My parents – George and Barbara – 1945
After spending the night with my family (also in Alameda), Jenny and I went back to Grammy’s for breakfast. She served us her classic poached eggs over sourdough toast. Her prized aluminum double boiler egg pan made perfect poached eggs, and she topped them with lime hollandaise sauce. My grandmother made a special trip to Berkeley every month to purchase fresh roasted coffee from “Peet’s Coffee, Tea & Spices.” She would grind the beans for each brew . . . there was nothing like it.
After breakfast Jenny and I drove by the Alameda Naval Air Station. My father had been stationed there as an aviation mechanic in WWII. He was serving in the Solomon Islands when I was born. My parents had divorced when I was three years old, and I had little memory of him.
We continued our drive through the “Tube,” (an underwater tunnel) connecting Alameda and Oakland. We spent some time at Lake Merritt, a unique fresh and salt-water lake and fed the ducks before moving on. There was a children’s fairyland at one end of the lake where Grampy would take me when I was a toddler.
Just by chance we drove past the Oakland Induction Center where I had taken my physical prior to joining the Marines. There were some picketers on the sidewalk in front of the building protesting the war. They looked like students from Berkeley, and all had long hair. Avoiding the draft was a complex affair, and I wondered about the path I had taken. Even though I had orders to Vietnam, I felt positive about the choices I had made almost four years earlier.
We drove to Swan’s Market, a downtown landmark. There were baked goods, a meat market, fresh fish stalls, produce of all kinds and live music. Hot food was mostly served counter style, and there was a wide array of ethnic cuisine. As a kid with my grandparents, we never ate there; it was a shop-and-go experience for us. Jenny and I settled for some taquitos with guacamole, rice and beans.
After lunch we returned to Alameda and drove out toward “Bay Farm Island.” The saltwater estuary next to Doolittle Drive had been used for speed boat races during the late 1940’s, and it was there that I was introduced to bags of hot popcorn. Grampy and I would sit in the car watching the races eating popcorn and warm peanuts. This area was now a park, and there were windsurfers in the channel practicing the new sport.
We returned to my mother’s house for dinner and shared our nostalgic tour with my brothers and sisters. I remember we played a board game, probably “Clue,” and then everyone went to bed (school night).
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