AutobigraphiesI have an outline for my autobiography in the "My-07" folder. It's a Word document called "Keith Sargent" My mother's autobiography, which I typed from her notes, is "Dorothy Marie Worstell" and her sister's memories are called "Helen Louise" I also took notes when I had the last two of her siblings visit us and those are called "Helen-Owen"
The HouseI was born in Phoenix, Arizona February 7, 1963, but six months we moved to Las Vegas. My dad drove, but mom took me there by plane. The house (at 2212 Isabelle Avenue) was the home I grew up in and the house my mom was murdered in. It was 1/2 a block away from Sunrise Acres elementary school and I could walk to Roy Martin Junior High. I bicycled to both high schools I attended - Las Vegas High and Bishop Gorman; and I usually rode my bicycle to the University, about 11 miles round trip.
We had a front yard with a big tree I loved to climb; I think I could go up about 30 feet. The backyard had a large apricot tree - I've never seen one bigger - but half of the backyard was devoted to a fruit tree garden my parents created.
The house had three bedrooms and two bathrooms and since I had no brothers or sisters, I got one room to myself, my parents got the master bedroom and bath, and the third was a den where my dad kept his guns, but it also had a bed in case company came. Later it became my computer room, study area, and library. The utility room had a separate entrance outside, but was attached to the house. The washing machine, water heater, mother's gardening supplies and dad's tools were kept there.
It was one story with no basement, but the living area was much larger than the house we live in now, about 1700 sq. feet compared with 1100 sq. feet. We had a swamp cooler for several years. Water circulated through four straw mats on each side and a fan pulled air through the mats, dropping the temperature of the air and making the air more humid - it worked well in the desert, but when the temperature rises over 100, you get 90 degree humid air. Dad replaced with an A/C unit when I was probably in first grade. I have a fleeting memory of a big crane lifting the 1/2 ton unit to the roof.
Everything in the house was electric - electric stove, electric furnace, electric hot water heater.
My ParentsMy dad died when I was 15 and my mom was murdered when I was 42. My dad's death affected me a lot less than I expected, and my mother's death affected me a lot more than I expected, and it wasn't just because of the way they died -- both deaths were unexpected and sudden.
I wasn't close to my dad. Some of it was probably because I was a teenager, but mostly it was because we didn't spend much time together. He loved to shoot guns; I didn't. He liked to fish; I didn't. Sometimes we watched television together, I remember snuggling next to him while we watched "Hogan's Hero's" But mostly I remember him spending his evenings cleaning his guns and his weekends shooting them. When I was a little boy, we would sometimes walk uptown together to the Union Plaza hotel for exercise, and I remember telling him he walked too fast. It was at least two miles each way. And eventually I remember I much preferred watching Saturday morning cartoons.
We lived next to an alley behind a row of apartments (where I expect my mother's murderers came from) and during the weekends, when he wasn't shooting, he would go into all the dumpsters and collect aluminum cans (mostly beer). I would smash them with a sledgehammer and we'd take them to the recycling center for 15 cents a pound. I don't think he was environmentally conscious, but he considered it free money - like most people, he didn't consider how valuable his time was.
Speaking of free money and the value of time. My mother used to clip coupons from the newspaper. It became my habit too until you were a few years old. I realized that saving a few cents wasn't worth the trouble, I'd rather spend it doing something else reading, or playing with my children.
Another reason my dad and I weren't close is I didn't see him much during my early childhood. He worked at the Nevada Test Site and would have to get up about 4:00 am to catch the bus that would take him 65 miles - a three hour roundtrip. That meant I didn't see him in the mornings and didn't get to see much of him at night.
Growing up, I thought I was adopted. Once I told that to my mom, and she raised her blouse to show me the scar from her caesarean section. Later I thought to myself, "But how do you know I wasn't switched at birth?"
The main reason I felt that way was because my parents were so much older. When I was born, my dad was 50 and my mom was 42. My dad had a lot of friends and many activities he loved: guns, fishing, softball, and after his car was demolished by a teenager who ran a stop sign, he bicycled everywhere and seemed to enjoy it. He received a Presidential award for bicycling, but enjoyed telling people it took him less time to earn the award than it took for the president to send it to him.
Dad had some interesting habits. Once, I remember him wearing his Sunday best to poor tar on the roof after we'd returned from church. He was cheap, but when he thought something could be bought at a discount, he'd buy the most useless things. He flew to New Zealand often and to avoid the excess baggage charges, he'd wear all his clothes: Two or three pair of pants, several shirts and several coats. But he would come back with a suitcase full of radios, walkie-talkies, and calculators, because "the prices were so good." After the first day, we never used them again, but I think I still have them in a box in our basement.
