The Real Wendy Mazaros

Editors Note:  Shortly after publishing this, I received several terse phone calls from Wendy Mazaros insisting I remove this article from my website under threat of a lawsuit as I dared mention what she did to Dick Stoddard. After consulting my attorney and learning I am within my First Amendment rights, I decided to re-post it despite her demand.

Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons spent several hours being questioned about an incident involving Las Vegas cocktail waitress Chrissy Mazzeo, who is accusing him of sexually assault during his campaign for governor in October 2006. The questioning also focused on rumors about his extramarital affairs.

In the end, he denied having romantic relationships with the two Reno women. But all of that is being refuted by a woman, notoriously known for her shady Las Vegas underworld life.

Wendy Mazaros said she was reluctant to become a witness in Jim And Dawn Gibbons’ divorce because, as she claims, she was warned to keep her mouth shut, but then she insisted on placing herself in the middle of it anyway. Her deposition took eight hours and focused on Gibbons and Leslie Durant.

Learning who Wendy Mazaros is depends on what period of her life you’re talking about. And once you know, it becomes hard to give her testimony legitimacy, especially since she’s also pedaling a new book.

She started out as Wendy Watson, then Wendy Hadley after marrying Tom Hanley who was suspected of 20 killings but was eventually convicted the 1977 mob murder of Culinary Union boss Al Bramlet.

She then moved on to Robert Peoples, another lifelong criminal, who had been convicted of crimes from bad checks to murder. She and Peoples raised the child she had with Hanley.

She moved to Reno in the late 80s, had a long-term relationship and a daughter local weatherman Dick Stoddard, taking his last name. In 1994 she accused Stoddard of molesting their daughter, which cost him his job at TV station.

Those charges were eventually dropped when it was found that there was no merit to her accusation.

Now going by the name Wendy Stoddard, she moved into a small house in Reno with Leslie Durant. There, she claims, she learned Durant supposedly involved in a secret relationship with Gibbons.

She says Leslie visited Gibbons at least two or three times a week at a condo he owned. She even claims she and Leslie chased down Kathy Karasch, another woman whose been linked by the media as being involved with Gibbons.

Gibbons filed for divorce May 2, 2008 from his wife of 22 years, former Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, citing “incompatibility.” The two have a son, whose serving in the Merchant Marines.


Face In a Dark Hallway

The house was entirely dark when the three of us entered through the front door and had been since the bride’s father, Don had passed away. It had been a lousy day, full of distractions, designed to take our minds of the death of her father.

First we had gone to see the vampire movie, “Van Helsing.” It wasn’t normally something we would have seen but Kyle’s cousins insisted. It turned out to be a good choice as it was more humorous than it was scary.

Then there was the food shopping for the barbecue and the motorcycle rides in the field next door to occupy the time. By the end of the evening everyone was exhausted and ready to relax a while before turning into sleep.

The three of  us quietly moved through our routine of preparing for bed. Kyle had to shower since he was covered with a fine layer of dust from riding motorcycles.

That meant he had to wonder down the length of hallway without a light and back again, leaving him vulnerable for a practical joke. I listened intently for the sound of the water as it passed through the fifty year old pipes and once I heard it, I grinned at the bride, picked up the small flashlight resting on the wooden nightstand by the bed and rushed to the bend in the hallway.

It was there that I lowered myself to my knees. I knew the bend was a blind elbow in which Kyle couldn’t see around.

I waited for the  sound of the shower knobs turning and then the silence.

A few minutes later I heard the bathroom door open and Kyle step out into hallway. I could hear the eleven year old walking towards me.

Within seconds Kyle was at the corner and I flicked on the flash light. I held it beneath my chin, shining it upwards giving my face a frightful appearance.

As I did this, I hissed violently.  I expected Kyle to jump or maybe run in place.

He did neither.

Without warning Kyle stepped back, yelled “hi-ya!,” and kicked for all he was worth.  Then he ran down the hallway towards the bedroom.

Instantly, I dropped the flashlight and grabbed my crotch. I tried to scream but found I couldn’t even breathe. Instead I was seeing stars and other bright lights as I fell over.

It took a while until I was able to roll over on my back and set up. I felt dizzy as I sat there.

Slowly I got to my knees and then feet. My legs were wobbly.

That’s when I realized I had messed my britches and I thought, “I’ve never had that happen before.”

I walked down the hallway and to the bedroom to find Kyle sitting on the end of the bed.

“I didn’t know it was you,” he said, “Honest! I thought you were a vampire.”

“That’s okay,” I replied.

I forced a smile and turned back towards the bathroom.

