The morning coffee group at McDonald’s on Sunset Avenue has a little different makeup each day.
There are maybe 25 folks who come, but only about a dozen regulars. I’m a newcomer. I’ve been coming for about eight months. They have been meeting for about 15 years.
The average age is maybe 75. I do want you to meet these good people. I am going to tell you about some life experiences they all have shared, then I’ll give you a thumbnail sketch about those I know best.
All have survived the school of hard knocks as confident individuals. All have recovered from something, such as bad habits, personal losses or illness. They respect and help each other. Each brings different skills or life experiences.
If someone has a problem, others have probably experienced something similar and are willing to help. The racial mix is about as diverse as can be, but race is never considered an issue. They are always glad to see each other.
I’m going to start with thumbnails of Larry Wayne Williams and Jim Mits. I can’t give you 150 years of life experience in a few sentences, but this is a start.
Larry retired from C&H Sugar Company. He sometimes joins the group a little late. He stops to pick up other group members who don’t have transportation. Usually it’s Pedro, a World War II veteran, or Richard. I have learned a lot from his descriptions of growing up in Oakland, Richmond and Berkeley – all relayed with good humor.
Larry is always candid and open. He is the resident car fixer and a car fan. If someone has a car problem, Larry probably knows the answer or knows where to find it. Others help, too. His hard knocks have given him humility and a wisdom on how to relate to life with good humor. I like him.
Jim Mits is a retired plumber. What he brings is a huge amount of travel experience – and vegetables. Jim’s dad was a gold miner in the Sierras – deep mining. That was a revelation to me because I had always believed that the only gold mining in the Sierras was placer mining.
Jim related how his father insisted on taking the family to different places on weekends and vacations – no matter what was happening with the weather. So Jim came by his desire to travel honestly. He tells the story of how, after retirement, he and his wife lived in a mobile home park in Yuma, Ariz., during the winter for about six months of the year.
The other six months they traveled with their fifth-wheel trailer, “Home.” They never traveled more than 150 miles a day. By noon, they were ready to settle in and take in the sights. Jim said the beauty of a fifth-wheel is that your truck becomes your transportation and people can ride in it while traveling. They did this for nine years.
Just as Elma is the “goodie lady,” Jim is the tomato man. He takes pride in growing enough tomatoes for the whole group, plus hot peppers for the staff at McDonald’s.
I’ll be sharing some of his tomatoes, cantaloupes and fresh onions this year. I’m looking forward to it.
Yes, l like Jim, too. I haven’t found anyone in the “group” who I don’t like.
Reach Murray Bass at 427-0744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.