Denim bib with straps
A uniform make.
With toes in steel.
Laboring and sitting on pew.
Denim bib with straps
A uniform make.
With toes in steel.
Laboring and sitting on pew.
Have you ever dreamed the same dream over and over? I think some have but I had this dream where I show up for the last college class and it is finals day. Absolutely unprepared for this. Having missed almost all the remaining semester’s classes and not ready for the final test. What a horrible image and realization. How do I get past this worrisome dream?
It took me a while to figure this out but it goes back to my freshman year at East Los Angeles College. Our student college employment counselor told me I could apply for a warehouse job at the nearby Sears west coast catalogue center working through most of December. So, I made application and they told me when to start. Then a college friend told me about an over night job at a large post office distribution and sorting center, also nearby. So, I made application and they told me when to show up for that one. Both jobs started about the same day in Early December. The Sears job started at about 3 in the afternoon and the post office started around 10 in the late evening.
After a day or two of working both jobs, totaling about ten to fifteen hours each work day I was not alert enough to attend my early morning 8 am business class and missed two weeks’ worth. But I did manage to make it to the final day in early January.
The bottom line I manage to make a passing grade but the other bottom line I made lots of Christmas spending money. Made my parents and siblings very happy. Oh, to be eighteen-years old again. Well, no thanks. Whew! Merry Christmas.
A fading orange sun was slowly sinking into the placid central blue Pacific. The mournful sounds of Taps was sounding out from the distinctive white structure of the Arizona Memorial in the waters of Pearl Harbor.
As I observed this from the lanai from the back of our townhouse overlooking all of Pearl Harbor a tingling sensation traveled down my spine when witnessing this mostly calm ocean panorama. It was hard to imagine an early morning sky back in 1941 with hundreds of planes buzzing about and bombs exploding and the USS Arizona sinking into the harbor taking hundreds of seamen down with it to their watery grave.
This personal recollection was dated Sunday December 7, 1972. A little more than thirty-years after that day President Roosevelt declared “a day that would live in infamy.”. I’ll never forget this attention-arresting moment.
What has happened to the “Greater Good.” Why do we send elected representatives to Washington just to take revenge on the party in power. What happened to good legislation? What happened to the slogan “For the People.”
How did all this morph into “payback and retribution.” What changed? How do we get back to for the greater good? God help us.
It was about two days away from Thanksgiving. I’m guessing it was 1958 and I was in the eighth grade. Maybe I was fourteen or fifteen. Don’t really remember.
But anyway, My lot in life at that time was to walk to school and walk home. I walked every day. Ever since first grade. To and fro. Back and forth. Hither and yon. Everyday.
Every day back then to junior high and back as well. My dad left too early in the morning to take me to school. He worked two jobs and left early for the first job and came home at noon and left again to his second job at about two-o-clock. Too early to pick me up. So, I walked. Everyday. To school. Now, did I mention I walk. Everyday. To school no less.
Well, this one day in November. About two or maybe it was one day before Thanksgiving I arrived home, came in the side door off the driveway, stepped in and noticed my mom up to her elbows in glistening streaks of real grade A butter. Rubbing the bird. Applying butter in and out of every crease, hollow, and crevice of the turkey. This was pre-butterball days and this was what my mom did. She was stooped over as if a Swedish masseuse intent on doing a full-body massage. Butter from fingertips and as mentioned all the way up to the elbows. Dark brown Curley tresses dangled down over her sweaty brow as she vigorously rubbed. Caution: “Woman at Work.”
Then she had to get up in the pre-dawn morning to place the bird in the oven in preparation for our noon day Thanksgiving. All of this is not to mention her preparing and cooking about a dozen side dishes, dinner rolls, and desserts. Oh mom. I never thanked you for all this. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.
