Chapter 1959, age 16-17

Themes and Events
*  January:  Cuban revolutionary, Fidel Castro, who had  been leading a guerrilla war against his government for several years, brought his army into Havana, and ousted the pro USA, Batista regime. A month later, Castro became Cuban Premier.
*  Sony begins producing a transistorized, portable mini TV.
*  The Barbie doll is introduced by Mattel, Inc. and quickly becomes the most popular doll of all time.
*  During the year, 3,750 new, long playing (33 1/3 LP) records are released.
*  Velcro fasteners are a new product.
*  There are now 32,000 supermarkets in the USA, constituting only 11% of all retail food stores they are selling 69% of the food. “Mom and Pop corner groceries” are fast becoming an acronym of the past.
*  Hawaii becomes the 50th state.

I finished my Junior year at Tempe Union High School.

 Moving away from friends in Tempe
The summer of 1959 began with sorrow. Dad received his Masters Degree from Arizona State College at Tempe and the family was once again packing to move. I had a lot of good memories of Tempe, had made many friends, was “going steady” with Shanna, moving was not on my list of priorities.

I remember the day we left. The moving van had just picked up our household goods. We made a final tour of the house and yard to make sure all of our belongings had been removed. The family then climbed into our old Chevy, whilst waving and saying, “Good bye” to our friends.

Shanna was just down the block, standing alongside the road in front of her house. As we drove
past, she and I quietly and sadly waved goodbye to one another. Tears welled up in our eyes. I looked back at her until our car turned the corner off Roberts Road and drove out of sight, then sat back empty, in cold silence. Mom and Dad hadn’t even turn their heads to acknowledge Shanna. They were glad to see us apart; our move to California, if for nothing else, would without doubt break the romance between this Mormon girl and myself.

Our new home in Pasadena, California
Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Pierce, 1089 East Howard Street, Pasadena,California

The neighborhood we moved into was lower middle class, made up of skilled workers, a few small business owners and even fewer professionals. Where as, our house in Tempe  had been relatively new and looked much the same as all the other houses in the subdivision, our Pasadena residence was built during the 1920s or 1930s and looked it.  The houses up and down the street all appeared to have been built across widely differing times  and of different architectural styles. It was the kind of ha odge-podge neighborhood where on one side of the street you’d see a modern ranch style house with immaculately manicured lawn and shrubbery. Across the street there’d sit an eyesore house or duplex with paint peeling from the poorly maintained structure, its yard gone to weed.
Down the block, on a double sized lots were several two-story houses, best described as small mansions. The racially ‘all white’ neighborhood was as mixed up looking, as it was socially. Growing along the quiet street were tall palms.
[Photograph, taken ca. 1986, 27 years after we moved to this rental house at 1089 E. Howard St., Pasadena, California. The family lived here during my senior year of High School.]

Being there
The reason our family moved to Pasadena, was so Dad could pursue his education.

As graduation from Arizona State College at Tempe grew closer, Dad applied for and was granted admission to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The goal from the original plan, was that upon graduation from Fuller Seminary, Dad would become a licensed Baptist preacher.

Soon after moving into the Howard Street residence, Mom went out looking for a job. Once again, she found employment as a seamstress, at a small factory on the west side of Lake Street, just north of Colorado Blvd.

Our family joined the __ Baptist Church, located near Lake Street. I never had any real friends at the church so attendance became more boring and irrelevant than usual. [Internet image left:  __ Baptist Church, probably 30 years after we attended. The church looks the same in this photograph.] Please note, that the church message and friendly behavior of the congregation were everything one would expect from a solid Christian church, my issues were personal and family related.

Introducing Ted Haynie, a new friend
Not long after moving into the Howard Street neighborhood in Pasadena, CA, I met Ted, who was himself a relatively new arrival.
Ted was as interested in hiking, camping, exploring and science fiction, as was I. We hit it off as friends right away and before long became best friends. Ted lived with his divorced  mother in a house on Rio Grande Street, a block south and a block  west of us. His mother, Niaomi, was a fairly attractive red-head who earned her living as a waitress. At the time, she was working in an all night restaurant at the end of Rio Grande, across Lake Street, only a block from home. Niaomi let Ted do just about anything he wanted. With that kind of background I don’t know how he managed to have kept out of trouble, but he had. Ted was an introspective, inquisitive and congenial fellow, who made friends easily.
[Photo at right is Ted taken years later, in 1971, age 26. When we took our hike up Mt Wilson, ted was  about 14 years old, a couple of years younger than I.]

