Jan 29, 2014

A blizzard in paradise

One late-winter day a long time ago, I was King of the World, a legend in my own mind. The Henderson, back from six months in the mysterious Orient,  docked at the San Diego Destroyer Base. I had just sewn on a petty officer crow  (Imagine. Me. Not yet 19, A noncom. I fear I may have strutted a little bit.). I had also qualified for special proficiency pay. My income had about doubled to something like $160 a month.  To top it off, I'd had some luck in the bos'n locker poker session the last night at sea.

So, for about $75,  I bought a 1950 Morris Minor, a little ratty but sound insofar as the word could (or can) be applied to an English mechanical device. I tuned her in my sorta-girl friend's yard and spent a few nice liberties at beaches you couldn't get to by bus -- about as far as Redondo Huntington Beach, I think.

Then came a letter from the real girl friend. She was back in San Francisco from an unhappy career move to  Seattle and  would I care to pop up for a visit?

Wangle a 96-hour liberty. Varoom.

Highway 101 takes you through Los Angeles. No other way. We all hated the traffic even then. But what the Hell.

I'll tell you the Hell. It snowed in L.A. For ten or 12 minutes. Traffic on the wet six-lane stopped. More than one piece of long, fat Detroit iron slewed across a lane or two. I pulled off and drank coffee until the sky brightened and the CHIPS had reorganized the highway. I resumed, pushing the dowager as close to her 64 mph max as I could.

Further adventures of the long weekend need not be spoken of, but Little Morris  created no drama, and I returned from liberty without having to worry about finessing an AWOL chit. The blizzard amidst the palms still sometimes generates a grin when  I scrape a few inches of global warming from my windshield.


She had only one factor of cool. The turn signals spoke semaphore. Hit the lever. Up flips an orange-lighted plastic flag from the pillar. For that reason alone I'd like to have her back.


Lisa said...


Jim said...

Rethink. You would probably lose her in a snow drift. They're easy to mislay even in a nice climate. :)

Anonymous said...

We of the 50s Deutschland experience called those "turn signals" mox nix sticka. You can apply the translation. JAGSC

Anonymous said...

"sticks" dammit. JAGSC

Jim said...

"...banks of the ol' River Rhine; bah those same stars above you..."

As a kid at Fort Hood, I knew some 4th AD guys who had had a Deutsch experience." :)

Stephen said...

She had nice lines....as I'm sure, did you girlfriend.