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.

17. The Paper Was Delivered Earlier Than Usual – part 1

As became the routine, when I returned home one afternoon from work Hemma was seated in the living room with tea for me …only this time there were some +sweets.  And waiting for me there in our living room, the rest of the family had assembled.

I looked around the room searching their faces for a clue as to why the gathering and complete with sweets to boot!

My bhabhi= approached me and in a near whisper she said to me, “You are going to be a father.  Hemma is pregnant.”  I was shocked and then, I was taken by such a sense of pure delight!  I announced I would call the doctor for an appointment the next day to get confirmation before we present this joyful news to everyone else.

Not long after tea and talk, I went to our room to change my clothes.  Hemma was right in back of me.  Behind our *closed door she hugged me, crying tears of joy and said, “This is our present from God!”

I responded happily with loving hugs and supportive whispers.  I told her that going forward she must be careful.  ‘You can continue doing the things you do okay, but no heavy lifting!’  and still speaking excitedly I told her that I’d take her once a month to see the doctor for a check-up.

Also I thought to say to her, ‘… and whatever your heart desires to eat, just tell any of us and we’ll get it for you!’  We were able to get to the doctor the next morning.  My mother came along.

We got the confirmation we came for.  He looked at my mother with a smile, then at Hemma and me and said, “You are going to be a mother, congratulations to the both of you!”  Shortly afterwards he provided a list for Hemma; proper diet along with some exercises she can do at home.

Now we couldn’t wait to share the beautiful news with the rest of the family …the world!  It was time to buy boxes of sweets and along with the good news, deliver them all over.

Every afternoon upon my return from work, she’d have my tea, hot and ready for me and we’d anxiously watch the belly grow.  My mother and sister coached me along the way on how to become a father and a great dad!

About four months had passed and it was time for some looser clothing.  I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible.  I brought her some muumuus to wear around the home; certainly less binding around the waist!

It was in the last trimester, perhaps about 33 weeks when Hemma began experiencing some pains that seemed abnormal; not only to my wife but the [experienced] ladies of the house too were concerned.

It wasn’t but moments after we arrived at the hospital and Hemma was admitted.  She was watched closely but the doctor didn’t seem distressed.  One day, two days.

On the third day our baby boy was born!  I was allowed to enter the room only minutes after his birth; I heard him cry!  The nurse wrapped him in a blanket and handed him to his mother.

Hemma placed him on her chest and he stopped crying; he was comforted for sure.  I embraced the two of them, gratefully.

Our son was born just about four weeks early and the incubator was on standby waiting for him.  After twenty minutes or so Hemma handed him to me; I held my son, fully and completely and with all the love I had in my heart.  God, he was so beautiful. 

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+sweets               ‘sweeten your mouth’  is generally the saying when good news is celebrated.  It is customary to provide sweets; not necessarily like candy but more confection-like.  Similarity is “Here, have a cigar, I’m [going to be] a father!”

bhabhi=              sister-in-law

*closed door       We are taught from early on that displays of affection between ‘he & she’ are to be in private