Archive for February, 2012

A Hoboken Class Reunion……..#267…( 2006)

February 23, 2012
Frances Marion (Harriott) Willson

Frances Marion (Harriot) Willson

Finding no rush to check out of the Holland Hotel in the morning,  Gary trekking to the lobby to secure the complimentary pastries provided, gathering a diet Pepsi for Fran and a cup of coffee for himself awaiting their conveyance to the Renaissance Meadowlands 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 attend the forty-year reunion of Hoboken High‘s class of 1966.   Departing the Holland Hotel,  Sal at the helm,  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 and Jets.   Gary enjoying the excursion,  finding entertaining humorous moments during their peregrination,  Vicki administering corrections to Sal’s driving,  whom as a truck driver most of his life was quite able,  Sal apparently used to his wife’s comments,  taking it all in stride.   Arriving at the Renaissance Meadowlands 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.

Frans mother Gladys

Frans mother Gladys

A young Francis Harriot

Fran’s father whom she was named after – Francis Marion Harriot

Francis Harriot in postal uniform

Elderly Frank Harriot in postal uniform

Gladys Marie Harriot

A somewhat older Gladys Helen Harriot

 

Hoboken Post Office branch named for William E.J. Harriot after Sinatra's demise

Hoboken Post Office branch named for William E.J. Harriot changed to Sinatra after the stars demise

Hoboken Post Office Letterhead

Hoboken Post Office Letterhead

The wives requesting a return visit to  Hoboken ,  Gary and Sal listeners as Fran and Vicky conversed traversing down Washington Street,  designated by the two locals as “The Avenue”.   Fran  anointed as a native of Hoboken, espousing from a full-time working mother and a father that upholded a family occupation as a member of the Postal Service.   Her grandfather William E.J. Harriot a Hoboken Postmaster, the Hoboken Postal Branch named in his honor.  The town having currently evolved from its past, the once primary residence of  3 & 4 storey 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 Stan’s Sporting Goods a convenience still remaining 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, the town just a footnote of its historic past.

Stan's Sporting Goods a school days rememberance

Stan’s Sporting Goods a school days remembrance

The quaint Hoboken City Museum

The quaint Hoboken City Museum

Class of 1966

Class of 1966

Fran and Vicki

Fran and Vicki

The couples stopping for a bite to eat then onto the high school open house, a welcome sign posted greeting the returning graduates,  the building and classrooms awaiting the alumni.    Filing into the auditorium for a welcoming ceremony from the school officials the class dispersing to once again walk the halls of memory.   The assemblage, the classmates exchanging the anamneses of rooms and teachers and specific events of forty years ago,  Gary a meaningful 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 they stayed to its 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.

The Meadowland Hotel

The  Renaissance  Hotel

Gary dressing for the occasion, attired in suit and tie,  Fran in her finest,  the Willson’s perambulated downstairs from their room 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 catered 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 Santangelo 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 alumni with the most grandchildren, which surprisingly was the Fran.   The evening coming to a conclusion,  an elevator ride to their room,  the couple weary, but dexterous for their return home.

Newarks Liberty International Airport

Newark’s Liberty International Airport

Victoria Mattesschi

Victoria Mattessich

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 their flight home.  The couple for the second time discussing about a stay in Denver for a day,  Fran in the past 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 earth’s 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 States,  providing landings 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 once again a factor for the couple to postpone a layover, thunderstorm and rain,  electing once again to postpone their visit, 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 before boarding a United Express Embraer 120 turboprop,  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.

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A One Day Tour of New York City….266 .. ( 2006)

February 16, 2012
Not Grayhound but New Jersey Transit Authority bus...

Not Greyhound but New Jersey Transit Authority bus…

The morning hour at the Days Inn in Vineland New Jersey found Gary and Fran 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, then changing buses for New York 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 residential move from Oklahoma City with a rental truck to Kiowa Kansas, taking a bus back to Oklahoma City to retrieve the rest of the 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, able to  sit back and enjoy the scenery as a spectator.  Arriving in Atlantic City,  there was no hesitation,  the couple able to dismount one bus and immediately embark another bound for the Port Authority 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.

Port Authority Building New York City

Port Authority Building New York City

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central much like a mall

Grand Central much like a mall

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  Fran back on familiar ground 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 known as Grand Central Terminal.   Gary in no hurry 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 builders of this hundred year old pavilion could never have visualized they were building a prototype of today’s modern Mall.

