A few songs from the period of 1948-1960 (the years spanning Phil’s marriage to Jeanette and his marriage to Kleo as well as the earliest years of his marriage to Anne) stand out for me.
One night while listening to songs from 1948, one song stood out for me. It’s called “A Tree In The Meadow,” sung by Margaret Whiting. Now I can’t think of what little I remember about Jeanette without thinking of this song, though I don’t know if that’s a recent impression or an old one.
I first heard the song “26 Miles” by the Four Preps, a hit from 1958, some time in the late 90s, but it didn’t really stand out to me until one day in 2007. I was in Boulder City, NV, a town full of mid-century West Coast urban architecture much like downtown Berkeley, so I was already starting to feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I walked into an antique store, surrounded by mid-century artifacts, and this song started playing. It has since remained a part of my consciousness for the last 7 years. I still get shivers when I hear it. It isn’t the sort of song I would have liked terribly much, but one I know I heard everywhere and often in those days.
Gogi Grant’s version of “The Wayward Wind” (1956) was a song I first heard on a cassette that my father got second-hand from my grandparents in the late 90s, in a box of odds and ends they didn’t want any more. Not sure why this one stands out for me but it’s one of the few songs on that tape that made any sort of impression.
“My Prayer” by The Platters (also from 1956) is a song I probably heard on Oldies 102.5 in Charleston, SC as a child. It stands out for me as a song I knew even if it wasn’t a favorite; however, this is complicated by the fact that it’s actually a song that goes back to 1939 in its lyrical version (Vera Lynn did a lovely rendition but I probably knew Glenn Miller’s version). This could very well be a childhood memory from Phil’s life.
The most recent of these on my list is The Theme From “A Summer Place” by the Percy Faith Orchestra, released in 1960. Another song I know from the oldies radio station, and one I’m not sure about how well I knew it back then. It does make me think of the Marin Headlands around Point Reyes, though, with its saccharine imagery of chiseled coastlines and Pacific sunsets. It certainly was many people’s idea of the perfect “summer place.”
While trying to track down more info on Clyde/Clive, I began looking up information about shipwrecks on the West Coast.
First I tried Oregon but there were no paddle steamers wrecked in Oregon that I could find. I then tried California, expecting the same luck.
Instead, I found one that piqued my interest right away!
In 1866, a British-built paddle steamer called the “Labouchere” on its way from San Francisco, CA to Victoria, BC wrecked at Point Reyes, CA.
This is very interesting because:
1. It’s a paddle steamer.
2. It was in service in BC, a far-flung part of the British Empire at that time.
3. Phil lived at Point Reyes Station in the early 1960s which would make for a very interesting coincidence.
It would also explain my memory of standing on a rocky cliff looking down at a foundered ship.
If I can find a list of names on board, I’ll be very excited! As it stands, I am still unsure if the name “Clyde Starr” or “Clive Sparks” or something along those lines is even correct so it could be a dead end even if I have the correct ship.
There was a gas station (I believe it was an Esso station) along a 4-lane highway somewhere in the mountains north of Berkeley. This was probably between 1958 and 1962, possibly the later date since I seem to remember buying Laura some rock candy. They had a candy bar there that had a blue and white label, but I don’t remember what it was. The place had little more than a single rack of candy bars, a coke machine, some cigarettes and lighters, and some road atlases.
There are still gas stations like this here in Oregon, one of the few places in the world where attendants still pump gas for you, and they were a lot more common earlier in my current life, but so many of them were bulldozed in the 90s to make way for the combination gas station and curb market that became the most common format today.
Seems like the land behind the station sloped downward on a grassy slope. The road curved to the left somewhat heading toward some mountains.
It looked kind of similar to an area I passed through in 2011 while moving to Oregon but not exactly the same. That area was way north and east of Berkeley, round about Susanville. I have no idea where this actually was but my gut tells me it was close to the town of Weed, CA.
If it was Weed, then the mountain peak in the distance was probably Mt. Shasta, it was probably summer time because there was little or no snow visible, and it may have been either Hwy 97 or Route 99W (which has now been obliterated from that area by the freeway). A search for historic photos of the area hasn’t turned up what I’m looking for but the roads and the views from 97 through Weed look promising. That’s fairly remarkable in that I’ve only ever seen that area from the freeway and not from the town itself.