My Life So Far–University, Akron to SF Bay

As my tenure at Margaret Park Unitred Presbyterian Church drew to a close, I became more involved with the urban ministries work. In that milieu I found new acquaintances and broadened my web of connection. Three were especially important: A representative of the Bahai faith taught philosophy at the University of Akron. Charlie let me know that there was a teaching position available and that I would be the perfect candidate to teach subjects like The Psychology of Personal Growth, Intergroup Relations, and Introduction to Psychology.  I applied and was hired.

At one meeting, a well-known gynecologist and his wife announced that they had been trained at the National Sex Forum, had returned to Akron, and were beginning to offer "Sex Attitude Reassessment" workshops for clergy, attorneys, and physicians. In fact the next one was scheduled in a couple weeks and they were making a very low price for underpaid clergy.  Game for new adventures, I paid the fee, went through the four day program and had my vistas greatly broadened. Since I had a number of gay and lesbian friends, it gave me a new insight into both the breadth of their sexuality and the societal struggles that hampered their lives.

Finally, and very importantly, I met the professional organization development advisor to both the urban ministries group and to the Akron Council of Churches, Bill Fisher. Not to diminish anyone else, I began to evaluate and discover that in any group in which he was participating, Bill was usually the "sharpest knife in the drawer." He would invariably be thinking three to four jumps ahead of anyone else.

In the first few weeks at the University of Akron, two important things happened: With Bill's encouragement, I made the decision to pursue a doctorate, under his tutelage. The second was that Tamayo and I separated.

We did not immediately get a divorce, but I did leave the house and rent a room elsewhere. It was a confusing emotional period and I'm not going to dig deep and expose all that went on. But I do want to say that we had a deep and mutually admiring relationship and we were loathe to lose that. We had struggled together through seminary, were part of the Poor People's campaign together, suffered through language school together, adopted a child together and then went through hell in Brazil with mutual fear, and support.

I need to say that I could not have asked for a better partner. In fact, we went back and forth in this several times, considering divorce and then backing away from that step. It was a very confusing time. But eventually I made the choice to remain with Tamayo, she made the choice to accept, and I'm glad we both did–even though I later chose otherwise, I had several more good years of being her partner.

At about this time, Tamayo graduated from her Computer Science program at the University of Akron. She graduated with the highest grade point average ever obtained. She was absolutely brilliant at working with the various programming skills and languages. She got a job at a community college in Canton, just south of Akron and had many interesting adventures there, eventually becoming the queen of her computer department, but that's her story.

We remained in Akron for three more years. I working with and for Bill, using him as my main mentor in my doctorate. I was simultaneously pursueing my clinical membership in the Int'l Transactional Analysis Association under the tutelage of Bill Holloway (Who, ironically, retired; married a Brazilian psychologist, and now lives in São Paulo.) then flew to New York for ongoing workshops with Albert Ellis. Along the way, I also chose to work on a clinical membership in the Amer. Assoc. of Marriage and Family Therapy.

Since this was before licensing because ubiquitous (In my opinion, also iniquitous.) the way one joined AAMFT, was to have several hundred hours of supervised practice, complete a test and then meet with a committee for an oral examination. I found an AAMFT supervising therapist through the same Akron Sex Forum. As might happen, she was also and primarilly a sex therapist. So she would be my supervisor, but kept pushing me to learn sex therapy.

So in the space of two years, I joined ITAA, AAMFT (Though it was AAMFC-counselors-at the time.) and AASECT and became certified in REBT. Then it was suggested that I attend a weekend workshop in Los Angeles given by two of the primary lights in sex therapy, William Hartmann and Marilyn Fithian who had a different program and idea than the work of Masters and Johnson. I did go and became interested in their ideas and practice. Sufficiently so that I returned for a two-week workshop which culminated in a weekend of group nude therapy with several psychologists and the support of Abraham Maslow. The value of nude therapy was well-demonstrated, but that is the subject of a professional article.

Back in Akron, I completed my supervision and opened my practice. More of my practice than I expected was doing sex therapy, but I worked with the widest variety of the issues. My teacher, Al Ellis, often said that most of what we do is working "with 'normal neurotics' like ourselves." At the same time working with Bill Fisher whose company Advance, Inc. had various organizational development contracts. I found myself being a marriage counselor to management; helping managers and supervisors work better together, sometimes helping them work through their "marital" disagreements.

Frances wanted a dog. For her birthday, she and I drove to a breeder and found a delightful beagle puppy who made his home with us. Tamayo named him "Hide" (Heedei) in honor of her father. So Frances supposedly took on the responsibility for walking Hide and feeding him.

In 1975, I completed my doctorate. We had just gone through another very cold winter that lasted and lasted. Our friends and former seminary classmates were living in Pittsburgh. They drove to Akron and we were going to spend a couple days together topped off by seeing a performance of the theater. They barely arrived in Akron when the snow began. It was late March and it was a blizzard. For three days, we were all house-bound, unable to venture out comfortably. That blizzard eventually ended and our friends went back to Pittsburgh, but it helped us make our decision to leave snow behind.

We left Akron at the same time as our furniture and belongings. We were in our two cars. Our furniture was in a truck. I'm not sure how we decided where to go, but our three plus years in San Anselmo, seemed to aim us back to Marin county in California. We came across as a two car caravan, keeping track of both Frances and Hide along the way.

Arriving in Marin, we rented a great, small townhouse in San Rafael. Tamayo quickly found a position with Fireman's Fund Insurance, helping to wrestle their IBM360 into compliance. Her skills were so evident that she quickly became a valued employee, noted for solving the toughest problems.

Instead of trying to build a new practice here, I eventually found employment with a consulting and training group, supervising consultants and trainers. It was a decently paid job for those days. We had several organizational consultants working in local governments, non-profits and a few corporations in addition to putting on 50-60 days of workshops each month. I quickly learned about the logistics of supporting all those folk, but I also got to vet some of them.

We competed for training contracts to train unemployed people under the CETA laws and that added a new level of complexity. Eventually, the board of directors decided to rent a larger space and build classrooms to house some of this training work. It seemed like a good decision at the time. However, the next year, Ronald Reagan became president. As he had earlier, in California, he preemptorily cancelled all the CETA contracts and even refused to pay for work that had already been done. The Institute was left without the funds to continue and had to close down even the non-CETA work for lack of resources.

By chance however, I was in the vanguard of a new industry. Most of my life, one of my hobbies was amateur radio. That lead to meeting other "hams" some of whom were building their own computers and then to me building my own. The ultimate home built computer was a Heathkit with 64KB of memory. (If you don't know what that means, just let it pass, it isn't very relevant. Looking for a way to keep contributing to our family income, I took advantage of the fact that I knew more about computers than most people and my Heathkit was more advanced than most of what was then on the market. I began selling these things to lawyers and financial groups. Of course I could have started a practice at that point, but visions of bigger incomes took over.

I'm not going to narrate all the ins and outs of the computer business, except to say that I stayed on the bleeding edge of the industry, especially "networking" multiple computers together so they could share data. For about twenty years, I worked in this field.

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