Thursday, October 15, 2009


I just watched "My One and Only" which is a road trip George Hamilton took with his mother and brother from New York to Hollywood which led to him becoming a famous actor in 1953 when he was probably 17 or 18 years old. By the end of the movie I was really moved because in 1953 I was 5 years old and I remember those days very well as my family also moved to southern California that year. However, we moved from Seattle Washington where I was born.

What I remember the most from 1952 and 1953(I turned 5 in April 1953) was standing on the back seat and holding on to my Dad's driver's seat back and sometimes the force of going around a corner would be too great and I would peel off and hit the inside of the back door with my head and shoulders. I wouldn't cry I would just climb up again so I could pretend I was driving the car by standing right behind my Dad. (There were no seat belts or car seats for babies and small children until the 1970s. Oh, a few eccentrics had them installed in the 1950s and I know a lady from the 1950s (now passed on) that the seat belt saved her life. But back then you either held on real good or you were injured in stops, starts, jerks and fast turns in any car you rode in as a kid. My father at that time had a blue 1941 Century Buick which was a very fast car. After his brother died in a plane crash in 1942 my Dad inherited it and kept it until 1956 when he bought another new Century Buick.

The traffic signals were different then too. In Seattle at that time they were mechanical arms a little like railroad crossing arms. One of the mechanical arms said "Go" and the other said, "Stop". But there were no yellow lights to make three colors like now so this caused a lot of accidents because of the sudden transition. I don't know when Washington Changed to the three color lights but it was already that way in California when I moved there in 1953.

In 1954 my mother learned to drive. In the long run this was a good thing but until she got good she mowed a lot of mailboxes down and I hit me head on the windshield quite a few times when she stalled the car. You see, the 1941 Buick was a stick shift as both my Dad and his brother liked to race fast cars. Though it was stock it was the biggest 8 cylinder engine you could get for it. So, often guys on freeways would challenge Dad to a race and he usually won as the other car started peetering out about 100 mph or so. I loved the feeling of being pasted to the rear seat when the power shifting occurred. Obviously, these were very different times than now in every single way.

However, Dad was an excellent driver and never smoked or drank and was very religious. He just liked fast cars and being in beautiful remote places. So we hiked in the mountains and the deserts of Southern California a lot up in the Angeles National Forest and Borrego Desert and out by Mojave we took my cousins and I and our .22 rifles and went jack rabbit hunting. Though I and my cousins almost accidentally shot each other a couple of times when we got too excited in chasing jackrabbits while simultaneously shooting at them this was what men and boys did back then.

My father's father had been a hunter and had shot bear, Elk, deer, and you name it over the years since the 1890s when he was a boy. I think he was born about 1885 in Kansas. My father was given his first rifle at age 6 and I at age 8(two years later only because we lived in Los Angeles where there are too many people to hunt for animals safely there even then.

Actually, I never actually liked hitting any animal with a bullet from my gun. I didn't want anything to die really. It was all about the thrill of the hunt sort of like playing chess. When I started dating at age 15 I transferred all my hunting skills to a more interesting sport, meeting girls and women so then I spent the next 10 years dating a lot of women until I had a son and got married. But it likely would be very hard for people who didn't live then to understand just how really different it was back then than now. It was like a whole different world with completely different rules then even in California which always tends to be a cutting edge and trendsetting place for the whole world.

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