In December of 1984, I photographed former Topekan Stan Vernon in Malibu, California. Vernon, a Topeka High School graduate, went on to run distance races for the University of Oklahoma track team, graduating in 1977. We became friends through the photographs I made of him competing for those two schools. He was always so open, lighthearted and fast. After graduating from OU, Vernon moved to California to run for the esteemed Santa Monica Track Club.
These were the days of the SportsPlus section at the Topeka Capital-Journal, a weekly tabloid that I must say was so good it still amazes me that I was a major part of such great journalism. With Mark Nusbaum as the editor, and the gifted Rick Dean and me as the primary writer and photographer, we covered sporting events with a Kansas tie all over the United States with quality that rivaled or exceeded any newspaper in the nation. We tied travel for the Vernon story together with a Chiefs’ football game in San Diego and another SportsPlus story in Palm Springs. Now that was living the good life.
Vernon lived in the hills up from the beach in Malibu where a twisting road led us to a home set on a lush cliff he shared with his girlfriend and dog. Vernon’s interview was great given his new California look on life that included running alongside Madonna on stretches of Malibu shore line.
Here are two of the many images that should make you feel just a bit warmer. Since Laura and I are now enjoying a short holiday along that same southern California coast, I thought this would be a perfect post during our run away from the arctic weather in Kansas.
Sadly, I have lost touch with Vernon. Last I read he was working in Boulder, Colorado. I hope this look back might lead me his way again. I would like to say thanks to Vernon again for always warming my heart and soul.