This is not a opinionated blog – but a posting of remembrance, beginning with first memories #1 (February 2010 archives) a chronological journey of a past era and personage of an individual, initiating in 1943 at the age of two, a progression thru the years, seeking an inquisitive quest for the sentience of life
- Word Press Format publishes in reverse numerical order, a relative decade time period has been added for the publishing month, also included are the numerical chapter numbers for easier access. If scrolling for chapters be aware of the “newer & older entries” posted for continuity. A continious updating of each chapter including people, pictures, stories and adventures will be penned………Gary
- Published Time Period Chapter
- March 2012 (2009 -2011) 268 – 270
- February 2012 (the 2000′s) 264 – 267
- January 2012 (the 2000′s) 263
- December 2011 (the 2000′s) 261 – 262
- November 2011 (the 2000′s) 258 – 260
- October 2011 (the 90′s) 256 – 257
- September 2011 (the 90′s) 254 – 255
- August 2011 (the 90′s) 252 – 253
- July 2011 (the 90′s) 247 – 251
- June 2011 (the 90′s) 245 – 246
- May 2011 (the 90′s) 238 – 244
- April 2011 (the 90′s) 231 – 237
- March 2011 (the 90′s) 224 – 230
- February 2011 (the 90′s) 218 – 223
- January 2011 (the 90′s) 208 – 217
- December 2010 (the 90′s) 198 – 207
- November 2010 (the 80′s) 188 – 197
- October 2010 (the 80′s) 180 – 187
- September 2010 (the 80′s) 160 – 179
- August 2010 (the 80′s) 134 – 159
- July 2010 (the 70′s) 113 – 133
- June 2010 (the 60′s) 88 – 112
- May 2010 (the 60′s) 60 – 87
- April 2010 (the 50′s) 33 – 59
- March 2010 (the 50′s) 9 – 32
- February 2010 (the 40′s) 1 – 8
Gary has changed occupations, no longer participating in the world of commerce, but has retired to the realm of antecedent anamnesis. His prescription for life is renewed by sharing the aspects that frequented a diminutive journey. The episodes on Inquisitive Quest are recollections and reflect a time in his life. He writes in the third person, or attempts , to observe the surrounding environment because it can be more authoritative than the actuality of celebration His pursuit is to enlighten his experiences in absolute and abstract principles, with no predication. Sharing his true-life experiences presents avaricious pleasure and he accentuate them as a chronicle of his presence, not as pedantic writings, but a perspicacious journal. (For those without Poetic License, annotations in parenthesis) A forty-year separation from California, twenty years in Oklahoma, twenty years in Kansas. A missile electronics & nuclear warhead school enlistment parlayed Gary to Oklahoma. A chance encounter, an introduction, an inner voice (music) beckoned to be set free. The epitome of life was at hand. The living entity (entertainment world ) appears, and seduces those who venture to experience its realm. A world of light, (stage) adulation, caresses the soul. Blinded by empiricism, a struggle to find a path erupts. The inner self is overcome and joins ranks with those (personalities) who dwell in the land of accommodations, sharing platforms, celebrities and others absorbing the light. When the light dims (interest), so does destiny, and soon reality, the losses are great, (family), the desire wanes. A new beginning, disguised blessings (new family), Kansas, an unclear path, then a guidance from above (Jesus). Direction is found, goals obtained (new Career), conclusion reached, twenty years, then the harness is broken (divorce) and separate ways. California beckons, life’s circle evolve, another gift (marries) and the story can be told. Gary is residing in Modesto California, by happenstance, seizing a pause before adjudication. The countenance of his life being addressed, his journal will continue with many years of foremost events remaining.
. It was almost a year into retirement when Gary received a call from Country Villa Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, but this time wasn’t Rashmi Birla the Administrator, but Scott his maintenance replacement man. The warm May Modesto weather abrogating a change in the facilities two pipe fan coil heating and cooling units from heat to air conditioning, Scott unable to accomplish the task, asking if he would come by and resolve the problem. Gary arriving adjudging the situation, asking the first question, had Scott diverted the hot water that flowed thru the facilities room heating units during the winter months, so it would cool down before entering the AC mode. Scott replying that he had turned off the boiler that supplied the heated water a week ago. Gary, not laughing but somewhat amused about Scotts logic, the boiler that heated the building rooms fan coil units also supplied the 180 degree water to the laundry and the Unimax 60 lb washers. Shutting off the boiler effectively lowered the temperature of the water to the laundry and for the past week the residence laundry needs were being washed in cold water. Gary, when as Environmental Service Director made sure the laundry person logged the washer temperature each shift, a simple button on the washer giving a temperature registration. Apparently the new contracted Commercial Housekeeping, Laundry and Janitorial aggregation hired by Country Villa failed to instructed their employees about this State Regulation, if they had, this misjudgment would never occurred. Gary addressing Scotts predicament again, pointing out the closing and opening of valves to redirect the flow of water thru the prodigious new 60 ton air conditioning unit rather than the boiler. The AC unit accomplishing its function, Scott thanking Gary for his time. Gary rationalizing that Scotts call to him instead of Valley Air in Fresno, saved Country Villa several hundred dollar for a service call and in the same respect not revealing his ineptness concerning the HVAC system. In some respect, Gary missed this environment and his agog work ethic, but still thankful for his retirement.
Finding opportunity during his retirement, Gary able to read many of the books that constituted an establishment of value from his childhood days, Fran finding a 24 volume set of the Walter R Brooke’s “Freddy” series, on E-bay, the classic beginning 1927, the series a prize for a young fourth grader. An enjoyment to reread and reflect on Brooke’s writings knowing that it was a factor in contributing to his character and moral standards. Having collected another series from his childhood to again to read, Fran able to find the missing editions in his collection of the 15 volumes of Robert Sidney Bowens’ 1941 – 1946 World II epic series of Dave Dawson on E-bay. The collection complete save one, the 15th novel in the series, “Dave Dawson at Truk”, the seller asking $700 for the edition. The war-time adventure series leading to Gary intrigue about the second world war, later in life becoming a member of the Military History Book Club, a novice historian, in a ten-year period purchasing over a hundred books written by those on both sides of the conflicts. Gary having one more collectible desire, Fran again searching and finding the 54 volume edition of “The Great Books of the Western World“. A display of the works of Plato, Homer, Aristotle, Archimedes, Newton, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Marx and many others, the list goes on, the writing of those in history that formed the course of western civilization.
The news was one of delectation, Gary’s daughter Marlo was once again an expectant mother, a prodigious acclamation for someone who had reached the age of forty. The expected one to acquaint the family of the Denton’s, Chris, Marlo, Allison and Hollyann. Parker Aaron Denton gracing the earth with his appearance on July 8th 2010, a new-found bundle of joy for the family. Gary finding an equanimity in that Chris and Marlo brought another son into the realm of the Denton’s life after experiencing the tragedy of his grandson Garrett, Parker a new endowment from God to a deserving family. The financial restrictions of retirement preventing a grandfather from an introduction to his Grandson, but a resolve in acquiring this achievement.
