|My trip to Sacramento California was an adventure and a surprise. We started our trip north from Vallejo California in the year of 1945. I was 8 years old and my mother had decided to take us kids with her to Camp Beal, which was located north of us near Sacramento California.|
At the time, we did not know where our destination was located, how far it was or the person we were going to meet. To my brother, sister and I it was an adventure and a great opportunity to see and experience something new. Our mother had been very excited since she had received a phone call at our neighbor’s house the day before.
The day of our trip she looked especially pretty. Her hair was in what the ladies and she called an up sweep. She had a beautiful rose in her hair over her left ear. She had on her high heels with the straps fastened around her ankles. Her dress was short and reflected the fashion of the day.
She helped us dress and fussed all the while. We had been dressing ourselves for sometime and we were not babies, but we did not say anything about her extra and unusual attention we were caught up in her excitement and knew she wanted us at our best.
My sister had on her shinning pair of Mary Jane’s and her favorite dress with the pretty bow tied at the small of her back. My brother and I had on our sailor uniforms and our shinning Buster Brown shoes. I had tucked my baseball hat into my pocket and I was ready to go. After we piled into the car, our mother informed us, through misty eyes that the trip would not be a long one.
At last we were on our way. We drove up highway 40. This highway is now interstate 80. The year of our trip highway 40 was only four lanes. There were two lanes in each direction, East and West. These lanes in our area are really north and south.
We eagerly looked forward to see what lay up that highway. We had only been out of Vallejo to Oakland California and that had been so long ago it seemed like a dream. We had never been in the direction we were going this day. Although we had been told the trip would not take long it did not matter to us, we knew we would not be bored.
In that day there were fruit, vegetables, nuts and other produce being sold along the highway. The farmers sold their produce direct from their fields. There were many groups of people around these stands, all types of vehicles and each produce stand gave us something new to look at and talk about.
I can still remember to this day the fun and good times I had when I was older. My friends and I would eat from these fields as we hiked around the near by roads and highway 40.
At that time, the fences were close to the roadways and the fruit and grapes hung over the fences. The kids never made nuisances of themselves and the farmers never objected to our minor feast to my knowledge. We sampled the produce at will. On the highway, we drove through small towns their names were odd to us at the time. Names like, Cordelia, Fairfield, Vacaville, winters, Davis and, Dixon we heard, saw, and experienced for the first time before we reached the state capital of Sacramento.
As we neared our destination, we became acquainted with more small towns. Some of their names appeared on signs only, but others we went through. Some of these towns I recall, were Oroville, Auburn, Marysville, Folsom, Roseville, Grass Valley, and Placerville.
Before we knew it we were at Camp Beal. The gate area was over flowing with men in uniforms. It seem like thousands of soldiers with their baggage were waiting at the gate. Their eyes searched every vehicle that arrived. Our mother found a parking space.
The hundred of service men were dressed in new khaki uniforms; their shirts and jackets had different unit patches; and all of their chest area was covered with decorations and bright color ribbons.
We were caught up in the hustle and bustle of the crown. I notice that the service men seem very young, fit athletic and moved about very agile. Except for those that were in wheel chairs are on crutches.
They all had an air of nervous energy about them. In spite of their youthful appearance there was something different about them. They all had it including those on crutches and in wheel chairs.
At first I did not know what it was. And then I knew. It was their eyes; their eyes were the link. They all had a tiredness, and resignation reflecting from their eyes. They were a fraternity apart from their folk here at home.
They all had the same demeanor, a kinship, a bond that mirrored all of them they were all twins forever joined by their common experience that could be seen in their eyes.
While we were occupied with the sights around our thoughts, and us our mother had left the car before we knew it.
After we discovered she was no longer with us in the car, we became concern. At last we saw her through the crown, she was walking toward a tall man in uniform.
He looked familiar but I did not know him, but yet he reminded of someone. We could see he knew our mother and she knew him. He had a big smile covering his face the minute he saw her. They met each other half way from the car and the gate.
She through her arms around his neck and began to kiss him. They hugged each other and began to cry. Our mother and this man was hugging, kissing and crying. Who was he?
The whole area was filled with the same scene that was repeated over and over again by groups as buses, cars and other vehicles arrived. The excitement grew.
I could not stand not knowing anymore. My curiosity and the excitement got the best of me. I was out of the car and racing to my mother and this man. My sister and brother were on my heels.
All of us kids stood around our mothers and this man. We called our mother over and over again excitedly hoping to get her attention over the increasing noise in the area. She turned at last and faced us with tears in her eyes and gathers us all up. . Then with all of us facing the stranger. Our mother said, “James these are my kids.” To us she said, “kids this is your uncle, my brother, James Melancon. He has come back to us from the War in the Pacific. Introduce yourselves,” and that is how I met my uncle James for the first time.
Submitted By: E.E. Jones from CA on 2004-03-08