Jim Jewell: Winter brings about some memories of Castle Heights

I tried not to be smug, but I just couldn’t help myself while making weather comparisons this past week.
Jan 28, 2014
Jim Jewell


I tried not to be smug, but I just couldn’t help myself while making weather comparisons this past week. 

As temperatures dove in Lebanon to depths I don’t recall, the Southwest corner was strutting its stuff. While reports from back home reported single digits for highs, San Diego was basking in Southwest corner winter.

My usual round of Friday golf gave me seaport weather. The marine layer hung around longer than usual with the sun peeking through around 11:00 a.m. shortly after our round (our Friday tee times are around seven, and we typically finish well under four hours). It was cool enough to wear a wind shirt for about half the round, but I left my jacket in the car.

That kind of Friday weather is most enjoyable to me. The grey mist against the green fairways is peaceful in the early morning. The front nine winds through the base supply area, enlisted berthing facilities – no longer “barracks,” enlisted Navy quarters are more like high-end hotels – and Coronado homes. The sea only appears as a back drop to the eighth green and ninth tee.

The Pacific Ocean is visible from every hole on the back nine. The wonderful Victorian Hotel Del Coronado is in full view on the 13th hole, which plays toward the ocean. The next two holes play along the Coronado beach with the majestic Point Loma looming ahead. The point always reminds me of the Prudential Insurance’s logo, although the logo is based on Gibraltar. Point Loma is especially haunting when it is cast in grey with white wisps of clouds swirling around the historic light house on the promontory.

Saturday was one of those days I would like to frame. Our friends, Steve and Maria Frailey invited us for a day on their sailboat, not to sail, but for a quiet day on the waterfront. There was not a cloud in the sky, and we basked in shorts and shirtsleeves as we punted from the Southwestern Yacht Club over to the Kona Kai on Shelter Island for a rendezvous with other friends. A light late afternoon breeze required a sweater for dinner at the yacht clubs restaurant with the lights of San Diego Bay front as a backdrop.

It was pretty much a perfect day. Of course, we are wallowing in a drought because of this wonderful weather. It is the yin and yang of the Southwest corner. 

And, although it may not seem so idyllic to those of you who are mired in sub-freezing weather, I have some fond memories of Lebanon’s winters.

When January and February rolled onto Castle Heights Avenue, it did not usually alleviate my requirement to walk up the hill to Heights. I would don the grey wool uniform pants, shirt and tie, and heavy pea coat for my journey. Snow and those temperatures Tennessee is experiencing this week did not deter me.

I loved those walks in the snow. The old concrete archway, barely wide enough for two cars to pass on what is now Castle Heights Avenue North opened up the vista to the drive lined with stately trees arching across the road to meet each other. After a snow, the white limbed arch gave me the impression of walking through a palace entry.

If the weather was rough when I had guard duty, there was some relief. On such duty days, I had to report to the guard house (actually a room at the foot of the staircase in Main) at 6:00 a.m. On such occasions, my mother would take pity and drive me that quarter mile.

One night before guard duty, it snowed about eight or ten inches and the temperature plummeted to 15 degrees. My mother rousted me early, grabbed her housecoat, and because her car was blocked in the driveway, chauffeured me in my father’s 1955 Pontiac.

She dropped me off but ran out of gas as she headed back down the hill. As dawn approached, she stood behind the gate archway until no cars were on West Main. Then she dashed across and walked the rest of the way home, ready to leap behind a tree if a car came along. I still laugh when I picture the scene in my mind.

Of course, today she would have had to wait until pretty much forever.

Estelle Jewell was and remains a trooper.

 Jim Jewell, a retired Navy commander lives in San Diego but was raised in Lebanon. His book, A Pocket of Resistance: Selected Poems, is now available through Author House, Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. Jim’s email is jim@jimjewell.com.


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