Sunday, September 23, 2007

We had to call in the Marines

This young man isn't really a Marine, he's Airborne. (As soon as I know the difference, I'll say so.)

My fellow Hands On participants, Vicki and Sandy, headed out for some wine to share with the group on our last evening of sewing and talking, on the 10th floor of the Marines Memorial Club hotel, where Hands On with Sandra Betzina is held. My first night at Marines in 2005 wasn't so great. San Fran was in a heat wave, and my unremodeled room was on the 8th floor, facing west and the street scene below. So closing the windows was not an option, and of course there is no air conditioning in the rooms. The next day I was able to jump to another room on a lower floor that faces the back wall of the JW Marriott and I've asked for that same room ever since.

Marines is a hotel and meeting place for active and retired members of the armed services and their families. It's not mentioned in any guide book I've read, but anyone can book a room there. The majority of the weekday guests are older people who are using the hotel as a base for a jaunt in Northern California, but they also attend reunions and club meetings (for example, a reunion of medical personnel who served in a surgical hospital in Vietnam was going on this year while I was there). Its recent remodeling has made it an attractive wedding spot for locals, as well. The Commandants Room has a stunning view of the East Bay. Our meeting room, the Heritage Room, has a view of Nob Hill.

When it is unbearable here, I imagine this view:

A meeting of some sort was taking place in the Regimental Room next door and there were all sorts of active military men around, a color guard, that sort of thing. Well, Vicki and Sandy got back with our wine but could not get the bottles uncorked. So they decided to get a young, strong guy to do it and beckoned one of them from the lobby. He was awfully kind about it and good-natured when we asked to photograph him. We had a bit of trouble explaining (as we always do) what we were doing in there with sewing machines and a big cutting table. Later, another young man came in and said a button from his uniform had come off and could we help him? We offered to sew it on, but learned that uniform buttons must be safety-pinned on, for easy removal when the garment is cleaned. Luckily, I had a safety pin.

On the 10th floor mezzanine level, there is a memorial wall bearing the names of servicemen and women who have died in Iraq. They have already had to extend the wall once since I have started coming to Marines, and drywall workers were busy once up there more during my recent visit. They are having to find more room to put up tiles bearing the names of military personnel who have been killed, because there seems to be no end in sight to the deaths of US men and women serving in Iraq. This photo is last year's. Now the wall comes around in sort of an "L" shape. Pretty soon, it will be boxed in. Kind of like the US in Iraq. No way out.

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