Real Stories From Life at a Dealership

People are the experience

Tim Fuller

Since Tim is a respected local business man and past president of the Rotary, I shall endeavor to not cause any consternation that would arise with any sudden exposure of events from the past. Not that there is any, mind you. I’m just sayin…

A football memory or two might be in order.

Everyone connected with the football program at Antelope Valley High School has great memories of the 1976 season. An undefeated season and the CIF Championship our senior year, it still feels good.

Tim was an inside Linebacker, I was an outside Linebacker. We were on the field together quite a bit. Together with Joe Maher and Jim Eckmann, we were the starting linebackers on what has to be considered one of the best defenses in the history of CIF football.

It was a home game at Mays field on a Friday night in Lancaster. The stadium was completely full. A nice, cool autumn night with a few thousand screaming fans, Football was king in those days and we were holding court.

It seemed hardly anybody could score on us. The team we were playing that night would regularly run a Quarterback option play. Where the QB comes down the line and either runs the ball or pitches it to a running back. My responsibility when they ran that play was to take out the QB.

By the way I believe that I led the team in personal fouls that year. Let’s just say that on the field I displayed a lot of bad intent. Infliction of pain, as a means to breaking down an opponent, just made sense to me.

The opposing team had the ball and they were inside our twenty yard line, which means they were close to scoring. They ran the option to Tim and my side. The Tight end tried to block me but was ineffective and I was immediately in the QB’s face. I reached up with my right hand and grabbed a hand full of facemask. Yes, that’s illegal. As I attempted to displace his head and helmet from his body, he exposed the football. I seized the moment and punched the ball from his grasp with my left fist. Tim had been closing on the ball and when he saw the loose pigskin, he did exactly what he should of, and he picked it up and ran.

A lot of guys really hustled and made some great blocks as Tim was not the fastest guy on the team. Tim managed to ramble with the football about 85 yards, all of the way to the end zone. There was a lot of screaming from the stands and it would have been a touchdown if there hadn’t been a flag thrown on the play. Stupid Referee! He called a facemask penalty on me. Tim’s fumble recovery and touchdown was nullified.

Later when the dust had settled and Tim and I reflected back on that almost glorious moment. Tim told me he received great satisfaction from that play. It was the only time in his high school career that he got to touch the football. “You always wonder what you would do if you had the opportunity” Tim shared with me. “When my moment came, I picked it up and ran.”

I have had the opportunity to work for Tim and stay friends; Tim has continued to do the right thing. In one of the darkest times of my life, the death of my daughter, when that moment came, Tim was there. When I needed him, he picked things up and he ran with it. Without hesitation. I love you Tim.


October 16, 2010 Posted by | eric prothro | 6 Comments

Rod Finkley

The first time I met Rod Finkley was my junior year in high school. I think we were with his brother Larry and Larry Edwards. It was at their place that they lived with their dad, just off of Lancaster Blvd. We were listening to the Rush album 2112 and smoking copious amounts of pot. I could be wrong, but that’s what I remember.
Rod and I took a road trip one time during our school days. We were in my Ranchero on the 5 freeway in Los Angeles. I actually don’t remember where we were going, just some of the events of the day.

An older black man pulled alongside of us in an amazing classic car. Rod rolled down the window and asked what it was. The driver flashed a gang sign and Rod responded in kind. Being a white boy from the desert, I didn’t have a clue as to the meaning of these hand gestures. Rod told me that it was the sign for the Crypts gang. I never knew there was such a thing. The driver then told us that it was a Stutz Bearcat. A pre world war one race car that became the symbol of wealth from the 1920’s.
Rod and I traveled a bit further and decided that we needed to use a restroom. Not taking into consideration what part of LA we were in, we just pulled of the freeway and into the nearest gas station. I parked and went to get the key to the restroom. There was a Mexican guy working at the station. When I asked for the key, he just looked at Rod and I for a moment. I asked again. His response was a simple “fuck off”. It looked like he was disturbed by the fact that a black and a white guy were there. Looking back I think it was just because we were not one of his homies.
My demeanor changed in response to his language and I was not used to being spoken to like that. Before I could say anything to let him know how I felt about that, the Mexican attendant whistled. Not just a whistle but a call to arms. Out of nowhere, homies in plaid shirts with bandanas on their heads were everywhere. Rod and I beat a hasty retreat back to my Ranchero and hurriedly exited the gas station, feeling lucky to come away unscathed.
I learned a good lesson about traveling in Los Angeles that day.

