Have you ever lived someplace that was close to paradise? Well that's what San Diego was like for me! In Kodiak we had such bad weather and I was not the greatest on sheets of ice and glistening snow piled so high you had to dig your way out of the house. So, in the balmy summer we experienced in our first year here, it truly was paradise to me. Once we had moved into the house and retrieved our furniture from storage, my parents went out to find a car next. They came home with a Mercury Monterey with a push button starter on the dashboard. It had 4 doors, and compared to what we had in Kodiak, it was a limousine! It was turquoise blue and white and very suitable for our short Mom to drive. Dad would soon be going out to sea for 9 months, and Mom needed a reliable source of transportation. My Grandmother Elsie lived with us, and she had driven for many years. Often she would be the one driving me to school and picking me up in the afternoons. She had always lived with us, and she helped Mom out a lot with things.
Once we all settled in, there was much to do on the house and the yard. My brother David was 13 at the time, I was 16, and my baby sister was 6. Mom would round us all up on any given weekend, and we'd all make the trip to a place in National City and we'd buy plants for the yard, grass seed, fertilizer, and the like. David liked working in the yard and he'd spend his days in the balmy breezes watering the newly planted grass and sweep down the driveway and the walkway in front of the house. We had a huge backyard and a patio and that too was swept down along with the garage. Grandmother and Mom took care of the storing, and I took care of the making of beds, and general clean up of the house. We all worked together while Dad was at sea. He and Grandma Elsie were not the best of friends and it was a lot easier on the nerves when one of they was away. I think Grandmother loved the weather as well. I fell in love with the palm trees swaying in the breeze, and the Santa Ana Winds of late summer days. The Taco Bell and Jack In the Box were new to us, and we thought it was some of the best fast food ever. We found Cost Less Imports down in San Diego, and we'd browse on lazy Saturday afternoons, buying some incense, jams and jellies, teas like Oolong, and candles, and such. They had everything you could imagine, but the place caught fire one day and burned to the ground. There was so much to see and do that we were never bored. It was paradise to me and I loved San Diego with a passion.
Soon school would be starting, and we drove over to the school one day to check it out. It was a brand new school, and I would be a Senior and a member of the first graduating class of Castle Park High School. It was beautiful, and I didn't know it at the time, but this would be the best year I'd ever had in school! There were many classrooms, a huge campus, a Senior Lawn, a cafeteria and a place to buy burgers and things of that nature if you didn't want a full lunch. The P.E. field and building were up above the school on a hill that overlooked the whole campus. I'd met some kids in Kodiak that were from California and they too made it seem like a paradise. I was so excited about going there to live. At first I thought we were moving to the San Francisco area, but at the last minute it was changed to San Diego, and now that I've seen San Francisco, I am doubly glad we live in San Diego! It really doesn't compare.
There is so much to tell about my life here in California, and I don't want to diminish your time with us here, with prolonged descriptions of the weather, and the things we were finding so attractive, so I will bring this session to a close for now and give my co-author the platform for a bit. I will be back with more of the reasons I fell in love with my life here, and prepare the background for just how it affected me when I was told we were moving away, yet again, to a cold, dismal place, leaving California far behind me. Thank you for joining us for another cup of tea. Hope it was entertaining and gave you a somewhat clearer picture of my love for this place.
Drop in again and pay us a visit!
As I sit here on my well-worn overstuffed couch with an Xbox controller in hand and a teenage grandchild at my side, I have to wonder how I acquired grandchildren who are older than I am...
But of course, they aren't. I don't know how it is for others who are aging, but I don't feel a day over ten. How I came to have ulcers, dentures, reading glasses, and a host of other things that only old people are supposed to have is a mystery that I never expect to solve. But Bonnie thinks it would be a good idea to begin to run this blog as a form of memoir for the kids, the grandkids, close friends, and anyone else who can keep a civil tongue in their head. I fully agree, although it will force me to take a close look at who I am and how I got here.
Before you can begin to make sense of the events of which I will be writing, it will be necessary for you to understand that I grew up in a very different world from the one inhabited by my grandchildren, and even my children. For example, I have been reliably informed that my mother smoked, drank, ate tuna from the can, and had little or no prenatal care at all. I was put to sleep on my tummy in a baby crib covered with lead-based paint. There were no childproof caps on the medicine bottles nor locks on the kitchen cabinets, and later on, when I rode my bike, if anything was on my head, it was a baseball cap. The other kids would have made me wear a dress if I'd shown up on my bike with a helmet on!
I rode in a car without a car seat, a booster seat, seat belts, or air bags that had bald tires and marginal brakes. My favorite riding position when "shotgun" wasn't available was standing on the floor in back leaning on the front seat so I could see out the front window. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm summer day was always a special treat. I drank water from a garden hose, and four of us routinely shared a Coke or Pepsi, and I don't remember one case of typhoid flaring up in my neighborhood.
