SAN DIEGO – I sometimes marvel at how I ended up in the Southwest corner.
Then I wonder at how different the world was for me back home a long, long time ago.
My marveling usually starts during strikingly different weather out here and back home. My inclination to recall my youth in Lebanon was recently enhanced by JB Leftwich’s recent columns here.
Then, my daughter Blythe posted some photos of Sam, my grandson, on the internet’s Facebook. You see, when Sam was born, Blythe asked me what I would like Sam to call me. Almost instantaneously, I responded, “PaPa.”
The Original PaPa
Almost two years ago, I wrote here of Wynne Prichard, the old foxhunter who was also my surrogate grandfather as both of my parent’s fathers passed away before I was born. Every child in our extended family called him PaPa. My grandson Sam now calls me PaPa.
Finally, I was struggling to come up with a topic for this column when I went up my hill to raise my flag on Saturday morning. I scanned the vista of Mount Miguel to the east, Tijuana to the south, the San Diego skyline to the northwest, the grey ships of the fleet to the west, and the Pacific dominating the western horizon. As I began my descent, I was thinking of the East being blanketed with snow while I was walking in the winter film of green over the summer brown of the rest of the year.
After the rains here, it felt like spring sending an early calling card while back at home, snow was showing its white teeth again.
It was then I was carried away, back to that other world of my youth, which even Lebanon will never be able to capture except in memories.
I was carried back to the summers of the late 40s and early 50s on Castle Heights Avenue. Once May got a good grip, my brother Joe and I rarely wore anything but shorts. Our sister Martha was clad in either shorts and a top or a pinafore dress.
The front door was open for the breeze with a screen door to keep the flies outside. I laughed thinking how “screen” doors are now made out of glass to keep the heat and cool inside. And it seemed we had a steady stream of visitors.
Every Wednesday, PaPa would chug up in his 1929 Model “A” Ford, returning from the farmer’s market. He parked on the street in front of the sidewalk, straight-lined to the front door.
An aside: That would be a dangerous move today considering the traffic, but then Castle Heights was not a thoroughfare and the road to Nashville was U.S. 70, nee Nashville Pike, nee West Main. There was no I-40 and therefore no need for most folks to head south on Castle Heights Avenue. Even the Immanuel Baptist Church, which now dominates a huge chunk of the Castle Heights and Wildwood intersection, bought their first land in 1948.
Three Musketeers Bar
When PaPa walked down that walk, Martha and I would run to him and maneuver to be the first to leap into his arms. He would reach in his pocket and pull out a Three Musketeers candy bar for me and a Milky Way for Martha. Joe was included in this process, but I don’t recall his candy bar as I considered myself grown up around nine years old when Joe really got into the act.
My recollections were interrupted when I started packing for a two-day trip to Palm Desert with our friends. We drove the back roads through the rough mountain terrain of Aguanga and Anza, descending into the valley through the incredible scenery and switchbacks of CA-74.
We had planned to visit with our friends during the short trip, but one was going to Utah to ski and the other was going to Colorado to watch professional and college hockey. The desert was awash with a conglomeration of snowbirds of winter residents and tourists enjoying the 80s sunshine, golf, tennis and swimming.
It occurred to me different worlds nearly always seem more attractive than the one where we currently reside.
I will let it suffice to enjoy my grandson calling me PaPa, and the next time I see him I will give him a Three Musketeers bar.