Life was attenuated in Modesto, a visit to his sister Nancy and his mother’s home in Columbia, a journey to his Fathers resting place on Memorial Day at the Sunset Cemetery outside of Jackson in Amador County, always having a special meaning. The drive north on highway 99, turning east on highway 88, traversing thru Lockford and Clements, the small communities no longer resembling those from his childhood era, but a pasted memory etched forever. Arriving at the military cemetery, Gary having honored his father many times since returning to California. A ritual performed every time known to his mother and sisters, the placing of dime coins around his father’s place marker. It was a childhood remembrance, which his father started in 1947 embedding dime coins in branches of the youthful weeping willow tree on their Greenly Drive home in Oakland to mark it growth, Gary never forgetting some of his fathers esoteric assuetude, with the placing of coins at his father resting place, a lasting and memorial tribute to an ever lasting memory. A Thanksgiving invitation to Yosemite Rose, his sister Katherine’s and brother-in-law Donald’s Bread and Breakfast in Groveland, the B & B ideally situated a 20 minute drive on Highway 120 to the entrance to Yosemite National Park. The Thanksgiving Day Dinner, not an exactly a quiet family event, but instead a regale banquet production. Gary and Fran finding themselves sitting alone in the Parlor or library awaiting this overwhelming presentation. The aftermath, a long process of kitchen activities, Gary recognizing that this was assuetude because of the seven a day a week commercial activity of the B & B, Katherine harmonizing her life and adhering as a subordinate to her service business.
The communiqué from Wichita Kansas was a surprise, arresting and prodigious, Gary’s youngest daughter Sandra Birzer was expecting again, having imparted but to a few that she was again with child. Gary blithe with the announcement, perceptive that this blessing affinity would cement an affinity for his grandson Brennan. Gary having witnessed the closeness of his son and daughter, Robert and Sandra thru the years, their birth dates being a year and a little over three weeks apart, the two growing up in accordance, their childhood life almost as one, sharing it joys. August 18th 2011, Karsen Nikola Birzer, weighing 6 lbs. 5 Oz, blessed by the Grace of God, announced his debut into this world. What was once a world without grandson’s, now a three-fold blessing , an expanding horizon provided by Marlo and Sandra, their son’s to grace the world.
. Gary receiving an unexpected call from Columbia, his 89-year-old mother proposing an excursion east desiring to see her great-grandchildren in Oklahoma and Kansas, Sarah, Allison, Hollyann and Brennan. Gary acceding with his mothers request, asking Fran to accompany them, but his wife giving a declination to remain and accommodate their two dogs. Gary’s sister Nancy conveying his mother to Modesto to stay the night for an early morning flight from the Modesto. Gary and his mother Betty boarding a United Airlines SkyWest, Pratt & Whitney powered twin turbo propped Embraer 120 in the twilight of the morning. This being a third time for Gary, a first for his mother, traveling on the 30 seat none luxurious aircraft with its 24 years of history. The morning flight as before, a tour over the wind turbined Altamont Pass, San Francisco Bay coming into view. A drop in altitude and an alignment with the San Mateo Bridge, the circumnavigating craft banking right for its approach to the San Francisco International Airport and a its final quay. Gary having made this landing dozens of time at home on his computer utilizing a Logitech joy stick, enjoying the Google Earth Flight Simulator, the scene on Google Earth from the sky, a realistic visual depiction, a marvel of modern science.
Embarking from the Embraer, the ground level mobile stairs placed in position, Gary and his mother proceeding to the upper terminal awaiting their 7.56 a.m. departure time for the 1460 mile non stop journey to DFW, Dallas/ Ft.Worth International Airport, the first sojourn to visit with his son Rob and his bride to be Nancy before journeying to Oklahoma and Kansas. The 89-year-old Betty Willson and Son commencing a United Airlines 757, their seating arrangement providing Gary with a window seat enabling an animate visual view from aloft. The aircraft raising to its cruising altitude of 37,000 ft. a southwesterly course, a flight time of 3 ½ hours, their arrival at DFW expected at 1:45 p.m. central standard time. Thirty minutes into the flight, the cabin lights dimmed and a host of screens descended from the ceiling, the in-flight movie was to begin. Gary vigilant, noticing that everyone seated before him pulling down their window shading device, the featured, the animated movie Up about to start. The interior of the aircraft now shadowed in darkness, Gary casting a wonder about those he was seated among, because the real embodied extravaganza wasn’t the TV screen, but the scene from the window, the wondrous cloud flow, the terrain passing beneath the winged craft, the happening of flight. Gary, to the duress of many of the other passengers, the only person to allow the acquiesce glowing signature of nature to abide, leaving his window unadorned with a shade, the bright sun, blue sky on a continuing horizon and able to contemplate the majestic lapsing earth below.
The Boeing 757 arraying a perfect platform, the airliner discerning its station, the Willson’s disembarking, descending to the unsecured lower level, Robert greeting them on their arrival. Rob’s crew cab pickup the mode of transportation to His and Nancy’s newly purchased home on Shady Glen Court a short distance to Fort Worth. Gary very much impressed with Rob’s and Nancy’s home, although not completely furnished, the beginning of a showcase, always recognizing that his son was perfectionist. The father recalling his son’s youthful days in high school, when given his Grandfather Chevrolet Blazer to drive school, Robert always kept it immaculate. A late afternoon enhancement, finally getting the experience of being introduced to Rob’s better half of life, Nancy, a lady with a radiate smile and cascading personality. The couple having a third member of the family, young in age but also having a profound personality which always got attention, a five month all Boxer pup named Lilah, another charisma in the family. The evening hour finding another association at dinner time, introduced to Nancy’s mother and two younger sisters at a charcuterie food establishment, the accumulation enjoying a meal and conversation. Gary not having spent any meaningful time with his son in the past ten years, partly because of Rob’s military career, but acknowledging Rob’s forethought at this sit down meal, an analogous introduction to Nancy’s family.
The dawning of the day, Nancy providing an enjoyable breakfast, the couple deciding on a journey to Dallas to experience, Dealy Plaza, the Texas School Book Depository, and the grassy knoll where President John F Kennedy meant his final destiny. Gary having prospected this realm 25 years earlier, but a first for Rob, Nancy and his Mother. Approaching the upper cemented pillars of the grassy knolls concave, the two couple joining others discovering a local Historian relating what transpired on that monumental day. The person, professing to be an eyewitness to the unfolding events of November 22nd, able to name those who attested as witnessing the event. The Historian affirming that Lee Harvey Oswald didn‘t act alone, concluding the assassination was a conspiracy and that Oswald was duped, being the fall guy. The Historian was very convincing in his dialogue, Gary observing people including his mother contributing money for his thirty minute discourse. This animate elderly person having found a livelihood, arraying himself on the grassy knoll each day articulating, describing very convincingly the scene of this historical event, his narration a profiteering enterprise. A walk to the Texas School Book Depository Building, the sixth floor from which Lee Harvey Oswald, according to the Warren Commissions Report fired the fatal shots depriving the country of their President, the entrance and sixth floor now a museum, the cost of observation being $13.00 per person, although interested, Gary and his itinerary deciding against participation. A sandwich lunch at a local bistro, the four returning to Rob and Nancy home, preparing for a 3 hour, 200 mile excursion to Edmond a suburb of Oklahoma City, continuing with a visit to eldest daughter Marlo and her family.