Behind Ted’s house was a solidly built, but long unused shed which Ted converted to a bedroom. I recall the occasion when we cut cardboard boxes and nailed the resulting flat cardboard rectangles between the interior wall studs, to give the place a better appearance. Ted always slept on a cot, up against one wall in his ‘outback bedroom’.
The outside of the shed had been painted white at some time in the not too distant past. The front side of the shed had a door and  a large, maybe four-foot wide window composed of smaller glass panes.
The shed interior measured about ten by twelve-foot. Besides the cot, the room was also conveniently furnished with several folding chairs, a card table, an old repainted dresser that doubled as his work bench, and a rope hung high on the wall across one corner for hanging some of his clothes. At the time of our meeting, Ted had a taxidermy hobby. As I recall, he had stuffed and preserved a small alligator and maybe a few other creatures.
The detached, private room, also substituted as a meeting place for an assortment of neighborhood high school friends, a place to play cards, have a cigarette and an occasional sip of Gin. For the time and place, I suppose Ted was about as close to being Huckleberry Fin as one could be .
(The ‘shanty’ bedroom was Ted’s by choice, he could have used a bedroom in the house, but preferred the renovated shed for privacy—it was ‘his house’.)

Ted and Carol
Ted had a girlfriend, a quiet, pretty, shapely and slender, redheaded girl named, Carol, whose last name I never knew. Every once in a while, Ted would mention having gone to Carol’s house to watch TV or the two of them being driven to a movie theater by her parents,  but that was as far as the conversation went. Ted made mention of these incidents and never carried the topic out any further. As far as I was concerned Carol could have been a cousin, just someone whose name came up in a conversation because there it ended.
I don’t think Carol’s parents liked Ted very much, because in these, their high school years, they didn’t get together very often. As time passed, I seem to remember hearing that Carol’s parents wanted her to go on and make something of her life, which meant eventually marrying someone with “better prospects” than Ted.

So, Ted and Carol developed what should be thought of as a secret relationship, there was over the years, always a fire smoldering for one another, but the flames were not at all seen publicly.
One afternoon, when I happened by Ted’s house, I walked into his converted ‘out back’ bedroom to find him and Carol undressed, under a sheet on his bed, making love. I think, Ted said, “I think you know Carol?’ I blustered something like, “Ohh…yes… glad to see you again.” Then made an excuse to promptly leave.
I didn’t know Carol other than for seeing her momentarily a couple times, so her image and the love story from these early years is vague in my mind. But, after walking in on Ted and Carol, I knew there was more to their relationship than Ted ever mentioned. It seemed a very private matter in Ted’s life. We all have private landscape in our lives, places we don’t invite others, their relationship was such a landscape.
Never-the-less, Ted and Carol had an unusual love, and it spanned the decades. I know, because over the last 50 years I’ve seen glimpses of that landscape and the characters who played out their lives like moths fluttering around life’s light.[1]

Last year of high school
As Fall approached, I was registered in Pasadena High School. The school district was short of classrooms, so the entire senior high school class was relocated to Pasadena City College. I spent my entire senior year at P.C.C. as a high school student.

During my high school years I played the trumpet in music class. By my senior year I played good enough to qualify for the marching band. So, with my senior year, very frequently the members of the marching band were out on the football field practicing marching formations while playing our music. During these practice sessions, that was the first I ever heard the term ‘smog’ and became aware of an occassional slight gray haze in the air.

[The Official Tournament of Roses Program above, shows the crowd lined streets, flower covered floats, precision marching bands, pomp and pageantry . It was a warm morning and became somewhat uncomfortable walking those several miles up Colorado Blvd. while playing our instruments and wearing our Pasadena High School Marching Band  uniforms. Not to complain, it was fun to be involved in a pagent that most people in the USA watched on their televisions!]

To be honest, I was never a good at playing the trumpet. With any instrument, there are some people who are able to make really sweet music, I was not one of them. I could play, but…Several times at a game, after hitting a really sour note, the band member in front of me would turn around with a pained look and shaking their head in feigned disgust. (smile)
On several occasions we played for high school football ‘play offs’ in the Rose Bowl Stadium.

