College & teaching
Previous chapter: Military service & Korea
While in limbo on Treasure Island I got an invitation from Horace Stoneham, the owner of the Giants, to come to spring training in April of that year. Right after I got out of the service. I gave it a lot of thought and realized there was no way, after being away for almost a year, that I was gonna tell Clara, "I'm leaving for spring training!" There's no way I could do it. So I needed a new game plan.
On one of those days when I had to report in at Treasure Island I stopped at a gas station on Bayshore Boulevard to see a good friend of mine that I had played ball against in high school, George Zucca. His father owned the gas station. So I was talking to George, who happened to be playing baseball at USF. He said, "why don't you come up to USF and try out for the team?" I told him that I had signed a contract with the Seals. I didn't know if I could legally do that. But I went up anyways and met Dutch Anderson, the coach. He said, "I hear you have 2 children." I said, "Yeah, I just came back from Korea. I'm not sure what I wanna do but I think this may be an option for me. I could come to school. I'd like to get an education." So I tried out for a week at third base, and then Dutch offered me a full scholarship. He said, "I can't give you room and board..." I said, "I don't want room and board! I've got a family."
I started at USF when I was 23. At first I wanted to be a dentist. In the first year I realized that my academic record couldn't compete with these kids who were just out of Sacred Heart, Saint Ignatius, Lowell. I was getting Bs and Cs and they were getting all As. Then another reality set in. There's no way I can afford to go to dental school. I knew I couldn't. Another problem was that all my biology classes had labs. Guess when the labs were? In the afternoon. What am I doing? I'm playing baseball. I couldn't even take the labs, because I was playing.
So I changed majors. While talking to Father Smythe about changing majors, he asked me, "What would you like to do?" I said, "I think I might like to teach." He said, since he was a history buff, "How about teaching history?" I said, "Eh... I don't think so." So I chose English, which was a good choice for me. I used to read a lot. I liked English. So I majored in English and I minored in PE. And I thought, maybe not a good combination. English major? PE minor? As it worked out, it was a good combination.
Also, my dad was not well. He was struggling. He had the candy store. He was worried about how he was gonna handle that. My dean at USF, god bless him, he knew what the situation was. We had a good talk. I told him I was worried about my academics, that I didn't think I could keep up with all of my responsibilities. He said, "We'll take care of your classes, you take care of your dad." I'll never forget that. I think they had that kind of flexibility because it was a small, liberal arts college. So they took care of some of my academic deficiencies. They just eliminated the 2 classes that I had struggled in. Which took a lot of pressure off me. It really did.
In college I got the idea of playing professional baseball out of my system. I had some success on the USF baseball team. I ended up being MVP on the team for 2 years. A scout for the Boston Braves, Bill Marshall, wanted to know what my plans were after school. I said, "I think my plans are to stay home and take care of my family." It was getting clear that I had more responsibilities and baseball would have to take a back seat. Although it's remained a love of mine.
I had a side job while going to USF. I worked for John Sexton and Company. In the morning I went down to Rincon Annex, picked up the mail, and took it to Army street. They paid me 35 dollars a week just to do that. For 2 summers I worked delivering groceries. I had a truck and I went all over, delivering groceries. It was a national wholesale grocer. Grandma T took care of the kids, which allowed Clara to have a part-time job at a children's store.
I liked going to school. It was hard. One of my most difficult classes was religion with Father Egan. It was so philosophical. A lot of memorization. A lot of scripture. A lot of history about the Catholic church. But all in all I did well, considering that I had a gap in my education. I got my bachelor's degree, and I got my teaching credentials.
For my first teaching job I taught senior English at Los Altos in 1960 and 1961. They threw me into the wolves. These are older students, seniors in high school. I'm new. I'm teaching grammar, which I hadn't practiced in a thousand years. I was a day ahead of the class, just keeping up. But I liked Los Altos. It was good. I also taught an earth science class, which I liked. They offered me a job to come back to Los Altos H.S. for the next school year.
In 1962 I got a call from Ed Walsh, the principal at Mills High School. Mills had opened in 1958 or 1959. Ed said they needed a baseball coach for the Frosh/Soph team, as well as an English teacher. In Millbrae! That's where I lived. So I jumped at that opportunity. I would no longer have to commute. The ride to Los Altos was 50 miles roundtrip.
I was at Mills for 34 years. Mills had a great faculty. Part of the fun of teaching at Mills was the faculty. After football games we'd have a party at somebody's house. We'd all go to the games. Except baseball. Not too many people went to the baseball games, other than my loyal followers. Buzz would come. Frank Seebode would come. Some of my students.
