I have really fond memories of growing up in California. We moved from Detroit Michigan in 1950 when I was four years old. My grandparents had already made the move the year before. It didn’t seem odd at the time that they were living in a home-built travel trailer on a little piece of land in Lemon Grove California – about 10 miles from downtown San Diego.
Grandpa was building their house and the only shelter available for my mom, dad, sister and me, was a 20×20 foot shack that had been a chicken coup many years before. We slept on cots my grandfather made and it was all a grand adventure. The weather was warm, even at night, and we were happy to be there. Grandma had a lemon tree and an avocado tree right in the yard! Not long after, we got our own home and life began.
The things I remember, in retrospect, about growing up in San Diego may seem odd. I’d take off my shoes at the end of the school year and, except for church or family, not put them back on until just before school started again. There were big canyons around our neighborhood that were huge playgrounds for all the kids. We’d disappear first thing in the morning, show up for lunch, and then head back out again. The canyons had big tumbleweeds so we stole some sheets, old carpets, whatever we could find, cover the stickers and make forts. When it rained (once or twice a year) everyone would run outside and dance. No one had air conditioning.
My dad always had a boat and we learned to waterski at an early age. We’d camp on the silver strand for the whole weekend, sleeping on the sand and skiing all day. On the way home, we would pick up the babysitter. My dad worked with a man who lived in Tijuana and he had 4 daughters and many nieces. We’d pick up Maria (or Consuela, Lucinda, etc.) and she’d live with us for the week – watching us after school and helping with the housework while my mother worked. Then on Friday evening, we’d head back to the beach and drop her off with $15-20 – a fortune in those days. Sunday, we’d pick up someone else. I had peanut butter on tortillas after school for years. Everyone walked to school – there were no school busses until high school.
We were so safe in those days. At 12 years old, my sister and I would ride the bus right into downtown San Diego, transfer and catch the bus to Pacific Beach where my other grandparents had moved. We’d spend the day by ourselves at the beach and then ride the bus back home.
Tell us your story about growing up in San Diego! Photo by my Dad.