|Those first and most impressionable years
tend to limit your worldview somewhat. You acclimate to the oddities without a second
thought. Life is usually normal, in spite of where you live. And it's not so much the
'where' as the 'who' you're living with that makes the biggest mark.
Oak Park in the 40's was government housing for Camp Robert families and returning vets as well as the many others who wanted to save their pennies and move on.
A narrow stretch of Pine Street was
the main north-south artery for travel. Barely wide enough for two cars to pass side by
side, Oak Park's design won the prize for being kid-friendly.
Large lawn areas were perfect for football; the two island 'circles' at each end meant you could get dizzy but not lost when riding your bike; a wading pool, daycare, bbq area and more meant places to explore and vandalize; adjacent empty fields were great for kite flying, baseball and dirt clod fights.
This was in 1947. That's Grandpa Skinner from San Luis Obispo holding his bewildered, number one grandson. We had probably just moved from a two bedroom duplex into the three bedroom two-story when brother Marty arrived a month earlier.
Mom went and petrified my baby shoes
In bronze and bragged about her growing boy --
Her firstborn son -- all dressed in Grandma's blue
And backyard brown, out playing with his toys.
I never noticed it before, but when
She sent them off, she gently tucked away
A treasury of songs and smiles within
Each little shoe -- more than enough to say,
"I love you."
Sand, seaweed and gritty sandwiches were enjoyed from the start at Avila Beach and Cayucos when Grandpa and Grandma Skinner carted all of us to the edge of the earth.
Some of us still have a measure of saltwater in our veins, that constant tug to revisit the blue horizon, feel ocean mist on our face, hear the booming rythym of October waves, and enjoy its 'many-twinkling smile.'
Larry and Bruce in their finest hour.
A short walk to our neighborhood 'Safeway' for the bravest of us (you had to cross Spring Street, breaking the 11th Commandment). Do you remember the smaller store to the north sitting in front of a big empty lot? Mostly stocked with penny candy and popsicles, this was the first time I found a quarter---on the path outside the store. Was it stealing if I didn't try to find the owner?
OAK PARK PASTIMES
|1. Getting into trouble|
|2. Getting into more trouble|
Harassing the guys who mowed
5. Learning every curse word in the
|6. Throwing rocks at the train|
|7. Throwing rocks at each other|
|8. Getting your first kiss|
|9. Exploring the equipment yard|
|10. Watching Flash Gordon on TV|
11. Throwing all your dad's money out
of a second story window while he
is still sleeping. (True story)
|12. **** fill in the blank****|
JACK, DAVE, MARTY,
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