The idea of being mistaken for a vampire was the  least of my worries at that moment. It had occurred to me that my son had literally kicked the crap out of me.

The Binder that Ties

It started as I saw a white binder resting, open and unattended on a stone wall of a neighbor’s yard. Nearby and half-hidden from sight was a lanky Latino teenager, standing in a small grouping of trees.

The two together, caused me to give pause to what I was seeing and to investigate. By this time I had to turn my truck around in order to return to the intersection of Alena and Nightingale.

After exiting my truck and starting to pick up note paper from the street and the sidewalk, I asked the teen, who was still tucked behind a pine tree, if they were his. He answered, saying they weren’t.

I continued picking up the paper as he slowly migrated to the sidewalk, then across the street. And before I could get all the pages collected, be had disappeared.

Among the papers I located a name and then an address. The notebook belonged to a girl who lives across Pyramid Highway on Jedediah Smith.

From where I was standing to the school at the corner of Alena and Eagle Canyon or the high school across Eagle Canyon, was a northerly direction. Meanwhile to get to Jed Smith from the either school, was an eastbound trip.

So what was it doing there — and moreover — where was the binders owner?

I decided to make a quick check of the stand of trees and shrubs as I suddenly feared a body may be hidden in the brush.

But after a thorough check, I was satisfied that my fear was simply that — a fear.  There was no one laying injured or dead, hidden in the landscape of the yard.

My next action was to take the notebook to the address listed inside. Once there, some three to four miles away, I met with the mother of the teen-girl who owned the binder.

She invited me in and then proceeded to tell me a strange and frightening story. First her 14-year-old daughter had reported the binder missing a few weeks before, then he daughter was the focus of a possible sexual attack involving a drugging.

The teenager told her parents and Washoe County School Police confirmed that the girl had awakened in a ditch, half-naked and without any idea how she ended up there. She told authorities that she and two other friends had been given something to drink prior to her losing her memory.

The girl’s mother also told me that there are cell-phone pictures of a sexual nature involving the girl being forwarded throughout Spanish Springs High School. And now for the frightening part: the school district police told the parents that they’d handle the situation.

It’s frightening because the mother has heard little to nothing regarding process or setbacks to the investigation. Even more disconcerting is the fact that she and her daughter have been summoned to attend therapy to explore the child’s misuse of alcohol since she was discovered to have had a .12-percent BAC when she first called to report what had happened to her.

This situation has piqued my curiosity. I have some very basic questions I’d like to know the answers too, but no one is talking to me as it doesn’t involve my child.

The first and foremost question needing answered is this: is the district school police conducting an active investigation into the possibility that this girl may have suffered a sexual assault or is the school district as a whole, content to simply allow her to attend therapy sessions aimed at alcohol abuse?

Finally, further investigation is warranted in regard to the once-lost binder. Who had it, why and how did it come to being found where it was and of course, where does the Latino teen fit in to all of this?

There is no such thing as coincidence when it comes to situation like this one.  I will continue to follow-up on this incident.

A Thankful Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving weekend started a 10 pm Wednesday night, when I climbed out of the rack and shuffled off to the head and where I took a shower. I had to be dressed, fed and out the door by 11:15 pm and heading to the station or I’d be late.

After working a six-hour overnight shift, I came home and was in bed by 7 am only to get up again at noon. I had plans to head back to my pillow and blankets by 1 pm, but those got waylaid as I ended up helping the bride clean the top of our kitchen cabinets.

I had no idea they were so dusty or that the one’s by the stove had accumulated a layer of cooking grease that needed scraping first before a good wipe down.

It back to bed by 3:15 pm and I only got up twice to use the head. Before I knew it though, it was 10 pm and time again to rise and shine.

By the time my alarm sounded, the bride and our housemate Kay were in bed asleep. That left me to quickly and as quietly as possible to shower and dress and get a bite to eat.

There was a plate of food in the fridge left for me by my bride. It had several slices of turkey on it along with mashed potatoes and a large helping of fresh green beans.

I warmed it up in the nuke-row-wave and ate it while sitting in my easy chair in our front room.

It was tasty and I finished it jus’ in time to catch the top stories from one of our local TV news stations, then it was back out into the night and to work.

For me, it’s the simple pleasures in life for which I have much to be thankful: work, sleep, food, family, friends and a home.

Blue Harvest

The unemployment line was long and it had not moved in ten minutes as I checked my pocket watch once more. I had no-where to go but to the front of the line, so I continued to wait.

Off to my right was a single door where a small group of four men keep coming and going. The shortest one was looking towards the line I was standing in.

