Longtime friends are a particular joy. They know your history, and they still like you! What could be better?
My friend Hap Trout was such a friend. We met in Palm Springs in 1962 - I worked at the local newspaper (Desert Sun) and he worked at the local radio station next door (KDES). We covered some of the same events, so we got to know each other pretty well.
Here is one of those events - President John Kennedy was visiting the desert, and there was a press party attended by Pierre Salinger, the White House press secretary. And, yes, that IS me. I was about 20 at the time.
Hap wasn't his real name - he was officially Raymond Martin Trout. Part Indian, he always told everyone. He even named one of his sons Brook. He was born in Perth Amboy, NJ and attended schools there, where he was an excellent athlete. After college he joined the Air Force and was assigned to the Armed Forces Radio Service, where he worked on entertaining the troops stationed abroad. He used this broadcast experience to get work when his military service was over, and one of his first jobs was in Palm Springs, where I met him. He was the news director for KDES there and interviewed many celebrities. He was really proud of all of the autographed photos he got from those he interviewed. After his Palm Springs years, he worked at KCBQ in San Diego and at KFRC in San Francisco as general manager.
In the early 70's he moved from broadcasting to bar owner when he acquired a cocktail lounge in the Pasadena, CA area (I think it was called The Office). Then came a western roadhouse called Hap's O.K. Corral in the San Fernando Valley, CA and finally a restaurant called Crossroads in the World Trade Center in downtown Los Angeles. I did the accounting for the first two bars, so we stayed in touch.
In about 1990 he retired and moved to Grants Pass, Oregon with his wife Dawn. He continued his athletic pursuits as a member of a senior softball team, the Rogue River Relics.
An imposing figure at 6'4", Hap loved the spotlight. He was also very creative and wrote a weekly email newsletter and also "Cowboy poetry".
Thru the almost-50 years I knew him, I always sent him a birthday greeting of some kind. He got so used to getting those greetings that he got upset with me if I missed doing it. He would write and say, "Well, where is my birthday card?"
So, this is my birthday greeting today to my friend, Hap. He passed away in February (while taking a nap in his favorite chair), but I know he's watching to see if I will remember his special day.
This is my favorite photo of him back in the 60's.