Memories of a Ten year old in 1965
It was 1965 when I got my very first 45 record. It was "Downtown" by Petula Clark. I was thrilled! Being ten years old I was not allowed to use my parents stereo unless they were there to help me, as I might ruin the needle or end up scratching a record. I needed to get the plastic disc to put on the 45 in order to play it because my parents only had 331/2 LP records at the time.
1965 was also the year "The Sound of Music" was released at the theater. I remember going to see this movie with my parents and the very big deal it was to do so. We did not go to movies as a general rule. They were too expensive. Moving across the country from New Hampshire in order to be a better place to live for my father's health we faced a whole host of new experiences. We found a rental home in Santa Barbara, California and settled into what would be only one year of living on the west coast. Mum was homesick and we returned to New England the very next year.
California was so very different a place to live than New Hampshire had been. There were snails that riddled the walls on the outside of the patio at our home and we had a pomegranate tree in the backyard. My parents had never even heard of that kind of fruit before. The driveway was made of concrete which was unheard of in New England due to the harsh winters as the plows would ruin the roads. I had a red skateboard with metal wheels that I used to ride up and down the driveway making loud noises as it hit each and every crevice. Skateboards were not something people had back east. Not did we ever play tetherball in the schools I went to as they did in California. Four square and double dutch jump rope, Chinese jump rope and jingle jump were all the rage. But not in New Hampshire. Life was decidedly different back there.
My mother was aghast when we moved into our home and found out we had a gas stove with a flame.We only had electric stoves in the homes we had lived in before. I remember one day coming home and finding my parents outside the house as we found we had a gas leak in the house. Mum would let these incidents make a strong case for moving back "home".
The hardest thing we dealt with that year was not having a "real Christmas" because there was no snow in California. I rode my bicycle on Christmas Day and mum thought that was just not "right". We had a tree lit, but it really did not seem like Christmas to us, it felt phony and we all were tragically somber.
In February I had the most horrific stomach ache of my life. My dad insisted I needed to spend some time on the john, as I must be constipated. Within days I was rushed to the emergency room with appendicitis. It was my parents 25th wedding anniversary. They sure missed out on the celebration as they had to tend to my recovery. While in the hospital I spent all the time watching daytime television. Linkletters "House Party" was on, then "Supermarket Sweep" followed by "Queen for a Day". On that show a lady was picked and got a crown and flowers. I remember thinking the ladies were old and how strange it was they won.
We did not have much money, so for excitement we would go to the Santa Barbara pier and go to the coffee shoppe. It is not there anymore, but it was a nice place back then. In 1989 my brother took me to Santa Barbara for the day and we went back to see the house where we lived and my elementary school. they were so much smaller than I remembered. Very surreal.
Mrs West was my 5th grade teacher. She had lovely gray hair pulled back into a french twist. We had a section of the wall with hooks in the back where we would put paper "keys" to show all the books we had read. I had lots and lots of keys. Spending time reading in my bedroom was one of my very favorite things to do when I lived in California. Nancy Drew mysteries were my book of choice and that year I got two for Christmas. That year my brother Doug was also stationed at the Da Nang Marine Base in Vietnam. Mom and Dad sent in a contest entry and won a three minute ham radio conversation with my brother via telephone. Mum cried a great deal about it all. Doug was so young, only 19 years old and had his own little family living in North Carolina. I remember mum having to speak and then say "over" when she was done.
We found a little place we liked up the coastline called "Solvang" where we would go now and again. It is a little Scandinavian town. We also would travel the Pacific Coast Highway and go by Santa Claus California. We sent our Christmas cards out from that post office that year.
Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and The Tijuana Brass would play on the record player on the weekends and we would turn on the old black and white TV and watch the race riots in Watts on the news. Life was tentative, simple, strange and fragile. I was ten and it was a long time ago.....but I will never forget those memories of a time spent in another "world" very very different from the one that existed on the east coast of the United States and that would be very very different by the time we returned one year later.