End of the American Dream
It is a stormy, cold evening. A woman’s voice says “Thomas, your brother is sick, go and deliver the rest of these papers across the highway.”
The young boy puts on his galoshes and jacket, grabs the paper bag and sets out into the stormy night. Across the field, blowing and snowing, through the woods, down the hill, and across the highway to deliver to the homes.
The night, dark now, wind blowing, snowing and cold, so bad creating a white out. The boy, not having on warmer clothes, is freezing. Running to keep warm and get home as soon as possible, he leapt over a snow bank; it’s the highway. He sees a blinding white light, and he is hit. He does not remember how they found his home, just that a large man carried him, galoshes missing, shivering, to the door. He had seen the white light of death.
This is the true story of a man from Minnesota who, from a young age, believed in this great nation. It starts in the city of Cloquet, MN, 20 miles west of Duluth. Born on February 11, 1954 to Stephen and Margaret Antus, he was child number 5 out of 13 in his family. The family home sat on a hill in the country, surrounded by fields. The old two-story house with an attic was rolled there on logs, pulled by horses. After the Cloquet fire of 1918 the house did not burn. The fields around had been harvested, which helped save it. It was made the church for a time, and housed many people throughout the winter.
A very religious family, they would go to mass every Sunday. Mom was the quire leader and was always up in the loft leading with her powerful, beautiful voice. Each night we would kneel and pray. The boys all shared a room, 8 brothers at a time, in bunk beds that lined the walls.
Grandpa had divided the farm up into lots, and put in roads named after his children. It was called the Antus edition.
The young boy of six or 7 looks down at his younger brother, with a pencil and paper and sketches the sleeping boy. His grandmother loves the picture so much that she gives the boy an art set for Christmas – which was very significant considering all they ever gave was pajamas to the children. Through his grade school years he does drawings such as enlarging maps for his class – this was before copy machines. One day he sees a book of matches with a picture of a pirate that says, “ draw me and receive a scholarship to art school”. A few months go by until one day there is a knock at the door. His mother answers it, and a large man asks if Thomas is home. “He sent this picture in and scored a 98”, 2 points off what was needed for the scholarship. The man tried to sell an art package, but the family was very poor. The boy never even had a new pair of pants, only hand-me-downs, but he was used to that and understood it.
The farm, having been divided up into lots, had a number of homes scattering the fields, and the old barn, which was falling down. The family had a large garden the children would tend.
It was a wonderful time to be a young boy. Many times he would lie out in the fields of tall grass and gaze off into the pristine blue sky. There he was alone and hidden, able to dream of being an artist, and doing something wonderful.
Pow, poof, and a cloud of smoke. It’s a dirt bomb fight! After tilling the garden clumps of dirt about the size of a clamshell would dry up from the sun, and would explode on impact with a cloud of dust when thrown. With the neighborhood now having more homes, that meant more kids to play with. There would often be baseball and football games at our house. One boy batting right would yell “switch hitter!”, and on numerous occasions hit a foul ball that would crash through a window in the old homestead…that was a homerun. Besides baseball/home run derby and football, there were many other games like hide and seek, kick the can, and tag – games no longer played by today’s children.
From home were the fields now dotted with houses, and beyond them the woods. One day myself, now twelve, and 4 friends were off in the pines building a 5-sided fort. We had four sides finished and my friends were inside with a fire going. I was working on the backside, when one of the boys said “I want to make the fire larger”. The boy picked up a jar with gasoline in it and tossed some on the fire. The fire followed the gas up to the jar. The boy jumped, gasoline going all over him, and he burst into flames. He panicked and ran out the door on fire; the other boys froze. I looked up from where I was working, and seeing the boy in flames I dropped my hammer and darted after him – the boy looked like a human torch. After some fifty feet I caught him, tackled him, and smothered the flames with my own body. My friend’s clothes burnt off, his skin rolled back – he was in shock. We put a jacket on him and walked him home. His mother put him
in the car and rushed him to the hospital. He had third degree burns over 80% of his body. They had to take skin graphs from his thighs to put on his chest. He was in the hospital for a long time. I had some first-degree burns on my arm but nothing serious. I was just happy my friend would be ok. Somehow the papers picked up the story, and I received the metal of heroism from the Exchange Club, and the Certificate of Heroism from The Boy Scouts of America. In receiving that award I had to go to a banquet at the Minneapolis Ball Room. The presenter was General Westmorland (at the time Commander of the Armed Forces in Vietnam). When we pulling into the complex, demonstrators of the war stopped the car and rocked it back and forth, trying to tip it over. In the ballroom I was up on stage facing the audience, the General directly behind me, movie cameras rolling. The general gave a tremendous speech. Receiving the award, hearing the applause I felt a feeling of pride and accomplishment, which was difficult
for me. I was generally a very shy and quiet person.
The Governor, Harold LeVander, sent this letter:
I would like to offer my congratulations on this most significant achievement of your life as you receive the Certificate of Heroism from the Boy Scouts of America National Board of Review.
Your accomplishments in scouting indicate that you are among a select group of highly competent, dedicated, citizenship-oriented young people in the state of Minnesota.
It is my desire that you make the most of your training in Boy Scouts and continue to extend this type of mature, responsible leadership to your fellow man throughout your lifetime.
Harold LeVander, Governor
Scouting was great, like the trip we did to the Philmont Scout Ranch, in New Mexico, to hike the Rockies. (Expand on trip details) Putting dances on at the Catholic school cafeteria paid for that trip. Another was volunteering at the Minnesota State Fair.
We would march to the parking lot each morning to park cars. One day while volunteering we took some handicapped kids around the fair, one boy was in a wheelchair. We stopped at a ride called The Mouse, which looked like a nice calm ride. The boy, not being able to speak, nodded his head – he wanted a ride. We got him in and all sat around him. The ride started out calm and slow, then it picked up speed and started turning and spinning all around at very high speeds. I looked at him and he had the biggest grin on his face, he was loving it, and with his hands firmly grasping the handle we tore through there. I had never been on such a ride. Getting off the boy wanted to go again. It was the look on his face, something not taught, and never forgotten.
The troop being up north had many camping and canoeing trips. I also took the Minnesota Outward Bound course in northern Minnesota and Canada. I paid for that with car washes. It was a month long course that brought eight boys from around the United States together. There were many challenges while learning about survival. We went 250 miles into Quetico, Canada. These trips instilled a love of the North, in the lakes and forests, that resonated so deeply that it’s as if in an instant no matter where you are, you can sense it, smell it, and even taste it, and you are there.