He raised his hands and with the pointer finger and thumb of either hand be created a frame.  He moved that frame back and forth as if he were attempting to frame something.

He quickly turned and disappeared behind the door. Moments later he reappeared and started walking towards my line.

Again he raised his hands and formed a frame. The other three men walked behind him. He stopped in front of me.

Quickly I glanced over my left shoulder to see what they might be seeing. It was me the man had framed up with his hands.

“You’re perfect,” he said.

I looked over my shoulder again.

“Yes, you!” he replied to my action, and then he stepped back.

“What do you guys say?” he asked the other three.

One was tall with black curly hair and a dark complexion. The second one was also dark-haired with a beard and glasses.

The last one was my height with close-cropped light brown hair and a beard. He spoke with a Scottish accent.

All three made the same framing gestures with their hands. I felt nervous and singled out.

Finally the one with the glasses said, “He’s a little shorter than I’d like, but he’ll do.”

By this time everyone in the unemployment office was staring at them and at me. I looked around the room and then at the double glass doors as I started to calculate my chances of escape if it came down to that.

The short man extended his right hand and said, “Hello, I’m Dave. I work for a movie company and you’re what I’ve been looking for.”

I reached out and shook his hand, telling him my name.

Dave asked me to come into their temporary office so I stepped out of line.  Inside the office, behind the single door he discovered that this movie company needed a stand in and stunt double for a major movie actor.

I fit his profile although I was one or two inches short than the lead actor.

They wanted me to accept the job on the spot before they could tell him anything more. I looked at the benefits form in his hand.

It was a measly seventy-five dollars a week. It did not take long to deliberate. I accepted the job—whatever it was.

The four men then asked me to read, and then sign a few forms which he did. In all honesty I signed them more than read them.

Then they told me about the project. The name of the Film was “Blue Harvest, Horror beyond Imagination.”

“Of course this was just the working title and might change before the movie’s released,” one of them said.

“So what do I do?” I asked.

“Show up at this address on Monday. Be there at eight in the morning,” said the short man.

“Okay,” I responded.

Then he got up and showed me to the door.

The weekend took forever to go by.

When Monday finally arrived I was up by six. I had to find a way from town to Smith River, a distance of roughly twelve miles, and everyone who had a car was either gone or their car was broke down. That’s the way it was with my truck that sat out in the drive way of the apartment I rented.

By twenty minutes after six I was out the door and heading on foot up Highway 101. After nearly an hour and a half I wasn’t even half way there. Fort Dick was the half way point and the sign said I still had two miles to go before I got there.

My luck changed when a logging truck stopped and picked me up. The trucker was on his way to Brookings, just over the border.

I was going to make my eight o’clock appointment after all as the log truck driver dropped me along side the road across from the Ship Ashore, the meeting place.

As I walked in to the resort I counted six vans and at least half a hundred people milling about. I suddenly had butterflies in my stomach and I yawned to let them out.

There were donuts and coffee being served. I grabbed one of each as I searched the crowd for one of the four men I had met on Friday.

I finally found Dave.

Dave smiled, “Glad you’re here.” Then he added, “You’ll ride with me.”

At that point he started ushering people into the vans.

Later as we traveled up the coast, I found out that the majority of the people there were extras; bodies needed to fill a scene to make it look busy.

I was not an extra Dave said. “You’re a stand-in and a stunt double,” he added.

The caravan turned up a gravel road just past a large rock on the right shoulder of the highway. I was surprised to see an armed man standing along the roadway.

He was in blue jeans, a leather jacket and was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle. I turned in my seat and watched him disappear into the scrub brush as the last van passed by him.

Now I was very weary.

We continued to drive for another fifteen minutes into the Six Rivers National Park area. When we stopped I could see the movie set. It was alive with activity.

There were people moving stuff and pounding nails here and sawing things there. I was surprised at the size of the encampment.

There were three mobile trailers on the set, two moving vans, a catering truck as well as the six vans we arrived in.  I could also see a structure half buried in the side of the hill at the base of a redwood tree.

Further to my left was what looked like an armored car on chicken-legs. These last two items would later be known as the bunker and the chicken-walker and would serve a pivotal part in the movie.

While I was looking over the chicken walker it occurred to me that I had seen something like this once in a couple of movies a few years back. I stood there amazed as it all came to me.

The next morning Dave confirmed what I was certain I already knew. He told me that he could not tell anyone. But Dave underestimated the rumor mill in Crescent City.

The following day an article appeared in the Del Norte Triplicate. It reported that a major movie studio was shooting a Star Wars film in the Smith River area.

The first unit was already entering day 73 of the shoot when we drove on set. Dave told me that this would be my first chance to be in front of the camera.

