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Loaded Stories

Memories and Tales of Fathers, 1970s California, and Other Complications

Memoir (2013)

Cover by Jeff McElroy

Loaded Stories is a memoir about growing up in wild 1970s California, my hard-partying fathers, and how our lives were shaped by guns.
 
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Introduction: Hi!

The first story—the tabloid headline, page 5—is that my father was murdered, shot, before I had a chance to really meet him. 

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1. Topanga Rattlesnake

The man who would later become my dad didn’t like me bragging about my father’s gunshot murder at all

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2. Mountain Adventures

Big Bear Lake is a seven-mile-long, snow-fed reservoir nestled in a large valley high up in the San Bernardino Mountains.

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3. Trouble in Connecticut

Everything changed when Cedar Lake Camp’s manager resigned and Billy aggressively pushed to apply for his position. 

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4. Bear City Fantasies

In high school, before another story came along, this one more loaded than the first, I had a weakness for daydreams wherein I inflicted some serious hurt upon villainous boys or men who had it coming. 

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5. Terror in Venice Beach

I don’t recall the way in which the story was told, only the basic facts that were communicated, not by Mom, but by Dad.

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6. Leadville Stories

In 1994, after a year living the semi-bohemian dream in San Francisco, I embarked upon a Jack Kerouac/Henry Miller/Tom Waits romanticized wandering dropout adventure.

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7. Murder in Tennessee

It was a warm, humid evening when I knocked on the door of my aunt’s aluminum-sided duplex.

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8. Hollywood Handgun

I’ve never been shot, or even shot at, but I did have a gun pointed at me, and not just for laughs. 

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9. Loaded Stories

I’m no model of self-control, but over the years I’ve learned to contain my anger. 

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10. Big Bear Gun Stash

Dad had never gotten me interested in guns, but he’d still managed to drop a bundle of weapons in my lap.  

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11. Breakdown in Vermont

In the end it wasn’t the booze and drugs—or even a loaded gun—that did Dad in: it was the cigarettes. 

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12. Mom, Coast-to-Coast

As a young adult I came to realize that, when it comes to most of the biggest things, I was a lucky kid. I had my mother. 

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13. San Francisco Closet

Isn’t every American born with a gun in his or her hand?