Two Hemet veterans used their G.I. Bills to create careers in artistic endeavors
■ Matt McPherson / Contributed
Amid the hustle and bustle of the always busy Hemet downtown, a beacon to the past serves as a terminal for long time residents and newcomers alike. Political conversations dance across the tongues of a multicultural and multigenerational crowd. Long time friends and new acquaintances can always agree to disagree and the scope of very interesting and sometimes famous characters give prominence to the century old Hemet Train Depot and Museum. Its next door neighbor, Destination Coffee Bar & Bistro, has definitely become a destination for local residents and passersby to gather, converse and appreciate the range of complex genius that composes our sublime valley. It’s amazing the characters encountered every day at this wonderfully cozy coffee bar and eatery.
Two local veterans, John Pulliam and Bob Dunn, are frequent visitors to the coffee shop and both used their G.I. Bills to pursue careers in the arts.
John Pulliam is a local professional violinist who, while in the military, used his G.I. Bill to attend Trinity College of Music in London under the Training Within Civilian Agencies agreement. Upon returning to the United States, he attended Temple University and University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He began playing with the New Orleans Philharmonic then went on to play 40 years with The Colorado Symphony.
Pulliam moved into the Sun West senior community here in Hemet a few years back. He enjoys living in Hemet and frequents Destination Coffee Bar & Bistro where he reminisces with many friends and acquaintances.
Bob Dunn was a member of the Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) during World War II. Dunn used his G.I. Bill to earn a photography degree from USC and later studied at the Fred Archer School of Photography in Los Angeles, where he mastered the operation of the 4×5 view camera. The still frame photography industry was so fierce with competition that he transferred to cinema, which he grew fond of due to its unlimited potential for creativity.
Many world-renowned artists, scientists, philosophers, biographers and individuals from all walks of life make up the wondrous landscape that is our hidden gem of a valley within Southern California.”
After freelancing for many years he found himself between jobs and married with a young child. He qualified as a machinist for Panavision (the largest camera rental house in the world) where he helped manufacture and test cutting-edge prototype cameras. Once Panavision found out he had attended Fred Archer and had film experience, they immediately hired him. After 20 years with Panavision, he trained more than 40 people and was influential in the manufacture, production and servicing of more than 375 cameras.
Dunn says the two greatest highlights of his life came during the late 1960s. In 1968, he was hired as an underwater cameraman to shoot an expedition for National Geographic. Working on the island of Cyprus, he filmed the archaeological recovery of artifacts from a 2,500-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Kyrenia. Coincidentally, Krikor Yepremian, the owner of Destination Coffee Bar & Bistro, is from Cyprus and was in Kyrenia in 1968. He remembers the National Geographic expedition and says it was a major story in Cyprus, even to this day. The second highlight of Bob Dunn’s life came when Jacques Cousteau recruited him to the Deep Submergence Program, which lasted 18 months.
Dunn retired from Panavision and moved to Hemet in 1985. One day he received a call from Panavision asking him if he would be interested in filming a movie about Wyatt Earp called “Tombstone.” That one phone call resulted in eight straight years of filming, averaging about one feature film a year. Between 1996 and 2004 Dunn filmed “Waterworld,” “6 Days and 7 Nights,” “Broken Arrow,” “Last Man Standing,” and “Master and Commander.”
Dunn turned 90 in November and attributes his health to his long career working in the movie industry and exercise. He also highly recommends getting a second job, which serves as a backup in times of transition.
Many world-renowned artists, scientists, philosophers, biographers and individuals from all walks of life make up the wondrous landscape that is our hidden gem of a valley within Southern California. As a gleaming terminal of thought-provoking conversation, Destination Coffee Bar & Bistro retains its status as an intellectual and cultural focal point of downtown Hemet.
Please contact Matt McPherson at (951) 315-7914 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an interesting story or know of any interesting or famous characters here in the valley. You can also catch him at Destination Coffee Bar & Bistro most mornings.