Robert “Bob” Norris Rakestraw (or aka, the Meda in Mac Meda) was born a Fergurson in Nova Scotia, Canada on December 8, 1940. He was adopted by famed Scripps Oceanography Dr. Norris and Hazel Rakestraw about eight years later.
Norris was the number two man at Scripps and a renowned expert on marine chemistry. He died in 1982 in Morongo Valley, where they retired.
In 1952, Scripps Estates Associates (SEA) was the first subdivision in San Diego to ignore the local real estate covenants and sell property to people by lottery. Norris and Hazel both entered and Hazel got the first draw of the San Diego’s first Lottery. So they bought the first lot (about 1.5 acres) for $2200, which was overlooking the Shores. According to a memorial, a Hazel Rakestraw died from Alzheimer’s Disease around 1984.
There was another son, Doug who was a Rhodes Scholar and pretty much disowned Bob. When people asked about his parents, Bob always avoided the question. Every once in a blue moon and when he was real drunk, he would get into some sort of melancholic state, and mumble that he has not talked to his brother since he was about 14 years old. However, he would talk to his parents a couple of times a month.
Little is known of why the adoption, either his real parents were killed or some say, he was an abused child and came from alcoholic parents, where he ended up in a child service program. This could have been the reason why Rakestraw had this destructiveness, an inside anger that he never got over.
The inheritances of alcoholism and anger would eventually lead to his early and very lonely death in a trailer in Morongo Valley (not far from his adopted parents house and where his dad died) on September 21, 1996 at 56.
His hostility was so bad, his adopted, very straight arrow and Christian values parents paid the black sheep of the family to move out, when he was only 16. However, his adoptive parents continued their best to make him a respected citizen of the community. The doctor got Bob a job on one of the Scripps research boats, which later on, Bob got a job on a fishing boat, and then became a merchant marine, which was Bob’s line of work/income and one that he hated to do!
It was his seamanship days where he developed his own bastardization of a cuss word that he became infamous known for, “Meda.”
For the next fours years he pretty much drifted around and just appeared around the beach area. A La Jolla teacher said, “He had little or zero friends, and always was a quiet person who sat in the back of the class. But you knew he had a chip on his shoulder that was itching to get out.”
At an early age, Rakestraw discovered he loved alcohol and had already gained a reputation of drinking and being crazy about it. And by 17, he could just about drink anyone under the table. Bar owners like Maynard Heatherly clinched when Rakestraw entered the bar, knowing he was not 21 and would still allow him to drink. Maynard’s regular warnings to his bartenders were, “That boy [Rakestraw] is nuts, give him what he wants, otherwise he might do something scary … like ram his car through the front door.”
Since the beginning, his destructiveness was getting a reputation. One time he crashed his brand new T-Bird his adoptive parents had given him. He blamed the accident on a little known kid by the name of Fleet Nelson (whose grandfather was the famed aviation pioneer Reuben H. Fleet, who founded the U.S. Air Mail service and had the museum named after him). His fascination with destroying cars (or anything for that matter) lead to the La Jolla Demolition Derby and to the thrill of Jack, Rakestraw and others pushing cars off of La Jolla’s Torry Pines cliff.
Eventually this became an psychological crazed addiction that lead to explosives and heavy weapon usage to destroy.
Both Rakestraw and Macpherson were natural born athletes, even if Rakestraw height was only 5’4, and weight about 190 and was built like a fireplug he had the natural strength to prove it. He liked to show off by carrying two kegs, one on each shoulder.
The passion of lifting weights and drinking is what brought Rakestraw to Jack McPherson or vice-versa. They met in a gym and later they went to a bar. When Rakestraw powered down a pitcher of beer, and rammed his head against the wall, Jack was impressed and told him so.
It was probably the first time in Bob’s life that anyone gave him a compliment.
Jack always had a passion for taking in rejects or the unwanted so to say, openly welcomed Rakestraw into his house on Girard Street. And of course anyone that could power down a pitcher and smash their head in a wall, still stand, and had this strange fascination for a gorilla, named Albert, had to be a cool person.
