1968 - Arnold Schwarzenegger Home
As I mentioned in the George Jung episode I arrived in LA in Feb of 68 and began work at Northrup Nortronics. A couple months after I started the Lakers were playing the Celtics for the NBA championship and some of the guys must have found out about my being a basketball fan because I was offered a free ticket to game number two at the New Forum Auditorium. Jerry West was the star guard for the Lakers. I attended and watched Boston beat the Lakers that night. I was impressed with the Boston guards that night. They played good defense and ran the offense with few mistakes. West was a prolific scorer but Boston had better teamwork and wound up winning that game and later the series.
I became involved with the Peace and Freedom Party and after Bobby Kennedy's assassination I became involved in anti-Vietnam demonstrations. One was in front of the Century Plaza Hotel where Hubert Humphrey was staying.
In 1967 around 10,000 protesters had clashed with police while demonstrating there when President Johnson spoke at a Democratic fund raiser. Many of the protesters at the 68 demonstration were supporting anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy who was running against Humphrey for the democratic nomination for President. Others were associated with a variety of anti-war groups such as the Peace and Freedom Party.
As the demonstration was coming to an end word came that Humphrey had arrived at the hotel. Thousands of protesters milled around until Hubert came out on his balcony and waved to the protesters. There were a few boos but mostly just silence as many probably felt he would be better than Nixon, but were not about to show enthusiasm for him.
I later learned from a book about Howard Hughes written by Robert Mahue, Hughes long time assistant (whom Nixon had originally set Hughes up with) that earlier in the day Mahue had given fifty thousand dollars in cash personally to Humphrey. I am struck by the hypocrisy of Humphrey illegally accepting money from one of the men responsible for the Kennedy's deaths and turning around and pretending to be sympathetic to the protesters that day.
It was around that time that I wrote a letter to my draft board. I used some material from an anti-war flyer that I had picked up at one of the demonstrations and said it wasn't right for me to be deferred because I had a college education while those not as fortunate as me had to serve. I renounced my deferment asking to be drafted and claimed that I would not serve when I was drafted.
Soon after that I was asked to play basketball one weekend by this Italian co-worker named John. As employees of Northrup we had access to a gymnasium. As I arrived and prepared to play John told me that we would be playing with this famous weightlifter from Austria who had won the Mr. Universe title and had just moved to the U.S. Of course I was impressed. John and I were to take on the weightlifter and his Austrian friend and fellow weightlifter in a two-on-two half court game to 21 baskets.
I had played point guard for the Pekin Chinks, a high school in a small town in central Illinois near Peoria. I had graduated in 1962 the second year of coach Dawdy Hawkins reign. He would go on to dominate Illinois basketball from 64 through 68 and win state titles in 64 and 67. I was an excellent shot but coach Hawkins had trained me to feed our center who was the most prolific scorer in PCHS history at that time so I didn't get to shoot much. I ran the offense and was very aggressive on defense and got a lot of steals and assists. The habits I acquired in high school carried over to when I played in pick up games also. I just didn't feel right about shooting a lot and playing too aggressive defense was not considered good form in pick up games so I usually didn't push that either. Playing against "Mr Universe" didn't help either as I was probably a little intimidated.
As the game progressed John & I weren't doing too well. John was getting pushed around pretty good under the basket and I wasn't shooting so they took a big lead (12-3 or so) until finally Mr Universe exclaimed "YOU GUYS SUCK!"
Well, that pissed me off. I decided to show him what I could do. We were playing a version that was new to me at the time where the team that made the last basket keeps possession of the ball. So they had the ball. I immediately stole the ball from Mr. Universe's roommate and swished an 18 footer. Then I took the ball out and swished a 20 footer. I heard Mr. Universe make a sound that indicated to me that he knew things had changed and the game was on.
I started exhorting John - "Don't let him push you around!" and John started to score some points under the basket. After John missed one shot underneath Mr Universe got the rebound and let out a yelp as he brought the ball down. But I was standing right behind him and as he put the ball on the floor I stole it and took a step back and looked right into his eyes and saw his frustration as I took a dribble and a step back and put up another basket.
We steadily gained on them till we caught them around 18 baskets and went on to win. Afterwards I was sitting in the locker room when Mr Universe came up behind me and said in his Austrian accent - "Hey, you pretty good!" I was a little taken back as I was still feeling a little pissed off at him and some satisfaction from beating him. His manner was so friendly and sincere that my anger was disarmed and I just smiled and said thanks as I shook his hand. After that I felt like he was a good guy.
