Bob Mitchell: Finishing up in San Diego

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Bob Mitchell Ozark Views & Comments

When thinking about seafood on the West Coast, where the Cardinals won two out of three in both of their stops at San Diego, there was one big change the last time we were there at one of our favorite haunts.

On U.S. One, down the hill from where we lived, was Anthony's Fish Grotto -- about the finest we found in that neck of the woods.

Whenever our envelope-style of living would permit, that was where we could be found enjoying the fares that were offered. We always thought the price was reasonable and the food was especially delicious.

Things had changed by the time we returned, as the business had about tripled in size, moved across the highway to the harbor side and the prices now reflected the cost of doing business.

No John and Barbara

And then, there was no John and Barbara Bayless to enjoy on weekends during Navy days or for several days on a couple of jaunts out west in later years.

When military off-duty time permitted, we were either in Fullerton at their home, or they were in San Diego at our apartment to visit us.

At their location, we also visited Knotts Berry Farm at virtually the start of that facility. Often at their place, the bill of fare was rabbit, which John raised in his back yard.

At our apartment, we had a couple of sleeping bags that we spread in the kitchen for Sue and I to sleep on, and John and Barbara got our pull-out bed. They were among the visitors who got surprised by B-36 landings, especially at night.

These were some of the most enjoyable times of our Navy lives.

UDT still there

Going back to the Silver Strand, that runs from Coronado back into the mainland near National City, it was good to see Navy Underwater Demolition Teams still training and doing their sand-beach running. This particular observation didn't include their carrying telephone poles, which they often did while going to particular places on the base back in the early 1950s.

It was the pleasure of my favorite Navy photographer and I to do most of the limited publicity for UDT for about 18 months. These guys, forerunners of the Navy Seals, went through some of the most intensive training that anyone could imagine.

When beginning this assignment, we were at the base pool for some initial instruction, when asked if we had ever worn a lung underwater. With a negative reply furnished, we were told that would be a requirement before cooperation. We had no choice but to strip down to our skivvies, get into the breathing apparatus, get some preliminary instruction and go into the deep end of the pool.

Even knowing there was help up above us, we both eventually breathed, seemingly after about five minutes, and things went along just fine, and we got full cooperation there after.

Folks visited

We were lucky to have both ends of our family visit during this time frame. Fortunately, we had found another apartment that provided visitors' quarters, of which we took advantage.

One problem encountered was that neither my mother nor Aunt Bland thought much of riding the ferry across the harbor. So, on most trips to visit Coronado, we drove around for land access.

Sue's parents, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy the experience. K.E. had been thoughtful enough to pack his camp stove for the trip, and Balboa Park was the scene of several cookouts during their stay.

We seized the opportunity during their visits to have a TV available, so they could watch the new-fangled entertainment that hadn't reached the Ozarks at that time.

Hometown experiences

During this career, we had the opportunity to see several from Barry County. First there was Lester Antle, who was found looking over Missouri license plates during one stop at the base filling station.

Later, there were Ben and Jackie Salyer, after he was assigned to another command on the base, leaving a shipboard billet.

Then there were Don Carr and Ben Hutton, whose ship pulled into the harbor. They got in touch with us, and Sue cooked them a good old Barry County chicken dinner. Still in our slides is one of them admiring the Missouri tags.

Cardinals at home

The St. Louis Cardinals are at home for the present, but their most recent trip to the west coast provided incentive for this column that might touch some memories of others as it certainly has for us. All this information comes from 62 years ago, and like the skyline of San Diego, there have been changes that leave much of the past far in the background.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.