Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My 2 Week Yuma and Hollywood Hills Jaunt

In the summer of 1967 I went with my Naval Reserve Squadron to a Marine Base in Yuma, Arizona.

When we first stepped off the plane the dry heat felt very differently than our  Georgia high humidity heat.

When we were unloading our duffle bags, equipment,  and things onto a tram the guy that drove the tram to the plane was somebody I knew.  His last name was Moody.   We both were in the HU-4 Helicopter Utility Squadron.  He had just made first class before I went off active duty.  I remembered he was from North Carolina.  About ten years later (1976-7) when I started doing genealogy research I found  out Moody is one of my surname lines.  Oh well, too late now to ask him about his roots.

I was a personnelman, which included yeoman duties.  One of those duties was pick up the mail daily and bring it back and sort it.  I had to walk almost a mile, there and back, to get office to get the mail.  It was walking on a trail through the a little piece of a  desert.  I could have got transportation but I insisted on walking it every morning.  It was my daily solitude moment.

One night a bunch of us  somehow got  one of the Marines stationed there to drive us about 20 miles south to Saint Louise, Mexico.  It was very interesting.  I have no idea how we got back to the base that night.

My immediate supervisor was Chief Spg.  I will give him the name Spg because it is similar to his real name.  The reason I don't want to use his real name because he was a pain in the ass.   He wasn't a bad person, he meant well.  He was friendly but always was disorganized - he reminded me of Rodney Dangerfield.

I found out I could hop a free flight to Anaheim, California, free on a Marine helicopter, Friday after we got off work.  I made my plans.  I'll be packed, and I would slip off early and hop a free flight to Anaheim.  And no Chief Spg for a couple of days.

Imagine my surprise when I climbed aboard the helicopter and there was Chief Spg already in a seat.
On the flight we sort of avoided each other.  I think he thought I wanted to get away from him and he was right, I felt guilty.

We landed at a Marine Base very near Disneyland.
I stood on the edge of the highway just outside of Disneyland's gates and hitchhiked.  It took a while to get a ride.  I could hear loud music, oohs, and aahhs, from the rides.

I  was hitchhiking for down in the heart of Las Angeles.  I got a room in a hotel and went bar hopping alone.  I finally ended up in a lonely bar called the Jungle Room.   I enjoyed walking around seeing all the strange L.A. people.  I also went to a U.S.O. dance.  It was the first and last time I went to a U.S.O. dance. 

Saturday was more walking around L.A. sightseeing.  I was approached by several panhandlers and was sized up by several dubious looking characters who looked to me like they would love to do me harm, size me up.
I decided it would be much safer and cheaper to sit in the window of the hotel  lobby and watch interesting people pass. 

After sitting a while Chief Spg walked by the big window.  I sat motionless hoping he would not see me.  He glanced my way, but kept on moving his gaze and walked out of the window view.

"Whew!"  I sighed.

Then in a blink of the eye, there he was again, in the window looking at me waving.

I acted surprised, which I wasn't really acting, I thought I got away with dodging him.

He came on in and we talked.  He asked if I would mind if he shared my room for the night.

"Of course not!" I lied.

We went out and ate someplace, which I forgot,  and he paid the bill.  This arrangement might not be so bad after all.

Someplace that evening Chief Spg said the wrong thing to somebody and he almost got pounced on but I sensed trouble brewing and we exited quickly... I remember it like I just typed, but I don't remember the details.

That night he slept on a couch in the room and I slept in the bed.  He snored and kept me partially awake.  The next morning he paid for breakfast at the breakfast room in the hotel.   We then went back to the room and after we cleaned up he started making phone calls.

He was searching for an old friend he was in the Navy friend and they kept up their communications.   He lived in Hollywood Hills and he told the Chief if he was ever in town, call him.... which that was what the Chief did.
The chief's friend came and picked us up in front of the hotel.  He was driving an expensive car.  He took us through the winding roads of Hollywood Hills.  He pointed out several famous people's houses.  He lived   in a nice house too.  He was an executive engineer  for Disney Studios.
His wife was Asian and very friendly .  While the Disney Executive and Chief Spg were busy catching up with old times that left the wife to entertain me.   She was a very good hostess and  was very interested in everything about me.  We spent three to four hours together talking about various experiences and subjects.

She showed me the house the back yard and over on one side was a tall chain-link fence and two huge dogs barked and growled at me.   However, they liked her.  she told me the dogs belong to their neighbor  Steve McQueen and that was his house behind the bushes and trees.  I suggested we could climb a tee and wait on him to step out to tell the dogs to shut up and then we could wave at him.  She thought that was funny and had several bursts of laughter over it.

It was a very nice visit and it was worth putting up with Chief Spg.

The chief's friend took us to the bus station. Sunday evening we took the bus back to Yuma.  I slept most the way I think.
The next week one of our squadron's pilots went down in a jet and he was killed.  It took a whole day of searching to find him and a lot of the men in the squadron used desert vehicles all over the rocky mountains looking for him and his plane.  Unfortunately, they found him and the plane.  He was dead.

That was my last two-week warrior weekend.

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