We moved into our new
house on stilts along the back fence of the camp and endless
opportunities to get into trouble.
I met my childhood
friends, Mike Peters and Palmer Bazemore. We were about 4
or 5 years old.
The roads in the camp
had drainage ditches on each side to carry off the water from
the rainy seasons. Homes shared a common driveway that formed
a T as it ended at the carport under the houses it served.
The homes had a maid's
quarters underneath and a outside double-tub washbasin where
mothers or in most cases the maids scrubbed the clothes on
a scrubbing board and then behind the homes there was a clothes
line. Some of the houses had an out door scrub-house shared
by the two homes.
The new elementary
school had been finished and I could walk to it via a step-bridge
between the fence of the camp and the main road which separated
Hollywood from Las Cupolas where the school was situated.
My brother, Bill, (three
years older than me) and I mostly went our own ways unless
my parents went hunting, which was frequently, and we were
forced to go along. I spent most of my time with either Palmer
Mike was in trouble
most of the time as I can recall and I guess that description
fitted me as well. We used to fight all the time for no particular
reason. We gained a reputation in the camp from fighting and
then one day the Club sponsored a boxing match of semi-professionals
for the men to attend. Unknown to either Mike or I, our fathers
had arranged that we were to fight each other in the ring
and I recall being placed in the ring with Mike, wearing the
big professional gloves on our hands and being encouraged
by our fathers and the crowd of men to go at it. We did, pounding
on each other until we were both in tears. That was that!
Next, the “Fly”.
I used to stand around a good bit of the time with my mouth
open -- probably in amazement of the world around me, but
Dad used to tell me, “Shut your mouth, Stevie, or
you will catch flies.” Pooh, pooh, said I. So one
day in our back yard, I stood with my mouth open as usual
taking in the world about me and ZOOOOOMMMM into my mouth
flew the biggest green bottle fly I had ever seen and GLUULLPPP,
down it went. I stood there tears in my eyes, chocking and
in total amazement and shock and realized that Dad had been
right. From that moment on, I kept my mouth shut.
Palmer and I were fire
bugs. We would wander around the camp looking for something
to set on fire. My parents kept their matches out of my reach,
but Palmer's tried to but he knew where to find them and we
would start at his house and he would sneak into the pantry
and climb up to the top shelf where the package of easy-strike
matches were hidden and he would lift a package and off we
went. All the houses in the camp were made of concert block
which at that time we did not know could not burn and we would
usually gather up paper and sticks and pile them up against
a maid's room and build the fire. We never burned down a house,
but I did get into one that was vacant because the occupants
were on vacation and I opened a bag of flour from the pantry
and spilled it over a lit burner on their stove and the flour
dust exploded leaving black drifting burned flour scattered
all through the kitchen. My mother appeared on the scene and
I was caught standing there covered with burnt flour dust
and received spanking #2050. A note of interest: on our next
vacation while visiting my grandfather’s home, I did
successfully burn down his wood garage and another spanking
I recall when the first electric wringer washing machines
were introduced. I used to watch in amazement as Mom would
feed a wet garment into the rubber rollers that slowly passed
the item through two rubber rollers and the water poured out.
She used to wring the clothes dry by twisting the item in
her hand to force out the water. The marvels of machinery!!
Well, I was so intrigued
with the wringer that I stuck my finger into the wringer that
a mother had lift running under house as she went upstairs.
“HHEEELLLPPPP!!!!!!” The damn thing grabbed
the end of my finger and pulled my hand through the roller,
which fortunately was spring loaded. I yelled at Palmer Bazemore
to stop the machine as it slowly pulled my forearm into the
wringer....“AAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!,I yelled at the
top of my lungs and now I had both of my feet pressed against
the wringer as I attempted to pull my arm out.
There was “WHOOOSH!!“
behind me and there appeared about 6 mothers from the surrounding
homes who asked me to spit out my bubble gum. Now I was completely
up to my armpit in the wringer and Palmer locates and pulls
the plug and zzippp, I fall backwards onto the floor. My arm
is not broken, thank goodness. The mothers kept telling me
to spit out my gum and I kept telling them the problem was
with my arm. What did they know???
Now, little did I realize
that while the husbands were at work the wives in the camp
functioned much like a tribe of female baboons in that they
all watched over the children as though they were their own.
They also ratted on us. How else could our mothers have appeared
at the very moment we were getting into trouble, day-after-day???
When Dad came home
for lunch and his siesta he used to sit at the table and tell
me of the things that he had learned that I did. How could
he know??? He used to tell me that a little red bird told
Now, I was very gullible
at that age and believed all the tales he told me and this
one I also believed. So, we had little red and black birds
that lived in the camp - about the size of a canary. My brother,
Bill and I used to hunt these birds with our sling shots and
I am sorry to admit that I killed many of the “Snitches”.
I never seemed to get them all because Dad continued to share
his reports of my bad doings and I received my daily spanking
either from him or Mom.
Loved the rainy season
as the camp would flood and you could walk down the streets
barefooted splashing in the water. We would get strainers
from the kitchen and, with a glass jar in hand, capture the
minnows that swam up from the lake into the roadside ditches.
Then there were the
“Squirter” trees. These trees grew about the camp
and when the clusters of buds were about to bloom, you could
pull them from the tree, bite of the tip of each bud which
you could pull from the cluster and squeeze it shooting out
a stream of water. We used to have “squirter fights”.
got my first haircut at the La Salina club
which I will never forget. That was about
1946 and Dad still commuted to work on a Cushman
Scooter and we went to the club with me sitting
on the seat in front of him. I will never
forget the haircut because the barber used
one of those non-electric sheers that he operated
by squeezing the handles of the sheer while
he ran it over my head -- the sheers pulled
as much hair out as it cut and I created a
fit and never looked forward to a haircut
in La Salina after that experience.
there was the day the “boogey-man”
was in the maid's room two houses down from
ours. I heard a racket from my house and ran
over to see what was going on and came upon
the weirdest scene....girls running around
the house screaming all the time and from
time-to-time one would fall down in a faint.
The girls kept pointing
to the maid's room saying there was a “boogey-man”
inside. The mothers came running over to fetch their daughters
and the lady of the house came down the back stairs shotgun
in hand. She cracked the door with the barrel of the gun and
then threw it open. More hollering and fainting. She went
into the room and then came out saying nothing was there.
I walked away shaking my head -- “Girls”... Stopped
at the house next door and sat down leaning against the maid's
room wall and was joined by a girl (don't remember who she
was) and we proceed to share “peeks” as we pulled
out our shorts and leaned over to look.
Those were the days.....