Our continuing Steve Reeves' story left off in Helena, Montana on October 12, 1935. We learned Steve how narrowly escaped from the Montana Deaconess School when a 7.0 earthquake tore through the area and caused major damage to the dormitory building.
Classes were soon resumed and nine year old Steve finished out the school year at Deaconess.
Early in 1936, one of Goldie's closest friends from the Rainbow Hotel Frances Chamberlain, moved to the Oakland, California community of Oak Knoll.
Frances, who Goldie had known since her late teens, tried hard to convince Goldie that there were many more employment opportunities for her in Northern California than in Great Falls. After thinking it over for a couple months, Goldie decided to make the move. It would soon be summer and she would have time to prepare for the move west.
By June, school was out and Steve received an invitation to spend a few weeks of summer with the Hall family at their cabin on the Smith River in Montana. The Halls were Goldie's old family friends.
Ten year old Steve spent his last Montana summer vacation with the six Hall children at the family cabin. The Halls' seventeen year old son, Vernon was in charge of his three brothers, two sisters and Steve. The Halls had a rustic, yet comfortable cabin located on the Smith River just southwest of Great Falls. Reaching the cabin kept Steve and all the kids in tip-top shape!
The cabin could only be reached by trekking down the side of a steep hill. Vernon would shop in town for supplies and haul them back in his car. He would park the car at the top of the hill, the closest spot to the cabin. The only way to get the supplies to the cabin was by backpack. So Vernon, Steve and the other kids would strap on their backpacks, trek up the hill, fill their back packs and trek back to the cabin. It would take several trips to get all the food and supplies down to the cabin. These "backpack expeditions" were Steve's introduction to a lifetime of fitness training.
Steve really enjoyed that summer with the Halls and all of the hiking, swimming, camping and rugged outdoor living. Another favorite activity of his was helping Vernon with the fire wood. Vernon would split the logs with a huge ax and Steve would gather up the chopped wood.
"I really became interested in body building because of Vernon's great physique," remarks Steve. When Vernon would take off his shirt and swing that hefty ax his muscles flexed with every move. This greatly impressed Steve who told Vernon, "Boy, I wish I had arms like yours!" Vernon just smiled and replied, "Maybe by the next time you see me you will."
The very next day, Goldie picked up Steve at the Halls' and started off on a vacation to visit the World Exposition of 1936 being held in San Diego. That was the very last time Steve saw Vernon. Goldie wanted to show her son all of nature's wonders along the way, so their trip to the Expo took them through several national parks including Yellowstone, Glacier, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rai
Finally, they arrived at the expo and the first thing Steve wanted to do was ride the ponies. After getting his mother's O.K., he got in line. The expo's pony ride was similar to the ones at fairs today- wooden fences bordered a large circular pathway that returned the pony and rider back to the starting point.
When Steve turn came and he was mounting his pony, one of the pony tenders noticed his spurs and asked him why he was wearing them. Steve stated in a rather matter-a-fact manner, "Because I'm a cowboy from Montana!" Everyone laughed and thought it was very funny. Although Steve was only ten, he had spent a good part of his life on a horse and was a very good rider.
As soon as the pony started down the pathway, Steve realized how boring this was and spurred his mount. The pony took off like he was shot out of a cannon and, with a huge jump, cleared the top rail of the fenced path! Steve went for quite ride galloping all over the fairgrounds. People screamed and hollered for Steve to get off - afraid he would be hurt!
Little did they know that just a few days earlier Steve was on a very rugged horseback ride in Mt. Rainier. He was one of twelve riders led by a guide far into the mountains. Steve would hang back a quarter of a mile or so from the rest of the group. Then, he would race up to the back of the pack; hang back for a while, then again race up to the group. He did this for the entire trip through the mountains and enjoyed every minute of it.
By the time Steve got on the pony in San Diego, all he could think about was going fast. Plodding around in a circle was much too tame for him so he gave the pony a little nudge with his foot. Well, that ended his pony rides! Goldie wasted little time in hustling Steve off to other fair attractions that were as far as possible from the pony.
