Kareem's Memoir & Bio

1990

Changes Galore
I ended up moving back to my parents home in Hercules. I needed to get some sense of normalcy and transitioned back into UC Davismy Hercules (City of Hercules) life. It was also my last year in high school and I was slated to graduate in May this year. It was also time to seriously consider college. I already knew that I would be attending college and so there was no question. I just didn’t know where to apply and why I would apply. So, I just jumped and sent my applications to Sonoma State, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. Then months later, I received my letter of admittance from UC Davis. I was preparing to start my new college life at Davis in the Fall.

Television TimeAmericas Funniest Home Video
My family and I still watch the occasional TV shows together. Americas Funniest Home

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videos was a great Sunday evening pastime. Then, it was hosted by Bob Saget. Everyone had a camcorder these days and each video clip seemed to show someone getting hit in their crotch with a wiffle ball. Two big movies were hits during this year: Edward Scissorhands and Home Alone.

There were two other major events that occured this year. Two celebrities had died, Jim Henson creator of the Muppets and Sesame Street; and Sammy Davis Junior. It was sad because I remember that Sammy was sick for awhile but then it was surprising to see Jim Henson pass soon thereafter.

Last days of high school
The final days of school were winding down and senioritis was starting to kick in. It was time to graduate from Pinole Valley High school. I really didn't consider it a big deal. I had very good grades but wasn't really thinking that this was a big accomplishment. College was in my future and THAT would be the big accomplishment. But nonetheless, I was feeling a little sadness when the last few days of school was rolling around. I was enjoying horsing around with my buddies at school, and not attending the occasional class at high school. I had already earned my grades and knew that I would be attending college and so I wasn’t worried all that much about my attendance record now. I didn’t realize how close I had become with many people there and I would miss them as summer started.

Quake swarm
Mother nature kept stirring things up even since it had been nearly  a year after our big World Series earthquake. We kept getting hit with small earthquakes here and there. The odd thing was that it seemed like they were occurring just about every Friday evening. I would be sitting in my room watching television and suddenly, the floor would start quivering. It never intensified to anything scary but rather was kind of interesting. We were having dozens of these a week. While the shaking was kind of scary for us in Hercules, it was nothing compared to what was happening in places like Concord, Alamo, and Danville. Apparently the Danville fault was causing an unusually high number of quakes. It was called the Danville Earthquake swarm. Most of the homes in those areas were okay and only suffered a few items knocked off shelves, picture frames crooked, and a few new cracks. But there were a few homes that actually had serious damage. One home in particular had a chimney that looked like it had exploded with bricks all over the living room floor and the roof.

Drivers License Time
It waDriver's licenses time for me to get my driver’s license. I first needed to spend some time driving around under the authority of my learners permit and brother and mom. I would practice driving around the parking lot in Hercules. Our favorite driving area was the parking lot in the Creekside Shopping Center area near Thriftys. There were many areas to practice parking and turning the steering wheel. It was fun and soon I became proficient enough to go and try for my license.

Well, I have to admit that it did take me two tries at the DMV’s driving exam. During my first driving test, I attempted to make a left turn on a red light – I won’t explain why I thought I should do this. Anyway, the examiner saw me attempting to make the illegal turn and as I started the turn, he just calmly said in a Russian accent, “don’t do that”. So, I stopped in the intersection and I decided that I would backup. That’s when he repeated “don’t do that”. When the signal light turned green, I proceeded through the intersection. He calmly said, “make a left turn at the next block”. I complied and suddenly found myself driving down Manila Avenue only to drive my car back into the DMV parking lot. He took his clipboard out and started writing something, just as he said, “because you tried to make a left turn on a red light, that is automatic fail, blah, blah, blah, blah…” That’s all I heard. I went back inside the DMV office and met my older brother George. I was disappointed. But two weeks later, I retook the driving exam and passed! California had given me a drivers’ license.

My very own pickup truck
My father gave me the family pickup truck. It was a white, 1/2 ton, 76 Chevy, Bonanza truck. It came with a 350, V8 engine and a stock AM, push-button radio deck. When it became my toy, I added a CB radio antenna and a Radio Shack CB radio. Later, a friend sold me a Pioneer AM/FM radio deck which played cassette tapes. He helped me install it in my truck. This truck did not have air conditioning but only a blower. The blower was convenient when the truck had already been running but took a long time to get going in the morning. I learned a great deal on how to "repair" my truck when it needed it. For the most part, this truck had seen a lot of time and covered a lot of ground. It traveled to Washington State often and drove in the snow. Considering that the pickup truck was 13 years old, it was still running well and had a lot of life left in it. Maintenance, however, was not so easy since I was not all that familiar with many of the issues that emerged with the pickup. And now, I was responsible for the maintenance of my truck. 1976 chevy truckChanging the brake shoes was incredible to me. For one thing, I had never disassembled the brakes on a truck before. So, I went to Kragen and purchased one of those Chilton guides for my pickup truck. It showed exploded views of the brake assembly. This was not all that helpful to me. So, I went ahead and started to dismantle the brakes. When I started, it was around noon. This part of the task took me about one hour alone. I had just a few tools but they would have to do. I started on the right rear tire. Removing the tire was easy. But when it came time to remove this spring which was under enormous tension, the task became more difficult. I used a screwdriver to stick it in the area near the spring to remove it; I twisted and turned and twisted and turned. The darn thing would not budge. I stuck another metal thing into the same place. Suddenly, all I remember hearing was something that went “boing!” The spring shot up and disappeared into the now night sky. After not being able to find the spring, I gave up and decided to wait until the next day. When I came back the next morning, I found the other spring. But instead of continuing with the job, I contacted a coworker whose husband agreed to repair them for me. He did the job in less than an hour.

Well, my maintenance projects with this truck didn’t end there. Once I needed to replace the starter. This was a lot easier. We found the part at a junk yard thus saving a lot of money. I had my buddy Rich help me jack the truck up and unscrew several bolts that held it into place. We installed the new one. The repair was successful. Have you ever replaced a U joint? Well, I had never done anything like that. The U joint is something to joins the drive shaft pieces together. It’s that long bar located underneath the vehicle that spins as the vehicle is beinrepairing brakesg driven. It’s joined by a little part that serves as a connector which has lots of pins and grease in it. I went to Kragen and purchased a new U joint. The only problem is that I didn’t know that these connectors are installed by a machine and no amount of human strength could remove them once they're installed. Nonetheless, I hammered and banged and banged with hammers and mallets to remove the old one. After several hours of loud banging, the old U joint was still firmly in place. This ordeal exhausted me and so I eventually called off the task.  I had to rely on the expertise of Kragen. So, I drove the truck to the shop. While I was driving, I noticed that my truck started to vibrate as I increased my speed. As I reached freeway speeds, the vibration increased so much that it started to make a loud shuddering noise from underneath my truck. I was so scared that I started envisioning that the driveshaft would suddenly fall off and come flying up through the bottom of the truck killing me in my driver’s seat. I arrived safely and they repaired the U joint. All was well with my 76 Chevy yet once again.

Swim Center opens!
The City of Hercules was celebrating as they opened their first City Swim Center. And it was situated on the same site as my treehouse was when I was in middle school. The Swim Center served as a new feature for Summer Camp program and Teen Center.

Contra Costa Collegecontra costa college
As the Fall rolled around, I made the decision to attend a community college rather than to attend UC Davis. It was a disappointment to my mother but I figured it would be better for me to stick around a little at home given that my family was going through some major changes and transitions.

 
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