In 1982 I was sailing as chief mate on a passenger ship running between Ensenada, Mexico and Los Angeles. Tommy was able to make a short week-end trip on board the ship with me, and it seems to have been a great experience for him.
Tommy was 13 years old at the time, and very self confident, independent, and self sufficient. He explored every deck and corner of the ship, from stem to stern, during that short voyage and was a big hit with the crew.
Later that year (1982), I got off the ship and began studying for my Master’s license, which I received in November of 1982. Tommy was with me in San Francisco, when I took the oath and received that license. That’s a great memory, and I’m very glad he could be there with me at the time.
Not long after that, in January 1983, Tommy flew up to see me at my home in Siskiyou County near the Oregon border. He was still 13 at the time, but he had been flying unaccompanied for a couple of years already. So air travel was routine for him at that point.
He seemed to enjoy his flight and the visit as well, but the thing he spoke most often about afterward was the hair-raising drive to the airport to catch his return flight to Los Angeles. We had to drive through the mountains to the airport in Medford, Oregon, on the other side of Siskiyou Summit, through a snow storm. I was driving our old Ford Grenada at the time, but luckily we had studs on the tires and were able to zig-zag through numerous vehicles stuck in the snow, including at least one state police car. We made it to the airport in time for Tommy’s flight, and he made it home to Los Angeles with no problem. That hair-raising drive through a mountain snow storm was the sort of thing that appealed to Tommy as a great adventure, and he mentioned it many times in the years to come.