Rod and I went many places together and with our friends during those years, including Zuma Beach many times. Rod was a little younger than I, but was a tough football player and had my respect. I have always been proud to call him a friend. The only regret I have was the year I lived in Boise Idaho, I had no idea Rod lived there. I didn’t find that out until after I had moved back to California.
I like seeing Rod on Face book and reading things that are going on in his life. I will always think of him as a close friend and remember some of the lessons learned. Love you brother.

October 15, 2010 Posted by | eric prothro | 1 Comment

Under Darryl’s Hood

With Darryl, there are so many possibilities, it is hard to pick out just one from all of the experiences we have had. Let’s go to the early 1980’s. At Clubhouse 41 in Lancaster on the corner of 15th St. west and Avenue J-8. Darryl were 18 and I was 23. Darryl had a white Datsun 510 sedan that usually ran good.
We decided to go out for a few drinks. Why would we let a little thing like being under age get in the way? Darryl drove us to the club and we proceeded to go in. I knew the bouncer at the door (what a surprise) and when he started to check Darryl’s ID, I told him that it was okay because Darryl was with me. The bouncer said okay and in we went.
It seems to me that we had a great time as usual and drank way too much. Danced with quite a few pretty girls and played the fool, by staying till closing time. We went out to the Datsun and it started but would not stay running.
I knew a little bit about auto mechanics and proceeded to try to diagnose the problem. It was the carburetor. The only way to keep the engine running was for me to manually hold the throttle open, which was located on the driver’s side of the car. Darryl and I made the only logical decision we could, and that was to drive home. With me holding the throttle. Sitting on the front fender of the car. With the hood open.
So it was 2 am in the morning, nothing but drunks out and away we go. Now Darryl was having a hard time seeing and not just because he’s drunk. The hood was open and I was sitting on the driver’s side fender. Darryl had to lean half of his body out of the window to see around me so he could drive. The fact that he was very drunk probably made this stunt driving a lot easier.
Across town we went and arrived home without incident. The next morning we smiled at each other a smile that only friends who do the impossible together can know.

October 14, 2010 Posted by | eric prothro | 1 Comment

I’m a Rude Cyclist?

I live 50 miles from the entrance to Yosemite National Park. I have beautiful places to ride and get to deal with tourist regularly that drive like complete idiots.

This morning I was on my bicycle just before sunrise. I headed over to Hwy 4 to spend a couple of hours climbing hills. Hwy 4 goes from the 99 freeway near Stockton, over Ebbetts Pass (Elevation 8750’). The part I ride on regularly has steep climbs and a nice shoulder so I am not too close to traffic. The traffic can include logging trucks, vacation RV’s and people in a hurry to go either to the valley or wine tasting.

At the top of the three mile climb is a viewpoint, Vista Point. It is a convenient place to take a quick break for nourishment or whatever is needed. After doing three climbs I stopped for a brief minute. I see a Nissan Maxima with Maryland plates (tourist) coming my way very slowly. The car came to a complete stop. It was sitting in the middle of the highway where the speed limit is 65 mph. and on a curve with limited visibility.

They were looking at each other and motioning like they were lost. And they sat. I couldn’t just let them sit there until a logging truck came by so I attempted to wave them into Vista Point. After looking at me rather stupidly they pulled in. I motioned for them to roll down their window. They looked at me with a vague lost tourist smile. I explained my point of view to them.

“I see people like you all of the time” I started. “You think your out in the country and the rules of the road no longer apply to you. You can’t just stop your car in a traffic lane and sit there, just like you can’t make u-turns on this roadway”. (Another tourist favorite)
I implored them to drive like they had at least a little intelligence as to not cause an accident. The driver just started to pull away.

He quickly stopped and backs up to me.

“I see a lot of bicyclist riding two abreast and that’s not safe” the guy says. “And sometimes they are not even in bike lanes!” Wow, this guy is obviously a deep thinker. “I’m not doing that, now am I pal?” Was my retort.

I continue with him, “It is stupid to stop in a traffic lane. You are going to cause an accident or kill somebody” I stated with a little increase in volume. I think he started to sense my urge to educate him on proper roadway etiquette by dragging him thru his window and rearranging his nose. No one wants to be beat up by a guy in spandex.

