Posts Tagged ‘Westwood’

by James C. Stephens

Monday, April 11, 1977

1:10 a.m., Tuesday morning.

Last few days have enjoyed beautiful spring weather. It’s been cool and slightly overcast with that ocean air influence. Perfect working weather. Soon, I’m sure we’ll have some more scorchers, though.

Had an enjoyable Easter Sunday. My Aunt Retha came over, Ann Sandene and her son Tony, and Emery a bowling friend of my fathers and three friends and members of mine, Tom Brittingham, Tony Schmidt, and Brent Wilson.

My Aunt Retha is looking so much better and younger. It’s great! We had such an interesting conversation about her studies in genealogy, etc. She told me about our family tree on the Stephens side of the family. In the near future I would like to get the tree from both sides of my family. It fascinates me.

After the folks ate, they went out bowling and we, the YMD, had our one hour toso and did a precise Gongyo, ate, drank and watched the conclusion of a very interesting movie, Jesus of Nazareth. Very well done. I was particularly impressed with the master disciple relationship between Jesus and his disciples, very interesting. I have much to say on this, but would like to start a notebook on personal essays on such thoughts of philosophy, education, etc.

This evening was most enjoyable for me. Bob Rafkin, a former roommate and good friend of mine is getting married this coming Saturday the 16th and tonight his Bride, Joanne Harris’s mother gave a dinner for them. It was a family dinner and I am touched deeply that I was considered to be close to Bob to be invited. We get along like brothers. Anyway it was on Restaurant Row at the Mediterranean Restaurant and I enjoyed it immensely. I became associated with Mr. Harry and Mr. Sinclair and several others of the Harris Clan and met Bob’s parents who are very neat people. There were quite a few members there also, including Mik and Liz Shevchek, Terry and Guy Meek, and Andrea Hairston.

Terry Meek and I had a very heart to heart talk; she’s definite proof of the Gohonzon, a very beautiful women with very warm eyes and emits an incredibly down to earth countenance without losing that female grace and beauty. I had mentioned Mr. Williams talking to my father and we got to discussing the literary group I started, she was extremely interested and wants to attend a meeting and if possible get into our group.

Had to leave at 10:45, because I had another equally exciting thing I had to attend in Westwood. About 3 weeks ago I met a girl named Isabel at Howard Johnson’s during my coffee break. We had a conversation across the counter and I mentioned our Literary group when I heard she was trying her hand at writing short stories. She sounded interested so I invited her to be a guest one month, she accepted.

We talked about travel and she mentioned she spent a year in France, so I mentioned the fact that one of the members in our group was from France, Pat Kremer, and if she needed to practice her French I was sure that maybe the two of you could get together via me as the liason.

About a week later I called made arrangements for the two to meet tonight. I had not shakubukued her up to this point. I introduced her to Pat, did sancho daimoku and we talked for awhile. We shakubukued her and I left for dinner while they had a talk in French. This was at 4:20. Now 11:00 I arrive and take Isabel home. We had a warm channel of communication. She expressed exhaustion in her meeting with Pat and Charlotte and how she went through changes talking to them. “They wanted to talk so much I had to fight to talk. It was a struggle, but I am becoming more aware of myself. It was good.”

She mentioned she was interested in Buddhism. Before she had come to a meeting but was not particularly taken by Phase I. She expressed that Charlotte came on a little heavy on shakubukuing her and then questioning me. Isabel sided with me in the care saying she was happy I had made friends. You’re more experienced and confident so if it comes up later you would of told me more naturally. We discussed the fact that one who is new is less confident and feels compelled to tell it our faster. Interesting.

As we departed, she said I have your number, give me a call about the book for June. I think I’ll be too busy to read until them with school exams. But I’d love to do it this summer. Maybe give me a call and we could go out or something. “Sure,” I said.

She is very soft spoken and possesses a lot of wisdom for a girl of 21. Beautiful eyes, medium dark hair, medium build. Born in Quebec, moved to California at the age of 6. Mother runs nursery in her home. Her father is an electronic technician for ITT or some big company.

I’m attracted to her, who knows but the Gohonzon. I’ve given up trying to figure things out if you know what I mean.

Oh well, its late and have much work in morning, so better sign off.

