Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Pocket of Resistance: An Old Wooden Pier with Men at Work

There are about 200,000 things i should get done today. It’s the new year, and i have resolved to tackle them all and finish the job…But what the heck? Except for writing, i have quit formal work; it’s the new year; and as Rhett Butler once so succinctly put it, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

And yesterday, i contacted my friend Steve Frailey, informed him i had not seen him in over three months, asked him if he would be at work today to which he replied in the affirmative, and woke early to go see him.

i left home before six. It was dark. It was cool. It was raining. It all seemed spookily familiar. Surprisingly, the traffic was not bad. Perhaps all the Navy ships in the yards were not up to full gear yet. i pulled up to the security box for the gate. After one aborted try, i remembered the code, and the gate rolled back. i pulled into the parking lot and took a space dedicated to a deckhand.

I was once again at the San Diego base for Pacific Tugboat Service.


For an old mariner, it was a beautiful sight. This photograph was taken as i left. When i arrived, first light had not come yet. Even so, there were a couple of boats already with “crew on,” and a couple of deckhands strolling down the pier.

The old creosote wood pier, glistening in the rain and pier lights, was still the same. It first captured my imagination about five years ago, reminding me of my early days in the Navy. i never tired of walking up and down this old pier in the two years i worked there. The boats, barges, and cranes were moored differently with a number of additions, but it felt the same.

i opened the office door, walked around the counter, poured myself a cup of coffee, and walked up the stairs to Steve’s small but always busy office. We talked for about forty-five minutes, catching up.

Steve and Grant Westmorland, the owners, have grown the business significantly since i left two and a half years ago. They continue to do it the right way. They care about the business, their customers, and their employees, not necessarily in that order. It works.

And i got to walk up and down that pier again; saying hello to folks i consider my friends; feeling working men at work, a connection to the past, a part of the waterfront.

i will come again, and i will do so in the early morning just before first light so i can see and feel the pier, the machines, the men working in the backdrop of San Diego Bay and the lighted, graceful arc of the Coronado Bridge as light slowly infuses the waterfront.

It was good to start the new year this way: good for my soul.

A Pocket of Resistance: Welcome 2016

The new year has started well.

i went to Sea ‘n Air for early Friday Morning Golf. The other two friends from our last our last military tours at the Naval Amphibious School Coronado and who are the original FMG participants along with me were occupied with family events. But Bob Schoultz and Mark Shults joined me. Bob, a retired SEAL captain, has been playing with us for about five years. Mark, who is one of the civilian regulars for at least that long, is a good golfer and even better guy. The threesome was fun.

Our tee off was delayed by a forty-five minute frost delay. Yes folks, San Diego can have frost. Even though it never got below forty degrees, the sunrise cold snap generated frost bad enough to cause serious damage to fairways and greens if carts had driven on them or walkers had trodded there. But the wait wasn’t bad and gave us time to hit a few more balls on the range, needed for my two-week layoff.

The sun quickly eliminated the frost and by the seventh hole, i had shed my sweater and was back in shirtsleeves for the rest of the round.

Maureen and Bob’s wife Mary Ann joined us on the back nine, my favorite part of the course. The group of five was delightful to play with on a perfect Southwest corner day. After the photo, Maureen bogied the tough par four.

Maureen driving off the 15th tee with Point Loma in the background.
Maureen driving off the 15th tee with Point Loma in the background.

i had a terrific round (for me). All was right in my golfing world.

Maureen and i went for a late lunch at Tartine’s, a small Coronado restaurant with outdoor seating close to the Bay, one of our favorite lunch locations.

A nap, some work in organizing, and a bit of college bowl football followed. Then it was tradition time: my black-eyed peas and cornbread and Maureen’s yellow tomatoes by a good blaze in the fireplace.

There are many family and friends i wish to either respond to year beginning well wishes or send to others, but it is late. So i will attack that tomorrow. My lateness does not mean i don’t care. That, i’m afraid is me just being me.

Yesterday, i posted a photo of me and one of my three all-time heartthrobs on Facebook. The photo above is of one of the other two. Below not only shows my third all-time heartthrob but also the two people who loved all of us…and many more.

Jimmy and Estelle Jewell with Sarah, 1990

And so this new year begins. i hope all of you have a wonderful year with minimal tragedy, but more so, i wish you to have and to give the love shown in this last photo.

Happy New Year, as they say.