Rob putting the pedal to the metal, the crew cab pickup’s radar detector on guard duty, the 200 mile’s on Interstate 35 to Oklahoma, a 3 hour journey captured in far less time. An arrival at the Denton’s residence in Edmond, a brief visit for Rob and Nancy desiring to return to Texas. Gary biding a heartfelt farewell to his son and Nancy, realizing the bisecting distance, but hoping that one day they could once again absorb a closer epoch family association. Gary was impressed with the Edmond residence, the swimming pool, it’s acreage, the creek flowing below the house, the spacious kitchen and living room, all a marvel, but most impressive was his two Granddaughter, Allison and Hollyann, both a gleaming pyramid to the family. A Saturday morning, Ally having a weekend rehearsal for an upcoming event, Marlo providing a tour of the exclusive private Cassidy School, Gary discovering the school with its uniformed students, 80 acre lake, it’s grounds resembling a small college campus. Cassidy recognized as one of the foremost educational facilities in the nation.
Sunday morning Gary and Grandmother Betty accompanying the Denton’s, with the exception of Chris who was on duty at the fire station, to their Edmond Baptist Church. Gary most impressed by the visiting minister, the President of Oklahoma Baptist University at Shawnee Oklahoma. Having heard many latitudes and sermons in his life time, this being one of the best. Accompany the visiting speaker was a quartet of musicians from the University playing and vocalizing an outstanding performance, giving amplitude to character of this University. The Sunday afternoon at the Denton’s, found a reunion, his son Scott, Lana Norwicki and Gary’s Granddaughter Sarah, along with Tad Norwicki and his fiancé Kelly whom processed a striking resemblance to Jennifer Aniston, the congregation visiting, Gary mother finally having the opportunity to meet the Oklahoma faction of the Willson’s and their lineage. The following day, Gary having the opportunity to telephone his Oklahoma City friend of over forty years, Jerry Willis. Jerry driving to Edmond, an afternoon spent with this remarkable guitarist and twice the best man at Gary’s weddings, reminiscing their days as musicians in the 60’s.
Another evening outing, Chris providing a tour of his work place fire station and nationally acknowledged, one of a kind, Children’s Safety Village, complete with a city park, buildings, streets with traffic lights, a show place to educate the youth about safety. Chris broaching that the Children’s Village having educational school district’s from throughout the State of Oklahoma busing their students to this applauded safety inducement. Before leaving, Chris acknowledging the name Garrett Way, posted on one of village’s street signs, a tribute to Gary’s only grandson whom had risen to Heaven at the age of 12 on April 7 2001. The night ensuing the family enjoying a fiesta meal at a Mexican Restaurant, Gary discovering why it was chosen, a group of fire fighter from another station were seated at an adjoining table, this establishment a favorite of these communities guardians. Another sortie the following evening, the group acquainting Brick Town for a short duration, it’s boardwalk above the waterway canal that flowed towards a recently name changed North Canadian River, its new non historical name The Oklahoma River. An introduction to a self-help ice cream parlor presenting their product not sold by the scoop, but sold by weight, one able to sample a variety of flavors, a scale at the checkout stand providing the cost.
. It was time to journey to Wichita, Gary’s son Scott offering to navigate the elder Willson north on Interstate 35, the 160 mile trip a 2 ½ hour venture. Gary reluctantly having to relate a farewell to his daughter and grandchildren, especially Hollyann, her vigor a paramount architecture, bringing new meaning to the Denton family. His departure bringing forth an over whelming sensitivity of loss, this part of his life missing. Traversing north in Scotts aged Nissan the afternoon hour beginning, the threesome halting at Blackwell Oklahoma to partake of a McDonald’s, a halfway stop. An arrival at the Birzer residence on W. 18th in Wichita, his daughter Sandra a welcoming sight. Scott desiring an immediate U-turn, having to work that night, Gary grateful for his eldest son’s assistance, Scott the only one making frequent trips to California and Modesto thru the years to visit his Dad.
The Birzer home was inviting, a two-storied structure with a superbly finished basement entertainment and office room with a large screen LCD screen, a large sectional and Jeremy’s desk, but what was more inviting was Brennan, Gary’s grandson, whom was just beginning to walk, a smiling lively exponent reflection of Jeremy and Sandra. The morning found Sandra desiring to shop for Brennan, Gary and his mother about to enter Sandra BMW mode of transportation, when Gary noticed that above the rear fender of Jeremy’s pickup parked in the driveway, a bullet hole. Gary questioning his daughter about the abnormality, Sandra laughing, replying she wasn’t suppose to say anything about it, but her brother when visiting, his concealed handgun fell to the ground discharging, resulting in a bullet hole in Jeremy’s pickup. Sandra with Brennan firmly position in his car seat, proceeding to take Gary and his mother on a tour of Wichita . Gary discovering that Wichita had changed, it being ten years since his days of frequenting this majestic city. The evening found Jeremy adorning his culinary expertise, providing an outstanding specialty meal, including an adorning glass of wine. Jeremy, securing a day off from his employment duties, entertaining all for a luncheon engagement at a favorite bistro adjoining Old Town, a pavilion that mimicked Brick Town in Oklahoma City. The area resurrected from the old abandoned warehouse district now a showplace bordering the Arkansas River.
With a solemn feeling, departure time and a return to California having descended, Gary once more having a feeling of loss, a farewell to the meaningful people in his life. Jeremy providing transportation in the morning hour to Wichita Mid Continent Airport, Gary and his mother Betty boarding a United Airlines flight for their return journey to Modesto. Unlike the Boeing 557, non stop flight to Texas, the smaller 737 was destined to Denver, a connecting flight to San Francisco awaiting. The delay in Denver was short-lived, but during the escalator travel between gates Gary noticing that his 89 year mother didn’t look well. Questioning her about her medication, finding that her nitroglycerin patch that she was required to apply at high attitudes was never exercised, a brief halt was made, the stubborn matriarch Willson complying. Gary enjoying the flight from Denver, having traversed this journey many time before, never a monotonous journey, the scenic view from above an august array displayed below the buoyant aircraft. A gentle putdown at the San Francisco International Airport, a two-hour delay before a welcomed boarding on SkyWest, to Modesto. The traveling couple finding an interesting display at SFO, spending their waiting time enjoying an exhibit of the history of gambling slot machines, the walkway between terminals lined with these historical relics from the past. Both finding the history absorbing, stopping and reading the placard that accompanied each exhibit. The short Embraer 120 flight to Modesto was enhanced, upon arrival expecting Gary’s sister Nancy to await them, but instead to his surprise, it was Gary sister Katherine and husband Donald DeValle, whom would transport their mother home to Columbia.. The transient adventure fulfilled, Gary arriving hom, the family members having a short visit before continuing on. Gary recalling, this being only the third time in nine years that Gary’s sister Katherine who lives only 70 miles distance from Modesto had every visited. Gary giving his mom a loving parting hug, thanking her for the time they spent on their journey and their togetherness.
