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A Macro Bio
PART I
An Opening Statement:

One needs to remind oneself that a collection of words, facts or images, whether they be spoken or written, cannot begin to catch all the nuances, the thoughts, feelings or the emotions of a person caught-up in a moment of existence, of experiencing.

Once again this was proven as I descended, Mt. Kilamajaro. When a young man on his way up asked; "how was it at the top? " My reply was "you will know only when you get there".

To name something, does not explain it. Anymore than we are able to interpret, to capture or reduce the spirit, The very core. the "Thus-ness" of anything by classifying, categorizing or catalogueing it.

Whatever our senses or mental processes might offer up to us at any given moment. Are but mere re-presentations which we have filtered and diminished, in and through the realities, we have personally structured for ourselves. Or that we have allowed to be structured for us. And if not structured for us. They; someone or something has undoubtedly affected our windows of perception.

We may; assume, surmise, assess, evaluate, interpret and analyze anothers' thoughts, feelings, emotions, reactions or pro-actions. And then say "it seems like..., it looks like..., it could or might be". But in reality we may never really know the intrinsic spirit of another person. And in a way, this is sad and what makes this knowing about someone even more difficult is that we as individuals have a sketchy picture of who and what we are, as ourselves; the world and the things of the world are all about?

How many of us take the time to ask ourselves; "who am I?, why am I here?, and what am I to be about?" The more Self-knowledge, the more Self-understanding, we have of ourselves. Then " Being and becoming" can become a possibility. "Being and becoming"  who and what we were created to be. Although paradoxoily; we are always what we were created to be. The problem; we have forgotten our "Ultimate Nature", we have betrayed our heritage. We have opted out for a second-handed nature, a false idenity.
 
Someone; who was about to be interviewed on television remarked that they "didn't think they could do the interview". And the cameraman replied "Sure you can, just be yourself". Easier said than done, when we are not to sure as to who we really are? Why we are here? And what it is all about, anyway ?

We each have a note to play. If one chooses not to become and be their note. Their music dies with them, never to be heard. How sad ! We are the music while it lasts. So we need to join the 'Symphony of Life'. And maybe add a new note to the arrangement.

Let The Self- Remembering Begin:

Born on August 28, 1927 a seven month old, three pound preemie. "Life and Death" were caught in a struggle. But a "Providential" smile prevailed and Harry Lee Mc Ginnis kept the breath of life. On that day of days, a survivor said; "Hello, World, I am here." The "Will" touched two lives that day, Mother and son.

The young childs' early battle with death and winning, set the stage for all his future difficulties and obstacles. The "Will" to overcome, to survive, come what may. Which we will see later on.

Life was far from being the proverbial "bowl of cherries" for the young survivor. Nor was it; for many of the other children of the "Great Depression" era in America during the early thirties. Jobs were scarce and food at times even more so.

Unemployment and scarcity does strange things to the mind, body and spirit. It seems to magnify the weaknesses and the proclivities of human nature. Making us less than we are in most cases. Although for a few, it seems to have a reverse effect. It strengthens instead of weakening, challenging instead of defeating; giving birth to a fighter, one who will survive. "Come hell or high water".

During the formative years of this young warrior, there were the good and the not so good role models. Unfortunately, Martha's (the mother's) track record for choosing potential husbands and fathers left much to be desired. Between the first one and the fifth one; one might say; her bittersweet relationships were a "comedy of errors".

Drunkenness and its' side-kick abusiveness both verbal and physical, along with jealousy and possessiveness. Raged with a constant barrage of language that would have made a sailor blush. Surely this is not what any child needs. I could never understand as I watched and listened; how two people who professed to love each other could destroy one another mentally, physically and spiritually.

For the last part of my formative years; I saw the devastation, listened to the pathetic repetitive apologies and promises, the recriminations, accusations, the lying, the broken commitments, the ceaseless arguments and disrespect, along with the constant de-humanizing. All, which created for me an ever present portrait of the human indignities and frailties that just hung there; like a dead albatross around my neck. Staring up with its deadness and despair.

