|Back in our day . . .||
Top o' the morning to ye! I promised, and shall deliver, a story about the places I lived as a child, but first, a self-serving piece of political fluff. Today is my 65th birthday, the gateway to the golden years, and for the past week I have been looking at "celebrating" it as a laid-off Federal employee, not knowing whether I would be in my house a month from now. This morning, my boss called to tell me to resume my schedule, and that we are going to be paid; see, I'm in Defense.
That was a great birthday gift, and no joke, but there are still 4-500,000 of us who are waiting it out, day by day, as their savings dwindle and they have to choose between milk and diapers for their babies. This is wrong. I don't care what moral or political compass you follow, it is wrong to treat your loyal employees this way. I have read a number of comments on the internet extolling the government to "Lay 'em all off! We don't need any of 'em!" I can ignore those people, because that view is so far past ignorant that the only people who can seriously espouse it are brain-dead swamp people whose parents are brother and sister.
As for everyone else, you don't have to be on the Federal payroll to be hurt by this. If you fly in airplanes, visit National Parks, travel abroad, or like to eat meat that isn't being sold with botulism as the secret ingredient, if you're hoping for a tax return or have a question about your Social Security benefits, if you're a poor single mom who depends on WIC to feed your baby, or counted on the CDC for your annual flu shot, this is hurting you! I would like to suggest a solution: STOP VOTING FOR THE DAMNED INCUMBENTS! If you would like to see our broken government changed, that isn't going to happen if you keep voting the same people into office who benefit personally from their own mismanagement of the system.
*All right, Jack, take a breath. People at large are too stupid to change and you know it, so move on...*
I'm told the first place that I lived was down on "C" Street south of San Diego. I'm afraid I don't remember a thing about it. My first memories, flickering, ghostly near-still pictures imbued with that fleeting motion of a stack of kinescope cards, come at 2881 University Ave in the San Diego neighborhood of North Park. The address was in the middle of the block, but the Thrifty Drug store was on the corner, and the apartments were entered by a dark staircase that opened off the street in the middle of the block. They occupied the second and third floors of the building on the left side of the photo. The drug store is long gone, and there seems to be a small theater that has incorporated the second floor, but the third floor apartments appear to have survived. I would have turned three in this apartment. We were on the second floor, and I have a precious few memories. I would get a pot out of one of the low cabinets, take it to my great-grandmother, and say, "cook!" No memory of whether she would or not.
I remember eating fillet of sole in the diner that was part of Thrifty's. It was full of bones, and I became quite the expert at removing them as I ate, sort of like that trick of tying a knot in a cherry stem (no, I never learned that one...). I remember the man who lived upstairs who would come in from work and drop his shoes, about 30 seconds apart; that saying, "Waiting for the other shoe to drop" never confused me a bit! I remember going shopping with grandma down on the street. The butcher would always give me a cold hot-dog when we came in, and there was an appliance store that would put televisions on display around the door. At least once, I witnessed a college football game on those TVs, and was terrified that I would be made to play football when I got older; were it so easy... It was here that I learned to read, following along with great-grandma as she read the funnies to me. I was too young to get the humor, and to this day I don't laugh when I read comedic material. Doesn't mean I don't get it, though.
And I remember my half-brother, Don Christianson (are you out there somewhere, Donny? Are you reading this?), wrapped up in infant swaddling lying on the couch, which was just about at my eye-level back then. My little three-year old self had no way of knowing that his dad was loading the bags in the car, preparing to take him home to Tacoma, Washington, and that I would never see him again. Probably just as well; I was too young to be accepting abandonment as a lifestyle...
From there we moved about a mile-and-a-half to the City Heights area, to this cute little house at 4045 Manzanita Drive, perched on the rim of Wabash Canyon. There's a freeway down there now; back in 1952, it was a wilderness area as wild and untamed as central Alaska. Manzanita was a dirt road, and I remember watching the paving crew asphalt it. Had a birds-eye view from the corner of the raised yard at the lower right corner of the photo. I turned four here, and got a tricycle. There was a lady across the street who had two boys, not twins, named Gary and Terry. Both were a little older than me, and they had a game where one would distract me while the other stole my toys. Periodically, their mom would return a batch of them. She drove a Hudson Hornet, and even at 4, I somehow understood that it was a high-performance car; perhaps the name "Hornet" was what tipped me off, who knows?
It was here that I became aware of my great-uncle Bill. William Harvey Holt, great-grandma's son. He was a Major in the Air Force while I was here, and went on to retire a Major General. He had flown B-17s in WWII, Sabres in Korea, and would go on to fly Phantoms in Viet Nam. More on him later... I remember playing with his son, who he called "Doody," and having an infantile crush on his daughter, Christine, a cute little blonde who knew it, and kept herself aloof from us icky boys. She would have been, I don't know, 8, while Bill Jr. was maybe 10. The main thing I remember is how decent they were to a little kid who must have been a real pest to them. Class does come through. I also remember that my uncle was friends with Bill Vukovich, though I never met him. For a while, we had a midget race car body stored in our garage, and my uncle may have raced with him before he became a legend. Classic case of two friends going their separate ways.
From that house, we moved less than a mile to another cozy little cottage at the corner of Dwight and Fairmount (on the right in the photo). I was here until I was on the verge of being six. Very few memories stand out. I went to my first school here, Hamilton Elementary. I walked to and from; those were simpler times... The criterion for what point you entered school then was whether you could read. I could, so I skipped kindergarten, and began in first grade, making me younger than most of classmates for the rest of my school experience. I had to get a polio shot, which was given by a cute candystriper; I never felt a thing! Polio was a big real-life terror back in the day, and every kid must have known someone who wore the leg braces, or a steampunk contraption on an arm. Some were even confined to iron lungs. Google that, and try to imagine what the quality of life must have been like. I've been doing a lot of whining on this blog, but things could have been a lot worse!
We got our first TV at this house, a small black-and-white set, and I would watch the westerns that were so prevalent back in the day, while seated astride an oval coffee table, shooting an unloaded cap gun (no caps in the house, young man!) at the screen. It was on this TV, in this house, that I met Commando Cody. Horses? This guy flew a rocketship, and battled the villains with ray guns! All during my childhood, I had the western rig to play cowboys with my friends, but CC captured my heart early, and stood up to take charge whenever I was choosing entertainment forever after.
I should point out that all during the time I have described, I was being raised by my grandmother and great-grandmother, with my mom popping in for holidays, and seeing my great-uncle once a year, as he took military leave to visit his mother. Grandma had been Rosie the Riveter during WWII, and was one of the fortunate women who was able to keep her job when the men came home. She had worked for Lockheed during the war, churning out P-38s, and later found employment with Convair. It was either here or at the Manzanita house that great-grandma and I would sit up waiting for her to get home from the swing shift sometime in the vicinity of midnight. We would listen to a swing band on the radio, and I would eat "butter-crackers," basically Ritz crackers with butter. I was a weird kid...
I had planned to cover all of my childhood homes in this post, but this is already pretty long, there are more left, and they are the ones with the more detailed and extensive memories, so I'm going to leave it here. I'll pick it up next time it's my turn. Meanwhile, I'm sure Bonnie will have some entertaining tidbits for you, so I'll see you in a week or so. Don't be afraid to use that chat room we've set up. It's for your convenience, and offers direct and quick access to the bloggers in question. We're aquiver with anticipation! Now get out there and live life like you mean it!
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?!??