Home was a very hectic place. With nine boys and 3 girls running around there was always something going on. That’s why when I got a chance to get away it was wonderful. I would ask mom if it was ok to go camping, she would say “I don’t care, ask your father”. I would ask dad and he would say, “I don’t care, ask your mother”. So I was gone. When it came to school I knew from a young age I had a reading disability, and had to try twice as hard to capture half. Except when it came to the arts, there the challenge was accepted, it was wanted. I enjoyed trying all the mediums, and loved sculpting and working with clay, but excelled the most at oil painting. I would copy the masters to learn their techniques and their feeling in creating such masterpieces, believing one day that I would create something wonderful too. Unfortunately school would not be in my future. Instead I went to work for the railroad out of high school.
On the track department, working labor, nothing was light. From the tools to the materials, everything was heavy. In those days there were no machines so it was all done by hand. Every day it was “lift that tie, tote that rail, and drive that spike”. The work was so hard that on the bus ride to the job site I would sit in the back and psyche myself into a frenzy, with sweat running everywhere, in anticipation of working so hard – spiking an entire curve by hand. Another time, changing all the steel in a switch quicker than it took the rest of the crew to do another; we both had the use of a crane. Ten years in the railroad. At one point I had the truck driver job, which was close to home, and my wife and two beautiful baby boys. I believed things were set for life – wrong. Back on the section we were called out one night. Trains were stopped, and on the mainline there was a broken rail. Setting out on the put-put were four of us laborers and the foreman. We found the broken rail, and the replacement on the side of the track, down a six-foot rock embankment. That rail had to get up to the track with two rail tongs and a pointed bar. Two men were on each of the rail tongs at one end of the rail, with the foreman and the pointed bar at the other. Up the embankment the four of us went. About halfway up
we traded ends with the foreman. Driving the bar in deep to hold the rail, now at the other end the four men started up. I was on the inside going up with my back to the track. With all my strength, boots sliding on rocks, I pulled and heaved to help bring the rail up. We did it. We changed the rail and started back on the put-put.
On the way back I started to feel a bulging pain in my lower back. It turned out I had two herniated discs, and the doctors declared a back surgery was needed. During the surgery the anesthesiologist put me under, until maybe halfway through I could hear the doctors say, “he’s coming around”. As I floated up I could see the medical team panicking over my body. Then I turned to the light and started going to, and becoming part of, the light. It was bright, intense, and beautiful. Then, wham! There were people holding me down and a mask on my face. Knocking them off and knocking the mask off I got a breath of air. I was back. I had seen that bright light again.
Later in the recovery room the anesthesiologist came in, she was in tears. I had died and they brought me back. A friend came in, walked right by me and was leaving the room when I stopped him. He could not recognize me because I had swelled up.
The doctors said no more railroad, and receiving a settlement I went into business with a man who was developing a new camping tent, the Ins-Tent. The tent went up in thirty seconds, no worrying about what pole went where, just lay it out, stand it up, walk in and walk around. It was a beautiful tent, and it was like having a hotel room in the trunk of the car. We made them able to zip together, modular style, so you could go from tent to tent without going outside.
Our new company now had two new properties; the first was an old gas station on the corner of Main St and a busy highway, that we named Custom Canvas. The second, about one block away, was an old Masonic temple, two story brick building. The second had a balcony. It cost the masons $1500/month to heat so they sold it cheap.
After a quick renovation, including new interior walls, windows, and an energy efficient furnace, it then cost us only $150/month to heat. The first floor was 100’x60’, and had a sixty foot cutting table with numerous sewing machines. The new company was doing well making commercial tents for telephone, electric, and gas companies. At this point we received our first large order for ice fishing tents. I had purchased twelve rolls of heavy, dark blue nylon material that was to be used for other product development – such as the ins-tent pup tent, a backpack that turned into a cot, and a simple camping bag to hold your lantern, stove, gas and more. My partner said he had not ordered the material for the fishing units and would be using the dark blue material instead. Now, Federal Law requires all portable ice-fishing units must be made with flame retardant material. The blue was not, and could not be made so. I told him “no”, he said “sue me”.
Now in a lawsuit for the company, my wife and I separated and she had my sons.
She was best friends with my partner’s wife, and sided with them. After depositions my attorney told me the company was mine. That’s when my wife came to me with an offer to settle for money, and an agreement that we would get back together and move away, and if she left again I would get the boys. I agreed, wanting my family back. Needing to get away, we moved to Phoenix, AZ. I went to work for Godferson’s Art on Stetson Drive in Scottsdale. There we did art restoration, framing, and ornamental composition in very exclusive homes, and commercial sites. It wasn’t six months and the boys’ mother was gone.
The next year I was laid off. Here I am with no job, no money, an estranged wife, and my two young boys looking up at me wondering what’s happening. It was a very scary time. I tried a number of different jobs, including selling vacuums and cookbooks door to door to make ends meet. Then I responded to a want add for a mold maker at Arizona Garden Arts, and was given a chance. My starting wage was only $4.50 an hour, but it was a start.
It was a large nursery on the north side of Phoenix. On the right were growing huts. Under one of the old ones five or 6 Mexicans worked mixing cement and pouring molds – statues, fountains, pottery, and table sets. Next to that was the paint area. My space was off by itself, part of the plastic rooftop was missing. The mold room was a 4’ x 8’ plywood shack with a large
cable spool in front for a table. Next to that was a large statue of Neptune from the torso up, eight feet tall. Not knowing much about molds, I went to the library and read all I could on the subject. Fortunately, in a couple of huts down, there was an older man who was making some molds for the owner. He would be a big part of my life, for good and bad, over the next thirty years. He had recently had a heart attack in California, and was there to recover. He never offered his knowledge, but as I pried he would give me some tips and advice on the molds. For me it was like the merry-go-round of life, and a chance at the brass ring. Well I grabbed it, working hard and learning, only making a few mistakes, and I did very well. After a few months we moved down the road to the new location, an old lumberyard.
It was old and used, a mess with piles of lumber. I was given permission to use anything I needed to build a mold room. It was 14’x28’, shelves all the way around with a workbench down the middle, sliding patio doors, and a large canopy. I always had a large number of pieces going, and I would also work at home in the evening after the boys went to bed. When one day two men came back into my mold room and walked through.
They were impressed. They owned a number of motels and offered me an opportunity to move to Gila Bend, AZ. They were building a motel in that area and had rented a large building with a fenced in yard. It stored all the equipment and furnishings for the project. I had free rent and a chance to start a new business. I accepted, and Fountain World was born. They wanted product for their motels. Gila Bend being in between Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma, I believed was a good location to service all three areas. Located in the middle of a saguaro desert, it was the fan belt capital of the world. There were only about fifteen hundred people, but a mixture of all ethnicities.
