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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Good Life on Olive Avenue

By Marcy Belson

When we married, we rented a 2 story Spanish style home in a quiet neighborhood. Gordon owned a stereo, I had a bed, one chair, and two small children.

We went to McMahan's Furniture Store, managed by our new next door neighbor, Roy. At McMahan's, we opened an account and spent perhaps 30 minutes choosing a houseful of furniture, all Danish Modern. I learned to regret those decisions, long before we made the final payment.

About a year later, the identical house to our rental came up for sale. The military family were being transferred and asked for $500 and someone to take over the payments of $150 per month.

My parents loaned us the down payment and we made the arrangements to move down the street, just three doors away. It was much too close to hire a moving van, so we did the thrifty thing; we hired every child in the neighborhood for the grand sum of 10 cents per trip, to carry our belongings down the street.

What a spectacle that must have been! I only remember that my job of finding and placing all the pots and pans and other household goods was a total nightmare.

I also remember that the family who were moving out had a couple of very strange requests. First, the woman told us we must pay her an extra $15 for the garbage disposal and another $15 for a front yard rose bush because both of these items were gifts from her husband and she was upset about having to leave them behind.

No matter, we paid her and happily settled down in our first home.

Gordon was a disc jockey at the local radio station. Guess what we used for coffee and end tables? Yes, those big LP records, each in a jacket with a great cover stacked to the proper height, were our tables.

When I went to work for the employment office, I could walk to work in the winter, summer time was far too warm for walking after 8AM.

We were a block from the only high school and on the days I was home, I could hear the band practicing. They would march down Olive Avenue and around the corner, back to the school grounds.

When Gordon announced the Friday night football games, if I stayed home and listened on the radio, I could also hear the band playing when the windows were open.

The only TV station was in Yuma and it didn't have much of interest to us. We wanted the L.A. stations with the better programming. We purchased an enormous antennae, with a control to turn it.

The picture was so fuzzy, we placed a big mirror toward the T.V. to reflect the picture and watched the reverse image in the mirror.

The true beauty of life in a small town was that we had friends, lots of friends, and we saw each other weekly. Any excuse for a get-together, we celebrated every birthday, anniversary and bon voyage for a trip further than the west coast. We played games, we danced, we ate well, we camped in the desert and in Mexico at the Gulf.

In the summer, many of our friends would rent space together at a travel trailer park on the beach in San Diego and spend the summer weekends, together again.

We had a travel group called "Krumi Tours" and we usually went to Mexico. Gordon was the "Queso Grande,” the Big Cheese, and he was in charge of making all travel arrangements, the hotel and dining reservations.

We traveled by train, many times in a friends' private rail car. It was called "Mexicali Rose" and was kept in Mexicali. It would sleep 14 people in bunks as well as on the on-board couches, used in the daytime as a meeting area.

It had a kitchen with an ice box that was another of Gordon's duties, to procure the blocks of ice for the trip. We planned these trips with meals on the train as we made our way down to Guaymas for a long weekend.

There was a wonderful old hotel in Guaymas, built by the railroad, I believe in the 1930s.

We also flew to Mazatlan for another Krumi Tour, as well as fishing trips in San Quentin on the Pacific Ocean side of Baja California. Mr. Krumi took good care of us.

Most of those friends are gone now but the laughs and good times we shared live on in my memories of the good life on Olive Avenue.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Very nice piece of life, always had friends and now family who lived out west, still has the air of adventure to me, who stayed in midtown Manhattan...visited few times and could see how they went there for vacation, work, etc and never considered leaving for one moment..having camped as far south as Virginia and as far north as Quebec, your trips around made me miss my trips even more...thanks for sharing..add a little drama and it could have been those old TCM movies from the 40s...loved every scene...

Olive Avenue sounds like a slice of small-town America. I enjoyed your story.

Wouldn't we all have loved the experience of living on
Olive Avenue and being a dues paying member of Krumi Tours?

Just as I was reading about you being able to hear the broadcast of the football games,I have my kitchen window open and I can hear the announcer telling me who is playing third base for the Villanova Wildcats who have their baseball diamond close to our home. I love the sound of it. It means Spring is HERE!

Your story was fun and well written. I really enjoyed it.

It took me back to the "good old carefree days" even though mine were different from yours--off-base housing (Air Force) in Biloxi, Mississippi--pinochle, Kool-Aid and popcorn,(all we could afford, occasionally a bottle of Mogen David) with the babies asleep in the only bedroom, and lots of laughter with friends.

Funny, how wonderful life is when you look back...

I lived in El Centro too and remember hearing your husband on the radio. How the world has changed!

Maida, how nice of you to mention you remember GB on the radio! He will be pleased. He still has "the voice"! And, yes, the world has changed for all of us.

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