Saturday, September 10, 2011

Let's Rewind - Back to 1962

So...let us rewind just a the Summer of 1962...In an elevator inside an office building in Beverly Hills, California, where staff and patrons are riding the floors down to the lobby.

A woman in the elevator (my mother) speaks out loud asking if anyone knows a "7 letter word for _____"...and a voice in the back of the elevator answers quickly. She asks another question...and again...the same voice answers with another word that fits.  That voice in the rear of the elevator eventually becomes my dad...Chauncey Holt...

As the story goes, my mother wanted to solve a crossword puzzle listed in one of the major newspapers and win the big prize.  There in the elevator she was getting her first set of answers.  As the doors opened and the people parted out the comes my dad, Chauncey Marvin Holt, a very handsome fellow, obviously intelligent and with a smile that warmed your heart.  With one fast swoop my mother grabbed his hand and said "You are taking me to lunch."  Very brazen in those days! 

My father couldn't resist her charm and enjoyed her style and flare.  He always complimented the fact that she had a spunk and intellect that was captivating.  So, he gave little resistance and happily shared a meal and the crossword puzzle.  While their attraction grew, my father asked if she would like to accompany him on his airplane the following day.  She too gave little resistance and would happily share a ride on a plane with a handsome pilot.

In the early hours of the morning, 4 o'clock mind you, a knock at my mother's door was heard.  Covered in face cream and wearing her hair curlers she approached the door to find my father standing at it.  Her curiosity had her and she asked why he was there.  "For our date", he replied.  My mother thought he was crazy...4 o'clock means cocktails...then dinner...but I guess my father had a better surprise in mind.  She freshened up and they rode out to Goleta Airport in California.

He flew my mother into the Grand Canyon for the sunrise and then on up to Vale, Colorado for breakfast.  My mother described the date as perfect.  Like a fairy tale.  My father was charming and really left an impression on her.  Afterwards, they spent the evening around the pool getting to know one another and what their aspirations were and playing chess.

My mother was a fantastic chess player and learned from a very skilled player and Ambassador to Belgian.  The game of chess, to my father, was not just a game but the game of life.  He too was highly skilled...but my mother would beat him.  This was a real shocker and attraction for my dad!  While they kept playing and learning about one another he attempted to learn and adapt to her ease of play and strategy.  Yet, he rarely would win.  She just kept on beating him.  This was the ticket and a perfect match to be and become.  

At the time, my mother worked for an insurance broker and my father, well... he simply "worked for the government" and left it at that.  My mother, having a high ranking brother in the military, understood and respected that there was a level of privacy that came along with the military.  She embraced it and enjoyed getting to know the other chapters of his life.....

but what she didn't know is she "Don't Know Jack" least not yet!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chauncey Marvin Holt

Chauncey Holt lived an incredible life.  He was an artist, a weapons modification expert, an accountant, a pilot, circus performer, CIA Covert Operation Specialist, and much, much more.   His multiple lives were disguised under the names of more than 45 alias'. Three of them "deep cover alias' that could withstand the strictest of scrutiny". John R. Moon [aka "Jack Moon"] was one cover that become Holt's "other side", to put it mildly, where powers of government, members of organized crime, and politicians used Jack's skill sets and talents in many events that changed the history of our Nation.  

Bits and pieces of Holt's story have been tossed around and debated...

and it still remains....."Don't Know Jack"

Here we go!

VIDEO - "IN MEMORY OF CHAUNCEY HOLT", by Karyn Holt-Harcourt

My first real memory of John R. Moon was when I was about seven years old.  He was my father's partner in their CPA firm located on the corner of Arnaz Drive and Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, California.  By this time, my father and Jack had already partnered together for more than a decade.  Well before my parents even met in 1962.  The convenience of having their office just a block from our home was ideal.  Literally, just a hop, skip and a jump, or a few strokes of my roller skates and I was at dad's office.  In looking back, this must have been quite a luxury for my father to have only a short walk down the street to an office adjacent my school playground.  Of course, this was only when he was in town.  He was a "frequent flyer" to coin the term; only he was the pilot. 

Still, my visits to his office felt "frequent" enough for me.  I never felt cheated that my father was gone.  I never questioned the amount of love he had for me.  He was Mutt, and I Jeff!  Yet, in all those visits to his office I never met his partner John Moon.  In fact, neither did my mother. What a shame being that my father spoke highly of him, and his wife, in  a strange but funny and personable way.  We always received Christmas Cards and gifts, vacation comps, hotel accomodations, and more from Mr. and Mrs. Moon, so even without the real connection he was a "friend of the family."  I was simply a kid without a care in the world and gave it little to no thought.    

