Raymond Trottier, Jr.
Bugler USN Part
50's and Early 60's
The 50's was a happy time while we were in La Mesa as my mother was
very busy with local events such as Christmas celebrations for the
city, Easter parades where I was once "Mascot" on a float.
I remember my dad, who’s plastering business with his brother
Arthur was doing very well, being very much involved with the local
Free Masons making the 32nd degree. His leadership with the Kiwanis
Club helped create the La Mesa Youth Center where young people can
go after school and the weekends. There they build an Olympic size
swimming pool, Little League park, basketball courts and Recreation
Hall for all sorts of indoor games and events.
go down and the join the rest of the neighborhood kids in all kinds
of activities such as ping pong, basket ball, baseball, swimming
in the huge outdoor pool, model building, all kind of indoor games,
etc. There were always a lot of kids and many older adults supervising
with everyone having fun.
Career I tried out for Pony League only to be told I was
too small. By the time I was bigger, I was too old. Same story with
Little League. I think my dad was more disappointed than I was.
Oh, well, so much for my baseball career.The center had a gold medal
Olympian who was my instructor for swimming, diving, trampoline
and tumbling. Even though I was small for my age and not very good
it was a fun time for me.
One of the most
fantastic things to happen to me was going to the unveiling of the
1960 Fords at the Palladium in Los Angeles. My dad's company bought
all of their vehicles and trucks from Mr. Elmer Drew at Drew Ford
in downtown La Mesa. I remember the 1957 Ford Hard Top convertible
that screwed down and the black '57 "T" Bird my uncle
bought and my dad tried to drive. I was cramped in the back seat
as he kept hitting the windshield wipers that squirted water all
over. Poor man kept hitting all the wrong buttons to do what?. What
a mess. He was never very mechanically inclined. My mother made
sure he remembered that on many occasions after.
B Trottier Company, Plastering, was located in Lemon Grove, CA.
Now in front of our La Mesa house, oh, about 100' away were the
railroad tracks for the train from San Diego. I would rumble through
slowly, as we would wave at the Hobos and often chat with them.
No one was alarmed that we did this. There was no fear at that time.
Matter of fact the only time we locked our doors was when we went
away! The company had offices in Los Angeles and Phoenix Arizona
where his brother and partner Arthur lived.
had two airplanes that my uncle flew. One was a Cessna and the other
was Beechcraft Bonanza. I'll never forget that wonderful "V"
shaped tail. Uncle Arthur lived down the street from the "Loan
Ranger" (Clayton Moore) in Scottsdale and was close friends
with William Wesley Peters, assistant to the great architect Frank
Anyway, my buddies
and I would run along the slow moving train and jump on, often with
the help of the "conductor" in the caboose or one of the
Hobos. In the summer our train adventures would take us to El Cajon
to the East or the other way to Lemon Grove where we'd jump off
the train downtown. It was no big deal as people would watch us
and sometimes check to see that we were OK when we'd fall. My father's
office was right down the street about a quarter of a mile, but
we rarely went there. However the object of these adventures in
the 1950's was the toy store and hobby shop. Before jumping on the
train back, we'd always stop at the drug store for hand made lime
sodas and buy a pocket full of Bazookas. My mom always made sure
we had money for an emergency phone call which I remember using
only once when we missed our 6:30 freight. Once we rode our bikes
on that long, hilly trip. 'Never did that again. Didn't have to,
we had our own "Metro Link!"
My dad and I
would take walks down the tracks that went through downtown La Mesa
and I'd make sure to bring along my drawings of latest "Ford
of the Future" with me to show Mr. Drew. He was very kind and
made sure to praise my "very ingeniously" designs. But
it was the fall of 1959 and Mr. Drew gave my dad tickets to see
the new Fords in Los Angeles and we soon set out on my L.A. adventure
to see the cars of tomorrow. My eyes must have looked like saucers
at the Palladium on Hollywood Blvd. How wonderful it was seeing
these beautiful cars; the new Starliner and the rocket shaped Thunderbird.
That was a great
year. When the new Fords arrived, Mr. Drew let us into the old warehouse
where he kept his new cars in "secret." It was wonderful!
