Didn’t your boss carry a cross?

Didn’t your boss carry a cross?

I can’t remember during which one of our countless conversations D.D. shared that memory.

Maybe we were eating at the Mongolian barbeque.

I know we weren’t eating at Kokoro. That was Japanese. I only forced him to eat there once, and I say forced with meaning.

You see, D.D. was born in China and when we had our conversations over food he made it clear he resented the Japanese. The Japanese invaded China when he was a child. That invasion forced his family to flee Hankou down the Yangtze River, headed back to California.

He was a college kid in California when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Here is a story he told more than once: At Occidental, he was a student radio host spinning the best of the best music then — “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and the unfortunately prescient “I’ll Never Smile Again.” One day, seated in the booth, he assumed the frenzy on the other side of the window was enthusiasm for his talent.

Instead his pals were reacting to the news of the bombing.

He enlisted in the Navy the next day.

By the end of World War II, he was a PT Boat commander in the South Pacific.

He once carried future President John F. Kennedy’s bags after that whole PT 109 thing.

He served with Byron “Whizzer” White, an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. I offered to take D.D. to White’s funeral in Denver in 2002, but he declined. Those days were long past, he said, seated at his home decorated with vestiges of California style.

Clarence Mason (D.D.) Harvey was my mentor, son of Christian missionaries and a man dedicated to saving people’s souls.

Chuck Dietrich was his mentor. Dietrich, the founder of Synanon, delivered the question about his boss one day when D.D. was down. Dietrich was, apparently, a very in-your-face kind of guy, and Synanon was a reflection of his approach.

By then, D.D. had become a Presbyterian minister like his father, but also very much unlike his father.

While his father ministered from the pulpit, D.D. ministered in the mud.

There he found some of the most desperate addicts California could cough up.

But there, too, he found his calling.

Not that the people he helped were dirty. That’s not what I mean. It’s just that they were desperate — “hope-to-die addicts,” D.D. would call them. Not with disrespect. He had awe for how low the human spirit could sink and be saved.

My God, the man had faith.

He rode the bow of his P.T. boat like it was a mechanical bull.

With glee.

And yet, the reality of addiction was not lost on him.

Nor was the reality of sacrifice.

He knew his boss carried a cross.

Jane Curtis is interim editor of the Daily Freeman-Journal.


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