A birds eye view of the small California town where I went to high school
This is a continuation of my previous post, Strange Things in a Small Town.
My high school days were accentuated by the fact that I was an irredeemably hopeless nerd and mercilessly myopic.
There wasn't much I could do to counteract the nerdiness. I was two years younger than my classmates and it felt more like a dozen years. Vanity prevented me from wearing my glasses. I only utilized them when absolutely necessary. I wandered around blind during my entire high school years. I was a taller, skinnier, younger version of Mr. Magoo. I got contact lenses after I graduated and have been wearing them ever since (over 100 years, I think).
Graduation, age 16
The girl next door, Bonnie, was as near-sighted and vain as myself. She never wore her glasses either, and always walked around blind. We were made for each other.
We both had crushes on each other and were inseparable friends for years. I always figured I was going to marry Bonnie. I even planned our wedding: a casual affair on the beach - barefooted and in peasant attire, with renaissance music.
That was only a few short years before I went to Hollywood, lost my soul in the delightful purgatory of Babylon, and willingly got irretrievably corrupted by heathens.....(feel free to laugh - that was intended to be funny)
The small Southern California town where I went to high school was nestled in the rustic hills, but that seclusion didn't prevent it from being subjected to crime and strange happenings . It did, however, provide idyllic surroundings and yielded a generous share of good memories.
There were huge sprawling pepper trees and apathetic palm trees. Poinsettias grew wild around our house. There were fragrant roses everywhere. Our yard had apricot trees and in the spring the scent of blossoms was beyond heavenly. It always sent me into a romantic fervor.
I was cursed with romanticism at an early age.....
I walked everywhere, before I had a driver's license. To school, the library, the store, the post office, the dentist, my piano lessons. I was perpetually barefooted in the summer.
This is the library that was my favorite haunt. It has since been torn down and a new, modern one was built.
One night, when the library was about to close, I noticed that a man was following me around the bookshelves. He was probably in his 40's and was wearing a bright purple shirt. Trust me, men didn't normally wear bright purple shirts in that small town when I was a kid.
When I went to the desk to check out my books, he was standing right next to me. As I exited the building, he was right behind me. He followed me to dark, creepy Ninth Street - which was my route home. I took off running, sprinting the long blocks like a hunted bunny. I didn't stop until I was safely in our front yard.
In my alarming innocence, it never occurred to me that the purple-clad man probably had sexual intentions. I thought he was a murderer.
Most of our neighbors in that small rural town were fantastic - - except the quirky ones in the rental houses. There was the Mexican murder (which I wrote about in my previous post). Then there were the Mexican prostitutes in one of the rentals. The police raided it one afternoon. Several half-clad Mexican men ran out the back door and down the alley.
Across the street from us, in yet another rental, was a woman named Margie. She had seven children and was a drug addict. She was extremely adept at mixing up potent potions. We'd hardly ever heard of drugs back then and didn't think too much of it. On summer nights, Bonnie and I used to spy on Margie's house with a pair of binoculars. Don't ask me why - - it was simply cheap entertainment. We'd mostly watch them eat dinner.
There was a small, very old Pentecostal church two blocks down the street. They'd often hold extremely enthusiastic revival meetings. Bonnie and I would walk over there, sit on the church steps, and listen to the singing, wailing, and theatrical saving of lost souls. Things would swell to a frantic crescendo and the drama was intoxicating. The entire church would shake.
My soul was annoyingly pure at that time and had yet to be in need of salvation. Later, it was beyond salvation.....
My family attended a different church. I remember the first time when vanity completely overtook me. I was sixteen and got a new Sunday outfit - - a snazzy double-breasted suit, a new shirt and tie, and new shoes. I was starting to be conscious of my looks - and I thought I looked hot.
I decided to give the suit a trial run at church. I got all dressed up, put on my new shoes, made sure my blonde hair was combed perfectly. And, of course, I didn't wear my glasses. I walked to church alone that morning, feeling more handsome than God should allow me to be.
Halfway there, I happened to walk under a large palm tree - unaware that pigeons were roosting in it, eagerly waiting for a passerby. I was rudely anointed with a liberal deposit of pigeon shit. It was all over my hair, my shoulder, and dripping down the front of my suit.
Immediately humbled and in dire need of purification, I hurried home. Washed my hair. Cleaned my suit. And cursed a lot. I had no doubt that God worked in strange ways.
The Blogger gremlins are at it again, rudely changing my font sizes and colors against my will. Excuse any visual inconsistencies....