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Westward Bound — I Left My Heart …

“Wandering in a garden of dreams,” she said, “and it also convinced me that after seeing such a wonderland of beauty that there was surely a mistake about there being an ugly sordid side of life.”

The bay looked so beautiful and shimmering in the sunlight that Sabbath morning. When we arrived in San Francisco we found that we would have to wait seven hours for our train to start for Los Angeles. Here is where my cloven hoof nature asserted itself, for I was so tired out. In other words, I felt bum. That doesn’t sound very well but that was how I felt all right. We talked it over and compromised, and decided to wait the seven hours.

We checked our luggage and got our breakfast in a greek restaurant. We had hot cakes and syrup, oatmeal and milk and felt decidedly better. We agreed that we would go on a sight-seeing tour. We first took a walk in the business section, then boarded a car and went out to Golden Gate Park. The boys became so interested in watching two corpulent Chinese men on the car, and they had the whole car laughing at them as they whispered and giggled.

When we arrived at the park a wonderful panorama of beauty spread out before us. All we could do was Ooh! and Ah! and run frantically from one plant to another. Oscar said that everyone would know we had never been anywhere before. The trees, foliage, shrubbery, plants and flowers all had a perfume all their own and I seemed to be wandering in a garden of dreams, and it also convinced me that after seeing such a wonderland of beauty that there was surely a mistake about there being an ugly sordid side of life. There was the most wonderful pansy bed that one could ever imagine with their nodding velvet faces upturned toward the sun.

In one part of the park children were riding burros and driving goats. Our children, being live wires, wanted to participate, so we reluctantly parted with four nickels for tickets and soon our boys were riding burros and Lois was driving a goat.

Ella Hile Diary, 16-17

In the early 1990s I lived just a block off of Golden Gate Park. I used to ride my bike in the exact same spots where my family had ventured some eight decades or so prior. I would hike through Miss Ella’s garden of dreams not realizing just who had passed there before. In the open fields where the burros must have been, I had no idea my grandfather and his brothers had once gotten their nickel’s worth right there. In one sense it saddens me to have missed it, but it also makes me appreciate just how close we actually all are. Will someone someday visit the Alhambra Hills of Martinez, look out on Carquinez Strait, and marvel at the fact that Grandpa used used to hike those hills? Will someone meander through the streets of The City and note those who came before them? Will somebody remember me? I certainly pray that will be the case.

For Oscar, Ella and the kids, however, their time was not yet over …

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