“Welcome” to a new group of readers from the
Los Gatos area in northern California.
These are mostly former classmates and old friends, so I thought I would
focus on some of my memories from the “good ol’ days in Los Gatos.
Just a few quick bits and pieces.
There are three subject areas on my blog and articles from each can be found in the archives, but I haven’t written many in the category labeled, “When I was a kid.” Back then, the wheel had just been invented and we were trying to see if we could make the first go-cart out of a wooden prune crate using those new round wheel things. It’s hard to remember events from that long ago. But many stories about growing up in the ‘50s can be found in my book, “The Huckleberry Days of the ‘50s - Growing up in
Gatos.” You can
find the book on my website.
There’s been a lot online about the remodel of the old theater in
Los Gatos. Many of us have dusty memories of that theater
where you could watch a newsreel, a couple of cartoons, a serial, and two
feature films for 25 cents. In contrast
with the positive memories, I remember a very embarrassing situation from those
days at that old theater.
I was with a bunch of my rowdy teenage friends when we parked ourselves in the very center of the theater. All went well until one of the guys was overcome by an acute attack of highly explosive flatulence. The victim chose to proudly advertise his condition, taking advantage of the acoustic in the theater. Whether by design or chance, he hit critical mass during a quiet, romantic scene in the film. The more he laughed, the more he contributed to a temporary hole in the ozone layer over
He actually cleared out most of the main seating section. I wasn’t alone
running for the exit. That’s a true story, but not a particularly good
memory. Maybe I should have told you
about the popcorn instead.
Some may remember the old railroad that went all the way from
Gatos to Santa Cruz. It was called the “Suntan Special.” I remember running after freight trains with
my buddies, jumping on the outside ladder, and hanging on all the way to the
beach. To avoid detection, just before
we got to the terminal we’d jump off, hit the ground hard, and roll in the
And then there was the train trestle. If you remember the old movie, “Stand by me,” where the kids were trying to cross a trestle as a train approached, you can relate to the anxiety we always felt when crossing that ominous structure located somewhere up by Felton. If you missed a crossbeam and caught your leg in the gap, you’d have a major problem if a train was coming. That was not a totally irrational fear, but in our early teens it was fun to imagine frightening scenarios.
Los Gatos was unheard of until it hit Los
Gatos and the summit area in the Santa Cruz range back in the ‘50s. It was a great time to cut school and head
for the white stuff. I remember a
carload of us loading up on snowballs and nailing car after car until we broke
a windshield. Jun Sasaki reminded me of
this, but neither he nor I could remember who put the rock in the
snowball. The school administration was
called and we all had to chip in to pay for a windshield replacement.
I still remember the “fort-building” days and the competition between the ground-dwellers, who dug holes and camouflaged them, and the tree-dwellers, who had the advantage of prehensile tails for climbing. The gopher guys usually did better, because the monkey guys didn’t have opposable thumbs and kept dropping their tools. One of my friends built the mother of all foxholes - a huge and deep foxhole hideout in an orchard that was so well camouflaged an unsuspecting farmer drove his tractor into the foxhole head first. That tractor is now buried under a shopping mall.
I’ve barely scratched the surface, but I would bet that many of you have great stories from that glorious decade of the ‘50s and growing up in rural
America. For the younger readers - you missed all the
fun, but if you know someone with gray hair, ask them to tell what the world
was like before cell phones and video games.
You’ll be amazed.
* * *
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