One attraction that fascinated them both was a "telephone television." Goldie and Steve talked to each other by telephone and at the same time saw each other image on a television screen even though they were in separate buildings located approximately one block apart! Steve is amused that after all these years that mode of communication is still not perfected.
School in California would soon begin, so Steve and Goldie said good-bye to San Diego and headed north to Oakland, where Steve would spend his next eight years.
Jobs were not quite as plentiful in Oakland as Goldie had hoped. The best job she could find was as a cook for a wealthy family in Napa, located in California's picturesque wine country. Again, her employers had living quarters for her, but not for a child. So her dear friends, the Chamberlains, welcomed Steve into their home and their family for the next three years.
Steve attended elementary school in Oak Knoll where he made several friends. He and his friends loved to collect lead bullets they would find at the military target range near the Chamberlains' home. The kids would dig the bullets out of the hills behind the target range then Steve would take them home and melt them down.
He had saved an old bullet mold he found in Great Falls. He would melt down the bullets and pour the molten lead into the mold and make old-fashioned bullets shaped like little balls. He also used the molten lead to create ornaments in wooden molds he carved in the shape of Christmas trees and other holiday objects.
As usual, Steve was never far from horses. It did not take him long to discover the horse stables just five blocks away from the Chamberlain house. During the summers, he would ride the horses and spend hours watching the trainers work with the horses and or groom them.
Occasionally, Steve and his friends were allowed to take a half-hour bus ride to the movie house to catch the latest westerns. Steve earned extra money for these movie trips by delivering the Sunday newspaper.
Another favorite pastime for Steve and his friends was playing Tarzan at a place they called "Big Tree" located in one of the vast Oak Knoll pastures. There was an enormous eucalyptus tree with a huge rope hanging from it. The boys would climb up the rope and swing from branch to branch like Tarzan. Once while playing Tarzan, they changed the game to tag. When someone got tagged, that person would tag someone else.
One day, Steve accidentally tagged a boy so hard that the boy fell out of the tree! He was a little stunned but not hurt. The boy's cousin had the rope and refused to swing it to Steve who was hanging from a branch by his hands. There he was, hanging fifteen feet in the air when the other boys took off and left him to find his own way down. His fingers and arms began to ache and he knew he could not hang on much longer. His main concern was getting down in one piece! Steve knew that sooner or later he would have to let go.
He decided to bend his knees on the way down, making his legs work like shock absorbers so he would not get hurt. Steve released his grip and started his decent. When he reached the ground his legs were such good shock absorbers and bent so much that he only lightly hit his forehead on the ground. The experience left him with just a little red mark on his forehead, which disappeared in a few days.
Before breaking the chains in "Hercules" Steve was breaking the chains of his bicycle. At twelve, Steve started developing his great, muscular legs by riding his bicycle over the big hill between Oak Knoll and east Oakland so he could visit his friends. This was the same route the school bus took to get to Frack Junior High School, which Steve attended. He would pedal his bike two miles up the hill and two miles down the hill.
He would start the climb by telling himself one of three things would happen: "I will make it all the way to the top, I will break a chain trying or I will be forced to stop from pure exhaustion."
Steve broke many bike chains in his quest to make it over the hill. After a couple years of pedalling up and down the hill, it became routine for him. His legs developed until they were like two mighty engines powering his single speed bike as if it were a ten speed.
It was not long until Steve experienced another major change in his life. He would soon reunite with his mother and this time would live with her until he left for the Army during World War II.
While Steve attended Frack Junior High School, Goldie met Earl Maylone through the Chamberlains. Earl worked as an installer/ repairman for the local telephone company in Oakland. Goldie and Earl were married in 1939, and Steve moved with them to their new home on 76th Avenue in East Oakland. The house was within the school district and Steve was able to complete his years at Frack.
Thirteen year old Steve now increased his newspaper route from Sunday only to a seven-day-a-week delivery. This gave him more spending money for entertainment and gift-giving. One of his and his friends favorite pastimes was to attend the Saturday matinee at the local movie theatre. They loved to watch the cartoons and movie serials with those fantastic cliff hangers at the end of each segment, which is where we will leave off for now!
Also in this Issue:
Dr. Joe Vitale is a friend and supporter of SRIS. Click on the ad and get your FREE copy of "Attract Money Now"