There was an Air Force base where the boys and I would go for mass each Sunday. They were still very young, 7 and 9, but would help with the casting, shaking and cleaning of molds. But for the majority I was alone, prepping, mixing and pouring the concrete in the molds. Then working each one to get the air out. They would dry overnight and the next day I would pull the molds. For instance, the tabletops were 48” in diameter and poured on 50½” steel plate, with a half inch rubber matt. Then the mold clamped to keep it all together. Once dry I would start by lifting one side of the mold, kicking blocks under until it was high enough to tip against a pole. Then I’d remove the mold, stripping the rubber and setting the metal down. When they were completely dry they would be set out on pedestals for paint. It would be over a hundred degrees and I would be out there painting to have the product ready for delivery or pick-up. All while still creating new sculptures and making a large number of molds. And now there were two stores, one in Tucson, and 1 in Yuma. One of the motel owners sent his son to work with me, he wanted him to learn the business, and time in Gila Bend was mostly work.
Around that time an older man befriended me, and we became good friends. He would take the boys and me out in the beautiful saguaro desert, find a wash, gather some mesquite wood, and make a fire. The boys would play in the sand and he would make Texas Chile. Having played guitar with Johnny Cash, he would play and sing well into the evening. It was wonderful. You could taste the west.
There was a large cotton farm nearby, so one Christmas I purchased a bail of raw cotton and spread it out all over the living room, went into the boy’s room and woke them up saying we had just had blizzard. The boys, in their pajamas, went into the living room – their eyes became huge with excitement. I said “your presents are buried”, and they dove in. We had many wonderful times there.
One day the old man that I had originally met when starting at Arizona Garden Arts came to see me. He was impressed with what he saw, and had a business proposal. There was a retail store in the Palm Springs area of Southern California for sale. We would be partners in a business in California.
It was a difficult proposal for me. My plan for Gila Bend was always to make it a center for exterior arts drawing the people from the three cities. But now I had an opportunity to go from the basement to the penthouse, and for my sons it was the right decision. We went to California. It happened my brother was visiting from Minnesota, so we loaded up and off we went.
The Statuary Store was located at 68864 Hwy 111, in Cathedral City – in between Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, CA. I had not even seen the store. I went there and started taking inventory while my brother and sons went to find a house to rent. The store on Hwy 111 was 250’ across and 150’ deep with a small office in the center. The store did not have much for inventory considering it had been there for ten years. They were mixing concrete in the back and pouring a few molds there. My brother found a house in Desert Hot Springs, a thirty minute drive from the store. All these cities are in the Coachella Valley, located on the 10 Fwy about 150 miles east of Los Angeles, in between 2 mountains. With most of the cities on the south side they go Palm Springs, as you head east Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indo, all the way to the Salton Sea. Desert Hot Springs is on the north side of the valley.
The house was up on the side of a hill overlooking Desert Hot Springs, with Palm Springs off in the distance. Down the hill was the Desert Hot Springs Spa; probably 10 different pools and whirlpools, and large sauna. The boys and I would go there often.
The company agreement was I ran the retail store in Cathedral City, he the manufacturing – with the molds he made, and my originals – on Cherry Ave in Colton, CA. Hwy 111 runs parallel to the 10 Fwy through the Coachella Valley. With over 100 golf courses and a history of famous residents, it’s one of the richest areas in the world. Cathedral City was one of the poorest cities in the area. Some of the businesses near us were thrift stores, antique stores, and even a hubcap store. In between the highway and the store was not even a sidewalk, just large boulders protruding out of the dirt. There was a chain link fence with a large sliding gate in the middle. The back was also chain link with a large sliding gate, and another we put in that swung open. On the left of us was a patio store and on the right was a gas station, owned by the same landlord. The office in the middle was surrounded by a few trees, and as much product as possible, though at the time there was not much. We had four employees. I had no experience in retail, and was very worried.
For the next three years I worked every day to learn the business, first cleaning and fixing fountains, statues and pottery. I had to let help go at that time. I worked on filling the store with inventory, setting displays, and making the store safe and beautiful. The city refused to put in a sidewalk but gave me permission to do it myself. So after paying for it, I had a new sidewalk with a wrought iron and brick column fence.
During those early years we also moved the manufacturing from Cherry Ave to Riverside Ave, in Riverside, CA. That location also had a retail yard. While producing inventory for our stores, we also sold wholesale to a number of different stores in California and Arizona. I would make those deliveries, and while the truck went out full, I would buy from other manufactures and come back full too. I never liked an empty truck. We were buying from all the major manufacturers, going to San Francisco, other parts of L.A., Phoenix and Mexico. The store was full of beautiful products; it was going well. The boys and I moved to Rancho Mirage, where I believe we were the last residents on Hwy 111. Right on Restaurant Row, only five miles between home and work.
It had been over ten years since my back surgery. With all the heavy lifting since, my back was out again. The pain was so bad I tried everything from chiropractors, acupuncture, and different therapists. I did not want another surgery, especially after what had happened during the first, but the pain was too great. When I saw the doctor I was in so much pain they put me in a separate waiting room. The doctor examined me and put me on a gurney and wheeled me across the parking lot to the hospital, and operated. My recovery would not have been possible if not for my youngest son. He was my nurse, still in middle school and even sleeping on the couch in the living room during the process. No one could have done a better job.
One early Sunday morning we were shaken out of bed. It had been a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, located in Big Bear, the mountain located to the northwest. The boys and I went to the store to asses the damage. Going through, there was very little broken, a few ceramic pots. It being Sunday we went up to the church in Cathedral City for mass. The service began with the congregation singing the hymn Arise From Your Slumber, Awake From Your Sleep. Afterwards Father made a few comments about the quake, and just then the church started shaking, moving violently back and forth. People were screaming, I held the boys close. Father did not make another remark about earthquakes, but finished the service. The quake, located in Landers was another 7.5, but still there was little damage to the store.
A half-mile away was one of our competitors, Little Baja. When I drove by their store they were using a front-end loader to clean up the damage. Their product was set on a large slab, and everything came down in the quakes. Our products were set on solid earth and were ok. Many times in the coming years I would be offered large empty buildings by different cities, but for the safety of customers and employees, would not accept.
At this time my partner wanted to retire again, so I bought him out. I agreed to let him stay on in Riverside, making molds, to give him a place to come and go as he pleased. I had been told bad things about him in the past from different people in the industry, but refused to believe them and would even defend him to those people. I sent my best friend from childhood to Riverside to manage the store. I paid my ex-partner to teach him the art of mold making and casting. Things seemed to be going so well. The city of Cathedral City was planning redevelopment of Hwy 111. They would be widening the road, adding a city hall, and other things like an Imax theater, hoping to draw some large businesses. In all it would take years and millions of wasted taxpayer dollars.