Opposites AttractWhile my dad was outgoing, my mother was not. One of her brothers said he was most surprised that she got married. She had always been independent and a loner. My dad didn't drink, but he enjoyed going out with his friends to the bars. We always knew where he'd been because the cigarette smoke on his clothes could be overpowering. More than once, my mother would make him take off his clothes in the washroom before coming inside.
In contrast, my mom had few friends. This may have been because she came from such a large family - nine children, and she kept in touch by writing letters. Her best friend was Marjorie Martin, a missionary who worked in Hawaii and later Japan. Before I was born my mom visited her in Hawaii, but after I was born, Marjorie would come to visit us every few years, and always bring me a japanese puzzle or book. Once she brought some Japanese women with her. I remember them because they called me "Kee-su."
My mom never went anywhere to visit friends but every year she would go back to Missouri for a family reunion - the Corporation Meeting was the official title since her dad had created a corporation out of the farm, and each sibling owned shares. The expenses for traveling were paid by the profits from the corporation.
Another friend she'd made was when she worked in Beltsville Maryland. Pat Deary. In her last visit to us, she and Pat met for the first time in 40 years. They had kept in touch all that time by exchanging Christmas cards.
My mom was very cheap and reused everything. I remember one whole drawer packed with used margerine containers. My rule is three of anything is enough. It got worse as she got older.
I don't remember my parents every having a party and only rarely did they invite a friend over for dinner. The only company we had were relatives. James, one of her brothers would come to Las Vegas buy himself, check into a hotel, and have dinner with us while he was here. What he came to Las Vegas for, I never learned.
All our birthdays, except one, were celebrated alone. The only exception was my birthday party when I was in about third grade. My mom created all my birthday cakes. She made a rocket ship almost three feet tall, a carosel, a yellow corvette and a sailplane.
My parents had a few things in common. They didn't smoke or drink, but my dad kept liquor in the house because his friends drank and he would give the bottles as Christmas gifts. They didn't go out to dinner often, maybe once or twice a year, mostly on Mother's Day. The restaurant I remember was Aku-Aku at the Stardust. All the drinks had little umbrellas in them. We also went to Circus Circus, where we could eat our meal and watch the acrobats and elephants. They didn't argue much but when they did, I would hide in my closet.
My mother was a stay-at-home mom. One reason I thought I was adopted was because she liked so many foods I didn't. She and my dad filled 1/2 the yard maybe 1/32 of an acre in Las Vegas with a garden. Fresh tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, corn, asparagus, eggplant, squash, zuchinni, strawberries, apricots, apple, plum, pear, nectarine, peach, peas. The only thing I liked was strawberries and Tomatoes, if they were part of a BLT. Only after I'd gone to a soaring contest in Hobbes New Mexico, with my flying instructor, did I discover there was more than one type of salad dressing.
Another reason was I had so many interests and they had so few. My mom had five interests, all solitary: gardening, knitting, swimming, cooking and reading. My dad's interests were: shooting, fishing and traveling to New Zealand to hunt and fish. After he retired, he liked to bicycle and play softball with the Silver Sluggers.
When I was younger, my mom took me swimming at the YMCA. My dad usually didn't go with us. I learned how to swim, but never did much swimming. While my mom did her laps, I'd play in the shallow end, hold my breath and pretend I lived under water. I enjoyed it more when I got a mask and swim fins. Mom took me into the women's locker room with her, until one evening a woman saw me and screamed. After that I had to climb the stairs to the empty, smelly men's locker room. One thing I liked about the Y was the tramboline and the ropes that I could climb to the ceiling 25 feet above my head. I once tried to see if I could fly by throwing myself down the stairs - I couldn't but didn't break anything and never tried again.
The only interests we all shared was a love of the outdoors and hiking. Several times a year we would drive up to Mt. Charleston for an afternoon lunch. And once a year we'd drive North to Cedar City, Utah where my parents had property in the mountains - 12,000 foot plus. We also took regular family vacations - Death Valley, California, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons.
After I grew older, I backpacked on my own in the Sierra Nevadas.
Dinner TimeMy mom spent a lot of time cooking and she had a lot of cookbooks, but I hesitate to call it a hobby, because she rarely tried out new dishes, or new seasonings. She never did taste tests. She made her own salad dressing and bought only two types of apples.
