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                                                Carlos Royal
An Autobiography

Retired Realtor®, entrepreneur, author, lecturer, inventor and one fun loving guy.

I was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1943, and my family migrated to Arvin, California in 1946 looking for a better life. I developed a strong work ethic from early childhood, working in the fields with my family picking cotton, potatoes, corn and grapes. In high school, I majored in Mechanical Arts and planned to be an engineer. To fulfill that goal I enrolled at Bakersfield Junior College but soon discovered I did not like college. To be truthful, I wasn’t doing very well, so I dropped out and on my 18th birthday I joined the US Navy as the recruiter said, “To see the world.” And I did see the world.

First it was off to San Diego for basic training, then to Bainbridge, Maryland for skill training in electronics. I graduated #1 in my class. Next I was sent to Damn Neck, Virginia for advanced training in computer, radar and weapons control systems. Like they say, a funny thing happened on the way. First, I went home and married my high school sweetheart, Donna Clendenen. Second, at Dam Neck I was confused with another sailor and placed in the wrong school. I was assigned to a special technology program having to do with the Polaris submarine celestial and inertia navigation systems. I tried to tell them I was in the wrong school. At the time this special technology was the most “Top Secret” training conducted at the base. Dam Neck was surrounded by swamps with venomous snakes. No kidding, real swamps and real snakes.  At graduation, everyone received a set of orders to a nuclear submarine but me. I had never been to submarine school. Finally, realizing their mistake, they had me sign a paper under penalty of death and they put on my service record that I had been hospitalized and resigned me to computer, radar and weapons control training for the Terrier Missile. This was most advanced anti-aircraft radar guided missile system the Navy had at the time. 

After completing my advanced training, my next duty station was Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine where I was on the commissioning crew for the Harry E. Yarnell, DLG 17. This was the Navy’s newest Guide Missile Frigate. I was at the helm on her maiden voyage from Bath to Boston. Two major events happened while the Yarnell was being outfitted at Boston Naval Shipyard. First, the newly built nuclear attack submarine Thresher sank off the coast of Boston. We had watched her depart that morning and we were the first ship on location, but there were no survivors. Second, Russian spy ships were patrolling off the New England coast disguised as Russian fishing trawlers. To keep them out of the area we played chicken and actually bumped one of them on the high seas. This created an international incident you may have heard about.

From Boston it was off to Norfolk, Virginia, the ship’s new homeport. My first major cruise was to the Caribbean with stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Antigua. Like I said, I was seeing the world. About this time Fidel Castro turned off the water to the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba. He wanted the US to give up its base and leave Cuba. This was known as the Cuban Water Crisis, not to be confused with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Since we were in the area and we had the latest water making technology on our ship we were ordered to Guantanamo Bay, where we hooked up our ships water system to the base’s water system until a tanker could be towed in to make water for the base. Castro turned the water back on when he saw his plan would not work.

We departed Cuba sailing to the southern missile firing range where we tested our guns and the accuracy of our missiles. We continued south until we crossed the equator, which is a really big deal if you are a sailor but there is nothing to see in the middle of the ocean. After crossing the equator and successfully shooting down several drone aircraft, we turned around and patrolled the waters off the coast of Cuba. We were playing war games chasing a Russian submarine when it was announced that President Kennedy had been shot. Things got very intense off the coast of Cuba for a few days and I thought we were going to war, but fortunately we didn’t. We completed our shake down cruise and the ship returned to Norfolk, Virginia. 

Upon arriving in Norfolk, I received orders to New London, Connecticut for submarine training. Here we go again. This time they agreed it was a mistake but not before they had shipped me to New London. From there, I was assigned to the USS Koontz, a guided missile destroyer, stationed in San Diego. I drove to California and this would be only my second trip home in almost 4 years. Within a week of my arrival in San Diego, President Johnson ordered us to the gulf of Tokin off the coast of Vietnam. We made stops in Hawaii and the Philippines. While in the Philippines I visited Subic Bay, Manila, and Baguio. 

