Suburbs Meet Urbs

From the backyard of 10194 Ramona Dr one may observe the penetration of the suburbs into what I have previously called the “urbs,” a kind of fringe area off in the boonies where one could buy tractland sufficient to grow gardens or chickens or cows or attempt to ressurect in sunny Southern California some aspects of the rural farming environment from which one had recently traveled.

This picture documents a penetration that happened around 1960 or so.

While the “urbs” were irregular with houses of all sorts and shapes next to each other and no side walks and no sewage system to hook up to, the suburbs came with all those things, neat houses in a row, with sidewalks out-front, small backyards, grassy lawns and a sewer system rather that your trusty septic tank.

The suburbs are here visible as a row of houses in the mid-distance; the urbs are visible as our backyard.  One may note the white soil, known as leche, and off to the right my basketball standard.  It leans a little bit and running across the ground in front of it one may note black snaky lines that are hoses running down to the garden off to the left and out of sight. 

One may see also our neighbor’s back yard directly in front of the row of houses.  At that point they had not yet put up their chain link fence beyond which they would eventually keep chickens and cows. 

The suburbs cut directly into the heart of the urbs.  In a matter of a day, to make as much space available for housing as possible, bulldozers scraped away the accumulated topsoil of a thousand years and scraped out flat spaces in the leche to lay down the slabs on which to erect ticky-tacky plastered houses.  Later, ridiculously, they had to cart in topsoil to put in front so people could have their stupid, little green lawns and backyards, having buried the perfectly good topsoil that was there under mounds of leche.

Indeed, while our neighbors had previously an unobstructed view up the hill, with the coming of the tract homes, they found themselves located next to a nearly perpendicular wall of compacted leche on top of which sat a house, looking more or less down on our neighbor’s house.

I don’t know what the people did who moved into these houses.  But they were people clearly of non-rural origins.  I know a professor at the state college lived in there somewhere because his ridiculous dog bit me in the back of the leg one day.  We had to track him and his dog down because the bite broke my skin and we wanted to make sure the damn dog wasn’t rabid or something.

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