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Thursday, March 22, 2012

These Are My Streets...

During the Summer of 1972, I was seven years old and my family moved from Massachusetts all the way across the country to Southern California. We ultimately landed in Baldwin Park where, for a time, I was the only white kid on my street. I learned acceptance there, I learned of different cultures, and when the time came, I learned to fight on that street. We stayed there until I finished junior high school, now known as middle school. We moved over the summer and I started high school once again the new kid. Recently, I visited the old neighborhood, the first time in more than thirty years. Please join me as I indulge in a little melencholy.

We lived on Heintz St. Our house was the third house in the back of a tri-plex. J and W lived in the front with their three daughters, while between us lived Ida and Carl, who had the most beautiful gardens. When I was nine, Ida passed away and was my first lesson in death.


At the end of our street was our elementary school. Pleasant View didn't have a mascot, and when I was in third grade, that would be Mrs. Webb, the school held an art contest to pick one. My idea was the Pleasant View Pelicans...even then I was a fan of aliteration. The winning design was...wait for it...the Pleasant View Roadrunners! Now that was badass, right? Oh shut up.


I learned to swim at Morgan Park. Skateboard too. And I learned to shoot pool at the community center. Sadly the pool is no longer there, but the center is, though much, much bigger.


And here is where the pool was.


Every chance I got, I rode my bike down to the public library. It was quite literally the second most important place in my childhood other than my house. I spent alot of time there, and I remember one particular day, after having spent a good bit of time inside, I came out with an armload of books to find that my bike lock had been stolen...chain and all. The bike was still there but the lock was gone. To this day I still can't believe it. The other day I walked back into my own history and I am amazed to say that the library hasn't changed much at all.


I had alot of friends back then, Ted, Wanda, Maria, Sonia, Jose and my best friend, David Knisley. Dave lived on Elton and his house was my home away from home.


The local convenience store was called Olive Square Market, and when I was twelve I walked in with my father on a mission. I was wearing my Webelos uniform and asked to speak to the manager. When he came out I shook his hand and asked him for a job. To his credit he didn't laugh in my face, and he let me down gently. I went in and bought a Diet Coke. I took my time and walked around a bit, the store is EXACTLY as it was. A place frozen in time. Though I did find something new at the meat counter, they had planted several Coronas into the ice cooling the shrimp. I'll take a half dozen shrimp, and that corona there.


After my rejection we went across the street to Linda's Burgers for a milkshake. Was it called Linda's back then? I don't remember, but at the back of my mind I think that it might have been.


Downtown I was happy to see the Alta Dena Dairy still standing. And the Church's Chicken was there as well. When I was in High School there was a rumor that if you were going to go out drinking, you should first eat some of that greasy chicken to coat your stomach. Personally I never tested the theory, but it didn't seem to help a few of my friends.


Junior High was called Landis back then, but it has since been renamed in honor of some local politician. The old mascot is still the same, and the old sign is still there.


We had a couple of notorious areas as well. First, the Santa Fe Dam. It was rumored that the world's oldest catfish lived in there.


At the other end of town was the pit. Rumor was that a lion escaped from somewhere and lived there. I remember walking past there alot, gripping a huge tree branch and keeping my eyes peeled.


I leave you with some random art I found on my trip down memory lane, and a very important message as well.




  1. As a friend of the current Dave Knisley I saw this and thought it was great.

  2. Thank you, Sarah! Any friend of Dave's is a friend of mine!

  3. Very cool....FYI....there is a new pool at Morgan Park, it is just indoors now! :)