Our two “BFF”‘s — Irreplaceable!!

It’s so great that Harriette and Emiliano have so many ‘best friends’ — remember we’ve had multiple careers — most we shared — together!!  The Navy, IBM, the ultimate job was — “goin’ with the flow” in Mexico — and I guess you can call our stay at this Elder Chateau our final phase (or career move)!!  The latter is like a very long(?) green mile!!  Shed no tears for Argentina — whoops! — I mean Harriette and me — for we have been truly blessed with some very, very wonderful folks who we can call FRIENDS — amigos, siempre .  But there are two people — citizen heroes and war-time heroes; even author heroes!!  But truly just a couple of down-to-earth every-day kind of folks — our two BFF’s forever and ever!! [aside: I just spent well over an hour ‘googling’ James and Sybil Stockdale!  I could write 10 blogs and that would not describe what these two human beings contributed to, and sacrificed for, the well-being of this country.  And that’s from an ole guy that loves to exaggerate!!!!!!  I can only ask the reader to do the same — just google their names and be amazed, and be thankful these two people were fellow citizens (of the world)!!!]

The wife and I were married in Coronada, CA — I’ve mentioned that in a previous blog. In the late 1990’s, we again discovered that wonderful smallish town situated right on the Pacific! It’s a “navy town” — with the Naval Air Station, North Island — (’twas my first ‘flying’ duty station in 1950, when it was a ferry-boat ride from San Diego).  After we had moved to Mexico, I needed a medical procedure at Cedars hospital in L.A.,   which required me to stay in the area for a month following — so why not return to our ole ‘haunt’!   We booked a month’s stay at the Coranado Shores Condo group!!  And Harriette got her ticket to “heaven-on-earth” — 14th floor, overlooking the ocean and Point Loma, in the condo building adjacent to the Navy Seals’ training facility!!  We were awakened to the ‘hip, hip – ho,ho’ of the Navy Seal trainees jogging below every morning!!  I was able to get the wife away at breakfast (remember, while living in Paris, she retired from ‘cooking’ — not even scrambled eggs in the morning)!  As we drove the main drag in the picturesque small town, we came upon Jim Stockdale standing on the corner with a younger man — later identified as one of four sons.  We exchanged ‘hello’s’, but more importantly, we shared tel no’s. and addresses!   That fateful, casual, meeting led the wife and I to one of the grandest relationships of our lives.  For it wasn’t too long before we were seeing each other for visits and meals — and just being together!!  They were more of the stay-at-home types — but we were on “holiday”, and it was not difficult to get them to share our adventures — dining and otherwise.  I do remember, however, on many occasions — sitting on their small, backyard, outdoor patio — with a fine glass of red, toasting each others’ Health & Happiness!  ________________________BREAK__________________________ 

[I stopped ‘entering’ and ‘blogging’ for a bit and decided to find some old emails between Sybil and me — I’m a “rat-packer” — just ask daughter Susan, she moved us from Mexico — and I just found a whole bunch — exchanged between the two of us — Syb and me!  Unfortunately, they begin in ’04, when I exchanged the old IBM for a Dell.  ’04 was the beginning of the end for Jim, with Alzheimer’s — and Sybil had just contracted Parkinson’s.  But the emails do refresh this ole guy’s memory. This blog is supposed to be about our happy times together — but I had to stop and think a bit!  Let me be brief and state simply, that — Jim is recognized as one of the bravest heroes ever to wear the uniform of the United States Navy; and Sybil organized the wives of POWs and confronted the Vietnamese in person in Paris.  She even became our own Mata Hari, during the Vietnamese War!!  The United States Navy presented Sybil with it’s “Distinguished Service Award”! There was a TV special recently, not sure which channel, that described in detail the method in which the POW’s communicated with each other (with Jim in solitary confinement as a focal point); and the role that Sybil played in connection with the CIA — with info to and from the Hanoi Hilton!!!  That should illicit enough intrigue for one to at least google and read Sybil’s obit — she passed in October, just last year!!  When Jim finally cashed it in on 7/05/05 — the Navy interrupted the USS Ronald Reagan during maneuvers in the Pacific, and brought it ashore to San Diego for a whole-day memorial for Jim!!?  They put on quite a spectacle!! I flew back from Mexico, and with son Gary, we drove down from L.A. to attend that most special ceremony and dedication!! (Later, Harriette put up a foto in our entrance way in Mexico of Gary and me with classmate Paul Miller in front of the huge carrier!)  Stockdale, a 3-star Admiral — most highly decorated admiral to have earned his Navy wings and the Medal of Honor — in all;  26 decorations, including: 2 DFC’s, 3 DSM’s, 2 Purple Hearts, and 4 Silver Stars!  Wow!!]                                                                     _________________RE-START____________________

