Mention grinders to an older Navy veteran, generally brings to mind the large parade ground we marched around in Bootcamp. But “grinder” also means a particular type of sandwich. In Southern California, while there are different names: submarine sandwiches, hoagies, and grinders, there are some places that are vastly different than the franchises that pop up everywhere. And in El Cajon, California, not far from my home, is an institution 50 years in the making, The Grinder.
I actually only stopped in Thursday night at the request of my son, a Vocational Nurse working the evening shift, for a sub specifically made there. It might have been my first visit though I have lived in the area twenty years. After a long workday and a long, rainy evening commute, but I would drive an extra few miles for a sandwich.
It was not a fancy place. A video game table of the sort I had not seen in thirty years was against the wall. On the walls, were Navy-themed art, a Bible quote, articles on the history of this deli, a plaque honoring fifty years, and pictures of local kids. But the one I noted just before ordering was the image of the late Chief John Finn, Medal of Honor recipient (Pearl Harbor) on the wall. The kids working there know whose picture it is. San Diego County is a military community, and El Cajon in the part known as “East County” is home to a large population of veterans going back to the Second World War.
“where do we eat and what show do we go to?”
On date night, quickly planned, even the retired Senior Chief’s understanding wife may have felt a grinder was sub-expectations. The mall was packed with Friday-night families. As it turned out, a little pastry and coffee with live music at a coffee house we like was perfect. We knew the music and lyrics; the acoustics were okay, and probably because the band and their fans are all about the same ages, they concluded at a reasonable hour on a Friday night. 7:30 is almost bedtime.
So much for foodies partying into the wee hours (7:30PM)
In the past week, the tabloids and other media was agog over the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry of Britain. The Duke of Sussex, KCVO (Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order ). Several of my friends on social media posted “enough already”- type memes and commentary. I probably have a unique viewpoint among them, in that a “Combat Veteran Gets Lots of Love by the Media”.
Unique among the current British Royal family, Prince Harry served in combat, in Afghanistan, not just in uniform. His presence was kept secret for several weeks by the British press. In typical fashion, some in the media cannot keep secrets. The Australian press revealed that the Prince was in Helmond province. Against the Taliban and Al Quaeda, publishing the whereabouts of a high-value target such as the Prince was unwise, yet the prince continued to serve in theater. After serving in the British Army for ten years, he has continued to serve in a leading way but for charitable work.
Unintentionally, I believe, the news media has made a combat veteran a star. For a guy with army service, and little chance of ever becoming King ( he’s fifth in line behind his elder brother and family), I think it is pretty cool.
image source: Esquire magazine
Charitable work, past and going forward:
Wild About Harry by Remembering Lives
46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. -Acts 2:46 (NIV)
As a Navy man, I know the difference between cleanliness and “white glove” clean. In the ten years since retirement, that is NAVY retirement, I have not kept up the rigor of four-a-day “sweepers”, field days, and “change of command” – mode painting and sprucing. With dogs that shed hair hourly, there only just keeping up with the general clean during the week. On those weekend evenings that we entertain – which is something we are doing again now that we have no children at home – my spouse, and sometimes one of our adult sons – is (are) conscripted in the early afternoon to field day. While Chiefs supervising junior Sailors prepare official Navy functions – at USS Homestead, Chiefs and indians provide the labor. But my bride, formerly the Senior Enlisted Leader’s spouse, has got the whole affair managed. My role subsequently is to take out trash, walk the dogs, put my work-week items away and clean up before guests arrive. ( I went out to obtain the dessert as my contribution to the evening.)
On a Friday night, we enjoy a home-cooked dinner with friends. With friends you can relax; nobody comments on incongruous objects in the dining room – a framed Japanese watercolor cat on rice paper ( hiding a still-to-be sanded hole in the drywall); a framed hawaiian turtle motif on handmade, dyed paper that eventually will move to a more esthetic location; and a bag of dog food that was overlooked in setting the dinner table. While the room needs a fresh coat of paint, the house is clean and welcoming. The dogs are mostly behaved. The dining table is polished, scented candles and the dinner-party china are pulled out.
Entertaining has become fashionable again; we may not have granite counters, but we have solar-powered air conditioning. And games. Mexican Train, a dominoes game, is quite popular with our friends. And with our group of friends a late evening is 9 PM. Best of all, Saturday is not a work day. After an early prayer walk with friends, walking dogs, taking out trash, doing yard work, and putting away laundry I will have time to sit and write.