Flight School

The anniversary of my first year as a blogger slipped by without my noticing.  I guess I started around January 24 of 2006.

aircraftI think I will honor the occasion by complaining.

It has been one miserable year or rather year and a half.

About then—a year and a half ago—WB started acting out with violence towards the caretaker they had at the time and at Joan too, and poor Steve had to call in a 5150—which is California code for a danger to himself or others, and they had to come and take him away, screaming the whole time and fighting Steve says.  Then he went to the VA hospital, and we made visits to that and the brothers and I talked and tried to figure out what to make of the situation since this was all new territory for all of us.

But he couldn’t stay in a VA hospital forever, so he was shipped out to a “home” and I visited there a couple of times.  It was not a pleasant place and WB kept talking about all he could do was cry like a baby and that he was in hell.  Also God gave him spelling tests at night.  Senile dementia.

And then he died in his sleep on February 7.  Joan apparently insisted on a “viewing” at the morgue even though he was to be cremated and that was apparently awful because WB looked and was frozen like a popsicle.

And then there was the funeral at a Presbyterian Church in Escondido and         quite a number of people showed up that I had not seen in years and a number of bricklayers from the union.  And the Preacher read this thing about WB that had some truth in it but some outright lies because Joan had told him what to say and she claimed that she was the one who made all the block for the adobe house.  The hell, you say.  That is and was one lazy woman, and she didn’t make a single damn block.  I mean why the hell would a person tell lies to the Preacher about her husband to flatter herself at her husband’s funeral.

You know what.  I have managed to write so far only about six months or so of this last year and a half and as far as I am concerned all that crap was enough for two years right there.

Oh, that’s WB in an aircraft.  He washed out of flight school.  Then he got Valley Fever and was sick for a while, and then the war was about over though he was in for the duration, and that included some clean up in Europe.  But Joan says she wrote directly to FDR and said that WB couldn’t go.  Who knows, maybe FDR had heard about Joan and decided not to fight it.  He died soon after that.  FDR, I mean.

Art’s Mobile Revisited



Here is the full photo of brother Dave at Art’s Mobile.  I cropped the earlier version to bring out more of the background detail.  Of the earlier version brother Dan wrote:

I think this is the day of or around Dave’s graduation from MVHS which would put it as 71? I graduated in 78 and Dave has 7 years on me. I think that is correct. I recall it was Dave who got sick from eating at The Barrel, if it was from over eating cheap rolled tacos or from the "C" that it had in it’s window as a health rating we can only guess. Looking at this I am reminded of the documentary on Crumb, who paid a photographer to drive around the urban industrial areas and take shots of the material that engenders "blight" of the feeling of it, the wires and poles and crap that your brain just forgets to see after a while cause it is always there and never changes. Crumb captured this in his comix, and who ever took this photo did too.

 Brother Dan remarks on the visual blight—something R Crumb attempted to capture in his comics.  I agree.  It’s a blight certainly—all those wires and cords and gaudy colors and different textures of plastic all of it stuck together every-which-away and willy-nilly. If you think about it, it’s the visual equivalent of litter.

But that was classic early (and still today) California.  No trees to block out the litter.  No zoning at all.  Just every establishment in its own way screaming for your attention.  Ultimately it’s deadening.

 The visual litter is more in the background of the full photo, and brother Dave more framed by Art’s Mobile on one side and the pumps on the other.

I had forgotten that the Taco Barrel had a C health rating.

Hicks from the Sticks

This picture makes me want to laugh.  Notice the “want.”  I don’t quite—laugh.  I can’t say why exactly. 





Maybe it’s that I look so much like a dork in training or somebody entering the awkward age, which I was about that time.  I usually never wore pants like that, and where the hell did I get that hat and where the hell did the parents find those glasses.

Talk about uncool.  I remember I liked that windbreaker and zipping it clear to the top.

Maybe it just seems a really good picture of a dysfunctional fifties family.  The tall boy clearly is a loon; the one with the broken arm looking too happy, and all set off by that little fellow to the right—brother Dave–eyeing the world somewhat suspiciously from under his parka.

