This is not an autobiography, but rather a story inspired by events in which the author and his friends participated or knew about while growing up in the Napa Valley of California many years ago. Those were different times, different customs and different people from these who now inhabit that once peaceful farming community. Whether that is better or worse is left up to the reader to decide. Charles W. Bird
PROLOGUE My earliest memories probably start just before the beginning of World War 2. My Father was First Lieutenant in the California National Guard so that period was very dramatic to me and my Mother. I was four years old, almost five and had helped my Dad decorate the Christmas Tree, we even put lights out on the front porch of our old farmhouse. My Mother had inherited the farm, it had 300 acres of prune trees, 50 acres of cabernet grapes and about 10 acres of "family orchard". There were assorted barns and farm equipment, much dating back to when our forebearers settled in the valley in the 1840s. I remember going with my parents to church that morning and then coming home, Dad turned on the radio and was listening to the news. He gathered me up and hugged me, tears were running down his face. We took down all the Christmas decorations, I couldn't understand why and Dad was too upset to explain it in words I would understand. Before the next weekend, Dad was gone and we didn't see him again until 1944!
This tale was begun in "GROWING UP FARMER" and that story should be read in order to fully understand this continuation of the life of a young farm lad as he "goes to sea". This story is based on the experiences of a young man fresh out of high school. Names, characters, places and incidents have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty or are the product of my imagination and used fictitiously. While any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental, this is my story, pretty much as I lived it.