Moon Mullen made his contribution to LASD history when he retired from LASD and moved to Phoenix, Arizona. He soon felt a desire to connect with old and new friends. He felt as if he had moved to Alaska, because he didn’t really know anyone in Phoenix. He had lost touch with most of his California friends and had no idea if any other people retired from LASD were living near him in Arizona. Home computers were in their infancy then, and not many people were yet online. Around 1998, Moon contacted both the SRA and PPOA to ask if they had any email addresses for any other retired members. He received about 50 names of other retired members and put those names in his address book. He then started sending those people messages about things going on in the Department and asked those people to share anything they had so Moon could distribute the information. Moon then made contact with Sergeant Mike Parker, who began sending Moon the JDIC messages that might be of interest to the retired people, and Moon began sending those out. After Mike was promoted, Ike Sabean took over sending Moon the JDIC messages. Around the year 2000, then-Undersheriff Bill Stonich granted permission for Moon to have direct access to Department email and JDIC. By then, Moon’s email list had begun to grow each month. In the beginning, Moon called the email list “the List.” Someone later called the list “the Moon List.” In 2002, Moon officially named the email list “LASD Retired.org” and started the website with the help of former Sergeant Jon Armstrong and his wife, Merilee. The list kept growing, and now membership is right around 3,350 active email addresses. And so went the birth of LASD Retired.
It is important to understand that LASD Retired and the Roundup are two separate entities. The first Roundup was called the AZ Roundup and was held in Prescott, Arizona, in April 2000 at the China Buffet. There were 72 in attendance at a three-hour lunch. Moon basically conned Retired Chief Ollie Taylor into putting on the event. Ollie, in turn, told Moon that Moon was in charge of the next one, which was held a year later, in April 2001, at the Elks Lodge in Prescott Valley, Arizona, and 109 people attended a four-hour event. It snowed that day. Ollie took the reins for the third annual event, which took place in April 2002 at the Avi Resort in Laughlin, Nevada, and it was still called the AZ Roundup. It lasted two days and 236 people attended. In 2003, Moon and Robyn Mullen took charge of the event, moved it to the Riverside Resort and changed the name to “the Roundup.” And now you know the rest of the story.
This year, the 16th annual LASD Roundup was held again at the Riverside Resort and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, from March 29 through April 1. A total of 985 retired friends gathered to socialize in the Starview Room, known as “the Briefing Room.” They attended various unit events such as luncheons, dinners and cocktail hours. They participated in activities such as a golf tournament, bowling tournament, arts and crafts fair, poker and slot tournaments, firearms qualification and countless hours of good times.
With the approval of Sheriff Jim McDonnell and the financial support of ALADS, the HR 218 Qualification was conducted by LASD range staff Deputies Janice Hansen and Mitchell Jones. 367 retirees were processed through the qualification course, which was coordinated by Walt Bouman and an excellent group of volunteers. Thanks to all who made this huge event a success.
Thank you also for the financial support from the Sheriffs’ Relief Association, ALADS, PPOA and POPA FCU. Also, thank you to LACERA’s Outreach Team, the Sheriff’s Museum and RELAC for their participation.
There are many dedicated volunteers who help Moon and Robyn Mullen plan and conduct the Roundup operation each year. It involves hours of preparation and work to ensure the success of the four-day event, and their only pay and reward are the happiness and a heartfelt “thank you” that they receive. So from one of those who attended, “Thank you.”
There were several first-time attenders this year. I didn’t get to speak with them all, but those I did speak with unanimously expressed their excitement at the Roundup and their intent to come again. This is always encouraging to me, because I’ve appointed myself chief recruiter for the Roundup. If you have read my other Roundup articles, it should be no secret that I am trying to convince everyone to come and join us at this great event. I always solicit comments from others to support my efforts, because any good testimony needs corroboration. I’ve always tried to concentrate on the positive reasons folks keep coming to the Roundup in growing numbers. This year I began to question the math a bit. I know that there are near 3,350 on the list, but only 985 attended the Roundup this year. Don’t get me wrong, because 985 is an awesome number, especially when we are all gathered in the Briefing Room. Still, I had to ask the question: Why do people choose not to attend? In my mind, 3,350 are on the list to stay connected, so why do they not attend for a more personal connection? The three top reasons given for not attending the Roundup were: 1. Fear of not knowing anyone, 2. Belief that the Roundup is cliquish, and 3. Anger at an individual who attends or at the Sheriff’s Department in general.
