All Press Releases for August 18, 2023

Deep Dives from Abalone Cove to LAPD: "A Story to Tell" Part 4 by Richard Runyon Plunges Into Uncharted Realms

The eagerly awaited fourth installment of "A Story to Tell: Conversations with Richard Runyon" has arrived, continuing Mr. Runyon's great success. Newly announced, the acclaimed series will continue next year, promising even more engaging content.

This installment is an homage to the spirit of a bygone era, infused with the magic of youth and the mystery of life.

    SEATTLE, WA, August 18, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Renowned storyteller and retired FDA senior analyst, Richard Runyon invites people worldwide to experience a thrilling and nostalgic journey in the highly anticipated fourth installment of his captivating interview series, "A Story to Tell." Transporting readers to the enchanting coastal area of Abalone Cove in the 1960s, this latest release is set to captivate audiences with a unique blend of novel charm and youthful magic.

Known for his exceptional ability to share exploits in exciting ways, Richard Runyon takes readers on an exhilarating escapade through the episodic and eccentric encounters of his summer as a worker at the local Shell station in Abalone Cove. The breathtaking caves, thrilling dives, captivating marine life, and bustling tour buses provide the backdrop to a story that is as unforgettable as it is whimsical. In one such scenario, readers are treated to the arrival of a topless sci-fi movie production, adding an extra layer of campy nostalgia to the mix. So, when a young actress from the B-movie makes an unscheduled, after-dark appearance at Richard job, you might find yourself wondering whose story this actually is!

Yet, within this nostalgia-laden romp lies a much darker side. The narrative takes a compelling turn as Richard delves into a different chapter of his life – his time with the LAPD. Venturing into the gritty underbelly of the city, readers are offered a contrasting storyline that adds depth and intrigue to Richard's journey. The parallel between the thrilling escapades of Abalone Cove and the white-knuckle realities of his work on homicide scenes presents a multidimensional portrayal of Richard's life, perfectly in keeping with what audiences surely have come to expect of "A Story to Tell."

"I wanted to offer readers a truly immersive experience, blending the enchantment of Abalone Cove with the gritty realities of my time with the LAPD," explains Richard Runyon. "This installment is an homage to the spirit of a bygone era, infused with the magic of youth and the mystery of life."

Prepare to be transported to another fascinating corner of Richard Runyon's world in the gripping fourth installment of "A Story to Tell". This one promises a rollercoaster of emotions, from laughter to suspense, as readers traverse the spectrum of human experiences alongside the masterful storyteller himself. But, why take our word for it? Read the fourth part of Richard Runyon's series right here, right now:

TSR News Group: Good afternoon, and welcome to the fourth installment of "A Story to Tell: Conversations with Richard Runyon." This time we are going to delve into Richard's captivating journey through Abalone Cove, a time filled with intriguing characters and unforgettable experiences. From the breathtaking coastal landscapes to the secrets hidden beneath the waves, join us as Richard, armed with only his words, takes us once again on a mesmerizing adventure. This is going to be about a lot more than just Abalone Cove, though, so make yourself comfortable and get ready to be immersed in Richard Runyon's story to tell! And of course, we have the man of the hour with us here today, ready to roll. How are you today, Richard?

Richard Runyon: Well, I'm great. Thank you for asking. And how are you doing?

TSR: I'm doing great. Thank you for asking. Been very excited about this one and it's also been a long time coming! We've got a lot of ground to cover here. As I stated in my introduction, this fourth installment of "A Story to Tell" will be focusing in large part on your time working in Abalone Cove, Los Angeles County. And you had some notable adventures in and around this area. But first, I'm hoping that you can tell us a little bit about what Abalone Cove is exactly, and why it was so significant to your life back then.

