1977 was a big year for him. Star Wars was released, and a Daycare teacher took him & his brother to see it. The toys that were released were the hottest thing going, and they each had $2 to buy an action figure.
By this time, they were being watched after school by a kindly old woman affectionately known as Grandma Milly who was the mother of someone their mother was, uh, dating. One evening Grandma Milly took them for a drive across the I-5 bridge into Portland to Jantzen Beach to buy the action figures from Toys R Us. She dropped them off at the door and said she would be back to pick them up shortly.
They spent what seemed like forever staring at the enormous wall of Star Wars figures. Storm Troopers, Chewbaccas, Darth Vaders, Luke & Leia, Han Solo, there were enough choices that they couldn’t make up their minds. Eventually Grandma Milly showed up, hurried them to choose, and they checked out & got in her car.
As they made their way back towards the freeway from the mall, he noticed a police car behind them on the on-ramp. It’s lights were flashing red and blue.
“Grandma Milly, there’s a police car behind us!” “Oh, they must be chasing someone,” she mumbled, and got onto the freeway in the big old land yacht old women in the 70s drove.
Taking the I-5 back into Vancouver, there were now 2 police cars from Oregon following them on the bridge, and then 2 State Troopers from Washington joined them. The police finally pulled them over outside Esther Short Park, across the street from the local American Legion where his mother was a cocktail waitress (the irony isn’t lost on him in his teen years).
An Officer takes them out of the car and chats them up, talking about their new Star Wars figures while Grandma Milly is put in another patrol car and driven away. Their mother comes out of work and takes them home, none to pleased about missing a night’s work. A couple hours later, however, after they are put in bed, he hears the familiar sound of the front door being opened, closed, and locked. Getting out of bed, he sees that she’s gone back to work and he won’t see her until morning. Again. He never sees Grandma Milly again.
Some time later, she tells him that Grandma Milly was in the the local lounge at Jantzen Beach while they were looking at Toys R Us. When she picked them up she was apparently pretty drunk and swerving around the road. At her hearing she was belligerent to the judge and called them all sinners, and lo and behold, she saw Jesus Christ right there in the courtroom. Another office who was a “Hawaiian fella” also saw Jesus in court and fell down, worshiping Him as well. His Honor didn’t spot him though, and threw the book at her.
With Grandma Milly out of the picture, that was the end of babysitters for him and his brother, and started staying home at night alone while she was working. They were about 7 & 9.