March 19, 2022 – Written By Bob Berkowitz Before His Death
It was November 26, 2016, probably one of the worst days of my life, with the exception of the death of my parents, my lifelong friend of 50 years and former business partner had committed suicide, and I was attending his celebration of life. His children Paul, Allen and Ann were fortunate enough to have an album, their father, Dave Tecker, had left for them. From that, they were able to get a glimpse of what had been meaningful to Dave. It was a touching moment of remembrance as each one of them and his grandchildren were able to recall those moments when Dave touched their lives.
Several days later, Paul and I had an email conversation where he suggested that one of the most meaningful things that I could do is to leave my life story, in my own words, so that I would be remembered as I wanted it to be rather than to leave it to others to tell my story. So what follows is my story.
THE EARLY YEARS
My mother and father had divorced when I was about four years old. That probably had something to do with the fact that I was hard to handle as a child. I was such an uncontrollable child that I flunked the 2nd grade and my mother sent me to St. Monica’s Catholic School in San Francisco where I finally had some discipline. It seemed to help and I went back to public school the following year. Unfortunately I started acting up again and by the time I was 13 I was sent to live with my father in Pacifica. Here for the first time in my life, I had a father figure in my life and found out the consequences for bad behavior.
THE TEEN YEARS
By the time I was 15 years old and a student at Jefferson High School in Daly City, I took a course in radio where we learned about the history of radio and actually got to build our own superheterodyne radio. That got me hooked on electronics. Later that year, my father took me to the Hayward auction where I could buy old TV’s for about $5, repair them in my basement and then resell them for $25-$35. This gave me my own spending money for the first time in my life. In my Junior year I got an opportunity to fix radios and TV’s while learning in an after school job at Val-King TV and then be able to run the shop on my own on Saturdays. It paid $5 a week if Don King, the owner felt that I had earned it. I was just glad for the opportunity to have the learning experience and would have worked for nothing.
MY MILITARY SERVICE
When I graduated from high school in June of 1958, I had no idea of what I wanted to do and I certainly was not ready for college. In August I decided that I wanted to join the U.S. Navy. The recruiter said that if I joined before my 18th birthday, I would only have to serve three years. It sounded good to me so I was scheduled to take my enlistment on September 3rd. On the 2nd the recruiter said I would not be able to be inducted until the 9th which would have put me past my 18th birthday which was September 7th, which meant I would have to serve four years. It was at that point that my father got involved. It seemed that he had gone to school with Congressman Younger and they were friends. Dad got on the phone to the congressman who in turn called the admiral who in turn called the commander who in turn called the recruiter and low and behold I was inducted on the 6th of September. This was the first time I learned the power of a government official.
In the service, I was trained as an electrician and also spent two seeks in Motion Picture Operators school. From there I was assigned to the U.S.S. Boyd, a Fletcher Class Destroyer which had been in service since 1944 and was showing its age. I spent about two and a half years abord the Boyd. I really got to see the world going to ports such as Midway, Hawaii, Guan, Hong Kong, Formosa and several cities in Japan. I got to make great friends who remain to this day.
At one of your first ports of call, my shipmates wanted to introduce me to the wonderful feeling of getting drunk. Well they succeeded so much that I don’t even know how I made it back to the ship, but when I got there I smelled of urine so bad that they threw me into the shower and then told me that I had fallen into a benjo ditch (a sewer that ran along side the street) and they had to help me because I couldn’t even stand up. Needless to say that experience cured me from ever getting drunk again and to this day I have never been drunk again.
While aboard ship I found out that a person could make a lot of money if you ran the loan operation. It operated like this. You could loan out $5 and when pay day came around, you would collect $7. You didn’t have to be very good at math to figure out it came to 40% interest in less than a month. For those who did not want to pay up come payday, I would hire the biggest baddest sailor on the ship and he would do my collecting for me for a small commission. By doing this, I was able to save enough for college and buy a car.
BOB’S CELEBRATION OF LIFE TO BE HELD SATURDAY, APRIL 2, 2022 AT CORNERSTONE CHURCH LOCATED AT 1281 DOUGLAS, CRESCENT CITY FROM 1-4 PM.