I grew nervous.

Dave pointed out the fellow with the beard and glasses saying that I would report to him from now on.  He was the production assistant and his name was Ian.

Ian was a very busy man. He walked rapidly from one place to the next.

He also had a short temper. I would discover at the end of the day.

After the introductions were out-of-the-way, Dave left.  I followed Ian around the set.

When they came to the area of the stunt trailer he said, “This is where you stay.  You’ll learn some basics and get fitted.”

Then he was off again.

I stood outside the trailer for a few minutes and would possibly still be standing outside it, if it had not been for the woman’s voice with a British accent.

“Don’t be shy!  Come on in, Silly.” The woman said.

I grabbed the door knob and stepped in.

The trailer was sparsely furnished.  It had a folding table and a few folding chairs.  Other than that it was full of clothes on hangers.

“Back here, Love,” called out the woman’s voice.

I turned to my right and entered the back room.

Standing in the middle of a folding chair was a woman with dark brown hair.  She was athletic and taller than my five foot seven inches.  She smiled as another woman buzzed around her adjusting the hem in one of her off-white pant legs.

“Done,” the lady making the adjustments said with finality.

“Good,” said the woman on the chair as she stepped out of the chair.

She landed on the floor so lightly that she made no sound.  I didn’t feel anything on the floor in the way of a vibration and I was surprised.

She stepped up to me, very close and shot her hand out.  I grabbed it and we exchanged introductions.

Tracy was her name.  She told me that she and I would be working together as she was the stunt double for principle female, Carrie.

I thought I could not have gotten luckier, but that’s where my luck ended.

Tracy was a slave driver. She worked me until my body ached that first day on set.  She was also a perfectionist who showed no fear and expected none from those she worked with.

On the other hand I was quite intimidated.  She had me diving nearly thirty feet from a swing like contraption onto a double set of foam pads no bigger than a twin mattress.

At thirty feet, one miss and I’d certainly end up dead.  I had already missed several times at fifteen and twenty feet.

She also worked me into the French splits. Those are where the legs go straight out to the side.

And when I could not get all the way down she stood on my thighs until they gave in and I sank to the ground.  My former martial art instructor, Master Rick Madonnia was never as brutal as this woman from the United Kingdom.

After nearly ten hours of working out with Tracy limbering up my unused muscles it was time to go home.  While waiting for their vans to arrive Tracy and I played a little Frisbee.  This took a little of the edge off our workout.

Without knowing it, we had tossed that disc back and forth for nearly an hour.  That’s when Ian walked up to us and shouted “What the hell are you two still doing here?”.

“Were waiting for our rides,” I commented.

“Well, your ride left over an hour ago!” he shouted.

Then he paused for a moment and added, “You’ll be damned lucky if I let you on set tomorrow.”

Then he turned and walked away. I wanted to smash my fist into his face.

But I looked over at Tracy instead.  She was smiling

“What are you smiling about?” I asked.

“Don’t you worry, Love — he’s more bark than bite,” she replied.

Soon there was a van driving towards us.  It was our ride down the hill and out of the woods.

The next two weeks were much the same.  On the set at seven in the morning, lunch at noon and back off the hills by six that evening.

Sunday was the only day we didn’t work.  By this time, my brother Adam had a job as a storm trooper and an extra as did his best friend Robert, who was working as an assistant to Ian.

Meanwhile I continued to practice diving, falling and rolling.  Tracy had also added a bit more to our continued training.

She added the wooden practice sword.

My training with Master Madonnia had already prepared me for this.  I could walk through the basics of the bukken kata, which was much like a dance.

Tracy however wanted my use to be practical.

It was difficult at first to step into this sword play.  I was not used to a female aggressor and Tracy was all of that and more.

She would attack me viciously with the sword shaped length of wood.  The blows she afflicted would leave welts on my body. She did this over and over until I learned to defend myself and dropped the shy attitude about hitting a woman.

After nearly four days of beatings I had enough of her attacks.  I had learned enough to maintain a readiness by keeping my bukken in my hand at all times, even if in the rest room.

They would call “stand-in,” and I would rush down to the camera location.  I would literally stand in the position they needed until the lighting and focus was perfected and then I would rush back up to the trailer.

On occasions Tracy would attack me as I was walking down the trail to the location or on the way back. She even attacked me once within seconds of the director saying “Thank you.”

That was the day I said enough and the two of us put on a real show.

She silently and swiftly flanked the area, and then rushed me from the left, striking towards my right side.  I had my sword in my right hand and without looking, I parried her strike as it came within inches of landing, and then I spun to my left and struck back.

