James Fleming


Reggie, thanks for forwarding Bob's message.  Much of what follows comes my initial response to Bob's message.  By coincidence, I have been living in Orinda, CA on the opposite side of the San Francisco Bay from Bob since 1977.  I moved here to open an office for my then-law firm, eventually opening my own firm in San Francisco and Walnut Creek.  

After graduating from the Air Force Academy, I was assigned first to Amarillo, Texas, then to Los Angeles Air Force Station, Space and Missile Systems Division.  I spent the Viet Nam War buying payloads for the Air Force space program.  Okay, I was really just another ink-stained wretch.  And going to law school at USC passing the California Bar and becoming an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate.  Unlike the TV show, they did not issue us SJA's sidearms and Corvettes.  After about 6 years and restless for a change of scene which the Air Force declined to provide, I joined an LA law firm.  After another six or seven years, my partners sent me to San Francisco to establish a beachhead office. Tough duty.  

I lasted 20 years with that firm, moved to another big firm for 6 years and then started my own firm, where I should have been all along. That lasted ten years and worked well indeed.
Now, I am retired and only do volunteer work for the courts as a judge and mediator.   I am hiker and woodworker and play golf when my aging joints permit.  My wife Jessica is an avid gardener and superior travel planner.  She recently arranged a memorable three week tour of Croatia and Slovenia that included a small-ship cruise on the Damatian Coast for my 75th BD.

My three kids are grown and gone but they accumulated lots of education and are able to make it independently even in the high-cost areas of San Francisco and Seattle.  They have produced five grandchildren, with the oldest planning to start at Johns Hopkins in the Fall.  He is just returning from a wrestling exchange trip to Japan and will be wrestling at JHU.  The next one is a year younger but is already getting football recruiting pressure from lots of East Coast schools.  Being 6'4" and 280# on a Washington state champion team gets some respect.  The other three are from the same mold, athletic, studious high-achievers.  Those apples happily fell bit away from my tree.
All of the foregoing has, of course, the gauzy glow of unmitigated success, but I have omitted lots of the inevitable stumbles, bad decisions and lapses to which we are all heir, even if it takes 75 years to admit it.  Nevertheless, it has all worked out ok so far.
Returning to Bob's message, I did not remember that he worked at the Adams House.  I did too, but I think our overlap must have been brief.  I spent my time in the kitchen for three summers, part of the time with Boyden's brother Bill, of whom I have completely lost track.  I even served as the head chef for a week or two after the real chef had a little too much cooking sherry and told the owner - Earl Jacobs, an old Yankee lawyer - where he could put his restaurant.  It was exciting while it lasted. 
Bob's recollection of the "professional chefs" is spot-on, even if he has courteously toned down the grotesque profanity and hair-trigger anger which seems to be an occupational hazard of restaurant kitchens.  It is pretty remarkable that we both have fond memories of those months we spent in the dirt, sweat and excitement of white-table-cloth cooking with zero training and the shock of learning what it is like to work in the real world. And I can still shuck shrimp and chop lobsters faster than anyone I know.
Like Bob, I have made it only to a few reunions but I am usually in Marblehead about every other year as my brother still lives there.  He taught history at MHS for many years.  Unfortunately, I have commitments in California that will prevent me attending this year. I am sending my best wishes to all the attendees, as well as to those like Bob and me, who are unable to be present.
If any of you drifts up on the Left Coast, San Francisco Division, be sure to give me a call.

Jim Fleming




James H. Fleming