John Charleston - Cecily Wright
John: 4 yrs
John: 19 years
with son John
John: 45 years
Wow! Forty years . . .
For those of you that knew me well in High School, you knew that I'd rather be doing anything else than going to school. In fact, I can't recall how many times I was sent home for wearing 'love beads', not wearing socks, trying to grow my hair long (remember, the next year 'non-discrimination' laws passed and schools stopped their standard 'dress code' rules), or for 'inciting a riot' (like when I was caught aiming a raw egg at the Vice Principal during lunch break :~) Things certainly have changed . . .[Visit John's webpage for lots more photos and information. He also has an automatic list builder of friends so that he can send out occasional updates. Find the form at the bottom of his web page. --cch]
I graduated with some of my dearest friends in 1968.
I still have my Kindergarten class photo with John Mahoney from Barranca School, and we have stayed in contact at times over the years. And I am looking forward to seeing Mel Buckhave at the reunion. Mel and I were inseparable in Senior year - I have not seen him since he joined the forces after graduation.
BTW - If any of you know Lynn Turner 'Shag', Cathy Ricci, and 'George' (a friend of Shana) I'd love to re-connect with them. Lynn and 'George' (a girl) were junior class mates.
While in high school my focus continued to be on playing original music. I started to learn guitar when I was 9 years old, joined my first band at 13 (a surf band), evolved through to 'Beatles' music, Blues, and eventually began writing my own originals.
During my senior year the band was called 'John Charleston Group'. We played mostly at school functions due to our 'under age' status. However that did not stop us from becoming a well known band in San Gabriel / Pomona Valley areas.
It was within a year of graduation that I became a father! Some of you may remember Clary Huestis from CHS Class of '67. We had been dating steadily for over a year, and yes, we did have 'unprotected sex', and since I had already experienced what it was like to have parents that each had been married 6 times by my 18th birthday, 'we' weren't going to do that! So, off to Vegas we went.
I must say that being a father was not familiar ground for me. However, Clary was a caring and terrific mother, and our son got off to a great start - sleeping behind a stack of speaker cabinets.
One of the things I've experienced in life is that I am a 'partner' person. The 'John Charleston Group' experience left me feeling empty, as if I was not a good enough leader. As we (members) continued to grow up - we also grew away from each other (and I must add that over the years many of us have grown back as great long-life friends). But, it was inevitable that the band would dissolve.
This is when I met Hai Muradian. Hai was a 'soch', and leader of the Men's cheer leaders at San Dimas HS. He was as weird as I was. At the time he was in a musical group called 'Via' - an acronym for Visionary Indian Angels (see what I mean :~) Hai played flute and some guitar. Hai and Mark Mansell joined up with Bob Bayless (South Hills HS) and myself to create 'Featherstitch.' Somehow we got together and in a week came up with some of the most creative music that never made it.
We played together for just a few months in the area, in clubs and winning every 'battle of the bands' we entered. And in 1970 we decided to leave Southern California and seek life as a band on the road (more about this later).
In 2004, Ross Mayfield, a friend of both bands from the era, ran into Hai at a Las Vegas music industry convention. He got my contact info and that resulted in transferring reels of recordings from tape to CD's. Because of that I can share with you both groups music!
It is interesting to note that all the players in these bands continued to play or work in the music industry to this day. Some are cutting film, editing sound, working sound stages and some are still recording. All were true 'players'. Hai Muradian not only is one of Coast Music Wholesale's main sales persons (for decades) but he works tirelessly in several local bands including 'The Ravelers', a professional 'covers' band featuring songs from the 60's, 70's, and 80's.
Featherstitch was a unique band - very popular in the San Gabriel and Inland Empire valleys, but, the 'big break' was not on the horizon. In 1970 'Featherstitch' took off on a journey. Our intent was to go to Elizabeth Town in upper New York State and use our Los Angeles 'status' to make a name in the music business. What happened was that we got as far as Ohio and discovered the house that was waiting for us was sold! So there we were; 9 people with 3 vehicles and $150! (that was not quite nuts as you may recall gas was $0.29 a gallon back then).
So we made our way north to Cleveland where Scott Sheridan's brother had a place and was a bass player in a local 'working band'. This was a new term to us - Ohio had an 18 year old drinking age - so many fine musicians could find real work in local dance bars and clubs and actually earn a great living; if the band plays covers. We didn't, and so we had an uphill battle. Within a week we had relocated to Kent, Ohio (where Kent State is located), and had acquired a steady gig at JB's. This was the club Joe Walsh (of the James Gang - aka Barnstorm; later with the Eagles) got his start at.
