Friday, December 10, 2010

DAY 67 - Happy Birthday Little Brother

My little brother Ken was born on December 10, 1952. You haven’t heard me talk much about him because he died in 1969. He was 16 years old, and died when he broke his neck in a motorcycle accident on Highway 1 in Big Sur, near the Garrapata Creek bridge.

A wonderful young man!
(Photo - 1969 - top Ken, below Kris )

He was a bright boy; a reader. In 1957 Ken turned 5, I turned 6, and our older brother, Kap turned 7. While I could read, Ken LOVED to read. That year, the 3 of us received a gift from our great grandmother, of an American Heritage Book Club membership which provided us each month with a thick, young-adult history book. There were titles like Whaling, The American Revolution, The French and Indian Wars, and Lewis and Clark. Thank god for the pictures! Ken liked the pictures too, but, at 5, he read each book as it arrived, to himself. At age 59, I can still remember my parent’s pride and excitement at the dinner table, as my little brother would tell us about the history he was learning.

In the summer of 1968, our Dad accepted a job in Santa Cruz, CA. We would be moving from Ventura. While not actually a chess player, I had made a move earlier in the year that would change my life with Ken. I had asked my Mom, given that I had only gone to the same school 2 years in a row, on one occasion since first grade; could I finish my senior year of high school at Ventura High in 1969. She had said I could. Now, when the chips were down, she didn’t hesitate, she immediately said that I would be able to stay in Ventura and finish school, even with the family moving to Santa Cruz.

The next thing I knew, Ken had asked if he could stay with me in Ventura, to also finish high school. An arrangement was worked out in which our parents would give us money for basic necessities and we would rent an apartment. As we settled into our new digs that summer, Ken was 15 and I was 16.

That school year we lived at the beach in a tiny studio on Bath Lane; a rowdy, partying lane off of Pierpont Blvd. We had parties of our own, but neither of us missed a day of school. The Ventura Unified School District never knew that we lacked parental supervision 24/7.

I loved Ken. We were both very busy that year, and I don’t know that I fully appreciated what a gem I had.


  1. Thank you for this loving post, Kris. I can feel Kenny so clearly in your words and memories.

    Happy Birthday, big brother Ken.

    Love....your little sister.

  2. Yes!

    Her's to our family, and to our big loving human family!