Richard: Thank you, yes. Abalone Cove is located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, which is a chunk of land that sticks out west from Los Angeles. It's all basically rocky cliffs all the way around, and one of the coves had a beach facility developed in it. It was developed years ago by one of the rich families, and then it was turned into a private club, and I was fortunate enough that my parents had joined this club. It wasn't all that far from our house, so we could go down there whenever we wanted and take advantage of the cove. Now, there were lots of things to do. And in fact, it was popular enough that there were a number of movies that were filmed in and around that cove. I see them every once in a while. It's kind of fun. It's now a county park, so anybody can go down there. The club sold it off.

Anyway, on the southern end of the cove is a rocky point that sticks out with the rock continuing out to sea a little bit, and at low tide you can go out and walk over all those rocks. And it's fun to explore critters and stuff that have stayed in the tide pools. And you never know what you're going to find. I remember one time when I was scrambling around looking for something, and I looked at a hole and I thought I saw something in there. I knew it wasn't a moray eel which sometimes can get in these, but I stuck my hand in, and it was a little octopus, and he bit me on the finger. Most people don't know that octopuses have beaks, but they do.

TSR: Beaks like a bird?

Richard: Yeah, like a parrot beak.

TSR: Wow. I had no idea.

Richard: Yeah. And it didn't break the skin or anything, it was startled way more than anything. So, I went ahead and got him out and cleaned him and we had calamari for dinner that night, so that was kind of nice.

TSR: I'll say.

Richard: In addition to the tide pools, there are a couple of caves in this point. One of them goes up in the point quite a ways, but that ends, and the other one goes all the way through the point. And we used to explore the caves as well. And because it was kind of unique, occasionally you'd see a tour boat come by. Not too far from us, farther north, was a marine land. They have all these animals that do tricks and stuff. It's not there anymore, but they used to take people on tours in their boat. And I can remember, I was standing up on the rocks with a buddy of mine and we were watching the tour boat go by, and somebody jumps off the boat. So, the guy starts to swim in, and you can see that the boat driver at first was a little flustered about it, and then he figured out, 'Oh, the guy's a good swimmer and he's going to make it shore, he'll be okay.' So, the boat left, but when the guy came in, he pulled himself up on the rocks right in front of us... and it turned out to be my brother!

He and his buddies had done this a few times to entertain the tourists. But they were quickly discovered and prohibited from the boat. Now, the other thing we would do around there, besides just hang out and watch the girls, is we would do some diving. Now, the diving wasn't all that great because too many other people had the same idea, and so it was pretty well picked over. But I was out one day collecting sand dollars. A sand dollar is a little organism that-- oh, it's bigger than a silver dollar, maybe twice as big, but the same shape. And I was collecting those on the sandy bottom when a big shadow went over me. At first, I wasn't bothered, because boats will do that. But I didn't hear a propeller, so I wondered what it was and I rolled over onto my back.

It was a giant stingray! It must have been, I don't know, maybe six feet across on his wings. It was a magnificent animal. It wasn't interested in me for any reason, but it was sure fun to watch him from that perspective, and being that close to it was really something! I never had an experience like that before.

TSR: That's fascinating. Is it bigger than people think it is, would you say?

Richard: Well, it depends on the ray. Some rays are pretty small. Some of them are only maybe a foot across or something, but the giant rays can get pretty large, yeah.

TSR: That's what I've heard. Wow, what an encounter! I bet Abalone Cove was teaming with all sort of characters--human characters, that is. Any interesting run-ins?

Richard: Yeah, one in particular. I worked at a gas station that was right at the top of the hill, it was called Abalone Cove Gas Station. And I was working late one night because I was closing the station, and I had a gal pull up and wanted gas. Well, that was the day that I knew that they had been filming down at Abalone Cove. Apparently, it was a topless science fiction movie, which I didn't get to watch being filmed, nor did I get to see it in the movies. This gal was one of the actresses in the movie, which she let me know. And then she said, "I'll do anything for a tank of gas." So I kind of stopped and thought about it for a minute or two and decided it probably wasn't a very good idea. So I said no.

She then walked over to the convenience store next door, to try and talk that guy probably out of some money to get gas. She came back disappointed, got in her car and took off. So, hopefully she eventually got home. But yeah, I thought that was an odd way to get gasoline.