L A is a great big freeway.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s I witnessed the excavation and construction of some of the first so-called Freeways in southern California. However, the first real freeway was constructed about the same time I was born and it went into service just after that. An uninterrupted 20-mile six-lane road with a hundred-yard-wide swath carved out of homes and hills from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles. All with no traffic lights nor any stop or yield signs. And I might add six ‘narrow’ lanes by today’s standards. Known today as the Pasadena Freeway. Some had called it the world’s largest parking lot.
But then came the Harbor freeway headed south an extension of the Pasadena to the L A harbor. Next was the Hollywood freeway going north and the same road going south was the Santa Ana Freeway. The two divided by the “bottle-neck” tunnel near the Brew 102 building. Today part of Interstate-5. Later the Santa Ana continued on to San Diego and the Hollywood is part of Interstate-5 going up into the Grapevine over and down into the central valley. And again, excavating and taking out wide swaths of homes, schools, churches, businesses, and more
My dad and mom with my older siblings had to move from their house on Indiana Avenue due to a carving out of the road bed for the Santa Ana Freeway. Such was progress.
Then came the Long Beach freeway from the Long Beach Harbor to almost to Pasadena. Taking out homes and businesses near where my cousin Bill lived in Bandini. Crossing high above the Union Pacific switching yards and the newly constructed Santa Ana Freeway. Continuing on for dozens of miles with a wide swath.
Then there was what some called the San Gabriel River Freeway cutting through a large residential area in Whittier dividing many communities. Not sure if they settled on a name of this freeway and just called it “The 605.”
Then there was the San Diego Freeway or “The 405.” A very long stretch of freeway from the foothills going up into the “Grapevine.” The same road going south was engineered to more or less circumvent most of greater Los Angeles county ending up on “The 5” near northern San Diego county headed for San Diego.
Now there are numerous connector freeways. Such as The 210, the110, the dozens and dozens of connectors; all extending from “The 10, the 5, and the 15 freeways.
Then the freeways off the Interstate system. The Pomona or “60-Freeway.” The Santa Monica, the Golden State, the San Bernardino, and dozens more. All of which takes up thousands of acres of L A county land. Land taken by the state through Eminent Domain. Condemning land and people’s property for public purposes. Never mind the housing shortage. Taking thousands of homes and apartments in its wide swath.
To me the crowning monument of this so-called progress is “The Five Level Interchange.” Seen just off the Harbor freeway.
So here is my suggestion to resolve the housing shortage and it’s attending problem of “Homelessness.”
Remove or deconstruct the connector freeways. Opening up hundreds of acres between the main Interstates. Resulting in a land run never seen before. Enough acreage to create small cities. Acreage to build homes and small businesses. This may seem unrealistic but think about it. Just the de-construction of these connectors would create hundreds or thousands of jobs. And again, opening land to build housing enough to possibly house people near where they work. Building small homes for the homeless as well.
We should seriously think about this and hopefully do it. L A need not be a great big freeway. It could be a nice place to live.
This sure am not Hollywood
Nineteen forty-one was the year Carl, Sr. and his bashful bride
Left the parched and dry farm.
They arrived in the coast to the west
with two Toddlers in tow.
Carl, Jr. and Peggy Sue.
The four of them fresh off
The Route some called 66.
One man’s family migrating from the
Sandy red dirt’s of southern Oklahoma.
It was a new Spring and the L A sky
Was smoky gray.
They knew not even one soul
In this over inhabited place.
Carl and his bride with young family seemed weary and worn.
It was a difficult trek from their
There were no familiar arboreals and fauna.
Not one Native tree like scrub oaks and dry parched and hard red clay soils
Like they left back home
No creeks nor snakes they even noticed.
But what was seen
Was Blue-gray Mountains spread in the eastern horizon.
Busy boulevards filled with rivers of
Shiny sedans and semi-trucks.
appearing as Flowing Rivers of molasses.
Slow and halting
Honking and hesitating like
Caravans of angry flop eared farm mules.
“Well heck, is this what California
Is all about?
We left Southern red dirt
Oklahoma for this?”