The hike to (and from) Mt. Wilson
Ted and I enjoyed hiking and many times climbed in the San Gabriel Mountains just north of  Altadena. Every few weeks we’d go on a hike, usually up Eaton Canyon and clamber around the dry wash or climb the slopes.
One day we decided to take the “mother of all trips” and go all the way to the Mt. Wilson Observatory, home of the  100 inch Hooker reflector telescope.
On a smog free day, radio and TV transmission towers could be seen rising from the top of Mt. Wilson. It was our plan to hike up and northwest through the neighborhoods in the morning, climb a ridge to the highway and hitch hike for a car ride the rest of the way to the Observatory.
One Saturday morning well before dawn, I met Ted at his house for a large breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, coffee and orange juice, fortified with a shot of gin. (Note: I was not allowed to drink coffee at home and since my parents ‘got religion’, there was no longer any alcoholic beverages in our house.) After our hearty breakfast we put our sandwiches and a canteen of water each in daypacks and began the hike.
We walked  several miles NW across northern Pasadena and Altadena, passed up behind JPL (Jet propulsion Laboratory), then up Coon Canyon and climbed into the foothills.

By noon we’d scaled the steep slopes of Coon Canyon and came out to stand on the highway to Mt. Wilson. Realizing that we weren’t even half way to the summit, we immediately began hitch hiking. After a few minutes, we caught a ride and arrived at the Observatory around 1:00PM. We had a leisurely lunch, sitting at a vantage point overlooking Pasadena. The Mt. Wilson Observatory is at 5715 feet elevation and Pasadena, about 900 feet. Then spent an hour or so wandering around the Observatory site and looking at the solar photographs in the Visitor Information Center.
After our tour and resting, it was time to plan the trip home. Looking over the side of Mt. Wilson we could barely see the distant streets and individual houses of Pasadena, about five thousand feet below and several miles away. As far as we figured the walking distance, our ‘neighborhood’ looked deceptively close, ‘just down hill and a walk away’. We discussed hitch hiking back down the mountain road, but realized if we did so we’d end up in La Canada, still a long walk from home. On the other hand, if we simply went right over the side of the mountain, it would be ‘all down hill’ bringing us to Altadena in a matter of a couple of hours.

[Looking down Eaton Canyon from Mt Wilson. Ted and I went over the mountain side from  Mt. Wilson, straight down into the canyon . Our homes were near the center right in the picture.]

After studying the terrain features below and discussing our plan- to make sure we had the route and logic right between us, the adventure began. We simply stood up, attached our canteen and equipment belts and walked out of the flat, graded observation area and right over the side of the mountain, on a route toward the community far below and away.

Within a few moments, we were gleefully bounding at breakneck speed, sliding and hopping in great leaps down the mountain. In less that an hour we had descended about three thousand feet, or half the elevation. Then the going became slower. We were between two ridges in a narrow valley making our way along a small dry stream bed.
At first, when the mountain shadows began to spread over us, we didn’t notice them. As the sun sunk further in the western sky and purple twilight settled in the deep mountain canyons, we realized how far we still had to go and how little time we still had for rapid movement. [Internet image at left: Photograph of Pasadena (extreme right in pic) taken from Mt. Wilson. This surface photograph shows the elevation and hints at the roughness of the mountain slope]
All too soon it was dark and we were still following the dry stream bed down a narrowing canyon hoping it would led us out of the mountains by the easiest route. Finally the trees all about us blocked out even the stray light that otherwise would have scattered in from the city. Before long we weren’t able to even see a step ahead of ourselves. During that time we stopped ever so often to light one of Ted’s matches and check our compass bearings and see what was around us in the very deep shadows.
In one location of zero visibility, I stopped, crouched down and felt around to find a stone, then tossed it just ahead in the canyon. My Gosh! The rock didn’t hit the ground, it just went “clickety clack click” and became quiet!  As a pang of fear ran through us, we gasped in realization of the danger immediately ahead. Unseen directly in front of us, only four or five paces away in the dark was the lip of a dry  waterfall.
What should we do?
After chatting for a few moments, we decided to leave the stream bed and climb south, up onto the mountain shoulder to our left. We reasoned that once we climbed above the Live Oak trees, which grew along the dry stream bed, that we could see by star light. There was also a good chance of running across a bulldozed fire trail. After some rough climbing, we did fortunately come out on a fire trail.