TSR: That sure is. Say, did you ever catch the name of that movie being filmed?

Richard: No. No, I never did.

TSR: That'd be interesting if you were able to track it down and check it out. Now, you were an avid diver, as any follower of this interview series will know by now. All that time in Abalone Cove, I imagine you must have gotten some pretty good diving in, right?

Richard: Yeah. Now, I did a lot of diving around Palos Verdes, and one of the things I was always looking for was lobster. I think I got my biggest lobster around Palos Verdes. I also would take the boat out to Catalina Island, which was much nicer diving. And I even had one trip out to San Clemente, which was even farther out, which was pristine and that was wonderful. And I did some diving around the Channel Islands as well. All of us were scuba divers.

When I was in graduate school in northern California, my buds and I would go down to Mendocino County along the coast, because we could collect abalone. We had to free dive for those, you have to hold your breath and go down. The abalone is a large mollusk, basically a snail with a big foot that allows it to move around on, and also will suction onto the rocks and pull the shell down. So, it was really hard for predators to get to it, including human predators.

We all carried up an iron with us, it's called abalone iron. And the best time to catch these guys was when they're feeding, in which case their shell was open and they were a lot more vulnerable, and you could pop them off the rock pretty good. Anyway, we would we would go down there, we had some interesting adventures. We stayed at the state parks when we went down, for the most part. We were down there one time and had gotten our campsite set up, and we took off to go diving. When we returned, there were two people in the campsite, and I kind of jumped out of the car to confront them, and my buddy got a place to park right away and came to back me up.

Well, anyway, they were using one of our pans to try and cook up an illegal little abalone that clearly hadn't been prepared correctly. So even if they thought it was right, it wouldn't have tasted like anything more than rubber. So, I grabbed the pan and flipped the abalone into the bushes and confronted them and told they were crazy for-- I mean, the site was clearly occupied! And then a few minutes later, their buddy shows up bringing in water with from one of our containers. By that time, Mike, my buddy was there, and we were-- well, I'm six foot, I think Mike's taller than that, and these guys were probably five-five at most. Two of them were guys, one was a gal, and they were intimidated pretty quickly.

TSR News Group: I can imagine.

Richard Runyon: We opened the side door of their van, and there were a bunch more of our tools! So, we got everything back and kicked them out. Actually, the gal asked if she could get a ride with us. And, well, she asked us which way we were going to go, and I think I told her, "Whatever way you're not going." Then, we reported them to the camp rangers or whatever. I think they caught them later, but they bounced them. So, you never know what you're going to get.

But the reason I say it wasn't actually adequately prepared is, you take an abalone and the first thing you do is you get it out of the shell, and then you can use an abalone iron for that. They're stuck in, but they're not impossible to get out. And it's really easy to clean. But then you've got this large piece of meat that is basically a big muscle that's contracted. So, you have to tenderize it. And what we would do is put it on a nice board or something, and then we'd smack it with a big paddle more than once. And then finally the muscle would release, relax, and then we'd throw it in a cooler, freezer, or whatever we were going to do with it.

And if we wanted to eat it, which of course was the reason that we got it, there were a number of ways you could do it, hundreds of different ways you could cook the abalone. But one of the ways is, you could slice them into little quarter inch steaks and fry them up in a pan and that was really nice. Or you could bake the whole abalone, and I've had that as well. So we ate tons of abalone. It's hard to find abalone now. That area of Mendocino no longer allows you to take any at all, they closed it off, because the sea urchins, those little spiny guys, they've been coming in and destroying the abalone habitats throughout by eating the algae which is what the Abalone eat. They're in the process of trying to get rid of the sea urchins.

TSR: What is the flavor like, of an abalone steak? Is it like scallops?

Richard: Yeah. It's kind of like a scallop.

TSR: Okay.

Richard: Yeah. Very nice. Very nice.

TSR: I love scallops. That sounds delicious.

