Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mr. Bagman, bring me a dream

     THERE'S A POINT (c. 1968) WHERE the BAUER & and CASPERS SAGAS ACTUALLY, IF BARELY, INTERSECT. As a kid, I was a Cub Scout and then a Boy Scout, and my dad was always among the adult leaders of my Pack or Troop, even becoming the Cub Master (I think that’s what they called that job) and the Scoutmaster—which was really something, given my dad’s German accent. Everybody liked my dad.
     I joined Boy Scout Troop 850 (Villa Park), which had its meetings each week at Cerro Villa Junior High. When my dad became Scoutmaster, 850 quickly became a very accomplished troop, winning competitions at jamborees and Scout-o-Ramas, the latter always occurring at the Orange County Fairgrounds. I’ve got some old pictures of that somewhere.
     My folks, who are not particularly religious, nevertheless felt that it was important for my sister, Annie, and I—we were the oldest—to become “confirmed,” and so we joined Trinity Lutheran, which sits atop that hill immediately above the 91/55 interchange at Olive Hill/Anaheim Hills. At some point, pastor Conradson ("A peace sign," he would roar, "is a cross with its arms broken!") asked my dad to start a Boy Scout Troop, and thus it happened that my dad and I—and one or two other kids from 850—started troop 536, meeting each week in the utilitarian building jutting from the side of the church on the hill.
     I’ll cut to the chase. The launch of that troop went well, and soon it was a very active and impressive organization. Once again, we won awards, even competing with, and vanquishing, our former Troop 850.
Manny Bauer
     BAUER, PENTECOST, AND BOTTOMLEY. There were two “dads” who, along with my own dad (“Manny” for Manfred), formed the adult heart of the troop. Both were engineers active in the local Roman Catholic Church (St. Norbert, in Orange, I believe). A significant number of the troop’s boys were referred to our troop by St. Norbert, which is kind of funny, when you consider the historical relationship between Lutherans and the Roman Catholic Church.
     One of these adults was Gene Pentecost, a sharp guy with a Tennessee accent—he was maybe five or so years older than my dad. My dad recalls that he was the chief engineer (or some such thing) for the Polaris missile project (my own research suggests that it might have been the Minuteman project instead). He worked, my dad seemed to recall, at Autonetics, which was a division of North American that had moved to Anaheim in 1963. My dad remembers that Gene had a doctorate and that he was some sort of mathematician or engineer, working in computers.
     (I did a quick search and found a “Eugene Edgar Pentecost,” born in Tennessee in 1927, who went on to big projects with Rockwell and who may have been in the engineering departments of UCLA and Vanderbilt. I'm sure it's the same guy. In retirement, he's focused on his ham radio hobby.)
     CASPERS' RIGHT-HAND MAN. Pentecost’s good buddy, and the second adult, was Charles Bottomley. Charles, my dad recalls, was “Ron Caspers’ right-hand man.” At the time—this would have been about 1968—Caspers owned Keystone Savings and Loan and (says my dad) a "restaurant next door” [more recently, he located it across the street] on Beach and Garden Grove Blvd in Westminster.* The restaurant was called the “Green Cat,” and it was pretty rough, says pop. One of his electrician buddies used to work there as the bartender [before Caspers tore it down and created a more upscale place]. He’d routinely have the bouncer throw drunks out the front door.
LA Times 1959
     According to my dad, on Mondays, Charles served as Caspers’ “bag man.”
     “What do you mean by that?” I asked.
     “Well, he literally had a bag and it was filled with money. He’d be moving this money around for Caspers. On Monday.” [Possibly not illegal activity. Perhaps hinky re the IRS.]
     I just did a little looking, and I learned that a Charles F. Bottomley was President of Caspers’ Keystone Savings and Loan as of a year after Caspers’ death. I found a 1981 article written by Bottomley for Orange Coast Magazine that describes him, again, as the President of Keystone. I believe that Keystone underwent a name change and moved to Westminster soon after. Don't know what became of Mr. Bottomley.
     So, anyway, I guess it’s a small world after all.
     Near as I can figure, Keystone was located at 555 N. Euclid in Anaheim, and it was established in 1959—probably by Caspers, who seems to have had a bank then in the Pasadena area. I can find no record of a “Green Cat” restaurant. But that doesn't mean much.
     Bottomley was nearly exactly my dad’s age (born in 1932) and lived in Anaheim, but more recent data suggest that he moved to Newport Beach, where Caspers lived when he died.
     (You'll recall that, in the mid-80s, Congressional candidate Nathan Rosenberg referred to Tom Fuentes as "Caspers' bagman." Rosenberg, as it turns out, is a bigwig in the Boy Scouts hierarchy!)




*Despite some odd records to the contrary, it is clear that Keystone Savings was no longer in Anaheim but was in Westminster (on Beach) by 1966. According to one record, it was founded by Caspers on 1/1/57 and located at 555 N. Euclid, Anaheim. Later moved to 14011 Beach, in Westminster. Not in '81 as some records suggest. (The above Times article says that the S&L opened in 1959, not 1957.)

5 comments:

  1. I love this story for so many reasons. You dad. You. The bag of money. Boy Scouts. Man.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Crazy man. Bags of money. Your pop seems like a reliable witness. Strange days.

    ReplyDelete
  3. didn't know where else to post this. was looking at your current playlist. not bad but if you are going to include sam cooke doing bring it on home to me you should at least have the live version from the harlem square club in miami

    ReplyDelete
  4. 5:02, the content of my Juke Box is limited by what's offered by Playlist. I did find one live version of the song (by Cooke) and I've added it.
    There are lots of great songs that don't appear on this Juke Box simply because Playlist doesn't have it. E.g., no Beatles at all. Lots of obscure songs.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 4:39, yes, my pop is quite honest; in that sense, he's utterly reliable. Further, he told me all this stuff before I knew who Caspers was (years ago). I didn't realize that he had told me about THE Ron Caspers until I asked him again about this stuff, the other day.
    For some reason, my dad knows, or has had conversations with, lots of important people. In part that's because he was on a local water board for about twenty years. It's also because he was involved in Scouting. Often, I don't realize how important these people in his stories are until I do these stories on DtB.
    I vague remember Mr. Bottomley and do remember Mr. Pentecost. But I never had a clue what these people did outside the Boy Scout troop. For all that I knew, they had no jobs at all.

    ReplyDelete

Trolls and flamers will be cursed by our team of black magicians