Tag Archives: Oakhurst

Time Out!

There is a place I forgot. A house I misplaced in time.

I am pretty sure we lived there after my great-aunt’s and before the house on 415. The house where Ben was born.

The three of us lived in the misplaced house. It was on the same dirt road we lived on when I was in the first grade. The road starts north of Ahwahnee. It runs east and ends north of Oakhurst. The first time we lived closer to Ahwahnee. This time we lived closer to Oakhurst.

If my memory of the timing is right. We didn’t live there long. The drive way had a steep hill. And at least once we had trouble because it got muddy.

What I remember most is the heat. We had to walk several miles to the closest paved road. I got sun burns on my shoulders, a second degree burn. My shoulder developed huge blisters.

It got so hot my sister and Mother took an ice bath to stay cool.

I also remember the house was a mess. One of Hilda’s friends came over and tried to help Mother clean. But it was no use. LaVonne would throw things in the trash. But Mother would take them out when she left.

Our houses were never clean. Or rather they were never neat. For some reason this place sticks out as being worse. Mother was pregnant with my brother for much of the time we lived in this house.

Another reason I am sure it was short stay was my lack of memories. As I got older I retained more and more memories. One of the ones from this place is a discussion about space. Someone said a new planet had been discovered. It was out past Pluto and called Planet X. This of course isn’t true. And I don’t recall believing it at the time.

The house had a porch. And one time me and my sister made a ramp. We said if someone had a wheel chair they could use it to get inside. Of course no one with a wheel chair ever visited us. No one ever visited us.

Ok, let me think about the timeline: Berkeley, Hilda’s, Yellow House, Hilda’s, Red House, Ahwahnee House, Hilda’s; 415 House; Fresno…

Yes, the place behind the pizza place is in there sometime. I am not sure when. The Oakhurst House felt like it wasn’t so close in time to the Ahwahnee house. Which makes me think it was after Fresno. But there was another house, which I thought was right after Fresno. The more I think about it. The more I believe we lived here after Fresno.

Second grade was in Coarsegold. Third Grade was in Fresno. I actually remember starting in Coarsegold, feeling nervous. If my memory is correct it was the beginning of the school year. So we had to have moved almost right from the Ahwahnee House to the Oakhurst House. Or we moved to the second house after Fresno.

Where was my brother during much of this. He must have been there, and just young enough for me not to remember.

Even in the next house. I don’t have many memories of him. But I know he was there.

Why put this all in here. Are you bored. Well, I am confused and there is a point about pieces of our lives and how we track them. Like I said before, it is a puzzle. You have to fit the pieces together and see if they work. Our memories are far from perfect. This may be more true for myself.

At any rate. It is getting to be time to reflect a little. I need to discuss who I was a little more. And who I was becoming. Tie some of the narrative together. Then we can move along.

Chapter 4

So Chapter 4 and I still am not in school. Is this going the be the slowest book ever?

We got some education in the years living with my great-aunt. First grade is when I started school. We had moved to Ahwahnee. Two miles down a dirt road. We lived with a rooster. And across from a nudist.

All day he sat and watched traffic on the road. He was friends with mother. Don’t ask, I don’t want to know. Sometimes he would give us a ride to the main road, or into town. But, I have memories of walking the two miles. At least once alone. There was a berry patch along the road. We would stop and pick berries.

The rooster attacked my sister once. Maybe this is why she didn’t want to live with us. Or maybe there were other reasons.

I remember more of what people told me about first grade. Other kids said I used to pee my pants in class. The school was a couple small buildings. I went to the Fourth grade and part of the fifth grade at the same school.

Math is something I remember. Not because it was hard. It was boring. Why go over and over the same numbers. But I did my homework. I cared about my education still.

Naturally there weren’t friends so far away from people. But I had my sister. One time we got in a dirt clog war. They burst like bombs when you throw them. Sometimes the dust is like smoke. We got pink eye.

We may not have lived at this house long. My memory of the time is so sparse. Memories of mother are even more so. The house was a mess. Life couldn’t have been easy for a single woman, alone, two kids. Not to mention living two miles from civilization with no car. We didn’t have a car until I was in the fourth grade.

Growing up mother would say she couldn’t afford new clothes because of us kids.

I know the next year, I was in the second grade at a new school. Living back in Coarsegold. Also we lived at my great aunt’s for a short time. This is when mother knew my little brother’s father.

Ahwahnee is a small town. Just a few buildings, a school, a bar and a post office. The town itself was about two miles down the paved road. Then two miles on the dirt road was our place. Why would someone think to live in such a place? With two kids? No car?

Whatever length of time we lived there, the next stop was my great aunt’s. We lived down in the trailer. My sister and I spent our time going to the river, often alone. There was a tractor on the property and small road to the river. Sometimes my great aunt’s friends gave us a tractor ride.

My sister once tried to get me to eat a puffball. Not something which seemed like a good idea at the time. The property now had a small eucalyptus grove. After the rain I would shake the trees. The scent in the air, the moisture as it fell from the leaves was wonderful.

This was the last time we lived in the trailer. To mother’s credit our housing improved as we grew. We started the second grade in a new house. But it will be a new chapter.

