So now settled in the middle of the hot arid desert, we lived in a basic house, very cheap, and near to an Indian Reservation. This was the old Tuscon before it had been developed and turned into a mini Beverley Hill. There were only 12 other houses near to us. Our back yard was nothing but desert with tarantulas, rattles snakes, scorpions and guila monsters (large prehistoric looking lizards). Beyond the desert were the Catalina Mountains, which were quite high and gave us a refuge from the heat of the desert. We often went to a place called "Mount Lemmon" which was beautiful and cool; a total contrast to the inferno down below in the desert where our house was. It was unbearably hot and the house was infested with tarantulas and deadly sand coloured scorpions on a daily basis. There were so many creepy-crawlies that we had to shake our shoes out before we put them on each morning.
The only thing I really remember about the desert was when I got lost in it aged 3. I wandered off, as was my usual habit, and it was about 110 degrees F. outside. I was wearing nothing but underpants and I expect I was following a tarantula or some other horrid creature for ages before I realised I was totally lost amongst cactuses, brush weed, lizards, scorpions and rattlesnakes. I have been told by my mother that I was found by the police several hours later, walking deliriously around from sunstroke with an empty whisky bottle in one hand and my underpants literally dragging behind me having been ripped on a cactus. What a sight! I was lucky to have survived quite honestly.
To earn some money to survive during our stay in the desert, my father first got a job in Howard Hughes' airplane factory. What he did there, I don't know exactly but nevertheless, it sounded quite cool. After that, he got a job at the local Tucson NBC station KVOC. He hosted a television programme called "Press Conference" where he interviewed famous people. In fact, he was likened to Alistair Cook from "Letters from America". Amongst the people he interviewed in 1953 (of which I have some of the tapes) were Senator Richard Nixon, Indira Ghandi, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Very interesting listening, I can assure you.
When I was 5, my father was asked personally by Art Nielson, the founder of A.C. Nielson in Chicago to go and work for him. For those of you who do not know what they do, they are a huge company that measures whether or not a programme on TV will be good enough to make the grade and continue to be shown. Nielson ratings are the most important thing that Producers and Directors in America hope to impress; even to this day. If they don't make the grade, their programmes are axed.
Anyway, we packed our car and trailer and moved to Evanston, Illinois near Chicago, the birthplace of prohibition and the home of North-western University.
Chapter 3 coming tomorrow..............