Day 4: Sightseeing (if it can be called that) around Hemet, California
As I said earlier, having retired last year, I've decided to write my "memoir" covering the period 1947--1973: this is from my birth (whoopee!) to the year I met Mrs. Greg. This period covers a lotta stuff in U.S. History, and I just felt like I wanted to chronicle what growing up during this period in small-town Southern California was like.
As I was finding out (as if I didn't know)---SoCal ain't like that anymore.
My host Steve had agreed to drive me around the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley in search of places of interest to me.
This day's activity (and the next, for that matter) will probably not be of much interest to most of you. Please bear with me, and in a couple days I'll be back on the road headed back to New Mexico...
Some Places in Hemet that I Remember...
Before we had left another ol' buddy of mine---Tommy---(yeah, I've got a bunch of 'em out Hemet way) showed up at Steve's place, and we all chatted for a while. Got a pic of all of us old geezers below: L-R there's Steve, Dr. Greg, and Tommy (note for the sharp-eyed: Dr. Greg wearing 2007 WestFest T-shirt).
Tommy was able to recount a number of stories about stopping in at my folks' store (my parents ran a "mom-and-pop" store/gas station in the area for a couple decades) and talking to my Dad about car stuff...those memories were exactly
what I was in search of on this trip. Thanks, Tommy!
I can't resist putting an old photo of my dad (the legendary "Duke" Starr) behind the cash register at "the store" back around 1958...what a great picture (IMHO)! Those were the days...
Here's our first stop: the house I grew up in on "Elmwood Street" in Hemet...
My folks moved into this house in 1951 when it was newly built. My Dad put in a beautiful front (and back) lawn, my Mom put in a bunch of roses out front. It was all shiny and new! Well, what did I expect? The neighborhood is pretty rough, too. Three scroungy-looking young "hoodlums" were walking down the middle of the street, too. Sigh. Well, it'll come back "shiny and new" in my memoir...
Next stop was over in San Jacinto (about 3 miles north) at my grandparents' house back in the early 50s. I have fond memories of my grandma fixing me lunch, and my grandad showing me 8x10 glossy photos from his days as mine foreman back in Oklahoma...
I learned to ride a bicycle along the street (Estudillo Ave.) in front of this house. It actually didn't look too bad. Tiny little house, too...ah, the memories.
Here's the front view of "Alessandro Elementary School" where I learned to read. Looks a little tougher now...
And here's the "playground" outside Alessandro Elementary...used to be dirt; I remember playing "kickball" here. And I remember something else, too...
About 2nd grade (circa 1953) one day after school a girl (Bertha Dudley) said she'd pull down her pants over at the side of the playground. Well, naturally all of us boys were excited. I guess she did, but there were so many boys clustered around that I couldn't see much. I think she moved away sometime during the next few years...
Lunch With a Bunch of Old Geezers
Steve and I barely got back in time for me to take some medication (you know you're getting old when your "medication bag" is the biggest bag you carry on a trip), then head for a nearby restaurant to meet some more "ol' buddies." It was so nice of Steve to organize this.
Well, here's the pic of all of us:
Man, looks like some of 'em are one step from the graveyard!
Near camera, there's Steve (L) and Steve's son Travis behind him, Tom (R), with Dr. Greg behind him. No point in going through them all. The guy behind Travis (violet shirt) is Eldon, who was a big football star at Hemet High School, and later San Jose State. We'll see Eldon at his place tomorrow.
Just a bunch of hardworkin' guys. I had a great time there. So glad I made the trip.
An Afternoon Ride
Actually I lied about the lack of motorcycle content: I did take a ride by myself that afternoon. Headed off east on CA 74 up to Mountain Center. I know that road like the back of my hand; in fact, I know all the roads in the San Jacinto Mountains like the back of my hand. Used to humiliate fratboys in Porsche 911s when I had my 1965 Shelby GT-350 Mustang (sold in 1974 for $3,700---you can kill me now)
Had a fun ride up that road on Milledue, a little bit slower than I used to (that GT-350 stuck pretty well), but still fun. Instead of turning off to Idyllwild I kept on 74, which eventually goes down to Palm Springs (and is a pretty good ride). Snapped this pic somewhere around Garner Valley, before I took 371 down to Anza.
On thru Anza and Aguanga to "Sage Road" (formerly CA 79) which is a delightfully twisty-turny roller-coaster of a road. On March 30, 1972 I was cycling with two good friends (I used to be a bicycle racer) on Sage Road when a pickup truck took us all out. Killed my best friend, broke my femur, radius/ulna, 2-weeks in a coma. Spent two months in traction (orthopedic surgery wasn't as advanced back then).
But notwithstanding that, Sage Road is still a great ride.
Just beware of one particularly nasty downhill, decreasing-radius corner. DAMHIK.
Well, that pretty much concluded my Hemet Valley sightseeing. The next day I had plans to take the "back way" down to Fallbrook (northern San Diego County) to see Jerry, another ol' buddy I hadn't seen since I was back in Arkansas on a trip around 1975.
Screw Jack, Anyone?
Turns out that my host Steve has kind of become an expert in resurrecting "screw jacks." Any of you morons know what a "screw jack" is? Didn't think so; here's a pic of a matched pair:
If anyone is interested in a nice screw jack, I can put ya in touch with Steve!
Well, I'm tired of writing for the moment. See ya again soon with more SoCal gems