The Writings of Irv Thomas


The Autobiographical Quadrant

Material on site that conveys my personal history

A selected portion of the material to be found on this site details parts of my life story, and is linked, here, according to a cyclic scheme that counts seven years as a "month" in the course of a lifetime's full seasonal spread. This system, while rather arbitrary, has evolved from almost thirty years' observation of actual developments in my life, and continues to confirm its validity. But a full understanding of it requires more elaboration than is possible within these brief quadrant notes.

If you wish that elaboration, I provide a number of links, immediately below, that should give it to you. But all you really need to understand, at this point, is that the 7-year division does not take place, for me, at a perfectly divisible point in my age (which would have occurred at age 56, 63, 70 etc.). I seem to have had endings and new beginnings closer to ages 44, 51, 58, 65, etc. -- though it isn't a sharp turning (as seasonal changes are not), but takes place over a span that can be as long as two years. In other words, there is a seasonal flow within the 7-year format, just as there is over the course of a year, and a lifetime.

I have worked with this (and lived in it) for long enough, now, to have a pretty good feeling for it. On the turning of my 73rd year, as I set this site up, I am deeply aware of a fresh start, after a year that was a grinding crunch on me. I saw it coming, and warned those closest to me -- and, yes, it can be seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it also included a sure sense that I'd be coming out the far end of it with the sort of energy and upbeat feelings that this year has brought, for me.

Those are the reasons for the breakdown employed in this quadrant of autobiographical links. For more extensive development of the subject, you may go to:

What follows is the very briefest summary of each 7-year span in my life (except for the very first of them, which is a 9-year span), together with such links to my material as may provide more detailed information from that period. To indicate the seasonal flow of my life,I also note the 'month' of each segment, starting with February, which I feel is the proper birthing point in the annual cycle.

To cover the gaps that will inevitably remain in whatever autobiographical material turns up on this site, and to allow some free-form rambling through my past (i.e., not tied to a subject context), I am linking a reflective memoir (at 73) covering each one of these 7-year stretches. The state of my memory will probably determine the length of each piece -- and as well, the extent to which I feel like ruminating on that particular chapter in my life. You'll see the links to these after each segment heading, below. 

1927 - 1936 (to age 9)...the February years

Born in San Francisco, and finally returned there, after 8 years of continual relocation around the state. A Depression-era kid, but it didn't hit my family until 1933; my Dad was an insurance salesman, my mother a clerical worker. An older sister and a younger brother.

1936 - 1943 (to age 16)...the March years

Grew up in San Francisco's Fillmore District. Went to John Swett Junior High, and Lowell High Schools, and a Hebrew School for awhile. Independent kid, unathletic but loved books, and roamed the city's streets from an early age. Socially awkward, but I joined Civil Air Patrol, and did my first hitch-hike (to Canadian border). Early into local history and writing.
  • Ripening Seasons #23 - A California journey in 1997, and the successful search for several old friends, provides an opportunity (in recap) for reflections on these youthful years.

1943 - 1950 (to age 23)...the April years

Tried my hand at freelance writing, without success. Enrolled at S.F. State College, where I blossomed in journalism, met the girl who'd be my wife; but I never graduated. Came down with T.B., spent 6 months in hospital. 1950 felt like a real boundary-line, between 2 worlds.
  • Ripening Seasons #32 - Going back over significant turning-points and sundry adventures in my life that revolved around the automobile, I touch into this period with some good and meaningful detail.

1950 - 1957 (to age 30)...the May years

Sordid years of trying one job after another. Bought a new Ford; lost my job as insurance inspector and couldn't keep up payments on it; 'escaped' to Woodleaf and a store clerk job, where I stayed in room once occupied by Black Bart. Finally got married, after 10-yr runup.
  • Ripening Seasons #32 - Reviewing significant turning points in my life that revolved around automobiles, I reflect on the one new car I ever owned, a 1951 Ford, and the grief it brought.

1957 - 1964 (to age 37)...the June years

Came down with colitis, which would dog me for many years. A solid year out of work, on that account. Finally got back on a payroll driving taxi -- did it for 4 years. Back to school (SF City Coll.) wanting to pursue either architecture or law, but it didn't fit with married life. Began a long series of 'escapes' from married life - I'd leave, and return...insufficient resolve.

1964 - 1971 (to age 44)...the July years

After a year in chase of it, I landed a programming job. Briefly in heaven, thinking it would fix all problems, and I loved the work. But it only raised more marital issues. My 'escapes' continued -- a very rewarding one in Beverly Hills, then again in Seattle, from where I took off on trans-Canada bike ride. Counter-culture gave me the conceptual boost that I needed.

1971 - 1978 (to age 51)...the August years

The final escape! Linked up with a youthful collective to start Black Bart Brigade, then out on my own after first issue. Fantastic sense of total insecurity. Got involved with classes and workshops, new relationships; explored true simple living (getting along without any income). Then laid low by a burst bowel and a colostomy for 3 years. A year in Carmel.
  • Ripening Seasons #16 - This 25-year recap of my re-framed life, includes these years, and some of what led up to them.
  • Crockpot Cookery, a meditation on my early days (late 1971) with the VSC collective in Canyon, as written for the U.W. Daily, 17 years later.

1978 - 1985 (to age 58)...the September years

Four years of country retreat in an old camp on Mt. St. Helena, after colostomy removed. Then back to Berkeley in a collective house. But things conspired to put me out on the road, intentionally homeless, by '85. I ended up in Seattle, fresh out of funds. A new world, new challenges, and first paid work in 14 years, as fulltime live-in caretaker for woman with MS, to see me through the winter.
  • Ripening Seasons #16 - This 25-year recap of my re-framed life, includes these years.
  • Going on the Road - Newsletter just before starting the roadtrip that became my departure from Berkeley; also contains much material about my two 1984 visits to Rajneeshpuram.
  • The Summer of Infinite Presence - Highlight report of the midyear 1985 roadtrip that constituted my migration from Bay Area to Seattle.
  • Pass the Bucks - Fed up with 'Prosperity' chain letters, in late 1985, I tried to generate a counter-thrust with one of my own.

1985 - 1992 (to age 65)...the October years

Unexpectedly found myself headed back to school, first on a year-long rehab program at a community college, then into the U. of Washington, where I finally took my degree. On graduation, I embarked on a 19-month first-time journey abroad (Europe), supported only by a minimal Social Security income of $400/mo. Resettled in Seattle on my return.

1992 - 1999 (to age 72)...the November years

Wrote and self-published a book on the journey abroad, doing artwork for it that surpassed my known ability. Coupled with a real artist, and by fighting to get her into the same senior apartment building, I began a 4-year 'war' with Housing Authority, only recently drawn to a close. Began Ripening Seasons, and got a web site underway, I am!
  • Ripening Seasons #15 - Reflections on how Joy and I came into relationship with one another.
  • Ripening Seasons #27 - Details the 'housing war' with Seattle Housing Authority, from March 1996 through this issue's date (August 1998). An earlier rendering of how it all began is to be found in Ripening Seasons #15 (July 1996), just four months into it.
  • Ripening Seasons #X - Devoted to a reprise journey to Britain and Europe that was made early in 1997.



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