The news from Texas was championed by the Willson family, Rob having secured a position at Lockheed Martin as a System Engineer followed by even better news, on Oct 3, 2010, his son taking Nancy as his bride in Matrimony. Gary recalling his experience, the rush, a tidal wave of consciousness, the presence of mind and surroundings and for a brief moment, a pause, beholding the captivation of his bride, emanating an inner essence of serenity, an experience of completeness and then again, the quickening, the visual happening whisking to conclusion, it was over, the ceremony becoming a precept of history, Robert and Nancy ensuring the Willson heritage, advancing its contiguity
The years progressing, Gary finding of late, the 6:30 a.m. morning alarm sounding, no longer a welcomed friend to give notice of the morning sunrise, discovering with his 67th year of life, his avocation at Colony Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center was somewhat inveterate. But a new energizing necessity for a renewed effort coming into focus, Colony Park and the 13 facilities of Healthcare Management Corporation were transacted for purchase. The corporation showing a deficiency, rumored not to any paucity of the CEO Arden Bennett, but to the corporations CFO, persuading the board to purchase an additional three facilities of which he was a major stock holder, these facilities operating at a loss. Brad Kikuta, the vice president of Healthcare Management Corporation still resuming his position as an Administrator at Colony Park engaging Gary to make furtherance in the cosmetic appearance of the building. Gary again traversing to Home Depot, an additional spray painting appliance obtained, Brad and Gary again applying an application of paint this time to the exterior walls of the building. Brad insisting that the patio cement walks within the facility also be painted white to adhere to the facilities appearance, Gary disagreeing, knowing that once painted, you would have to paint them forever, but was over-ruled, the patio cement was painted, the two with roller and brush in hand.
Gary accepting another inspection and paper work assignment this time for a detailed analysis of the building and of all plant, medical and safety equipment, a requirement for the corporate sale. The process to include all HealthCare Management Corporation facilities, opening their fiscal, employment records, state heath and safety inspection, plus a detailed account of the exact size and physical attributes of the buildings, even to the point of carpeted and tiled space, all part of what Gary learned was Due Diligence. An inventory of office equipment, resident beds, soon discovering a regulation violation that the facility was never cited for because of a building inspection grandfather clause. There were no (GFI) ground fault circuit interrupter sockets in the kitchen or faculties bathrooms. Because of the sale, the grandfather clause was void, the standard would have to be met, discovering that his exertion having just begun. Other changes included the replacement of the floor tile in the conference room and business offices with carpet squares. Thru the years Gary having befriended the owners of Johnson Rug Company, Dennis Pankow, his wife Sue and Daughter Kim, purchasing all the facilities tile and carpet necessities from their establishment. Brad requiring a replacement of all the 1960’s nine inch tiles, with 12 inch vinyl in the 37 resident and rooms. Gary suspected the reason for the in-house work replacement was because a possibility the tiles contained asbestos. A remembrance of the 1980’s at the South Barber Grade School, when school superintendent Glenn Piper had a concern about an up coming asbestos inspection, the old downstairs shower room beneath the gym having open deteriorating asbestos insulated pipes. Gary taking upon himself, removing all tale-telling signs, securing that no asbestos would be found. The same problem was found when employed at the Anthony Hospital, Gary again taking several day to encapsulate all the asbestos piping with an authorized paint, knowing the cost of an outside contractor would be enormous. At Colony Park Gary finding himself in the daily routine of removing the furniture from a room, using a floor tile scraper, a shovel looking device, removing the old tile, spending time on his hands and knees with a hammer and chisel , discovering the adhesive cemented vinyl tiles sometimes difficult to remove. Once removed, the floor buffed with a gritted pad, vacuumed, troweled with the new adhesive, letting it cure, before exacting and placing the new tiles, remaining was the adhesion of new baseboard and the replacing of the furniture. Brad, the Facility Administration a volunteered participant, experiencing for first time, the art of laying floor tile, the face lifting of Colony Park becoming a realization because of the intended sale and impending due diligence.
The employee’s effort was not in vain, Country Villa, the largest privately owned procurer of Nursing Homes in the State of California, a corporation with over 50 nursing homes contracting to buy all of the corporations facilities. A curiosity was building within the facility of what changes the new management would bring, the status and adjustments in personal, all questionable. Brad assuring all during a department supervisors meeting that the transition would be amenable and he would remain as a temporary administrator, disclosing to the group that he was the only Healthcare Management Corporate Board employee ask to sign on with Country Villa and would be assuming responsibilities as Vice President in charge of Country Villa’s Northern Region, including the newly acquired facilities. Gary recognizing that changes would be a certainty, it was soon apparent as 17 advisors from the Country Villa Corporation accented on their new acquisition. Immediately noting the difference between his association with the confidante of people whom he known for years and the healthcare professionals from Southern California. Gary finding his position as Environmental Service Director would no longer be envisioned, Country Villa hiring outside contractors for Housekeeping, Janitorial and Laundry, Gary’s would revert to his original position of eight years ago, Maintenance and Safety Director. As Environmental Service Director he was just one of only three Colony Park employees salaried, the Administrator, Director of Nursing and his position, once again required to join the ranks of those punching the time clock.
Brad Kikuta was somewhat candor, giving the department’s supervisors a briefing about the assets of the Country Villa Corporation and the upcoming restructuring and improvements to the fifty year old building. First on the agenda was a replacement of the HVAC system. Gary taking an instrumental part, recommending to Brad that he consider awarding the contract to Valley Air in Fresno, whom had installed the previous HVAC cogeneration units in the 90’s, mentioning Tobbie Bigelone the artful character founder of Valley Air and his animate presentation, noting that Tobbie had passed. Gary having maintained a good relationship with the Fresno company’s service personal, John and Brandon, whom covered the northern area of California, the two always giving Colony Park priority when called upon. Brad being questioned by Country Villa for not taking bids, but according the contract to Valley Air, a proven reliable company. Six weeks into the Country Villa acquisition, Brad giving notice of another change, he would no longer continue as the Administrator, but would continue to maintain an office in the building fulfilling his positions as a Country Villa Vice President for Northern California.
Once again during a department supervisors meeting Brad giving the supervisors a heads-up on the new facility administrator, Rashmi Birla, her husband Rajnsh, a physician having acquired a position with Kaiser Permanente in Modesto. Brad making a point that this lady was an Alpha, “type A” on the Jacob Goldsmith theory of personalities, aggressive, ambitious, business like, a completive and time conscious person, and in Gary’s opinion, probably unlike Brad’s “Type B” personality, patient, relaxed, easygoing and sensitive Upon meeting Rashmi, Gary finding her not an Alpha personality but a “B+”, a young knowledgeable lady, very striking in appearance with admirable business experiences in Nursing-Home Healthcare. The new Administrator coming across as an understandable person who would listen and someone you could talk to with ease, but always firm in her directives. The change of corporate management beginning to have an affect on Gary, a loss of initiative, a lack of ambition, no longer a focal participant in this larger corporate structure, especially when acquainting the dozen Southern California Corporate Department Representatives that ascended their new Modesto facility . A hard decision was in the making, it was retirement time. Gary given notice that it would be in the best interest of Country Villa to find a replacement, offering to remain however long it took to familiarize someone to fulfill his position. A much younger person, Tony was employed, somewhat knowledgeable as a fix-it person, but having no logic when addressing the mechanical systems of the building and the equally important aspect of the position, the paper work, the logging of the monthly inspections of all Plant equipment required by Medicare and the State. Gary instilling in him the need for a morning walk thru of the facility, grasping obvious or potential problems for the day. Working with Tony several months, the young man more interested in the young “CNA’S” than performing his duties. Tony’s extracurricular activities becoming manifold, a separation from his wife, the facility administrator Rashmi taking notice, a reprimand was enhanced. Gary’s retirement date was approaching when Rashmi requested his presence, notifying him the Tony had just given his notice and had enlisted in the Army, requesting Gary to remain until another suitable person could be found .
