Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Small World

Yesterday I spoke with an attorney regarding some matters my dad wanted to have handled. During the small talk at the beginning, I told him I grew up in the Crenshaw area. He said his wife was the same age as me and she grew up there as well.

Naturally I asked him her name, but it didn't ring a bell. She had a twin sister, he told me, and they'd moved to the "westside" from Crenshaw. Hmm.. I always thought Crenshaw was considered "westside" but I guess they moved even more westward.

When he mentioned the twin sister and that they were my age, all of a sudden the name did ring a bell. "Hey, they lived on my block," I said. "Just a few doors away, in fact."

The neighbors told us about twins who lived right by our house, but they had moved out right before we moved in. They were very good looking, they said. I was disappointed! Why'd they have to move out? A couple of good-looking JA girls as neighbors? Drat the luck!

I told this to the attorney and he got a kick out of that. He said his wife would get a kick out of it too when he told her that evening, especially the "good looking" part.

My parents had also looked at houses in Monterey Park and Gardena, as well as the Crenshaw area back then, in 1969. They decided that Crenshaw would be the better place for me. I forgot what the reason was but when I see them again I'll have to ask because most JA families were moving out of Crenshaw to Gardena and Monterey Park at that time, rather than moving in. But hey, from 36th Street to Crenshaw, that was definitely a step up!

I thought back to that summer. I took drafting and history at Dorsey during the summer session. Mr. Rothblatt was the history teacher and I think I mentioned him before in this blog - he normally taught at Grant High and later on someone I worked with in the student store at UCLA told me he had gotten busted for smoking pot on the Grant high school campus. The absolute only thing I remember from either class was mir y druzbah, which supposedly means peace and friendship in Russian. That's what Mr. Rothblatt taught us.

Summer school began before we moved, so initially I took the Jefferson Avenue bus from Farmdale, where Dorsey was located, east to Western Avenue and then walked home from there. I was totally shocked by the behavior of the students taking the bus - some of them used to climb in through the windows to avoid having to pay.

When we did do the move to the new house, I then was able to walk to school. While things were getting organized, we'd take out chicken from Golden Bird. Three nights in a row, we had dinner from Golden Bird. I was ecstatic! Then finally everything was put away so my mom cooked dinner instead. I was disappointed. Sorry, mom! GB is the best fried chicken I've ever had, bar none. My mom's chicken couldn't compare, but she made the best onigiri, though. I remember the time I tried to make some - not that long ago, in fact - and wound up with misshappen clumps of rice and very red hands, too. That was my first and last attempt.

Our neighborhood had toads. I'd find them in the yard, bring them inside and my mom would tell me to take them back outside. A couple of years later they disappeared.

The neighbors were mainly black and Asian back then, and now they're mainly black. The block doesn't seem all that different now than then; the houses might be painted different colors, but they look good and their yards are kept up. The faces have changed but the people are very nice. My sister and I met some of them and they expressed sadness that our folks had moved out. A couple of them even cried. They'd been watching out for them, keeping an eye on the house and picking up the papers so it wouldn't be obvious that no one was home.

It'll be up for sale in the near future and it's hard to believe all that has happened so suddenly this year. There's a lot of great memories associated with that house and the neighborhood.

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