I HAVE RECEIVED SO MANY E-MAILS FROM “LA NOSTRA COSTA” READERS SAYING THAT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT I WRITE ABOUT IN THE BOOK, HAVE TRIGGERED MEMORIES ABOUT EVENTS THAT HAVE OCCURRED IN THEIR OWN LIVES. RUSS JONES, A FORMER SAN JOSE POLICE OFFICER, DOES AN EXCEPTIONAL JOB IN WRITING ABOUT SOME OF HIS RECOLLECTIONS. HE ALSO GIVES AN INTERESTING “LOOK SEE” INTO THE PAST WORLD OF THE SAN JOSE POLICE AND ALSO VIET NAM.
Thanks for writing the book, which I found via the Farsider ( LNC: The Farsider is the SJPD Benevolent Association Weekly Publication, Bill Mattos, Editor.) I was with SJPD from 1970 - 1980.
So many memories were stirred. I was raised on a prune orchard in Los Gatos. We were really out in the country back then. Trips to Santa Cruz were frequent for my family. All the different beaches were so distinct and separate back then. Twin Lakes, Sea Cliff, Del Mar, Capitola. The Cement Boat, which you could walk all the way out to the end on. What a long trip it was on the old Santa Cruz highway. Do you remember the stop, somewhere near Scotts Valley, where they sold all you can drink apple cider? for a dime?
Your stories of the Old Carrettone reminded me of how, after getting our drivers licenses, the game in Los Gatos was to race the clock over the new highway to Santa Cruz. We could do it in under 20 minutes. Gaylord and Bart were seriously injured when they flipped Gaylords Austin Healey in a particulary windy portion just north of Summit Road. Jay was killed racing the road, but on a rather straight area in the Scotts Valley area.
And your experience stirring up the wasp/hornets nest. It reminded me of a similar story. In picking prunes, you use a long pole with a hook on it to grab the upper limbs of the tree in order to shake off the ripe prunes so they can be picked off the ground. On one occasion we stirred up a nest and the sky was dark with swarming bees. We were all stung, and hugged the ground for an eternity till they settled back to the nest. As a helicopter pilot in Viet Nam, I would again hug the ground when, after being shot down, bullets swarmed criss cross above me from both sides as my rescuers approached and held off the NVA.
While taking Admin of Justice classes, both before and after Viet Nam, I would ride once a week or so with SJPD. Usually I rode with Mike Destro, but several times with others, including a couple of times with Richard Huerta. Later, while on the PD, I was good friends with Gordon Silva and we did a lot together off duty. We stayed in touch after I left the PD, and just by chance, I was in town to speak at a Rotary club the day he died. Many things about that day have bothered me ever since, probably because I still don't know all the details. (LNC: Both Officer Huerta and Officer Silva were killed in the line of duty.)
I never worked for you while on the PD so you probably do not remember me. Out of the 10 years on the force, 6 were in Narcotics. 3 with the narcotics unit and 3 with the DEA task force. In hindsight, way too many years in such a unit, and it probably led to my leaving SJPD early. I did have many cases that made the headlines that you might remember. In mid 70's, San Jose was experiencing a sudden increase in certain violent crimes, and in patterns different and new. I discovered and exposed that the Nuestra Familia, a previously unknown prison gang, had headquartered in San Jose. In a matter of weeks I had arrested so many that they practically took over the County Jail. The resultant chaos among the Nuestra Familia led to several of my informants being murdered, along with many others who were just suspected of being informants. I got a lot of press on that case, it went on for years. I guess Prison and street gangs are just a normal part of society now days.
My expertise was working the motorcycle gangs. In the late 70's, after hanging out with and riding (as a hanger on) with the Hells Angels for years, I put together a RICO case that netted 22 Hells Angels. That case went on so long for some of those guys that, after I left the PD and was working narcotics intelligence down in Central America, I would be called back to San Francisco to testify in Fed Court.
Remember Marty the Marijuana Mouse? Made Newsweek magazine and was joked about on TV by Johnny Carson? I was the one who discovered and caught the little rascal (with some help from Anton Erickson). He was eating the MJ evidence so I set a trap. For weeks he avoided capture in a trap I set with cheese, peanut butter, meat, etc. Finally Anton suggested I use MJ, since that was what he was eating from the evidence locker. It worked.
I was always stirring the pot, sometimes a little more infamously. Remember the "I'm one of the Ten" tee- shirts depicting a rotten apple wearing a police hat? That also made the newspaper. I came up with that shortly after Chief McNamara made his remark about the PD having a few bad apples. I made $345 in one day with those tee-shirts, my first venture into capitalism and marketing.
Well I've gone on long enough. Like I said, you stirred up lots of memories. I always make the coast, Carmel, Monterrey, Santa Cruz, for a day or two when visiting Calif. A couple of weeks ago we met Rodger Cripe and his wife for a couple of days in that area.
In closing, in my travels, literally all over the world working narcotics intelligence, I found no one knows what brussel sprouts are. I love them. My wife had never heard of them, let alone eaten them, until she met me. When I can find them in the store here, ( the Hill Country in Texas ), I fix them for company and more often than not, they don't know what they are. Amazing. Not quite the same for prunes, although no one really knows they are just a dried type of plum. Most people think they are only for medicinal purposes for us old folk.
While reading the book,I often thought that it would have been fun to have had scattered throughout, or at the end, some of the family recipes for Brussel Sprouts. I have one recipe that uses mandarin oranges with the sprouts. I'll have to dig it out and fix some now.
Thanks again for the book,
Robert "Russ" Jones
#383 then #1502
LNC: Thanks Russ for all those memories. Next time you are in the area, please contact me. Maybe we could exchange recipes for “Brussel Sprouts ala mandarin. Ivn0