The interviewing process enfolded once again for several weeks, Brad and Rashmi doing the interrogating for a maintenance person, the position of Safety Director no longer included. Another fix-it person, Alex was hired, much like Tony in ability, not able to grasp the importance of documentation, but able to change fluorescent bulbs, ballast, snake the sewer lines, repair electric beds, but having no knowledge of HVAC, fire alarm system, the kitchen or medical equipment, Gary again spending his time trying to educate an apprentice. His retirement date having finally arrived, bidding a farewell to Country Villa and its corporate entity, no longer a clock to dictating the start of his day. The assuage lasting but three months, when the telephone rang, Gary recognizing the voice, it was Rashmi again asking if he could return and resume his position, adding that Alex performance was unacceptable and she had just terminated his employment. Gary’s affirming her request, his 6:30 a.m. clock reset, a Country Villa routine beginning once again as the facility began another search mode. After weeks of interviews, a person of interest was found having nursing home experience, previously employed at the Manteca Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Scott possessing a Contractor License and a skilled carpenter, but again when questioned about kitchen, laundry, medical equipment and major plant systems, he enumerated the Manteca facility contracted most of it out. Gary doing his best to foster Scotts mechanical expertise on “the what, where and how” of Country Villa‘s plant systems and the need for documentation that was required, Gary recognizing this younger person having the potential to fulfill the position, a sense of confidence in Scott’s ability to learn.
May 29, 2009, a final day at Country Villa, having attained 68 years resiliency of life and for third time making an attempt to retire from his occupational perspicacity, Gary entering the business office to cede a farewell to Joanie Peel the Business Office Manager. Joanie stopping him, imparting that he shouldn’t leave just yet, grabbing his arm, leading him into the conference room. Seated before him was Rashmi and all the department supervisors, and many others, a large cake and refreshments adorning the long conference room table, Gary was taken aback, caught without words, receiving an unexpected going away gift, their presence and acknowledgement, his fellow workers and friends wishing him well in his retirement.
Finding no rush to check out of the Holland Hotel in the morning, Gary trekking to the lobby to secure the pastries provided, gathering a diet Pepsi for Fran and a cup of coffee for himself awaiting their conveyance to the Renaissance Meadowland Hotel, Fran’s high school classmate Vicki and husband Sal Mattessich accommodating the Willsons’. The Mattessich’s having accomplished a 380 mile journey from Hubbard Ohio to celebrate the forty-year reunion of Hoboken High‘s class of 1966. Departing the Holland Hotel, Sal at the helm, the car and the two couples traversing the highway to Rutherford and the Meadowland Hotel, located a mile from Giants Stadium, home of the National Football New York Giants. Gary enjoying the excursion, finding humorous entertaining moments during peregrinations, Vicki administering corrections to Sal’s driving, whom as a truck driver most of his life was quite confident, Sal apparently used to his wife‘s comments, taking it all in stride. Arriving at the Meadowland Hotel their reservations confirmed, the desk clerk noting Fran’s name, asserting that a Bob Santangelo had inquired about her, Bob a Hoboken High classmate
The wives requesting a return visit to Hoboken , Gary and Sal listeners as Fran and Vicky conversed traversing down Washington Street, designated by the locals as “The Avenue”. Fran anointed as a native of Hoboken, espousing from a working mother and her father upholding a family tradition as a member of the Postal Service. Her grandfather William E.J. Harriot a postmaster, the Hoboken Postal Branch named in his honor. The town having evolved, the primary residence of the past, the 3 & 4 storied walk-up apartments now converted into exclusive condominiums with elevators, Fran discerning that this wasn’t the Hoboken she grew up in. The travelers stopping at Stans Sporting Goods a convience from the past, Gary now sporting a Hoboken Red Wings hat. A second stop at the Hoboken City Museum, the entrance inside a walk thru alcove on Hudson St., a single hostess seated at a desk welcoming them. Gary perceiving the historic photographs of the military shipyard repair docks from both World War I and II. Posted was a tribute to the once proud factories of Lipton Tea, Maxwell House Coffee, Standard Brands, Hostess, Todd Shipyard, the infamous Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and the historic Delaware, Lackawanna and Western train station, all from a past era enhancing this communities of one square mile in area. Hoboken a paramount contributor to the commence of the nation, but its industrial presence no longer standing, just a footnote in its historical past.
The couples partaking of some nutrient substance before their scheduled journey to the high school, a welcome sign greeting the returning graduates the building and classrooms open for the alumni. Filing into the auditorium for a brief welcoming from the school officials the class dispersing to once again walk the halls of memory. The remembrance a peregrinations of this assemblage, the classmates exchanging the anamneses of rooms and teachers and specific events of forty years ago. Gary a witness to the afterthoughts of those who cherished the past and the throes of youthful exuberance. The high school tour fulfilled, the two couples and most of the touring group journeying the two blocks to the High School athletic field, the Red Wings football team hosting the Emerson Cavaliers. A special area cordoned off for the 1966 alumni. The school band playing the national anthem, the public address announcer presenting special recognition to the attendance of the alumni. Gary a high school football enthusiast soon discovering that the Red Wings team was in a different league than the struggling Cavaliers, a slight rain beginning in the second half, but like true Red Wings fans staying to the conclusion, the Red Wings winning the game, 61-0, a gift to the attending alumni. The evening events coming to a conclusion, Sal and Vicki returning the couple the Meadowland Renaissance Hotel and an appreciative nights sleep, the morrow reunion festivities awaiting.
Gary dressing for the occasion, attired in suit and tie, Fran in her finest, the Willson’s perambulated into the Meadowland Hotels large convention center, Gary rather surprised at the number in attendance. The dimmed lighting and music of the sixties resonating, a free beverage bar which include the usual alcohol, but included champagne and vintage wines. An unbelievable buffet, including calamari and escargot, Gary immediately discerning the difference between the lavished east coast buffet, and a west coast one. Fran acquainting many fellow students that she hadn’t contemplated in years, jointing classmates Fran Sneyers, Karen Jensen, Nicky and Rita Herr, and of course Vicki and Sal, the group all seated at a large table, her friend Bobby Santanglo making his presence known. Gary being introduced to the amenities from Fran’s past, including the current Hoboken Chief of Police, Carmen LaBruno. The evening progressed with recognition given to the person traveling the longest distance, being Hawaii and the person with the most grandchildren, which surprisingly was the Willson’s. The evening coming to a conclusion, an elevator ride to their room, the couple weary, but dexterous for their return home.