Allen Knight came in at Mills around 1963 or 1964. He was starting out his teaching career as a Drama teacher and English teacher. He must have been 25 or something. We got to know each other during faculty meetings and soon became steadfast friends. Allen was clearly my best friend. He had a great sense of humor. Very friendly. Amiable. Likable. Very down to earth. Kids who took drama at Mills adored him. Find any of his former students and mention his name, they'll say that he was God's gift to man. He and I took groups of students to Europe. Study travel. Each of my kids went on one of these trips when they were of the right age. Lorri went on a trip. Jaynie went on a trip. Bari went on a trip. Ronnie went on a trip, with the Aragon group. The only one that lost out was Julianne. I feel badly about that, but someday I'll make amends. But Buzz and I had a good relationship. Buzz was Allen's nickname. We called him Buzz. That's what his brother and sister called him when they were little, because they couldn't say Allen. They said, "bzzz." He was a great human being. He had a good heart. Funny. Humorous. Comic. When he got his brain tumor it was devastating.
Buzz's family was from Carmel. His dad was the mayor of Carmel a long time ago. They had a place called The Ship. His father was big on reclaiming ships from Carmel, Monterey Bay, what have you. He could cleverly salvage parts from different famous ships shipwrecked in the harbor. He'd bring them in and he'd take them to Carmel. They lived on Guadalupe Street. To this day there's a stone structure, I'm gonna say on 6th and Guadalupe. It's like the top of a castle, maybe 25 feet high, 15 feet in diameter. It has a dining area with a ship's galley and a ship's head. It has a restroom. There's a ladder you can climb to get to the top, which was like a lookout tower with a wheel, as if you're steering the ship. And there's a bed up there also. On rare occasions we had the good fortune of spending a weekend there, time to time. Barbara and I spent some time there.
Buzz was a taskmaster, but he was a great director. He chose plays that were a little risqué for the world of high school drama. He chose his casts carefully. They had to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse until they got it right. But he got so much out of his students. He planted the seeds for acting and drama in more than a few of them. To this day some of them are still active. Kathy Baker comes to mind. She's in southern California and has had a very good and long career.
Buzz himself was a good actor. He loved to joke around. You'd be talking to him and you'd wonder, "Are you serious?" He could really put people on. He infuriated Clara over the telephone on more than one occasion. He'd put on this voice, and Clara would very kindly respond, "Yes, no, yes, yes, no, well, no..." Invariably I would eventually hear, "Oh you! You make me so mad!" He would just put her on and make something up. "I'm with the Goodwill." Or, "We are happy to inform you that you've won a trip to someplace, all you need to do is answer these 2 questions." He was so convincing. I used to love hearing, "Oh you!" Clara was always taking it in good stride, but I can always remember hearing, "Oh you! You make me so mad." And he was so good with the kids. He entertained them. We had a little contest between Buzz and Bob Silva and Jimmy Custodio. When Bari was young they would all curry favor with her. They all wanted to be called number 1. "Who's number 1?" They would bribe her. They'd bring her gifts. A sucker, a car. "OK, now who's your number 1? Who's your number 1 now?" Little Bari would say, "You are!" Every once in a while Jimmy would win her. "You are!"
Buzz and I got to know each other really, really well. We both taught English. We went to football games together, social activities, after-game parties. We had a lot in common. We'd go out to dinner. We were notorious in the consumption of alcohol. But not to the point where it was... well I guess there was an occasion where I was to that point. One time we thought we both wanted to get our real estate license. So we took the test in San Francisco. It was an ordeal. We were shaking our heads, "How'd you do?" "I don't know. How'd you do?" By that time he was married to Brooke Knight. We called Brooke and Clara and said, "We're right on Union street, at Perry's. Why don't you come and join us?" Buzz and I had already started drowning out the memory of our failure, that's how poorly we did on the test. So Clara and Brooke came into town and we proceeded to get snockered, all of us. I don't know how we got home but we got home. That's how Buzz was. It was all spontaneous. Very social.