Over time Featherstitch became a well-known name in Ohio and Eastern Pennsylvania. They played with Prochol Harem, Cat Stevens and King Crimson. Our most popular venue was playing as the 'Lead Group' in the concert series for the very popular recording band; 'Glass Harp' with songwriter, guitarist and singer Phil Keaggy. Phil has stayed a mainstream 'Christian' rock star for over 40 years!
It was actually warming up before the gigs with Phil Keaggy that changed the direction of my life. "Anything can happen at the speed of trust"
What happened was that as much as I really admired Phil for his musical ability, he was a 'born again' Christian and he took time out of every concert to 'witness' to the young crowd about his revelation and becoming a 'Christian'. While I did not like this, I had no understanding or knowledge about Christianity, and could not have a meaningful 'conversation' about his views.
My mother had been involved in Astrology and other teachings from my infancy, and that was all I knew. And, since my best class ever in High School had been Debate (Alhambra H. S.) where I received great grades, I knew that I needed 'information' in order to have that meaningful conversation with Phil.
This led me to ask friends 'What do you know about Christianity?' which led to a couple of books coming my way via our road manager. The books? The Greek Iliad (where the Christian belief of a burning hell came from) and a book that I still have; 'The Lost Years of Jesus Revealed, a Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls'. The latter book was so intriguing to me as I had previously learned from my mom's friends (the WOW's - Weirdoes of the World - as my brother affectionately call them) that Edgar Cayce readings had indicated way back that these scrolls would be found, and that they would be confiscated by the 'church' in order to keep the truth of their contents a secret!
Well, this had me all excited! What was this about???
As I started reading I learned that in the scrolls of Isaiah the 'name' of God had remained written in ancient Hebrew, while the rest of the scrolls were written in common Greek. The Hebrew name had not been translated due to superstition that if the name was even verbally 'uttered' by anyone except the High Priest, they would die. So the scribes that wrote the Scroll of Isaiah included the Hebrew 'tetragramaton'; the four letters of God's name, in the text 65 times.
Well this was even more intriguing - and as the Universe has it for me, when I got to this query a knock came to my door. Clary, son John and I, were now living in a converted mule barn, in the back yard of a house on a dirt alley in the 'black' neighborhood of Kent. And as I opened the door, here is a man dressed in a suit, holding a book in his hands, and proclaiming something about something.
I asked him, 'Do you sell Bibles?" He answered 'Yes'. I thought, this is so cool! Right when I need one to learn from, here it is! So, he handed me a new Bible (for $1) and I asked him; "Have you ever heard of a 'tetragramaton'"?
He about fell over. Robert (Bob) Jacops opened his bible to the front pages where he showed me a drawing of the sacred Hebrew four letters; YHVH, which he explained to me meant "He who causes to become" and was pounced Jehovah or Yahweh.
I was blown away and immediately stated a weekly bible study with this man - actually, about 3 to 4 study periods a week.
All this happened for me in a period of about 3 weeks - I was in deep thought about the direction of my life and choose to leave a life that I loved so much. I became a very strong Jehovah's Witness for the next 15 years of my life. Within short time my music life was over. I had decided to 'get responsible' and get a 'real' job (which blew me away as my first job paid $2.10 an hour - and even a couple of years later when I had made it in construction to be earning Journeyman wages of $125 a week, I had earned more money playing music gigs in clubs).
So, my life took a huge turn. Much of it was very good; I learned compassion, and acceptance of love, and rejection. I went through 12 years of theology school and became an excellent teacher of 'the truth', and brought in dozens - over 50 people, into that religion. I was fortunate that later I found my way out and back into the world of choice. Remember: "Anything can happen at the speed of trust"
Life was changing fast now. My relationship with Clary had been precariously balanced between her needs and that of a traveling musician; it was not working. All of a sudden I had structure and belief in 'how life should be' (it was years later that I learned to stop 'shoulding' on myself :~). As Clary also became a 'believer' our life seemed to get better. I had huge desires to become wealthy - actually, financially free - which did not seem to fit well with my possibilities in Ohio.
Then in 1975 Clary's father died of cancer and we moved back to Covina. By now I had become a Journeyman Carpenter - and had mastered many construction trades as that was the way in Ohio - from the ground up. After becoming known in the local Witness community I learned that some of the wealthier members were friends of my father, who was also wealthy. With those relationships I was able to strike partnerships and create a new career as a licensed General Contractor and began building custom 'spec' homes.
My expertise was in Victorian Restoration and eventually I had a small business with over 50 projects on the books. It was a lot of work and parts of it I did not enjoy. By 1980 I had moved into commercial construction working for a Fortune 500 company building their factories and distribution centers throughout Los Angeles.
Around 1985 I had become cynical about some of the Witness teachings, finding some of them to be without merit and background.
A friend turned me onto a book written by the grandson of one of the founding members that exposed practices that were against their own teachings, and once again I found myself in a whirlwind of change.
After a year and a half of 'pastoral counseling' I was out. I was sad, but out.
