On August 14th, 1948, I was born in Los Angeles at the Queen of Angeles Hospital downtown L.A. Some might say "you can't be more Angelino than that". Life was good. I've always felt that being born in a location and growing up in the same location had a benefit. Sort of a "City Pride". My Parents Norris Elwood Whaley and Madeline Gwendolyn Stapleman-Whaley were both born on the farm in Callaway Nebraska as well as my sisters and brother. I always felt this gave me a "city" mind with a "country" heart.
My mother was close to 35 yrs old when I was born. She says my sister Juana (pronounced - Jew Anna) raised me. Juana was approximately 10 years older than I. My sister loved me and taught me many things. She treated my like her own child. She encouraged me to sing and I remember the great harmonies we would sing together. My singing experience with her caused me to spend a good time of my young adulthood involved in music. To this day she tells a scary story about caring for me. One time she set me on a counter top and in a split second, during a lapse of attention, I fell to the floor. To this day, anytime I hear about someone falling, my body has physical sensations and reactions.
My memories of my other sister, Sharon, are more sparse. She was approximately 11 years older than I. For some reason my most vivid memories are of Sharon's fingernails. Not visual memories but physical memories. I must have been a bad boy or not paying attention and Sharon would grab me and dig her nails into me to make sure I was listening.
My brother Brent was 13 years older than I. Although we were the farthest apart in age he was always nice to me. I remember we used to share a bed when we lived in Atwater. He always bought me great birthday and Christmas presents. Unfortunately, he was about 75% deaf. In fact, that is a big reason why my family moved from Calaway Nebraska to Los Angeles. My brother could then receive lessons on signing.
Los Angeles in the early 50's was a nice and safe place. My parents had regular jobs plus they ran a "family neighborhood market" called the Whaley Market on Casitas Ave. by alternating their schedules. Our home was also on Casitas near the railroad tracks. Before my sister accepted the responsibility of caring for me my mother hired the next door neighbor to baby sit me. My mother will never forget the day she spotted me, walking down Casitas Ave. toward the market, with no clothes on except my diapers which were down to my ankles as I waddled down the sidewalk.
We lived in a part of Los Angeles known as Atwater. I went to Atwater Avenue Grade School. In the early days of grade school I'd go to our store early in the morning so I could get a ride to school on the Weber's Bread truck after it had delivered our daily supply of bread. There was another small neighborhood market "Vince's" near my grade school which was the bread truck's next stop. I loved riding on that bread truck.
As hard as this may be to believe, Los Angeles used to have many forms of public transportation. There were electric cars know as Red Cars. Also, there were local trains and even a subway downtown. They solved the growing population's transportation needs until the Oil Companies lobbied to shut down all transportation unless it ran on their gasoline. My mom used to take me to Glendale on the Red Cars to see the movies.
When I was in 3rd grade we moved to another part of L.A. called Glassell Park (near Eagle Rock) approximately 7-8 miles away. Moving is traumatic. Losing all your childhood friends shakes your foundation. I assimilated well although there were some rough times at first. Never got in much trouble at the new grade school (Avenue 43 School?). I remember demanding to be taken back to the old neighborhood to do my first Halloween though. I remember one fight I had. An older kid, with the last name Barry, taunted me and razed me till I came unglued and stalked him from his blind side and cold cocked him in the kidney with all my might. One punch and he was down. I never got picked on from that point.
There weren't any buses to give rides to school for kids in those days. I used to walk long distances throughout all my school years. After grade school I went to Washington Irving Jr. High School which was situated half way between my old neighborhood and my new neighborhood. It was quite a walk (approx. 4-5 miles).
Jr. High School was quite a shock. All the kids reaching puberty at their own time. More competition mixed with more hormones. Gangs, Girls, and the threat of swats for the Guys. Men's locker room was another unknown experience. I had lots of friends. One was Gary Ingram who came from a long history of policemen. Gary and I were in charge of the Ball Room at recess. Along with the responsibility of checking-out and re-collecting the sporting gear at recess came a key that unlocked every door in the school. I'm surprised Gary and I did not get in more trouble.
When I graduated from Jr. High I went to Franklin High School. I really wanted to go to Marshall High or Eagle Rock High but my physical location of my home determined my fate at Benjamin Franklin High School. At Franklin High I played football for the Franklin Panthers. I ran for student body president. I lost, but was allowed to be a student body representative. Interesting enough, I promoted a 'sports night' , which was like a Sock Hop but it was at night and you could wear shoes. The sports night was a Battle of the Bands. One of the bands was named "Boy and the Innocents". I always loved that name and for the rest of my life I loved putting on shows and concerts.
Currently I live in Sedona Arizona with my wife Geri and our 2 dogs Hammer and Cinnamon. Sedona is a gorgeous and spiritual part of the world. On our first wedding anniversary my wife and I were stricken by what the Sedona locals call "Red Rock Fever". It took 5 more visits to the land of vortexes and majestic rock formations to settle on moving permanently to Sedona. Once we moved to Sedona it felt like we had found our 'home'. The first few years I worked at Neal Klein Homes for a few years. Following that I worked for a while at Assist2Sell. Currently I work for Redstone Properties. It took Geri year to receive her reciprocal licensure from California to the State of Arizona as a Psychologist with a PhD.
Once we settled into Arizona we immediately worked on forming and gathering the individual Bahá'ís living near by so we could have a formal presence in the community of Sedona. It turned out there were enough Bahá'ís in Sedona to form a Local Spiritual Assembly.
This site was last updated 05/26/08