Robb Abandoned

October 4th, 2011

I’m going to let Robb explain this choice of visual.


(or, I digress… less)

Does anyone else notice A Sorcerer’s Apprentice kind of quality to all of this? Tim, wearing a robe and coned hat covered with stars and orbs making evocative, lifting motions with his magic hands, and me being drawn ineluctably and hypnotically forward?

Okay let’s pick up our story in fact in two of the places where we left off. After the junior play went down, and for the entire following summer, a family drama ensued that was the exact opposite of the cliché that we have seen so many times. The seas ran upside down and the trees hung with fishes as Tom Stoppard would say.

I would desperately protest with the all the hysteria teen angst could muster ‘I WANNA BE A LAWYER!’ My dad would lean in menacingly with ‘YOU’RE GONNA BE AN ACTOR! This went on until it was clear neither would relent and the subject was left to fester until one side or another felt he had a new angle that would gain him an advantage, until finally the whole thing was dropped pending the distant, inevitable, final battle.

Events intervened. As I said, they moved out. I was destined to be the only unsupervised kid at Sierra. Did I feel lonely… abandoned… unwanted… uncertain? CHEH, right!

I was ecstatic! It was the best of everything.

Now, without going into too much detail, my pal Brian was from an abusive family, and when the local community realized to their horror that I was being left alone, many silent powers-that-be rose like a great wave, and making the best of two bad (from their point of view) situations, it was decided by one and all that Brian should move in with me.

Well… Brian’s household may have been a little short on peace and harmony, but since his step-dad ran the Fish Camp gas station and garage, they were quite wealthy in things automotive, and when the big moment came and Brian finally moved in, he brought with him a 1949 Cadillac and a WWII vintage Willys Jeep, painted pink.

The Jeep

The beep

CARS! We suddenly had cars. Let’s recap:

1: No parents

2: A Cadillac to go to school in when we didn‘t feel like taking the bus

3. A pink jeep for exploring the high Sierras

4: Popularity with girls that attends thereto

5: My boat still on the lake

6: See (4)


Are you kidding me? Is this happening? Am I going to wake up and find myself in a fundamentalist family with some Amish guy with no buttons and a neck beard beating the shit out of me?

NO! This is real!

Let’s go on. Additionally, I had basically completed my academic curriculum as a junior. Therefore…

My class schedule:

1st period Senior problems

2nd period Band

3rd period Study Hall

4th period (I was the first person in the history of Sierra with two periods of study hall)

5th period Senior English

6th period PE

7thperiod When you’re on a school team (football, swimming) you get two periods of PE

In Senior Problems, you mostly have open discussions of subjects like hygiene, driving, pregnancy; and you plan events like career day. To say it was loose would only begin to describe it.

Leaving one actual solid subject. Now a word about Mr. Griffin’s English class, (ironically, yes, his name was Griffin). I’d had him before in freshman English. He gave a speech early in my freshman year about turning in assignments on proper stationery ending with ‘don’t turn in it on candy wrappers, backs of envelopes or half sheets of toilet paper’.

So I wrote a character study of a janitor, typed it on a half sheet of toilet paper, glued that in the middle of a piece of school stationery and turned it in. He promptly showed it to the class as an example of the best biography he’d ever received which confused the hell out of everyone since it was exactly what he said he didn’t want, but I guess the inclusion of real school stationery did the trick.

Anyway after that I was a made man with Bill Griffin and I made a deal with him (as a freshman) that I didn’t have to turn in homework as long as I kept getting A’s on the tests which I did. Winning the English prize in competitive testing as a junior only cemented my position (it was Bill Griffin along with my nemesis Miss Mailey who insisted I be included in the competition) so by the time I returned to him as a senior, attendance in his class was completely optional.

Bill Griffin

Miss Malley

Since there were no other real solids, this gave Brian and me the opportunity to take off whenever we wanted to and go camping in the mountains.

Add to this the Senior play which broke up the schedule, away football games and swim meets, band trips to Berkeley California and…

I was president of the clothing drive which gave me a permanent year-long hall pass!


I will leave you with this incident which was pretty well indicative of the entire year.

About the third day of class, I was sitting in senior problems listening to Mr. Hevener talking about career day in Fresno.

Mr. Hevener

He passed out a transportation form, saying get it signed by your parents. I didn’t act right away, timing is important with this sort of thing. I let him start his next subject, then raised my hand.

‘Mr. Hevener?’

‘Yes, Royer’

‘What if you don’t live with your parents?’

‘Then get it signed by your guardian.’

‘Oh.’ I let another few minutes elapse until he was safely back on track again.

‘Mr. Hevener”

(with growing irritation) ‘What, Royer?’

‘Who’s my guardian?’

(can’t believe this idiot) ‘Whoever you live with, Royer’


I let another few minutes go by, and, timing it for maximum disruption, got up, walked over to Brian’s desk and said ‘Brian, will you sign my permission form?’

Brian, with his usual Cyrano de Bergerac flair, said ‘certainly’ and after a couple of big sweeps in the air with his pen, signed the form.


Now usually this is an occasion for fear, but I knew I had ‘em. I let Clifford D. Frantz draw the story out of me with maximum difficulty. You could see his face lose color as his realization of the hopelessness of the situation sank in.

‘Do you mean to tell me that the two most immature seniors I have are completely without adult supervision?’

‘Yes, sir.’

