Dick’s Forum – No. 11
I graduated from Excelsior Union High School in Norwalk, California in June, 1956. I considered myself lucky because I was convinced I was not very smart. My academic performance in algebra, science and English was very poor. It seemed to me that I just didn’t get it, whatever “it” was. Music and athletics saved the day and I had just enough credits or whatever it took to graduate.
The week I graduated the counselor at school called me into his office and told me he had received and inquiry from a music store in Fullerton, California looking for a potential employee. That same week I went to work for Millard and Duane Lundy at their store, Fullerton Music Co. Millard and Duane were brothers and I would work for one or the other of them for the next four of five years.
I swept floors, carried things, pushed things, painted things, and learned to recondition a variety of instruments as they had a large rental business and at the close of every school year instruments came back into the store that had to be checked, cleaned, and readied for rental again.
There was a new guitar maker in Fullerton in those days and every so often I had to go to his shop to pick up a guitar or deliver something. His name was Leo Fender. Little did I know that his guitars would revolutionize the music business. I could have easily bought guitars from him, but what would I do with a guitar? I played the violin and not much of that in those days. His guitars from that period are almost priceless today. As with my Poggi violin, another “boat missed.”
I could have gone into the music store business. I had learned a great deal about it and was wondering what to do with myself, but I had taken a few business courses at Fullerton Junior College and had learned only that I had no interest in business. I was 18 years old, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Every so often a young police officer from the Fullerton Police Department came into the store to look at guitars. Often he was in uniform and we became acquainted, becoming good friends. His name was Barry Burleson and as I remember he was from Oklahoma and had come to Fullerton to take this job on the police department. He had a quiet, confident way about him and I soon found myself thinking about becoming a policeman. This thought become reality when I joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 1961.