Vince and I had two Mexican restaurants that we really enjoyed. The first was Casa de Pico. It was located in the Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town San Diego State Park. Old Town, San Diego, is where the Spaniards first settled back in 1757 or 1767, I forget which. Bazaar del Mundo is a collection of Latin America flavored shops surrounding Casa de Pico, a patio or outside dining restaurant. The whole place is decorated in bright, festive colors and it feels good just being there. On the weekends, there was usually a mariachi band circulating from table to table in the restaurant. The area is a favorite with both locals and tourists.
Pat was with me one time when Vince showed up with his mother and daughter. Vince’s mother, Nadine Gillen, had been our Cub Scout Den Mother. I believe we joined the Scouts when we were 9 years old so that would have been 1945. Considering that this lunch date was taking place between 1995 and 2001, a lot of water had passed under the bridge. It was a real treat to see Mrs. Gillen again.
I hate to admit that I’m too dumb to remember the daughter’s name but it’s true. We only saw her once but she was/a real cute girl, and Pat and I liked her immediately. She had married a guy from New Jersey, and I think they lived in New York. She thought a lot of her mother-in-law, but couldn’t resist imitating her New Jersey accent. She did a whole routine and cracked us all up.
Another favorite restaurant was Las Ollas. It was located across from the public beach in either Solana Beach or Cardiff By The Sea. Those beach towns all run so close together, I’m never sure what town I’m in. Anyway, Las Ollas is located a little bit north of San Diego, up Highway 101. The restaurant is on the east side of the road, and you just turn off into their parking lot. On the west side of the road is the beach and the surf.
After eating at Las Ollas, Vince and I would jump in our cars and go a couple of miles north to Swami Beach. The parking lot for Swami is on top of a cliff, 30 or 40 feet above the beach. There is a stairway going down to the sand with more steps than Vince and I could navigate. There were concrete benches up on top, and Vince and I would just sit there and stare at the Pacific. It’s peaceful and mesmerizing. Vince’s son, Mitch, joined us at Las Ollas a couple of times. Mitch lived in Park City, Utah, where he tended bar in summer, and was a ski instructor in winter.
Pat and our friend, Judy, joined us for lunch at Las Ollas one time.
I think Vince’s mother was living in Joplin. His brother, Steve, had retired there after a career as a teacher and school principal. Vince’s sister, Kathryn, had been living in Anaheim. Her husband, Jim Stell, had already passed away.
Vince and I were both diabetics, and looked out for each other, and both of us had candy or glucose tablets in our shirt pockets to share in the event of a low sugar condition. Vince never complained or talked about himself. I didn’t know he was on dialysis until he told me he was tired of going to the dialysis center and was going to start doing it at home. He later told me it was a pain in the butt to deal with the buckets of fluid and all the tubing, but it was still better to be doing it at home.
Mitch and his girlfriend had come down from Park City to visit Vince. Vince had lost a lot of weight. He never was a big guy, and it looked like he probably didn’t with more than 120 pounds. On a Tuesday, I got a call from Mitch saying that his dad had passed away. So long, Vince, it’s been good to know you.