He hits the accelerator and yells out the window, “You are a rude cyclist”. I just smiled and went back to climbing hills.

October 13, 2010 Posted by | eric prothro | , , , , | 3 Comments


What is it with my obsession to ride Priest Grade so often?

When most people from the Bay area, or any part of northern California, drive to the mountains, the most popular way is taking Hwy. 120 east to Groveland. It is mostly two lane and very busy. A lot of RV’s. Small to extra large. Trailers, campers and busses travel to one of the most beautiful places on God’s green Earth, Yosemite.

Groveland is called he Gateway to Yosemite. To get to the gateway, you have to take Priest Grade from the Moccasin reservoir,which at the lowest point is 876’ elevation, to Big Oak Flat, at 2838‘ Elevation.

The grade is six miles long. The steepness varies from 5% to 9%. The first mile seems the hardest. It is a steady 7% grade. Then it calms down to between 5% and 6% for the next four miles. The last mile is where the burn sets in to my legs and my heart rate soars.

My heart rate is a steady 142 as I climb the middle four miles and my cadence is 72. The last mile is at 9%. My rate jumps up to the high 150’s. According to my monitor I burned 1368 calories in only 45 minutes of climbing. Try that on your treadmill.

The people that I see along he way are amazing. Somebody rolls down a window and has me on video. People taking self pics with me as their back ground. Looks of amazement and disbelief. And comments.

A guy driving a F-350 truck, towing a trailer, sticks half of his body out of the window and yells “go, go, go, go, go”. A girl asks “do you need any water?” A 15 passenger van, towing a 24’ trailer goes by me, so close, that I would call it getting skimmed. A lot of hellos, waves and smiles.

Then in a turn out is a blue BMW. The driver, a young woman, is outside of the car obviously car sick. She is bent over facing away from the road. I give a healthy shout out, “how ya doin”? I say with a grin. “Oh just fine” she answers, somewhat embarrassed and annoyed. I tell her, “It’s okay,you still look cute”. Between wretches she look over to me and coquettishly says “thank you”.

I stop at the top and refill with water, before climbing more hills to Coulterville. Then finishing the 54 mile ride back to Jamestown with a few great downhills. I hit 40 to 50 mph at times. I have to monitor my speed, because there are some very tight corners marked at 20 mph. I hate when I miss a turn and go into oncoming traffic.

A great ride with just under 5000’ of climbing. Great views of Lake Don Pedro and the mountains. A couple of bridge crossings thrown in. I drank 22 oz. of electrolytes and 22 more of Amino replacement along with over 80 oz. Of water. I drank a 20 oz. recovery drink when I got done and another 20 oz. of water. I only lost three pounds in four hours of riding at 96 degrees. My average heart rate for four hours was 128.

I like being able to ride Priest Grade and not have it do me in. I like the life of a recreational road bike rider. I love riding my green Orbea Orca. I think I will do it again in a week or two. If you see me, please make sure that you give me just a little room. And I will talk to you if you get car sick and barf!

August 10, 2010 Posted by | eric prothro | Leave a comment


You Certainly Know…

How to cleverly say

How your feet made of clay

How to get him to pay

Crush those in your way

You certainly know…

How to shoot from the knoll

How to dance on the pole

How to chase down the hole

Rake me o’er the coal

You certainly know…

How to get the best seat

How the young are to eat

How to trick for the treat

I just can’t compete

You look so demure

Your smile was a blur

I thought I was sure

Your eyes were the cure

You certainly know…

How the fire burns below

How much damage to show

How the blood starts to flow

Just walk away slow

June 7, 2010 Posted by | eric prothro, fox, know | , , , , | 1 Comment


Sierra Motors “One Low Price, Plain and Simple…ALWAYS !”

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I have been involved in dealership management for over twenty years. Interviews and hiring are one of the things that I do best. But hiring is not a science. I always try to hire for character first. I have been fooled more than once.

The shortest interview I ever did was with my friend Mitch. We were in many of the same classrooms from kindergarten thru high school. We played sports together. We grew up in the same neighborhood, a few streets apart. Mitch walked into the dealership and told me that he wanted to try selling cars. Without hesitation I said yes. He was Salesman of the Year his first year in the business. I guess that I was right on that one.

