In last week’s “Keepers of Our Culture,” we introduced you to guest columnist Howard Rowland and his story of his morning walks up and down Lighthouse Avenue. These are the true-life personal stories we’re seeking for “Life in Pacific Grove,” the collection of tales by and for residents and visitors of PG that we’re publishing to benefit the Friends of the Pacific Grove Public Library. More on this project—including how you can submit your story—at the end of this column. But first, sit back and enjoy a continuation of Howard’s morning walk along Lighthouse Avenue. This column was originally printed in the Keepers of Our Culture column in the February 17, 2017 issue of the Cedar Street Times.
Meeting a Tall Fellow Named ‘Littlejohn’
I was engaging in my weekly raid on the ATM machine at the Bank of America, where a security guard is usually stationed at the bank’s entrance to discourage all Bonnie-and-Clyde types from trying to “case the joint” for a future robbery. The one mostly there nowadays is a young middle-aged man whose last name is “Littlejohn,” even though he is at least 6’3″ tall. He is so laid-back and popular that he is almost always surrounded by two or more local citizens who stop to chat with him.
Just a couple of days ago I noticed from a distance that the security guard Brian Littlejohn had grown older, had gray hair, and was slightly shorter. As I approached, I realized that it was definitely somebody else, and the last name on his badge was “Oliveira.”
“Aha!” I said to him as I went up to him. “You have a Portuguese last name. Does it mean ‘olive tree’ or ‘olive’?” I asked.
“It means ‘olive tree,’” he answered. Then he added, “And I am Portuguese.”
Noticing his slight foreign accent, I asked, “Were you born in Portugal?”
From the Azores to Angola to Pacific Grove
“No,” he replied, “I was actually born in the Azores, but I mostly grew up in Africa, in Angola.”
We went on to have a very interesting conversation. He told me, among other things, that although there was no apartheid policy between the Portuguese and native Africans like there used to be in South Africa between whites and blacks, the Africans in Angola did carry out a revolution and most of the white Portuguese had to flee for their lives. And he ended up in America.
“I worked here in the US as an engineer for many years,” he went on, “but the company went out of business, so I got a job here as a security guard. It’s a good job, and I like it because it keeps me busy, and I really love being in America. Especially here in Pacific Grove.”
“Well, we love having you here,” I said to him as I told him goodbye.
After talking to Mr. Oliveira, I ran into an older man, right outside the Juice and Java coffee shop, who was taking his little Shetland sheepdog for a walk.
“Ah, a Sheltie,” I said to him. “I just lost my 12-year-old female Collie last year. Let me pet your dog.”
“Go ahead. He’s friendly. And I’m sad to hear about your loss.”
“Thanks,” I said. I then kept petting his dog for a little while, since I felt myself starting to cry, but didn’t want to show this.
After about 15 seconds, the grief inside me started to pass, I looked up, and we continued the conversation for a bit, mainly comparing which of the breeds, Collies or Shelties, bark more than the other closely-related breed. We concluded that both dog types bark one hell of a lot, and told each other a couple of anecdotes to back this up.
Then I went back to my little house in New Monterey, got myself a shot of my favorite honey-flavored Russian Stolichnaya vodka, sat in my big easy chair, and started writing this story.
And Now It’s Your Turn
We want to include your story in “Life in Pacific Grove.” Won’t you contribute a few words to this worthwhile community project? Just go to our website, lifeinpacificgrove.com, and follow the easy directions and submit right on the site. And if you don’t think you’re a writer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is by attending the next free writing class, Thursday, March 16, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Little House in Jewell Park. We promise you will leave the session with a story for your family and for this historic PG book.
GROUPS AND ORGANIZATIONS: Patricia Hamilton will be speaking to the Pacific Grove Rotary on February 21, and at Canterbury Woods on March 7, about “Life in Pacific Grove” and later will be leading two writing workshops for the residents of Canterbury Woods. She is available to give a presentation about contributing to “Life in Pacific Grove” to your group, book club, service organization, friends and family, and also to lead a writing session to gather stories. Contact her at email@example.com to set up a date and time.