Tuesday, May 30, 2006

In Memory of Kelly Cline

On Memorial Day an old high school friend of mine, Kelly Cline passed away. I feel a need to write some words in his memory, though in truth I didn’t see him more than once a year in his older age where he lived in Pacific Beach.

I first meet Kelly on the cross-country team at Cleveland High School in Seattle. I was a senior and he was a junior. People who knew him in his later years would probably be surprised to think of Kelly as a long distance runner. The years took a heavy toll on his body and he didn’t take very good care of it.

He was a good companion for me back in the early 70’s. In the spring of that year he and I rode the freight trains from Seattle down to San Francisco to run in the first annual Golden Gate Marathon. You can read about that trip here.

He wasn’t able to finish that race as he had stabbed his right calf with a scissors the day before while cutting off his jeans to make a pair of cutoffs.

I would team up with him again in the spring of 1972 when we got an apartment together in Palo Alto. He worked at a gas station in Milpitas while I worked the night shift at the Jack-in-the-Box in Redwood City. He worked the graveyard shift and spent most of his time playing his guitar.

We were trying to save up money for a hitchhiking tour of Europe, but when the money didn’t accumulate we moved to Gila Bend, Arizona to work in his father’s hay cutting business. Often in the evening we would make a trip to Phoenix to visit some girls he had meet in his one semester of college at Arizona State.

During the day after work we would hang out in our van recording music and dreaming of sending it to his brother in Spokane who was a DJ there.

After a couple of months in Gila Bend we made a cross country trip that took us back through Seattle and eventually to Boston. You can follow the details of that trip here.

That trip ended in desperation on the shores of Carson Beach in Boston where we decided to return home to Seattle.

The next year in 1973 Kelly married his first wife Cheryl, and lived in the southern suburbs of Seattle where he worked sometimes as a salesman. That marriage lasted for about 2 years.

He met his second wife, Tracy, at a bar in Ballard. She was the daughter of a mortician and he lived in the upstairs apartment of the mortuary. His first son died of SIDS around that time. I lost track of Kelly when I moved to California in 1979, but this marriage only lasted a short time.

He got a job withUPS where he met his third wife Tammy. He eventually suffered a back injury at work and began living off of disability. His third and final marriage also came to an end and he soured on the idea of family life.

He became addicted to the welfare state collecting disability for his back injury and I don’t believe he held a steady job since that time.

I know he spent time living in his van in Los Angles, where he wrote a screen play that he hoped would bring him the fame and recognition he longed for.

He came back to Seattle and lived with my brother’s family taking up residence in his basement. He drifted around but finally ended up at Pacific Beach in 1999 after my brother moved his family there.

This was probably the high point of his life as he had a deal working for Linux magazine doing shipping and work on their web page. Linux magazine financed the purchase of his Trucking Express building and he made a good life for himself.

Here you can see him working as a DJ at the pirate radio station, KPB, that was begun by my brother at the Wacky Warehouse.
He got the radio bug then and when the pirate radio was shut down he focused all his energy on getting a legal radio license which eventually came to be KXPB radio, Pacific Beach.

It was really quite an accomplishment and he became more and more attached to the success of the radio station. Unfortunately it feed his ego which began to grow and blinded him to the misuse and abuse he inflicted on his life long friends.

Events turned on him and he lost his connection to Linux magazine and eventually forced him to sell the Trucking Express building which cut off his source of income forcing him to rely totally on funds raised by the radio station.

Unable to put food on his table he relied on his friends to help financially support himself and his health suffered.

He became well known at Pacific Beach for the work he did on their web page and the local events that he would MC and DJ for. He reached his pinnacle this past Memorial Day as the DJ for the local celebration raising funds for the operation of the food bank and the radio station.

He was found sitting at his desk with the stacks of cash and checks he had raised, no doubt planning the future of his radio station which he had managed to take full control of.

I will remember him as a friend willing to take on adventures that few others would have dared.

Kelly Cline 1953-2006