Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Yom HaShoah

St. Petersburg, Florida
April 11, 2010

I don't know why, but I felt compelled to visit the Florida Holocaust Museum while I was in the Tampa Bay area. I previously visited several times the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Beverly Hills, always captivated by the lectures from survivors of the Holocaust. So on that Sunday morning I drove south from my hotel in Largo to the museum in St. Petersburg. As I approached the cashier and took out my wallet, she told me that admission to the museum today was free because it was Yom HaShoah, the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust.

Free Fallin' from 13,000 Feet

Eloy, Arizona
March 5, 2010

As part of my discovery of new places on my cross country travels in 2010, I have also had an opportunity to set right those things I have aspired to do in the past but have failed to do so. I've challenged myself in the past to skydive—eager to realize the unknown fears and see if I could confront those fears—but I never stepped up to the challenge. So that's how I found myself at 13,000 feet above the ground in southern Arizona, falling free with a new acquaintance strapped to my back. To my surprise and delight, there was no hesitation on my part on what is frequently used as a joke: jumping out of a perfectly fine working airplane.

Returning to My Childhood Years, Part 2

Victorville, California
February 16, 2010

Guys really do read Playboy and don’t just look at the pictures. Case in point. I still remember the ambitions of July 1982 Playmate of the Month Lynda Wiesmeier, “To revisit all the places I’ve lived in the past.” Although I read that Playmate Data Sheet long ago when I was 21, her ambition has stuck with me as I have imagined many a time returning to my childhood playgrounds – Lincoln, Nebraska; Dayton, Ohio; Victorville, California; and Hahn, Germany. But I have not expended the time or energy to return to those playgrounds except for a quick drive through Victorville several years ago. My life has been the worse for not revisiting those memories.

An opportunity was now in front of me. Victorville was not far away, only a few hours of easy driving on freeways from Carlsbad, and I had all the time I needed to seek and cherish those places waiting for me in Victorville with precious memories of my childhood.

Our first home in the desert when my family transferred to George Air Force Base. I was only six when we moved to Victorville, and I couldn’t spot our exact house on Yucca Avenue. I narrowed it down to a few which were all alike. A typical 1950’s single family subdivision with single-story ranch-style homes, the backyards backing up to the parking lot of Victor Valley High School. I remember the adventure of my brother and me camping out in the backyard, snug in our sleeping bags underneath the stars. The memory is marred, or should I say forever etched, by the hoodlums in the parking lot throwing stones at us and forcing us to skedaddle to the safety of our bedroom.

Returning to My Childhood Years, Part 1

Lompoc, California
February 2 to 6, 2010

Vandenberg Village as viewed from Harris Grade
I returned to Lompoc, the hometown of my teenage years. Some tasks still needed to be done before I set off on my plan-to-be-year-long cross-country travels: placating my mother of my safety as I wandered around, storing items that I did not want sitting in a mini-storage unit in Reno, and completing paperwork so I could travel without worry of those pesky little things like health insurance.

Although I was fortunate in comparison to other Air Force brats as to all of the moving that we did in tow with our dads, I still settled oh so shortly in five places and ten homes by the time I was 15. It was by luck of the United States Air Force that I ended up in Lompoc, California, and I consider our final family resting place as my hometown:  Vandenberg Village, a classic 1960's subdivision just northwest of Lompoc.

Take Me Out to the (Spring) Ball Game

Tucson, Arizona
March 4, 2010

It is still the season of winter, an Arizona winter which is like a Lompoc summer. The groundhog Punxsutawney Phil may try to hasten an early spring by not seeing his shadow, but the beginning of Major League Baseball spring training is a sure sign that spring is just around the corner. Looking over my list of things I've wanted to do for a long while, there was #64 - Attend a major league baseball game on the opening day of spring training. Tucson Electric Park was the venue, Section 121 / Row 6 / Seat 15 was my seat, and the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks of the Cactus League were the teams.

For the opening spring game of the local Diamondbacks, I expected a larger crowd but only around half of the 11,500 seats were filled on this warm and sunny day. Being a school day and not yet Spring Break, there were not many families and children in attendance. There was an older tinge to the crowd with lots of retirees including a flock of RV snowbirds from the northern states and Canada as far away as Nova Scotia.