But up out of these ashes like the Phoenix, grew a child, a young man, an adult who believed that life was more, much more than the old portrait that portrayed all the opposites. And that there existed outside the chaos, beyond the walls of discord and tears; a hope, another life. A life that gave life, instead of one that buried it,

It was 1939, on Hawk's 12 th. birthday, a small book was placed in his hand. Given to him by a basketball coach (Bill Puckett) of a YMCA team which Hawk was playing on. The title of the book was "As A Man Thinketh" by James Allen. Out of the "seed thoughts" from that small book came many blossoms and fruits which gave Hawk the beginnings for all his future seeking and searching.

(A side note)

I was taught to read (starting at three-years of age) by my grandfather And he used one of his books in teaching me to read. And the title of the book was "As A Man Thinketh". How is that for a bit of irony!

The words from that small book found root and became nurtured; it said to the effect; "we can either allow weeds to grow in our Garden. Or we can choose and plant those seeds which gives us flowers". Choice is the name of the game. "CHOICE" what a gift!. These words started "The Quest" for the young Hawk. The Way back; a return to his earliest beginnings, before "time and space" was and now is.

Well back to the rest of the story.

This boy/man quit High School in his Junior year and ran off to the big {W.W. II}, to fight in a foreign land far across the sea. Against an enemy he had never seen or knew. He was trained to kill or be killed. He knew, but in a way he didn't know or quite understand the reason for killing someone he had never met. But he learned and learned it well; the needed discipline and the "espirit de corp". of the Military. As to what he had to do and how to do it. A metamorphosis took place; a boy became a man. But surely, there is a more humane way.

On April 21, 1947, Hawk was discharged at Oakland, California, after landing in San Francisco Bay. He had sailed from Okinawa, then to the Philippines where he was first stationed overseas, and then back home.

From Oakland, Hawk made his way back to Albany,New York. His re-union was short and sweet, a drunk was in the house; husband number five. Hawk moved out. During the rest of 1947 up to December of 1949, Hawk worked two jobs, one in the morning and one in the evening. He sang with a Combo at the Ten Eyck Hotel in Albany and also at the Henderson Hotel in Troy. During the day he sold shoes at A.S. Beck Shoe store for ladies. At times; driving taxis or selling magazines for " Crowell Collier", door. to door.

On December of 1949, Hawk said good-bye to his Mother and his friends and struck out for Los Angeles, California, with the expectations of going to India. His readings of Overstreet, Besant, Bruton, Leadbetter,Yogananda, Ouspensky and Gurdijeff. Along with the five volume set of "The Teachings Of The Masters" by Baird Spaulding fueled the fires of his searching. He felt that the answers to some of the many questions, that were always with him, might be found in the mysteries of India and Tibet. He and a friend, he had met while selling, by the name of Ralph Bernesser left Albany, New York in the dead of winter for the sunny shores of California. "Young men, go west."

They carried an appropriate sign: "California or Bust", not original but effective. After about five months of hitch-hiking and knocking around across the country. The two road worn veterans pulled into Los Angeles, California, flat broke, not even two Abraham Lincolns' to rub together. They had enough presence of mind to ship two footlockers ahead, prepaid. Within two days, Ralph had a job slinging hash at Walgreens on Broadway and a day later Hawk landed a job at Clifftons' Cafeteria washing pots and pans and making coffee, ""chop, chop". Salary, a big whopping twenty dollars a week plus two meals a day. He worked from three in the morning till noon.

To hurry the events along. Ralph and Hawk never experienced the sunset over the Ganges or the Taj Mahal at that moment in time. Let alone the peaks of the Himalayas. Ralph made a marriage decision that took place somewhere south of the belt buckle, that's according to wither you are standing up or lying down. But what is new about that? The road warriors finally lost contact. Hawk left the Cafeteria after answering an intriguing advertisement about a job offer that read: "Wanted a photographers' assistant, must be well groomed and well spoken, strong and reliable, a social person able to mix and adjust to the hours and the schedule. All expenses paid, plus a salary. Own private quarters, if interested, please call for an appointment."

Which He did and landed the job.

