You Know What They Say About Sac State?

As I wrote in 2009:

Nineteen eighty was a tough year for me. On the afternoon of Yom Kippur 1979, my father delivered a controversial talk before a thousand people at our Seventh-Day Adventist Pacific Union College (PUC) in the Napa Valley questioning the foundational doctrine of the church — choseness.

In January, my parents moved to Washington D.C. so my dad could organize a defense of his views. I stayed behind at PUC with friends. I was out of my dad’s shadow and I could have a childhood and do all the things normal kids do such as eat candy and talk to girls.

I started listening to pop music, tuning in at night to radio stations KNBR and KFRC.

In the summer of 1980, my father had his ministerial credentials taken away by the church and he moved to Auburn and set up his own non-denominational evangelical Christian foundation Good News Unlimited.

I was outside the warm bosom of the Adventist community for the first time and I felt desolate. My father said we belonged to the invisible church of Jesus Christ but that did not make for much practical community.

I went to a non-Adventist school (Forest Lake Christian School) and was surrounded by sinners who ate meat and did not keep the Sabbath. In my first semester I failed two classes (Algebra and Spanish) and ended up with a D average.

My few sources of solace included trips to PUC and listening to pop music at night under my pillow (most of my favorite songs are from this time).

I think it was on the powerful Los Angeles radio station KFI that I heard my first REO Speedwagon songs.

I remember us moving into a new home (7955 Bullard Drive, Newcastle, CA, 95658) in 1981. We had eight acres.

One evening a neighbor had a party in our honor. My ****** wanted to come without a bra but my dad made her go home and change.

It was a little awkward socializing with the un-churched. I did get into one good conversation that night. It was with Bob McKee. He lived about a mile away. He said his son Kevin, my age, liked a band called "REO Firewagon."

I became friends with Kevin and hung out at his house. About the only band that we both liked was REO. The other music that I liked he said his mom listened to (Kenny Rogers, Ann Murray, etc).

I ADD NOW: I spent many hours talking about sports with Bob McKee (who worked in California’s prison system). He was like a substitute father figure for me. He said I knew more about sports than any other kid he knew.

After I graduated from high school in 1984, I didn’t see much of Kevin and his dad.

I do remember one conversation I had with Bob circa 1986. I said I was planning on transferring from Sierra College to Sac State.

“You know what they say about Sac State?” he said.

“No,” I said.

“Somebody has to go there,” he said.

I was stung by his words and determined to instead go somewhere prestigious, perhaps UC Davis. A few months later, I settled on UCLA.

When I had to move home because of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 1989, I rarely saw the McKees. I did invite myself over to their home for the epic Dallas-San Francisco football game in January 1993.

I babbled about Dennis Prager. Bob said he saw something by him in the newspaper about homosexuality.

I think that was our last conversation.

I can’t find him online. I can’t find Kevin either.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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