Jack was the first real friend and family in Rakestraw’s life. And the first time Rakestraw felt wanted. With that said, a bizarre bond developed, which set the the stage for Mac Meda Destruction Company.
Mac Meda Editors Note: Mucho thanks to people like, Jamie Nay, David Osborn, San Diego Magazine, Eber, Doug Moranville, Chris Hendricks, Eric Masterson and many others who have and are helping me put together these factual posts on Rakestraw.
Jim Boehm says
In the late 1950s, I was on the LJHS track team as a shot putter. I learned the technique, how to use my shoulders and my legs etc. to get the maximum distance. I practiced a lot and won some track meets and was pretty pleased with my progress. One day I was out in the corner of the athletic field, practicing. Rakestraw came walking by. Like many, I didn’t know him… but I knew “of him”. He watched for a couple of minutes, then asked if he could try it. I said “Sure” and handed him the shot. He stepped into the circle, weighed the shot in his hand, and the threw it, overhand, like a baseball. It landed about 12 feet further than I’d ever thrown it. He said “Thanks” and walked away.
Whitey Kay says
Saw Rakestraw at a convention, was it sorrento valley? Anyway he went after some hapless soul, I was standing nearby. He grabbed an antenna off of a car, snatched it off one handed as easy as picking a flower. He was going to beat the life out of this guy but others, friends I imagine, stepped in and stopped it. That was enough for me and Girlfriend and I left.
so meda wasnt even born in lj
Nineteen Fifty-Seven says
Do you know Ernie?
TV. Jack’s parents gave him their 50s style TV. Wood console. He was living at Girard Street and Rakestraw had moved in. The TV was on the fritz. Jack got tired of getting up to hit the thing so he rigged his shotput on overhead pulleys. He could stay in his chair and dunk the TV. One night Rakestraw and Alex Chase were watching the Cassius Clay fight. Jack was in Aspen. The TV went out altogether. Rakestraw got so mad, he threw the shootout threw the screen, tied the poor thing to the back of his car, dragged it down to Carnahan’s Junk Shop in Bird Rock. All that was left were tubes and wires. ‘FIX IT!’ was all Rakestraw said to Old Man Carnohan.
Robert Wesley Rackstraw -had biological father who is it ?
his mother Lucille Lillian Rackstraw DoB-Nov18,1921 ohio –
D O D -June 1,1977 -Valley Springs Cal People cemetery.
His step father – Philip G Rackstraw D O B Aug1 ,1927
D O D -February 21,1978 Hogan Dam Rd ValleySprings Ca.
Supposedly -His Mother Sister married Ed Cooper.paratrooper.
Philip Rackstraw had brother William Rackstraw -Dec 14,1919.
He was in WW2 veteran ,910 anti aircraft artillery battalion
from 1941-45 He was member american legion post Santa clara.
Parents Sydney and Rose Backstraw brother Philip Rackstraw.
Sister Betty Jane…
The Warden says
Apparently Rakestraw asked a well known La Jolla beauty out for a date. Her reply? “I’m afraid of you and your car,”.
Here’s a little more of the story. I was Bob’s partner on the pot operation, caretaked the house and crop while he was gone on the oil tankers. I knew how generous he was and promised myself and him to never take advantage. Someone shot up an out of control motorcycle gang that was terrorizing the area and I made a deal with the Homicide detective not to search Bob’s house in exchange for retrieving the rifle that was inside. They knew it was filled with pot. You could smell it outside and there was more in the greenouse out back. The police were understaffed and happy to get rid of a dangerous biker gang. Bob didn’t believe me and must have thought Prince saved him. He showed up later at my house with a mini 14, broke in while I was asleep, grabbed me by the adams apple and threatened to kill me. I think one of his girlfriends who I saw later at the trailer helped herself to a bag of his pot.
douglas rakestraw says
Lots of the above “facts” about Bob are wrong.
His birth name was Fergus. He was adopted virtually before he was born.
