Greg Costa

Greg has been on a drop-dead sprint his entire life. Prior to his young days in the navy fighting and hopping fences back into base passed curfew Greg would find himself jumping trains to Oregon, hunting rabbit and spending summers with his cowboy grandfather Wilder when he became too much to for his mother.

His father died when he was 5, and it was a devastating blow. Their small-town American household changed overnight. His mother worked at the DMV full time to support him and his sister, Gail.

Gail tried her damnedest to help raise Greg while their mother was at work but his nature could not be contained by a sibling only a few years older than him.

Family at a glance

  • Gail Haggard
  • Gwen Wilder
  • Wes Costa
  • Wesley Costa
  • Sheila Costa
  • Randy Hurlbut
Greg running away from home, age 5.
Greg running away from home, age 5.
Greg and his big sister, Gail.
Greg and his big sister, Gail.
Greg's Family
Greg with his wife, child, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

Enter The Navy

Exit the Navy. His first purchase out of the navy in the late 70s was a brand spankin' new Harley Davidson. That Harley would take him into the primed biker culture, rife with Hells Angels and women calling themselves Headmasters. For being masters at giving head.

The biker days were crazy. Hells Angel coke off a buck knife, running from the cops through orchards on a dirt bike, tossing wrenches and ball bearings from his Harley and being the guy with the party house. Details of these exploits are too incriminating to talk about publicly but in a word, they're pretty damned insane.

The Front Lawn

Greg’s loyal dog, below.

Enter Sheila

Two wives and a son later, Greg met Sheila - a calming presence that prompted him to take a look at his life, and say fuck everything about this. He jammed his belongings in storage, moved out of the party house and lived in his truck by the American River in Sacramento to rethink his life. Sheila would visit him often, and he'd be living off the land. Fishing and hunting duck to feed himself, while on the lookout for any five-o.

Eventually they would tie the knot and raise Sheila's two kids, and Greg's son in South Sacramento. Their house was the best on the block in a shitty neighborhood. As their children grew up and got into squabbles with the local gangstas, the thugs would come by the house to start shit. Greg went into his front yard in his underwear with a pistol and fired shots above their heads to establish a boundary. It worked.

Greg and dog.
"…in his underwearwith a pistol and fired shots…"

Enter Now

They'd find themselves looking to escape even further from Greg's previous life, moving far into the country near the Sierras on a 5 acre ranch. I visited Greg, my uncle, on his ranch and told him about this project. His arms covered in battle scars and tattoos, face tattered with a life of partying and mayhem. Greg's lifestyle has taken a drastic change for the better. I was giggling inside when he told me about how he's changing his diet to lower his blood sugar, cholesterol and get rid of his beer belly, and it bought a huge smile on my face watching him intimately interact with his horses.

We tripped around the countryside and he told old stories of his biker days. He's still got a wild hair up his ass, but now that he's away from his old crowd his interests have turned to self improvement, building out his property and leading a solitary life with Sheila. They've been together for 19 years.

Greg with his father Wesley.
Greg with his father Wes.

Greg wit mother Gwen, sister Gail, and father Wesley.
Gwen, Gail, Greg and Wes, below.
Greg Costa

Greg during his time in the navy.
Greg's navy portrait, below.
Greg and Shelia
Greg and his son Wes.

Greg and his son Wes.
Greg and his son Wes.
Greg Costa
He’s been on a drop-dead sprintsince the day he was born.

Follow his lineage

It has taken years to collect, curate and record my family's history and I've barely scratched the surface. What you see in this document is an exploration of an atypical Californian family. A common theme throughout my lineage is strong women providing for themselves and their kin passed their due. It's clear to see the turning points in my Great Great Grandmother's life and how it has rippled down generations.

Each person portrayed here is done so with love and kindness, and I hope that I have done their character justice.

A Study Of Family

by Jonathan Haggard

All icons from The Noun Project.