Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

-Albert Einstein


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Important Correction!

A "gofer" is someone who runs around doing menial tasks, etc.

A "gopher" is a bucktoothed rodent.

In my last post, I admitted to shooting a bucktoothed "errand boy."

I type fast and usually write my blogs at one or two in the morning when I'm starting to fall asleep.  But there's no excuse. I cannot believe I misspelled "gopher."  My spell check didn't catch it either, since there are two spellings of the word.

Please be assured that I didn't shoot an errand boy and I'll be more careful in the future.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Am I the only one who finds himself slipping over to the dark side with homicidal thoughts regarding my beloved computer?  I’ve considered blowing it away, but a shotgun blast inside the house would destroy what hearing I have left. I remember shooting a gopher with a 12 gauge shotgun from my kitchen once. I couldn’t hear anything for a week. 

Lately I’ve had many friends email me regarding an article on my blog.  They respond by email because they can’t put comments on my blog.  There are a few people who seem to know how to get through the maze, but many more who quit trying.  After my last blog about Dachau, I received a ton of interest and many comments by email.  That happens with every post and invariably the writer will say that he or she tried to leave a comment, but “it didn’t take.”  But most have given up.

Based on readership, I should be getting a lot of comments.  Either I don’t know how to make the darn thing work right or “BlogSpot” has a lousy system.  I apologize to all of you who have tried to add a comment only to wonder what happened to it. 

I asked a couple of people how to go about posting comments.  Here is what one of them said:

In response to your question re: posting comments on your Blog:

  • Click on 'comments' in the blog where you want to respond
  • Enter your comment in the 'white box'
  • Click on the down arrow to the right of 'Comment As'
  • Drop Box will then appear
  • In the Drop Box, Click on 'Name/URL' which is towards the bottom of the list of options
  • 'Edit Profile Box' will appear
  • In the Edit Profile Drop Box, Enter your name where requested, and for the URL, enter your email address.  Sometimes you can leave URL blank.
  • Click on 'Continue'
  • Click on 'Publish Box'
  • And then in a few seconds you see your comment 

I don’t know why they make it so difficult, but you might try these steps.  Someone else said to make a comment under “anonymous.” 

Gayle and I will be spending time with kids and grandkids for a couple of weeks, so I may not get around to blogging, but as Arnold says, “I’ll be back.”  And don’t forget to fly the flag on July 4th.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Many of us lost a good friend this past week.  Ted Simonson was a teacher, football coach and the principal of Los Gatos High School for many years.  Ted was tough and very outspoken.  Despite being short in stature, he could “deck” a smart-ass kid with one punch, which he did. He could also get in trouble with the press for saying something like, “The Bay Bridge connects fairyland with jungle land.”  He did that too.  Ted was from the “old school” and we loved him for it.

            Ted was also a World War II hero who, among many other heroic acts, jumped a Nazi officer when his gun misfired while aimed at an America officer. That was just one of the lives he saved while in the service.  Ted was a member of the 42nd Rainbow Division that “liberated” the prisoners in Dachau, the infamous Nazi concentration camp.

            My wife Gayle’s oldest brother fought under General Patton.  They too liberated prisoner of war camps, freeing those fortunate enough to have survived to that point.  This brings me to Dachau, the subject of this blog.
 Entrance to Dachau, the concentration camp in Germany
There are a lot of stories of the concentration camps - mostly horrific - but I recently heard one exception.  Evidently in this particular case the liberating forces left the guns belonging to the Nazi guards loaded and in a pile. The Americans looked the other way as the just-released and emaciated prisoners took the guns and passed their judgment on those who had tortured them for so long.  Having seen Dachau myself, I have to be honest - I like that ending.

            My visit to Dachau in 1969 was just one stop on my motorcycle trip.  It wasn’t as much fun as the island of KrkDachau was not only depressing; it was a stark reminder of what man is capable of perpetrating on his fellow man.

Set up as a memorial, Dachau is a horrible graphic of what the Nazis did to their captives.  I went through the gas chambers designed to look like showers and saw the concrete slide where bodies were slid into trucks for the next step in their elimination. 

