1.219 writers, FOPAL, model

Tuesday 7/7/2020

Did the 7:30 aerobics. Then finalized my contribution for today’s CH Writers meeting. This is a weekly session where those of us with a claim to be wordsmiths, meet and read something we have written, usually something short in response to a “cue” that Connie, the chair, gave us the week before. I’ve had nuttin’ the last two or three meetings, the cues just didn’t spark anything. But this week’s cue was, “write about a journey, either one you have taken or one you imagine.” Pretty loose. And something came to mind, and when it was down on paper, or, um, pixels? it read pretty well. It’s short, I’ll insert it at the end of this post.

That meeting over, I did some work on the model. Really finicky shit. I have a picture to show two of those finicky items.

One, the hood ornament, which is a bit of chrome plastic not much bigger than a fingernail paring. Had to actually cut a little hole in the hood to mount it in, also. And the license plates! What you get are little blank chromed rectangles, they are 12mm by 6mm (say 1/2 inch by 1/4?). Well crap, we can’t have blank plates; how to get proper vintage plates? My painting skills do not stretch to that.

I went to Da Googles and looked for images of Washington license plates and by golly, there was a plate with a 1954 tax sticker in a vintage auction. Captured the image, brought it into software, and with only about 45 minutes of cursing and reprinting, got it printed at the correct size. Cut them out with the X-acto, stuck them down to the plastic with clear acrylic and put clear acrylic over them. The “54” on the tax stamp didn’t quite resolve, but hey.

Pretty soon it was time to run my Zoom meeting. This was to show three other volunteers from FOPAL how the Slottr.com sign-up sheets work. Especially to Raji, who runs the membership committee, how to get the sign-ups out to an Excel spreadsheet so she can verify membership, and prepare roster printouts for sale day. But also went over every step of creating and editing a sheet, so other people are trained in how to do this.

So that was a day. I’m going to watch The Titan Games (I do like my cheesy reality shows). Oh, right, the thing I wrote. I gave it a really good reading, too. Where there is a horizontal line below, I came to a complete pause, looked around, then made like, oh, you want to hear more? and continued. What a bullshit artist I am.

This is a story that I have never shared with anyone before: one of the few transcendent moments of my otherwise mundane life.

It is nineteen sixty-two. I was twenty. I spent my days stringing wires inside the Pacific Telephone switching office on Bush at Montgomery. Evening and weekends I was heavily into amateur theater, hanging out with the drama students at the University of San Francisco, playing bit parts and doing stage managing. To locate the era in the reader’s mind, here’s a memory of that time: standing admiringly by a piano in the Gill Auditorium, as a couple of our more talented performers tentatively worked out the chords to “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks, which was then a fairly new off-Broadway sensation.

I was clinging to a fading relationship with a woman who, just at this point, was away from the City for a month. I wanted to send her something, some sort of charming gift to make her think fondly of me. I remembered that once, on a drive through the Sonoma wine country, she had admired a silly toy in a store in the village of Boyes Hot Springs. I determined to go and get that, and send it to her.

So: on a Saturday morning in San Francisco I hopped into my blue 1952 Ford and set out for Sonoma. A bright sun was holding a fog bank just off the coast as I turned onto the Golden Gate Bridge. The Bay sparkled; the hills glowed tawny yellow. I had no schedule, no constraints, nobody expected anything of me. For that moment I was utterly free, and embarked on a solo expedition to buy a treat to please the woman that I pined for.

———————

That’s it; that’s the story. Those few minutes, departing San Francisco and heading across the Bridge in morning sunlight, were an interval of magical freedom, and complete, sublime happiness. They so deeply imprinted themselves on my memory that they are still fresh today.

———————

The rest? Well, I got the toy and sent it. I think she wrote a thank you note. On her return to the City we hung out together for a few weeks more and then parted. But I got that incidental moment that is still with me nearly 60 years after.

In point of cold hard fact, I think that during 1962 I was still parking customer cars at the Cadillac dealership. I didn’t start at the phone company until late 1963 or early 1964. But the rest is correct.

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