Archive for December, 2011

Coming in July, my 20th high school reunion will be kicking off. Which means that 20 years ago I graduated from high school (however anyone who knows me knows I didn’t actually graduate with my class). Part of me wants to plan the trip out to Crescent City and partake in the festivities. Ahh the joy of seeing old friends and catching up on the years that have gone by while getting drunk! However, that part of me in waning as the day comes closer and the reality of it all sets in.

Granted, there are some people I would like to see, but in reality, not really. In all honesty I can’t think of one friend I have remained in contact with from those years. Sure they fill my Facebook friends list, but that is mostly based on memory of so many years past. Hell of all of them I haven’t seen one in the past years and only know what has become of them because of their updates.

You see, memories and reality are funny things. The memories I have are great. Fun parties, doing crazy sh*t, and having a lot of fun, however those moments were few and far between in reality. High school sort of sucked. Some say that high school are the best years in life. I say to those people BULLSH*T!!!  The memories of my days in high school actually aren’t in high school at all, they are mostly from the couple of years after high school before joining the Navy. Don’t get me wrong, high school was fun, but after high school was much funner.And the saddest thing is that those years after high school is when I made the majority of my friends, at least my closest friends of those days. It’s too bad that those friends won’t be there because some grauadted before or after me and aren’t part of my class. Sadly,  I can not honestly think of anyone, except maybe a handful that I would really like to see. And even within that handful, it won’t, nay, can’t be like it was 20 or so years ago.

I’m not putting down high school reunions. The thing that I am noticing about high school reunions, especially based on the facebook page created for mine, is that the majority of the people who are so stoked about live in or near Crescent City to this day. Some left and returned, most never left. This is not a comment on thier lives. No way! I have to assume that they had their adventures like me, saw the world, and just found that Crescent City was the place where they wanted to plant or replant their roots. At times I have thought about returning and planting my roots in Crecent City. How cool would it be to teach in Del Norte High? I talk about my high school days with my students, but it is hard for land locked students to understand the vast joys of Crescent City’s ocean and river culture. It would be cool as hell to talk about the Moon Tower or Second Bridge with students who understand what those places represent (or atleast represented in my day). Of course, me telling the stories to my students today is a little better because they don’t know what those places represent, which makes it a bit safer to tell the stories.

However my thoughts of moving back to CC and setting my roots are based on fleeting glimpses of a hyperinflated past. The reality of Crescent City is rain and a sh*t load of it. It’s overcast and glummy the majority of the time. It’s so far from civilization at times that it seems like a city that is an island. It has a long history but even that history is glummy with a tsunami that took out a good portion of the town, a timber industry that has folded under the pressure of environmentalism (clear cutting was a good idea for who again?), a fishing industry that is barely holding on, etc. Sure a super max prison helped the economy (can’t even count the number of friends who now work there), but it also brought with it crime, gang culture, and yes, drugs.

Focusing on the bad is not good for anything and there is a lot of good about Crescent City. It is a small town, there are thousands of things to do for kids, the schools have great people looking out for them, and it does have a tourist industry that is booming year after year; and why not it is nestled along the North Coast of California with the Pacific on one side and the Redwood forests on the other. It is beautiful when the sun comes out. There is nothing in the world like a sping time sunset sitting at Surfer’s Point or anywhere along Pebble or Pecker’s Knob. And there is nothing like a Crescent City 4th of July, even though I have heard that drinking on the beach is against the law now, which makes me question whether or not those Crescent City 4th of July’s still have what they used to have? Hell, even talking about it makes me want to partake in the reunion a bit more.

This all makes me think about reunions and the years that have gone by. In the twenty years since I last stepped into Del Norte High School as a student a lot has occured in my life. I had tragedy which directed me into the Navy, but from that so much has come into my life which makes me sort of wish for other reunions. I’d love to have a reunion of my graduating “SHIP” from bootcamp, or from the USS La Moure County (LST-1194) or the unit I served in (now those would be some f*cking reunions with some wild ass stories). I’d love for a reunion of the class of 2003 from Aims Community College or class of 2005 student teachers from the University of Northern Colorado, or for that matter the class of 2007 graduate students from UNC. I wouldn’t mind a reunion of the folks at my wedding, hell even some of the people Brandy and I met during our Honeymoon. I’d even  love a reunion of the Birthing Class of Dec-Jan of 2011 (man the stories we could tell).

So as the day get closer maybe I will change my mind from not going to going. Maybe I’ll skip the reunion altogether, talk my brother and his wife and kid to go up, and Josh and I can sit on the beach with a 12 pack of Coors Light and reflect on the past 20 years of our lives.  And maybe some folks will show up from the past and we’ll toss the football around, play some Hack, and just f*ck around like the good old days listening to CCR, Sublime, Marley, AC/DC, and some 90’s Ganster Rap. We’ll pretend that life is still way ahead of us and the things we are doing won’t matter because “F*ck it man, there is always tomorrow!” We’ll all watch the sunset and look for the green dot, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll take the party up to the river or to the Hideaway. Or we’ll say our good-bye’s, head back to the hotel, and play with the kids!  Now that is a reunion I can look forward to.






