Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘San Diego Union

We Were Crawling Through a White-Out . . .

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imagesD40MGR1V. . . between Detroit and Chicago on our way to our new home in San Diego when we heard about the massive Sylmar earthquake 45 years ago.

We’d been on the road a couple of hours so it was about 9 a.m. Tuesday when the first tidbits about the temblor interrupted the car-radio reports on the weather and traffic conditions. Our search for the next highway rest-stop became more intense because we wanted to wait out the snowstorm and discuss whether we really wanted to continue.

After all, we had stumbled into several hurdles since we tried to rip out our Canadian roots and transplant ourselves on the Left Coast. The earthquake might have meant to be our final warning.

This was after we had torn out the transmission of the family flivver four days earlier. We had planned to haul a trailer with our goods across country but our two-door hardtop decided against it just as we were approaching the Ambassador Bridge linking Canada and United States at the southern edge of Windsor and Detroit. Fortunately, it happened on the Canadian side and the garage we used over the years back in Windsor, Ontario, knew us, recognized our problem when we made a quick panic phone call, hauled everything to his locale and worked over the weekend to get us road-worthy again.

He even towed the loaded U-Haul trailer to our neighbor’s, who also came to our rescue and let us – three adults (my brother drove his VW bug down with us) and three kids — camp with them for the weekend. In between partying and panic attacks, we unpacked our belongings, returned the trailer, acquired several boxes and repacked our stuff, and arranged for a moving company to pick it up and deliver it to the address we would give them as soon as we settled. (It got here a bit more than a month after we arrived.)

The hiatus did give me the opportunity to drop back into The Detroit News to pick up my farewell check instead of having them mail it to me.

We finally pulled into a roadside diner stop a few miles short of Chicago. We couldn’t see it from the road but the kids saw a parking lot packed with vehicles, so we pulled in. Over some cups of coffee and assorted eats, we crowded around the TV set with the horde of other travelers to catch the latest on the California quake. And we wondered if our move to the West Coast was meant to be.

But the kids – in their tweens — were upbeat and undeterred about taking up a new life in the environs of Hollywood and Disneyland and surfers so we waited until the snowstorm subsided, topped off the gas tank and were back on the road before noon.

We got shafted that night by a motel owner in Lee’s Summit just outside St. Louis. He recognized us as refugees fleeing the frigid north for southern comfort and fleeced us for our rooms. It taught us to just walk away from the desk when given a price. That brought an immediate discount and, after a bit more haggling, the cost would to fit our budget. After all, this was February and most of these digs were empty.

The problems and perils we’d tumbled over moved quickly into the backs of or minds as we slipped into the adventure of sliding along route 66. The Golden State was still here when we arrived so I bought a short-sleeved shirt to wear when I walked into my new job at the San Diego Union on President’s Day.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

February 11, 2016 at 9:09 pm

He Was a Buddy…

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    newspaper1REEVES, Gerry —  Worked for The Union, 1969-1979 as assistant city editor (day), county editor, state government writer, Chula Vista office bureau chief, writing fictitious rainfall figures. Doing a lot of photo and video work, some freelance PR projects. Very active in community theater publicity. Travel a lot. Contact:; 1318 Pine Drive, El Cajon, CA 92020; (619) 447-2582

That’s how he described himself in the San Diego Union-Tribune alumni directory. He hired on a year before I did and left a year before I did.
We got to know each other covering the South Bay and each other’s back for a few years. When he moved downtown, he would bug me about moving there but we always agreed that the absence of editorial-room politics made the bureaus exceedingly attractive. It was his nudge to City Editor Walt MacArthur that got me to join the financial department with Don Bauder, Denise Carabet, Jim Mitchell, Helen Call and Mary Russell. Charlie Ross and Fred Muir came later. That hiatus taught me to embark on a public relations career to finance my retirement.
Gerry left the Union to become an editor in Tucson and then moved into public relations in Los Angeles before returning to San Diego to manage PR matters at Cubic Corp. Again, he was a booster. I was hired as a contractor and, as well as doing other jobs that cropped up with regularity, I was editor of the company’s in-house monthly magazine for several years. This contributed to the financial health of my PR agency — and my retirement.
We had breakfast/lunch a couple or three times a year. He suffered some severe medical problems over the years. Among them were lung cancer that required surgery, diabetes, and the last time we talked he was losing weight at an alarming rate and didn’t know what was causing it. He had a doctor’s appointment the following week to discuss it.
He didn’t spend much time talking about all that. He liked to expound the benefits of his latest toy — a camera or computer or whatever — and the latest developments with the acting troupe he was working with. We always talked about “the good old days and the good guys” and caught each other up on names and faces we had kept up with. Sometimes we’d wonder how politicians keep getting stupider and stupider.
We were due to nudge one another to set a date for our pre-Christmas brunch. But he died last Wednesday (Aug. 27) in San Diego’s VA Hospital.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

September 2, 2014 at 7:28 am