Friday, April 24, 2009

Odds and Ends

All of these are specific memories for each of which I have too little to make an essay.
1) Going to play with some kids up Broad Street.  Nothing wrong happened, and I still don't know who they were.  But I didn't tell anyone where I was going and, besides, I had my sister with me.  We just played in their yard and got to know one another.  But when we got back to our grandparents' house, reality hit instantly.  They were frantic.  It hadn't occurred to them that I'd do such a thing (it hadn't ever occurred to me, either).  Never had I been so scolded.  Never had so many stripped cotoneaster switches been exhausted on my bare legs.  I think I was about age seven, or maybe turned eight.
2) Some children whom my family did know and with whom I was playing by permission in my grandparents' neighborhood had inherited the wind-up Victrola to play their own records, and they had Snow White records on Decca, whereas ours were on Victor.  I can't remember for the life of me who they were or how I knew them.
3) Opposite my grandparents' house, but set back next to "the old Portuguee's" house, lived a young family called 'Bolio' (spelled Beaulieu) who had a little girl about 18 months old named Carolyn, about the same age as my younger sister.  Next to them in a white stucco with red trim was a family named Jones.  On our side of the street, at the downhill end of the block, lived Mr. and Mrs. Lewis; when he had a stroke and was partly paralyzed we were in awe of his condition, and we visited him very quietly.  Around that corner and up the street lived a lady named Ruth Lenger, who, I think, had taught with my grandfather; she was nice and friendly.
4) From the grandparents' back yard, across behind Eva Faulstich's house and up a driveway was the short cut to the neighborhood grocery, where we got those licorice whips aforementioned.
5) My friend Shirley Ruth had some delightful sets of paper dolls, with which we enjoyed playing for hours on end a couple of times.  I remember six 'dolls', two 2-year olds, two 4-year olds, two 6-year olds, each with one boy and one girl, and there were dresses and suits for all the sizes.  We didn't exactly 'play house', she and I; we tried on all the clothes and talked about this and that while we did so.  This was at her house, which was very near our school, after school, while our mothers visited in another room, probably over tea or coffee.
6) With my mother one afternoon we went to visit one of her girl friends from high school who had a little boy about my age.  He had a set of My Book of Knowledge and was playing choochoo train with the volumes on the floor.  On the way home my mother was very disapproving of his being allowed to do so.
7) When we left 644, and my parents went north to the Bay Area to find us a house there (not easy in the face of overcrowding due to the shipyards and the Naval Air Station at the west end of Alameda), the four of us stayed with the grandparents for what must have been a couple of months, and I had perhaps as much as six weeks at Emerson School (the map now shows an Emerson Park there).  That was the beginning of Grade Three.  I cannot remember anything unpleasant about that school or, for that matter, anything at all, except that I liked its playground equipment.  Come to think of it, it is not unlikely that going to play with children I didn't know, at a time when I was largely with children I didn't know, dated from this time.  Also, probably from those last months in San Luis Obispo, and only a couple of blocks from my grandparents' house, was a working blacksmith, who shoed horses.  For there still were ice wagons and other delivery wagons that were drawn by horses, right in town, just as twenty years later there were still donkeys and mules at the neighborhood markets in Athens, Greece, right in the city, even in Kolonaki.  This is one more example of the bridging experience of my age-cohort, who ourselves were either too young or too old to be drafted to serve in any of the series of wars, as our grandparents and parents, also, had been, except that, had I been a boy, I might have been drafted for Korea, and who both remembered what was familiar to our grandparents and lived to do things like blogs.
8) Finally, I'll recall our going the few blocks to the railway station to see the brand-new California Daylight passenger train come and stop (its halfway point).  A whole train in red and orange, end to end, the most glorious train I ever saw (see above).
Trains, of course, were familiar; we counted the cars, we read where those cars came from, whenever we stopped for them at a level crossing.  But those were freight trains.