MY EARLIEST MEMORIES MARCH 24, 2014
When I was born on April 23rd, 1918, our family was living up on north Raymond Ave, east of downtown Fullerton. You travelled east on Chapman Ave. out of town and over to Placentia and on to the other little towns such as, Yorba Linda, Yorba. Raymond Ave. was a newer part of Fullerton, about half-way to Placentia. In those days, lots of citrus groves dotted the landscape, or why else would they call the area “OrangeCounty?” My Dad had this orange grove up on top of the hill, wherein the home was located, and he also had a garage down town where autos were repaired, and new Cadillacs were sold.
It’s a good thing that grove was up on the hill because Beth, Sis, and Bud, my older siblings, (and they were older, Beth by 17 years, Sis by 15, and Bud by 10) had to trudge quite a ways to get to school every day. It was a snap in the mornings — they would coast down the hill to Chapman Ave. where it was level the last mile or so to the campus of FullertonUnionHigh School. They were quite fresh for school from this walk. It was the trudging home that was a different story when uphill Raymond probably looked like the Alps, and they were tuckered out after their day with all the books, and Phys. Ed., or school choir. Mom used to tell how she would spot them starting up the hill, and how they would slow down to a crawl, and stop to rest. It took them forever to travel that last half mile. They were always full of hope that Dad would somehow be on his way home from the garage, and it would be when they were needing a ride the most — and they were stranded half-way.
NOW for an Historical Note: FUHS was built in 1893, and the first graduating class consisting of Thomas McFadden, and his buddy, Arthur Staley, received their diplomas in 1896. McFadden was my Uncle, who had later married my Dad’s sister, Lucana (Aunt Lukie) Forster. Tom went on to be a well-known attorney in Anaheim. END of History lesson.
Now then, when I was 6 months old, we moved from up on the hill into a new little subdivision, and our house was at 509 No. Pomona Ave. right smack dab across the street from FUHS. It was the 2nd house from Chapman, and we had an expansive view of the mammoth front lawn across the street of the school, where many, many hours were spent through the years playing with our friends – tackle football, baseball, soccer, etc. or just running around with wild abandon.
With this move, all I ever had to do is roll out of bed to get to my first class. Kindergarten through 4th was a block away, 5th and 6th were 2 blocks, 7th and 8th were 2½ blocks; then high school across the street. Jr. College was just past the high school. I didn’t exactly get any exercise getting to school. Maybe having to speed it up if the bell was ringing to start the first class.
Now I have described the outside areas around the corner of East Chapman and No. Pomona. It was a tight fit in that home which my Mom lived in for more than 50 years — 30 years after Dad had died. The house faced to the east. On the front left there was a porch where one could watch the world go by, and as you went inside, there was the living room, continuing to the rear, the dining room (same size as LR.,) then the kitchen which had a nook, then a service porch, then down 4 steps. The house sat up off the ground, and there was a cellar. How about that? Now on the right side of home, the MBR projected out to be even with that porch, so it allowed for more space for bedrooms. First, the MBR, a bathroom (the only one,) middle BR, and 3rd one at back. Big back yard, clothes lines, a couple of walnut trees that I would climb, then a free standing one-car garage on the alley. (Come to think of it, where did all the alleys go?) And there across the alley was Josh Seales Mortuary.
And we were only a block away from the main drag, Spadra Road.
Here’s how everyone was filed away at 509 No. Pomona. Mom and Pop in the MBR ensconced in a beautiful old antique bed in dark mahogany from the 11-bedroom family home in San Juan Capistrano. Being the only boy, Buddy had the middle BR to himself, and the 2 girls who were oldest were stashed away in the back bedroom. Now mind you, each bedroom had a spacious walk-in closet.
Now what do they do with the newest family member? Six months old, so a crib was just fine, and it was with the folks shoved into the front corner of the room, and where the foot of the crib lapped over a bit in front of the big window I had a chance to watch the world go by — well, there was our front lawn, and across the street the school buildings. I do have memories of this, of jumping around in the crib wanting to get over and snuggle up to Dad to hear all about the Sunday funnies. Only on Sunday, otherwise he was off to the Cadillac Garage. It’s a wonder that I don’t have any memories while I was in Mom’s incubator. Maybe you remember how I went on and on about how my Mom cried buckets and buckets of tears the 9 months of pregnancy. She sure didn’t need a kid to disrupt her nice, social life: playing in her bridge club and being a member of the Ladies’ Ebell Club of Fullerton, and Bud was 10 years old. She was then 39 years old at the time, for crying out loud. By then she should’ve known better. (Didn’t HER Mom ever tell her?)
(When are those 2 girls going to get married to those 2 fellas they keep mooning over, and free up some space around here?)
And now, unbeknownst to me, when I was 18 months old, and I am still filed in the crib, Surprise, Surprise — here comes another little person in the body of my sister, Vivian. Mom never did cry a river of tears through this incubation — maybe she was embarrassed. Later, she would say how it was really a Godsend. (She may have meant that I had been sent by the devil.)
This little new thing came with a crib, and it had to go upset my privacy and be placed along the east wall. Her window only looked out on the house next door — she was not able to watch the world go by, and that’s the reason I became so very worldly, and Viv was more the clinging type with Mom. I was practically grown up at 18 months when she came along and disturbed my peace.
I immediately started teaching her a few things, like jumping up and down. I could climb out of the crib. It took her awhile to learn. I knew about the Sunday morning routine with Dad, and I let her in on that snuggle, snuggle – listen, listen for funnies. I have to admit: Life was Heaven.
When are those two girls ever going to get out of here, and get their own babies to fondle over?
That’s why I was able to retain so many memories of these early years. Viv and I spent a lot of time “growing up” in our little nests, the same old cribs. It’s a good thing the folks didn’t “slip up” one more time. That house was getting pretty packed, and it may stunt my growth.
MELITAS FORSTER MONDAYS WITH MELITAS