Tracy blocked the thunder cut as it swept over my head and  directly at her head.  The surprise left her shocked and I could see it in her eyes as she bolted away down the hill-side.

This time though, I gave chase.

Having grown up in the forest I had a slight advantage.  I had always been the cowboy to her Indian, the samurai to her ninja.

I turned the tables and that day I was the aggressor and she had to fight for all she was worth.

Nearing the end of the shoot as it was commonly referred to; I was fitted for the costume of the principle male lead.  I had met Mark several times and we had even spent time walking through the woods talking about and looking at nature.

He gave me the chance to appreciate what I had so long taken for granted.  I could name plants and give the briefest history on Redwood trees and the area. Meanwhile Mark told me stories about other movies and plays he had worked on.

“Bring on the stunt doubles,” the director called.

Tracy and I walked out onto the set and in front of the cameras.  She winked at me and I yawned hoping to let out the butterflies that had grown in my stomach.

“Here’s what I need to happen,” the director started, “I want you riding the scooter and when I say, pitch yourself off to the right.  In other words, just jump off the thing.  You got that?”

I nodded my head yes.

“We’re going to do this several times from all sorts of angles,” the director added.

“Okay,” I replied as I climbed on the scooter.

The scooter was painted dark green and was affixed to the ground.  It looked like a motorcycle seat mounted to two metal pipes and had four flat pieces of metal attached to them at the far end away from where I was to sit.

There were two handles to hold onto as I sat there.  I was only three feet off the ground.

“Quiet!” echoed through the woods as the signal was passed on by word of mouth.

Finally the director said “Roll camera.”

A few seconds later someone said, “Camera at speed.”

A man walked out and snapped the boards together.  There was a long silence.

I wanted to look at the director but fought off the urge as he shouted “Now!”

We pitched ourselves off the scooters and to the ground.

Tracy and I did this over and over.  And in between takes the director had the cameras moved or a light placed there or here.

After every fall we would lay there until we heard the word “cut.”  Then we would get up and the prop master would come out and dust off and readjust our uniforms.

Finally after three hours of this the director got what he wanted.  He came over and said thanks and walked away.  It was lunch time by now.

The hard part was coming up as I watched them move the swing from behind the trailer where Tracy and I had practiced so many hours for so many days. This was not fair to my way of thinking as I had just eaten a big lunch and now the director wanted me to dive from the swing and fall on the ground, complete a roll and then turn to look at the camera.

Tracy was on the swinging platform with me.  She was there as a counter balance, a guide and to hold my hand as I was nervous because I had never become fully comfortable with the swing.

This time, however the director left it up to me.  I could jump when I was ready as I only needed to do it a couple of times; completing a twenty-five feet leap.

I could easily see the pads but I was afraid I’d miss them. Since I had a fear of missing them, I figured that if they weren’t there then I wouldn’t be worried about missing them.

“Get rid of the pads.” I said to Tracy

Within moments they were gone.

With the mats out-of-the-way and the cameras up to speed and Tracy as my counter balance, I launched into the air, kicking and flailing and then rolling in a somersault, to my feet.  I turned as instructed by the director and looked towards him.

A great cheer went up and everyone was clapping.  Tracy jumped from the platform and wrapped her arms around me, picking me up off the ground.  We spun in a celebration circle.

I had done the stunt, small as it was, in one take and there was no need to re-shoot it. However, for good measure the director asked for it to be shot two more times, but now the pressure was off.

Later that day I met up with my brother, Adam.  He was dressed in the all white storm troopers uniform and I was still dressed in the rebel uniform.

We were directed to the scooters, where we were allowed to beat on each other as if we were fighting while flying along.  Unlike the time before, the scooters were on tracks.

They were powered by crew members who pushed us along and into each other until we were instructed to jump off. The scooters were set very close together and at times they even bumped into each other.

Adam and I had a lot of fun that day. That brought to close day 80 of the shoot.

I was reassigned to the second unit after day 83.

They loaded the second unit up and flew us to San Francisco.  It is the only time I ever flew out of Crescent City’s McNamara airport.

There was not much time for anything other than work once the unit got there.  For me it was time for more sword play which meant no time for play at all.

The character I was doubling for was to die.  He had to look like he had done the stunt, which would involve a fall from a height of about twenty feet.

The other would be a strike to the stomach by my opponents’ sword.  But before that, I would end up cutting off the hand of the character that would “kill” me.

The sword in this case was nothing more than citizens band radio antennae.  It was white fiber glass mounted in a plastic die-cast handle, about three feet long.

