The Ukiah Daily Journal
DRIVE-BY PARADE FOR 94TH BIRTHDAY
Early Iron Car Club helps coordinate classic celebration
“A few days ago, my husband, Wayne, and I received a message on our Facebook page from Mike Parris asking if we could do a posting for a drive-by birthday parade to celebrate Al Bascou’s 94th on May 11,” says Dora Briley, secretary of the Early Iron Car Club of Ukiah.
Parris, Bascou’s son-in-law and a retired Vallejo fire captain, said they knew, due to COVID 19 restrictions, they couldn’t have an in-person party, but since Bascou loves classic cars so much, his friends and family wanted to put this together for him.
Briley says, “I posted a message on our Facebook page saying it would be nice to have some classic cars drive by, honk and wave. We’ve received 1,800 views, dozens of shares and plenty of responses for participation; everybody’s on it. People are posting photos of the classic cars they will be bringing. There will be no congregating; people will just drive by.”
The staff at Mountain View Care Home where Bascou resides have arranged to take him and four of his friends out to the sidewalk in front of the facility to greet the birthday parade; family members will be there, as well.
His granddaughter Yvonne Fregoso says Al was born at home on May 8, 1926, in Oakland, California; he attended Oakland Tech and then transferred to Berkeley High. During his last two years of high school, he worked as a ship fitter at the Oakland Alameda Base and upon graduating, in 1943 during World War II, joined the Navy and was sent to the Salton Sea to train as an aerial gunner where, during training, he survived a plane crash.
“He boarded the USS Long Island escort carrier at the Oakland Alameda Air Force Base, was sent to the last battle of Japan, participated in the liberation of the Philippines, was next sent to Guam and then to the Kwajalein Islands, part of the Marshall Islands, where, while
on board, received word that the war was over. He remained on the island where he served as a mail carrier.”
After the war, Bascou returned home to become a career firefighter, first for the city of Berkeley and then as an engineer for the Contra Costa Fire Department.
He loved cars; his first was a maroon ’36 Ford Sedan; he saved his money to fix up and painted it a midnight blue. In his lifetime he owned between 40 and 50 cars, but that ’36 Ford remains his favorite.
Fittingly, in the ’ 70s and ’80s he repossessed cars for 20 years and is quoted as saying, “I was chased a few times but I’ve never been shot.”
He had a passion for sailing, photography and flying. He and his Scottish grandfather built a ship in which they sailed on the SF Bay and Oakland estuaries.
In 1948, he married Pearl Katherine who passed away in 2015. His daughter, Catherine Winters, lives in Ukiah as well as his granddaughter Yvonne Fregoso and his great-granddaughter Elle.
When asked to describe her personal feelings for her grandfather, Fregoso took a moment and said,” I’m going to cry.” And she did.
“Overall he was a kind, generous, hardworking man who has always been a fabulous role model for me,” she says. “He was my father figure and I grew up with him amid the firetrucks, the airplane shows, the car shows, flying kites and taking daily walks. We have a very close bond.”
Due to her visit to Senegal, Africa, in December to help build a school with BuildOn and consequently returning to COVID-19 and SIP orders, she has not seen him for months.
“With isolation and two visits to the ER since the SIP, there’s never been a stronger reason to celebrate his life. It’s important for the family to come together, celebrate him and the love we have for him; to honor him as a veteran; and appreciate the staff at Mountain View Care Home that have gone above and beyond for him, his family and friends. This is a way for us to show him how awesome he is and how much we love him,” she says.
The family would like to thank the staff at Mountain View Assisted Living and Memory Care:
Cather ine Winters (daughter)
Paul Stewart Lee (grandson)
Yvonne Fregoso (granddaughter)
Elle Fregoso granddaughter)
Michael H. Parris (grandson-in-law). ( great