Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Falling over een reminiscence: Poor San Francisco

Jerry was a Vietnam veteran and suffering from what is now called PTSD. He was living in Sally’s house on Eddy Street in San Francisco.
I met him when we stayed there in 1977.

When we arrived in San Francisco in our pickup we went to the American Express to check for mail. 
Our friends, Jan and Sietske, were also driving up the west coast from Mexico in a pickup. There was a letter from Sietske. She wrote that Jan had been admitted to San Francisco General hospital.
We did not know where that was.

A middle-aged woman dressed in green was talking to a young man with red hair who was sitting on a motorbike.
We thought she was someone official and asked her the way to San Francisco General.
She told us she was Sally, a social worker from Montana. The young man with red hair was her son, Red.
They directed us to the hospital and invited us back to their house for coffee afterwards.

Jan was very ill. They only found out later he had some kind of rare genetic disease. This had been triggered by the loss of his toenails after walking down and up the Grand Canyon in new shoes.

After the hospital we went to Sally's for coffee.
She lived in an old Victorian house that she was slowly renovating with a small group of miscellaneous people who were staying with her.
Sally offered us a room, which we accepted. We stayed there for three weeks.

Jerry said, do you know why Europeans smoke Stuyvesant and Pall Mall?
I replied, no.
He said, because when the Americans liberated Europe they gave all the shitty cigarettes to the people there. They kept the good ones, the Camels and Lucky Strikes, for themselves.

I used to smoke Camel plain. I rolled the pack up in my t-shirt sleeve.

I passed my driving test in San Francisco in a Ford F100 pickup.
The theory was easy.
A lady gave me the test paper and told me to fill it in and come back.
I went out to the pickup and copied the answers from a book. Then I returned to the nice lady and gave her the test paper back.
Congratulations, she exclaimed. You got 100%, the first one today.

Jerry gave me his hand-embroidered jeans jacket as a present.
Then it was too big for me. Now it is too small.

Poor San Francisco, it has changed. Nowadays it is not like the song any more.