The Courtship
     John and I met in San Francisco during WWII. Mary, (John's mother), and I worked together at the insurance commissioner's office, where Uncle Don worked. He got me a job when I graduated from high school, (A-to-Zed, in Berkeley). I was 16.
     John was 19, a handsome soldier. The first time I met him he stopped by to see his mom. They were very close.
     She was worried because he was in love, or seeing, a Stanford girl, very rich and high brow to Mary. Mary was a weird-looking, gray haired lady who looked out of place among the gals at the office. I was so young, not worldly, and didn't fit in with the office clique either. She and I bonded as protection from the others.
     She thought it a great idea to get John interested in me, instead of "Miss Stanford." As soon as he was out of the Army, she got him a temporary job at our office. I didn't realize it, but I was in awe of him. He was tall, handsome, blue eyed, and had thick, blonde hair. He had a strong build from his military training and seemed like such an "older Man" to me. I flirted shamelessly and found excuses to go to supper with him. I can't stand three-decker sandwiches to the day, as I had such a bad time trying to eat them in all of my excitement about being on a date with an "older man." We used to take our dinner break together and walk. In those days it was safe to walk in SF, at dusk or even in the dark. We would sometimes stop at a coffee shop. We walked through China town and the smelly fish markets, looked at the tall office buildings, like the one we worked in, and dreamed. Can't remember what we dreamed, only recall we held hands. I thought I was "in love," even though I didn't understand what it meant. John would always walk me back to the bus terminal, and I would ride the bus across the Bay Bridge feeling like I was "up in the clouds."

     When pops went overseas, (1944), he left mother, Betty and I in a little house in Oakland on Dakota Street, My sister Billie was there too for a while with her oldest boy Skippy, when he was a baby . I remember we almost wore out the Andrews Sister's record of "Rum and CocaCola" as it had "One Meatball" on the flip side and Skippy would eat better if you fed him mouthfulls when we sang the chorus of that song.
     John would come from San Francisco to Oakland to court me. Our courtship consisted mostly of going to very cheap old movies and then walking in the Oakland hills.They weren't actually mountainous hills, just rolling hills that were harder to climb than most people realized. We walked through the residential areas, grateful to be by ourselves and out of the house, away from all of the rest of the family.
     When pops returned from the Pacific, (1945), he decided to retire in Turlock, California. His brother Dick had a ranch there, so he found us a little house at 920 Pedros Road and we moved from Oakland. Mother probably hoped that the move would break up John and I, as we were getting serious. She thought we were way too young, which we were. I got the bright idea when we were both still working in San Francisco to buy very expensive season tickets to the SF opera. John and I had been there twice and we loved it. Well, I loved it anyway. The season tickets meant that I would have to travel from Turlock to SF six or seven times a year. I would get off work from the hospital in Turlock, take the Daylight train from Turlock to Oakland, then take the ferry boat from Oakland to SF. It was all very romantic. John would always meet me at the Ferry Building. I always wore a little black dress with sequins and a matching beanie. So, the people on the train got to know me and learned that I was going to the opera.
     I would carry my overnight suitcase. When John and I went to the opera, we'd take street cars from the Ferry Building to the opera house and we would check the bag at the opera and later take buses from there to his house. We would lug the suitcase up the very steep hill to their house at 310 Mullen Street. John had three brothers, Carl, Bobby, Atholl and one sister, Maybeth, but he had a room of his own. We would all have breakfast together and then John would take me back to the Ferry Building so I could catch the train for Turlock. We did this every other month. I had picked the best seats on the first balcony. I have always loved the most expensive seats at any event ever since.

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