68. My First Love Calls Me Back

I found myself missing the northern California city by the Bay just a bit …apparently I really did leave my heart in San Francisco.

C - View up to Coit tower -signed

Diana’s father Ralph was working for McDonnell Douglas and had been a divorced man for a while now so he had a little extra room in his home.  That turned out to be a big help for us when we returned from our Mexicali adventure.

Ralph had previously made the offer to shelter us and so Diana and I moved into his place, temporarily of course.  I’m so glad I got along famously with her father, really blessed.

Diana and I talked between ourselves and with her dad about what we ought to do next and it was decided fairly quickly, less than a week in fact that we ought to give San Francisco a try as a newlywed couple.  Why not? With a little guidance from Ralph we made the choice to move.

My father-in-law took a couple of days leave and drove us up north.  We got a hotel room and Ralph spent the night with us before turning around and going back to Los Angeles the next day.

We were pretty lucky in that in 2 days time we found a nice apartment up on a hill, it may have been on Ellis.  This was absolutely perfect. A furnished one bedroom, one bathroom with a kitchen, living room, yes it had a great view and there was a staircase leading up to the roof for even more enjoyment!   

One evening very soon after settling into our apartment in San Francisco the two of us were discussing employment.  I told my wife I should try the Italian restaurant where I worked before; I felt confident about the way I left their employ and I near completely trusted they’d take me on.  

I then suggested to Diana she try for a position at the Government of India Tourist Office (at 685 Market Street), the very same one I used to walk past nearly everyday.  She smiled bright at the thought but then said, “You really think they’d want to hire me, a non-Indian?”  

I reassured her this: with all I knew of her uncanny knowledge they’d be fool not to take her on.  I took hold of her hand, ‘How could they not want you?’  Well, that smile increased across her face and her confidence rose tremendously.  Diana has always been very intelligent, she knew I was correct in theory and well, that settled it.  The next morning we hit the streets of San Francisco together taking the bus down to Market Street.

After a brief interview Diana was hired on the spot.  They asked her to start that very next day. I know we were both pleased but she was extremely happy because she could now really put her knowledge to practical use and get paid for it.  We were both feeling pretty fantastic about things.  And it was also nearing lunch time, you know what that means!

We walked towards the ocean and over to the Italian joint I worked at before.  It was crowded but we got a counter seat. During the course of our meal, a couple of employees had recognized me, said hello and before I knew it the manager had come out to the dining room to greet me.

He approached with a big smile and reached out to shake my hand heartily; evidently he was happy to see me again.  He smiled at the lovely lady seated beside me and naturally I was real pleased to introduce my wife to him.  

Clearly he was happy for me.  He asked if we were in town just visiting and I told him we had moved up here.  “Are you interested in working?” came out in conversation and of course I responded, that would be desirable.  

The manager stated there were no openings at this city location.  However before I could pull too large a frowny face, he advised me to take a short drive south near to the airport, South San Francisco to be exact, and check in with their family owned second location.  

“They sure could use your help there.  I’ll call the manager and let him know you will come in …if you’re interested?” he finished with a sharp Italian smile.  We both nodded our heads and it was settled.

The next morning Diana and I left at the same time and after she got off the bus to go to work I made my way to Mission Street to take a bus heading south.  That’s it, one bus caught on Mission took me straight there, talk about convenience!

I was rehired at the Italian joint by the family at their second location, brought in as wait-staff and it was the perfect setup to pull in really great tips.  The boss here was a great guy too.  His employees were well taken care of, meals were included everyday and he often had parties up at his ranch to which he sometimes invited his employees and a guest.  

Life back in the arms of my first love was working out very well for me and my wife.

Not too long after we were set in our routine, I met a nice young Mexican man at a bar where I sometimes stopped in after work to have a cold beer and play some billiards.  We got to talking after he had asked me to shoot a game with him.  He asked if there were any openings at the place I worked.

Within the week there actually was an opening and I told him about it.  He went and applied and ended up getting the job. Good for him, glad I was able to help someone out.  He had a car and before we knew it, we had the same shift (breakfast and lunch) and we began carpooling to work.  Now I’m being helped, nice!

It wasn’t long before most of my friends from my previous life in San Francisco and I were back in touch and they started coming around again.  At first it was comfortable enough, there were delicious crab curry nights and always some ice cold beers to go along with that spicy 🦀 curry.