The morning dawning, Fran and Gary meeting again with Sal and Vicki whom generously proffer their transportation to the Newark Liberty International Airport, a Boeing 757, awaiting the Willson’s flight home. The couple having a discussion about a stay in Denver for a day, Fran desiring to acquaint a long time special friend. John Madden, whom for over the past thirty years was a practicing attorney, their friendship beginning in the 60’s when he was a member of the acclaimed Serendipity Singers. The prestigious 757 lifting off the ground, Gary able to see the illustrious observance of Hoboken and the island of Manhattan and New York City, the remembrance of this visit forever leonine, a memory not to be forgotten. Reaching the throes of the morning blue sky, the winged vessel heading westward, the magnificent view of the terrain passing beneath the expeditious aircraft, Gary as usual, a sentinel of flight , mesmerized by the flow of the earths contour, its splendor a captivating scene, the hours passing as an abeyance.
An arrival at Denver International Airport, the largest area airport in the United Sates, providing landing of over 600, 000 aircraft per year, but not a hub for any major airline with the exception of low-cost Frontier Airlines which caters to only 76 destinations. The weather was rainy, Gary and Fran having made no advance plans for a stay in Denver, somewhat weary, deciding to postpone a stop-over, electing to fulfill their flight plans boarding their scheduled United Airlines flight and continue on to San Francisco. The 737 United flight from Denver to the west coast was one of familiarly, Gary once again affixed to window, absorbing the wonders of flight, descending over the north bay area on its final approach, the 737 setting down on runway 10R, their journey about completed. An hour wait then boarding a United Express Embraer 120 turbo prop, the last leg of their flight. Again the familiar terrain of the Altamont Pass and the Central Valley coming into view, their journey to Modesto fulfilled, all that remained was the taxi ride home.
The morning hour at the Days Inn in Vineland New Jersey found Gary and Fran without transportation, but within walking distance of Denny’s, acquiring a breakfast before checking out. Securing their luggage, the couple journeying four blocks to the Vineland Transportation System Terminal on W. Landis Ave awaiting a New Jersey Transit Bus to Atlantic City. Gary attempting to recall the last time he had traveled on a commercial bus line for any distance, adjudging it must have been in 1979, during his families residential move from Oklahoma City to Kiowa Kansas. The Willson family 1979 departure from Oklahoma City, leasing a rental truck to transport their furnishings, the truck unloaded in Kiowa and returned to the company in Alva Oklahoma. Gary boarding a bus to Oklahoma City to retrieve the rest of their possessions loaded on a trailer attached to his car. The New Jersey Transit Bus traveling experience was a pleasure, after all these years of being a driver, one could sit back and enjoy the scenery a spectator to the passing scenery. Arriving in Atlantic City, there was no hesitation, the Willson’s able to dismount one bus and immediately embark another bound for the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. The bus traversing on the Garden City Parkway, a 2 ½ hour, 125 mile excursion, a view of the New Jersey shoreline abundant for many mile before adjoining Interstate 95, the skyline of New York City soon coming into view.
The Port Authority building, located between 40th and 42nd street, the largest bus station in the world, over 7,200 buses per week line up to take on passengers, the couple disembarking desiring to find the light-rail to the Holland Hotel in Hoboken. Asking a cab driver to convey their need, discovering a short trip of four blocks, Fran finding herself on familiar grounds from her youthful ventures to New York City. Gary impressed with the thrive of the New York City people, their hustle and bustle, an attitude of purpose, their hurried venture in pursuit of goals, the spirit of America. The subway entrance to Hoboken being on the same block as Grand Central Station, the name a misnomer, mislead by Hollywood as it’s it’s not a station stop but the starting and ending of subway lines officially know as Grand Central Terminal. Gary desiring to see the wondrous architectural structure, the building consuming 48 acres of land, with two levels below ground, 41 tracks on the first below ground level, platforms and 26 tracks on the second. The structure having started construction in 1903, a new additions completed in 1913 . The building consuming many restaurants, shops and galleries, Gary marveling that the builder of this hundred year old pavilion could never have realized they were builting a prototype of today’s modern Mall.
The street entrance to the subway was like entering an underground cavern of walkways, much to Gary’s surprise tickets were available from a vending machines and even more surprising, the tickets were only $2.00 per person. A directory giving the visitors a track number, the posted walk way signs providing directions to their intended platform. The subway light-rail arriving, boarding a car was a reminisce from scenes of Hollywood Productions, Gary experiencing déjà vu, he had done this before, knowing the possibility was from the life time of movies he had viewed and his childhood memory of taking the A Train to San Francisco. Crossing beneath the Hudson River, the first station stop being Holland Station in New Jersey, the couple exiting with baggage in hand, knowing that the Holland Hotel/Motor Lodge was within a four blocks radius but not sure where. Approaching a parked cab to inquirer the directions to the Hotel, the driver predicating an offer to drive them the short distance. The Hotels second floor accommodations were exceptional, a window view of the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, Gary watchful of six lanes of traffic funneling down to the two lanes for entrance to the Holland Tunnel, a traffic officer attempting to direct the halting rush hour six lanes of traffic, astounded that it could be accomplished. The room vantage point also provided an across the river observation of the skyline of New York City and since 9-11 the Empire State Building now presiding over that domain. The couple soon discovering that the Lodge not accommodating a formal provider of nutrient syubstance, finding a necessity to locate a food establishment, discovering a Burger King subsistence but a block away.
A wakeup call, the Holland providing morning coffee and donuts and to greet a New York City Tour Bus, the day long tour to unfold. Gary not surprised discovering the touring convenience a retired MTA bus, the couple seated across from the bus driver. Gary finding himself in conversation with their chauffeur, the driver proclaiming himself as a boxing enthusiast, Gary relating his past indulgence of the sport, the bus driver expelling the time he was in the ring with Hector Camacho as a sparing partner and winning the session. Gary coming back with the story of Milo Savage during the fifties, the only fighter on TV to tell his opponent that his shoes were untied, his opponent looking down, then blasting him. Sitting across from the New Jersey bus driver, the conversation an enjoyable congruous tactility. The first hour of travel spent making several stops acquiring the other twenty members of the tour. Arriving in New York City, a brief hesitation at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan to acquire the Tour Guide, a prestigious black man in his fifties, who had a delightful personality, proclaiming that he was an actor performing in Off-Broadway Productions and appearing in many of the Law & Order television programs as an extra that were filmed in New York City. Gary could sense from his character, he was for real.
