Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sometimes, Everything Is Relative

SAN DIEGO – Sometimes I feel isolated in the Southwest corner, and last week was one of those times.

From here, it often appears Middle Tennessee has more calamitous weather than when I was growing up.

Perhaps Thursday’s high winds and reports of tornadoes in Lebanon impacted me.

Perhaps it is because I am growing older and memories of my home have shed bad recollections.

I do recall the large tree in our front yard being blown down in the middle of the night when my brother Joe was six months old (1949). That same storm played imp for our next door neighbors.

Back then, the empty lot north of our home on Castle Heights Avenue was the neighborhood playground. Across the lot, the Padgetts were our next door neighbors. Margaret Ann was older and sophisticated, but Martha, my sister, and I played with Beverly and Roberta almost daily. I think Margaret Ann got her sophistication from their mother, Margaret. Bob was a car dealer par excellence for whom my father had worked before setting up shop with Jim Horn Hankins.

In the mid-1950s, Rayburn and Cleo Bellar bought the lot and became our new next door neighbors, often having their grandchildren, Sandra, Dick, and Jack Lewis, stay over. They played with my sister and brother, but by then, I was too old but not sophisticated.

The 1949 storm grabbed the Padgett two-car garage (one of the few in the neighborhood), lifted it and sat it down in the next backyard. The two brand new cars in the garage were not even scratched.

I faintly remember several floods with water on the square and out of creek banks south of the square. But they seemed like part of the normal weather cycle, nothing compared to last spring’s flood.

During the past ten days, I learned to quit complaining about weather here. Lebanon weather is one reason. Visitors also influenced me.

My brother Joe, his wife Carla, and Carla’s mother and sister visited. On Wednesday when I apologized for the cold weather, they informed me I certifiably crazy. The temperature was in the high 50s as they sat poolside at the Hotel Del Coronado, a heat wave for those from the Northeast.

Last Thursday as the weather climbed back to San Diego normal for a day, Joe and I had a special time.

While the visiting women hit the hotel spa, I took Joe on a tugboat ride.

I wanted to show Joe some of the projects I was pursuing, and asked Pacific Tug Service if I could bring Joe down for a tour. My friend Steve Frailey, one of the owners, told me to bring Joe down to the pier and he would take us for ride on a tug.

Steve is one of the tug masters for the company and called in to action when necessary. So while the wind was wreaked havoc in Lebanon, we toured San Diego Bay aboard the “Harbor Commander.”

She and her smaller sister tug, the Harbor Cadet tied up to a Navy berthing barge outboard a minesweeper in the BAE shipyard. We moved the barge from the sweep to pier side next to the shipyard drydock. While we worked, Joe got to see Navy SEALS diving from helicopters and re-boarding the hovering helo above by line and hoist. Security boats shot back and forth around the bay in an area-wide training drill. Shipyard cranes loaded and unloaded. Yard workers and sailors scurried about on tasks like mice on a sinking ship.

Joe got a feel of what my previous life had been. We wished our father and Joe’s son, Zack, could have been there with us.

We often joke Joe has been a preacher and lived in the Northeast while I was in the Navy and lived in the Southwest to ensure we could be as far away from each other in all things. In fact, we have grown more alike as the years have passed. Our tugboat adventure verified our closeness.

I think that is a plus for me and so is the weather in the Southwest corner. I’ll quit complaining.

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