Richard: Yeah. And because there's so much, hell, one of these steaks can easily feed a family, so it was fun. If you only could buy one, I think wild abalone is going for something like a $100 a pound, if not more. And I think with that, all you get is the whole abalone still in the shell. The weight is mostly in the shell because they're heavy. So, it's real expensive.

TSR: You don't want to mess up cooking it at that price. You want to make sure you cook it just right.

Richard: Yeah. And we always had-- there were four of us, so it was four each. It was 16 abalone. We had plenty. I can remember we were poor students, and so having this source of protein was real nice.

TSR: Yeah.

Richard: One of the other places I did some great diving was in The Bahamas. My wife, sweet as she is, handed me plane tickets and a passport when I came home for work one day. All I was told was that I needed to take two weeks off. There were tickets to The Bahamas. Another good friend of ours, he was my best man when I got married, Dennis Holstein, he met me at the airport and we took his sailboat out to some of the smaller Islands. There were tons of them around Bahamas. Most of them are not inhabited. And so we found this nice little cove that we spent some time in, so we decided to look for a lobster. He and I got in the water, and although we weren't diving directly together, we kept an eye on each other. We were both diving for lobsters.

And I can remember I was down at one point--and this was all free diving, so no tanks--I went down on the bottom, and I just got this weird feeling and I rolled over and looked back and there were three large barracuda that were just staring at me. The barracuda is a long skinny fish that's probably three feet long and it has these beady eyes, they're real menacing looking. They're not going to hurt you, but they sure look like they want to.

TSR: They have that underbite too.

Richard: Yeah, yeah. I'm sure that they were just curious, but it was kind of unnerving to have these guys following us around, because most fish just run away, but not these guys, so that was kind of weird. Anyway, when we were almost done, we decided to go on the outside of these little islands and more towards the ocean side to see if we had any luck out there. I don't think we were getting much, but all of a sudden that tide changed. And I didn't realize that tidal influences that far away from the beach would be felt that strong, but it was a huge tidal pull and both Dennis and I got caught in it! We really had to work—work hard—to get out of that pull. I think if we weren't in the good shape that we were in, we probably wouldn't have made it. There wasn't anything beyond that point except for Africa! So that was something we both remember and that was kind of scary as well.

So, then we combined our lobsters and realized we had more lobsters than we really needed. There was one other boat in this little bay where we were. And so, we went up to the people on board and asked them if they wanted to share a lobster dinner with us. And they of course jumped at the choice. They brought a great mixing for a salad, too. And for those of you who have been out on a boat for a few days, salads are sometimes hard to get because the vegetables don't last all that long in the heat or whatever. So they're usually eaten up. They had a real nice salad. We cooked the lobsters on the barbecue, and sat around and had some beers and played cards with their teenage daughter, the five of us, all night. It was pretty memorable. And it turns out it was Thanksgiving! So all the more memorable and all the more appropriate that we all shared our food together. So, that was a Thanksgiving I probably won't forget.

TSR: Yes, I can imagine. That sounds like a really nice Thanksgiving. Now, I want us to stay in Los Angeles, but shift gears a little bit. From what I understand, you spent some time with the LAPD earlier, is that correct?

Richard: Yes. When I was about 19 or 20, and I was going to school and studying criminology, the LAPD had a job opening for what they called "student worker." And you had to pass all the same exams that the police officers did to participate in the program. But if you did, it was 40 hours during the summer and 20 hours during the school year. And it was a pretty good rate of pay. I can't remember now what it was, but it was much better than I was getting at the gas station.

I had a uniform, but not a police uniform, but a khaki one. So I went to work for them in their harbor division, which was close to my house and close to where I was going to school, so that was really nice. The kind of work they had me doing was really interesting. It was actually one of the more interesting jobs I think I've ever had. Every day was different. You never knew what was going to happen. Initially, they just stuck me in the captain's office where what I would do was read arrest reports from the previous day and plot burglaries and stuff on a map, looking for patterns. I can remember one of the arrest reports came across and I knew the woman who got arrested! That was kind of odd.

