Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, January 22, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 13

OPINION Mountain View News Saturday, January 22, 2022 
13 OPINION Mountain View News Saturday, January 22, 2022 




Susan Henderson 


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello 


John Aveny 


Peter Lamendola 


Stuart Tolchin 
Audrey SwansonMeghan MalooleyMary Lou CaldwellKevin McGuire 
Chris Leclerc 
Bob Eklund 
Howard HaysPaul CarpenterKim Clymer-KelleyChristopher NyergesPeter Dills 
Rich Johnson 
Lori Ann Harris 
Rev. James SnyderKatie HopkinsDeanne Davis 
Despina ArouzmanJeff Brown 
Marc Garlett 
Keely TotenDan Golden 
Rebecca WrightHail Hamilton 
Joan Schmidt 
LaQuetta Shamblee 

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On Monday, the day we celebrate and honor the late 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I WOKE (note the contemporary 
term), checked my iphone and came across an 
article about Attorney Clarence B. Jones entitled “Man 
Who Kept MLK’s Secrets”. I learned for the first time 
about the man who was Martin Luther King’s Lawyer 
and speechwriter who together with Dr. King slew racist 
dragons from coast to coast”. 
In 1963, when Dr. King was arrested and jailed in Alabama, 
Jones, as his attorney was allowed to personally visit him many times. At 
each of these visits Jones concealed many sheets of blank notebook paper leaving 
the blank sheets with the jailed preacher. After future visits Jones brought out 
fully written pages we now know as the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” which has 
become an important text for the Civil Rights Movement. 

 Clarence B. Jones is also credited as being a co-writer of the famous August 
28. 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech delivered from the steps of the Lincoln 
Memorial before a crowd of 250,000 people. This speech ranks among the most 
famous in history and over fifty years later it still resonates. Please recall the basic 
message of that speech; but this article is not intended as a discussion of that 
speech or of the man Martin Luther King. On this particular Martin Luther King 
Day I became fascinated by the information contained in the article that Clarence 

B. Jones now age 91 would be delivering a webinar from Stanford on, January 18, 
the very next day. 
What further caught my attention was information in the article that described 
the first meeting of Martin Luther King and Mr. Jones in a seemingly unique Altadena 
house in 1960. This fact, combined with the fact that sitting in my house 
on January 17, as we, together with my son, watched the Rams defeat the Arizona 
Cardinals was my old friend Henry, an African American living in Altadena for 
almost thirty years. In fact my wife and I were married at Henry’s beautiful home 
1996 high in the hills of Altadena. Coincidentally, but importantly, Henry is the 
only person, along with his brother and father, that I have ever met who were in 
Washington D.C, hearing the ”I Have A Dream Speech” in 1963 and also present 
in Washington D.C on 2008 to hear Barack Obama’s inauguration speech 45 years 

The next day, Tuesday, January 18th I asked my wife’s help to tune into the 
webinar at noon. Previously I had never even attempted such a thing. From 12 to 
1 was able to hear and watch 91 year old Clarence Jones fielding questions from 
Northern California College Students. He was amazing as he explained that he 
used to be a radical but now he was a super-radical. In answering the question of 
“what should be done now?” he patiently explained that millions of people should 
peaceably demonstrate around the halls of Congress preventing any work from 
being done until the Voting Rights Bills are passed. He explained that we do not 
have a democracy if people’s ability to vote are suppressed and restricted. He is an 
angry man demanding action from the young people but speaking with humor 
and compassion. 

After hearing the speech I became obsessed with the need to actually view 
the house where Mr. Jones lived and where he first met Martin Luther King. The 
article had described an amazing house with a retractable roof with a tree growing 
inside the house. I had to see this house. (Without permission of the present 
resident I don’t want to identify the actual address but with a little effort you can 
find the information yourself on the internet.) 

 The next day I picked up my son and we found the house in Altadena. The 
house was not a disappointment. There did seem to be a tree growing in the middle 
of the house. Later I learned, that the houses in this area were part of a special 
neighborhood designed by the architect Gregory Ain who after World War II designed 
affordable “miniature estates” which included interior courtyards, walls of 
glass facing private gardens, clerestory windows which admit light and fresh air. 

Yesterday I had a wonderful telephone conversation with a volunteer from the 
Altadena Historical Society and indicated my interest in serving as a volunteer. I 
admit that sometimes 

 I wonder what old retired people are for other than to walk their dogs in the 
afternoon when everyone else is at work. Hearing the living history described by 
Mister Jones emboldens me to overcome my timidity and to be actively pursuing 
and affirming my own sense of things. 

Bring on the future! 



Well, at last count there are, hmmm, 4 or 5 achievements of 
significance that I have attained in my 60+ years on this planet. 
Achievements defined as accomplishments one takes pride in. 

Without question my greatest achievement…the successful 
co-creation of two wonderful kids, Alex (33) and Olivia (31). 
Let there be no misunderstanding: My children’s strikingly 

good lucks, savoir-faire and class emanate from my ex-wife 
Helen’s gene pool. Fortunately our kids inherited her classic good looks and 
sensibilities. I am the “yang” to Helen’s “yin”, 

My contribution? The dubious ability to “sling the bull.” At least I know my son 
Alex has inherited it as he, beginning at the tender age of 20, “slung it” with 
reckless abandon. My daughter Olivia, on the other hand, is far more cultured 
and refined than the two male bozos in this Johnson nuclear family. I cannot 
determine her bull slinging aptitude. In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, 
our Biblical sage (probably Solomon) said, “Even a fool is thought wise if he 
keeps silent and discerning if he holds his tongue.” The “modern’ version of 
that Biblical truth came from either Abraham Lincoln or Mark Twain, “Better 
to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. 
Obviously that particular musing of either Lincoln or Twain never sunk in to 
my Norwegian cranium. 

Bottom line, I am very happy with who my children have turned out to be. 

If you are lucky enough to be a father cherish your children. If you have no 
children rent some. Become a big brother. Whatever it takes. Tell them often 
you love them. If they want something from you try to say yes more often than 
you say no (that is when your no is motivated merely by a desire to not be 
inconvenienced at the moment.) If you say yes often enough you will really 
shake up your kids and get their attention when you do say no. “No” will mean 
something to them. 

Someone once said, “Why are men reluctant to become fathers? I suspect it is 
probably because “we” aren’t through being children.” There are elements of 
truth in that statement but you can understand my belief that being a father 
and a child is not mutually exclusive. Be a father when there is fatherin’ to do 
and be a child as often as you can the rest of the time. I still miss getting up on 
Saturday morning and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cartoons with 
my youngin’s. 

I would like to close off this column with a quote from Clarence Budington 
Kelland…a prolific writer from the first half of the twentieth century. Mr. Kelland 
(referring to his father) once said, “He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, 
and let me watch him do it.” 

I hope, with all my design flaws, that my kids are as gracious in their remembrances 
of me. I love you Alex and Olivia. 



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