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!!