Monthly Archives: December 2015

Return to San Francisco – Another Bus Ride

I completed – with surprising success – the 8-week course in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration – during which time I was promoted to Petty Officer 2nd Class – courtesy of the US Naval Reserve and the San Diego NTC. I had thoroughly enjoyed my time in San Diego, and finishing the course meant a return to Aurora and inquiries into what would be required to take advantage of this training. It also meant a, hopefully brief, return to the boring job at Thor Power Tool Company. But before stepping back through the looking glass, I of course took the opportunity to return to San Francisco.

Air fare to and from the west coast was paid for by the Navy, but any travel expense I incurred in the time between was on me. Therefore, to cover the 600 or so miles from San Diego to San Francisco, I chose the most practical (meaning cheapest), if not the most expedited mode. All too familiar to me from my Navy days on the East Coast, I chose the Greyhound bus.

The 100 mile first leg of the journey, from San Diego to a late afternoon layover and bus change in Los Angeles, was a piece of cake. Arriving at Los Angeles, I spent my time tending to personal needs, buying an overpriced bus terminal meal, and acquiring a couple of magazines to supplement my book on the much longer leg north to the city by the bay.

It was getting dark by the time our bus left the downtown LA terminal, so there was not much to see as we rolled north. I read my book for a while before turning out the reading light and closing my eyes. I dozed off and somehow the nighttime hours passed. With the sun finally rising on what was now Northern California I woke to discover that we were stopping in the small town of Gonzalez, California, about 20 miles south of Salinas, and 125 miles short of our destination. Acquiring a quick relief, some much-needed coffee and a snack, I re-boarded and settled in for the remainder of the trip.

A notable thing about Gonzalez, California was that every business I saw from my bus window was named Gonzalez; Realtor, Café, Dry Goods, Attorney at law, Gas Station, and others. I speculated that also, somewhere not too far away, was a large house where the town’s proprietor (perhaps named Gonzalez?) lived.

Back on US 101, and now fully awake, I dug through my bag and pulled out the April 5 edition of Time magazine which I had purchased the previous night in Los Angeles. As I began to read I came across a rather prophetic article anticipating protests scheduled by a number of “radical” groups – in particular Abbie Hoffman’s “Youth International Party”. I read with some interest of the hopes these “Yippies” had of causing some sort of disturbance at the Democratic National Convention, to be held later that summer in Chicago.

The Go Go Bar

“Every town I go in, there’s a street, ha, Name of the street, ha, Funky, Funky Broadway. Down on Broadway, there’s a nightclub. Now, name of the nightclub, baby, Funky, Funky Broadway”        Wilson Pickett 1967

There was a bar located on San Diego’s Broadway, a couple of blocks from the YMCA. It was just one of many, and the name escapes me, but it was the one in which I spent a lot of time when on liberty from the training center. The bar was typical of its time and place. It was narrow and dim, with some tables and chairs on the right as you entered. On the left a bar with stools. Above and slightly behind the bar was a narrow stage on which Go-Go Dancers would gyrate – amidst flashing colored lights – to the songs of the day, played on the bar’s sound system.

Author’s Note to later generations: It must be understood that Go-Go Dancers were NOT strippers, but instead representatives of a popular phenomenon at the time whereby girls, yes, sometimes in a skimpy costume and iconic high white go-go boots would dance on a small stage or platform, in bars or clubs, to entertain the patrons, to enhance the music, and to otherwise contribute to the ‘60s ambiance. Or to do so on TV – such as on ABC’s Shindig, or Goldie Hawn (for you youngsters, that’s Kate Hudson’s mother) on NBC’s Laugh-In.

Just before coming to San Diego – at about the turn of the New Year – my friend Vern and I had chosen Manhattans as a favored drink for reasons I really cannot recall, and in retrospect completely cannot understand. But I must admit to drinking more than a few of them at my favorite Broadway hangout.

Although it was not too long before I abandoned manhattans – and for that matter, any serious drinking altogether. I think that it was at that Broadway bar that I began to get the inkling that drinking too much wasn’t such fun, after all. I was learning – through repetition – that while my friends would continue with their evening, all too soon my world would start to spin – with the inevitable, unpleasant result. So it became moderation for me; a rule which stands to this day.

One of the best things about this establishment however was Linda, one of the dancers, and the person with whom I would occasionally spend an evening in a different venue. Another was the music to which Linda and the other girls danced. That is to say the popular music of early 1968; especially “Second That Emotion”, by Smokey Robinson, which remains in memory, along with “Different Drum” by The Stone Ponies w/Linda Ronstadt, “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin, “Young Girl” by Gary Pucket and the Union Gap, and “Kiss Me Goodbye” by Petula Clark as the “soundtrack” of my altogether great time in San Diego.