66. A Sense of Belonging …

From Summer Place forward, Diana and I went out and around with one another every weekend.  We were certainly entertained enough with what we were doing together yet we hadn’t committed to exclusivity.

Then the time had come in both our minds that I should meet her family.  Her parents were previously divorced and so it would be one at a time meetings.  Besides that her mother and sister had returned to the Midwest after the separation.   

I met her father and I felt he approved of me, at the very least, as his eldest daughter’s companion.  Now I said it this way because interracial relationships were still not easily accepted.

The only real prejudice I had previously encountered in my life was that over religious views.  California was certainly more relaxed than say, the Midwest states where her parents were raised and there was just a little concern that her relationship with me might’ve been frowned upon.  

We weren’t discussing marriage or anything and she assured me that her parents were well aware of her lifelong interest in all aspects of foreign cultures; this shouldn’t be too difficult for them.  

Well the fact is we got along quite well.  He really liked me as a human being and I felt him to be genuine.  One day he invited Diana and myself to dinner at a real nice restaurant in Westwood Village.  

Halfway through our time there at the table, Diana’s father gently placed his hand on our waitress’s hand when she stopped by, yet again with her very big smile and he said, “Doris I’d like you to meet someone.  You already know my daughter … and this is her wonderful friend, Parma.”

I knew it!  I had been pondering the obvious friendliness between Diana’s dad and our waitress.  Maybe they were just casually flirting? I thought.  Here it is, confirmed.  He had a real nice friend there who quite clearly was looking out for him and as a bonus, a nice 20% discount (he told us later) whenever he dined there.  As a single man that turned out to be quite often.

My days and nights moved along at a steady pace and that brings me around to the autumn.  🍁 One day a tenant called me to help her move something heavy in her place. I accidentally left my apartment door open when I went there.  In that time frame someone came into my residence and stole a few things.

Naturally I was alarmed and informed the owner of the building.  She in turn released me from my position and I found myself suddenly unemployed.  In fact she took me to court suing for I cannot even remember what but the judge dismissed the charges.  Apparently he had better things to do.

I say take that whole scenario any way you will because I know what I thought about it.  As might be expected I filled ‘mom’ in on what happened.  In her ever-luvin’ way she said to me, “Honey you never mind all that, I’ll fix things up for you.”  Mrs. Elson had another set of friends up Hollywood way and I found myself in a similar situation up there; resident caretaker of tenants.

As was anticipated Diana and I were still right on track even though we weren’t as close, geographically speaking.  She remained in Westwood and I now lived on Sherbourne Drive.

I was given a nice furnished studio apartment and also had a sort of guardian looking out for me.  This would be an older lady, a very dear friend of ‘mom’ – she’d call me over to her place for coffee or something to eat and ask me how I was getting on, a personal evaluation if you will.  

And Dave’s mom still called up regularly to check on me. We certainly didn’t want a repeat of the previous scene.  Speaking of Dave, we still found time to hang out together and we were both glad of it.  And whenever I could I’d give him advance notice of Diana’s visit, he’d happily make arrangements for the 4 of us to double date.

Out came the lite blue Ford Fairlane 500 again and off we’d go!  A favorite place of ours to dine at was up Malibu way. Just pick up your rotary dial telephone and place the call to GLENWOOD 7 2567 for your table!  We’d take the drive on Pacific Coast Highway to Trancas Restaurant at Zuma Beach for the best swordfish steaks ever.

Back up into Hollywood, the tenants of the building I looked after were nice people.  They all seemed to have everything they needed and most of the times, I was just called upon to help them bring up their groceries from their car.  

And though not in lifeguard capacity, I attended the swimming pool too.  I really felt comfortable here in Hollywood.  Yes the Hollywood of the late 50’s … hindsight, where are you?

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GLENWOOD 7 2567      love those phone numbers of the past.

59. I’m Movin’ On Up!

I had put in just about three months work at that little Indian restaurant before it met its end.  Sometimes I’d walk past the establishment and see the sign still up on their window.  It was a bittersweet experience after all.  

In conclusion of the Department of Labor’s investigation, Jack and Bill were made to pay me an amount equivalent to that of lost back wages and I soon received a payment cheque in kind retroactive to my hire date.  

I continued to work the breakfast and lunch shifts, Monday through Friday at the hoppin’ Italian joint on Market close by to the sea and still pulling in a very decent wage.

I continued also to reside at Lalit’s hotel until about the beginning of May.  The time had come that I required a little more living space and so after a fond farewell to my first-ever landlord and first American residence, I moved my digs about 3 blocks up Jones towards Turk Street.  