The first touring stop, Central Park, the bus stopping on the Central Park Way and W 72nd, across from the Dakota Hotel where John Lennon meant his demise at the hands of Mark David Chapman. The tourist group being conducted to the 22 acres of The Central Park Lake, a small portion of 845 acres of Central Park. The Guide giving notice of the extensive walking and bridle paths, a zoo, two ice skating areas, an amphitheater, the six miles of circular drives and the many conservative gardens, plus an 106 acre reservoir maintaining a hundred billion gallons of water named after Jacquelyn Onassis Kennedy, the fresh water reservoir decommissioned as a water source was no longer needed. Gary having realization that this was more than a park, but the privileged city pride of New Yorker’s. The refreshing experience concluded, boarding the tour bus once again for a stop at St Patrick’s Cathedral, the group embarking on an “on your own tour”. Gary entering the structure alone, Fran not wanting to accompany him, the historic landmark awe-inspiring Cathedral capturing his attention. The structure started in 1858, but not completed until 1879, the civil war and its aftermath causing a delay. The visitor experiencing a historical presence walking in this prominent house of worship, over 5 million people per year entering this realm. Gary, camera in hand taking pictures, walking towards the sanctuary, a feeling of deity, the dimmed lighting, the ornamental and august pillars giving a reflection of holiness. Stopped in the sanctuary, being told that pictures were forbidden in this area, the epistle was given to late, Gary having already snapped his picture.
Embarking the tour bus again, the next stop was Rockefeller Center, a 19 building complex started in 1930,s in Midtown Manhattan between 5th and 6th Avenue and 48th and 51st street, the complex composing 22 acre of Midtown, the Radio City Music Hall being constructed in 1932 on 50th street, the 70 storied Rockefeller Plaza Building, its Art Deco appearance being erected. Gary having witness the skating rink at Rockefeller Center in many movies, remembering how capacious it looked, a remembrance from the admirable movie Love Story with Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw but discovering the skating rink just a pittance in size of what was proclaimed on the big screen. Again the tour continued, a journey thru New York City China Town, the guide host pointing out points of interest. Entering the infamous Greenwich Village, Gary recalling the names of some of those musician whom found their beginnings there, a road to fame, Bob Dylan, Barbara Streisand, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Serendipity Singers, Simon and Garfunkel, the Kingston Trio, all frequenting appearances at the Bitter End, the Café Au Go Go, the Gaslight Café and the Café Wha? The heritage of this part of New York City, The Village, an Icon and a chronicle in music history
The tour continuing, Ground Zero, Gary somewhat disappointed, no temporary memorials dedicated to those whom had lost their lives, just a chain link fence to stare down at the bleak concrete resolving the once below ground plaza’s and terminals, the construction site a cold ambitious scene to those from afar that had never witnessed the Twin Towers standing. Traversing the final journey aboard the New York City Tour Bus, an excursion to Liberty Park and the Ellis Island Terminal, a magnificent station from the past. The monumental Victorian terminal built in 1889, a train station terminal consisting of 20 tracks and 16 boarding station, where upwards of 9 to 12 million immigrants from Ellis Island finally discovered their destiny, the station discontinued in 1969. Gary observing the boarding platforms and tracks now overgrown with weeds, many of the 20 railroad tracks no longer presence, a 1920 scene resonating with him, his mind picturing the past, the station bustling with activity, filled with those from abroad looking for an opportunity to find a new life. Outside the Victorian terminal, the once used docking area for many the ferry boats applied during that earlier era now sitting empty today, but for the two used for Ellis and Liberty Island Circle Line Tour Cruise.
Boarding a tourist Circle Line passenger ferry, Ellis Island its first destination, the wind cascading up the Hudson River from the Atlantic giving them the feeling of natures presence, the appearance of Ellis Island, the sight a presence of promise to the many that had come before them. Disembarking, no tour guide, but left to sunder and explore this relic from the past on their own. The luncheon hour having past, finding within this monument of the past a continence of fast food cuisine, the couple partaking of its opportunity. Gary impressed with the displays and pictures from this landmark of American History, walking the halls, absorbing renaissance of a hundred years, observing and reading the trials of the many who had converged, the inscriptions of the past generations, finding enlightenment passing thru this wondrous building that was structured in 1892, it’s demise in 1954. The building vacated left unattended and deteriorating for eleven years, when au courant people took notice and pursued a national museum endeavor, a gift to America.
The continuance of adventure, the couple once again claiming passage on the tourist passenger ferry, soon approaching Liberty Island, a scant ¾ of a mile from the departed Ellis Island. A majestic panoramic scene from their floating endeavor, the symbol of American freedom beginning to loom in the foreground, The Statue of Liberty, its 305 foot shadowing presence beholding, cascading an overwhelming feeling of patriotism and awe for all to see. The docking embarkation, the couple journeying to the Liberty Island Museum, absorbing its history, the 14 ½ acre island once proclaimed as Oyster Island in the 1600, because of the perfusion oysters found by the early settlers. Gary aware of the fishing endeavors of the 1600‘s, a Willson arriving in Massachusetts Bay in 1628 with other Scottish conscripts aboard a British sailing vessel. An added name to the future Liberty Island landmark was Bedloe’s Island, a private summer residence of Archibald Kennedy, the Earl of Cassils in the 1700’s and later during the Revolutionary and War 1812 it becoming a military bastion named Fort Wood, its relic finally being dismantled in 1944. Gary and Fran circling the icon statue, but because of renovation work were unable to traverse the stairway upward within the celebrated monument. Standing before the Lady of Liberty instilled an everlasting remembrance, acknowledging the sight of it was an inspiration not only to those who stood in its presence today but to the millions who traveled here with a hope for a new beginning. Once again boarding the Circle Line ferry, to return to the illustrious Victorian Terminal, the boat docking at one of its many no longer used ferry slips. The Willson’s awaiting their New York City tour bus and a return to the Holland Hotel, a conclusion of their one day tour of New York City, the purpose of their journey to continue.
It was Fran’s 40th high school class reunion in Hoboken New Jersey and the celebrated journey was about to begin, Gary much prompted about the venture having never been to the east coast. Arriving at an early morning hour at the Modesto Airport a SkyWest United Airlines Embraer 120 airliner awaiting, the prop driving aircraft prepared to transport the couple to the San Francisco International Airport, the flight from San Francisco to Denver the first leg of their easterly journey. Gary still very much impressed with flying even though his introduction to commercial aviation was 47 years earlier as an 18-year-old soldier on his way to Oklahoma. It always astonished him how matter of fact passengers took air travel, often found himself the only person on board an air craft with an interest in the scenic wonder thru the window, the scenic flowing presentation pictured below, a painted exhibition captured on a wondrous canvas known as mother-earth.