Now the scene was this: the guys are still single and eventually it began to make Diana uncomfortable and to be honest, myself included in that statement but just a little.  As for my wife, she was overcome with her emotions, her hormones and very soon it was discovered she was pregnant with our first child.  Understanding this from experience, I surely didn’t misunderstand her state of being.

I think it must have been her maternal instincts causing her to experience a driving force to return to Los Angeles.  As it turned out she’d received news that her mother and sister were also moving back to California from the Midwest.

We talked it over and it didn’t take much for the two of us to be in complete agreement.  It was going to be better for the both of us and our coming child to have the love and help of some family.  It would be her family’s first grandchild too.

For good references down the road, we gave proper notice to our employers and landlord, we both worked through the holiday season into the new year, Diana was in her 2nd trimester of pregnancy and we were making the preparations to return to the City of Angels.  

It was near the end of January in 1961 when we were back in the county of Los Angeles. As before we were welcomed with open arms by her dad for as long as we needed it.  In about 2 weeks time we were able to accomplish a lot.  We moved into a sweet little cottage set up in the back of a private home, just near to Montana, above Wilshire Boulevard on 20th Street and this was conveniently close to her father.

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Government of India Tourist Office 🇮🇳  (this particular office in fact) in the 60’s displayed in advertisement the ‘great sport of shikar’.  The goal was to entice the public to come to India and partake in killing the magnificent tigers of India, purely for one’s hunting pleasure and their own profit of tourist rupees no doubt.  I want to make clear neither LBM, Diana or myself support such a thing, never have.  It is shameful and regretful this ever happened.  I understand ‘Project Tiger‘ was launched in 1973, a conservation effort by the Indian Government but the damage had already been done.  I am glad to know India is taking this conservation effort even more seriously than ever to protect these beautiful wild cats.  To the best of LBM’s recollection, at the time of Diana’s employment in 1960, these advertisements were not yet posted.

63. Life Begins in the Village

Early this morning I had decided to explore the downtown Los Angeles area.  Dave had given me some ideas and I was looking forward to discovering more about my surroundings and especially on my own.

It was what I thought to be a hot morning and I just knew it would be a perfect day.  I walked through the Village on my way to a bus stop on Wilshire Boulevard.  I knew to go east as west would land me at the beach!  Not a bad choice either but today was for concrete.

I boarded the downtown Los Angeles bus and chose a window seat towards the rear.  After a couple of stops an attractive young lady boarded the bus.  

I noticed her taking a quick observation of the scene and as there wasn’t a whole crowd of faces to sift through, she spotted me, I know she did.  At first she walked past me and then turned around and stopped where I was sitting.

“Would you mind if I sat here?” she asked me as she held onto the back of the aisle seat now that the bus was rolling again.  ‘Not at all,’ I replied looking up at her.  

She took the seat and we sat silently for about another minute.  

“Are you from around here?” she asked me, breaking the silence.

‘No actually I only moved into the Village a few days ago.’  And then I boldly carried on.  ‘Before that, for a few days I was in a motel room not too far from here and I had come directly there from San Francisco.  Now I’m living on Gayley.’   

“Oh I live on Gayley too!”  we both smiled and she went on, “Where did you come from?” and before I would answer,  “Are you from India?”

‘No, I am not from India,’ I plainly countered.

She appeared a little surprised and then stated the question, “You are Indian, yes?”

‘Yes I am. Full-blood Indian.’  And now she was clearly more intrigued.

“Well then, if not San Francisco and not India, where are you from?” she questioned me.  

‘I came from Fiji Islands landing first in San Francisco.’  I explained, ‘I lived and worked there for nearly a year.  I then decided to come to Los Angeles and find an old friend of mine.’

“How do you come to have this friend here in Los Angeles?”  still another question from her; I think I am now being interviewed.

‘He is a pen pal from long ago.’   I told her in response.

She listened very intently and I amusedly thought to myself, this girl is computing all this information into some formula or another.

“Fiji Islands?” she asked me thoughtfully.

‘Yes.  Do you know where that is?’  I asked her.  She said to me that she believed it was in the south Pacific Ocean.  I smiled with delight and then added, ‘That’s right and so you have a better idea, the closest large land to us is New Zealand.’  

