When I was a child, I lived some of the time in Delano, a small town in the Central Valley of California and more of the time in Hermosa Beach, west of Los Angeles. For a while, the few years before my mother passed away, my parents lived apart, some of the time I was with my mother in Hermosa and my dad would come visit me and take me out for the day.
My mother lived with her mom, Grandma Ross, who was not a happy person, a classic "you kids get off this lawn" kind of grandma. At any rate, dad would come and pick me up, rescuing me from the boringness and stringent rules of grandmas house and take me on drives around LA. We had our favorite places; Breyers Ice Cream shop in Westwood, The Farmers Market on Fairfax, Pony rides at Griffith Park, La Brea Tar Pits, Hamburger Hamlet, Venice Beach and the pier at Santa Monica.
The cool thing about hanging out with my dad was he was born (1923) and raised in LA and he really knew his way around the old side streets, and he had stories. He'd tell me about the time the freeway was built in Pasadena and how before that there were these railways that would take you all around the city from Pasadena to Venice Beach (that was the Red Line Railway). He showed me an old building in Santa Monica where there were dances and he saw the young Frank Sinatra lead a band. He walked me by the Venice Beach Canals and talked about his family renting a house there for summer months. He showed me the movie house where he'd go on saturdays as a kid to see triple and quadruple features with his older brother, who would buy his ticket and leave him there as a a cover so that their mom wouldn't know Uncle Dick was gettin' drunk and carousing around.
I've always felt like my own physical time in Los Angeles extended beyond my own experience, because my dad was so good at imparting his own history to me. Lately, my ten year old son, and I have been spending some time in some of these same old haunts. Like the carousel at the pier. I have become my dad and Alexander is me, it's my time to tell him the stories.
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