As the “younger brother”, Skip makes connections as a child that will help to revolutionize early weed smuggling & importation in the 1970’s.
Learn about the first introduction that Skip has to one particular character that will help to shape Skip’s path down the line immensely…
Becoming a Beach Boy
As I grew older, games of catch with neighborhood friends ceased to satisfy my hunger for adventure in my local neighborhood. At the time, my family lived on the outskirts of a small fishing town and as an eleven year old boy I longed to live closer to the beach. I learned from friends at school that the “beach” kids lived a fairy-tale life filled with boats, fishing, and everyday adventures on the shores and inter-coastal waterways of the beach. My family lived in a great neighborhood, but the “beach” seemed like a true utopia for an adventurous young explorer such as myself.
Late one evening as I was playing around at home, my father walked in with quite a surprise.
“Your mother and I have decided to move closer to my work.” He told me with a straight and unemotional expression. As he waited for my reaction, I began to notice a small smile start to show on his face.
“Which for you equals a life on the beach!”, my dad exclaimed as he ran over to pick me up with a powerful embrace.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Finally I would be one of the “beach” kids that I had envied for so long.
When moving day came, I couldn’t contain myself. Our car pulled laboriously into our humble new home on the “beach”, over burdened and loaded to the brim of our family station wagon and small trailer. The house was a good size “old-style” single level home with a circular drive and attached garage. On each side of the house one prominent native tree stood tall, both sides creating a kid-friendly wonderland. My imagination ran in all directions as my approach to our sea grape tree startled a dozen or more lizards, sending them scurrying into the intricate rooting system, and up into higher branches.
As I continued to explore the outdoors, I discovered the most wonderful feature of my new surroundings. When I ran through the home’s side gate and picked up speed into the back yard, I came truly alive at the sight of a dock connecting my backyard to an open expanse of liquid adventure. The new home sat toward the back of an expansive bay which connected directly to the ocean and the infinite possibilities beyond.
Within a few months, my father had invested in a small boat for me, and with the new friends I made in the beach neighborhood, I was exploring every bayou, sand bar and inlet near my new house. I felt like Tom Sawyer as my days consisted of coming home from school, throwing on my swimming trunks and heading out in my boat until evening. Needless to say, I was thrilled with our family’s new home.
One winter afternoon, being a bit too cool to be swimming around off my boat, I decided my time was best spent practicing my basketball shot. In the driveway, my father had recently installed a new basketball rim and my new friends and I were already making it one of the more popular after-school hangouts. As I was taking shots and chasing after the balls I missed, I looked up to see that a small car had pulled up to the curb at my home.
The Boys Arrive
The car was a beautiful British racing green Triumph TR-4. Upon closer inspection, I realized that somehow there seemed to be three guys piled into the tiny racing inspired vehicle. The car was weathered to say the least, covered with mud, road dirt and bugs in a thick layer across the grille. As I watched, the passenger door to the car swung open and Will Knox, my older sister Sue’s boyfriend was the first to get out. I recognized Will immediately as he stood up out of the car. By this time, he and my sister had progressed in their relationship to the point of talking about possible marriage, and he was beginning to be a bit of an older brother to me personally.
Along for the ride with Will were two of his best friends from college. Eric Spatz and Doug McWilliams were two of Will’s fellow cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. They had just completed a non-stop drive from Colorado, relocating to the beach for “Winter Break”. I had never met either of them before, but if they were even half as “cool” as Will, I figured that they must be pretty good guys.
“How’s it going little brother?” Will yelled to me from the curb.
“Great! Shooting a couple of baskets….think you guys wanna play?” My response was a bit tentative as I held my breath in the hopes that these older guys would come and play ball with me.
“Sounds like a challenge to me!”, Will replied, running to retrieve the ball from where it was lying.
I was absolutely ecstatic. I couldn’t believe that these older guys would want to play with me, a young kid.
“These are my best buddies from the academy, Eric and Doug.” Will said, as he introduced me to his friends.
“We’re all happy to be away from the blue zoo!” Will commented as both of his friends walked closer to me to shake my hand.
“Hi guys.” I told them as I reached up to shake their hands.
“Sure is great that you guys are here. We’re gonna have so much fun.” I told them as I handed the ball back to Will.
Everybody needs a Big Brother
In retrospect, I can imagine that the young college students were not all that thrilled at having to pal around with an eleven year old kid while home on their break from classes. But at the time, I couldn’t have been happier to have these old guys around.
“Ok, I got Skip on my team. We’ll take you guys on in two on two.” Will said as he pushed the ball into the chest of his buddy Eric.
“We’re gonna beat you guys so bad, that we better give you possession first so you have a chance…”
As the game progressed and the guys gave me every advantage possible to win, I learned through their chatter during the game that they were happy to be away from the cold weather that they had left behind in Colorado. They had driven, packed tightly, in Eric’s small TR-4 from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, all the way to Florida for the winter break.
The game of basketball seemed like a dream come true to me, as I got to play with the old guys for what seemed like an eternity before they wrapped the game up and proceeded inside to greet my sister and the rest of my family.
For the next couple of weeks, Will’s friends became like brothers to me, especially Eric Spatz. Everywhere they went, they let me tag along. I took them in my boat, showed them around the beach and made sure to convince them into plenty of games of basketball in my front driveway. Just having a chance to hang with these guys made me feel bigger, older and “cooler” than I ever had imagined I could become.
Over the course of the next couple of years, while I grew up in the small beach town, Will and Eric continued their education at the US Air Force Academy. After a couple of semesters more in school they graduated and were sent to the War in Vietnam. Will became a highly decorated F-100 pilot, while Eric went East and polished his skills as an intelligence officer.
Little did I ever suspect that less than ten years after this fateful meeting, our paths would cross in a way that would forever change the destiny of all those involved, as well as all people around us. Together with my “older brothers”, the path of destiny would lead us onward into a world of high adventure, vast abundance and great risk and tragedy. As I think about it now, it is amazing to me that it all started so very simply with such innocent beginnings.