That’s great.  His head is sort of in and out of his parka.  Clearly he is checking things out.  He liked that parka and wearing it with the hood up whenever possible.

And then there’s the old lady, looking a bit reserved and a bit detached from the loon kids, but looking a bit daft herself.

The old lady there is Aunt Daisy.  I remember she came out for a visit.  She was one of Grandfather Tingle’s sisters, I do believe.

We appear to be out on another outing; probably we were showing Aunt Daisy a good time by taking her down to the docks in San Diego.  Those docks are all tourist stuff now.  Back then there were warehouses and navy boatyards.  I think we had gone to see a boat that day; maybe that was the day we went to the submarine.  Maybe that’s why I look happy.  I enjoyed walking through the submarine and wishing I could linger because the place seemed really cozy.  A submarine seemed like a real good way to get away from it all.

The American Flag back there maybe was sticking up to mark the way down to the Submarine.

God, do we look like hicks from the sticks or what?

Art’s Mobile

Here’s brother Dave sporting some new threads.

artsmobileWhy he is standing in front of the gas pumps of Art’s Mobile, I don’t know.  I do know he worked there for a while.  But that still doesn’t explain why he was wearing new threads in front of a gas station.

If I knew cars better, I might be able to date the picture a bit.  I reckon though that it was taken most likely in the early to mid seventies.

I have cropped and blown up the picture a bit to try to get some of the background detail in focus.  Unfortunately I didn’t really succeed, but this is the only picture I have of old Casa De Oro.

Actually this is late old Casa De Oro.  The one hour Martinizing wasn’t there when we first arrived in the late 1950s.  But if you look closely up in the left hand corner of the picture you can see the sign for the Club 94.  It reads “Club 94.”

It wasn’t a club by any stretch but a pretty down and dirty bar.  A stifling, windowless room whose sole purpose was to sell booze.  It had no atmosphere at all unless one counts the blood stains on the floor.

I might be hallucinating, but down the road to the right a stretch I think I see the Taco Barrel.  Originally, it was a Root Beer Barrel—a barrel shaped building of metal construction painted to look like a Hires Root Beer Barrel.  It changed hands a number of times.  I remember it best as the Taco Barrel.

David—or was it Dan—or maybe it was both of them—bought some Tacos there or different occasions and got pretty sick.

No, wait.  I think they bought “tacquitoes,” I think they were called, like 10 for a a dollar.

La Jolla Shores

I don’t remember us having driven much of any where back in SC.  We didn’t have what people call tidepoolsvacations.  I know we drove to Spartanburg at least once and Greenville a couple of times.  These places seemed way far away though they weren’t really. We never made it to Columbia, the state capital, or to historic Charleston.

When we got to California, the folks started taking those vacations after a while, and every summer when we were all still in school, we would have to take an excursion out to the ocean on some Sunday afternoon. I guess since we lived in California and not that far from the ocean we had to go see it at least once a summer.  Actually, back then the freeways weren’t complete and it took a while to get out to the ocean.

I don’t think any of us wanted to go see the ocean.  It was always hot.  None of us knew how to swim.  So we didn’t really go to the beach.  We went to La Jolla Shores because that’s where our mother wanted to go.  We could look at the tide pools which would be educational and since these were tidepools and not really the beach there would be less chance of us sighting those indecent bathing suits.  After looking at the tidepools a bit, we would roast hot dogs and go home.  I think mother like La Jolla Shores because it was located in La Jolla where many rich people lived right next to ocean.  She talked like she had known people there way back when before the war.  Going to La Jolla shores fed into her delusions of grandeur.

First though we had to find a parking place, and that could go on for a goddamn half hour with the old man swearing a blue streak up and down and the rest of us just cringing in the back afraid he was going to throw something.  By that time my stomach would be in a knot.  But looking at the sea anomies and sticking a stick into them to see them move in the tide pools was somewhat quieting.  While we were out looking at the tide pools and getting educated by the sea life, the old man would start the charcoal up in something called a hibachi.  He always dumped about a half a can of lighter fluid on the stuff because he liked to make an explosion when he threw a match at it.

