Kareem's Memoir & Bio

1989

11th grade at PV
During my junior year at Pinole Valley High school, I considered it my year of reckoning. I had to start making plans foPVHS logor college, I was starting to drive a car, and I became more involved in high school events. I also started “working” on my identity. I shaved a "K" into my head. I thought it was just a harmless little thing to do. But boy, was I wrong. While I was sitting in my Biology class, someone sitting behind me, Erika Shortreed, loudly asked me, "Is that a K shaved in your head?" My Biology teacher reacted by saying, “at least it’s not 666.” I actually really liked my Biology class. It was taught by a very short African American woman named Mrs. Hall. During this year, I feheartll in love with girl. This girl was all I ever thought about which prompted me to write my first love letter. The love bug had bitten me badly. When I heard certain songs on the radio, I would sing and think of her. Later that year, she won a signifcantly big achievement. She will, however, remain nameless. But she did love dolphins.

My first job
Summer had arrived and it was time to look for a job. For those who were driving from San Pablo Avenue and turning onto Redwood as they entered into the City of Hercules, they would have noticed these curbside signs posted at the median displaying the City’s latest events and news. One day, my mother and I noticed that the sign read “Now hiring for the summer: Rec Leaders!” The city of Hercules was looking for Recreation leaders. It sounded interesting so I decided to apply for it. I turned in a completed application and called city hall continuously for about a week to check on my chances of getting the job. The person on the phone told me to come down to the newly built city hall for an interview. I dressed in a suit and tie for a position as Recreation Leader. When I arrived at City Hall, I noticed that the manager to perform the interview was Chris Cooper. I recognized her because she was the "young" lady who drove my sister and me to the San Pablo Reservoir on a fishing trip some years earlier. Chris interviewed me. She asked questions about my how I spent my spare time and what my hobbies were. She also asked me to come up with a couple of games that children would like. I was instantly put on the spot and came up with something that sufficed. I also told Chris about my interest in Sheriff Search and Rescue. Chris was delighted by this because it summer camp mewas something that she had experience with. Chris thanked me for coming by and told me that she'd let me know if I got the position. A week later, I got the job as a recreation leader making $4.75 an hour. My first day at work would be on July 4, 1989. My first responsibility was to dress up as McGruff, the crime fighting dog, for the annual Independence Day Parade. I walked and waved at all of the children during the parade. I also rode along with the Hercules Police and tossed candy to the crowd. However, as a Rec. leader (as we were later called), I would be responsible for cleaning up the community facilities. These included the Senior Center and the Ohlone Community Center. Later I was encouraged to work at the Summer Camp program by a coworker named Christie. So, I was later placed at the Ohlone Summer Camp program on a trial basis. I worked with someone named Robert. Robert had been already working there for about two years before I came onboard. He knew everything there was to know about each of the staff working there thus he filled me in on everything. Robert was funny, talented, quick-witted, and possessed the ultimate gift of gab. I ended up working at the Ohlone, Hercules, Teen, and Hanna Ranch After school programs. I established many relationships with other teachers and children. Yes, I had my favorites too. I stayed with the City of Hercules for nearly ten years.

My co-workers
The other teachers I met and wanted to give credit to were Nick, Patty, Cristie, Christy, Paulette, Chris, Lani, Janet, Tia, Barbara, Cathy, Beverly, Rose, Rachel, Yvonne, Diana, Amy, Jay, Allen, Yvette, Kelly, Kim, Dee, Kim, Vonetta, Shelly, Elvira, Nicole, Kendra, Cindy, Jeanne Chan, Jeanne Krall, Sofia, Kristy, Roland, Heather, Laomia, Miss Pat, Faye, Chris, Jeremy, Zsarlene, and many more. Throughout the years, the child care programs had its share of directors: Lani, Jana, Genetta, Ambra, and now Diana, Beverly, and Guinn.

