Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Arrival in California - 50 years ago, January 14, 1962

Late Saturday evening, January 13, 1962, after tears, hugs and goodbyes, I boarded a Worldwide Airlines plane to fly to Oakland, CA. I would later learn that Worldwide Airlines was a charter company. The airfare was quite inexpensive so that is why my flight was booked with them, courtesy of the government. The flight would take about 13 hours to reach our destination. I arrived about 1:30 pm at Oakland and waiting for me at the bottom of the steps was my then husband. I was so relieved and happy to see him. We had married two months before this and I was finally joining him. He was in the Marines.

It was a Sunday, the day being much like it is today...the sun was shining although it was not a very clear day. The first thing I noticed were the trees without any leaves...I wanted to go back home where everything was green.

My mother made me an outfit to wear for my trip...a powder blue wool dress...a sheath with three quarter length sleeves, completely lined. She also made me a coat to match. The coat had just one button at the neck and the rest was open. Even though the sun was shining, it was cold and I was freezing. It was a beautiful outfit and I loved it, especially since my mom had made it for me.

Some days before I left home, my grandmother wanted me to come down to her house. She gave me some money to go to Liberty House to purchase a few things for my trip...a pair of black patent leather heels, a black purse to match, a black hat that had a small veil on the front, black gloves and...a pair of Hanes...South Pacific was the color. She, of course, told me exactly what I was to purchase. She also wanted to tell me how to speak clearly, not the way we speak back use my manners...there were other things she told me...I don't remember them all now.

Grandma had a sister that lived in Oakland and she had gotten a bouquet of anthriums that I was to take to my grand aunt...Auntie Ida. I had her phone number and so after my luggage was claimed, we found a pay phone to make the call. One of her daughters, Dorothy, got on the phone and told us how to get to Auntie's house. I knew Dorothy and her husband as they had visted Hawaii a few times.

We found the house without too much trouble and when we were invited in, Auntie's whole family was seemed they all got together on made sense being a Portuguese family. I had met Auntie once when I was a little girl so I remembered her. She immediately wanted to feed us. We declined as the uncle we would be staying with was expecting us for dinner. Auntie loved her flowers and knew exactly what her sister would be sending her. The visit was nice although I was so shy and didn't say a whole lot.

After a short visit, we drove to Castro Valley, to the apartment of Charles and Alice Long. Charles was the youngest brother of my then father-in-law. Charles and Alice had been married about a year, Charles had been laid from his job and Alice was going to beauty school. They had a one bedroom apartment. They allowed us to have their bedroom for a few days and they slept on the hideaway bed in the living room. We then changed the arrangement. I was so unhappy to be there and felt totally out of place. John was actually a patient at Oakland Naval Hospital and would get leave whenever he could. He would also have to hitchhike to get to Castro Valley. During the day I was alone with Charles in the apartment and was totally uncomfortable.

For dinner that night, Alice fixed tacos for dinner. I had never had them before and I sure didn't like them. They were very spicey and I drank more ice tea than I ate...I also didn't know what ice tea was...I liked it, though, and still do.

I was totally exhausted from the long trip and was emotionally drained, all I wanted to do was go to sleep.

And so ended my first day in California...50 years ago.

There is more to this first few months in California...I'll tell it later.


  1. Great narrative Betty. I feel as if I'm there with you 50 years ago.

  2. Hey, jalna...I finally got into my comments...I kept getting kicked out...anyway...Thanks...I'll tell my story of my 1st few months here, later.