As I mentioned, the faculty was very involved in the high school's sports. We'd all go to football games and after the games we'd go over to someone's house for a party. There'd be food, and camaraderie, and drinking, and more food, and more drinking. One time, we were at Ken Graham's house. Ken was the vice principal at Mills. Ken had moved all of the furniture out of the dining room so we could dance in there. Probably to The Beatles. "All You Need Is Love." Maybe disco. As I said, Buzz loved to perform. He was just a humorous, physical person. As we were dancing, the chandelier was not guarded by a dining room table. Buzz jumped right into the chandelier and wham! He cut his scalp. When you cut your scalp you bleed. A lot. We put a compress on it and rushed him off to the hospital. Needless to say there had been some consumption of alcohol at the time. I don't even think he knew what happened. We got him stitched up, went back to the party, and Buzz was the local hero. He had this big bandage on his scalp.
Buzz was bright. We had wonderful discussions about philosophy. He respected my Catholicism. His family was Christian Scientist. He wasn't a practicing Christian Scientist, his parents were. I always admired his honesty and his acceptance and interest in Catholicism. He knew more about it than the average person. He was fair. He was ethical. On our trips to Europe, which I'll talk about in a minute, we had a lot of time together. We bunked together as chaperones, escorting students through Europe. I liked our conversations. We talked about everything, pretty much. Religion, faith, hope, family, school, drama, baseball. He was an avid 49ers fan. Enjoyed baseball. He was a great swimmer. He was my closest, dearest friend.
Allen's brother-in-law, Roger, was a teacher at Monterey Peninsula College. Roger was also a journalist and a photographer. One time, Buzz said that Roger wanted to do a major article on a typical family from the Peninsula. The All-American Family. Buzz said that he needed pictures. The day came and Clara naturally got everyone dressed beautifully. Roger came to Landing Lane with his camera. He took pictures of Grannie, of each family member individually, of everyone as a group. At that time Julianne was probably 4 or 5 months old. And then Christmas rolls around and we get this beautiful package, wrapped beautifully. We open it and it's a photo album entitled, "The Basques Family." Only then did I realize what Buzz had done. This whole thing about Roger's article was just a ploy to get us to pose for pictures so that Buzz could give us this Christmas gift. It was sweet. We had everybody looking natural, at home, on the phone, what have you. Everybody in the family was included. Even the dog, Tina.
Speaking of that dog, none of the kids ever bothered to ask if they could have one. Clara was Mrs. Clean. We assumed she would never allow it, because a dog would dirty the house. Then one day, I can see it as if it was yesterday, Clara comes home, parks the car, and comes up the driveway, carrying a little Dachshund. My brother-in-law Tom had given it to her. We were shocked. Shocked! Ecstatic!
Allen unfortunately had some health issues. Near his demise with a brain tumor he required a lot of attention. It was very painful. One of the saddest days of my life was when he succumbed to that brain tumor. His funeral was a celebration of life. Loaded with students and family and friends. It was a real tribute to a wonderful guy. There's so much more, so many more things we did together, but let it be said that we were close, good friends, very much a part of each other's lives, and I'm so happy we had the benefit of sharing life together.
Jimmy and I played baseball against each other in San Francisco. He went to Mission High School. I went to Balboa. Lo and behold, many years later at Mills High School, he appears. He started as a student teacher in Spanish. I befriended him. Took him around and introduced him to my dear friends Allen Knight and Bob Silva. Jimmy and I became very close. He was very family-oriented. He was close with our family. He was a lovable person. He taught Spanish at Mills for maybe 4 or 5 years, then he went to Cañada College. Took a job as a counselor. Then he got a job as a counselor at De Anza college. He later orchestrated for me to get a job there as a counselor at first, and then a teacher later. He married a student of mine, Nancy Armstrong. She was a student of his at Mills, too. After Mills she went to San Jose State and then after she got out of San Jose State they got married. Later on in life Jimmy remarried.
Jimmy and I shared a love of sports. We'd go to Giants games. We had a lot in common growing up in San Francisco. He was in our lives for many, many years. He was godfather to Julianne. He had a daughter and a son. His son's name is Tony. Jimmy named him after me. Corinne is the daughter. Jimmy passed away a year ago. He had a heart condition. Which was very sad. He was a very dear friend.
Jimmy was one of these guys who... well, I'll give you an example. In his Spanish class he had a piñata party. At the end of the piñata party, the piñata came down, and he asked a kid to get the string off of what it was tied to. Well, what it was tied to was a sprinkler valve. The kid didn't know that. He jerked it and knocked the sprinkler valve off. All of a sudden the room was spraying this solution. It's like a black, watery oil. The kids were hugging the walls, trying to get away from the diameter of the spray. They were screaming. Screaming! The custodians didn't know where the valve was to turn off the valve. At Mills the rooms were partitioned with these flimsy walls. This was an innovative idea from the late 1950s. The idea was that you'd be able to remove the walls and adjust class sizes as needed. In this case, it meant that the black soot started to flow into the adjoining classrooms. Jimmy was sure he was gonna be fired. He had to go see the principal, Ed Walsh, who ruled with a straight arm. So he goes to see Ed, meek and humble, ready to be fired. Ed didn't fire him. He just sent Jimmy home to get changed.