Anyway, I went from there to the front desk, the desk where you see the sergeant when you walk into the door. I was frequently accompanied by a police officer, but not always, so I would take down the people coming in who were reporting crimes. I'd take down their information and file reports for them. I had a guy come in one time in a big hurry, and he said that his yacht, sailboat, a big, big sailboat--a schooner, I think--had been stolen. He notified the Coast Guard and they were on their way, but they couldn't do anything till it was officially listed as a theft.

So he was there to try and get the paperwork done. So, they gave me all the specifics and I wrote it up, so now we have an official record that the boat was stolen. The Coast Guard then decided to stop the boat and said they were on their way to Hawaii and ordered them to lower the sails and come aboard or whatever, and they ignored them. And the Coast Guard had to literally pull up alongside and use grappling hooks to pull them over so they could get onboard. We went right into this guy's teak deck. He wasn't very happy about that, but he got his boat back. The idiots were going to fight the coast guards, I don't know, with just odds & ends, and hands tools. They didn't have any serious weapons. The coast guards, of course, all had significant weapons including a machine gun that was mounted onboard. So, they got the guy's boat back and all the bad guys ended up in our jail. I saw them and was able to read the report and see what happened. It was exciting.

Now, I also had the ability to transmit right from that desk if I needed to. There was a radio there. So I had my own call sights or whatever. I never had to use it, but it was available. I also spent some time in the evidence room, which was okay. Nothing really exciting. But I went from there to detectives. I was there during school time, so I was there at night, generally the detective bureau was empty. But there are some detectives that worked that shift just in case something happened. So, we got a call that there had been a shooting. So they went out to see what the officers had found, and they called me up on the phone and said, "We need you to get our camera and all of our equipment and bring it out to scene."

In those days, there wasn't any CSI. They didn't have folks that were trained in how to do all those kinds of things. And so, the detectives did whatever they could. And so, I went out, and it was pretty tragic. It was a boy who was playing with his father's .30-06 when it went off and he shot his best friend right in the face. And of course, it blew out the back of his head. He fell backwards over the threshold into the apartment. And so, I had to climb over the body to get inside. I helped them taking pictures and whatever they did, then I transported the parents of the shooter back to the precinct so they could make a statement or whatever. They were pretty upset. Everybody was, that was pretty tragic.

TSR News Group: How old was the shooter?

Richard Runyon: Oh, maybe 12.

TSR: So they were both around the same age.

Richard: Yeah.

TSR: What was that like when you had to step over him?

Richard: Well, that was really the first time I'd seen anything like that. I just had to not think about the personal component of it and just focus on the work that needed to be done.

TSR: So, you just had to get the job done and put the other stuff aside?

Richard: Yeah.

TSR: That's tough.

Richard: Yeah. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been any help to anybody, so…

TSR: Yeah.

Richard: After I had gone out to a number of these homicides, the police officers told me I'd probably seen more homicides than most rookie cops do in a few years... I just seemed to get them all. The next one was a woman who was at home. It was a small, little apartment, which was really just a bedroom and a bathroom. She was peeling potatoes over a sink in the bedroom with a paring knife. Her husband comes home and he's pretty drunk and starts to harass her a bit, and apparently, she'd had enough of it. She turned around and hit him. Well, the paring knife was still in her hand when she hit him and she severed an artery. And so, he started bleeding everywhere. Arteries pump blood out pretty quickly. And you could see his bloody hand prints around. He ended up in the bathroom. It looked like he'd been sitting on the edge of the bathtub trying to look in the mirror and stuffed toilet paper in the wound to stop bleeding. But he lost enough blood where he passed out and fell into the tub where he completely bled out.

So when we got there, we went into this bathroom. The bathroom was really clean and it was white. All the walls were real white. The sink was white. The tub was white porcelain, so that was real white. And this guy, he lost all his blood and he was about as white as everything else, but all around him was this congealed blood. The contrast was really hard to take. It was like a painting almost. So anyway, they arrested the wife for… well, I don't remember now what the charge was, but anyway, that was the second one I went on.

