Monday, January 3, 2011
San Francisco Military Hospital Adventures, Part 1
When I was a little girl, we lived in Marysville. A trip to San Francisco was a very big deal. It was a three-hour drive each way. The drive seemed to last forever. When I was 12, we moved to Sacramento. Now San Francisco was only two hours away. Still an eternity when you're stuffed in a hot station wagon with your sisters.
My youngest sister was born with a heart condition. She had open-heart surgery when she was four. They did it at Letterman Hospital at the Presidio Army Base in San Francisco.
This was my experience on a typical trip to San Francisco - Two hours in the car, then we three older sisters had to sit on the lawn outside the hospital because visitors had to be at least 18 years old. We waited there ALL DAY while our parents were inside with the patient. Then we were stuffed in the station wagon for two more hours to go home.
It was the most boring thing in the world.
There were no video games, iPods, or internet. It was 1968, and we were 15, 13, 10, and 4. The four-year-old at least had something to do. Of course, we were concerned about her. But there was nothing we could do and the days were long. I don't remember how many days we spent like this. I believe it was several weeks.
There was a MP guard shack near the hospital. We could see it from the lawn.
One day we saw the MPs dragging a young man into the shack. This was during the Vietnam War.
A little while later, the young man broke free and ran out of the shack. The MPs shot him with their rifles when he was about ten feet away. He fell onto the grass.
The MPs grabbed him by the arms and dragged him into the hospital.
An MP came over and asked if we were okay. We said yeah.
Then it went back to being boring again.