California Dreaming

Aunt Betty sent this telegram to 731 West Prinston, Orlando, Florida where I guess we were living at the time.  It’s dated August 4, 1955.

bettystelegramI have no memory of Orlando except for mosquitoes.  The place we were in had no air conditioning of course.  If we were to sleep at all the windows had to be open, but the screens were in bad repair.  So I have a recollection I believe accurate that we slept with mosquito netting hung over our beds.

Before that we had been in Tampa for a while that summer as WB looked for work.

Since we arrived in San Diego, more specifically La Mesa, before the school year started we must have lit out for California not long after that telegram arrived.

It reads:

Talked with Johnny Melega for Etching 5831 El Cajon Blvd says good brick masons badly needed here advises you to come on house plentiful beautiful GI close to beaches here there is no other place like San Diego I drove it in a 38 please come home love Betty.

So that’s what happened.  WB got a job with Etchings and worked it till he retired.  We did not settle close to the beaches of course.  “I drove it in a 38”—I don’t know what that means unless Betty was indicating that she was able to drive from South Carolina to San Diego in a car made in 1938.

We drove it in a ’47 Studebaker.

In “The Southern Diaspora,” James N. Gregory argues that southerners, both black and white, had been moving out of the South in considerable numbers since the turn of the 20th century.  The 50’s were the decade of greatest migration. More than four million whites, blacks and Hispanics moved out to other parts in that decade.

We were part of a great migration whether we knew it or not.