The Holland Hotel & entrance to the tunnel

The Holland Hotel & entrance to the tunnel

The view of the Empire State Building

The Empire State Building from Hoboken

The street entrance to the subway was  like entering an underground cavern of walkways,  much to Gary’s surprise subway tickets were available from a vending machines and even more surprising,  the tickets were only $2.00 per person.    A directory providing  a track number,  the posted walkway signs providing directions to their intended platform.   With subway light-rail arrival entering the car Gary experienced déjà vu, it was like a scenes from a Hollywood Productions,  it was like he had done this before, but knowing it had to be caused by a lifetime of  viewing movies or possibly his childhood memory of the taking the A Train across the bay bridge to San Francisco. The couple seated,  crossing beneath the Hudson River, the first stop being the Holland Station in New Jersey, exiting with baggage in hand, knowing that the Holland Hotel/Motor Lodge was within a four blocks radius  but not sure which direction.   Approaching a parked cab to inquirer the directions to the Hotel,  the driver predicating an offer to drive them the short distance.   Checking in, the hotels second floor accommodations were exceptional,  a window view of the entrance to the Holland Tunnel.  Gary somewhat intrigued, watchful of six lanes of traffic funneling down to the two lanes for entrance to the Holland, a traffic officer attempting to direct the halting rush hour six lanes of traffic and astounded that it could be accomplished.   The room vantage point also provided an across the river view of the skyline of New York City and since 9-11  the stately Empire State Building  now presiding over that domain.   The couple making an inquiry was soon aware the facility was without any food service except for vending machines and complimentary morning coffee and pastries, but discovering a Burger King but a block away.

The touring convinence a retired MTA bus

The touring convenience a retired MTA bus

A wakeup call,  morning coffee and donuts before greeting a New York City Tour Bus,  a day long excursion about to unfold.   Gary not surprised when discovering the touring convenience was a retired MTA bus, the couple seated in the front seat across from the driver.   Gary finding himself in conversation with the younger transit chauffeur,  the driver with his pronounced New Jersey accent 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 sparring 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.   Gary smiling to himself, sitting across from the New Jersey bus driver,  the conversation an enjoyable congruous tactility and New Jersey hospitality. The first hour of travel was spent making several stops  acquiring the other twenty members of the tour.   Arriving in New York City,  the bus making a brief hesitation at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan to acquire a 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 had appeared 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.

Gary at Central Park

Gary at Central Park

A view of New York from Central Park

A view of New York from Central Park

St. Patrick's Catherald

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

The forbidden picture

The forbidden picture

Their first tour stop,  Central Park, the bus halting at Central Parkway and W 72nd across from the Dakota Hotel the tour guide pointing out that it was where John Lennon meant his demise at the hands of Mark David Chapman.   Disembarking the tourist group was 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,  six miles of circular drives and the many conservative gardens,  plus a 106 acre reservoir maintaining a hundred billion gallons of water named after Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy,  the fresh water reservoir decommissioned as a water source as it was no longer needed.   Gary having realization that this was more than a park to the residence,  it represented the privileged city pride of being a New Yorker.   The refreshing experience concluded, the tour bus stopping at St Patrick’s Cathedral,  the group embarking on an “on your own tour”,  the historic landmark awe-inspiring Cathedral capturing Gary’s attention.  Entering the structure alone,  Fran not interested in the Catholicism structure deciding not to accompany him.   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,  an aura of deity,  the dimmed lighting,  the ornamental and august pillars giving a reflection of holiness.   In the sanctuary he was approached being told that pictures were forbidden in this area,  the epistle was given to late,  Gary having already snapped his picture.

Rockfeller Center

Rockefeller Center

The Bitter End - Greenwich Villiage

The Bitter End – Greenwich Village

Once again embarking the tour bus, stopping at 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 70 storied Art Deco Rockefeller Plaza Building being erected and the Radio City Music Hall being constructed in 1932 on 50th street.  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 MacGraw, 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 Chinatown,  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,  Barbra Streisand,  Peter, Paul and Mary,  the Serendipity Singers,  Simon and Garfunkel,  the Kingston Trio,  all with frequent 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 American Icon in the chronicle of music history

Ellis Island Terminal sometimes noted as the Communipaw Terminal

Ellis Island Terminal sometimes noted as the Communipaw Terminal

The abandon Tracks from the past

The abandon Tracks from the past

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, unlike Fran who had worked in the towers at one time.  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 american 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,  except for the two used by Ellis and Liberty Island Circle Line Tour Cruise.