The pay was $100 per week, plus expenses, plus living quarters. Bert and his Mother lived in the main part of a house in San Fernando Valley and what a house! I had only seen a house like that in the magazines I used to sell. It had a swimming pool; one of those kidney shaped kind, a couple of cabanas, and a bar, the whole nine yards. There was a Chef, maid, a houseboy, a pool maintenance man and a gardener - a tough life!!!

Bert Kopperl Jr. was a real live Hollywood Photographer of "the Stars". During World War II Bert contracted Polio. It left him paralyzed from head to toe. He was told at the time, that he would never take another photograph again. But once Bert reached State side, he was determined to prove the doctors wrong. He set about doing a routine of exercises mixed with intense stretching sessions. Within six months, Bert was moving his upper torso. Then came movement in his arms and hands. He built on each small success. At the very beginning, he could not even hold or control a pencil. Every movement took a great effort of focusing. I believed then and I still believe that Bert willed the movements and his recovery. He endured the tremendous pain of having all his tendons stretched daily, but it paid off. He improved each and every day. Bert was the living proof of "Emile Coue' famous words; "Every day in every way, I am getting better and better".

A special wheelchair was designed for Bert, so a tripod could be attached to one of the legs and arms of the wheelchair for mounting a "Portrait Camera". With practice, Bert finally was able to take pictures again. His skills at writing and eating were also improving. He was a lesson in self-determination and the "Power of a directed "Will". He had refused to accept defeat in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

My job was to get Bert into his wheelchair and out of it, into a car. Plus setting up the lights for the photo shoot, Once we arrived on the scene and Bert was in his chair, he took over. He did not want to be wheeled around, he would do it himself.

Bert had developed a process called "Canvagraph". After the taking of a black and white photograph; he would take the negative of that photograph and transfer it to a sheet of sensitized canvas, then it was painted in oils. So now we have a photograph that becomes an oil painting, with the texture and the look of a real oil painting. Not an interpretation of some artist, but a true image of the person in oils.

I was like a Country bumpkin at a County Fair. I had always been a great Movie fan all my life, and here I was "right smack dab" in the middle of "all the glitz and glamor". I was speaking to the "Rich and Famous". I used to say to Bert, "I must be dreaming and if not, don't tell me".

We went to all the fashionable places frequented by the Stars; "Chasen's, the Brown Derby, Romanoff's, Macambo's, Ciros' and the Coppa Cabanna". On the weekends we would alternate between driving down to Palm Springs to the "Racquet Club" or opted, to go out to the 'John Ford's' Ranch in San Fernando Valley, one of my favorite places.
 
If we were lucky; both Ford and John Wayne would be at the Ranch along with others ; Ben Johnson, Chill Wills, Ward Bond, Grant Withers, Dobe Carey and many of the other supporting actors that were usually in all of Waynes' pictures. Sometimes, Lee Marvin would show up. I had a very hard time keeping my mouth from relocating some where around my knees.
 
 
The "Racquet Club" in Palm Springs was managed by Charlie Farrell. Some might remember him in a Television series in the States called My Little Margie starring Gail Storm. Also in a "Twenties" film where he played opposite Janet Gaynor in a movie called Leave Her To Heaven. Both Humphrey Bogart and Ralph Bellamey were on the Board of the Club and were responsible for getting Bert a membership to the Club.
 
 
Going to all the places in and around Hollywood and in the Beverly Hills area. Plus the Racquet Club was how Bert would generate business. When we would arrive at the Club. I would get Bert into his chair and he was on his own.
 
I never got over the awe of being around the Movie greats, whom I had watched as a kid in a Movie house, in Greencastle, Indiana. Where I had paid a dime to see a full length feature film, a "Pathe News" Reel, "Time Marches On", A Cartoon, a Short Subject feature and the Saturday afternoon serial; "Flash Gordon and The Martians".

Bert, also did a lot of the still shots on the set for the Studios and for the many Movie Magazines of the day  One of his 'Black and White' shots, which he had randomly took of a young man, on one of the Movie lots was instrumental in starting a career.

