War. The boy always brought back books about war. That’s not what his mother brought him to the library for. She thought he should read about nicer things, especially since he was in junior high school. But he liked war. It was “rather odd” to his mother.
The boy’s name is Randy Trickey, and he is now an Adjunct Instructor of History at Pierce College. He teaches Western Civilization 1 on Monday nights. He has been teaching for 11 years and for the most part, “it’s been good.”
“Even if I have had a tough day at my regular job, I can usually walk into class happy to be there,” said Trickey.
Trickey attended Pierce and California State University at Northridge. At CSUN, he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history. He studied history, particularly military history, in school for about a decade. Particular focus was given to wars and battles.
“Pick a war, and Randy could tell you exactly what type of guns were used and what bullets they fired,” said Jim Blodgett, Trickey’s friend and fellow history instructor at Pierce.
But everybody has to start somewhere. Trickey was born in Santa Monica, Calif. and moved to Reseda when he was 15. He moved around quite a bit, both before and after moving to the valley. He currently resides in Studio City.
Trickey graduated from Reseda High School in 1974. After that, he attended Pierce as a life science and biology major but was an average student and not particularly motivated. He decided to quit school and work full time after about two or three years at Pierce.
Trickey began working for Hughes Aircraft Company, which now belongs to Raytheon. He has worked there continuously for 34 years.
However, after working for a while, a tedious pattern set in of working, coming home, eating dinner, watching TV and getting up the next day to repeat the process. Trickey ultimately found it “just wasn’t enough.”
“I felt it wasn’t going anywhere,” said Trickey.
So he went back to Pierce in 1988, intending to continue his life science and biology major and transfer. One of the first classes he took was Western Civilization 1, the class he currently teaches at Pierce now, in fact. The class was taught by Gene Larson, the current history department chair. When Trickey received his first exam back, Larson asked him a question.
“Are you a history major?” he asked.
“No,” Trickey replied.
“Too bad, you should be.”
After taking Larson’s class and enjoying it, he signed up for the next one. He even bought and read the book in advance. It ended up, however, that a different instructor, Sheila Williams, taught the class (unfortunately for him, she required a different book). After the first day of her class, he went to her office to ask a simple question, only to get asked a few more profound questions in return.
“What do you want, why are you here?” asked Williams.
Trickey was so impressed with her that he took every class she taught, and she became something of a mentor to him. In one of Williams’ classes was where he met Blodgett as well. They were study partners at first, and then became good friends, attending school together through graduate school. They both studied history, agreed on most ideas and liked a lot of the same things. They have been friends for 20 years.
Trickey then switched majors, finished his general education and transferred to CSUN. While still an undergraduate, he took an upper division course with Blodgett. The point of the course was to write a research paper, so CSUN had a deal with UCLA to let students use the graduate research library there, since the library at CSUN was damaged in the 1994 earthquake. Both he and Blodgett went to that library multiple times a week together to collect their information. Trickey did his paper on the Easter Uprising in 1916. It was given an award as the best undergraduate paper of that year.
“”That paper was head and shoulders above everyone else’s, mine included,” said Blodgett. “If our papers had been graded against his, we all would have failed.”
Trickey graduated from CSUN cum laude in 1996 and then entered the master’s program there right away. At graduate school, he really got to sink his teeth into history. He was required to specialize in two areas. He chose American, mostly military, history from 1830 onward and European, mostly German, history from 1870 onward. He also has background in North American and European history and history in general.
“Grad school was a hoot,” said Trickey. “Undergrad was a pain in the butt [because of all of the general education classes.]”
Classes there were more his speed. Students were required to write long, well-researched papers, but professors didn’t just lecture there. They actively engaged with students in discussion, since most students at that level are already reasonably knowledgeable on the subject matter.
At that time, CSUN had recently started allowing graduate students to take an exam as opposed to a thesis. Trickey chose to take the exam, and he graduated again in 1999 with distinction, in other words, with a GPA higher than 3.8.
In all, it took Trickey over a decade to complete his schooling in history since he was working at the same time and couldn’t take more than two or three classes at a time.
“Yeah, I took the scenic route,” he said.
After running into Larson again, Trickey was offered a job at Pierce, a year after finishing school. He still teaches here and has taught at Oxnard College in Ventura County and Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga. Currently, he only teaches at Pierce, but Blodgett still teaches at Chaffey.
Trickey truly enjoys teaching and tries to connect the material with references students would find relevant. Movies like Gladiator or 300 are things most students have seen. Using the “cultural touchstones” of this generation, he helps students see the story of history.
“People of the past were the same as the people of the present, what changed was the technology,” said Trickey.
He does his best to teach history to those who are willing to learn.
“What you see with Randy is what you get,” said Blodgett. “He’s not gonna BS you.”