Back to the blog — with that first stay at the Coronado Shores Condo, we were hooked for good!  If they had not raised rentals ‘sky-high’ in later years, we would have done Coronado for many more.  We did manage to return five or six times — annually in the month of May (prices go up in June)!  And, we had a special date with Jim and Syb at the Brigantine Restauant (locally, called the ‘Brig’) for a 5pm early dinner on the 1st of May each year!  This meeting became, truly, one of the annual high points for each couple!  And we couldn’t wait to order the “Horny Handshake” — a potent margarita shaken with cracked ice in a silver-colored martini-shaker — and we each had our own — shaker-full — in front of us!! Yes, Stockdale children, we are the ones that led ’em astray!  And those were some very, very happy times!

If you have read some of the other “ole guy’s” blogs, you know that Harriette and I are true ‘foodies’.  Our ‘need’ to try all the eating establishments of note in an area is critical to our health and happiness!  There are some limits when it comes to cost, and good ole Zagat is most useful for the selection process!  But one day, Jim said, “Meis, just pick one.  Let’s celebrate our ‘foursome’ — no limit — let’s go for it!!!!”  So, I pulled out my trusted Zagat for the San Diego Area and listed as #1 was (and still is to this day) — Mille Fleurs in Rancho Santa Fe — just up the road a piece from San Diego!! (The ‘Green Color’ doesn’t represent ‘fresh food’– I had to check the credit limit on my Visa to make sure we could handle it!!)  Let me tell you, it was worth every cent: we just enjoyed each other; and we even shared a bottle of red!  Why not!! We didn’t know it then — it hadn’t been invented yet — we were BFF’s;  and we treasured each others’ company!!  There was a special closeness — they enjoyed us and we enjoyed them!!  Eating out was not all that we did — one day, Jim took us over to North Island where we toured the Navy’s SERE school at the main gate –Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape — it’s named in his honor — right there on the building. I have never seen so many young sailors stop and salute and call “Admiral Stockdale” by name — we were in the company of greatness — not just our ole bud!!  [I’m having “goose-bumps” just writing this!!]  This couple we knew as plain ole folks were really and truly America’s heroes!!  There’s nothing we can say that can express our respect and admiration for the two of them — and for some reason, we felt at ease and normal in their company!!  Earlier, we had stayed with them in their Coronado home during a reunion for the Class of ’47 in San Diego — not sure — maybe the 55th — that would be 2001 — and that’s when we sealed the contract — and so materialized the four BFF’s!!! and that concludes today’s blog!!    ‘nuf …..

Post Script: 2/03/17 Today I have again blogged about Admiral James Bond Stockdale.  It’s purpose was to get a naggin’ problem off my chest.  Jim was asked by Ross Perot to be his “temporary” runnin’ mate in the 1992 Presidential Election.  It was to be temporary; but fate intervened with Perot droppin’ out of the race and then returnin’ just before the Vice Presidential television debate — and havin’ not picked his “permanent” runnin’ mate at that time — he called upon Jim to be his “patsy” and join the debate which included Al Gore and the sittin’ VP Dan Quayle!! As it turned out it became an embarrassment for Jim — and particularly to his children, and this is covered in the  later blog!!

