Excerpted from : My Life Inside The Coronado Company Cartel.
By Kimberley Dill-Graham
Senor Villar aka Luis Enrique Villar was a Spanish teacher as well as water polo/swim coach at Coronado High School in the 1960s. He was a handsome man in his mid-20s with dark chocolate brown, wiry hair cropped close to his head, bright blue eyes, a charming smile, and wore black-rimmed eyeglasses or prescription Ray-ban sunglasses. He stood about six feet tall. He was slim and fit and looked quite dashing in his collegiate tweed sports jacket, black slacks, and crisp white dress shirt with a thin black tie, a standard uniform for him. Always charismatic, he was a real charmer to both female and male students alike as well as his fellow colleagues, faculty, and the students’ parents. He drove a bright red convertible Corvette and really stood out among the generic, drab staff of Coronado High School not to mention the community in general. Like the generation he would teach, he was youthful and a product of the 60s’ bohemian lifestyle and influence.
When he arrived from the East Coast in 1964 to take the teaching position, he was only 26, not much older than the students he would teach. As a result, he formed an unusual bond with his students bordering on older brother status and almost peer but more as to someone for the impressionable kids to look up to for camaraderie as well as guidance — and in the case of water sports, a real coach. He would learn to body surf alongside his surfer students and in time the distinction between he and his students became blurred.
Senor Villar came to Coronado High School from his alma mater Syracuse University in upstate New York. He had been a college basketball star while attending the university and acquired his teaching credentials. He would marry for a short time and divorce before leaving New York. Born in Cuba in the late 1930s, he was from a family of landowners of Castilian descent. His mother was a blonde, blue-eyed beauty, and his father he did not speak of very much. When Castro took over the Caribbean island with his Communist regime, the land belonging to his family was confiscated by the military junta. Luis’ family were displaced and suffered a severe fall from financial grace and social status. His Aunt Maria would migrate to the United States soon thereafter bringing her favorite nephew along with her. Luis was a young teenager at the time. They moved to Brooklyn where the young Cuban had a very difficult time fitting in as he spoke not a word of English. Ambitious and driven, he would soon learn the language and become a great achiever in school and with the ladies. After graduating high school, he would attend Syracuse University on a basketball scholarship where he also excelled.
In 1968, Senor Villar would marry a local Coronado girl from a prominent naval family, Katherin Stocker. Kathy was also a former student of his. Luis Enrique Villar would now don the name Louis Henry Villar or Lou and had assumed the youthful helm by marriage of a reputable Coronado “old guard” family. Lou and Kathy would have a big wedding with a full mass at the local Sacred Heart Catholic Church with no expense spared at the ceremony and reception. It was a big “to do” in town and the talk of all. With his nuptials to one of our local girls, Senor Villar would establish himself as “one of us” — kind of.
Lou and Kathy Villar became a “cool” couple of the 1960s, and the youth affiliated with the twosome would admire them and enjoy hanging out with them at their home or at school functions or at the beach for some water fun. Kathy was pretty and young and a product of the times as were her peers. She quickly became a “hippie” type from a varsity cheerleader-type smoking pot with her husband and donning the uniform of the hipsters and practicing Transcendental Meditation with Lou as well. Lou traded in his shiny red Corvette for a green and white VW “surfer” bus, and together they were among the leaders of the march towards the unconventional lifestyle that was establishing itself in our community and the rest of our nation.
I was nine years old when Senor Villar made his grand entrance to the Emerald Isle. It would not be long that even I at this very adolescent age would become aware of the popular high school Spanish teacher. One of my friend’s sister would ooh and aah about her dashing instructor at school. She and all of her other girlfriends would become quite giddy at even the mention of his name. Full of curiosity, a pack of pubescent girls would begin to visit this enigmatic educator at recess. He was quite charming and we along with the older gals became quite smitten as well. Senor Villar would flirt with us and welcome us into his classroom teasing us with Spanish tongue twisters asking us to repeat them back. I sat in one of the student desks in my go-go boots and big-flowered Mary Quant dress out of my mind with curiosity and at the same time frozen in my seat with shyness. I would just stare at him with my big brown doe eyes and hope he would never call on me. Thank goodness he never singled me out and really did not take much notice of me in particular. But it was obvious, that he loved all the attention and soaked it all up even from us who were still girl children.
