Adrian is dead

Venice, California, 1963.

I had two good friends in the Air Force. One was Gilbert. That’s him at the rear doing his ladies’ man pose. Gilbert was born in Sant-Amant, France, and immigrated to the United States when he was about 15, landing in Boston.

The other was Adrian. That’s him in black. Adrian lived and died a Southern California boy. The third fellow is me, of course, a Georgia Cracker.

We first encountered one another at Castle Air Force Base in central California. It was the first assignment after basic training for me and Gilbert, but Adrian, two years older, had already pulled a stint on the island of Guam.

Adrian in a shiny suit he had tailor made in Guam. Me on the left.

Adrian was an electronics technician. Gilbert was a secretary. I was a survival equipment technician who maintained survival gear in the F-106 Delta Dart, an interceptor aircraft. Unlike electronics and typing, mine was not a useful skill in civilian life.

One day Adrian and I were in the Base Exchange, and he decided to steal something. I forget what. We got nabbed at the door on our way out. I did not know before that moment that Adrian had heisted anything.

We both were questioned, and I was let go, but the event snowballed for Adrian and he was given a psychiatric discharge. He returned to his parents’ home in Venice, California. I believe the photo at the top was taken after his discharge. Gilbert and I were visiting.

Adrian had purchased that old Indian trike motorcycle we were sitting on.

* * * *

I got out of the Air Force, moved to New Orleans and got married. Gilbert, still in the military, passed through New Orleans on his way to being stationed in Puerto Rico. I introduced him to a woman friend, and they got married not long after.

Around 1968, Adrian rode a Triumph Bonneville motorcycle from Los Angeles to New Orleans. My wife and I put him up for a while, but he had a habit of lounging around our apartment in his underwear while I was out working.

My wife didn’t like this, understandably, so I politely asked him to go. He drove the Triumph back to Los Angeles. We kept in touch by mail, and I looked him up in Southern California during a visit in the early 1970s.

He had married a woman with two upper-front teeth missing, giving her a reverse-rabbit look, and they lived in a bedroom in his parents’ home.

Adrian was fond of motorcycles, movie theaters and high-end stereo gear. He worked part-time as a projectionist in a movie theater. He was very intelligent, as Jewish guys usually are, but he never seemed to understand how the world works.

He often appeared bewildered.

I lost touch after that last visit. Over the past decade, I have Googled his name (his last name was uncommon), but I never found anything till this week. He popped up on an obituary website. No photo, few details, not much of anything.

Just this scant information:

Born September 13, 1942. Died February 10, 2010, in Adelanto, California. Age 67.

I went to the website of Adelanto’s newspaper to search the obituary files. There was nothing about Adrian.

One wonders if he stayed married to the woman with the missing front teeth, if he ever found full-time work he could grasp, if he had children and where he lived after his parents died. He was a lost and wandering soul.

* * * *

Gilbert and his wife moved to New Orleans from Puerto Rico after his discharge. They later divorced. Another Jewish fellow, he did what they do best. He started a small business, a chemical supply company that he ran single-handedly for years.

And he still lives in New Orleans. He just turned 68, as I will later this month.

19 thoughts on “Adrian is dead”

  1. It is indeed interesting to surf the web looking at old names from the past. Just last week one of my grammar school buddies passed away, I never searched for him, but his name appeared in my hometown paper. Looking at the names that have been deleted from the breathing roll makes me appreciate the fact that I was not listed on today’s sheet.
    Interesting how relatively easy it has become to search information. Some occasionally is interesting to see what vocation these mates have been handed down.

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    1. Tancho: My high school graduating class recently began a website. It’s the 50th anniversary of our graduation. It’s just my class, totally apart from that business on classmates.com.

      I was surprised at the number of dead folks and, sometimes, the manner of their demise. One was an Air Force pilot shot down in Laos during the Vietnam War. His body was never recovered, and he’s listed on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington.

      I remember him well.

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  2. My HS graduating class is also having their 50th next month. We found out that 40 of our classmates are deceased in a class of around 300. More than the class before ours and the class after. A cross section of causes of death. One of my best friends from that era with whom I continued to have contact took her own life in 2010. I would never have expected that to happen to her. We had exchanged emails just before it happened. I still can’t wrap my head around her death.

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  3. You and your faithful readers are a bunch of old-timers, dude. My 50th reunion will be in September also and there is a website. The profiles submitted by classmates are fascinating.

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    1. Loulou: There’s a couple of young whippersnappers that I know of in this corner of cyperspace. At least among those who comment. Most people, the overwhelming majority, of people who read blogs never leave comments at all, so it’s really a little difficult to know.

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  4. I would never go to a reunion of my high school. Nor would I sign up for FaceBook, etc. I don’t for the most part want to know what my old chums are doing. (But I do keep in touch at intervals with my caving buddies.)

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

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    1. Don Cuevas: I too have little interest in a high school reunion. I hardly remember going to high school or the people there, quite literally. I do recognize most of the mugshots on the high school website, however. It’s interesting that most do not want to put a current photo, especially women.

      I had a Facebook account for a while. Then I deactivated it. Deleting it is not an option. You are not missing anything. Mostly, it’s a colossal waste of what time we have left.

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      1. You can permanently delete (not just deactivate) your Facebook acccount if you wish. You will need to Log in to your account, and fill out a form. You may need to reset your password. I deleted my account within a few days after it was established…

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  5. It does start to get a bit spooky when our peers start dying (definitely too young currently). Then having been in the rock n’ roll trade a lot of folks shuffled off this mortal coil way before their time. Such is death ;-0

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  6. And that is one reason I either call or write the handful of friends I have maintained from my Air Force days. Unfortunately, a group of them ended up on the wrong ends of pistols and pipe bombs in Greece. I pray often for strength to forgive the turncoat Agee.

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  7. My high school buds that kept their heads in the cookie jar are all about gone, cancer and bad driving have taken a few more. The once a month dinners we keep are a hoot — face time is what keeps the friendships fresh. Sorry about your bud.

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  8. Good old Adelanto, just down the road a piece from George Air Force Base, where I spent a bit of time after moving from Moody AFB, Valdosta, Georgia. The most memorable thing about Adelanto was the highway, which undulated over a long distance, giving one a sort of roller coaster ride, if taken at the appropriate speed.
    Adrian resembles Sean Penn, sort of.

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