An Unequivocal Welcome……#148 (the 70’s)


Mom, Jan and Robert

Richard the bands drummer  facilitating the Willson’s departure,  his 1973 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser stopping at the their S.W. 41 St. residence to provide transportation to the Will Rogers World Airport.  Richard’s occupation when not playing drums  was transporting the U.S. Mail for a trucking enterprise between Oklahoma City and outlying mail distribution centers, the drummer having become close family friends even to the point of offering to help Jan and Gary with the airfare expense to introduce the newest Willson to his namesake grandfather in California.   Arriving at Will Rogers,  the couple disembarking from Richard’s car, Gary never ceased to feel a sense of vividness when gazing at the row of signs designating the entrance to the many airlines, the gateways to the wonders of the world.  Standing at the Braniff reservation counter the memory of the four engine turboprop Lockheed Electra of the 1960’s coming to mind, it presence having inherited the past, a  Boeing 727 it’s replacement and with it came what Braniff called the ‘Jelly Bean Fleet’, the end of the plain plane, a host of rainbow colors, each craft painted bright solid hue and the added attraction of boisterous flamboyant fashionable uniformed stewardess.

A member of the “Jelly Bean Fleet”

Dallas\Ft. Worth Regional Airport Tram

Dallas\Ft. Worth Regional Airport Tram

American Airlines DC-10

The Boeing 727 making it 5 mile approach to  the Dallas\Ft. Worth Regional Airport a first landing at DFW for Gary who was impressed with it’s  vastness in comparison to Love Field,  noting it seemed that each major airline was provided its own tarmac and stand alone terminal.  Disembarking the family soon discovering the only way to get to the American Airlines terminal was to board a driver-less tram.  The tram ride providing a new experience, arriving at the terminal to begin boarding for their nonstop flight to San Francisco.  It was another first,  the largest aircraft Gary having ever boarded, a McDonnell Douglas DC 10 Luxury Liner, having two aisles, five seats across in the center, seating over 200 , cruising at 37,000 ft. at 600 mph, he found hard to believe the flight would be less than three hours, mentioning to Jan that back in 1959 it took over six hours for him to fly in a DC-6B  from Oakland to Dallas on his way to Fort Sill.

A hop – skip and jump across San Francisco Bay

#580 paralleling the remnants of Mountain Blvd.

The DC 10 setting down in the city by the bay Gary discovering a new inheritance at SFO,  the arrival of a  commercial helicopter providing services to Oakland International, having never flown in a helicopter before.  The San Francisco Airlines helicopter rides was a disappointing short one, passengers were seated on one of the two long bench seats on either side below the windows, the trip but a hop, skip and jump across San Francisco Bay, the craft continuing on to Walnut Creek and Concord.  An ovation of predominance, Gary’s father having arrived as the official greeter at the airport.   A slightly different situation with the couples baggage, it failed to get unloaded in Oakland and apparently was still aboard the helicopter on its way to Concord.  The bad news being it would be over an hour before it could be returned to Oakland, but the good news, they would dispatch the luggage in a cab to the Greenly Drive address, the Pianist concluding, all’s well that ends well.  Gary noticing that his childhood home seem to have diminish in size thru the years, each room smaller than he previously remembered or could the remembrance from his childhood be over-shadowed by the  expanse of his world today.  Looking down Shone Ave from his boyhood home, the possession of eminence once provided by Mountain Blvd, the two lane blacktop snake below the Oakland Hills no longer in existence,  the#580 freeway a replacement.  The wheat field of affiliation once view from his bedroom window, the fragrance of the recently mowed hay able to infiltrate his room, now expletive with development,  the memories having been absorbed, but the reality snatched away with life’s temporal progression.

Bay Area Rapid Transit

Bay Area Rapid Transit

The No. 5 McAllister Bus the numeral remaining the same

The No. 5 McAllister Bus the numeral remaining the same

The dawning of a new day Gary and Jan with an armful named Robert, with Grandma Betty sporting as tour guide, they set out for San Francisco.  Gary’ Dad depositing them at the BART Station on 98th and San Leandro Blvd., this a first for Gary, a journey beneath the waters of San Francisco Bay aboard the Bay Area Rapid Transit.  The underwater venture in the enclosed capsule no comparison to his youthful view  from the lower deck of the Bay Bridge aboard the A Train, where one was able to inhale the aura of San Francisco,  the projection of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and to experience the waters of  historic San Francisco Bay.  Disembarking at the BART Market Street terminal, Gary very much surprised at his mother knowledge of public transportation, then realized he has been gone for 18 years and his mother’s life having graduated from rising a family to one of joining the world of commerce having worked and conducted business in San Francisco.

The vast expanse of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park

The vast expanse of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park

Thr Japanese Tea Garden - Robert the only one for lunch

The Japanese Tea Garden – Robert the only one for lunch

The transplanted Oklahoman back on youthful San Francisco familiar territory, the traveling family desiring the presence of Golden Gate Park,  leaving the Bart station it was up Market Street to McAllister and the number 5 bus, it’s numeral still remaining the same after all these years.  The electric  bus with its rear mounted  telescoping arm reaching upwards embracing the power lines, acquainting Fulton St,that journeys the full length of Golden Gate Park to its meeting with the Pacific.  Jan being taken back with the coming and goings of the passengers on the bus, the small town Kansas girl never having experienced so many different  languages being spoken.   The familiar 10th St. stop unchanged, the pedestrian tunnel under the high traffic roadway circling the park to enter the amphitheater complex also having remained the same.  The De Young Museum, the California Academy of Science with the Planetarium, the Steinhart Aquarium, and Natural History Museum with the giant Kodiak Bear still standing guard at the entrance.  The full day of activity finding a limited amount of time, to partaking of lunch at the Japanese Tea Gardens, the three adults having a toast of  refreshments the Gardens delicacy, Robert consuming his normal lunch with his mother, the little one having never experienced anything but mother milk.

Coast Guard Cutter at Jack London Square

Gary’s youthful remembrance,  his monthly ventures for so many years to San Francisco,  Golden Gate Park, Playland across from the breakers of the Pacific, his thoughts a sharing experience, but found many didn’t grasp the significance it played in the life of a youth.  The  late afternoon found a retracing of steps to return to Oakland,  deciding to stop at Jack London Square.  Another memory, a boy name Mike touring a Coast Guard Cutter with his Burckhalter fourth grade class.  The family could feel the leeward breeze giving notice of the late afternoon incoming fog,  an essence of the water accompanying them on a Bay Boardwalk to view the many small sailing craft.   The three deciding on an early dinner meal at the Bow and Bell restaurant, Gary placing a telephone call beckoning the elder Willson to chauffeur them back to Greenly Drive.

The hastily arranged  visit, the lack of time engulfing the couples inherent return, only instead of returning to San Francisco  they left from Oakland on PSA to Los Angeles, once again boarding the large DC 10 for the journey to Dallas and the Braniff flight home to Oklahoma City.  Gary understanding his west coast family proclivity was  not invective of a Oklahoma or Kansas aptitude.  During his previous marriage to Kaye, she experienced a conjectured first impression made by his parents, her visit was predicated with President Kennedy’s assassination. Gary concluded although this first visit was brief,  his parents welcomed Jan as family without qualification.

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