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.