His face was in his hands but slowly, he began to brighten. After all, this was Hevener’s problem, not his.

Finally, ‘Well, one minor can’t be another minor’s guardian. You’re going to have to sign for yourselves’ he said, and getting with the spirit he wrote three words on a piece of paper:


I took it back to Hevener who wilted when he saw it.

I got straight A’s that year.

16 Responses to “Robb Abandoned”

  1. Suzanna Says:

    Your story certainly verifies a teen’s deepest suspicion — that they can get along just fine, thank you, without all the adults in their lives telling them what to do!

    Enjoyed this very much, and marvel at your astonishingly good luck. You put it all to good use, Robb.

    Thanks for sharing your life stories with us!

  2. Larissa Says:

    I have to agree with Suzanna-it’s amazing what people can figure out how to do when they don’t have some half-wit or, less judgementally, a parent standing over them insisting that everything they do is wrong or going to lead to someone getting killed or lost or whatever. Did anyone ever see the kids version of Bugsy? It’s a random film from the 80s that I loved…it’s all kid actors playing adult roles and it was great. At least to me, when I was 9 and probably had no taste. Now I’m digressing! Great post Robb-I’m envious of your freedom, though I can definitely think of situations where having an “adult” to fix the problem around would have been and was, in my childhood, really nice.

    I still don’t claim to be an adult if I don’t have to hehe…

    Definitely looking forward to the next one.

    And, I have to see, I really love the idea of Tim running around as Mickey Mouse with all these digressions and stories dancing more and more out-of-control around his blog.

  3. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Somehow I think those times were a lot more fun, and loose than now, and that you took full advantage of them. No way would you get that kind of leeway today which is kind of sad. A pink jeep must have played really well with the girls. Now that would get you all kinds of attention today. So I think being unusual in one way of another certainly feeds the creativity gene. You got all A’s? In study hall, and clothing drive?
    I’m loving this, laughing in the morning.

  4. robb royer Says:

    Suzanna – no question by the time you’re a senior parents are pretty much of an appendix. I will now relinquish the podium for a while but when I return I’ll show my dad still had a bit of an invisible fence around me.

    Larissa – I’m pushing 69 and I’m still unaware if there’re any adults around. Getting into things like music and writing are sure-fire adult repellants.

    Lil – the pinkness of the jeep was probably not relevant in the girl department for when those lovely creatures loomed near we tended to go with the Caddie. We did, however, try to develop a legend around the pinkness of the Jeep, claiming that a particular river could not have been crossed or a muddy field traversed were the Jeep not pink.

    I’m glad the irony of my last line was not missed. If you can’t get A’s with that schedule, God help ya

  5. EverettK Says:

    How the hell do you type on toilet paper??? It must have been the institutional type that has a strong resemblance to waxed paper, only slicker.

    Please, sir, may I have some more?

  6. John Lindquist Says:

    Oh man does this bring me back to high school and memories of band, study hall and the dreaded PE. The story is made even more credible by the photos of your teachers. They have that special high school teacher look written all over their physiognamy – certainly a species apart.

    This is turning into a Robb Royer Thriller.

    By the way, I am as young as you.

  7. Robb Royer Says:

    Everett – oh, you can do it. Just get out your old Smith and Wesson… uh, Smith Corona, and roll it in. As I recall it was only on a single sheet so it couldn’t have been a very long character study. Poor old Mr. Griffin was so desperate to have anybody take anything to ANY next level, I think he went a little overboard.

    John – are you sure ‘young’ is the word you’re searching for? Last time I heard the word used with that amount of irony, I believe it was Gabby Hayes.

  8. Laren Bright Says:

    So, Robb, who signs your permission slips now?

  9. robb royer Says:

    Laren… leadership in the family has been ceded to my seventeen year old daughter.

  10. EverettK Says:

    By the way, Tim, this post takes you past the end of your aborted “365 day blog” attempt. You started on Oct 1 of last year, and the previous post before this one was the 217th during the year, so you came up a little short of 2/3 of your goal.

    Just sayin’… 🙂

  11. Robb Royer Says:

    But who’s counting?

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    This is Tim, seizing briefly the microphone he so happily abandoned. And Everett’s note reminds me why — I almost killed myself with the Stupid 365 Project.

    Lil, you’re right. If Robb’s enchanted summer had happened now, Child Protective Services would have challenged his parents’ suitability and judgment. What a dreary, unimaginative, closely-managed world we’ve created. When you realize that there are school systems that WON’T LET MOTHERS PACK THEIR CHILDREN’S LUNCH because of “nutritional concerns,” it just makes me want to jigger the evolutionary process to eliminate dietitians and all public servants who think they should manage parenting, except in egregrious incidents of child abuse.

    This mini-rant is by way of preparation, since I’m going to hand the microphone back to Robb and let him depart from autobiography long to indulge in a really choice rant. Coming up tomorrow!!!

  13. leigh Says:

    Robb – How is it that Bill Griffin’s photograph looks so much like Buddy Cudd?

  14. Robb Royer Says:

    Leeby – I don’t really see the resemblance but maybe ‘Extremely Nice Guy’ has a look to it.

  15. Pat Browning Says:

    This post made my day. Almost fell off my chair laughing.
    Pat Browning

  16. robb royer Says:


    Thanks, always sweet to hear that. Like Ahnold, I’ll be back.

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