In that elated mood, I arrived early at the downtown meeting and found the two businessmen standing outside the hearing room waiting for the Metro Link item to come up on the agenda. I guessed it was them, not because I had seen them before, but because they looked out of place. The shorter of the two was a patrician-looking man with a finely-carved nose, sandy brown hair, and sad green eyes. He wore a dark-brown corduroy jacket with suede elbows over an exquisite open-colored white cotton shirt. His slacks were tan. He was Dave Street, heir to the land-rich ranchers who founded Wind Valley.
The second man was tall and heavier, built like a professional football player. His full face accentuated his blunt features and his brownish-gray hair was balding in the back. He wore an expensive sparkling-white polo shirt, open at the neck, and dark blue Sansabelt slacks. He was John Stewart, Jr., heir to the land-rich farmers who founded Moraine.
The men were business partners and owned warehouses on property along the Southern Pacific Railroad in the heart of Moraine. Dave Street and John Stewart believed the proposed commuter train would interrupt important freight traffic along the line. In their view, the proposed Metro Link would not be good for their storage business.
When the hearing ended, I caught up with Street and Stewart and asked for their thoughts on how the hearing had gone. Dave Street smiled. “I think it will take years for this to happen, if it happens. I’m not worried. Moraine is a town of less than 10,000 people. There aren’t enough people there to justify a commuter line into LA. I can’t see the economics of it.”
John Stewart was quiet. I could feel his assessment of me. Then he smiled and said, “We’re going to get a drink down the street at the Redwood Bar. Why don’t you join us?”
“Yes,” Dave said, “We would very much like your company.”
I looked at both of them, thinking that under the usual source/reporter circumstances, I would have politely declined their offer. Although I always tried to be personable, I never got too close to people I interviewed, wanting to avoid any conflict of interest. This was different. I had two more days left at the Wind Valley Enterprise. I would never see these men again and I was in the mood for a change in my life. Erin was taking care of my children, so if I was a bit late getting home that evening, it was OK. I accepted their invitation.
The day was December 7. A Pearl Harbor of my own making.
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