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My Blog

California...Here I Come!

Good morning to all my friends out there in cyber world.  I want to take this moment to thank those who comment.  It touches my heart and I am grateful for the feedback and sincere remarks.  Today will prove to be a busy one for me.  My plate is full for tomorrow with storytelling plus a red hatter event at my home.  We will be doing an event called "The County Fair", so today I will be shopping, preparing and of course cleaning up.  The weather is predicted to drop for tomorrow which throws off my idea of an outdoor event. What can you do except roll with the punches. 
Today's blog is sparked by the show where Lucille Ball and Ricky, Ethel and Fred sang "California here we come" on one of their series when Ricky was going to California for a movie test. for the role of Don Juan.    I must say...Lucille Ball was an amazing performer.  She was truly one of greats when it came to female comedians.  When I look back at those shows, they still make me laugh, yet with todays world, they make me think of how different the world has changed today.  Even as far as what will entertain an audience.  She did good clean humor.  Even though she was always trying to deceive her husband....the ending showed the repercussions and her always getting caught...it taught a basic, fundamental moral. I often think that there should be so much more than that on todays TV shows. 
Now that I have introduced the reason for the blog, it all happened when I was 7 years old.  My mother planned a trip for us and her best friend and husband to take to California.  No, we didn't drive, we took the Sante Fe train westward.  I can remember that we didn't have a sleeping car, instead we had seats on the train.  To be honest, I think I remember that they somewhat reclined...but not much.  It was a long trip out.  The best thing back then that really happened was that you could go into the Dining Car to eat.  The only other room that was on the train that was remotely different seemed to be the bathroom.  In the one section of the rest room was a couch.  That gave you a different change of pace from sitting in the chair, but usually, when I went in there, it was usually occupied by the older women on the train.  I remember one time going into that room and suddenly the train had come to a halting stop.  I flew across the room and hit my head on a side table.  Nothing serious happened, except the feeling of embarrassment and when I went back to my seat, I had to explain why my head was a little bit redder than usual.  
The trip was interesting as we traveled through the country.  It changed so drastically as we pioneered westward.  The major catastrophe that almost happened, but was deterred by my Dutch uncle was I almost lost my favorite stuffed animal.  When I was two years of age, my grandfather had given me a stuffed dog which I named FiFi.  This dog was my best friend.  he went every where with me, and California was no exception.  Well, through those 5 short years....the fur had been worn off, the eyes came off and my grandmother had sewn on some black buttons to replace them.  The seems had torn open so many times, stuffing had been lost and replaced by my grandmothers and mothers old silk stockings.  He was, to all adults, a complete piece of junk...but to me...he was my most prized treasure in the entire world.  In fact,  he still resides with me till this very day.  He is one piece of my childhood that I cannot let go of.  As years went by and my children were young teenagers, they used to torture me by hiding him as a prank.  One time I found my poor little FiFi  in the Freezer. 
Well, anyway, back to the train.  The conductor evidently found it on the floor while I was sleeping and picked it up and was going to throw it out.  My Uncle Ted found him and saved my dog for me.  I will be forever grateful for that act of kindness. 
Once we reached California, we stayed in a motel in Pascedena.  My mother kept bragging about how the Rose Bowl Parade happened on the street right where we stayed.  I just nodded and smiled...I had no idea what the Rose Bowl Parade was back then.  I smile now as I recall it each year during the Rose Bowl.  My mom rented a car and we went to so many places and there were so many memories.  We went to China Town one day.  I remember how confused the ride was because of the freeways.  They were so different that what my mother was evidently used to here in Chicago, and she got us lost.  We finally arrived in China Town.  My mom and her friend, my Dutch aunt wanted to go shopping...which was not up either my uncle nor my ally, so we said we would meet them in the restaurant.  I remember that the one thing my uncle loved more than anything was food...so he was quite content, and as for me, I was just happy to be there with him.  he used to tell funny and amusing stories and we always had a  good time together.  Well, while he was chomping down on appetizers, I was busy with my most favorite snack....lemons.  When my mother and aunt entered the restaurant, they couldn't figure out why all the customers were making such funny faces.  Well, the got their answer once they reached eyesight of our table.  There I was, sitting in the booth with a plate of sliced  lemons, sucking away.  My aunt really laid into my uncle about how he could order such a thing for me...I myself didn't understand the problem. 
The next visit we had was Grauman's Chinese theatre.  I remember how thrilling it was to find Shirley Temple's hands and try to see how well mine fit into hers.   I walked around and enjoyed looking at all the others that I recognized.  When I see the Lucille Ball series where she stole the John Wayne block, it always takes me right back to those days. 
One day we spent the entire day at Knox Berry Farms.  I remember laughing like crazy when my aunt and I were sitting on one of the benches while my mom and uncle were inside one of the shops purchasing jars of jelly.  Chickens walked the grounds and one got up on the bench and scared my poor aunt half to death.  I had no idea she was so frightened of birds!  She jumped around, waving her hands up in the air, screaming and hollering for help.  I just kept looking at her laughing and trying to reassure her that the chicken wouldn't hurt her...but she would have non of that.  When my mother and uncle came out of the store, they were quite perplexed as to why she was so ready to leave.  I  wish they could have seen it.  It was like from a movie..perhaps they would have called it Attack from a killer rooster!  I still laugh about it to this very day. 
We had a great pool back at the motel and spent time in the water and lying on the loungers.  We have a photo of the three of us like bathing beauties.  Back then we had our hair covered with those ridiculous bathing caps.  That is one thing from the past that I definitely do not miss whatsoever!
Some evenings, my uncle would walk me miles down to go and get ice cream down at the 31 flavors.  We didn't have them in Chicago at the time, so that was a huge treat.  I remember that my favorite was the watermelon ice cream....I had never tasted anything quite so good.  And of course we would walk all the way back and back then, even as a young child, I never thought twice about the walk.  Today, most children get driven down the block for ice cream.  Often times, walking two blocks is filled with moans and complaints.  How different things have become. 
We saw glass blowers there...and I must say it was just amazing to stand there and watch the miracle occurring right before my eyes.  I remember begging my mother to stay just a bit longer.  I was just so intrigued.  I guess my love for art began at a very early age.  We purchase some of the pieces.  I hadn't seen anything like that for years and years, but I did find a wonderful place in Nashville, Indiana that is run by a family and has been handed down through generations.  It still marvels me to watch the transformation.  In fact, I even took a glass blowing class.  I bet you're not surprised!  
One night, we took a drive to Malibu to a church on the top of a hill that was made all out of glass.  It was spectacular!  And there were birds flying around inside.  After that, we went for a ride in the mountains.  It was nighttime now and there were no gas stations nearby and I needed a rest room .....BAD!  My uncle laughed and said we could pull over to the side and I could go outside and use a leaf to wipe myself....HOW GROSS!!!  I told him plain and simple that I could not do that  because  "I was a good Catholic"!  They just laughed and teased me about that for years.  Needless to say, I was happy when we finally came upon a gas station. 
The one thing I remembered that was so cool, was that every morning we walked across the street to the Big Boy Restaurant.  It was so neat to see that huge statue of the boy.  Finally,, many years later I was bought the statue as a gift.  Fond memories.
California was a wonder trip filled with memories and memorabilia's.  About 9 months later, my Aunt had the biggest memorabilia.  She had a  baby boy and named him Ted after his father.  I guess they did a little more in California that didn't include my mother and me!  We laughed and enjoyed telling those stories for years.  My mom is now gone, but I know that she is never that far from me.  I carry her in my heart and in my memories.  Thanks mom for the experience!  

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