Arriving at the new Denver International Airport, having addressed the old Stapleton Airport in past years, recalling how the planes would be lined up because of weather, the snow falling, crossing over an over-pass constructed to access a runway. A brief layover enabling lunch before boarding the United flight to Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshal International Airport in Baltimore Maryland. The Boeing 757 flight from Denver to BWI was without incident, Gary enjoying the extended air time abiding at a window seat with the conturing earth passing beneath him the scenic site still a marvel of justification, an entity of breath-taking wonder from 37,000 feet. An overhead announcement of arrival, the 757 swooping down from it loft, aligning it’s approach, gently touching down at the Baltimore Airport. The couple embarking from the secure upper level, waiting at the foot of the escalator was Fran’s eldest brother Ray. An introduction to the patriarch of the Harriot family, the elder Harriot taking off from his employment with The NSA, the National Security Agency for the United State Department of Defense. Exiting the aerodrome complex, a 30 minute drive from the Airport to the Harirot’s residence in Laurel Maryland, an impressive home, the Willson’s invitied to spend two nights with their host. Ray and his wife Jan proffering an excursion to Washington DC in the morning, Gary enthused at the prospect of touring the nation’s capital,
The dawning of the new day, the foursome journeying to Washington DC, the Capital and the National Mall. Ray having spent a beneficial part of his life working in and around the Capital having no difficulty acquiring an indoor parking area within walking distance of their objective. The group able to see the White House, corded off since the 9-11, the couples starting their tour just west of the presidential residence, a 1.9 mile walk to encompass all the reaches of the Mall grounds. The visitors discovering the other Mall visitors a diversified group, tourist, joggers, employees on a lunch break and organized groups playing football. Ray as tour guide and his guest approaching the Washington Monument, the 555 foot obelisk built of granite, marble and blue stone gneiss, the construction of the memorial starting in 1848 and the cap stone crowning finally being placed in 1884. Continuing their journey on the Mall, coming upon the World War II reflections pool with its cascading fountains, stopping to read the inscriptions. On to the newest Memorial addition cannonizing those veterans of the Korean War, again taking a temporal length of time to view the presence of their enshrinement. Standing in grove of trees, another memorial, its rotunda endowed pillars giving tribute to the 2 million Americans having spanned the ocean during the first world war.
The far reaches of the National Mall found the prestigious Memorial whom Gary had envisioned thru out his life, the Lincoln Memorial. Gary singularly venturing up the steps to the monument, the others of his coalition observing from below, the presence of Abraham Lincoln, his ingrained stone effigy sitting in a chair not just a monument, but a signature of the stature of America. Gary resonating on the works and words that this great president had spoken, standing alone within the privilege of Lincoln’s presence, no one to distract his thoughts, a rumination of history prevailing, Abraham Lincolns life long dedication to our country and to the ascendancy that stands before his memorial today. Joining the other, a retention from the Lincoln Memorial, a return journey towards the Capital Building, the south side of the National Mall encompassed a tribute to those who contributed in the Vietnam Conflict. Once again Gary, journeying down a black marble structured pathway with the names of those who had fallen in battle during the Vietnam conflict. Fran excluding herself, not wanting to partake of the wall, having graduated from High School in 1966, many of her friends having been drafted for the war in Vietnam, her acquaintances names being engraved on the wall.
A walk back to the parking garage, a visit to the Smithsonian remaining on the agenda. The Smithsonian composed of 19 complex’s, Gary realizing they could spend days exploring the depth of its realm, a decision being made to choose a single complex. The late afternoon to be spent at the Air and Space pavilion, it’s premise displaying everything from Charles W Lindberg’s “the Spirit of St. Louis “ tethered from the ceiling , to the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle missions and an array of aircraft thru the generations. The many exhibits capturing a substantial amount of time, Gary ready to exit the touring cortège, Ray and the others all in agreement. With the wondrous day coming to a conclusion, a return to Maryland was incurred. Once returning to the Harriot’s residence, the evening hour finding a visit from Fran’s brother Bob whom she hadn’t seen in years, Bob hosting a lady friend named Sarah. Gary now having the opportunity to meet both of Fran’s older brother, recognizing the congeniality that resided within the family.
The dawning of a Maryland morning, Fran’s sister-in-law Jan preparing a commendable breakfast, fuel for an adventurous day, the foursome journeying to Gettysburg Pennsylvania. The highway beckoned, Gary noticing the difference between the major highways in the east and those in California. The area bordering the roadway traversing to Pennsylvania were manicured, mowed, free from trash, a far cry from the major highways in the State of California his birthright home. The Welfare State a populace haven for many of the misfits of the world, those that protest the teachings of morality, religion and the rule of law, the unkempt trash laden highways of California a visual testimonial to some of its citizenry. An arrival at the Gettysburg National park, the two couples entering the Battlefield National Museum. The nine room museum exhibiting artifacts from the Civil War, the uniforms, armament, and photo excerpts from the era, but most impressive to Gary was the Battlefield Auditorium. The auditorium, a large room with benches raised above and looking down upon a large tabled epitome of the battle of Gettysburg, the two opposing army’s, their positions highlighted with different colored light. As the simulated battle progressed, the lights would give action to their battlefield positions, a representation of what transpired in 1863. Gettysburg being the bloodiest battle ground of the Civil War. The quarter where Union Major General George Meade’s Army of the Potomac engaged Confederate General Robert E Lee’s Army of Virginia. The three-day battle commencing on July 1, 1863, resulting in 57,225 casualties, North and South divided, but all Americans. The iconic Gettysburg address by Lincoln given 4 1/2 months after the battle for a dedication of The Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg.
. The Willson’s, Harriot’s and a tourist group all accompanying a park guide, enjoying his commentary, sundering up the gentle raises of the terrain, acquainting the cemetery, standing before the many monuments and overlooking the historic Gettysburg battleground. Gary finding an acquiesce of solitude, realizing the chronicles of significance that had transpired on this hallowed ground, the ora of what transpired still remaining. The afternoon sun beginning to twain, the return from this accolade of American History was enhanced, a return to Harriot residence in Maryland. The evening spent in anticipation of the morrow, Ray and Jan to provide Gary and Fran with transportation to Vineland New Jersey, a distance of 130 miles for a paramount visit with Fran’s Cousin Rhoda. The long drive finding Ray and Jan staying just long enough to convey their greeting having 2 ½ hour of apprehensive road travel for their return.
Gary and Fran taking pleasure in their visit to Rhoda’s fashionable trailer park abode, Gary impressed with her Willie Nelson Wall, a portrait of the acclaimed musician, and other tributes, Rhoda a proclaimed fan having met Willie at a concert in Jackson New Jersey and of course Gary mentioned that he had performed with Willie in Wichita Falls Texas in the sixties. Willie performing at the Wichita Falls Auditorium, he and several other well-known western musicians cavalcade to the club where Gary and The Untouchables were playing. Willie, a clean-shaven and suite and tie attired musician sitting in, Jerry Willis the guitar player with the Untouchables commenting that the young Willie had worst timing for a musician that he had ever worked with, a trait that would soon become his trademark. Rho’s was a perfect hostess, preparing a meal, Fran recalling remembrance’s from the prior years, Rhoda’s Brother Tate making an unexpected appearance, another cousin presenting a prevalence. Fran discovering that Rhoda’s sister Dottie was within walking distance, another visit to someone from her past.
The evening starting to dawn, Gary and Fran aware that their journey for the reunion had to continue. Rho driving them to downtown Vineland to the Days Inn Motel within walking distance of the Bus Station to fulfill their journey to New York City, and Hoboken. The evening at the motel, Gary discovering after the first knock at the door something wasn’t right, a black man asking for a person. The second knock at eleven o’clock, another person asking for someone. Gary walking down to the motel office, approaching the night clerk, curious of why these unknown people were knocking at his door, suspecting that this motel and the room He and Fran were staying in may have something to do with drugs. Gary requesting a room change but the night clerk declining, saying he would inform the Police and request drive-by’s for the rest of that night. Upon Gary’s return to the room giving his wife reassurance for her concern, Fran laughing with an announcement “Welcome to New Jersey”.