After landing at San Francisco on October lst, l944, we were rushed off to Camp Parks, near Shoemaker, California, where we were assigned an area and stored all of our gear. Inside of a week's time most of us were off on our 30 day leave. I managed to get air transportation to New York, so 7 A.M. one beautiful October morning found me at San Francisco Airport boarding a United Air Lines plane.
What a thrill and a joy that trip was. Perfect weather as we took off. A little bank of fog over the city proper, which we rose above and which looked for all the world like a sea of soft cotton below us in the bright sunshine. Our first stop was at Reno, Nevada. It was a refreshing bit of green set in the brown prairie land after the rugged mountain terrain that we had just traversed. Then on to Salt Lake City, Utah. The lakes, the long slender railroad bridge and the bright green around the city in the vast waste lands surrounding it made a pretty picture as we swung into the airport. Next Denver, Colorado, and believe it or not, it was not until we had come almost in sight of Denver that any signs of cultivation or life came into view. Around Denver the vast grain fields make a most startling picture from the air. The little squares of cultivated areas and the varying shades of greens and browns seemed like a huge patch work quilt.
Chicago next and by then it was dark with a full moon. The breathtaking beauty of a huge city with its millions of lights is almost beyond description. We gracefully sailed on through the moonlight, with itís silvery lights and shadows, on to Cleveland and on over Pennsylvania, with its huge iron foundries making huge and weird flashes in the beautiful still of the night.
At 5 A.M. the next morning, I landed in New York Town and in no time, it being too early for much traffic, I was whisked to the Penna. Station and so on to Philadelphia. Here I was met by my blessed wife Dot, and she looked Oh, so good after nearly two years of waiting and dreaming.
The next 30 days went by so fast that it hardly seemed any time before I found myself once again in New York boarding the plane again for the west coast. Again I had a most marvelous trip though mostly made in the rain, and on the west end some pretty good storms. It had cleared up for a spell when I reached Salt Lake City. Here I was bumped off the plane for a group of Army officers and had to await the next plane. But I had a mighty nice and interesting time in the city while waiting, and all at the expense of the Air Lines. We got away again about 2 P.M. in threatening weather and from here on we saw nothing but storm clouds. Our Pilot took us up to some 15000 feet elevation in an endeavor to clear the storm, but to no avail. And it was plenty rough. The little hostess on the plane was kept on the jump, what with air sickness and nose bleeds, but I suffered no ill effects and enjoyed the trip, even though it was rough. To see a severe electrical storm from above is quite a treat, and add to this snow and ice, made it quite an interesting experience. We finally landed in Frisco in a driving rain. Didn't even see any signs of an airport until we were landing.
And so back to Camp Parks, where we were informed that our Battalion was scheduled to leave the country by the first of the year. So by the time the boys had arrived back from their leaves, we were ready to entrain for Port Hueneme, the C.B. embarkation point.
What a change we found here. A completed base, almost twice
the size of the one we recalled. A few weeks after our arrival
here our orders were changed and our departure date was been
set back until Spring. I then approached the C.O. as to the possibility
of living off the Base, if my wife came out to California.
He was very agreeable and arranged for me to be off base as much
as I could, so long as I kept up my duties as Maintenance Officer.
I immediately wrote to Dot and told her to come on out if she so
And so one day, in fact on the 7th of December l944, just 3 years after Pearl Harbor, I received the Telegram that I shall always cherish. My sweet little wife would arrive in Los Angeles after traveling all across the country to be with me for a short while before I should leave the country again. Quite a sport, Iíd say, to make that long trip at a time when transportation was terribly snarled. She even had to sit up all the way as at the last minute no berths were available for civilians. But did that stop my Lil Sugar? No sir, and sit up she did, and had a big time doing it.
Now accommodations in California were a real problem too. I finally secured a hotel room in Ventura for a 5 day period. Ventura is a beautiful little town situated some twelve miles north of the Base. You can just bet I was in Los Angeles waiting for that train to come in. As usual it was some three hours late and we missed the only train connection to Ventura for that day. But that did not bother us. Dot came walking in to the waiting room deep among a crowd of soldier boys whom she traveled most of the way with. She was "Mom" to them and they were making sure that she was going in the right way. They were a swell bunch of kids. As it was almost noon and we had a couple of hours till we could get out of town, we went into the Harvey House in the station and had a good dinner. Then off to the Bus Station, and thanks to my uniform, I succeeded in getting 2 tickets to Ventura. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful ride of about a hundred miles or so. Arrived in Ventura about 8 P.M. and found our room awaiting us.
