Our Welcome Back to California

Our return trip to California was again via the polar route, and we passed the snow-clad peaks of Greenland at about midday in brilliant sunshine. There was a strong head wind while crossing the Atlantic, which made it necessary for our plane to put in at St. Paul, Minnesota for refuelling. As a result, we arrived late in Los Angeles, and missed our connecting plane to Ontario, Cal. We did however catch the next one in about half an hour and in no time at all we were airborne over the beautiful and exotic city of Los Angeles. It was early night as we flew over this extensive area of sheer fairyland with its twinkling lights and geometric patterned landscape. What a sight! The full original name of this city, I once read from Halliburton’s book on World Travel, was "El pueblo de nuestra seƱora la reins de los angeles de Portaluca". We reached our home in Colton just after ten o'clock that evening.

Before we left for our vacation in England, we had filed our papers for Naturalisation as citizens of the U.S.A. and shortly after we returned, we received notification that we would be examined for citizenship within a short time. Emma and I attended the examination, which was completely oral, at the San Bernardino Superior Courthouse, involving a knowledge of American history, government, and facts about the U.S. constitution which every U.S. Citizen is expected to know. We both passed the test, and on November 16th 1972, at an impressive ceremony at the Masonic temple in San Bernadine, in company with many others we became United States of America citizens, and received our certificates of naturalization.

Our two sponsors were Ardis Beckner, wife of Dr. Bill Beckner, and Don Schlinkert, a colleague of mine from Loma Linda University hospital. Both were very close friends of ours since our arrival in California in 1967. There was an occasion I must record which took place at Loma Linda University grounds during my employment there. It was the arrival of the then President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, by helicopter, on the campus grounds. His visit was to announce the establishment and building of a veterans' hospital on nearby land, and the choice of the University's grounds for his arrival gave us who were employed there, a classic example of the security measures taken to protect the life of a president.

Sea King VH3A

Days before his arrival, security agents arrived at the university and carefully mapped out the areas over which the president would walk. They arranged for armed guards to be posted on the roof of the building, and also on roofs more than a block away but overlooking the site of his proposed landing. There was even a sentry posted in the tower of the University Church. The parking lot on which the landing would take place was situated between the church and the Medical centre, and to achieve this end with the greatest degree of success, the parking lot was cleared, and even stripped of its several tall electric lamp posts in order to accommodate the large navy helicopters which preceded the one in which the president arrived.

The whole area was then cordoned off, and very limited and protected access was provided for the carefully selected invitees. I was among the crowd looking on as the president arrived, and it was interesting to see a ring of security guards on the inside of the roped-in area, looking out at, and scrutinizing the people in the crowd, never once taking their eyes off the faces of this large gathering, and on more than one occasion, removing demonstrators.

In contrast to this exhibition of protectiveness, I recall once, when I was living in England, having travelled on the same electric train which carried Harold Wilson, the then Prime Minister, to Euston station. It is true he occupied a special carriage, but it was simply hooked up to the normal passenger train, and he carried the minimum of security personnel. As we both detrained at the Euston terminal, there were television cameras taking pictures of his arrival, but that was all the excitement there was. Having, as it were, lived in these two "worlds", it was impossible not to notice the great difference in treatment of two important people.

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