His natural mother had become pregnant out of wedlock, a common occurance in those days. The Rakestraws, then only recently married to each other and both 45, beyond fertility, heard about the pregnant daughter of the second wife of a friend etc. and arranged the adoption before Bob was born.
Douglas, that’s me, just a few weeks younger than Bob, was adopted about 1½ years later, also born out of wedlock. I, Douglas, never was a Rhodes scholar. Norris would have been in 1914, had the outbreak of W.W.I not prevented it.
Bob and I had little contact or affinity with each other from approximately our 14th year, when Bob began his (at that time secret) alcohol career and his mean drunk.
In the question “nurture or nature?” the two of us would seem clear evidence of the nature argument. We were treated as alike as conceivably possible. If we got a book for Christmas, he got one Stevenson novel, I another. He got one Mark Twain, I another. He got a red Schwinn bike, I a green one. And so on and so on and on.
Differences in length and strength, clearly genetically determined, had their extended effects in success and failure experiences, in choice of companions etc. This further amplified the differences in character. More than that, differences in scholarly aptitude worked similarly. Had Bob started school at 6½ instead of 5½, he might well have developed more positively, whereas, by the sheer difference in genetic make-up, starting first grade at 5½ worked out just fine for me.
When he wasn’t drunk, Bob could be very loving and lovable. He was generous to a fault and was often taken advantage of by dubious “friends” who conned him and/or goldbricked off him when he was (temporarily) in the money.
An anecdote about him I like to tell, which I have straight from the horse’s mouth:
He had grown a crop of marijuana in the high desert and had his house full with the plants, hung upside down to dry. There came a knock at the door. It was a cop, come to inquire whether he’d heard shot from a nearby shooting incident. Bob’s dog Prince, a sweet, lovable dog that wouldn’t harm a fly, growled fiercely and the policemen asked Bob to step outside for the interview, leaving the dog in the house. He did and thus was not caught red handed with his $80,000 crop. Thereafter Prince was fed steak every day.
Dave Osborn says
Little known Rackstraw Stories: My recollection
REF: When Rackstraw (RIP) in his Merchant Marine days.
These are stories where told to me by Dave Holder (RIP). Dave was also a friend of Rackstraws and a fellow Merchant Marine,
The merchant marines was a magnet for hard core drinkers, they couldn’t get booze
on the ships so there for they could get work done. When they got done with assignments they got a big payday had plenty of money to party with. Holder & Rackstaw’s favorite captain was Raymond Suzie (Spelling?). According to Dave Holder, Raymond could chug a fifth and hold it down, that made him Rackstraws drinking hero, no small achievement. I meet Raymond one time nice guy.
Dave said at restaurant in some port in the orient the waiter brought out a deep
fried chicken they had ordered with the head still on it, Dave noted the waiter had a shit eating grin, Rackstraw grabbed the chicken and bit off its head and eat it! Dave said he didn’t think the waiter had ever seen that before as his expression changed.
In an orient bar Rackstraw mix his drink with a cigar and then realizing the cigar had adsorbed some of the booze so he eat the cigar, what else could he do?
On one outing Rackstraw was put on galley clean up duties. Bob didn’t like that job so near the sink was a port hole, each time he cleaned plates and silverware he would throw out any he didn’t want to clean (Maybe one out of five or something like that) before long they where running short on plates and silverware (Less to clean). After that they had to lock up the remaining plates and silverware and issue them out and eat in shifts.
The same happened when he was put on painting maintenance, over a week or so Rackstraw dumped all the paint cans overboard, no more painting.
In a Central America port (Raymond was the captain) the crew all went ashore got on a big drunken roll, and at sailing time most the crew never returned. They had to fly down more guys to get ship back home.
Also Dave told me a story about the day walked into the Silver Spigot on Morena Blvd (Just off Mission Bay-In the late 60’s), the bartender said Rackstraw had just left and he said Rackstraw wants to kill you! Dave asked why? The bartender said Rackstaw called you at Home and you didn’t answer. Dave: I wasn’t home! Bartender I guess he thought you where.