Ellis Islands Gateway entrance for millions

Ellis Island’s Gateway entrance for millions

The couple boarding a Circle Line passenger ferry,  Ellis Island its first destination,  the wind cascading up the Hudson River from the Atlantic giving them the feeling of nature’s 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 elapsed,  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.

Approaching Lady Liberty

Approaching Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

New York City from the deck of the boat

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,  the first Willson arriving and settling at the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628  aboard a British sailing vessel.   Other  names bestowed to the future Liberty Island landmark was Bedloe’s Island,  a private summer residence of Archibald Kennedy,  the Earl of Cassilis 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.

Concluding our journey aboard the New Jersey

A Celebrated Trip East…#265..( 2006)

February 10, 2012
United Airlines Embraer 120

United Airlines Embraer 120

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 with the exception of his flight to Orlando.  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 SFO to Denver  the first leg of their easterly journey.   Gary still finding an adventure in 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 today, often finding himself the only person on board an aircraft with an interest in the scenic wonder thru the window, the earth seemingly to flow beneath him,  a painted exhibition captured on a wondrous canvas known as mother earth.

Remembering Denvers Stapleton Airport

Remembering Denver’s Stapleton Airport

The new Denver Airport from a distance resembling a desert tent city

The new Denver Airport – from a distance resembling a desert tent city

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 the de icing procedure with snow falling  on the roadway overpass constructed  to access a runway.  The brief layover enabling the couple of lunch before boarding the United flight to Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall 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 breath-taking contouring earth from 37,000 feet passing beneath him.  An overhead announcement of the arrival, the 757  swooping down from aloft,  aligning its 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 the day off from his employment with the NSA,  (National Security Agency for the United State Department of Defense).   Exiting the aerodrome complex,  a 30 minute drive from the airport to the Harriot’s residence an impressive home in Laurel Maryland,  the couple invited  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,

Fran and Brother Ray

Fran and Brother Ray

Washington Monument

WW II Monument

Korean War Monument

The dawning of the new day, the two couples 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,   cordoned 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 many other Mall visitors, diversified groups,  tourist,  joggers, employees on a lunch break and organized groups playing football.   Ray as tour guide as they  approached 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 some forty years later in 1884. Continuing their journey   coming upon the World War II reflections pool  with its cascading fountains,  all stopping to read the inscriptions.  On to the newest memorial addition canonizing 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.

WW I Memorial

Lincoln Memorial Building

Lincoln still presiding

Lincoln still presiding

Vietnam Wall

The far reaches of the National Mall found the prestigious Memorial whom Gary had envisioned throughout 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, its presence not just a monument,  but a signature representing 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 Lincoln’s 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.  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  friends having been drafted for the war in Vietnam,  her acquaintances names being engraved on the wall desiring to remember them as they were.

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum complex

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum complex

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

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 Lindbergh’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 brothers,  recognizing the congeniality that resided within the family.

Gettysburg

Gettysburg

Union Army Memorial

Jan Harriot

Jan Harriot

Another 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 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 the state’s 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.

Gettysburg Park Guide

Gettysburg Park Guide

Gettysburg Museum battlefield display

Gettysburg Museum battlefield display

The Willson’s, Harriot’s and a tourist group all accompanying a park guide sundering up the gentle raises of the terrain  enjoying his commentary 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 having offered 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.  Arriving at Rhoda’s after the long morning drive,  Ray and Jan staying at Rhoda’s 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 mentioning that he meant Willie when playing in Wichita Falls Texas in the sixties whom at the time had a top 10 hit, “the party’s over”.   Willie having performed 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 suite and tie attired musician sitting in,  Jerry Willis the band’s guitar player commenting later 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 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.

Willie and Rhoada

Willie and Rhoda

Vineland New Jersey - not the best accomendations

Vineland New Jersey – not the best accommodations

The New Jersey twilight making an appearance, Gary and Fran aware that their journey for the reunion had to continue.   Rho driving them to downtown Vineland to a Days Inn within walking distance of the Bus Station to fulfill their morning 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. Gary’s returning to the room reassuring Fran that the desk clerk would handle the matter,  Fran laughing with an announcement  “Welcome to New Jersey”.

A Visitor From New Jersey…#264.. ( 2004)

February 1, 2012
    • San Francisco International

It was a planned visit,  Fran’s cousin Rhoda Turner securing  air travel from New Jersey to the West Coast, in part to visit with Gary and Fran but also to acquaint another cousin, Robert whom she had never met, a resident of  Oakdale,  a small community a short distance from the Willson’s in Modesto.   Gary proclaiming the Buick to the 580 freeway,  traversing the windy Altamont Pass to the Bay Area, voyaging across the San Mateo Bridge,  then north on the El Camino Real arriving at the San Francisco International Airport.   The couple greeting Rho as she descended from the secured  departure upper level,  a visit to the baggage retrieving station,  the creative Rhoda having no problem identifying her garment luggage as she had tied a rainbow-colored scarf on it’s handle for quick identification.  The transitioning journey to Modesto enabling Gary an opportunity to get acquainted with the lady from New Jersey.