We both fell in love with Ventura. It was such a clean and quaint little town. So colorful and full of flowers. It is known as the Poinsetta City and it surely was entitled to the honor, for it was just filled with these most gorgeous blooms. And not as we easterners know them, for here these plants grow in to trees and the blooms are sometimes higher than the roofs of the cottages that they surround. The town is only about five city squares wide in the main business section. On one side the beautiful Blue Pacific Ocean and on the other the high and rugged brown and sometimes green mountains. Some of the streets twisted their way up the steep sides of the mountain,and little houses seemed to hang precariously from the hillside, like gorgeous jewels. At night it was a sight to behold. The lights studding the hillsides like stars and in the daytime the little town was something to look at. Flowers everywhere, and such flowers, Begonias and Geraniums growing like hedges and all in bloom. Lantania covering walls and lawns like huge flowering blankets. The air so balmy and the sun so bright and warm.
I used the bus going back and forth from the base. And my C.O. was mighty good to me and allowed me regular banker's hours. I would get on the base around 8 in the morning, and would catch the 4.30 P.M. bus back to Ventura. Every other week end off. Before our five days at the hotel were up, Dot had found us another place to live. And what and where do you think it was? A little Auto Trailer situated right on the beach at the shore end of the main street. And believe it or not it was right under a BANANA trEE with real live bananas growing on it. "Yes we had some bananas". It was piped for water and gas, and wired for electricity. Had a little gas plate, sink and refrigerator, and a cute little breakfast nook, which turned into a bed in emergencies. My but it was cozy and nice. Linens, dishes and laundry all furnished. All we had to do was move in, and move in we did.
For three months it was our home and those were the most wonderful three months that we ever spent together. The long walks down the beach at sunset. The fishing pier nearby, where you could stroll out and feed the gulls and meet the tame pelican from a nearby Island, that everyone seemed to know. Where you could buy the most wonderful fresh fish and shrimp, or Barbecued fish if you wanted it. Many times, especially on week ends we would buy shrimp and take them to our little Trailer Home and cook them and sit down to a most luscious repast of fried shrimp and corn pone.
And the delightful balmy evenings spent in roaming around the streets of the town, window shopping and just happily relaxing. And the cute little doughnut shop, that always emitted such delightful, odors that we never could pass it by. Yes those were happy days and just the memory of them tugs at our heart strings. And believe it or not we located some relatives who were not only a joy, but an actual inspiration to us. One of my fatherís sisters, Mary, we found in the Ventura Hospital suffering from arthritis. She was almost helpless but still cheerful and hopeful. And she seemed to actually believe that she would walk again. Through her we contacted Lynn and Isobel Hall, my cousins, whom we had heretofore only known in name. They were wonderful folks and just grand to us. Quite a few weekends were spent with these dear folks and they helped us to see and know So.Calif. Their generosity with their home and car and time will always remain a bright spot in our sojourn in So. California.
But the time seemed to slip by so fast, and the climax of those few months was almost as outstanding as the whole three months. Our son Jim graduated from the University of N.C. and Naval Officers Training, and received his Commission and degree. While we were in Ventura. His orders came through to report to San Francisco, California. So we wired him to arrange his transportation via Los Angeles and we would meet him there and all go to San Francisco together. My time was getting short and our Battalion had received their final departure orders. So at this particular time I was on my 10 day pre-embarkation leave. I had not seen Jim to sit down and talk to for over two years. Everything seemed to work out so smoothly that the hand of God was surely guiding us. We met Jim and his buddy Joe Banks, who is also about the same age and just like a son to us, in Los Angeles with cousin Isobel who drove us down in her car. After seeing to the boys baggage and having it re-checked to Frisco, we all piled into the car and Cousin Isobel proceeded to show us Hollywood, Long Beach, etc. and then drove us back to Ventura. Putting the boys up in the hotel we proceeded to have a nice day and night together in old Ventura. The next day we packed all of our belongings, including mother Dorothy's, as she was to take the train for the East in San Francisco, closed up and said good bye to our little Trailer Home.
From Ventura we took the bus to Santa Barbara and put up at a nice hotel there while we proceeded to do the town. This was another little jewel of a town tucked neatly in between mountains and sea. The highlights of our stay here were the Pier and its gorgeous cocktail lounge and restaurant and the El Paso with it's little shops and beautiful restaurant where we had a grand dinner, with good music.
The next morning we boarded the "Daylight", the last word in streamlined trains, for San Francisco. This train had such things as radio, air-conditioning, etc. It was a beautiful ride too, beginning with the tracks running along the shore line, then swinging into the high mountains of Central California. It was a beautiful day,and we had a very enjoyable trip. Before dark we pulled in to old San Francisco. The boys immediately reported in to the Base Commander, while we went to the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, where we had previously reserved rooms. The boys soon informed us that they were free for the next few days, while awaiting transportation. So the four of us had these days together to see the town and have a good time. And have a good time is just what we did. No worry, no schedule, just decided where we wanted to go next and there we went. Took in all the main places of interest, including Coit Tower, Cliff House, the Park and Zoo, etc. Mother Dorothy became so fascinated with the cute cable cars, that we rode and rode, and laughed and had a good time on them. We topped off our meanders with a dinner and floor show in the "The Persian Room". This was one elaborate and beautiful place, and the show was good. We all had our pictures taken too. All in all we had a swell time.
Thus ended a bright chapter, in a dark war torn world.