The stunt actor I was to fight with stood was about six feet, eight inches.  Our first sparing match was a very well choreographed dance.

Thrust, parry, stroke, thrust, parry, strike.

We danced it out until everyone was happy with the movements. This was an action scene and it had to be dramatic.

The following day we were suited up.  My opponent came out in an all black suit, with his face completely hidden under a black helmet and face visor. He also had on a cape.

As I saw it, this was an advantage because I didn’t have anything blocking my eyes and I had no cape to get tangled up in.  I wished someone would have told him this though.

The moment action was called he advanced on me like a swarm of locust.  It was all I could do to keep from being hit.

His blows were fast and furious.  The taller man struck me twice and they stung like the snap of whip.

The final two shots were of me cutting the hand off of a manikin as it was propped up and fastened to a guard rail.  I completed it in one take as there were five different camera angles involved.  Then I had to stand on a collapsible walk way and fall from it as it dropped out from underneath me.

On day five of the second units shoot, I had to play like I was killed.  The first part of the day was the easier of the two stunts.  I received a belly cut from the tall man’s sword, fell to the ground, rolled over and pitched myself from the platform onto some awaiting mats.

The second half of the stunt involved having two guide wires attached to my waist by a harness.  I was propelled through the air and into a wall as if I had been in an explosion. Then I’d slide down the wall, to the floor, ending up in a seated position where I would “die.”

Once the stunts were completed I was flown back to Crescent City where I was just in time to work in the final battle scenes. I had just one more stunt to complete.

This one involved six people getting captured in a hanging net.  The net was made of rope and painted with a rubberized material and was lifted off the ground by a crane.

As the six of us were caught and the net closed around us everything went fine.  But as we were raised six to eight feet off the ground, the cable came undone and the ball attached to the crane plummeted to the ground.

The ball landed a couple of feet from our piled up bodies.  Fortunately, no one was hurt by either the fall or the 100 pound ball.

The old saying is true: “The show must go on.” Within minutes the cable was repaired and the director shot the scene without any further hitch.

The remainder of the day I spent my time wearing either a rebel uniform or a storm trooper outfit, running up and down the wooded hillside, fighting imaginary battles, blowing things up, being shot at and playing dead when told. All too soon, “It’s a wrap,” was called and like that it was over.

For over three-weeks I had lived, eaten and breathed “Blue Harvest.” I had helped carry lights and stood in front of cameras.  I had done stunts, fought with a sword, died time and again and carried Ewoks (including Warwick Davis and Debbie Carrington,) over the forest’s deadfall as they had difficulty getting around in costume.

Quickly I realized I would miss being on a movie set.  But I also knew I had to get back to reality.

It was over a year later that I heard that the movie was coming out – but under a different title: Return of the Jedi. By this time I was living in Arcata, stationed at NAS Centerville and working part-time at KATA-KFMI radio stations.

I invited all my friends at the two stations and the few Marines from the Navy base to come see the movie.

It was amazing how Mark, the man I had doubled for, was now in my place during all the stunts I had completed and the more I saw Mark, the more I grew quiet and sullen.

Before the movie started, I was certain everybody would know it was me, but no one could tell, not even me. Now I felt silly because I couldn’t prove it was me who had done all those things in that movie.

I really wanted someone to say, “There’s Tom.  Did you see him?”

That never happened. Worse yet, I thought my name would appear somewhere in the credits – but that didn’t happen either.

Later that night I sat on the couch and nursed my wounded feelings with a six-pack of cold beer, remembering I had an autographed picture from Mark, the lead Actor.  That was all the proof I had.

It read, “Tom – (Luke II!) Many Thanks (From a Galaxy Far, Far Away.) Mark Hamill.”

Quick Draw

Much of my morning was spent at the Sands Hotel Casino as a representative of radio station KBUL. I was there to do some broadcasting and later take on KIIQ in a friendly Cowboy Fast Draw competition.

World class shooters come from all around the world to participate and I quickly made friends with many of the fast draw experts there.

The set up was simple. A balloon attached to a wall and a high-speed camera designed to capture the moment the balloon popped after being shot.

After several rounds and a “for practice” preliminary shoot-out, it was time to get down to business. On my right hip was a Colt .45 and on my left hand a rawhide glove.

The object was to draw your six-shooter as quick as possible and bust the balloon that was positioned a foot or so away, by slapping away at hammer while squeezing the trigger. Once the balloon popped and the camera completed its job, a reader-board with the time measured in tenths-of-a second, would declare the winner of the round.

Having handled six-shooters and other weapons as a serviceman, a Man-Tracker and deputy reservist, I had a distinct advantage. And I proved it as I was quicker on the draw in the first of three rounds.

