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With Love, Hope, and Perseverance

SoCS: California Canyon and Other Family Memories

23 Comments

Our prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday was: “starts with cal.” Use a word starting with the letters “cal” as your prompt word. Have fun!

We lived in California when I was a kid. For first, second, and third grade, I went to Santa Margarita school at Camp Pendleton. We lived in military housing, an upstairs apartment, on “Wire Mountain,” next to a canyon. My dad used to go hiking in the canyon. I begged him to let me go with him, and one day, he finally agreed. The only part I consciously remember was climbing back up and whining because it was steep, and I was scared and tired. I can understand now, as an adult who likes to hike in wild places, why he didn’t want to take a second grade girl to the canyon. But he did, and I am thankful, because there are probably things I experienced still in my subconscious mind that are like buried treasures.

After California, dad was stationed at the naval base in Philadelphia where he became the brig warden. He said he liked talking to the prisoners, or rather listening to them which was what the training emphasized. Then in 1966, he was sent to Vietnam.

Yesterday, I finished reading Dad’s letters from Vietnam. There are 118 letters that I’ve counted. Some are missing, because there are gaps, but talk about treasures! He wrote about marking the days off the calendar and keeping track of how many days he had left, but sometimes he stopped doing that, because it seemed to make time go slower. He did a lot of different jobs in Vietnam. The first seven months were in Dong Ha near the DMZ which meant combat. He was a gunny and one of the few enlisted /non officer men to lead a platoon. His nightmares lasted the rest of his life. Then after seven months, he managed the staff and officers club in Khe Sanh and went back and forth between there and Phu Bai and Da Nang which he called, “the rear.” He wrote about losing weight and feeling good physically, except for the heat. Maybe the calorie intake was lower, or maybe he burned up a lot of calories being so busy. In addition to the club management, he did night watches, supervised security, and became the re-enlistment staff NCO. Not sure what all that entailed, but I’m glad he didn’t see much more combat after those first seven months.

Maybe you’ve seen these before, but maybe not.
I never get tired of looking old photos, now that I’m older.

The letters were often written by candlelight and are surprisingly sentimental. He wrote about the heat, the mud, and mostly about how much he missed my mom. I’ve typed them up and have been working on incorporating them into what I’m calling a “Fictionalized Family History” for my kids. Next week, I’m going to be listening to some videos I recorded from the many stories he told me.

Sunday will be my mother’s birthday. He sure did love her a lot. Every letter is signed like this:

All My Love

Forever Your Husband

Jimmy.

I’m glad they are together again in heaven.

My favorite photo of my parents with me on the left –
a picnic in Newfoundland, Canada around 1961.

Yesterday a bad storm was in the forecast, but it never materialized here. Instead we had some interesting light just before sunset:

For more streams of consciousness and rules, visit our host, Linda Hill at:

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

23 thoughts on “SoCS: California Canyon and Other Family Memories

  1. You really made that prompt work for you. Well done. Great skyscape,

  2. What treasured Memories JoAnna…. letters and photos along with memories to treasure …. That Sky almost in tribute as confirmation both are happily reunited in Gods love ….

    Happy Spring Equinox JoAnna…. Good to be back in WP again… ❤

  3. JoAnna, the letters your dad wrote to your mother are an extremely special gift. I love everything I have of my parents – photos, cards, a CD with their voices. These things are blessings for both of us – memories that keep us connected forever. I’m glad you have these pieces of your dad’s life and the love he showed for your mom.

    • Thank you, Mary. As time goes by, I appreciate these gifts more and more. My parents kept a lot of memorabilia, huge numbers of photos…. It was hard but loving work to go through them all to sell their house, but I have enough. Thank you for understanding. Enjoy your blessings and memories!

  4. Such a beautiful and heartfelt post, JoAnna. You have a treasure with those letters.

  5. Love how you love your family

    • Thanks, Linda. I wasn’t always good at it. But as I’ve gotten older, I have come to appreciate them more with each passing year. I hope they know.

  6. Good job with the prompt, and thanks for sharing such a meaningful story.

  7. Beautiful callings of the heart and soul ❤

  8. Those must have been tense times when you father was in Viet Nam. Great to have the letters,stories and photos from him. Lovely photo of the cloudy sky.

  9. I used to love looking at my dad’s vietnam pictures when I was a kid. To my “under 10” brain it looked like a fun party. Our family gift that I feel my dad passed onto me is a “dissolving memory.” Though he was in combat, he had a protective mechanism in his brain called forgetfulness that made it possible for him to continue on without torture, even to this day. But it’s not that he isn’t sensitive; he is very tuned into the human struggle. For him it was a year tour in combat 68-69. For the first time this year he told me his anniversary date.

    It’s wonderful you have all those letters. I don’t think he kept any letters. My dad is still alive and I talk to him regularly though he lives far away. I can ask him. He didn’t have a sweetie to write home to then. My parents didn’t meet until after.

    Speaking of, you live in California approx around where I live now. My father in PA not far from Philly.

    • That’s a wonderful blessing that your dad was able to forget terrible things and still be sensitive and caring about the human struggle. I wonder if it comes naturally or if he had to develop that skill. I’m very glad he is still alive to talk with. My dad told me a lot more as we both got older. It’s a small world, isn’t it? We lived in Folcroft, near Philly, for a year before moving to the naval base.

  10. I loved the photo that is your favorite , with you in it! Me, too–as i grow older I look at photos and old pictures and see so much more in them! Every detail holds a memory. God bless, Kam

    • I’m glad you loved that photo. Even tho it’s blurry, it means so much to me. Thank you for understanding so well! I keep saying I’m going to get some prints made from more recent photos on my phone

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