I could tell you many, many incidents where Jimmy innocently pushed the wrong lever like that. He was absolutely klutzy. He's the only guy I know who... you know how when you go to the bathroom, you take your watch off to wash your hands? Jimmy's watch fell into the toilet. Not once. Twice! Twice it happened. He was washing his hands, and he knocked the watch off the sink, and it fell into the toilet.
He would tell these stories about himself and just laugh, and laugh, and laugh. That was typical of Jimmy. One time he got a motor boat. We were gonna go to Lake Berryessa. He wanted to take Bari, Jaynie, Ronnie, and me up to Berryessa to ride the boat. So we get to Berryessa, put the boat in the water and... he forgot to bring the keys to the boat. We now have the boat in the water, no key. We're there for the weekend. So I got in the water, grabbed the bow line, and started walking the boat over to the gas station. There was a gas station on the water. We didn't know if there was anyone there that could get the boat started, but it was worth a shot. Sure enough they got the boat started. We laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
He was filled with those kinds of stories. Absent-minded, he would forget things. One time we went to a Giants game. He brought his lunch. We didn't have tickets. He was going to buy tickets from a scalper, which was against the law. So he's buying this ticket from the scalper, and a policemen comes up to him and starts writing Jimmy a ticket. The officer asks him to sign the ticket. Jimmy's holding his lunch. He hands his lunch to the officer and signs the thing. The officer pulls off the ticket and hands the receipt back to Jimmy, and then Jimmy takes off. The officer still had his lunch!
The Europe trips
I mentioned that I went on Europe trips with Buzz. The first time was around 1967 or 1968. I remember because Lorri was a senior. We were contacted somehow by the American Institute For Foreign Study. We got interested in the possibility of taking some students to Europe for a study abroad program. We didn't know what to expect but it sounded fun. The American Institute set up the itinerary for 6 weeks of travel. 6 weeks!
So we got an article written in the Mills Thunderbolt, the school newspaper, which said "Mr. Basques and Mr. Knight are taking students to Europe. If you are interested in joining they'll be meeting in room 312 at so and so time to discuss the trip." 312 was my room. About 2 weeks later I got called into the principal's office, who told us that we can't do that. It's a private enterprise and you can't use the school paper to advertise. We were politely chastised.
But we had already had our meeting and there was interest. Buzz was so well connected with the students there was no trouble getting interest. I think I had a fairly good connection with my English students, and I coached baseball. I had some ball players that were interested, although I wanted them to stay home and play ball during the summer. We had no problem getting a group. We took 25 to 35 students. For 6 weeks. On our first trip my daughter Lorri joined us. We went to England and France and Greece. 6 weeks! The logistics and everything were just marvelous.
We had our ups and downs. Sometimes, when taking high school students that far away from home for the first time in their lives, they had to grow up quickly. Some of them didn't know how to manage money. We had a rule. We didn't want you writing home for money. They quickly broke that rule. But it all was so educational and so rewarding. We established some wonderful bonds with the students who traveled. It gave Buzz and I a chance to travel. We had our trips paid for because we were the chaperones.
It was harrowing at times. We had our problems with recalcitrant students. We had rules. First of all, we had a rule about drinking. No alcohol. Absolutely no alcohol. However, they could have a glass of wine if we were in attendance. Usually in Europe they serve wine with meals. We rationalized that that would be OK. As long as we were with them. How naive we were. Who's counting glasses of wine with 34 students?
Students were sometimes late for curfew, late for a departing bus. We had a rule: if you're not here on time, we're leaving. And it happened. It was very frustrating but the rule was no one was entitled to delay the whole group. So if you're not here, you're on your own for the day. It did happen once. To Lorri! She got so absorbed in London that she missed the bus. When I got back, I thought she'd be so remorseful. She said, "Dad! We had such a fun time. We explored on our own."