In a meeting with the city planner we were told to find a location on the 10 Fwy. I had been looking for other locations, and found one in Thousand Palms off the 10. The property was three acres, all fenced with curb and gutter. It had a large office trailer and three other buildings. It had been a building-material supply store. There was also a concrete form business. Checking with the city I found out that the property was zoned M-1, the correct zone for light manufacturing and retail; the same zone as our store in Riverside.
A concrete company owned the property and they had a batch plant adjacent to it. We were on Varner Rd, off the Date Palm exit on the north side of the freeway. There were just a few gas stations, a Denny’s, McDonalds, In N Out Burger, and Del Taco, but it was a good exit with a great view of our store from the freeway. It took some time to get it all together. In that time I loaded up the store in C.C., and also my home in the backyard and garage, with product for the new location. The plan was to open in a week. I was putting it all on the line, and we had a huge order with the manufacturing in Riverside; I wanted at least one of everything we made. But there was discontent, and I found out my best friend had taken company funds and purchased a large truck, and had filled the truck with molds. Then he came to me and proposed that he would own the manufacturing and make product for me. The hardest thing I ever had to do was get his company keys and fire him. I never retrieved the truck or molds. Now I had to pay my ex-partner to manage that location until the manufacturing could be moved to Thousand Palms. In the back area of Thousand Palms, where the concrete form business
had been, there must have been a flood. There was a huge pile of lumber. It looked liked a giant pile of pick-up-sticks all entangled. I was taught by my father to always use what the Lord gives you. I went through them, all 2”x4” or 6”, and different lengths. They were used to form concrete slabs. Now coated with cement, I used every board for fences separating the manufacturing area from the retail, and also the parking lot from retail, with aluminum awnings over certain areas. Within a week the store was open.
In our stores we would separate products into different areas, like European, Asian, Southwestern, and Religious, with appropriate water fountains displayed in each, many of them running. Different types of pottery had their own displays throughout. The new store was huge, three acres, 2 of which were retail. A lot of space to fill, but it would not take long.
Up at the Big Bear Hotel were a large number of statues, hand carved from Italy. During the Earthquake some had fallen and the owners decided to change the motif. I bought them all, two semis and 4 1-ton trucks of product.
All beautiful pieces, but there was one above all that was magnificent, an 18’ tall statue of Neptune. An original piece, it was hand carved from Italian Pompeii Stone. At each store I had a 12’ tall Statue of Liberty that was used as an eye catcher. Now Neptune was on the 10 Fwy.
The manufacturing was moved to Thousand Palms. The office trailer had a large retail space. In the back was my office, and from my desk I could see virtually the entire store out the window. A door exiting the back led to my area, with a large mold room, and studio. There I would produce a large number of new sculptures and fountains, most of which were Southwestern themed.
Things were going well, and I purchased a home in La Quinta, next to a new high school. It was great for my sons; the house had four bedrooms and 4 baths. The apartment off the side was perfect for my parents, who would stay with us each winter.
I went to a city council meeting in Cathedral City, they had finally decided on a plan for the redevelopment. At the meeting the city engineer stood up and asked for a raise? He had saved the city “$1 million”. They would do the work though the winter instead of summer. He was very wrong. The Coachella Valley would grow 10 fold in the winter with all the snowbirds, rich and famous from Los Angeles and such.
Now doing it through the season would lose millions in tax-based revenue. Except for a few businesses that were left, the lots around our store were mostly empty. During the construction there were times a person could not even walk to our store, from the front or the back. In a meeting with the city planner my manager and I were told to sell sandwiches to the construction workers to subsidize our losses. So we set up Susan’s Sandwich Shop, and Merry Barry pies, in recognition of Susan the city planner, and Mayor Barry of Cathedral City. I went so far as to file a lawsuit against the City of Cathedral City for loss of income, but after discussing with other business people, decided to drop it. They tore everything up, and to make things worse dumped it all in a vacant lot just east of our Thousand Palms store. There was a sidewalk in the front of CC store that I paid for. The plan was to crush it there but the amount of smoke and dust it created was unsafe for the traffic on the Hwy, so the had to move it. The work was finished in CC, sidewalk back in exactly the same place. They put in some trees and plants, a huge city hall that looks like the Taj Mahal – with a bell tower made of plywood and a fountain that cost far too much. The whole project was huge waste of taxpayers’ funds. We were denied the opportunity to even bid on any part of the project.
One day a friend invited my sons and me to a birthday party for his daughter at a pizza parlor. The first thing I noticed was a beautiful redhead sprinkling glitter on the birthday girl. I was smitten; she would be my wife. There are no words to describe the feelings and wonderful times we had. She made my life complete.
Over the years my parents, who lived in northern Minnesota, would come and spend the winter. Along with them my uncle would come, he was a big man and each time he would see me he would say how much our nation needs a statue to responsibility on the west coast, to complement the Statue of Liberty on the east. With liberty comes responsibility. He wanted me to build it. While in San Francisco on business I became intrigued with the island of Alcatraz. In visiting the prison and speaking with the park rangers on their feelings about the prison, it’s not good. Parents there with children were putting them in cells and taking pictures, seemingly idolizing the scum of the Earth. I returned on a number of visits for measurements and research. Each time more areas closed “for your protection”. The place is crumbling and something needs to be done.
It truly is the perfect location for a monument on the west coast.
I decided to try to complete my uncle’s wish and have a monument built. The first thing I did was research how the Statue of Liberty was submitted. It was just a number of drawings with a wonderful idea. It would take over twenty years to complete, and was paid for by the people of France, then given to Federal Government. I would try to get it started then give it to the Federal Government. I did the first phase and submitted my proposal to Congresswoman Bono: (attach First Phase to Congresswoman Bono). In response she applauded the idea, but said the Island was a National Park and a bird sanctuary – pretty much what I expected in a first response.
I had started on the second phase before finishing the first – it would be a scale model of the project, along with an Internet site. The Internet was pretty new to me, and I wanted to learn it for the statue project and my company. I worked on it while in Minnesota on vacation, thinking I would start with one thing. Years before, while working on the railroad, I loved collecting agates and had quite a few. But I found one that as soon as I first saw it I knew it was different. The stone was never cut; you can see a picture looking across the water to a group of mountains, with a huge flash in the sky. You can see the bonding had started but something had changed it. I believe it to be a picture taken of the greatest moment in the world’s history. (See the Superior Stone)
With the Internet, I started with one thing and learned how to build a site and service it. At the same time as I registered the domain name The Superior Stone, I also registered Statue of Responsibility, and The Statuary Store. The next summer I went to Madison, WI. There I made the sculpture of the statue project to scale. At one point in working on it, Escape From Alcatraz was on TV, and I could sense the feelings of the prisoners to make the statue happen so they could rest. My wife came in one evening and the sculpture brought her to tears, “it is a monument” she said. The website was done by a deaf man in Palm Desert. When it was finished I contacted the server company I had registered the domain name with to let them know I was ready to go online. They came back to me saying their employee that had done the original domain name had made a mistake, and spelled “responsibility” wrong, and there was another group that was trying to build a statue to responsibility, and had taken the domain name. All I could do is put a “The” in front, making mine The Statue of Responsibility. I also registered TSORP.org. In 2002 the second phase of the Internet site for the project was released. Now I started on the third phase, establishing the non-profit. In setting up the non-profit, part of the by-laws was that all the proceeds from the project would go directly to the National Parks, without diversion. I feel our parks need help.
