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Life as a Scot in California

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The Summer of Going Back Without Going Away

Posted by berkeleyscot on July 29, 2008

Old friends visited us this summer.

The oldest were Richard and Jean. My Richard and Jean’s Richard met on their first day of Primary School in Leeds, 55 years ago. They were Boy Scouts together, both becoming Queen Scouts.

Richard and Jean came to our wedding and Richard was our official wedding photographer. That was 35 years ago.

But we didn’t spend much of our time together reminiscing. Our current lives are far too interesting and we had much of the present to share.

Who would have thought that 55 years after my Richard boasted to Jean’s Richard that he had snakes in his garden, that we’d all be walking at the Berkeley Marina together, looking at wildlife?

Jean and Richard are dedicated birdwatchers, and were thrilled to see a red tailed hawk carry off a ground squirrel. Snakes in your garden don’t come close to that excitement.

Willie and Evelyn were in the area, on a road trip. We met when we all newly arrived in Berkeley, 30 years ago. Willie and Evelyn are Scots, but we became good friends in spite of the Scottish connection!

Lucy, from Edinburgh, visited in May. Lucy and I met in the Latin class at Edinburgh University in 1968.  Although we exchanged a few Christmas cards, we’d not seen each other since I left Edinburgh in 1971. But we get news of each other from mutual friends.

Who would have thought in 1968, that we’d meet again in Berkeley?

It was good to have a fresh look at Berkeley through their eyes, especially North Berkeley, where we, Willie and Evelyn had lived. 30 years ago, we didn’t notice how shabby some of the buildings are and they’re 30 years shabbier now. Shops we remembered have long gone and those remaining look like they are going out of business.

It feels as if Berkeley has no passion for moving forward, but is a bit like Queen Victoria, insisting on wearing mourning for the past forever.

Berkeley, visually, is a dump. The Summer of Love has faded and shriveled.

The rest of the World has taken on Berkeley’s ideals and practices progressive common sense.

Berkeley, WAKE UP!


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