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When my brother and I were young we had a cousin (not really our cousin, but the son of close family friends), Matt Kazan. His parents lived in Fairfield, Ca and we would visit their home often. Matt’s father, Rob, and my father grew up together and both worked in sheet metal; Rob owning his own business and my father working for competitors. Matt was a bit spoiled, always having the cool toys, an Atari, etc., etc. That is really not the point of this post, but just wanted to throw it out there.

Anyway, from Matt’s upstairs bedroom window you could see Cement Hill and what looked to be a castle. For the longest time, actually up until a few days ago, I still believed that there was a castle on the hill over looking Fairfield, California. There were stories afloat about the castle and the haunting surrounding it. According to legend at night a greenish, pukish fog rolled in and always obscured the castle from site. This was true in a sense. Fairfield being in te Bay area was prone to fog and the lights reflecting off the highway and the cities of Fairfield and Vacaville at time made the fog look greenish.

However there was also a story that went behind that haunted fog. According to legend, one night three friends, a boyfirend and girlfirend and another male friend, who had just graduated from high school and went out drinking together the night before leaving for college and decided to head up Cement Hill to the “Castle” and get drunk. As they drink the boyfriend and girlfriend begin getting a little frisky, and getting the hint, the other friend gets out of the car so that the pair can do their thing. One last lovers trist before heading off to seperate colleges. When the couple finish their business, they look up and notice that a greenish fog had rolled in. Feeling bad that their friend had been left outside, they honk the horn to let him know they were finished and it was time to go. The boyfriend honks…no friend. He honks again…still no friend. Considering how much they had drunk and the amount of time the two were engaged in relations together, they decided that their friend, growing bored and drunk, probably passed out.

By this time however, the fog has gotten much thicker, to the point where they can’t see anything outside the car windows. The boyfriend decides to get out of the car and find their friend, however the girlfriend is not happy with this idea because of the thickness and strange color of the fog. The boyfriend, thinking his girlfriend is being irrational tells her that everything is fine, it’s just fog, and their friend is probably not too far from the car and it won’t take long to find him. The boyfriend gets out of the car and closes the door. Scared the girlfriend locks all the doors and watches as her boyfriend quickly disappears into the dense fog.

A few minutes go by and the girlfriend begins to get worried. She moves into the drivers seat and begins honking the horn. There is no answer. She honks again…still nothing. Suddenly she begins to hear scapping on the side of the car. The scrapping sounds like metal on metal. It begins on the back of the car on the passenger side and slowly moves to the front. By this time the girl is freaking out. The fog is so thick she can’t see anything. She begins slamming on the car horn and screaming for her boyfriend. The scrapping sound has reached the front passenger door and is now making its way around the front of the car to the drivers side. Suddenly the scrapping stops and there is a large crash on the front of the car like something has fallen on it. Histerical, the girl starts the car, puts it in reverse, and slams on the gas. She continues driving until the fog clears and stops the car. Wipping away the tears from her eyes she finally begins to focus on what had fallen on the front of the car. It is the body of her bofriend, throat slit!

The police, responding to the hestical girls parents call after she arrives home, report to the scene. They look at the car and see the dented hood and blood. They also find strange marks on the sides and front of the car, as if someone had taken a large piece of metal and dragged it along the car. After speaking to the girl they make their way to the “Castle.” They find the body of the boyfriend a few miles from the “Castle” just like the girl reported it was at after she drove away and the body fell off the car. The boyfriends throat had been slit and he was dead. Knowing that there had been a third person in the car that night and having heard the girls story they make their way up to the “Castle.” There, hanging from a tree is the body of the friend. He had been disembowed and his guts were hanging from the open wound. Stragest part of it all, there were no footprints in the soiled ground except those of the friend and the boyfriend.

Now the story I just told you is the story my mother told me long ago. I know, pretty f*cked up story to be telling a kid, and trust me, nightmares followed for a while after that. However as I grew older and saw the “Castle” from my friends window, the youthful facination in me grew, and did that of Matt’s and my brothers.

One day we decided we would make our trek to the “Castle” and see what it was like. We told our parents we were going to another friends home, and began our journey. We crossed through a large field, made our way under a barbed wire fence, and began making the long hike up to the “Castle.” Unfortunately we started our adventure pretty late, and it began getting dark. Having all heard the story of the haunted fog, when we noticed the fog rolling in (looking back on it now it probably wasn’t fog, just the dusk of night and the lights making it look that way) we got a little scared. Suddenly we heard gunshots off in the distance (probably kids or adults firing off guns in the hills), we freaked, and began running back to the saftey of the surrounding nieghborhoods. Never again did we try to make it to the “Castle.” Years passed, my parents were divorced, Matt’s parent’s divorced, and slowly but surely over time I forgot about that old Castle that sat upon Cement Hill in Fairfield, California.