The trip to Manila was the most exciting because on the way a friend and I were hi-jacked by a band of rebel gorilla fighters. They held us up at gunpoint. I remember one of them had a machine gun. Fortunately, we had bought two cases of Sam Miguel beer (no, I am not making this up) and had it in the trunk of the taxicab we had hired to take us to Manila. I am sure we owe our lives to a cab driver that was tough as nails and would open a bottle of beer for you with his front teeth. 

When the rebels stopped us, our cab driver flew into a rage and started yelling, “That this was his biggest cab fare in his life and they were screwing it up.” I don’t think they knew what to do with him, he was ranting and raving and swing his arms up and down, all the time with a gun in his face.  Finally, he negotiated our release for a case of beer. Later, I asked him why they did not take both cases of beer and our money since they had the guns. He looked very stern and said he told them, “No, only one case” and then added with his broken tooth smile, “How could you pay me, if I let them take your money.” 

For rest and relaxation, the ship made ports of call in Hong Kong and Japan where I bought my wife silk, Noritaki china and an electric sewing machine. I also purchased a hand carved ivory chess set, which I still have today. I made two more stops before my tour of duty ended. From Hong Kong I hopped a military plan to Guam and from Guam I flew to San Francisco where I was discharged December 27,1964. 

In four years I had crossed the United States by bus, by train and by car. I had been from California to Maine, from Maine to the Caribbean, from the Caribbean to Connecticut, from Connecticut to California, and finally from California to Southeast Asia and back. I had sailed three quarters around the world all expenses paid. 

After the Navy I believed I could handle college. I knew how to maintain and repair radar equipment, computers and weapons control systems plus I had a Class 1 FCC license for Radio and TV and not to be overlooked, I was now four years older. I enrolled for the second time at Bakersfield College; this time I was doing okay but it was still a struggle. During the second semester, Dwayne Holman came to visit. He had gotten into real estate and was recruiting agents. He showed up in a big Lincoln Continental convertible, his hair was styled, an ascot around his neck and a wad of bills in his pocket. For lunch we did not go to Mc Donald’s but to the finest restaurant in town. That day I decided to drop out of college and go into real estate. I passed my real estate examine about 60 days later in February 1966 and we moved to San Bernardino, California.

I took to real estate like a duck to water. Within six months I had opened my own company. I read every book I could find on the subject and I went back to college for the third time. This time was the charm and I received my Certificate of Real Estate from San Bernardino Valley College. I became an expert in the art of selling, exchanging and financing real estate. I taught seminars across the country on the subject to over 5,000 real estate agents. I have published three books, The Basics of Private Money Financing and How to Rent for Less and Make a Fortune were the first two. I hosted a live radio real estate talk show for 5 years in North San Diego Country and I did The Real Estate Market Report for cable TV’s nightly news. In 2002, I wrote my third book The Little Wow! Book on House Investing. My nieces and nephews inspired me to write this book. I held a private seminar in Bakersfield just for them.  The book is sold on Amazon.com.

With my experience, I obtained a “Limited Services Teaching Credential” to teach at the Community College level. Can you believe it? Me, who didn’t like college, was now going to be a college instructor. I developed two courses: “Tax Factors Affecting Real Estate Investments” and “Real Estate Investment Strategy.”  Night Adult education classes normally have a 25% to 50% dropout rate. This costs the school money since they are paid on attendance. The Chancellor of the school decided to audit a couple of my classes because in two years only two students had dropped out and he wanted to know my secret. I don’t know if he discovered my secret but I do know that instead of sitting in on just a couple of classes, he finished the course without missing a class and bought a new home, which I sold him.   

While selling real estate in the San Bernardino area, we moved four times. - Colton, Rialto twice, and Fontana. We bought our first home in Rialto - it was only 900 square feet. It is hard to take the country out of someone raised on a farm so our home in Fontana was on 3.5 acres and we (Donna mostly) raised a garden, chickens, ducks, goats and a turkey. During this time I opened the first walk-in Real Estate office in a regional shopping mall. When the California Association of Realtors in the late 90’s did their tribute to the last 100 years of California Real Estate, they included my real estate office in San Bernardino as one of the most innovative ideas of that time period. I was shocked that I had made history.

