Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Our first apartment

Our First Apartment on Haste St. in Berkeley
I recently discovered that I could use the internet to find all of the 17 places I have lived.  Within a few hours, I had pictures of all my homes.

Our very first apartment was on Haste Street directly across the street from Herrick hospital. We could walk to the University from this home. It was a real apartment. It had wall-to-wall carpeting, a sliding door that lead to a tiny patio. We bought a hibachi for that patio/ balcony. It was totally grand.  The rent was about $130.00.

Until I was aggressively invited into the US Army (along with 43,000 other men), I lived with my new wife Sarah.  I worked as a deputy probation officer and Sarah worked for the University Extension service.  For a brief period we felt rich. Two incomes, no debts.  I once bought 8 white shirts for work and paid cash; Whoohoo!! We shopped at Safeway and bought Dungenes crab and sometimes steak.

Without children, we visited with friends and briefly enjoyed being out of school.  Sarah graduated a semester after me since she worked while I finished off at Berkeley.   For those few months, we did have some fun. We went to wineries  in Napa. The wine was free for tasting.  We drove across the bay to Golden Gate Park. We smoked marijuana and drank very cheap wine.

 I worried constantly about the draft, but I could put it out of my mind and I don't think we really understood that it was  truly  coming.

We watched the nightly news and read the San Francisco Chronicle.  The Vietnam War was the news I watched the most.  The Berkeley campus was tremendously focused on the war, but we were done with school. We were in the real world and rarely went back "on campus."

Some time after we began to live on Haste Street, Sarah's mother and father separated.  The result was that our little apartment suddenly had a tearful mother with two children (Gazelle and Fred) in tow.  They had left LA suddenly and we took them in.

I was not terribly kind or generous since we now had 5 people in a 1 bedroom apartment.  I think we had been married just over 1 year.  Sarah's mother was a LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) and found work very quickly.  She got  an apartment and moved nearby.  None-the-less, our life was pre-occupied with helping Sarah's mother and familly.  I was 23 years old at this point. We were not happy.  Or I should say, I was not happy.

Around this time, the draft began to get real.  I had tried to get a deferral based on my occupation.  I failed at that. My request was denied.  I didn't have the resources for legal help and really didn't try very hard to avoid the draft.  Things at home were very chaotic.  Looking back, I saw the tusunami coming and just stood there.

I got "the letter" to report for duty October 20th, 1966. That was the day,  my father got up at 5:00 a.m. to drive me to the Long Beach induction center.  It was still dark when I took my little bag and went on to the bus. In the darkness, I hoped my father did not cry, but I know he did.

But before I left, in the early part of October, Sarah and I went to the Grand Canyon for a "vacation."  What a ludicrous thing it was.  We tried hard to enjoy the time we had.  We walked down the a path into the canyon and then dragged ourselves back up just as the sun set.  We were both very sore and exhausted.  We went to the El Tovar hotel and drank wine.  I had an inkling that I was in terrible shape and the Army would not be a good experience.

The last night before my dad took me to report, Sarah and I went to a bar that served rum drinks in ceramic coconuts. I staggered badly when I stood up in the bar. Later, hat same evening, I drove Sarah to LAX so she could return to Berkeley.  I had the foresight to avoid a farewell the next morning The farewell at the airport was awful.  In those days, you could accompany people right to the departure gate.  We both cried.  There was a war on and we didn't know just what was going to happen.