Rhoda and Fran

Rhoda and Fran

Cousins Rhoda and Robert

An arrival in Modesto,  Gary having confirmed his new-found relative a very delightful lady,  Rhoda’s straight to the point with  conversation,  disguising a subtle hidden sense of humor.  The following day a knock at the door, cousin Robert, a person Gary judged to be his age introducing himself.   The introductory cousin having reached retirement age spending his time with travel, proposing a venture to nearby  Knights Ferry.  Gary declining,  unable to attend because of his work commitment,  Fran and Rho accepting the offer to journey eastward towards the Sierra Foothills.   Knights Ferry not a well publicized attraction was established in 1849 a historical landmark in California history on highway 108,  the original ferry fording the Stanislaus River having been replaced in 1852 by a toll bridge.   After the flood of 1863 it was replaced with the longest covered bridge west of the Mississippi River, the structure across the Stanislaus River 330 ft in length.  Robert chauffeuring the group, the  threesome having a luncheon afternoon, Rhoda able to experiencing the foothills of Stanislaus County.

13 lane approach to the Bay Bridge

13 lane approach to the Bay Bridge

The Oakland – San Francisco Bay Bridge

Gary making a decision to take a day off from work when Robert offered to drive the three to San Francisco in his high mileage older Chevrolet.   Gary sitting  in the front seat, somewhat cautious of Roberts driving ability giving directions as Robert was new to California having yet to journeyed to San Francisco.  Continuing on 580 thru Oakland,  approaching the Bay Bridge, the  thirteen lanes of interchange prorate  into the five lanes of the westward upper deck to San Francisco.   The bottom deck now dedicated for  eastern travel to Oakland,  the three dollar toll having increased from the twenty-five cents of Gary’s childhood days.    Gary recalling his youthful past when the top deck was for cars and the bottom deck for the “A Train,”  an earlier version of BART the new bay area rapid transit to San Francisco, and all other vehicles with more than two axles.   Vividly remembering the station stop at Yerba Buena,  better known as Treasurer Island,  sailors disembarking from the  “A train”  to acquaint the navy base established during the second world war.  Gary residual with his memories, not projecting his thoughts, Rho’s cousin Robert continuing with his conversation.

40 years and nothings changed

40 years and nothing’s changed

Rhoda at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf

The entrance to ‘The City by the Bay’ found the foursome’s first stop at pier 39,  Fisherman’s Wharf.  Embarking on a  tour of the shops,  exploring the realm of North Beach,  a tourist haven with a diversity composed from all ethnic of the globe.   Gary having explored this dominion since his teen years,  the area a familiar friend,  never staggered with it’s display or offerings.  The fragrance of the bay,  the open air seafood pavilions, the smell of crabs steaming from the boiling pots,  their presentations being displayed, a continuous insurmountable number of visitors partaking of their delight.   Gary’s reminiscing,  the entertaining pier area hadn’t changed in forty years,  the cable cars,  the maritime museum,  it was the same,  an anamnesis of life,  the vision,  sounds and the atmosphere still flowed,  it’s presence still indwelling within him  as ghost from the past.   A walk to Pier 33 found the visitors at the Alcatraz embarkation ferry,  normally booked far in advance,  but on this day for some unexplained reason tickets were available.   Boarding the Blue and Gold Ferry,  Gary looking forward to a journey that he had attempted to make many times in the past,  having viewed this prison island perceived as  “the Rock”  from afar.   Exposed to its history and relevance,  his sense of expectancy was enthused, a life long ambition being fulfilled.

