by Steve Liddick

For a few years, while recovering from a back injury that made it impossible to work in my profession as a radio news anchor, I worked for the Sacramento city school district. One day I looked around Cubicle City and said to my friends, Jerry Marquart and Mike Yount, “there sure are a lot of women around this place.”

They looked around the big room and nodded in agreement.

“We ought to get out of here and do stuff that women wouldn’t even want to do,” I said.

We were the only three men in the entire department, not counting the big boss—and who would want to spend another day with that guy?

We three decided to start doing brazenly chauvinistic off-campus activities that excluded women. We would go to movies that had a lot of shooting and fights and loud explosions and car chases and actresses who were not overly concerned with how much of themselves were visible—wardrobe-wise. We would take day trips to places that forbade daintiness or anything painted pink, and maybe even say things you wouldn’t say in front of your mother or others of refined sensibilities. We would spit and cuss and do guy stuff. We would exchange stories of our misspent youths that we would never even tell our doctor, priest, attorney, psychiatrist or bartender—even though they were sworn to secrecy.

My immediate boss heard about the proposed adventures. She said, “It sounds like fun, can I go?”

We were appalled at the idea that a woman wanted to take part in something specifically designed sans la femme–what Mike suggested we call “Man Town.” I said, “We can’t call it Man Town if there are women involved.” She walked off in a snit.

Our test run involved a Saturday drive to Lake Tahoe where I lost my traditional twenty-dollar gambling limit to a hungry slot machine within mere minutes of our arrival. Then we drove around the area, taking in the awesome view of the lake and making manly comments about bikini-clad fauna on spring break.

On the way back we stopped in the California gold country town of Placerville for lunch and more rowdy fun.

Man Town turned out to be everything we imagined it would be.

Monday morning my boss came to me and said, “So, . . . how was your—Man Town? I thought there was a curl of the lip when she said the words.

“It was great,” I said.

After a long pause, waiting for details and getting none, she said, “So, . . . what did you guys do?”

“I probably shouldn’t tell you,” I said, “but we went to Tahoe and played the slots.”

“That’s it? Then what?”

“Now that I really shouldn’t tell you.”

I let her talk me into telling her.

“On the way back we stopped off at . . . “Sweetie Pies.”

She did a double take, then said, “What’s that, a strip joint?”

“I promised the other guys I wouldn’t tell.”

I let that hang there for awhile before I finally told her it was a Placerville restaurant that specialized in pies.

That was fifteen years ago. All three of us are long retired now and we still get together at least once a month. We still take in the occasional movie, but more often we just have lunch somewhere and insult each other in good fun. One recent adventure series  involved a quest for the world’s best hamburger. The search has taken us all around much of northern California, laughing all the way.

I don’t expect to ever find the ultimate burger. But that isn’t really the object, is it?

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Books by Steve Liddick:

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”





My first car was a 1931 Model A Ford sedan. I don’t think Ford called it a sedan. Probably some snooty name like “touring car.”

It cost $50.00 and took me all summer working at a gas station to pay for it. I recently paid $75.00 just to fill up the gas tank on my Chevy pickup truck. For that kind of money I could have bought one-and-a-half Model A Fords. Unfortunately, it’s not 1953 anymore.

I loved that car. But, of course, everyone loves his first car. Having a four-wheeled escape pod meant there was now a whole reachable world out there to explore. Prior to that, I couldn’t get any farther away from home than my bicycle would take me.

As kindly as I felt toward that car, it was also the cause of one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

I was driving on a road that took me over Ore Bank Hill, on the curviest road in the county. Once you reached the top, it was a steep downhill run for several miles, with nasty switch-backs and curves not banked to accommodate speeding vehicles and centrifugal force.

As I chugged to the top of the hill and started down the other side, I came to the first curve. I was picking up more speed than I was comfortable with, so I slammed on the brake. Teenagers do that a lot. Nothing subtle about most anything they do. A gentle pressing of the brake is not in a teen’s playbook.

Well, the Model A had a rod that connected the foot pedal to the mechanical braking system under the car. The problem was, the rod was made of cast iron. Cast iron does not handle slamming very well and it snapped, leaving me in near free-fall. Those old cars had no compression to help hold the speed down and it was impossible to down-shift in those pre-synchromesh transmission days.

So there I was, on the scariest road imaginable, careening downhill in a top-heavy vehicle with no brakes. I was seventeen years old and certain I would never see eighteen, whipping this way and that, wrestling the non-power steering wheel, skinny 21-inch tires squealing at every curve, picking up speed for several hair-raising miles.

Finally, I got to the bottom of the hill and was able to coast to a stop. Thinking back to that experience I wonder once more how I managed to survive my youth.

Anyone who doesn’t believe in God has never ridden a Model A Ford with no brakes down Ore Bank Hill.


Books by Steve Liddick:

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”


We think we have accurate memories of people and events, but do we really? One theory has it that we don’t actually remember those people, places and events. Rather, each time we think of something from the past the image changes a little . . . to the point where the thought is nothing like the original. It may explain why Uncle Fred remembers something that happened one way and Aunt Flo gets upset with him because she recalls it very differently. My new novel, “All That Time,” explores the question. Now available in paperback and ebook.


Remember your first car? It was more than a car, really. It was freedom. It expanded your world from the neighborhood you walked around in, the town you rode a bicycle in. Now you could go to the horizon and beyond. Well, you could go as far as your gas budget would take you and that little band of youthful friends. And the car came into your life just about the same time as you were getting more interested in the opposite gender. That was another world expander of a sort. Nothing like that first car. And no car since then has meant as much. Ever think about what happened to that first car?  Ever wonder what  happened to that band of pals? Ever think about that first gender opposite? Ever wonder what happened to all those years that went by so fast since that first car?