A Movie called 'This Gun For Hire' was about to go into Production and the Director was looking for a new face to star with Veronica Lake.  The Black and White picture of the young man found its' way to the Studio. And a Star was born. The young mans' name was Alan Ladd.

The job, the environment and watching the raw courage and the determination displayed on a daily basis by Bert in overcoming the impossible. Left its' impression. Living and working among the "Hollywood" famous gave me an education that one does not get in the classroom.

I met some great people in Hollywood, the list is to long to enumerate. But one name, one person who made a great impression on me. In the way he treated people, along with his humility mixed with his Stardom. Made me a lifetime fan. Bert and I went out to his home in San Fernando Vallley one day to meet both his wife and children, for a picture shoot. After the photographs were taken, we were shown around the house by the host. He took us to his Trophy and Awards' room where I could have spent the whole day just looking and asking a million questions. His name, if you have not guessed by now, was Mr. Robert (Bob) Hope, a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. "Thank you, Mr. Hope."

To illustrate:
 
Bert and I were at the Racquet Club on a New Years' Eve. The Club was over flowing with many, many Stars and hopefuls. A 'Who's, Who' of Hollywood. Mr. Bob Hope and all the other personalities that had helped him in entertaining the 'Overseas Troops' had just returned after the filming of their 'Christmas Show'. Mr Hope had stopped at our table to say "hello" and mentioned that they had just flown in from Okinawa. I asked where they had landed in Okinawa and Mr Hope replied that he was not quite sure where they had landed. But he said; "that he would go back to his table and get his Pilot". This man, this 'top banna' went all the way back to his table through that New Years' Eve crowd and brought his Pilot back to answer my questions. That was class, it surely impressed the 'hell out of me'.( "hell" by the way is a Biblical word)

There were many other show types that would not give you the time of day, unless you were somebody who could benefit their career, or that you were that certain "someone" to be seen with for the rag columns. So many of these did not have the talent or the staying power. They were quickly: "what's his/her name?" 

One afternoon while pool side at the "Racquet Club" Bert was introduced to Mr. Henry King, the famous Band leader of the "Henry King Orchestra"  who was at that time playing an engagement at the Shamrock Hotel in Houston, Texas. He had flown into Palm Springs for a short vacation and was due back in Texas the following week. During the conversation Mr. King told Bert that Houston was the placed to be; where the money was flowing like the "Texas Crude". So, Bert the smart business man and the opportunist that he was, decided it was time to visit the "wide open spaces" of Texas . So within a month we were off to Texas. Bert and his mother flew down and I drove the Buick convertible to Texas.

Upon arriving at the Shamrock Hotel, the owner himself of this "Glitz and Glitter" Hotel met us and offered a suite of rooms, near his Penthouse. The "man" was Glenn McCarthy; ex-wild catter who struck it rich, very rich and married into the prominent "Lee" Family. But the upper crust 'River Oaks' society never quite "cottoned" {that's Texan for "who he?"} to this rough and tumble man. Glenn, remained an outsider. So Mr. McCarthy, ups and builds the Shamrock Hotel, the "Talk of the Town".

For the Gala Opening, Glenn flew in several plane loads of Movie Stars and other notables. Around this same time; Edna Ferber, had written a Novel entitled " The Giant", which became a Movie starring; Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean and Mercedes Mcbride. The character that James Dean played was a characture of Glenn Mc Carthy. To say that the oil aristocracy was a little miffed at Ferber and her broad strokes of the Oil World of Texas would be putting it mildly.

But back to the story; when Bert was photographing the stars in Hollywood and selling his 'Canvagraph' portraits, he always made a duplicate of the Photographs and of the Portraits. When we decided to make the jump to Texas, Bert crated up all his works and sent them on ahead. The Management gave Bert all the space he needed throughout the Hotel to hang his photographs and portraits. Of course the first order of business was to do a portrait of the Man himself, Mr.Glenn McCarthy and have it hung in a prominent place in the Lobby.

The majority of the Stars portraits were hung in "The Gift Shop" which had to be passed on the way into the Private Cork Club, the "Watering Hole" for the status people of Texas. You could see the portraits and pictures of Gary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Alan Ladd, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and the list goes on.

