Kareem's Memoir & Bio

1985

Seagull’s daily assault
During lunchtime, my buddies and I enjoyed feeding the seagulls. There were so many of them hanging out at Pinole Junior. This was due to the huge mess of food left on the schoolyard following the lunch period. And of course, their hanging out was encouraged by Robert and me as we tossed snacks into the air for them to catch and eat. The seagulls knew that they had a good chance of feasting on more food when the end of the lunch-period bell rang, so they sat and waited everywhere on the school grounds in anticipation for that moment. When it came, it was as if air-raid sirens could be heard. The birds suddenly began their assault. One formation of gulls launched from the rooftop of the school cafeteria and another attacked from the seagullsground level.

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Gulls were originating from virtually everywhere taking aim on the garbage and food that all of the now retreating students had left behind. The scene was chaos. Panic-stricken students ran for cover. All of us sought whatever shelter we could find. Some of the unlucky students were pelted by gull droppings as they couldn't seek a convenient place fast enough. Other students used their binders, books, backpacks, or whatever they could as shields to protect their heads and dignity from the gull's merciless droppings. As a survivor, I still carry those painful memories from the numerous gull attacks. My Members Only jacket still bares the many testimonies of the gull attacks that came everyday. By the way, that jacket has been donated to charity.

Another one of my fondest seagull memories, was when I discovered a one-legged seagull that my friend Robert Kuhl, so named "Peg-Leg". This seagull would be quite distinguishable in that it had a unique way of peg leg seagull"walking". Peg-Leg hopped around on his one leg. Be it still maintained the same hearty appetite as the rest of its peers.

These seagulls ruled the lunch hour at Pinole Junior. It was quite hilarious at times to observe their behavior while students sat outside and ate their lunches. One afternoon, the vice principal, Mr. Tognolini, was standing near the school building. He was unaware that just above him perched on the ledge was a lone seagull. When the bell rang to indicate that the lunch period was over, it apparently startled the gull causing it to lose its balance. It fell off the building toward Mr. Tognolini who was just below. Mr. "T" reacted by quickly jerking up his left arm as if to block a right punch. The gull struck Mr. Tognolin's arm. Robert, Jason, and I just happened to be in the area and saw this happen. All of us erupted in laughter. I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. Mr."T" displayed a cool and reassuring smile which let the others know that he was okay. The gull was fine also.

Beekeeping
Mr. McCormick, who was my English teacher, inspired me to get involved in hobby of beekeeping. He did so because he knew of my interest in nature and bugs and such. So, I talked to my mom about this and she said I could do this if I tried very hard to earn straight A's on my report card. I knew that I really wanted to do this hobby so I worked even harder than I ever had to accomplish this. I succeeded. Since my English teacher kneBeekeepingw someone who was involved in this hobby, he introduced me to a local gentleman named Virgil Philippi. Virgil was a longtime beekeeper and he sold me a full working hive. The hive was already filled with thousands of honeybees and all I needed to do was tell Virgil where it needed to be delivered. Virgil packed the hive in the back of his truck and drove to my home in the city of Hercules. It took him about 20 minutes to set it up in my backyard. After several months of running a beehive from my backyard, it was starting to show signs that it was time to harvest the honey. Virgil took the hive to his home and used a machine to extract the honey. We got nearly ten quarts of honey! My family used the honey on everything. We ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I enjoyed this experience very much. Honeybees were very interesting to me. But all good things usually come to end at some point.

Bee trouble
The first sign of trouble was when my neighbor Bill could be seen from over the fence swatting at the bees as he walked from his backyard door to this hot tub. Later, he came to our house to make his first complaint about the honeybees. He insisted that he was allergic to bees and that they were keeping him from getting to his hot tub. So we tried to accommodate him by relocating the hive to another part of our large backyard which also moved their flight path farther away from Bill’s backyard. The beehive weighed about seventy pounds and required two men to move it. This had to be done carefully. My older brother and Virgil did the move. Despite their both being dressed up in the protective garb, Virgil still managed to get stung a dozen times or so, and my brother was stung twice. After the move, Virgil and I spoke to each other out in front of the house. He told me to not worry about my neighbor and that he’ll be okay getting to his hot tub. He assured me that things would work out. As talked, a lone honeybee had apparently still been holding a grudge against me, maybe because we moved its home. As the bee flew directly toward my face in a rapid zigzagging manner, Virgil knew that this bee meant business and was demonstrating aggression rather than harmlessly wanting to land on my face.  He quickly tried to kill the bee by clapping his hands around it before it had time to plant its sting. Each time he clapped, he missed and the bee continued on its trek toward me. The bee won! It planted its stinger firmly in my top lip. The pain came in an instant. Virgil took out his pocket knife and scraped the bee and stinger out of my lip. My lip hurt. Later that night, I started breaking out in hives. There were red blotches occurring on my skin. My mother called the doctor to notify them. They told her to keep watching to make sure that I didn’t stop breathing or go into shock. By the next morning, I felt fine but my lip was now swollen. I was more embarrassed for the swollen top lip than anything else. I went to school with this lip issue. One of my schoolmates Lyn (Vanelle) enjoyed teasing that I tried to “kiss a bee”. She still reminds me to this day. I also attended one of my sister’s little league games when she played for a team called Rosson Realty. During the game, I felt that everyone was staring at my top lip. I surely had a renewed respect for honeybees.

One Saturday morning, my family and I were sitting in the car waiting to leave and go to a picnic. We were backing down the driveway but stopped momentarily because we needed to wait for my sister Alexis who was still inside the house getting a bag of potato chips. After a short while, she finally exited the front door and headed for our car. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, she started to swat about her head with her hands. Then she suddenly took to a quick sprint leaping over our neighbor's hedges and running across his lawn. My father put the car in park, and we sat in the car and watched this perplexing event unfold. It was still not apparent to us what was happening to Alexis. She ran zigzagging across the street holding onto the bag of potato chips. Occasionally, she would use the bag of chips as a bee swatter, hitting herself with the bag. She ran up and down the street for about ten minutes. It was truly the strangest thing to see. I heard my father say, as all of us continued to regard this, "what's that fool doing?" Later, after she returned to the car, out of breath and slightly embarrassed, she notified us that a bee was chasing her.

Another day, my mother also suffered a harassing ordeal from the bees. She was on the driveway, washing her car when a honeybee, probably attracted by the perfume in her hair, started buzzing about her head. She was conveniently armed with the water hose with spray nozzle. Each time it sounded like the bee was close to her head, she would spray in its direction in an attempt to get rid of it. She kept spraying around her head as she was using hairspray. But to no avail, the bee was able to plant one sting into her forehead. Luckily she was not allergic.

Soon, we had to have the beehive removed. My hobby experience had to come to an end.

 
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