This is a true story. It happened to me on January 31, 2003.
Before continuing, read a picture story of the
Old Hotel Del Monte.
(This won't take long, just double click on the name and then come back.)
As I walked into Stokes Restaurant in Monterey Friday evening, it brought back memories of the many Cannery Row bars I had been in while stationed as a student (Vietnamese) at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey in the heart of the city of Monterey at the turn of the years 1963-64. (Go to the bottom of this page for links to all the references in italics.)
Norman and Barbara were the only ones sitting at the small, low-ceiling adobe watering hole with terra-cotta flooring. I announced myself to the nonexistent hostess and another couple seated at a table with a resounding "I'm with the Lubke group". Warm greetings were received from Norman and Barbara as they parted their stools and centered me between them. My hand was shaking slightly as I set their birthday gifts on the bar and ordered sparkling soda. When my drink arrived and toasted Barbara's birthday (Norman's birthday had been the previous day), I explained that my hands were shaking because I had just experienced one of those amazing, coincidental, serendipitous happenings that I was bursting to tell them about. (not to mention those four aspirins I had downed with a 20 oz. Iced Nestea)
I had left home in San Bruno at exactly 12:00 noon. The bathroom is being remodeled and the two-man team was there, so there was no chance to take a nap. I might as well get on the road. I could stop and shop at the Gilroy Outlet stores on the way to kill time and maybe do a few thrift stories on Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove to kill time before the 6:00 p.m. dinner at Stokes. I had decided not to stay overnight in Monterey unless I was really weary at the end of the evening, and then I would check into a Motel 6 in Seaside.
My original plan had been to visit Retired Army Brigadier General Jim Kays at his office at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) (Go the bottom of this page for all links to the italicized words) in the early afternoon and then apply for "stand by space" at the Bachelor Officer Quarters in the same compound. Jim has been the Dean of the Graduate School of Engineering & Applied Sciences at NPS since July 1, 2002. He and and I were lieutenants in the same 105 howitzer battery (C Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery) in the 82d Airborne Division in 1963. I ran into him only once after that. One day in 1964, I saw him getting out of jeep at the Danang Officer's Club. He was apparently not up to any small talk as he abruptly walked by me probably bent on some good American food. I just didn't push matters assuming he had just got back from many weeks in the field as a small unit advisor. As a headquarters type in pressed fatigues, I had great admiration for those who lived in the field for most of a month, and the greatest respect for their time constraints when rarely getting a shower or a hot meal, a chance to get mail, a chance to write a letter.
The original plan was "tossed" when Jim e-mailed me the day before in response to my e-mail to him the day before that, that he was surprised to hear from me, but that his recent arrival and busy schedule including business in Washington, D.C., would not allow time for a chat or visit. Once again, he had pressing matters. As a retired, retired servicemember "guesting" at a military installation, I have the greatest respect for the time constraints of those who are still effectively on active duty in positions of great responsibility in the service of our country in a time of war, like Jim Kays..
Jim's name had come to me recently only this last year as I read in the West Point alumni magazine about his appointment as a Dean of the Graduate School of Engineering & Applied Sciences at the NPS. [You can see Jim's picture and read more about Jim's career from his biography of Jim Kays at the NPS web site. (Go the bottom of this page for all links to the italicized words).]
Jim is a graduate of the West Point Class of 1962. That same article mentioned another member of the Class of 1962, Retired Army Lieutenant General Bob Ord would join Jim in Monterey as a fellow Dean. The latter, General Ord, is the Dean of the School for International Graduate Studies (SIGS).
Coincidentally, and importantly to me, Bob Ord is a high school classmate of Bob Kellman (Go the bottom of this page for all links to the italicized words) from their New Jersey public high school. Bob Kellman is my friend and a former member of my West Point squad. I try to meet with Bob for lunch or dinner every time he is in the Bay Area from his home in Clear Lake Oaks, northwest of Sacramento. "Ex-New Cadet" Bob Kellman resigned from West Point before the academic year began in 1959 and thus forever technically holds the status of "ex-New Cadet". He has officially been granted the upscale title of "X-Cadet" in the USMA Register of Graduates so save space. I joke, but this is no small issue with some protectors of West Point lineage.
Bob Kellman has mentioned to me many times of his pride in being a high school classmate of Bob Ord who went on to become a three-star Army general. Kellman and Ord are '57 and '58 graduates respectively of Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. Kellman, is a history buff and a West Point nostalgist particularly with E-Bay trading. He likes to stay connected with his West Point days and one result has been that he has recently been asked by his fellow USMA Preparatory School (USMAPS) graduates of the Class of 1959 to help find the "lost souls" in his platoon that can't be accounted for.
By the time I got to the Monterey Peninsula cutoff off Highway 101, it was only about 1:30 and I had started to get a touch of sore throat and the feeling that I could use a nap. I was going to get to Monterey way too early to effectively kill time before dinner, have dinner, and enjoy the ride home. Just after getting on the cutoff traffic came to a stand still on the two-way road. A driver coming the other way motioned to our side of the road to go back. Not knowing exactly where I was and having a small bladder, I turned around and decided to go down to Salinas and come at Monterey from the back way.