And the other ugly truth came back; the things that were causing Clary to almost separate back in 1971 were back (it's funny how we bury things under 'busy' and 'later'). We painfully separated in 1986 and eventually divorced a few years later.
I had lost my religion, much of my spirituality, my home, my family, my friends, and my dreams . . .
Whatever was to come next . . . my dreams had to come back to life.
My work in Victorian wood working and commercial construction led me to an unusual venture, Doors. Doors, frames, and hardware vaulted my next business like a rocket. I had found a contract to provide doors, frames, hardware and installation as a joint venture with a Orange County contractor that provided walls and ceilings in the construction of three huge building projects in Manhattan Beach for TRW.
By the conclusion of that project I had a partnership and opened 'Champion Door and Frame' in San Diego, and had secured the coveted 'Fastest growing Door, Frame and Hardware Business' award from Stanley Hardware at the 1987 Door and Hardware Institute at the Disneyland Convention Center. I was flying high again.
Things are going great . . . DUCK!
Within three months of the award - and becoming a 'name' in the San Diego construction industry, I found out that my 51% partner was using our 'receivables' to buy drugs for resale from South America. And, when confronted, he changed the locks on the doors, liquidated, and left me on the streets in San Diego. Whoops . . .
OK - so that was apparently not the way.
I then moved to Laguna Niguel where I lived with my friend, John Mahoney's brother Doug, his wife Barbara, and his son. He took me in and I helped him with his business and painted houses for a living and to keep my sanity.
These were sad times again. Because of my previous experience with Jehovah's Witnesses, I was very cautions about anything 'spiritual'. Yet I found myself searching inside of me - what was missing? I kept asking the question.
During the prior decade (1979 - 1994) I had developed a real love for sailing and Catamaran Racing. I had also become the Division 2 Commodore for the Hobie CLass Racing Association.
Many of the friends I made during those times remain true friends today.
And the influence in sailing and being on the water had certainly influenced my son John who has lived in Hawaii the past 18 years. He is a licensed Captain and worked for Maitai Catamaran Service driving a 40' 'Cat' off the beach at the Sheraton Hotel in Waikiki. Today he not only owns his own dive business, (www.KaiExplorer.com) but works many nights playing drums in local bands. In 2000 his band; 'Sugah Daddy' won the 'Best of Honolulu' rock and roll band award. Very cool.
So, I had new friends from a new life, and no direction, I remember spray painting houses on a ladder thinking to myself; 'What's next? What's next?'. Many days after work I'd go down to Salt Creek and walk at the oceans edge and contemplate the same thing. I continually felt myself asking for direction inside.
It was at this time that I was meeting with a financial person that represented an investment I had gotten into several years earlier. I was meeting with him looking for advice and direction for my idea to buy the Hobie Cat factory in Oceanside and re-promote the product with newer marketing. While I was meeting with this person I was drawn to his steady, confident composure and I caught myself asking; "What is it about you? Something I feel that I want?" He smiled and said to me; "Have you ever heard of TM?" I responded, "Uh, you mean TM, that stuff the Beatles did with the Indian dude?"
Well, off I was to the book store again - and within a month I had taken the course and was meditating daily. To stay in the flow I got back into being more sociable (not easy to do with a painters salary) and I attended a Hobie Cat meeting in San Diego where I struck up a conversation that led me to a meeting with a fellow sailing competitor who was the former construction manager for the San Diego Sea World project.
It turns out that he was involved in a due-diligence study of a large construction project - Symphone Towers - and he needed help. I showed up that Monday for an interview and found myself in charge of the tallest high-rise project is San Diego at that time, the Symphony Towers and Marriott Hotel twin towers.
In less than two months from the time I was wondering 'what's next', I had become a meditator and found myself wearing a suit and standing in a window looking across the street to my project, and thinking to myself, 'what a strange and wonderful world we live in'.
So, I got down to work. Worked hard and long hours. Made good money and developed a new life relationship with a single mom and her two wonderful kids. We were together for several years in all and mostly had a fun life. But, commitment and partnership was not there. I knew that - but, did not want to face it until such time that the project was complete and I was offered to build more projects for the London based company. I had a choice; Hong Kong or Manhattan. Neither appealed to me and instead I struck out to create a new business in San Diego so that I could keep this family together. That was like holding back a breaking dam. Money was the thing. Without mutual goals and a vision of a future together we broke up and again I found myself on the other side of 'Status', I now had 'Stigma'.
The fledgling business idea took off a year later - just in time to help me survive and get bills paid off. The business centered around the newly passed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which I had become quite familiar with. A partnership with an architect and a lawyer, we started a company (ProSite, Inc.) which provided deferred maintenance reporting used by limited partnerships purchasing large shopping centers. The reports were used to lower the purchase price based upon the ADA law that all properties had to be in compliance with these building elements, and the existing owners were responsible to have already had the work done. This generally reduced the selling price of a property by as much as 25%.
