The view across the street - July 1969

Here we are on the front porch, looking across the street. That black house belongs to the Springer family. It was painted that way at the insistence of the Springer wife. The front of the house faced west, and therefore absorbed all the heat a San Fernando Valley summer sun could give it. I remember the living room had a red carpet that was always dirty - no slight to them, red carpets are nearly impossible to maintain - and the house, no surprise, was always unbearably hot. The Springers' black house was one of the few times that somebody on the block outdid us in tackiness.

You can barely see a bicycle parked out in front of the Springers', under the window. That bike used to be mine. It was a 1964 Schwinn Sting Ray, green in color and fond in remembrance. I sold it to Richard Springer when I took delivery of my 1968 Schwinn 5 speed "Ram's Horn Fastback" (which was later stolen from me in junior high). Richard took my old bike and painted it the same pastel blue his dad's Volkswagen beetle was painted.

Next door and directly across the street are the Millars, a wonderful Scottish family. The dad - Archie - played the drums in a Scottish marching band, and one New Year's Eve we rang in the year by joining the bagpipers marching up and down the street.

That red car was Dad's '65 Karmann-Ghia, the first standard transmission car I ever learned to drive. I wish I had it now - ah, the memories! On the few occasions when I was allowed to drive it to high school I felt like a million dollars... Once, Dad parked it on our driveway and didn't set the hand brake. The car rolled backwards neatly into the Millars' driveway, doing no damage.

The Millars were very patient with us Clarks. The Valley Green Sheet was a local newspaper, called so because the front page was printed on greenish paper. (Or it was until the sun caused discarded green sheets to fade to - yes! - a light avocado hue.) One of my chief delights as a kid was pedaling by on my Sting-Ray, reaching over and grabbing the Millars' - or someone else's - copy and flinging it at a friend who was pedaling a Sting-Ray of his own. We'd jockey for position like two fighter planes on the extra-wide Lincoln Street and l'd let fly whenever I estimated a high probability of a hit. (Which wasn't often - I was a bad throw.) The paper, missing its target, would slide along the asphalt, breaking the greenish rubber band that held it together. Later, gusts of wind would blow the paper apart and all over the street. If my opponent and I liked each other, we would aim at bodies. If we didn't, we would aim for the spokes. Years later Mrs. Millar told me how annoyed she was seeing the papers blown all over the street, which took me by surprise because I had forgotten all about the Green Sheet battles.

Anyway, back to the photo. Those low hills are the Verdugo Hills. You can't see it in the scan, but there's a path going up to the summit (Internet correspondent Jerry Nielsen tells me that it's Mt. Thom) just at the peak of the Millars' roof. Once I hiked up the path and nearly died of exhaustion while doing so. The next day I figured out why: there was a blanket of brown smog at that elevation that made any aerobic activity a lot harder!

And now, let's walk into the house, into the living room. Please make sure you pull the screen door shut. (Nobody has ever understood that automatic screen door closer well enough to get it working - it usually just hangs on the hinge, disconnected.)

The Living Room

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