We ran a pretty liberal ship. We did have bed checks, though. Curfews. You were supposed to be in bed by 10PM, 11PM. It depended on what the activity was for the next day. We had this young girl who wasn't a Mills student. She went to Jefferson, I think. Once in a while we'd get students who'd hear about our trip and they'd see if they could join. So we didn't know her real well. I won't mention her name. Cute girl. On this one occasion we had teamed up with another group of students from Pascagoula, Mississippi. The kids got friendly, we encouraged that. Meet some kids from different parts of the country! Since we were having so much fun, it wasn't unusual for other kids to join our social things. As long as it didn't get out of hand. So we're in this French hotel. Curfew check. Buzz would go to rooms. I'd go to rooms. "Hi, this is Mr. Basques. Is Joanne here? (Yes) How about Linda? (Yes) How about whoever whoever?" When I said this name, I heard it but it didn't sound right. My ear was trained. So after I finished the checks I told Allen. "I have a feeling Bonnie's not in her room." Her name was Bonnie. No one's gonna know. I knew that these guys from Pascagoula were kinda friendly with her, so I stuck my neck out. I went up to their room, it looked empty. There was a wardrobe closet in there, though. I used my intuition and said something to the effect of, "Bonnie, if you're in that closet, your name is mud, but if you wanna salvage anything, you'd better come out." Sure enough, the door opens, and a sheepish Bonnie steps out, head down. I told the boys, "We're not happy about this. Maybe we'll deal with it later." Buzz and I had to sit down with Bonnie as her surrogate parents and chew the hell out of her. I don't remember how we punished her.
We had a really bad, serious experience in Greece. We were on the island of Rhodes. We flew there. Like I said we had a rule. You do not drink alcoholic beverages. The kids had the day on their own. They could explore, do whatever they wanted to do. Now it's time to get on the plane. I see 3 girls walking side-by-side. The girl in the middle, a fairly good-sized girl, she was holding on to the 2 girls on either side. She was clearly staggering. "Oh God," I said to Buzz. I knew she was drunk. We got her on the plane and eventually landed in Athens. She was still not much better. Then they tell me and Buzz. She had been on a motor scooter. She had crashed and hit her head on a tree. She had a concussion. No motorized vehicles! That was another rule. No drinking, no motorized vehicles. The last thing we should have done was put her on an airplane. Because of the altitude. I was beside myself.
We got the kids to the hotel, and then Buzz and I went to find an emergency hospital. In our best Greek we told a cab driver, "Emergencia." The driver took us to this black cave. It wasn't very well lit, but I could see a red cross. I walked in, saw someone behind the desk, and said "Doctore!" Doctor! Physician! All my good Greek. The fellow behind the counter pointed me up the hall and in. So I walk to where he was pointing, open the door, and here's a doctor performing surgery on some patient's skull. I turned around and walked out, thinking, "My god." I certainly wasn't gonna interrupt him and try to explain. So I walk around, in and out of surgery. It was all so casual.
We decided we better get to a hospital, so we called an ambulance. A little boxy ambulance with 2 guys dressed in black showed up. They're escorting her into the ambulance. Robin was a big girl, as I mentioned. Probably 6 feet. There's a step to get in. They're helping her get on the step to get into the back of the ambulance and WAP! She hits her head on the top of the ambulance. I heard COONK! I looked at Buzz and said, "Oh. My. God."
The ambulance took us to this.. while it was clearly a hospital, it was a chamber of horrors. We talked to a nurse. We explained the situation. They took her passport and we got her into a bed right by the nurse's station. I looked into the ward. It was rectangular, maybe 30 beds on one side, 30 beds on the other side. All along the perimeter were beds. No cubicles, no partitions. Just people. No privacy. Nothing. We also couldn't find a nurse. We're talking to Robin and we're saying, "OK, we've been here for quite a while, we've gotta get back, because the kids, there all there. There's nobody there. They're on their own." So Buzz and I start to leave and Robin says, "You're not leaving me?!?!" We told her, "We have to get back to the kids! You're gonna be OK here." She screams, "DON'T LEAVE ME!" Sigh. What are we gonna do?
Buzz wasn't impressed with the medical aid Robin was likely to get there, and we were leaving the next day for Paris, so we made an executive decision. We decided to evacuate her from the hospital, staggering and all. One problem: we didn't have her passport. Buzz snuck into the nurse's station, opened the drawer, and sure enough there was her passport. We took it. We helped her get dressed. She was still staggering. She was in bad shape. There was no one around. We could've walked out with an autoclave for that matter. We got into a cab and went back to the hotel.
