The Back Yard - July 1969

For some reason now unknown to me, my desire to fully document the back yard was such that I climbed to the top of the back house and shot this image of a saw horse and some wood scraps in the corner of the yard. When the prints came back from the developers, Mom yelled at me for wasting film. Looking at this, I admit she had a pretty strong argument.

However, for the purposes of Avocado Memories, I should point out that this little patch of ground would later be the site of the Clark Family Cemetery, inspired by TV's Dark Shadows.

Also, that green wooden fence to the left was placed there some years before by my parents in a sort of goodwill gesture after I dumped at least 15 big cardboard boxes in the neighbor's yard. There was an appliance store down the street, which had an ample supply of discarded cardboard boxes in which refrigerators and freezers were shipped. My friends and I would haul the cardboard boxes into my back yard, where they would be turned on their sides and transformed into space ships. A kitchen knife served to cut out windows and port holes (clear plastic wrap was the plexiglas), and the interior equipment would be drawn with crayons. Those thick cardboard spacers were the computer banks (modelled on ones we saw in Lost in Space), and everything was held in place by the masking tape Dad brought home from work.

The first big rain would turn my vessel into a wet, crumpled mess, of course, so I would hurl the whole thing into the neighbor's yard and then go back to the appliance store to haul in another box that would become the Mark II, and III, and IV, etc. (I remember a lot of these, and they got better and more elaborate each time. My magnum opus was made up of four freezer boxes with connecting passages!)

By the time I finally tired of this there was a enormous residual heap of old cardboard covered by eucalyptus leaves in the neighbor's yard; my friends and I used to leap and play on it. The neighbor finally complained - he must have had more patience than any other human I ever met - and my parents and I removed all the cardboard.

The last cardboard space vessel I ever executed was stored in the back house, where it wouldn't get wet. It was modelled on Star Trek's U.S.S. Enterprise, and had back-lit display screens and functional switches, with various discarded pieces of furniture doubling as consoles. It was as elaborate as a 12-year-old could devise.

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