I stopped for the bathroom and gas, then drove across the mall to the Wal-Mart, bought some aspirins, some energy bars and a 20 oz. iced Nestea. I continued down the road toward Monterey. It's a lot longer to get there from the back side believe me as I passed the Laguna Seca raceway. I should not wear dress pants that are a size too small while driving a long distance. No wonder I had a headache. Soon the sign said Monterey this way and just as I rounded a curve, the sign said "Naval Postgraduate School". A quarter to three. Let's give it try. If the rooms were only $22, how could I go wrong?
|The Historical Old Del Monte Hotel, presently the Combined Bachelor Quarters, (Hermann Hall), is located in the heart of beautiful Monterey and only steps away from the Pacific Ocean, features 165 transient rooms, including 2 Handicap rooms. Amenities include maid service, wakeupcall system, private direct dial telephone number with voicemail capability, clock microwave, micro-fridge, color TV with basic cable, VCR, on site laundry facilities, snack vending machines and 24 fax and copy services. (NOTE: The parking lot is centered on the building just to the right of the right tree in the left photo)|
The directions from the gate guard took me to this huge building (photo above) which was engraved with the words "Hermann Hall, Administration." I asked a pedestrian where the BOQ was and he pointed at the big building. A family was pulling out of a nearby parking space and I waited for them to part. I noticed that there were a few marked, VIP reserved parking spaces, one of which read "Dean, INGS". I thought that was probably Bob Ord's space. It was naturally empty at 3:15 p.m. on a beautiful warm (72 degrees) Friday afternoon.
There was a short line at the front desk. The signs read "Check in time 3:00 p.m." and "Check out time 11:00 a.m." Obviously this meant that if you were transient standby without official orders, you would have to vacate each day and sign on again at three o'clock.
The interior of this massive lobby looked like what Grand Central Station must have looked like at the turn of the century (the one before this last one), and reminded me of the Chamberlain Hotel on the grounds of Fort Monroe, VA. There was lots of space -- about three stories worth --in the lobby, the ante lobby, and its ante lobby -- alone. I caught a glimpse of dedication plaques to Nimitz and others and this was just inside the front door!
I got a room! Room 305, and better yet, only $15.00!! To get to the elevator, I had to cross the massive lobby past a staircase down that could have easily allowed a Volkswagen to drive down and negotiate the turn. In the center alcove, their were colored pictures of the President, Secretary of Defense, Chief of Naval Operations etc. etc. and those of Bob Ord and Jim Kays. They haven't gotten around to putting a caption, other than name and title, below Jim's photo like they have on all the others..
The large elevator was framed in thick oak paneling. I spent some time admiring it.
The door to my room, and all the rooms were big and crafted from solid wood. They were one and a half times as wide and all as an ordinary door and the room itself was large with a tall ceiling and wall cabinets that had enough space for a basketball team. These large hallways were somewhat reminiscent of the ambiance of the Majestic Hotel in Saigon -- although here everything was on a larger scale. I had the last room on the right of my wing, and as I was opening my door, I noticed that the end room (Room 308) had double doors and the sign read "Assistant Dean, SIGS". The door was slightly ajar and a man in civilian clothes was talking to a lady who appeared to be an Administrative Assistant. Probably Bob Ord's office, I thought. I could get dressed and drop in, just to leave my card if nothing else, but thought better of it. Just not appropriate and besides, I needed to put my feet up and relax before going to dinner.
Nonetheless I took no small pleasure in the fact that my temporary address of Room 305 was next to Bob Ord's outer office, Room 308. This was to me, quite a coincidence, considering that it was not a VIP room and Hermann Hall has a total of 165 transient rooms! Something to write a story about. Something to tell Bob Kellman when I got back home. Something to tell Norman and Barbara about at dinner tonite!
Even though I wanted to watch the conclusion of a move on the "USA" channel, it was 5:15 p.m. and I really had to get going to be at Stokes Restaurant before six. Once I got to downtown Monterey, I had the street directions in my car, but I had to get to downtown right now. I left my room at 5:15 p.m., got in my car, circled out of the parking lot and headed back the way I had come from the front gate. Some guy in a small pickup was coming toward me in my lane in the street as I reached the other side of the parking lot. I thought for a minute, I might be going the wrong way on a one-way street, but I wasn't. This guy was ignoring the arrows painted on the road, so he could do a big swing and park in the first space without having to jockey around. And he was parking in Bob Ord's space.
"Must be Bob Ord himself", I thought. I parked askew in the lot blocking the space I had just vacated and walked up to the driver of the pickup who had been in my lane and had parked in Bob Ord's spot and asked, "Are you Bob Ord?" "Yes", he said, he was. I asked him what he was doing here so late. Very congenial and looking just like his picture in the lobby, he said he had a meeting and looked to be in a hurry. I told him I had been Bob Kellman's squad leader and he told me that he had gone to high school with Bob Kellman. (as if I didn't know). I gave him my card and told him to visit my web site. I told him I had also served with Jim Kays and as a matter of fact had been his rater when I was the XO of our artillery battery in the 82d Division Artillery. "You obviously did a fine job", Bob said, followed by something like "because Jim Kays is superb". And he was off at a fast pace toward Hermann Hall. He was in a hurry, I was in a hurry. I have the greatest respect for the time constraints of those who are still effectively on active duty in positions of great responsibility in the service of our country in a time of war, like Bob Ord .............
|As I walked into Stokes Restaurant in Monterey Friday evening, it brought back memories of the many Cannery Row bars I had been in while stationed as a student (Vietnamese) at the Defense Language Institute at the turn of the years 1963-64 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FINE'|
|To meet its
educational requirements, the Navy has developed a unique academic institution
at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) whose emphasis is on education
and research programs that are relevant to the Navy, defense and national
and international security interests. NPS provides a continuum of learning
opportunities, including Graduate Degree Programs, Continuous Learning
Opportunities, Refresher and Transition Education. These programs are
under the auspices of the four graduate schools.
Graduate School of Business & Public Policy
Graduate School of Engineering & Applied Sciences
School of International Graduate Studies
Graduate School of Operational & Information Sciences