Author: Emiel aka Emiliano Meisel

THIS BIO IS UPDATED CONTINUOUSLY, DON'T BE CONFUSED: April 2016 - I'm living in this "senior facility" with my wife of 65 years! Officially, it's known as Vintage Westwood. As for my bio: I'm over 91 years, caucasion, grew up in the Memphis "hood", graduated USNA at Annapolis, served on Destroyer USS-843, then MIT in Boston area, US Naval aviator, married Harriette, w/3 offspring, one living grandchild, lost one (that's a tear!), 10 years USN, 30 years an IBMer, 24 years 'devouring' Mexico in San Miguel de Allende, and now here in this "geriatric home for the aged" -some inhabitants are 'really' old. Now, I'm a "blogger" - and that almost sounds like a dirty word! A friend has suggested that the place where we live should be titled -- "Elders' Chateau" -- we like it - so that's what we want to call it! Some of these folks are really very, very old, though! So, it's Sept'16, still alive and kickin' and re-naming our facility for bloggin' purposes -- "Casa de los Ancianos del Norte" or CAN. Hope I don't confuse ya!! Update: 11/2/16 -- I am now 92 and on Nov 5th, the wife and I will be wed for 66 years!! The new name of the CAN is "The WATERMARK at Westwood Village" -- snazzy huh!! Will let you know if it works out -OK?? Stay tuned! Guess what? It ain't workin' out so good!! We're bein' EVICTED!!!! 1/12/17 Whoa!! Not yet!! We're an ornery bunch of very, very, very ole folks who are gonna do what we have to do!! (Not leave here!) 1/24/17-- Very Important Entry (VIE): Residents of the CAN live in a RESIDENTIAL HOTEL -- and that's 'g-d' fact! It's up to L.A. City Housing Commission. 2/14/17 Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved RH! Waitin' for City Housing Commission approval. 4/15/17 Watermark still has not furnished drawin's -- it'll probably end up in a "draw". We'll get to stay while they remodel -- that should be "interestin'"!! 6/10/17 It's June and exchangin' offers -- and Bet Tzedek, our pro-bono lawyers, just sent in a counter-proposal -- keepin' our fingers crossed!! On 6/13/17 Received word that the L.A.City Housing Commission decision that "947 Tiverton Ave" is now classified as a RESIDENTIAL HOTEL (Yippee!!) -- stay tuned, somethin's gotta give -- but NO EVICTION ever!! July 2017: Will see 10 inhabitants leave -- our number down to about forty, and the wife and I are stayin'!! 8/17-- Watermark is appealin' -- Bet Tzedek says "no prob"!! Our numbers are depleted -- some passin's and some leavin's -- and we are a bit below 30 -- but we are "'947'-strong!! 10/10/17--Well, it's happenin' -- they have distributed their THP -- and we don't like it. We're all appealin' and Bet Tzedek (God Bless 'em) is with us all the way! 10/23 Stay tuned!! Gonna send my blog in with my "appeal" -- hope he or she has a sense of humor!! 10/31 Happy Halloween!! We lost a guy yesterday -- he passed over to the other side -- he was hangin' in with the rest of us -- just wantin' a decent place to live -- with that loss, and 4 depatures next week -- our number will be reduced to 24 -- that's a good even number!! 11/10: Our official "appeal" will be heard on Nov 20th -- Bet Tzedek will present and others will follow -- my current blog is my "entry" for the appeal. God willin' & creeks don't rise -- we won't be "evicted"!! Keep on -- keepin' on! 11/18: Actually a pro-bono law firm (Manatt's C.J. Laffer, good guy!) will present, and so will the ole guy -- stay tuned!!11/20: Our team did damage to their THP -- it should be cast aside -- vamos a ver!! 12/01/17: On the day exactly one year after we were "evicted" (12/01/16) -- we were notified that our appeal to the "W" THP has been upheld! New THP?? 12/18 Yep!! Revised THP (withdrew Hilgard locaton) same-o, same-o for The Glendon apts. 1/1/18 Happy New Year --wasn't supposed to live so long. Appealin' 2nd THP. 1/13 From 121 to 16 with 3 leavin' soon -- we're down to 13 poor souls -- awaitin' a next move!! iOjala! 1/22/18 Well, we signed up for The Glendon -- move on March 1st -- we'll skip any catered meals and accept a meal stipend for the two of us. We'll just repeat what we did durin' the last years in Mexico (and when we lived in Paris with our dog) -- we'll just walk over to Starbucks or Coffee Bean and have our "petit cream w/croissant" for breakfast and have a late afternoon meal delivered!! Really, not a bad way to live after all -- so, thanks, Watermark!! Welcome to our new world!!

One thought on “Our two “BFF”‘s — Irreplaceable!!”

  1. Wow! What a lovely tribute to the Stockdales, dad. All of your blogs are great reading. Thank you for sharing.

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