My mother, Rene Bell was from an old California family, the Carlisle’s, who came to California from St. Louis in 1849. Family tradition says that the spent a weekend in the gold country and decided panning for gold wasn’t for them. They settled in Sacramento and took up their old profession, brick masons. They built the first brick house in Sacramento and had the first non-Indian child in Sacramento. Her picture was still in the capitol building when I was a child.
Right after I was born we moved to Merced. My father worked for the phone company, Pacific Tel & Tel, and had been promoted to City Manager of Merced. Three years earlier my brother, Richard Carlisle, was born in Stockton. Four years after I was born my sister Susan came along. That completed the Smith Family. All the other Carlisle’s remained in Sacramento, primarily North Sacramento, a town that my Grandfather had founded with four other families. We stayed in Merced for seven years and then the company moved us to Modesto. A year and a half later Dad was promoted to Regional Manager and we moved back to Stockton.
My Grandfather was my hero. He was the last of the civilian Judges. He was a plumber by trade and claimed he was appointed judge because he was the best shot in town. He was quite a hunter. My favorite story about my Grandfather, Fred Carlisle, was the day I went to see him hold court. A very big Indian was being charged with beating his wife. My Grandfather gave him 90 days in jail. He ask the Indian if he had anything to say and the Indian said, “When I get out I’m coming to get you,” My Grandfather answered, “The next time I see you I’m going to shoot you,” As they were leading the Indian out I heard the sheriff say, “He’ll do it too.”
The other Grandfather story I like is how he fought against putting the Japanese in concentration camps during WWII. The Japanese had settled along the banks of the Sacramento River. The land was useless to the farm conglomerates because of the flooding. The Japanese grew rice so the flooding was perfect for them. Unfortunately for them, once the flooding was controlled with Dams, their land became the best farmland in California. That turned the concentration camp movement into a big land grab by the conglomerates. In the end the only thing Grandpa could do was buy the land between his home and the river and then give it back to the Japanese family that had owned it before they were sent to the camps, after the war was over. We always went to their home every Christmas for great Japanese food.
I went to Lincoln Jr. High and then Lincoln High School. They were county schools at the time but now part of Stockton. In the 7th grade I started playing drums and then in the 8th grade my music teacher asked me if I wanted to learn how to play standup bass. It seems that his bass player had broken his E string and it has scared him so much he quite the orchestra. Mr. Fairchild taught me three notes and that Friday I played a three note solo. The rest of the performance I just pretended I could actually play the bass. I’ve been a musician ever since.
When I graduated from high school I gained an appointment to the Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland. There I worked hard, played in Jazz Bands and met my first wife, Diana Lee Smith. She didn’t even have to change her last name when we got married. We moved to Long Beach, California were I was stationed on the Hubert J Thomas, an old WWII destroyer. We spent the next six years either in Long Beach or San Diego, except for a six month training in Newport, Road Island. In 1964 we had Tammy Carlisle and in 1966 we had Kimberly Marshal. Unfortunately that was during the Vietnam War and I spent four cruses off the coast of Vietnam doing shore bombardment. In 1968 Kim hardly knew who I was so I resigned from active duty in 1969 and settled in Westminster, California. There I got a job selling semiconductors (and vacuum tubes) and I’ve been in the semiconductor business ever since.
In 1976 we moved to Saratoga, in Silicon Valley, and I became part of the second generation of semiconductor engineers in the valley. Being early in the industry I got to do everything. I have a backward career starting out in sales, moving into marketing, then management and after a stint running a division back in Orange County, concentrated on engineering. I was in two start-ups and worked for two European companies, Philips (Dutch) and Plessey (UK).
Unfortunately during that period home life wasn’t going very well. The Carlisles were a Scotch-Irish family, which meant they were Briton Celts. The Celts have a high instance of alcoholism and the Carlisles were no exception. I had inherited the alcoholic gene and was well on my way to drinking myself to death. By 1983 I was close to the end when I got arrested for drunk driving which began my road to sobriety, the best thing that has happened in my life. But when I was six years sober, and Tammy and Kim graduated from USC, Diana divorced me. She had had enough.
In 1994 I “retired” after twelve years concentration on semiconductor design and became a technical analyst at Dataquest. It’s a great job, I write reports and fly around the world shooting off my mouth, and people actually listen. For my 50th birthday Tammy decided I needed a hobby and remembering my band days bought me an electric bass. So I started a Blues Band. In 2001 I met a young lady, Lori Kate Calise, and we became best friends. In 2003 I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, from my drinking. I don’t really remember the diagnosis; all I remember was that Lori Kate was holding my hand for the first time. After a successful surgery in June I asked her to marry me and she said yes. We were married in 2004 and in 2005 Casey Carlisle came along. The next year we bought a house in Santa Clara and the next year my group was laid off from Gartner-Dataquest. So in 2007 we reformed as Gary Smith EDA and I’ve been running the company ever since.
That so far rounds out the story, but since I promised Lori Kate I’d live until I’m 104 there should be plenty more to tell later on.