First off, I believe that everyone who has ever come to the Roundup for the first time (myself included) has feared that they wouldn’t know anyone there. The truth is that you find you know more than you thought you knew. I write the articles related to the Roundup, but in a room of 985 retirees, I confess that I do not personally know even 50 percent of them and they don’t personally know me. I can, however, sit down with any of them and have a good conversation. That is not the definition of a clique. People who don’t know each other greet and meet with smiles. We learn a great deal and find out just how small this world is when we talk to those we don’t know so well. On a number of occasions, we have heard someone say that they sat down at an empty table and someone they did not know sat down, introduced himself or herself and they had a great conversation. Doesn’t sound so cliquish to me, but it does sound friendly. During this Roundup I became aware of this incident: Veronica Trejo, one of our youngest retirees and a first-time attender, became involved in what was described as a great conversation with Lee Conover, one of our oldest retirees and a repeat attender. I asked them to pose for a picture, which is included with this article so that we could exemplify the kind of commonality that exists regardless of when we retired. There are continuous stories of people making new friends, maintaining current friendships and renewing old ones. By the way, if you think that Laughlin, Nevada, is just too far for you to travel to for four days, talk to Sid Hickox. He is retired and living in France and manages to get over to the Roundup. I thought I was a big deal coming all the way from Florida, but Sid sets the bar high for everyone. So if you are avoiding the Roundup because you think no one will know you or it is too much of a clique, you may be basing your opinion on inaccurate information. I know that I once did.
This year I was happy to meet some very young retirees and some very old retirees. I hope I am still attending Roundups when I am as far along in years as many of these folks are. I know when I am there that I am among friends. I don’t have dinner with them all, we don’t have drinks together and I don’t even know their names without looking at the name tags. But they are friends because I don’t know of anywhere else in this country that almost 1,000 retired personnel from one place can gather and have so much fun together. Every year the attendance increases, which tells me there are few cliques and more folks getting to know each other. It is a chance to meet new friends and visit old ones every year. For that there is gratitude.
I reckon I’ve spouted off long enough. I want you to read what some other friends at the Roundup had to say:
“I met someone who I hadn’t know. It turned out we had a mutual friend who had mentioned my name to him. He sought me out at the Roundup and introduced himself and how he knows ‘of me.’ Also I got to see five different folks who retired in the past year. It was good to see co-workers whom I hadn’t seen in nearly six years since I retired. I have two friends who will not come to the Roundup, stating that there is no one who comes that they want to see. Yet, both of them have many retired friends who they help during the year with things like minor repairs and moving heavy furniture.”
“I just got back from the LASD Roundup in Laughlin. I had a GREAT time! I worked with Ike Sabean again this year taking photos of the participants and giving Ike time to roam around and ‘lie and deny.’ I saw and got a chance to catch up with people I haven’t seen in years … people who worked with me at IRC 35-36 years ago. When we saw each other it was like we last talked YESTERDAY! I also visited with many other folks whom I’ve come in contact with over the years. TST had a decent contingent, but it certainly would be more enjoyable with more participants. The great thing was that because of our common shared experiences as LASD members, I was able to meet with people I’ve never worked with or knew and have a good conversation with them. Inevitably other names would come up and sooner or later, the name of somebody we both knew would come up. It was great fun sharing stories of few facts that get in the way of a good story! I had great conversations and got along really well even with people who retired before I started my career. I also made some new connections. Anyway, I had a ball, and God willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll be back again next year. Maybe next year we’ll break 1,000 attendees.”
“I sincerely thank you for finally getting me there. I truly had a great time seeing you guys and renewing old friendships.”
“I came home today from the Roundup not because I didn’t have a good time; I had other commitments at home. I did not attend last year and almost decided against going this year. At the last minute I went. My main reason I felt for not going was that most of my partners have died and I would not know anyone. I had a good time and surprisingly I did know a lot of partners and friends that I knew during my career. I will attend next year, God willing.”
(The next testimonial is actually an email that was sent to some retirees who have not attended.)
“Good morning. As you know, I just returned from the Roundup for the first time. You know I have resisted going because of a few people I didn’t care to run into. Well, I have to tell you I had a great time. Before I left I went through the attendance roster and marked people I hoped to see and fortunately I did see them. Some of them I haven’t seen for 10+ years. I did run into one guy I wasn’t crazy about but our conversation was cordial and relatively short and then I went my way. I told people who asked why I hadn’t attended before that I had developed my close circle of retired friends and I was very content in doing that. Well, after attending and renewing some very old and good friendships I plan on going back next year and would encourage you guys to go. I know you would enjoy it.”
You know what is awesome? Retirees sadly die, but their surviving spouses keep coming back to the Roundup because it is a family of friends. No one, for any reason, should ever feel unwelcome at the Roundup. The people who pass are our friends, our family too, and every last surviving spouse is welcome and encouraged to attend.
It is the end of the fourth day — Wednesday night. We are gathered at tables in the Briefing Room for a final meal together and the highly anticipated raffle prizes. The four days have flown by, and as we keep growing in numbers I wonder if Moon and Robyn will someday add a fifth day to this party. Everett Moore (fishing and bowling friends call him “Ev”) stands to ask the blessing on the group and evening meal. Before he prays, he asks everyone to take a moment of silence to remember those old partners and old friends who have passed on and are no longer with us. In that big quiet room at that moment, you can feel the tears trying to fall. Those tears come from the gratitude that we were fortunate to have experienced those remembered and those there in the room. We can call that “the Roundup.”
Next year’s Roundup will be at the same place, from April 3 to April 6, 2016. Plan now and you will be more likely to be there. If you have never attended but would like to, you will have no need to be uneasy, because just like the 985 in attendance this year, just like David Crockett and Moon Mullen, you will be among your friends.