Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Yuma, Arizona, Marine Air Station postcard


In 1967 my Navy Reserves unit went to the Marine Air Station at Yuma, Arizona. When I first stepped off the plane I was struck in the face with a blast of dry heat, not like the high humid heat we get in Georgia.

The barracks were much better than the one I stayed in at HU-4 in New Jersey. They were actual rooms, not cubes formed by lockers. There were two bunks per room, and you shared the bathroom (oops - I meant "head" with a connecting room, so, essentially up to four people had to fight over the same water hole, but I never had to wait on anybody or anybody ever had to wait on me.

We were there for two weeks. One night a bunch of us crossed over into Mexico to San Luis. What a money grabbing town! The standard law there is that you if touch merchandise you are obligated to buy it. All through the central downtown area people were forcing leather goods, shiny silver knives, bull whips, shirts, and all kind of stuff in your face. I felt like an armless man trying to twist and turn my way through the people.

Most of the nights I went to the E.M. Club and had a couple of beers and that was about it.

Work-wise I typed any letters the Commanding Officer needed typing and walked about a mile to pick up the mail every day. I was an enjoyable interesting walk. It was through the desert and I tried to go a different path every time, just so I would have not missed anything - I saw some strange looking birds and bugs, lizards, but no rattle snakes and I got to daydream too - or call it solitude.

The weekend I rode with a helicopter crew to a military base near Los Angeles. Their base was just across the highway from Disney Land. I hitchhiked into downtown L.A. and ran into my immediate boss, Chief Sprung.

Chief Sprung insisted we share a room in a hotel and the next morning he called an old friend of his who made it big with technical stuff with the Disney Studios. He came and picked us up and we spent the rest of the weekend with him. Because Sprung and his friend had a lot to talk about, old times and such, his graceful wife kept me entertained – let me clarify that, she was a good conversationist, we talked for hours.

They lived in Hollywood Hills, next door to Steve McQueen. She took me out to the fence and introduced me to Steve’s two huge growling dogs, who, once they were introduced, acted very friendly.

We took the bus back to Yuma.

While we were there, one of our pilots and his plane disappeared in the mountains while training. They found him and the plane, or what was left. It dampened the spirit for the rest of the time there, which were a few more days.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Si's blog said...

What a memory and gift with words you have.

We found the drive from San Diego to Las Vegas, through the High Desert, so absolutely fascinating. I don't think we were in Virginia any more. Wish I had the resources, skills, and youth to go exploring on horseback with a pack mule.

10:49 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Si,
That is a fascinating area - so much rocky ridges and cliffs. It just doesn't look natural to us Easterners.
About 10 years ago I went with Anna on a business trip to Palmdale, California, and we drove from L.A. to San Diego... I was impressed with the long winding bridge to the big island.
Well, I'll let you handle the pack mule and I'll stick with roughing it in an air conditioned vehicle.
You said if you had the "youth" reminds of a line in COLD MOUNTAIN where the bad meaney guy said something to the effect "I have the arrogance of youth, which will cause me to win our gunfight."

10:58 AM  

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