The year of 1949 (I was 22 years old)
What was happening in the world:
- Mao emerges as top Communist chief in China and Kai-shek flees to Formosa (now Taiwan).
- The U.S. Airlift breaks Soviet blockade of Berlin. Thousands of Germans are fleeing from East Germany to West Germany.
- The Soviets claim they also have created the Atomic Bomb.
- President Truman says the USAF and its S.A.C. (Strategic Air Command) have a fleet of B-36 Bombers ready to deliver the H-Bomb if needed.
- The cold war escalates.
What was happening in the USA:
- Drive-in movies are now the rage.
- The minimum working wage is now 74 cents per hour.
What was happening in California:
- The UC Campus erupts when the faculty is required to take a non-communist oath.
- Tokyo Rose is convicted in San Francisco of war crimes and given 10 years in prison.
- Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis make their first movie.
- Wallace Beery (Dad's all-time favorite) dies at age 63.
What was happening in sports:
- Cal’s Dream Team (Jackie Jensen and Pete Schabarum) falls to Northwestern 20 – 14.
- In the World Series it was the Yankees over the Brooklyn Dodgers 4 games to 1 game.
- In the NFL championship game it was Philadelphia 14 – L.A. Rams 0.
- The Heisman Trophy went to Leon Hart of Notre Dame.
- The national champions of College Football was Notre Dame.
- The national champions of College Basketball was Kentucky.
- The NBA champion was Minneapolis.
- Joe Louis retires as Champ after 25 wins and 1 loss (to Schmeling). Ezzard Charles beats Joe Walcott to take the title.
What was happening at the movies:
- Best movie was All the King’s Men.
- Best actor was Broderick Crawford in All the King’s Men.
- Best actress was Olivia De Haviland in The Heiress.
- Other great movies were:
- Johnny Belinda (Jane Wyman)
- She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (John Wayne)
- Red Pony (Robert Mitchum)
Memorable Songs were:
- How are things in Glocca Moora (especially in my life)
- Ghost Riders in the Sky (Vaughn Monroe)
- Mule Train (Frankie Laine)
- We were Sailing Along on Moonlight Bay
- Have You Ever Been Lonely?
What was happening in my life:
- I had dropped out of Arts and Crafts and I was trying to "find myself" but I wasn't having too much luck. I had also quit my job as library page.
- At home in Oakland, I tried to find myself in projects. I helped Dad build the concrete-block retaining wall in the backyard; I built a fishpond for Ma; and a Trellis for a vine over the backyard stairway.
- Each night after dinner, Dad, Tom and I would take a long stroll out to Laurel. We became friends with Bob at the Texaco Station and we watched our first TV in the window of the Laurel Appliance Shop.
- I spent a lot of time in my room under the front stairs listening to the radio and playing my records. These were great days on the radio. On KGO there was Les Crane from the Hungry Eye in SF - owned by Enrico Banducci. Later, Ira Blue took over when Crane went to New York.
- There was the Danny Thomas Show and the Red Skelton Show (with Guzzler's Gin and Clem Caddiddle-Hopper). Also, there was Jim Dunbar in the afternoon - Jim Easton came along later. There was Cactus Jack and his country-western stars like Brenda Lee and Kay Starr.
- The only "family" left now for the Friday night movie was Dad and I, but we continued to go. Dad would fall asleep most of the time and never see the movie - I think he went just to please me. We would come home and have a late-dinner that Ma had left in the oven for us. After Tom was born. Ma never went, to the movies again.
- I remember especially the very foggy night when Dad and I went to the Laurel Theatre. It was so foggy, I had to get out of the car and walk along the sidewalk to tell Dad when to turn off Hopkins (now MacArthur Blvd) onto Laguna to get home.