Later on, the Villars would become best friends with my parents. Both couples were like minded in the quest to be cool and hip and current with the changing times. It was in this element, that I would soon become the “scandal” of Coronado for years to come as I evolved and was “coached” into the teen lover of Senor Luis Enrique Villar.
Concurrent to my metamorphosis into a new creature unrecognizable as my childhood being, my parents were both morphing into a new breed of free thinkers or as many of my friends would call them “cool parents.” Simultaneously, although I think my dad was taking the lead from my mother, they became extremely permissive and open minded with their parenting skills, a trend that had unwittingly begun a few years back. Now they would consciously proclaim this enlightened approach.
Don and Jan Dill had at present donned the attire of the hippie movement. They attended rock concerts like Elton John with us, both grew their hair out, and even began dabbling with marijuana. Since my father had shut down his medicine cabinet and coffee addiction, he became more relaxed and for him a bit “mellow-yellow.” My mother began entertaining the ideas of the women’s movement that had taken hold in this decade and was questioning her role as a housewife, wife, and mother. She like many other women of the time “burned her bra.”
My dad, who was very much a racist as was his father before him often used the word “nigger” to identify a black person, started listening to the radio speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. I found this interesting as I at the time had no idea what it all meant. The true historical import of the late reverend and civil rights activist literally “king” of the movement was yet to be realized. My dad may have become more open minded but he would still remain a racist and use the “n” word. Fortunately for us kids and our embarrassment, Coronado had very few “n’s” so this misnomer did not come up very much.
Together they experimented in an approach to the mind and its mechanization known as Transactional Analysis aka TA aka “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.” This was also the precursor of the “New Age” thinking, a huge trend that would take hold in the ‘70s and would affect all manner of organized religion, the approach to treatment in the professions of psychology with psychoanalysis taking the dominant lead, and everyday thinking in general.
At any given day and at any given time, there were always a collection of friends and their friends and strangers who were to become my parents and our family’s friends hanging out at our house. Many times you would find them sitting in a circle in our communal den playing out transactional exercises to open up the soul being led by my newly found guru mother.
Our home became a go-to destination for all sorts of teenagers and young adults with problems at home and in life to come explore their feelings and options, many of whom were invited to not only hang out at our house whenever they wanted but also to stay with us.
My father, who became somewhat liberal in much of his thinking as a physician and its approaches to medicine and various treatments and cures, began assisting family friends who were “in trouble.” At the time, abortion was very illegal. I remember sitting in the living room when our doorbell rang, and my beloved babysitter, would arrive in tears only to be comforted by my father who said he would assist her on the “hush hush.” Arrangements were made to be followed shortly by another visitor. This time a controversial Coronado character showed up at the front door. I was wondering why Bud “The Butcher” could possibly have any reason for being at our house. I would later figure it all out after my inquiries were sort of answered that our family friend was pregnant, still a teenager, she did not want to have the baby nor did she want her parents or anyone else for that matter to know of her “dirty little secret.” The Butcher was the “go to guy” for all such matters.
In those days, the option for a pregnant teenager was either to be sent away to have the baby in quiet during which times adoption arrangements were secured or more dangerous methods were employed including fetus-mutilation by coat hanger. At any rate, it was a rather dismal, inhumane situation to find oneself in. Not only was the young girl’s reputation destroyed, but her self respect and self worth would be shattered for many years to come if not for always. It was in these dark times that my father would become a Knight in Shining Armor to some of these damsels in distress arranging secret rendezvous with the local butcher.
The Dill parents explored new relationships with people they hadn’t normally associated with in the past including Lou and Kathy Villar. The newlywed couple would become a fixture in our transactional analysis forums with Lou often competing as the leader of the sessions. The Villars would eat and prepare meals with our family, establish craft making sessions in our backyard such as creating handmade candles and tie-dying T-shirts. Camping became a ritual in an effort to get back to nature for all of us. Lou and Kathy would become our troop leaders as my parents became rather incapacitated with their new found preoccupation of smoking pot and “trippin’.” The cannabis was also supplied by our troop leaders. The usual vacations to Mexico and romantic getaways would be substituted with weekends in Idyllwild to attend folk music festivals with not only the Villars but other more progressive-thinking friends of my parents.
It was in this environment of change and the metamorphosis of the construct of my home that I was sent away to an exclusive all girls private boarding academy for guidance and tutelage my parents felt unable to perform.