In 1971 we grew tried of the smog in Fontana and moved to Escondido, California near San Diego. Shortly, thereafter we moved to Valley Center, a small rural farming community where we purchased a 13 acre avocado grove. Later we bought 90 acres and built a new home and red barn. We later sold this property to Mr. Bell of Taco Bell. He kept the house and barn and added a train ride. He turned the property into a miniature Knott’s Berry Farm where families could come take a train ride and see what it was like to live on a farm. It was his dream and it was free. Mr. Bell has since passed away and I believe his family has closed Bell Gardens.

From Valley Center we moved back to Escondido for a short while, but we got the bug to move again, this time to the beach and race track community of Del Mar. We tried living in a condo but really preferred a house, so we moved again, this time to Encinitas. I semi- retired in 1996 but it took another couple years to wind things down and so for two years we lived in La Costa, another resort town in North San Diego County. During this time we bought a motor home and took what we called “Our Great Adventure.” We made a four-month loop around the United States stopping to see friends and family. 

When we returned, we decided resort living was not our style. We made, what we have said, will be our last move. We bought a home on an acre in San Marcos, California. Donna has a garden and I have an RV garage and workshop. We have apples, figs, oranges, lemons, pluots, almonds, macadamia nuts, blueberries, raspberries, and boysenberries. Donna is the gardener. In our home we both have offices fully staffed with computers, scanners and printers. I have always been fascinated by technology and when personal computers first came out I taught myself how to program them and wrote real estate and financial software, which I sold to Commodore Business Machines. For about five years in the mid-80’s, I manufactured In-Park Model RVs in Phoenix, Arizona.  

Several of the teachers at Arvin High School had lasting effects on my life:

Mr. Watts who taught drafting, taught me to think for myself.

Coach Olin Polite, taught me self-respect. He made us wear a suit to class on the days we had wrestling matches. If you remember, many of the guys did not own a suit and tie.    

Mrs. Magruder, my history teacher gave me the desire to travel with her charm bracelet and the stories that matched each charm. You could point to a charm and she would tell you a story about it.

Mr. Akesson, the debate and speech teacher, taught me to speak with a flare and great enthusiasm. At the time, I did not realize that this would become my most valuable asset.

While attending Arvin High I had many memorable events that standout in my life. Being elected senior class president, being on the first wresting and swimming teams of Arvin High, holding the school records in the 100 and 200 breast stroke for a number of years, beating Bakersfield High’s wrestling team by one point after Olin Polite defected to Bakersfield to coach, winning the Senior Outstanding Athlete Award, but absolutely the most memorable event happened when I was wrestling Drew Washington from South High and he had me down on my back in a pinning position and my mother came out of the stands, onto the mat and tapped him on the shoulder. Drew immediately let me up. Everyone was surprised. I escorted my mother back to her seat and told her I would be okay. Her only comment was “I thought he was chocking you.”  That incident made the “Half Nelson Notes” in The Bakersfield Californian and other newspapers around the country picked up the story. I did not know just how famous I was until some years later and 3000 miles away I was asked by another sailor where I went to school. When I replied Arvin High in California, he said he had read a story about a wrestler from Arvin High who’s mother had come out on the mat. Yep! That was me.

Carlos William Royal

I took this picture of the USS Ranger CVA 61 on Station in the Gulf of Tokin off the coast of North Vietnam in 1964. I am on board the USS Koontz DLG-9. We are providing cover for the Ranger.

Ranger sailed for the Far East 6 August 1964. This deployment came on the heels of the unprovoked assault against USS Maddox (DD-731) on the night of 2 August and, two nights later, against both Maddox and USS Turner Joy (DD-951), by North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats. In retaliation for this aggression on the high seas by North Vietnam, President Lyndon B. Johnson, on 5 August, directed the Navy to strike bases used by the North Vietnamese naval craft.

Carlos Royal overlooking Hong Kong

                                                            Hong Kong Harbor 1964

Terrier Missile being test fired USS Harry E. Yarnell DLG -17 Off the coast of Cuba 1963  I was on the commissioning crew for this ship February 2, 1963

Uss Harry E. Yarnell DLG 17 Bath Iron Works Maine

                                                USS Harry E. Yarnell DLG-17 Bath Iron Works, Maine

1943 Doge Pickup

My ride in 1960 1943 Doge Pickup (Can you image going on a date in this?)

Tradewind 40ft motor home

                                           My ride today