Farewell to the East Coast!

by The Boatswain | December 25th, 2006

I finally was able to get a set of orders taking us to the West Coast. I got orders to report to San Diego, CA, to be a TUGBOAT skipper in the Naval Station. We were to fly to Jacksonville.  Ellen and the kids would go by train to visit her brother, who was in the Air Force and stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, on the Florida panhandle. Meanwhile, I had to go to Miami and pick up our car that had been shipped there, and then drive to get the family.

Here’s a view of our Cuban workers at the end of a shift, heading across the bay to Caimanera, a Cuban city, where most of them lived. (Don’t know what it’s like today!)

Cuban Workers Going Home After Work

Cuban Workers Going Home After Work

Carl on the flight to Jacksonville

Carl on the flight to Jacksonville

The trip in the old Ford was not too bad. Traffic was light and we stopped often enough to take it easy. Aside from the stop at the Air Force Base, we did some sightseeing, including New Orleans, (which has the world’s WORST coffee!) tourist traps (complete with poorly kept wild animals), the Alamo, and the sand dunes overrun by dune buggies at Yuma, AZ!

A Typical Tourist Trap: Note Ellen at the door and the "car top" carrier.

We had received a FORM letter with our orders saying “Don’t worry about your family, as the Navy has PLENTY of available housing”! HAH! We arrived in a pouring rain on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, 1957 and went direct to the housing office. What a farce! I showed them the letter about “lots of housing” and they laughed and told me there was a SIX MONTH WAITING LIST for TEMPORARY housing!!! I never did find out who sent us the info about housing, as everyone passed the buck to someone else. So we checked into a Motel again and the next day I started house hunting with the local paper.

The place we rented for a while in National City

The place we rented for a while in National City

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The United States Navy rating of Boatswain's Mate is a designation given to enlisted members who are rated as a deck seaman. The colloquial form of address for a boatswain's mate is 'Boats'.

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