I do remember thinking that the office was far too small for two CPA's to work in.  Where was Mr. Moon's desk?  I have my own desk at school.  Shouldn't CPA's have their own desks too?  But, being that neither seemed to require the other to be there "sharing was nice" , no it was actually perfect to my benefit in spending time with "dad at the office."  The highlight of this little girl's day!   

So, while Mr. Moon was being a scarce sort of individual and partner to my dad, his wife however was not.  Her presents left an impression in our home.  Each holiday season she would make the yummiest of cookies and lavish meals for our family.  Meals that made you wonder how someone could cook such a feast for us and still have time to enjoy her own meal with her family.  My mother seemed curious about this as well and I remember her asking my father; "What women has the time to make two family holiday dinners?"  I don't recall if an answer was ever given, but it was a good question, so I thought, and at the same time gave no concern.  We enjoyed each turkey, potatoe, pie, yam and dressing, and always gave thanks for the wonderful meal sent our way. 

Those scrumptous holiday feasts soon ended in the summer of 1975 when we left Beverly Hills.  My father wanted to relocate to San Diego for a "change of scenery".  The move was very quick but also very exciting!  We checked in to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for a few weeks while our home was boxed up for the moving van.  It certainly wasn't your normal moving experience. An odd sort of vacation.  To a child a bit unsettling at times.  Our home was now a hotel suite.  Dinners were brought in by waiter or in the downstairs lounge.  My father was jumpy and never took off his sun-glasses.  The curtains were always drawn and my mother and father spent most of their time playing chess.  

While staying in the hotel, my father brought in the cutest little puppy which I name Beau.  This fixed any concern I had.  A well thought out plan to avoid explaining all that was happening around me.  It worked!  My mother was also passified with gifts to ignore the situation.  In recalling some of their conversation, I can't truly say that I heard any complaints, but did notice my mother was having several more "cocktails" earlier than usual. Yes, in looking back years later this was not of the norm, but to a child who was very sheltered it was seen as exactly that; "normal".  A loving home [hotel suite] and a new puppy to play with.  What is better then that for normal at age 11? 

We settled into our new country home in Green Valley, owned by Richard Holbrooke, without any further quams about it.  The setting offered a tranquil and private setting for whatever business matters my father was about to tackle in Southern California and seemed to make way to an entirely new lifestyle about to begin.  His work schedule changed and he tackled a great deal of business as we rarely saw him at the dinner table anymore.  I missed him, but then again, I certainly didn't mind our new location and home.  My father bought me a beautiful Quarter horse named Brandy, so my days were filled with my own animal paradise.  I was seemingly oblivious to any care or pressures that were mounting upon my father.  

During the next year, we travelled a great deal as a family to Arizona, Las Vegas, and into the high desert of Lancaster and its surrounding areas.  I always enjoyed travelling with my parents because they were filled with strange and exciting events.  My father would attend to meetings at bars and in restrooms on the road. I never knew where we were heading. I never understood why we would start out the trip in one vehicle, stop for lunch, and then proceed in another vehicle. I never knew where we were going to stop for the evening.  And I never inquired!  In looking back, I don't know why I wasn't prompted to ask.  I simply never did.  We stayed in hotels that were private and grand which required care and service by staff, yet I would never see anyone other then us.  The pools were all mine to swim in.  The towels were fresh each and every day. The sheets were changed and mints placed upon the pillows; all seemingly by ghosts or those not allowed to be seen. 

Arizona was my favorite place to travel.  We drove there often to a private ranch, owned by Peter Licavoli, and where I had my own horse reserved just for me to ride.  My father would tend to his business at the upper portion of the ranch, while my mother and I stayed at the lodge in the bungalows.  Dinner was served at the same time each night among other guests.  Business men without faces seemed to pop in and out without actual notice.  All appeared to be along the lines of the perfect vacation spot, just a little more private.   

The pace in travelling continued to pick up for my father and so did the sense of anxiety around him.  The discussion of moving soon grazed the topic of chatter in our home.  And, so...we packed up and moved again...this time a bit further out to Valley Center.  To me, this was a little spot of heaven.  A 40 acre ranch filled with horses, pigs, and cows that we bought at the local auction.  There were fields of fruit trees and fenced in land for growing grain and free grazing for our livestock.  Life couldn't get any better.  I was a natural born country girl!    

