The life of a man is too much to ever tell. It goes by, second by second, minute by minute, year by year, and any moment can be a high one or a low one. And in the end, we die, and we leave fragments behind us–memories, monuments, book collections, and all manner of debris. And yet I will ever maintain that those fragments have their own importance, and of such fragments, reality itself is constructed.
Here are a few fragments of my life–old photographs found in the accumulation of things I carry around with me, looking for somewhere else to lay them down.
Me about 1965, standing in the driveway of my home in the Maryvale area of West Phoenix. I combed my hair in a curl over my right eye in imitation of James Bond as he was described in the novels by Ian Fleming. I liked bold colors. Look at those red slacks. Although I was no athlete, there was no fat on my body..
My first paying job was washing trucks for City Delivery, a local delivery company that preceeded the appearance of United Parcel in Phoenix. My father, Richard Eugene St. Andre, was a supervisor and dispatcher for the company. After I got my driver’s license, he got me this job washing their trucks every Saturday morning. I used a garden hose, a bucket of soapy water, and a long-handled brush. My brother, Daniel who took this picture, helped me. This is summer 1965 or 1966. I believe this is the only picture of me that survives from my City Delivery days.
When I was a boy growing up in Phoenix, I spent my summers riding around in trucks with the drivers of City Delivery. I carried packages and toted all manner of things that needed moving from one location to another. I learned the city as truck drivers know it–every loading dock, every alley, every one way street. In due time I got a driver’s license and became a truck driver for the company. On Saturday mornings I washed those trucks, learning to drive big boxy-backed trucks as well as pickups and small vans.
My first car–a 1948 Dodge. My father bought it for me as an 18th birthday present. He found it on a back lot somewhere downtown and paid $75 for it. It was gray, and I called it the Torpedo. I drove this car to death in a little over a year–driving too fast–it had 8 cylinders, plenty of power. I used to drive it from Maryvale to Tempe where I attended Arizona State University every day as a freshman. One morning, a hose broke, and I did not know it, until sparks and clouds of steam came up through the floorboards and out from the under the hood, and I burned up the engine. That was exciting.
Graceful Ken–caught in the act of diving into a swimming pool at a girlfriends house in Maryvale. Splash!
Charlette Myers, summer 1965, afternoon spent at her house going swimming. Charlotte was probably as close as i came to having a girlfriend in my senior year of high school. I never dated the homecoming queens or class beauties. But Charlotte was nice and I liked her a lot. She went back east to college, and I never saw her again after the summer was over.
Charlotte dives in.
Charlotte in the water. I remember it only vaguely, but we were happy together that afternoon. The next day I had quite a sunburn, and didnt go swimming with her any more. Even then, when I was 18, I would rather take pictures of other people than of myself. I never liked the way I looked on film.
When I was 19 I bought a .22 single shot rifle. My friends and I would go out and shoot bottles and cans in the desert outside of Phoenix. I could shoot in those days. I never actually killed anything though.
My second car. After the Dodge died, I got a 1957 Ford Thunderbird. I called it Black Beauty. God! I felt like a king when I was driving this car. I got so many traffic tickets in it. I had it for about a year, and sold it to buy something more economical. Sigh! It was a great car.
Let me jump forward a couple of years and finish this blog with some pictures from my year with the Society for Creative Anachronism. In 1968 I was at the World Science Fiction Convention in Berkeley, California where I first encountered the Society doing demos on the hotel lawn. Rick Cook was also there, and he liked it so much that he decided to form a chapter of the SCA in Phoenix. I was one of the initial members, though I never held any offices or attained any fame within the group. I attended the very earliest organizational meetings and fighter practices and completely failed to distinguish myself. I am including the following pictures simply because they represent what was mostly a good time in my life. Atenveldt wasn’t a kingdom when these pictures were taken–simply a province of the Kingdom of the Mists that was centered in Berkeley. Who knows? Perhaps some of those people will recognize themselves from 50 years ago?
Taurus, a young gentleman of the Kingdom of Atenveldt–that is, Ken St. Andre in Society for Creative Anachronism circa 1969. Costume consists of blue jeans, a green tunic with a felt bullhead sewed on, and a gorgeous double-sided cloak. It looked like snake skin on one side and was rich pumpkin orange on the other. I usually wore it with the snake skin side outwards, but it was reversible and could be worn either way. I kept that cloak for decades after I left the S.C.A.
The lady on the right was Cynthia. She was a talented seamstress. She designed and made her own clothing, and it was she who made the costume for me in the previous picture. For a month or two she was my lady. She could dance, and she could kiss, and she was much wilder, freer, and smarter than me. I lost her because I simply was not able to keep up with or satisfy such a woman.
My best friend, Terry Ballard, was also there at the beginning with me in the Society. His costumes were even more minimal than mine. In those days all we had to do was put on a cape to be acceptable in feudal society. Terry was the smart one. I was the dashing one. 🙂 Considering how dashing I was not–that says a lot about where the two of us fit in.
Early royalty. I do not know who they are, although I knew them then.
In those days, about 1970, we held some great revels. I have no idea who these people are any more, but look at all the bottles. Wine and mead were plentiful.
And what better way to end a story than with a party? Our trip through time is over now–I hope you enjoyed seeing the young Ken who still wanted to be a writer, and had no idea where his life would take him.
If you ever had an old car, a flat stomach, or a significant other that got away from you, why not leave a comment? You should really leave one if you were ever a member of the Kingdom of Atenveldt.