Soon all the car dealerships had their search lights up (remember
the carbon rod jobs that smoked and were unbelievably bright?) for
the unveiling of the new 1960 cars. We walked all over town and
saw the new "Wide Track" Pontiacs, the new Oldsmobile’s
that looked a mile long the new strange looking Plymouth with the
backward fin and of course the all new Buicks with names like Le
Sabre, Electra with low bodies and "tons" of glass. We
even saw the strange but wonderful looking Chrysler Imperial whose
headlights seemed to float in the body! Life was perfect. The future
Park LaBrea's 18
tower complex was great for bike riding.
to Los Angeles 1961
We moved to Park La Brea, an exclusive apartment complex near the
La Brea Tar Pits on Wilshire Blvd at Fairfax Avenue, Farmers Market,
CBS Studios and famed Melrose Ave. I never lived in an apartment before
and sort of got used to it. My mother hated it. Although that's another
story I soon went to John Burroughs Jr. High School right on the "Miracle
Mile" continuing my studies in French and of course marching
It was tradition, at JB, for select trumpeters to play Morning Colors
which I did for the two years I was there. It was here I met my
lifelong friend Moshe Doman who has gone on to travel the world
I quickly learned
he collected comic books, we both liked the military and that he
was Jewish. Now, this was really new to me; Judaism. This became
a lifelong avocation of mine, so to speak.
But I had a
new problem; allergies. The doctor's tests made my arm looked like
I was a drug addict. Even with a note, my teachers got really upset
and took me to the principle. I'd sneeze twelve, sometimes more
times in a row and John Burroughs Jr. High would send me home, once
in a taxi as they thought I was going to have a heart attack!
I was so sick
my best friend was a roll of toilet paper for my nose. I remember
my mom coming home with homework for me to do. How can I do this
without being in class? My sister Joan moved in so now I was dealing
with two very unhappy alcoholics and my own case of bad facial acne.
I was trying to grow up. Life was miserable. My only out was staying
over at my friends. It was like this for the next five years of
By this time
I was with Moshe Doman at Fairfax High School. I spent a lot of
time with Kurt Stiefler and his family where we read Ripley’s
Believe It Or Not books and rode in his father's noisy Diesel
powered Mercedes they bought in Europe. Fairfax High School's alumni
include Demi Moore, Carol Lombard, Mickey Rooney, Ricardo Mantalban,
Al Franken, Timothy Hutton, Phil Spector, and many others.
What I remember
best is his shortwave radio kit that I coveted. I also spent a lot
of time at Ron Cantor's house with his funny sister who had a six
foot tall replica of Michelangelo’s' David. She painted his
privates hot pink! Ron's father was a Cantor at a temple in the
Valley, played violin and had a wonderful signing voice. I got a
yarmulke (skull cap), a book on Hebrew and started learning Jewish
For all practical
purposes, Fairfax was a Jewish school. There were only a handful
of White Anglos Saxon Gentiles, as myself, and fewer Blacks or Hispanics.
I looked as Jewish as anyone else, except I had blue eyes, blondish
hair and was kinda short. My classmates included Arnold Palmer Jr.
and others who went on to be famous music and film personalities.
Once I took my precious Heath Kit Mohican to class to demonstrate
shortwave radio. I turned out my teacher not only spoke Russian
but was a registered Communist! Soon after President Kennedy was
shot. Terrible day. I'll never forget it.
Morrie and I
immediately joined ROTC, got itchy brown old Army uniforms that
fit terrible (Morrie's and my mom worked got to work making alterations.
We also joined the Drill Team and the Rifle Team. Believe it or
not but it was common place for us to take our rifles to school
on Saturday mornings for target practice in the ROTC Armory rifle
range under the bleachers. By the way, the school had only one fence
and that was to keep the ball in the football field. Our lockers
were always available to us all weekend if we needed anything. Dress
code did not allow jeans on campus nor sneakers. Dress shoes, and
pressed shirts were the order with skirts and blouses for the girls.
No slacks. We looked like what we were supposed to be back then;
young adults. We could solve a lot of our current problems in the
schools is we just adopted some of the old standards that worked
so well then. For the life of me, I can not think of any of the
guys competing with each other over shoes! We competed academically
and athletically. Isn't that what school is for?
I made a point
in joining the orchestra with classmate David Rose (father had famous
Big Band) on trumpet and French horn as well as marching band where
I became marching instructor. My mom bought me a brand new Le Blanc
trumpet, same as Harry James which soon got stolen. I worked for
an antique shop to save money to buy another. I soon got and Olds
Studio which I still use today.
I also joined
the Fairfax Communication League and studied Morse Code under Club
President Carl Rutenburg for my Ham Radio license. Through my Uncle
John May, K6KBM (sk) I subscribed to Heath Kit catalogues.
dad soon bought me the greatest gift of my life; a Heath Kit Mohican
all band shortwave receiver. I spent the summer evenings building
this wonderful radio which my Uncle John kindly tuned up and fixed
my bad soldering for me. I loved that radio as I'd take it to the
roof of my building to listen to foreign broadcast and Hams. It
came in handy years later.
At Fairfax I
studied music theory in a class full of musical geniuses which amazed
Here's a picture of Fairfax High School showing part of the quad where
I used to play Morning Colors. Please don't ask; It's not going to
be an historical monument!