To purchase the property like I had been promised, I met with the new owner. He was from Riverside and owned a concrete batch plant. He seemed like a good man, told me how he had started with one truck. He loved what we were doing, with all molds and forms. His plan for the property was a new batch plant in back, and assured us we would be in front, even going as far as going to the community council and county meetings in support of our store there. In the last year of our lease I tried to negotiate another. He assured me again not to worry. In my seventh year of doing business in Thousand Palms the county load enforcer came to the store – someone had registered a complaint – and gave me a citation for putting in a trailer, septic, fencing – all the improvements – without permits, and it would cost $40,000 to clear it all up. In all my years in business I tried very hard, even went out of my way, to make sure things were right.
Even after showing visual proof, such as aerial photos of the site, they would not drop the citation. I could not believe it; it was like I was guilty from the moment the code enforcement office gave me the citation. This was not my America. They wanted me to admit to wrong doings, when in my heart I knew that I had done nothing wrong. I could have paid the $40k but that would have been wrong, I believed in truth.
I was forced to obtain an attorney. At the hearing the county had four people there to fight me. What had I done to create such fury? The judge listened to both sides. The county explained there had been a fire and could not find certain documents. They would not tell me who made the complaint against me. All I could do was tell the truth. I showed him the dated aerial pictures of before and after, and paperwork showing taxes had been paid from day one. I had moved a business from the city of Riverside in Riverside County, to Thousand Palms in Riverside County. Both had the same zoning. A good business that made many people happy. After the hearing my attorney assured me we had won.
The Statue of Responsibility was taking off; everyone that looked at the website loved it. My accountant, a CPA, was the perfect nerd. A small statured guy with pens in his shirt pocket, he had worked for the IRS. I would often ask him why was I paying so much in taxes? He would just say, “You made so much you pay so much, be happy”. He had two offices, one in Hollywood and one in Palm Springs, and had done the non-profit
for the Hollywood sign. Now he did it for The Statue Of Responsibility. This was huge, a California non-profit. So far I had not taken any money from anyone, paying for everything myself. On January 1st, 2004 the non-profit would take effect.
The third phase of the statue project would be fundraising. I wanted to make a virtual reality film, and a building on a large scale – live on the Internet – of the statue, with the assistance of college students. I believe the statue should be built by the youth of the nation.
Now the phone call came. It was the owner of the property, and without any explanation he advised me that we had thirty days to vacate the property. I could not believe my ears, after all his promises.
The statue project would have to wait. Now I was worried. After working so hard bringing in so much product for the expansion of the new store and the Internet site for The Statuary Store, the store was full. My attorney guaranteed me there was nothing to worry about, and that we had at least one year. But I was worried, and started a sale immediately. I moved the manufacturing back to Riverside. I also went up and down the 10 Fwy corridor in the Coachella Valley looking for a new location to move to, but came to find out the county had changed zoning on all and had zoned me out. Here we were one of the oldest professions – the making and selling of statues – and nowhere to go. I even wrote to Governor Arnold Shwarzenegger in hope of help, but received no answer. (see letter) Through all of this I kept it to myself, not wanting to worry my sons or my wife, but it was too much. Short tempered I had an argument with my sons and they left. I had worked so hard to leave my sons something, now they were both gone.
In ordering clay products from Mexico
it would take six to eight months. Now I had a semi load from Guadalajara arrive I had to accept. The property owner at the concrete company was upset because he saw more product coming in, and filed an unlawful restrainer. Again my attorney told me not to worry. My wife and I took a short trip to celebrate our anniversary. When we returned I found out my attorney had made a mistake, he even told the judge it was his mistake and fell on the dagger. The judge did not care, and ordered that we be off the property in thirty days. There was so much product, even with the sale the store was still full. But now we had to move. The property next to the manufacturing in Riverside was available. It had been a diesel repair shop; with a one hundred by eighty foot building that had four large overhead doors. Behind the building was a two bedroom singlewide trailer, which a family of 5 had lived in. But both places were filthy; they had never been cleaned. The building empty, I gave my manager a power washer and asked him to clean. The trailer was filled with garbage and rotting food. There were cockroaches
and every kind of varmint imaginable. That place was to be thoroughly cleaned, bombed and painted. There was over one million dollars in inventory in Thousand Palms. I had anticipated twelve months to move, but now we had 30 days, and it was July, the hottest month in the dessert, with temperatures well over one hundred and ten degrees every day. Increasing the sale it was madness, and to add to that the property owner locked us out fifteen of the 30 days we were given. We were not permitted to deliver or move anything. He went as far as having guards at the gates each day. I went to meet with the owner at his company headquarters. It was huge, a full city block and three floors, the top floor all attorneys. I came to find out the company was huge, with a large number of plants throughout Southern California. He had no time for me. I had tried everything, petitions signed by hundreds of people. I went as far as chaining myself to the large Statue of Liberty trying to gain some kind of public support through the media, but there was none. Throughout the annals of time I can’t believe so much product in weight and pieces had been moved more quickly; dispersing the
inventory between the store in C.C, filling that to the brim, and sending five semi loads, and numerous trucks to Riverside. Even my importers came up from Mexico with trucks to help with the move. We emptied it, even taking the fences and awnings that had been put up, and brought them to Riverside and put them back up there. The few remaining things, including the large statue of Neptune, were taken to a lot that was owned by a subcontractor. He was a friend; when people wanted a fountain with a bottom pool he would do the installation. He was thankful for all the business, and would not take any money for the storage. Or so he said.
The property was empty now, there was nothing left to say The Statuary Store had been there. A person does not spend so much, and work so hard to offer such a large variety of beautiful things, just to give them away for less than what was paid, or move them to other locations, or even the dump. Each time you move, things break and profits are lost – what a crying shame. They hurt so many people, all the employees, all the importers, and the people in Mexico making the pottery, not to mention the local economy and all the customers who loved our store.
I filed suit against the county and the concrete company. Having a new attorney – a much more competent one – who believed we had a very good suit. With Thousand Palms gone, a store that was doing $150,000 a month, I concentrated on saving the business. After seeing that all of the product in C.C. was set and displayed, I went to Riverside. The building was full of packed and stacked product on pallets, the entire yard as well. The man I put in charge of power washing the inside of the building said the power washer would not start; it was not done. However, they had cleaned the garbage out of the trailer and had bombed it. The problem was that all the critters from the trailer went into the products that were in the building; it was a huge mess.