We ate Twinkies, white bread, real butter, and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar, but none of us were overweight. Why not? Because we were always outside playing, that's why not! On weekends, and especially during the summer, our folks would push us out the door after breakfast, and they didn't expect to see us again until the street lights came on. They only had the most general idea where we were, but we knew where they were if we needed adult intervention. We spent hours building soapbox racers out of junk, and rode them down the steepest hills we could find, only to discover that we had neglected to include brakes in our brilliant design. We fell out of trees, got cuts and scrapes, broke bones, chipped teeth, and yet somehow no lawsuits were ever brought over these accidents.
We didn't have Playstations, Nintendos, or XBoxes. There were no video games, nor 150 channels on cable, because there was no cable! There were no DVDs, no DVRs, no surround sound, no cell phones, no iPods, no MP3s, 4s, or 5s, no personal computers, no Internet, and no chat rooms. We had actual friends, and when we wanted to chat, we didn't look them up on Facebook, we went outside and found them. That's right, we rode our bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door.
Little League had tryouts, and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with the disappointment. Imagine that! And the idea of a parent bailing us out if we ran afoul of the law was unheard of; the parents actually sided with the law!
We were spanked with wooden spoons, switches, coat hangers, Ping-Pong paddles, and belts by parents, aunts and uncles, and schoolteachers, and no one ever called child services to report the abuse. We ate worms, dirt, and suspicious vegetation. We were given BB guns for our 10th birthday and made up games using baseball bats and golf balls, and contrary to what we were told, very few eyes were actually put out.
Our generation went on to produce some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and innovators in history. Today's kids master hand-held games that are more capable than the computers that put men on the moon, but if their fanbelt breaks halfway between L.A. and Vegas, do they know how to fix it using a pair of pantyhose? We had freedom and responsibility, experienced success and failure, and had to deal with it all, good and bad. If you are one of us, congratulations! You might want to share this with those less fortunate, those whose childhood came after the lawyers and politicians decided that being a child was far too lucrative to be left in the hands of children.
So now you have some idea of the perspective I bring to this project. I think the world seen through the eyes of today's child, despite all the electronics and wonder-toys, is nowhere near as interesting as the one I saw was. But that's just my opinion. Settle back for the ride, and don't hesitate to speak up if we strike a nerve...
All the best,
[Disclaimer: A good many versions of this "child of the fifties" thing has been going around the Internet for a good many years. I freely admit to have cherrypicked the points that spoke closely to my own childhood, and expanded them through the filter of my own experience. I don't want to take credit for anyone else's work, but why reinvent the wheel? Regardless of all that, I hope you had a good time! ~ J.T.
I arrived in San Diego the first time in 1963. I was arriving from Kodiak, Alaska after 3 years of freezing to death, and San Diego was in the middle of a heat wave. I wandered out of the airport terminal and sat down on the curb while waiting for my family to get the luggage. I'd never felt such heat, and it was in the evening hours. My family joined me at last and we caught a cab to a Motel where we were able to clean up and go find something to eat. My brother and I sort of passed out on the beds, so the rest of them went to eat and said they'd bring us something back. That was my first day in a place that I would soon come to love and to make my home.
There wasn't much to San Diego back then. It was compact and there were many outlying areas where we would eventually find a home. My Father was in the Navy and he would be going out to sea after we got settled in. For the first month or so we lived in Navy housing and my parents got busy looking for a home. It was overcast most days and fooled me into thinking I could sleep in the yard and not pay for it. I suffered a bad sunburn that day and by evening I was all but blistered. I could hardly move. The San Diego sun was relentless and the cloudy days would fool me no more.
My parents were driven to various housing locations, and settled on a house in Chula Vista. The house was nice, big enough for all of us, and the yard needed work. They signed all the papers and we moved in, sleeping on air mattresses the first night, until our furniture could be delivered. I would come to love San Diego in the next year we were fortunate enough to be here. I was so happy to be in a sunny place, far away from snow and mud and gloom. I was ready for a new beginning, and before I get into that, I will bow out and let my husband have a say. There is no rush, and I don't want to miss anything by hurrying along, so I'll say bye for now and make dinner for a hungry crew! Enjoy yourselves, and leave comments if you wish.
All the best,
This is for the grandkids, the family, close friends, and anyone else who can keep a civil tongue in their heads! It amounts to an interactive book of memoirs, but only if you interact... so get to it!
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California has been my home since 1965. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'm home to stay!
What is there to say about a ten-year old turning 65, besides, what the hell happened?!??