The hot dogs always had sand in them.  And by that time, the ice would have melted and the cola would be warm.  But that was about the only time we had cola so that wasn’t too bad.  Then we would get back in the car and go home, and the excursion out to see the Pacific would be over.

Thank god.

The next day we would have red spots and splotches and stripes where we had missed with the sun block stuff.

Oh, I didn’t say.  But in the picture is a real life La Jolla Shores tide pool with brother Stephen next to it and beyond them a bit, the old man with brother Dave, I am pretty sure, standing behind him.

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.

WB’s Stone

This is WB’s stone located now in the cemetery of the ARP Church in Ora, South Carolina.

As the stone indicates WB died last year on February 7, so in a way getting the stone made, up, and in place serves to commemorate the date of his death.  Jewish people, I do believe, burn a candle every year on the death date of a beloved relative.  Probably not a bad idea to make us remember things do pass quickly. 




When we—me, Carol, and my brother David and his son—went back to the Church to put our father’s ashes in the ground, Carol and I went to the phone book and looked up a place where we might get a stone made.We drove out of Laurens on the Greenville Highway and found a place on the right that said Wilson Memorials.Nobody was there, but we could see into the yard work area and it looked like a place where memorials might be made.There was a big yard dog there behind the fence, but he was asleep and would not be disturbed by our presence.

After a while, Mr. Wilson showed up as Carol and I were looking at the stones out front. 
For some reason, I wanted one that stood up and didn’t just lie flat on the ground and it had to be big enough for two names since Joan had told me she wanted to be placed next to WB when her time came and I had said I would see to it. 

In this picture, the stone looks too big to me, as if it might be blocking out the view of other stones or something.  But I have been reassured that it is not too big, but looks big the way the picture is taken.  That is probably the case.

Mr. Wilson gave us a brochure to take with us, and some time before Christmas I pulled it out, and called Mr. Wilson and told him what we wanted.  But he wanted to be absolutely sure he had the right one, so I had to fax him a picture I had taken of the one I wanted out front of his place.

I think Mr. Wilson did good work, and the punctuation is solid.  That “G” in the middle of TinGle looks sort of big to me.  But I have always found a capital G hard to make with a pencil much less carve one in stone.

Mr. Wilson sent me this picture so I could see he had put the stone up.

Romana Drive Christmas 1957

This might be our first or second Christmas at 10194 Ramona Dr.  We have that damn dog Micky


already.  Did we get him the second or first year at Ramona Drive?  For some reason he appears in a number of shots of us “boys.”  Seems like boys with dog included or maybe dog with boys included, since it seemed like we all had to compete with the dog to get the old lady’s attention.  Usually I am the one holding the stinking mutt.  Perhaps that was a job that fell to the eldest.


Looks like we made out that year like bandits.  I have my baseball glove and appear to be scrutinizing it.  That means I was already playing Little League Ball or was going to that spring.  Also I have those horrible glasses.  I got them in fifth grade when I stopped being able to see the writing on the blackboard.  Man those glasses were a pain.  They kept breaking and always it was my fault as if I were the one responsible for the rapid aging process of cheap plastic.  Those things had no flex in them and the plastic would get real hard and fragile in a few months and then snap.

Dave is looking abstracted and sort of staring off into space.  He has a bb gun on his lap.  I doubt it was his bb gun; maybe it was Steve’s BB gun.  The bb guns were always Daisy bb guns, made by a company called Daisy I guess.  All electric trains were made by a company called Lionel.  My baseball glove was made by Wilson.

Steve is looking alert.  Apparently our wardrobes back in that day consisted entirely of jeans and striped t-shirts and dirty white socks.  Later on I wore tennis shoes; Converse All Stars black and high topped. 

Dan is not yet on this earth yet.  That will be in a couple of years.

