I lived in the suburbs of Los Angeles. In an average size home in Van Nuys. Soon we moved to the outskirts of Sylmar! But, we lived in Van Nuys, on a sleepy little street called Cohasset, right behind the Schlitz Brewery, where we had big trees in the back, and were surrounded by a walnut grove – when I was twelve! My best friend was Charlene, and she lived about five houses down on the opposite side of the street, in the same track house we lived in.
There were four of us kids, I was twelve, my sister being three years younger was nine, my other sister was just under two, and my little brother was around one. Quite a family to keep going I might say, but Mom and Dad did a great job!
In those days we ate a lot of fruits and vegetables. We were kids on the go, and we’d grab an apple before we’d take off down the street, or a handful of walnuts Dad had just harvested from our walnut tree. Fruits came from our own trees, or the trees of neighbors, or family. A lot of veggies came from the farmers market, or from my Grandma’s garden. I remember asparagus, and rhubarb. Why those particular ones, who knows? Basically we ate them uncooked, and raw! Foods weren’t sprayed either, like they are today, and everyone was much healthier. Sorry, this is another story altogether, for another time altogether.
I had my own room until I was around ten, when much to my surprise my second sister was born and I had to share a room with my other sister. That sure did suck! I was neat, she was a pig, I was quiet and reserved, she was fat and obnoxious! We couldn’t have been more different, but she was my sister, and neither of us had a choice. We had to find a way to make it work!
We tried dividing the room off, you know, I take one side, Sis takes the other, but one of us would always have to walk through the space of the other. I didn’t want a loud, and obnoxious sister walking through my section, and she didn’t want her prissy perfect sister walking through her section. This presented a real problem, so we fought constantly….bickering about this and that, all stupid things that kids find to fight about!
Our home wasn’t small by the standards of yesteryear – but by todays standards it was a downright shoebox. The size was probably 1400 sq. ft, had two bathrooms, and three bedrooms, and an eat in kitchen, dinning room, and a good size living room with a fireplace. It worked for us, and we didn’t think it was small. We had a big window in the back of the living room that over looked a giant patio the length of the house, and a huge backyard.
Dad eventually had a pool build in the back, and that was the beginning of all of us kids turning into prunes. We were constantly drying out in an effort to return to our natural state, but I think our skin was permanently pruney. People would stop us on the street and ask us why we were so pruney. Really they did! I wouldn’t lie about a thing like that! We didn’t have an answer so we just stared at them like the water had soaked up all our brain cells.
One day about twenty years ago on a trip into the San Fernando Valley, my husband and I drove by our old house in Van Vuys. I could hardly believe how everything looked. All the houses looked really small, the neighborhood was well maintained which was a surprise given the age of the homes, but things had changed. Brick had fronted many homes, old trees were removed in an effort to save the remainder of the structures, and new trees were planted in their place. Driveways……well, many of the asphalt driveways had been lifted by roots from the old trees, and were left cracked with huge gaping veins running in all directions. That saddened me, but knowing my neighborhood was still standing, and in not so bad a condition made me happy. In a small way I wanted to go to the front door and ask to see the inside of the house, and backyard, but I think it’s better not to know, not to see. Nothing will ever be the same, and I’ve learned it’s better to remember what was, than to know what isn’t any longer!
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