Altadena’s north-eastern neighborhood was now an expanse of lights no more than fifteen hundred feet below us. Having climbed out of the darkness from the wooded canyon we could see by not only starlight, but by light scattered from the city.
Our legs were becoming tired from hours of climbing. The exertion coming up out of the canyon caused us to drink the last of our water, our canteens were empty. Ted  suggested that we simply sleep over night on the fire trail and go the rest of the way in the morning. I thought it was a good idea too except for the thought of my parents, who would be angry, perhaps not from concern for my well being as much as that I was not home by the expected time thereby creating a hard to deal with situation involving broken rules.

Once on relatively clear ground and able to see quite well, we briskly made our way down the fire trail and off the mountain.
Around 9:30PM, we walked through the backyard of the first house encountered at the upper northeast edge of Altadena. After another half mile, we wearily laid down, spread eagle, in someone’s front yard. The grass had been watered earlier in the evening and was still a wet. Our legs were just about to develop cramps so the cool dampness of the grass nourished our strength. It felt good to just lie there.
After a few minutes of rest, we were back on our feet and walking southwest along the partially lit streets and sidewalks into Pasadena.
Block after block passed as we became more familiar with our surroundings. Because of the late hour, most the homes were dark few people were still awake.
Eventually we came to our neighborhood. Happy to be home after such a magnificent ordeal, Ted and I tiredly said our goodbyes. I turned up my driveway and Ted trudged on to his house, two blocks away.
Within minutes of arriving home, I was soaking in a bathtub filled with warm water, exhausted from the long day and strenuous activities.
My Mom and Dad weren’t so much worried as they were mad about my getting home at 11:00 PM, they’d called the police and asked them to keep an eye out for us. They didn’t ask about my adventure so I didn’t mention the day’s events, or of coming down out of the San Gabriel mountains, Angeles National Forest in the  dark. And so ended the most physically demanding, single day I have ever spent in my life .[2]

We were two lucky teenagers: In about nine hours, we’de come down from a 5,700 foot mountain, much of the descent occurring after dark, neither of us were injured, nor did we didn’t encounter any mountain lions, rattle snakes or poison oak.
Years later, Ted later pointed out, “Back in those days, not a month went by that the Sierra Madre Rescue Squad wasn’t out rescuing someone off the mountain trails (the trails!) – it always on the Los Angeles area TV news.”

What’s on TV tonight?
My favorite programs in 1959
•  Cheyenne – western
•  Wagon Train- western
•  Bat Masterson – western
•  77 Sunset Strip – investigative drama
•  Ozzie and  Harriet – comedy, drama
•  Rawhide – western
•  Sea Hunt – adventure, drama
•  One Step Beyond – sci-fi, fantasy
•  The Rifleman – western
•  Twilight Zone – sci-fi

Movies that I saw with my neighborhood friends this year;
Compulsion with Dean Stockwell, Bradford Dillman, Orson Welles, Diane Varsi
Journey To The Center Of The Earth with Pat Boone, James Mason, Arlene Dahl
On The Beach with Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins

[1]  The evolving story of Ted and Carol was occasionally revisited, when I inadvertently had a glimpse of their quiet yet smouldering relationship, seen in Chapters 1964, 1994, 1995 and 2009+.
[2] Considering how far we walked, the straight line distance between our neighborhood and Mt Wilson was 4.6 miles. This distance does not take into account the elevation changes made coming down the mountain or  getting back up to the fire trail, nor following the meandering stream bed through the mountain, or the street lay out once back in the city.  Altogether, we may have walked five miles in the morning and ten miles during the afternoon  and night, covering  perhaps 15-16  miles during  the 18 hour hiking period. Of this, maybe four miles was urban, while the remaining twelve miles were rough, trailess ground, requiring us at times to pull on tree branches for assistance in climbing slopes.


Filed under Autobiography, __2. Childhood: 1942-1963

2 responses to “Chapter 1959, age 16-17

  1. Ted Haynie

    Mr. Larry,
    Ha ha . . yep, that was an exhausting hike. How we managed to avoid that “dry” water fall (20-30 ft, by sound) was near miraculous.
    BTW, those occasional lighting of matches were as much for me to have a smoke ( my last few) as to view the compass.
    Also, the “chicken coup” was built to well to be that… It had to have been a former storage or tool shed. It had 16″ spaced vertical studs and similar construction for the roof gables. But as you said…it was “my place”.
    Also, you left out several other adventurous events during that year…. but my lips are sealed…. ( :>)
    A good write mon ami.

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