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Happy Birthday to my friend Hap

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.

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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.
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Comments (8)

I enjoyed reading this beautiful tribute to your friend. And I love that photo (pearls and black gloves, so classic!).

Eden:

I also enjoyed your remembrance post of your friend.

Love the gloves!

Barb Cabot:

This is such a lovely post Nancy. What a nice friendship you shared. I love all the photos. You look so elegant. I bet that was a special night. Thank you for sharing this memory. I'm sure it made Hap smile!

John Howell:

I was a long-time friend of Hap's. He gave me my first job at KDES, and I knew him through KCBQ, KFRC, The Office, The Corral, and The Crossroads. Knew first wife Barbara, and then Darla, and then finally Dawn. (There may have been others along the way that I forgot) Last place of his I visited him and Dawn was at Bear Valley Springs in the Tehachapi mountains. Then they decided to go north, and I was east, and we drifted. It seems to have worked out for the two of them.
I was sorry to hear of his passing. He was a force, and I hope he was happy in his later years. I'll never forget him. I also hope Dawn is doing well. She was very, very good for him.

Fred Hiser:

I recently learned of Hap's passing. I worked for and with him at KDES in Palm Springs in the mid 60's. Lost touch after we both left in 1968. But I never forgot him. I will always remember the weekly poker parties at his house. He always made a positive impression on everybody.

Nancy Thornton:

I am a healthcare professional who met Hap in Grant Pass, Oregon around 2003. He shared great stories, and showed impressive photos of himself with all kinds of famous celebrities he met in his radio days. We shared emails back and forth through the years, but I stopped getting responses and decided to google his name today to see what was going on. Where was Hap?! I was so happy to see your biography!! I appreciate this wonderful account of his life and information on his passing. I will miss him, his humor, and his energy!

Rock on Hap!

Pam Henry:

I met Hap in the 1970's and at that time he had a bar that was called "The Guys & Dolls".
I eventually ended up bartending for him and he would affectionately refer to me as his "bar-tenderness". Just the other day I discovered several photos that were taken at the bar. I also met my then to be husband there and began dating him with Hap's approval.
Through the years we lost contact, but I will always have a special place in my heart for this most endearing human being. I am sure we shall meet again. My love to you Hap!

Roseann Sullivan Neprud:

I recently told my husband about Hap and said I wonder what ever happened to him. He worked in our grocery store "Sullivan's Market" back in the late 50's and then went on to KDES. My sister, Diana & I were always proud to hear him on the radio because we worked with him when we were just teenagers. He certainly lived a full life. I'm just sorry that I'm not able to contact him and tell him hi from the Sullivan girls.

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