For over a month I drove from Rancho Mirage to Riverside with construction on both the 10 Fwy and the 40 Fwy, going and coming after working ten hours or more. I would make the drive back, at times having cockroaches running up my legs. When finally getting home I would undress in the garage, go outside to rinse off
with a garden hose, then go inside and shower. Through that time my wife and I became distant. I was so full of anger at all that had happened, and keeping it to myself, she left. This was the hardest of all because I loved her so very much. But I kept working, so hard it consumed me, something I had done my whole life.
Putting the fence and awnings up in Riverside through the middle, dividing the front retail and the back manufacturing, made a nice store. My ex-partner in the office to the left, and my big building to the right now cleaned, was an office for the Statue Project, with a large movable pedestal for building the statue on a larger scale. I also had lighting and cameras for a live feed on the Internet. Having cleaned and painted the trailer in back, I moved in. The filthy dirty place was acceptable (except for the big fucking rats!) to have customers and work in, but it would not make up for the loss of T.P.
My ex-partner, on the other side of the property, kept a filthy area where he would do fiberglass work. He had started a store on Spring Mountain Rd in Las Vegas. He offered that store to me. I was hesitant, not able to move to L.V. myself. He assured me he had a manager that was from L.V. and had been in and knew the business.
I went to L.V. to check it out, not having been there in a number of years. I was astonished at how much it had grown. The store was a good size, not much product. The manager, a big man, had a son that worked with him. They seemed like good people. There were a few issues but my ex-partner assured me it would all be ok. So I went to L.V., bringing three semi loads and numerous 1-ton trucks over the next 5 or 6 moths. I would go with each load to set the products to transform it into a beautiful store. Going back to the desert where my friend, the subcontractor, had the statue of Neptune, he now wanted three thousand dollars for 1 year’s storage. He wasn’t a friend.
During this period I would spend many hours, late into the night, working on new pieces such as two new table sets, a wishing well, and a 12 foot, 5 tier castle fountain. The studio in Riverside where the store was located was not a nice place, surrounded by oil refineries and impound yards. Most days you could not see the mountains just a few miles away because of the smog from L.A. At night I slept with a loaded gun under my pillow because of the death threats from bad neighbors.
Over the years I was told stories about my
ex-partner that I refused to believe. But now living there and seeing for myself I realized they were true. He was a very bad man, dealing in everything from stolen goods to prostitution. I had worked so hard to clean up and make safe that location and the location in L.V., also cleaning and stocking it, trying to make up for the losses from T.P. I was exhausted.
Then, in the fall I received a letter from the director of the group that had taken my first website, Statue of Responsibility. He had been trying to contact me (copy of the letter). I could not believe it, in the same time frame of me losing the store and running around trying to save my business, they were able to put together a nice website and start a fundraiser. A year later than my original date, and already they had $30 million in pledges; it was like someone kicked me in the stomach and all the air went out. I had lost so much, my main store, the large wheel of my business, my sons in whom my life was for, and my wife – my greatest and hardest loss. What madness. In reviewing their site it was nice, everything I wished mine was, except the statue itself –
two arms clasped together horizontally. From a distance it looked like a hand holding a penis. Their project, I felt, was not right as a monument. I contacted the director and set up a meeting, their offices were in Salt Lake City. I would offer him my whole project, the Ca. Corp. and non-profit, the websites, my statue, and all the copyrights to it. Their statue, the artist owned the copyrights and received money for each piece copied.
It was Christmas day; the store in Riverside was closed. I had confronted an acquaintance of the prostitute the day before, over him stealing some molds. There was a fence between us and he swung his arm over the fence, in his grasp a set of brass knuckles that hit me on the top of my head. I fell to one knee, picked up a large piece of concrete and was going to hurl it at him, but my ex-partner was there and stopped me.
In the Desert I would always have the holidays at my home with all the extended family; I had not heard from any family since losing T.P. No one ever stopped to see me, not even a phone call. Now here I was, Christmas Day, standing in the small trailer, looking out over the impound yard in back, reflecting on all my losses and where I was now, when all of the sudden I felt a snap in my head. I blacked out and fell to the floor. I don’t know how long I laid there but when I came to I knew something was very wrong. The left side of my body was numb, my left
eye was partly closed and had blood in it. I felt terrible; the left side of my face and head were numb. Prior to the loss of T.P. I had changed health insurance companies, another huge mistake. Now I had to see a new doctor at a new place, of which I did not care for. The doctor told me it was a stroke, and confirmed that I had a hernia. He set me up for a stress test early the next morning; I scheduled it early because of business. Being there first thing the following morning, I sat there for four hours, while watching numerous other people go in and out. I was so upset, and I left without having the test. I decided not to tell or let anyone know what had happened, but there was something seriously wrong. I had always done everything, controlling inventory, paying all bills, making all the decisions, but now it was like part of my brain shut off. Confused all the time, not able to write a check or pay the bills, I could not make a decision, and the ones I did make were wrong. I was very sick and knew I could not go on, and that I had to get away. Even my accountant, in whom I could always depend on, had died suddenly that year.
Later that spring I contacted the other statue group’s director and set up a meeting. Their offices were in Salt Lake City. I would offer him my whole project, the Ca. Corp. and non-profit, the websites, my statue, and all the copyrights to it. Their statue, the artist owned the copyrights and received money for each piece copied.
My attorneys believed we had a very good case against both the county and the concrete company. In doing research for the lawsuit I received a copy of the concrete company’s conditional use permit for their project in T.P. I could not believe my eyes, it was hand written that in order for them to receive their permit, they first had to remove The Statuary Store, me. I still cannot believe they could do such a thing, my own government, and my country that I believed in and loved. I was very hurt. Could I have been so wrong about my idea for our Country? I could hardly blame the concrete company for trying to go through with their plan. (See notes) Remembering the $30 million the other group had raised in my absence, and not feeling right about giving a national monument while in a lawsuit against the government, I decided to drop the suit. After seeing what they had already done, it felt like I had very little chance of winning. They could do anything they wanted. You can’t fight City Hall.
The company was valued at $6 million on ’04, and had been on the market the entire time. There were a few interested parties, but with the disarray of the company, no takers. The whole time my number one goal was to save the company and keep people working. Having decided to offer the company to the employees, I put cameras in each store with a live feed on the Internet, for inventory control and security. The managers of Riverside, Cathedral City, and Las Vegas, and myself met. Laying out the plan they all agreed, with all of them knowing they had to work together to make it work. I felt confident they could, I prayed they could. Even going so far as deferring any payment for three years to make the company healthy.
