2602 34th Street
Santa Monica, CA
The earliest memories of our household would be found within these walls. My parents, myself and first brother, Allan, moved in the year mother was expecting George. Grandma Frances financed the down payment which allowed the three of us to move from her duplex at the rear of her residence on Euclid Street.
Looking at the picture, the shutters on the left framed the dinning room window, the window on the right would be the living room. Just beyond the dinning room would have been a small kitchen with a small service porch area, there where two bedrooms until a master bedroom addition was added after the birth of the third baby. The house could not have any larger than 1100 sq feet before the addition of the third bedroom.
In the kitchen I recall there being a gas four burner stove with the oven beneath the cook top. It must have been a weekend morning when one of my parents decided to cook bacon in a fryer pan. George could not have been more than three years old, tall enough to reach for the pan handle sticking out from the burner. Upon grabbing the handle the pan tipped spilling hot grease across his chest. The screams that came from him told of his suffering. Mother was panicked that her favorite son had sustained a serious physical injury. He was rushed to the emergency room and for weeks endured the torture of dressing and healing of the burn.
The back yard was the place for the clothes line, a swing set, and in it resided a huge pine tree the towered above the roof line (the very tip is pictured on the left of center at the roof top.) It rained pine cones nearly year long. I often looked up it vast trunk that reached to the sky and the thought of decorating it from tip to base in Christmas bulbs amused me often.
At Christmas the three slat open siding pictured to the left of the front porch, was the perch for a stuffed deer head. The thing was terrible and strange at the same time. It must have been a discarded hunters prize. Taxidermy had preserved the hide and fur and the nose had been replace with a red bulb that was wired. When plugged in the red bulb flashed and the prize decoration was living proof that “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer,” had in fact actually existed. If Rudolf had lived, then given the constraints of childhood logic, so did Santa Claus.
At the farthest border of the back yard there was a white washed plain wood rail fence at the crest of a small dirt mound that bordered the neighboring property. I can recall our mother out at the fence railing coaxing a blue jay to eat peanuts from her hand. With the bird won over she took a picture to commemorate the event.
Growing up I clearly recall the large Bird-of-Paradise bush on the left in front of the dinning room window. That bush will forever live in my memories.The flower opens slowly from a sticky pod until in full bloom.
Children can be rambunctious and there was a day when one of the large blooming flowers broke off. It was hell to pay from mother until the culprit could be found that caused the unfortunate loss of the flower. I have never liked the Bird-of-Paradise plant since. They are large, sticky with oozing sap and too tropical for any pleasure that can be found in them.
On the simple cement sidewalk I spent many an afternoon riding a skateboard, setting off a roll of caps (for a cap gun) with small stones, and playing with the neighborhood children. I recall walking to Pico Boulevard and frequenting McDonalds. Cheap simple hamburgers and chocolate shakes where a favorite.
Walking in the opposite direction to the top of the block where Ocean Park Boulevard intersected our little world I would wait for my father to return from his work day. He was within walking distance of his employer Douglas Aircraft at the edge of the Santa Monica Airport. He long legs did not break stride as he made his way down the block. It was a delight to keep pace with him, swinging my legs in unison with his as far as my pelvis would allow.
Facing east at the city and landing aircraft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As I grew older I learned of the movie “Miracle on 34th Street,” and thought our of home on a street by the same name. In retrospect there where many miracles that where manifest within these walls, namely that our mother did not outright murder us, at least not physically. I guess it would have been a little tricky to explain a dead child. But then again, maybe not, our mother had a way with words.
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