My mother had a surprise up her sleeve and assured Jenny and me it would arrive soon. After waiting all morning, there was a knock at the door and my friend Doug was standing there with a big grin on his face. He introduced his fiancee, Patty, and we spent some time catching up with our lives over lunch.
Doug and I first met in 1951 in Manhattan Beach. We attended Grand View Elementary School through 6th grade and did everything together. Our families’ lives were intertwined with scouting, vacations, Christmas caroling, etc. We experienced a significant aftershock from the 1952 Tehachapi earthquake in Doug’s living room. His father, “Bud,” would take us to the L.A. Rams games at the Coliseum. Our favorite players were Norm Van Brocklin and Crazy Legs Hirsch.
As teenagers we had shared interests in the Beach Boys and surfing although I was a poor swimmer and was usually skim-boarding on the shore. We camped in Yosemite for a week and fished with his grandfather, “Daddy-Pop.” As we got older we went on double dates, danced at The “Rendezvous Ballroom” in Balboa and were always on the prowl for girls. After high school graduation Doug began working with his Dad as a surveyor. We saw each other less, and eventually I joined the Marines.
It was obvious Doug and Patty were in love, and we were very happy for them. She was from the northern California town of Willits where Doug was on a big survey job. We congratulated them on their upcoming wedding in January, 1968.
The four of us decided to go to San Francisco and “do the town.” We toured North Beach, China Town, Golden Gate Park and Fisherman’s Wharf. Somewhere we had dinner and ordered steaks (Doug liked his meat cooked “blood rare”). We drove to Coit Tower which was lit up beautifully at night, and I vaguely remember some kissing under a full moon.
Later we drove back to Alameda and said our good-byes. Doug and Patty were heading to his parents’ house in Boulder Creek (near Santa Cruz). It was a nice visit, and the subject of Vietnam never came up.