That was until the other day. I was reading about company towns. These were towns that were owned buy the company they surrounded. Mill and Mine towns were like this. Everything was owned by the company from the church, the schools, to the stores and homes. Employees of these town were usually paid in company money (chits or coins) that could only  be spent in company businesses. Pretty screwed deal if you ask me. Essentially you were working or free for the company because the money you made was worthless outside the company town.

Anyway, in my reading, I came across a little piece about company towns in California. Most of them centered on the timber industry, but there was this obscure story about a company town called Cement, California. It was located outside of Fairfield and owned by the Pacific Portland Cement Company on what is called…you guessed it…Cement Hill.  According to what I was reading it opened in 1902 and closed in 1927, however remnants of the old company town still remain, especially the old cement crusher that looks like…that’s right…a castle from a distance! After doing a bit of research on the net I came across a news clip about the old town and what remains there, and it ended with the old cement crusher and damn if it wasn’t that old Castle of Fairfield, California.

Now of course that doesn’t explain the story my mother told me about the high school friends and the horror that became their last night before college. Instead what discounts that story is folklore. There are aspects of that story out there in small towns across this country. Of course some of the actors and events vary, with many including some dude with a hook or blade for a hand or some sh*t like that, but they all center around the same concept. I’m not saying my mother lied about it, I’m sure it was a story that went through her high school or grade school and I’m sure some kids names were attached to it. Those kids probably graduated from Fairfield High or Armijo High and have no idea that they are supposedly dead or witness to the death of their friends. Hell in Crescent City, California where I grew up there is a story about an old mental hospital in the forrest that closed down after a whole bunch of patients escaped…does your town have that one?

What is most fascinating, and yes, even a bit sad about the Castle of Fairfield, is that knowing the truth about what it really is and what it represent is kind of the closing of a chapter of my youth. For the longest time it was a castle on a hill that just didn’t seem to belong which made it fun and, yes, a bit scary. Part of me wanted to believe that some eccentric old man built it like William Randolph Hearst or a wealthy European had it shipped to California piece by piece. Instead all it is are the broken remains of a cement crusher in the middle of a ghost town that was owned by a company that lasted 25 years. Soon, according to the news article, the old remains will be dug up and scrapped for new housing developments and Starbuck Coffee Shops. And when or if I am driving down the I-80 corridor with my daughter I will look up at Cement Hill and I will point to a Target Shopping center and say to Madison, “Hey honey, up there use to be the Castle of Fairfield.”

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Over the next week the news and other forms of media will be reflecting upon yet another year that has passsed. They will surely address the fact that this was the year that Osama bin Laden was killed, or we have to assume that he was killed because no real proof has been given. I’m surely not suggesting that I think he is alive, but I simply have no proof that he is dead and not in some US controlled hell hole in some backwoods 3rd world country prison! And of course there is the end of the Iraq War, or as others are calling it the build-up to the 3rd Gulf War! The economy still sucks, but atleast gas prices are down! Television shows came and went as did celebrities of all types which will be reflected at some point during the coming awards shows!

Yes, a new year is past and the reflections will come. For me however I will not be relfecting on much. Sure I have gone from Freshman Academy teacher to full fledge Social Studies teacher at my school. I went from talking shit about FLHS Student Council and how it was being run, to now running it. Brandy and I have been through ups and downs, but what marriage doesn’t in the course of a year?

However these pale in comparison to the real reflection upon this year. For on February 10th of this year I was still just married Jason Simmers. My wife and I had gone through and done so much since getting married in 2003. We’ve traveled parts of the world together, helped eachother through college. Brandy achieved her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family therap and found a job she loves. I went from AA degree to BA to MA in that time and found a job I enjoy (love would not be a description I would use. Yet through all those things that occured between May 17, 2003-February 1o, 2011, nothing compared to February 11, 2001. For on that day, just after midnight, Madison Ciara Simmers came into our lives.

My year of reflection does not encompass all that this year has made, brought, and taken away. Instead it relfects upon the moment I saw my daughter being born to the final day of 2011. In that time she has learned to do so much and that learning is merely beggining. She went from pooping, crying, and sleeping to a child that plays, army crawls, and yes still poops, sleeps, and cries! She is starting to talk, form a personality, and best of all recognizes who Brandy and I are in her life. I know these experience will only get better in the years to come. I know great things will come and milestones will be passed in the years to come, but those years of reflection will be nothing like this year, because in the course of this year I went from Jason Simmers to Dad, and nothing can compare to that!

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