The next week we played again only this time John and I and the two Austrians were on the same team playing a full court five on five game against another team from TRW (I believe), another space industry contractor in LA. I played point guard. I was just bringing the ball up and passing off to the other guys and they were doing all the scoring. I was probably a little intimidated.
The point guard for TRW was a Japanese fellow and after I laid back awhile I could see that I could steal the ball from him if I wanted to. As he brought the ball up to half court I advanced on him and stole the ball and went in for a layup. I let him bring the next one up unmolested, but the next time I stole the ball again and went in for another layup. Mr Universe was so excited I heard him yelping encouragement.
Soon after that the other team called time out and one of them came up to talk to John. Then John approached me and said that the Japanese guard was an important engineer at TRW and some of the guys on the other team wanted me to lay off him. He said they said I was fouling him, but it wasn't true. Anyway I said ok, and left him alone the rest of the game. I had made my point. He probably became filthy rich in the 80s and 90s. We won the game and that was the last time I played basketball out there.
Meanwhile unbeknown to me a friend of my brothers from the east bluff of Pekin whom I had known from his being a caddy at the Pekin Country Club (Bob Malvolti) was working at TRW and when he found out I was working at Northrup he arranged for me to get an interview with TRW. I attended the interview and got a job offer, but I hesitated to take it because I was thinking about quitting my job because of the war and going back to Champaign-Urbana.
The next week at work John approached me and told me about Mr Universe and his friend's brick laying business and about how they were losing money until they raised prices and marketed their product as imported from Austria. He told me that they were doing jobs for a lot of important people in Hollywood and getting into a lot of cool parties. John told me that he was looking to rent a house on Sunset Blvd and he needed three other guys to afford it and he wanted me to come in with him and his roommate and Mr. Universe's friend and business partner.
He said it had two bedrooms and I would be rooming with the Austrian and if I came in I would be able to go to some parties with them and meet some hot women. He said Mr. Universe was already living with a girl. I asked what Mr. Universe's name was and when he told me I laughed because his last name sounded funny and rhymed with "nigger." But I remember associating his first name with one of my childhood heroes - Arnold Palmer. He was the only other Arnold I knew of.
Anyway John told me that Arnold was planning on going into movies and I believe he mentioned that Arnold planned on being the governor of California some day which I thought was a bit of a stretch. I told John I would think about his offer and get back to him.
Then John said that Arnold was performing that weekend in a weightlifting or posing competition and that some guys were going to go and invited me to go. I said 'OK' and I went that Saturday to watch with some of John and Arnold's friends but didn't get to see Arnold pose. In fact no one posed. Arnold was just getting those type of events organized there. Arnold came out and apologized to us and said that we should come back tomorrow but I begged off.
The following Monday John approached me and said that Arnold had won the competition on Sunday and asked me if I had decided about living with them. I had to refuse his offer because I had already decided that I was going to quit in protest of the war and the draft. I just told him that I couldn't but I didn't tell him why.
As I explained in the encounter with Bill Clinton, I had written the draft board a letter repudiating my deferment and asking to be drafted. I told them that when I was drafted I would not serve. When I didn't hear back from them I decided to force their hand by quitting my job. A couple of weeks later I gave my two weeks notice to Northrup but didn't mention the war as the cause.
A few days later Phil McCorkle, my drinking buddy, said some of the guys wanted to know why I was quitting. I tried to play it off but he eventually got it out of me that it was because I didn't want to support the war. Although I never talked to John after that, before I left I heard him and his roommate talking to the payroll clerk. They were asking to have the automatic payroll deduction for U.S. Savings Bonds stopped on their paychecks. I took that as their way of expressing their agreement with me. I appreciated that.
Before I left town I wanted to check out Venice Beach so Saturday morning I drove over there and the beach was almost empty. I happened to see two guys lifting weights and I went over to check it out. It was Arnold and his friend lifting weights. I said Hi and he recognized me and said Hi. I watched for awhile before moving on.
I left LA in the next few days for my next encounter with the future Unabomber in San Francisco. I wouldn't return to LA until 1979 for the Libertarian Party Presidential nominating convention.