Bill's Vignettes

This is my story. It will consist of little pictures, snippets, or vignettes, from my past. It is a legacy to my children and grandchildren and those that may come after and hopefully will also be of some interest to the casual reader who doesn't know me from Adam.

Archive for March, 2008

Culture Shock

Posted by sundoulos2005 on March 20, 2008

San Diego and southern California was, to this New Yorker on his first venture to the West Coast, different from anyplace I had ever been before. The streets were lined with palm trees, the sun beamed down with radiant heat everyday of the week for weeks on end, the boulevards were real boulevards — wide, the beaches were just like in the Frankie Avalon – Annette Funicello movies, the surf was always up, and there was so much to do and see. I was amused, too, by the large billboard which proclaimed how many days since it last rained (then numbering in the 100’s).

I liked San Diego. The people there were friendly and seldom did I have to take a bus into town from the base because the locals would stop and offer us sailors a ride. Navy regulations at the time forbade us possessing civilian clothes on the base so we rented a locker at the Seven Seas. The Seven Seas was a locker club. I had never heard of those before. I rented a locker there, I bought civilian clothes there. And when I wanted to blend in with the locals, I changed there. Blending in, however, was an impossibility. My boot camp haircut would take a year to fade away.

New York had blue laws. Blue laws regulate commercial and other activities on Sunday. Drug stores could open on Sunday, but you could only buy medical and other absolutely necessary items. Most of the stuff on the shelves was off limits. California did not have blue laws. Grocery stores, druggists, and department stores were all open on Sunday. Sunday was just another day of the week. I wasn’t used to that.

San Diego radio seemed to fall under one of two categories, both of which were foreign to me: Mexican and Hawaiian. I liked neither.

San Diego had a servicemen’s YMCA. I do not remember much about it except that as one entered through the main entrance there was, to the right, a photographer’s studio. I had a couple of portraits taken with me wearing an aviator’s jacket and a picture of the USS Skipjack (SSN 585) in the background.

Sometimes I would walk from the base into town or vice versa. I liked going by the fishing vessels. The Star of India, a steel-hulled sailing vessel, was newly arrived and I enjoyed going aboard and talking with the restorers.

I tried surfing and found the water to be much saltier than the Atlantic Ocean. I also learned the power of a wave that drives your nose into the sand at the bottom of the ocean. It didn’t take long for me to convince myself that I would never brave the surf in Hawaii.

My stay in San Diego was too short — July through October — and I have never returned. Perhaps someday.

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