I saw the wooden bunks stacked up against the walls, the ovens, the horrible photographs and much more than I wanted to see. The gruesome sculpture at the entrance sets the mood for what this place represents.  Look closely at the grotesque images in that metal depiction.  The mental imprint of Dachau depresses me to this day.

Animals kill to eat and survive.  Cats sometimes play with their prey.  Baboons and apes have been known to form gangs and go on rampages killing their own kind.  But nothing compares to the human capacity to find pleasure in inflicting pain and in killing other creatures including human beings.  It’s a horrible nexus of “nature/nurture” and it raises many questions – more than I want to get into in a blog. 

I have the greatest respect for Ted’s generation, their heroism during the war, and the legacy of freedom that they left us.  I have no use for someone who would apologize for America or attempt to destroy the foundations of the country that so many of these guys fought and died for.

“The Greatest Generation” gave me the unique opportunity to be a carefree kid in the ‘50s, with all the freedoms that were still available to us back then.  As I said in my book, “The Huckleberry Days of the ‘50s,” I don’t think there was ever a better decade to be a kid. 

But the freedom I experienced in the ‘50s wasn’t free. Most people in my generation understand that and appreciate what we have been given.  Sadly, the America we remember is becoming less and less recognizable.  When a person receives something for nothing, there is little appreciation and even less gratitude.  How many flags did you see in your neighborhood this past Memorial Day? 

It's possible to be proud of the American concept, but disgusted with government and its destructive policies.   

I’m grateful to my parents and the other members of “The Greatest Generation.”  They gave us freedom and opportunity.  What we and subsequent generations do with the America that was passed on to us is now beyond the reach of that ‘greatest’ generation.  They did their part and handed the baton to us.  What happened?  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Who Remembers Bob St. Clair?

Question: What is 6’9” tall, weighs 270 pounds, could run like a gazelle…and thrives on raw meat? 
Answer: Bob St. Clair, 49er offensive tackle way back in the ‘50s.

Young readers won’t know who Bob St. Clair is, but those of us in the bay area who were conscious during the ‘50s remember Bob well.  Bob was one of the greats on that memorable 49er football team.  You may remember Y. A. Tittle, Billy Wilson, Leo Nomellini, Gordy Soltau, Joe “The Jet” Perry, Hardy Brown, Hugh McElheny, and other great Niners from that era.  

I’ve just finished ghost writing the autobiography of a good friend and my former football coach, Pietro “Pete” Denevi.  These are the guys that Pete hung out with and who remain his friends today, although many have passed away.  The late Billy Wilson was Pete’s college roommate and his primary receiver when Pete was All-League quarterback at San Jose State.  There are some interesting stories here, so I thought I’d talk about one of the guys who remains a prominent figure in the Bay Area.

Bob St. Clair played his entire career in San Francisco at Kezar Stadium as a 49er.  He played 17 seasons and 189 home games at Kezar and the city of San Francisco renamed the stadium’s field in honor of Bob St. Clair.  He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990 and was known by the nickname, “The Geek.”  Back in the ‘50s when Bob played, a “geek” wasn’t a computer nerd.  Bob got this name because of his idiosyncrasies, like eating raw meat.

This guy was the epitome of a carnivore.  I’ve heard that he ate a live pigeon in front of an opposing team just prior to a game.  I saw him admit this on TV.  They say he grinned at his adversaries with blood and guts running down his chin to terrorize and intimidate the opposing team. It worked. After all, he was the biggest player in the NFL at that time and also one of the fastest runners.  In his cleats he was seven feet in the air. Imagine a giant like that pacing back and forth in front of you and your teammates staring at you with blood dripping from his mouth.

A running back playing against Bob had to be particularly wary.  Bob was said to be the fastest runner on the 49er team. With his great running speed, if Bob was hungry for raw meat it was best for a ball carrier to toss the ball in the air and run like mad into the stands before Bob caught him and ate his leg.  This was particularly true if the running back had an open wound.