We needed two lot porters to wash cars. It was a full time job that paid minimum wage. I interviewed fifty applicants in one day. The two guys that I hired, Mark and Hakeem were excellent employees. They both went on to good career jobs.

Hiring a good Team manager is a bit harder. The position is commonly called a closer. The best part of the job is when they get to go in after their salespeople and close deals. That only takes up 10% of their day. Most of the hours they are at work are spent doing a form of adult daycare. Handling the salespeople. They are always up to something.

After reading thru some applications, I called a couple of promising guys in for an interview. Adrian stood out on his application and from the moment he walked into the showroom.


My first impression was that this guy was way too slick. Adrian was a Black man about six feet tall. He looked quite muscular. He wore a designer suit that had been tailored to fit. The shoes looked like they were expensive Italian leather. The watch was a Movado with the diamond at 12 o’clock. He wore is hair in a mid length pony tail. His socks, his tie and his smile were impeccable.

Great eye contact and a firm handshake started the interview. Before I could get very far into asking questions, Adrian was trying to take over the interview. He started telling me how great he was. He was giving me examples of how he had overpowered customers and closed them. He explained how his Martial Arts training translated into being a kick ass leader. I basically stopped interviewing to see how long he might go on gushing about himself.


Everybody knows not to interrupt when I am interviewing. Into the office walks Jerry. He addresses Adrian, “Hey brother is that your Z out front?” I wonder where this is going. Adrian answers, “Yes.” “Sweet ride” and Jerry continues, “Is it the white one?” Adrian starts spewing performance numbers like horsepower and top speed. Jerry interrupts Adrian by saying, “There’s a tow truck taking it away.”

Adrian bolts from my office. I guess the interview has been interrupted. Jerry and I watch from the showroom window as the sharp dressed interviewee confronts the Repo Man. The Z car is already on the hook. Adrian starts yelling at the truck operator to put his car back down. The driver shows some paperwork to Adrian. We don’t think he is going to get his car back. The Repo man tries to walk past Adrian to get to the drivers door. Adrian blocks his path and pushes him back. This particular repo man is very experienced. He has his mace out in an instant. The repo man literally paints Adrian’s face with mace. Adrian steps back in obvious pain.


What we saw next looked like a scene from a Hollywood movie. In his expensive suit, blinded with Mace, wearing Italian Loafers, Adrian executes a flying kick that Jet Li would be more than proud of. It sends the repo man to the ground. Adrian moves in for the kill and suddenly realizes that he is in trouble. Suddenly Adrian turns and runs down the street. His little ponytail and those leather shoes were cutting out.

The tow truck driver got up off of the ground and dusted himself off. He pulled out his cell phone and called in to report an assault. With the shiny fast Z car in tow, he left. I quipped to Jerry, “I wonder if he is going to come back so we can finish the interview?”


September 16, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro | , , , , | 5 Comments


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I met Jeff Larson when I was three. He lived across the street and down four houses. When we met each other, we stood across the street and introduced ourselves. Jeff thought that I said my name was Harry. We were best friends for all of elementary school and walked together, to and from school most everyday.

My Mom took me to school the first day. I remember seeing the monkey bars for the first time. I was so excited that I took off running for them as soon as we set foot in the gate. I climbed up those two steps and grabbed a hold of the metal crossbars. Off I went. My grip wasn’t as good as I thought and slipped right off into the sand below. When I did a small patch of skin came off of the palm of my hand. It stung.


Quick, where’s Mom? I turned to where she had been standing. The gate was already closed. I could see her walking away. I was left to deal with the pain alone. I wasn’t sure that I was ready for this.

The only time that Jeff and I were in the same class was the first year. Our Kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Roselanski. She would divide unto groups and let us race to the fence. It was a red light, green light game. Jeff and I were both fast runners, or so it seemed at our advanced running age. One of us was always first to the fence.


School for us was a fenced in affair. There were only two gates. For someone to come thru the gate during class, they had to be special. Especially the person that brought the cartons of milk. Milk cost a nickel in those days. After a hard morning of playing with blocks and running, milk was just right. For some reason milk was served just before naptime.

Kindergarten nap2

Each of us had our own thing to sleep on. For some it was a throw rug or for others it was a towel. Everyone got his or her mat out at naptime. I don’t remember ever going to sleep, but a lot of kids did. A half-day that included naptime, that sounds like a good thing theses days.

