Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - Riding the Santa Fe Chief Part II
Sunday, 18 September 2011 09:49

Up until this summer, travel was usually composed of the trips within the state of California, like trips to San Diego and the zoo with the Lutz's. Other trips we took were like the time we went to Carmel where we stayed in a motel with red and white striped wallpaper, my mom and I restless to see the ocean, my father waiting moment to moment to have his next meal out. A visit with my cousins, Bernard and Ann and all of their kids, with chickens they raised and taught the kids how to slaughter and prepare them for supper, leaving the neighbors up in arms. Imagine in Carmel Highlands but that was just their way of preparing their children for the real world. And me, I enjoyed the mother dog with ten puppies all looking different from each other and at sixteen learning that there can be different fathers not like we do as adults.

But this summer the return to St. Paul was special. I had been there with Mom when we were new together. I was going to be six, and she wanted to "show me" off to the relatives. We went in 1968 to see where her old high school, Mechanic Arts was, where she was valedictorian of her class. We made a special visit to Ashland Avenue and the duplex where the Goldenbergs, Grandma and her husband, Avrum, and the five kids lived, on the second floor, and discovered a piano in exactly the same place where they had one when my mom grew up and they all stood around singing songs while Uncle Max sang and played the piano.

And all of these memories, I hold close to my heart. One of these days, I will take the Santa Fe Chief from Lamy, eight miles from where I now live, all the way to Union Station and recall those wonderful trips when everyone was alive and vital and life was exciting and new. Perhaps I'll even book a sleeping car although sitting up, like we did in 1968 might not be too bad. What I failed to mention was the trip home when my cousin Norman gave my dad several issues of Playboy, which to my mothers shock and dismay seemed to capture him more than the old sports magazine. What happened to those when we got home? I don't remember but for those short few days my father had the time of his life. That and meals in the dining car meant the world to him. He would be willing to make that trip many times but that was the last time we did it as a family.

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