On June 9, 1971, within two weeks of my graduation from Central Valley High School, I turned 18 years old. It was a Wednesday and the following Monday I was due to start working at Yellowstone National Park as a summer job. It was a full summer commitment I had made and I would be starting school at Spokane Falls Community College shortly after I returned. I had not passed drivers ed in Rosalia so I still did not have a driver’s license and I would need one to get to classes. So before my departure for Yellowstone National Park, my top priority was to get a drivers license. I was successful in my efforts. The day I took the test I was wearing a favorite jacket of mine and so the picture on my license was a picture of me wearing the jacket.
When I arrived at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone National Park, a cabin resort on the north end of Yellowstone Lake and an easy walk from Lake Hotel, I was assigned to a room with a guy named Tom. [Isn’t it funny what trivial facts we remember sometimes.] Tom had a chest full of beer in our room and it bothered me immensely to be rooming with someone who drank. I complained and was assigned to a different room that was a single so I had no roommate for the summer.
My postion at Fishing Bridge was that of cabin boy. I was paired up with two maids and we worked as a team to clean cabins much like the maid service one would except at any hotel. I worked ahead of the maid going through and cleaning out debri including any ashes in the wood-burning stoves, stripping beds and other tasks. My two coworkers were there for a second summer and had worked together the previous year. I can not recall the name of one. However, the other is a name I will never forget — Lois Moon. I fell in love with Lois Moon. It may speak volumes of why Ann and I were only married for five years that I honestly feel I have never loved any woman as I loved Lois Moon. There were two problems however. She was Mormon and had a boy friend named Loren. I am a Methodist and she simply refused to get involved with any man who was not Mormon, who would not allow her to be married ina Mormon temple.
As I said, Lake Hotel was just an easy hike away and every Saturday night they held a dance for Yellowstone park employees. I went to the dance each of the first three weeks I was there. I meet Ada there. As I recall, each time I went to the dance I wore my safari jacket. Ada was nice but she was not Lois. While admittedly the first week I had not yet developed strong feelings for Lois but the third weekend she showed up with Loren and it was difficult for me to see them together.
On the fourth Saturday of my stay in Yellowstone, July 10th, I was planning on going to the dance and hating the idea of going to the dance because I knew both Ada and Lois would be there and I would be ‘stuck’ with Ada. A couple of my co-workers suggested I should join them on the beach for a party. I let them know I did not ‘party’ and they challenged me to take a sip of some wine they had — Zapple Wine, ,made of apples. It tasted better than I had expected and I decided to get a bottle of wine, forego the dance and join my friends on the beach. I finished off a bottle of Zapple Wine that night as well as half a bottle of somethiing else. I ended up getting sick and puking my guts up in the community bathroom.
Within no time at all, I had become the biggest drunk working Fishing Bridge. I developed a drink I called the Screwed Aligator — a vodka screwdriver with Gator Ad added. Being a thrist quencher, Gator Ad delivers the alcohol to your system faster. Lois of course did not approve of alcohol and as such my drinking became a sore of irration to her. I am not sure where my relationship with Lois might have gone if it had not been for the drinking. She was dead set on a Mormon husband but I know she had feelings for me too.
There was of course that other problem. I was a crossdresser. By this time in my life I had been crossdressing for eight years and it had had a significant and largely negative impact on my sense of self-worth as a man. I had spent the last few years trying to convince myself that crossdressing was like a game, a child’s game, that when I was older, an adult, I would cast it aside. However, upon meeting what I quickly came to regard as the greatest woman in the world, I felt unworthy. She deserved a real man.
For the next thirty years of my life, alcohol would be my crutch for dealing with my feminine urges and desires. I was in treatment the day I first shared with any other human being that I am transgender and the day I did so is the day I truly feel I found sobriety. Saying the words “I am transgender’ out loud changed my life.
I did not finish out my contract with Yellowstone Park Company. I quit the job two weeks before my contract was up. I had to get away from the alcohol and from Lois. When I started school at SFCC, I had my student ID photo taken and I was wearing that same safari jacket. I took a Speech class in the winter quarter and one day had to give a speech I was not prepared to give. Quickly improvising, I pulled out my two IDs which for the most part were the same picture — same person, same smile, same hair, same jacket. I showed the IDs and spoke briefly about how the two people appeared to be the same person. Then I changed to the focus of my speech was how different I had become having known Lois and started drinking. I can recall a look of disbelief as I returned to my desk from some of my classmates. I think being unprepared I might have gotten a bit too personal and revealing. However, if I am correct, then my speech was sincere and honest.