I don’t know if I learned to socialize, but I knew not to hang out with kids that wet their pants like Frank Batchen. I liked running with Jeff and at 50 we are still friends. If that is all that I learned from kindergarten then I guess that is enough.


September 15, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro, jeff larson | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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I was standing behind the backstop. Mike was at the plate and I was up next. The score was tied and we had a guy on first. The pitcher rolled a baby bounce pitch to Mike. He kicked it deep, but Mark, a third grader, caught it on the fly. In elementary school, kickball games seemed very important. It was midway thru recess and we had a chance to pull ahead.


From across the grass I saw my teacher, Mrs. Purdy, heading straight for us. She had an unmistakably purposeful walk. It was obvious that somebody had violated a rule. I knew that she was headed for me. Women teachers in those days wore dresses. They all had their hair done in some sort of beehive style. The ones that wore glasses wore those horn rim style that made them look so intent. Mrs. Purdy was intent on making me understand the error of my ways.

I hadn’t finished my lunch that day. I am very sure that it was Deborah Sayles who told on me. Deborah had this disapproving look that she gave when she saw others breaking the rules. When I dumped my half eaten lunch in the trash, I knew that Deborah saw me. When she gave me that look, my lunch was already in the trash. Too late to change things. I wanted to go play.

munsters2 lunch

I usually brought lunch from home. I had one of those cool lunch boxes. The metal one with the matching thermos. This was before zip lock Baggies. Mom mostly made my favorite, which was peanut butter and grape jelly. The day before I was goofing around with my best friend Jeff and had broken another thermos. So regardless of what the daily menu we had at home said, I had to buy lunch.

School lunch in the 1960’s was not fine dining. Hamburgers on Thursday and fish on Friday. Not really fish, but fish sticks, Usually with tater tots. There were also a lot of mystery items in our meals. The one thing that I could not stand was Brussels sprouts. It was the perfect trifecta of texture; smell and taste that made me gag. We had a strictest kind of teacher that made sure we finished our lunch every day.

I sat down and ate some of my lunch. I noticed that our teacher wasn’t at our table checking on us yet. I saw my opportunity and took it. Our teacher Mrs. Purdy was a few minutes late getting to the lunchroom. I didn’t understand why we had to eat everything. I guess that it had something to do with all of all of the starving children in China. I hurriedly went to the trash and dumped the vile sprouts and got out before our teacher saw me. But alas the good girls were watching. This is a problem that would plague me for most of my youth.

Brussels sprouts

Mrs. Purdy took me off of the playground and straight to her classroom. She made me write an apology for wasting food. I also had to spend the next three lunch periods writing that I would not waste any of my food. Worst of all I had to check out with the lunchroom attendant everyday and show her that I had eaten all of my food. I asked my Mom to make my lunch every day from then on. Except on Thursdays of course. I liked hamburger day.

In Mrs. Purdy’s second grade class, I received the best grades of my entire school career. I had straight A’s and one C. The C was in citizenship. It is amazing how early in life patterns are set.


September 14, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro | , , , | 1 Comment


Sierra Motors        “One Low Price, Plain and Simple…ALWAYS !” 

CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275

We went to the grand opening of Gianelli’s Vineyards new tasting room. To say that we were pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. My wife and I are veterans of many wine tastings. We are far from being experts, but we know what we like.


Gianelli’s is located at 18263 Main St. in downtown Jamestown, Ca. We found charming people in a lovely setting. We were offered samples of a variety of wines. Things went smoothly until the Cabernet Sauvigon was served.


Do you ever wonder what perfection might taste like? It has aromas of mint and dark chocolate that are married to toasty oak flavors. Quite simply the best Cab we have had the joy to experience. The dichotomy that we experienced next caught us by surprise.


Lorie Gianelli poured us a glass of 2007 Nino. This is a special blend dedicated to Ron’s father, Nino. This is a blend of Grenache 60%, Petite Sirah 20%, Dolcetto 17% And Sangiovese 3% all Gianelli Vineyards Estate grown. I thought that I tasted the apogee of generations of winemaking techniques and vineyard stewardship.


 You need to decide on your own which is the best. I am saving a bottle of Nino for the soonest possible special occasion. I hope some friends hurry and visit us.



August 31, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro, gianelli vineyards, gold of the mother lode, jamestown | , , , | 1 Comment