Well, Scott opened up a can of worms...and a good can they are! Great stories. My first part of caving was when I was a little guy, digging our own cave, above Temescal Creek, which was a pretty deep creek, near Grove and 47th Street in Oakland, CA. I'm not sure whether that "cave" fell in on us or not, but for some reason I started doing other things. Probably had something to do with girls.
Long story short, my next episode with caving was brought on by a "ham" operator who invited me to go caving, since he learned about "caving" from one of the other ham operators, who explained all about what caving was all about. Next thing I know I was riding in their car and eventually being blindfolded, as they told me they didn't want me to know where this area was that they were taking me to, since caves were precious, so they said. And, from here, I learned all about caving/spelunking and started reading Haliday's book and then other books that I could learn more about caves, etc. I had basic background in rock climbing, so everything seemed to go into focus with me.
Next thing I know I was going down into the bowels of the earth on a rope ladder wit h a safety around my chest. Made friends with the caretaker and one thing led to another, so we learned where more caves were and more, so the next thing I remember is that I joined a grotto--Same as what Scott was involved with, SFBC. Met George Moore, the president of the NSS; and, from him, I gained a lot of knowledge on caving. At the '76 Convention, I learned about SRT and how easy it was vs. climbing on a rope ladder. The people that got me into caving weren't interested in SRT, so eventually I formed a grotto--Diablo--and caving continued to blossom more and more. Those who got me into caving disappeared out of caving, totally!
And, then to bring this to closure, there was Ron from CT and Scott from AL and I jawing on food and drinking beer at one of the restaurants in Ely, NV this past summer.