My heart is fragile

So caution is my password

But hope is always in the air

A woman is so important in my life

that I no longer take

things nonchalantly.

I feel my mission


Fortune is on my side

each day I ask Gohonzon

My wife, my business, my members

Tantamount is my faith in Gohonzon

It I trust as

Parent, teacher and sovereign.


by James C. Stephens

File1170In 1967, my family moved back to California during my sophomore summer at Hellgate High in Missoula. Yes, it was called Hellgate. Attending James Monroe was a big change. I immediately got involved in extra-curricular activities, Junior Achievement, joined the Debate team and also student council. I was the Treasurer and later the Parliamentarian. During my senior year, I won Outstanding Debater of the Year award.

Highlights. I remember that I enjoyed eating lunch with Rodney Dilger and James Glanville. They were down to earth, counter cultural hippies. I was the Montana kid who was on the ski team and fairly naive about the city. One day they had given me a ride home and were smoking something in the back seat of their old Corvair and I said, “Hey, that better not be marijuana! They joked, “Of course not, we’re just smoking tea leaves!”  Yeh, I believed them.

On another occasion my debate partner, David Goldberg who I had won a gold medal with at a debate tournament at Taft High had grown muttonchops and was told that he had to cut them to meet the dress code or be suspended. He wouldn’t comply. So Dilger, Glanville and I put together a little counter cultural magazine called *The Gadfly* patterned after what the Greeks called Socrates and passed our mimeographed rag out on campus. We gave it our best shot.

File1108 - Copy - CopyRemember the Winter of ’69? The storms unceasingly hit the country for thirty days and snowplows couldn’t keep up with ole man winter. In some parking lots at Mammoth Mountain, California entire parking lots looked like well spaced bamboo forests where poles marked  cars submerged under feet of snow. My brother Ron and I were on Kratka Ridge Ski Team, a southern California team coached by Robin Morning, formerly on the US Ski Team and Pia Riva McIssacs, three time Italian downhill Olympic gold medal winner.  The storms were great for the local ski areas.  I had invited a girl that I was interested in up to watch me at an Alpine race up at Kratka Ridge. While,  I was warming up, I decided to take a run by her and show her what I had. As I hit an icy mogul, I caught a tip, dug in the snow, and did an unintentional cartwheel, crashed, burned and ended up breaking my arm. She wasn’t impressed. I would of buried myself in a snowdrift if I could have found one.

After that, I spent a lot of time on the bench during PE healing and recall getting into some philosophical discussions with my classmate, Russ Dilando, who had been my locker partner and classmate in my Russian class. One day, he sat next to me and showed me *Seikyo Times* a Buddhist magazine with my picture next to Joe Landis who was a television director and the moderator of a televised debate I participated in. Russ told me that Joe was a Buddhist and that I was going to be a Buddhist too.

“No way!”I said, “That’s communism.”

Russ said, “No, it’s Buddhism.”  I really had no clue at the time what he was talking about, but he and two other classmates Jim Jay and Carol Dell were really into it. He was Shakubukuing me, the Buddhist equivalent of sharing his faith with me. It was but a seed that he had planted.


Student politics. I decided to run against Kathy Kelly and Steve Knowles for Student Body President. It was not a memorable campaign. What was memorable was that we were able to get Strawberry Alarm Clock to play at our weekly student assembly. “Incense and peppermint, color of time” still rings in my mind.





File1154The clock was ticking and Senior Prom was approaching. No date. Every guy I knew was afraid to ask Deborah H. who looked like Kathryn Hepburn to the Prom. One day, I was in the library and I said to myself, “I like her, why not?” So I went up to Debra and asked her if she would like to be my date to the Senior Prom. She said, “Yes.”  I was ecstatic. I enjoyed our Prom date. Those were the days you could walk on the Santa Monica Beach at night. It was a romantic evening. Yes, I was a perfect gentlemen. At least that’s what I remember…






File3025Although this picture was not taken in 1970 (let’s pretend it was), it takes me back to February 1970 when I worked for my Dad at his Mobil Station on the corner of Westwood & Santa Monica Blvd., in West Los Angeles just south of UCLA. Years later, my wife Elizabeth told me she used to get off the bus right by these gas pumps when she was returning home from University High School. She was in her senior year when I was pumping gas just prior to going to Cal State Northridge. We never met:(