The area I grew up in is south of Yosemite. The core town is Oakhurst. North of which on highway 49 six miles was Ahwahnee. South of Oakhurst 11 miles on Highway 41 was Coarsegold. Students from all these towns went to the same high school.

The whole area was rural. Slightly racist. Conservative and religious country. The big event in Coarsegold was the rodeo. There was a lot of ranch land. Also many people worked in Fresno, an hour south on 41.

Taco Bell came to town while I was in high school. Soon after the first traffic signal. It was at the corner with the Talking Bear. A large plastic figure. When you pushed a button it spoke about bears. Of course all the real bears were gone.

Our family was never accepted in the community. Later a school secretary told our neighbors, “oh you live by the dump.” This isn’t the place to explore white flight. But the shoe fits. People didn’t understand us.

Maybe they felt like we children needed help. Sometimes they called CPS. Or Child Protective Services. Mother had a big job, with two and then three kids. Were we in danger? Not physic danger. We ate. We weren’t hit.

We did have friends. They were few. I can’t remember most names and faces. With one exception, they were not lasting.

We can view our lives through so many lenses. The people we know and knew. The places we are and were. The things we did and do. My life has been full of places and people and things. It feels a little like a drawer of mis-matched socks.

Chapter Two

Now where was I?

Yes, the yellow house. It was on the edge of the town of Coarsegold. I don’t recall when I lived in the red house, but lets talk about it next.

The red house was in the middle of town. It was next to an oil or gas storage facility. The fact the tanks were above ground speaks to how long ago I lived there. Also the fact the man who watched it let me follow him around. I recall many a conversation with the man. Though I don’t recall his name. For months after moving from the house I would look for cars like his.

It wasn’t dangerous. Just something no one would allow today.

A lot of the things I did when growing up were unusual. Maybe not just now, maybe even then. But those are the things which shaped me. Talking to adults and being alone. As well as not having a strong parent. It has made me a more self-reliant person. Maybe more self-aware. Maybe more selfish. It is also harder for me to trust others.

The red house was next to the creek. On the other side lived a girl. We were good friends at the time. Now I can’t remember anything about her. We would play in the creek. There was a small walking bridge over the creek. Some pipes also crossed. But there was no bridge for cars, they had to drive through the creek.

Thinking of concurrent events I believe I was five or six. The next place I lived was when I was in the first grade.

My sister didn’t spend much time with mother and me. At the red house I spent a lot of time alone. When not playing with the neighbor girl. My first solo adventure may have been in this house.

I doubt I went far. The only memory I have is climbing the hill beyond the creek. Sure I had spent hours exploring my great aunt’s land. And the neighbors as well. But this was an adventure into new land.

Another memory from this time is bad. I stole a toy from the girl. And while I returned it. I felt bad. I didn’t live at the red house for long.

It was during this time I ate tofu the first time. Friends of ours lived on 415 and were vegetarian. They served it in pasta with marinara sauce. At the time it tasted good to me.

There were other people I knew who didn’t eat meat. Even at a young age I had an opinion. Some said they didn’t eat meat because there would be no meat in heaven. Will there be any food in heaven I wondered. Didn’t make sense to me then or now. But today I am vegetarian for my own reasons. And heaven isn’t one of them.

It is more of a misplaced memory than anything. I will share it now because it was around this time -at least the same area. Mother, me and some guy were driving around on a dirt road. Just driving out in the hills. The road was a ranch road in the hills west of town. Somehow we got stuck. Even being young I felt like I knew how to solve the problem. I also felt like the adults were ignoring me. To their loss I add. So I started walking alone down the road. I’m not sure where I was going to go. Just get away from the mess because it upset me. And how was it all resolved. I don’t know.

What I do know is I decided to let people fix their own problems. Something I have still do. Unless I am asked for help, I try not to offer.

Memories are like puzzle pieces. You try and put them together into a coherent image of your life. This piece next to this because it fits. But sometimes the pieces don’t seem to fit. This memory of driving on a country road. Writing this now I wonder when it did happen. I am sure where it happened.

There is a part of my adult self which doubts myself at five or six behaved in such a fashion. Though it is possible. Mother had few friends. There were few adult men in my life. This one may be the same one who lived on Deadwood. The mountain between Coarsegold and Oakhurst. If so, the time is accurate. Because our paths went different ways while I was still young.

All I recall about him was he lived on Deadwood and had an old truck. You see how the puzzle falls together.

There was another place we lived in the town of Coarsegold. It was a house behind the pizza restaurant. It was one of those places with sawdust on the floor. The smell comes to my memory still. Greasy food and pizza. Mother spent time in the pizza place and so did we. Even though it was a bar. I remember thinking about the aesthetic of sawdust on the floor. While I didn’t use such a big word. I knew it was a gimmick. Though I still don’t understand the point.

I have almost no memory of the house itself. And sometimes doubt ever living there. Now when is a question I don’t have enough pieces to tell you. When I was young, very young.

I guess this is chapter two. And a short chapter. I still haven’t reached a thousand words. Though I am getting close. Sitting here I am thinking of all the memories of my life. How do they fit together and how many are from this time.

When we are young I think it is easier to live in the moment. We have fewer memories of the past. Things to regret or miss. Our thoughts about the future are often our feelings about the past. If no one had even hurt us, we wouldn’t fear hurt in the future.