My Goodness, this is the first Forgotten Blog. Perhaps the first of many. Sorry about that, but we are back in LA again, but don’t worry there are more Desert and Mountain tales to come!
What is LA without its ever present Smog? It would be like Gene Autry without his horse, or The Lone Ranger without his mask, but alas I was only partially lucky on this day, my 3rd and last day visiting Los Angeles.
I say partially lucky, as the San Gabriel Mountains were visible to the North which meant that my Smog Drams were not to be totally fulfilled on this trip. I tried to buck up and tighten my belt anyway, as I set off alone down Memory Lane, to the city where I lived most of my life, before I set out on Life’s Road.
With its 63,000 residents being just 16 kilometers from Downtown Los Angeles, it is the epitome of suburban living. That’s what my parents thought when they built their house here in the late 1950’s. I wandered along the streets where I was hit by the car, breaking my leg, where the local market burned down – across the street from the Fire Station, and finally to the street where my house was located.
I’ve run those memories through my head a million times before. How my street looked back then, how tall the trees were, and how many of the neighbors still lived there. Well, amazingly the trees had grown, or had been replaced by others, the neighborhood seemed a bit seedier than before, and everything seemed smaller than how it remembered it to be. I took a number of photos and did actually speak to the man occupying my parent’s house. But he didn’t know or care of how the house looked before, or how I used to throw the ball for the dog, or how tall the Eucalyptus Tree made mowing the front lawn almost impossible to do, due to its sloping nature. Then my parents divorced each other, then they built the Intermediate School, where my endless field of dreams lay, then, then, then.
So much for memories.
My journey continued to a city called South El Monte, where an old friend from Grammar School invited me to visit him at his company, which made furniture. Memory Lane existed here too as we regaled each other about our lives together, almost 50 years before and which extended up to the present time with our current lives and loves.
It was hotter than a firecracker, which reminded me how my friend had once been my yearly Firecracker Pusher, providing me with hours of illegal pleasure. He told me that his dealings gave him the opportunity to have his own stockpile of cherry bombs, bottle rockets, firecrackers and M-80s. He also told me of things that mysteriously exploded outside his classroom in High School, and how he enjoyed life, being young and adventurous (sometimes reckless) growing up in the 60s. I realize that each generation, when looking back at the past, would want to paint a picture of things being less complicated, and having a better life than the present one, but I still believe that to be the case.
I asked various people, including a Los Angeles County Sheriff, an employee at Wallmart, the man residing in my childhood home as well as my friend, how things have developed in my home town over the years. The general impression is that the quality of life in general has decreased, with increasing crime and general degradation of the American Dream. Los Angeles with its 3 + million residents take a terrible toll on the quality of living, as well as the environment in Southern California. Countless businesses, apartment complexes and paved streets make me wonder why it is necessary to develop each and every centimeter (inch) just because someone thinks that is a better idea than bare dirt. Every time I wanted to get from point A to point B, Google Maps suggested the nearest Freeway, leaving the surface streets to wallow in their past dreams.
When we were finished with our visit down this stretch of Memory Lane, I headed toward the closest freeway – Interstate 10, and said goodbye to my friend and his brother, my hometown, and all of my new memories which had put my old memories to shame. My visit with my friend had beaten out all of the other memories combined, as it reminded me of my seemingly, carefree youth growing up in a pleasant city, sporting a small group of hills decorated with Oil Wells shaped like horses, their heads bobbing up and down in the California Sun.
My route lead northward, then eastward toward the Great Mojave Desert.