Friday, April 11, 2008

Where I Grew Up

My father was born in St. Bernard, Ohio in 1900. His family moved to Los Angeles after World War One and had a house at 78 Street and Vermont. My grandparents lived there when I was born. My father built an apartment building that had five units in it at 1710 Tenth Street in Santa Monica and we lived there during World War Two. Olympic Blvd was widened after the war and house next to us was destroyed and our address changed to 988 Olympic. Several years later the Santa Monica Freeway came along and erased a strip of houses so my father moved away from Santa Monica. I already had got a job to far to drive to and moved also. My father always missed living there and it was a great place to grow up in. You had the beach, near by mountains, two piers, a small harbor, railroad tracks, a downtown, movies. and a lot more.

Back in January, 2008 I attended the ART LA at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium where my daughter Frances was doing a book signing. It was funny standing there looking out the windows at my old high school across the parking lot. I have been cursed my the need to write poems most of my life. This illness comes and goes and may lie dormant for long periods. Not having a soothing lotion this recent visit caused an itch to write this poem:

Noises In Santa Monica

Sunday morning model airplanes circling the parking lot at 14th street

Fog horn from the pier end

Crashing waves from a big surf pounding the sand with claps of thunder

Whine of centrifugal superchargers testing across from my house on Olympic Blvd

Clinking of 2 cent and nickel bottles collected in the alley

8:15 A.M. cannon fire followed by the bugle at Samohi

Screaming of routers and sanders at the surfboard shop the floor below

Rub of a blistered front tire on the bicycle forks
and the scraping of the bent crank arm against the chain cover

Playing with fire crackers, ringing in the ear lasting all day long

Thud of getting hit in the head with a dirt clod

Cry of "I’ve got it" playing three flies up

Dropping of the bat to the street playing hit the bat

Steel wheels on strap-on roller skates against the sidewalk divisions

Bang of the drum at the pier’s spinning carousel

Rattle of my pocket change for the penny arcade

Recorded laugher of the polka dot fat lady guarding the mirror maze

Creaking and rattling of the pier roller coaster climbing up the steep

Screaming coming down

Tarzan yells while jumping off the pier

My first set of dual pipes on a 39 Ford

Our Viking marching band playing Sousa’s

Dogs barking and howling at the pound by the tracks

Johnnie Ray’s Cry blasting from the Muscle Beach’s beer joints

Elvis’s Heartbreak from nickle counter jukes at Pico and Lincoln

Bowling ball striking the pins and ricocheting off the pin setter’s skinny leg

Starter motor cranking against a flooded flathead in a dirt garage

Splashing in the Chase Hotel’s indoor swimming pool

Bumper cars sliding across steel floors

Whip conductors arcing against the ceiling

Squeaking screen door on the corner liquor store
Nickels into the pinball machine and the bells ringing
Bumpers popping, flipper clicking

Explosion of a patched tube overly inflated at the gas station

Silence of a kite dropping after the string breaks
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