Early Years

I was born in LA a few years after WWII ended.  My Mother was a single Mom who managed to get married just before I was born so I wouldn’t be a bastard.  She moved in with my Grandmother 3 weeks before I was born.  I was raised in a 1900 boarding house for the next 4 years.

The stately old home had a basement plus 2 stories, 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  Gram kept 2 rooms rented out for gentleman and a studio cottage in the back for Mr. Bandy, her gardener. My Mom worked every day as a legal secretary, so Gram baby sat me and cooked for everybody who lived with us.  She made all of my clothes on an old Singer treadle machine.  I can still hear that wonderful sewing machine rhythm to this day.   As an avid Christian Scientist, she read from the bible & Science & Health every day.  Seems I was the favorite Grandchild and appropriately spoiled.  I was as happy as any kid could be.  My favorite memory is sitting on the tile kitchen counter and being spoon fed a ripe persimmon.

Gram had moved from Texas a few years earlier after my Grandfather died; my Mom followed her to give birth to me ~ so I was the first of our clan to be born in California and not in the South.  Gram raised me British Isle Texas style on grits, black-eyed peas, sweet tea, divinity fudge, but (sadly) no BBQ.

Our house was 10 blocks from the beach and we spent many a day driving in Gram’s black convertible to Seal Beach & Belmont Shore.  Sundays were all about attending the whitest, most boring church anywhere.  Christian Scientists are all bout being stuck in their heads, learning big words, praying instead of visiting the doctor, having money and isolating from the community at large.  It was a benign philosophy that avoided guilt, often quoted Shakespeare’s “Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so” and using neutral third person pronouns …. so it was always he/she … and so on.  Steinbeck observed there were a lot of Christian Scientists who became prostitutes; probably that no guilt thing.

 

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