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 or Mike.

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 followed.

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 him.

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”.

I 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.

Then 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.....

 

   INDEX