Well, you can guess the rest of the Story. Everyone had to have their picture taken by Bert Kopperl, the Famous Hollywood Photographer, who shot the stars. An appointment was harder to get than the "liquid gold" out of the ground of Texas. We were flooded with appointments. Bert's prices went from 600 dollars a portrait, to a thousand or more. Black and whites started at 500 dollars. I worked six months without a day off. I seldom saw anything beyond the grounds of the Shamrock.

Besides the pace of the day and the night; the invitations, the dinners, the big parties thrown by Glenn Mc Carthy in the Emerald Room, the endless nights in the Cork Club; the side trips to the Casinos in Galveston, all of this took its' toll. I finally told Bert after we had moved out of the Shamrock and were living in the suburbs. "That I would help train someone to take my place. I needed out, my health was more important". Words were exchanged, but I held firm. I left the job and a great employer and a friend. But, I had to get another life. My love life had become 'what the little boy shot at and missed'. It was almost non-existent, almost.

After leaving a most incredible job, I landed a job that I was familiar with and good at; selling ladies shoes at "Chandlers". Also there was a hidden agenda in my choice...Ladies, lots and lots of ladies, in and out the doors. But as, all past 'alumni' of Shoe Salesmen know, there are those moments of insanity connected to the business. Where you have those ladies, who would try on almost every shoe in the Store and then walk out. Only to come back about closing time and say; "would you please show me that pair shoes I like so much this morning." As if they were the only person you had waited on, the entire day. And they would get downright huffy if you didn't remember them. Or you had those who would say: "I liked the Baby doll toe on number 240, the heel on 024 and the sling on 400. Do you have anything like that. Finally out of desperation after pulling out every shoe in the stockroom. I would get a pencil and paper and ask: "If you will draw it, I will order it from the factory." And then there were those, who after measuring their foot would insist that you had made a mistake in measuring the shoe size. They would  say; "I wear a size 5AA", so you would get the 5AA. And they would try to squeeze a '6 1/2' Benny foot into the 5 AA. Then say; wrap it up. Before the store would open the following morning, that same lady who insisted on wearing the 5 AA. Was standing outside on crutches, waiting to tell you that you had sold her "shoes that were to small for her." Such is the life of a ladies' shoe salesman. But it had its' perks, only an ex-shoe salesman "knows" what I do say!

Working in the same store, was a dark-eyed beauty with that "southern comfort' look, if you know what I mean? Her name was Barbara, it was just one of those things. That kind of feeling that just walks right up and says; "What are you doing tonight and a few hundred more nights after that?" Barbara and I became an item, with no strings attached. It was a five; "June, moon", croon type of months. I wrote the note, to say goodbye, it was getting to serious. I needed some breathing space.

After a couple of months, maybe three, I answered an employment ad. And an interview was set up. I got the job, better pay, base salary and commission. It was selling advertisement for a new TV Digest called "Televiews" which was owned by Larry Peavy. Travis McKinney was the then Managing Editor. And Jeff Osborne was the Circulation Manager. In those days, Houston had but one Television Station (KPRC). Larry Boesh, Bill Newkirk and Dick Gottleib of the TV Station, were contributing columnists to the magazine.

About a month after starting the job, the Circulation Manager left, I asked for the job and got it. I learned early in life, even before entering the Army. That there are certain things that are essential if you want to advance in a job. Do the job better than your predecessor and do more than what is required. Plus; learn and help in all the different phases of the operation. Pick every bodys' brain by asking questions, more questions and watching how different operations are done. And if you really want another position in the company, research everything pertaining to the job you are after. These things were essential for me, for I was always in competition with those, who either had the experience or the academic credentials, or both.

When a job opening came up that I particularly wanted, I would go to the owner if possible, and asked for the chance to prove that I was capable of performing the task in question, Based on my present work record and output. And that I would do the new job at my present salary. And that upon proving my worth, I wanted an equitable salary in line with the new position. I would always asked for a specific time trial. That is how I got the jobs I had, without a High School or a College diploma.

