Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - Riding the Santa Fe Chief Part I
Friday, 16 September 2011 11:21

I remember riding the Santa Fe Chief that summer of 1968, right before my eighteenth birthday. My mom, my dad and I rode from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to Chicago, and then from Chicago by what they called the "milk train" because it made so many stops at each small town. Stops were in Pasadena, San Bernardino and Barstow. Then continuing on to Albuquerque New Mexico. I remember getting off there and felt the heat slap me in the face, so I quickly got back on. I remember stopping in Kansas City, the dry one, Missouri. From there I remember following the Mississippi River, up toward Iowa, then Illinois, Galesburg, Chillicothe, Streator, Joliet and finally into Chicago.

During this ride, my mother was deeply engrossed in her latest book of the month club selection, my father reading some sports magazine, and me, a book from the library, probably a Perry Mason mystery by Earle Stanley Gardner. Upon arrival in Chicago, we had dinner with a friend of my mother and then back onto the slow train to St. Paul, Minnesota where we were greeted by my cousin Annette, her husband Norman and their daughter Ellen who was several years younger.

Of course we saw my Aunt Toba, Aunt Bertha, who were courtesy aunts by virtue of being my mother's oldest school friends.

We stayed with Auntie and Uncle, my Grandma Goldenberg's sister and her husband. They had a freezer in their basement full of so many different flavors all made by the St. Paul Milk Company for whom my uncle had worked for so many years.

We visited the cemetery where my grandfather was buried and where later, because Grandma was buried at Beth Olam Cemetery in Hollywood, the same place my birth mother, Alice, was buried, her plot was given to the temple to bury old prayer books and torahs because you never throw away the name of God.

Blue skies the whole trip, big white clouds, humidity, then late afternoon rain bursting from the sky and cooling everything down. Ice cream every day.

Return soon to read more about this adventure and thank you for reading Not Just A Jewsh Book Blog.