Mission Accomplished……….#72 (the 50’s)

Gary and Dale Spady

The view from Pismo Beach was redundant, especially in early morning fog, the view from sea level in no way matches the panoramic composition experienced from the hillside escarpment when venturing on Highway #1.   After packaging their repose bedding and utilizing the full equipped sanitary station to cleanse the curtains of sleep, Dale and Gary again mounting the Cushman,  hasten for a conveniences depot to partake of a cup of  hot coffee and some solid dietary substance.   The two not being familiar with Southern California, their map presiding on the table of the diner, they conspired a course of travel.   Passing through San Luis Obispo, the two adjudging it best to remain on the conservative wandering two lane highway #1,  the busier direct #101 could  be accosted later where the two highways junction north of  Santa Barbara.

The Wayfarers of Highway #1

Conoga Park Exit


Gary position on the rear jump seat provided him with a panoramic view while traversing on scenic highway #1 but the view on the traffic laden #101 was more of a concern that an enjoyment, especially at 40 mph.   Continuing what  Gary’s dead-reckoning reflected as going south,  but actually were headed east out of Ventura.  After some thought he realized because of the coastal shape of California,  if you were to transit due north from Los Angeles to the Oregon border you would cross the border not in Oregon but 75 miles inside Nevada.   Passing through a town with familiar sounding name, Thousand Oaks, less than hour til they ascending their destination, Canoga Park.

Bud O’Toole

Gary's cousin Bud's Missile - A Nike - Ajax

Gary’s cousin Bud’s Missile – A Nike – Ajax

Arriving in Canoga Park, Gary having been given direction by his cousin before leaving Oakland,  the two travelers having no difficulty finding the O’Toole residence.  Cousin Bud, wife Gayle,  youngsters Alan and Patrick all smiles, Gary suspecting they were somewhat surprised the two made it on a Cushman Scooter.  It was good to see his cousin, Gary’s childhood memories of Bud were those of admiration, he was the one when visiting on more than one occasion provided him with a new cap pistols, taking the time to spend with him.  Later when Gary’s interest spiked about war stories he provided his collection of the Dave Dawson series by Bowen, his cousin someone he always looked up to.   Bud having joined the National Guard upon high school graduation would bring the youth old flight instruction manuals and a supply of K and C rations,  an example of a soldier’s battlefield  provisions.  When war broke out in Korea he was a member of the initial military units call to duty,  entrusted Gary with his treasured collection of classical music records.  Continuing his military service he was posted as part of UARADCOM,  an acronym for United States Army Air Defense Command,  deployed at a supposedly undisclosed location,  but known to the community as LA-88, Oat Mountain,  in the Santa Susana Range six miles from  Canoga Park and  assigned to a Nike-Ajax Firing Battery.  Canoga Park being a close-knit community with most of the resident  incorporated in furtive government projects.   Gary’s  raising to a higher echelon of interest with many questions for his cousin to  answers.

The Rocketdyne complex in the Santa Susana Range

The Rocketdyne complex in the Santa Susana Range

Rocketdyne static test stations

Rocketdyne static testing of rocket engines

It started with a sound, then a  rumble,  the house beginning to vibrate,  Gary immediately concluding it was an  earthquake,  but the rumbling  endured,  not for seconds but minutes, the sound was directional from an outside distance source.   He glanced up catching a ‘know it all’  grin on his cousin’s face as he beckoned for Gary  and Dale to step to the window.   A condensed orange-red glow was reflecting on the bare mountain backdrop of the Santa Susana range to the west.   The question in Gary’s mind was  Where and What?  His cousin answering, it was Rocketdyne,  Pratt and Whitney’s/North American Aviation,  having 18 static test stands at their jet and rocket engine developing testing  facility,  established  five miles from Canoga Park.  His cousin reflecting it was an ongoing program of the Redstone, Thor and Atlas missile engines along with other classified static tests including a nuclear program  all entertained at the 2558 acre complex.   Gary dramatically impressed with what was taking place, a desire to explore this new-found discovery, but a realization, in all probability it would be for not.

The morning bringing forth the planned tour of the Hollywood Hills and acclaimed residences.  Gary finding a new sitting position  on the back of the Cushman,  previously perched upon two bundled sleeping bags during the interminable three-day voyage, the perch enabling him  to see over Dale’s head,  but now with the sleeping bags removed he was slung low in the saddle,  having to survey the road around the body of the motorized operator.   It was a sightseeing day, but Gary knew that this occasion would not provide the scenic wonders of the majestic overture performed by the coastline and the sea.  Dale was more rhapsodize in this venture to Hollywood and Beverly Hills than Gary and it became apparent that Dale’s promulgation was over extended and the exhibited billing was aggrandized. Beverly Hills was mainly an interest for those mired in luxury and the presences of such, Gary bore little interest the luxurious accumulations of the rich and famous.   The journey beginning but the evoking venture was short-lived,  the scooter suddenly in regression,  the motor revving  as if the transmission was in neutral,  the Cushman slowing coming to halt.  The two disembarking, Gary not being a two-wheel motorist enthusiast immediately reflecting the worst.  Dale remaining calm,  manifesting  confidence with little concern, immediately knowing what the problem was, the drive chains master link had come off.  Gary was relieved, Dale having included amongst his possessions,  drive chain master links, the scooter operator having experienced this equation before, not with the new Road King,  but with his first older Cushman, his resourcefulness having provisional foresight.

Master link

The incident finding both of the traveler somewhat disquieted,  never while on the journey had the concern of scooter problems been consigned and now this minor event  causing a  distraction in their planning, the touring journey no longer a priority.  The itinerary time schedule was for a three-day stay,  but when the newly installed link also departed leaving the chain in-operable for a second time,  a decision was accorded to limit the mileage and bid a farewell a day early.   The two boys thanking their host, griping for the journey north,  Gary with some thought concluding , the journey south having revealed one important entity,  it was called resolve.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: