SAN DIEGO – Out here in the Southwest corner, it is a bit different than home.
While most of the United States is being seared by record heat, we out here are waiting for real summer to arrive.
It is, in fact, too cool.
Last weekend while folks back home were sweltering, I wore a wind jacket to play midday golf.
For those mired in the heat, these highs in the 60s might seem lovely. But folks in the Southwest corner are wondering why “June Gloom” still looms in July.
San Diego is a beach goer’s haven. Coronado Beach was recently ranked the country’s third best beach by Professor Dr Stephen Leatherman, director of the Florida International University International Hurricane Center (no, I don’t know why a hurricane center rates beaches).
Three golf holes at Naval Air Station, North Island where I often play abut Coronado’s beach. It is a lovely beach with the Victorian Hotel del Coronado to the south and the Gibralteresque Point Loma to the north.
In recent weeks, beachgoers have been sparser than usual. A July 4th photo in the “Union-Tribune” depicted beach goers wrapped in towels and blankets, rather than lying on them.
So we continue to wait for our version of summer in the low 80’s to show. Waiting for the warmth, I remember times I was really cold.
San Francisco in July
Only a few times have I been as cold as in San Francisco in July. In 1976, “U.S.S. Anchorage” made a port call at moored at pier 36, south of city center. A shipmate and I took liberty to play golf at Harding Park, the site of the 2009 President’s Cup competition. In 1976, it was an inexpensive public course, certainly not ready for a PGA tournament.
It was July so we wore shorts and polo shirts. By the second hole, we wished we had worn parkas. Winds whipping off the Pacific and Lake Merced cut us to the quick. Being golfers, i.e. not having a great deal of sense, we played the entire 18 teeth chattering holes.
Pusan, Korea in February
Another bone chilling experience was standing in to harbor in Pusan, Korea in February 1970. I had just become executive officer of the Navy unit aboard the “U.S.N.S. Geiger (TAP 197). The troop transport took replacement Korean troops to Vietnam and brought home the troops they relieved. With a Korean liaison officer, I was in charge of controlling the troops, anxious to get home and consequently too daring, sometimes unsafe or dangerous.
Unlike San Francisco later, I had on heavy weather gear. It did no good. The winds off of the Korea Strait cut through me like a knife. My face felt like it had frozen to a red, chafed ice block. The cold did not deter the returning troops. It was my first and last time to enter Pusan (now Busan) harbor in February. I am warmed by the thought.
Even though Watertown, NY, where I was sports editor of the “Watertown Daily Times” in 1971-72, was much colder than any other place I’ve lived, I did not consider it cold. Perhaps it was because I became used to it, or we dressed appropriately, or I don’t remember very well. But I do remember wanting spring to come in late March and it occurred for two days in mid-June.
J.J.. Arnold’s Watering Trough
But the coldest I have ever been was off Franklin Road in the late 1950’s. J.J. Arnold drove his grandson, Henry Harding, and I to the Arnold farm and dropped us off in the February cold to hunt.
When we tired of our sport, we waited outside the barn for Mr. Arnold to pick us up. Next to the barn was a watering bin for the cows. It was a round metal bin about six feet in diameter and about four feet high. It was iced over.
The story varies here depending on whether it is Henry or I recollecting, but my version has Henry convincing me I should test the ice. I climbed up and gingerly put one foot on the ice, then shifted my weight to stand on the ice. The ice broke and my leg plunged about two feet into the ice water below.
Mr. Arnold did not arrive for another hour. That hour is the coldest I’ve ever been.
So remember: hot summers aren’t all that bad.