I’ve posted this image before, but it is one of my favorite candid shots of us all laughing. When we left, the waiter asked us if we always had this much fun together. We said yes. We were in Minneapolis for our grandmother’s funeral. She was 104. She would have appreciated the laughter.
Its an anniversary of sorts. The day after Thanksgiving 40 years ago this week, I moved from Minnesota to Los Angeles, California. I had never been to California. I was heading to a job I had been offered two weeks previously, to which I had to report immediately, and about which I literally knew almost nothing. I had to pack everything up and put it in storage or give it away. Thankfully my mom and dad were in the area for Thanksgiving. Not that I had a lot of possessions in those days. I was working in retail and was just getting by.
I boarded an airplane with no place to live in Los Angeles, just a short term room rental in Hollywood I found in a Fodor’s travel guide. To say I was not an experienced traveler is an understatement. My plane landed in Las Vegas instead of LA because LAX was fogged in. There was no place to stay in Vegas because the MGM hotel had just had a massive fire. The airline finally bused us to LA when enough passengers made a fuss.
We arrived after dark. I took a taxi to where I was going to stay stay but the manager was nowhere to be found. A resident took pity on me and let me call a taxi. I went to a hotel near where I would be working. This was 1980 and I did not have a major credit card but they let me check in. I think I looked about ready to lose it. I was beat from dragging my luggage around for hours.
I survived that Thanksgiving and never regretted my journey. At the age of 26, I spent my first Christmas away from home, alone, in LA, and it was 95 degrees instead of the frigid temps of Minnesota.I went to Disneyland for the first time in March 1981. Over the years I moved up the fault line from LA to San Francisco, then to Seattle. A few months in Singapore and finally in the DC area. The pandemic is just one of the challenges I have encountered. It will not defeat me.
The next morning, it was Monday by now, I reported to work and was told I was being sent to San Francisco the next day for two weeks. Off I went with no place to come back to. The hotel they put us in in San Francisco was in the Tenderloin, not a nice area, and had plexiglass in front of the check-in desk. It is amazing we what we can deal with when we have to.
In many ways, I enjoy a Thanksgiving where I don’t go anywhere or do anything. Whether you are alone or in a bubble, be safe, stay healthy, wear a mask, and anticipate 2021.
Waiting for the Parade to Start, 1969, J.P.W. Friederichs
One of my pandemic projects has been going through my dad’s slides and getting them ready to send off to be scanned, which I did on Monday. My dad took a lot of pictures of us growing up and looking at them brings back lovely memories. Just what I needed at the moment. I grew up in a small town in northwestern Minnesota, close to the North Dakota border, population about 8.000. Smalltown America in the 1950s and 1960s was not perfect and certainly not the idealized bucolic place to grow up promoted by many people who look to return to a time that never existed. But it was a good place to grow up. Life was slower. There were school and community activities. Kids could roam the neighborhood or ride their bikes to the city swimming pool in the summer without adult supervision. Candy at the corner store cast a penny. We knew most of our neighbors and the “neighbor ladies” had coffee outside on summer mornings. It was good to get a glimpse of this former life, to restore a bit of faith in humanity.
Every summer, Crookston held an annual festival. In my day, it was called Pioneer Days. Now it was called Ox Cart Days. The Red River Valley (of the North) was famous huge carts pulled by oxen along the route between St. Paul, Minnesota and Canada. At least one summer, they had a kiddie parade as part of the festivities. I think this shot was taken in 1969, based on the age of my two sisters who are in the photo. Our neighbor Christie is on the left, then my sister Karla and my sister Ruth. I’m not sure about the other girl but I think it is one of the neighbors. Dressing up was always a fun way to spend part of a day. I was 15 at the time, much too old and dignified for a kiddie parade. Here’s to those days, my friends, we thought they’d never end. (The image is not the best. I took a photo of the slide with my phone before I sent it off to be scanned.)