I had to get away for my health. Sick both mentally
and physically, having even lost control of my bladder in public, and periodic uncontrolled shaking. I was sick and afraid for my life. My ex-partner sold me a camper. It needed work but a garage went through it. Taking it to Palm Springs for a test-drive, it ran great. I went to the store, and took my parents out for lunch. In leaving I drove around the block. It started smoking so I pulled over into a vacant lot, pulled out a fire extinguisher, and popped the hood to flames. I pulled the fire extinguisher, nothing. I called the Fire Department less than a block away, but by the time they got there it was burnt to the ground. That was an expensive mistake. Back in Riverside everything was laid out for the camper. Throwing what I could into my small truck, I left. Driving down the highway I was shaking all the way to Salt Lake City. There I met with the director of the Statue project. At their office he showed me the artist’s studio and his sculpture. That’s where I gave him a copy of mine, with the agreement he would submit it to their committee. Feeling confident he would do so, I headed up home to Minnesota, where I hoped I would be safe.
Not telling anyone I had even left, it was quite a surprise for my brother when I pulled up. Right away he told me about a cabin he had seen. A realtor put up a “for sale” sign that morning. We went to look at it, and I bought it that day. It was a small place, two stories with a large window in the kitchen, a sliding glass door next to it going to a deck that wrapped around. Looking out the kitchen window you could not see land, it was all lake. It was a large lake, with a view to the west on the second floor of the cabin. The master bedroom had a large window as well, overlooking the lake. I thanked God every day I was there. People would say I had to go back and rebuild, but none of them had any idea of how much it took. After I went down, something in my brain shut off, I was no longer confident or comfortable around people.
Down south things weren’t going so well. I would go back every other month, flying to Las Vegas, taking the company truck to Palm Springs, then to Riverside loading up there, and back to Las Vegas, then flying home. The camera system I had installed was not working, even after sending out numerous technicians. It did not help that my ex-partner did not like the cameras and arranged to have them stolen. I had known for a long time he was stealing money and product, and that
he had destroyed every person I had sent down to Riverside to manage. It now seemed my absence was a good excuse for everyone to steal as much as they could. Flying into Vegas, the manager picked me up. On the way to the store he informed me he had the Neptune statue. When we got there I was going to call the police, but my ex-partner was there and talked me out of it. In doing an audit on the store I found paperwork and deposit slips with canceled company checks he had taken for his new company. He had stolen a quarter of a million dollars, now I had to close that location. I had lost again. In checking the website for the other statue project, I saw where their director stated I had joined in their endeavor, and found out he had never submitted my personal proposal. I wrote back that I had not joined their group and would not because of the design of their statue.
I truly believed in the store in Cathedral City. It always had done very well, and with all of the product they received at no charge from the closing of Thousand Palms, I believed it would be ok, but no. I went back for my parent’s anniversary, and in going to the store I found it in total disarray. After going through the books I could not believe my eyes, they had helped destroyed a wonderful business. Our liability insurance had been even canceled because the manager I left in charge was not paying the bills. It took me a week to get that back on order, and our gates re-opened.
It took a month to put the store in shape. The city had purchased the property. In meeting with the city I offered to reduce inventory and put up a new store. That store had been there for over thirty years, and was their biggest draw. It was the last place people would stop before getting on a plane. Also, the people of the Coachella Valley knew it and loved it. It was a place locals would bring their out-of-town friends to see. I was willing to start all over. At the meeting they told me that my kind of store did not fit their general plan. That was a nice “thank you” for all the years of doing business and going through their construction. Now I had been turned down by every city in the Coachella Valley; it was time to leave. No one builds something to tear it down. It was hard enough with T.P. and L.V., but now C.C. This was my first store with my young sons; so much hard work had gone into this place, so many happy customers.
From people with not much money to the very wealthy, the celebrities and movie stars, we had many very happy customers. Closing C.C. was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. While closing that store many people came in very saddened, even to tears. We were the place they would bring their guests from out of town, if for nothing more than to walk through and see the assortment of beautiful products. I am very proud of all my stores, for their beauty, cleanliness, and safety. My goal was to put people in awe when they walked in. I did my displays beautiful, now my time was done. I don’t know if I could have done it again. People did not realize how difficult it really was to offer such a wide variety. From making it, to ordering and paying for it, to bringing it in and setting it, selling it and delivering it, my mind and back were no longer able. I had been beaten, not knowing by whom.
Riverside was in the control of my ex-partner, as I still owed money from the buyout. The manufacturing, with over seven hundred and fifty molds, over 100 originals, and all the equipment, was on the market. There were a number of interested parties but he shot each one down. After speaking with him, nobody that showed interest ever came back. He had taught my manager to lie, cheat and steal, and they were an evil pair. There would be no sale of the company.
My credit had been ruined, and my cabin on the lake was gone. I had gone through my savings, had no money coming in, and was unable to work and homeless, living in a small camper. So I applied for disability. In the first phone interview I was asked when I had received my last paycheck. The truth was over five years earlier. He did not ask for a reason why it had been so long. I was denied disability because it had lapsed. I had no idea this could happen. I knew several people up north that had filed for disability, one in particular he and his brother owned a business. His brother held the license, and he owned the building that was left to them by their parents. His brother died suddenly so he filed for disability, having never had any surgeries or permanent ailment. His brother also left him a fairly large estate. He received disability without a single hitch, much like several other people I knew. The one thing I had left after all that had happened was my pride. I never wanted or expected help, and believed I could not file because I had still owned the business in CA. I tried again. This time I actually saw someone in person, a doctor, and he confirmed my physical problems. I tried to explain
why I had not received a check in so long, and that it was my own pride that kept me from applying sooner. I was given SSI, a small amount every month. The third time I got an attorney, he was terrible. I met with him for only two hours at the hearing. The judge was not even there, he was on a television monitor. I felt like a second-class person that had never worked in their whole life. The American system is broken and needs repair when people with no disabilities and less pride can receive full assistance, and a man that worked hard his whole life and finally needed some help is denied.
I was able to find a small house, not homeless anymore. Getting help from a doctor, he gave me as he called it, a “cocktail”, a combination of pills to relieve the anxiety. Until I made another mistake by going to a new doctor whom, without consulting me, discontinued my medication. Since then I’ve lost all friends.
Another example of how broken our system is, a man went to Taiwan married a woman, came back to the US, and had a son. The boy is now fourteen, skips school frequently, is very disrespectful to his parents, who both work and have over $500,000 in the bank, and he receives more money than I do. The system is broken. Each month I receive enough money to pay my rent and utility bills, I also receive food assistance, but nothing for anything else. That means no friends, no fun, no life, and no money for materials for my painting. I have tried to work but physically, and mentally, am unable. If I receive any money it must be reported and that would result in loss of the funds I receive. Unlike the man whose brother passed away – he received a very large sum of money right away, a large check each month, and is able to have and make as much money as he wants. His wife doesn’t have to work. They have it made. Things are wrong.