Now I would pay a rental rate of $2.50 per night; yes I was still in a hotel but hey, it was spacious and I even had my own private bathroom now.  How ‘bout that!

I didn’t want to go too far away from the main bus line of Market Street; getting to work without freezing on the wide open street that Market is was indeed priority and yes, I did invest in a very warm coat.

I stayed on with the Italian restaurant about another 6 months.  One time I remember asking for a couple of extra days off; a Friday and a Monday so that I would have a long weekend to go off on an adventure with a couple of friends.  Thankfully this was not a problem for them; I was a loyal and good member of the crew after all.

The three of us took a drive south down the 101 to Los Angeles for a limited but leisurely  weekend, stopping along the way to enjoy whatever caught our fancy.  This would include scenery to be amazed by and filling of the car’s gas tank or ours.  Gasoline was about .25 cents per gallon at this time.  Remember the days of ethyl?

When we finally reached downtown Los Angeles, we were able to get a very nice hotel room.  Though it was costly between the 3 of us sharing it was easily affordable.  Wish I would remember the name of that place.  

We drove what we thought was all over, taking in the sights of the city of Los Angeles herself, dipping into Koreatown and Chinatown, though by no means would it compare in scale to San Francisco’s -we just had to know- and then off into Hollywood we went.

Speaking for myself it was a fun weekend, exploring a completely new part of the state and I’m beginning to feel as though California would become my indefinite home.  

I noticed the sunshine here in southern California felt just a bit different … warmer at least to me.  We also drove into Santa Monica and then visited the beach.  Of course we indulged in the usual beach food, hot dogs and what not.  

Back in the city of Los Angeles, the memorable meal of this weekend had to be at a cafeteria where we ate one of our meals in but again I’m not recalling a name.  It sticks in my mind however as an establishment serving very tasty food.

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56. Cable Car Turnaround

Next morning after breakfast I went out walking in the direction of Powell Street.  I saw the cable car come down to the bottom there at Market Street.  I saw then this was the turn-around point of the cable cars and I joined in to help.  

Yes at least back then we would join up in the effort to turn the cars.  That was fun, it was.  I hopped aboard, paid my fare and rode out in the direction of Ghirardelli Square; Powell-Hyde line I believe.

First time I ever ate pizza!  What a big slice I got too and it was filled with lots of good stuff for only .25 cents.  Pair that with an ice cold beer and I was all set to watch the boats and people go by.  

Kind of familiar to me it all seemed as this scene reminded me of sitting on the wall on Marine Drive -the Queen’s Necklace– in Bombay, nearly three years earlier.

I noticed some people looking out to a small island.  I went over to see what I would see.  There was a big sign which read:  View Alcatraz the Federal Prison through Powerful Telescope  

Alright this ought to be interesting.  Like some of the other gazers I put my eye up to the telescope and saw an arresting prison situated on an island rock.  

I heard people talking about some notorious criminals housed there.  For a  moment I felt as though I might be in a Hollywood movie.  

After hearing about the sharks, the frigid waters with treacherous currents and the dangerous prisoners I was so glad I was well behaved!  I hung out for about 3 hours because I was really enjoying myself.  I thought it was all very beautiful.  

Finally I thought to change the scenery and so I caught another cable car back towards Market & Powell Streets.  I caught the next car towards Fisherman’s Wharf.  

As I’m walking towards a large pier, on the right-hand side of me I notice a sign in a window across the street.   It was of a little turbaned Indian man Air India’s logo I believe The sign was bright and colorful and lived in the India Office of Tourism.  The depiction was worth a smile.

Now the stomach has begun to direct my steps once more.  I kept walking towards the ocean.  An Italian restaurant to my left took my attention so I went in.  

There were many customers and I always thought that to be a good sign.  I sat myself at the counter, reviewed the menu and decided on a sandwich and some soup.  It was pretty good.

There was another sign –that’s 3 for todayin the window:  HELP NEEDED  Really?    Wait Staff Needed / Mon-Fri / 6a-2p

I was interested enough to inquire with the management and after a few questions, I was hired right on the spot – what a day!  The pay would be $1.75 per hour + tips to keep my own and I would be paid every two weeks.  

I was advised to immediately to join the Culinary Workers Union – gotta pay union dues in the San Francisco Bay Area.  

As I said before, what a day!  After all this I felt like a real good walk and so I did.  I walked back to the hotel and called it a day!

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The Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union  (HERE) was a United States labor union representing workers of the hospitality industry, formed in 1891.