Travis eventually left the Managing Editors' position, he had received an offer from a large International oil company to oversee the companys' in-house publications. I dialed up my system and asked for a months' trial as Managing Editor. I said; if the magazine didnt improve in appearance and in circulation, I would stand down. I became the Managing Editor.

KPRC-TV was still the only station in Town. All of us on the magazine was hoping for another TV Station. There had been rumors for months that another Station was in the hopper, but that was all, they were only rumors.

Within this same time frame; Bert contacted me and asked what would it take for me to return and drive he and his mother to Las Vegas, Nevada? He had decided to extract some of the coin from the big Club Owners. And also do some portraits of the Headliners that were entertaining at the Casinos. I asked if I could write the terms of the contract; with the understanding that after the shoot was over. I would be released from the contract. Bert agreed to the terms and the release clause. I conferred with Larry Peavy and found out that he had been thinking of selling the Magazine. And that he was going to ask if I would stay after the sale. I said, no. We parted friends and I accepted Bert's offer. 'Vive, Las Vegas'!

Bert had contacted a friend, Bryon Foy; a Hollywood Producer, one of the seven Foy brothers. Who was the owner of the Bar-W Guest Ranch, just outside of Vegas. Twelve miles from the Flamingo Club, the first Casino to be built in Las Vegas.

We arrived in Vegas around January of 1952. Bert immediately went about contacting all the Club owners. But like before, the lifestyle and the hours became to much. I was more than ready when Bert announced that he and his mother were heading back to Los Angeles. He asked if I wanted to accompany he and his mother. I reminded him of the release clause and declined. I stayed on at the Guest Ranch, as a guest.

After getting bored out of my mind, with the same routine night in and night out.Going to the Casinos during the day and a little golf at the newly opened Wilbur Clarks's "Desert Inn Casino". I asked Bob Ryan the Resident Manager, if there was something I could do or help out around the Ranch. Well, he said; we are going to do some renovating and build some new cottages. I said; "fine, l will help in the remodeling". He remarked that Bryon wouldn't be to happy, " your a paying guest " I waved his remarks aside and started helping in the renovating.

Two weeks later, Bryon and Carter the CPA showed up. And Bryon asked;" Is that Mc Ginnis out there working? Why is he working?" Bob said; you'll have to ask him. Byron came out and asked; if you want a job, help Bob , you can be his assistant. He going to be leaving on vacation. If you can learn what has to be done by the time he leaves, you can run the Ranch while he is gone." Okay!

In three months, I took over as Resident Manager. I had picked Ryan's brain. I had talked to Jakie Freeman, the owner of the newly built "Sands Hotel" and Casino. I had met him when I had worked for Bert. He had owned the " Balinese Casino" between Houston and Galveston,Texas. Mr Freeman introduced me to his Food and Bar Manager, I asked as many question as he would allow; took notes as fast as I could. I did this with several other Clubs on the Strip.

Let's backtrack a little bit; when Ryan went on Vacation, Mr Carter, Bryons CPA found a few discrepancies in the books. It was at this point, I asked for the position and a trial period.

After becoming Manager, I turned the Guest Ranch into a retreat for divorcees, who were seeking a six week residency requirement for their Vegas divorce. I placed large ads in the magazines and newspapers in the larger eastern and western cities. We filled the Guest Ranch. The Bar-W became 'the' popular eating place and bar, for the single men of Vegas.

A "Rounders" paradise; forty acres, of green grass and trees, swimming pool, tennis courts, rustic cottages and a Lodge. No gambling, not even one slot machine. We had reserved some of the cottages for permanent residents who worked on the Strip. One of the Ranches' charms was its' location. We were twelve miles out away from the clinging and clanging of the one armed bandits. It was a perfect hideaway. We were open Twenty-four hours a day. (Bar & Restaurant)

While at the Guest Ranch, in the earlier months, I had been corresponding with a young lady, I had met and dated while in Houston. She had returned back to Atlanta, Georgia, where her parents were living. I had never met the family. I had only met one of the aunts in Houston when I would go to pick her up. I proposed by letter and phone and asked her to join me in Las Vegas. So we could get married.

 

 

continue to Part II...

 

 

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