Took a mile and a half walk to my local CVS at the Whittier Marketplace and as I crossed Hadley I right away noticed a vintage ’50s Chevrolet sitting in front of US Donuts and Yogurt. I of course had to get a snapshot and as I was doing do, a gentleman stepped out and I asked him, was the car his? His name was John and he kindly replied yes. I asked if I could take a photo with him alongside it. Of course! He mentioned it brought about conversations all the time and rightly so. It was a 1951 model and he wanted me to make sure I got the license plate included (SLSAMAN). I asked if it was a business of his, maybe? He proceeded to tell me it was his nickname from Vietnam. I learned he enlisted as a 17-year-old (he is 70 now) and his first stint was in Korea, where he said it was miserably cold. From there, he volunteered to be sent to Vietnam. He saw action there from ’68-’69 where he was awarded the purple heart of which he has a tattoo to commemorate his duty to country. He’s originally from East L.A. (now resides in Whittier) and he said that his grandmother would send him via a care package the ingredients to make salsa (cumin, etc., for a taste of home). He would put it all together for his fellow servicemen. Henceforth the name salsa man. Needless to say, we are thankful he returned to our shores all those years ago and he is enjoying his life right here in Whittier. He had to rush off and I thanked him for everything. A chance meeting and a classic case of being at the right place at the right time! We salute you John aka salsa man.
Photo and description originally published in Whittier, California – Our Hometown.