Although we ate our meals together, we never talked. Instead, we would eat and watch TV. Walter Cronkite, on the weekdays. On the weekends it was Bonanza, or Lawrence Welk. I know my parents cared for me, but they didn't show it with affection and I don't remember them telling me. After my dad died in his wallet was a baby picture and a card I'd written him on his birthday apologizing for not getting him anything but telling him how much he meant to me. He spend several weeks one summer building a treehouse for me in the backyard, and since we didn't have a tree, he had to order a lot of lumber.
Once when Ms. Phizer, the PE teacher grabbed my sholder and left claw marks on me. My parents marched down to Sunrise Acres Elementary school and demanded she be discplined. I remember my dad shouting, "I'll take this all the way to the Supreme Court."
After I was beaten up in the public school and my locker broken into, and nothing was done, my mom enrolled me in Bishop Gorman, a Catholic school
My mother was a den mother for Cub Scouts and I had a good time, but the friendships never carried over. All my birthdays were spent alone with my mom and dad. Mother took a lot of time to bake special cakes for me, hide my presents and write rhyming cards to help me find the present and lead me to the next one.
Star Wars and Computers
Growing ApartMy mom never came to visit me during the six months I was in the hospital. After two weeks or so when my brain was in working order again, I told her not to, but those first two weeks, might have been good. Fortunately I had my Major Professor, Todd Sandler to make good decisions for me. And my mom later told me that the first doctors told her I'd only loose a toe or two. They didn't know much and Sandler got me to a much better hospital, where I lost all my toes and more. When I told my mom how she never seemed to be bothered by my accident. All she did was send me "Get Well" cards and talk about her garden. She told me that she didn't want to let me know how hurt she was and how after getting off the phone she would cry.
We grew apart when I told her I wasn't interested in letters about her garden. I wanted to hear stories about her growing up. I said, "If you can't write about something more than your garden and swimming, don't write at all." So she stopped writing. But we spoke almost every week.
The real separation occured after Annabelle was born. She didn't have any particular interest in coming to visit. She said babies at that age were not that interesting. It didn't occur to her to ask if she might be able to come and help. However, we kept our yearly visits, but this time I was the one that expected her to come visit us. When Annabelle was about 9 months old she came, and she came a year later when I had an operation on my foot. Then in 2004 we went to visit her in Las Vegas, but Helena pointed out she seemed more interested in her garden than in Annabelle, and we stayed with Lorita and her family. Her last visit was when she came for Thanksgiving in 2005.
DisciplineI still have the hairbrush my mom used once or twice to paddle me. My dad used a leather belt, but he didn't use it often either. They seemed to have a laissez-faire style of parenting, but it worked with me because I rarely got in trouble. I had good friends. Had no interest in smoking or drinking
ChoresI didn't have many chores growing up. My mom washed my clothes and hung them out to dry (we didn't have a clothes dryer, since it was Las Vegas). I couldn't reach the clothes line until I was much older, but I took care of the car and household repairs. We didn't have a dishwasher either and sometimes I was expected to wash the dishes, but I don't think my mother ever liked the way I did them so she never pushed me to do them. But we did have a vacuum cleaner, which I rarely used.
The only chores I remember were making my bed and washing out the bathroom sink. I got a star on a calendar when I did my chores, and I think that entitled me to something special. However, by the time I was in Junior High, I think I convinced my mom it was pointless to make up the bed, since I wouldn't be in the room until bedtime anyway. My logic rubbed off on her because I remember sometimes she wouldn't make her bed either.
I was sick a lot, and got allergy shots growing up
One of the reasons I wanted to be the class clown and still make outrageous jokes is to get people to pay attention to me, since my parents wouldn't. I wonder why I didn't do more things to get my parents attention - hang out with the wrong people, shoplift, or stay out late.
I don't feel much different now than I did as a teenager. (Helena says she's not surprised to hear that -- I still act like a child -- I disagree. I would say that I was very mature for my age). Although I'm a father, I don't feel any different, I just have a lot more to think about, and a lot less freedom to do the things I want.
The Boy Scouts was a miserable experience. The troop hiked as fast as it could, without stopping to enjoy the scenry or talk about the plants and wildlife. In fact, I remember one older scout stomping on a lizard with a boot and the other scouts laughing about it. The younger scouts were beaten up and teased by the older ones. I was one of those.
BicyclingI learned to bicycle when I was 10 on a neighbors bike. No training wheels were ever used. Down our driveway, lost my balance and fell into my mom's cactus patch. It took ours for her to get most of them out, but some had to come out on their own.
I had a Schwinn Sting-Ray that was stolen on Christmas day and didn't get another bike until junior high school -- a cheap Sears 10-speed. My dad bought an identical one for himself. But I loved to bicycle and I have always preferred it to driving a car. I lost my best friend after he got his drivers license.