There are people who talk a lot, people who dream a lot, and the people who do. In business, customers would request a certain thing. When there were enough requests, I would design and make the piece. If I talked about something or dreamed about it, I made it. This was a rule I lived by. Without ever taking a class, not even knowing how to start, I made dreams come true. That is why the Statue project is so important to me, and I have tried everything imaginable to make it happen. After the first two phases, and the failure of the third, I thought if a president put the gavel down it would happen. To gain a presidency I would start a new political party, it would be called the Electoral Party – a party to eliminate the Electoral College. Unlike the College, where a small group of influential people elects a president, the candidate for the Electoral Party would pursue the will of the people, and all the people’s voices would be heard.
But after hearing President Obama’s acceptance speech I firmly believed he was the man to put the gavel down. For a number of years now I have tried to raise the money to have some bronzes made and submit a nice proposal for the president, the Governor of California, and the mayor of San Francisco. It is so hard to get anyone to listen because now I come off as a loser, a failure.
Since moving back to Minnesota I have pursued my lifelong dream of being an artist, and have completed many beautiful paintings. Unlike my sculptures down south, which I made and sold in my stores, I have not found an outlet for my paintings, and have not sold a single one. Materials for painting are expensive. So being low on art materials, I put pen to paper to tell this story of a man dedicated to truth, and belief in our government, by the people and for the people, and how he
would be hurt so badly by the same people whom he helped pay their salaries. In all my visits to the county offices I found so many people that had no wish to help in any way; their eyes would turn away without a care. These people are the bottom of the college graduates. Who ever heard a person say, “When I graduate I want to work for the county.” No, these people sit behind a desk and try to come up with new reasons to charge people more money, to justify receiving a paycheck. They have no knowledge or research in what they propose. All my encounters with our government and judicial systems have created in me a great fear and disrespect for them, to the length that I cannot even enter a DMV office without my blood pressure rising and anxiety setting in. This is not the country I loved and respected from my early age, having been taught to believe in people and our country.
Older now, my time is almost over. I am very proud of all my accomplishments and efforts. My one wish is that I would of liked to have had the opportunity for a college education. Throughout my entire life I have looked forward to and expected the hardest of challenges. Through the years of being a single parent, there were many challenging times, but many more were wonderful. The boys should have had a more normal childhood. As it was they had to spend many hours with me at the stores. Much of the success of the business was due to their hard work. When it came to the responsibility of my family I was very good at it, always having a nice home and food on the table. I am very proud of my sons, both fine young men with families of their own. I feel fortunate I was able to finish raising my sons before my government destroyed me.
I was also very good at business. Dealing with vendors, importers, employees, and customers, they all truly loved me, because my word was always true and money always good. It is just amazing, when I had money I had fame and everyone wanted to be close, surrounding
me, even to the point of smothering. But when the money goes, the fame goes too, and everyone goes away and they want nothing to do with you, and you are left alone.
I still believe in this Nation, from being the small boy in Northern Minnesota lying in a field of tall grass dreaming, and believing in the American Dream, to the old man lying in a bed dreaming, still trying to believe. I know my time could have been much better spent – there were dreams close to reality, such as the new stores. It would have been the prototype for The Statuary Store, Inc, with a store in each of the major cities. Besides that, the Internet site would be selling and shipping around the world. All the wonderful new products I wanted to make, and of course the Statue Project.
The Statue of Responsibility is a project that is needed more than ever for our entire society, especially after such events like recent mass shootings involving children using the weapons. Responsibility must
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be placed on the parents, and the owner of the weapons. The responsibility must be on our government to show other countries that with Liberty comes Responsibility for every individual, and the entire world that we all live in. There should be no way our government is able to destroy a person and their dreams, in my case without even letting them know who made the first complaint, and why. How can people defend themselves without knowing? To this day I feel guilty, for what I don’t know. It eats at me everyday. It’s a shame that if you are a person of evil deeds, you are given media and fame. It should be the opposite. I have tried many different ways to get someone’s attention and help with the statue project. It seems as soon as the word responsibility is spoken, they shy away. I feel the same way, but once the project is completed it would stand out,
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and bring the word responsibility out more to all the peoples of the Earth.
Would it not be a shame if mankind, the smartest creature ever to walk this planet, were to be here for the shortest time? It would be nice to see a president take a big step and come out and declare war. Have all free nations of the world join, taking their combined military budgets, technical and industrial powers, in a war against pollution and damage we have done to the planet. Working together to create and maintain a world for all generations. Combining our militaries to create a world force to guide the planet. Next have a weeklong telethon to take a big chunk out of the National Debt, and legalize self-inflicted wrongs such as marijuana, prostitution, and gambling. Clean them up and put a large tax on them. By doing so people making under $50,000 a year would pay no taxes. Use our industrial power to change over to hydrogen in a five-year plan. There are some things we must do to preserve our planet for all future generations. Let’s save the world.
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I was at the doctor’s office because of chest pains and numbness in the arm. During his examination I mentioned the Statue Project, afterward he looked at me sternly and asked, “What gives you the right to even propose such a plan?” Well I was taken aback. Number one, the project is not about me – it’s about the world, and the meaning of responsibility –, and I have never taken any money from anyone for the project, always planning on giving the statue to the people; number two, I believe anyone that has a dream they believe in has the right, the obligation, to try and make it happen; number three, it is narrow-minded, educated, derelicts that make a decision without knowing the facts, that do most the harm; and number four, it has been twenty years since starting the project, so it is a little late to ask what gives me the right. I gave myself the right a long time ago.
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As a young boy of 5 we went barefoot in the summer. One day walking in the house, swish, the door opens and snap went the toenail of my left big toe! Since then it has been like a rhino’s horn, that it has health benefits when digested. Then at age 7, while trying to use a pogo stick I got caught up. I walked in the house with blood soaking my pants, and mom and dad rushed me to the hospital. That is how I became circumcised. I have saved the lives of three different individuals during my youth, received medals for 1. Then, after my out of body experience during my first surgery, I found I could generate heat in my hands – placing them on people with ailments, I was able to help. I have a mole next to my left nostril and a gap in my front teeth. I do not lie, cheat, or steal, and am a very religious person who believes in guidance from above, and looking forward to going back to The Light.
Having been taught, and always believing in treating people the same way I would like to be treated, I cannot believe I have been wrong so many times.
There are a lot of ways this story can end – I could die tomorrow, or live many more years, trying to work everyday, hoping and praying something I do will make a difference, and this will not be the end of the American dream.