I carried this card during the whole time I was in the Navy. I'm so
glad my signature improved!
also joined the Young Republicans campaigning for Democrat Mayor Sam
Yorty and Sen. Berry Goldwater for President. It was at this time
President Kennedy was shot. It was horrible. In 1965 Morrie and I
even attended an anti-Nazi rally and met a new political figure named
were getting so bad my father moved us to Inglewood, CA about 25
miles to the south. I spent my last year in high school at Inglewood
High with some more of some of the finest students and teachers
earth. It's interesting to note that Sonny Bono, whom I go to know
later, got suspended from Inglewood High School for bringing an
all-Black band to the senior prom which is ironic when you consider
that the school is predominantly Black now. Also, I was very much
involved when our senior class representatives appeared before the
Inglewood School Board to "beg" permission to wear white
shirts with green polka-dots. My, how things have changed.
was at this time I joined DeMolay and the James K. Polk Fan Club
(JKPFC). The JKPFC was an illegal, off campus club of pseudo intellectuals
who entered baking contest with a walkie talkie in the cake spewing
political rhetoric and the Annual Car Show with an entry from a
junkyard, totally flattened with a new candy apple red metal flake
paint job and chrome wheels. Even there was no chance for it to
run we received first place for originality.
One of our young
member was brazen enough to get hold of several dozen rubbers (prophylactics).
We skillfully filled them with helium from the science lab and let
them float to the two story ceiling of the school cafeteria. There
were screams coming from the cafeteria at lunch time on Monday.
It was the students to notice the "rubbers" first. To
the chagrin of the school staff, the "rubbers" were stuck
up there (thankfully) for days until they could bring in scaffolding
to take the rubbers down. BB guns had no effect upon them. Boy,
are those things tough! We were all impressed, as our future sex
lives looked pretty secure. Oh, yes, we wrote things on them. Use
In the school
band I met Richard Ventonis who introduced me to his trumpet instructor
the wonderful and dear Joseph
A.Valenti with whom I studied for quite some time. Even though
I was short and ugly with pimples and an allergy I managed to form
my own eight piece band patterned after the, then popular, Tijuana
Brass. Our school music director, Mr. Gills, arranged for us to
be the opening act for the Association (Gary Alexander and "Cherish")
that was touring Southern California at the time. Our first show
with them was just out of town in Temple City.
A.Valenti, my trumpet teacher who helped me get and audition
with the U.S. Navy School of Music. I had good chance to met him
years later at a Chamber of Commerce function in TorranceCA.
It was about this time I joined the local Ham Radio Club in Inglewood
with the help of Stanley Krume who was my mentor. Stan also had
a trumpet teacher by the name of Bud Brisbois. I remember one of
his fingers was cut short. Mr. Brisbois did backup on many popular
songs at that time as a "high range artist.".
Anyway, we bought
an old AR-16 WWII aircraft radio that weighed a 100lbs. I just sat
there on my desk at home. But when the Watts Riots broke out my
friends came over to listen to the L.A. Police calls on my Heathkit
Mohican receiver. I had already installed an inverted "V"
antenna on the roof of the apartment building giving us great reception.
We watched the riot on TV and listen to the frantic police reports
in horror. I'll never get over it.
The reason we
were so interested in the riots was that my father's business was
located at 108th St. near Central Ave. That puts it right in the
middle of the "riot zone." I want you to understand that
we and other people in Watts (named after a popular L.A. City councilman)
knew the riots were going to take place. For days anti-American
literature was shot under the office door telling where to buy weapons
and where to gather for the "demonstrations" to come.
None of my dad's Black employees came to work that morning. Some
had already excused themselves days before. Joey, my little Black
friend, who lived near the office and did odd jobs for my dad, didn't
show up. We knew something bad was up.
Then it hit,
right on schedule. It was a very frightening couple of days. Many
local Black businesses in the area my father traded with were destroyed.
It was not a race riot. My dad's buildings were not even touched
as the Black business next door, down the street and the corner
gas station were burned down. We knew these people. They were our
friends. The riot destroyed their lively hoods. The whole thing
was planned and instigated by Communist. History books won't tell
you this, I don't know why, but we were there and we all read the
red and black literature that led up to this horrible event. I remember
my dad bringing home the literature and calling the police to alert
them. Nothing happened. I think they knew also, but had no idea
what to do.
it destroyed my dad's business as the area was declared "uninsurable."
Crime skyrocketed as break-ins after break-ins stole tools, materials,
equipment and trucks. The attitude of the whole neighborhood changed
to something terrible. I never say Joey again nor the Black employees.
It was very sad.