Michael Steele wrote this in memory of the late William Rounds, a childhood friend, who died in 2008.
Rounds is in many of my childhood memories. He was such a great athlete. Especially in the most difficult of all track and
field events the 440 yard sprint. I have many memories of Bill running because he was so good. I remember him running at a
dead sprint, I remember him running in football pads, I remember him running up Mount Mother Fccker at the Diamond B Football
Camp, and once, I remember Bill running down Grizzly Peak Boulevard from the rear view mirror of his Dad's blue pickup truck.
tenth grade while at wrestling practice Bill and I often partnered together because of our similar weights. In Tenth grade
you started thinking about getting serious about sports. And in order to get serious about wrestling you had to start going
to AAU wrestling meets and wrestling out of season. For Bill, Dean Melanie and I, we all decided to get serious on the same
weekend at about 8 o'clock Saturday morning. We were going to wrestle adults.
In 1972 there was still an Amateur Athletic
Union for hobbyists and Olympians alike. This was before TV when everyone had to have a job in order to live and sports was
still a casual weekend activity. No one had agents. No one used steroids. No had game boys. Kids still played all day long
out front or at a neighbors. And Willie Mays made about $120,000 a year for playing baseball with the SF Giants.
the Navy put on these events and one of these events was being held on Treasure Island one weekend. This was the meet Bill,
Dean and I choose to get serious about and we got all the way to Treasure Island before we started having misgivings. We were
after all only 16 and on our way to getting our butts kicked by adult hobbyists.
I sat in the middle of the front seat
while Bill drove and Dean sat shotgun. We always called the front passenger seat shotgun because supposedly you had less of
a chance surviving a head on crash from this seat than others. Seat belts hadn't been around that long and the belief was
that you'd sail through the front windshield in a crash if you sat here. While the steering wheel would save the driver and
the back seat rest would save the people in the rear. And suicide seats didn't sound as good.
Driving along, the Bay
Bridge is maybe 5 miles or half way across to Treasure Island. We were having 2nd thoughts when we hit the bridge. Probably
because there are no more off ramps. You pay a $1 toll and then you're basically there.
I looked at Bill, Bill looked
at me. Bill didn't say a word, I didn't say a word. I looked over at Dean, Dean looked back at me. And then Dean says what
we had already agreed upon, "..fcck this crazy shct of wrestling adults.." So Bill does a u-turn at Treasure Island
and heads back for a liquor store. We didn't have to discuss the liquor store decision either. This expectation was telepathic.
bought hundreds of beers in high school. I bought beer for myself. I bought beer for others. Every kid that I ever drank beer
with bought buy beer. For buying alcohol back in 1972 was nothing like buying alcohol today. Back then, every liquor store
sold to anything that walked in the door.
"..My Daddy sent me. ..".
little boy. Here you go... And here's a book of matches in case you want some cigarettes...".
Liquor stores owned
by blacks in Oakland were especially easy. And Oakland was a short 20 minute drive away. 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back.
The only places I remember that I ever had problems buying beer from were places like 7-11 or Safeway. Grocery stores wouldn't
sell you beer. But Liquor stores, never had a problem in 1972.
Question: Whatever happened to Brass Monkey?
Dean and I each bought a case of Mickey's Big Mouth. This beer was especially good and especially prized because each bottle
was shaped like a barrel and each barrel had a big mouth opening for pouring and drinking. Thus the name, 'Mickey's Big Mouth'.
The bottle even had shapes of wood molded into the glass. We each drank 24 of these Mickey's Big Mouths while sitting on top
of Pinnacle Rock staring out over the bay or far off to the ocean. I'm told Pinnacle Rock is now known as Remillard Park.
This was my first time getting this blitzed, and my first time consuming a case of beer, and my first time completing
this rite of passage that all wanna be young men had to pass in 1972.
Somewhere around mid day Dean went home and Bill
and I started cruising Tilden Park and then just cruising. That's when I decided I was going to learn how to drive a four
speed. And I was going to use Bill's pickup truck to practice upon. This would be around the old Heliport commuter pad on
Grizzly Peak boulevard when I made this decision.
You know, we urinated in public a lot while growing up
and looking back I wonder how we ever got away with this much pissing in public. We'd stop and piss just about anywhere and
several times a night. Truly, I think we all preferred to piss out of doors for I don't ever remember anyone preferring to
use the public restrooms. I think it was a back to nature thing about pissing. Or an urgency thing. I don't think it was ever
a hippy thing. Few, if any of us were hippies.
Drunkenly, I steal Bill's pickup and hysterically laughing I pull out.
And hysterically laughing I accelerate down Grizzly Peak Boulevard. I even remember hysterically laughing right up to the
time I saw Bill over taking the stolen vehicle from the rear view mirror. His form was perfect.
Hands up, arms pumping,
knees high and on tippy toes. Bill was overtaking me and I was going about 25 miles an hour. Bill was hauling arss. My arss.
Or rather, it was my arss.
You know what else Bill had? Bill had the best right cross of anyone I ever
knew or saw in person. Just like his running form, Bill could throw a beautiful punch. He was such an athlete. Bill was such
a natural athlete.
So it was a great for us, great day for me and Bill and Dean Melanie. And one of the best memories
I have of growing up. We went to our first AAU meet. We got drunk at 9:00 AM. We sat on top of Pinnacle Rock all day drinking
cases of Mickey's Big Mouth. We completed an important rite of adult manhood passage. And I carried my front tooth home in
my right pants pocket.