Smelly, smokey, and semi-arid sands
Of industrial noisiness? This is our reward?
If this don’t beat all I ever saw.
We must have landed on the
Wrong end of the tracks.
Charles, the Okie Poet.
I had owned and drove with great pleasure two VW beetles. Drove them during my college and early working careers. Oh, so fun to drive. My first VW beetle was a 1958 with the small oval rear window. The headliner was a bit torn but the rest of the car worked including its radio. What was most interesting about the ’58 beetle was it had no gas gage but What it did had in it’s place was a foot switch one would flip to switch to a reserve tank when the bug started sputtering. That would be the only indication the VW was running out of gas. The reserve tank had about a gallon reserve. This necessary foot action indicated it was now time to fill up. Who needs a gas gage anyway? My ’58 beetle bug was an absolutely hands on manual driving machine. Hand rollup windows and a four-speed manual transmission and an air-cooled engine. I loved the sound it made. Something like a small diesel engine.
My next VW was a 1963 VW with the larger rear window and bigger tail lights. This one had a gas gage and it too had a working radio. Same roll up windows with a four-speed synchromesh transmission. Both the ’58 and the ’63 had a twist hand knob near the emergency break to allow flow of warm air during cooler days.
The humble VW bug with it’s iconic roundish body and fenders stop being manufactured and sold in the US in 1979. There were safety features being required by theNTST VW just didn’t want to comply with. However, VW kept building the beetle in Mexico and elsewhere that could not be imported in to the United States. Oh, how much I miss driving that bug car
Here is my dream for the VW beetle. Take the same roundish body with roll up windows and no gas gage and put an electric engine in its rear motor compartment. This would become the ultimate commuter vehicle and still fun to drive. I would be the first one to buy an all-electric VW beetle. Plug me in Jack!
Los Angeles 1952: The start-up.
We were partners in a recycling business. And when I say we I mean my partner Donnie Shorts. My new best friend who moved here to our neighborhood from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What we did discover early on was that we both needed money. Money is what would enable and fund our social/cultural necessities. Necessities like Donald Duck comic books, Snickers candy bars, and double-bubble bubblegum.
So, we had to come to some decision on how to legitimately obtain money. We were too young and too small to deliver the daily mail or drive a taxi. Our banker and advisor, Joe Miller, of Miller’s Market mention if we could find and collect empty Coke or Pepsi bottles, we could bring them to him and we could redeem them for cash on delivery. Almost like instant money Just like that. Zip-pop-zing.
Because of that challenge made by Mr. Miller, Donnie and I started our collection agency. Collecting the afore mentioned glass beverage bottles and quickly exchanging them for hard cash at Joe Millers market on Olympic Boulevard in East Los Angeles. Find empties and Joe would buy them from us for serious cash. Two-cents for the 12-ounce glass bottles and a full nickel for the quart glass bottles.
Our first challenge was where do we find these bottles of redeemable value. Mr. Miller suggested we go to neighbor’s houses and ask them for their empty Coke and Pepsi glass bottles.
So, the following Saturday morning bright and early Donnie and I along with Donnie’s red Radio flyer wagon the two of us set out about seven-o-clock knocking on doors. But what we discovered was a bunch of sleepy angry people. Doors slammed. Angry words were shouted. One kind lady did however suggest to go around in the back alley where trash cans were and sift through that and maybe we might find empty glass pop bottles. So, we did and it worked. We found full six pack paper cartons of glass Coke bottles. Plus, We found quart Pepsi bottles as well. Then, we continued our search all the way down the alley until our wagon was full and the best thing about this bottle collection thing was, we didn’t have to confront the angry sleepy neighbors. Our new business was working. Donnie and I were becoming successful collection agents. Mr. Miller was our cheerful banker. Donnie and I got what we wanted. Comic books, candy bars, and a half dozen Double-bubble bubblegum’s. What more could a business partnership want? Now tell me.