THE MIDNIGHT SKULKER 19
San Diego, California
March 1, 1974
8:19 a.m. Pacific Standard Time
“Okay,” speaking into the phone, “we’ll do your breakfast.”
“You’ll enjoy it… When you’re finished with breakfast, go to the front desk and ask for ‘Jason’…”
“ ‘Jason’; that’s you?”
“Yes, Sir. After breakfast come to the front desk and I’ll have your maps, your routing for the day and the keys to your Buick convertible… Oh, yes, one thing more.”
“What’s that, Jason?”
“What color would you like the car?”
9:20 p.m. Pacific Standard Time
“You were right, Jason, thank you!” Marsha said, “Breakfast was wonderful!”
“You’re welcome. I thought you’d enjoy our breakfast.”
Handing Mitchell a set of keys, motioning towards the ‘Shelter Inn’s’ sparkling clear, double-wide plate glass door-way, “Your car’s right outside.”
Coming from the lobby, “Oh, my God!”
Its top down to a perfect, seventy-two degree Southern California morning, the powder blue, 1978 Buick ‘Wildcat’ convertible with white leather interior, sat parked immediately adjacent the plate glass doorway.
Unbelievably asked, “This is our car, Jason?”
Handing Mitchell a set of keys, “Yes, Sir,” holding the door open for Marsha, “until midnight.”
Seating himself onto the wonderfully soft, glove leather seat, thinking, Wonder if this is how Cinderella felt?
Seating herself onto the wonderfully soft, glove leather seat, “I’m beginning to feel like Cinderella.” Marsha said,
Handing Mitchell two maps and a type written route sheet, “Take a left there…” Speaking slowly, pointing to a short, two lane road, “to Rosecrans where you’ll go right… then a right onto North Harbor Drive… to U.S. five North… to ‘Sea World Drive’… If you pay attention to the street signs and follow your route slip, it’ll take you from ‘Sea World’ to ‘Coronado’ to ‘Tijuana’ and back to Shelter Island.”
Reading the double spaced route slip, easily following Jason’s verbal instructions. “Thanks’, Jason, you’ve really been helpful.”
Having done this, minimally, three times a day, five days a week for the past four years, knowing the routine, but not speaking as though by rote, giving the impression that he was truly concerned – and Jason actually was — truly concerned with the safety and enjoyment of the ‘Shelter Inn’s’ guests, and his concern did go beyond the usually large tips he received.
“One thing more, Sir. When you get into Mexico do not… I repeat, do not drink the water. If you get thirsty, buy a ‘Coke’. If you do eat lunch there, do not, I repeat, do not go ‘native’! Eat at one of the larger restaurants that’ll have the word, ‘American’, somewhere on their signs.”
“Can we drink the water there, then?”
“I’d say yes; they usually serve bottled water, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.”
Turning the key in the ignition, “Thanks’ again.” Feeling the smooth purr of the eight cylinder engine, smoothly pulling away from ‘The Shelter Inn’ driveway, the Buick took a left onto the short, two lane road and, within seconds, a right onto ‘Rosecrans…
Running through commercial and industrial sections of the city it’s about a twenty minute drive to U.S. 5… Then north on ‘five’ for roughly seven miles to ‘Sea World Drive’…
‘Sea world being on a peninsula, ‘SeaWorld Drive’ meanders through a beautifully manicured flower enshrouded field that runs westerly and – in the direction the powder blue Buick convertible was going – there was a wide inlet of the blue Pacific to the left.
As Sea World would not open until 11 a.m., passing the huge, near empty parking lot, “Mitchie,” Marsha asked, “Why are here?”
“Well,” motioning to the inlet, “It is kind of beautiful here, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but right now we’re just looking at an empty parking lot.”
“The kids want to come here, too. So at least we know how to find it.”
“Yeah, that's true . But I guess coming here now was one’a those ideas that seemed like a good idea at the time.”
“Yeah, I guess… Wann’a leave here, huh?”
“Yes. At least in Coronado we can walk on the beach.”
“Yeah, okay." Looking at Jason’s route slip.
Retracing most of the trip to the “Sea World” parking lot, this time traveling south where ‘U.S. 5’ became ‘The San Diego Freeway’….
Remembering how conditions were when they’d boarded the plane in Chicago yesterday, compared to…
“My, God!” Her arms stretched upward, extended from side to side. ”Mitchie, I love it here!”
Zipping along ‘The San Diego Freeway’ in a ‘nifty’ convertible with, by this time, a seventy eight degree breeze ruffling their hair, “Me, too, baby! Me, too. I can’t wait!”
Exiting ‘U.S. 5’ at ‘California 75’ which leads directly to…
Across the bay from Downtown San Diego, the two-mile long, ‘Coronado Bay Bridge’ connects the city of San Diego to…
Following Jason’s route sheet, ‘California75’ became ‘4th Street’ once across the bridge, then a left turn onto ‘Orange Avenue’ to ….
‘Hotel Del Coronado’
Built in 1888, this classic ocean-front hotel had been trumpeted as one of America’s most beautiful beach resorts.
With its red turrets piercing the deeply blue California skyline, the ‘Hotel del Coronado’ radiated a Victorian splendor that was without equal.
Pulling into an adjacent parking lot, “Come on, let’s go in!”
Both dressed in fairly nice, though not overly expensive summer clothing, holding hands, they entered through the main entryway into a world of heretofore unseen old fashioned, old world shiny wood grained, red carpeted splendor.
“Mitchie, this is just about the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.”
“Yeah, me, too. I can’t even imagine what it cost to stay here.”
Walking slowly, looking into the windows of the many, financially out of reach, shops that were to be seen throughout the Del Coronado promenade.
“I’ve heard that this is where Marilyn Monroe used to go when she wanted to get away from Hollywood.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that, too. “ Mitchell said.
Walking from the front entrance to the rear, which opened into a huge horseshoe shaped cabaña, umbrella and deck-chair adorned concrete deck that overlooked a near white sand beach.
Spotting two side by side umbrella covered deck-chairs, “Come on, let’s sit for a while.”
“Mitchie, we’re not guests here, and we can’t just go sitting anywhere.”
“Honey, first off, how would anyone know that we’re not guests here? And if someone should happen by and tell us to leave, we’ll leave.”
Smell this air, baby. My, God, how beautiful this is!”
Sitting within this story-book setting with the balmy ocean breeze fanning their bodies words were not spoken as there were no words that could describe the wondrous sense of peace, the wondrous sense of beauty that enveloped the husband and wife.
Eventually... Glancing over his shoulder to the wide, deck-chair covered white painted veranda, “Remember the movie, ‘Some Like it hot’?”
Turning, looking where Mitchell looked, “Sure, how could I forget, ‘Some like it Hot’? One of the funniest movies ever made.”
“Remember when the band, along with Marilyn Monroe, got to the hotel they were supposed to perform at?”
“Yeah, where Joe E. Brown tried to ‘make out’ with Tony Curtis? Sure!”
“Well that was all shot here.”
“You think, maybe, we could afford to stay here someday?”
“God, Marcie,” kissing her hand, “I sure would hope so.”
©October 12, 2011 / Mark M. Lichterman