However after a little side-line schooling for my competitor, he beat me the next two-rounds and I placed second. For his effort, my competitor from KIIQ received a nice silver belt buckle.

I wasn’t feeling very sportsman-like and returned to the KBUL studios, complaining.

On the air at that time was Deb Spring. Both she and I had worked at KIIQ and we felt very little love for our radio competitors at the time due to various schemes they ran to undercut our listenership.

Radio can be a cutthroat business, especially when it comes to ratings and money.

She waved at me, inviting me into the studio to share with her what had happened during the radio station shoot-out. I whined and complained to her that they were getting coaching from the sideline and that was why I lost.

Next thing I know Deb has me on the air with her and we are chatting about the shoot-out. And jus’ as I started to go into my whine and complain routine, she halted me, by changing the subject to how the competition is designed.

Thankfully, Deb saved me from my big mouth as I prepared to put my foot in it by saying, “They cheated, by getting assistance when we weren’t allowed help.”

As I walked out of the station that afternoon, I felt ashamed of myself for being such a poor sport. I knew at that instant, I wouldn’t have deserved that silver buckle — win or lose.

Saint George Reef Lighthouse

St. George Reef is a collection of exposed rocks and covered ledges lying about eight miles northwest of Crescent City. In 1792, English explorer George Vancouver christened the outcroppings Dragon Rocks. Over time, the reef became known as St. George Reef.

It is interesting to note that in historic legend, it is St. George who slays the dragon. However, the dragon was still active July 30, 1865, when the steam side-wheeler Brother Jonathan struck the reef and went down. Of the 244 people aboard, only nineteen managed to escape in a small craft.

Public outcry over the disaster spurred the Lighthouse Board to action. However, with the costly Civil War having just ended, Congress was unwilling to allocate the large sum required to construct a lighthouse on the exposed reef.

Then there was the problem of where to build the light. The wave swept reef itself was deemed to difficult a location to build a lighthouse, so in 1875 the Lighthouse Board planned to build a light at Point St. George. The location was rejected as being too far from the reef itself and in 1881, the Lighthouse Board finally settled on Seal Rock off Point St. George.

With the 1881 completion of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, Alexander Ballantyne proved that construction of a lighthouse on an exposed rock was feasible. The following year, Congress granted an appropriation of $50,000 that allowed Ballantyne to visit St. George Reef and survey Northwest Seal Rock, which would serve as the foundation for the lighthouse.

The Board hired Ballantyne and work began in 1882. Unfortunately, the initial surveyors were only able to get to the rocks three times in four weeks due to the difficult weather conditions at the reef.

When work began again in April 1883, a cable was stretched from the schooner La Ninfa to the top of the rock, and a platform suspended from the cable was used to transport the workmen to and from the rock. The La Ninfa would initially serve as the barracks and mess hall for the construction crew an as a means of transporting workers to the rock and back again in the event of an impending storm.

When the seas threatened to wash over the rock, the workers would lash their tools to iron rings set into the rock and then ride the platform to safety. It is somewhat remarkable that in the entire construction period that only a single worker was lost.

Explosives were used to blast away chunks of the rock. Flying fragments of rock would shower over the area, even reaching the schooner on occasion and by September, the crew had terraced an area of the rock for construction of the lighthouse.

The work season on the rock was limited to the spring and summer months when the seas were more accommodating. During the fall and winter of 1883, plans were made for the next construction season, while each spring, the moorings for the La Ninfa had to be reset and the damage inflicted on the site during the preceding winter had to be repaired.

In December, Ballantyne heard of a granite deposit along the Mad River near Humboldt Bay. When the granite proved to be of excellent quality, Ballantyne contracted the Mad River Railroad to transport the granite to the north spit of Humboldt Bay, where a depot was built to finish the granite stones and load them on ships to be transported to the reef.

Work on the rock began again in June of 1884. Several weeks were spent building a derrick with a 50-foot boom on the rock. Then, word was received that Congress had appropriated only $30,000 for the work season instead of the requested $150,000.

Work continued, but slowly with much of the work suspended in 1885 and 1886, when minimal funding was provided to continue work and then totally lacking in 1865. The initial estimate of $330,000 had proven to be far too little. Not until 1887 did work restart when $120,000 was appropriated.

During 1887, the first nine levels of blocks for the elliptical pier , which would hold the engine room, coal room, 77,000-gallon cistern and the base of the lighthouse, were set. Some of the stones weighed as much as six tons, and each was finished so that it would require at most a 3/16th of an inch joint between it and its neighbors.