After her high school graduation, my mother no longer pursued any higher education as all of the focus was on getting my father through medical school. This was not unusual in the 1950s for young women as the social expectation for the female was to marry at an early age to a promising beau with a path to a good profession that would provide financial security while they purchased their white picket fence home and began a family. Women were to be seen and not heard and to work would only be out of necessity.
The primary focus for the up-and-coming housewife would be concentrated on developing their cooking and shopping skills, managing a household, a representative of a good family image with proper morality, and of course, the maintenance of the home itself. Sewing skills were also preferable but not always necessary if you could mend, darn a sock, and be able to press a good pleat with a hot iron and spray starch. Even when I was in school, one of the subjects of our curriculum was home economics — a definite prerequisite to the life of a married house woman which just enhanced the lessons passed down from their own mothers and grandmothers. It was also very important to behave as a lady with physical sports not encouraged and coarseness in any form not a welcome trait. Beauty was a key essential and if not naturally pretty, many products and salons were in place to elevate even the most dowdy of women to a state of attractiveness. Besides hair spray holding every curl in place, mounds of make up was freely applied from bright scarlet rouge to a facial foundation with mascara, eyeliner, eyelashes, eyeshadows, eyebrows penciled in, and the finishing touch a dark red lipstick preferably.
Jan Dill had all aspects of professional housewifery down pat. She was the envy of all for not only was she drop-dead beautiful, but she was a definite trendsetter on all fronts from the way she dressed, to how she decorated, to how she threw a fabulous dinner party, to how she amazed all men, to how she raised her children, and best of all as a magnificent arm piece to the very handsome and debonair Dr. Donald M. Dill, M.D. – a title my father insisted on.
Being the center of attention always, my mom, the “Reigning Beauty Queen of Coronado,” could afford to be dismissive of not only her husband’s doting attention and affections but the rest of the very generic, unappealing gentlemen that surrounded her in our town. I can count on one hand any of the handsome, appealing “mad men” of Coronado. Believe me, as I would entertain my own crushes on them. The cutest men were the boys, and Jan, would flirt with them more so than the men in her peerage.
It was a surprise to all of us when one day Mom announced that she was going to take a night school class at the high school. We all wondered what that could possibly be and worried for her as we weren’t sure whether she would be able to perform on an academic level. The class she had designated was “Beginners Conversational Spanish.” It seemed logical to us when we heard the subject matter because of my parents’ extreme fondness for anything south of the border and also since we had a live-in maid, Catalina, who knew very little English. Mom also went to Tijuana often to work with the third-world artisans who would handcraft our furniture according to her designs.
This Spanish class would be taught by none other than the heartthrob of all the pre-teen and teenage girls of our town, Senor Luis Enrique Villar. When I found this out, I almost asked my mom if I could go to class with her. All my schoolmates prodded me to do so.
Needless to say, when Mom brought Senor Villar and his newlywed bride home for show and tell, I was thrilled but frightened into a complete standstill position not only physically but mentally. It was a good thing I could hide behind the fact that I was after all just a kid.
Lou was handsome and his wife was pretty. You could tell my mother had definitely placed him in the category of worthy of her flirtations and over-the-top antics. Jan was not used to feeling these dips into true romantic and sexual desire. As a result, she became quite obvious in her superficial behavior and was no match for a professional flirter, who was more sophisticated in that skill than her usual male counterparts. He was used to being a star. He was used to receiving plenty of female attention and coquetry. My mom had without doubt met her match. Lou, although flattered, became bored quickly, and instead would set his sites on the youthful enigmatic innocent, me. I hardly knew what flirting was, and I recoiled from my mother when she behaved in such a manner. From a very, very infantile age, I had sensed this behavior as a definite threat to my security in her dedication and devotion to my father and her family, and I was somewhat right.
Senor Villar began to show me a very intense inordinate amount of attention as if this distillation process would somehow absolve him from the mediocrity of life both as a married man again or as a break-out conservative teacher seeking a more intriguing and challenging relay race. When I would come in the room, he would light up shining his enormous smile upon me making it quite known that it was my presence that accounted for his exhilaration. His blue eyes became saucers and would twinkle in accompaniment to his thrilled countenance. He almost made a whistling sound or at least I always thought I heard one seething behind his ecstatic facial expression.
I was entirely confused and not at all flattered as I did not even begin to understand or identify with this behavior towards me. I may not have understood it, but there were two people always in the room who did – my mother and his wife.
Work In Progress.