The Loma Prieta Quake!
When school reconvened after the summer, I was a senior at PV and spent much of this year with friends driving around whenever I found the opportunity. The days were growing shorter and beforedeer crossing long, it was mid October. One Tuesday afternoon, I rode with my buddy Rich to get lunch at Carl’s Junior in Pinole. It was a rather warm and windless day. On our way there, we were driving up Shea Drive when all of a sudden, two-white tailed deer suddenly sprinted out across the roadway in front of the car. Rich slammed on his brakes. A second later, I saw a road sign which read "deer crossing". I thought for a moment, how every day we had taken that same road to lunch every day but had never seen deer anywhere in that area.

Later on after school, I was at work. I sat with my class of fourth graders and taught them sign language. We were practicing signing to the song “Shower Me With Your Love”. While the children were situated on the carpet and I sat at my table showing them how to sign, I starting noticing something very peculiar. I began to gradually hear a crescendo of car alarms. It was the strangest sound to hear dozens of car alarms going off simultaneously. Just as soon as I became truly aware of what I was hearing, I began to feel the floor smoothly roll in circular motions under my feet. It started very slowly which made me feel mostly like I was becoming dizzy. I stopped the signing exercise to try and ascertain what was going on at the moment. My perplexed attention shifted away from the children toward the floor, ceiling, and windows. I calmly asked a coworker who standing nearby, “is that an earthquake?” But before she could answer, the floor's motion had begun to build in intensity. It became very apparent that it was clearly an earthquake. I told my class to get under the tables. The children wasted no time and scurried to the tables moving chairs out of the way. While we were in fetal position, under the tables, the floor continued to roll and sway. I noticed that the fish tank water was sloshing onto the floor in front of me. I looked at the ceiling which I could clearly see was moving and now squeaking. I also noticed the hand crafted witches on broom sticks were now swinging from the moving ceiling (Halloween was just two weeks away). Chris Cooper, the program supervisor, was seen running up and down the hall way checking on the childcare's safety. The quake started slowing down. When things seemed like they had calmed down, all of us came out from under the tables. Some children began to get concerned but I quickly comforted them. I tried to find some information about the earthquake on the radio. Surprisingly, I was unable to locate my usual news station KGO Radio. I did find KCBS radio airing a pregame show just before it was supposed to air the World Series 3rd game which was scheduled to start momentarily. Being my first real earthquake, I wasn't sure if it was scary. In fact I had to ask someone else if the just-experienced quake waNews anchor Pete Wilson earthquake maps considered big. The answer from Lani, a coworker was, "That was big". I was surprised and not certain if there was anything to be concerned about. But after listening and watching the local news reports, I knew that this quake was pretty serious. The quake measured 7.1. and was officially pegged the Loma Prieta earthquake. For weeks, my family and I watched the TV news coverage of the quake aftermath. We saw the remarkable images of the fallen section of the Bay Bridge and the collapsed section of the Nimitz Freeway along Cypress Street in Oakland.

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I was fascinated by the science of earthquakes known as seismology. I analyzed earthquake damage and historical earthquake records as a hobby.

That evening, Rich and I drove around the area looking for any earthquake related damage. We found several areas locally and they were very surprising. The old two-story brick building in Pinole which was known as Bills Liquors had been severely damaged. The bricks from the upper floors were been shaken to the street and sidewalk below. The building would eventually be demolished. Later that evening, the phones were behaving Cypress freeway collapse, earthquakestrangely. Sometimes they would work and other times they would not. We found that if we just waited a few seconds after taking the phone off the receiver, the dial tone would return and then we could use it. A couple of months later, my father and family drove to Oakland to see the Cypress freeway in person. When we arrived at one of the remaining sections, it was a compelling scene to see this huge grotesque heap of concrete sitting on top of the roadway. It was amazing and incredible to see it.

TV times in '89
Rescue 911 showIf I wasn't watching the new reality shows like Cops and Rescue 911, I was watching sitcoms like Family Matters

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and Bart Simpson. For one, the Rescue 911 tv show had the best opening theme for that type of show. They showed actual footage of emergency scenes but I just detested the recreated dramatizations. They just didn't work for me. Anyway, it was a cool show.

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City changes
The city of Hercules began to expand and grow. Signal lights were becoming more numerous as traffic within the city increased. A week later I moved in with my older brother and stayed there for several months.

 
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