Early Life Pete McRae
b. Nov. 2, 1955 Austin, TX. Mom and Dad met as students at UT, Mom got knocked up, the end of academia for those two. Hee!
Age 3, moved to Odessa and then Midland, TX. Mom's family lived on a sheep and cattle ranch outside of Rankin, TX, about 50 mi. south of Midland-Odessa, where (my) Dad had a Men's Clothing store. Business failed, Pop took a job in Jacksonville, we moved. I believe Dad was working for Farah Jeans and Textiles at this point already.
Fall 1961 1st Grade in Catholic School in Jacksonville, Fla., age 5. The rules in Texas would have made me wait another year to start first grade. I finished third grade at St. Joseph's and then we moved to St. Pete. But we spent almost all of our holidays and summers driving back to Texas, where I/we would stay with Mom and her family for weeks and months, depending on school, and Dad's work. I have pictures from when I was 5 or 6 of my Dad teaching me to handle a rifle, in my grandparents backyard in Texas, which *I think* he learned from my Mom's dad, but maybe in the Army for a minute. I think he was like me, mostly 4F (asthma, flat feet, and shit...), but -apparently- they gave him some lightweight gig during the Korean War, 'cause that was the thing to do, then. You know, he WANTED to be in the Army. I was quite young when I started cowboying as best I could, and kept it up as long as I could. My maternal grandfather and uncles were cowboys. Both my uncles rodeo'ed for awhile, and schooled me in some of that. But my grandpa was like Melquiades Estrada, "Soy vaquero, no mas." To all appearances, a very kind man. Stern, but kind.
My Dad was a very successful salesman for Farah, and they moved him to St. Pete, 'cause that was some kind of fat gig, he trained some dudes, and shit. So I did fourth grade there, where we had a swimming pool (!), and like woods and train tracks out around the back, and still the regular trips to Texas, which were generally great. We went to my Dad's parents' house in Boston (Brockton) rarely, but somebody always had a house on the cape, so that usually turned out pretty good, although there was never much ease or closeness with his family, in general.
Around the summer of '65, he landed a management training slot with Levi's, and took a huge pay cut, and moved to SF/Marin. I think there started to develop a huge cultural gap (not just with me, either!), and I remember my 12th summer being the last real hang on the ranch. There was a period when my grandparents moved into the town of Rankin, but they still had leases on the ranch properties, but I can't quite place that in time. Seems like I was somewhere in the 8 to 10 range. We'd still go out and leave food for the range cows, and tend to whatever fence-mending, windmill maintenance, and whatnot. That was when they let me hunt, too, instead of just shooting targets, as I recall. Some birds for sport, but that got cooked and eaten, and we hunted jackrabbits for being pests. Eventually, that became very unpleasant for me, partly due to my failure to realize certain realities about what I was doing, until it was too late. I saw plenty of rattlers get blown away for getting too close to the house, or whatever; but I sort of lapsed into blood sport without even realizing it.
By 13 I was on my way to being a hippie, and hopelessly confused about my rural roots. I remember my last childhood visit I was 14, I think, Christmas 1969, and I was packing The Jefferson Airplane's _Volunteers_, and the Stones' _Beggars Banquet_, the latest shit, that I got for Christmas! At one point my Grandma very graciously took me to rent an amp in Midland, because I had brought my electric guitar. I think I was 15-16 then, and my Grandpa had VANISHED (so they say, to this day!). But Ninnie took me into town, because I was INTO my guitar, and we rented this pretty nice Epiphone amp, for a couple of weeks.
I went back to see her (Ninnie) when The Kats were riding high. My old "girlfriend" 's little sister was there, and she was totally into the brand new first Van Halen album! I was all about how we were gonna get signed and she was gonna hafta buy MY album, too. I left some Kats badges there with her, too. Hee!
But that's kind of the story of my first four years in Florida Catholic School. You know, the altar boy thing, all the way! I even suffered my Sacrament of Confirmation, in Marin. By then it WAS suffering, because my parents had quit going to church, and my relations with my uncle, the priest, were getting strained. But all through First Communion and shit I was TOTALLY into it.
I showed up at Bernard Hoffman Elementary, in Terra Linda, a few days late for 5th Grade, because I guess it took my folks a lttle longer to figure out where they were going to live. And I don't think they could AFFORD Catholic School at that point, although they NEVER admitted that to me. And within a few years, my Dad was pretty stinkin' wealthy...