Re: Streetwise - Summertime

08/09/18 - posted by Tim Dineen

My summers always included an extended stay in Bakersfield at my grandparent's house. Instead of a house at the River or a trip to lake Berryessa, we'd head south to spend time with Mom's family. 110°F was not unusual weather and I got more than my fair share of sunburns. From this city kid's standpoint, it was like being out in the country - two blocks away was a huge field where watermelons were grown, and train tracks with real trains lumbering by. When I was about 4, I got my legs full of rock salt from farmer John when he caught us stealing melons - I was the smallest and last over the fence! I still remember the sting of the salt dissolving in the cuts as I sat crying in the tub. My grandparents called it a learning experience - you shouldn't steal watermelons. And it was a learning experience. We didn't stop stealing them - I just got better at getting away! Another cool thing about Bakersfield was it was only about 125 miles to Disneyland! We went quite a few times when it was still affordable.

We spent a lot of time at Fleishhacker's - it was only 2 blocks away and a mere 10¢. And, if we were lucky, we got to sneak into Fort Funston! Matinees at the Parkside were legendary. How that theater put up with all of those rowdy kids is a mystery. It was fun!

We rode bikes everywhere and would head up to Pine Lake to catch crawdads or to the Park or to Playland if we had any money - usually gotten by collecting bottles.

South Sunset Playground had a ton of activities - from Ukulele with Mrs. Daniels to crafts with Gladys. Always something to do.

But whatever we did, we were doing it outside. Staying in the house was not an option.

In the early to mid '60s, I spent a few weeks at Camp Royaneh with the Scouts. I don't remember much of it other than I really didn't like camp that much. Those years were actually kinda rough for me - I didn't quite have a handle on being gay back then, but I sure as hell knew that Boy Scout Camp wasn't the place to announce it!

By the time we got driver licenses, it was carloads of kids heading to Gur-nee-ville for a day at Johnson Beach or to either Monte Rio or Rio Nido.

Which brings up the pronunciation of Guerneville...

I think I was probably 40 before i learned the proper pronunciation of that town. It was always Gur-NEE-ville to everyone I knew.

Great memories!

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