Another time, a guy decided to use a shotgun to commit suicide, and put it in his mouth and used his toes to pull the trigger. And it sure did the trick. There's no way that he was going to miss that way. And he didn't have much of a head left.

TSR: I can't imagine he did.

Richard: Yeah, that one was pretty gory.

TSR: That's a lot for a 19-year-old to take.

Richard: Yeah, it was. There were others. There was one I'm glad I didn't have to go to. I went there, but it was later, where a guy had killed his whole family and then killed himself. He had kids and that kind of stuff. But the victims had been removed by the time I got on scene, which saved me that one. I did go out on other things besides homicides, but the homicides were by far the most challenging to see. It was interesting while I was there. All the homicides that I knew about, not a single one was from somebody trying to defend themselves or their property against another person, there were all these suicides and accidental deaths and that kind of stuff.

TSR: Yeah, that's interesting.

Richard: So, you hear about all these people who want to buy guns and defend themselves, and yet in these cases the guns were used for suicides and other nondefense purpose. Eventually, I got transferred again, and this time it was to the police commissioner's office in downtown Los Angeles. It was mostly administrative stuff.

TSR: I have a few friends who are on the force, these are guys that I grew up with and one of them actually said to me that when he first started, he noticed that all of these different crime scenes--especially gory, grizzly ones--he said there was always a scent that they had, a smell that he couldn't really place. He couldn't describe it, but he said that each crime scene had the same sort of feel to it. And over time, he just became desensitized to it.

Richard: Well, he may have been smelling the iron.

TSR: Oh yeah? How does that work?

Richard: If it's a lot of blood you might smell that.

TSR: Oh, it comes from the actual blood?

Richard: Yeah. That might've been what was going on. I don't know.

TSR: That could have been, but whatever it was, he said eventually the haunting, familiar scent wore off after a year or so, and then it was just work. Business as usual. So, anyway... after all that, you ended up with a desk job?

Richard: Yeah. Occasionally I'd have to go out and deliver stuff or pick things up. I would drive this car that was the police commissioner's car, which was given to him by the mayor, who got a brand new car every year, and the old car would then be the police commissioner's. So I had his car and was able to park it anywhere I wanted. Because the police would come by, and they'd know it's either the mayor's car or the police commissioner's car, and they wouldn't ticket it. I was able to double park it or park next to fire hydrants. I never had to worry about where I was going to park when I was driving around downtown LA. So, that was always kind of fun.

TSR: I bet. So, is that the only time in your life that you ever dealt with that sort of thing, like you experience on then homicide and suicide scenes? Because I know after that in your career you went all over the world and all different types of situations and chemical spills and hazardous scenes. You've been in China, you've been here, there and everywhere. Did you ever encounter that level of upset again, or was that really just an isolated period in your life?

Richard: Yeah, it was pretty isolated. After that, I didn't see anything like that again, which was okay.

TSR: Well, yeah. I'm sure. Man, that is a lot for a young man to take—19, 20 years old. And to put that into perspective, how old were you exactly for the material we covered early in the interview at the Abalone Cove with the Manta Ray and stuff like that? That was a little later in your 20s?

Richard Runyon: Well, probably some of it was earlier. I would start going down at Abalone Cove when I was a junior in high school. I went to work for a gas station, I think after I left the LAPD, so I was there for a while. But then I went off to school, which was such that I couldn't work there anymore.

TSR News Group: Right, right. Okay. Wow. Well, you've had a lot of adventures, that's for sure. And that just about wraps up today's interview. And I want to thank you as always, Richard, for sharing these wonderful stories, but also a thanks to all of you out there who are enjoying them. We hope that you've been inspired and moved and entertained by Mr. Runyon's, wonderful Story to Tell. So, stay tuned for more captivating episodes as we continue to explore the extraordinary life of Richard Runyon.

For further reading, please visit Richard Runyon's official website, as well as his upcoming "Richard Runyon's Storybook" series website.

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