During the next year, we raised Great Danes, Quarter Horses and even a race horse that won at Bay Meadows Racetrack.  The ranch was filled with puppies, pigs, cows, and horses.  I even hatched a chicken, Harold, from an incubated egg in my Science Agriculture class.   My father gave up his suit and tie and replaced his dress with that of a real and all... Life was great!  Until....

A knock on the door came early one Summer morning, when two individuals were at the main front entrance asking to speak with my father claiming to have an interest in buying the land.  Upon entering our home and acknowledgment by my father, they soon clarified their position by slamming my father up against the adobe wall and handcuffing him.  Their interest was not to buy anything.  They were agents of the FBI and were there to arrest my father.  Before this day I had never seen my father cry.  Yet, when he looked up and saw me witnessing his arrest his eyes filled and his head hung low.  He obviously was in trouble and both my mother and I had no idea what was surrouding these events.         

My father was taken into custody under the name Chauncey Marvin Holt.  I remember waving good-bye with tears streamming down my face next to my mother who appeared to be clueless.  She immediately contacted his lawyer Frank Belcher, Sr, who had already been privy to the arrest. Odd, if you think about it.  The weeks that followed were taken up with court proceedings that were short and effortless and had little testimony or witnesses.  The process was quick and painless from my perspective, yet the pleading was "guilty" and the outcome was that my father was going away for a while.   The event wasn't like that of the movies.  In those instances, the prisoner is handcuffed and hauled off to prison.  Not in my father's case, the judge asked how much time my father would need to get his things in order and my father scheduled to show up for prison in a couple of weeks.  Then, we went to dinner at Lawry's in Beverly Hills.  Both my parents gave little indication that anything bad had transpired, rather they both took the whole thing quite casually.  My mother was fully aware that my father "worked for the government" and in this particular case she assumed that the government had its hand in the matter and the details would later surface.   

My father settled his affairs, located a new place for us to move to at the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, California and scheduled his pick up from the ranch to go to prison.  My mother and I stayed behind to pack up the house and wait for our livestock to be picked up.  The plan was to move into our new home shortly, but I missed my father and was concerned for his welfare.  Not much was discussed in the home, at least not surrounding the events that had just gone down, and to a child this was very confusing.  A few weeks later we were told that my father had arrived at Terminal Island, in Long Beach, California and he was allowed visitors. Finally, I was going to see my dad!   

We arrived the following morning at opening and checked in under our names to visit inmate Chauncey Marvin Holt.  To our surprise, no inmate was housed under that name.  To put it mildly, my mother was furious, and we drove back down to San Diego sharing very little in conversation the entire way home.  Only the radio in the background.  I remember clearly hearing the song "You're No Good" by Linda Ronstadt and my mother uttering under her breath the chorus.   It was an awkward drive home.

When we came inside the house the telephone was ringing for a very long time.  My mother picked up the receiver and accepted the collect call.  It was my father inquiring as to why we hadn't came up to visit.  That conversation is forever imbedded in my mind.  I only heard what my mother said, but it was pretty easy to figure out.... 

"Yes, I'll accept the call." ................ "Marvin, you are full of shit! We were there today!  You were'nt!  They have no record of any inmate named Chauncey Holt.  Not at Terminal Island.  Not anywhere! What is going on?.........................Why in the hell would I ask for your partner, John Moon?"......................."You sure ARE going to explain!"..............."Fine, I will drag her up there again tomorrow."......"click"!

I think there was an "I love you" from my father at the end of the conversation, but my mother was not interested in making him feel any better.  At this stage, she was peeved!  Once she realized that I was standing there listening she felt bad for saying she would "drag me back up there".  That wasn't meant for me but rather to rub a little pain towards my dad.  So, she did what she always did to hold back tears she asked; "Would you like some bacon?"  Odd, but somehow cooking bacon relieved tension for her...and I always enjoyed a great B.L.T. made with love from mom.

Early the next morning, we took another drive up to Long Beach, and sure enough, when we checked in this time for inmate John R. Moon we were led right in and escorted to a rather nice lounge.  The guards a few moments later introduced "Inmate Moon" and there entered my dad....Chauncey Holt, a.k.a. "John R. Moon". still "Don't Know Jack"................... we go!