Rhoda, Fran and Gary about to board

Rhoda on Broadway

Rhoda and Fran, the ruins of the Social Hall the Native Americans burned in 1964

Aboard the Blue & Gold,  the prevailing leeward wind of San Francisco Bay embracing  all who ventured on deck,  the craft approaching Alcatraz.  Gary wondering about the mindset of those future fortress residents making this trip,  knowing what their incarcerating destination would enthrall.   The craft berthing on the east side of the island,  the throng of adventitious tour visitors disembarking.  The Park Guide directing the exploratory group up the quarter-mile walk to the Main Cellhouse.    Entering the capacious building, tour headsets were made available  giving a narration as they journey thru the tiers of prison cells,  down Broadway,  the name given to the central cell area.  Passing  the  barred residence of Al Capone,  Albert Stroud the Birdman of Alcatraz and the cells of Frank Morris,  John and Clarence Anglin,  made famous from the Clint Eastwood movie  “Escape from Alcatraz”, their fate still unknown.    The only documented successful escape from the facility was by John Paul Scott on December 16, 1962,  able to swim the three miles to Fort Point,  beneath the Golden Gate Bridge,  being found by teenagers,  the exhausted inmate suffering from the hypothermia from the 46 degree water temperature was returned to captivity.  Gary finding the 2 ½ hours of touring somewhat familiar and interesting,  the three-tiered facility,  its dining room,  kitchen and outside recreational area pictured in the Eastwood movie were authentic. A major cost to the producers was $500,000 to route a cable for electricity from San Francisco,  the power plant capability on the island was discontinued upon it‘s closing.

Alcatraz as seen from the Hyde Street cable car

Alcatraz view from the Hyde Street cable car

The Transamerica Pyramid Building seen from China Town

The TransAmerica Pyramid  from Chinatown

Their Alcatraz adventure fulfilled,  strolling back to Pier 39 the foursome walking to the Powell Street-Hyde Street cable car line embarkation in Aquatic Park for Chinatown.  Arriving at the Chinatown’s Jackson Street stop,  Gary taking notice of the time, it was approaching late afternoon,  a decision being made to forgo a tour of Chinatown, the cable car ride would suffice.  The visitors walking up the steep incline to Mason Street,  boarding the Powell-Mason cable line back to Bay Street and Fisherman’s Wharf.   The group once again addressing their automotive endeavor, their San Francisco visit not yet concluded.  Gary providing directions down Van Ness Blvd to a route that he had made many times in his youth,  the electric bus route on McAllister Street.  By following the bus’ overhead power lines it would take them to Fulton Street, Golden Gate Park and their final destination the Pacific Ocean.

Fulton St. ending at the ocean

Fulton St. ending at the ocean

Rhoda acquainting the Pacific Ocean for the first time

Once Playland now Condo's - Cliff House in the background

Once Playland now Condo’s – Cliff House in the background

The view from Fulton Street when approaching the ocean was majestic, the  cascading crest of the waves their voice  proclaiming its sound of eminence,  the breaking onrush reclining after caressing the beach leaving its presence known on the sand.      The excursion to the ocean formatted so Fran’s cousin Rhoda,  from the east coast,  could embed her feet in the West Coast Pacific Ocean,  which she did,  the group embracing to share  her desire.   Gary having a deja vu moment,  these scenes like others of a youthful remembrance , across the Great Highway that bordered the ocean once beheld the magnificent Playland at the Beach,  the famous park with it’s Fun House,  Roller Coaster,  Merry-go-Round and exciting rides,   the penny arcade with its mutoscope viewing machines,  sadly their existence being replaced with high-rise condominiums for those who could accord the luxury of premium beach front property.   Gary directing Robert back to the North Beach area, the roadway leading past the famous Cliff House Restaurant,  Seal Rock,  the Presidio,  the once famous military facility from WWII,  now a commercial enterprise.  Once again reaching the Embarcadero that lead to the Folsom Street entrance to the Bay Bridge.   Gary questioning Robert driving after watching him run three red lights, relief arriving,  the departure from San Francisco coming to a conclusion, once again across the Bay Bridge.

Mom out of uniform at Columbia State Park

Mom out of uniform at Columbia State Park

      Rhoda visit was not without a proxy dissentient,  Fran,  Rhoda and Gary journeying to Columbia,  the home of his sister Nancy and the Matriarch of the Willson family,  Gary’s mother,  Betty.   His mother in the eighth decade of her life still an active docent at Columbia State Park  giving Rho and the family a private tour of this historic gold mining community from the 1850 era.   Columbia being featured in many of the early western movies, the most famous being High Noon,  the town having never changed,  it’s history,  a buttress of rural California life during the 1850’s.   Rhoda, a DAR member getting to experience a western view of history, Gary noting that the American revolution didn’t end in the 1700’s but continued on for another 100 years of life in this nation only with a different context.

Cousin Rhoda’s visit ending, Gary and Fran found the travel from Modesto to the San Francisco Airport mandarin,  accommodating her return to New Jersey,  her  presence and actualization exemplary of a most enjoyable person, a sadness prevailed with her departure, she would be missed.