Thursday, August 25, 2011

Today Completes Fifty-Six Years-Part One

Race Horses Heading for the Finish Line
Today, August 25, 2011, I have lived in California for fifty-six years.  I was ten years old when my parents decided we were moving to California.  We first lived in Los Alamitos, on Howard Avenue, which runs parallel to the Los Alamitos Naval Base.  When we came to Los Alamitos, the base was called Los Alamitos Naval Air Base.  In more recent years, the military had cut way back on bases in general, and in Los Alamitos, it has affected the air traffic in and out the the facility.

I lived in Los Alamitos when the Los Alamitos Race Track owned all the land along Katella Avenue, and had large pastures where brood mares were pastured, and their foals raised, until they were either trained for racing, or sold to other horse racing barns, or sold as riding horses to the public.

When I lived there, there were even some dairies scattered throughout the general area, which included what is now known as Cerritos, but then was called, "Dairy Valley."  A family friend owned one of those dairies.  Eventually, over the years, all the dairies were forced out, and moved to more remote areas, such as Norco, in Riverside County, and even to central and northern California, where there was more open land for pasture for their milk cows.  Yes, back then, nearly all dairy cows were allowed to spend the day and night in pasture, with actual green grasses on which to graze, and lie in the warm sun.  Now, those were contented cows.  About every twelve hours, they cows were herded into the milk barn, where they were washed and milked, while eating sweet grain.

Contented Dairy Cow
In 1958,  we moved to Buena Park, and lived on Artesia Blvd., about a mile from the Fullerton Airport.  We lived on about an acre and a half, where we had a huge Pomegranate tree, and an Apricot tree which produced more fruit than we could ever eat.  So, when we had our milk goats, they got their share of that, too.  We had three dogs, Pal, Cuddles and Chico, which we got in El Paso, Texas where we lived prior to coming to California.

While living in Buena Park, we had our share of excitement, as one morning, when my father opened the front door to leave for work, he saw a huge dust cloud about half a mile away, across the large field beyond the other side of Artesia Blvd.  He shut the door, I think to gather his thoughts, and to make sure he wasn't just seeing things.  When he opened the door again, there was a long, freight train, with several engines scattered all along the track as far as he could see eastward, from where the train had come.  We all looked, and saw that a large semi truck, which had been hauling a "sheep's foot," had apparently been in the train's path.

Heavy Equipment Hauler
Early Morning Freight Train
Within half an hour, there were television news van's and helicopters, all over the place, and it was a big news story, as well.  The entire section of track had to be rebuilt, so no train traffic was there for a while.  Fortunately, no one was killed, but one engineer did sustain a broken arm.  The truck driver had been blinded by the early morning sun, and was unable to see the train coming, and there were no flashing lights, or crossing gate in place at the crossing.  The truck had actually cleared the track before being hit, so only the gigantic "sheep's foot was actually hit.  If you are not familiar with a "Sheep's Foot," it is used in construction areas, for compacting soil prior to construction, and though I do not know the weight, it is obviously several tons, as it was about eight feet in height, barrel-shaped, allowing for it being pulled behind an earth mover, which on one of the large pieces of heavy equipment which is used during freeway construction.

From Buena Park, we moved to Westminster, California, which was even more rural at the time, in 1958.  We lived on a farm road, called Sugar Avenue, which is now called McFadden.  Our house was on acres and acres of land, just on our side of the road.  On the opposite side of Sugar Avenue, was more farming land, where they grew celery, cauliflower, broccoli, Blue Lake stringless beans, all varieties of lettuce, as well as carrots.  This farming area covered everything between Cannery Avenue, (now called Magnolia) and encompassed at least a mile east of our home, passing Brookhurst Street.  My parents did not do the farming here, but since we lived there, and made sure the crops were not invaded by thieves, the farmer who leased the land, allowed us to use whatever we wanted from the fields.

Plowing Acres
Several time a year, there were crop dusters, which flew over the land, spraying DDT, and other insecticides, to kill caterpillars, and who know what other poisons to help prevent the eating insects from wiping out the crops.  We were usually given notice when the crop duster was coming, so we could leave for the day.  Unfortunately, our animals, cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, and our milk goats were unable to be removed.   That was also before people really were aware of the dangers of such chemicals being used on our food crops.  We lived on Sugar Avenue until I was married, and my parents moved soon afterward back to El Paso, Texas.

My husband and I lived in Cypress, California, until the property was being sold, about a year after we moved there.  The owners were family friends, but were getting on in years, so wanted to unload property they no longer had to worry about maintaining.  We were offered the place, but we had not been married long enough to have saved enough for even the down payment.  We were also expecting our first child.  We opted to return to Los Alamitos, where we had both lived before, and we had family friends who would be living nearby.

Our Little Girl, All Grown Up (r)
Our first child (a daughter) was born while we lived in Los Alamitos.  Sarita was born at Atresia Community Hospital on May 2, 1964, one year and four days after we were married.  While we still lived in Cypress, I was walking home from a nearby store, and nearly home, when I heard a commotion at a local mechanic's shop.  I over heard the man saying that someone had been killed.  As soon as I got home, I turned on the TV, only to see and hear the announcement about President John F. Kennedy being shot in Dallas, Texas.  I was astonished, so say the least.  It was really shocking, and even more so, when they finally announced that President Kennedy had in fact been killed.  The scenes played over and over all the rest of the day, with people crying, some actually screaming, and others passing out.  It was a very emotional event, which few people who were living at the time could ever forget.

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