Part 57: Dear Ace
Today is Sunday, December 20th, 2020. The historic Cliff House restaurant, which first opened 157 years ago, will close. 180 employees will lose their jobs, just in time for the holiday season. Years ago, Riley used to work there as a cook. He also had a sexual relationship with a waitress there, which he writes about in his journal.
"The half-siblings" as I call our group, are always wondering if there are more of us out there. Anyway, I'm annoyed that the PPP loan (Paycheck Protection Program) didn't go to save treasures like the Cliff House, especially when mega-church pastors got millions of dollars from that program. I think if you took a vote, most would say that any pastor with a private jet probably shouldn't get that loan. These churches have a huge flock that give donations to these prosperity gospel pastors, so...what's the deal? It's an epic con. Perhaps these churches should start paying taxes, if they are eligible for business loans. When the PPP loan was introduced, it seemed to be meant for small businesses to stay afloat and take care of their employees.
There was a major hack of private companies, government agencies and think tanks, described as "the worst cyber attack ever" by cyber security experts. This was an act of old-school espionage by Russia. The data breach happened a while ago, and they were "in" for quite a while. President Donald Trump, who will not criticize Russia or Putin, said it was really China, not Russia, that hacked these companies and agencies. He also continues to claim he won the election.
Meanwhile, nearly 8 million Americans fell into poverty in the past five months. Trump is opening up federal lands for energy and mining, some of the land in Arizona is considered sacred by a neighboring Native American tribe, and who knows what else this administration will push through before leaving our democracy in chaos.
My client texted me to let me know that her husband, a doctor, got his vaccine a few days ago. He said there were no side effects, except a "pretty sore arm." The vaccine he received was made by Pfizer. Another client told me that she had read that some wealthy citizens have private doctors that are trying to get ahead of the line. These private doctors are buying the freezers that store the Pfizer vaccine, they are assuming they will, in fact, jump the line ahead of healthcare workers, the elderly, and others. Some wealthy individuals are offering straight up cash to get the vaccine:
They’re offering tens of thousands of dollars in cash, making their personal assistants pester doctors every day, and asking whether a five-figure donation to a hospital would help them jump the line. (From an article by Laura J. Nelson and Maya Lau at the Los Angeles Times.
This is a sketch my mother made of Riley, probably in the late 1970s. Below is an example of the hundreds of newspaper articles my father had cut out and saved. They filled a banker's box, easily. I wanted to go through each one, to try to see what Riley was gravitating towards, and why he was saving them, but we only had a day to go through over 25 boxes. This little scrap, about the word "ace", is the only one I saved. There was simply too much to go through and not enough time. I wish they were dated.
I thought maybe he cut out articles to keep going on his life long "journal journey". Almost every page of his journal includes what was going on with politics, the world, and sometimes movie or Broadway openings. The way he documented his life shows that he was thinking all the time, constantly reading, writing... his brain was on fire.
Always at the back of my mind, when I go through my Dad's journal and his letters, and even when I see the proof that he scammed people, is what he endured as a child. He had been tormented in the Eastern Carolina Training School for Boys (rape, humiliation, solitary confinement, denied food for days) from ages 12 to 15 years old. He was also ripped away from his parents and the only family he ever knew. Maybe this way of journaling is how he kept himself from losing his mind completely, as many of us might have.
Below is an example of how he'd keep track of his years here on earth.
After watching the VHS Riley made me all those years ago, something dawned on me. He had clipped out the articles for his cable access program, "The Riley Shepard Show". He would basically go over what ever news items he thought might work for the program that day. Anyway, here is a clip of the opening of the show. Unfortunately, I'm stuck on that opening tune with that damn flute.
See you next week.