My dad and I joined the Knickerbikers, and when he saw I was serious about bicycling he bought me a good quality ten-speed Nishiki touring bicycle - aluminum rims.
My mom didn't know how to ride a bicycle, but after my dad died, I got a bike for her and taught her how to ride it, but after fixing up the bicycle I sold it. I still fell bad about that (since it reminded me of my dad, who had giver her car to the dealer as a trade-in without telling her), but maybe it was for the best, because if she had an accident, I would have blamed myself
I want to fly again-a single engine plane
Drugs and alcoholI've never taken any legal drugs and I've never taken legal drugs to get high. I've tried alcohol but I don't like the taste. Once I finished a bottle of beer and felt a little tipsy, but mostly I just felt moody, sad and depressed -- alcohol is a depressant and a person like me who is a pessimist shouldn't drink that stuff. When I was in the hospital and had a morphine drip, I would go as long as possible before I pushed the button. I hated the way morphine screwed up my mind. It didn't allow me to think clearly. I guess some people like that feeling but I don't.
My AccidentTwo weeks from my life vanished without any memory of what happened during that time except for the buzz of an MRI, and someone forcing a tube down my throat that caused me to choke and cough and question their experience.
I have a lot more to say about the accident and six months in the hospital -- another story. I hope it's published by the time you read this. It's suitable for a short story in a magazine.
July 30, 2006 You're sick in bed with a cough. Mom is with you now. She's reading this and giving me her thoughts and says that she didn't need this from her parents because they gave her advice, told her what she needed to do, shared their emotions thoughts and histories with her.
JAILSometime I need to tell you about the time I spent in jail.
Best friendsMy first best friend was Jerry Parr. His mom was divorced My second best friend was Mark Kramer. We bicycled everywhere together. The friendship ended after he got his driver's license, and Jerry Parr became his best friend. I didn't like cars, but Jerry did. He taught me to juggle. Showed me my first Penthouse magazine.
GirlfriendsI had a girlfriend in kindergarten. Once her mom picked both of us up at school, took us to their house, and we watched Batman (the old TV series) together. She moved away about the time of second or third grade and I was heartbroken. (You can find her picture in my school book. Her name was Diana Grabo). Sometime around first or second grade, we wanted to know what it was like to kiss, so we snuck down to the buildings at the other end of the school and underneath the rafters, I kissed her on the cheek. That was a naughty thing to do, so we snuck back and never did it again.
Third grade -- another boy and I both had a crush on Teri. I challenged him to a fight over her. He won the fight and got the girl. But I kept my crush, and we stayed friends. (Several years later, I visited her house - she had a poster of David Cassidy on the wall).
Forth grade -- One day, the girls went off to a special class and learned about the facts of life, but the boys had to wait until sixth grade for our co-ed sex education film. When I started asking questions, my mom gave me a book. Until then, I thought women pooped out their babies. Curiosity satisfied I went on with my life and thought that girlfriends were great.
Sixth grade -- I had three girlfriends. You can see their names on my door: Jeri, Patrice, Susan. (Even when I got to college, I talked to them or friends of them). A great age. Girlfriends were fun. You kissed them, and tried to pull off their swimsuits in the pool.
When I speak of girlfriends, they were really just girls who were friends. We didn't kiss or hug, we were just friends who liked each other. I spent lots more time with my best friend Mark Kramer.
My Regrets1st Regret - I should have been smarter and taken the bus when it was cold, instead of riding my bicycle, especially the night of my accident. It wasn't that cold, and Kevin Siqueria, usually rode his bike too.
2nd Regret - I should have asked my mom to move closer to us earlier. Actually, I think I did, but didn't push hard until I after I went to jail. When she finally said "yes," after her brother, Owen Worstell, and sister, Helen Hicks, convinced her, she still said it would take at least two years before she would be able to 'take care of everything' and move.
3rd Regret - I should have joined a hiking club that would have allowed me to make friends with people my age who enjoyed doing the same things I did. The Las Vegas bicycling club, The Knickerbikers, didn't have many kids my age in it. Or a chess club, or a photography club. Instead, I wasted many summers. Then I finally realized I could backpack and hike by myself and spent more summers doing the Sierras after Steve Parker told me about the Eastern side of the Sierras where there are hundreds of mountain lakes.
4th Regret - I shouldn't have dated women I was only interested in being friends with. It wasted their time and my time.
Life in the Dark AgesMy Life in the Dark Ages
HomeLast updated: March 24, 2008