Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Finding a home in Fantasia...part five

On to the University of Nevada Las Vegas...

  I did not travel much as a kid. 30 miles west to Los Angeles and 40 miles east to San Bernardino was the extent of my travel experiences from my hometown Monrovia, CA.  Yet, I found myself living in a new state...

Newspaper article announcing my and Danny's arrival in Las Vegas...

The hills just north of LasVegas. Apple core in one hand, pencil in the other and sketchbook on the rock.

1971 brought the opportunity to broaden my horizon beyond the town I grew up in and experience a series of firsts in my life...

    I took my first airplane rides on recruiting trips to San Francisco State University and UNLV...

    I saw snow for the first time (remember, I'm a southern California kid). We played Northern Arizona in Flagstaff AZ. It started snowing the morning of the game and by kick-off (8 pm) that night the sky was still dropping snowflakes. I got a unique introduction to the elements and a memento from the game.

(Game time weather conditions...)

(Memento from that night.)


Weather at game time showed no mercy...Due to the lack of visibility down field, the quarterback threw to the halfbacks, a lot.. thus my memento from the game.

 I also got to fly across country for the first time. The UNLV Rebels were opponents of the Miami Hurricanes. We played them in Orange Bowl Stadium. The stadium was torn down in 2008.

(Me in Orange Bowl Stadium)

    My first year (1971) we played our first home games at a local high school. By mid season  the Las Vegas Stadium was finished and I played my first game on it's artificial turf.

Though I did not witness it personally, ( we were in the locker room at halftime plotting strategy for the second half) UNLV crowned its first Black Homecoming Queen. Not a big deal in today's world, but this was newsworthy in the early 70's.

1972 football season...
My summer job this year was making fire hydrants at the James Jones Company . I can't walk
past a fire hydrant in southern California without looking for the name 'Jones' stamped on it (see top).
After a 6am to 3pm shift and a quick shower, on to my second job as recreation leader at Huntington Elementary school. Board games for the kids and wildly exciting volleyball for the older crowd:-)

(below) Wayne Nunnely and I prepare to ride to LasVegas in his VW.   Wayne, a junior had gotten a scholarship that year and I was entering my senior year at UNLV.  Wayne went on to graduate and entered into a stellar career in coaching at the high school, university and professional levels, retiring from the Denver Broncos after spending over a decade with the San Diego Chargers.


The Citrus connection...
Wayne #34, myself #26 and James (Wildman) Branch #70 were recruited from Citrus Junior College in Azusa CA. Over the years I've kept in touch with Wayne but lost track of James since school.

(#26 in action at UNLV)

My football life comes to an end. 
Through competition I learned a tremendous amount about life, had unique experiences and met a lot of great people along the way.  Through discipline and exercise I gained an appreciation for taking care of my body and this carried over to my understanding of  it's movement, balance and anatomy which is so important in the field of animation which I would eventually enter. 

    The last game for we seniors (#26).

Student Athlete...with the emphasis on student-                                                                                    
  Not everything in my life at this time revolved around sports. Along with classes I had two and at one time three part time jobs.  I had married my childhood sweetheart LaVonne. She was back in Monrovia working and raising our two boys.  I was on my way to getting a diploma but it was going to require me to take 18 units the first semester and 19 the next...oh yeah, while working two part time jobs...

(Drawing for The Yell UNLV's newspaper)

One, as an artist for the school newspaper...
and the other as a model for the photography and drawing classes.

  Leaving Las Vegas...

 I left the University of Las Vegas with a BA degree. . I did not walk in the graduation ceremony. After my last final I literally took off for home to look for a job. The university mailed the degree to me.

    My aim was to be a commercial artist, illustrating books and magazines. Little did I realize there were no commercial art jobs in southern California, not any that would be willing to give a newcomer to the field a start. I came to realize Chicago and New York were best suited for a rookie like myself  as those two cities had much of the publishing work.

 After weeks and weeks of job hunting I started at Honeywell in their technical illustration department. The gentleman who hired me said "I'm not hiring you because you have a degree, I'm hiring you because you stuck it out for four years and I feel you can handle any assignment we give you".

  The department had one person who got all the 'gravy' technical illustration assignments (exploded views, equipment diagrams etc.) The rest of the crew were given block diagrams and flow charts to do. Not very creative for a guy who had visions of illustrating magazine spreads.

 This stifling of my creative outlet led me to take a class at an art school, which led to a path to the Disney Animation Studio and the rest, as the saying goes, is history... my history.

(To read about how I got my start at Disney, see my previous post here).

 That is how I got on the cover of the Spring 1997 UNLV magazine...

Now, on with Finding a home in Fantasia :-)


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