- Tom was 7 now and he and I also did a lot of things together. For a kid that young he was a great walker. He and I often walked all the way downtown to meet Dad at Capwell, Sullivan, and Furth to ride home with him. We met Dad's two workers (the Major and the Chinaman). Some times Tom and I would stop to visit the old Snow's Museum at Lake Merritt and have an ice cream cone after the long walk along MacArthur Blvd.
- Tom and I also drove all the way out to Mt. Diablo once so we could play in the snow at the top of the mountain. It was a long drag for the old 1936 Plymouth.
- I took the Model Designer Exam offered by the Oakland Park Department and alter an interview by William Mott, I got the Number 2 rating on the list. Unfortunately, nothing ever came of it.
- I had built up a great record collection and now I was retreating more and more away from the world and into my little musical retreat consisting of Burl Ives, Richard Dyer Bennett, and presentations of folk music by Doug Fletcher.
- Some of my particular favorites were:
- Burl Ives: On Top of Old Smokey; Little Mohee; Bluetail Fly; The Erie Canal; Streets of Laredo; Bigrock Candy Mountain.
- Richard Dyer Bennett: Greensleeves; One Morning in May; Waltzing Matilda; Barbara Allen; and John Henry.
- Judy Garland: Meet Me in St. Louis; In Your Easter Bonnet; Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe.
- Others: Accentuate the Positive (Johnny Mercer); Cool Water (Sons of the Pioneers).
- On Mother's Day, I took Ma to the Cliff House at the San Francisco Beach and we had a very nice dinner overlooking the Pacific. Ma always loved seeing the Ocean.
- In the summer, Dad, Ma, Tom and I drove all the way to Whidbey Island in Washington to visit Dot and Van. We drove Highway 101 most of the way and it was a very scenic drive. At Whidbey Island, Dot and Van took us strawberry picking. We also visited the town of New Westminster just across the border In Canada.
- Near the end of the year in November, I helped my older brother Bill work on his place in Orinda. We listened to SMU and Doak Walker upset the national champs Notre Dame. I talked with Bill for the first time about his combat service (WW II - Battle of the Bulge) and why he never went back to finish at Cal. Dad helped Bill work on his place also. In fact, any time there was a real high place to work on, Bill would call Dad. High places on the ladder made Bill "leery", but Dad at age 66 didn't mind them a bit (see picture of Dad on the ladder to the right).
- By the end of this "confused" year of 1949, I knew I had to make a change in my life. Unfortunately, I didn't really know what I wanted or where I wanted to go, but I did know I wasn't happy or content with what my life was. It was a difficult situation for a person to be in and I was about to make a big, life-changing decision by joining the U.S. Air Force.
<---- What was happening in 1948
What was happening in 1950 ---->
Another view of the Cliff House
The Cliff House
As seen from Sutro Park before the latest renovation.
Mt. Diablo with a Spring snow
Tom and I drove the 1936 Plymouth all the way out to Mt. Diablo to play in a rare covering of snow. It was the first time either of us had played in the stuff.
City Hall in Oakland
It was next to Dad’s office (see arrow below)
Snow’s Museum at Lake Merritt
We would stop for ice cream cones at Lake Merritt and sometimes, we would visit the old Snow's museum.
A view of Mt. Shasta heading north on 101
In the Summer of 1949, Ma, Dad, Tom, and I drove the long drive up to Whidbey Island in Washington.
Lake Merritt in Oakland
At the end of this year, I took a solo walk around the lake. The song “How Are Things in Glocca Moora” was running through my head. I was confused and unhappy about what I was doing and what I wanted to do next. The only thing I was pretty sure about was that I was not going to find myself in Oakland, California. The arrow in the right picture points to City Hall.
Downtown Oakland with Lake Merritt in the foreground
Capwell, Sullivan, and Furth was in one of the buildings next to City Hall.
Dad and I helped my older brother Bill build a house in this small town that is about 20 miles east of San Francisco. Below, Dad is helping with a major support beam.
An extraordinary collection of photographs
Fishing Baja 2000
Fishing the Sea of Cortez off Cerralvo Island
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