Family Archeology

There were not many places in San Diego where a person could count on seeing seals, but one of them was (is) La Jolla Cove. Unfortunately on the day pictured in the featured photo there were no seals in sight. It was a fun drawing, anyway.

One afternoon soon after my mom died and her stuff came to my house in San Diego, I was cleaning out her old photos, and I found a photo of my dad. It took me a moment to register that my dad was sitting on a railing at La Jolla Cove. My dad does NOT look happy in the photo, and I would love to know the story behind his expression — other than the sun being in his eyes. Since he is facing south, I am pretty sure it was taken in the winter. He was probably 18 or 19. The historical moment would have been WW II — obviously.


I felt a little strange when I realized where he was. I was sure he’d told me he’d been stationed in San Diego — somewhere. Then I put the pieces together. I remembered him telling me about getting drunk in Tijuana, being busted down to buck private, and put in the brig while his “outfit” shipped out. I remembered he’d told me stories about being out at the Salton Sea about 100 miles east of San Diego and where, during the war, there were radio towers (all I knew). The pieces begin to click into place.

Then, I found this:

The drawing cracked me up. I’m sorry for the guy who died of thirst, though. I like the word valley in quotation marks, too.

I spent a lot of time out in that desert when I lived in California. I never saw it like THAT but I could still recognize it. Based on the little compass at the bottom I could see my dad was looking north and in that direction are the San Bernardino Mountains, Mt. San Jacinto the most visible from there when atmospheric conditions are right (winter). He’s drawn a low range in front of the San Bernardino and those are the mountains that ring the desert. His drawing is a little like these photos put together. He’s drawn the ocotillo and cholla cactus.

Only a couple hundred years ago, we couldn’t take photographs and people had to draw the scenery they encountered on their travels. I guess my dad and his fountain pen entered that tradition.

Posing with Pictographs in the Anza Borrego Desert sometime in the 1980s.

16 thoughts on “Family Archeology

  1. Detective work via photo and drawing. It sounds like you found the story. It also sounds like your dad was a bit of a wild one too – which makes the stories that much more entertaining. 🙂

  2. Wow! So cool that you found the art and the history! Your dad does look a little glum and the way he’s slouched makes me think he wasn’t feeling good… Too much of a good thing?

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