it could get.

  After a decade, my hair reached as far as my knees.  Most of the time, I wore it in a braid, or braids, just to function without it getting in the way.

  Other times, I let it hang loose.

My husband Perry also had a lot of hair, but while mine grew down, his grew OUT! 


I walked everywhere, and got a lot of notice & compliments on my hair. Others wondered if all of that hair was "too heavy" on my head, and how long it took to dry, after washing it? 
  I also received some snide remarks. My brother Arlo called me:  "Cousin It".  One day, I walked down the street, and some teens yelled out from their car: "Cut yer fuckin' hair!"

Then there was the time that my hair got stuck in a man's shirt button, as we were passing each other in a narrow pizza parlor hallway.  It took a few minutes to extract the tendrils from his button. He chuckled, and was kind enough to put up with it. My hair also caught on door knobs, and I sat on it a few times, yanking my neck in the process. I cut my bangs in my late 30s, trying for a different look.

For at least 10 more years, I kept the bangs, as evidenced by my work photos here

 My hair is naturally straight, but because I had to keep it braided most of the time, it was wavy when "let out".

When I was in my late 40s, I dyed my hair, as per usual, wit "Nice 'N Easy" hair dye.  Unfortunately, I was allergic to the dye at that point.  My scalp tingled, then itched, then burned.  By the time I made the shower, half of my hair fell out.  

Some of it grew back, but not all of it, leaving me permanently bald in spots.  Now I wear a hat when in public most of the time.  One of the many lessons about "loss" in my life, but, after all.... it's just hair!