It was once again quiet but for only a few moments, both of us absorbing information perhaps.  A little more conversation transpired in the next moments.  She then took out a little notepad and began scribbling in it.  I of course thought nothing of it.  

This young lady then tore the page out from the book, folded it and handed it to me.  I opened it up to look at it and there was her telephone number and address.  

She appeared over the moon with our dialogue and said, “Here’s my address and telephone number in case you’d like to have coffee with me some time – we could continue this conversation.”

I asked her for another sheet of paper and taking out my pen from my shirt pocket, I scribbled my contact information and handed it to her.  I could tell this gesture pleased her.  

My randomly chosen bus stop somewhere in the middle of the city had arrived, I excused myself and we said our goodbyes.  Clearly we were both tickled pink for the sudden spark of dialogue and the thought of where it might possibly lead.  fullsizeoutput_2054

I walked around without aim for about half an hour and then my nose caught a delicious smell.  I thought to keep walking but after about half a block this aroma got the better of me and I did an about face.

First I looked into the giant pane glass window of the obvious restaurant and noticed the crowd.  Then I spotted the buffet laid out in what seemed to be the middle of a large dining room.  

I had the feeling this was something like one of my favorites in San Francisco, Cliftons.  I entered without further resistance.  I paid the cashier $2.38 -the sum keeps coming up strong in my mind so I believe that is accurate.  

Wow what a spread, so many salads, soups and delectable hot items.  All kinds of most everything I would hope for; various beef, chicken and fish preparations, rice, potatoes, breads (the great American diet, right?), things I couldn’t identify, desserts and drink choices too.

I spent a leisurely near two hours there, taking my time, tasting everything and getting a good dose of people watching as well.  I believed I was witnessing many an American family up close and in the course of their mealtime normalcy.

When at last I knew I was done for, it was time to get some fresh air.  I walked around observing the city of Los Angeles’ life around me, window shopping and taking notice of all the lovely old buildings of downtown.  

This took me another hour and half into my day’s adventure.  And now I was feeling tired so I resigned to call it a day.  I caught the westbound bus along Wilshire back to Westwood Boulevard.  That’s where I got off to walk to my place in the Village.

No sooner I got into the door and my phone rang.  “I was trying to reach you all morning,” the voice said on the other end.  I didn’t offer much information of my whereabouts but offered my ‘how can I help?’  It was the woman who employed me.  

She called to tell me about a certain tenant whom she wanted me to keep a closer eye on.  “They’re a rowdy sort and I want you to tell me if there’s any trouble.”  I assured her I would of course.  All this would figure into my daily life in the village, Westwood Village.

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54. Escape From the Farm!

It’s now the 4th day into my farming adventure.  I did not get out of bed to go up another tree.  I couldn’t help but notice there was a lot of commotion round about the place.  I decided to get up if for nothing else then to see what was happening.

To summarize; an older man, a Punjabi gentleman also did not get out of bed to go to the trees this morning.  It would seem it wasn’t by choice though.  The coroner had just arrived in the community to collect him; not an all together unfamiliar scene here apparently, at least according to the talk I was catching.

His personal belongings were soon collected by some authoritative figure at the camp.  This man had lived in a different ‘residence’ than I, so I didn’t actually see everything but of course word travelled fast and I was amazed when I heard about this man’s stash.

A wooden box had been retrieved from under his bed.  Apparently the elder man was indeed old fashioned and having no use for modern ways, never used a bank.  There must’ve been years of cash, his pay I guess, stuffed neatly away in that box.  

I remember hoping the right thing would be done and the money sent off to his next of kin, if indeed they could be found.  I was 22 years of age and I knew full-well that I didn’t want to leave this farm like that so …   

Escape from the farm!   I found the guys I’d came in with and thanked them for helping me get this job.  I confessed I was not cut out for this and it was my time to leave; must return to my original path, the one in the city.  

They offered to drive me to the Greyhound bus station and gratefully I accepted the lift.  It was nice to have a few dollars in my pocket:  I bought a ticket and was on my way.

Lalit offered a cheerful smile when I walked into his front door of the hotel.  It also felt good to pay my rent 2 weeks (total of $14) in advance.  

A nice hot shower was in order and that night I slept very well in my own space.  

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