The pier was raised to its thirteenth course or level the next year. In 1889, nearly all of the work on the pier, which contained 1,339 dressed stones, was completed.

The final appropriation, which brought the total cost of the lighthouse to $704,633.78, came late in September of 1890, which prevented any work being done that year. The next spring though, work crews returned to the rock, and the first stone for the lighthouse tower was set in place May 13.

The light itself was built on a massive stone base – a pier sixty foot high built of cut rocks each weighing as much as six tons. On top of the base was a tower — a stone square pyramidal structure over 140 feet above the sea.

The tower housed a first-order Fresnel lens which originally flashed alternating red and white. (The red was later removed.) By the end of August, the tower was complete.

The rest of the work season was spent removing the scaffolding around the tower and completing the interior. Although the work was finished in 1891, it would be another year until the lens arrived from France, but in the meantime the station’s fog signal was activated.

The reef was finally lit for the first time on October 20, 1892.

The St. George Reef Lighthouse was one of the least sought-after assignments in the service, with he first head keeper, John Olson, and assistant, John E. Lind, both having been part of the work crew that had built the lighthouse.  In all five keepers were attached to the station, and they worked in shifts of three months at the lighthouse followed by two months in Crescent City with their families.

Duty at the station was hazardous. The tower was cold and inhospitable and storms were frequent. Relief only arrived when the weather allowed, meaning keepers could be stranded on the station for extended periods of time during these storms.

Amazingly, an occasional fierce storm would generate waves large enough to sweep onto the top of the caisson, seventy feet above the sea, and send water over the top of the lighthouse. The tremendous poundings would cause the tower to tremble and the men to fear for their lives.

Service at the station claimed the lives of at least five men. During construction, one worker holding a tag line to the derrick’s boom was pulled off the pier and fell to his death.

In 1893, assistant keeper William Erikson and the station’s boat simply disappeared during a trip to Crescent City. According to the Lighthouse Board report, “no vestige of man or boat” was discovered. And Keeper George Roux died of exhaustion after attempting unsuccessfully to reach the light by boat and eventually returning to Crescent City.

The worst modern-day tragedy occurred in 1951, after the Coast Guard had taken control of all lighthouses. Two young Coast Guard electrician mates, Bertram Beckett and Clarence Walker, had been making repairs at the station and were ready to return to shore with a three-man crew, including Stanley Costello, Ross Vandenberg, and Thomas Mulcahy.

The five men were being lowered to the water in the station’s boat when disaster struck. As they neared the sea, a rogue wave struck the launch filling it with water. With the added weight, a ring, to which one of the supporting cables was attached, failed, dropping the bow of the boat and tossing the five-man crew into the water.

The station’s Officer-in-Charge, Fred Permenter, leaped into the water with an inflatable raft and managed to recover Beckett and Walker. Mulcahy and Vandenberg succeeded in swimming to a nearby mooring buoy.

The commercial fishing boat, Winga responded to the scene, picking up the two men from the buoy and the three men in the raft and after a brief search, the body of Costello was recovered.  For his attempt to rescue his crewmen, Fred Permenter was awarded a Gold Lifesaving medal.

A Large Navigational Buoy was placed near the lighthouse in 1975 and the station was abandoned. As the last crew prepared to leave the lighthouse, Chief Petty Officer James Sebastian made the following entry in the station’s old logbook:

“It is with much sentiment that I pen this final entry, 13 May 1975. After four score and three years, St. George Reef Light is dark. No longer will your brilliant beams of light be seen, nor your bellowing fog signal be heard by the mariner. Gone are your keepers. Only by your faithful service has many a disaster been prevented on the treacherous St. George Reef. You stand today, as you have down through the years, a tribute to humanity and worthy of our highest respect. Cut from the soul of our country, you have valiantly earned your place in American history. In your passing, the era of the lonely sea sentinel has truly ended. May Mother Nature show you mercy. You have been abandoned, but never will you be forgotten. Farewell, St. George Reef Light.”

The lens was moved in 1983, where it was refurbished, polished, and reassembled as a two-story addition to the Del Norte County Historical Museum. The lantern room wasn’t so lucky though, as the helicopter, carrying it, approached the coast too low allowing the room to crashed into the beach.  While the dome was not badly damaged a new lantern room had to be reconstructed.

The tower stood neglected until 1988 when members of the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society began work to acquire and restore the lighthouse. Del Norte County had previously obtained the lighthouse from the Bureau of Land Management and have leased it to the preservation society since 1996.

Saint George Reef Lighthouse was relit as a private aid to navigation on October 20, 2002, the 110th anniversary of the first lighting.