Business was flourishing when Bob Dole was running for President and he said that, when elected, he would abolish the ADA. Well, we knew that was crazy, but in the mean time, our rocket ship business crashed.
So it was in 1995 that I again determined to create a void in my life. Striving and working hard - was not working. Mom had moved to Spokane, Washington in 1970 and I had only seen her a few times over the years since. She had recently fallen, broke a hip, and then had a heart attack. I determined to put everything into storage and move to Spokane to spend time with her, focused on being a care giver, and again waited to see what the Universe would bring my way next.
Well, it did not take long!
I moved to Spokane in April of 1995. And within a month mom had introduced me to her 'new' friend, Cecily Wright. She had met Cecily a Easter event Unity Church had held in the Spokane Opera House. Cecily had been going through some changes too. When we met I knew there was something really special about this lady.
After a bit Cecily asked me to teach her how to meditate as I had become an instructor of the practice. I did forget to mention that, but, after taking the TM course I studied in Fairfield Iowa at Maharishi International University (TM-Sidhis Course) with Deepak Chopra and John Hagelin. I found meditation to be a natural space for me. When I drove out to Cecily's place in the country and saw her in her element, there was not much to teach her - she was in her space, what Peter Pan called his 'happy space'. I saw in her so many attributes that I wanted to be in my own life, and I wanted to be around her.
Cecily's background was in banking - and a merger had taken 'her bank' away a few years earlier. She had cashed in her stock and bought a 'job', a travel agency, and now, with the advent of the Internet coming on strong, technology was about to wipe out that industry as it was then.
We talked about doing something together to create a fluid retirement program. I could see that she was smart, a very hard worker, loving to her friends - and even to those that were not her friends. People liked her. We would be good for each other.
So, we started thinking of things to do. Well, I had a problem; allergies. And now that it was about June is Spokane, everything was in full bloom and I could not breathe! This was nothing like LA where I was used to dirt, dust and smog. This was ton's of pollen and I was dying.
I went to Hawaii to look at the Catamaran business John worked for - it was up for sale and I took the time to get into some good air and get my health back. After several weeks Cecily calls to let me know that she thinks she 'found something' that could work for us . . .
And that led us to today, thirteen years later.
Yep; "Anything can happen at the speed of trust"
It was an industry that neither of us was familiar with. It was the industry of Network Marketing.
Once we 'got it' we discovered that, what we looked at and became amazed at, others thought was crazy. As we became more familiar with the industry concepts we would share what we were doing with long time friends and business contacts. I remember how bad Cecily felt when one of her corporate clients said to her, 'Wow Cecily, I didn't realize things had gotten so bad for you. I would have gladly given you a job!' She was crushed - great friendships are really so thin.
We started paying money and going to the 'best' gurus of the industry. We listened and we checked out, and after a few short years we realized that what was really needed, we already had. We had experience; both business and life experiences. We knew the principles of the industry are not only good - they work, and they are the only way for most common people to create a substantial income so they can retire and continue to live off their residual income. We knew how to do it - we were already doing it - and we were successful at it.
In 1996 we formed Dream Makers.
We have a saying; "Network Marketing is really Personal Development disguised as a business opportunity" - how true that is! We became industry advocates, helping to found the Distributors Rights Association (DRA) and staying on top of the industry as a whole.
Cecily and I married in October, 2000. We rebuilt our modest home on 40 acres and enjoy our life to the fullest. Today we continue to work our international business out of our home office, our commute is down a flight of stairs where we have a north facing view of over 70 miles. We travel a lot. We share in others experience a lot, and we encourage Personal Development courses a lot.
We currently are top income earners and sit on the Field Advisory Board of a company that is 'The World Leader in Nutritional Cleansing'. Our health is better than most. Our stress levels are low, and we enjoy a terrific life every day.
BTW - Our flagship product is a nutritional cleansing system that removes toxins and impurities from the body - the result is improved health and rapid weight loss.
'My purpose in life is to help others find their purpose in life, and if possible, help them fulfill it'
Nothing in my life has been more meaningful than to help others become financially free - able to look at their life situation and make choices without the fear of not having enough money.
I realize that what we offer is not for everyone. Some are lucky enough, or hard working (and lucky enough) to have 'made it' financially. For me, that road did not work. I began to get what I wanted, when I focused on helping other people get what they wanted first. The industry of Network Marketing provided the foundation to make that a reality in my life.
Thank you for taking the time to see where my life path has taken me. I honor every step of it - I would not be the person I am today without each step I took, and without each person that touched my life.
I am grateful and honored to be able to see each one of you at our upcoming reunion!
John Charleston - Cecily Wright