That tree looks pretty dinky to me; but the parental units didn’t really believe on splurging on the amenities.  

Christmas day was usually pretty awful.  So was Thanksgiving.

Ramona Drive Hill

Behold! The very front of the upper eastern corner of the Tingle property as it abutted Romana Dr.  The house was in the early stages of construction, as is suggested by the pile of block sitting there in the lower left corner of the picture.



The little redwood fence beyond the block marked the property line of our neighbors at the time, the Schmits, I believe they were called. Beyond the Schmits was more truck farm off to the left of Ramona Drive as it ran on up the hill, past the Casa De Oro Elementary school (that rather official looking structure off to the right), up a pretty steep bit of road that I hated biking, and beyond that more homes, the homes of the more affluent.


The class structure was pretty well laid out by the hill; the poor at the bottom, the upper poor more towards the middle, and then the solidly affluent up at the top.  These houses were in general just as ugly as the houses lower down the hill, but they were bigger, and boxier and they all had “views.”  The price of a house could go up or down depending on this intangible thing: the view.  At the very top of the hill, one might on a clear day make out the glisten and glimmer of the Pacific, way off there somewhere.

We had a view too but it was sort of a lateral view, a south to north view out the back window and not a truly valuable east to west view of the Pacific.

In a general way, this picture confirms my earlier description of Southern California as a rather dry and dusty place lacking green weeds.  True, up the hill a bit the truck farms stopped farming and tumble weeds took root in the abandoned dirt. These were actual tumble weeds and during a good wind they would become uprooted and tumble right through our back yard.

My brothers and I all attended Casa De Oro Elementary for all or a portion of our elementary school education.  The Boy Scout Troop that I was forced to belong to met in the basement cafeteria of the Elementary School. 

Micky the Dog

Here somebody is tormenting that damn dog, Micky, known as Micky the Dog.  Truthfully though we did not in general believe in tormenting animals.

mickydogMicky the Dog appears in the previous photo of the backyard of 10194 Ramona Drive, Spring Valley, California.  This picture too shows the backyard of 10194 Ramona Drive, Spring Valley, California, though in the opposite direction from the previous photo.  The previous photo was pointed east; this one is more a picture of the west of the yard.

We did not have a lawn in the front yard, but we did have one, as this and the previous photo indicate, in the back yard.  I think this was to keep the dust down.  In South Carolina weeds would grow up of their own accord to keep the dust down, but in Southern California you couldn’t count on anything to grow due to a lack of naturally occurring water, i.e., rain. So if you wished to keep down the dust in your back yard you either had to cover it with concrete or asphalt or grow a lawn.

This lawn was never in prime condition.  In the summer months we watered it only erratically.  In the darker months it died out.  The dogs would poop on it or pee on it.  Female dog’s pee kills a lawn.  Sometimes the poop would just lie there in the darker months and white mold would grow all over it.  Those piles of moldy dog poop looked like some sort of ulcers growing out of our scab of a lawn.

Sometimes, though, the lawn would grow up enough so that it had to be mowed.  This was done with a push mower with very dull blades.  The grass cuttings were then raked up and thrown over the back fence into the compost heap with the rest of our decaying organic matter.

Mickey the Dog was already a year or so old when we got it.  We did not acquire it as a pup and perhaps for that reason I never fully bonded with it.  It was part rat terrier and chihuahua.  This was a little dog with a somewhat nervous temperament; it was a fierce yipper and caused no end of swearing on the part of WB telling the m-f…king dog to shut up.  Also its penis was too large for its body and stuck out like a sore thumb. 

It had large thick fingernails or claws, as I suppose they are called on dogs.  Because the house at 10194 Ramona Drive had hard wood floors, where ever you were sitting you could hear that dog, when it moved about, clicking its fingernails on that hard wood.  Sometimes, if a person came to the front door or something alarming like that, the dog would rush out from the back of the house, round the corner into the living room, and slide clear across the floor and bang into the wall because it couldn’t get any traction on those hard wood floors.

At first that was funny as hell; later on it was only mildly distracting.