We didn't dare take Robin on the bus. That's gonna be a terrible ride. So I decided I'd take Robin on a train, with a male student for help. And Clara would come with us. So I'd have a female with me for Robin. Clara was on the trip with us when this all happened. She was visiting. It was her first trip to Europe. So we get the kids on the bus with Buzz, and they take off. Robin, Clara, the male student, and I have to go to the train station. We get Robin on the train. We're on the train, pumping along. Robin was comfortable. And then something didn't seem right. I saw the name of a town and I went up and talked to the conductor and asked, "Paris?" He said, "No! You're going the wrong way." We're going on the wrong train. It was my fault obviously. My mind was exhausted. So we got off the train and waited on the other side for the next train. Dragging Robin. She was still somewhat comatose. Got on the train. Got to Paris.
By the time we got to Paris all the kids had eaten, they were in bed, and they were all concerned about Robin. We arrived like we had a hangover, but grateful that we got there. We didn't know what to do. I didn't want her going to sleep. That's the last thing I wanted her to do. But it was so late. It was the wee hours of the morning. We stayed in a room and I watched her. In the morning we got a doctor, maybe a neurologist. For all I know it was a veterinarian. He checked her. He could speak a little English. He gave us enough of an insight to confirm she had a concussion. My question was, "We're going home on an airplane, do you think she can make it?" He hesitated. He thought about it, and then said in his best English that he didn't think it would jeopardize her. I called her parents and explained the situation. "We've talked to a physician. We're getting ready to come home. We're not about to leave her here, unless that's what you want." She was a little better by this time. A little more coherent, but still groggy. Like she had been on a bender. They said, "Whatever you think is best." They trusted us and were grateful that we were taking care of her.
On another trip, as we were leaving Switzerland, there were some comments about somebody in our group maybe having a little bit of marijuana. Italy back then, if you came in with narcotics, you were gonna stay there for the rest of your life. The American Institute assigned us with a chaperone. He took care of hotel accommodations, logistics, trains. He was a handy person to have. Made sure we got into the hotel. What have you. Now he's on the bus with us, taking us to Italy. I don't remember how long he stayed with us. After we got the message about drugs I got up and said, "We just got some information. We're not gonna ask any questions. If anybody on this bus has any kind of drug, not an aspirin, but a narcotic, like marijuana, heroin, opium, whatever it is, we're not gonna ask any questions. But I want you to get off the bus right now, and I want you to dispose of it. And then I want you to come back on the bus. Well, 2 of the students got up, and of all things, the guy, the chaperone that was assigned to us, he gets up! I thought, oh my god.
Now we arrive at what they call the frontier, which is the border from Switzerland to Italy. Here's this Italian border guard, somewhat bald, white shirt open down to his belly button. Mean as hell. Talking in Italian. Screaming sometimes. Trying to get people to shut up. In hindsight I think he was trying to put the fear into the students. So he's shouting and pointing and tells me to get our suitcases out of the bus and to bring them into the border station where inside they had a big turnstile. So I gathered a few students and had them help me bring all the suitcases in. Now, as the chaperone to the students I had all the medications. I had every drug ever created in the world. I tried to explain to him that I was the medico. He opens one of my bottles, I don't even know if it was labeled. He put it in his mouth and he bit it. It was an aspirin. He spit it out and made the most contorted face... he did it kind of in front of some of the students. I still say to this day, knowing human nature, I think he was putting on an act. But he really was putting the fear of god into all of us. Even I started to get a little apprehensive. There's about 7 of us around the turnstile. Next to me was this little girl. I don't dare give her name because I think she'll be embarrassed if she ever reads this in the Wall Street Journal. She was the youngest girl on the trip. She whispers to me, "Mr. Basques, I can't open my bag." "You what?!" "I can't open it." "Listen, what, what do you have in there?!" "I can't open it. I just, I can't do it." I said, "Oh my god." I told her she has to open it and put it on the table. "I can't!" I said, "What do you have in there?!" Finally she said, "I have tampons!" I wanted to kiss her! I was so relieved. I felt a little sorry for her. Anyway, that's what that was, and I will remember that as long as I live. She threw it onto the table. I don't even think the guy noticed. So we loaded onto the bus and made it to Italy.
So much for our experiences traveling abroad. At home, Allen continued to this day to be my best friend ever. Loyal, smart, funny. He won the hearts of all of the Basques children. He was just so loving and so kind and so funny. They loved him because they could be humorous.
Next chapter: Barbara